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April/May 2011

features Savvy Stroller Guide 39 Spring is in the Air 71 Summer Camp Guide 121

departments Mom Time 9 My Adoption Story, Stuff We Love, Sufficient Grace, Amazing Southern Mom, Super Southern Child

Dixie Land Design 25 Creating a Kid’s Room That Grows, Palm Beach Tots, Big Art Blessings: Showcasing Your Kids’ Artwork

Going Green 95 My Father’s Hands Toys, Lil’ Sisters Folk Art & Veggies, Teaching Children About Sustainablity

Reading and Learning 107 Media Reviews, Homegrown Scholars

Seeing the South 113 Pensacola with Kids, How Camps Help Children Care for the Earth

Hoof and Paw 137 Spay and Neuter to Save Lives,

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Publisher’s Letter She said yes! Welcome Melissa Allen of, as the new editor of Southern Child Magazine! As I wrapped up the last issue, it was becoming apparent, I needed help! I still pinch myself sometimes when I think it must all be a dream, yet the reality is the online magazine I started less than a year ago with hopes of having a few mom readers, has grown to have a worldwide audience! It’s crazy...I just keep saying! As I prayed about in what area(s) to seek help, I have to be honest, I was a little surprised when God led me to find a new editor. At first, I almost felt like I was finding a new mother for my baby! I am SO thankful just months earlier He introduced me to Melissa. When I discovered her site,, I immediately wrote her and told her I felt we had a similar mission. We immediately became friends. So when I felt like God was telling me she was, “the one,” I sent her an email, and she said yes! Welcome, Melissa! And the growth doesn’t end there! With the recent debut of our sister publication,, it was time to bring on design help as well. I have the pleasure of welcoming Amye King, of, as our new creative director! I hope you will be just excited as I am about welcoming Amye and Melissa as you flip through this issue. Thank you all for your kind words and support! Best wishes for a prosperous spring! Southernly yours,



Editor’s Letter Dear Friends, I am excited to join the Southern Child magazine family as editor. Being southern is the core of my soul and I love sharing the beauty of the south through the eyes of a mom. Hope you will join me each issue as we celebrate the spirit of the southern child. Many of my southern childhood days were spent in Granny’s kitchen at the hem of her apron wanting to be just like her in every way. The time in her kitchen and the southern traditions passed down from her are priceless treasures. One of my most treasured memories is a huge tiered icebox coconut cake she made for my birthday every year. In this issue, renowned party planner Kate Landers will share classic children’s party tips reminiscent of those cherished days . As you jump into beautiful sunny spring days and prepare for Easter Sunday, I hope you will find Southern Child a great resource. Our spring edition offers recipes for Easter and Cinco De Mayo, egg dying tips, and more. For all the new mommies and moms-to-be, this issue also includes an extended “must see” stroller review. So when you are looking for new treasures to share and memories to make, I hope you will grab your glass of sweet tea and open Southern Child - a little down home read created especially for you! Hugs and Southern Love,



Deryck, age 15 Colorado

Stay fit and have fun! Deryck loves to play sports, especially football and soccer, and keeping in shape by lifting weights is fun too. Like most teens, he's always up for video games, but when there's options like camping and fishing, they win hands down! Deryck had the opportunity to fly a small airplane and remarked that that event was his greatest memory. In the eighth grade, Deryck thrives on structure and benefits from counseling, which will need to continue after placement. Deryck hopes to remain in contact with his brother and his mentor. His caseworker will consider all family types for him. Financial assistance may be available for adoption-related expenses. For Colorado children, both homestudied and non-homestudied Colorado families are encouraged to inquire; only homestudied families from other states should do so. Child ID 6234

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




The Adoption “Process” by Laura Goins | we decided not to pursue any of the more expensive infertility treatments. We kept trying to get pregnant for the next year, only to continue with no success. Our next decision was just as important: should we adopt? I had never considered adoption before, because I always just assumed I would birth my own children. However, once it was clear to me that pregnancy wouldn’t come as easily as I’d hoped, adoption was a legitimate option for us. The words Baron spoke to me during that conversation were what really caused me to look at adoption in a different light: What if we don’t have a baby yet because there are so many people out there who don’t want theirs? Through more prayer, discussion, & research, we decided to pursue adoption. In the fall of 2008, we began the adoption process. We started talking to friends who had adopted, and began researching adoption agencies. At this point in the adoption process, my personal reason for adopting was simply because I hadn’t gotten pregnant yet. My husband, Baron, and I were married on August 28th, 2004. Since then, our favorite scripture has been Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Little did we know on that sweltering summer Saturday just how boldly God would reveal this scripture during the first few years of our marriage... In 2006, I somehow convinced Baron that it was time for us to start trying to have a baby. He was a little less gung-ho than I was, mostly since we were also about to move into our newly built house just a month or so after I initiated The Baby Talk. We talked about it and prayed about it, and decided that we would just see if it was God’s plan for us at that time. After a year of trying to get pregnant with no success, we realized that it was obviously not God’s plan for us just yet. So, at that point, we were faced with a decision to make: pursue infertility treatments, or just wait to see what God had in store. At that time, 10

On January 7, 2009, just when we were full-swing into the adoption process, I’m sure you can guess what happened. I was finally pregnant! I couldn’t believe it! Every month for the past 2 1/2 years, I was disappointed, so why should this month be any different? But it was. I was in SHOCK. Baron & I, along with our family & friends, were ecstatic. We just knew this was the answer to our prayers for a child. {Confession: even during the decision to adopt, and the adoption process up to this point, I still secretly preferred to get pregnant. In the back of my mind, I just knew that I could still carry my own child, and that was what I truly wanted. My heart wasn’t fully on the adoption train just yet.} That dream of giving birth to my own child was soon shattered & our happiness came to a screeching halt in March 2009, when I found out I’d had a miscarriage. I literally have never felt so low. Why did this happen? Why did God even allow me to get pregnant, if He was just going to take my baby away from me? I was angry,

MY ADOPTION STORY frustrated, confused, and the saddest I’d ever been in my life. It was a very dark time for me, and to be honest, the weeks following the miscarriage are now a blur. However, I do remember this: during that dark time, when it seemed like our world was falling apart & God wasn’t hearing our cries, we felt the prayers of everyone. I have never really felt prayers for me, until that time. I truly believe that the prayers of our family & friends are how God carried us through that time. So, once we got through that major storm in our lives, we were faced with yet another decision: should we continue trying to get pregnant, or should we adopt? We had decided to just wait & see what God wanted for us. But, in the summer of 2009, as Baron & I were talking & walking through the woods in the mountains of North Georgia on our annual family vacation, God once again used my husband to speak to me, and it was as if a light just turned on in my heart. I suddenly wanted back on the adoption train. And this time, I really wanted it. It was as if I just knew this was God’s plan for us. Over the next few months, as we continued through the adoption process, it became more & more clear to me that God wanted us to adopt. So much so, that I didn’t even desire pregnancy anymore. My prayer had changed from “God, PLEASE get me pregnant!” to “God, PLEASE don’t let me be pregnant, and PLEASE help us adopt!” It was amazing to see the change within my own heart, in just a few short months.

been chosen by a birthmother. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like finding out you’re pregnant! {Which, just one short year ago to the day, I had done myself an interesting coincidence courtesy of God.} I think I was more nervous that day than I was when I had found out I was pregnant. We spoke with the birthmother on the phone that afternoon, which was clearly the most nerve-racking phone call ANY of us had ever had. In the next couple of weeks, we got to travel to South Carolina to meet her. It was an amazing experience! God was all over it. We knew we were in His hands, because it was the most pleasant birthmother visit that could have possibly occurred. After speaking with her on the phone, and then meeting with her in person, we received news that she definitely wanted us to be her daughter’s adopted parents. We were thrilled! It was so incredible for us to know that, after reading about us, talking to us, and meeting us, she chose us to raise her child. What an amazing trust she suddenly had in us!

In the fall of 2009, we finally finished our adoption home study. Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. Difficult decisions regarding gender/ race/age/health preferences. More personal questions than we’d ever thought possible. Reference letters. Adoption education credit in the form of massive adoption-related books. Physicals. Personal bios in our Adoption Profile. Home interview with a social worker. It really was a lot of work, but we were finally DONE. This began the phase of the process that is almost just as difficult: waiting. Of course, having waited for years now to get pregnant, we were used to the waiting game. We {somewhat patiently} waited for The Call from our adoption agency, Nightlight Christian Adoptions. On January 7, 2010, we received that call. We had 11

MY ADOPTION STORY What was even more nerve-racking than that initial conversation with the birthmother was the fact that she was due the following April. We had only a few short months to prepare for our new family member! To add to the rush of preparing for a baby, our birthmother was diagnosed with preeclampsia and scheduled to be induced early. The exact date of delivery was, as is usually the case, unknown to any of us. She could easily be born early due to the health risks for the birthmother during delivery. We continued to get ready for the birth of our daughter, which we had decided along with our birthmother that we would attend if possible. The second week of March 2010, our birthmother told us that her doctor had said the delivery could easily happen that next week. Yikes! So on Monday, March 22nd, I should not have been so shocked when I got the call from her saying she was headed to the hospital, to be induced the next morning. WHAT?! I couldn’t believe it. The day had finally come - I was about to be a mommy! I called Baron, and the rest of our family, and then frantically began packing - first for the baby {I had NO idea what to pack!} and then for myself. The rest of that morning/afternoon is now a blur to me. That afternoon, we began the journey to South Carolina - the trip of a lifetime. We arrived at our birthmother’s hotel room, where she was not feeling well at all due to the preeclampsia. We visited for awhile, and then left her to rest. She was to be induced the next morning, so we headed to our rental home to get settled & get some sleep. My parents and Baron’s mom would be traveling up the next day, hopefully in time to be there for the delivery. We got to the house, unpacked, and settled in for the night. I was sound asleep, despite the jitters I had from all the excitement, when I got a phone call at 2:30 a.m. It was our birthmother’s best friend, who was at the hospital with her. “Did I wake you up?” {duh} “We’re having a C-section!!” So Baron & I sleepily got up and headed to the hospital, arriving in the waiting room outside the operating room just in time for our daughter’s birth. On March 23, 2010, Natalie Rebecca finally arrived. Our daughter. In the next room. It was a surreal experience, seeing her for the first time as the doctor wheeled her from the operating room toward the nursery. The next few days, as she stayed at the hospital and we held her, 12

fed her, changed her diaper, and visited with the birthmother...they were all so perfect. We got along so well with our birthmother, and we were perfectly at ease visiting with her in her hospital room as we cared for our daughter. We were most definitely in God’s hands throughout that time! As expected, we had to stay in South Carolina for awhile after Natalie’s birth until the paperwork was cleared for us to bring her back to Alabama. What we didn’t expect, however, was for it to take 2 weeks. While we were more than eager to get back home with our baby girl, we were having such a good time in South Carolina with my parents & Baron’s mom. It was such a blessing to have them there with us to help with Natalie! Our birthmother & her friend were even able to come over for dinner one night, which was just another awesome experience that we will never forget. Finally, on April 2, 2010, we were able to travel home with our precious baby girl. Our adoption finalization hearing was scheduled in July 2010. We were so eager to get through this next step of the adoption, and we were also excited about making another trip to Natalie’s city of birth.


Of course we were able to visit with her birthmother some more, for the first time since the birth experience. And of course, God once again blessed that visit. We met several members of our birthmother’s family, and we got to spend a little time visiting with them and letting them love on Natalie. The adoption finalization hearing went smoothly, and at the end of that trip, our daughter was then legally Natalie Rebecca Goins. At this point in our adoption story, most people say, “Whew! The adoption process is finally over!” But I disagree. Our “adoption process” is just that – a process. It is a growing process, and a learning process. Natalie will always be adopted, and there will always be issues we have to learn how to handle. That is all part of “the adoption process”. And the love Baron & I have for her could not possibly be any stronger – adopted or not. She is our daughter, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have such a wonderful child. Sound familiar? “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” – Ephesians 1:5 13

Stuff we Love




1 Pink Coral Laurel Pink Coral Laurel™ is a sporty snorkeler from Australia and cares about marine life, coral reefs, climate change and global warming. She cares about the earth and knows we can all do little things to do our part! 2 The Frog Pod is a frog you will want to kiss! The super star of bath toy storage, its drainable scoop lets you gather and rinse toys, which helps prevent scum and mildew issues. The wall-mounted base with built-in shelf holds all your essential bath products. Really sticks to bath walls with semi-permanent adhesive strips, but won’t harm tile or wall surfaces. Boon Inc. 3 The Potty Bench We like, we like to Potty! We like, we like to Potty! I fell in love with this modern looking “tot pot”, the Potty Bench, by Boon Inc. This sleek seat has two enclosed side storage spaces perfect for books, training supplies and wipes. The sturdy drawer slides out for fast, leak-free, easy clean-up. Close the lid and the whole thing turns into a large step stool. It even comes with a built-in toilet paper holder and removable, soft deflector shield that flexes where it counts. (Guys, you know what we mean.) 14

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4 Kidz Placemats Collaborating with unique talents from the independent art scene, Modern-Twist brings art to even the littlest table. Made from silky food-grade, hand silk-screened silicone, the mats won’t crease or rip. The mats are doodle-friendly with the use of washable or dry erase markers - save paper/save trees, just clean off with a damp cloth or rinse. Color again and again. | 5 Whimsical Paper offers super cute Folded Note Cards. Perfect for a thank-you note or a quick note to someone special! Cards can be personalized with your name, monogram or initial. Set of 10 cards and envelopes $10 6 Let your kids get messy with Eco-Dough! Eco-dough is a molding dough handmade with all natural ingredients. Even the packaging tube is made from post consumer waste and the containers are made from cornstarch and 100% compostable. | 7 Doodle Roll, invented by a Boston-area family, makes doodling easier and more convenient than ever. This clever creation is either 4“ wide and 15 feet long or 6” wide and 30 feet of wound-up paper, complete with either 4 or 8 crayons, respectively, and E-Z tear edges - all together in compact travel-friendly packaging. At under $5, the Doodle Roll makes a great ‘just because’ gift for any child. 15

Stuff we Love 1 2



1 Samantha Diaper Tote by Kokopax. Love, love, love this fun un-diaper bag looking diaper tote! This fun and funky diaper tote is one that mom will want to use on her own, not just for baby. Made from 100 percent cotton canvas, the Samantha Diaper Tote features a custom designed, water-resistant lining, durable webbing, high quality leather accents and magnetic closure. Mention SouthernChild2011 and get 10% off your order at | 2 Society Satchel by Petunia Picklebottom, shown in Berry Chiffon Cake. There are four ways to carry this roomy, beautiful bag, including backpack and stroller straps! And I love that the bottom unzips to reveal a changing pad and wipes case. 3 Going GREEN for Spring, with this Technique Bag from the JJ Cole Collection. Keep track of your baby’s necessities in style. Clean exterior design with a featurerich interior. A wide magnetic snap opening and eight organizer pockets makes finding what you need simple. Water-resistant, easy-to-wipe outer material. This jewel includes grips stroller attachments, coordinating changing pad, wallet,and pacifier pod and insulated interior bottle pocket. AND this bag is pvc and phthalate free! | 4 Mode Tote Bag The mode includes twelve pockets inside and out for organizing. Depending on preference, the mode allows for three carrying options including two tote straps, a removable padded shoulder strap, or stroller attachments for a no-slip grip to your stroller handle. Bag is made of easy-to-clean laminated canvas, and comes with coordinating changing pad. From the JJ Cole Collection. 16

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4 The BabyBaby Feeding Pillow, a ‘must have’ breast feeding aid, its unique ‘U’ shape ensures the pillow moulds to baby and Mom easily, comfortably and correctly. Its height positions baby in the right place – at eye level with the breast – and its large surface size means it can be used to feed infants older than is possible with standard feeding supports. It’s filled with polystyrene beads encased in their own inner, so its height can be altered by adding or subtracting beads. | 5 Lifefactory Bottles Lifefactory’s glass baby bottles are bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalate, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) free. | 6 Eco-Classic Carrier The premium carrier in the kokopax line. It incorporates the latest technology in green textile printing and consumer safety. Fashion fabric on the eco-classic carrier is comfortable and safe for little ones. | 7 Urban Bundleme Another great find from the JJ Cole Collection, he quilted outer nylon of the Urban Bundleme protects against wind and rain while the luxuriously soft inner thermaplush™ adds style and warmth. Use with car seats, strollers, and joggers. Wind and water resistant, machine washable, top removes easy for temperature control and allows safety straps to rest directly on child. Shown here in sassy!



