Emma Jack || Winter 2015 (Issue 3)

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n i E x g c n i e z i l llence a i c MSMOC e Sp Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center is the state’s leading full-service orthopaedic specialty practice. Our seventeen board certified, fellowship trained specialists perform shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, ankle, foot, neck and back procedures, and guide these patients through rehabilitation to complete recovery. Your orthopaedic problem or athletic injury deserves the attention and care that only an experienced orthopaedic specialist can provide. MSMOC...because Life is a Sport.

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Volume 1 • Issue 3 • Winter 2015 www.emmajackmagazine.com

Letter from the Editor With each new year comes a new opportunity to achieve. To achieve wellness. To achieve in relationships. To achieve levels of better parenting. The rewards and satisfaction we take from our achievements have a lot to do with the way we see them. The more good things we recognize, the happier we feel. Greater happiness leads to greater success in relationships, in work, and in health. Here is to a great year of learning and success in the most important aspects of your life. Be brave. Be intentional. Be kind. Be loving. Be appreciative. Be happy! – Bryan Carter Editor-in-Chief Publisher P2 Publishers Editor-in-Chief Bryan Carter Contributing Editors Matthew Jackson, Justin Griffing Visual Design Sweta Desai, Chance Shelton, Caroline Brock Photography Sweta Desai, Chance Shelton Advertising Director Fran Riddell Emma Jack Magazine is published by P2 Publishers. Reproduction of Emma Jack magazine, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without written permission. We do not accept responsibility for any unsolicited materials and may not return them. All information in this magazine is taken from sources considered authoritative, but P2 Publishers cannot guarantee their accuracy. Inclusion of editorials, images, advertisements, or other materials in this magazine does does not constitute an endorsement for products or services by the publisher. ©2014 P2 Publishers.

Contents 6 STEMming the Tide Empowering Our Children Through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics


14 Book Choices and Our Children Encouraging Reading Through Selection and Co-reading

22 Pillars of Strength Special Needs Yield Exceptional Children and Families — John


34 Living Practically Positive Can You Get More Out of Life By Living Positive?

42 Healthy Choices Helping Our Children in the New Year

50 Technology Second A Family Connected can be the Least Connected

70 Dave Says... Advice from America’s Financial Advisor


What you can expect in the Spring 2015 Issue Smart Choices as a Family, Overcoming Adversity, and more! Please send all inquiries to: Emma Jack Magazine, 655 Lake Harbour Drive, Ste 100, Ridgeland, MS 39157 or call: 601-707-8350 with any questions or commments. VISIT US ONLINE AT WWW.EMMAJACKMAGAZINE.COM OR EMAIL US AT INFO@EMMAJACKMAGAZINE.COM or advertising@emmajackmagazine.com

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hink back to when you were a kid. If you were like me, you loved to “experiment” on things. I can remember mixing water with varying amounts of dish soap and salt and then sticking it in my grandparents’ freezer to see how long it would take to freeze. There is a natural curiosity in children that lends itself to scientific exploration, and this curiosity is at the core of the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). These disciplines represent the cutting edge of human knowledge in the contemporary world and offer a vibrant future for our children. It is in the best interest of all to instill and foster this interest in our children. Mississippi’s children have a lot of room to improve. Only 22% of fourth graders perform at or above proficiency in Math. Only 17% meet this level in science. While it is a dire statistic, it is also an opportunity to grow. This is a chance for growth for our state, but more importantly it is a chance for 8 - EMMA JACK MAGAZINE

growth in our children. Even if they do not choose to pursue careers in STEM, their learning will instill a way of looking at the world that will enrich their lives.

Simple Ways to Encourage Curiosity and Enthusiasm

When children show curiosity, foster it. When they ask questions that so often start with ‘Why,’ instead of dodging it, answer. If you don’t know the answer, we have unprecedented access to scientific knowledge at our fingertips on the Internet. With our mobile devices, we have unprecedented access to the internet. Saying “Let’s find out together” is never a bad answer to a child. Equally as important as curiosity is excitement. Oftentimes, when children first approach STEM, they do so with a wonder at the world that we, as adults, have typically lost. Sometimes, they will become excited about STEM without even realizing it. You can recognize it though. Encourage their enthusiasm, but do it sincerely. Children

can usually tell if our support is given half-heartedly. Look for ways to convey your enthusiasm at encouraging their enthusiasm. When they talk about their interests, even if it is something you are familiar with, listen intently with undivided attention.

Practical Steps to Fostering Interest through Activities

Find activities that will help your children learn. Age-appropriate books and websites are always good, but there are a lot of hands-on activities that will even further encourage them to take up STEM learning. Going on a nature walk is a good start. Point out trees and animals or signs of animals. Talk about how weather happens. Tinkering with the car or lawn mower on a summer afternoon is a great opportunity to help your children learn how machines work. The Mississippi Children’s Museum offers a wide variety of activities and exhibits to awaken an interest in STEM. The Museum of Natural Science is sure to grab a child’s attention if you do a little homework first and are prepared to talk about what’s there. When “toy” shopping, buy and encourage things like microscopes, chemistry sets, or electronics kits. Kids spend an increasing amount of time on the electronics that now pervade our lives. Learn a bit about how these work and help them understand it at an age-appropriate level. This takes a game or other fun electronic activity and opens up a learning experience. While all of these specific things are important, one of the most important things you can do is to encourage children’s curiosity and never cut it off. Encourage them to learn and experiment, even if the experiments don’t produce what they expect. A large part of the scientific process is trying something and not getting the expected results. If they want to try something out that you know won’t work, let them try it anyways. When it doesn’t work, try to help them figure out reasons that it may not have worked. WINTER 2015 - 9

In-State Opportunities as they Get Older

As your child gets older, encourage them to look at opportunities for STEM education. The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is a wonderful public school opportunity for students during their junior and senior years of high school. Though it can be tempting to go out of state, Mississippians have excellent opportunities at the universities around the state. Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi both have outstanding engineering programs. The University of Southern Mississippi has a top-notch polymer science program. The University of Mississippi Medical Center, located in Jackson, is home to a number of historic medical advances. Don’t let the current state of education in Mississippi be an excuse for our children losing ground in STEM. Instill, encourage, and foster interest in these disciplines. Take the time to go out of your way to perform activities with them. As to the kid who would freeze things in his grandparents’ freezer? He went to MSMS and still wonders about things like photosynthetic apparati in algae, whether P equals nP, and Fibonacci numbers. Justin Griffing is an author who has recently returned to Mississippi from Vermont.


