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February/March 2012

features photo: Chloe, submitted by Dana Ellis

Children In Waiting 8 Believe In Magic 42 Baby Guide 46 Stuff We Love 49

departments Mom Time 13 My Adoption Story, Mommy Magic, Moment-byMoment, Mom Business Spotlight, Super Southern Child

Design Spotlight 52 Designing a Nursery with Flair

Family Travel Guide 71 Buddy Cruises, Budget Friendly Adventures, Family Volunteer Vacations

Southern Style 56 Just Ducky Originals, Belle N’ Beaux

P is for Party 81 Valentine’s Day Love Birds Party

Food 88 Vegetables in Curried Coconut Milk

Education 92 The Home School that Changed the Landscape of Education, Venture into Unschooling

Cover photo: shannon hollman photography 3

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Editor’s Letter Come Unto Me as a Child Last week algebra class in our kitchen was abruptly interrupted by Lola, the tabby cat. Lola loves to bring us presents to include rats, snakes, lizards, squirrels and so forth. This particular morning Lola darted through the doggy door with a half dead bird. I starting pacing and begging my older son to take the bird outside. Austin ran to get a small cloth, scooped the little guy up and said, "Mommy, we need to pray!" Out loud my prayer was, "Dear God, please restore strength in this bird so that he may fly again." Inside I was praying, "Father, prepare my heart and hands to comfort my child when this bird closes his eyes and flies to Heaven." My sweet child and the bird then went to his room for some 'snuggle' time....I gave them a moment and then I began to talk to Austin about what I assumed would be the inevitable. The next hour seemed to be the longest hour of my life. Suddenly Austin started screaming, I couldn't take it any longer. Thankfully my husband was home at that point and I sent him to the back. Next thing I know he was coming through the boathouse door with a fishing retrieve the bird from the top shelf in the laundry room!! That morning I learned a lot from the faith of a child. Mark 10:15 says “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it� Tis the season for fresh beginnings, to restore our childlike faith. May 2012 bring you many blessings! Warmest,




Children in Waiting Marissa Marissa has a very loving and affectionate personality. Coming from a very rough past, she still has some issues she is working on and needs parents who will help her through the rough times. Marissa has lots of energy, and she enjoys being outdoors and riding four wheelers. She loves all types of animals, from horses to dogs to gerbils; she has a female gerbil named Snowball. Marissa is very intelligent. She can be a good student when she wants to, but she will need parents who are willing to make sure she concentrates on her school work. She loves attention and will benefit greatly from parents willing to devote their time and energy to helping her be the best she can be. Marissa is a wonderful, loving young lady full of potential for the future. Would your family like to help her achieve her full potential? For more information, call 800.300.9567 or email

Tairra Tairra, 13, is somewhat shy upon first meeting someone new but warms up quickly. She is a self-described country girl who loves to feed and hopes to learn to ride horses. She also says she would enjoy raising a hog one day. She plays some sports including wrestling, football, basketball, running and jump rope. In school, she always enjoys science and sometimes likes math. Some of the possible careers that Tairra could envision herself pursuing in the future include lawyer, pediatrician, writer or someone who trains guide dogs. A stable home with boundaries would work best for Tairra, who hopes to find a loving, kind “Forever Family” with dogs and either no children or a daughter as she would adore growing up with a sister. pages/Tairra.asp

Christina G. With her well-manicured nails, practiced manners and fashionable jewelry, Christina is every bit the young lady. She dreams of being a model and, with her poise, self-confidence and incredible smile, might very well accomplish that dream. She has a mature, can-do attitude and a sense that she’s destined for something big in life. Though she’s a good student and involved in cheerleading and dance, Christina is definitely not satisfied with her current school. “It’s bad,” she says. She hopes to change to a better one soon. Christina knows how to rise above her condition, and her kindness and friendliness make her a popular girl that helps others stay on track.


A self-described “good listener,” Christina wants her future family to know that she is appreciative, outgoing and fun to be around. Christina has her sights set on a bright future and is looking for a family that will support her dreams.

Children in Waiting Marta When you look at this precious little girl, you can plainly see many of the difficulties she has faced in her young life. What may not be immediately apparent to the eye, however, is her strength, resilience and joy that have enabled her to surpass expectations and continue on in her progress. Marta has begun to smile again, and now thoroughly enjoys being held. Despite her special needs, and because of them, Marta can and will bring joy and love to her family. She has overcome, and she is ready for a family full of love and support. Marta will do best in a home that has some experience with medical needs.

Dalton Quite the storyteller, Dalton has a great sense of humor and likes hanging out with his friends and going to the YMCA. He loves to play video games but also enjoys being active. He plays basketball and soccer and loves swimming. He is fond of dogs and cats, and would love to have a dog to play with. When relaxing, he likes to listen to music on his mp3 player. One of his favorite foods is pizza and he enjoys a piece of candy every once in a while. Though he struggles with school, he has improved his grades with extra support. He gets frustrated easily but he's also willing to try with some loving support. He has an older brother, and it's important that they remain connected and can visit with each other. Dalton needs a family that would advocate for his educational needs and take him to necessary therapy appointments. He would benefit from a structured, stable, loving family willing to be flexible to his individual needs. His main wish in life is to be adopted and have a family of his own. For more information, call 800.300.9567 or email

Matthew One day, Matthew might be the mechanic you call on at the car repair shop. He would be good at it, too, because he likes anything to do with cars and sees himself working on them when he grows up. For now, Matthew collects toy cars and enjoys riding his bike. But that’s all in preparation for the day when he will own his own car. Similar to many children, Matthew can be both quiet and outgoing, and he’s thought of as a smart young man doing fine in school — Math, in particular. Today, the driving force in Matthew’s life is to find a two-parent family where he can be an only child and receive the love, care and attention a sensitive boy deserves. 9

Meet Aron! Age 13 Child ID 8480

Meet Aron, the scientist! This quiet, reserved guy loves to be outside, catching spiders and other bugs. Fishing in the great outdoors is one of his favorite pastimes. While inside, Aron can be found reading lots of books or playing video games. If he could have one wish granted right now it would be to have a pet. Aron loves animals and relates well to them. A seventh grader, this lad is a scientist in the making! He is enthusiastic about conducting experiments and is a fan of math and science in school. He benefits from counseling, which may need to continue following placement. Aron hopes for a family he can trust to understand him, love him unconditionally and teach him many things. His caseworker will consider all family types and seeks patient parents. Aron wishes to remain in contact with various family members. Financial assistance may be available for adoption-related services. For Colorado children, both homestudied and non-homestudied Colorado families are encouraged to inquire; only homestudied families from other states should do so.

For more information about Aron or other waiting children like him, please contact The Adoption Exchange at 800-451-5246 or visit


Meet Collin & Landon Age 7 & 5 Child ID 9490

Meet Collin and Landon, the brothers who will melt your heart! These siblings are members of the Rosebud Sioux tribe. Collin is the elder of the two. With a great sense of humor this boy will make you laugh until your belly aches. Playing outside is one of his favorite activities. Collin does well in kindergarten. Here comes Landon, ready to jump into your arms and your heart. Like his brother, he loves the outdoors where he can run, jump and have fun, while making you laugh, of course. Landon enjoys going to preschool. The caseworker prefers a two-parent family who must be American Indian. The tribe has specified that the family must live in North America. Financial assistance may be available for adoption-related services. This is a LEGAL RISK ADOPTIVE PLACEMENT. In a legal risk adoptive placement, it is expected that the family will eventually adopt the children, even though the birth parents' rights have not fully been terminated at the time of placement. For South Dakota children, only homestudied families from all states are encouraged to inquire. We only accept inquires on the sibling pair, who will be placed together. Please contact The Adoption Exchange for more information.

1-800-451-5246 ~








We d e k s A What do you do as a parent that you use to say you would never do before you were a parent?

You Said:

I always said they would never drink soda!

Before I had daughters, I thought it was just plain silly to dress girls in pink, boys in blue, etc. I would never do that! About 2 seconds after our beautiful Sydney was born, that opinion evaporated! I went gaga over pink bows, pink outfits, blankets, shoes, everything pink from head to toe! Same when her beautiful sister Sarah arrived 2 years later. Oh, well. Never say never!


I would never say "wait until your father comes home" it's my favorite thing to's like Magic!

I was NEVER going to let my children sleep with me...sounded great in theory! I always said I didnt want kids, would never have them. Now I’ve got 3 & I dont know what I was thinking!


I said I would never make separate meals for my children-now, my 4 year old eats a different meal almost every night!

