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December 2016

*Northwest Health Physicians’ Specialty Hospital is owned, in part, by physicians.

Expires: 12/31/16

KIMBERLY ENDERLE Editor-in-Chief | 479-957-0532

JONATHON ENDERLE Creative Director | 479-586-3890

Kim and Jonathon with Ava, Grant and Holden Enderle. PHOTO BY MAIN STREET STUDIOS




Associate Editor

Joyce Whitaker Judy Evans Marcedalia Salinas


Jeremy Whitaker Michelle Dodson


Peekaboo Publications

Dad’s View


PO Box 1036 Bentonville, Arkansas 72712 Please send inquiries to: or call 479-957-0532 Peekaboo may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed herein are those of the authors and advertisers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the magazine.

PEEKABOO Northwest Arkansas accepts writing contributions



Illnesses can occur at the most inconvenient times. That’s why having Siloam Springs Express Care nearby is very convenient. It’s open on your schedule – Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. No appointment needed. Reserve your spot ahead of time. Check in online at We treat many common illnesses and injuries, including: • High fever • Upper respiratory infections • Severe sore throat • Pink eye • Earaches and infections • Colds and flu • Asthma and allergies • Strains and sprains

We also offer the following services: • Splints and stitches • X-rays and EKGs • Flu shots • Lab services

3721 E. U.S. 412 Hwy., Suite B • Siloam Springs • 479-215-3080 Visit for more information.




DECEMBER 2016 30

Christmas Gift Guide


Special Gifts




Mighty Millie


NUK® Outtakes


Dad’s View



Holiday Safety + Tips



Hosting the Holidays BY DWAIN HEBDA


A Few of Our Favorite Things





Meet Opal


25 Things You Should Do in December


Make the Most of Your Health Insurance BY NORTHWEST HEALTH

on the cover 64


Faith, Family & Determination

Healing & Hope for Children



Cover Sponsored by: Northwest Health 10 December 2016

On the cover: Emerson Lazer, 4 and Lenox Lee, 3

Photo by: Lazer Lee Photography

12 December 2016

from the editor A look ahead: If you have a story to share, or an idea for a story, email editor@ and be a part of the Peekaboo family! January: Update issue on your past favorite family’s stories - let us know who you would like an update from! February: Annual Birthday Issue! Happy 9th Birthday Peekaboo! Photo by: Daniel Moody Photography

Happy December! The month of winter, Christmas, and all things magical! Even though December always comes at exactly the same time every year, this year its charm and feelings of “good will towards men” seems much more necessary than usual. Last month’s election was... well... intense. I never post anything even remotely political on social media, and definitely won’t do it here, but, suffice to say, flipping through my Facebook feed put a strain on relationships. During the past few months, people stopped sharing cute kid photos, funny antedotes, and just chatting for the sake of chatting. Sentiments took a much more grim outlook, with friends fighting with friends when their opinions on an issue didn’t match up. With the election now over, and as we find ourselves moving toward a new year, this month let’s all resolve to add a little good to the world instead of fighting negativity with negativity. If someone offends or angers you about an opinion on an issue, make a point to say two nice things in return. Not only will you change the tone of the interaction, you will also stun them into silence (and maybe teach them a lesson that they will then pass on.) The world is already so full of divisiveness, so let’s clean up where we can, and make it a place to show compassion, instead of merely fulfill the need to debate. 14 December 2016

Now, Facebook is not all that bad, and is still a great asset - especially during the holidays. It is a way to share upcoming events, post about mustbuy gifts at local stores, and share sweet stories of hope and inspiration. We agree with these aspects whole-heartedly, because this issue of Peekaboo shares these exact same things! Inside, you will find all of the must-attend events going on around NWA this month, as well as a great selection of gift ideas from a few of our favorite local stores! And, like all the other issues before it, this one is full of great stories from families living right here in our wonderful community. The other thing that December brings, which catches me off-guard each year ever since my oldest started school, is how it marks the half-way point in the school year. When I was in school, I am 100% sure that time did not go by as fast as it does now. One minute I am buying backto-school supplies, and the next minute I am planning spring break, end-of-the-year parties and summer vacations. One of my favorite ways to keep the kids learning over the break is by taking to them to Mathnasium in Bentonville. They have an amazing program that has benefited our family tremendously. For more information, visit Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Your Peekaboo Family!!



When I was 18 weeks pregnant, we found out we were having a girl. We also found out she had a rare issue with her kidneys: bilateral multicystic dysplastic kidney disease. That is when our trips to different specialists began.

Millie was born on December 26, 2012. She was quickly rushed to the NICU, put on a ventilator, and hooked up to monitors. Honestly, it was an emotional roller coaster ride. At one point, a doctor pulled Jeremy and me aside to tell us to prepare for the worst. Jeremy and I felt like our world was caving in, but we knew Millie would fight through. We prayed hard for our baby girl. Our little Millie surprised everyone. She quickly improved while in the NICU, and we were able to take her home after two and a half weeks. Our 2-year-old son Maddox was so excited to be a big brother. It is a role he took very seriously. If Millie fussed, he was next to her comforting her, and sometimes offering to nurse her, which was the cutest thing ever. He was always soft with Millie, and called her his “MayMay.” After leaving the hospital with Millie, we began our monthly trips to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. They monitored Millie’s kidneys with scans and tests. She had one kidney that did not function. It was twice the size of the other kidney, and full of cysts. Millie’s 16 December 2016

by: Kristen Hurlbut

other kidney was a normal size, functioning, and also full of cysts.

Two days before leaving the NICU, we found out Millie might have hearing loss, after she failed her hearing test.

During one of our trips to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, we met with an audiologist and an ENT to test Millie’s hearing. The test showed that Millie is profoundly deaf. Jeremy, and I were fine with this news. We had already started to learn American Sign Language, and had been signing to Millie and Maddox before leaving the NICU, teaching them what we had learned. The audiologist that we were working with stressed that we needed to consider getting Millie cochlear implants, but we felt cochlear implants should be Millie’s decision. If Millie wanted cochlear implants one day, then it could be her choice, and we would support her decision. In case Millie ever asked about cochlear implants, Jeremy and I wanted to be able to give her the information she needed. We went ahead and met with a surgeon. He felt Millie was not a great candidate for the surgery. With Millie’s malformed middle ear, he was not 100% the cochlear implants would work. The risk of Millie having cochlear implants with no function was too high.

We met with a geneticist who did every test possible to figure out what caused Millie’s kidney disease, and her deafness. Every test came back normal. Jeremy and I were tested to see if we were carriers for anything, and they found nothing. Millie’s nephrologist (kidney specialist) told us if we could keep Millie from getting sick, it would help prolong the function of her kidney.  Following this advice, Jeremy and I decided to make our life as safe for Millie as possible. We chose to homeschool both kids, stayed out of large crowds, and became hermits in the winter. Our family and friends understood that Millie could not be around anyone who was sick. They all did a great job giving us a heads up when it came to coughs, runny noses, or previous sicknesses they had before getting together with us. After looking at Millie’s lab results at her last nephrology appointment, her nephrologist told us that Millie’s numbers were amazing. She told me “I don’t know what you are doing, but keep doing it. Her numbers are so good, we can now move our appointments to once a year.” I was on cloud nine as I walked out of the office carrying both Maddox and Millie. I called Jeremy to tell him the amazing news. He stepped out of a meeting, we both cried over the phone, and talked about how we needed to plan a trip to Disney World to celebrate. On  Friday August 5, Maddox, Millie, and I were running around trying to find last minute gifts for a couple of birthdays parties we had the following day. It had been a crazy week full of appointments, and I was just now getting to the shopping. As we walked into Walmart, Millie signed, “I want to look at the fish.” I told her we were in a hurry, so we would come back and look at them later. My heart sank as she looked down in disappointment. I debated going back so the kids could see the fish, but I knew that meant we would not have time to find gifts, get food for dinner, or have time to get home to cook (resulting in another fast food night), so we pushed through.  I do my best to encourage the kids to “stop and smell the roses.” I do not like rushing them. Jeremy and I make it a point to help them understand that their time is just as important as ours. The things they want to do are just as important as the things we “need” to do. It was out of character for me to not turn around so Millie and Maddox could see the fish, and Millie knew it.  That weekend was amazing. We went on a hike, and let the kids play in the stream for the first time ever. I was nervous. Because of Millie’s kidney, we Turn the page ...

In the hospital room, Millie sat curled on my lap, while I rocked her. Jeremy held Maddox, and we waited. The doctor came in to tell us Millie had a UTI. With her kidney disease, she is prone to them, even though she has only had one, and it was when she was a newborn. We had no reason to question it. We were discharged, and sent home. We picked up Millie’s antibiotics, and got home around 8:30 Tuesday morning. 

never let her play in the stream (we worry about the bacteria), but Jeremy and I made sure we scrubbed her down before heading home. On Monday morning, we woke up, gave Jeremy hugs and kisses, and told him bye as he left for work. Usually, while I make breakfast, the kids play with Legos or Play-doh at the kitchen table, but Millie wanted me to hold her. I was more than fine with this, since I love to cuddle our babies. We sat down to eat, and Millie still wanted me to hold her. As she sat on my lap, I tried to get her to eat, but she wanted nothing. I figured she was just being picky, so I offered her several other things. She wanted nothing, except to be held.  That evening, Maddox and Millie played with their blocks while I cooked dinner. As soon as Jeremy came home from work, we ate, but Millie did not eat much, at least not enough to call a meal. We figured she was being picky, so we offered her several other things. After she refused anything food-related, we made her a chocolate shake that she found little interest in. It was  10:30  Monday  night when Millie woke up screaming. I had never heard Millie scream. It was terrifying. I quickly scooped her up, carried her into the living room, where Jeremy and I did our best to soothe her. In between Millie’s screams, she would moan. When I asked her what was wrong, she would sign that her body hurt.  While Jeremy and I discussed taking her to the ER, Maddox woke up and said he wanted to go with her. We all loaded up, and headed to the hospital.  As soon as we got to the ER, Millie calmed down a bit. They drew labs, took a urine sample, and did X-rays of Millie’s torso. I was thinking how brave she was as her tiny body stood shirtless, quivering against the plate, patiently waiting for her X-ray to be over. 

