How I Will Raise My Son p8 Birth Spacing p10 Infertility Answers p14 Their Thoughts on Motherhood p18 To Work or Not To Work After Baby p22 One Room — Different Sexes p26 Advice from a Mom of 11 Kids p26 Wait Until You Have Five Children p28
Fresh School Ideas to Bring into Your Home p32
These Babies Are Adorable p6
Should They Have Their Owh Room? page 24
TECHNOLOGY is it limiting your child? p40
ro Superhe e? c n e r confe
over ily talks This fam eir superhero r th plans fo and/or tries to feats — -year-old Liam e3 convinc r his cape for to wea toshoot. our pho PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD
INTRO By Tiffany White, Editor
Volume 27 • Number 2 PUBLISHER Cathy S. Zion firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Anita Oldham email@example.com
“I would fly.”
EDITOR Tiffany White firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Elaine Rooker Jack email@example.com Miranda G. Popp firstname.lastname@example.org
“I would be super strong.”
COPY EDITOR/SENIOR DESIGNER April H. Allman email@example.com DESIGNER/PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Jennifer Wilham firstname.lastname@example.org PHOTOGRAPHER/PHOTO EDITOR Melissa Donald email@example.com OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR Scheri Stewart Mullins firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Susan Allen email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Teri Hickerson firstname.lastname@example.org Ann Hurst email@example.com
“I would fly.”
Joyce Inman firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Kaitlyn English email@example.com
“I would jump high.” Irene Hernandez, 36, Liam Hasch, 3, Mavyn Hasch, 5, and Joshua Hasch, 37. We asked them what their super powers would be.
he Hasch-Hernandez family of four strives to be active together and separately. While they might not be true superheroes, anyone who is trying to keep a family active and find time for personal fitness has a superpower in our book. Irene, who works as a photographer, discovered running 20 years ago and finished in the top 10 of her age group of the Derby Festival Mini-Marathon. Irene developed an interest in fitness when her mother, who participated in gymnastics, Irene to class with her. Eventually, she began running with two of her sisters and integrated running into her fitness routine. “It is tough, but I always fit it in,” she says. “Sometimes it’s early and sometimes it’s late.” Irene created her own training program which involves lifting weights, push-ups, and yoga, and she says she prefers running outdoors
to using a treadmill. If she is not training for the mini, she runs three times a week. She says running hills “has made me faster as I get older.” Irene has also turned her fitness into a family affair. She and her husband Joshua, a lieutenant with the Louisville Metro Police Department, have run together in the past two Kentucky Derby Festival mini-marathons and the Triple Crown. Besides hiking and walking, the family moves by “making obstacle courses at home,” Irene says. “We dance and play hide and seek where we end up chasing each other around the house.” Her advice to other families about a healthier-life? “Try preparing and eating at home meals,” Irene says. “Make that family time by turning off all electronic devices and just simply talk to each other without any distractions.”
CIRCULATION MANAGER W. Earl Zion Today’s Family is published semi-annually by: Zion Publications, LLC 9750 Ormsby Station Road, Suite 307 Louisville, KY 40223 Phone: 502.327.8855 todayswomannow.com The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the position of the publisher. Today’s Family magazine does not endorse or guarantee any advertiser’s product or service. Copyright 2017 by Zion Publications LLC, all rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content in any manner is prohibited without permission from Zion Publications LLC.
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ON THE COVER Mavyn Hasch, 5, gives her strong, superhero pose on our cover. Photo by Melissa Donald, Makeup on Irene by Denise Cardwell, Image Works Studio
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Our Beautiful Baby Winner is. . .
Photos Melissa Donald
The winner of the Today’s Family Beautiful Baby contest is determined by online reader votes at TodaysWomanNow.com. Dr. Korie Acord, owner of Derby City Pediatric Dentistry, presented the winner with a $1,000 savings bond and the runner-up with a $250 savings bond.
Anderson Yates, son of Aaron and Angela Yates, is an enthusiastic and extremely energetic 3-year-old who has an appreciation for any type of sport involving a ball. Basketball, baseball, and football are at the top of his list of favorite sports, says his mom Angela. He also enjoys any type of outdoor activity, even if it’s a chore. Whenever his dad mows the lawn, Anderson pretends he is helping him while riding in his power wheel car that resembles a lawn mower.
Clare Alvey At 20 months, Clare Alvey, daughter of Jason and Casey Alvey, is already learning how to keep her head above water. She recently began swimming lessons, and her mom Casey says “she is fearless.” When she isn’t in the pool, Clare is searching for something soft and cuddly to hold and adores her toy lamb.
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Photo Missy Browning
“I WANT THE CHALLENGE AND THE ADVENTURE OF RAISING A BOY TO BE A MAN, AND I’M EAGER TO GET STARTED.”
HOW I WILL RAISE MY SON By Kaitlyn English
ou don’t want to read the list of things I’ve done in the past week. It would take me too long to remember, you’d end up bored, and I’m fairly certain that nesting is a very real super-power. Let’s just say I’ve done a lot to try to be as ready as I can be with a baby so nearly on the way. I’m having a son. I followed my husband around in the months leading up to when we had agreed to start trying, and I would laughingly whisper “soon.” A month before “go time,” I cried in the aisle at Kroger, reading all the ingredients to prenatal vitamins and trying to pick the best ones to start taking. I had an elaborate, adorable, and meaningful plan for how I would surprise my beloved with an announcement of our pregnancy, but the second I got a positive test, I screamed the news at him while he was in the shower. When the doctor called and told me the gender at 10 weeks, I sent the most garishly hideous blue bouquet of flowers to his office. Let’s back up a tidbit to the weeks that I knew I was pregnant but didn’t know I was having a boy. I wanted a boy. The proper thing to say is that I wouldn’t have cared which gender we ended up with, but I had a yearning for a little boy. We already have a daughter, and a cat, and a dog, and tulips in the front yard. Check. Check. Check. Check. It would seem like I only wanted another check off the list, but there’s quite a lot more to it than that. Raising a girl has been largely about encouragement. I know what it was like being a girl. I know the words one needs to hear. I tell her every day that she’s amazing, courageous, smart, funny,
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and kind. I stress that who she is and what she does and how she loves are the only important things. I tell her to be strong. I like to think I show her how to be strong, too. I want her to have a fortress built against any attitude she may encounter that will try to undermine what I’m instilling. But raising a boy? I don’t know what it’s like to be a boy. I do know that my husband was the first man I ever dated that I truly respected, and that’s why I married him. He’s a whole person. I can’t say that I was a whole person when we met. He’s helped me in ways I couldn’t fully explain to anyone else. It started with him trying to give me a foot rub once while I was studying. We had only just begun seeing each other. I couldn’t rest my foot in his hands. Every muscle in my leg was tensed, holding my leg up, suspended, and I stared at him, and he stared at me. I didn’t pull my foot away, but I couldn’t give it to him either. That’s really where I’d pinpoint the start of us, and the choice I know he made to be with a stubborn woman. Yet, with an enormous amount of patience and love, he showed me that I could rest everything in his hands. And, because of how much he’s shown me about love, he can rest everything in mine. So, I really want a son. I want to raise a son who will grow up to be as good of a man as his father is. Honest. Solid. Considerate. Strong. Passionate. I want the challenge and the adventure of raising a boy to be a man, and I’m eager to get started. I’ve already got the best example that I could hope for. Kaitlyn English is an account representative for Today’s Family magazine.
BIRTHIS THERE SPACING A PERFECT AGE SEPARATION?