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By Matthew Jackson / FEATURED Writer



The Age Old Struggle t seems all parents have repeated one of the most common parental complaints of all time: “I just cannot seem to get my child(ren) to read.” This struggle has been ongoing for generations. Modern parents struggle with competition from electronics and video games, but parents of every era dealt with new technologies that distracted children’s interest from reading.

What can we do to help?

The simple question —

Experts tell us that there are many things we can do to help encourage our children to read. One common sense approach that any of us can use is helping our kids select books that they will actually enjoy reading, and then reading those books along with them. Selections in Reading Involving kids in the process of picking a good book to read is a great way to excite them about reading. As adults, we prefer to make our own decisions about how we spend our time, and kids are no different. Helping them choose good

books gives them ownership in the process, and increases the chances that reading will actually happen and, importantly, be enjoyed. When picking books out for our kids, or with our kids, the main question should be: “What will they like?” A lot of things can affect which books are attractive for specific kids, but some of the main things that we can keep in mind as parents are — age, gender, interests and related topics, and past books enjoyed. So, it is a fairly basic formula for success: pick out books related to things our kids are interested in and enjoy! Any book that kids will pick up and read on their own is a good book for them. Some of us want to encourage a certain quality of book for our kids, and that is definitely a good thing, but just getting kids to read is the initial goal. Once our kids learn to enjoy books, then the question of “What is good?” can be addressed. Shopping for books with your children also gives you an excellent opportunity to gain insight as a parent, give them ownership by letting them select their own books, and turn reading into a bonding experience. When you look through the shelves together, be attentive. Sometimes they will show WINTER 2015 - 15

interest in something that surprises us; this is always a great moment, as we learn about their growing fascinations, and they get to choose the type of books that attract their attention. Co-Reading: Putting the Horse Back in Front of the Cart The idea of co-reading is that parents read the same books that their children are asked to read. When we read the books, several things happen. First, our kids see the importance of reading simply by the effort that we have put forth to be involved. Second, we can point out aspects of the text that will be of particular interest to our kids, giving them encouragement in their own reading. And third, perhaps most importantly, it gives us yet another experience we can share with our children. A favorite tactic of mine, as a parent, when dealing with children who do not want to break away from a phone or computer to read, is to read their assigned book with them. I do not literally read over their shoulder, but I pick up the book and read it one evening. I can then use my knowledge of the book to encourage their own interest in the book through 16 - EMMA JACK MAGAZINE

conversation and our shared experience of reading. When I buy my kids a book for a holiday or birthday, I always make sure to read the book before giving it as a gift. This sometimes involves a good bit of work on my part (I had to read 11 books before Christmas this past year), but the effort is well worth the reward. Since my kids know I do this, they often cannot wait to get into the books and talk about them with me. It is always a special moment for me, as a parent, to find myself in a genuinely engaging conversation with my kids about a book we have both read. Hearing their thoughts and excitement never fails to bring a smile to my face and a thrill to my heart. If we take interest in helping our kids pick out books that they will enjoy, and help encourage them by doing the same reading we ask them to do, the benefit for their development and future will be significant. Matthew E. Jackson is an author, an avid reader, and the father of 5 children, all active readers themselves. He also works in advertising, teaches humanities, and maintains a blog of book reviews.

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By Bryan Carter & Colleen Atkinson WINTER WINTER2015 2015-- 23


n many ways, John is a normal kid. In fact, after spending just a few minutes with him, it becomes obvious that he is exceptionally bright. When you discover what a day in his life is like, you realize that he is dealing with everyday challenges on an entirely different level. John is the only seven-year-old I know who does his own laundry, start to finish. He lives a life of structure that makes a parent’s draw drop. His interpretation of the world is in extreme literalism. John’s challenge is autism.

Mom’s and Dad’s Story, in Mom’s Words The Journey to John’s Diagnosis

We were newly married and parents within a year. We were so overjoyed with the new blessing in our life that we did not see the signs for what they were. In retrospect, the signs were there beginning at 10 months. John was always smiling and happy or he was crying. He never napped. John would get in his jumpy and jump for hours, literally hours, and laugh. At the 24 - EMMA JACK MAGAZINE

time, we thought it was cute. We learned later that this was due to his sensory issues. Motion kept him calm. Without language this was almost impossible to understand until later in the process. John would take off running. He would not stop even if there was danger in front of him. Our first instinct was to think he could not hear. We threw books and balls against the wall, screamed his name, and did everything we could to get his attention. We took him to get his hearing tested many times and it always checked out okay. It was difficult to communicate because he had less than 15 words. We were not even sure he understood our questions. Most children learn that if they cry, and they see their parents making formula and a bottle, that the outcome is being fed. John was not learning cause and effect. Taking John anywhere was almost impossible. He would scream and yell. Almost nothing would soothe him. Any outing had to be with two people at all times. By now, we had discovered that the only thing that would calm John was looking at a screen or motion, or listening to music, which we would later discover to be a place of both

comfort and obsession. For John, it seemed to be a happy world at first, but soon it became very frustrating. John was alone.

