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Open Heart Holiday

The Heart Gallery and Art for the Heart Page 47

Celebrating Green

Embracing an Eco-Friendly Holiday

Generous Souls

Raising Kids with a Giving Spirit!

Nicole Johnson

Miss America 1999 Inspires Us All!

SATURDAY Nov. 10th SUNDAY Nov. 11th Vinoy Park - St. Petersburg

E d I To r S

GivingBack Special Musical Appearance

Giant Inflatables, Take-Home Crafts, Magic, Face Painting, Roving Dress-Up Characters, Balloon Artists Visit our Nature Zone & Butterfly Garden

Shana B


4 SHOWs DAILY by the “X Games Gear Super Freestyle Tour”


e Po Danie 0 0 : on Liv er 2 e 1 d o 0 l 0 11: Nicke xplor ob Music 1:00 Dora the E 0 ongeB 0 lause : p p S 12 p & A ay how et mpa B Live Pool S & Gre a t T e e M :00 an deon t:00-2 piderm ickelo S N / a n 0 3:0 Bana al 2:00Music Shana & l o o 0 h :0 Sc l Show h o g o i P H 3:00-4 NE Live 5:00 e deon rer o l e k 4:00c e Stag plo Ni n x E o 0 Z e 0 : h n t 6 Fu Dora 5:00amily


 November • December 2007


The Real Teachers of

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S pectrum Communications Media G roup Linda Silva Geodie Baxter Padgett

Editorial Assistant

After the conversation, I felt like I had just shot a public service announcement (PSA) for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and I had been cast as the ignorant “bad guy.” And right outside my front door on his scooter was the star of the PSA, an enlightened child who had just “educated” me with his sensitivity and innocence.

Sherri Proctor

Jessica Brady

Editorial Intern Financial Director

Robert Frederick

Creative Director Carol Crane

Art Director

Papande Newman

Editorial Design Coordinator

Carolyn Orr

Meanwhile, little did I know that a similar lesson in caring and compassion was unfolding at the home of my publishers, Linda Silva and Jack Hall. In a mature and loving gesture, my publishers’ 6-year-old daughter decided to cut her stunning long locks and donate them to Locks of Love. Locks of Love is a wonderful organization that uses real hair, donated from caring people, to craft wigs for those who have lost their hair while battling cancer. According to Linda, the act was motivated by her daughter’s desire to help those children who were sick.

Design Intern

Ironically, during all this, I was planning the holiday issue for ParentGuide , an issue dedicated to “giving back.” Teaching children to give back isn’t always easy. It requires cultivating a sense of empathy and compassion and getting past children’s tendencies to want anything and everything under the sun. Sacrifice is a natural part of giving back, something that doesn’t always flow easily from adults, much less children. So, before I began work on the issue, I had planned a ritual at my own home whereby we would buy a toy and donate it to a social service organization. But now, in my own home and in that of my publishers’, I realized we adults were being taught the true meaning “giving back” by a powerful, pint-sized vegetarian and a lovely, little short-haired lady.

Marketing Consultant


So, in this issue of ParentGuide®, please enjoy our special tribute to adoption, the inspiring story of mom and Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson, and our “enlightening” gift guide. And this season, rather than trying to teach your kids to give back, watch and learn from them. Happy Holidays,

Geodie Baxter Padgett

Members of


Executive Editor

“Eeeww! You mean my hamburger is really a cow?” decried my 7-year-old son with pure disgust. “Well, yes,” I admitted, feeling rather stupid. “Hamburger is from a cow.” “Then, I’m not eating hamburgers anymore,” he announced resolutely as he ran out to play.

I couldn’t help but wonder how I ended up here, but I had a feeling it had started a few weeks earlier when my husband had taken the boys up to his father’s property in north Florida. My father-in-law bought the property several years ago as his own personal hunting refuge, and with an artist’s care, he would go there weekly in the off-season to tend to it. He was constantly building and painting those stands hunters sit in (or sleep in if it’s my husband) and stuffing the feeders with corn to attract and fatten the deer. However, in an effort to entertain the boys, he gave some food to my 7-year-old who actually ended up hand-feeding a deer—a memory he will cherish his whole life I’m betting based on the joy with which he shared the experience. So, when he discovered that the whole purpose of this adventure was to plump up the deer and ultimately shoot and eat them, he became visibly upset—his first step toward vegetarianism.

Vol. 11 No. 6

Jayme Jensen

Vice President/ Marketing & Brand Development Jack Hall

Tiffany Moncada

The ParentGuide®

P.O. Box 877 Safety Harbor, FL 34695 1-866-784-8433 Pinellas 727-724-8433 Hillsborough 813-749-8215 fax: 813-855-3158 For Advertising Opportunities Call 1-866-784-8433

Events Director

Andrea Mitchell

Web Host

Karen Houlding

Video Production

Eric Shelton

The ParentGuide® is a bimonthly publication of Spectrum Communications Media Group, Inc. It is provided to readers. To get it mailed to your home contact us at It is also available at select locations such as Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Babies R Us, Pediatrician offices, hospitals and libraries. Unless otherwise noted all photographs, artwork, designs and editorials printed in The ParentGuide® are the sole property of Spectrum Communications Media Group (SCMG) and may not be duplicated or reproduced without SCMG written permission. The ParentGuide® and SCMG are not responsible for typographical errors, the accuracy of information provided or actions of our advertisers. Readers should verify advertising information with advertisers. Unless otherwise specified, all advertising specials are only valid until the publication of the next issue. The ParentGuide® reserves the right to designate one company per advertisement and to refuse any advertising for any reason. The views expressed in The ParentGuide® are not necessarily those of the publisher. The ParentGuide® assumes no responsibility for the outcome arising from the contents of the publication. Deadline for January/February 2008 is December 1, 2007. 



featuring PBS origami artist, Leonor Rosser (‘Origami with Leonor’), giant inflatable, face painters, free music CDs from Putumayo kids, food and much much more.


2nd Annual

Children’s Day Hyde Park Village Sunday, November 18th

Movie Night

The schedule is as follows:

3:00- 6:00 pm

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES 6:00- 8:00 pm w/Tom Hanks


Movie Night

Lead sponsor for this unique event:

The Law Offices of


The Gasparilla Film Festival is presented by Wachovia. For additional Children’s Day sponsor information, please contact John Rosser, Executive Director, at (561) 251-9941

Shake up your holiday tradition. Visit Wild Wonderland at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for unique and magical moments the kids won’t soon forget. Get your picture taken with African penguins, or enjoy other featured events, like a “Jingle Bell” horse-drawn carriage ride, the new “Frosty’s Foam Factory”, visits with Santa and his reindeer, free unlimited zoo rides* and over a million holiday lights. But you’d better get shaking soon. For more information visit

The Jingle meets the Jungle

November 30 and December 1, 7-8, 14-16, 19-23, 26-30 from 6pm to 9pm

 November • December 2007

*Free unlimited zoo rides does not include the “Jingle Bell” horse-drawn carriage ride. Dates subject to change without notice. No rain checks. 



24 16





42 Miss America to Motherhood


Nicole Johnson is the definition of inspiring as she defied the medical community and succeeded as Miss America and a mom with Type I diabetes.

Jessica Brady shares some great tips for enjoying an eco-friendly holiday this year.

Design Diva The Harvest Calls With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Rebecca Markley, ParentGuide’s® Design Diva, provides lots for decorating.


Retreat Center Parenting & Humor: No Time to Lick Your Wounds Kurt Goerke shows us there’s never a better place for humor than in parenting.


Ask Ruth Ruth Broadwater, M.A., answers questions on adopting.

The Holidays are Coming! Quick Develop a Spending Plan Kimberly Overman offers some solid financial advice to keep you from blowing your budget and your holidays.

47Adopting From the Heart

With November as adoption month, ParentGuide® celebrates the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay and Art for the Heart in a moving tribute.



64 Pure Green

Guts and Glory An intimate, one-on-one interview with Veggie Tales’ star Larry the Cucumber and his alter ego, Mike Nawrocki.


Being Well

On the Cover: Cortez, a 10-year-old in foster care, shares his soul during an adoption photo shoot for the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay. Photography by Daniel Wallace.


Successful Holiday Shopping With Your Overweight Teen or Child

Annual Gift Guide

Shopping with an overweight child requires planning and sensitivity. Dr. Susan Bartell shows you how to do it successfully.

Our highly anticipated Gift Guide comes in a special pull-out section featuring unique and beautiful gifts that will add a glow to your holiday.

Special Needs Move Over Bradys: Here Comes the Byler Bunch Jessica Brady talks about the

 November • December 2007


24 Prosperity

56 Creating Appreciative Kids

Learn how to “shape an attitude of gratitude” with your kids as Shannon Dean explores how to raise kids who give back.



babies’ birth with Karoline and Ben Byler in the second part of our series on Florida’s first set of sextuplets.