The Katy Kidney Beans When women join a mom’s group, they expect to spend their play dates talking about sleep schedules, eating habits, and potty training, not lab results, specialist appointments, and hospital-stay advice. But, for Katy, Texas residents Emma Zone and Harmony Keel that’s how their friendship developed when they met in a mom’s group in 2008 and subsequently both had sons born with congenital kidney problems. Upon birth, in May of 2009, Zone’s son, Mitch, was diagnosed with a rare congenital problem in his urinary tract called “Posterior Urethral Valves,” which affects one in 8,000 boys. At ten days old, he faced his first surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital to clear the blockage in his urethra, only to have to repeat the procedure two months later. Unfortunately, the damage was done; Mitch’s right kidney was damaged beyond repair. “At that point, keeping the right kidney in was more of a risk because of infection,” said Zone. At six months of age, Mitch had his right kidney removed. At the same time Mitch was facing his diagnosis, Keel, who was 26 weeks pregnant with twin boys, learned that both boys each had one enlarged kidney. “I immediately called Emma after we had the ultrasound because I knew Mitch had gone through a similar ordeal,” explained Keel. In December of 2009, the twins, Josiah and Kennan, arrived six weeks early and spent four weeks in the NICU, which Keel describes as a time that was filled with uncertainty. “I knew from Emma how important it was to be proactive and really advocate for further testing to be done, so the day after we were released from the NICU, we went to the Urology clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital.” It was at that appointment that Keel learned that Kennan’s issue only required monitoring, while Josiah needed to have surgery to

remove a blockage in his ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder), which involved draining the kidney, reconstructing a portion of it, and reimplanting the ureter to the correct reconstructed area on the kidney. In spite of the surgeries, both boys are thriving, and Zone and Keel, along with their husbands, Andy and Ben, wanted to do something to honor the good health of their sons. “That is why we formed the Katy Kidney Beans,” explained Zone. “I saw information about the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Walks held around the country, so I called Harmony to see if she wanted to join forces to raise money and awareness.” The Katy Kidney Beans will participate in the Houston Kidney Walk on April 30, 2011. “We have a lot of exciting things planned—from a Facebook silent auction to a Kindermusik Playdate—all in the effort to raise money for our team,” said Keel. The team has set a goal to raise $5,000 for the Southeast Texas chapter of the National Kidney Foundation. “When we met, never did we dream we’d become connected in this way,” said Zone.“We are just so blessed that we can use this experience to make an impact in our community. Our goal is to bring hope to others facing chronic issues—one kidney bean at a time.” If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Katy Kidney Beans, please visit:

Sufficient Grace

Autism to Gifted by Stephanie LaLanne

I feel as though my mind is stuck in the fast approaching month of September. We have been seeking out preschools for Blaine. It amazes me how quickly concerns about our children’s education starts. I have taken Blaine to several preschools in the area and I feel confident that we have found the right one. We are now faced with the challenging task of getting Blaine’s occupational therapist, speech therapist, preschool director and preschool teachers on the same page. I’m encouraged and confident we are moving forward in the right direction. In my prior article I stated that we have been straddling the line of the autistic spectrum. However, that has changed some in the last couple months. Blaine has made significant improvements that move him further from the autistic spectrum and closer to the gifted category. I'd like to tell this story when I start to talk about Blaine and the possibility of him being gifted.

I gave them my credit card number and concluded the transaction. Two weeks later my husband, the kids and I were in the car and Blaine was saying a series of numbers over and over. My husband and I listened closely and sure enough, it was my credit card number complete with expiration date!! Blaine has also been reading random large words and working on sounding them out phonetically. We have another appointment with Blaine’s neurologist in April where we will discuss in detail the possibility of him being gifted. As you see, God never ceases to make things interesting around our house. I am thankful for the humor that He places in our lives. At the end of the day, when our house is still, my husband and I sneak into our boys bedrooms. As we watch them sleep I know that we are silently saying to ourselves, “we are blessed”.

Not long after Sufficient Grace debuted in Southern Child magazine, I was paying a bill over the phone. 19


My Friend, Michelle by Melise Harris

“As long as my doctor says I can do it I’m still doing it! I want that medal!” Now that’s determination. I had just gotten off the phone with my friend calling with the happy news that baby two was on the way! “What’s the due date?” I asked amidst my squeals of excitement. “March 17th, ” she said. “But…..the half marathon is March 7th!” “I know! As long at my doctor says I can do it I’m still doing it! I want that medal!” When you think of ‘super mom’, what qualities do you think of; able to cut the crust off a PB&J with one swoop, diaper changer extraordinaire, algebra homework expert or maybe even super duper little league cheerleader equipped with after game snacks and juice boxes? Whatever you think of, I’m sure you know at least one super mom. I know a few. My mother springs to mind. She was my classroom ‘room mom’ every year and always threw us the most amazing birthday parties. I have a few friends with mad mom skills, but the one special mom friend I want to tell you about is my friend Michelle. Michelle is a Super Southern Mom from Panama City, Florida. Born and raised in the area, Michelle met her sweetheart just down the street from her current home. She was married in her early twenties to a merchant marine. What’s that? I wondered the first time she told me too. He’s basically a ship captain sailing large vessels all over the world for weeks at a time. Super cool and important job but that leaves Michelle basically a ‘single mom’ for weeks on end. I met Michelle when I joined a Stroller Fit class in Panama City in 2008. Our daughters were only a month apart and barley crawling. She and I hit it off instantly. Don’t you just love those friendships, the ones that seem so effortless as if you were friends for years just only a few hours after meeting? Michelle

and I sweated our butts off to the beat of the Stroller Fit drum for years while our little ones grew up together. We loved the same things, shopping, restaurants, music, etc… but one thing Michelle did that I’d never even considered was…! Yes, off your butt, running shoes, ipod in, more than 3 miles a day…. RUN! I was impressed from the start. When she said she ran 3 miles a day I was floored. To me 3 yards was stressful and made my heart start pounding out of my chest. But she was training for a half marathon. I was super proud of her and watched her whole training process from the serenity of my couch. March of 2009 Michelle ran her first half marathon at the Disney Princess Half Marathon inaugural event! When she came back, I wanted to hear all about. The way she made it sound so fun and easy just made me start thinking. And before I knew it my mind was going to really scary places and my mouth started ahead of me and I heard myself say “I want to do that with you next year!” Did I just say that!? Now it’s out there. I have to do it. What the heck was I thinking!? Well I’m proud to say that on March 7th, 2010 I crossed the finish line of the Disney Princess Half Marathon and I’ve never been so proud of myself! Michelle was an amazing trainer and support the whole way, calling me with updates, encouragement and even attending smaller runs with me. It was SO much fun, don’t get me wrong it was hard….really hard. After about 15 minutes of crossing the finish line, my muscles started shooting pains to my brain and all I could think was….fall down, fall down right now! The next day I felt like a Mac truck had hit me! Whenever I thought of my pain, Michelle came to mind; she was 10 months pregnant! She walked for 13.1 miles….4 hours…all with about 35lbs strapped to her tummy! I know most commonly women are

AMAZING SOUTHERN MOM only pregnant for 9 months but if you do the math it’s actually almost ten, 40 x 7 =280 days, well Michelle was 271 days in! She wore a shirt that said “If my water breaks just get me to the finish line!” True story!

Don’t you just love that!? And just when you think this ‘Mary Lou Retton’ kinda story can’t get any better, she didn’t stop at a half marathon. This January 2011 Michelle completed the Disney Goofy’s Challenge. That’s a half marathon on Saturday and a FULL the next day on Sunday. For those of you about to do the math that’s 39.3 miles in 24 hours. Um….there are days I feel tired when I drive that far! And if you’re wondering, I’m still running and still participating in races and Michelle is still encouraging. This year she got another one of our friends to run her first half marathon. But that’s not all this super mom is about. A few years ago she also started her own cake making business! Oh yea, she cooks too! Her cakes are sought after all over town and they are amazing. I keep telling her she’s undercharging but she just smiles and says “No, I can’t charge more than that. Plus I love doing it!” But running and cake decorating aren’t the only

things super about this mom. She’s now mom to a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old and for sometimes 5-6 weeks at a time, she’s a single mom! If I suddenly had to be a single mom for weeks at a time with 2 younguns’ (that’s a Southern word….) in tow, I’d just sit my butt down on a couch somewhere and watch daytime TV and cry until my husband came home to help me! I can’t wait till 5 o’clock everyday, how does she wait 40 plus days!? But she doesn’t just sit on the couch her life goes on. And quite possibly one of the most impressive things is that she takes her little ones to church several times a week. Honestly now, how is Sunday morning for most of you? How often do you sit in the pew exhausted and 25 min late wondering why you bothered in the first place? She just puts on her smile, dresses her girls in handmade couture dresses complete with handmade bows, slaps on make up that makes her look like a super model and off she goes for that spiritual feeding so necessary at these moldable years of her children’s lives. Now that… is SUPER! Michelle, you are an inspiration and a I value not only our friendship but your lessons in how to be… super mom! Now go find that friend of yours that inspires you and tell her how much she means to you!


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Use as directed.


Care when you need it™

SUPER SOUTHERN CHILD When Nicholas Marriam was only six years old, he was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma cancer. At an age when most boys are out playing in the yard and rough-housing with their friends, Nick spent two years battling cancer and life threatening complications. He missed two years of school, and even when he was out of the hospital had to be isolated a great deal due to a lowered immune system and the fear of germs. It was a lonely time for him and for his family. At a camp for children who had dealt with cancer he learned about Make a Difference Day (created by USA Weekend Magazine in 1991 to encourage volunteerism.) Nick became motivated by this and his own person experience with cancer to do something for others. He and his cousin, Shelby McKnew, founded The Nickelby Project to reach out to children who are facing a serious illness. The Nickelby Project’s mission is to deliver hope and smile to hospitalized children. Nick’s goal has been to provide gift bags to help ease the fear and loneliness that children with chronic or life threatening illnesses face while in the hospital. When asked how being involved with this project has affected his perspective as a teen, Nick, now 18, said, “I am not sure if doing this project made me any different or changed me in any way. I think I am changed from having cancer and being treated differently when I was younger. I do think that it’s pretty easy to take some time and make a difference to others and I’m not sure why more people don’t. If I could send one message to other teens it would be to take time to volunteer and help others while you have the time. There are needs everywhere, neighbors, friends, or an organization, find something that interests you and give some time.” He went on to say, “I get to meet hundreds of great kids that are wonderful and strong, I am amazed each time I get to visit them and give the gift bags, I feel like the one that is getting the gift.” In 2008 Nick met President George W. Bush and awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Paul Newman also awarded Nick a $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice (Nick chose to spilt the donation between Washington Children’s Hospital and Camp Friendship.) The Nickelby Project has grown to include not only the Gift Bag Project, but also now encompasses a Buddy and Hospital Support program

which helps provide items for families that spend a great deal of time at hospitals with their sick children, and a Scholarship program for childhood cancer survivors and adults who plan to go into a Pediatric Oncology field of study. To date, almost 11,000 bags have been distributed. Donations can be made through the website ( or by sending a check to Nickelby Project, 289 Reeder Branch Drive, Clayton NC 27520. Submitted by: Michelle Byers Densmore, a freelance writer/ book reviewer and blogger. (Bella Michelle at 23


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Creating A Kid’s Room That Grows by Emily A. Clark |

When I started designing my oldest daughter’s room, she was only three but strongly opinionated. As far as she was concerned, nothing but pink would do. However, I fully intended to make this redesign last well into adolescence. While she would’ve been perfectly happy with “My Little Pony” wallpaper from floor to ceiling, I had a slightly more sophisticated vision for the space. So, how do you create a kid’s room that grows along with them? Here are my best tips: Include “grown-up” pieces in your design. Your child’s room doesn’t have to be 100% kid-oriented. Throw a pretty chandelier or an antique dresser into the mix. Use a pair of lamps or an abstract painting that you may have only considered for your family room. Keep things interesting by using

an unexpected element in the room. Although I gave my daughter plenty of pink on the wall behind her bed, I also added in a more traditional, green damask fabric and monogrammed pillows. Avoid designing around an age-specific theme. Themes are great and fun to design around, but you may be getting requests for a “new room” sooner rather than later. An easy solution is to choose a more general “theme” built around a favorite fabric, color or even an article of clothing. Design a wall around a favorite floral dress, for example. In my daughter’s room, I took the polka dot pattern on a small bolster pillow and made it larger than life on an accent wall. 27

DIXIE LAND DESIGN Use easy-to-change elements. Since kids’ tastes will inevitably change over the years, use accessories that are easy to change out. Instead of investing in pricey wallpaper, I used large, circular wall decals to create a polka dot pattern. Wall decals are easily removable and can also be used as murals, to add detail to furniture and even on the ceiling to create a custom look. Use fabric-covered bulletin boards to easily rotate an ever-changing display of favorite artwork, photographs, awards, etc. Add ledge shelving to display school projects, collectibles and trophies.

Make it personal. A room that’s designed around your child’s personality will never go out of style. Have fun with the design process by getting them involved in creating artwork for the space. Frame photos of their friends, happy memories and mostloved toys to create a fun wall gallery. Make word art using a nursery rhyme or lyrics from a favorite song. Most importantly, incorporate elements that make the space feel special for your child.


Emily has an interior decorating business based in Charlotte, NC, and is a wife and mommy of three. She believes beautiful spaces can be achieved through creativity, even on a small budget. Emily loves helping her design clients shop for bargains and repurpose pieces they already have. For those clients outside of the Charlotte area, she also offers online decorating.


Picture your baby snoozing in the same magnificent crib that Jennifer Lopez chose for her child. Perhaps the furniture used by Halle Berry’s little one would be perfect for your four-year-old. Palm Beach Tots can turn those dreams into reality. Celebrity furnishings, however, are only part of the picture at the boutique in Downtown at the Gardens, an upscale center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Shoppers will find top quality furniture, fabrics and accessories, model rooms for children of all ages, a play area for children and a TV viewing area complete with plush couch for dad while mom and/or grandma shop. It even offers a quiet, secluded nursing room for new mothers. Palm Beach Tots is the brainchild of Jaana Moisio, lawyer, entrepreneur and, most important, mother of two. She wanted to create beautiful rooms for her girls, but couldn’t find one store that offered the variety, quality and workmanship she desired. None really put it all together from paint to pillows, so she decided to do it. But Jaana didn’t want just any crib or furniture suite. She wanted top quality, but she also wanted products that were practical, that would remain useful as the children grew older. She wanted the rooms to come alive and stay alive. Three years ago she left her law practice, began studying design and introduced Palm Beach Tots as an Internet business. Soon friends and acquaintances were joined by new customers as the business grew one child’s room at a time. Jaana’s success caught the attention of Berman Enterprises, the new management at Downtown at 30

the Gardens, which is focusing its renewal efforts to attract high-end customers, invited her to translate her unique concept from the worldwide web to bricks and mortar in Palm Beach Gardens. The display window is dominated by Bratt Décor’s Venetian Crib, the same model chosen by J Lo. Other products include a pedal car made of metal – not plastic; play horses are plush and built on wooden frames; tea sets are metal, like in old England; she even offers custom, life-size playhouses complete with every creature comfort. This focus likely comes from Moisio’s Finnish roots and upbringing in British Columbia that instilled in her a respect for tradition and the “real thing.” No plastic, disposable toys and furniture here. Moisio emphasizes that high-end luxury does not mean fragile…just the opposite. Every product is durable and child friendly. “Palm Beach Tots showcases furniture, accessories and toys that will be heirlooms that can be passed down to younger siblings and even generations,” Moisio explained. “My goal is to transform a child’s room into a luxurious dream environment that a parent and child will love to walk into every day,” Palm Beach Tots is the exclusive Palm Beach County distributor for Bratt Décor, Additional quality lines include Angel Song, Newport Cottages, Caden Lane Bedding and Dish & Spoon art work. Their clientele includes not only Lopez and Halle Berry, but Katie Holmes, Marcia Cross, Heide Klum, Mario Lopez, Kourtney Kardashian, Julia Roberts, Christina Aguilera, Sean Diddy Combs, Tori Spelling among others.

