Fayette County: Homes needed for kittens & puppies!

Meet Bo, a male kitten looking for his forever home.

Kitten season is still in full swing.  Fayette Humane Society (FHS), a 501(3)(c) nonprofit animal rescue group, is overwhelmed with requests from the community to take unwanted or stray cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies.

Meet Bo, a male kitten looking for his forever home.

FHS does not have a shelter, although a building fund has been started. The rescued pets live with foster families until volunteers can find them permanent, loving homes. When FHS lack foster space, callers are told we can only help them place the animals if they are willing to foster them.

Even if you can’t make the commitment to adopt a pet right now, consider becoming a temporary foster. FHS will provide food, supplies, and medical care for the animals; you provide the love.

For more information about becoming a pet foster parent or to adopt a pet, please visit our website at www.fayettehumane.org. To sign up, call 770-487-1073 or email us at info@fayettehumane.org.

Have a Blast on July 4th — Safely!

fireworks

It’s that time of year when our nation celebrates Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

For many, that means picnics, baseball, pool parties and almost always, some type of fireworks. Whether you will be attending a fireworks show, or having a not so private fireworks display at your home, safety should be your number one concern.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB), with information obtained from the National Council on Fireworks Safety http://www.fireworksafety.com/, provides the following tips to ensure your July 4th remains fun and free of any harm or hospital visits:

Follow these safety tips when using fireworks:

  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Use fireworks outdoors and only as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.  Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
  • Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.

And note these special safety tips, if using sparklers:

  • Always remain standing while using sparklers.
  • Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
  • Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
  • Never throw sparklers.
  • Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.
  • Teach children not to wave sparklers, or run, while holding sparklers.
  • Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Kristy’s Greatest Role, Kristy Van Meter

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Photos by Marie Thomas

Kristy (Cobb) Van Meter always loved acting, participating in school plays from the third grade on and, later, majoring in Drama at Furman University in South Carolina. Little did she realize back then that her life would eventually take on an unusual drama of its own.

Let’s set the stage for what has become a life filled with surprises, joy, humor, and a little craziness; it’s a family drama that’s taken more than a few twists and turns (but the ending’s a happy one).

Kristy and her younger sister, Holly, grew up in Reidsville, N.C. “I have special memories of Sunday dinners at my house, and at my aunt’s and grandma’s houses. All of our extended family living in the area would get together after church. It was always so much fun to be with everyone,” she says.

Then life changed somewhat. When Kristy was in high school, the family moved to Morristown, Tenn. for her father’s job. Kristy remembers that this was a tough move for her and her sister, but “it really strengthened our relationship. We just had each other; we didn’t know anyone else for a while, so we grew much closer.”

Dreaming as little girls do, Kristy remembers picturing herself married and the mother of four children, “two girls and two boys,” she says with a laugh. Her career visions back then were to be a veterinarian, a geologist, or an actress.

Clay and Kristy (center) with their children. Standing, from left, identical twins Tyler and Ford; on floor, from left, Truitt, Kate and Jackson (kneeling).

Well, the acting aspiration won out. Following high school, Kristy headed back to the Carolinas, this time to S.C., where she attended Furman University. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Drama with a concentration in Psychology, she moved to Ga., attending grad school at the Psychological Studies Institute and Georgia State University and receiving her master’s in Community Counseling with a certificate in Christian Counseling. These college studies would prove to be “so” essential for her later in life.

Following graduation, Kristy counseled at a therapeutic boarding school for adolescents in Dahlonega for three years. During that time she dated and fell in love with a longtime friend, Clay Van Meter. After marrying in 1997, they moved to Senoia in 2000 so Clay could open his insurance business in Peachtree City. Kristy continued working as an in-home counselor for families in crisis.

Then came the first real surprise: shortly after they moved, they found out that Kristy was pregnant with fraternal twins. Kristy carried babies Jackson and Truitt up to 33½ weeks, giving birth by caesarean on December 22, 2000. The babies were fine, but Kristy had developed toxemia and a blood disease, Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP), which put her in intensive care following the delivery. “The nurses gave Clay one-on-one instructions on how to care for the babies, since I wouldn’t be able to do much when we took them home,” she says. “So that was a good thing, and he did a great job.”

The triplets at 3 months old. From left: Tyler, Kate and Ford.

She and the babies came home on Christmas Day. “Boy, did our lives change,” she recalls. “We were overwhelmed, but we got a lot of help.”