Next issue: Our annual education issue

IN EVERY ISSUE 3 Editor’s Letter 10 Events Calendar 66 Birthday Zone 68 Market Place 

 November • December 2007 


1:00pm – 4:00pm Spa Beach Park


9:00am Palma Ceia United Methodist Day School 813-837-9580

NOVEMBER 2 – 4 30TH ANNUAL FLAPJACK FESTIVAL Land O’ Lakes Community Center


NOVEMBER 2 – 4 DAY OUT WITH THOMAS 2007 “ALL ABOARD TOUR” Inland Lakes Railway 866-468-7630

3 Saturday NOVEMBER 3 – 4 “EVER PRESENT HOLIDAY SHOW” EXHIBIT OPENING Dunedin Fine Arts Center 727-298-3322


Embassy Suites 813-989-9566

2 November September••December October 2007 10 2007


Weeki Wachee 352-797-7402

9 Friday NOVEMBER 9 – 11 RIBFEST


Vinoy Park 727-528-3828



12:00pm – 6:00pm Doby Elementary 10:00am – 12:00pm Kid City, The Children’s Museum of Tampa 813-935-8441


7:00pm – 11:00pm 813-935-8552



Event Kickoff 4:00pm Straub Park


10:00am MOSI 813-987-6100


Tampa Convention Center

Regular Store Hours Babies R’US/Toys R’ US Wesley Chapel Superstore

NOVEMBER 9 – 11 DAY OUT WITH THOMAS 2007 “ALL ABOARD TOUR” Inland Lakes Railway 866-468-7630

NOVEMBER 9 – 11 2007 HOLIDAY GIFT MARKET Florida State Fairgrounds Entertainment Hall


Select Fridays and Saturdays Tyrone Square Mall 727-345-0126


9:30am – 11:30am Tyrone Square Mall 727-345-0126



Magic Kingdom – Walt Disney World


Animal Kingdom – Walt Disney World


10:00am – 11:00am Dunedin Fine Arts Center 727-298-3322


MGM Studios – Walt Disney World

14 Wednesday MOMMY & ME 10:30am and 11:15am At Kid City’s Wee Wonder Wednesdays

1166 Friday NOVEMBER 16 – 17 ONCE A YEAR GIANT PUPPET SHOW ”CINDERELLA AND THE CHINESE SLIPPER” 11:00am 11:00 am 727-821-8992 EExt.. 209


Vinoy Park St. Pete


Sheraton Sand Key Resort


23 Friday



Cypress Gardens 10:30am – 11:30am Safety Harbor Gazebo at John Wilson Park

Select Dates, Harry Bollback Performing Arts Center, New Port Richey 877-412-8687



Noon – 2:00pm Gazebo at John Wilson Park

3RD FRIDAY MUSIC SERIES 6:00pm – 9:00pm Downtown Safety Harbor


St. Pete Times Forum


11:00am – 9:00pm Highlander Park in Dunedin 727-733-3197


Epcot – Walt Disney World


6:30pm, North Straub Park 727-893-7734

24 Saturday NOVEMBER 24 – 25 “THE SNOW PRINCESS”

Largo Cultural Center, 727-587-6751


Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

6:00pm – 10:00pm, MOSI

2299 Thursday

18 Sunday



3:00pm – 6:00pm Children’s events 6:00pm – 8:00pm Movie presentation Hyde Park Village

20 Tuesday IT’S MAGIC

Magic show for children with Stuart Palm 2:00pm Dunedin Fine Arts Center 727-298-3322


The Lakeland Center

30 Friday NOVEMBER 30 – DECEMBER 2 ORLANDO BALLET “THE NUTCRACKER” Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center


6:00pm – 9:00pm Lowry Park Zoo 813-935-8552


Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center Downtown Main Street Dunedin 11 3 727-812-4530

December 2007 1 Saturday



6:00pm Safety Harbor Gazebo, John Wilson Park 727-724-1572


6:00pm – 9:00pm R. E. Olds Park Oldsmar 813-749-1260

John’s Pass Village, Madeira Beach Downtown St. Pete and North Straub Park 727-893-7441


Sims Park New Port Richey




Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

8 Saturday

10:00am – 12:00pm Kid City, The Children’s Museum of Tampa 813-935-8441

Ruth Eckerd Hall 727-791-7400




Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center


Mahaffey Theater 727-892-5767


Sims Park New Port Richey

12 November • October December 2007 4 September 2007


9:00am & 10:30am Rigsby Recreation Center 727-724-1545


Bayshore Boulevard Dunedin 727-812-4530


Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center


1:30pm – 3:00pm Dunedin Fine Art Center 727-298-3322



Mahaffey Theater 727-892-5767

12 Wednesday

10:30am – 11:30am Safety Harbor Gazebo at John Wilson Park

Mahaffey Theater 727-892-5767




10:00am – 11:00am Dunedin Fine Art Center 727-298-3322

Noon – 2:00pm Gazebo at John Wilson Park


6:00pm – 9:00pm Downtown Safety Harbor

10:30am and 11:15am At Kid City’s Wee Wonder Wednesdays

14 Friday DECEMBER 14 – 15 PUPPET SHOW “HANSEL & GRETEL” 11:00am 727-821-8992 ext. 209





1:00pm – 3:30pm Dunedin Fine Art Center 727-298-3322

The Lakeland Center


Mahaffey Theater 727-892-5767


Ruth Eckerd Hall


9:30am – 1:00pm Lowry Park Zoo 813-935-8552

15 Saturday

16 Sunday



6:00pm – 10:00pm


28 Friday

31 Monday


1:00pm Safety Harbor Main Street 727-724-1530


10:00am – 11:00am Kid City, The Children’s Museum of Tampa 813-935-8441

Ruth Eckerd Hall 727-791-7400 4:00pm St. Pete Pier

Lowry Park Zoo 813-935-8552

26 Wednesday



Mahaffey Theater 727-892-5767



On-going Events AFTERNOON FUN

Saturdays 1:00pm – 4:00pm St. Pete Pier 727-821-6443


2nd and 3rd Wednesday of the month Kid City, The Children’s Museum of Tampa 813-935-8441


1st Friday of the month Kid City, The Children’s Museum of Tampa 813-935-8441



Saturdays 9:00am Salvador Dali Museum 727-823-3767


Come celebrate your birthday at the Zoo or the Zoo can come to you! 813-935-8552

9:00pm – 1:00am Florida Aquarium 813-273-4000


Downtown St. Pete TAMPA BAY

Join online community


at 13 5

mommy and me & daddy too FRIENDS


Safety Harbor Downtown Gazebo On Main Street

At The John Wilson Park Every Third Friday 10:30am – 11:30am

November 16th December 21st

Come celebrate the holidays. Make new friends, create crafts and have fun!

Come join Mommy and Me at Kid City’s

Wee Wonder Wednesdays 10:30am and 11:15am

November 14th December 12th There will be fun crafts and lots of new things to learn at the Children’s Museum. It’s education through entertainment for your kids!

Log on to for future events Sponsored in part by:

Santa’s Arrival

Winter Wonderland

Saturday, November 10th 9:30 am - 11:30 am

Select Fridays & Saturdays November 10th - January 5th 7:00 pm

Main entrance near Lee Roy Selmon’s

To join or renew your membership, visit $5 annual membership fee.

TYRONE SQUARE All dates and events subject to change. Visit for latest updates. 14 November • December 2007

Located at 6901 22nd Avenue North, St. Petersburg Shopping Line® 727-347-3889 15



Eco Easy

Eco-Friendly HolidaySeason Tips for an

be reused every year. Follow these instructions to make a tin can luminaria. Fill the tin with water and freeze it. This makes it easier to punch holes in it without denting the tin. Next, use a hammer and nail to punch holes along the top of the tin. Fill the bottom with ¼ inch of sand and place a tea candle in the sand. Lastly, light the candle and enjoy your beautiful luminaria. Tip: Make designs with the holes for a prettier, more festive luminaria.

Kwanzaa: Like other holidays, Kwanzaa is a time of celebration. This year, try to make your celebration green. Below are ways to make the seven symbols of Kwanzaa eco-friendly. Instead of buying a Kinara, make the candleholder from a 2’ x 4’ piece of wood and screw in candle holders that can be bought at a hardware store. Buy straw Mkeka, or place mats. For Mazao, or crops, buy organic since they are free from pesticides that harm the environment. Also,

buy organic corn for Vibunzi. Kikombe cha umoja is a communal cup. Use one you already have, instead of buying new. Mishumaa saba are the seven candles of Kwanzaa. Use beeswax candles that emit less soot. Zawadi are enriching gifts. Instead of buying them, create your own, since they are supposed to represent creativity.

Eid al-Adha: In order to have a green Eid al Adha, the holiest of Islamic sacred observances, do your best to carpool, in order to decrease the amount of pollution in the air. Also, when preparing foods for the feast, do your best to buy and serve natural and organic foods, since they are not sprayed with harmful pesticides. Instead of purchasing gifts, try to make your own earth-friendly gift or buy potted plants. Plants make for nice gifts, since they provide endless beauty and help clean the air both outside and inside.

By JessiCa Brady

Go Green. Those two words can be seen and heard pretty much everywhere we go from car commercials to shopping malls. The theme seems to be catching on, and right it should. For far too long, the well-being of mother earth has been pushed aside or placed on the back burner. To help continue the move to a healthier earth, we have put together a number of ways people of all faiths and religions can celebrate a green holiday.