Palm Beach Tots is located in Suite 3107 on the “Boulevard,” near the hand-carved carousel at Downtown at the Gardens. Hours are Monday to Thursday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m. For more information call (561) 366-7449.

Don’t forget the boys! If sports are his thing, he will enjoy this handsome bedroom, with locker side table and durable bunk beds, showcased at Palm Beach Tots, in Downtown at the Gardens, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Photo by: John Chuter Photography

Pretty in pink – this luxurious dream room for young ladies is showcased at Palm Beach Tots, in Downtown at the Gardens, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The bedroom suite is by Largo, bedding by Maddie Boo, artwork by Dish & Spoon.

Photo by: John Chuter Photography



Big Art Blessings

Showcasing YOUR Child’s Artwork

About once a year, the question is posed to magazines, media, and Moms. “What do I do with all that artwork?” You know the art I’m talking about. It is presented to us as treasured relics, grimy with fingerprints, dripping with glitter, heavy with glue. Kids’ eyes sparkling in advance of the praise we will heap on them as they hand over the little windows into their creative souls. And where does that artwork usually end up? I’ve heard rumors that there are people who can throw it away; I still don’t know if I believe them. I suspect most of it ends up where mine did: in Rubbermaid bins stored away in the attic. Volumes of it. Every time this question is raised, the suggested solutions are the same. “Take a picture of it and throw it away”. “Pick out your favorite pieces, frame them, and throw the rest away”. “Scan the artwork in and make something with the digital images – throw the originals away”. No! What about the caterpillar with the pipe cleaner antennae? The jellyfish with bubblewrap tentacles? The finger painting with mountains and valleys of shiny goodness? Digital, my foot. A digitized copy of our oil pastel purple monkey is just not the same. Especially if that monkey has googly eyes.

The wooden art boards we build are two inches deep. With black painted edges, the finished product looks like a gallery-quality canvas but without all the inherent problems of actually using canvas. Because of the large size of our boards, we are usually able to get ten to eighteen pieces of artwork onto one collage. The results have been amazing. When you work with children’s artwork every day you understand quickly that the personalities of the kids shines through their art. Getting that artwork up onto the walls and out of the closets, bags, and bins is gratifying for the parents and thrilling for the kids. And the finished boards make spectacular, affordable home décor.

Because the Rubbermaid bins in our attics began haunting me and my friends, we made it our mission to find a unique way to showcase large quantities of original children’s artwork. In fact, that is exactly how our company, Big Art Blessings, was born. Big Art Blessings takes original artwork from clients and we collage that art onto large cradled wooden panels using a three step decoupage process. To protect the artwork, we apply the appropriate fixatives for each medium to the art before beginning the gluing. We use our own recipe for one of the decoupage layers and our favorite off-the-shelf products (various Plaid products) for the others. We call our start to finish process of decoupaging onto wooden art panels “Doodleboarding”. 33

You know the art I’m talking about. It is presented to us as treasured relics, grimy with fingerprints, dripping with glitter, heavy with glue. Kids’ eyes sparkling in advance of the praise we will heap on them as they hand over the little windows into their creative souls. And where does that artwork usually end up? I’ve heard rumors that there are people who can throw it away; I still don’t know if I believe them. I suspect most of it ends up where mine did: in Rubbermaid bins stored away in the attic. Volumes of it. Every time this question is raised, the suggested solutions are the same. “Take a picture of it and throw it away”. “Pick out your favorite pieces, frame them, and throw the rest away”. “Scan the artwork in and make something with the digital images – throw the originals away”. No! What about the caterpillar with the pipe cleaner antennae? The jellyfish with bubblewrap tentacles? The finger painting with mountains and valleys of shiny goodness? Digital, my foot. A digitized copy of our oil pastel purple monkey is just not the same. Especially if that monkey has googly eyes.


Because the Rubbermaid bins in our attics began haunting me and my friends, we made it our mission to find a unique way to showcase large quantities of original children’s artwork. In fact, that is exactly how our company, Big Art Blessings, was born. Big Art Blessings takes original artwork from clients and we collage that art onto large cradled wooden panels using a three step decoupage process. To protect the artwork, we apply the appropriate fixatives for each medium to the art before beginning the gluing. We use our own recipe for one of the decoupage layers and our favorite off-the-shelf products (various Plaid products) for the others. We call our start to finish process of decoupaging onto wooden art panels “Doodleboarding”. The wooden art boards we build are two inches deep. With black painted edges, the finished product looks like a gallery-quality canvas but without all the inherent problems of actually using canvas. Because of the large size of our boards, we are usually able to get ten to eighteen pieces of artwork onto one collage. The results have been amazing.

When you work with children’s artwork every day you understand quickly that the personalities of the kids shines through their art. Getting that artwork up onto the walls and out of the closets, bags, and bins is gratifying for the parents and thrilling for the kids. And the finished boards make spectacular, affordable home décor. We would love to help everyone out of this classic artful dilemma. Whether you are a do-it-yourself pioneer or would rather have someone else do the sticky work, Big Art Blessings wants to help. Come visit us on the web and Facebook and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you. If this idea appeals to you, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get ready to Doodle: 1) Lightly, in pencil, label the information about the artwork; especially which kid created it, on the back. You don’t think you will forget but it’s been known to happen. 2) While you are temporarily storing your artwork, keep it in a dark, dry, flat area. Kids’ artwork is typically created on highly acidic paper, so exposure to light will cause it to fade.

3) Yes, take a picture. But no, DON’T THROW IT AWAY! Even if it’s crinkled and wrinkled, even torn, Doodleboarding often brings forgiveness and revival to artwork mishaps. 4) Don’t just Mod-Podge your artwork onto canvas. This is what we did initially; and we would give anything to be able to “take it back”. The large canvas frames that are affordable from craft stores are typically too flimsy to withstand the shrinking that will occur as the glue cures; you can have twisted, warped frames unless you buy very expensive, solid canvasses. We have also experienced the artwork pulling away from the cloth over time; cloth and paper just aren’t the friendliest surfaces to each other. Our primed boards are hard, flat, and love glue and paper. 5) Don’t try this process on a piece of plywood either; we also tried that in the early days. Over time, it will warp and wave. 6) If you are choosing art supplies for your children to create something, use fadeless construction paper and stay away from washable marker, laminating the art, and chalk. Say yes to paint, crayon, Sharpies, 3D embellishments, torn paper creations, just about anything else. 7) Let the kids do the artwork! They will absolutely amaze you.



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Savvy Strollers

Jeep Universal Cruiser Make getting around the next 9 months a breeze with the Jeep Universal Cruiser - no bulky travel system required! Fits most brands of infant car seats on the market. It’s 8” wheels gets through all types of terrain! (But would you expect any less, it’s a Jeep!) Convenient onehand fold allows you to hold your child and fold the carrier at the same time! Removable parent tray with dual cup holders. Secure fit tray supports car seat for a snug ride and your little bundle of joy will appreciate front swivel shock-absorbing wheels during nap time. Extra large basket with cargo bags for loads of storage.


iCandy Cherry Everything’s sweeter with a cherry on top! And indeed, the iCandy stroller is S-WEET! Extra lightweight and versatile, the iCandy Cherry is available in four chic color options - mulberry, berry blue, liquorice and fudge. (YUM!) An infant carrier car seat is easily attached with the use of infant carrier car seat adaptors (both sold separately).

The flexibility of forward and rearward facing seat modes has so many great benefits, giving you versatility and choice. With a super lightweight chassis, easy fold mechanism and the ability to freestand when folded, the Cherry is an ideal choice for parents with today’s busy lifestyles. There are many accessories sold separately you may also want to consider, the travel bag, to care for your stroller while travelling, this padded travel bag, complete with carry strap. The cup holder is a must and the sunshade is ideal if you plan to be outdoors with baby.


Savvy Strollers

Contours Optima Tandem What happens when you have your eye on that cozy Contours stroller “for one” and your doctor says, “TWINS!” Girl, you just spend the rest of the day watching daytime television with a carton of Bon-Bons and you send your husband out or online to get the Contours Optima Tandem! Because YOU deserve it! Deep breathing, mom, deep breathing, think of Michelle Duggar, if she could manage with 19 kids (and keeps on counting) you can manage with two...deep breath, deeeep breath. Alright, while you inhale those tear-covered Bon Bons, put Oprah on pause and let me tell you a little more about the Contours Optima Tandem. Like it offers you all the choices you want in a lightweight tandem stroller, including six seating options and height-adjustable canopies. (Are you smiling yet?) It will nicely accomodate your two infants on in to toddlerhood (yikes, TWO two-year olds at once!!), look on the pretty side, it comes in two stylish patterns. Super strong mom cup holders and that BIG basket for your BIG diaper bag...for your TWINS! You will do great!


Kolcraft Tour Sport This reclining umbrella stroller is lightweight, comfortable and ideal for the economically-minded parent. The parent cup holder is a plus (you KNOW you need to be drinking more water, mom!)!! And we like the roomy storage bags, reclining padded seat back and shock-absorbing front wheels (because I KNOW I’m not the only one who has hit a few bumps while rushing my little one around to get errands finished before hurrying up to wait... in the carpool line for my older child).


Savvy Strollers Kolcraft® Umbrella stroller How cute am I? Hi, I am the Kolcraft Umbrella Stroller. I don’t weigh a whole lot, I’m easy-to-use and easy-tofold and just right for your child on-the-move...Don’t panic, he ran over to the Thomas train table. Okay, run grab him and come back and take a gander at the two other patterns I have to offer, besides these fun “Mod Dots”, you can also find me in Flutterbye and Transporters. Be sure to check out my 3-point quick-relase buckle and 4.5” front-swivel wheel.


Jeep All-Weather Reclining Umbrella So pretty in pink....but are you supposed to call a Jeep “pretty’? I’m gonna risk it! What is a “all-weather” stroller, you may ask? (I sure as heck did!) Well, it keeps your child cool in the summer and warm in the winter, I kid you not! The cool-climate roll-up exposes mesh for increased air circulation & creates a head rest. Unroll the fabric to keep out chilly air. And if you have a child that sweats when they sleep in a stroller like mine does, you have an even greater appreciation for what I’m talking about! This ride is complete with a removable parent cup holder, Sunrider canopy, two cargo bags, over-sized all-terrain wheels, 3-point quick release buckle and a super important feature, two position reclining seat. And, well, I still think it’s pretty.


Savvy Strollers

Contours Options 3-Wheeler Seriously, this is a stroller I wanted to crawl in and take a nap myself! When I think cozy, I think of the Contours Options 3-Wheeler! The reversible seat can face forward or face parent (this is so cool to me!), the included infant car seat attachment fits most brands on the market. The parent tray rocks, ventilated cup holders, who would have thought?! The roomy storage basket can hold an overstuffed diaper bag, a Macy’s bag, a Dillard’s bag, a bag with a half eaten cinnamon roll, you know, perfect to take along when mom needs a little retail therapy! Easy trigger for quick fold and upright stand, height adjustable Sunrider canopy with peek-in window, height adjustable 5 point harness with padded sleeves for comfort....and did I mention the HUGE storage basket?


Bumbleride Flite Flite is everything you love about Bumbleride, in a danity little package. Flite features a multi-adjusting backrest, footrest and offers versatile car seat compatibility. Its unique shape folds ultra-slim to be easily stowed in the tightest of spaces. Bumbleride Flite allows you to go where you want without sacrificing the functionality that you need. You many also want to check out the Bumbleride Carrycot attachment, it combines the luxury of a bassinet with the ease of a baby carrier and is easy to attach and remove. This little gem comes in seagrass (pictured), as well as lava, vita, ruby and spice.


Savvy Strollers Britax B-Ready The Britax B-READY is a UBER multi-functional!! This stroller can do everything but the laundry! It starts as a great infant carrier transport or you can use the bassinet attachment, at 6 months baby can move in to the top seat, which reclines in three positions and you can add a second seat! How crazy is that! Crazy good, of course! This modular stroller can get in to more positions than a contortionist! Fourteen to be exact! The infant carrier and the top seat can be rear or forward facing. There’s the option to add the bassinet. It can actually carry two infant carseats!! You can add the the second seat with the top seat being forward or rear facing. Seriously this thing may be able to do laundry, we just haven’t found that button yet!


Maclaren Volo Inspired by the birth of his granddaughter, Owen Maclaren invented an umbrella-fold baby buggy in 1965. With the success of his original idea, Owen Maclaren decided to go into production and make his Baby Buggy available to the public in 1967. Soon production grew to nearly 600,000 Baby buggies, of which 280,000 were shipped over seas. The Maclaren business was growing fast and showed no sign of stopping, with new products coming out every year. Sadly, Owen Maclaren passed away in 1978, but not without leaving behind a great legacy and an amazing line of baby products. Despite the loss of its founder Maclaren continues to set the industry standards for innovation and safety of baby products. The Maclaren line has now taken on a more contemporary look. The Maclaren Volo is the world’s most lightweight aluminium frame stroller and it has many safety features, a removable/washable seat and single-hand fold. Available in black, carmine rose, charcoal, deep water (pictured) and scarlett.


Savvy Strollers Stroll-Air Stroll-Air specializes in developing innovative products for babies and their caregivers. My absolute favorite thing about this stroller was the fact that the retractable shade comes ALL THE WAY over the seat!! Well, that and the fact that I finally found a “full service� double stroller that will fit in the back of my car (Volkswagen Wagon). And well, I have lots of favorites about this stroller! I like the mesh vent in the hoods...that come ALL THE WAY over the seat, did I mention that?! The big shopping basket below is great because when you have two children under two, you have a lot of stuff! It is easy to fold up and go. It has lots of options and comes with lots of extras. Most Stroll-Air products are developed and designed by the owner, Agata Majerski, who is a mother of 3 boys. Influenced by European upbringing, dedication and love to her children she constantly looks for new and unique ways to help new parents enjoy spending times with their babies by developing innovative and fashionable products that help parents to stay organized. Following current fashion trends, the originality and functionality of each product are always the fundamental ideas in development process.


Mutsy Transporter Interchangeability! This light flexible combi-buggy can be used in combination with a carry cot, a seat cover, and different car seats. This buggy is characterized by its ease of operation, a height adjustable push bar and its compact volume when folded. The seat of the buggy has a back adjuster; you can therefore also use the Transporter in a reclined position. The push bar is adjustable into 4 positions. The Transporter range includes a bassinet, and a seat. Matching accessories are also available in every color, such as a nursery bag, footmuff and parasol. The Transporter is very flexible and manoeuvrable on account of 2 front swivel wheels. Using the catches above the front wheels, the swivel wheels can be locked into position. Furthermore, the 4 wheels are removable, allowing even greater compact volume when the buggy is folded.


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Savvy Strollers

The First Years Ignite Perfect for your little firecracker, the first years, Ignite! The Ignite features today’s popular Euro-styled frame combined with our contemporary fashions. The wider seat base means a more comfortable ride for your child, which will keep them in their seat longer. The larger wheels, all eight of them, allows your stroller to glide over any surface. Worried about keeping your little one in their seat? The addition of the five-point harness means your little one is securely seated. For you, the taller handles mean no more hitting the back side of the stroller or the wheels while you go for that afternoon walk or trip to the mall. Sunny day? No worries, the fullyadjustable and removable (for those cloudy days) canopy means your little one will always ride in the comfort of shade. And if your little one starts to nod off during your long afternoon walk, simply use the recline feature and they can comfortably snooze while you continue on your way! The large upper storage console for you means your water bottle, your keys, your wallet and more are easy to access as you are out and about. And the underneath storage provides plenty of room for your diaper bag and any other “extras” you bring or buy along the way.