Out of necessity, Kristy and Clay established a routine for caring for the twins. “We have friends who have twins, and one thing they told us was to get them on a schedule. Feed them at the same time, otherwise they would be waking us up all night. So if one woke up to eat, we would wake up the other one to eat as well,” Kristy explains.

Even with all the support from family and church and great advice, it was sometimes overwhelming to be a stay-at-home mom of twins; there was definitely a learning curve. Once, Kristy took her babies with her to stock up on a diaper sale at the supermarket. “I was carrying one in a sling, and then I carried the car seat into the store for the other one. Well, the car seat wouldn’t even fit in the shopping cart, so here I had one baby I was holding, and carrying the other one in his seat in my other hand, and then I was trying to get a big box of diapers…” She trails off and laughs. “You know, it’s trying to figure out the logistics of it all.”

Tyler, Kate, Jackson, Ford and Truitt at their Uncle Steve and Aunt Dana’s house. The triplets were 5 months old and the twins 3 and half.

Once they were mobile, the twins sometimes got into a little mischief together, playing off of each other’s curiosity and adventurousness. But Kristy and Clay remained patient and loving, and soon they began to consider welcoming another child into their family.

The Van Meters consulted with their doctor to see if it was advisable, considering the health complications that had come from Kristy’s pregnancy with the twins. The doctor said that complications were more likely to occur with multiples and first pregnancies, so he thought that chances of complications would decrease with Kristy’s second pregnancy. “He felt it was probably fine to get pregnant again,” Kristy says.

It wasn’t long before Kristy did get pregnant a second time; the couple was thrilled and excited. “I remember thinking, ‘This must be what it is like to have a single pregnancy.’” She pauses and laughs. “Little did we know! During our first ultrasound I immediately saw two sacs, and I uttered a little too loudly, ‘Are we having twins again?’ The doctor replied gently, ‘Right now there are three babies in there.’ Clay got white and real quiet. I started laughing and crying at the same time. Clay kept patting me and saying, ‘Everything’s going to be fine, everything’s going to be fine.’ We were so shocked!”

Clay and Kristy are not only great partners but also best friends!

This, too, was a risky pregnancy. The doctors were very watchful and cautioned Clay and Kristy that they could lose one, two or even all three. “Although we didn’t plan for triplets, once we saw all three heartbeats on the ultrasound screen, we were pulling for each one,” Kristy says.

Kristy, a petite woman, was on bed rest prior to the birth of their identical twin sons, Tyler and Ford, and a daughter, Kate, on January 20, 2004. Again Kristy was in ICU for four days after the triplets’ delivery. This time a heart condition—cardio myopathy, resulting from the way her heart had enlarged during the pregnancy—nearly took her life.

“I almost died after delivery,” she says matter-of-factly, adding lightly, “Clay was very happy I didn’t leave him with all those kids.”

Once more friends, church members and family rallied around this sudden family of seven with support, food, attention. Because Kristy was still healing from her heart issues and couldn’t get out of bed, friends and family contributed time and money, hiring night-sitters and enlisting church members to help stay through the night with the infants. “We were very blessed by that,” Kristy says emphatically.

After she’d healed, Kristy began scaling a new learning curve—this time as the mother of two sets of multiples. For a while when the babies were little, Kristy recalls, she and Clay “just did what we had to do, dealing with whatever was needed at the moment… it was like triage.” And when the babies grew into toddlers, the couple found that the challenges of parenting them evolved, too.

The Van Meters’ 2012 Christmas card photo taken at Starr’s Mill. Back from left: Ford, Kate & Tyler. Front: Truitt and Jackson

“When the triplets came, we actually turned our dining room into a play room, and we gated it off. Well, they would climb the gate. They would even climb over each other to get over the gate,” laughs Kristy. “And we had them in a nursery together—two cribs foot to head, a changing table next to it, and a third crib on the other side of the room. Well, they learned how to climb from crib to crib, and they would use the changing table as a bridge to get into each other’s beds. It was a little crazy.” Kristy and Clay solved that problem by installing crib tents, and later turning the tents backward once the babies figured out how to open them. “You have to get a little creative,” she says with a laugh.

“Creative” also included using duct tape to fasten diapers after the babies figured out how to pull them off, as well as painting one of the twins’ toenails with blue polish to be able to tell him apart from his identical brother.

Despite the challenges, though, having twins before triplets had its advantages. “When you have two kids, you can go man-to-man defense, but when you have more than two, you have to go zone,” Clay jokes. “I think having the twins prepared us to ‘go zone’ with the triplets.”