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Sarah’s Story by Sarah Scott Broadus

It was a rainy evening, in July of 1984. Debbie and Johnny Scott were at their home in Jackson when their social worker called and asked if she could come for a visit. Debbie put on a pot of coffee and a half an hour later the social worker arrived. When the Scotts opened their front door, the social worker stood there holding a baby. Debbie, thinking the baby belonged to the social worker asked if she could hold the little girl. “Of course you can, she is your daughter”. Those words changed the life of the Scotts. Their daughter was finally home, thanks to adoption.

with him and his family. We spent time getting to know each other and now, they are a huge part of my life.

That little girl was me, Sarah (Scott) Broadus. I grew up always knowing I was adopted. I loved knowing that my biological parents love me enough to want to give me a wonderful life. When I was 23 I had the pleasure of meeting my biological dad and his wife and their two sons. There was an instant connection

A few years ago,my husband and I decided to adopt. After a lot of prayer we plan on beginning the search for our child here in America. We can only hope that we can provide a life for our child that honors their biological parents the way my life has.

This past Christmas, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet my sister that is eleven months older than me. Our mother is my biological mom. We enjoyed getting to know each other and letting our daughters play. Adoption is an amazing experience that can not only provide a child a forever family but can also allow them to have a relationship with those who loved them so selflessly first.

From Left: The author with her Mom, the author with her biological Dad, the author with her husband (Todd) and daughters (Madyson and Aubrie Kate)




The House that Love Rebuilt by Becky Wright


There’s an old house sitting vacant in our town. It was a grand structure in its day, designed by the best architect, built by the most sought-after builder, and belonging to a prominent family who owned a local high-end department store. Known as the “Hinds Mansion”, the house has six bedrooms and five bathrooms! A mansion by my estimation, and to most folks, I would imagine. However, it has been empty for almost four years now, with all the Hinds family long gone. Why hasn’t it sold? Doesn’t anyone want this big house, with a fenced yard as big as a park, and a 3-car garage? Is it worth updating the electrical, remodeling the kitchen, redoing floors, plumbing and the like? My father was an architect, and my mother sold real estate…. I know what it could be worth! Or do I? In 2008, my husband and I took a road trip with our youngest two children, Aaron (12) and Nathan (10), and our 17-year-old niece, Amanda, who stayed with us for 18 months after her mom- my younger sister-- drowned. The trip was actually my “East Coast & New England Tour”, traveling through 14 states and 4,000 miles, giv-

ing concerts and teaching a songwriting workshop. Our travels took us to West Virginia, where I was singing at a church in Charleston. When my mother learned of our stopover in WV, she reminded me that my little long-lost cousin, Jeffery lived there. She put us in touch with Jeffery’s grandmother, who was raising him, along with a baby half-sister. Their mother was still using drugs, and had lost all rights to the children. We spent an hour playing with and taking pictures of the children at the park, then reluctantly said our good-byes to head back toward our home in Oklahoma. When I handed little Jaycie back to her aunt and grandmother, little Jaycie reached her arms back toward me and began to cry. Of course I began crying, then my son, my niece, Jeffery, his aunt, and his grandmother. What was happening? As I tearfully got back in our minivan, I sensed God saying to me, "these are going to be your children." It seemed a preposterous idea, since we also had five

MY ADOPTION STORY grown children, making a total of eight already. I didn’t say a word to my husband, fearing he’d drop me on the roadside in Kentucky, telling me I was crazy! The magnetic pull between each of us was unexplainable and undeniable, however, and I knew that only God would say such a thing to me. I sure didn't plan for two more children at this stage in my life! I’d given 8-year-old Jeffery my gospel music CD that day, saying that he could call or write to me any time he wanted. There had been no communication, however, and five months passed. One evening in mid-October, our son Nathan asked, “Mom, if Jeff and Jaycie’s grandma dies, are we going to adopt them?” Again, this seemed an absurd statement, and I told him so… we were virtual strangers to these children, and their aunt would likely adopt them. “Go to bed,” I instructed him. But his question haunted me, and I was reminded of what the Holy Spirit had spoken five months before. Three weeks later in early November, I received a call from the aunt--- she’d never called me before. “Becky, I just want ya’ll to know that momma died three weeks ago.” Her words were piercing as hot tears stung my cheeks. I felt her pain as one who’d lost loved ones, and also grieved for Jeffery and Jaycie, who now had lost not only their birth mother through no fault of their own, but now had lost their “surrogate mother” in their sweet grandmother. I telephoned my husband at work, who came home immediately. Hank walked into our living room declaring matter-of-factly but with a somber face, “Well, honey, you know what we have to do.” “What?” I responded, as if I didn't know. But I did know. We both knew. In a whirlwind of decisions, prayers, phone calls, fingerprints, tears, excitement, fear, and family discussions (our kids were in full agreement), we began the adoption process. God was suddenly making His plan clear!

Our new children arrived Feb. 27, 2009, and we celebrated a belated Christmas with them on Feb. 28th, having kept the tree up until they arrived at Jeffery’s request. He’d lost so much… it was the least we could do. After about a two-week “honeymoon” period with our new “babies” (Jeffery was 9, Jaycie was almost 3), we each witnessed some of the issues that come with children who’ve been traumatized. Nothing insurmountable, but not what we were accustomed to. Thinking ourselves “seasoned parents” (my teaching degree, my husband a Child Welfare Supervisor), we felt as equipped as any to deal with whatever might arise. However, we soon discovered how much a child can miss through serious neglect and abuse, particularly in the preschool years. We still often find we are training a 4-year-old in a now 12-year-old’s body, and it’s difficult…. But it’s worth it! Both children have come such a long way… including Jeffery getting all A’s and B’s on his last report card, being chosen Student of the Month, and Jaycie being in the top reading group in Kindergarten and dancing ballet in our kitchen. We’ve seen the positive results that faith and good self-esteem can produce for a child who once had none. We’re sticking with it, working diligently, praying a lot, and laughing amid a few tears! We’re uncovering treasures in these children who were once thrown away. We see the diamond that they each are, and cherish who they are—underneath the hurt--and whom they will become. And, we have the honor, joy and privilege of being “mom and dad”, with all its rewards. A worthy effort--- even better than refurbishing an old house. I stood in front of that house again the other day, praying. It's as if God said, "Haven't I called you to this? To take what's been discarded and make it new? To restore and rebuild and bring back glory?" Hey—I’ll take that old house… it’s a treasure worth restoring. How much more… a child?

Becky Wright is an adoptive mom with a blended family of nine children (plus her niece). She and her husband, a Child Welfare Supervisor, live in northeastern Oklahoma with their four youngest children. Ms. Wright is a singer/ songwriter and keynote speaker at churches, and foster/adoption events nationwide, and was named 2011 “Female Songwriter of the Year”. She just released her fifth album,“The Heart of Adoption”, now playing on hundreds of radio stations. She is a Staff Dept. of Artistsin Christian Testimony, Intl., a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit organization based in Brentwood, TN. For more information or to hear or order music, see 23

Do you believe in Second Chances? Meet Ruth. Found in a trashcan protecting her two puppies, Ruth is just one of the thousands of abused, homeless or neglected animals that have found a second chance at life at Alaqua Animal Refuge. Located down a winding road, lined by mosscovered trees, Alaqua Animal Refuge is nestled on the banks of a tranquil Northwest Florida bayou. This peaceful location in Freeport is actually just minutes from the nationally known beach haven of Destin, but it is figuratively far removed from the concept of a traditional shelter. It is a true refuge. Founded in 2007 due to the lack of a no-kill shelter/adoption organization in the area, Alaqua Animal Refuge has helped find homes

for more than 7,000 animals - from dogs to cats to rabbits to horses, to pigs, and even a monitor lizard and a sugar glider. Up to 100 animals are adopted each month from this unique refuge, which serves as a shelter for more than 250 animals at any given time. To continue to save the lives of animals like Ruth, Alaqua Animal Refuge needs your help. Please join us in our mission by adopting a rescued pet or making a tax-deductible donation, today. If you believe in second chances, visit our refuge or go to to learn how you can support Alaqua Animal Refuge or to find out about the hundreds of animals that are looking for a forever home.