Michael and Meredith have a small age gap between their two-year-old and their 9-month-old twins, which provides them with limited time together as a couple but has bonded the family unit. Photos Patti Hartog
By Megan M. Seckman
discovered she was pregnant again — with twins. Meredith, 32, y husband grew up in a family of eight kids who were all born found herself a new mother of three babies under two. within a 10-year span. When you ask any one of these now “It may be too early to determine if my babies will all be close as adults what it was like growing up with so many siblings close in age, adults, but it has made Saffron more patient and independent. When most will laugh and say, “child abuse.” the babies cry, she will put aside her needs to bring them a toy, but To an outsider — I grew up with one sister who was eight years my then she wants it back, because she’s two,” Meredith says. senior, so I was practically raised as an only child — I marvel at the Meredith says parenting back-to-back babies is basically about effects of such tight family spacing. Most of the clan can clear a plate taking care of whoever is crying, and someone cries just about every in under five minutes, a nod to the scarcity of food with six teenage 30 minutes. “I try to foster independence with Saffron. She’ll get her boys in the house. Most claim to be “the middle child” and love to paints and sit at the table and make art, or sit in her bed and play reflect on the incessant bullying they endured from each other. with toys in the morning while I’m taking care of the twins.” Most are artistic and creative; many are entrepreneurs, resulting The family — parents Meredith and Michael, Saffron (2), from their early need for independence and self-sufficiency. (There and Graham and Fiona (9 months) simply wasn’t enough mom for doting — spends all their time together. and coddling.) And although they are Money is tight and time is limited, so spread across the country, all are still Meredith typically works from home close. There isn’t one single estranged and Michael works nights. They are relationship in the entire brood. able to care for the children without This got me thinking. What are outside child care in an effort to the effects of family spacing? Does save resources, and they rely heavily having kids back-to-back create closer on each other to get the job done. families? The eight-year gap between “Michael and I don’t have any my sister and me just made her — Meredith Alexander time to ourselves, which is tough, confusing to me. When she left home, but I think it makes us closer as a couple,” she says. we slowly grew apart. Now, the chasm between us is so wide, we haven’t spoken in years. While every family is different, here are the effects of family The Three-Year Gap spacing on three Louisville families. One family has three babies My children fall in this category. In the beginning, Will (now 13) under three, another has an 18-year-old and a toddler, and last would stomp around the house trying to wake the baby and make —my own family — is dealing with a three-year gap during the her cry. He was angry to be dethroned from his kingdom. But as tumultuous years of adolescence. Nadine (now 10) began to smile and talk and gain some personality, he became quite responsible with her. Protective, even. As littles, Back-to-Back Births: Three babies, Two Years they played well together. Nadine didn’t mind playing with knights and dirt; Will didn’t mind dressing up and parading through the When Meredith Alexander met her partner Michael’s close family house in some imaginary role-play. She is naturally easy-going and (each sibling in his family was born 21 months apart), she knew she he is naturally bossy, so their relationship worked out well. wanted that, too. continued on page 12 Just nine months after their first child, Saffron, was born, Meredith
“It may be too early to determine if my babies will all be close as adults, but it has made saffron more patient and independent. When the babies cry, she will put aside her needs to bring them a toy, but then she wants it back, because she’s two.”
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What the Expert Says
IS THERE A PERFECT AGE SEPARATION? Although initially shocked by the news that he was getting a sibling, Jakob, now 17, takes pictures of his two-year-old sister Lila and sends them to his friends.
continued from page 10
The three-year difference had very little impact; they tended to play together as equals, as long as Will was making the rules. Nadine had less fear and learned things quicker because she had someone else to teach her. Now that Will is a teenager, the relationship is beginning to shift. The innocent, imaginary roleplay has been replaced with the dumb cell phone, middle-school friends, and a busy schedule. Hormones have made my son more aggressive, more competitive, and, unfortunately, more aloof. They don’t play together so well anymore, and Nadine tends to be bored. She had a big brother to entertain her for years, and now he hides in his room, fixes his hair, or starts conflict. When they were little they used to fantasize about living in Paris or New Orleans together as adults, and I think that will come true someday. We’re a close family in a small house. If they survive adolescence in this environment together, I think they will be connected for life.
Second Coming: 16-year Difference Both Shannon Argabrite and her husband Joe were 15 when their brothers were born. They knew what it was like to have such a substantial gap between siblings, so when Shannon discovered she was pregnant at 35, 15 years after the birth of their only son Jakob, they were speechless. “Joe and I were on our way to becoming the young, empty-nesters on a sailboat,” Shannon recalls. “We set up a family meeting to tell Jakob,
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and he was in total shock. He didn’t say a word, his face just held the look of someone who just got a whiff of rotten meat. He paused for a long time and then asked if we were joking. When we said we weren’t, he asked to be excused.” Two years later, sister Lila has become Jakob’s little pride and joy. He takes pictures of her and sends them to his friends. There isn’t much jealousy, and the transition has been quite easy for this recent graduate of Atherton High School. Despite forfeiting her dream of retired life at sea, Shannon says her second chance at parenting has been enjoyable. “I was 19 when I had Jacob. Being a young mother was more about survival; I felt so lonely because none of my friends were parents. With Lila, she reminds me to stop and smell the roses. There are a host of gadgets and products that make parenting easier, pictures look better now, I have a whole community of mommies around me, but most of all, this second family — with the same dad, even — is just a different experience because I get to parent at a different pace.” Shannon has become the primary caregiver during the day, something that was not realistic the first time around. She does admit that the most challenging part of having children at such different stages of life is their diverse needs. “My teen needs me mentally and emotionally to help him navigate his future, to reassure him and support him through big decisions. My toddler needs me physically. Sometimes I feel like I’m giving all of myself because each stage is so different.”
Dr. Robert Watson, a clinical psychologist, has dedicated his 30-year career to family dynamics. In his years of experience, he has noticed that typically, the closer the spacing, the closer the relationships. “There will be more fights and more competition, but through all of that conflict, a closer bond is formed,” Dr. Watson explains. In a family with many children that are close in age, the family unit tends to run more like a factory, he notes. There tend to be more financial issues; there are issues with physical space within the house, so children may share rooms or even sleep in the same bed. The “factory family” has a role for each child. “Everyone usually has a job and more responsibility, so the children tend to be more self-sufficient.” When there is a large discrepancy between ages, Dr. Watson sees many cases where the youngest becomes the second “only child.” The parents, in essence, raise a second family and they tend to be over-protective with this second chance at parenting. Problems arise, he claims, when the child sees his older sibling as a parent-figure. When they leave home, there can be some abandonment issues, not to mention that the child is left with his doting older parents. Dr. Watson says every family is different, however. “It all boils down to the functionality of the parents.”
Parenting three children under 2 keeps Meredith and Michael on their toes. todayswomannow.com
two u o y e ar “When to start a going ily?” fam “WHEN WILL YOU MAKE ME A GRANDMA?”
“Why don’t you have kids yet?” What are you waiting for?
INFERTILITYANSWERS By Megan S. Willman
ach of us has a story. Mine began in 1970 when Jim and Claudia Schreiber adopted me. I grew up knowing I was both chosen and loved. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned about their experience. After four years of marriage without a pregnancy, they faced questions from everyone they knew: “When are you two going to start a family?” “When will you make me a grandmother?” “Why don’t you have kids yet?” When caring friends and family members asked these seemingly harmless questions, they didn’t realize the pain they were causing. The decision whether or not to have children is a deeply personal one, as is the decision to talk about any difficulties that couples may encounter when trying to start a family. We are all entitled to privacy and have the right to decide what we wish to share with the world. According to the 2006-2010 CDC National Survey of Family Growth, one in eight couples faces infertility issues like my parents. But just as we are all individual beings, not one story of infertility is exactly the same. There are numerous potential causes, and there are a variety of paths to take in an effort to become pregnant. Sometimes those attempts are successful; sometimes they aren’t. Even though no one’s story is exactly the same, we often feel more hopeful and supported when we know others have faced similar struggles. Because they hope their stories may help others, Katie and Tommy Cook, Darlene King, and Lee Spring* have agreed to talk about their experiences with infertility and the decisions they made along the way. *This name has been changed.
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Infertility to Pregnancy Katie and Tommy Cook had been married about five years when they decided to stop birth control and start a family. After more than a year with no results, Katie’s doctor put her on Clomid, an oral medication commonly used to increase ovulation. After another year with no results and nearing the age of 35, Katie’s doctor sent her to a fertility specialist. She had a battery of tests, including an internal exam that revealed nothing was physically wrong. Tests showed a lower than average number of eggs, but those she had appeared viable. “We thought, ‘OK, where do we go from here?’,” Katie says. “The doctor kept saying ‘it only takes one,’ but that never made me feel better. I just never thought my body wouldn’t work the way it was supposed to.” The specialist believed their best
option was IVF (in vitro fertilization), a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body and then transferred to the uterus. The cost for each round of insemination was $600. “We self-imposed a limit of three times,” Tommy says. “With such a high emotional and financial cost, we knew it would be tempting to just keep trying. We didn’t want to get in a never-ending cycle.” “And we weren’t opposed to adoption,” Katie adds. “For us, we just wanted to try IVF first. Although adoption was more expensive, I kept thinking about how it was a 100% guarantee of a baby in the end.” Devastated by the failure of the first two attempts, Katie and Tommy began to think more seriously about adoption. “Even before the infertility medicine, it had been so many years continued on page 16 todayswomannow.com
• Researchers at Northwestern University have successfully used 3-D printing to create ovaries that help infertile mice get pregnant. The printed ovaries implanted into the mice not only managed to push out an egg during that time of the month but also released hormones like estrogen. Scientists hope 3-D ovaries will restore fertility in women as well. • A new ‘sperm radar’ test, designed at the The University of Sheffield, may prove to be an effective IVF treatment. Sending pulses of energy at the sperm sample, it can distinguish between good and bad sperm without killing them. • A 100-year old fertility technique may reduce the need for couples to choose IVF. Studies at The University of Adelaide reveal success with an old technique of flushing a woman’s fallopian tubes with iodised poppy seed oil. Results have shown significant benefits for fertility.