We put the kids back to bed, and Jeremy headed to work. About three and a half hours later, Millie woke up screaming. I called the ER and told them that we had just been there, and I felt Millie was getting worse. I asked if I should bring her back in, and they told me, “Extreme pain in UTIs are common. The antibiotic just needs to get in her system, and she will start feeling better.” This ended up being our conversation every time I called the ER, and Millie’s PCP’s office… which was more than a handful of times that day. We love Millie’s PCP, and I usually talk to the nurse when I call. That day I happened to talk to someone we did not know, who relayed our messages back and forth. Poor Millie was miserable. She screamed all day, and in between screams, she would moan. She wanted me to hold her, and did not want me to move. Every time I stood up, sat down, or turned, Millie would wince in pain. I asked her to show me where it hurt. She signed, “my tummy, and all over my body.” I called the ER to tell them what she said, and they told me it was normal to feel like you have the flu with a UTI. While she sat on her potty, she screamed, while grabbing her head. I asked her if her head hurt, she signed it was her tummy that hurt. I spent all day trying to comfort Millie, while on the phone with the ER, and Millie’s PCP’s office. Maddox got in on our cuddle time, and tried to help soothe Millie. He sat next to me, wrapped his arms around her, and signed, “Maddox is here MayMay, I got you.” Tuesday night, Millie threw up. I called the ER one last time. I asked if I should bring her in so they could give her some pain meds, and IV fluids. I was told,  “Vomiting is a symptom of UTI. It would be best to comfort her at home. Bringing her back into the ER might expose her to something that could make her more sick. As long as she is taking her antibiotic, it will get in her system, and she will start feeling better within 24 to 48 hours of when she started taking it.” We were exhausted. As I sat Millie on the floor, to change my vomit covered clothes, I realized she was not screaming or moaning. She just sat there

like a big girl. I took a second and told her, “Baba (AKA ‘Mommy’--Baba is what the kids call me) is sorry you are so sick, but I am so proud of the brave little girl you are, and I love more than you will ever know.” Millie did her best to raise her tiny hand. While it shook from being so weak, she managed to form an “I love you” sign. It wasn’t until the next day did Millie finally got rest with a solid nap, around two hours long. When she woke up, she signed, “I want to hold Baba, and I want water.” As I picked her up, I noticed her body was on fire. I grabbed the thermometer laying next to her, took her temperature, and it showed she had a temperature of 104.  We immediately loaded up, and headed back to the ER. As we walked in, Millie’s eyes went off into space, and her limp body began convulsing. She was having a seizure.  The nurse rushed us back. I sat on the bed holding Millie while the room filled with people. I was so scared. As they were drawing labs, Millie had another seizure. I looked down at Millie, kissed the top of her head, and quietly begged for them to help her. A doctor came in and asked about Millie’s kidney disease. I told him that a doctor at Arkansas Children’s Hospital monitors Millie’s kidneys. He said, “Your baby is very sick, and we are sending her there right now.”

By the time the helicopter came to get us, our parents showed up to check on Millie. Millie and I gave everyone hugs and kisses. It was the first time I was going to be away from Maddox, so I worried about him as well, but I knew he was in excellent hands with his daddy. I told Jeremy bye, and to grab Millie’s car seat. I was sure we would be heading home that night. The transport nurses were beyond nice. They explained everything so well, and made sure I knew Millie was in good hands. During the flight, I held one of Millie’s hands, and one of the nurses held her other hand. As I looked at Millie’s sweet little sleeping face, I could not help but think of how much our little thrill-seekers would have loved the helicopter ride. The nurses unloaded Millie from the helicopter, and we quickly walked Millie down to the Pediatric ICU. In my head I kept thinking, “We are just going to make sure her kidney is okay, then they will send us home.” As I talked to the doctor, answering her questions, and her answering mine, I looked around the room. Doctors, nurses, and techs were moving fast. The looks on their faces showed me how bad things were. Millie had been sound asleep since we left the

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hospital in NW Arkansas. As soon as they moved Millie from the helicopter gurney to the bed, they began hooking her up to monitors. Millie opened her eyes, arched her back, and looked around, as she signed, “Mommy.” I squeezed pass everyone, yelling, “Millie is asking for me! She is signing ‘Mommy!’” I looked at her and signed, “I’m right here, Baba is right here.”

For the first two weeks, I could not eat. I slept about 30 minutes here and there, if I slept at all. And I physically could not leave Millie’s side. I missed Jeremy, Maddox, and little Millie. I missed our normal everyday things. I missed taking Millie to gymnastics and dance class, because those were her favorite things. I missed our conversations – she is a

Millie looked at me for a second, then closed her eyes. Millie was now in a coma, and having seizures. She was instantly put on a ventilator, taken to get a CT scan, then hooked up to an EEG, which records electrical activity of the brain. I stared at the EEG, trying to figure out what all of the lines meant. I constantly looked for changes in the slopes. My heart sank with every seizure Millie had. I stood by Millie’s bed all night, trying to process what was going on. Why was this perfect tiny human having to fight for her life right now? Why did I not take her back to the ER when I knew something was wrong? Why was she having seizures? How did she get sick? Was it because I let her play in the stream? Was it because she came in contact with a sick kid? I wanted to fix it. I wanted to help my baby, and I couldn’t. I had to watch her go through this, and all I could do was be with her, and pray. I prayed the hardest I have ever prayed. I prayed for us to be able to take her home. My heart had broken into a million pieces.  Before Millie got sick, she was by Maddox’s side all of the time. They did everything together. He could not wait to see her, and he did not understand why he could not go in the PICU to hold his little sister. He told us, “If MayMay is sick, she needs me to hold her.”  The first few days in the hospital were the scariest. The infectious diseases doctors explained that Millie had contracted bacterial meningitis. Millie’s MRI showed severe inflammation on her brain. They immediately put Millie on antibiotics.  I wondered, “Millie had been fully vaccinated, living in a figurative bubble... how did she get meningitis?” The doctors explained that Millie came in contact with someone that had a cold, sinus infection, or ear infection. For some reason, Millie’s body could not fight it off. Jeremy and I sat in a room full of doctors. A neurologist did his best to explain how bad things were while tears filled his eyes. He told us that we needed to get Maddox in to see Millie as soon as possible, because he was not sure what her outcome would be. 

chatterbox, and her little hands go a hundred miles an hour. I missed hiding with the kids, waiting to jump out and scare Jeremy when he got home from work. I missed the sound of Maddox and Millie laughing. I missed the way Millie and Maddox would light up when Jeremy walked in the door from work. I missed our long bike rides. I missed playing in the play room. I missed cuddling our sweet babies. The first time Maddox saw Millie was amazing. We had a child therapist talk to him about what he might see when he goes into Millie’s room. We wanted Maddox to be prepared. As soon as he saw Millie, he ran to the side of her bed. Millie opened her eyes, and looked right at Maddox. He started talking and signing to her, “Hey MayMay, Maddox is here. Maddox loves you. Are you happy? Maddox is happy. Where is Maddox’s beautiful girl? You are so beautiful, MayMay. I love you, MayMay.” Maddox put his hand on Millie’s head. He stroked her hair, and she closed her eyes. He left his hand there for a while, and just stared at her. 

As Millie began to move her body, I started laying in the bed with her, to help her stay still. Even though we celebrated her moving, we needed her calm, and still, because she was on the ventilator.   With Millie’s neurological changes, she had large uncontrolled body movements. Millie’s neurologist was not sure if this was something that would last, or if it was a part of her healing journey.  The doctors began tapering down Millie’s medications. Every person is different, so, how they react to medication is different, and how they react to the medication wean is different. Millie started having strong withdrawals. Her pupils would dilate, she cried, her body thrashed, she broke out in cold sweats, she had diarrhea, and she vomited. Between extra doses of medication, and me holding her tight, she would get through the withdrawals. Sometimes they lasted hours, and sometimes they lasted all day with an hour or so break in between. The only way she would sleep was if I swaddled her with my arms and legs, and put my face on her face. We spent a lot of time like this. Millie had two failed extubations (an extubation being an attempt to take Millie off the ventilator). The first time was just a bad judgment call. Millie was not yet moving on her own. It was too soon, and she was not strong enough to hold her own airway open. 

The second extubation was a bit tougher. Millie struggled for 18 hours through the night. Early that evening, when I begged the doctor to do something to help Millie, she told me, “We just have to wait, and see if she will breath on her own.” I was worried Millie would eventually stop breathing. Her sternum was going towards her spine, her shoulders were lunging forward, and she was not moving her body. I asked the doctor if this was normal for a child to look like this after getting off the ventilator. She calmly explained that this was normal for Millie, because this is usually what they see in their drowning victims. I looked at her in disappointment, and told her, “Millie did not drown. You have the wrong patient.” Needless to say, it was a long night. The next morning, when the day shift came in, Millie was reintubated, and breathing comfortably with the help of ventilator. Since Millie had such a rough first two extubations, they started talking about doing a tracheotomy. After getting the information from the ENT nurse, I felt that Millie just needed more time. Her withdrawals got her worked up, making it harder for her to breath. She was on so much medication, I think anyone would have needed to be on a ventilator to survive. I begged for them to give Millie more time; time to have a fair shot at breathing on her own. Turn the page ...

After giving Millie a few extra days and extra doses of steroids, we were ready to get Millie off the breathing tube. Two doctors, a respiratory therapist, and our nurse came in to take Millie off the ventilator. One doctor sat by Millie’s bed, praying under her breath. They removed the breathing tube, gave Millie some oxygen, and she was fine. The third extubation worked. Millie was successfully breathing on her own. This was a huge step forward. After having the ventilator removed, Millie continued to have intense withdrawals. Finding a good wean balance was tough. We spent a lot of time cuddled together, covered in sweat and tears.  That night, after we left the PICU to go to one of the main floors, Millie’s left ear began to fill with CSF fluid (spinal fluid). We met with ENT physicians and neurosurgeons to figure out what we needed to do to stop the leak. While we waited to figure out what to do about the CSF leak, Millie had a seizure. We immediately went back to the PICU.  As soon as we got back to the PICU, Millie had a CT scan to see where the leak was coming from. It showed that the leak was coming from a hole in her middle ear. We were not sure what came first, the leak, or the infection. Millie’s middle ears are malformed. The hole could have already existed, giving Millie’s infection a straight shot to her brain, or maybe the infection put so much pressure on the area, it created the hole. Either way, Millie needed the leak taken care of.  The neurosurgeon scheduled a lumbar drain. I decided to stay in the room while they did the procedure. It was rough, because the surgeon had a hard time getting the needle in, and it took several sticks. I had to sit down a couple of times, because I had gotten nauseous watching the procedure. I wanted to be there for Millie, I wanted her to know she did not go through this alone. I wanted to be able to tell her about the brave things she went through.  Soon after Millie received her lumbar drain, her uncontrolled body movements changed to body convulsions. Millie’s body turned red, and she started running a fever. Since Millie had just had an infection, she was put back on antibiotics until they could determine where the fever was coming from. I felt that her change in behavior was caused from the drain. After expressing how much we wanted it removed, the surgeon finally agreed, and removed the drain couple of days later. 