Quinny Buzz “MOM! A spaceship just landed in our living room!” The Quinny is WHAT all the BUZZ is about! The Quinny Buzz actually! The new, larger seat accomdates bigger children while being very comfortable for infants. Seat can be in rear or forward facing position. The 2011 version has a 40 percent larger underseat basket and quick-click folding lock strap to prevent accidental openings. In addition to the included infant seat adapter for Maxi Cosi Mico, there’s an optional infant seat adapter to work with Safety 1st Air Protect infant seats. My son loves this stroller! I was really sad when we toke it for a test drive and it started raining, then I watched the rain repel from the shade and that made me very happy! The greatest thing about the Quinny Buzz is minimum weight and maximum comfort! Cup holder sold separately.


Savvy Strollers Graco Quattro Tour Duo Can I rename this stroller, LIFESAVER? My older son never really wanted to ride in a stroller ....until his brother came along. Because my children were five years apart, it was difficult to find a stroller to accomodate the little guy and his big brother.....until we met the Graco Quattro Tour Duo! They both love it! The Quattro Tour Duo has a one-hand gravity fold which makes the stroller 20 percent smaller than the ever popular Graco DuoGlider, when closed, as well as ergonomic handles and an easy-access drop-down storage basket to keep snacks and travel toys handy. And to keep your little co-pilots comfy, there are 2 padded, multi-position reclining seats – with a rear seat that lies flat. The parent tray has two deep cup holders, great for those large drinks we get at Disney, Animal Kingdom, Universal, etc and the little compartment in between the cup holders is a zipper pouch. I like this, as in the past when I put things in snap lock compartments, when I folded the stroller and forgot to take items, like my lip gloss, (and I always forgot!!), the snap compartment would open and my lip gloss would roll up the car, never failed! Oh, and this double stroller is priced under $300!


The First Years Indigo S430 Is this a luxury car or a stroller? Well how about dreaming you are driving a luxury car whilst you are pushing a stroller! Keep your eye on your infant simply by releasing the seat and turning it to the rear-facing mode. You can watch over your little one and they can watch over you. Still using an infant car seat? The First Years’ Via Infant Car Seat snaps easily into the Indigo frame. The universal attachment (included) means it fits with many other brands of infant car seats as well! As your infant begins their toddler years, simply release the seat and turn it to the forwardfacing mode and they can see what they have been missing! And the adjustable footrest ensures a comfortable ride every time. The larger wheels, 7” in the front and 8” in the back, allow your stroller to glide over any surface. Worried about keeping your little one in their seat? The addition of the five-point harness means your little one is securely seated. And for you, the taller handles mean no more hitting the back side of the stroller or the wheels while you go for that afternoon walk or trip to the store. The large upper storage console for your water bottle, your keys, wallet and lip gloss. And the underneath storage provides plenty of room for your diaper bag and any other “extras” you bring or buy along the way. Ideal light weight stroller with extra ammenities for children up to 50 pounds.


Savvy Strollers

Jeep Wrangler Twin Do you have 2 little adventurers? Do they both want the front seat? The Jeep Wrangler Twin Sport is the perfect solution. Its cool climate roll-up keeps airflow in the summer or roll-down seat to block the wind in the winter! Compact and lightweight for no non-sense travel, the Jeep double umbrella stroller easily folds up. This nifty little ride features independent reclining seats and sun-rider canopies, a removable parent cup holder for drinks, two cargo storage bags and 3-point quick release buckle system.


Joovy Big Caboose Stand-On Triple My husband and I felt a calling to adopt a child. “Honey,” I called to him from my desk one night, “I found our children!” So, we went from feeling the call to adopt one child... to knowing we were supposed to bring home three sibilings... all under the age of 5! I will FOREVER sing the praises of the Joovy Big Caboose! It is the perfect fit for our family. The Big Caboose is easy to use and it includes two full size seats with canopies, two child trays and two foot rests - and your 3rd older child can ride on the rear platform. If you have multiple children, this will be the first stroller you will use that gives the child in the middle seat ample room. If the standing child tires, they can turn around and rest on the padded rear jump seat. This stroller also includes two universal car seat attachments that accommodate most of the major brands of car seats. The Big Caboose has a huge storage basket below and sealed bearing wheels to help you push heavy loads.


Savvy Strollers

Stokke Xplory Stokke Xplory lifts your child closer to you helping you explore together. Stokke Xplory grows with your child. Made to fit comfortably around your baby, from top to bottom, with every inch designed to enhance the experience of moving through the world, and gently embracing your baby while he or she is doing just that. The unique design is eye catching, but how practical, we wondered. We quickly found out the maneuverability was amazing! It handles wells over bumps in the road and the ease of being able to open a door with one hand and push the stroller with the other, is very nice! The two-wheel mode took a few trys to get use to, but comes in handy going up and down stairs and escalators. My husband appreciates the adjustable handle bar! And large shopping bag, perfect for the motherload! Many great attachments can be purchased separately, including Rider Sibiling Board.


Joovy Zoom This is the stroller for you moms out there (and YOU know who YOU are) who pass me by at the walking park! Yeah, well, I already ran my ten miles today.....I am just cooling down... And how cool do I look with my Joovy Zoom! Okay, so if only my body looked liked I had actually been running as much as my stroller does. All joking aside, I deeply admire you moms who have the energy to run! In all actuality, the Zoom is a great stroller for walking as well as running. Made from 6061 aircraft grade aluminum and 600D fabric the Zoom is ready for tough duty. The suspension, with 3-inch travel, smoothes out the bumps and provides a comfortable ride for your little one while Joovy’s signature oversized canopy provides the best sun protection available. You also get a neoprene parent organizer that holds 2 cups and has a zippered container, plus a rain/ wind cover that’s custom made for the Zoom. With plenty of storage in the easy access storage basket and mesh pockets, you can bring along all of your necessities. The Zoom is available with a fixed front wheel for serious runners (Zoom ATS) and in a swivel front wheel version for maximum maneuverability (Zoom 360). The Zoom 360’s swivel wheel can lock in a straight position providing a long, stable wheelbase when you run, or walk on long straight paths.


Savvy Strollers

Joovy Cocoon The Cocoon is the newest addition to the lineup of Joovy products. The Cocoon offers the versatility and flexibility that active families are looking for in great family gear. The Cocoon is a stroller-jogger-bicycle trailer all in one! This cool new Cocoon is available in single or double models. The single is 27 inches wide so it easily fits through a doorway or maneuvers wherever there are tight spots. The single Cocoon will carry a child up to 60 pounds and the CocoonX2 (31� wide) accommodates two fifty pound children – maximum weight is 100 pounds. The Cocoon folds up compactly and is easy to store. There is plenty of room inside for my children to ride comfortably and space for the stuffed animals, iPods, dvd players and various other items they want to bring along for entertainment. I LOVE the large storage compartment in the back for the diaper bags and other bags when we take it along to an amusement park or shopping. Entry is through the zippered door that has a cool mesh window for great ventilation and a vinyl window for when the weather is less cooperative. The kids love the two huge windows on either side that allow incredible visibility and views!

To convert the Cocoon to a jogger, remove the two swivel front wheels and attach the fixed jogging wheel (sold separately).


Joovy Scooter This stroller reminds of a sweet little ladybug. Isn’t it cute! Another Joovy product that is light in the weight department and heavy in the functionality department! From the beginning, you can remove the bumper bar and all Graco infant carseats fit right in. As your baby grows, you will appreciate the one hand recline system locks in infinite positions all the way down to 149° for a near flat napping position. Speaking of the seat, it and the oversized canopy are made of super durable 600 D fabric with an adjustable and light reflective 5 point harness. The basket beneath is absolutely gianormous compared to other strollers in this price range with incredibly easy access. And how fun are those little handle bars, the super sturdy cup holder and the zipper pocket for keys, wallet, etc.


Savvy Strollers

Joovy Ergo Caboose Moms spoke and Joovy listened, this stylish modern stand-on tandem stroller has been fine tuned. First, they changed the canopy front panel to a rigid one that cannot be blown around by the wind. It’s still giant by stroller standards and it provides the great sun protection that Joovy is known for. The innovative rear canopy (removable) was invented by Joovy to give the rear child full sun protection and the zippered periscope top allows the rear child to stand. Kid’s love it and think it’s cool! Second, they tweaked the twin piston front wheel suspension. This improves the performance of the twin sealed bearing rubber front wheels and gives your children a comfortable smooth ride with the least amount of effort by the pushing parent. Third, they updated the front seat recline mechanism with a magnetic recline lock for easy seat adjustments on this award winning stroller seat. The transitional mesh seat is the most advanced stroller seat available today. This ergonomically designed seat helps eliminate pressure points by evenly distributing the child’s weight across the entire mesh seat; this technology keeps working as your child grows to the maximum size accommodated. To make the care givers life easier the stroller has a swing open front tray for easy buckling and unbuckling of your child in the front seat. The tray can be removed and the individual cup holders can be installed for older children.


The basket is huge and easily accessible; the rear bench seat flips open for full access. The outside of the basket has large mesh pockets for easy storage of small items that are quickly accessible. The rear car seat attachment is included and its location is awesome... mom’s love having their newborn in the rear of the stroller within arm’s reach.

Joovy Caboose Ultralight There’s me.....and then there are LOTS of other moms! I tend to gravitate toward LARGE strollers (my husband likes to remind me every time he lifts one in and out of the vehicle or on and off of the trolley at theme parks). I honestly think it is because, well, I thought I would have babies like two years apart, yet God’s plans were for my children to actually be five years apart. So to accomodate my older child, well, the bigger the better. However, had I been like many, many of my friends whose children are close in age, the Joovy Caboose Ultralight is ideal! At 21 pounds the Caboose Ultralight is 20% lighter than the original Caboose and far lighter than most double strollers. The Caboose Ultralight can navigate narrow spaces with ease. The large, sealed ball bearing wheels give your children a smooth ride and you’ll find it is super easy to push. And thanks to its minimal weight, you can steer with just one hand! Big brothers and sisters absolutely love the independence and “cool” element the Caboose offers. The patented Stand-On-Tandem design gives your older child the freedom to choose between walking, standing and sitting.


Savvy Strollers Joovy Kooper SOOOO CHIC! One of the moms at Southern Child named this the “Stroller in the City” stroller. The Kooper is all about style and comfort....can you put those two words in the same sentence? It is like an umbrella stroller in the sense that it is lightweight, yet it offers all the extras of a full size stroller. A nice, large reclining seat for your child to grow in. The oversized sunshade rocks, as does the super big parent basket! This stroller also features two cup holders, storage pockets, and ergonomical, foam handles. It’s a fantastic stroller and a fashion statement! What more can we say!



Wrestling With My Pillow by Monica Hawkins

Wrestling has never been my sport. To be honest “sports” have never been my sport. Worry...there is an area I can compete in. The problem with worry is there is no hope of winning. You’ve already lost before you even begin. Who wants to play a sport like that? You walk into the game tagged as a loser. For the last few months I have been having a wrestling match with my pillow. Sleep is not the problem once I find my way there. Getting to sleep is the problem. I toss and turn and some nights try to find a dry spot not laced with tears to lay my head. Faith, hope, trust, blessings...all the things I KNOW and teach and speak of and live somehow seem to find a hiding place when my head hits the pillow. The emotions, the hurts, the fears and the doubt all seem to surface and the wrestling match begins. The pillow is merely the tangible. My true wrestling opponent cannot be packed into such a neat and fluffy casing. A battle ensues each night as the minutes in red flash by so quickly. It is a battle of flesh versus spirit and yet I know in my heart that the battle is not mine. HE has warned me of the battle, but promised it is HIS and HE has won. Why do I insist on a fight that doesn’t even belong to me? I sing and I pray and I quote scriptures the same as I did when I was five and monsters were lurking in the hall and living under my bed. I sing praises and the praise rises up and conquers the fear and then I am silent and allow my opponent a lofty lead. WHY? The obvious answer we know...I am a sinful man. Yet that answer does not suffice “for we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us and gave His life for us.” I want to win this battle and yet I play as one who wants to lose. Laziness. There is a possible answer. It is easier to be lazy and accept defeat than to fight the battle and live a life that is disciplined, trained and fit. Lazy is not a word that I want associated with my name. If I am tagged as lazy then why work so hard at the stacks of folded laundry, the swishing of the toilet brush, the print free glass and meals that desire praise. This new found laziness I can only mask for a time. It begins to show in the dark circles under my eyes and in the weariness of my step and yet once again I know the REAL issue.

I lack obedience. I possess everything I need for life and godliness and I choose to be lazy in this match against flesh and blood. Obedience is a choice. Daily the words, “Choose to obey” come out of my mouth as instruction to the four young men I am privileged to call sons. Choose. You have a choice and you know the results. Choose selfishness and reap the consequences or choose obedience and reap the rewards. We can sew to the flesh or we can sew to the spirit. We are instructed “not to become weary in doing good.” We are not to become weary in this battle and yet “weary” seems to be such a pale word to describe my heart and the way in which I fight today. What is beyond weary? Defeat? A choice! Defeat does not come as a result of obedience for our specific instructions were NOT to become weary. Do not give up. My heart begins to argue...but Lord I have had enough sickness, sorrow, heartache, fear and worry and He says...”ENOUGH. It is finished. The complaining, the murmuring, the pity party, the doubt of My perfect plan and My perfect will. Enough!” He is God and He is good. Enough? It becomes a question. Is it enough to know that? It is! I know in my heart it is and the fight is worth it. It is all I have ever fought for. It is the only fight I know and it is worth it. For I know that my battle is NOT against flesh and blood, but it is a spiritual battle. It is a daily battle. The pearl was produced from irritation, the diamond a result of laborious mining and a bouquet of roses found in the midst of thorns seeking blood. Joy can be birthed from sorrow. Sorrow lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning. The sorrow of watching The Savior nailed to a tree and brutally sacrificed birthed joy unspeakable. The wrestling match will continue, but the cause of the fight will change. No longer will I choose to fight for my flesh, for my rights or even for my comfort. My fight is for obedience. Doubt, fear, worry and weariness will be the victim of a head lock or maybe even a full nelson. Whatever that is? I will not give up and I will not accept defeat. How about you? Can you relate? Monica is available for speaking engagements. 67


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orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27 NKJV

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A Tisket, A Tasket... Let’s Fill a Basket Sweetlollipopshop | Etsy “HOPPITY HOP HOP” This delicious bunny rabbit barley candy lollipop collection makes a yummy treat and great basket fillers. What an adorable way for your little boy to wear his name. We love the Personalized Bunny Tee - Texan Style. This logo is printed on a high quality 100% ringspun cotton tee. Lima Bean Kids steal the show at the dinner table and in the Easter basket with this personalized plate. Perfect for your little growing beau.

These lunchboxes from Lima Bean Kids are so amazing! The lunchboxes measure 7.5” wide, 6” tall and 3”. We think this is a great reusable option as a Easter basket for your little beau!

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Lil Doodlers | Etsy Your child will love having his or her name in crayons how unique!

The Southern Baby | Etsy So sweet! This embroidered bow is perfect for Easter. Made with a pink 2 1/4 inch wide grosgrain ribbon, French clip closure. Bow measures approximately 5 inches in width. Embroidered on the bow is the sweetest green rabbit!

Hope Loves Cards | Etsy Adorable Easter Card Personalized to look like your little sweetheart !

Have It Confections | Etsy These sweet marshmallow birds will chirp their way right into your heart. As with all of their confections they use only the best all natural ingredients, and they never use anything artificial.


Soapopotamus | Etsy What better way to sillify the Easter gift giving than to present your kiddos with a goats milk soap chocolate bunny!