continued from page 14
of pre-natal vitamins, ovulation test strips, trying every technique we read about. Always wondering what was wrong was taking its toll,” Katie says. “As we began to explore adoption, we did the third IVF try. You have to wait two weeks for the pregnancy test, and it’s just agony! When I took that test and saw a positive, I didn’t believe it,” Katie says. She took several more tests and went to the doctor. Maggie, who is now four months old, was indeed conceived during their last try. During the process, Katie and Tommy decided to open up about their struggles. They found support from family and friends, from their church, and from others who had experienced their own fertility challenges. “The minute someone told me they’d been to a fertility specialist, I knew I could breathe easy and just ask questions,” Katie says. There were other challenges: seeing baby pictures on Facebook, having to go to baby showers for friends, watching Tommy’s brother and his wife enjoying their twins. “It’s not that I wasn’t happy for them, but I had to adjust my mindset and genuinely prepare myself to be around other people’s babies. The whole experience really shapes the way I share pictures and stories of Maggie now.” “When we talk to others, we are looking for commonalities; it’s only natural,” Tommy says. “But it’s funny the things we expect others to share about themselves. These are the most private parts of our bodies and our lives. The truth is we can never really say ‘I totally understand.’ Another couple with the same experience wouldn’t necessarily feel the way we did or make the same decisions. I don’t think there is any one right answer; a lot of answers could be the right one.” Katie agrees. “There are so many options, and each couple must make their own decision. We never really talked about our plans, and it took us five years to have Maggie. Now, we are always strategizing. Are we finished? Do we try again? Do we start to save for adoption? We need to make our plan.”
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Darlene King gave birth to her daughter “naturally” without any fertility medications. She never expected to be diagnosed with secondary infertility, which is defined as the inability to become
Photo Trina Whalin
WHAT’S NEW in the World of Infertility?
Katie and Tommy Cook with baby Maggie. pregnant following the birth of biological children. Ultimately, she and her husband decided to adopt, but the path was harder for Darlene than she could have imagined. “When my daughter was two, we decided to try again,” Darlene says.“The diagnosis of secondary infertility was devastating to me. I felt I was less of a woman and no longer good enough for my husband. It nearly tore my marriage apart because we started blaming each other as we were trying to figure everything out. It was a long and hard road until we accepted the fact that another baby would not be coming. We found a way to heal through adoption. I want to share my story of hope with all couples who may have the same struggle.”
Infertility to Adoption Lee Spring* and her husband had a plan. After a few years of
marriage, they wanted to start a biological family and then add to it by adopting more children. They tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for three years and then decided it was time to see a doctor. Lee was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a common endocrine system disorder that makes pregnancy very difficult. Lee started Clomid to increase egg production and began giving herself injections. “The timing of those shots was important. I remember being at a work dinner that ran too long. I hadn’t brought the syringe with me, so I ended up having to leave. I was expecting to have to schedule sex in order to increase our chances, but I hadn’t planned to carry shots around in my purse,” Lee says. They did a full cycle of Clomid and went into the office for IUI (intrauterine insemination). todayswomannow.com
“We gave a pep talk to the sperm, watched it spin in the centrifuge, did the insertion, and began to wait. It was really hard not to do a pregnancy test, knowing those eggs were there and his sperm was fine. It drove me mad waiting. We had chosen not to tell anyone, so we were the only two who knew what was going on.” Eventual pregnancy tests were negative and stayed that way. Lee’s body began having a lot of difficulty with Clomid, and the disappointment mounted. “It’s a real sense of loss, compounded by friends and family who would say ‘you’re not getting any younger,’ or ‘you’re next.’ It was painful. We’ve all said these things. I would remind myself that life has to go on, and I can’t just stop in a puddle of sadness,” Lee says. At the same time, Lee felt fortunate that adoption was an acceptable option for both of them. “Having a family is the single only thing I wanted to do and be good at in my life,” Lee reflects. They decided to give IUI three tries. After the second unsuccessful attempt, they began the home study process for adoption. “Doing the third IUI and the home study simultaneously felt like a forward motion. I needed to know there was a possible answer out there.” The adoption process, too, was an emotional challenge, and Lee felt fortunate to have a friend who is an adoption consultant to lead her through the process. “She guided us through all the decisions and feelings, and helped us understand the implications of every step in the process. I know we naturally needed to be asked these questions, but I struggled with seeing people all around me getting pregnant, not having to prove their worth before having a baby.” The adoption process happened faster than they expected. Their beautiful baby boy turned three recently. When Lee and her husband felt ready for baby number two, they faced an unexpected, renewed pain. Lee believed she had moved past the pain of not being able to conceive. “Knowing that adoption is our only option hit me deeply, and I was surprised by the depth of the grief I felt,” Lee says. Each of us has a story. Lee shared hers anonymously, but not because she is ashamed of her infertility or ashamed that they adopted a child, but because she believes the story is ultimately her son’s to tell. “People’s inherent curiosity about life is mostly well-meaning but none of their business. He gets to grow up and do what’s right for him. If he wants to shout from the treetops, I will shout with him. If he doesn’t, I’m good with that. We don’t have to share ourselves with everyone. I will hold on to his story for him and share this process only with my closest friends. The rest is his story to tell.” TODAY’S FAMILY
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A GLIMPSE INTO MOTHERHOOD
Photo Melissa Donald
hen I invited a small group of local moms to participate in a discussion panel at the Today’s Publications offices, I asked them to jot down any concerns or issues they’d specifically like to discuss during our time together.
Everyone sat quietly for a few minutes, mulling over possible topics, perhaps hesitant to voice their worries in front of complete strangers. When I asked for ideas and began writing them on a whiteboard, quiet voices offered “child-care,” “guilt,” and “work-life balance.” But when I went home and looked through the moms’ questionnaires, I found what probably everyone there thought and wanted to say but didn’t; it was Jennifer Wilham’s question: “Where do I start?”
(L-R) Mona Abu Sharib, JoVonda Hariston, Tracy Gritton, Melanie Hubbs, Jennifer Wilham, and Devin Boughey
By Carrie Vittitoe k “Where Do I Start?” The Question Every Mom Asks Those four words describe the love we have for our children, which began before they took their first breaths and will continue as long as we have ours. They convey all the doubts we have about raising children that don’t come with instruction manuals when we don’t come with unlimited patience. They reveal how infuriated we are by the messes our children create and the tantrums they pull.
couples take time for their own relationship after a baby comes along, the demands of young children make this a challenge. “It’s hard for me to find the balance between my husband and my girl,” Mona says. JoVonda and her husband, James, discovered they were expecting two months after they married, and both were still in school. She says, “It’s been very difficult being a newlywed, with a newborn, finishing school, and trying to collide our lives together.” Busy moms sometimes need moments alone, but “me” time frequently gets shoved to the bottom of the to-do list. Tracy says, “At work you’re pulled in different directions. At home you have a child who needs you constantly. Your spouse comes home, and he needs you to be there. You look back and think, ‘Did I have two minutes to myself?’” k In Search of Childcare When it comes to making couple time, childcare becomes an issue. Devin’s parents and in-laws often watch her daughters when
It’s been very difficult being a newlywed, with a newborn, finishing school, and trying to collide our lives together.
k Striving for Balance For the moms on our panel, finding a balance between motherhood and the rest of life is probably their biggest current issue. “If you’re at work, you feel like you should be at home with your kids. But then when you’re at home, you’re like, ‘I really need to get this done at work,’” Melanie says. But it’s not just work that becomes complicated when you enter motherhood. Attempting to have a social life becomes more difficult, too. Even though experts recommend that
Continued on page 20
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The Moms: Mona Abu Sharib (40), husband Najeh Latifalia, daughter Taghreed (18 months) and another on the way, full-time mom on hiatus from a nursing doctoral program at U of K JoVonda Hariston, (25), husband James, son Jeremiah (22 months), nursing student Tracy Gritton (43), husband Benjamin, son Charlie (19 months), teacher at a local private school Melanie Hubbs (32), husband Ryan, daughters Addison (2) and Emma (9 months), personal trainer and fitness coach at Baptist Health/Milestone Fitness Center Jennifer Wilham (31), husband Matthew, daughter Emmersen (1), graphic designer at Zion Publications Devin Boughey (32), husband Brandon, daughters Brinley (5) and Aria (2), owner of Devin Boughey Photography todayswomannow.com
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Continued from page 18
she works. “Because I’m utilizing them so much for work needs, I feel guilty asking them to watch [the girls] for social things,” she says. The perils of finding reliable and affordable childcare, whether for work or play, is a beast and burden unto itself. “Childcare is very expensive, and we don’t make an abundance of money, so that is something we need to assess,” Jennifer says. Devin says she sometimes turns down small photography jobs because for her to pay someone to watch her two daughters makes it a zero-sum game. In addition to affordability is the need to find trusted caregivers. JoVonda says, “There’s a list of two people who I trust with watching Jeremiah. I have guilt leaving him with my family. I feel guilt leaving him with my husband because we don’t spend enough time together since my husband works 10-12 hours six days a week.”