While the surgeon removed the drain, she did another lumbar puncture to determine if her meningitis was back. Since she had been put back antibiotics, it was hard to tell if she had a recurring infection. As soon as the drain was removed, we saw a change in Millie’s movements. After seeing the amount of blood inside the puncture, we feel that Millie’s fevers, and movements had been a result of bad placement of the drain. Maybe it had been laying against a nerve. The lumbar drain was not successful, so the reconstruction of Millie’s middle ear was scheduled.  The surgery went perfectly. The leak had stopped, and, when her ear healed, Millie began to improve.  Maddox and Jeremy started coming up to the hospital every day to spend time with Millie and me. If Millie was not withdrawing too badly, Maddox would crawl up in the bed and hold her. It was so nice. Having us all four together was like being home.  As Millie healed from her surgery, she was moved up to the rehab floor. This was perfect timing, because Jeremy’s work load was getting bigger. Maddox and Millie needed to be together. Millie’s reaction to Maddox was amazing. She started improving faster when Maddox was around, so, Maddox stayed with Millie and me in the hospital for a little over a month and a half. He was such an amazing helper, and made friends all over the hospital. One day, I sat on the end of the bed while Maddox cuddled Millie. Maddox and I had a conversation about Millie, Daddy, Daddy’s work, and our family. Maddox asked about our friends back home (he wanted to know if his and Millie’s little buddies are all grown up now...or are they still little?). We talked about all of Maddox and Millie’s new friends here at the hospital (some very, very, very special ones). Maddox went on and on about MayMay being his best friend, how he loves her so much, and how happy he is that she smiles at him sometimes (we celebrate every tiny smile, every single one).  While Maddox talked and signed to Millie, Millie played with Maddox’s hair, held his hand, and stroked his face. With her uncontrolled movements, there were times she accidentally hit him, or pulled his hair. He would giggle, softly hold her hand, and calmly say, “It’s okay, MayMay. Look, Baba, MayMay used her right hand. Good job, MayMay!” During our conversation, Maddox was quiet for

a bit, then he started asking some big questions. He asked questions I prayed I could answer in a way he could comprehend, like, “Baba, why can MayMay not walk anymore?” I cozied up to both kids, and answered, “Because learning to walk is one of those things Millie will need to do all over again.” Then he asked, “Why does MayMay not know how to eat like before, and why does she need help to sit up?” I thought for a moment, then told him, “Because Millie got sick. The sickness hurt her brain really badly. Our brains tell us what to do, and how to do it. Right now her brain is trying to heal. Do you remember how you fell, and cut your arm the other day?” While he stared at Millie, he nodded his head, “Yes”. I continued to explain, “Your cut grew a scab. Over time the scab fell off, and your arm was all better.” He looked at his arm, and nodded. I told him, “Well, it’s kind of like that, MayMay’s brain just needs time to get better. Every day she is doing a little more than she did the day before.” He was content with my answer. He smiled, turned over, wrapped his arm around Millie’s neck, and said, “I will help her learn to walk again.” Millie has overcome so much in the past three months. Jeremy and I are beyond grateful that she was given the chance to fight for her life. The right people were in the right places at the right time. The doctor who sent us from Northwest Arkansas to Little Rock Children’s Hospital was moonlighting at the NWA hospital. He also works at ACH. The doctor that admitted us the night we came into the hospital was the only attending that stays over night. There is no doubt in my mind that this doctor saved Millie’s life.  The nurses, doctors, surgeons, and techs who listened to our concerns about procedures, surgeries, and Millie’s overall care went above and beyond. We have made some life-long friends, who will always have a special place in our hearts. There

are some very special people we will be missing when it is time to go home. We are so grateful to the staff at ACH for taking such amazing care of our precious baby girl. Even though things did not always go smoothly, it always worked out. We appreciate everyone who reached out, called, messaged, emailed, posted, and visited. We appreciate those who sent Maddox and Millie gifts, brought clothes, sent special blankets, and made sure we had food and coffee on a regular basis. You all were our rainbow in the middle of the storm. Millie has a long road of recovery with her neurological changes, but we are just grateful she is still with us. I wish we had known the signs of meningitis before Millie got sick. Even though I wish we had caught it sooner, we are beyond lucky to have caught it when we did. We were literally given a second chance with our sweet girl. I’m glad we had amazing doctors, nurses, and techs encouraging us to advocate for Millie. I’m glad I was able to stand up for her when I felt something was not right. Three months ago, I sat by Millie’s bed begging God to let us take her home. Now, we are finally going to be taking her home... Mighty Millie, our miracle child.

24 December 2016

! S E K A OU I I Gracyn and Cole Thomas. Cole discovered Myra’s prop closet and was mad we wouldn’t let him hold the rubber duckies for the photo. The entire photo shoot was like this. However, Myra was able to get some great photots among the chaos! I was temped to put the “Outtake” on the Christmas card! Photo by Myra Wike Photography

Photo by Lazer Lee Photography

For your next photo shoot, keep baby calm with the new NUK® Airflow Orthodontic Pacifier

NUK® Magic 360 10 Ounce Cup keeps kids’ picture day clothes mess-free. Magically drink from any edge, like a regular cup, without the worries of spills or messes. Great for transitioning to an adult cup.100% leak-proof and spill-proof, guaranteed! NUK® is the only cup that uses WOW technology, which means less parts and won’t leak.

Perfect for your little one during teething. The multiple textures soothes baby’s sore gums. NUK® Cool Critters Washcloth Teether Available at

Photo by Lazer Lee Photography

Photo by Lazer Lee Photography

I never know what I am going to get with these kids! They had a blast with family pictures this year, if you couldn’t tell! - Diana Almond Photo by: Faith Harvey with Sweet Southern Photography

NUK® Bottle with Perfect Fit™ Nipple provides a natural way to bottle-feed your growing baby. 9 out of 10 babies accept, based on research among NUK® users.

NUK® Disney Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse 5-oz Learner Cup, Silicone Spout, BPA-Free Spill-proof, soft spout is designed to be gentle on gums, and no spills mean no messes on picture day clothes.

If you would like to be a part of the January Outtakes, email with the final shot, the fun outtake, and photographer’s name. Have great shots on your camera or phone? We want to see those, too!


Est. 2016

Beacon Preparatory Academy teaches with a curriculum that enables excellence with effective hands on learning for all students, teachers and families to work together cohesively in the classroom and through partnership.




Little Buccaneers After School Program Offers… ∙ Transportation from public school to our center, nutritional snacks when they arrive and a state of the art technology room that offers Kaplan’s exclusive ∙ “INSPIRE” a “65” multi-touch table PC that engages children as they learn new skills and explore technology together.

∙ Little Scholar Tablets with over 200 preloaded apps, videos, books, songs, and games, including the exclusive, interactive, educational video series: Charlie & Company™. ∙ JUMPIDO* a Windows Kinectbased educational game for schoolage mathematics.

∙ All-in-one computers ∙ Rock climbing wall ∙ Interactive indoor games in the sports area ∙ Gaming area for electronic games ∙ Science, math, block, art and dramatic play centers ∙ Cooking classes twice per month ∙ Board games and a rotation schedule to ensure everyone has an opportunity to enjoy all that we have to offer.

*JUMPIDO is a next-generation motion-sensing device that enables you to control video games without touching a controller! To play, users execute a series of body gestures.

1002 SW I Street, Bentonville ∙

Gif t Guide The elves at Peekaboo have been busy this Christmas season! Their mission? To find the perfect gift ideas for children, moms, and dads in stores and shops right here in Northwest Arkansas.


100 W Center St # 101 Fayetteville (479) 444-7778

Mother’s Rings at David Adams Fine Jewelry

A must-have for any mother or grandmother. This unique piece of jewelry is engraved by hand with your child’s name to make it look as though your child wrote their name themselves. One ring per child, and designed to be stackable.

479-273-5557 The Shoppes at Pinnacle Hills 3301 Market Street, Suite 103, Rogers

What’s not to love about CC beanies?! Soft and cozy, with a wide range of neutrals and beautiful colors. Pair with your favorite flannel for the fall or winter! Leather tag on the side is stamped C.C.

3005 N College Ave, Fayetteville (479) 521-1915

Three-dimensional carpets encourage imaginative and creative play. These wonderful carpets are an alternative to today’s fast-paced, technologybased toys.

The Baby’s Room and Kid’s Quarters thebabysroomnwa.coms


Gif t Guide


479-273-5557 The Shoppes at Pinnacle Hills 3301 Market Street, Suite 103, Rogers

Bedtime Prayer Cubes A customer favorite, Kate Austin these decorative Jewelry and Gifts pillows are whimsical 3046 SE J Street, and inspirational.

Each side of the die offers a different bedtime prayer. Who says bedtime prayer can’t be fun?

Suite 6 Bentonville

The Copper Pig 1364 E Augustine Lane B-1 Fayetteville

Your Favorite Books and Plush in one Gift

MermaidSouthern Style Children’s Tail Boutique and More Blanket 116 S. Main Street, Bentonville

3005 N College Ave, Fayetteville (479) 521-1915

Custom Heartbeat Paintings Brittney Skelton at Hogtown Creations Custom Heartbeat Paintings are hand-sketched and painted in detail to capture your baby’s unique and precious heartbeat as a lasting piece of art. Paintings are done in texture mediums and acrylic on canvas, based on the baby’s heartbeat from the ultrasound. for orders. 32 December 2016

Pig Trail Clothing The coolest tees and accessories for everyone on your Christmas gift list! This NWA-based company designs and prints all of their products in Arkansas. Specializing in mens, womens and childrens clothing that are both trendy and classic. Available online and in stores across NWA.

iPhone Driftwood Docking Station Live Edge

Sentimental gifts are the best gifts. Check out this adorable baby dress made from your baby’s Daddy’s shirt!

The driftwood for our oneof-a-kind live edge docks is collected on the 3,478 mile shoreline of Maine. These docks are an excellent present for men, bridesmaids, your techy and/or outdoorsy friends, and anyone who loves handcrafted items! They also look great in any decor, from modern to rustic.

SHOP FOR MANKIND 5001 Pauline Whitaker Pkwy Ste 120 Rogers, Arkansas


Extra-large family hammock FLORA curaçao, made of organic cotton and certified by GOTS. This premium-quality hammock has a unique weave design and offers unsurpassed comfort. It is extra-large, and its organic cotton is wonderfully soft to the touch. The traditional hand-plaiting of the cords is one of its special quality features.