Country Club Soaps

Monkey See Boutique | Etsy

Little Marshmallow bunny peep soaps. These are so cute, and make great Easter Basket fillers, visit

Personalized Easter Pail Basket with Added Polka Dots. Great for Easter baskets and beyond!


Spring Cleaning

by Michelle Byers Densmore |

It is that time of year again, Spring is approaching and most of us have at least an inkling that we should do something about that inner voice that keeps saying, “It is time for Spring Cleaning! It is time! The dust bunnies have armed themselves!” If you are like me, you want to react to that inner voice and grab a mop and a bucket and clean away, but you often find yourself not quite sure where to start. So, I have scoured the internet and the bookshelves for some help for us all. A great and FREE way to control the clutter and get you moving is to become a FlyBaby! If you don’t know about FlyLady, this may very well be the place for you to jump on the spring cleaning band wagon. The FlyLady is actually North Carolinian, Marla Cilley. Her website is full of great, practical ways to get yourself motivated and away from feeling overwhelmed. The site offers plenty of advice to help you conquer “CHAOS” (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). You can sign up for FlyLady emails and become a “FlyBaby” (her term for the members) and you will be introduced to her system of routines and “baby steps” - a series of 31 small daily tasks which introduce and then reinforce aspects of cleaning and decluttering which teaches a daily routine. Many members say that this system has literally changed their lives and the way that they approach housekeeping. Jennifer in Georgia, a blogger who has taken on the 31 one day challenge publically on her blog, Just Peachy in Georgia ( says, “Flylady has absolutely changed my thinking on how I clean. I am no longer burdened with feeling overwhelmed with a list of so many things that need 74

to be done and having no idea where to start. By following her easy obtainable goals daily, I am keeping my home cleaner than ever, in less time. Flylady has allowed me to let go of perfectionism, and know that any task, no matter how small, blesses my family, me and my home.” Also, Cilley’s system and cleaning strategies are outlined in her book Sink Reflections. In the book you will find topics covering decluttering, menu planning, “anti-procrastination” day, and planning ahead by establishing routines. There are sections touching on organizing personal finances, taking time out for you, Friday Night Date Nights, and, Saturday Family Fun Days, Sunday as Renew Your Spirit Days, and ideas from other “Flybabies” and for men, affectionately called “FlyGuys.” In addition, if you need something high tech to help you organize things, you can find it by visiting Here you will find a nifty, free internet tool that you can download to your home computer or your iPhone, iPad (or whatever your fancy iGadget might be!) With this little App you can create a homemaking master plan that works for your personal needs. You can set up lists for shopping, to do, coupons, cleaning and school schedules, etc. and have them all combined – or not. It has a tool that allows you to work across your different lists as well. This way you can have it all together and no excuse for losing “the list”! Are you someone whose ambivalence towards Spring Cleaning runs a little deeper? If so, you may want to check out Kathy Peel’s book, Desperate Households: How to Restore order & Harmony to your life & Home. It is a book I found a couple of years ago when I just felt like I couldn’t make heads or tails of all the chaos in my home. It helped me find balance and direction. I developed clarity in what I wanted the

ambience of our home to be, which helped me then find a way to bring order to the very messy house I was living in as well. She also has another great book, which is especially good for two career families called, The Busy Couple’s Guide to Sharing the Work and Joy. In this book Kathy Peel shares about her own family and marriage, especially in the early years and many things that she and her husband did wrong while trying to balance two careers and three boys and what they learned. She helps you identify areas that are most likely to cause stress and friction and gives simple ideas on how to communication with your mate concerning sensible divisions of labor and resolving conflicts and creating a nurturing home environment. There are sections with testimonies from other couples who have worked through these rough household waters and even Kathy’s husband, Bill, adds commentary in sections entitled, “advice to the guys.” Some of us (me) managed to miss out on Mother’s (and the Home Ec. Class’) instruction on the ins and outs of homemaking, so I have found some wonderful guides that offer up the knowledge I lack. One of my favorites would be by Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts : The Art and Science of Keeping House. It is as beautiful as it is practical! And if you want to stretch your domestic muscle even more you can check out Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. Both of these should be easily found in your local library. So rather than strangling that inner Spring Cleaning voice with a dish rag, I want to suggest you embrace it and get organized and on with the task! Your shiny clean house will thank you, not to mention the stress that will be lifted from your entire family as you transform your home. As the Fly Lady would say, “put on your lace up shoes” and get with the Spring Cleaning – or at the very least grab a book and find some inspiration and motivation to tame the chaos! Michelle Byers Densmore is a freelance writer/book reviewer and blogger at She lives in Florence, South Carolina with her husband and 3 children. 75



Celebrations by Kate Landers

Helping parents create stylish celebrations and make the party planning process creative and fun, Kate enjoys sharing party advice whenever she can. Here, she shares 8 of her favorite tips.

1 Repurpose items from your child’s nursery, bedroom or playroom as decorations for your child’s party. This is a wonderful opportunity to show off that gorgeous chandelier, hand-painted artwork or darling mirror. You can create a more sophisticated and stylish celebration without stepping foot outside or spending a dime! 2 Don’t be afraid to get creative and bring elements of the outdoors, in! Your child’s party can photo by Open Shade Studios be on a stunning beach even in January! Using a tarp and play box sand, you can instantly transform a space to look like the ocean floor and send the imaginations of your young guests running wild. Incorporating fresh floral arrangements, topiaries and small trees is another way to bring the beauty of nature inside for your party. 3 Invest in fabric table linens and classic white tableware for a stylish look, year after year. You will be surprised at how much money you will save over the years, celebration after celebration, by making this one-time investment. Purchasing floor length table linens always looks classic and hides those unsightly metal table legs. Classic white melamine, acrylic or china tableware will not only work for any 76

photo by Open Shade Studios (

birthday party theme, but also holiday celebrations, from a Mother’s Day Brunch to Fourth of July BBQ. 4 A dessert table is a beautiful way to emphasize your party theme, feed your guests the sweetest treats, and give yourself one spectacular creative outlet! Dessert tables are a very popular aspect of children’s parties. Whether you display the birthday cake and a couple floral arrangements, or an entire table full of cake, cupcakes, candy, cookies and other sweets, it is a darling way to emphasize your color-scheme and theme. Creative backdrops, table linens, cake platters and props can all add to create quite possibly the most stunning “decoration” of your entire event! 5 Turn a grocery store birthday cake into something fabulous! Many people are surprised to learn that I often transform a plain white frosted cake from the supermarket into the birthday

photo by Open Shade Studios



cakes you see in many of my events. You can leave the cake as is, just adding edible flowers, tall candles or a custom printed cake topper. Simple can be stunning. Or, you can easily create your own white fondant to cover the cake with, and top with some fondant or sugar paste decorations for a sophisticated look. 6 Double your party favors as tableware or decorations. This is a wonderful way to stretch your dollar the farthest. Line up small party favors as a centerpiece, or order personalized pottery or melamine plates for each guest which will serve as place cards, tableware, and a perfect party favor! 7 Use your vertical space to help create a more enchanting celebration for your child and their guests. Whether you hang large tulle poms or a chandelier with a ruffled shower curtain or draping tulle, don’t be afraid to fill up the space above the table. Paper lanterns, tissue pom flowers, balloons and pennant flag bunting are all other wonderful choices.



8 Enjoy a more lavish celebration keeping a smaller guest list. A smaller guest list is something I highly recommend, as it helps keep the party from being too over-stimulating for the children and too stressful for the hostess and the parents. The other reason I suggest it, is that with fewer guests, you can often free up much more of your budget for party details you have been dreaming of: fewer guests means lower costs for food and party favors. Therefore, you can have a more spectacular party favor, centerpiece or decorations!



No-Sew Easter Table Runner by Chica and Jo |

This Easter table runner is totally no-sew, and we’re going to get it assembled with just a hot glue gun. 1 The first step is to cut your fabric of choice to the desired size for your table runner. Then get some coordinating colors of felt. For the most recognizable results, choose colors that are traditional for Peeps, like yellow and pink. You’ll also need some green felt for the grassy border.

For the grassy border, cut your green felt into strips about 2 inches wide, and use your scissors to make a series of cuts along each long side, to resemble blades of grass. 3

Then apply some hot glue to the center of each strip of green felt and press it in place along the border of your fabric. Keep applying strips of green until all your edges are covered. See, if you cover it all, you won’t need to sew! 4

To help you cut out the Peep shapes, we have a pattern for you. Download our free Peep pattern, print it onto paper, and cut the shapes out. Then it will be a piece of cake to pin the pattern to the felt and cut it out with scissors. The most fun part of all comes next, when you’ll take a brown permanent marker and draw three little dots (two eyes and a nose) on each piece. It’s amazing how much this makes them come alive! 2

Now put a dab of hot glue on the back of each of your felt Peeps and glue them to the green border. Overlap each one slightly with the last, and you can tilt every other one to the left or right for a cute effect. Before long, the entire border of your table runner will be covered with cute little bunny Peeps. 5



Make Your Own Easter Grass by Chica and Jo |

We’ve all seen that green, plastic Easter basket “grass” that you can buy for fifty cents in the store. It does the job and it’s cheap, but it doesn’t look very nice. You can also buy fancier shredded papers to fill your basket, but that can get expensive, and you have to make a trip to the store and find something that actually matches your basket. Instead of all that fuss, I prefer to make my own basket filler with the help of an everyday paper shredder . The first thing I do is raid my paper stash to find a few colors that match the basket. This is a great way to use up all those pretty leftover pieces of scrapbook paper, too. You can use simple papers or fancy ones - the choice is up to you. My only recommendation is that you choose a paper that is printed on both sides, or else you’ll end up with a lot of white showing in your final result. 1

4 Then just pile the “grass” into your basket and fill it with eggs, candy, and other goodies. Voila! Custom matching Easter grass in just minutes for mere pennies! Obviously, this tip can also be used for any gift basket you make, not just Easter baskets. You can easily customize it to match any color theme.

Next, feed the paper through a paper shredder. The downside to a cheap strip-cut paper shredder is that it’s not the most secure way to shred your confidential information, but the good news is that it can be used to make strips of paper for all sorts of crafting! 2

With all your paper shredded, start gathering it up in small bundles of about 10-15 strips. Fold the strips accordion-style in as tight or loose a pattern as you wish. Once you’ve got it all folded, put it in a pile and mix, fluff, and squish it all together until you like it. 3

Easter Egg Dyeing Tips by Chica and Jo |

Easter is on its way, and it’s time to dye those eggs! The stores are full of dozens of types of egg dyeing kits, but you don’t really need anything that fancy. You just need some food coloring and vinegar and you’re good to go. I’ll show you how I usually dye eggs and I’ve got lots of tips to share along the way. Since I do a lot of cake decorating, I always have lots of Wilton paste food coloring (used for coloring icing) on hand. You can buy individual colors in little jars or save time and money with a variety pack that has lots of colors inside. The beauty of paste food coloring is that it won’t thin down your icing like liquid coloring will and it comes in a large variety of colors. So, since I’ve always got a good stock of this stuff on hand, I’m well-equipped every year to dye Easter eggs in just about any color I choose, with far more options than I get in an Easter egg coloring kit.

I then add a tiny bit of water to the cup and use the paint brush to swish the paste around until it dissolves completely. I find that a paint brush works better than a spoon, because it allows me to break up the little bits of paste much more easily. 3

I start by gathering some vinegar, water, cups, food coloring, a clean paint brush (that has never been used for paint), some toothpicks, and of course some eggs! 1

The next step is to add more liquid to each cup. This liquid can be of three varieties: 1. All water 2. 1/4 cup vinegar and the rest water 3. All vinegar 4

For each color I want to work with, I use a toothpick to get a little bit (you don’t need much!) of paste out of the jar and scrape it into the bottom of a cup. 2

CRAFT The combination of water and vinegar that you use will have great impact over the intensity, color, and finish of your final product. To illustrate this, I created three cups of purple dye, one with each combination of liquid. I left the eggs in the dye for 5 minutes. The results were wildly different! The all-water yielded a lovely lavender color on the egg. The vinegar/water mix actually created a blue egg. The all-vinegar resulted in a darker blue egg with purple speckles. I couldn’t believe the variety I got out of one color of dye by just varying the amount of vinegar I added.

Next I tried with red and green food coloring, and while I did not get the color variations that the purple gave me, I did get a distinct difference in color intensity. The all-water produces pastel colors while the vinegar/water mix produces darker colors. For the all-vinegar, the results were always bold and usually speckled.

What I love about this variation is that I can dye eggs in complementary colors without having to buy lots of dye or search through a box of those little dye pellets to find the colors I want. Imagine how beautiful a basket full of those purple and blue eggs would look! I’ve got a few more egg-dyeing tips to share: • I always let my eggs dry on a cooling rack that I’ve placed on some paper towels. It’s a great way to keep the eggs from rolling around and it allows them to have maximum exposure to the air. • If you’re dyeing eggs with children who are impatient and want to put stickers on eggs that haven’t dried yet, keep in mind that you can take a paper towel directly to an egg and dry it yourself. Granted, you will lose some of the color this way, but it might be worth it to keep the kids’ attention. • For more polished eggs, let them dry completely and then rub them with a paper towel that’s been dampened with a TINY bit of vegetable oil. You’ll have a nice shiny egg that will look beautiful on display.


Easter Treats

By Jessica Mayer of

This Easter think out of the box and give your kids a new and exciting way to celebrate the holiday with these fun kid-friendly Easter sweets! Dying Easter eggs and getting sick off of chocolate bunnies may be the traditional pastime for kids but these innovative desserts will put a new spin on your Easter celebration.

batches. Mix well and finally add in the milk, stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the individual waffle bowls and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, place the coconut in a Ziploc bag and add 3-4 drops of food coloring. Shake the bag well.

This is not and I repeat not the holiday to watch your kids’ sugar intake. Now, don’t worry. I’m not about to load you down with a monster list of ingredients and a snapshot of a messy kitchen with kids running circles around you. The best part about these recipes is that they allow kids to help out in the kitchen. Think simple, kid-friendly and delicious with 5 ingredients or less. You have heard the saying, “birds of a feather flock together”. Well, do I ever have the cutest Easter nests or rather baskets for your little birds (I mean children) to make and accessorize with their candy. Not only are they easy but once they are taken apart, each component is insanely delicious. These Easter baskets are sure to be a crowd pleaser! Edible Easter Baskets Waffle cone bowls (approx 6) 1/2 cup AP flour 1 cup cake flour 1 ¾ tsp baking powder 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 1 cup sugar 2 eggs ½ cup milk ¼ tsp salt 2 tsp vanilla extract Brown or Green Licorice 8 ounces of coconut flakes Miniature candy Easter eggs Jelly Bean Eggs Green food coloring First, wrap your waffle cone bowls with foil leaving enough around the edges to fold over the rim of the bowl. Preheat oven to 350 and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and add the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract. Sift together salt, baking powder and flours and gradually add to the wet ingredients in

Once the cupcakes are done, decorate the tops of the cupcakes with white frosting then sprinkle on the green coconut grass and top the basket with a licorice handle. Accessorize with candy Easter eggs.

FOOD For the next treat, here is something that is appropriate to bring to your next Easter brunch. Easter Egg Strudels. Layers of puff pastry dough cut into oval shapes and baked with strawberry jam inside. I can hear the kids now screaming for more! Let’s get to it. Easter Egg Strudels Store-bought pie crust 1 cup raspberry jam 2 eggs, separated Food coloring and miniature paint brushes

Brush the top of each egg with the beaten egg whites and add your choice of food coloring to the remaining beaten egg yolks. Brush the colored egg yolks onto each egg using a small pastry brush. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool before digging in!

Roll out your dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut out your eggs using an oval shaped cookie cutter. For 10 eggs you will need 20 shapes so this is the perfect time to let the kids help you out!