EDITED MOTHERHOOD IS NOT REAL MOTHERHOOD WITH ITS MESSES AND CHAOS.
Did We Mention Guilt? Guilt is part and parcel of motherhood. If a mom doesn’t feel guilty about working or taking time for herself, there are a million other things she can (and will) feel guilty about. For example, Tracy says, “Being an older mom, it’s energy, too. You go to work, you have all your energy there. You come home, you don’t have much energy for your child or your spouse.” The desire to work and have some adult interaction is another reason moms feel guilt. Devin says, “I get excited because I get to go work today. I get to leave my house today!” Mona, who is taking a break from her doctoral studies, says, “I get pressure because in most of my culture, the girl is raised to be a housewife. I was raised differently. My dad was very supportive of me and put a priority for us to finish college. I feel like I’m so behind.”
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Social media deserves some of the blame. Of course, “Social media is not real life,” Melanie says. “People are not posting pictures of the tantrum their 2-year-old is throwing in the middle of Kroger. Edited motherhood is not real motherhood with its messes and chaos.” Then there are hormonal changes that often precipitate guilt. Tracy says, “You see these pictures of moms with their babies, and they’re so blissful. For me, it was coming home and bawling, being so in love with this baby but thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what do I do? I remember saying to Ben one night, ‘I think we regret this. I think we regret having this baby.’ It was an awful thing to think.” Feeling overwhelmed and at the whims of postpartum depression or anxiety worsens whatever guilt moms already feel. k
Grasping For Control Those shifting hormones can make moms feel they are the only people who can responsibly and effectively take care of their babies. Many of our panel moms associated postpartum depression with women who want to hurt their babies, but Tracy says, “There are a lot of moms who don’t want to hurt them but are overprotective. It can go the opposite way where you just want to hold onto this baby and not let anyone touch the child.” JoVonda says when she first had her son, “I didn’t want anyone watching [Jeremiah], even my husband. Everyone poked fun at me like, ‘You need to share and let others love on him.’ Many of the panel moms admitted that they sometimes resent their husbands for not doing more but also actively restrict their husband’s ability (and desire) to help out. Mona says, “I was not willing to share the responsibility with my husband. We as women were raised to be responsible for everything.” Devin admits, “I complain about my husband not doing his fair share, but if he loads the dishwasher, you can bet that I’m going behind him
and fixing it because he did not do it right. A lot of it is letting go of the need to be in control of so much. All the time I’m like, ‘You need to do more,’ and then he does it, and I’m like, ‘You’re doing it wrong.’” k The Struggle is Real….and So Worth It Motherhood is just plain hard, but who would trade it? Even in the midst of sleepless nights, sore breasts, spit up, blow-out diapers, and temper tantrums, moms wouldn’t really want it any other way. When Devin’s youngest daughter was a newborn, she says, “We had a really rough time. I remember trying to read my oldest a bedtime story, and I couldn’t because I had to keep stopping to get up because the baby kept crying and she wouldn’t stop. I remember looking at Brinley and saying, ‘I’m so sorry,’ and she said, ‘It’s ok, you try.’ It was so reaffirming that she sees that I do care and that I do want to be a good mom.” Of motherhood, Melanie says, “It is worth it. My oldest daughter is every bit of a two-and-a-half year old. She’s pretty independent and pretty difficult, but when she’s sweet, she’s so, so sweet.” “Sometimes you put everything aside, look at that child and you’re so incredibly grateful, just looking at that beautiful little face. Especially now that Charlie is older, just that responsiveness to me. I get hugs and I get kisses. You just don’t take it for granted; it’s just a miracle,” Tracy says. At its best, motherhood provides snippets of blissful contentment and joy. It might be short-lived, but moms wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. As we ended our discussion, the quiet, hesitant voices that began our chat an hour earlier had become louder and friendlier. Sharing stories and admitting worries in a safe space with other women who share similar feelings lightened the load. When I thanked them for coming, Mona said, “If there’s anything in the future with these girls, count me in.”
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SHOULD THEY HAVE
THEIR OWN ROOM? By Sanna Rogers
an you imagine a family of seven in a house with one bathroom? Neither can my kids. Like a lot of modern American families, sharing space isn’t what it used to be. The average family today is only 3.14 people, according to statistics.com, yet homes are bigger, bedrooms and bathrooms are more plentiful, and bonus rooms are a “must have.” I grew up in a century-old house with three bedrooms, one full bath, no inside door locks, and four siblings. Privacy was scarce; sharing was survival. I shared a bed with my younger sister and we shared a two-sided closet with our older brothers. It was nothing for five of us to be in the bathroom at the same time: one in the shower, two tussling at the sink, one sitting, and another waiting...always waiting. Handling conflict and frustration was a daily task. Come to think of it, locks would have been disastrous! We laugh now at the pushing, pranks, whining, and games we played in bed by flashlight, which is precisely why I’ve made each of my three boys share a bedroom and bathroom. I have two guest rooms because I want my kids to grow up “together.” When my youngest was old enough to share a room, he replaced my oldest, who finally got his own room in middle school. It wasn’t long before his brothers were camped out on his floor or loft on the weekends, with his permission. Now that my oldest has a roommate at college, his old room remains empty for visits. My middle son doesn’t want to move and that’s OK. His need for privacy isn’t as strong. My youngest, however, is already craving solitude at 12.
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Photo Patti Hartog
Like many families, we have nearly as many bathrooms as people. Homes are more comfortable and convenient, and for kids of divorce, “home” can mean two of everything. But I think we’ve lost something in all this space. Sharing rooms and lives means practicing patience and seeing those we love at their most vulnerable. I know my sons share secrets and fears in the dark just as I remember my sister talks in her sleep when she’s anxious. Living in another’s intimate space initiates compromise and creates a connection that sustains a family. You accommodate and make allowances, forgive and forge ahead. Families’ choices are as varied as their kids. Parents with childhoods similar to mine — or not — are opting for shared spaces for reasons other than necessity: bonding, orderliness, a child’s fear. In my brother’s blended family, his daughter and stepdaughter inevitably slept in one or the other’s room when together, despite having separate rooms, and now they share a large bed in the former guest room. For siblings of different genders this is more difficult, but establishing boundaries can make it easier. Rules for bathroom etiquette and when and for how long bedrooms can be locked are crucial. A child’s privacy should be gradual and tempered with parental supervision. Now that my oldest is home for the summer, he still refuses to share his brothers’ “disgusting” bathroom. He passed on the basement guest room, however, and is back upstairs with us. When kids leave the nest one day — or even for camp a few weeks in the summertime — they will have it easier if they can accommodate the neat freaks and the slobs. For me, it’s not if children should share space, but for how long.
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ONE ROOM – DIFFERENT SEXES?
ADVICE FROM A MOM OF 11 KIDS
By Barbara Hartman
thought seriously about how many kids I wanted to have and how they would interact with each other. I did a fair amount of reading about having siblings share rooms and found little in the way of negative anecdotal evidence. I believe that America is way too uptight about gender and genitalia and decided that my kids would cohabitate regardless of sex. I got to see it in action with the birth of my second child, Liam. He was born when Maeve was almost two-and-ahalf. He had his own space until he started sleeping through the night and then his crib was moved into her room. She was really excited to have this young guest and the first benefit became readily apparent. They kept each other company. Times when Liam might have had me running to tend to him were resolved by big sister simply talking to him. Two years later, when they were five and two, we repeated the scenario with Sean and the triplet room was born! This set-up also made deciding when to change to the big boy bed easy as Sean took over Liam’s crib as he got to venture out. Did I worry about their seeing each other naked? No. As a parent it is my job to instill in them a healthy respect for the human body, and part of doing that is making it OK for them to prance around when they are little kids and then step in and teach them when they need to be private. I found that they self-imposed modesty with little direction from me at very ageappropriate times. Did this set up allow for some great conversations about the differences between boys and girls? Of course it did, and we had those talks with open honesty and often the humor that gets injected by young minds. Maeve moved into her own space about six years ago, and the hard part was her having to sleep alone. For the first few months she would routinely invite the boys into her room or end up on their floor. That, too, has come to an end as she has matured and desires to be left alone. The boys are now 11 and 13, and they still share a room. Every once in a while one will utter a complaint, usually about the other one being a pig, but neither has seriously requested to vacate. I’m curious to see how long this will last!
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By Meredith Ball
n our homes, we all want to make space function at its best, And who better to consult on that subject than someone who has made her space work for 11 children? Holly and Scott Dillon have 8 girls and 3 boys ranging in age from 4 to 22 (Taylor, 22, Mollie, 20, Annie, 17, Claire, 14, Eliza, 12, Maggie, 11, Boone, 9, Jake, 7, Sam, 6, Abby-Faye, 5, and Embry, 4).