Christmas: Every year, millions of trees are decorated to celebrate Christmas, but after the holiday they usually end up in a landfill. This is not necessary, since there are many other ways to recycle Christmas trees. Before you toss the tree to the curb, check your water bill or call your city government for dates when your city or county will pick-up the trees to recycle them into mulch. Another option is to plant the tree in your backyard and allow birds to use it for a home during the winter. An even better idea is to use artificial trees, and instead of throwing them away, donate them to a less fortunate family.


You must be the change you want to see in the world. – M. Gandhi

Along with the holiday comes a lot of extra waste, especially wrapping paper, which can’t be recycled. Instead of wrapping gifts in store bought wrapping paper, look for recycled paper, or better yet, use the comics page out of the newspaper. Also, give Hanukkah gelt in the form of Tzedakah to a Jewish or environmental organization of your choice in honor of a friend or relative. You could also adopt a pet, plant a tree or buy an acre of rainforest in someone’s honor.

Las Posadas: The lighting of luminarias culminates on Christmas Eve with the night of Las Posadas, meaning the lodging or the inn, which is a celebration of Christ’s birth. Usually, luminarias are lined along sidewalks and driveways in neighborhoods. For the most part, they are made with paper bags, sand and small candles. This year, save the paper and make your own that can

Hop on the feel-good express. Open an Account That Counts and a little something goes to Toys For Tots. SM


Imagine an easier way to bank and bring holiday joy to a child in need at the same time. It’s happening at Regions. With every new account opened, we’ll donate to the Regions Toys For Tots Bike Fund to purchase bikes for kids in your area. Plus, if you refer someone who opens an account, we’ll make another donation. This holiday, do something good for yourself, good for a friend and good for a child in need. Visit your local Regions branch and open an Account That Counts.

1.800.regions | © 2007 Regions Bank. Member FDIC. Regions Bank will make a $5 donation to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation for most new consumer deposit or small business deposit accounts opened, or consumer loan accounts closed, at participating Regions Bank branches in AL, FL and Columbus, GA, from 10/8/07 through 12/21/07 and in AR, rest of GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MS, MO, NC, SC, TN, TX and VA from 11/19/07 through 12/21/07. Certain account types are excluded. Between 10/08/07 and 12/21/07, in AL, FL, and Columbus, GA, for each new consumer or business checking account opened as the result of a referral by an existing Regions Bank customer, Regions Bank will (i) make a $5 donation to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and (ii) award the referrer a $10 gift certificate for referring a new consumer checking account, and a $25 gift certificate for referring a new business checking account. To be eligible, referral forms must contain complete and accurate information for both the referrer and the referred customer. Referred customer must be a new household and not residing with the referrer. Referrer should receive his/her gift certificate within 30 days of receipt of an eligible, approved referral form. See participating branches for details. Regions Bank’s minimum donation to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is $500,000 and maximum donation is $750,000. Toys for Tots is a registered service mark of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and is used under license. Opening deposit varies by account type. Credit approval and other restrictions may apply. All accounts are subject to the terms and conditions of the Regions Deposit Agreement.


FL-SW71636 TFTParentGdMag.indd 1

16 2 September November •• October December 2007 2007

10/24/07 1:26:32 PM 17


Anniversary Ball

Celebrating a Lifetime of Happily Ever After!

A night to Celebrate your Marriage AGAIN! A night to say I do AGAIN! A chance to wear your wedding gown AGAIN!

Valentines Day

February 14th, 2008 at 6:30 pm


Seating Limited. Call Now For Reservations or Reserve Your Table Online. (727) 409-7100

923 N. McMullen Booth Road Clearwater, FL 33759


18 November • December 2007

Remember hen

Open to ALL Couples REGARDLESS Of Your Actual Anniversary Date!


H O M e

l I F e

The Harvest

Design Diva

table. And don’t forget to arrange a kids’ table. Begin now to teach your children about the routines of entertaining by allowing them to get creative and set their own table. Supervise an activity with your children to create different aspects of the holiday table, such as construction paperweaved placements and individual favors for each little guest. Let your children take part in the decision making process and allow them to feel responsible for the lovely end result.

Festive and Welcoming Entryways

In today’s world, it is important to create holiday traditions as well as maintain some of those that parents and grandparents established. Your festive reaction to the season will provide memorable times in the minds of your children for their entire lifetime, and perhaps, the traditions and fun you offer your children now will be repeated with your grandchildren in the future.

Cozy Indoors Offers Colors and Aroma Draw that magical fall feeling indoors with subtlely placed silk fall leaves (or perhaps the real thing) scattered tastefully over an entryway table or coffee table. Purchase colorful candles of delicious smells and light them throughout your home. Yankee Candle always delivers delectable fall scents. Dump the everyday dining table dĂŠcor in favor of some fall themed placemats and fall colors. Place some novelty, fall-themed pillows on your sofa, along with a warm throw.

Making Family and Friends Feel Special

2 2007 20 September November••October December 2007


Get ready for Tom—turkey, that is. Okay, let’s be real. That’s usually the first thing people think of when Thanksgiving rolls around. After all, Thanksgiving is an American tradition that nearly every family celebrates. But if you’re a traditional Turkey Day fan, then you know that fall also represents Harvest time. Throughout history, Harvest was a joyous occasion when farmers danced the jig over the bounty they reaped. Below, you will find some tips for jazzing up your home to celebrate this wonderful time of year and for bringing the Harvest into your home.

What better way to kick start this festive season then to adorn an entryway with glorious, colorful vegetables and gourds? Display pumpkins of all shapes and sizes along with purple and gold mums for a colorful and welcoming effect at your front door. To involve the children, build a scarecrow of old jeans and flannel shirt stuffed with hay (see sidebar). And don’t wait for Santa to land before decorating your door. You can purchase ready-made, Harvest wreaths at stores like Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics, or even better, the William Sonoma catalog. Make the project an annual tradition with the whole family.

Thanksgiving is an American tradition that celebrates the fall harvest.


Besides cooking Tom and all the fixings, it’s always fun to decorate a table that the fam talks about for holidays to come. For inspiration and a little help with this project, check out HomeGoods, Bealls Outlet or even your local Dollar Store. You’ll find inexpensive dinnerware and glassware of every color at these stores. Whether you are serving 6 or 26, you can make each guest feel special with a formal setting at the table. For a centerpiece, consider fresh flowers or the traditional fare of a bountiful cornucopia overflowing with gourds and vegetables. It is always fun to set your main table days before your celebration so that you can continue to add and tweak the look for the most beautiful

Take Time for Tradition

Happy Holidays to you and your family from your Design Diva, Rebecca!




22 November • December 2007 23

H O m E


L I f E



The Holidays are Coming...

BY KIMBERLY OVERMAN Every year, the realization that the rapidly approaching holidays are right around the corner strikes a sense of fear in most families, especially large families. If you are just recovering from last year’s holiday financial hang-over, you may want to consider a spending plan. Your spending plan is essentially your budget. However, by using a more positive name, you can escape the feeling of restriction that often accompanies the term budget. Spending plans are tools for achieving financial goals that otherwise might seem impossible to reach. It is a way of taking charge of your spending on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, so that you can channel your income to achieve your goals. It’s also a way to keep money from slipping away unnoticed, allowing you to control decisions such as what to buy, when to buy it and why. Think of your budget goals as your financial wish list and your spending plan as a way to make those wishes a reality. Without clear budget goals, your financial life may remain in disarray, especially after a holiday filled with out-of-town guests and family visitors. Like any other goals in life, your holiday budget goals help you turn your wish list into an action plan. With clear goals in sight, you can chart your course of action and change your direction when needed.

How do you develop a spending plan?

To develop a spending plan, you must first become aware of your expenditures and income. A spending diary, whether computerized or handwritten, will help you to identify your spending patterns and eliminate unnecessary expenditures. Your spending analysis should include out-of-pattern expenses, such as annual insurance premiums, automobile registration fees, subscription renewals and holiday expenditures including large family meals, holiday decorations, gifts and guests and event-related entertaining. Unless you derive income from various and unpredictable sources, your income analysis should be easy. Include your current salary or use estimates based on the past two years.

2 September 2007 24 November •• October December 2007

Once you know how much money you have coming in and where it is going, you can determine what percentage of your net income goes to each category of expenditures (e.g., housing, taxes, transportation, food, clothing, gifts, entertainment, etc.). If you have selected goals, such as paying off credit card balances or saving for retirement, then you can try to squeeze money out of one or more of your spending categories to fund the goal. By keeping your plan flexible and periodically reevaluating

your progress, you can take control of your financial situation.

How do you cut costs if you are spending too much? If you are spending too much, there are several ways to cut back. One approach is to work on changing your spending habits. Suppose you are spending too much money on particular items (such as clothing) or spending more money at certain times of the month (near payday). By being aware of those habits, you can make appropriate changes. You may also try shopping smarter and reducing restaurant and/or entertainment expenses. Another option is to downsize to a less expensive car or home to reduce expenditures. You may also reduce spending by decreasing the cost of your debt. One way is to consolidate or refinance high-interest loans. As mentioned, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, but make a few changes. In time, you may be able to bring your spending under control.