Laugh your way through cold weather with our faux fur hats! Lots of different styles and colors. Pictured right: Fashionable brown and tan spots with a wild black mohawk make this hat a fun and playful accessory! Designed to perfectly emulate the color and softness of genuine fur.

Gif t Guide Remedy Road is about shopping with intentionality & purpose. Every product has a story and the story behind the product is just as important as the product. Remedy Road 114 W. Central Ave Bentonville See your baby before you even get the chance to meet him or her. Give the gift of a 3d/4d sonogram. $100 special includes 10-15 pictures, a CD with all images, and a recorded heartbeat keepsake! Baby Face and More


Mistaken Lyric Coasters Gifting made easy! Who isn’t guilty of singing the wrong words?! The Mustache Goods and Wears 100 NW 2nd, Suite 110 Bentonville - 479.295.0739

Christmas Jammies are a staple for the holidays. You can’t find cuter than these Little Drummer Boy pajamas... pa rum pum pum pum! Bella Jacks 3660 N Front St, Ste 1 Fayetteville (479) 444-8767

112 East Central Ave, Bentonville (479) 866-9057 MAGNATILES are magnetic geometrical shapes that easily connect for hours of open-ended play. Make flat, colorful mosaics or create awesome 3-D structures. A favorite for aspiring builders and engineers of all ages. Great STEM toy! Once you start playing, it is hard to stop.

Special Gifts at Imagine Studios The holidays are for making memories, and what better way to make a memory than painting something special at Imagine Studios? Not only will you spend quality time with your family and friends, but you’ll create something to treasure for years to come. Paint a ceramic ornament for the tree, make a personalized wood doorhanger, capture your favorite scripture on a wood pallet or even paint a canvas. Start a new tradition this year at Imagine Studios! We help you turn imagination into memories. One of my favorite things is to make is a keepsake using little hands and feet. You can bring your kiddos in to the studio and we’ll help you get the perfect print and we’ll even help with the design. You can also work on your own to make your own special memory. Imagine Studios has so many ideas to share or you can bring your ideas. It’s fun to make special plates year after year to keep track of how they grow. Grandparents, Godparents, Moms & Dads will treasure your pottery pieces when you capture hands and feet. Those fingers and toes won’t stay little forever! At Imagine Studios you can also paint something as 36 December 2016

a special gift for someone. Hand-painted pottery is a great gift for someone who has everything! Paint ornaments, Santa mugs, old-fashioned lighted Christmas trees, bowls, coffee mugs and more! All of our pottery pieces are glazed and fired, so they are both dishwasher- and food-safe. It’s a work of art that you can use. And it’s not just for kids! We have lots of grown ups painting cute stuff for gifts, or even to keep. We welcome walk-in painters during all business hours, or, just check out our calendar. We offer lots of workshops for kids and adults, and family events, too. You can even book a private party or field trip at Imagine Studios! For the kids: Check out our 6th annual Polar Express PJ Night, have a little art fun in Whoville on our Grinch night, or send the kids to our yearly Santa’s workshop for DIY gifts. Moms: We’re having a Mom & Me Board Art Painting Session too! What memories will you make this season? Imagine Studios is owned and operated by artist Melanie Hewins, and has locations in Rogers and Fayetteville. Visit to shop or check out the calendar.

Kyle Thompson, DO, FACOG

Chad Hill, MD, FACOG

Natalie Eiland, DO


Focusing On:

• Comprehensive OB Care & Delivery • Gynecological and Laparoscopic Surgery • Female Incontinence • Pelvic Pain • Pelvic Reconstruction • Minimally Invasive Outpatient Hysterectomy • In-Office Surgical Sterilization


603-2 N. Progress Avenue, Suite 100, Siloam Springs 479.524.9312 Hours: Monday - Friday 8am to 5pm

story by: nichole mcconnell


hen Opal was born last December, our entire family was immediately smitten. She has been such a sweet baby, sleeping through the night early on, and always happy and content. Our boys Brooks, 8, and Noah, 4, adore her. They are constantly kissing her, rubbing her head, talking to her and happily (sometimes arguing over!) helping out with taking care of her. When Opal turned six months old, the boys and I took her to her “well baby” visit. It was a Monday morning in June. We didn’t wait long, and the appointment was quick. When our appointment was over and we were ready to walk out the door, I remembered to mention that she had some small bruises on her thigh. She inherited sensitive skin from me, so I figured it was from her cute chubby thighs occasionally getting caught in the car seat buckle when I pulled her out. The only reason I mentioned them was because they didn’t look like normal bruising, but looked like small clusters of of pin head-sized purple dots instead. Later on, I would learn that this particular kind of bruising was called petechiae (Puh-tiki-i), and can be a sign of low platelets. Our doctor looked at her leg and said, “Lets go

38 December 2016

ahead and do her 9-month blood work, but I’m not worried.” As we were leaving the clinic, I noticed a verse on the wall that said “Rejoice in Hope, Endure in Affliction, and Persevere in Prayer. Romans 12:12.” I plopped Opal on the chair in front of the verse, and, while her brothers made her laugh, I snapped a picture. After lunch and some errands, we returned home. Almost immediately after we stepped in the door, I received a call from the doctors office. They wanted me to go to the hospital to re-check blood work, saying, “We just want to make sure everything’s all right and that her blood counts were correct.” “Okay,” I said, “She is taking her nap... I’ll go in the morning.” “We need you to go now,” they said. I immediately felt a knot in my gut. I just knew something was wrong, and asked “Why, what’s wrong? Did something come back?” Again, I was told, “We just want to make sure that her blood counts were correct.” I immediately called my husband, Mickel, and he met us at the hospital. After the repeat round of blood tests, we returned home with our minds racing. Our doctor called at about 5 that evening, telling us that he wasn’t sure what was wrong, and that more tests needed to be done because her platelets and hemoglobin were low. We would need to go all the way to Little Rock, to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for

further testing. I hadn’t been off the phone with the entire way there, which was an answer to prayer! him for five minutes when the Children’s Hospital We stayed the night in a hotel nearby and got up called. They asked if we could get there by 11 a.m. early the next morning for our first appointment. tomorrow. We said yes, packed up, dropped the St Jude’s is a world of its own. You go to registration boys with my parents, and left early the next day. At each morning and get a schedule, then go to our appointment, more labs were drawn, we spoke various labs, tests, and appointments throughout with more doctors, and the day. You also stay at Walking your baby through a their hotel, which is across we waited... and waited. Three doctors returned life-threatening illness is so the parking lot from the after a couple of hours, hospital. The first day many things: Difficult, tiring, was very overwhelming, saying that Opal would be admitted and would have and I had a hard time emotionally exhausting, a bone marrow biopsy controlling my emotions. and blood transfusion. My isolating and a rollercoaster The hospital staff are head was spinning, and used to talking about lifeof other emotions. I felt as though someone threatening illnesses every had just thrown me off a cliff. Cancer? Does my day, so everything is very ‘matter of fact’ for them. baby have cancer? That’s what a bone marrow I wanted to cry every time they told us anything biopsy is for, right? The next few days were a blur, we were going to have to do to Opal. At our first with Mickel and I sitting in the dark of the hospital appointment that day, we asked if the diagnosis room at night, crying and praying “Lord, please was absolutely certain. The team said, based on do not have Opal walk this road. Our baby girl the lab results from Arkansas Children’s Hospital, cannot have cancer. Please don’t have her do this.” yes. We spent almost the whole day in the same The bone marrow biopsy was excruciating. The patient room meeting various people. The result of doctors allowed me to hold her while they put her all these meetings ended up being that they wanted to sleep, and laying her limp body on the hospital to do another bone marrow biopsy and surgically bed was almost too much to bear. Then, standing insert an IV into a vein in her chest. By the end outside the room waiting for them to be done and of the day, Mickel and I were ready to bust out of thinking of them drilling a piece of her hip bone there. We were physically and emotionally spent. out... I don’t have words. Turn the page ... Preliminary results came back negative for any kind of infection or immediate diagnosis. We were told it was just a virus, and would clear up on its own. They did mention to us that they were waiting on results for a couple of more tests that had to be sent out of state, but that she would ultimately be fine. We returned home, relieved, and resumed normal life. A week after returning home from the hospital, I received a call from Little Rock while I was driving home from Walmart. The woman on the other end of the phone stated that Opal’s results had come back positive for Myelodysplastic Syndrome. We would need to go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Tuesday, and Opal would need a bone marrow transplant. I have never in my life felt the way I did at that moment. It felt like I could not breathe. All I could say was “So this is really serious? What is the name?” After the call ended I sat in the car and sobbed and sobbed. I immediately called Mickel, he came home, and we sobbed some more. During that time, our oldest son, Brooks, brought his little brother into the house, carried in all the groceries from the car and put them all away where they go. He said, when we asked him why, “I could tell something was wrong so I wanted to help”. On Monday, we once again left the boys with my parents and drove to Memphis. Opal slept almost

We spent several days at St. Jude that week, and returned home without any answers. There was definitely something wrong, but they couldn’t tell us anything definitive because we were still waiting on bone marrow results. This continued for about a month. We would go to St. Jude for a couple of days, draw labs, and do various tests, then be sent back home again. Our doctor wanted to be certain of Opal’s diagnosis before doing any kind of treatment. We are so thankful for him, because he has really gone above and beyond to do what is best for Opal. He even pushed back the IV line and chemo as long as he could to give her brain more time to develop. In the middle of August, lab results indicated that the cancer was spreading, and we were asked to come back again, and be prepared to begin chemo and stay for at least six months. The IV line was surgically placed, and she had to get several transfusions of platelets and blood. The surgery to put in the IV line was the hardest part of this for me. It felt so final, like “This is real and we actually have to do this.” The line itself takes a lot of care and maintenance. We went through a week of training to know how to care for it, change her dressing, change parts of the line and administer medicine. Our doctor went day by day testing her blood levels, putting off chemo even a day if he could. On August 31, we finally had to face the cancer beast and begin chemo. Before we started, though,

we had to sign a bunch of papers with several witnesses consenting to her treatment protocol. It was similar to buying a house, which felt weird. The first step was a shot of chemo in her spine, followed by being admitted to the hospital for chemo to be given daily for about a week. The first round, she was very ill the entire time. It was very difficult to hold our baby who was so sick, powerless to do anything to help her, knowing we had given them permission to do this to her. There was also more involved in chemo than I realized. Not only was she violently ill, but we had to hold her down every four hours to give her eye drops, force her to do two different mouth washes every twelve hours while she was nauseated, and wear gloves every time we changed her diaper. When we were discharged, we were given instructions to administer three oral antibiotics two times daily, as well as three nausea medications, pain medications, two mouth washes, eye drops and IV antibiotics. We then spent the next three weeks going to the hospital daily to check labs and meet with our doctor, avoiding contact with other people so she would not get sick, since her immune system was now almost entirely compromised. After about a month, we started over. A shot of chemo in the spine, followed by about a week in the hospital. A couple of the chemo drugs were different, and we were surprised she did not get very sick. She