How do your kids feel about sharing space? They don’t know any different! Two of them were gone one night for sleepovers, leaving one girl alone. She mentioned that it was weird. One of my middle-school-age daughters mentions having her own space, but that goes with the age. Then the next day she’s happy as a lark to be with her sisters.
What is the function of your kids’ bedrooms? Primarily sleep. The older girls spend a little bit more time there. It’s their get-away space. The younger kids have a few toys in there, but we’re pretty much out and about. I like for them to have a spot to get away, but my quiet spot isn’t my room, either. There isn’t one certain place that each person has. We will divide them to different spots if necessary, but it isn’t a certain spot.
How do you make shared space work for multiple kids? Bunk beds. I put dressers in closets and take closet doors off to make it part of the bedroom. It makes the room feel a little bigger. I try to be minimalistic.
Monday thru Friday cubbies provide an organized space for children to become independent and self sufficient. Toddler aged children can use this tool to learn days of the week, sequence of week days, and to practice putting on daily clothes without parent help. Older children can use this space as a tool for planning and laying out the weeks clothing, and building on daily routines and self care. (shower curtain LelandGal.com) Stylist Lauren Dahl, The-Dahl-House.com
How do you keep the rooms clean and organized? I don’t think my name should be used in the same sentence with organized! I ask them to be responsible for their stuff. When the room is a total disaster, that’s their responsibility to take care of. We have been very diligent in making sure they know how to do it. With their rooms, it’s hard to just say “go clean your room.” That’s a bit of a daunting task. So we have a chart of tasks. Every day of the week has a task: clean under your bed, straighten closet, put away your clothes, straighten dresser drawers, wipe down woodwork. Also, we weed things out constantly and they know how to do that.
Any wisdom to pass along about sharing space? I grouped them together by age and gender rather than personality. That kind of balances them. If I put the ones with similar personalities together that might be too much. They might be very different, but it’s been a good fit. I think it’s good to keep them with the ones going through similar life stages. Also, don’t overthink it. I think [sharing space] teaches them. They are going to get a lot out of it: friendships with their siblings and learning to work things out. Look forward to it. They are going to make great memories. I do think it’s important to give them space when they need it. But the benefits of sharing space outweigh the negative. todayswomannow.com
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your home? How big is
“WAIT, YOU HAVE FIVE CHILDREN?!”
Photo Patti Hartog
(L-R) In the Santos home, children Abigail, 2, Benjamin, 8, Daniel, 4, Sophia, 6, and Hannah, 10, share two bedrooms.
By Terra Santos
t’s not uncommon for people to ask 1,000 questions when they learn we have five young children, beginning with, “How big is your home?” and “Where does everyone sleep?” Last July, in our search for a new home, some were shocked when our minimum requirement was three bedrooms. Though we did end up purchasing a four-bedroom home, we have chosen to keep all five of our children split between two, using the third as a guest room. Honestly, it came as a no-brainer to me. Our girls are ages 10, 6, and 2, and the boys are 8 and 4. Fortunately, the rooms are quite large so there is plenty of space to be shared. Yet with that said, even when their rooms were quite a bit smaller in our previous home, we did the same. First, the shared space almost demands better relationships between them. It’s incredibly hard to share space with someone they’re angry with so it pushes reconciliation to the forefront. If they want a good experience, they have to work things out. It also gives them a realistic expectation of what to expect from life. Though certainly not everyone ends up married or living with other people, many people do, even if only for seasons. Sharing a room also encourages them to work toward common ground — such as room decor — and establish what is an appropriate level of “acceptable messiness.” My three girls are very different.
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The oldest is more of a perfectionist, tending toward order and structure. The middle is a creative, freespirited soul. The youngest is two. Enough said. They don’t always see eye to eye, but the space gives room for problem-solving. We’ve offered to allow any of the older children the opportunity to inhabit the guest room, for up to one week, alone, to have some personal space. So far, not one has taken the opportunity, though I’m sure it will come as they age. Right now they feel safety in being near each other, and I love that they can experience that. For now, the boys often pose more challenges than the girls. Not only are they more rowdy, they tend to have extremely different opinions on how they want things. One wants a nightlight; the other hates the light. One is a talker; the other isn’t. One likes his things “just so;” the other could care less. But as with the girls, I believe their relationship is stronger as we work to resolve these issues one day — or night! — at a time. It may be important to note that in the case of our family, our kids are rarely in their rooms except to sleep. They spend a great deal of time playing outside or in other rooms. If someone wants personal space or downtime, he or she just finds a room that no one is in and camps out for a little while. After all, in a family of seven, it can be a pretty stimulating home!
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Photo Patti Hartog
TO WORK OR NOT TO WORK AFTER BABY: TWO BOOKS THAT MIGHT HELP By Carrie Vittitoe
et me begin by saying that I quit working after I had my first child in 2004 and still haven’t gone back to work full-time. I have three part-time jobs that give me the flexibility to be with my children most of the time. Given this, you might expect me to be 100 percent on-board with Erica Komisar’s Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t 100 percent on-board with The Fifth Trimester: The Working Moms Guide to Style, Sanity & Big Success After Baby by Lauren Smith Brody either. What both books did is give me a chance to think about my professional and personal choices since becoming a mom and reaffirm that I did what was right for me, which isn’t necessarily right for anyone else but me. Brody’s book offers realistic expectations for hiring a childcare provider, getting through the early sleep-deprived days when you really want to quit work, pumping breast milk, and negotiating flexibility with your employer. This book was informative and definitely supportive of women who want to return to their professional lives with gusto, but it made me relive all the anxiety I experienced when I considered leaving my baby to return to full-time teaching. Maybe that anxiety is what every new mom feels? I never pushed through it to see what was on the other side, but Brody’s book gave me a glimpse that you can do it and do it well, but you have to be mindful of your feelings and limitations and inform employers of them. When it comes to that ever-present mom guilt, Brody says, “‘Guilt’ by definition, implies a feeling of ‘should,’ a comparison between you and some other supposedly better parent or better worker or better decision. But if all of us working moms are feeling guilt in some form there is actually nothing to compare here. We’re all in the muck of it. There is no other, better, less-guilty working mom to aspire to be.” Komisar stresses the importance of mothers being frequently available to their children for the first three years of life. She urges women to really think about their priorities and finances before they become pregnant, stressing that
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relationships and community are more critical to babies and toddlers than material stuff. According to Komisar it is when children are older that the benefit of seeing their moms work and contribute to a larger society becomes more valuable. One of the profound things Komisar says relates to working women in poverty and those of affluence: “Children are the great litmus test of our intentions. They know when we are truly sorry that we cannot be with them and when we would rather be somewhere else. I’ve found that young children are wiser and more in touch with the most important things, like relationships, intimacy, dependency, and the nature of love as a priority.” While I agree with her premise, I was turned off by her repeated suggestion that children’s depression, anxiety, and attention issues are a direct result of their mothers’ failing to be there for them during their first three years. There are few things I dislike more than the “blame the mother” stigma of society, as if a mom is responsible for every single solitary thing her children think, say, and do. I’m not sure how I can reconcile that I stayed at home during my children’s formative years, yet my son still has an anxiety disorder. Is that my fault? Was I somehow emotionally unavailable to him? So do I recommend the books? If you are definitely going back to work full-time after having your baby and are enthusiastic about it, then you should read The Fifth Trimester because it will help you manage that transition. If you are hell-bent on being a stay-at-home mom, then I recommend Being There because it will affirm your belief that your role as a mother is critical. If you are floundering somewhere in the middle, read both. In conclusion, both these books really force a prospective (or veteran) mom to think about her priorities and personality, what she has to do, and what she wants to do. Read the books and listen to what your gut tells you. That gut response is 95 percent of not only surviving motherhood but doing it in a way that works best for you and your children. todayswomannow.com
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Photo Melissa Donald
HOW TO SERVE UP
FRESH SCHOOL IDEAS
IN YOUR HOME
By Megan M. Seckman and Megan S. Willman
e went inside four local private schools to see if we could glean some ideas that you can use in your own home.
St. Francis St. Francis is a Progressive institution that focuses on student voice and close studentteacher relationships. It is a compassionate, intellectual community that celebrates individuality and inspires independent thinking. Size: 477 (pre-K–12) Location: Downtown Louisville and Goshen Campuses Expert: Suzanne Bizot Gorman, head of Downtown Campus
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Louisville Classical Academy “Our principle tools are enduring literature, the classical languages of Latin and Greek, mathematics, and music. These tools develop superior habits of mind that also accelerate learning in the sciences, history, and art. The result is preparation for success in the most challenging colleges and for lives of mindful purpose.” Size: 90 students (K–12) Location: Highlands Expert: Shelly Ward, Head of School
Friends School At Friends School, each classroom, from infants to eighth grade, is made up of both neurologically-typical children and children with special needs in a completely inclusive setting. Size: 196 (birth–8th grade) Location: St. Matthews Expert: Kristina Davis Christensen, Director
West End School
A free private school for boys in elementary and middle school, with middle school boarding Monday-Thursday. It is a college prep school for boys who are on free or reduced lunch. Rigorous with demand for personal responsibility. Size: Boys: 100 elementary; 25 middle school Location: West Louisville Expert: Debbie Blair, Co-founder Continued on page 34
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Continued from page 32
5 Skills from West End
School To Try at Home Read more about the WES on page 38
Table Manners. Each boy is required to put a napkin on his lap, properly use a knife and fork, keep elbows off the table, and sit up straight. If a woman enters, all boys stand and they jockey over who gets to pull out the chair for her.