Parenting two sets of multiples came with other unique challenges, such as managing the individual needs of each child; early on, Kristy recognized that each child must be parented differently. “All of our children are very spirited.” She laughs and adds, “That’s more positive than saying they are strong-willed.” She and Clay balance being strict with being loving and flexible. “Most of our rules fall under respect—respect people, respect property. Show people you value them.”

It’s been nearly a decade since those sometimes-chaotic first years, and life has calmed down; the twins are now 12 years old, and the triplets are nine. “It still requires a lot from us, but the things we need to do are different,” Kristy says, also pointing out that like any other mother, she learns as she goes.

“In grad school I was a nanny for two families, so I thought I knew something about parenting,” she says with a wry smile. “But it is so different when they’re your own children. I thought I’d be a better disciplinarian, and I thought I’d have more energy. Like many families, we have great philosophies behind everything we do for our children, but I often wonder how good we are at implementing them. Parenting is so humbling. I think it is a huge refinement process for me.”

The days are busy but rewarding for Kristy.

And of course, like all moms, Kristy has her moments. “God gives me the strength for each day and that all sounds very noble,” she says, “but when I’m in the trenches of the day, that is not always my mindset.” When she begins to feel stressed, she might take a personal “timeout” and go to her room, walk outside and take a deep breath, phone a friend, or simply pray.

Although Kristy claims that she’s not as organized as she’d like, her children have an effective routine in place: a designated place for all of their school papers; the routine of having an after-school snack, followed by homework; the habit of having clothes laid out the night before school; and a chore chart that designates each child’s duties to help make the house run smoothly.

However, she says, “Keeping an orderly house is one of my struggles. For a long time, I’d beat myself up if I didn’t have a clean house or felt I wasn’t organized enough. But I’ve learned to say, ‘That’s okay.’ There are just some things I can’t pull off.”

And having an intimate understanding of the struggle to find balance as a mom has given her a unique perspective. “I know that it’s important that I give grace to people because I require so much of it,” Kristy says. “As women and mothers we need to give ourselves a lot of grace and extend it to other women. We can’t do it all.”

Despite her busy life, Kristy still makes the time to reach out and help others; just as she gives so generously to her family, she extends that giving to others outside her home.

Both Carolyn Mayo and Joanne Harman, Kristy’s close friends, can’t say enough about her big-hearted spirit. “Her giving always starts with deep insights into the person and their needs,” says Joanne. “She is always thinking and giving outside of herself.”

Carolyn adds, “She will rearrange her life to help someone and I’ve seen her do it. I think her counseling background has a lot to do with it. People will call her when life is hard. They know she can be trusted.”

“Many of us have good intentions,” Carolyn continues, “but she follows through. She shows up with a box of cupcakes or puts a gift on your doorstep. She is amazing.”

Kristy and Clay at Watersound Beach, summer 2012, with their family and with Kristy’s parents, Ken and Patsy Cobb, her sister and brother-in-law, Holly and Jonathan Lucenary and their daughters. Kristy and Clay’s extended family on both sides are very important to them.

Kristy’s younger sister, Holly Lucenay, agrees that Kristy does a lot for her and others. “She is always looking to the needs of others. She has a heart for everybody and anybody.”

Kristy modestly shrugs it off when asked about her giving spirit. She simply says, “That’s the way we were raised. Our parents were always very generous in serving other people and I think I picked that up from them.”

And then, even more unassumingly, she adds, “Sometimes I think my giving is kind of selfish on my part because it brings me so much joy. It is kind of a break for me. It is something I can do outside of my daily routine.”

With a life filled with family, what in the world does Kristy like to do if she has a rare moment to herself? “I love to read, and I often stay up later than I should reading after everyone else has gone to bed,” she admits.

She also enjoys taking photos of her half-dozen, camera-ready family members in action, capturing precious moments and memories. And, reaffirming her love for others, she says she likes to invest time in her close relationships. “That is very important to me,” Kristy says, “and I want to show people more hospitality by having them to my home—even if it isn’t perfect.”

What does Kristy see in the future for her personally? Eyes twinkling, she quickly notes that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. That said, she envisions using her acting skills in community theater. In addition, when her children are older, she would like to use her counseling background and minister to others. And, she quickly adds, “I’d like to write. My dream is to write fiction, but I don’t know if that will ever come to fruition.”

Whatever the future holds, Kristy’s starring role in her family’s story keeps her life full and happy, and she’ll continue to teach her five understudies how to perform and attain their own places on life’s stages. And by her side is her husband, who never misses an opportunity to give her an ovation.