Jessica is a stay at home mom who is determined to feed her picky son healthy flavorful meals. She says that getting kids to eat healthy doesn’t have to be hard just a little tricky. Find more of her delicious recipes here:

Place half of the eggs on your baking sheet and top with a spoonful of jam. Place the remaining eggs on top of the jam and press down along the edges to seal. Repeat process until there are no eggs left.

These invitations and flat note cards are by


Cinco de Mayo Now is the time of the year when your little compradres y comadres will want to celebrate the Mexican holiday known as Cinco de Mayo, a day to celebrate Mexico’s victory against France in the historical battle of 1862. A tradition symbolizing Mexican pride and unity. It’s not only a lot of fun, it’s also a great opportunity to give your kids a taste of Mexican culture. What better way to get into the swing of Spring than with a little fiesta? Cinco de Mayo is just a month away and I have some amazing recipes with a nod to the holiday but with a whole different twist on Mexican food. Mexican cuisine is by far one of my favorite dishes because of the simplicity and ease of using just a few ingredients to create something special. If you have cheese, meat and tomatoes, then you are all game. Fast food chains and pop up Mexican joints tend to give true authentic Mexican food a bad rap. Many people think there are simply two choices when it comes to Mexican food: healthy and bland or cheesy and greasy. I am here to squash that preconceived notion and introduce you to a great selection of kid-friendly healthy munchies for you and your family to enjoy this Cinco de Mayo, and any other day for that matter. I’ll let someone else fill you in on the historical details surrounding the fierce battle between Mexico and France so that I can concentrate on giving you a great selection of healthy, but oh so delicious, Mexican inspired recipes that you can make right at home every night without sacrificing the flavor. First things first, let’s get this party started by serving our little ones Mexican themed non-alcoholic sangrias. This is a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen and get their creative juices flowing. Allow them to place different frozen berries in ice cube trays and fill each up with water and pop the trays into the freezer. 88

Meanwhile your kids can mix and match their sangria ingredients and chose from 4 cups of fruit juice mixed with 1 can of frozen lemonade concentrate and 2 cups of club soda. Pop the frozen ice cubes with berries in your pitcher and watch your kids enjoy.

Kid-Friendly Sangrias Ingredients: 4 cups of fruit juice 1 can frozen lemonade concentrate 2 cups club soda Cubes of fruit, apples, raspberries, oranges, strawberries Directions: Place all ingredients in a glass pitcher and serve cold over frozen ice cubes filled with chopped fruit.

FOOD Next up, Cinnamon and Apple Burritos! Now this is a fun and sweet twist on the classic American pie. Think McDonald’s apple pies less all that artificial mess and commercial flavor. I’m one for traditions but in light of this holiday I thought it would be fun to mix things up a bit and skip the pork, chicken and beef filled burritos and instead substitute fruit as the main ingredient. The enticing combination of apples, cinnamon and sugar are sure to wow over the kids and adults. Make sure to use granny smith apples for this dish as they retain their shape well and provide a great tartness to the filling.

Cinnamon Apple Burrito Ingredients: 2 apples, peeled and cut into wedges 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/3 cup white sugar 3 TSBP brown sugar 1/2 tsp nutmeg ½ tsp ginger 1 TBSP lemon juice 1 tsp vanilla 2 TBSP melted butter 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp cold water flour tortillas Directions: Place all ingredients except for the cornstarch and tortillas into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, reduce to a gentle boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool before the next step.

Allow your kids to help you prepare the burritos by letting them spoon the filling on the tortillas and roll them up. Simple and can be made ahead of time. What more cam a mom ask?

Now lay your tortilla flat on your work surface and brush with a little melted butter. Place a heaping spoonful(s) of the apple filling along the center of the tortilla. Fold the ends over the filling and then fold the bottom end over the filling. Begin rolling up the tortilla starting with the bottom end and finishing seam side down. Place on a baking sheet and brush with a little more butter. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Using a brick covered with foil or a grill press, place two to three burritos in a large skillet on medium heat and press down on the burrito using the brick or grill press for 6-8 minutes. Repeat. Serve warm and freeze leftovers.


FOOD Taquitos, Taquitos, Taquitos. If your kids are driving you insane just try getting them to say Taquitos three times in a row. They will be at it for hours! Eating the Taquitos however, will only take a minute. Taquitos are considered mini-tacos rolled into cigar-shaped bundles. These treats are perfection and the ultimate substitute for the fried version and commercially made ones you find in your local grocery store. Any filling can be used in this recipe but my favorite is veggie, using my short cut method. Packed with rice, beans, edamame, peas, carrots and corn, this is something all kids will dig into with a smile on their face and a feeling of satisfaction from the moms. Job well done, mom! Job well done! Veggie Taquitos Ingredients: 1 TBSP olive oil ½ cup onion, chopped 1 tsp minced garlic ½ frozen steamable bag of rice ½ frozen steamable bag of shelled edamame ½ frozen steamable bag of corn, peas and carrot mix ½ can of black beans, drained 4 ounces of shredded pepper jack cheese Corn tortillas 2 TBSP melted butter Directions: Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet and sauté the onion and garlic over medium to high heat for 5 minutes. Microwave your steamable bags of veggies according to the package directions then place in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions and garlic, black beans, salt, pepper and paprika. Stir to combine and set aside. Place a large spoonful of the veggie mixture into the center of each corn tortilla, top with handful of cheese and roll up like a cigar. Place on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

Last but night least, my favorite of Operation Cinco: Mexican Flag Cookies! Your kids will have a field day with this project. Roll, drop, bake, and decorate! That’s it! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Jessica is a stay at home mom who is determined to feed her picky son healthy flavorful meals. She says that getting kids to eat healthy doesn’t have to be hard just a little tricky. Find more of her delicious recipes here: 90

FOOD Mexican Flag Cookies Ingredients: 1 roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough Red and Green food coloring 1 tub of white icing Chocolate chips Directions: Roll out the sugar cookie dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into an even amount of rectangles and bake the sugar cookies according to the package directions. Meanwhile, separate your white icing into three separate bowls. Color one bowl with the red food coloring, leave the second bowl white and color the last bowl with the green food coloring. Using a spatula, spread green icing onto the left third of the cookie, spread white icing in the middle third and the red icing on the right third of the cookie. Decorate the middle with the chocolate chips forming a circle, representing a more simplified Mexican coat of arms.


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My Father’s Hands Toys We are Tamar and Marlon, parents of two amazing children who like to keep us on our toes and inspire us daily. Mama Tamar ~ plays the cello; daddy Marlon ~ the crafter, plays trombone; we met attending college, got married, and made a loving home. Raised on a farm in the Uwharrie Mountains of rural North Carolina, Marlon would often steal a moment between chores to create wooden treasures. Embarking on his journey of fatherhood, he found a new purpose for his love of woodworking. Tamar, our woman of many hats, hails from far across the great blue sea. Her love for Mother Nature’s gifts enthuses her eclectic ways. Tamar is our PR / Marketing person and packer extraordinaire. Building a “village” of likeminded folks we aspire to respect planet earth with our choices. Once our children came along, nurturing their imagination and creativity came as a natural extension of those choices. Inevitable the toys and play things we surrounded them with would be eco-friendly and toxin free. Daddy, make something that goes...! Those were the words our son used as he looked longingly at the stocks of rough wood. What is a father to do but oblige? So with wheels that were stashed in a long forgotten box and the wood that was left over from a project completed, a toy truck was crafted with love and with care. When our son first saw the truck I had made for him, his face lit up. Right then we knew we wanted to share this awesome experience with other parents and so My Father’s Hands came to be. Having had the pleasure of making wooden toys for our children, we are now proud to be able to transform nature’s gifts into toys for others. We believe that our handcrafted toys, which encourage imaginations and boundless creativity, are sure to inspire many hours of play. At MY FATHER’S HANDS we feel a great sense of responsibility to both our customers and the environment therefore we create toys keeping true to the following:

• We use only those materials which are toxin free. • Each toy is sanded to a smooth finish with all corners rounded for safety. In addition, all joints are glued and wooden dowels are used thus eliminating the use of nails and screws. • Our primary wood of choice is Southern Yel low Pine which is a regionally renewable resource, harvested and prepared at a local sawmill. • We are committed to replenishing nature’s gifts and therefore we will be planting a tree for each toy purchased. Each day we thank our lucky stars for the gifts we have been given. Being able to transform rough stocks of lumber into satin-smooth bare wood toys for our children has been an exciting and fulfilling endeavor. Our hope is to be able to share the pleasure of imaginative play and to encourage creativity through eco-friendly, thoughtfully handcrafted wooden toys.


Lil’ Sisters Folk Art & Veggies: Living Green as a Family by Sarah Rees

Most of us are aware that Earth Day is some sort of minor holiday, tucked away with Secretary’s Day or National Donut Day. And in celebration, we may drag our recycling boxes down to the curb or throw an organic cotton tee in the Walmart cart. For a lot of us, that’s good enough. And then you’ve got the Moores. Alan Moore, a self-taught folk artist, is passionate about making living green doable, fun, and—most of all—a family affair. Along with his wife Lori and their children: Isabella, Emma, Aidan, and Liam, he’s spreading the eco-love around through gardening and promoting art made with upcycled materials . . . starting in his own backyard. “It started as more of a solo thing,” says Alan. “My exhibits had been individual, and my website just focused on my work. I’m happy to say that’s changed.”

Alan has joined forces with his family to maintain a large suburban garden using all-natural pesticides and plant fertilizer, including homemade compost. The garden itself is a work of art, showcasing brightly colored plant boxes and a picket fence and animal shapes along the length of the privacy fence. 97

GOING GREEN Each tier of the garden is home to a unique vegetable or herb, and the nearby section of fence flaunts loofah plants climbing up a homemade trellis. It’s still a work in progress, but one day Lori might be able to trade in purchased sponges for their own homegrown variety. The family’s newest ambitions include plans for Isabella and Emma to host a farmer’s market on the family’s property during the spring and summer months. “They’re planning on selling seven varieties of tomatoes and three kinds of peppers, plus okra, basil, rosemary, and oregano,” Alan explains.

Alan and his daughters are also working hard to create their own spin on Southern folk art, using 99% salvaged materials. Isabella, age 9, and Emma age 7, have their own website ( and have opened an online shop at ( to sell their artwork. “We paint on old sheet metal, doors, window frames, and wood fencing using low-VOC or no-VOC house paints. We also like to reclaim the ‘oops paint’ from the local hardware store.” Armed with paint, brushes, and the materials they rescue from salvage yards or the curbside, they’re taking recycling to new heights. 98

GOING GREEN Both gardening and producing artwork as a family have broadened his own horizons, says Alan. “While I can get stuck in a rut of utilizing the same art patterns over and over, the girls have little to prove and nothing to be afraid of. And that’s what their art reflects. They’ve really rubbed off on me, and

For the Moores, green living has been a successful stepping-stone toward the goal of family teamwork. Together, they grow, salvage, visualize, and create. And together they’re carrying this message to their community and beyond—one tomato at a time.

Sarah Rees blogs at

Photography by Lily Photography,

To find out more about Alan and the rest of the crew, visit their spot on the web at

under their influence, I’ve stretched my imagination to use different techniques and motifs.” In turn he hopes that his children will absorb his values of redemption, creativity, and embracing the mission of taking salvage materials and turning them into something fresh to share with the world. “For us, I really want to promote stewardship of God’s creation. We need to take care of the world He’s given us.” Alan and Lori have a vision that extends beyond their family. Through local festivals and events that promote green living and art, the Moores are carrying their message to the community. “So far we’ve booked events through September, doing stuff from sidewalk chalk art for non-profit organizations to participating in local festivals.” The family hosts Art Days at their home, inviting friends to try their hand at folk art. “We also host an event we call The Annual Moore Family Pick and Eat. It’s an evening during the summer when a few other families join us as we prepare a meal exclusively using homegrown veggies and fruit foraged from the woods. Last year we had jalapeno poppers, potato pancakes, stuffed peppers, fresh tomatoes with chive and basil cream cheese dressing, and berry cobbler for dessert.”



Teaching Children About Sustainability by Sabbithry Persad

“Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” –1987 Bruntland Report


GOING GREEN Sustainability as defined in the Bruntland Report can leave you feeling a little overwhelmed, but teaching sustainability to children doesn’t have to be daunting. In simple terms, sustainability is ensuring that people and the earth have basic needs to thrive both now and in the indefinite future. If we look at this on a parental level, we can then ask how can parents teach children to understand people and the earth and help take care of both for ourselves now and for those that come after us. And according to The Successful Guide to Home Schooling, “studies have shown that children rely primarily on their parents to teach them strategies to respond effectively to external events (Spinrad, Losoya, Eisenberg and Fabes, 1999).” This makes parents a critical foundation for children to learn about sustainability. So how does a parent go about teaching sustainability to their child or children? One way is to teach children the basics of ecology. Allowing children to get outside and learn about the natural earth and its cycles – plants, animals, soil, and all the elements that surround us – can help them to develop an understanding and appreciation for all living and non-living things, including the way they are all connected and dependent upon each other. Encouraging children to interact with their environment and explore the beauty of this world that surrounds them could give them a long lasting gift that they take with them into the future. Other opportunities parents can take advantage of are: Allow children to participate in parents activities. Because children learn first and foremost from their parents, getting children involved in activities such as gardening, composting, reducing and reusing can help them to learn more than just the basics. I remember when my parents taught me how to plant fruits and herbs, something I haven’t forgotten to this day. Parents have a wealth of knowledge that they can impart and what better people to share that with than their children. Celebrate the diversity of culture and citizenship. Understanding different cultures, practices and traditions can help both children and parents to embrace different groups of people that live in their local community. Having a shared understanding fosters a connection with humanity, which might lead to helping the community and those live in it; locally and globally.

Embrace multi-disciplinary and critical thinking by allowing children to think outside of the box. Innovation of ideas on how to develop and make things environmentally friendly, more efficient and with less packaging is critical to a sustainable future. Give children a head start by encouraging them to look everywhere for the answers to things that they may not know or may ask about. With the influx of information on the Internet, parents would need to be a guide to teach children to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of information. And finally, parents could assist children with conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating the information they find. Decisions involve making conscious choices about how one’s behaviour and actions impact the environment, our community, and the world. Preparing children with a foundation that helps them to make better choices that serves humanity and the earth now and in the future is something parents can be proud of for generations to come.

10 Ways to Recycle with Children... 1. Put on a scavenger hunt with recyclable material types: plastic, glass, metal (aluminum and steel), and paper. hen show kids how to identify and separate them. 2. Make recycling a fun family activity by reusing unwanted items. Donae them, host a yard sale or make something new from them, like arts and crafts. 3. Clean up and beautify the community. Volunteer for city or school recycle events. 4. Start a fundraising campaign/program. Collect aluminum cans and other materials then sell them to a reseller in your area. 5. Start a new game to learn the seven types of plastic. Make a sign with the plastic symbols and test each other to see who remembers them all. 6. Have family story time. Read Garbology Kids Where Do Recyclable Materials Go?. 7. Get together with neighbors and put on a recycle play for the community. You can also video tape it. 8. Start a recycle race or event with neighbors to see who can recycle the most items. 9. Visit a MURF (Materials Recovery Facility or Recycle Center) in your community. 10. Play a word game with kids where they try to make as many words as they can from the words “recyclable materials.” 103

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MEDIA REVIEWS Las Estaciones Winter, spring, summer or fall, there’s no better time for children to learn Spanish. And, it’s never been easier thanks to the Spanish for Kids DVD series and its latest release, Las Estaciones. Produced by Whistlefritz, Spanish for Kids is an award-winning Spanish immersion DVD series featuring the adorable Fritzi, a lovable, animated mouse who interacts with live-action adults and children to help teach Spanish. Fritzi wants to celebrate his birthday, which comes in the Fall. With the help of his friend Maria, young viewers learn about the many joys associated with all four seasons, from sledding and snowball fights in winter (el invierno), to trick-or-treating in autumn (el otoño). It’s a year-round celebration for young viewers to enjoy with Fritzi and all his Whistlefritz friends!