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Hype Strype

Hype Strype is a retail and wholesale website featuring the designs of Angie Avard Turner.  Along with her husband, Steven, they have built a business based on strong designs, personal service, and forging relationships with each customer...but keep find out how it really began! So what do you get when you cross a young creative piano playing, architecture drawing, furniture designer who just happens to be the Mayor from Mayberry (not really, Pelham, Georgia, but  they do only have three stop lights) and a pattern fanatical, color crazy, aspiring designer-of-something author and lawyer?  Easy right?  HYPE STRYPE!  But not right away….It has been a journey.After enduring K5 through high school together, the couple finally took the plunge and became more than “just friends.”  Angie and Steven dated for seven and a half years through countless phone calls, letter writing (on some pretty boring looking paper), weekend visits to each others respective colleges, and holidays spent at home with their families in their native Southwest Georgia.  Steven attended High Point University where he received degrees in business, marketing and interior designs.  Angie attended Furman University where she received her degree in Political Science. Their relationship survived college papers, exams, rushing sororities and fraternities, and that was only during the undergraduate years.   Following graduation, Steven moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to pursue another degree in Furniture Design.  During this time, Angie moved to Lansing, Michigan to pursue her law degree, all the while thinking that there was some kind of business she wanted to begin.  Finally, the day came---the wedding.  They became an official pair.  At that time, Steven was working for Hekman Furniture as their Design Coordinator, and Angie was completing her law degree. A year later they made the decision to move back home to Southwest Georgia.  For the first few years they searched and pray and prayed and searched. Each was trying to determine what they should be doing professionally. 

Finally, in 2004, Hype Strype was born after Angie attended one of those “no-gifts-please” (yeah, right) birthday luncheons.Conflicted over whether to take something but nothing too nice, Angie threw together some designs she had been working on. At the luncheon, of course everyone brought a gift.  However, the gifts weren’t supposed to opened then, were they? Much to Angie’s horror the gifts were opened.  She was asked to fill orders on the spot. And the girls who asked just told her to design something, anything.  So that’s where it all began.  After researching a bit more, Angie and Steven found that there was a niche to be filled. They recognized the need for "quick- pick- up gifts" that register a 10 on the "cuteness scale" while barely making a dent in the customer's bank account.   Life in Pelham is a bit more hectic now with two daughters, Savannah (9) and Meredith Camille (4), and a business in its 8th year.  But now, after over 2000 retail customers in over 40 states, Hype Strype is on its way to becoming a little company who offers big things.  Although we have changed from strictly wholesale to include retail and licensing, we still say,  "go ahead, STRYPE  your life!"


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Dixie’s Little Darling Natalie Sanders strives to make a difference. Natalie Sanders enjoys life and looks for the positive in everyone. Born as a “failure to thrive” infant, she struggled her first few months of life as her body rejected nutrition. She spent time at Children’s Hospital of UAB where her family kept faith that she would fight the circumstances she was given as the happiest baby in the worst of circumstances. Natalie fought her illness and by God’s will is a happy 3rd grader! Natalie loves strawberries, Cajun food and watching Auburn football, but her true joy in life comes from dance and performance. As a member of the Make Your Move Performing Arts Show-troop Competition Team, she competes both solo and production numbers. Natalie also enjoys running, hunting with her Daddy, competing in natural pageants and helping those less fortunate. In addition to Academic Achievements, Natalie has been awarded Presidential in Physical Education throughout her Elementary Education. She has won several pageant titles, high marks at dance competitions and this past July, she has signed with The William Reynolds Agency in Atlanta. When Natalie is not dancing or attending pageants, she finds ways to help others in her community. This year Natalie joined the Miss Heart of America family when she was crowned Lee County Petite Miss for Alabama. A “Pageant with a Purpose” to stomp out hunger in the community has led Natalie on a journey she will never forget. Natalie travels the state of Alabama gathering food and clothes for tornado victims, raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association, volunteering at her local Humane Society, and hosting food drives for local food banks. Natalie also visits nursing homes as well as local law enforcement and firefighters. On October 1, 2011 she was crowned both Alabama’s Community Queen and Alabama’s Petite Miss Heart of America. In addition to her two state titles, Natalie was awarded with a $1000 scholarship for her work in the community as well as numerous other prizes. She attended Nationals in November 2011 in Orlando, FL where she competed against girls across the country and placed first runner up in the Petite Miss division. Working with her platform has opened her eyes to the world and she now looks for opportunities to make a difference and touch the hearts of those in need. For her 9th Birthday Natalie asked her parents if she could collect items for the Homeless rather than receive gifts, since she feels that she has more than enough and should help people that have nothing. Natalie is ambitious with many dreams. She not only wants to dance on Broadway, work for Disney, and become a Paleontologist with her own museum, but she most importantly she wants to help others!


Left: Photo Shoot with Marlon Ratliff | Top: Natalie volunteering at the Chattahoochee Humane Society | Getting ready to take a load of supplies and food to Elmore County for Tornado victims on April 29th | A visit the Miss Heart of America Queens made to a nursing home in Tallassee, AL where they met one of the Tuskegee Airman that was there for therapy | Natalie talking to 1st graders about the importance of staying drug free


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Without Fail by Mary Susan Buhner, Life Coach for Moms |

I have a sign at my desk that props against my computer. I see it everyday, but I am usually distracted when I sit down for 2.5 seconds to read an email (sound familiar?) so rarely do I find myself actually comprehending the words on it. Today, however, as I sat down to write this month’s column it caught my attention. I read it a loud as I sometimes do to help me actually process something important. It reads, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I don’t know about you, but sometimes I daydream about what I would or could do while at a stoplight, pumping gas or checking out at the store. Many of us are fortunate enough have the opportunity to maintain life with food, gas in our car, and shelter. All of which are very much blessings that many around the world do not know. For many of us, maintaining has or can become a way of life. Granted, it is a vital component to existing and having a happy, healthy family life. For that I am grateful, but sometimes I do stop and think to myself, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I would do a lot, I always tell myself. Run a marathon? Maybe. Have an amazing garden that I could cook fresh from its ingredients. Yeah, for sure! Travel more? Sign me up! It dawned on me that to maintain or life, there will always be bills to pay, laundry to do and so on. The zest, the sparkle, the extra seasoning, the sizzle on the steak...well, that would have to come from me making the choice to push beyond maintaining and actually try some of the things on my daydream list. I also dawned on me it doesn’t matter if I fail or not. What matters is if I don’t try at all I recently had the opportunity to talk with someone who just celebrated his 95th birthday. I asked him what he thought the secret to a happy life was based


on his almost 100 years alive. His first comment made me chuckle, he stated, “Happy wife, happy life.” Smart man, I thought to myself. The second bit of advi ce was profound. He said, “Life is not the year you were born or the year you die. Life is the dash in between those two dates.” As I drove home, it occurred to me trying, failing, not failing...whatever the does not matter for there is learning any way it turns out. The point is to try, push past the “just maintaining” mind set and live in the dash! In the spirit of the New Year, like you, I count my blessings. I am grateful for my home, children, health, my husband’s job, my work, and living in a our wonderful country. I do, however, have some work to do to make sure my dash - you know the one between the two big dates - is significant. I hope you join me to in identifying those things and giving them a try in this year. Big, small, medium - no matter what the size of the goal it is worth working toward it. Visit Mommy Magic’s Fan Page on FaceBook and post and share with other moms what it is you want to try this year. As moms, we should support, encourage and cheer each other to be the best we can be and seek out ways to live in the dash! Blessings to you and your family and Happy New Year!

Mary Susan Buhner is the author of “Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity”.


In A Year by Stephanie Warren

“I want to drop Connor off at the Goodwill!” is how my morning started the other day. Blaine has come so far from this time last year. This year has been met with many milestones and many more victories than setbacks. This time last year Blaine could hardly put two and three words together, we felt as though we were standing at the base of a mountain with no way to climb over it. God had other plans. This year has been a year of miracles. Blaine’s first day of preschool, Blaine speaking in clear, fluent sentences, Blaine making friends and communicating with friends. These are things that we knew were possible, but there were times when our hope seemed to diminish. My column is titled Sufficient Grace after my most cherished scripture, 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for all you need, my power is made perfect in your weakness” God has made His power known in the life lived out by our little miracle child. This past week while at Blaine‘s speech appointment, his Speech and Language pathologist not only adjusted, but marked “goal met” on a goal that we have been working on for a year. This year marks a year of celebration. I know that Blaine still has a lot that he needs to work on, but I know now that with God all things are possible. And although God might have a different path for our lives, for our children’s lives He will never leave us or forsake us. That mountain that we faced at the beginning of the year we now stand on top of. It has been an honor writing this column and sharing our lives with you this past year. I am truly humbled that all of you enjoy reading about our lives. I have learned so much about myself this past year. My new year’s resolution and goal is to continue loving the Lord and celebrating the life that He gives us. Thank you for making Southern Child magazine a part of your lives this past year, I look forward to sharing more with you this year. Be blessed this year, and with me, choose to celebrate life!