Respect for authority. West 2 End School teaches students that there will always be an authority figure who will hold you accountable, so you need to learn to respect that relationship. For example: • If an adult is speaking, you are not. • If you want something bad enough, you should be willing to cut your hair for it, even if your new dreads are your most prized possession. • If an adult asks you to do something, you must trust that they have your best interests in mind. • You must give up luxuries in order to achieve your goals (i.e. no phones, gaming devices, or girls at WES).
3 janitorial staff at WES. All
Cleanliness. There is no
students are required to clean the classrooms, bathrooms, and dormitories. Although Debbie says this is the most painful part of the day — she’s seen a boy take 45 minutes to sweep seven stairs — it is integral in building responsibility and respect for self and those around you.
be a man is to be 4 To responsible. “We always say ‘This isn’t a hotel,’ and we expect academic success and the development of discipline and study habits. We are trying to get these young men the future they envision.”
must participate. 5 Everyone At WES every student, regardless of ability, must be part of the sports teams. Debbie says the development of skill is amazing to watch from 6th to 8th grade. The students all graduate as student-athletes.
5 Things From
St. Francis School To Try at Home
Take time for play in nature.
“The power of play is tremendous. Children need to be allowed to be children, and play is much more than a way to pass the time. Imaginative play in particular is important!” Sitting on 64 acres, the Goshen campus allows younger students the chance to learn and grow while in touch with nature. In addition to the school building and gym, there are three playgrounds, a wooded area, a garden, and animals including chickens, bunnies, and cats.
Expect them to help out at home.
“Helping children understand that privilege and responsibility go hand in hand is vital. As they want more autonomy — being allowed to stay up later, for example — their level of responsibility around the house should also increase.”
Make sure they catch some Z’s.
“Consistent bedtimes and adequate sleep are critical to a child’s success. There are clear guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how much sleep children
How St. Francis School Treats Individuality
St. Francis School has its roots in the Progressive tradition — a focus, which in part, emphasizes the importance of treating each learner as an individual. That tenet was immediately evident when I entered the high school campus. A tour showed students rehearsing a skit in the hallway, another group was practicing Chinese in a study area, a teacher was holding class in the outdoor courtyard, and another group studied on couches in the student lounge. Others could be found in classrooms where desks were placed in a circle to allow for discussion and collaboration.
need by age, and it’s a parent’s job to make sure they get it. As a school, our recognition of children’s need for adequate sleep and the natural sleep patterns of adolescents was a major factor in moving our start of school time back to 8:30am.”
Expose Kids to Urban Areas. So that your kids
know how to get around in different areas, expose them to different areas. The downtown campus of St. Francis situates adolescents in the “real” world of downtown Louisville where the city becomes their campus. Students walk to theater performances, the public library, and local businesses to broaden their learning and prepare for life after high school.
Get your kids involved in a sport/team. St. Francis
offers no-cut athletics where all students are encouraged to play, and experienced athletes can play years at the varsity level.
Overheard at Louisville Classical Academy While waiting to meet with Shelly Ward, head of school at Louisville Classical Academy, this writer had the pleasure of listening to three seniors talk with a junior who was nervous about the senior project she will begin next year. The seniors described their projects as well as the methods they used to prepare. Over the course of their conversation, I was able to hear not only about the depth of their studies but also the enthusiasm each had for their subject matter. - Megan S Willman Continued on page 36
- Megan S. Willman
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Why I Love My School ASSUMPTION
PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD
/ By Maggie Myers / Grade 12
orever a Rocket, forever a rose. These words are engraved in the minds and hearts of each year’s graduating class as they take their first steps beyond Assumption. While these words hold strong sentimental meaning, they also carry significant value and truth. It is a substantial feat for a woman to be called a Rocket. This implies that she is a woman of strong moral standing, high intelligence, and care for the world around her. Assumption High School provides its student body with endless opportunities to develop these characteristics over the course of four years. From the moment I stepped foot into Assumption, I noticed that every single girl was a leader in her own way. Whether she was on a sports team, president of a club, or running for student government, each student was given the chance to show herself as a leader. This is a skill that is necessary in life, and having the privilege to begin mastering it at such an early age is rare. Faculty and staff also take great care in getting to know the girls, so that they can act as mentors and provide spirit and motivation. Bonds between teachers and students create a strong community full of like-minded individuals that help each other grow. The teachers at Assumption are engaging and provide new insight and challenges suitable to each student’s demands. We are always being taught to “go further” with our thinking, rather than settling for the simple answers. In my English class, we frequently discuss momentous themes found in literature, such as the meaning of life and each person’s purpose on the earth.
These themes epitomize the kind of education provided by Assumption. Students not only gain a valuable academic education; they are provided with a sense of greater knowledge about our place in the world and what we are called to do with our lives. Rockets are called to be compassionate to those in need by using their gifts and talents to benefit others. Students who enjoy drama and theater have the ability to reach out to the community by participating in Assumption High School’s BLOOM theater. BLOOM (Bringing Life Onstage and Offstage through Ministry) is a production of several student-written, performed, and directed plays that aim to speak out on current social justice issues. There is also a myriad of clubs that serve as an outlet for us to learn advocacy for a cause. For example, Green Dot is a club composed of individuals who are working to prevent sexual assault and bullying. Green Dot participants host many events within the school, but they also branch out into the surrounding communities to share the message of bullying and violence prevention. Assumption High School offers its students a broad range of unique and challenging opportunities — opportunities that shape my generation into good stewards of the earth, of our communities, and of each other. Assumption Rockets are taught to work hard in class while learning the important aspects to living a beneficial life for themselves and those around them — one more reason why I am honored to say that I am “forever a Rocket, forever a rose.”
Assumption Essay Winner Maggie Myers
BRIGHT FUTURES BEGIN WITH
CADEMIC The only all-girls’ high school in Louisville to offer the AP Capstone Diploma; a College Board program that equips students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges and employers. Schedule a shadow visit at ahsrockets.org and learn more about how Assumption will help your daughter reach her full potential.
Assumption High School
NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE SPONSORED BY THE SISTERS OF MERCY TODAY’S FAMILY
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How the Friends School Started
The founders were teachers together, experienced pregnancy together, but above all, they were friends. When they put their teaching careers on hold to raise their children together, as a tight little community, they expected their children to grow up together. But when preschool loomed on the horizon, these mothers were shocked to find that their little community was going to have to break up. A few of the children in this group were identified with special needs and were not accepted into the same public schools because of their learning differences. Putting their heads and hearts together, this group of friends began the process of creating a school built on their ideals about equality and inclusion, and that is how the Friends School was born. Established in 1980, Friends School was originally founded in affiliation with the Quakers of Louisville. Although the school is now a non-profit, non-sectarian, independent family cooperative, the tenets of the original model are still strong. Approximately 35% of the school’s 196 students have special needs ranging from ADHD and autism to Spina Bifida and Down Syndrome. Services such as a sensory room, speech therapy, and behavioral coaching are offered on a tiered system. All students learn side-by-side with an average of a 1:4 educator to student ratio. Parental involvement is expected in this cooperative model, and students call the adults by their first names, a nod to the Quaker principle of mutual respect. - Megan Seckman
from Louisville Classical Academy To Try at Home
Encourage them to take a risk.
Try something new or delve deeply into something you love. Do it for the joy of doing it. Recent graduate Ruthie Drowin says that studying Greek and Latin for seven years has shaped her learning in all areas. “Learning both of these languages at the same time fostered my love of languages and even math. It wasn’t until Latin that I realized how much I
love puzzles, which made algebra much more fun.”
Expand their world. Browse the
library and local independent bookstores for new authors. LCA follows a Great Books curriculum, which means that texts used in school are the enduring classics such as those authored by Chaucer, Homer, and Shakespeare.
Have discussions with your family.
LCA employs the Shared Inquiry Method within student curriculum, which allows for deeper exploration and understanding of all topics because students work together under skilled questioning by the
Help them appreciate quiet.
Spend time in silence and away from screens.
Demonstrate the value of being thankful. It’s a wonderful habit.
“If you do too much for children, then they either begin to think they are incapable or that they rule the home.”
5 Skills from Friends
School To Try at Home
Director Kristina Davis Christensen, who has worked as a special needs coordinator and parent volunteer during her 15 years at Friends School, sat down to talk about her students’ skills. At the core of the school’s mission are these values, which are cultivated in every child they serve and carry over into the home and community.