Piñata Party Piñata Party, a new CD of bouncy, Latin-inspired bilingual music that perfectly captures the spirit of an outdoor family party, features a group of “electrifying” (CMJ) Brooklyn-based musicians daylighting as family music combo Moona Luna.

The Luckiest Adventure Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is a hip-shaking, head-bopping, Los Angeles-based explosion of fun on the kid’s music scene! Lucky Diaz caters to the cool family crowds that yearn for quality music for their youngest members. With an audience base growing by the second (and we don’t just mean in height!), Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is inspiring dance parties around the nation!



God’s Dream With warmth and humor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu distills his philosophy of unity and forgiveness into a picture book for the very young.

31 Ways to Change the World Children’s sequel to the acclaimed and bestselling ‘Change the World for a Ten Bucks’, from the social change movement ‘We Are What We Do’. ‘We Are What We Do’ are a movement whose aim is to inspire people - in this case, children - to use their everyday actions to change the world. Their maxim is: small actions x lots of people = big change. It’s not rocket science but it does work! The actions in the book - including one brand new knitting action - are fun and easy for children to do but add up to making a big difference. It gives children the responsibility for changing the world, one bit at a time.

Fun on the Farm Fun on the Farm takes you on a fascinating trip where you learn how farmers grow their crops, what kinds of animals live on a farm, and where the food in the produce aisle comes from.


MEDIA REVIEWS I Fooled You An arrogant prince tries to bluff his way out of paying the bridge troll’s toll, only to find that honesty really is its own reward. Judy Moody dreams up her best-ever prank on Stink, but he finds a hilarious way to make her joke fall splat. And when a boy’s grandfather plays an elaborate trick that has the whole town laughing at him, can he use it one day to big-time advantage? Edited by acclaimed children’s author Johanna Hurwitz, this collection of stories -- all woven around the phrase “I fooled you” -- range from a comic graphic tale about clever chimps to thought-provoking explorations of fairness, empathy, eccentricity, and the power of imagination.

Rose’s Garden A sweet fable dedicated to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy that celebrates the spirit of community, the beauty of nature, and the power of faith and imagination.

Rainy Day Play April showers bring Max and Ruby in Rainy Day Play. Max, a determined three-year-old and his big sister, Ruby, a smart, goal-oriented seven-year-old. The show offers an empowering message for children by showing Max and Ruby playing together and resolving their differences in ways that are respectful and supportive. Your child may want to put on his or her rainboots and poncho and join Max and Ruby for a rainy day adventure. Available on dvd April 12th.



Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? Did you know that landfills are made of 20-30% paper, 10-20% plastic, 20-30% food, glass and metal consume about 14%, yard trimmings 5-15%, and construction materials 5-10%? Did you know some cities actually fine for not recycling? And did you know each person throws out about 2-4 pounds of waste each day? And are you as alarmed about all of this as I am? Perhaps you and your family should also read Where Do Recyclable Materials go by Sabbithry Persad!

Wishbone Let your child’s imagination run wild with everyone’s favorite dog Wishbone! The adventurous little terrier takes four action-packed journeys in these beloved classic tales. Join the Merry Men and follow Robin Hood in the Paw Prints of Thieves as he takes from the rich to give to the poor. In Hot Diggety Dawg and The Impawssible Dream, band together with Don Quixote and Jules Verne’s Professor Liedenbrock to battle giants and monsters. In Hunchdog of Notre Dame, escape danger as Wishbone rescues maidens and defeats his evil master. This clever pup with a nose for adventure will delight and inspire the whole family.



Letters Among Moms Recently a mom in my favorite homeschool group, Classical Conversations, sent out the following email: Dear Moms, I have really been struggling with the progress (or lack thereof) we have made this year. I find myself in a constant state of comparison with what our public school friends are learning. It really is exhausting to me both emotionally and physically. I feel like I am failing my children. I find myself seconding guessing our decision to homeschool and the call the Lord has given me. I was sharing all this with a friend of mine this weekend and she had such wisdom for me. I told her that Jack is woefully behind in Math and Reading in comparison to what I *thought* public school kids were doing. She was quick to point out that for whatever reason, the early years of public school is vigorous and the students are doing pretty intensive things (3 paragraph papers in 1st grade, multiplication in 2nd etc etc) but somewhere along the way the system breaks down. The system goes from such extremes in elementary school to basically doing dropout prevention in high school. I recently learned that they are watering down the high school requirements even more, to help kids stay in school. So why would I want to compare our learning to that of a broken system?!? All of this to say be encouraged! If you are like me, and disappointed in where you are or where you want to be stay the course. Don’t make the woeful mistake of comparisons. We are all called “for such a time as this.” With love. Another member of our group responded with this email: I completely understand! I would encourage everyone in our group to read the book by Leigh Bortins (founder of Classical Conversations) called The Core. She so clearly explains the learning process our brains 112

have to go through to be able to retain and process material! How ridiculous for children to be expected to write papers in 1st grade when they have no understanding whatsoever of the mechanics or vocabulary of the English language. This simply produces frustrated, tired children that HATE learning! I feel so encouraged after reading the compilation of generations of wisdom that she has gathered into her book. It has given me a clear understanding of what I was already feeling and a a concise way to explain it to others. I share these letters with you out of great concern for our children. Your children’s most important teacher is you, whether you homeschool or choose to send your child to public or private school. I will be very honest with you, I never dreamed I would homeschool my children and for a long time I stereo-typed people who did as “cultish”. Okay, and CRAZY!! This is my third year homeschooling. Daily I think how incredible my school experience could have been if I had been homeschooled. I despised school. At home I am able to moniter when Austin’s attention level is at it’s peak and we are able to take a break and do something active to refresh a little. I am able to maximize his learning potential, it’s awesome! I know exactly what he is learning and am able to incorporate that in to our every day life. Yes, I admit, when we started I was on the track to making him a college scholar by ten. Then I got real. I know my child better than anyone and I know I can make him write paragraphs in the second grade, but I also know the concept is not sinking in, I clearly see in on his face, so I will wait a while and re-introduce. Enough about me, I could preach the glories of homeschooling all day...which is funny because three years ago I would have preached all day about why I would NEVER homeschool! I will encourage all moms to read The Core, lets all get involved in our children’s learning, whether it is homeschooling or learning how we can enhance their public or private school experience.


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Pensacola With Kids by Jennifer Close |

Pensacola, Florida offers a myriad of activities and attractions for family vacations. Nestled in Northwest Florida, Pensacola is great for a weeklong family vacation or a quick weekend getaway. Although known for its sandy, white beaches, Pensacola is so much more. Watch the Blue Angels twist and turn through the sky, hunt for shells on the beach, or climb the stairs of forts built before the Civil War. Historic Pensacola Village Historic Pensacola Village in Downtown Pensacola consists of 27 properties, including museums and beautiful houses, and is home to one of the oldest churches in Florida. Visitors can take a guided tour or wander through the village with limited access on a self-guided tour. Children will use their imaginations to sail a ship in the pretend Port of Pensacola, trade goods or find treasures in the Discovery Gallery of the TT Wentworth Museum. Information: 850-595-5993 Naval Aviation Museum The Naval Aviation Museum is one of the world’s largest aviation museums with exhibits featuring aircraft, uniforms, memorabilia, photographs and much more. Both children and adults will like climbing in and out of the jet and helicopter cockpit trainers. An IMAX movie theater runs a variety of movies daily, and younger children enjoy climbing aboard a play structure resembling an aircraft carrier. Hangar Bay One, with numerous aircraft displays, is the newest addition to the Naval Aviation Museum. On most Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer, visitors can arrive early at the flight line behind the museum to watch the Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron practice their flight acrobatics. After some Wednesday practices, the Blue Angel pilots hold autograph sessions inside the Naval Aviation Museum. Information: 850-452-3604

Ft. Pickens Ft. Pickens, located on the Gulf Island National Seashore, is the largest of four forts that were built to help defend the Pensacola Bay in the 1800s. Guided or self-guided tours are available. Bring a flashlight because there are many nooks and crannies to explore. After exploring the fort, visitors can enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the many shady spots or they can build a sandcastle and splash in the ocean at the beaches that surround Ft. Pickens. Information: 850-934-2600 Sam’s Fun City Sam’s Surf City is a cool oasis from the summertime humidity. There are five large water slides to thrill children ages seven and older (and 48” tall). The Junior Activity and Kiddie Pools each have their own slides for the younger children. There is an endless river, play structures, and a rope course. On most Friday nights throughout the summer, visitors can enjoy a reduced admission price and fireworks at the end of the evening. If you want to stay dry, head over to the Fun City side to enjoy small amusement park rides, a Go-Kart track, laser tag, and an arcade. Information: 850-505-0800 Gulf Breeze Zoo See different birds, primates, large cats and many other animals. Take a walk on the Boardwalk, a raised walkway that overlooks an African Preserve. Deer, wildebeest and ostrich roam free and the primates can be seen on Chimp Island. Visit the petting zoo and the giraffes. While there, feed them some breakfast! For an additional cost, take a ride on the Safari Line Limited Train where zebras and antelope roam free. Once a month, toddlers can join the Zoo Tots program where they can participate in hands-on animal encounters designed to teach about shapes, sounds, numbers and more. Information: 850-932-2229 115

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It’s Not Easy Being Green How Camps Help Children Care for the Earth Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association © 2006 article originally printed in CAMP Magazine, American Camping Association, Inc.

Whether a child makes his home in the heart of the city or the fields of the heartland, daily life can make getting “back to nature” hard for any family. Yet experiencing the outdoors helps children gain enhanced abilities to learn, lead, and experience contentment, as well as gain a lifelong interest in caring for planet earth. A Toad or a Frog? Parents who want to be sure their kids know a toad from a frog and a catfish from a crawfish don’t need to go it alone. Camp programs are among the very best ways for children to get to know first-hand a very important family member — Mother Nature. 118

Take James, for example. Despite being included in many family travels, James and the natural world had only a passing acquaintance, and his parents were wise enough to send him into the woods for camp. “We have a little potato patch down by the river, and the kids can catch a trout in the river and dig up potatoes and bring them back to camp, learning what it’s like to live off the land,” explains Sandy Schenk, owner and director of Green River Preserve camp of Cedar Mountain, North Carolina. “When James’s parents came to pick him up at week’s end, he dragged his duffle bag across the parking lot, gave his mom and dad a big hug, and fished out his

prize from camp, a huge potato, and gave it to his father. He was so proud. This was a first — he made a connection between the earth and food, and you could just see the light bulbs turn on.” Almost all camps incorporate hikes and nature activities, and some go an extra mile to immerse kids in nature and the environment. Green River Preserve is one such camp. It specializes in helping gifted children better understand the earth through daily activities with professional naturalists on a 3,400-acre nature preserve. “We find that getting kids into the natural world is transformational,” says Schenk. “Nature’s a magnificent teacher because everyone is treated the same. Pushing yourself is something that happens naturally in the out of doors. And when you see kids helping each other over a slippery rock wall, it’s amazing. We see each child come out of the program with a greater understanding of nature and better sense of self.” Eagles’ Nest Camp of Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, has been teaching kids to take care of their natural world for decades. “In our Explorer’s Club class, kids are out in the woods, streams, and bushes, really getting a feel for the amazing biodiversity of the Northern Appalachians,” explains Noni Waite-Kucera, executive director of Eagle’s Nest Foundation. “To have kids be able to explore and be a part of that is a real gift for them.” Eagle’s Nest also sponsors camp craft classes, helping children learn to read a map, build a fire, and leave no trace. “We teach every camper how to respect and avoid making an impact on the environment,” she says. Even an earth art class uses items found in the forest for woodland sculptures, which campers then leave behind to biodegrade and contribute to the health of the forest ecosystem. You Are What You Eat Environmental programs don’t always take place exclusively in the outdoors. Enter the kitchen! The Whole Kitchen program uses holistic ingredients, fresh foods, whole grains, and local produce. “We grind our flour from wheat berries, and the kids make the bread,” Waite-Kucera says. “It’s all a way to show how nature provides for us, and why we need to return the favor.”

Sometimes, a camp’s location can provide built-in environmental lessons. At Windsor Mountain (formerly Interlocken), camp life centers around a small farm and camp garden nestled in the foothills of New Hampshire on the edge of a 4,000-acre nature preserve. “We offer kids a chance to get their feet wet in the morning dew, to feel the grass under their feet, to lie down in the field and look up at the stars. Our activities help them understand how Mother Nature is delicate and why we care about helping to protect her,” says Sarah Herman, director of the camp.

Art and Nature Campers harvest vegetables from the garden for the salad bar and help take care of the farm animals. Children with a special interest in nature also can go directly into the marsh to learn about its animal habitats, into the woods to create natural art, or on a bog-wading ecological adventure. For older youth, three-day, off-campus trips can take campers backpacking, mountain climbing, rafting, and more — all with an eye to building awareness in the natural surroundings. Regardless of which you choose, nearly all campers leave with an enhanced appreciation of the outdoors, and some even take environmental skills into their own communities. “One of our campers who enjoyed our garden wrote to tell us that he’s volunteering his time to a community garden project,” Herman says. It’s that kind of lifelong love for nature that camps of all types can foster. “Fear of the woods and nature walls off so much excitement for too many children,” says Schenk. “We feel like we’re opening a door for many of our campers, so they can enjoy natural parks and wildlife preserves for the rest of their lives.”


Doing What Comes Nature-ly According to Camping Specialist Gary Forster of YMCA USA, camps are an ideal setting for creating environmental awareness in our children. “Children seeing animals in a natural setting for more than just a day and understanding how their choices have an impact on all systems of life is just the beginning. From awareness grows an appreciation, and from that standpoint, we see children who are ready to act.” Interrelationships Plants and animals live in communities that meet their special needs, and are connected through a “web of life.” To make good decisions, we need to be honest about how our choices will affect the other living things around us. The choices we make now can affect the future of everything we care about. Cycles The building materials of life (air, water, soil) are used over and over again. Conservation doesn’t mean just using less; it means learning to respect how natural systems work, and then working with them. It’s the “circle of life.” Awareness Leads to Appreciation, which leads to Action.Spending time in the outdoors can bring people closer to God, closer to each other, and closer to the beautiful natural world. It can relieve stress, improve health, and it results in people learning to care. When we care, we act differently. We’re in charge of our own actions first, which can positively change our family, our community, and our nation. Resources The decisions we make everyday have lasting consequences. The more we understand how things work, the wiser we can be in our decisions. We can all learn to reduce, reuse, and recycle our natural resources. When we understand the responsibility we have to each other, and to the living things around us, we can rethink old problems and create wonderful new solutions! Energy Flow The sun is the source of energy for all living things. Green plants (Producers) turn some of that energy into food, some of which is then used by animals (Consumers); which can eventually be broken down for use again (by Decomposers). We also harvest the sun’s energy when we use solar, wind, and water power, and when we use fossil fuels like gas, oil, and coal. —YMCA Outdoor Education 120

In Your Own Backyard

Five Planet-Friendly Ideas • Start a recycling program at home. Find out what your community recycles and what happens to the recyclables. • Save 3-5 gallons of water when you brush your teeth — no need to keep the water running.

• At the store, consider the packaging — is it disposable or reusable/recyclable?

• When cleaning, choose rags that can be reused after washing. • Plant a tree in your backyard or neighborhood - help keep the air clean.

For more information about finding the right camp and how to prepare for camp, visit ACA’s family-dedicated Web site, or call our toll-free number, 1-800-428-CAMP.

guide In a 1928 RedBook Magazine editorial, George Johnson, associate professor for the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University said, “The summer camp restores to children much of the naturalness of living that the modern community, in so many ways, tends to take away.” My favorite childhood memories where made at summer camp. Here is your guide to summer camps we found to restore your child’s naturalness of living. Rockfish Camp and Retreat Center Rockfish has experienced much success in its forty-plus years of existence. Nestled on 486 acres in the Sandhills region of North Carolina at the intersection of Hoke, Cumberland and Robeson counties, and bordering the picturesque Lake Upchurch, Camp Rockfish is ideally placed for a great experience for all center guests. Unique camp experiences include: • Roller Coaster Camp offers an intense week visiting three amusement parks, two historic towns and traveling over 700 miles. • Canoe Camp is a great week of canoeing skill development as well as traditional Rockfish activities culminating with a three-day, two-night canoeing, camping adventure!