How do you increase your cash flow? To maintain your spending plan, you must always have sufficient cash flow. There are a number of ways to increase your cash flow if you need to. You might ask for a raise, take a higher-paying job, take a second job or turn a hobby into a business. You can sell or liquidate assets and eliminate expenses. Have a yard sale to rid you of all those items and gifts from prior holidays that are just taking up space in your house or storage bin.

Create a schedule for meeting your goals Setting your budget goals requires forecasting your future needs and dreams. Involve every member of your family and discuss each possible goal with them. If possible, find a time when everyone in your family is relatively free. Have a brainstorming session with your entire family and ask each member to make a list of three to five of their possible needs and dreams as individuals and as a family. At this stage, keep in mind that you want to list all of your goals and dreams. Examining them and prioritizing them will come later. Strive to be as specific and unambiguous as possible so that they become easier to plan. Once each member has made the list, go over all the goals and see if you want to make any changes before you incorporate them into your budget. Unfortunately, for most families and individuals, it is not possible to realize all goals, which is why setting priorities is essential. Prioritizing your goals also makes it easier to decide which path to take

Spending plans keep holiday expenses in check and allow you to enjoy the season. when life throws you a curveball. List all your goals according to their priority. Then write down the amount of money needed, when you will need it and how many installments you will need to meet your goals. Your spending plan is your active strategy for getting where you want to go. It’s a road map that gives you a sense of direction. It not only puts you in charge of how your money is being spent on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, but it also gives you a sense of control. Kimberly Overman is a mom, certified financial planner and owner of The Financial Well, a company devoted to a holistic approach to financial planning. To learn more, contact her at 813-229-2000 or visit her Web site at


Chiropractic for the Whole Family Family Life Chiropractic Health Center is located at: 131 Garden Ave. N Clearwater, FL 33755

Slargetaying Healthy and living longer is due in part to proper nutrition and adequate

exercise. Unfortunately as we grow older managing these things becomes more difficult. That is why we offer Nutritional support as well as Chiropractic care to help maintain your health. We do accept insurance and Medicare as well as other cost saving programs. If you have any questions please call us and speak with one of our doctors.

B irth is a traumatic experience for Mom and Baby. Subluxations (minor misalignments) in the spine can

create many health related issues. Our Doctors use safe effective treatments for examining infants and adults. It is important to get an evaluation as soon as possible after the birth. You should bring Dad too so that the whole family healthy. For more information give us a call or visit our website at: 727-447-4647

Pediatric dentistry Robyn B. Lesser, D.M.D.

Step-parenting Strategies for Success.

WE DO SCHOOL EXAMS!! Tgrowsheretheis atree.familiar phrase: As the tree is bent so This is believed to be a Korean

Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry

proverb but holds true when you think of a developing spine. Children need Chiropractic so that their backs develop properly. Not to mention all the other health benefits. We not only have great Chiropractic Care but also Nutritional support for the whole family

“Robyn B. Lesser, D.M.D. is pleased to announce that Smile Builders, Dentistry for infants and children is moving.” Dr. Lesser dedicates her practice to providing the highest possible quality care and insists parents take an active and participatory role in their child’s oral health care. In furthering these efforts Dr. Lesser encourages and allows parents to be present with their child during the initial exam and for most other appointments. Dr. Lesser also performs sedation dentistry. A native of Clearwater, Florida, Dr. Robyn Lesser earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and received her D.M.D. from the University of Florida. Dr. Lesser completed her residency and certification in pediatric dentistry from the University of Florida as well. Please contact Dr. Lesser at (813) 855-5700 so that she and her staff may assist in building your child’s bright and beautiful smile!

6415 Sheldon Road •Tampa, FL 33615 26 November • December 2007

Phone: 727-447-4647 27

M I n d - B O d Y - S p I R I T

Being Well

BY Dr. SuSAn BArTeLL a department store, boys’ specialty clothing store or a men’s discount clothing warehouse are your best places to go. But even so, pay them a visit first. It will be worth shopping at the one with, not only the widest range of sizes, but also the most patient sales people who will be sensitive to the feelings of an overweight boy who dreads clothing shopping.


Holiday Clothes Shopping

Shopping for girls is more complex. Your daughter will want a particular style, color and fabric. It can be tough to find fashionable clothes for overweight girls. But with enough time and planning, it’s definitely possible! Don’t take your daughter to a store that you know has no options for her—it will be a demoralizing experience.

With your Overweight Child or Teen

As parents, we want our kids to look great for the holidays—for the parties, dinners and for all those family photos. But when you have an overweight, or even chubby child or teen, shopping for the perfect holiday outfit can be stressful—for your child and for you! Maggie, mother of Ali (11), explains it well, “As soon as I tell Ali I don’t like an outfit she’s trying on, she starts yelling that I think she’s fat. Then she’s crying…I feel like I can never say anything right!” Maggie’s experience is not unusual. Many parents want to be able to get their overweight kids—especially tweens and teens—the perfect holiday outfit, but aren’t sure how to find clothes to flatter and fit, without hurting their child’s feelings. So shopping often becomes a dreaded event for both of you, resulting in misunderstandings, arguing and tears. Some parents and kids say that at times, even long term negative effects can be felt from bad clothes shopping experiences. But you don’t have to continue dreading holiday clothes because there are a few simple but very important ways to make the experience much more pleasant. These will not only improve your shopping experience, but also your relationship with your child or teen. #1 No matter how pressed for time you may be with holiday craziness, resist the urge to shop with an overweight child and a slim child at the same time (age and gender don’t matter). Your overweight child or teen may have a hard time finding the perfect holiday outfit, while your slimmer child will be looking great in everything. This will be a depressing experience for your chubby child, and it will be uncomfortable for your thinner child, too. #2 If you are a slim mom shopping with your teenage daughter,

2 September 2007 28 November••October December 2007

#6 Since most larger-sized kids and teens are shy about showing their bodies, shopping in stores with private, rather than communal, fitting rooms is a must. Trying to convince your child that “it’s no big deal” will result in you being labeled insensitive and someone who “just doesn’t’ get it!” This is another reason to check out stores in advance. #7 Often, overweight tweens and teens will be mortified to find themselves shopping at the same time as the kids neighborhood kids they consider “skinny,” “cool” or otherwise “popular.” And trust me, it won’t work to tell your daughter that it’s no big deal to be trying on size 12 or 14 in the fitting room right next door to two giggling size zero’s or your son that his “husky” khaki’s are fine when the popular lacrosse player in the next fitting room is trying on “slims.” You can usually avoid this problem by shopping at off times. For example, make a special occasion of it by taking your child out of school during lunch for a shopping trip. The missed school hours will be worth the saved self-esteem.

don’t shop for your outfit while shopping for your daughter. Her self-esteem will be negatively impacted knowing that you are trying on clothes which are too small for her. Rather, devote your time to her, and save your own shopping for a time when you’re alone. Of course, this suggestion also applies to a slimmer dad shopping for holiday clothes with his son! #3 If your child or teen tries on an outfit you don’t like, do your best not to react strongly. Saying things like “You look awful in that,” “That makes you look fat,” or “I refuse to buy that,” or similar words are guaranteed to result in anger, hurt feelings and a huge argument in the fitting room, and even long after, so choose your words carefully. Instead try: “I don’t love that outfit, let’s try a few more before we decide,” or “I’m not sure these pants look as great as some other things I’ve seen you in, would you mind if we keep looking?” Or “Someone would have to be a model to look good in that.” #4 Catalog shopping can be less stressful for some kids because it means being able to try on clothes in complete privacy. However, this requires advanced planning—for you and your child. It also means you must be prepared to handle returns if necessary, without making your child feel guilty—especially if you’ve purchased more than one size of an outfit. If this seems like too much of a hassle for your lifestyle, then don’t choose catalog shopping. #5 Pre-visit stores alone before taking your child to make sure they carry a wide enough selection of holiday clothing for chubby or overweight kids and teens. Boys are often easier to shop for than girls because you are probably looking for a suit or a pair of khakis and a sweater or blazer. The boys or men’s department of

#8 It can be helpful to shop in stores where there are a lot of sales assistants who can give you and your child ideas for outfits that you may not have thought of, or may not have seen. It also speeds up the process when there is someone to bring new clothes and take away the ones that aren’t working— leaving less time for conflict between you and your child!

If your child tries on an outfit you don’t like, be sensitive. Say something like, “You’d have to be a model to wear that.”

#9 If clothes shopping seems to end in tears and fighting no matter what you do, it may be easier to send your child or teen shopping with someone else—another relative or adult friend, or in the case of older teens, with his or her friends or even alone. #10 These tips will be useful all year through, not just during the holidays, making for a happier and more peaceful relationship between you and your child. Happy Holidays! Dr. Susan Bartell is a nationally recognized child, teen and parenting psychologist and award-winning author. Her latest book is Dr. Susan’s Kids-Only Weight Loss Guide: The Parent’s Action Plan for Success. You can learn more about Dr. Bartell at 3 29

HillsborougH County HealtH Department tHe leaDer in proteCting tHe publiC’s HealtH new immuniZation requirement

Effective January 1, 2008, pneumonia vaccine is required for children age 2 to 24 months of age in childcare facilities and family daycare homes.

take aCtion now

Your childcare facility or family daycare home will ask you to provide an updated DH Form 680 (commonly called the “blue form”) before January 2008.

tHese are tHe requireD immuniZations

Children entering or attending licensed childcare facilities and family daycare homes need the following age-appropriate immunizations documented on the 680: • Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine • Polio vaccine • Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine • Varicella vaccine (chickenpox) • Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine

Ask your healthcare provider, and visit for more information. inFluenZa

FLU season is just around the bend. Be ahead of the “bug” and have your family immunized. Check with your family doctor or visit your local health department location. When you protect yourself, you also protect others!