• School Assemblies & Workshops • Corporate/Non-Profit Presentations • Special Events & Camps • Awesome Party Concept • 479-444-0303

was mainly her “normal” happy self, playing and laughing, while still being a little tired and nauseated. Towards the end of the week, however, she started having a terrible reaction. Our doctor was concerned, so we stopped three doses short. We were discharged, but her symptoms got worse, and she spiked a fever, so she was readmitted. Once she started improving, we returned to daily lab checks and doctor visits. Currently, we are waiting for her numbers to go up to begin round three of chemo. The Lord has been so gracious to us in so many ways, mercifully giving us much more than we deserve and we are so thankful. We were able to catch the leukemia early before she was showing any symptoms, so we’ve been able to get ahead of it. He gave us two months to get used to the “idea” before we actually had to start chemo. After another bone marrow biopsy, her diagnosis was changed to Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia. Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia, known as AMKL, is a rare form of leukemia that makes up about 1 percent of childhood cancer. St Jude’s only has one case every year or two. Based on past cases, our doctor expects her to fully recover after four rounds of chemo, with no bone marrow transplant required. We are so incredibly thankful! Having Opal as our daughter is a blessing, and we

look forward to the future we have with her. We are so grateful for her little life and the joy she brings to our family. This is, without a doubt, the hardest thing Mickel and I have ever gone through. Walking your baby through a life-threatening illness is so many things: difficult, tiring, emotionally exhausting, isolating and a rollercoaster of other emotions. Many things are unknown. I can’t image going through this without a relationship with Jesus. I have clung to this verse during times of fear: Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed”. Jesus has been our hope and our rock to cling to. I have daily recited the verse written on the wall in our doctor’s office: “Rejoice in Hope, Endure in Affliction, and Persevere in Prayer.” Romans 12:12. We do not know why God has given Opal this story, but we do know He knew about this disease far before He knit her in my womb and that she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139: 1316). We pray that we glorify Him by being thankful despite what happens, hoping in His promises, and enduring in our faith. He has lavished His love on us thorough this experience, in many little and big ways, and through others surrounding us with love, support and prayer. We are still praying, trusting and hopeful that Opal will be healed. Praise the Lord for all He has done! We have story after story of His provision. We are trusting the Lord, He has a plan for our sweet baby Opal.

You can follow our story on instagram @howdygeorge




H E L O V E D G O D , A N D W A S A N A W E S O M E C H R I S T I A N M A N A N D FAT H E R . I F H E W E R E H E R E , H E W O U L D T E L L Y O U T H AT E V E N T H O U G H H E W E N T T H R O U G H F O U R Y E A R S O F H O R R I B L E I L L N E S S , G O D G O T H I M T H R O U G H I T.


fter four extremely difficult years of illness, my husband Morgan Bradley died on February 6, 2015. He was only 31 years old. The Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:12 gives me hope in life now, as it did while we were going through such terrible times.

by: Traci Bradley photo by: Created for You Photography

It took two years to figure out what Morgan had; two years of frustrations, fears, and doubts. He began having serious problems when I became pregnant with what would be our only child. Anxiety and insomnia started plaguing him for what seemed like no reason, but that didn’t seem so bad... after all, many people deal with those issues. Then, when our daughter was 6 months old, he started throwing up everything he ate or drank. He couldn’t keep a single thing down. The local doctors didn’t know what was wrong, and the vomiting went on for two months, becoming life-threatening. He finally had surgery to tie a knot at the top of his stomach, so he physically couldn’t throw up anymore. After his surgery, Morgan had displaced abdominal pain, paired with increasingly strong and painful muscle spasms all over his body that not even strong pain medicine helped. To give you an idea of the massive amount of pain he was in, picture this: When a regular person gets in a car crash and wrenches their muscles, doctors can measure the muscle breakdown in their blood in units called the CPK level. For people in bad car accidents, their CPK is usually in 44 December 2016

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

the low hundreds. Morgan’s CPK, despite having no external trauma, was in the thousands. His pain wasn’t properly managed with the medicine we had, and the specialist we were told to see had a 3-month wait for just an initial appointment. We didn’t know what was wrong with him, but we knew Morgan couldn’t continue to work. We applied for Social Security disability for the first time, and were quickly denied. During this time, my parents had been encouraging us to come stay with them and see doctors where they live in Maryland, close to Johns Hopkins Hospital. Johns Hopkins is one of the premiere hospitals in the country, and they thought we would be more likely to get to the root of Morgan’s problem there. Morgan was so miserable, he finally agreed to leave Arkansas, and we ended up living with my parents for a month. In a bittersweet turn of events, our daughter had her first birthday in the house where I grew up. We spent a lot of time going to see doctors while our daughter was with my mom, and were blessed to meet a diagnostician and nutritionist named Dr. Weiss, who discovered Morgan had a thyroid problem. We thought, with great hope and relief, this was the information we needed, and Dr. Weiss agreed to continue monitoring Morgan if we went back to Arkansas. We were ecstatic to be able to go home with some kind of answer. ROGERS


Solving Morgan’s thyroid issue did not help nearly as much as we’d hoped, however, and new and terrible medical problems kept coming to the fore. We continued to see specialist after specialist, even driving to Oklahoma City from Siloam Springs to see a neurologist, and once to Houston to have a special test done. Morgan just wasn’t getting better. At this point, he hadn’t been able to work for months, and was eventually fired from his job. My dad very generously paid all our bills, and we received food stamps. By January of the next year, we knew we had to go back to Maryland if we wanted a chance at helping Morgan. In March of 2013 we returned, not knowing how long we would be there. My daughter had her second birthday in the house I grew up in, and I felt crushed by the unknown. Taking Morgan to the doctor became my full-time job. We often went to 3-5 doctors appointments a week, sometimes even more if I could get them scheduled. Morgan’s teeth needed major work done, since a side effect of at least three of his prescriptions was dry mouth, and he ended up having 20 crowns put in, plus eight root canals done, all in nine months. And that’s what it turned out to be: nine months in Maryland. Nine excruciating, barren months of no good answers. More medicine to try, more that didn’t work. More diets, over 113 doctors’ appointments,


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expected to grow old with my husband, and I told him often how glad I was that I married him.

and appealing for the third time what felt like a never-ending process for his disability claim. The third appeal before a judge was his last chance. We finally received the news that we’d been waiting for after all that time: test results showed the cause of Morgan’s problem, and it was dysautonomia. Dysautonomia is when a small part of your brain called the hypothalamus isn’t consistently telling your body what subconscious functions (like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, etc.) to do. That same week, we got the news that Morgan had a trial date set for his disability, so we had to go back to Arkansas. We debated whether we needed to come back to Maryland to further explore this diagnosis, but that choice was taken out of our hands. We had planned to go home for only two weeks, but Morgan fell in the carpeted hall of our Arkansas home, dislocating and breaking his ankle in three places. He couldn’t travel; he needed surgery. In the weeks and months that followed, Morgan had surgery on his ankle and recovered as well as could be expected. We went to his trial for disability in November of 2013, and were notified of the approval in February of 2014. Being in our own home let us slowly recover from all the stress that we went through in Maryland. We had our own space. We were able to spend all day, every day with our daughter. We knew that dysautonomia is an unpredictable disease. Symptoms could rarely get better, or, a lot more often, get worse suddenly. Amazingly, Morgan was considered a mild case, and for that we were grateful. People with severe cases died from it before they knew what they had. So, we tried to embrace the good, easier time we were having. Morgan still had a lot of problems, but we had a good year, and worked to repair our marriage. We had definitely had a rough patch, but we had too much going on to fix it, or even address it, in Maryland. Once we were finally back in Arkansas, things were on the mend. I fully

On the night of February 5, 2015, we stayed up late talking. He told me he was going to take a shower and go to bed. He didn’t make it back to bed, and when I woke up the next morning I found him asleep on the bathroom floor. His sleep cycle was always crazy, so I made a bed for him in the bathroom and let him sleep. He slept all day, which was unusual, but I figured he needed all the rest he could get. I went to check on him at about 7 in the evening, and he stopped breathing right in front of me. I called 9-1-1, I did CPR, and we were in the hospital all night. During that time, his heart stopped a total of three separate times, and the hospital team put him on a ventilator. The on-call ER physician told me that Morgan had extensive brain damage, and encouraged me to sign a DNR (a Do Not Resuscitate form), but I insisted on speaking with a neurologist. I had to call my daughter’s preschool teacher, and ask for her advice as to whether I should let her see Morgan in the hospital. She had slept through the paramedics coming to our house, and didn’t know anything was wrong yet, let alone how close Daddy was to heaven. I ultimately decided that she needed to see him and say goodbye. She was only 3 years old. The neurologist performed one last test, and Morgan was declared brain dead, so I allowed them to take him off the ventilator. Since then, our lives have a major void, but God is faithful. Words are insufficient to say what Morgan meant to me. He was the hardest working person I ever knew. Persistence and determination defined every single day for him, but he didn’t let that make him too serious. He was definitely a joyful person. He loved God and was an awesome Christian man and father. If he were here, he would tell you that even though he went through four years of horrible illness, God got him through it. God let him have lots of special time with Violet and I, and God is going to reunite us all again. I don’t have everything together, but God is taking care of us. My daughter has a lot of memories of her father, in spite of being three when he passed away. Because Morgan had disability, my daughter and I received benefits from it after he died that allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom. It was an incredible blessing to not have to find a job in the midst of my grief. We are taken care of, my husband isn’t suffering anymore, and I’ll get to see him again one day. I heard someone say once that in my suffering, the greatest good I can imagine is the alleviation of my suffering, but God is good and he knows what the greatest good is for me. Someday I’ll get to ask why, but in the meantime He is still good.

Dad’s View BY: BEN LACY

Last Chance O


h yeah, it’s on folks!

Christmas is in full effect, and hopefully none of you sustained minor cuts, bruises or a torn ACL during the Black Friday shenanigans (bro, come at me with that shopping cart and I’ll put you into the wall!) Thank heavens for online shopping, otherwise there is a very good chance I would end up spending the holidays in Northern California (home of San Quentin Prison…I don’t do well with large, overly aggressive crowds).