Treat them as capable. “At Friends, we instill personal responsibility even in our youngest students in preschool. The little guys are expected to unpack their own bags and open their own containers at lunch. If you do too much for children, then they either begin to think they are incapable or that they rule the home,” Kristina said. “It instills work ethic.”
Every person can contribute to the community. Because of
the deliberate inclusion and emphasis on social justice, students at Friends School are taught to listen to all points of views on issues. “When students leave to attend other schools, the new teachers always comment on how empathetic our students are.”
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discussion leader. Ruthie describes the experience this way: “Our teacher let us have the discussion and generate our own ideas. She would just steer us back on topic if necessary. I have realized I learn best when others are challenging me and that I develop my best ideas in a discussion with other people to ask questions or share insight.”
Teach conflict resolution. Despite
Train them to ask for a break.
the inclusion of students with behavioral issues, the staff at Friends never put their hands on students. Students and staff are trained in empathy and compassion techniques so that all students are able to “use their words” and “listen to their bodies.” Students participate in a lot of role play to help express their complex emotions and resolve potential conflicts. They use emotional intelligence to recognize emotion in themselves and others.
Friends School teaches students to advocate for themselves and know when they need a few minutes to regain focus or calm their emotions. In the “sensory room” a student can take a break among the soft pillows, a tunnel, and a rebounder.
Teach social justice. Each grade level chooses a month to show their support for a specific issue. Students in the lower school may collect stuffed animals for “Bears on Patrol” (given to the police to hand out to kids experiencing trauma), while students in middle school might learn to lead a peaceful park protest about race relations or LGBTQ rights. “We believe that every person has the power and responsibility to positively impact the community.”
PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD
Why I Love My School PRESENTATION ACADEMY
/ By Ilona Kovac / Grade 11
love my school because without becoming a Pres Girl, I wouldn’t have found my true self. At Presentation Academy students are always encouraged to express themselves. The problem was that I had never actually known who I really was. Through elementary and middle school, I always felt pressured to “fit in,” and I felt the need to be liked by everyone. I was never myself; I was only what everyone else wanted me to be. When freshman orientation at Pres came around, I didn’t know a single girl who was planning to attend this high school. I walked through the doors and sat all by myself, experiencing total culture shock. Everyone else had come from other Catholic grade schools that I had never even heard of. When I looked around the room I noticed all the other girls had someone to talk to and laugh with, but there I was. I felt like I was going to be the odd kid
at my new school. Little did I know, I was destined to become best friends with my entire class, and even share memories with the upper and lowerclassmen. Without the help of my loving class, and those who came before us, I would have never accepted myself for the outgoing and quirky person I truly am. Junior year has allowed me to embrace my love for the school itself, with the ring ceremony and my first ever prom. Small moments that seem pointless at the time are those that shape the future. Walking through the stained glass doors, dancing in a huddle with my class at our prom to “The Climb,” hugging the senior who gifted me the ring that ties me to my paradise, and eating six bosco sticks at lunch are a small few of those moments Presentation Academy has gifted me for life.
Presentation Essay Winner Ilona Kovac
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How the West End School Started When I toured West End School, located at 36th and Virginia Avenue, it had been Debbie Blair’s third tour that day. Despite the typical end-ofthe-school-year-chaos — boxes of binders ready for storage, loads of laundry needing a wash, and hundreds of partial paint cans poised in military precise formations waiting to be purged — and even despite her retirement being only six weeks away, Debbie’s enthusiasm did not wane. This space, a gift from the community, has been a labor of love, and her literal home, since 2005 when her husband Robert Blair, the former headmaster of Kentucky Country Day, made his big idea for a free boarding school for at-risk middle school boys come to fruition. Spanning 4.5 acres of Louisville’s Chickasaw neighborhood, Debbie and Robert took the historical site of the Virginia Avenue Colored School, built in 1923 during segregation, and made a small miracle. The site (which most recently housed JCPS’s Carter Elementary) is now home to a projected 100 elementary-aged boys in the lower school, 25 boarding middle school boys, a state-of-the-art athletic center donated by Louisville’s own [former professional basketball player] Darrell Griffith, and a maker’s space complete with 3-D printers, table saws, and work tables, donated through the UofL Speed School. “This school has been blessed,” Debbie says in the foyer, propped up against a grand piano, relishing in the generosity that made their humble beginnings a success. “It is so exciting to see people come and give. The place runs on volunteers. Thousands of volunteers give hours, teachers stay for years without pay, and the library was made through donations and volunteers who build shelves. [The Louisville Orchestra Music Director] Teddy Abrams came to play for a half an hour when this piano
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was donated to us from the Scottish Light Orchestra.” They began with three students and one teacher, housed in a building on 17th and Chestnut streets. “We took all comers, whoever showed up at first. We had no idea…” Debbie laughs. Shortly after the school’s inception, the foundation on the boarding house collapsed. Debbie and Robert moved the students to their home in the East End and shuttled them back and forth to school each day. These humble beginnings are now only a memory. The Blairs have since sold their East End home and live at the school among their students, five teachers, and a live-in counselor. The boarding school, complete with beautiful double-paned windows, oriental rugs in each room, and the Blair’s dog, is a whole 10-second walk to the classrooms. “No one has an excuse for being late!” Debbie says. At West End School, Students are expected to respect authority, perform at or above grade level, take core academic classes as well as foreign language, travel and study in the 7:15 - Rise, make beds, tidy room, room inspections 7:30 - Open gym or study hall (for those with D’s and F’s) 7:55 - Breakfast 8:30-4:30 - Classes (including art therapy and foreign language) with one-hour lunch break 4:30 - Mandatory house cleaning (toilets, urinals, floors, trash, vacuum, dust) 5:00 - Athletics practice 7:00 - Dinner, 20 minute showers 9:30 - Bed time
summer, and participate in all three sports teams: track, soccer, and basketball. Middle school boys board Sunday-Thursday and follow the schedule below: On Fridays, students leave the school to go home and return on Sunday night for three hours of study hall in order to prepare for the next school day. “We teach kids that every action has a consequence, positive or negative. We give extra dessert for rewards and keep a record of when boys go above and beyond on our responsibility bulletin board. These boys and their families give up a lot to be here. There is no TV (except for the Super Bowl and NCAA championship game), no video games or cell phones; they have to give up their friends and typical middle school stuff. They have to cut their hair. The mothers are heroes to turn over their sons and trust us each week. She trusts us to better him, to take care of him, to help give him a future. But our boys get full scholarships to KCD, to Collegiate, to all the top schools.” Although Robert — who Debbie says is the brains behind the outfit and who painstakingly worked to build his vision — is retiring this summer, there are still several projects in the works. The former “gym” that had no working light and a leaking roof will now become an auditorium. The former basketball court, the only one in
the city that had to be shoveled after a snow, is now becoming a courtyard with an ampitheater. There are plans for an outdoor science classroom, space for al fresco dining, and an auditorium lobby complete with one women’s restroom. Who can attend? Boys must come from at-risk environments: homelessness, incarcerated parents, poverty, and single-parent homes, for example. The Blairs believe that parent buy-in is integral in the student’s success. Each day parents must enter the building to drop off or pick up the kids from lower school. At this time, parents exchange lunch boxes and touch base about anything that might be affecting the child from the night before. This constant communication is a required element of admission. Each summer, middle school candidates must attend summer school to gauge whether or not they are a good fit for the boarding school. “We are more interested in their character than their grades. We have rules — living together requires rules — and we are looking for boys who can respect authority and possess a desire to better themselves,” Debbie says. “These young men are getting a $60,000 scholarship, so they need to be a good fit.” - Megan Seckman
Kelly Wright Henrion is the new head of the West End School as of July 10. todayswomannow.com
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technology Is it squeezing Your Kid’s Development? Want to Give Your Toddler a Jumpstart? Don’t Give them an Electronic Device By Dana Diehlman
hen my youngest child was two, I bought him a Kindle for Christmas. After all, I reasoned, his brother and sister each had one, and there were so many educational games I could load. He’d know his alphabet and numbers and be able to solve puzzles in no time! But I didn’t take into consideration the effect a device would have on his fine motor skills. At the time, I didn’t realize it meant that he was just using one finger to push a screen when he should have been holding crayons and putting little pencils to construction paper. Motor skills are motions carried out when the brain, nervous system, and muscles work together. Fine motor skills are small movements that use the small muscles of the fingers, toes, and wrists. For example, when you button a jacket, thread a needle, turn pages of a book, or grip a spoon. So while I thought I was giving my toddler an advantage by introducing technology, I was actually hindering him. Colleen Murphy, an occupational therapist with over 25 years of experience and owner of Sensory Beginnings in Louisville, explained that working only one finger or thumb does nothing to strengthen the hand or allow the fingers to work together. In order to be able to write, cut paper, and even hold a pencil, you must start developing fine motor skills at an early age. She explained that children from age 1-3 should also be focused on gross motor skills — walking, kicking a ball, pedaling a tricycle — because their eyes are not developed enough for activities done at short working distances, such as computer use, playing video games, or watching TV. A recent study proved the correlation
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PHOTO: MELISSA DONALD
between work involving close proximity of the eye to the object and the increased need for eyeglasses in young children. Even more than hindering fine and gross motor skills, Colleen’s biggest concern is the instant gratification children receive. Instead of working on a craft and persevering to achieve a final product or playing a board game, children can play endless games and switch from app to app without having to learn to wait their turn or see a project through to the end. While absorbed in a device, children tune out the rest of the world, preventing them from learning vital social interaction skills. Peggy Leverson, a preschool teacher at Saint John Preschool in Prospect wholeheartedly agrees. “The main problem I see is the inability to wait, as well as ‘being bored.’ When they wake up and grab their iPad, they can watch any show they want or play any game they want at any time, often up until they enter the classroom door. No teacher can compete with that. They don't want to sit and listen to a story or pick up a
pencil, especially not write, as it's ‘too hard.’” Colleen concedes that there are several educational apps, but they have no place in the world of anyone preschool age or younger. Even though making a craft with your toddler or playing a board game with your preschooler may not seem like a big deal, it is. In our house, there are now strict limits on handheld devices, but it’s not always easy or a joy to enforce. Letting the kids sit with a device and wind down so I can do my busywork seems a lot easier than arguing with them about finding something else to do. But then I think about all that’s at stake — fine motor skills, social skills, team building, exercise, vision, being creative — and I realize that in the long run, it’s really not one bit easier after all. todayswomannow.com
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technology Make a FAMILY PLAN
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers parents and pediatricians a new interactive Family Media Plan at healthychildren.org. The policy says, “Media should work for you and work within your family values and parenting style. When media is used thoughtfully and appropriately, it can enhance your daily life.” To get started, • Go to healthychildren.org and click Create Your Family Media Plan. Enter your family name and the names and ages of your children. • Personalize your plan with options like ScreenFree Zones and Times, such as during meals and established family time. • Find a link to CommonSenseMedia.org for reviews on educational, age-appropriate choices. • Establish internet safety rules, media manners, and healthy screen-free options. • Use the Media Time Calculator to monitor your children’s daily use.