30 November • December 2007

Hillsborough County Health

Department Immunization Sites

Crosstown ImmunIzatIons 4591-B East Adamo Drive Ste. 210 Tampa, FL 33605 813-307-8077 Floyd Kelton Call (813) 307-8073 for the Hillsborough Montgomery Ave. County Influenza Immunization Hot Line. 4704Tampa, FL 33616 (813) 307-8055 Plant CIty 302 N. Michigan Avenue Plant City, FL 33566 (813) 307-8057 JoyCe ely 205 14th Avenue S.E. Ruskin, FL 33570 (813) 307-8056 north hIllsborough 9827 N. Sheldon Rd. Tampa, FL 33615 (813) 307-8053 Hillsborough County Health Department unIversIty area 13601 N. 22nd Street Tampa, FL 33613 The mission of the Hillsborough County Health Department: 813) 307-8058 sulPhur sPrIngs Promote, protect and improve the health of all people in Florida. 8605 N. Mitchell Ave Please note: Florida has a very broad public records law. Most written communications to or from state officials regarding state Tampa, FL 33604 business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your e-mail communications are being archived for at least three years and may therefore be subject to public disclosure. (813) 307-8054 31

M i n d - B O d y - S p i r i t

Special Needs

Move over Brady’s—Here comes... The

Byler Bunch

SecOnd in a SerieS aBOut the Birth and life Of flOrida’S firSt Set Of SextupletS...the BylerS. it was nothing out of the ordinary for Karoline Byler to feel one of the six babies inside her stomach move or kick. But then, Brady, also known as Baby a, made himself known. “there was this massive movement inside, like a full-bodied kick,” Karoline said. “then, i felt a little water come out, then a little more, so i thought, ‘uh oh, i should call the nurse.’” as she turned her body to reach for the clicker, which was no easy task, as she jokingly put it, her entire water broke. then, the chaos began. “i got scared and pulled the clicker to call the nurse, but when i pulled it, i pulled it out of the wall. So, i start yelling, but the door was closed and no one heard me, plus, i was in the last room down the hall,” she said. Karoline knew she had to get to the door to call for help. in a calmed panic, she waddled to the door, opened it and started screaming for help. a doctor and a crew of nurses came running around the corner, yelling for her to get back into bed. after a quick exam, the doctor told her the babies were on their way. Ben and Karoline Byler had prepared themselves for the 29 weeks and four days leading up to the birth of their sextuplets. On aug. 6, Karoline had to be admitted into Bayfront Medical center to monitor the rest of her pregnancy. dr. Karen raimer and the staff of nurses made the stay as comfortable as possible, but Karoline couldn’t help but think about her four-year-old daughter Zoe. “i felt really nervous and upset that this experience was scarring Zoe, because i wasn’t with her for so long. i really felt guilty about it,” Karoline said. in her heart, she knew everything would work out. Karoline

By Jessica Brady 32 November • December 2007

The entire family waits with anticipation for the babies to come home. Family and friends will be there to help the Bylers. loved to hear Zoe talk about her new siblings and what she wanted to get them for Christmas. Karoline’s days in the hospital seemed long. Ben would visit her frequently, but she was still lonely at times. She had her laptop, cell phone, magazines and the TV to keep her occupied when she was by herself. That’s when her addiction began. “The whole time I was pregnant, it was really boring,” Karoline said. “My cell phone has Scrabble built into it, so I became addicted to playing Scrabble on that and Solitare on my laptop. I played non-stop.” But for Ben, the soon-to-be father of seven, it was a bit of a nervous and tiring situation. His mother and sister came to stay with him and to help with Zoe while Karoline was in the hospital. When asked about the stress of being the sole bread winner for a family of eight, he laughed and said, “Well, I do sell bread.” Ben works as an independent contractor for Pepperidge Farm. The copany has been very helpful and will give him a month off of work when the babies come home. “It’s a lot of pressure, but I will just put a little extra into work,” he said. “I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m excited for them to come home.” It was 6 p.m., Ben and Karoline had just finished an early dinner and Ben left. He was looking forward to watching the Kansas State game when he got home. Karoline, pulled out her cell phone and started to play Scrabble. Then at 6:30 p.m., that “full-bodied kick” came. As the doctor was getting Karloine back in bed, one of the nurses called Dr. Raimer and Ben. He had just walked in the front door when his cell phone rang. With a frantic voice, the nurse asked Ben where he was. “At home,” he replied. Well, she said Karloine is in labor you need to get back here. He quickly told his mother and sister that Karoline was in labor and left for the 50-mile trip to the hospital from their home in Wesley Chapel. It was no easy task for Ben. “I jumped in the van, only to realize I had no gas,” he said. “So, after I stopped to get gas, I finally got there.” Once there, Ben never left Karoline’s side. Dr. Raimer arrived, and Karoline was prepped for her C-section. “I didn’t feel anything, and everything was going well. I just laid there and breathed. Then, I heard the first cry and listened for each one,” Karoline said. Then, it was over. Brady, Eli, Ryan, Jackson, Charlie and Mackenzie were welcomed into the world without any complications.

Dad, Ben Byler, lovingly holds his newborn children. All six babies required special care at All Children’ Hospital in St. Petersburg, and all are doing well. On October 18, the first baby, Brady, was discharged and allowed to go home with his family. The other siblings will hopefully follow soon.

Born Sept. 1, the babies are all doing well and are still at All Children’s Hospital. They are due to go home sometime in mid-November. As for Ben and Karoline, they are enjoying what little time they have left as a family of three. “We’re cherishing the last few weeks as a small family,” Ben said,…”and are squeezing in as much going out time as we can, because it’s going to be crazy here in the next couple of weeks.” For the most part the nursery, decorated in pastel colors with oak furniture, is ready to welcome the sextuplets. Ben, with the help of his mother and sister, has turned their 400-square foot garage into a large playroom with a couch, TV and tons of toys. The entire family waits with anticipation for the babies to finally come home. Family and friends will be there to help the Bylers’ transition from a small family of three to a large family of nine. “When I was pregnant I was scared, but now that they’ve arrived, I can’t imagine them not being here,” Karoline said. “I have seven children now, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” 33

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As a parent, the first answer that pops into my head is, “To get away from his kids?” I’m never sure it’s the right answer, although I’m confident that if I was on an all-parent team on the Family Feud that the rest of the parents would be clapping and saying, “Good answer, good answer!” We would be bonded, not by the fact that we really wanted to permanently get away from our kids, but rather by our need to be able to laugh at the fact that we all feel that way sometimes.


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Parenting is a job where you really don’t have time to lick your wounds for long. And truthfully, I can’t think of any job where you have more of a need for humor than parenting. It’s a great stress reliever and a way for us to admit our imperfections to our kids and ourselves. It’s like taking fertilizer and growing daisies. “I didn’t attach the diaper well, and now my child has peed on someone in the wedding party.” You can either chastise yourself for your poor diapering skills or sneak a little smile at the fact that your child has just watered the flower girl.

36 November • December 2007



“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Children can fill your life with humor. One day when my son was about 3 years old, I was home sick and lying on the couch while he played on the floor. He wanted me to play with him, but I said that daddy felt bad so it had to be a game where daddy could just lie on the sofa. He asked, “What kind of game is like that?” I thought of the game 20 questions and explained to him that it was a game where one person thought of something and the other had 20 questions to guess it. He said, “What can I ask?” I said, “Anything.” He repeated, “Anything?” I said, “Right.” I had already thought of the TV since it was right there in the room, so I said, “I thought of something; go ahead with your first question.” He asked one last time, “I can ask anything, and you have to answer?” I said, “Yes.” Then, he asked his question, “What is it?” I said, “It was the TV,” and the game was over. I couldn’t help laughing and feeling better because my 3-year-old had just outsmarted me. Laughter is good medicine and cheaper than most prescriptions.

• On-call Babysitting • Nanny Placement • Short-term Placement • Hotel Guest Childcare • Corporate Events • Summertime • Holidays

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Humor is how we honestly embrace the truth of parenting, the truth that it is the most challenging and important job we will ever have and not do perfectly. It is liberating if you embrace it. We should get together and have “I’m a lousier parent than you” parties where we share our worse moments with each other. We would get a well-needed laugh and feel the bond of our human frailty in a way that would allow us to be more forgiving of our parental shortfalls and debunk the illusion that some folks are just flat out nailing this parenting gig.

All baby’s firsts are just as new to you, as they are to her. To help you celebrate and cherish these moments and more, Babies”R” Us brings you you the best quality baby products from the brands mother trust most. Choose from Fisher-Price, Graco, Evenflo and so many more. Whether it’s the first car seat or the first little outfit, Moms will agree... We’re always the first choice for babies.