But hey, it’s Christmas time, and I shouldn’t have such bad thoughts. I’m teetering on the nice/ naughty line as it is! So, how is your shopping going? All good? I haven’t heard of a “must have” gift this year. You know, nothing hot like a new XBox--or anything really “hot” like last year’s terrifyingly explosive hoverboards.

Okay, that’s not 100% true. There is a super important gift out there that you won’t be able to give again until 2022. Yep, it will be that long until you see it again! It’s really not a supply and demand issue; actually it’s Julius Caesar’s fault. You see, ol’ JC invented the modern calendar, and that’s the reason this present won’t be available for six more years. Oh, and did I mention, it’s free?!? So, what is it?! This year, in 2016, Christmas Day falls on Sunday, and if you ever wanted to show your children the true meaning of Christmas, now is your chance. Attend church this Christmas Sunday morning. It is a gift they will never forget. Before you say it – yes, I understand not everyone is a Christian; however, if you are celebrating the holiday with trees, tinsel and toddies, why not

go hear a history lesson on how we got from the manger to the mania? And yes, I know that even the most blessed children with the bestest behavior might go berserk, bonkers and bananas at the thought of leaving their new pile of premium plastic plunder to sit in a pew, but that’s the point. Trust me, every preacher knows they are seriously “on the clock” on Christmas Sunday, so expect to hear a clear, but concise message. No pastor is going on an Old Testament filibuster on Christmas morn’, so there will be plenty of toy time before and after.

Sunday, so those 6-year-olds will then be 12-yearolds. I’ve had three 6-year-olds and two 12-yearolds, and I’m here to tell you that 6-year-olds will still listen to you; 12-year-olds, not so much. So friends, this is your chance to make an impact on your children’s faith and focus. It might be tough, it might get loud, but it will send the most important Christmas message. Merry Christmas, and God bless you and yours.

This year, in 2016, You see, attending church this Christmas Sunday is about Christmas Day falls sending a message to our on Sunday, and if children on what we hold dear and important in our lives. This you ever wanted to is significant, since, as parents, we show your children often times say one thing and do another. This has been discussed the true meaning of many times in these pages. We Christmas, now is say God is the most important pillar in our lives; then we attend your chance. a basketball tournament instead of services on Sunday morning. We tell our children family is first; then go to Gulf Shores in the summer instead of to Grandma’s. But this story isn’t about guilt; it is about, as our Walmart friends say, “opportunity”. As adults and parents, we screw up a lot. Oops, wrong pronoun--sorry, didn’t mean to drag you into this so let me rephrase: As an adult (cough, cough) and parent, I screw up a lot. I try, but like an average major league baseball player, I’m probably only batting .250 (for you bowlers out there, a .250 average in baseball means you only get a hit 1 out of every 4 at bats; meaning, I only make the correct decision about 25% of the time). But this decision, to attend church on Christmas Sunday morning, is as close to a nobrainer as I will see for quite a while. Jesus was the original gift, and now, as usual, he’s giving me a perfect gift all ready and wrapped. Which is good, because I have the complete inability to properly wrap a gift; they always end up looking like a cross between a piece of modern art and a drunk penguin’s paper mache project. Thank goodness it‘s the thought that counts! Based on extensive, intricate and exhaustive demographic research (okay, I asked five people) I discovered readers of this magazine have children with an average age of 6. As previously mentioned, we are six years away from the next Christmas

Northwest Health Pediatrician gives Tips for Child Safety During the Holidays The holiday season can be a fun time of the year for family and friends, but it can also pose dangers to children. April Durham, M.D., pediatrician, explains that many of these dangers are centered on fire hazards and choking risks. FIRE AND BURN HAZARDS When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree, Dr. Durham recommends that shoppers buy trees that are labeled fire-resistant. If shoppers are purchasing real trees, she recommends a tree that isn’t dried out. Fresh trees will have needles that don’t fall off or break easily, and the trunk should be sticky on the bottom. “Water should be kept in the tree’s receptacle and should be checked periodically, so it won’t dry out,” Durham says. “Trees should also be kept away from electrical, space heaters and fire places.” Dr. Durham recommends that people check all of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. People should also unplug all holiday lights inside and outside the home when they are not at home and at night. Any outdoor holiday lights should be plugged into grounded electrical sockets, Dr. Durham says. She also noted that people should not overload outlets, because it is a fire risk. Matches are also a hazard. “Keep matches out of reach of kids,” Dr. Durham says. When cooking, make sure to place all pots and pans on the back burners on the stove, Dr. Durham says. Turn all handles so they are away from the edges of the stove. Dr. Durham also recommends that families have fire exit and safety plans. 50 December 2016

CHOKING AND INGESTION HAZARDS It’s no secret that many children like to put objects in their mouths. However, this can pose risks to the children’s health. During the holidays, decorations can pose choking and poisoning risks. Poinsettia, mistletoe berries and holly berries are all poisonous when ingested. Decorations on Christmas trees, like tinsel, icicles and popcorn string, can pose a choking hazard, Dr. Durham says. She recommends that people place decorations higher up on their trees. Metal ornament hangers and needles from the trees can also harm a child if they are eaten or get in a child’s eyes. Alcohol poisoning is also a risk for children during the holiday season. It takes less alcohol for a child to get alcohol poisoning than it does for an adult. She recommends that all cups be dumped out right after any party ends. Poisoning in general is also a risk when a child visits a home that is not child-proofed, Dr. Durham says. She gave an example of a child ingesting medicine. Ingestion of button batteries is common in children during the holidays, Dr. Durham said. Some places these can be found are in toys, cards and hearing aids. Dr. Durham says it is an emergency if a child ingests a button battery. Giving children age-appropriate toys is important because of choking hazards, Dr. Durham explains. There is a risk of a child choking on small pieces when they are given a toy for an older child.

OTHER HAZARDS There are also other risks for children during the holidays that are not related to fire, burns, choking and ingestion. Christmas trees should be secured in their stands, so they won’t tip over. She also suggests that people put outlet covers on all unused outlets, so children don’t stick anything in the outlets and shock themselves. When sledding, children should wear helmets, because severe head trauma can occur from accidents, Dr. Durham says. People should only sled in safe places where there are no steep hills, no rocky areas, away from streets and with a safe space to slow down. When in a vehicle, children should be buckled in their care seats or booster seats, Dr. Durham says. However, they shouldn’t wear their heavy coats in their car seats or booster seats, because it makes the seats less effective and can cause children to overheat. Dr. Durham suggests that children not wear a heavy jacket when in car seats or booster seats but instead have a light blanket. Teenagers also face dangers while driving, Dr. Durham said. Teens should stay extra alert and not text while driving.

Shopping can also pose risks for children, Dr. Durham explains. Children should be strapped into the seats in the shopping carts and should not be left unattended. It is common for children to wiggle out of the straps and seats and fall. Dr. Durham also suggests having another adult in the group while shopping, to make sure the children are supervised and to point out any security guards to the children in case they get lost. Risks can be different for children of different ages, Dr. Durham says. For example, accidental ingestion usually occurs in toddlers and young children, while broken bones usually occur in older children when they are playing. If your child sustains an injury or develops an illness over the holidays, Northwest Pediatric Convenient Care is open from noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. For more information, call 479-751-2522 or go to www. Dr. Durham practices at Northwest Pediatric Convenient Care at 3057 Springdale Ave. in Springdale.

Hosting THE

HOLIDAYS Tips to minimize stress and amplify joy hosting your first family holiday


By Dwain Hebda

ne of the rites of passage that every couple experiences is hosting their first family holiday gathering, and if you’ve been through it, you remember it like it was yesterday. It’s one of those important landmarks in every marriage that no one ever prepares you for.  “This says that ‘I’m no longer a kid that goes home for Christmas or the holidays – now we are really grown-ups and we actually can pull this off,’” said Dr. Debbie Pinkston of Northwest Counseling in Bentonville. “It says, ‘We have our home; we are a family and we can also be the host here. We’re not just the kids going home.’ It is a rite of passage for sure.”  Hosting any family get-together for the first time is a big deal for newlyweds, and the holidays just amplify expectations. None of us can really imagine not spending holidays surrounded by family, and yet, at the same time, we can probably come up with one or two stories where a little extended family goes a long way.   Remember the time the turkey got burned black? How about the time your LSU uncle got into it with your Razorback uncle? Or that one Christmas when the dog knocked over your mother-in-law?  Eventually, even the most embarrassing situation turns into one of those colorful pieces of family lore, but, at the time, they aren’t always a laughing matter. And when it’s a couple’s first holiday playing host, such things can be downright devastating.   “Especially in our country, there is so much media about perfection,” said Dr. Mary Jeppsen, of Fresh Roots Family Counseling in Rogers. “We’ve got Pinterest, we’ve got magazines, we’ve got all these ads on TV showing the perfect image. We have such high standards and we are captivated by

54 December 2016

comparison. “Most of us feel like we have to compare ourselves to that Pinterest moment or that Hallmark ad, and then we feel like we’re not enough. ‘I’m not as good a cook. I’m not as good a hostess.’ Those two things plague people in all areas of their life, but I think the holidays sometimes bring those out even more.”  Family traditions, while cherished, are one major source of stress for first-time hosts. Many feel the pressure to replicate exactly the kinds of meals or decorations of days gone by, and do it with same ease as Mom and Grandma.   “The holidays bear a lot of expectations,” Jeppsen said. “For a newly married couple, you’re merging two totally different family systems and traditions. Some people might say, ‘I do Christmas on Christmas Eve,’ and others might say ‘No, no, no, we only do it on Christmas morning. We have turkey; no, we have lasagna.’   “So there’s that whole, ‘Well, my family did it this way’ problem, and family traditions are ingrained in people. I mean, that’s part of our attachment. It’s part of what makes us who we are, and changing a family tradition is shocking sometimes to people because, ‘It should be this way.’”   Pinkston said that one strategy for living up to expectations might be to enlist the help of guests instead of tackling it on your own. Can’t make Mom’s sweet potatoes come out right? Ask if she’ll bring it or cook alongside you; she’ll be flattered, your guests won’t be let down and you’ll earn some quality time.   In other cases, letting go of the desire to clone all those recipes entirely is the ticket to relieving a lot of the stress of playing host.  “My mom always made cornbread dressing with celery and onions, and everybody loves her dressing,” Pinkston said. “When I went to my daughter’s house for a holiday, though, she made dressing out of a box, adding chopped apples and cranberries to it, and I really liked it. She wasn’t trying to mimic what I make based on my mom’s recipe. She was doing her own thing. It was kind of like, ‘If you’re at our house, we’re going to do it our way.’  “It’s okay to throw new recipes in there. It’s okay to have it at a different time of day. It’s okay to establish new traditions, because that’s part of establishing one’s self as adults.”   Both experts agreed the host couple has to have