The 18-Month Checkup

At age 18 months, I took him to his checkup. The doctor looked at him and said without a doubt he believed John to be autistic, which a neurologist would later confirm. He also said that John needed to visit a specialist for confirmation and start therapy, that early intervention was key. Finally, we had a diagnosis. The nurse told me there would not be an appointment to confirm the diagnosis for 12 months due to a lack of appointment availability in Mississippi. That was not acceptable. It was in that moment that somehow the entire thing turned. We were not going to listen or wait for results. We were going to make our own. We sought help out of state and, within a month, had an appointment, had a confirmed diagnosis, and were back in town with an early intervention plan of action. We had to suppress all emotions as parents and be objective in order to give John a chance. Thick skin, planning, no

negotiation, sacrifice, and a plan of action had to begin. Our approach was failure is not an option, no matter how many “out of the box” things we had to do.

Facing Autism

There are many theories on what causes autism. How did he get it? Did we as parents do something?

We decided to not waste energy on the questions and just get to work. You cannot move forward if you are focusing on the “if.” The “if ” will drain all energy. There was a routine schedule, and nothing was going to get in the way. A therapist will give you three hours a week and suggestions to take home, but you have to do the work, and we did. Life as we knew it came to a halt. All priorities changed. We managed finances, separate schedules, taking turns working nights, and taking only a few hours to nap. We made the time to work with John. Friends, social outings, anything that got in the way of John had to stop unless time allowed. This lasted until he turned six.

Taking the Reins

This is our job as parents. We did early intervention. If we did not do everything we could by age six, we would not be fair to John. We knew he was inside there. We just had to find him and show him how to come out and communicate. We believed every day was precious, especially during the developing years. We turned our house into a therapy center and had more stuff than any clinic. We were relentless eight hours a day. Speech was a huge issue. I played the movie Annie over and over again, and he watched the kids move their mouths. Over time he began to sing the songs from the movie. He was parroting. We moved to the Bumblebee series and worked on simple words. He never had words of his own. He was just repeating. But it was a start. We traveled out of state for assistance. We tried many schools that could not keep him and some that would not try. We commuted out of state for one year for therapy. We had social classes with other kids. We practiced daily activities. We spent endless hours going to the park to have appropriate

play, going to stores, going to the library, and going to Chuck E. Cheese’s. We could not go on outings, to restaurants, or have a play date without playing alongside to make sure we were in a position to handle any triggers. We were unable to ease his frustration or bring him into our world. That was the hardest. We put together a team of family members, godparents, friends, teenagers, teachers, non-licensed therapists, licensed therapists, neighbors, employees, friends, and even involved kind strangers. Without the people around us, John would not be where he is today. We met many caring people along the way. At facilities that were not set up to handle John at the time, we met people who helped us personally, literally for years after. It took constant talking and never ever leaving John alone. Every day and every hour we worked until we reached him and he came out a little more.

Sensory Issues

Sensory issues were one of the toughest things to grasp. As a younger child, he would not feel pain like other children, so we always had to watch him. He would stand in an ant bed and not feel pain or cry. He had obsessions with objects to lick or put in his mouth. Over time he learned to cry if he hurt himself (It was a learned behavior, not a reaction). Over time he was able to curb obsessive behaviors. John is amazing in his progress, and it is HIS progress. He does the work to overcome.


He is literal. You have to watch how you say things because the words you use may not match your meaning, and can result in disaster. We learned the hard way, many times, that you have to keep your word, even if the interpretation was not intended; especially if it involves a treat or reward. When John’s language finally came, it suddenly exploded and came without a filter. He would say anything that came to his mind. We did not know how to temper him or to teach him. His memory and vocabulary were very large. He was good at taking words he heard and repeating them, but often he did not understand most of what he was saying. If you did not know any better, you would think everything was okay, when it wasn’t. To this day, this is still a challenge. John struggles with understanding humor. He has to learn what makes a joke, and how to take a joke. Ironically, WINTER 2015 - 25

understanding jokes and “getting them” has become one of John’s favorite activities. It turns out John loves humor. As parents of an autistic child you can never lose your sense of humor.

An Active Mind

John’s many ideas fill his mind like bouncing balls. These abundant thoughts coupled with external stimulation overwhelm him and distract him, which lead to issues at school, at home, and with friends.

Our Approach, and Progress

We are always diligent. We never let John be comfortable in a routine or obsession. We did not soothe John even if we had to endure screaming for hours and acting out behaviors. Breaking obsessions is a painful process. For years, John refused to get in a shower or bath. He would scream out of fear from sensory issues. We installed an above ground swimming pool and used it for a bath. We eventually transitioned 26 - EMMA JACK MAGAZINE

to a Jacuzzi, and then, over time, to a bathtub and shower, which he now handles on his own. In fact, John now finds the pool story hilarious. To keep John from getting too comfortable in a routine, we would move his room and belongings every day. Then it turned into once a week. Then we progressed to every time he had a meltdown. Now his favorite thing to do is to rearrange his room with Mommy. It has taken years to get him to understand, but now he is starting to want to move things, and even donate things to charities. John loves video games. They are an easy escape and easily develop into an obsession. We have to be especially careful with them and only use them as special treats so that he does not disappear into the world of electronics.