So, next time you really blow it and make a major parental mistake, admit to it and even laugh about it with your kids. And remember, all those crazy, imperfect days that you laugh about will be the ones your children will laugh about with you and your grandchildren. 1 37


Ask Ruth

Adoption an Option? We feel very fortunate to have our young lady, and giving back to the community has been very rewarding. (four pages long) that thoroughly covered our expectations for our child, allowing for input from her as well, to avoid any misunderstandings and to keep expectations clear. Children will rise to the level of expectations their parents have created.

Question: “We’re an older couple, but would still like to ‘give back’ by adopting a child who really needs a home—any suggestions?” Answer: Personally and professionally, I can answer this question. My husband and I are in the process of adopting a young lady (15 years old) who came to me via my practice over a year ago. She is a good fit for us since she is academically motivated, creative, loving (great with children) and capable of forming a bond with adults. Many children who have cycled through the foster care system have bonding deficits due to ongoing failures of relationships that are no fault of their own. Many have lost count of how many foster homes they have resided in. Our child is one of the most resilient I have encountered, with inner strength that is absolutely awe-inspiring: for instance, at 2 years old, she approached her biological mother (who has mental health and addiction issues) with a can of food and announced that she was hungry and for her mother to feed her. As a teenager, she insisted her biological mother terminate her parental rights, so she could have other options open up to her. This amazing young lady proactively advocates for her own needs and is now a part of our loving, extended and functional family as a result. Not all children in the foster care system have this inner strength, but many can be successfully integrated into a caring home with professional guidance and the couple’s awareness that the child will present some issues: i.e. the adoptive couple must have realistic expectations and the tools with which to deal with issues as they arise. I generated an agreement

38 November • December 2007

Within the work I do for a social service agency, I have witnessed many failed adoptions due to unrealistic and unprepared adoptive parents. If a family therapist had been consulted, for instance, before, during and after the adoption, a lot of these placements could have succeeded. Children within the system often unconsciously sabotage their own placements, as it is better to reject the family than ultimately be rejected by them and suffer the grief and loss issues all over again. Adopting a child who is older and may be more problematic is certainly in my estimation a very positive way to “give back” to the community. Some friends of ours are adopting a baby from China and have been going through the process for years (this is certainly another option, but with all the children who need homes within our country, I prefer to stay local). Plus, what a lot of adoptive parents don’t know is that the state pays a little monthly subsidy for the child (which offsets the expense), and insurance and education are also covered. Although not a lot of money, the subsidy provided for a special needs child (this can just mean an older child who may be past the “cute” stage) encourages adoption as an option so the family is not too strapped financially with the prospect. We feel very fortunate to have our young lady, and giving back to our community had been very rewarding. Ruth Broadwater, M.A. (Marriage and Family Counseling) has taught parenting classes and worked with adolescents and their families for a dozen years. She also works as a Family Coach and has written and illustrated the therapeutic coloring book, Bad Mannered Monsters. Contact her at 727-641-1966. For more on Ruth’s series on blending stepfamilies, please visit 1

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were out of the question. But that wasn’t even the worst. They then delivered the most devastating news of all, that she would not be able to have her own child. “I was stunned when I first learned I had a chronic disease, but then I decided to learn everything I could about it, so that it would just be something I had, not something that had me,� Nicole said. It was her determination to prove the medical community wrong that led her to not only pursue a Masters degree in Journalism, but to continue on and become Miss America in 1999. With diabetes awareness as her platform, Nicole was the first Miss America to take on a medical issue during her reign. And while her time as Miss America was an incredible experience, she later discovered it was only the beginning of a lifelong journey. After a couple of years of marriage, Nicole’s most important role began in January of 2006 when she defied what doctors claimed was impossible and became a mother to a healthy baby girl. Almost two years later, returning back to her roots in Seminole, Florida, Nicole knows all too well the difficulty in balancing life as a celebrity, a traveling business owner and public health advocate, author of numerous books and now a single mother to 21 month-old-daughter, Ava. How does she do it all?

of the lack of information available to women with pre-existing diabetes, Nicole is writing a book about pregnancy and diabetes. Ava seems to be a natural when it comes to being on stage with her mother. When asked how being a celebrity has affected both her and Ava, Nicole says, “Well, for Ava it has meant that she has been in the spotlight since before she was born. A lot of people know her, the story of my pregnancy with her, and thus feel connected to her.� For Nicole, the effect is different. When she is recognized, it often takes her by surprise. She described that it has affected her in deeper ways. “It is hard for me to trust people. Meaning – do people want to hang out with or be with Nicole, or do they want to be with Miss America? That is really tough.� Now that Ava is getting older, and routine is becoming increasingly important, she has started attending part-time child care, a decision that Nicole struggles with emotionally, since she wants to be home with her more. While Ava still travels with Nicole occasionally, she also spends quality time with her grandparents and has developed a very strong emotional bond. So that Ava can hear her mother’s voice whenever she desires, Nicole created the “mommy ball,� a round sphere that has photographs of Nicole all around it with special voice-recorded messages to her daughter.

David Henry Williams

Little Ava is Nicole’s inspiration and living proof that those with diabetes can fulfill their dreams.

BY DIANA M. WEBER One magical night each year, little girls all across the country grab their favorite pillows and sit in front of televisions with nail-biting anticipation to discover what will be revealed in the next two hours—the new Miss America. For Nicole Johnson, this dream not only came true, but it also became the catalyst for many ironic and

42 November • December 2007

unexpected blessings that would occur in her life. Diagnosed at age 19, while competing in the Miss Florida pageant, and after almost losing her life to low blood sugar, Nicole’s dreams nearly derailed. Doctors told her that, the due to the physical stress it would put on her body, becoming a journalist and pursuing a pageant crown

Checking her own blood sugar four to eight times a day, Nicole wears a 24-hour insulin pump and often a continuous glucose monitor. The devices give her much greater freedom and allow her better control in the management of her disease. Like any other parent, the focus of Nicole’s life is her child and her desire to provide a stable and healthy environment so her daughter thrives. Most weeks, Nicole travels three to four days at a time. So, at the tender age of only 3 months, little Ava began accompanying Nicole on many public speaking events. Not only is she Nicole’s inspiration, but she is living proof that those with diabetes can live normal lives, and most importantly, live out their dreams. “It’s really powerful when I take Ava with me when I’m speaking to young women. I can simply point to my daughter and show them that there is nothing they can’t do‌that diabetes doesn’t have to stop them. Ava has brought hope to many young women who thought they’d never have children, and also to their parents who gave up on the dream of becoming grandparents.â€? Because

To balance the many demands of Nicole’s continued career, she finds creative ways to spend quality time with Ava when she is home. Nicole and Ava usually start their day quite early. While Ava is at child care until late afternoon, Nicole works on her articles, makes phones calls, sets appointments, and does whatever else she needs to do to prepare for the week ahead. After spending the evening together, which usually includes a walk in her neighborhood, Nicole continues working for another couple of hours after Ava goes to sleep. Leaving little time for herself, Nicole accepts this sacrifice as part of being a working parent. Nicole and her daughter also enjoy a special day together each week. Every Monday is declared Ava Day. “I make it a point to try not to work at all on Mondays so that I can give Ava my full attention. It’s her day,� Nicole said. Wanting to have a lot of physical interaction with her daughter, they spend at least thirty minutes a day singing songs and dancing together. Ava also loves to be read to and has 43

been very healing in her life. And while she never wants to see her child experience hurt, she does hope that her daughter learns about what it means to struggle. “I want Ava to understand the depths of her soul, so that she can find strength when she’s tested in life.” Almost nine years after her reign, Nicole has emerged as one of the most influential voices in the world for diabetes patient advocacy and education. She has co-authored three diabetic cookbooks with Mr. Food, has written an autobiography about her life with diabetes and currently writes monthly articles for two diabetes magazines. Consulting through her own company Nicole Johnson, Inc, she not only educates the public and corporations worldwide, but she also lobbies in Washington D.C. to improve patient care, insurance coverage and other related issues. Nicole is also the host of DLifeTV, a diabetes-focused television show aired weekly on CNBC.

Erica Dilcer

“I’m thankful for the struggle that this disease has brought to my life,” says Nicole. “You can’t fully understand the truest of joys without knowing pain. I’ve walked both sides and I’m thankful for it. I know that I am a better person for it.” developed a strong vocabulary. “She talks nonstop,” said Nicole. Having a baby has also created a new bond between Nicole and her own mother. She believes that becoming a parent herself has

November is National Diabetes Awareness month. To learn more about diabetes, visit . To learn more about Nicole Johnson, please go to

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The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay is a unique traveling photo exhibit created to find adoptive families for children in foster care. it is part of a collaborative effort between the children’s board of hillsborough county and hillsborough Kids, inc. to learn more about adopting a child, visit Art for the Heart creates one-of-a-kind quilts featuring the images of foster children seeking adoptive homes.

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also volunteer or mentor a child. you can help make sure that

these children are a part of our community. only about one

every child in care has a birthday gift to open on his or her

percent of people who read this will ever move on to adopt

special day. the success of our community should be judged

a child. but, there’s so much we can do to improve a child’s

on how we take care of our most vulnerable. these children are

quality of life while they are in care. the childcare system is

giving us their hopes and dreams, their faces, voices, a way to

overwhelmed with the amount of children in care, and ad-

be seen and heard. the rest is up to us.�

ditional quality foster homes are desperately needed. you can

—Jesse Miller, director for Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay.