• Adventure Quest takes campers outside to go rafting, caving, zip lining, and rock climbing and explore God’s creation through hands-on experience and counselor led Bible study. • S.W.A.T. (Servants with a testimony) is a two week adventure for youth in two parts.

Serving local missions in Eastern North Carolina is one half of this impactful camping experience. The second half is a healthy dose of adventure in the form of camping, sailing, indoor skydiving, parasailing and enjoying Fantasy Lake water park.

Camp Kostopulos Since 1967 the Kostopulos Dream Foundation has been dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities through the medium of recreation and leisure education. Our longest running program, Camp Kostopulos, accredited by the American Camp Association, is a residential summer camp where kids, teens, and adults with disabilities are able to choose from two options a five day residential camp or travel trips. Campers enjoy fishing, horse riding, swimming, camp outs, sing songs, create arts and craft projects, challenge themselves on the ropes course, make new friends, and renew old friendships. The Travel Trip Adventures program offers campers a five day trip camp to places such as Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Colorado or Jackson Hole. Activities could include river running, hiking, viewing wildlife, and visiting attractions, this and much more are all part of these trips.

Camp Low Country Camp Low Country is owned and operated by the Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina. All girls ages 6-17 are welcome to join us for the summer of a lifetime! With a capacity of around 70 girls per session, the camp is abuzz with activity throughout the day. Activities include archery, sports, arts and crafts, environmental activities, outdoor skills, team building, horseback riding, and swimming. Facilities include a challenge course with high and low elements, including a climbing wall, a junior-Olympicsize pool, an archery range, 20-stall barn, platform tent units, a cabin unit, and two cottages. The air-conditioned kitchen and dining hall provide for a 122

place to cool down during meals.

Camp El Tesoro Camp El Tesoro has been helping kids explore, laugh and grow for more than 75 years! Located on the Brazos River near Granbury, Texas, El Tesoro offers a variety of challenging activities for campers age six to sixteen. From hiking, canoeing and horseback riding to swimming, a high ropes challenge course and crafts, campers enjoy a full spectrum of traditional camp activities designed to build respect- for themselves, others and the environment. Campers can choose from a range of session options include a three or four-day session, perfect for a younger camper, to six-day and 13-day sessions.

Camp Lakey Gap Camp Lakey Gap (CLG) is a camp that serves people with autism ages 4 and up, regardless of the degree of disability. Located at Christmount on a beautiful 600-acre campus in Black Mountain, N.C. Because each week of camp addresses a different age group, campers are set up for success and are provided with 1:1 and 1:2 positive supports from well-trained college and graduate students. CLG accepts applicants nationwide. With a focus on camper recreation, skill development, family respite, and professional staff training, CLG provides a truly distinct approach of therapeutic recreation. Activities include arts and crafts, hiking, outdoor games, swimming, canoeing, gardening, music, and more. Through encouraging experiences with counselors and peers, campers gain interdependent living skills and social skills, and also grow emotionally and socially.

Camp Toccoa Located on 176 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeast Georgia, Camp Toccoa’s over-

night summer camp has been providing an affordable, fun and rewarding camp experience for over 83 years. Their co-ed programs offer a unique opportunity for campers grades 2-12 to build confidence, make lasting friendships, learn new skills and grow as individuals. Campers in traditional program will choose their morning activities from a wide variety of options: swimming, archery, canoeing, outdoor living skills, arts & crafts, nature, drama, low/high ropes, and horseback. They offer one and two-week sessions of traditional program as well as a number of specialty camps which focus on horseback riding, climbing, outdoor living skills and leadership. There are four-week Counselor-in-Training program that provide older campers with leadership skills to prepare them for the future. Open houses from 1-4 pm on April 10, May 1, and May 15.


Camp Kulaqua Camp Kulaqua is a Christian summer camp, located just 20 miles north of Gainesville, Florida, offering a variety of summer camps for ages 7-17. Camps are overnight and begin and end on Sunday of each week: June 5-12, June 12-19, & June 1926. Camp Kulaqua is one of few camps that gives you the opportunity to bring all of your kids to camp the same week and offer each of them their own individualized camp experience. Kulaqua’s available activities include horseback riding, go-carts, guitar, swimming (on-site water park and natural spring), exotic zoo, archery, BMX, R/C Planes, gymnastics, and many more! The staff members are hand chosen, with background checks performed on each employee to ensure the highest quality staff and the best possible experience for each camper.

Mount Shepherd Camp and Retreat Center Mount Shepherd Camp and Retreat Center, located in Asheboro, NC, is a ministry of the United Methodist Church and accredited by the American Camp Association, invites you to “a place apart.” Throughout the year groups and individuals come 124

to enjoy the beauty and peace of Mount Shepherd Retreat Center. Retreats, seminars, camps and meetings are enhanced with exciting, challenging and meaningful activities. Mount Shepherd Camps are full of projects and activities. Some things you will participate in include: Open Hearts…Giving Hands Projects, high ropes course, climbing/rappelling tower, pedal boats, canoes, Bible studies, pottery, pond zipline, crafts, petting zoo, observation tower, talent show, cabin capers, hikes, campfires, games and much more!

Camp Chesnut Ridge Nestled in the Heart of Carolina, Chestnut Ridge offers residential and day camp experiences for campers in grades K-11. Summer Camp offers the very best residential program we can conceive: a small group with which to live and grow, and a choice of program activities for older elementary and middle school aged campers. Day camp features an abundance of program selections, and finishes each day with campers returning home before dinner. Evenings offer resident campers the opportunity to

enjoy evening meals together, lively fun worship, night swims, camp wide games of capture the flag, the Amazing Race, Home in the Woods, a talent show, pool party, and an end of session celebration full of skits, songs, stories, and praise.

Camp Kanuga Camp Kanuga is a traditional co-ed summer camping program sponsored by Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal center in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Camping has been an important Kanuga offering since the center opened in 1928. Camp Kanuga offers young people ages 7-15 an enjoyable and stimulating experience in a Christian outdoor setting. The program enables campers to grow emotionally and spiritually while at the same time developing new interests, skills and friendships. Camp Kanuga welcomes up to 600 campers and 64 Trailblazers each summer. Campers come from across the United States and beyond. Kanuga’s national and international reputation provides a great opportunity for friendships that cross states and oceans!

& crafts, ceramics, high ropes, 50-ft. climbing-tower, paintball, giant swing, rappelling, rock climbing, bouldering, digital photography, mountain biking, overnights, day and night hikes, outdoor living skills, canoeing, weekly dance, swimming in the heated pool, games, basketball, field games, volleyball, skit nights, theme based meals and morning chapel. We also offer the YMCA Rag & Leather character development program. Please note: that activities vary depending on camper age, weather and safety considerations. Chauncey Ranch Camp Chauncey Ranch is a 5000-acre working ranch for kids, located on the Agua Fria river and surrounded by cottonwood trees, willows, and green pastures. Campers, who are interested in ranch life, can choose from a variety of horse and ranch camps and age appropriate programs. Chauncey Ranch also offers unforgettable experiences for families, groups and company employees. Many different horse camps, ring riding, archery, rock climbing, canoeing, swimming, paint ball, arts, crafts and more!

Camp Sky-Y The Sky-Y Experience Camp SKY-Y has been building friendships and making memories for over 70 years. Sky-Y Campers learn new skills and grow as individuals in a beautiful natural environment. Sky-Y offers a unique experience for a summer in the Arizona pines. Founded in 1938 YMCA Camp Sky-Y has embraced the human values of Caring, Honesty, Respect Responsibility. Campers learn and live the values in everything they do at camp. There are a wide range of programs offered at Sky-Y. Whether a camper wants to ride a mountain bike through the cool Ponderosa pines or they want to make a mug at ceramics there is something for everyone. Sky-Y Programs: Camp Sky-Y offers the following programs for campers to choose from: archery, arts 125

It’s Like

Summer Camp for the Entire Family!

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The benefits of camp extend beyond fun — offering opportunities, inspiring passions, and broadening horizons. The possibilities are endless.

Camp — It’s good for life. • 1-800-428-CAMP 127


Are You Living Intentionally? by Mary Susan Buhner, Life Coach for Moms |

I recently read an article about the founder of FaceBook. I learned a lot about not just him, but his motive and drive to great value through social networking. It got me thinking about being intentional with...well, just about everything. I started to think, “Am I intentional?” You might ask, intentional about what? Well, about what motivates and drives me as a person, wife, mother and friend and so on. Most of the time, as a mom, I find myself being more reactive to a situation, rather than intentional about it. For instance, many times I make plans to volunteer, workout, make a home cooked meal and one second flat one of my kiddos spike a fever, throw up on the floor or do both at the same time. You know what I mean, as a mom, you can plan, but we all know that the best plans can change in a moments notice. I once heard someone say, “You want to hear God laugh? Tell him your plans!” So true, especially for us moms! It kept creeping up on my mind though. Yes, of course, I am intentional. I intentionally make my kids breakfast everyday. I intentionally make sure they have clean clothes, have their homework finished, have food in their lunch boxes. I mumbled to myself, “My whole day is intentional.” Then it dawned on me, we all have routine and things we have to do, need to do and even want to do to keep our lives going. In all honesty, I was maintaining our lives, but not really being intentional with mine outside of motherhood. Then one morning, while changing the sheets on my daughter’s bed, it hit me. How can I expect my kids to be intentional with their lives, friendships, talents and gifts if I am not leading by example? YIKES! I mean I really want my kids to be intentional with their lives. I would not be working so 128

hard as a mom for them if I didn’t want the very best for them, right? So how are they suppose to know if I don’t show them, lead them and help them? Right then, right there, I decided to be intentional. I started by setting up a meeting with each one of them after dinner that night. Earlier that day I had been at the grocery so I grabbed 3 writing tablets that just happened to be on sale. After we ate dinner, I invited each one to come into the family room separately. I intentionally told them how proud of them I was. I listed their individual traits that made them special and told them how much I loved them. Then I handed them the writing tablet that I had purchased earlier that day. I asked each of them to keep it with them and write down words that inspired them, made them happy...things they liked to do or wanted to try to do. I also told them to really think

MOMMY MAGIC about what they were involved in and if they really loved pursuing it. I told them to put down the word “like” next to their activities or “love” next to it. After all, if I am spending the time and resources on their activities at a certain age, shouldn’t they love what they are pursuing? Obviously, this does not apply as much for my 4 year old currently, but my two older daughters I most definitely think it does matter. A few days later, my 5th grader came to me and wanted to show me her tablet. We sat down and she showed me what she has written. She wrote: I love to write. I love to read. I like dance, but I don’t love it. I love soccer more than dance. I love dogs...I think I want to help or work with animals somehow when I grow up. I like music. I take piano, but I would like to try the guitar. I would love to play the guitar. Her list went on and I was shocked and pleasantly surprised on how intentional she was with what in her heart, she already started to make sense of - things she wanted to pursue and dedicate herself to - things she loved. With that, I have started my own journal - jotting down words and things I love and want to be intentional about in the future. The list does not include doing more laundry either. It does, however, include making more time for myself outside of the “routine” to pursue my passion for writing and speaking. I encourage you this Spring to do the same. To take the time to be intentional. What is it you want to pursue, learn, strive and grow to do in and outside of motherhood. As you do, your kids will learn from you and be inspired to do the same. While writing this column, I came across a quote by David Viscott that I thought was perfect to share. He said, “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is giving your gift away.”

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


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Spay and Neuter to Save LIves

Did you know that every year in the United States 70 million puppies and kittens are born and an estimated 6 to 8 million of these will be surrendered to shelters? Three to 4 million of these surrendered animals are subsequently euthanized which equates to 5 out of 10 dogs and 7 out of 10 cats. These animals generally come from puppy mills, unwanted (oops) litters, un-spayed or un-neutered pet dogs and cats, feral and free roaming cats, “backyard breeders,” and animals surrendered because of behavioral or medical problems. And on average only 10% of animals taken in to shelters have been spayed or neutered. There are many myths surrounding spaying and neutering your pet including: Myth - Every female should have one litter before being spayed. Fact - There is no medical evidence to suggest any benefit to delaying spaying. Myth - Animals should be at least 6 months old before they are spayed or neutered. Fact - Early age spaying and neutering can be safely performed on young puppies and kittens.

Myth - Only females need to be altered. Fact - A male can impregnate multiple females very quickly so to control pet overpopulation it is imperative to neuter male pets. Myth - Altering an animal will decrease its ability to perform in sports such as hunting or retrieving. Fact - Studies prove that how an animal performs at a particular sport is related to genetics and training, not the animals testosterone levels. In fact, in addition to helping reduce the overpopulation of unwanted and homeless animals, there are many benefits to spaying and neutering your pet: • Spaying can reduce the risk of mammary cancer by up to 99.9% and eliminates the risk of potentially deadly uterine infections. • Spayed female dogs no longer have a heat cycle and therefore produce no unwanted offspring. • Neutering your dog can reduce the risk of prostate or testicular cancer by up to 99.9%. • Neutering reduces wandering behavior thus minimizing the chance of the dog becoming lost, being hit by a car or becoming a

HOOF AND PAW neighborhood nuisance. • Neutering also reduces or eliminates marking and spraying and can reduce aggressive behavior. The math of a dog or cat’s reproduction potential is alarming. Dogs and cats can reach sexual maturity between 4-6 months of age. A sexually mature female dog has an estrus cycle making her receptive to male dogs every 4 to 12 months. Cats can become pregnant about every 3 months allowing more than one litter per mating season. Therefore, an un-spayed female cat having two litters each year with a survival rate of 2.8 kittens per litter can produce more than 2000 offspring in four years! An un-spayed female dog and her puppies, if not altered, can produce over 500 dogs in three years! Spaying and neutering procedures are performed in most veterinarian clinics on a daily basis. The procedure is routine and safe. Spaying an animal is performed under general anesthesia and the recovery period is very fast with little chance of complication if the procedure is performed early in a pet’s life. Neutering is also performed under general anesthesia. Once again the recovery is very fast with little chance of any complications if the animal is neutered at a young age.

thousands of animals from being euthanatized each year. If pet owners spay and neuter their animals then our shelters could truly become shelters; temporary refuges that nurture and rehabilitate dogs and cats awaiting loving new homes or reuniting lost animals with their families. Let us all work toward a world where all pets have homes and there is no longer a need to euthanize millions of cats and dogs in our shelters every year. So the questions are, have you spayed or neutered your pets? Did your puppy or kitten come from a reputable breeder or, better yet, did you adopt from a shelter in order to discourage “puppy mills” and “backyard breeders?” Thousands of pure-bred dogs and puppies are waiting in shelters and breed rescue groups for their forever homes. It is time for each and every one of us to do our part. Be a responsible pet owner, because the responsibility lies on our shoulders. Donate to your local rescue group or humane society. Specifically ask them to use your donation for their community spay and neuter efforts. To find a list of your local animal shelters visit and input your zip code. If you are a rescue group contact us at The and we can provide educational material to help you in your local spay and neuter educational efforts.

Spaying and neutering your pet is also a wise investment. The average cost of basic food, pet supplies, medical care, and training for one dog or cat is approximately $700- $875 annually. A bargain for the love and companionship they provide us. But the bargain can become a financial burden when you consider the cost of raising an unplanned litter of four puppies or kittens by the time you pay for necessary parasite control, vaccines, food and supplies - not to mention your tax dollars spent on controlling stray and unwanted animals. By comparison, the cost of spaying ranges from $150-$250 and the cost of neutering ranges from $70-$100. And this cost can often be offset if you participate in community events promoting spaying and neutering. If we can increase the rate of spaying and neutering by just 10 % then we can prevent hundreds of 139

love + play + smile

Southern Child Magazine April May 2011