European Inspired Children's Boutique



Anger Is

by Monika Hawkins | Anger Is By: Matthew Hawkins Anger is fire in a dessert it will disappoint you. Anger is a flame in Hell it tortures you. Anger is a fight occurring it will hurt you. Anger is wearing a winter’s coat in summer it will make you wish you hadn’t chosen it. As I was walking down the 4th grade hall at Matthew’s school I found this poem on the bulletin board outside his classroom. My first thought was that he had copied it from a book. I did not know that my son wrote poetry. I have always known that he was a deep thinker, but I did not know that those thoughts could come out in the form of poetry. I know I am his mother, but I was very impressed. I admit that when it comes to my children I am easily impressed, but then Matt read the poem. Matt is not easily impressed and this poem blew him away. We were both amazed at the depth of his understanding of anger. Anger does disappoint, it tortures you and those around you. Anger can hurt you. It can hurt others. It can cause bitterness. It can be a stronghold. My favorite line in the poem was the comparison of anger being like a winter’s coat in the summer, you wish you hadn’t chosen it. The implication here is that anger is something we put on. It is a choice. The wrong choice. To think about wearing a winter’s coat in the summer makes me feel heavy, it makes me sweat, it makes me nauseated. It can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. To be completely is stupid. You wish you hadn’t chosen it.


The same is true with anger. Anger is usually a choice made in haste. It does not come from sound, controlled, reasonable thinking. We make the choice from our own selfish rights and desires and after the damage is done we too wish we hadn’t chosen it. Scripture says, “In your anger do not sin.” Which implies that we can be angry as long as we don’t sin. We are also told that Jesus was angry, with a

righteous anger when he turned over the tables in the temple. Let’s be honest, we as believers often use these scripture references to allow ourselves to be angry. If we were honest we would understand that more often than not our anger is not righteous and it is not without sin. It is so hard for us as mortal man to be angry and not sin. The line seems to be so cloudy. It is so much more beneficial for us to allow the fruit of the spirit to reign in our lives as we demonstrate self-control. I love that at the age of ten Matthew recognizes anger as a choice. He knows that it is possible not to choose it. He understands the far reaching repercussions it can have on our lives. He gets that our anger can torture us and hurt us. Wow! I wish I understood anger that well. Easily impressed mommy or profound truth from a ten year old. You decide.

Ephesians 4:31 NIV “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Colossians 3:8 NIV “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” James 1:20 NIV “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”

Monica Hawkins is available for speaking engagements and can be contacted via

Sweet Little Smiles



3 Layla

Emily Claire






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1. Mariah (2) 2. Victoria (7) 3. Mariah (4) and Maddy (2) 4. Madison (7) 5. Peyton (3) 6. Bryson (20 months) 7. Kaylee (4) and Demoree (2) 8. Lexie (22 months) 9. Keegan (6 months)

9 Bethany Grace



Believe In Magic

When Magic the therapy horse walks into a hospital room or bedroom to visit a sick child she helps makes memories that last a lifetime. The tiny blue eyed horse works inside hospitals, assisted care programs, programs for Alzheimer’s patients and with patients in hospice care. She also visits abused children and children in homeless shelters. From wearing a tuxedo to a magical tea party for a child with a life ending illness to working with autistic children, Magic brings her special love where it is needed most. This year Magic was named by TIME Magazine / CNN one of HISTORY’S TEN MOST HEROIC ANIMALS. She is the only living animal on the list. Magic was also selected THE MOST HEROIC PET IN AMERICA by AARP and included in NEWSWEEK/The Daily Beast’s 10 MOST HEROIC ANIMALS OF 2010. She just became a READER’S DIGEST / AmericanTowns POWER OF ONE HERO. Magic is a little hero to the elderly patients she visits and their faces light up when she walks into an assisted living program. One woman had not left her room for six months but was waiting in the lobby early in the morning when she heard Magic was coming. Magic was asked to visit a gentleman who had been the stunt double for John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. He had spent his life working with horses and wanted to be with a horse one last time. Magic was with one patient when she woke from a coma. Another gentleman in hospice care at home passed away with his hand resting on Magic head after talking about his childhood pony. Magic often returns home with lipstick stains on her face from being kissed so many times. On one therapy horse visit, a woman who had not spoken since she arrived at an assisted care facility more than three years earlier began talking Magic. “Isn’t she beautiful” were her first words. “It’s a horse”. The activities director began to cry and told the woman she loved her. “I love you too,” the woman answered, 43

her first words to another person in all those years. The woman has continued to talk to staff and family ever since her visit with Magic. Magic also has a very special relationship with children. She wears beautiful costumes and “fairy dust” sparkles in her mane and tail on each visit. One little girl recovering from a heart transplant said Magic made her face hurt from smiling so much. A boy losing his sight because of a brain tumor held Magic close to his face so he would always remember what she looks like. “It is like she can see inside my soul,” he told his mother. Another girl with leukemia said she would only get out of bed for her favorite horse Magic. Magic makes hospice visits inside private homes as well as in public programs. She walks up and down stairs, rides in elevators, walks on unusual floor surfaces, works near family pets and moves around hospital equipment. She also lets her handler know when she needs to go outside for a bathroom break. Magic has even traveled on airplanes and worked in busy television and radio studios. She is always calm in challenging situations and trusts her handlers completely when something unexpected happens.


Magic is a member of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, an all volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity. The team of 26 tiny horses visit with over 10,000 adults and children each year. Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses include some of the smallest horses in the world. Magic’s therapy horse friend Peanut is only 19 inches tall and her partners Rainbow and Aladdin are only 21 inches tall. If a patient is too weak to look over the side of a bed the smallest horses can be picked up in their handler’s arms. Peanut is so tiny she can dress up like Ronald McDonald and ride with the clown in his toy car to surprise children with life threatening illnesses at a Ronald McDonald House. Most of the therapy horses are under 25 inches tall and can ride to events in cars and SUVs. People often ask if Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses live indoors because they only see the horses when they are inside buildings. The horses are small but 44

are normal horses in every way (the program does not use dwarf horses). When they are not at work they are outside running and playing with their little equine friends just like any large horse. Magic and the other therapy horses only work two days a week to keep the visits fresh and fun for them. Magic loves being center of attention and does not like being left behind when it is not her turn. The therapy horses all wear costumes during their visits. A costume designer makes and donates over 50 costumes a year fitted to the individual horses. There are little clowns, cowboys, 50’s sock hop costumes with leather jackets and poodle skirts, scarecrows, doctors, Uncle Sam outfits for veterans hospital visits, cheerleaders and football players, Hawaiian costumes and tuxedos. Magic wears tuxedos in different colors with matching top hats. The costumes are put on the horses right before they enter a building and come off before they travel home.

HEROIC ANIMALS a stuff toy horse that looks like the real one is left behind on each child’s bed. The horses even have iPods with holiday songs playing so music follows each horse as they move from room to room. Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses actually celebrate Christmas several times a year including a Christmas in July program for children with life threatening illnesses. The horses also work with sheriff’s officers during the holidays visiting children in high crime neighborhoods as part of a community outreach program ( “The Santa Ponies” are smaller than the police dogs!) and visit foster children and special needs group homes.

Magic and Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses also make magic happen inside schools and libraries. Gentle Carousel’s award winning literacy program called “Reading Is Magic” uses real horses to inspire young readers and “bring books to life”. The tiny horses in the program look like the horse characters in loved children’s books and they walk right into the classrooms. Young children who have rich language and literacy experiences are less likely to have difficulties learning to read. Gentle Carousel’s Reading Is Magic program provides books, enrichment activities, educational coloring books, bookmarks, certificates, posters, lesson plan materials, author book signings and book readings with the horses to preschools, elementary schools and at risk youth programs. Reading Is Magic encourages parents and teacher to read to children at least 10 minutes each day. Thousands of children attend Gentle Carousel’s Reading Is Magic summer library programs every year. Research shows that children who do not continue reading through the summer can lose a month or more of progress made during the school year. Therapy horse visits are always magical but during the holidays Magic and her friends bring extra excitement by becoming “The Santa Ponies”. The horses are dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves, reindeer and nutcracker horses. Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses even has a full size sleigh on wheels that can come indoors for family photos. When the therapy horses visit a child in hospital or hospice care the family is given photographs of the visit and 45

Last year Magic visited a little boy who had never been home for the holidays and had spent most of his life in the hospital. He was not doing well but the doctors let him have a Christmas visit with Magic. Even with his oxygen on and in very fragile condition he spent an hour laughing and hugged the little horse. When the visit was over his mother said, “We have never had a happy day and now we will always have our happy day.” Bring laughter to a sick child while a parent watches may be the most magical gift of all.