a plan before tackling their first family holiday gathering, starting with honestly answering the question of wanting to do this in the first place. Once that’s established, take the time to discuss the event, including what boundaries you’ll set and what to do about known potential issues, such as an opinionated sister-in-law or the uncle who’s prone to having one too many. “Thinking about potential problems or points of stress beforehand is really important, and each partner in the marriage may have different concerns,” Pinkston said. “Coming up with creative boundaries is also a really good way to go. For instance, for the person who drinks too much, just putting all the drinks out in the garage or the shed, or saying, ‘Oops, we ran out! I guess we didn’t calculate right.’ Boundaries can be very creative, without needing to get in someone’s face.”  Jeppsen said even though they are technically “company,” parents and grandparents have an important role to play in a couple’s first holiday, and that’s to be a good guest. Simple expressions of encouragement or gratitude are invaluable and enhance the experience for everyone.  “Be gracious,” she said. “Particularly in-laws;

they need to be especially gracious to their new daughters- and sons-in-law, because they’re scared. They want to be liked. They want to please and it’s important to them. I’ve got several daughters- and sons-in-law, and the times when I have expressed my appreciation for and my admiration for them, they are just so grateful and transformed. It really changes the atmosphere. “[Parents and grandparents] have to decide that they’re going to lay down their expectations and they’re going to be grateful for whatever this young couple comes up with, whether they get hot dogs and beans or a full dinner,” she said. “It’s not the way the house looks; it’s not whether or not the food was warm or cold or whether or not Uncle Joe was on time. It’s how can I enhance my relationship with this young couple by showing them how grateful I am.” 

A Few of Our

Favorite Things... Girl Power Sport

Versa Hoop The Versa Hoop is the basketball game of our dreams. Not only do the kids get to play a round outside, they can (if Mom or Dad lets them) take it indoors and play in the garage or bedroom. The best part is, because the Versa Hoop is so versatile, it can be taken to go tailgate, to your son’s college dorm, be hooked up to a boat for a day at the lake, and so much more. We love that there is an option to get a personalized backboard, which makes the Versa Hoop a great Christmas gift!

If there’s one thing we know about little girls, it’s that they know how to keep up with the boys – and occasionally give them a run for their money! Girls can be strong, resilient and powerful. Encourage your little one to be active by giving her the right gear. Girl Sport Power is more than just a sports clothing brand for girls – it’s an attitude. Not only do they inspire girls to go after their dreams, they also donate $1 from each purchase to a charity that supports and empowers girls. Ava loves their soft, stretchy leggings! For each purchase of these Girl Power leggings, $1 will be donated to Girls on the Run!

Lalabu If you just had a baby and need to be there 24/7 for him or her, you don’t have time to worry about what you’re going to wear. Will it be too scratchy on the baby’s skin? Will it still look nice if I have to run out the door last minute? Am I able to breastfeed? Will it work with a certain bra? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions while taking care of your newborn, then Lalabu is going to be your new best friend. Lalabu shirts are an all-in-one shirt for new moms who don’t want to compromise between style and convenience. They have a pocket in the front to carry baby, a built-in nursing bra that will keep your belly covered while you feed, and it’s cute even without an adorable baby cozying up inside! 56 December 2016

Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

Widgeon Kids

When it comes to swaddling, some babies just can’t leave the comfort of the swaddle blanket easily. Around three months of age, when it comes time for baby to transition, we rely on Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. It is is the perfect transition from swaddling blanket to pajamas. The sleepsuit makes it feel as if the baby is being swaddled, even though they’re free to move their arms and legs.

As winter approaches, we find ourselves reaching for the bulky cold-weather gear in order to keep the kiddos warm while they run around outside. These heavy coats are great for recess or playing on the playground, but when we want the kiddos dressed up for photoshoots or a nice dinner out, we reach for Widgeon Kids’ fluffy, faux fur coats. They’re warm, practical and stylish!

BabyBay Bedside Sleeper

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths recommends that the safest place for you baby to sleep during the first six months of life is in a cot beside your bed. In fact, 90% of the world’s mothers co-sleep in order to get a better quality of sleep each night and to strengthen their bond with their new baby. Next to being held in your arms, the crib is the place where baby most spends time nestled in comfort. Babybay®’s are half-moon shaped so they fit snug against the bed, keeping baby in arm’s length all night long. Fits flush and secure to any bed height within 11 inches of top rail. For use up to 6 months.

Bookroo Foster your child’s love of reading by building their own personal library full of unique children’s books! Bookroo is a children’s book subscription service that sends your child new books in the mail every month. These books are often unique and not easily found in bookstores or online. Not only will they be excited to open their box of books each month, every book is wrapped like a present for your child, which makes them look forward to opening the gift and revealing new titles and fantastic stories. We love that they have monthly, seasonal, or semi-annual subscription options, so that you can choose what is best for your budget. Also, if you happen to get a book that you already own, you can take a photo of yourself giving the book to a friend instead and Bookroo will send you $5 off your next subscription. Bookroo is the perfect way to keep your child interested in reading and learning!

Enter code KIMENDE at checkout and get $10 off your first order!

58 December 2016

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things you should do in


Make Memories and Create Keepsakes at Imagine Studios! / (479) 619-6085

The Grinch Night--Friday, Dec. 16 6-8 PM Polar Express PJ Night Dec. 2 6-8 PM Winter Break Camps Dec. 28-29-30 9-noon Santa’s Workshop Dec. 10 4-6:30 or Dec. 20 4-6:30 Wine Wednesday Dec. 13 Mom & Me Gingerbread House Party Dec. 11 2-4 PM

Winter Break at Fast Lane Bowl December 21st - January 3rd 9 a.m. to noon $12.99 per person plus tax. All you can play! Laser Tag, Power Alley Bowling and Spin Zone Bumper Cars. Christmas Day and New Years Day not available.

Stewart Family Christmas Light Display 4423 Wyman Rd Fayetteville Nightly from 5:30-9:30. Display is donation-only. This collection of lights has grown to over 375,000 lights and over 250 inflatables. Walk through pathway so you can enjoy the lights and the inflatables. Your children can drop off their letter to Santa through December 20th.

12 Gardens at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Thursday, Dec. 1, every Thursday in December, and Saturday, Dec. 17: The 12 Gardens of Winter. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Fayetteville. Experience the magic of the twelve gardens of Botanical Garden of the Ozarks as they are transformed into a land of holiday cheer!


things you should do in


Cookies with Santa Dec. 3: Cookies with Santa, Grace Point Church, Bentonville. 2PM 4:30PM d Sweet treats and holiday crafts for children of all ages, and a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus! Admission: $15/child 1 year and up (parents and guardians are free). Contact for tickets. All proceeds benefit Jack and Jill of America Foundation and the Teen Action Support Center.

SoNA Presents ‘The Snowman: A Family Concert’ Sunday, December 6. 2 p.m. Walton Arts Center

To purchase tickets, please call the Walton Arts Center box office at (479) 4435600 or visit for online ticketing option.

Dec. 9: Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball, Rogers Barnes & Noble, 7-9 p.m. Join B&N as we celebrate our first Yule Ball – Harry Potter style. Prepare for magical activities, enchanting events, and even more Harry Potter-themed fun for all ages.

Ho Ho Ho Ho Holiday Skate Day Dec. 22: Ho Ho Ho Holiday Skate Day (The Jones Center) Springdale, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This is a great opportunity for kids to have festive fun on and off the ice while parents finish last-minute holiday plans. Ice skating, hot chocolate, making ornaments and more holiday fun! $25 per skater. To register, call 479-756-8090 ext. 2100 or stop by the reception desk in person to register your child. For more information, contact our Skating Coordinator, Robin Aprea, at

Holiday Movie at The Victory Theater Spend a relaxing morning with your family watching a holiday movie. Children ages 3-12 and their families have so much fun watching the movie while enjoying cookies and hot cocoa. Wear your pajamas and visit with Santa before the movie, take home treats, and start a new family tradition! Seating is limited. December 17, 2016 $10 per person, including movie, snacks, Santa and gifts.

Drop and Shop at High Pointe December 3rd from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

High Pointe Performing Arts Studio / 3201 NE 11th, Suite 7, Bentonville $40 - Drop your child off for fun, games, dancing, snacks and lunch while you shop! Email to reserve your space.

Children’s Christmas Train Children’s Christmas Train riders will depart from the Emma Street Train Depot in downtown Springdale on Saturday, December 3 aboard a restored 1940’s era train. The 40-minute ride to Johnson and back will include: singing Christmas carols, stories, and even a visit from Santa himself! After returning to the train depot, families can enjoy holiday games and entertainment – ride ponies dressed as reindeer, operate a model train, participate in the cake walk, write a letter to Santa or just enjoy the characters and live music in Santa’s Village. Children and families are also encouraged to dress in “ugly Christmas sweaters” and holiday attire.

100 West Center, Ste 101 Fayetteville 479-444-7778


things you should do in


St. Nick on the Bricks Downtown Rogers

Boys and girls are invited to visit Santa on the Frisco Caboose. Take family photos and deliver holiday wishes to Santa on a real caboose. A special mailbox next to the caboose is a great place to drop off your letter to Santa at any time. December 10th: From 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. meet St. Nick and take a selfie, or get that perfect photo for your family Christmas card.

Take a tour through the 1895 Hawkins House - O Christmas Tree Learn the

history of the Christmas tree while on a guided tour through our 1895 Hawkins House. 322 South Second Street, Rogers. Rogers Historical Museum.

Winter Wonderland Ball Dec. 3: Winter Wonderland Ball Pinnacle Promenade Mall. 5-7 p.m.

Join Anna, Elsa, and seven of their favorite princess friends. This two-hour ball will include a professional DJ to lead guests in all the best dances, lots of sing-a-longs, crafts, makeup application, mini manicures, decorative temporary jewelry tattoos, a photo booth, food, and more! Each child ticket includes two adult admissions.

Wampus Wonderland

Dec. 10: Wampus Wonderland. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Washington County Fairgrounds, Fayetteville. You’ll find your favorite indie crafters, outsider artists, food trucks, Krampus impersonators, amazing music, Sasquatch-sized men, fun activities and more. Along with world class arts and crafts, there will be a social area full of incredible fun, food and drinks, including funnel cakes, giant corn dogs and $5 lemonades.

Santa’s North Pole Party Dec. 10: Santa’s North Pole Party. 3-5 p.m., St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Springdale.