Routine Communication

If John is asked a question outright, he will avoid, distract, or outwit most adults. He is very tricky, very smart. He can recite or memorize anything he hears and use it in the correct context, but it does not mean he understands what he is saying. How did we get John to open up? We had to be creative. We discovered that John likes to have board (family) meetings and call everyone to attention. We let him be in charge. We give him a pointer and chalkboard. This way he shares his feelings and questions. To help keep things running smoothly we continue to work daily with positive feedback. We play “download your brain” where John tells us all kind of random thoughts and feelings and we try to interpret them, which calms him. We identify and deal with all of the “bouncing balls” one by one until they disappear. We strive to make it fun. This is a good way to help him to handle the overwhelming nature of his very active mind. We have to continually remind him that it is okay to make a mistake.

Moving Forward

There have always been moments when I wished my child was like all others, especially in the very beginning years. We want John in a school that challenges him and accepts him

without the special needs attached to his name. We want him to have a fighting chance. We prefer a school environment for the social aspect. If he cannot be part of a school setting, then he will be home schooled with many outside activities and exposure to all of the things he loves. It has taken years of work. At one time, John was a child who could not play with other kids. Now he can. Now, in most situations, he is able to communicate. He puts in earplugs when he gets overwhelmed. When he was younger, there was no reaching him when he got overwhelmed and had a “meltdown.” Now he is focused on selfcontrol. He uses learned techniques to help control his emotions. Many expect John to be tested and

assessed as gifted, but we do not want him to have the added pressure of social differences. He puts enough pressure on himself. We expect John to be respectful, behave, not be given pity, and not be labeled. We expect him to stand tall, be proud, and take charge of his life wherever it leads him. We expect John to continue to work hard and learn to control his behaviors that are due to sensory problems, fear, and lack of knowing what to do or how to react in a situation. We will be there, as parents, to support him all the way.

Every Day a Blessing

Every day is a miracle and fun — the good days and the bad days. John is exceptional in many areas, but the one WINTER 2015 - 27

thing that matters is that he is amazing. His compassion and empathy for others, and desire to make sure everyone is treated well, is remarkable. He truly does not understand why anyone would be mean. He wants everyone to feel love and have fun. John has developed a heart that is not tarnished by outside influences. He is truly concerned about all people.

An Amazing Family Says John’s mother, “It is hard work and demands tremendous dedication. It requires countless hours. We worked it out so that I could dedicate myself nearly full time to our goals.” Says John’s father, “If we had just taken what the doctors had said and given in to our situation, we would not be in the situation we are in today. The fact that we are in school and John is leading a mostly normal, although challenged, life is amazing. We do not rest. We work hard every day.” Above all, both parents encourage other parents to do what they do naturally for their children — everything in their power to do.

Take Away

John’s parents are insistent that all parents cannot expect their results. They do not advocate their approach to others facing autism, and are even reluctant to share. They encourage parents to “assess their situation individually, do their research, and not be in denial of their circumstance. For it is difficult or impossible to help a child from a place of denial. Expect difficulties when dealing with insurance and finding resources. Don’t be unrealistic, but be positive! Don’t hang your hopes on the system. There are times when you have to make your own results. And, above all else, intervene immediately. Research shows that early intervention is key.” Our lives are all made from different experiences, many of which must be experienced to be truly understood. Appreciating experiences from a distance is not at all the same. And, no matter how incredibly significant or impactful the experiences of others are, we are programmed to disassociate them from our daily awareness if they are not personal.

Compassion takes effort. Facing challenges is part of living. The ability to take a bad


situation and overcome it, and to do so in such a remarkable way as to see positives emerge, is one of the greatest gifts of living a life of free will. Through their love, dedication, and pure tenacity, the entire family and John’s support team have helped John find the life he lives today. There are more challenges to come, many of them difficult and/or painful. All parents, children, and families face obstacles — some certainly greater than others. Let those who face great challenges inspire us when we face great challenges of our own. Let them grant us perspective when our challenges are lesser. May we each be granted the wisdom to understand that the greatest challenge is also the reward — to appreciate the blessings we have been given and do everything in our power to make a difference. Bryan Carter is an author, business owner, father, and husband. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi with his wife Shelley and two beloved children, Jack and Emma.

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By Bryan Carter / FEATURED Writer

Can You Get More Out of Life By Living Positive?

ow many people squander their Living Positively most precious resource, time, and Living positively is about choosing hapdon’t even realize it? People fill piness by focusing on the positives in your days with worry about unimportlife and your experiences. The focus is on ant things, or things on which the positive in any given situation. The atthey can have little to no impact. Worry filled tention is paid to what is there, not what days leave emptiis missing. A posiness in their wake. tive perspective takes positive experience what is good in a This is not a transcendental perspec- is any experience we situation and moves tive on creating that forward, withaccept as positive miracles in your life. out the negatives. There is absolute Positive thinking is practicality in living positively through posithe key to living positively. tive thinking. The proverb “be thankful for what you Think of positive thinking as a practical have� sums up the practice of living posiapproach to appreciating and making the tively. Anyone who has trekked off to colmost of what you already have, rather than lege and has lived on little and made the having overly positive expectations of future most of it, and experienced a truly happy outcomes. life in the process, has demonstrated their


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“In working with top leaders and thought philosophers of our time, I will tell you that among their secrets of success is a regular practice of acknowledging and appreciating what they have. It can offer an oracle into the future because it not only tells you where you are, but it also helps clarify where you want to go in life.� - Jack Canfield

ability to not focus on what is missing. Living positively is definitely seeing the glass half full. If you don’t recognize the water in your glass, you simply go thirsty. Living positively makes use of that with which you are blessed and that which you have earned.