Learn more about Magic and Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses:



Why Tummy Time Is So Important A Physical Therapists Perspective Robin Tacchetti | creator of the Biddy Belly

So we all have heard, “back to sleep, tummy to play,” but Here are just some ideas of the varying ways tummy time is that really happening? We know that sleeping on the can be performed: back is the best position for babies to reduce the risk of SIDS, however, babies tend to not get enough playtime on their bellies. This supervised playtime also known as 1. Place baby on their belly on parent’s ‘tummy time’ is very important for gross motor and cognichest. tive development. Yet, most families tend to shy away from ‘tummy time’ because their babies get frustrated in this 2. Place baby on their belly across parent’s position quite quickly. legs. Babies spend a large chunk of their day on their backs 3. Place baby flat on their belly on mat, whether it be sleeping, car seats, bouncy seats, swings, blanket, etc: In this position place person etc.. All of these apparatuses place the baby in the same or objects in direct field of vision of baby. position or as we PTs call it the supine position. This posia. If it is a person, have the person lay down on tion places stress/pressure on the back of the babies head their belly in front of the baby so the baby can see and can lead to flat spots or plagiocephaly. Recent estithem. Their field of vision is not far and they may mates state that more than 1/2 the babies under 1 year of have difficulty lifting their head up to see your face if age will show some type of plagiocephaly or flat spots. In you are sitting up. addition, increased time in the supine position can potentially delay gross motor skills such as rolling, crawling, b. place toys in front of them that are stimulating or walking, etc. In order for a baby to master rolling from have a noise or music component to hold their intertheir belly to back, they first need to learn to push up while est. on their stomach. Once this skill is mastered, they can move to rolling, then sitting, crawling, etc. If one of the 4. Prop baby up: early gross motor skills is delayed, it can delay others down a. Fold up a small towel or receiving blanket and the road. place under the baby’s chest to raise them up a bit. This may help them lift up. Another important aspect of ‘tummy time’ for babies is that it helps them develop cognitive skills otherwise known b. use a specifically designed ‘tummy time’ playmat as thinking and reasoning skills. When the baby plays on (I am partial to the Biddy Belly). These mats help their stomach, they are able to manipulate toys and play raise the baby up so they can see and interact more. in their environment differently than they can lying on their back. It gives them a different view or perspective of the world. Whichever way you decide to do tummy time is unique to Parents often wonder how old their baby should be when each family. What works for one baby may not work for doing ‘tummy time.’ Babies can start tummy time at day another. Don’t give up if your baby gets frustrated (most one. There are many different ways to do tummy time do), try again and/or try a different technique and they just depending on the babies age and temperament. might surprise you.



Stuff We Love BABY BULLET Baby Bullet makes fresh baby food a reality! So quick and easy and comes with a little steamer to soften foods before ‘mushing’.

LEARN ’N’ TURN I suggest buying several of these! The concept is genius in assisting toddlers feed themselves, not their bibs!

SPIFFIES SPIFFIES are safe enough to use on the gums and teeth of babies 4 months and older. Spiffies contain Xylitol, a natural sweetener found in many plants and fruits. Clinical studies conducted over the last 30 years have proven that Xylitol prevents tooth decay and plaque formation. Easy to use and taste great, too!


BIDDY BELLY makes tummy time fun time with its unique shape and gradual incline that helps promote muscle developement while entertaining baby.


PACIFIER CLIP Keep pacifiers clean with super cute clips that coordinate.

HOODED TOWEL Post bath, wrap baby up in these 100% cotton towels that keep your little one cozy and dry.

WEARABLE BLANKET Wearable blankets are a must to avoid using potentially dangerous loose blankets. Keep baby safe and warm with these darling designs. They zip from the bottom so that nighttime diaper changes are a breeze.

DIAPERS AND WIPES POD This grab and go wristlet has room for diapers and wipes and comes with a changing pad. Great for when you just have a quick trip and don’t want to carry everything with you. Not only is it easy to clean, but adorable as well.

DIAPERS AND WIPES CADDY With space for diapers, wipes, and other dipaering essentials, this is amazing for changing diapers in any room of the house (it even comes with a changing pad). Perfect for when you have multiple kids and no time to leave a room for a diper change. A lifesaver!

Stuff We Love GLAMOUR KIDS Make diaper changes a little more fun, with these gorgeous designer cases. They’re great for holding other stuff too!

COMFY CLIPS Many baby pacifier clips on the market are made with sharp steel clips or small plastic edges that can dig in and harm a child. The Comfy Clip was created with your baby’s safety and comfort in mind and was specifically designed with no steel clips or sharp edges. Additionally, both sides are engineered as flat as possible so that even if the clip flips over, there is no danger of injury to the child.

DROPPER STOPPER Keep bottles, cups, pacifiers, and toys clean with this clever invention. Attach one end to your stroller, highchair, or carseat and the other around anything you don’t want to hit the ground. With a special grip material and snaps, you can customize the fit saving Mom and Dad from having to sanitize or clean when on the go. Perfect for the park, mall, or themepark.


Designing a Nursery with Flair Chavy Abelesz |

Women that are about to give birth have been waiting with anticipation for the impending birth. Many months have been spent eating healthier, getting proper rest, perhaps even modifying their lifestyle somewhat to prepare for the miracle of birth. Moms-to-be cannot wait to present their newborn to the world. Not only do they wish for a happy and safe delivery, but they know that the birth of a child is just the beginning of a life full of wonderment, love, learning as well as teaching. Then, of course, there’s the whole excitement of decorating the baby’s space. A baby’s nursery should be a tranquil place offering comfort, function & personality – a true oasis. Whether you want to base your nursery on a theme or even mix and match, when it comes to designing a nursery with flair, Designers Nursery certainly delivers. Designers Nursery is definitely not a newcomer in the nursery design field. I am Chavy Abelesz, the owner of Designers Nursery and have been selling the exclusive line of Petit Snuggles bedding for about six years to specialty shops and private customers throughout NY. Many people have asked me over the years, how I became interested in this profession and to be perfectly honest, it was the birth of my own children! As I readied the nursery for my firstborn, several of my friends

who were also expecting, asked me to help them set up their nurseries as well. My portfolio expanded with each new project and many friends hired me as their designer. My creativity broadened immensely and I partnered with a company in Brazil to create my own line of bedding, Petit Snuggles, in 2005. What sets this line apart from others is that each piece is custom-made and embellished by hand. Some of the pieces are accentuated with appliqué as well as hand embroidery. The uniqueness, talent, design as well as attention to detail in all products in the Petit Snuggles line, thrilled many expectant moms, new mommies and grandparents too! Examples of bedding sets are Blooming Florettes, Classique, and Beary Boy. The very popular Safari Bedding set is the ultimate in cuteness. It has a train expertly sewn on that has pockets containing small, stuffed safari animals that are expertly crafted and meticulously detailed. The Petit Snuggles bedding line consists of crib bedding sets and kids’ bedding made to order upon request. The line has been selling so well for a while. In fact, one of our customers bought a Petit Snuggles bedding set for her first child and is still using it to this day as a bedding ensemble for her fourth one.

New Baby Guide


Adorable Designs from Designers Nursery

DESIGN SPOTLIGHT I often had the notion to offer our exclusive line of high quality baby bedding sets to a wider market and so, the Designers Nursery online store evolved. Since that day, many other products are now stocking the storefront. Not only do we stock our exclusive Petit Snuggles bedding line but we also have other high end nursery products. Some examples of the high quality items are; Swaddling Blankets by Aden & Anais, Furniture by Nurseryworks, Whistle & Wink Bedding, Little Giraffe Blankets, Bebe Chic Bedding, Corsican Iron Cribs and Cradles, Wall Decals by Alphabet Garden Designs, hand painted Room Accessories by Teamson Design, and bedding and decor by New Arrivals, and much more. Now, with Petite Snuggles sold online, moms all over the world can enjoy quality nursery products for their baby or child. You can embellish the room with unique wall art to match the bedding and add adorable, fun and creative pillows for the final touch. Even nursing pillows in animal shapes which are the ultimate in cuteness! We design each set with the customers’ needs and taste in mind. The feedback has been amazing! The Petite Snuggles line now includes custom and personalized party favors, which are a hit with guests and moms alike. Whether you need it for a shower, christening or birthday get together, we have something eye catching and pleasing for every guest to enjoy. We at Designers Nursery, scale the globe to bring our clients the best the industry has to offer. We carefully select our designers we choose to work with, so that we ensure that every client receives the best products available out there. We want to bring our customers only the best! Throughout these years, decorating nurseries continued to be the ultimate joy for me. I LOVE the excitement and anticipation felt in the room while we exhaust every possibility to create a space as unique as every child is. Designers Nursery ensures that the process is as stress-free and smooth as possible. With an experienced staff of design consultants, ready to assist in helping you with your idea and choices, we, at Designers Nursery are able to reach new heights in nursery and room decorating. We even offer services in the comfort of your home! With so many fabric and product options and endless design possibilities, we will make your dream become a reality.