Left row from tallest to smallest: Cornelius, 14 • Cormarius, 11 • Cordez, 7 Right row from tallest to smallest: Cortez, 10 • Coriana, 8 • Corneshia, 7

/PEN(EART!DOPTION my heart is open,


though i’ve lived alone. no family with me to call my own. shadows can’t cloud my ability to love. yet, i’m searching for peace like a lost, white dove. my heart is open. won’t you please open yours? hold me as your child-let my spirit soar. it’s a risk worth taking, because i want to give. be my rock, be my family


48 November • December 2007

help me grow. help me live. my heart is open, i’m here to adopt Just say the word-let the joy erupt.


Heart-felt Love By Sherri Proctor

Art for the heArt creAtes beAutiful quilts in

the children selected for the heart Gallery fit into one of

collAborAtion with the heArt GAllery of tAmPA bAy.

several categories: abused, abandoned and neglected, older

foster children—all they want is a family and a real home. And with more than 2,000 foster children between hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, it’s incredibly difficult to find those homes. but 30

and sibling groups. the children in these categories are considered the hardest to adopt. “Art for the heart is more than just a quilt,” Penn said. “we want

to Art for the heart, a unique program that displays larger-than-life

children to learn life skills, leadership skills, art and more.”

area. the first quilt will debut in late november 2007, and there are high hopes for its success. “november is national Adoption month; we are pushing to have the quilts ready as soon as possible,” David Penn, founder of Art for the heart.

to that end, each foster and adoptive child is also provided with a free membership to both Great explorations and mosi museums and are eligible for summer camp scholarships—all opportunities for them to learn and grow. Penn knows firsthand that photos bring out the human side of foster children. eight years after adopting their 2-year old daughter,

the foster children involved with Art for the heart were given

Audrey, Penn and his wife robin discovered Arthur, 10, and Jack,

the opportunity to create a personalized picture frame. that

6, through the heart Gallery exhibit in tampa. the brothers’ smiles

decorated frame along with a professional portrait of the child

in their photograph caught the Penn’s attention. now, they are a

will be superimposed onto fabric becoming an Art for the heart

beautiful family of five.

quilt. the quilt will also include information about the child such as name, age, hobbies and personal interests.

Penn works hard to dispel what he calls the “myths of adoption.” there are many benefits to adopting in the state of florida that the

David Penn is executive director and ceo of Great explorations

public may not be aware of. it is absolutely free to adopt these

museum in st. Petersburg and founding member of the Pinellas and

children—all legal fees are paid. children receive free medicaid

Pasco heart Gallery. he hopes the quilt exhibits will increase aware-

health and dental insurance until they turn 18. each child receives a

ness of the abundance of foster children needing permanent homes

full four-year scholarship to any public university in florida. in

and help inspire families considering adoption to take action.

addition, adoptive parents receive a monthly subsidy.

“the group homes are so overcrowded that children often sleep

“i like to compare adoption to the three trimesters of

on the floor of the salvation Army offices before being placed in

pregnancy,” Penn said.

foster care,” Penn said.

it takes approximately nine months to adopt a child. there is an

the traditional heart Gallery features approximately 105 foster chil-

initial orientation, 10 weeks of model Approach to Partnership in

dren. their professional portrait is framed and displayed on a spe-

Parenting (mAPP) classes, a thorough home study done by a

cial display wall. the display includes a collection of bio-cards that

social worker, and then if approved, the parents can begin

provide information about the child including contact information.

preparing to bring the child into their home.

the Art for the heart quilts are easier to transport allowing several different exhibits to take place simultaneously, unlike the heart Gallery, which is portable but must be displayed together. the quilts

50 November • December 2007

than 6 years old, ethnicity other than caucasian, disabled

foster children may be a step closer to having a real family thanks photos of children on full-sized quilts throughout the tri-county

David Penn and his family

Art for the Heart quilts will provide a visible reminder of the thousands of children who dream of a healthy and happy home.

Art for the heart quilts will provide a visible reminder of the thousands of children who dream of a healthy and happy home.

will be displayed in high-traffic public areas such as museums,

For more information on Art for the Heart, contact the Heart Gallery

libraries, aquariums, malls and corporate offices. they will remain at

of Pinellas and Pasco at 727-456-0637. You may also contact the

each location for approximately six to eight weeks.

Heart Gallery Tampa Bay at 813-204-1792. 51

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/^^`SQWObWdS Shaping an at tituDe of gratituDe in a Me Societ y:



a child to appreciate his gifts because many children don’t get anything at all elicits negative feelings that the child may block out along with the message. Allowing a child to feel the benefits of giving with charitable experiences shared as a family will likely yield better results. The child will probably enjoy the feelings the experience provides and want to repeat the process. Eventually, children build on these feelings and develop empathic and charitable behaviors.

Cultivating Gratitude Into Everyday Family Life It is unrealistic to focus on gratitude only during the holidays and expect our children to take the limited message to heart. “Children learn behaviors of gratitude by observing their parents, “ explains Jennifer Lecrone, Ph.D. of the Family Psychology Center of New Tampa. So model thankfulness as often as you can for everything from yummy snacks to the setting sun. Lecrone suggests using the dinner table as a setting for daily discussions about each family members’ blessings for the day. Most people know this list is lengthy, she says, but we all need daily reminders to make appreciation a habit.

Moving From Gratitude To Charitable Behaviors Once your child is regularly exhibiting gratitude, begin to introduce the concept of helping others: “When children are mature enough to accept that they are not the only one with needs and desires, a parent can help establish generosity in age-appropriate ways,� explains Leslie Rainaldi, a developmental psychologist in private practice in Tampa. Experts suggest starting with an activity that is already habitual and fun, like picking up trash, after a child has already enjoyed a day at the park. When habitual helpful behaviors are in place, move your child toward choosing the recipient of his good deeds. Carol Weisman, author of Raising Charitable Children (F.E. Robbins & Sons Press) suggests a

By Shannon M. Dean

Like many parents, my winter holiday fantasies coincide with the displays that begin before Halloween. Mine is a fantasy based not on the childhood gifts I received, but on the experiences and emotions I shared with my family. Because I am determined to cultivate the same for my own children, I spend months planning, decorating and shopping while doing my best to introduce and take part in acts of kindness and charity. But I’m sometimes rewarded with children who hurriedly plow through painstakingly-chosen gifts and breathlessly inquire if this is “all there is?� Luckily, experts assure parents like me that it’s entirely possible, even in today’s consumerdriven society, to create the joyous holidays we crave. If we can learn to harness a child’s seemingly conflicting, yet simultaneous selfish generous desires, we are well on our way to shaping year-round gracious, appreciative children who actually enjoy helping others.

in another’s shoes until 7 to 9 years of age,� she said. “Empathy for others and gratitude are behaviors that are acquired with time, experience and by habitually viewing the behavior of adults.� The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that gratitude is not only a nice way to show love, but it also makes the grateful feel good.

Gratitude Provides Long-term Benefits Gratitude is the cornerstone of empathy and charitable behavior and is hugely beneficial for all involved. Studies show that feelings of gratitude can lighten our mental load and color our world view. Grateful people report feeling higher levels of life satisfaction and less stress. And gracious seeds planted at a young age later mature and bear fruit. A Gallup Youth Survey found that nearly half of teenagers said they make a point of regularly expressing their thankfulness.

The Gimmes Are Age-Appropriate, But Tamable A child with a bad case of the holiday gimmes isn’t necessarily spoiled or a reflection of parenting, according to Brenna Hicks, MA, a children’s therapost in Safety Harbor. “Children cannot put themselves

November • December 2 56 September • October 2007 2007

However, young children need to be spoon-fed this concept because they can’t yet totally understand cause and effect. Instead, they evaluate actions based on how the action makes them feel. Telling

gift donation chosen by your child but initially funded by you. On a special occasion, like your child’s birthday or the holidays, your child can choose a recipient for a “gift� (perhaps a book for the library or an item on a charity’s wish list). Because you want your child to associate this tradition with gaining rather than losing something, don’t limit the gifts that your child receives on the occasion. Eventually, your child may want to take over the entire process: “Something like this not only teaches the joy of giving,� said Weisman, “it also helps kids feel empowered and lets them know they can do something. Kids watch TV. They know what is going on in the world.�

Shared Holiday Charitable Experiences Create Lasting Memories Creating lasting, genuinely happy holiday memories can seem an uphill battle in today’s me-society, but experts remain firm that holiday happiness is not tied to material things: “When parents say that all they want ‘is for my child to be happy,’ what they really mean is children who are responsible, generous, kind, loving, thoughtful -- and happy,� explains Weisman. “Those first characteristics have everything to do with the last one,� she assures. And research indicates that it’s the emotions tied to an event, rather than the event itself, that creates deep-down pleasurable, lasting memories. “A child opening a gift will be excited and happy only until the next present is opened. On the contrary, a child who goes caroling with his family to a nursing home will connect giving, selflessness, love and community with the holidays forever,� explains Hicks. So, as my children frantically whip up their holiday wish list, I’ll evaluate them with my own, which now includes more experiences and less things, because I know first hand, it’s the emotions and shared charitable holiday experiences that my children will likely remember when they are planning family holidays for their own children.