Choosing Happiness To a great degree, happiness is a choice. There are powerfully negative events in life, such as death, sickness, loss, and pain, where sadness is the natural and appropriate emotional response. There are also powerfully positive events that illicit great joy. Births, marriages, graduations, birthdays, accomplishments. All are naturally positive. Most everything in between is up to interpretation by the individual having the experience. Daily living takes place in that space between powerfully positive events and powerfully negative events, and it is one area over which we are able to have some dominion. It is also in this space that the majority of our time, and our lives, is spent. We choose, moment to moment, event to event, how we accept and interpret our lives. It is arguably this space in our lives that defines us more than any other, because it is shaped by us. Those who allow their lives to be filled with unconstructive worry have much less room for time spent in enjoyment. Time spent dwelling on negative possibilities is too often at the expense of recognizing the good things in life. Those who choose to spend their time and focus appreciating what life has to offer them enjoy great returns. While there is no choice in how we experience the powerfully positive and negative events in our lives, there is nothing but choice in that space in between. In that space is an opportunity to choose to shape our lives with positive thinking. Positive Advantage Research has shown that positive emotions


increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in our brains. These chemicals not only make us feel good, they activate learning centers in our brains and allow us to perform at higher levels. We are able to think more quickly, perform more complex analytical tasks, solve problems more easily, be more inventive and creative, and retain and retrieve information more easily when these chemicals are present in higher levels. In the book “The Happiness Advantage,” Shawn Achor subscribes to having a greater ratio of positive experience in our lives to increase overall happiness, where positive experience is any experience we accept as positive. Achor advocates using seven principles that use positive psychology. One of those principles is a simple exercise of reliving the day’s most positive experiences through remembering. This causes your mind to methodically reembrace the day’s most positive expe-

riences and increase the exposure and psychological impact of those positive experiences. Imagine what happens when the opposite occurs, and instead worry, aggravation, and grief are given extra time and attention. Each night when I put my children to bed I ask them to recall their favorite three things from the day. This simple routine allows them to take a moment to focus on the good things that had an impact on them, while allowing me, as a parent, to share in their joys. Choose Wisely Recognizing, embracing, and exemplifying the positives is a 24/7 practice that teaches us how to live, and extends beyond us. It teaches our children how to live as individuals and as a family, and to live their lives in a way that is most worth living. You can choose positivity in your life’s greatest challenges, and even in what seem to be mundane challenges. The point is to choose liv-

“The roots of all goodness lie

in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”

- Dalai Lama

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ing positively in your life by simply recognizing the best of what life offers. If you practice positive living as a family, you will be able to teach your children the benefits by example. Through their learning, your children will open doors in their perspectives and in their lives. A single, small achievement in your child’s perspective can result in the first of a series of rich life lessons and experiences they have to look forward to in their own life journey. We all have the free will to choose living positively, or to choose not to live positively.

Be thankful for what you have. Share your joy. Enjoy life. You only get one, and the way you experience your life influences the lives of those you love. The book “The Happiness Advantage” (copyright 2010), by Shawn Achor, is based on the same content as the famed, research-based Happiness Course taught at Harvard.

Bryan Carter is an author, business owner, father, and husband. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi with his wife Shelley and two beloved children, Jack and Emma.

While living positively may seem an easy choice, there are plenty of people who miss out. It is not hard to imagine the difference years of positive living can have on any given person’s lifetime.

Powerful Positive Experiences Things that are always good.


Everything in the Middle

You choose whether to focus on the positive or negative aspects of your life experience.

Powerful Negative Experience Things that are always (appropriately) sad.



SAVE THE DATE FOR MCM’S ARTS & LITERACY EVENTS JAN 24 • Storytelling Festival FEB 01 • Magnolia Book Awards Begin

S.M.A.R.T. Lab

FEB 01 & 15 • Visiting Artist, Marshall Ramsey FEB 28 • Dr. Seuss Silly Birthday Celebration MAR • New programs in The Literacy Garden

Three year olds are natural explorers. They instinctively use their five senses to understand their world, and Jackson Academy’s K3 teachers help them reach their potential. In our S.M.A.R.T. Lab, students use multiple senses simultaneously in hands-on activities that incorporate sensory-motor science, manipulative-based math, applied art, reading readiness, and technology time. Designed for the tiny hands of JA’s youngest scholars, this learning lab prepares students to move confidently toward a lifetime of learning.



Learn more at jacksonacademy.org/smart

www.mschildrensmuseum.com | 1.877.793.5437 Located in Jackson, MS at I-55 & Lakeland Drive A signature project of the Junior League of Jackson This project is partially funded by the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau.

EmmaJackMag Spring15 MCM 3.375x9.5.indd 1

12/22/14 4:21 PM

4908 Ridgewood Road Jackson, MS 39211 | 601.362.9676 WINTER 2015 - 41


Let us help you choose a career, get the training you need and find a job. www.hindscc.edu/go/careercoach

Community Community


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By Justin Griffing / FEATURED Writer


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ach year, I make New Year’s resolutions. It’s a holiday ritual I wouldn’t think of skipping. Most years, including last year, the top resolution is to get in better shape. All too often, this resolution lasts about two weeks and then gets left by the wayside. There are a lot of reasons for this, especially unrealistic expectations. Failure doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion. There are ways to succeed. Unrealistic expectations are ones that rarely get met. While it may seem that they give us a higher target to shoot for, achieving a goal is much like climbing a ladder; one does not go from the bottom rung to the top, but takes it one rung at a time. Expecting much from ourselves does give us a chance to excel, but it also sets us up to be disappointed if we do not quickly meet those goals. Resolve for small victories. When we achieve that victory, we set another small one. This succession of small victories might even push us beyond that original, seemingly unrealistic expectation that we wanted to reach.