Sweet Dreams for Baby

Designers Nursery is looking forward to introducing a new line of baby bedding soon. Keep your fingers crossed: it is the ultimate in style, function and cuteness! With big developments up our sleeve, 2012 is set to be the best year yet! To benefit from our services or to schedule a consultation with our experts, call us at 1-855-346-8773 or email us at Â Call us today; you will be forever glad you did!




Just Ducky Originals

Spring 2012 Collection

Sweet Stripes

This adorable multi stripe sundress features adjustable straps for a flexible fit. Perfect for Easter!

(Previous) Spring is in the Air

This precious Straight Yoke Sundress in Lilac Garden fabric is the perfect Springtime look while big sister is ready for the garden party in her fitted Party Sundress.


This Reversible Sashed Bloomer Set is perfect for the party. The fully-reversible top has a ribbon tie sash in back, and the set includes two bloomers-one in each print! Available with or without the Party Hat applique.

Party Perfection

This beautiful fitted Party Dress has a ruched yoke and contrast fabric sash across the front that ties in the back.

Sweet Summer Treat!

This classic Apron Dress has a Peter Pan collar and cuffs with piping of your choice. Ruffled Sleeve Top is 100% cotton knit and embellished with a Popsicle embroidery and ribbon trim to coordinate with fun jumbo dot Ruffled Capri Pants

Sweet treat

Party time (Opposite) Adorable Looks at a Great Value

Have a Whale of a Time with this Tie Shoulder Sundress for girls and Whale Tee with coordinating Seersucker Shorts for boys

A whale of a time!

Garden Party

Mommy & Me Beautiful Blues

tweet tweet Clockwise: Straight Yoke Sundress in Lilac Garden fabric is the perfect Springtime look, big sister is ready for the garden party in her fitted Party Sundress. | Fitted Mom’s Dress has a zipper in back and coordinates with her daughter’s outfit, a Gathered Neck Blouse and Ruffle Capri Pants.|Older boys look stylish in this handsome Button Down Shirt and comfortable twill Cargo Shorts. Dress your little one in this classic One-all with monogrammed button-on tab. This simple, sweet Girls’ Ruffled Sunsuit is just what your baby girl needs this summer. | Sweet outfits feature an Owl embroidery on Knit Tier Top and appliquéd Bird on Ribbon Swing Dress


Belle ‘N Beaux

Mary Knot Dress -- This dress reminds me of style and grace. This dress is simple, current, and trendy. This dress starts at a 12M and goes up to a size 4T.


Brody John John -- This precious piece is perfect and ideal for all little boys. The fabric is made out of 100% cotton perfect for the spring and summer. Comes sized only in a 18M & 2T at this time.

Lexie Dress -- This reversible dress is smart and classic. The A- Line dress will always be a staple in little girls fashion. Sizes 18M-4T.

Maggie Dress -- This well tailored dress is made out of 100% cotton, size starts at 18M all the way to a size 6x.




Buddy Cruise

Buddy Cruise Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit founded in 2008 by two siblings in honor of their brother who has Down syndrome. Buddy Cruise promotes awareness and provides resources for families through their programs. One of the key programs they offer is a yearly conference onboard a cruise ship where they provide resources that are not only beneficial for families touched by Down syndrome but other special needs as well. Each year families set sail to take part in sessions and activities especially designed for them. Between the planned Buddy Cruise events and all that a cruise has to offer there is something for ALL ages and abilities. This annual event is uniquely different from the traditional conference atmosphere. You are not only taking part in educational sessions but discovering exciting ports with your new friends. When you take part in a Buddy Cruise you become a Buddy Cruiser for life. You take with you a wealth of knowledge not only from the sessions, but from the other families who share the bond of raising a child with special needs. While in Nassau, Buddy Cruise 2010 visited with families from the Bahamas Down syndrome Association. We gathered at the Down Syndrome Center of the Bahamas for a day filled with educational sessions and fellowship. We were all extremely touched by the Bahamian families and their hospitality.

After the memorable fun filled day, Buddy Cruise Ambassador Alan Otto suggested that we somehow find a way to give back to the families in Nassau. Alan coordinated a drive for the center reaching out to all the guests onboard Buddy Cruise 2010. Holly Caulfield and Melanie Raim were very excited to get involved. Holly shopped and collected donations from companies and many of the guests onboard Buddy Cruise 2010. Melanie personally delivered the items to Cheryl Newell, the Bahamas center director. Join in the 2012 Buddy Cruise sailing October 21-18 from Port Canaveral Florida and create a lifetime of memories. The Royal Caribbean “Freedom of the Seas� will be venue, travelling to St. Thomas, St. Maarten & CoCo Cay, the cruise lines private tropical island. For information visit , reservations are made by calling 877-BDY-CRUZ #3, the 2012 conference fee is $50.00 per cabin paid directly to Buddy Cruise Inc.

Buddy Cruise is a 100% volunteer organization that relies on sponsorship and donations. If you are interested in helping, email To learn more about the other programs Buddy Cruise offers please visit them on the web at











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Your Next Adventure

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Visit Clearwater Beach, FL

This fall, white sand beaches, emerald waters and warm sunny days are all waiting for you in Panama City Beach.

Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs return to Tallahassee Museum. Don’t miss this one-ofa-kind exhibit! Opens October 15. 850.575.8684 3945 Museum Dr., Tallahassee, FL

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AL • GA • TN

A lazy current.

The seductive howl of an accordion.

A splash too loud to be a fish.


Southern Child is looking for fun family vacation ideas. Send yours to:


Budget Friendly Adventures

Spring Break can be easy on the waistline and wallet with budget-friendly adventures from Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. With more than 60 state parks and historic sites to choose from, families will find endless outdoor fun nearby, without paying hefty airplane fares or gas prices.  From free days to overnight staycations under the moonlight, Georgia’s state parks offer five easy ways to get out, get fit, and have tons of fun this Spring Break:   1. Tons of Free Recreation

Georgia’s state parks and historic sites offer endless recreation opportunities for every age and fitness level. Paddle across a lake or explore a canyon.  Walk where soldiers once battled or where President Franklin D. Roosevelt pondered world affairs.  A Georgia public library card is all you need to check out passes for state parks and historic sites. For a listing of Georgia’s public libraries, go to  And if your family owns an RV, you can join the new Georgia State Parks RV Club where every 10th night of camping is free.  Learn more at RVClub.


2. Tons of Family-Friendly Events

With pleasing weather, plenty of wildlife and blooming wildflowers, spring is an opportune time to get the kids off the couch and enjoying the outdoors.  Georgia’s state parks offer a wide variety of fun events nearly every weekend. From Easter egg hunts and wildflower hikes to paddling trips and music festivals, you are sure to find a program for all age levels.  Most events are free with historic site admission or $5 daily parking fee.  It’s a day of outdoor fun that costs less than a visit to the indoor playground, pizza parlor or video arcade. A full calendar listing can be found at www.

3. Tons of Diverse Staycations

Families wanting to spend the whole Spring Break in nature can find affordable accommodations at Georgia’s state parks. Fall asleep under the stars and wake up surrounded by acres of forests and lakes.  Camping rates start at just $23 per night and fill up quickly during Spring Break, so reserve early for the best selection.  For those who enjoy more comforts, book a cozy cabin starting at $85 per night.  Cabins come with fully equipped kitchens, screened porches, an outdoor grill and fireplaces. You can even bring the family dog along to select cabins and all campsites. And, for those who enjoy the amenities of a hotel, four state parks offer lodges with restaurants.  Rates start at $75 per night. All accommodations can be found at www.

4. Tons of Fun All Year-long

Forget the expensive gym membership and same old routine; families can enjoy unlimited outdoor recreation year-round by purchasing a Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites.  A Friends membership includes a free Annual ParkPass, Annual Historic Site Pass, a free night of camping or round of golf, and many additional perks.  Membership levels begin at $50 for an individual and $75 per family.  Learn more   Additionally, the park system’s new Tons of Fun Fitness Challenge offers fitness and health-related events and tools to help everyone in the family eat healthy, track calories, lose weight and exercise outdoors all year-long.  For more information, visit 

5. Tons of Golf Options

Skip the same old suburban courses and pricey greens fees. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy pristine settings, quality courses, affordable rates and a family- friendly atmosphere at Georgia’s eight state park golf courses. The state park courses are surrounded by sparkling lakes and scenic forests with rounds starting as low as $28 for 18 holes.  For additional savings, a Golf Club Membership card provides discounts on greens fees, cart rentals, merchandise and food.  A membership card is available for $25 and can be purchased directly at the golf courses. For tee times or more information visit or call (800) 434-0982.