“No matter how long the day gets, no matter how many sick children she has at one time, no matter how loud the house gets, she remains the loving, genuine, wise, edifying, humble woman she has always been,” says Clay. “I know that other people have even questioned if she is too good to be true… and I am grateful to know and say that she is as ‘real’ and genuine as any person can be.”

 

“Thank-Yous” Every Father Should Hear

fathers day

On Sunday, June 16th—otherwise known as Father’s Day—dads around America will receive ties, tools, and other “toys” from their children. Sure, those gifts (as well as cards, visits, and family meals) are a great way to let Pops know that you love him and that you’re glad he’s part of your life. But according to Todd Patkin, as you and he get older, there’s an even better way to honor your dad on Father’s Day: Tell him thank you and mean it.

“All parents are different, but one thing they have in common is that they want the best for their children,” says Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, www.findinghappinessthebook.com). “As a father myself, I can tell you that while we all make mistakes from time to time, we genuinely do our best to help our kids to be capable, responsible, and fulfilled adults.”

Because our parents tend to be such constant presences in our lives, says Patkin, we often take them—and everything they’ve done for us—for granted. Father’s Day is the perfect time to think about all of the ways in which your dad has impacted your life, and hopefully, give him the gift of heartfelt thanks.

“I know that stereotypically speaking, men aren’t supposed to be very ‘touchy-feely,’” Patkin admits. “But I promise you, when it comes to your kids, all of those rules go out the window. I cherish every ‘I love you,’ ‘thanks,’ and genuine smile I’ve ever gotten from my son. It’s incredibly heartwarming and fulfilling to hear directly from your child that he or she thinks you’ve done a good job as a parent.”

Here, Patkin shares eleven “thank-yous” that might just make your own dad’s Father’s Day perfect:

• Thank you for almost always making time to come to my games, concerts, and awards ceremonies. I know you were under pressure and busy a lot of the time, so your priorities taught me that family and relationships are always more important than work and outside achievements.

• Thank you for supporting me when I decided I’d rather be in the school band than play basketball. The fact that you clapped loudest at our concert let me know unequivocally that you love me for who I am—especially since you were the star point guard during your own high school days!

• Thank you for making me help with yard work and home improvement projects on the weekends. I may not have enjoyed it at the time, but you taught me the value of hard work. Because of you, I take pride in a job well done, no matter how large or small!

• Thank you for teaching me to ride a bike, and especially for encouraging me to get back up and try again when I fell. I learned that persistence and practice pay off, and that the results can be fantastic!

• Thank you for coaching my YMCA sports teams. You showed me what good sportsmanship looks like and taught me why it’s important to shake hands after every game, even if we lost! In all aspects of my adult life, I know how to lose (and win!) with grace because of you, Dad. And even though I’ve aged out of Little League, I also exercise on a regular basis and try to stay physically fit.

• Thank you for disciplining me and telling me why you were disappointed. I certainly didn’t enjoy being punished, but now I have a strong set of core values and a firm sense of right and wrong.

• Thank you for teaching me how to drive and for remaining patient throughout the process—I know I wasn’t always the nicest student. Now I can merge, parallel park, and back like a pro. (But I’m still trying to beat your least-number-of-stops-on-the-way-to-the-beach record!)

• Thank you for showing me that there’s a difference between being aggressively confrontational and being politely firm. Because of you I stick to my convictions and don’t let others take advantage of me while remaining respectful.

• Thank you for making executive decisions on everything from where to eat dinner to when to leave the neighbors’ holiday party to which movie to watch on family night. These examples may seem insignificant, but over the years you taught me the value of knowing your mind and acting decisively. You saved me a lot of waffling, hemming, and hawing!

• Thank you for always treating Mom with respect, patience, love, and sometimes a little mischievousness. You taught me how to treat someone you love and what a strong marriage looks like. Now I have a great relationship—and a lot of fun—with my own partner.

And for men specifically, Patkin suggests this acknowledgment:

• Thank you for teaching me the “essentials” like how to tie a tie, iron a crease into slacks, shine my shoes, and shave. While I might not put all of those skills to use every day, I always take pride in my appearance…and I think I do “clean up” nicely!

“Whether you write your own personalized thank-yous in a card or share them with your dad in person, you can rest assured that this will be a Father’s Day he’ll remember forever,” Patkin concludes.

# # #

About the Author:
Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In, Twelve Weeks to Finding Happiness: Boot Camp for Building Happier People, and The Sunny Days Secret: A Guide for Finding Happiness (coming 2014), grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.