Mississippi’s Obesity Problem

According to data released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in September 2014, Mississippi has a problem. It’s not a problem that we are just hearing about, but it is one that’s getting worse — the statewide obesity rate. Among adults, 35.1% of the population is considered obese, tying Mississippi with West Virginia for

worst. Among 10 to 17-year-olds, the rate is 21.7%. Where is our good news here? First, we can be grateful that our childhood obesity rate is less than our adult obesity rate. This suggests the possibility of improvement. Second, while the adult trend shows an increase in adult obesity, there has been a small drop in childhood obesity. We can take these positive trends and build on them. We should work to take the slowly dropping childhood obesity rate and keep up the momentum in order to extend our success. While programs such as healthy lunches in schools and farm-to-table programs are invaluable, home must also be part of the equation. Otherwise, chance are that any efforts in this vein will fail. We need to develop and promote healthy habits in our children.

Establishing Healthy Habits — What We Eat

We all know ways to begin to do this. We cut out sugary drinks. We cut out a lot of sweets and salty snacks. We promote healthy snacks in their place; carrots, celery, apples, and nuts can take the place of candy bars, ice cream, and cookies. We have to have a realistic plan, however. In my own experience, as an adult, to say “I’m not going to drink soft drinks” is setting myself up for failure. On the other hand, saying that I’ll let myself occasionally have one takes away the taboo. And if I go for two weeks without one and then have one… I wonder why I drink the things in the first place. We have to watch what we eat. That part is simple. As parents, we should pay attention to the various food guidelines currently out there; a good place to start is the healthy plate model espoused by the FDA in place of the food pyramid we learned in school. The guidelines are good, but we need not simply take them as untested fact. Instead, we should work to understand the science behind them as much as we can. It is important to understand that we’re not going to be able to get kids to eat all the foods we want them to eat. We should get them to try new things until we find healthy foods they decide they want to eat. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring. It can be fun. Tie healthy food into your child’s favorite food styles. If all your child will eat every night is grilled chicken nuggets, carrot sticks masquerading as french fries, green peas, and mashed potatoes, have no qualms about serving a healthy meal. If a child’s favorite food is pizza, make it at home with whole wheat crust and sneak some veggies in under the cheese. For sweet treats, go for fruits instead of cookies and candy. Every once in a while, it won’t hurt to allow something less than ideal as a treat and as a way to keep those foods from becoming taboo. Don’t use taboos. Instead use favorite food choices and make them healthy.

Establishing Healthy Habits — Physical Play

Especially important is exercise. For a child, this isn’t going to be going to the gym. Encourage them to get outside and play with friends and siblings. While this will be the primary avenue of play, don’t miss out on opportunities as a parent when they are presented. Throw a ball with them. Ride bikes together. If you live near a suitable place, take a nature walk 46 - EMMA JACK MAGAZINE

and teach them a bit about the natural world around them at the same time. On the weekends, take time to make a day trip to a place where you can take a hike or go canoeing. Turn physical activity into something that’s fun — not an hour on a treadmill.

lesson for life. There is one other thing. If we want to instill behaviors in our children, the best way we can do that is to model those behaviors. Maybe we can take a chunk out of that 35% of Mississippi adults who are obese in the process.

Establishing Healthy Habits — Avoiding the Body Image Trap

Justin Griffing is an author who has recently returned to Mississippi from Vermont.

Don’t go overboard. The goal is to develop a healthy lifestyle and healthy body image in our children. We want to develop habits that they will stick with by choice, not something they do just because mom and dad say they must. Never equate healthy habits with physical appearance. The extreme opposite of obesity is not any better. Good, healthy habits are usually the result of trying to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Bad habits or being dangerously underweight are usually the result of trying to achieve and maintain an unhealthy body image. When we equate good health with perfect looks, we run the risk of promoting eating disorders and dangerous exercise habits. These are as much failures as being a couch potato and eating junk food. Avoid telling children that they need to diet. Let the perspective be that you want them to be healthy and make good choices. If you focus on training them to make good choices instead of making the choices for them, they have a WINTER 2015 - 47


JANUARY 31 – APRIL 19, 2015

This exhibition explores the role artists played as reporters and creators who translated with pencil and pad both the chaos and daily life of the Civil War. The first-hand drawings document in lively and specific ways key developments in the history of America as it struggled to establish its national identity. Civil War Drawings from the Becker Collection is curated by Judith Bookbinder and Sheila Gallagher and the traveling exhibition is organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California. Drawings from the Becker Collection premiered at the McMullen Museum at Boston College in the exhibition, First Hand: Civil War Era Drawings from the Becker Collection which was organized by the McMullen Museum and underwritten by Boston College and Patrons of the McMullen Museum. The Mississippi Museum of Art and its programs are sponsored in part by the city of Jackson. Support is also provided in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Support for this exhibition is provided through the Thomas G. Ramey and Peggy Huff Harris Fund of the

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT WWW.MSMUSEUMART.ORG 380 SOUTH LAMAR STREET JACKSON,MISSISSIPPI 39201 601.960.1515 1.866.VIEWART @MSMUSEUMART F. Schell, Rebel Cavalry Officers Driving Back the Skulkers (detail), 1862. Becker Collection CW-FHS-MD-9_17_62.



WINTER 2015 - 51


By Bryan Carter / FEATURED Writer


on’t sit so close to the TV. Get off the phone. No more games. Go outside and play! Our parents said these things to us, and now we find ourselves saying a new version of them to our own kids. Our children have new challenges to face. This is the first generation to grow up truly immersed in an electronic, information rich, highly accessible world. We are putting electronic tablets, iPods, and cell phones in the hands of our kids, at home and in school, and then telling them not to use them. Mixed message? Of course.

We are expecting our children to moderate their time spent immersed in the world of electronically amplified imagination land, while at the same time we are modelling behavior to the contrary by spending our time immersed in our own electronic worlds.