HOW TO limit SCREEN TIME By Sanna Rogers
A tale of two moms: Mom One: “A woman near me says to her two-year-old son, “Would you trade mommy’s iPad for your phone? It's charged now.” Mom Two: My cousin asks, “Should I let my 8-year-old play on an iPad more than one hour a month?”
ow! Parenting styles can be polarizing, so, like the Internet's Truth Bomb Mom, I decided to “mind my own motherhood" and reserve judgment. Raising children today is more complex than deciding whether to buy organic veggies, and monitoring our kids' electronic devices can feel almost impossible. With smartphones and tablets so pervasive in our homes, even toddlers mimic our behavior and reach for Mommy’s or Daddy’s “toy.” So how young is too young to be plugged in? How long is too long? In 2016 the American Academy of Pediatrics lowered its screen ban from 2 years back in 1999 down to 18 months — with an exception for Skype or FaceTime for infants with faraway relatives. Anything prior to this age provides minimal benefits and takes away valuable time your children could be exploring their world. The new guidelines found in the AAP’s “Media and Young Minds” allow for minimal screen time for children at least 18 months, provided they are not watching alone. Research shows a caregiver’s attention and verbal cues to a child are more important than what is seen on the screen. The AAP also recommends limiting screen time to one hour a day for kids 2-5 years old. Dr. Kelly Browning, psychologist and founder of Pediatric Psychological Associates, PLLC, in Louisville, discusses
screen time issues on a daily basis and understands parents' frustrations. She says after 18 months, high quality, educational media can be slowly introduced with parental supervision. “It is extremely important to limit any form of screen time for children three and under because of the tremendous brain development that occurs.” She emphasizes creative play, movement, and reading during this critical period. “Too much too early can lead to problems with focus and attention, communication and social skills." So resist the temptation to use digital media to babysit or calm your infant or toddler. Experts agree technology use that replaces regular exercise, adequate sleep, school work, and social interaction can be harmful. Dr. Browning says researchers have also discovered another potential problem — boredom. Dopamine — the chemical that regulates pleasure and immediate gratification — is constantly being released while watching video games. This can lead to a desire to watch more as well as cause frustration and boredom when forced to stop. But there are benefits, too, Dr. Browning says. With supervision, and a little research, nonviolent screen time for young children can improve things like visual, spatial, and fine motor skills, short-term memory and creative problem solving.
Finally, here’s some helpful advice for those two moms: Mom Two, go ahead and give your 8-year-old more time with age-appropriate games. And Mom One, pocket that phone and hand your toddler a book instead.
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Associates in Pediatric Therapy Reading Camp: Is your child in need of intervention during the summer break to maintain or build their literacy skills? Hosted by APT Learning Resource Center & taught by a certified teacher. • Cost: $250 • Two groups, ages 4-6 & 7-9 • Louisville Main & SIGS location • 9am-11am, Tues & Thurs from June 14-30 and July 12-28 502.633.1007 • kidtherapy.org
Kentucky Science Center When School is OUT CAMP IS IN Don’t wait until next summer to Do Science! Whether it’s a federal holiday or spring break, School’s Out Science Camps make sure your child’s day off is both fun and educational. Each day has a theme and classes are grouped for grades Pre K-5. * Signifies days with classes for grades 6-8 as well. October 6, 9 and 10, 2017 (Art and Science) October 13, 16 and 17, 2017 (Making) * December 18-22, 2017 (Engineering) * December 26-29, 2017 (Engineering) January 1 and 2, 2018 (Space) January 15, 2018 (Frozen Science) February 16 and 19, 2018 (Science and Stories) * April 2-6, 2018 (Anatomy) May 4, 2018 (Animals) May 25, 2018 (Habitats) $40 per day for Members $45 per day for non-members Visit KYScienceCenter.org or call 502-560-7128 to register now
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technology HOW TO learn with a digital device By Erin Nevitt
How can you as a parent map out the best use of technology time for your preschool child?
entucky Educational Television (KET) is a valuable place to start when looking for innovative ways to use technology with your child. KET’s early childhood initiative, Ready to Learn, was established in 2015 and is actively equipping children with skills they need for 2020. Apps such as Nature Cat and Scratch Jr support coding for younger kids. KET also offers family creative learning workshops in the spring.
The following six resources are available through KET: • Everyday Learning: KET.pbslearningmedia.org/ collection/everyday-learning • PBS Kids: pbskids.org • PBS Kids Lab: pbskids.org/lab • PBS Parents: pbskids.org/parents • Sesame Street: sesamestreet.org • Sesame Street Parents: sesamestreet.org/parents KET and PBS also have a plethora of apps to choose from to use simultaneously with your child. Their teaching philosophy is based on the idea that when your child is using a tablet or device and utilizing an app, the parent or caregiver is working alongside her directly. It’s not about giving the child a device to “babysit” but rather using the device as an educational tool where you are both learning together. That is the key.
The 30 Days of Families Learning Together guide, compiled by the National Center For Families Learning, provides a month’s worth of family literacy activities designed to inspire family memories rooted in imagining, playing, and learning together.
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The following free apps are available from PBS Kids: • PBS Kids Games • PBS Kids Videos • PBS Parents Play and Learn • PBS Kids Scratch Jr • PBS Kids Measure Up! • PBS Kids Party App • PBS Kids Ready Jet Go! Space Explorer • Plum’s Creaturizer • BS Kids Photo Factory • Fizzy’s Lunch Labs: Fresh Pick • Dinosaur Train Jurassic Jr.
Other Great Sources: • Wonderopolis is a website “where the wonders of learning never cease.” There are a handful of ways to use Wonderopolis.org, including the most popular, which is viewing the Wonder of the Day. wonderopolis.org • 30 Days of Families Learning Together is a guide by the National Center for Families Learning, based here in Louisville. It gives families a month’s worth of literacy activities to practice together. familieslearning.org/ • Family Time Machine (funded by Toyota) is a collection of family-time activities. It is categorized by different times of the day (bedtime, bath time, meal time, errand time, etc.). familytimemachine.com • Renegade Buddies is focused on financial literacy. The goal is to save as much money as you can as you race through an obstacle course. renegadebuggies. familieslearning.org/ Hannah Elliott, programs coordinator for Tech Connects at the Louisville Free Public Library, says, “When using technology with your children, don’t forget the importance of good questions, open-ended exploration, and critical thinking. Give kids time to tinker with things, including apps and online gaming and coding systems. Encourage them to think about things from multiple perspectives. Once they’ve successfully completed a task, throw out a new challenge.” todayswomannow.com
Published on Jul 27, 2017