Just Say NO to Dirt & Germs!

A Must Have For Every Parent!


Relive some of America’s most patriotic steps in space exploration. Live out your dream with family and friends.

For more information on flying to the moon and other super cool experiences visit us online or call 800.843.0468. 72

Huntsville/Madison County Alabama Convention & Visitors Bureau


Family Volunteer Vacations

I have a habit of starting to plan our next vacation while on our current vacation. Coming off the ‘holiday high’ I am feeling the desire to teach my children that giving should be a year long practice. I found this terrific article by Stephen Jermanok on, hope it inspires your family to make the most of Spring Break this year!

Away from the hectic pace of our everyday lives, any vacation is a chance for families to reconnect. There’s no soccer game, no piano recital, no working late, so finally you have that precious day together. Yet, if you really want a meaningful break from your usual schedule, one that might change the way your children view the world, think about a volunteer vacation.

include Independence Pass and Continental Divide Trail Building in Colorado, a Family Fun Trail Work program in Aspen, Colo. And the Multigenerational Wind River Range Restoration project in Wyoming. These trips are typically geared toward families with teens as the experience includes heavy hiking.

On Volunteer Vacations, kids get the rare opportunity to be immersed in another culture, helping a community build houses or learn English. If hanging in Guatemala or Ghana is a bit too much for your clan, then think about a learning vacation, where you’re tracking the whales of British Colombia or involved in an archaeological dig in Colorado. Many of the following organizations feature trips for children ages 8 and up, but be sure to check minimum age.

Cross-Cultural Solutions is a class act that helped set the standard for volunteer work abroad. The weeklong Insight Abroad program is ideally suited for families, offered during the summer and over school vacation weeks. The program gives your family a chance to experience another culture, such as Morocco, Peru or Costa Rica, while volunteering in orphanages, child care centers and schools but also provides free time to explore the area and relax. Other programs, including a special Teen Volunteer Abroad program for ages 15 to 17, provide longer volunteer opportunities. Depending on your passion, you could be teaching artists how to market their wares in Tanzania, teaching English in China, empowering women in Guatemala, helping with child care in Brazil, or giving a hand to rebuild a community in Peru.

Biosphere Expeditions Known for their exemplary wildlife and nature conservation work, Biosphere Expeditions offers families a variety of options, from weekend tasters to two-week adventures. Work with scientists as they protect the Arabian leopard of Oman, the wolves of Slovakia, the whales of the Azores, and the reef of Honduras. Two-thirds of your proceeds go directly to locals working on the project. There are no age limitations and no experience necessary. All you need is an insatiable curiosity, a compassion for all living things, and the strength to carry out your conviction.

Sierra Club Sierra Club Outings provides volunteer vacations to places that improve our environment. With 90 service trips annually, trips will line up your family with park services to maintain trails, clean up trash and restore woodland areas, such as cleaning trails along the Appalachian Trail. Examples of these outdoor service trips 73

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Global Citizens Network All you have to do is visit the GCN website and you’ll instantly see the numerous volunteer opportunities available to families that are currently underway around the world. They need your help building a medical clinic in rural Kenya, constructing a roof for Tibetan refugees in Nepal, weaving in Guatemala, and harvesting wild rice on a Native American reservation in their home state of Minnesota. On many of the trips, you’ll be staying with local families, immersed instantly in their culture. The group is known for their keen organizational skills that will quickly allay any uncertainty about going overseas with the family.

Habitat for Humanity Many of us know the fabulous work Habitat for Humanity does providing homes within their communities, but the organization also offers bigger building programs and works to improve impoverished towns and cities and rebuild after natural disasters, like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The organization’s Global Village trips combine travel with homebuilding. This summer they have trips planned for Cameroon, Malaysia, Paraguay and Romania. Don’t worry. You’re not going to subject the kids to 12 hours a day on top of a roof. Depending on the length of the trip, most teams spend a few days checking out the region and participating in local cultural activities. Even when working, you’ll have plenty of time for rest and free time. No experience is necessary -- all you need is the ability to pick up a hammer and start pounding in some nails.

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Two weeks each summer, fortunate families can get their hands dirty while with working archaeologists at Crow Canyon’s Family Excavation Program. Set in the high desert country of Cortez, Colo., on the border of Mesa Verde National Park’s 14,000 foot peaks, the



excavation site was once a Puebloan community occupied between 600 and 1300 A.D. You’ll be working at an altitude of 6,200 feet, kneeling on the ground and hauling up buckets of dirt. You’ll also get the chance to find pottery shards, turquoise beads and other remnants of this ancient community. The final full day is a tour of Mesa Verde National Park with one of the archaeologists. Lodging on this 110-acre campus is in a Navajo hogan, an eight-sided log cabin that is designed to greet the morning sun.

Earthwatch Earthwatch is not just an outfitter, but a research institute where travelers help support ongoing studies by scientists. More than 4,000 volunteers each year work on over 700 research teams in 49 countries and 18 states. Thus, the list of opportunities covers most interests. Study rhesus monkey feeding behavior in Nepal, map coastal wetlands in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga, help protect the Pacific grey whales in British Colombia, or excavate mammoths in South Dakota at a site which has become a museum educating 100,000 tourists a year about issues of extinction. The organization also offers special two-week Teen Trips geared to 16- and 17-year olds each summer.

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Bring the family and pack your vacation with fun. The kids are thrilled with RedBeard the Pirate, sharktooth necklaces and their very own supervised programs. For you, sway in a beachside hammock … soar on a parasail … enjoy fresh seafood and tropical coolers. For everyone, discover the new Splash Island Water Park. We’ve got what you need to “just let go” for your best family vacation ever. | Call: 866.JustLetGo Summer Special: 5TH NIGHT FREE 75


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Valentine’s Day Party by Khaliah Gibson |



Love Birds

Lunch table: The entire theme was inspired by the whimsical bird fabric found online. The colors are non-traditional as far as Valentine’s Day goes and that’s why I liked it. The little birds on it helped in naming this shoot Love Birds. There were birds nests and jordan almond “eggs” used as place settings. Also at eat place setting was a handmade valentines day cards for each guest. The centerpiece was a mailbox filled with heart shaped candies. Dessert Table: ALL Valentine’s Day printables by Ann-Margaret’s Speacial Tea Shoppe. Her printables complimented our vision for the table perfectly. Inside of the birdcage are mini sweet potato cupcakes. The blue birdie marshmallow pops were awesome and made by the one and only Stix N Pop’s. Heart shapped cake pops and Strawberry Sparkle cake pops by Dreamin N Details Design. Bird cookies were by Sara of Dandy Delights who is a cookie making wonder! She saw the inspiration board for this party and just whipped these right up, no quesitons needed. They were a mojito shortbread, YUM.



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Vegetables in Curried Coconut Milk by Laura Flowers |


Vegetables in Curried Coconut Milk Ingredients: • 1 large onion, sliced • 6 cloves garlic, minced • 3 large carrots, diced • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 large potato, cubed • 1-1/2 cups cauliflower florets, sliced • 8 mushrooms, sliced • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder • 1/2 teaspoon cumin • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric • Pinch of cayenne pepper • 14.5 ounce can vegetable broth (or chicken if you prefer) • 1 cup light coconut milk • 1 cup peas • Salt & pepper, to taste

This creamy vegetable filled curry is even better the next day. So pack it up for lunch and know that you’re taking something healthy and flavorful with you.

Directions: In a large saucepan, sauté the onions, garlic, and carrots in oil on medium-high heat until the onions become translucent. Add the vegetables, curry, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, stirring often so they don’t stick to the pan, cooking for 2-4 minutes. Add the broth and coconut milk, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. Stir in the peas. Cook uncovered on medium-high heat stirring constantly until the liquid has thickened. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown rice. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Laura Flowers has been a few things in her life, a newspaper and magazine photographer, food blogger, restaurant worker, Army soldier, wife and mom. Currently you can find her at

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The Home School That Changed the Landscape of Education In the 1990s, most parents released their homeschooled children to complete their education in public or private schools. Rob and Leigh Bortins were reluctant to compromise on the model they had practiced of classical, Christian education. So Rob suggested Leigh invite a few like minded families into their home for weekly tutoring sessions to continue their high school students learning...and Classical Conversations was born. Since the 1980s, homeschooling has become a serious option for families concerned about their children’s education. Within the last thirty years, millions of Americans have successfully educated their children from home. Leigh Bortins is a national leader in home-centered education, but her journey began when homeschooling was still a fringe movement in American society.