This is Not Our Parents’ Parenting Many of us are Gen-Xers. We are facing a challenge of our own. We are the in-between generation. We are the generation that grew up at the birth of electronics and have WINTER WINTER2015 2015-- 53

witnessed their evolution. Our parents faced very similar parenting challenges to those their parents faced, and had their parents to use as guides. We face challenges in parenting that are brand new. We have to simultaneously discover, pretty much by trial and error as a collective community, the proper amount of electronic emersion to allow our children, while empowering them with its use. At the same time, we have to battle our desire to be immersed in the same world, although perhaps in a different corner.

Modelling Expectations Our children learn from us in many ways, and they do not respond to “Do as I say, not as I do” any more than we did as children. If you are failing to live “Do as I do,” then what impact do you hope to have on your children? One of the best ways to teach our children is to model the behavior we expect of them. Telling our children to hang up the cell phone, put down the controller, and to pause their iPad while we bury our attention in Facebook and other social apps is not effective. Being an adult does not give us license to be hypocritical. It gives us the responsibility to be good leaders. Being a parent makes it critical. Putting in the time and effort as parents to do the right thing day after day, minute by minute, helps our children grow up to be responsible, independent adults. It also helps us work out the flaws and kinks in our own character and behaviors. We have the opportunity to learn as much by being leaders for our children as they learn from us.

Realizing Priorities

Some Social Statistics

[ 56% ]

of Americans have a profile on a social networking site

[ 22% ]

of Americans use social networking sites several times per day

Facebook is the most addicting of the social networks — 23% of Facebook’s users check their account five or more times EVERY DAY! (http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-mediaresearch/11-shocking-new-social-media-statistics-in-america/)


How valuable do we feel personal interaction time is with our children? How valuable is it to our children to learn that personal interaction is more important than virtual interaction through electronic mediums? We have to prioritize face-to-face interactions with our children and for our children. They have to see us model the behavior we want them to exhibit as they grow up. If we do not put that stake in the ground, then we should not be surprised when our children carry on important relationship conversations via text messages. Or when our children shy away from eye-to-eye contact when having in-person conversations.

The Draw Electronics have a powerful draw. They are accepting. They are endlessly engaging. They are incredibly convenient with smartphones and tablets. There is the safety of displacement and anonymity. Just as people find safety and empowerment behind the wheel of a car to act completely differently than they would face-to-face, so do people when they go online. And online, if there is a conflict of any kind, you have the power to disengage and not face the consequences of your actions. We get to watch full-time and only speak up and interact when it feels safe. People are much more complicated and demanding. Direct human interaction is much more challenging, and ultimately, much more rewarding. Without

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leadership from a parent, imbuing a proper hierarchy of importance in human interaction, our children stand little chance to resist virtual assimilation. This is especially the case during years of social vulnerability.

Common Challenge A friend mentioned a church sermon where the minister spoke about the fear of missing out (FOMO). He was not speaking to the children. He was speaking to the adults. The virtual world is as compelling for us as it is for our kids. Many of our generation check Facebook and other favorite social apps religiously out of the fear of missing out on something. On a daily (and hourly) basis, how important are those somethings? If we are honest with ourselves, I think we will all agree that we do not get enough benefit out of the instant gratification of always being socially “in the know” to justify the dedication we give to our devices. The hard road for parents is enforcing an intentional plan to have your kids disengage from the virtual world and 56 - EMMA JACK MAGAZINE

develop their in-person skills, and not to do it with a smartphone “binging” with alerts in hand. The hard road for kids is getting up and going out the door to engage the world when there is a smart device within arm’s reach to play games, make calls, or text with their friends. Both difficult journeys lead to the same place, and are worth it.

Intentional Leadership Teach your children about the virtual world. But teach them how to engage in it responsibly and safely. Although they may be teaching you how to use apps at an age that seems much too early to put them in the driver’s seat, they still will not have your experience in dealing with people. Finally, model the responsible behavior you expect them to demonstrate so they can follow your lead. This is your opportunity to teach your children about the real world. Teach them how to introduce themselves with a firm handshake. Teach them to look someone in the eye when saying “Hello!” Teach them that communicating with

virtual devices takes a distant second to communicating one-on-one and in person. Throw a baseball or Frisbee with them. Take them on a hike or to a museum. Most important, teach them by example. In ten years, when you look back, what is going to be more valuable, being fully engaged with your screen filled with virtual “keeping up” or being fully engaged with your kids during their growing up years? What will be more meaningful for your kids? Put down your tablet. Pocket your phone. And interact with your children as if it means their future. Because it does. Bryan Carter is an author, business owner, father, and husband. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi with his wife Shelley and two beloved children, Jack and Emma.

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around. Recently, she learned she needs to have some expensive dental work done. Since she just started trying to manage her money well, she doesn’t have enough saved up for the procedure or dental insurance right now. Do you think we should help by loaning her the money? – Dianne

DAVE SAYS... Financial Advice From America’s Financial Advisor

Where are you in your financial plan? Don’t drop the coverage! Dear Dave, My husband and I are debt-free except for our home, and we have about $100,000 in savings. Recently, one of our daughters was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. We’re worried about this, and the fact that she and her sister are both teenage drivers. Do you think we should drop full coverage, and have just liability, since we’ll probably have lots of medical bills over the next few years? – Kim Dear Kim, I’m really sorry to hear about your daughter’s medical situation. But speaking from a financial perspective, you guys are in pretty good shape to handle things. You have a pile of cash in savings, I assume you have some kind of medical insurance and you’re debt-free. Under the circumstances, I get where 58 - EMMA JACK MAGAZINE

you’re coming from and the idea of having even more money available to put toward medical issues. In your case, however, there’s no way I’m going to have only liability coverage when there are two teenage drivers in the house. There’s a reason insurance rates are so high for teens. It’s called statistical analysis of their driving ability. They’re not good drivers! I haven’t had a wreck in over 20 years, but I’ve had some kids who did. No, I wouldn’t drop the coverage. Hopefully, your daughter will be okay. But I wouldn’t take a chance on having to write a check for another car on top of medical expenses. – Dave Reward her good choices Dear Dave, Our daughter wasn’t very responsible with money until she read your books. Now, she has really started turning her life