1VO`WbOPZSideas for busy families: Crafts Kids usually enjoy making crafts

and cards. Many Web sites provide addresses and bios for hospitalized children. Families make get-well cards, artwork or small gift items and send them directly to the kids. Two such sites are: Make A Child Smile: and Hugs And Hope: wwwhugsandhope. org/kidslist.htm

Choosing Gifts For Others During The Holidays There are also many opportunities to choose and purchase holiday gifts for others. Even young children can help choose gift wrap and drop-off items. A few of these programs are: Toys For Tots: For the past 53 years, the US

marines have distributed over 272 million new toys to over 133 million children. Families choose, purchase and wrap gifts and drop them off at one of the many drop off locations. Log onto for a list of drop off sites. Salvation Army’s Angel Tag Gift Drive: Many local retailers display Christmas trees with Angel Tags. Just pick out an angel, choose & purchase gifts for the child listed, and return the new, wrapped items to the store. Contact the local Salvation Army at 813-226-0055 or Priscilla: cruz@uss.salvationarmy. org to find an angel tree near you.

Collecting And Delivering Items And Gifts To Others There are many organizations in our area that have an ongoing

need for children’s supplies. Your children can help with collecting and delivering needed items. In addition to neighborhood food banks, Metropolitan Ministries and The Children’s Home are organizations that are always in need of supplies and gifts for children. Metropolitan Ministries is an organization that provides shelter, schooling and services for homeless families in our area. The organization always needs a large variety of donated items, especially for its children clients. Log onto Items.asp#urgentneeds for a wish list. The Children’s Home has cared for more than 25,000 children in our community. A list of needed supplies can be found at 57 3

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squats. Mobile cucumbers can squat 30 times their own body weight—that’s more than ants. Not a lot of people know that.

11. Freezing vegetables has been practiced for years. What are your thoughts on this? The only thing worse than Alcatraz at 38 degrees is a plastic bag at minus 10. 12. You’re going to be visiting the Tampa Bay area soon. What precautions do you take to protect yourself from the heat and humidity? As long as I’m spritzed every 10 minutes, I’m good. It’s

not so much the humidity as it is the heat. 13. You danced and sang your way into the hearts of many children and adults. What is your favorite song and why? Wow, that’s a hard question. I like songs where I get to mess with Bob. In “The Dance of the Cucumber� I got to sing in Spanish, making fun of Bob, while he translated in English. In our new Silly Song, “Monkey,� Bob and I go out monkey spotting, and he winds up with a monkey tail. That’s comedy!


3. Bob seems a little irritable. How do you redirect his frustrations without squashing him and making ketchup? It’s a blood sugar thing with Bob. He’s a little hypoglycemic. Give him a sandwich, and he’s as happy as a clam. Give him a clam, and he’s happy as a clam with a clam. 4. While there are more and more minorities succeeding in Hollywood, you are the first cucumber. How did you get into show business? I’ve always just loved to sing, dance and act. It never seemed to matter that I was green, have seeds and taste good in a salad. Hollywood’s very progressive in that respect. If a Berry can win the Oscar, who’s to say a vegetable can’t? 5. How do you get along with cousin Zucchini? Is it a highly competitive relationship? We get along great. It’s not all that competitive...even though Zucchinis can only squat like 10 times their own body weight. 6. What is your most feared kitchen appliance and why? The refrigerator. It’s a cold, dark and lonely place. You call it, “the crisper drawer.� I call it, “Alcatraz at 38 degrees.� He’s Larry the Cucumber, that sleek, funny, dapper dude from Veggie Tales that we all know and love. And while this cool cuke rarely has a minute to veg out, he took time out of his insanely busy schedule to chat intimately and exclusively with ParentGuideŽ about life as a lean, green singing and dancing machine! 1. I notice you wear the color green with a vertical pattern quite often. Have you ever thought about changing your outfit, and if so, to what? Green’s really the only color that works with me. I go all corndog in yellow, and red makes me look like Santa Clausen. 2. You seem very mobile even without extremities. How do you get around so easily? It’s either hop or roll. I choose to hop; it’s much more dignified. It does take a lot of exercise, though, and I’m really good at

November • December 264September • October 20072007

7. I know the social lives of celebrities are filled with galas and events. Do you enjoy going to salad mixer parties? I do - it’s a much better scene than salad bars. 8. It’s well known that many cucumbers ultimately end up as pickles? What are your thoughts on this? That’s a path paved with heartache. I deal with vinegar in moderation and never soak in it above my waist or longer than 10 minutes. 9. There’s a huge movement to “go green� right now. But that’s nothing new for you. Can you tell us what it’s like live “green� all the time? It’s great being able to photosynthesize in a pinch. Hungry? Cupboards bare? No problem—just go outside (unless it’s nighttime, then you’re out of luck—that’s why I keep Twinkies under my pillow). 10. Your skin is always so shiny and green. What’s your secret? Clean living and chlorophyll.

You’d never know how wonderfully twisted Mike Naworcki is. From all outward appearances, even in conversation, he seems perfectly normal. But then, your kids turn on “Veggie Tales,� and they laugh, and you laugh (sometimes for different reasons), and you realize this guy, his partner Phil Vischer and their incredibly talented team are pure, crazy genius. When asked how he and Vischer came up with the fun, wacky idea for singing, dancing and acting vegetables with morals, Veggie Tales co-creator Mike Nawrocki admits that, “Necessity was the mother of invention.� According to Nawrocki, animation, as we know it today, was still in infancy in early 1990’s (remember those wild “Scrubbing Bubbles� commercials). So, he and Vischer had to create characters without limbs or clothes, characters

where facial and body animation were the primary focus. For a while, they played with a candy bar character that Vischer created, until one day, his wife walked by and saw what he was working on. She suggested that, “Moms might appreciate their kids learning healthy lessons from a healthier food.� So, the vegetables took center stage. Yet, as computer animation advanced in years following Veggie Tales’ debut, their style also advanced and grew more intricate with cool, wonderful worlds and complex characters. But the simple characters that Nawrocki and Vischer created at the beginning still anchor the stories and animation and, as Nawrocki sees it, maintain their very own charm. Nawrocki and Vischer met in college where they performed puppets together, and it was during this time that the seeds were sown for Larry the Cucumber’s

voice. During their puppeteering years, Nawrocki worked and voiced a puppet named ‘Soupy’. “His voice was kind of low, kind of dopey and kind of lispy, � recalls Nawrocki. In fact, Nawrocki says that, in the first few episodes of Veggie Tales, Larry the Cucumber spoke this way. But as time went on, Larry’s voice changed. It went up in pitch, and the lisp disappeared in what Nawrocki jokingly refers to as “reverse puberty speech therapy.� Despite having voiced Larry the Cucumber for years, the future looks bright for these ageless vegetables, mostly because he and Vischer still enjoy their work. And with the recent release of their DVD “The Wizard of Ha’s� and an upcoming theatrical release featuring The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, it looks like these vegetables aren’t going to spoil anytime soon. 365


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With all the new children’s boutiques popping up, you might want to know where to go to find the best, hip kiddie couture. Without a doubt, Born to Be Hip weighs in as the coolest clothing depot for the younger crowd. Owned and operated by Theresa (Tammy), the boutique is making a name for itself in the fresh and upcoming Pinellas Park area. For Tammy, opening the shop is long-held dream of hers, and she’s thrilled that it’s finally happened.” “I have wanted this for over 24 years,” she gushes excitedly. “I’ve have always loved fashion and of course shopping.”

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A parent of two, Tammy and her husband have a son who is 24 and a USF graduate and a 4-year-old daughter. When her daughter started Pre-K, Tammy wondered what she could do that she enjoyed, but that wouldn’t take her away from family too much. She worried about a traditional 9 to 5 job because she didn’t know what to do with her daughter on the days school was closed. “So I opened this boutique with many hopes and dreams,” she says.

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Tammy’s shop specializes in finding those perfect outfits for occasions when you really want to “show off the kids in something special.” With the holidays and cooler weather just around the corner, there will be lots of opportunities to dress to the hilt, something that Tammy’s customers really adore. “My customers love to put their kids in hip, stylish fashions anytime,” she says. They also love the “vibe” they get when they enter the store. It smells lovely, is colorful and features a play area and TV for the kids. But the most important thing that

customers like is how the staff goes out of its way to offer the best possible customer service. “We’re told they like how friendly we are,” says Tammy proudly. “That means a lot to me.” The store carries several top designers and a wide range of stylish clothing and products such as diaper bags, luxury handbags, gift items, mommy items, accessories, and of course, awesome, cool clothing for newborns, boys to size 7 and girls to size 12/14. They offer free giftwrapping and a special daddy discount of 10 percent. And if you can’t decide on the best gift, give a Born to Be Hip gift certificate instead. HOURS: Tue and Wed 10-7; Thu, Fri and Sat 10-5; Sun and Mon closed; after hours by appointment. Visit Born to Be Hip at 4930 Park Blvd, Suite 4, Pinellas Park, Florida 33781. Phone: 727- 546-4041.


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