Seattle: Starting the Journey

When Leigh was pregnant with her first child, she watched a talk show about an “odd” homeschooling family. Even though they seemed odd, Leigh knew she wanted to teach her children at home, too. When her first son, Robert, was born in December 1983, she was looking for full-time work as an aerospace engineer. Her husband, Rob, still had another semester at the University of Michigan to finish his aerospace engineering degree, so she knew she would get to be a full-time mom at home with Robert for at least four months. When Robert was born, Rob and Leigh were torn over the decision so many new parents face: how should we raise our children? Rob wanted Leigh to stay home, but he also wanted her to pursue the career for which she had studied. Because they each had engineering experience in college, they both had fabulous job offers from Boeing in Seattle. Financially, they knew they could be set for life, but there was a precious little boy whom they loved more than life itself. So they compromised. Leigh began working in May. By the time Rob started work in September, Rob and Leigh’s hearts were in unison. Leigh told her boss she was going to finish her contract out to the last minute and then she was going home to be with her son.


And so the homeschooling adventure began. Leigh found homeschooling neighbors, went to homeschool conferences, formed co-ops, paid professionals to teach her to teach, and invented her own curricula as there were few materials available to buy at that time. When Rob got a job offer with USAir in Winston-Salem, NC, Robert was six and John was four, and Leigh was already considered an experienced homeschooling mom.

Winston-Salem: Walking in Community

After they made the move to Winston-Salem in 1989, Leigh immediately began making homeschooling friends. She taught all kinds of classes and organized many events so her boys would have the same opportunities as every other child. Then Robert hit middle school, and he began to lose his friends to traditional schools—mostly because their parents did not feel adequate teaching high school subjects. By that time Leigh had stumbled upon the classical model of education through Douglas Wilson’s books Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and Classical Education and the Home School. She realized she had done a good job teaching dialectic skills to her boys, but they were weak in grammar, and she did not want them to miss out on a rhetorical education. Rob suggested Leigh invite a few students in once a week and start a rhetorical program. This was the beginning of Classical Conversations®. In the fall of 1997, eleven high school students began to meet once a week at the Bortins’ house to discuss

EDUCATION Pinehurst: Preparing for Celebration

Over the years, Leigh and Rob have moved from parents, to advisors, to friends who share in the passions of their grown children’s lives. Learning new things is an ongoing passion for all of them. When parents adopt the classical method, says education author Doug Wilson, they are recovering the “lost tools of learning.” Leigh says even the youngest students are eager to accomplish great things if they are taught the way God designed them to learn. When the classical model is mastered, anyone can learn anything. “It’s like receiving a new brain,” Leigh says.

American literature, Latin, science, algebra, American government, economics, and Shakespeare. Leigh enjoyed it, and the parents felt like they were getting some help. The students were making friends and being held accountable to a higher level of academics. The following year, Leigh expanded the program and contracted with two longtime homeschooling friends to tutor six subjects each. Leigh called this the Challenge program because she did not want it to be grade dependent. She wanted students to be in the Challenge level that best fit their academic needs. Leigh recognized that her children were accomplishing more than ever before because they had an accountability group. She wanted that same accountability at the grammar level with her third son, William, and her youngest, David, so along with a few friends she started the Foundations Program for 4- through 12-year-olds and their parents. Today, in addition to Foundations and Challenge programs, Classical Conversations offers Essentials of the English Language. Essentials helps late elementary-age students develop the language arts and writing skills they need to communicate effectively through junior high, high school, and beyond. Classical Conversations also assists parents in the education of their children by coordinating standardized testing and providing a transcript service. For more information, visit

In 2005 the Bortins family moved to Pinehurst, NC, but families across the country have joined them on their journey of renewal. Classical Conversations will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary in 2012. In the fall of 2002, about 250 children, five directors, twenty-one tutors, and sixty mothers participated. By 2008, Classical Conversations had over 400 directors in thirty states. Just three years later, Classical Conversations has communities in forty-five states and a few foreign countries, with thousands of students and parents working together to gain a new vision for education. A true education teaches man to know God and to make Him known. Because God is at the center of learning, Leigh emphasizes that there are no independent subjects; rather, knowledge of each one sheds light and depth of understanding on the others. This requires each parent to stretch beyond his or her obvious strengths to discover the Lord’s purpose in all academic fields. Knowing how to learn using the classical model makes this possible. Instead of a factory model, which creates humans fit for mass production, Leigh and other Classical Conversations parents are dedicated to the idea that education prepares mankind for freedom.

To learn more about Classical Conversations or to see if there is a CC community in your area, please visit


Venturing Into Unschooling By Kerrie McLoughlin

When you have been homeschooling for a few years (or a few days!), you will come to a point when you or your child will want to throw a textbook, workbook or lesson planner across the room. I recently reached that point, threatened to put all my kids in school, then came across some new friends through a Facebook group who do something called unschooling. I’d heard of unschooling before, and thought parents who did it were kidding themselves. I mean, you can’t let a child say when he is “ready” to learn the Pythagorean Theorem, read the classics or learn proper grammar. So, armed with my firm belief that unschoolers were all lazy hippies who had kids that couldn’t read or write and who acted like something Jane Goodall would observe, I went for an unschooling playdate.   Boy, was I shocked whenI realized unschooling does

not mean undisciplined kids running wild like little banshees. One mom was playing a game of Pokemon with some boys while she chatted with other moms. Children were welcomed into conversations and could hold their own with adults and kids they had just met. And yep, they were smart, too, complete with their own opinions about learning and life. They could read and write and spell and each had learned on his own schedule. Trying to talk myself into unschooling, I thought of the many cases where kids and adults who taught themselves how to do things were actually better at them (playing piano,journalism, art, computer programming, etc.). And what’s the worst thing that could happen if my kid doesn’t know her state capitals? Can’t she look up any informational gaps (much of it memorization exercises we forget anyway) in her education in a book or online? Discarding some of these things from our“have-to-know” lists leaves room for a whole lot of interests that the child will soak up like a sponge. It’s true that when I stopped pushing my 5-year-old sons to read, they caught on readily at age 6. Hmmm.   Impressed by the playdate experience, this control freak set out to let her kids dictate the homeschooling situation. Turns out, it’s a lot more work than using a pre-packaged curriculum, but the benefits outweigh the energy output. My kids were suspicious when I put away the lesson planner, but soon it was nice to: · not have to drag and chase the kids to the table to “do school” (workbooks, worksheets, boring history lessons they never absorbed, math drills, etc.) · not use a case of tissue while crying in frustration over a lesson · not freaking out that my lesson plans were weeks behind because somebody got sick, the cat died or the washing machine blew up · not hear my son say either, “I’m bored” or “Why do I have to even know this?” · watch the kids play nicely together because we weren’t all stressed out

EDUCATION · watch them read to each other, ask me to play with them, cook together, do chores together, ask me to teach them things and so much more   Nanda Van Gestel says in“The Unschooling Unmanual” that, “Unschooling is like a home-cooked meal, prepared with love, that includes our child’s favorite foods, while school is more like a prepackaged meal which may or may not match our child’s preferences.” You could say that about a prepackaged curriculum or online virtual school, as well. While this may be true, Nanda, this unschooling thing now has me running my tushie off because my kids are ASKING me for learning activities!   Soon I am wiped out from reading about Lego and Pokemon and Princess unit studies and nature lap books(because the kids asked me to); putting books, DVDs educational games on hold at the library; buying materials for fun projects, researching field trips and other classes to match the kids’ interests; playing cards and games; playingWorld of Zoo on the computer with the kids and so much more. Then my poor,worn-out brain had to understand the concept of using realworld examples instead of pre-printed worksheets. A lemonade stand or a bake sale are perfect lessons in math and business. A kid keeping a journal that won’t be graded is free to learn so much about the English language and art and his own voice. And how many kids get to volunteer at a food bank during a school day?             Online, I often see homeschooling parents looking for a lifeline, a reason to continue homeschooling in general. They are frustrated for so many reasons I completely understand. I want these parents to know that unschooling does take some courage (trusting your kids to learn!), but that it’s very worth it. I don’t know about you, but I’m not homeschooling to get all my kids to Yale. I want them to be people with good values who love to learn and seek out knowledge. If our kids graduate “smart” but hate learning, what was it all for?

Kerrie McLoughlin has been schooling her 5 kids one way or another for the last 5 years. Check them out at

An Unschooler’s Toolkit John Holt books Sandra Dodd’s website A library card B vitamins for energy to keep up with your kids’ interests!



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Southern Child Magazine Feb March Issue