Dear Laura, I like what you’ve told me about your daughter. She doesn’t need to worry about dental insurance though. You almost never get back what you put into those policies. It’s the kind of stuff a good emergency fund will cover. If she has invested her time and money into what I teach, I’d say she’s pretty serious about getting her finances in order. If it were me, I’d make the money for dental work a gift, not a loan, for turning her financial life around. In your description you never mentioned anything about your daughter being lazy or unwilling to work. You talked about a young lady who’s just starting to build her life, and you’re rewarding smart choices. I think that’s a great idea and will have a major positive impact! – Dave

HOW DO REAL PEOPLE OVERCOME CHALLENGES TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT? We’ve heard a lot about how far behind Americans are in saving for retirement, but we don’t often hear many solutions that the average family can actually afford. That’s how we landed on a $300 a month figure. It’s a challenging number, since few of us can find an extra $300 a month without some effort and sacrifice. But it’s doable, and it’s enough to make a real difference in your nest egg by retirement. 1. Deal With Realities, and Control Your Emotions A lot of folks are debating whether or not they’ll ever be able to squeeze anything out of their budgets for retirement savings. We get it. One of the main reasons people hesitate to save for retirement is that they’re focused on meeting day-to-day obligations. Christina is a mom of five kids in

Alexandria, Va. Two of her children have special needs, so she knows what it’s like to be wary of “spending” money on retirement savings. “It’s been hard to save for retirement, because I always feel like I need to have more money in the bank since we don’t know what’s coming with the kids,” she said. “But I know that if we don’t save now, we won’t be able to take care of ourselves in the future, let alone them, if they need it,” Christina added. So she and her husband have made retirement savings their priority. They’re debt-free, have an emergency fund and watch expenses like a hawk. They’ve also come to the tough, but correct, decision to save for their retirement instead of building up a college fund for their children. “We feel that the best gift we can give our children is a strong work ethic, good money sense and not having to care for us when we get old,” she said. 2. Refine Your Budget and Work Toward Your Goal Over Time Making up your mind to put retirement savings at the top of your to-do list is just the first step. Now you actually have to find the money. Dave Ramsey, along with many retirement experts, recommends you invest 15 percent of your income just for retirement. That can sound like

a huge chunk of cash, especially if your budget is so tight it squeaks. When Katie quit work to stay home with her kids, her family in Mason City, Ill., had to learn to live on just one income. After such a drastic cut, they had to face the fact that they could not afford to put away 15 percent of her husband’s income for retirement. But they didn’t stop investing just because they couldn’t reach the 15 percent goal. “We were just doing as much as we could,” Katie explained. “However, each month we were able to tweak the budget a little more — stuff like changing his W-4 and our cell phone package. Now, we can afford 15 percent for retirement, contribute to college funds and increase our fun money!” Judy from Spring Branch, Texas, started her retirement savings plan nearly 20 years ago by contributing just three percent of her salary. Then, each year she received a bonus, she diverted most of it to her 401(k), and every time she received a raise she put a third of that into her 401(k), as well. “It did not take long to max out my 401(k),” Judy said. “At age 51, my husband and I have two kids in college with the costs completely funded. We are at the point of severe wealth building, and our giving has increased significantly. It’s a great feeling

to know that I could retire at age 60 if I choose.” 3. Let Go of Past Regrets This is where a lot of people get stuck. They see saving for retirement as a mountain that’s too large to climb after a certain point in their lives. They give up before they even begin. If you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of building a nest egg at the eleventh hour, go back to the first step and separate your realities from your emotions. One of the best ways to do that is to get all the facts. Where do you really stand now, and where could you be if you started saving with gazelle intensity? “How Do Real People Overcome Challenges to Save for Retirement?” used with permission from Ramsey Solutions. For more information, visit www.daveramsey.com.

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He has authored five New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover, EntreLeadership and Smart Money Smart Kids. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 8 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.

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Providence Hill Farm’s Summer Horsemanship Camp is a whole lot of fun, AND educational, too! The 2015 Summer Sessions are: Mon. - Fri. | 8:30a - 2:00p | ages 7 and up | $425/session* • SESSION 1: May 25-29 • SESSION 2: June 29-July 3 • SESSION 3: July 6-July 10 Activities include: • COVERED ARENA RIDING • HORSE CRAFTS & GAMES • HORSE SHOW & AWARDS • LOTS OF FUN! Come for the Friday Horse Show (11-noon) to see what we’ve learned! Email or call to receive the registration form by contacting Leah Mitchell: email lmitchell@providencehillfarm.com, stable (601) 925-0557. *Bring-a-friend/multiple session discounts offered. Forms & checks due by May 1.

facebook.com/ProvidenceHillFarm twitter.com/providence_hill providencehillfarm.tumblr.com pinterest.com/providencehill

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When it’s your child, there is no such thing as a small problem. As part of University of Mississippi Medical Center, the state’s only academic medical center, Batson Children’s Hospital is the leader in our state for treating childhood health problems, whether they be major or minor. From seasonal illnesses and schoolyard injuries, to serious conditions like heart defects and cancer, we’re dedicated to helping the most important child in your life – yours.

Because your kids are our world. Learn more at ummchealth.com/childrens or call 888.815.2005.

He is your whole world. At Batson Children’s Hospital, he is our whole world, too.

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