Join NWA Circle of Friends for an afternoon of holiday cheer benefiting Arkansas Children’s Northwest. Santa Claus will be reading his favorite Christmas stories! Have your picture taken with him in addition to fun games, crafts, hot cocoa, and cookies. There will also be a silent auction of festive holiday wreaths available to deck your halls. (Tacky Christmas sweaters optional.) Tickets are $10 per child and available for purchase now or at the door the day of the event.

Lights of the Ozarks Enjoy the amazing winter wonderland of lights on the Downtown Fayetteville Square. The lights illuminate the square each evening from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Nightly carriages and pony rides, fresh hot chocolate, and festive holiday music make the Lights of the Ozarks an event that cannot be missed. The romantic and breathtaking display of a half-million twinkling lights is cherished by the locals and visitors alike that stroll or drive through the Lights of the Ozarks each year. 62 December 2016

Enjoy a Christmas Parade December 2 - Rogers, December 3 - Siloam Springs December 10 - Bentonville

Winter Camps at The Little Gym The Little Gym (479) 636-5566 Dec 21 through January 3: 9 a.m. - 12 or 1 - 4 p.m. With fun, different themes, everyday camps combine physical activity and games with arts, crafts and special events!

Faith, Family, and Relentless Determination

TEAM Teen Daniel Gueydan’s Rehabilitation Journey

Daniel (center) with his mom


and Jonathan, one of his thre

onya Gueydan, a registered nurse, was working at Washington Regional Hospital on the day her son Daniel was brought to the emergency room after being found unresponsive following a serious motorcycle accident. From that point on, Donya stayed by her son’s side. Daniel was in a coma, as family and friends began praying unceasingly. After three days that seemed like an eternity, Daniel woke up. After seeing her son diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Donya was grateful that

e brothers

he was still alive, but knew there would be a long road to recovery. Two months after arriving at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH), her determined son set his sights on two goals – walking out of the hospital, and showing his pig at the county fair. When Daniel was finally discharged from the hospital, Donya insisted that the family bring Daniel home to be surrounded by those who love him instead of placing him in

a 24-hour rehabilitation care facility. She took it upon herself to oversee every aspect of his care. However, both as a nurse and mom, red flags went up when she was told her son didn’t need intensive therapy. Based on her own research and the orders of the ACH doctors, the first year following TBI is a critical window for intensive therapy before skills and abilities plateau. In tears, she reached out to Children’s Therapy TEAM for help. Within the week, Daniel was evaluated and later began intensive 5-day-a-week therapy. When told that Children’s Therapy TEAM planned to open an aquatic therapy center, Donya responded, “That is exactly what I have prayed for!” She had been unsuccessful in finding any other aquatic options for her son in Northwest Arkansas. Daniel’s water-based therapy at Children’s Therapy TEAM later became a critical part of his recovery. Daniel, who was a lifeguard before the accident, shared that when he first started aquatic therapy, he couldn’t tread water at all. As his strength and stamina grew, he could tread water for 15 minutes or more. Donya was beginning to see glimpses of Daniel’s old self, namely an outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing, hunting and kayaking.

Fast forward to today, where Daniel has made sufficient progress warranting discharge from nearly all his therapies. He was inducted into the National Honor Society as a senior at Farmington High School. Following his accident, he did walk out of the hospital with assistance and now walks completely independently. He has shown his pigs at two consecutive county fairs. In this, his second Christmas following his accident, Daniel is intensely grateful.…to GOD, his mother, his family and friends, his church and his medical care teams at Washington Regional Hospital, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Therapy skills in tion dina coor le simp very working on en. TEAM (therapists: PT Holly Hill, Dur Cara Daniel has come along way from t apis ther nal patio power tools with his occu PTA Wade Cunningham, OT Cara therapy to now working with Duren and OT Kelly Yates).


ONLY Faith-Based Program Coordinator for Pediatric Therapy Warm-Water Pediatric Therapy Pools Constraint Induced Movement Therapy Comprehensive Family Support TEAM Exclusive Pediatric Aquatic Center VitalStim Therapy TEAM Clinic-Based Licensed Orthotic Provider Augmentative & Alternative Communication Evaluations Clinic-Sponsored Financial Hardship Program Heroes for Kids Recreation Equipment Program Nationally Board Certified Pediatric Specialist (PT) TEAMworks Nonprofit Global Outreach

An inspiring choice for your child!

Call us at 521-TEAM or visit us at


new upscale party event center specializing in custom children’s birthday parties hosted by your favorite fairy tale princesses. Now offering full service parties at our new party palace or let us bring the magic to you with character appearances at a location of your choice!

NOW TAKING PARTY BOOKINGS! Noon Year’s Eve Celebration Party December 31st

Complete with countdown and balloon drop! We will be making noise makers, party hats, and dancing.We will decorate cookies and have a lemonade toast right before our balloon drop! Of course we will have several of our princesses there singing their favorite songs of 2016! Tickets are limited.


Make the Most of Your Health Insurance 2017 is fast-approaching: scheduling necessary appointments, tests and surgeries now can maximize your health plan benefits

which are pre-tax dollars set aside primarily for health-related expenses. The Internal Revenue Service requires those funds to be spent—or forfeited—by December 31. It’s a “use it or lose it” During the fall and winter months it’s easy to proposition. get caught up in holiday planning and forget to If you have been putting off scheduling care, such take advantage of your insurance benefits. Every as an annual check-up, allergy testing, or kneefall, individuals should direct their attention replacement surgery, it would be wise to check to outstanding healthcare your deductible status and Now is the time to take needs and take full advantage your FSA balance to see if of paid-up deductibles or advantage of unused benefits there’s money to be saved. available funds in Flexible to complete outstanding Spending Accounts. It’s important to schedule treatments or recommended services promptly so that In considering their healthcare there is enough time to tests or procedures. needs, people should also have the test or elective consider the best strategy for using their available procedure done before the end of the year. Getting health insurance plan benefits. Now is the time everything squared-away by early December will to take advantage of unused benefits to complete help ensure the services you receive are considered outstanding treatments or recommended tests or part of your 2016 coverage. procedures. Talk to your doctor. If you need a doctor, call 800Most health insurance plans have a deductible 734-2024 or visit requirement—a predetermined amount of healthcare expense that must be covered before the plan begins paying the majority of (if not all) remaining expenses. It’s crucial to know how close you are to meeting your deductible—or if you’ve already met it, because once you reach that threshold, you have a limited window of opportunity to obtain healthcare services and have the bulk of that expense covered by your plan. Remember: a new year brings a new deductible. The close of 2016 also affects individuals who have Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)—

68 December 2016

V Healing and Hope for Children



he paint won’t be dry for another year, but the buzz is on about the long-anticipated Arkansas Children’s Northwest rising out of the ground in Springdale. Just ask Trisha Montague, senior vice president and chief administrator, who has gone from a relative newcomer in these parts to seemingly the mostrecognized person in town. “I’ve been in pediatric healthcare my whole career and I have to say, I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” she said. “Not only the level of enthusiasm, but how everyone in the community knows what we’re doing. I can go in the grocery store and meet someone and tell them what I’m doing, and they’ll know the story. I have those conversations all the time.” The direction of those frequent conversations trends along the same lines – beyond the typically Arkansas niceties of how glad people are that the hospital is here, comes the dead-serious questions from parents about the number of specialties the medical center will support, thus saving them hours on the road and days of lost work time to see to their children’s needs. “This is a conversation I have over and over again; I have parents in this community with children who have gone to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.” Montague said. “That is truly the first thing they talk to me about– here is what my child has, and will we be able to get that care at this organization, because that will fundamentally change our lives forever.”

Arkansas Children’s Northwest on schedule

Happily, Montague gets to deliver good news in the majority of these conversations. Arkansas Children’s Northwest mirrors its Little Rock counterpart in being a medical center devoted entirely to the health and wellness of children and youth. The 234,000-square-foot, $428 million facility will provide the latest in care across a variety of medical disciplines, including meeting the region’s primary care needs. “There is actually a pretty significant underserved pediatric population up here,” Montague said. “Private physicians tend to limit the number of Medicaid and pediatric cases, which is normal, because the reimbursement is not great. This means there’s limited access for both uninsured and Medicaid children. “I was aware of that coming into this, but it truly struck me the more I’ve delved in and really gotten to understand that particular aspect.” Arkansas Children’s has operated a medical clinic in this corner of the state for some time, but the needs of children and families have far outstripped its capacity. ACH estimates there are some 200,000 children in northwest Arkansas’ 11-county market area. “We meet some of that need now, but it’s really hard for us to meet all of that need, particularly on the primary care side, because we don’t quite have the facility or the resources,” Montague said. “This hospital will bring in the facility and the resources to hopefully be much more impactful, particularly on the primary care side of the access for children.”

Building bigger facilities is, of course, only part of the picture. Recruiting medical professionals to provide the actual care is another, equally important element of the process of constructing the medical center. Montague was initially concerned about the appeal a small, rural state like Arkansas might have to world-class medical talent, but has been pleasantly surprised at the response. “To be honest, coming into this, I thought this could be a significant challenge, particularly when I learned that the unemployment rate up here is, I think, less than 3 percent,” she said. “But what we’ve found is there is a lot of interest. So much interest, in fact, that we haven’t even advertised yet, but I’m already getting phone calls from pediatric sub-specialists, not just from Arkansas but from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas as well.” On one level, Montague understands the appeal of the region, having been herself recruited to northwest Arkansas from San Antonio, where she was chief nursing officer for the children’s hospital there. Other than a short stint with Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock from 1997 to 2001, she didn’t have a lot of exposure to the state.


The 37-acre campus, with multiple nature trails and gardens on the grounds, is slated to be completed in January 2018. “I have my own experience of coming here and not knowing what to expect, then learning what this community is, and just being so thrilled and excited to be here on a personal level,” she said. “Obviously, Arkansas Children’s Hospital has such a great reputation, so there’s that to begin with, and there’s a lot of excitement building about this hospital. We’re being very purposeful about making sure that when people do come to visit. they experience Northwest Arkansas and how unique it is.” Arkansas Children’s announced plans to build the medical center in August 2015, intending to include 24 inpatient beds, five operating rooms, and 30 emergency department rooms. Montague said that, despite a wet summer, work remained ahead of schedule, enabling officials to hold a topping out ceremony in September, whereby the highest beam of structured steel was hoisted into place. The 37-acre campus, which will also be a helipad and refueling station for Angel One medical transport, will have multiple nature trails and gardens on the grounds, and is slated to be completed in January 2018.

At a



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76 December 2016

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December 2016  
December 2016