 

Cruise for a Cure! Relay for Life – Fri May 17th

cancer ribbon

Want to go on a cruise that you don’t have to worry about getting seasick or being stuck at sea?Then join us on Friday, May 17th as we go “Cruisin’ For A Cure” with the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Fayette County.This year’s Relay For Life event is being held at Fayette County High School’s Football Stadium from 4:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.Our Cruise Director, Zach Stutts, has lined up a fun entertainment schedule with the Torch of Hope starting at 6:15 p.m., leading into our Opening Ceremonies at 6:45.Other events that you won’t want to miss include the Dollar Dude and Divas as they try to buy themselves a title by gathering the most donations from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and the lighting of our torches and luminaria starting at 9:15.Our Survivor Activity Director, Emily Stastny, has been busy coordinating with Piedmont Hospital’s Cancer Wellness Center to have fun activities for all of our survivors from 4:00 p.m. until 9:15 p.m. with a break for the Opening Ceremonies.We are thankful to all of our sponsors that help us put on this wonderful event, but want to especially thank Pain Care of Georgia and Piedmont Hospital for being our major sponsors.

Be dazzled as you get to meet our local Relay Celebrities:Lisa Hedenstrom, our 2013 Honorary Chair, and Ken Williams and Ryann Hayes, our 2013 Relay Ambassadors.Be starstruck as you spot our amazing “Dollar Dudes and Divas” strut their stuff to try to get your dollars/votes to win the crown.Have fun as you participate in games, have a chance to “Dunk a friend” in the dunk booth, jump in the jumpy Castle, and do as many other activities you can fit in.Let out your belt as you sample the culinary delights that are sure to be there:chocolate covered strawberries, popcorn, hotdogs, sodas, chips, bbq, baked goods, and much, much more.Visit exciting ports of calls and purchase souvenirs.Be a part of the touching Luminaria Ceremony as we honor all our cancer survivors and remember all of those we have lost to cancer.All of this fun can be yours for a few dollars, if you join us as we go “Cruisin’ For A Cure!”

It’s not too late to register a team, register as a survivor, or to make a donation.Go to www.relayforlife.org/fayettecountyga to find out more information.You can also call Jennifer, our Senior Community Manager, at the local American Cancer Society office at 301 Kelly Drive, Suite 3, Peachtree City, GA 30269, at 770-632-6932.If you have any questions about the American Cancer Society, please go to their website at www.cancer.org or call the 24 hour telephone line at 1-800-227-2345.

Centre Masterworks Youth Chorale Traveling to Scotland

Newnan Mayor Keith Brady presents CMYC Director Millie Lanier Turek with an official invitation to CMYC to represent Newnan in a cultural exchange with sister city Ayr, Scotland, in June of 2014.

On Saturday night, May 4, Masterworks Chorale presented its final concert of the season, “Music of the Big Band Era,” featuring guest band “Still Swinging” and the Centre Masterworks Youth Chorale. At the concert, Newnan Mayor Keith Brady presented CMYC’s director, Millie Lanier Turek, with an official invitation to CMYC to represent Newnan in a cultural exchange with sister city Ayr, Scotland, in June of 2014. The request came from the Coweta Cultural Arts Commission.

Newnan Mayor Keith Brady presents CMYC Director Millie Lanier Turek with an official invitation to CMYC to represent Newnan in a cultural exchange with sister city Ayr, Scotland, in June of 2014.

The CMYC is a newly formed community youth chorale of auditioned young singers with unchanged treble voices. Their age range is 9-14, and they are all outstanding members of their school choirs. The group began in September of 2012 with sponsorship from the Masterworks Chorale (directed by Kathy Bizarth) and the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts of Coweta County (managed and directed by Don Nixon).

The young singers have worked hard to establish an advanced community children’s choir. In its first year, the choir performed in the Masterworks holiday concert in December, attended the Vienna Boy Choir performance at the Centre, presented a children’s choir workshop to local elementary choruses, and completed their inaugural season with a performance of American musical genres, swing and jazz, at the “Music of the Big Band Era” concert on May 4. They rehearse once a week for two hours at Newnan First United Methodist Church.

As the CMYC wishes to accept the invitation to Scotland, they are looking to increase in number.

“We are currently searching to find the most talented and enthusiastic young singers in the area to add to our group,” said Turek, the group’s founder and director. “This is such an incredible opportunity for musically gifted young people to come together and not only take their love of music to the next level, but have an amazing educational travel experience as well.”

The CMYC will spend next season preparing music of American genres and origins and music with Scottish influences to share with the citizens of Ayr.

Parents of young singers interested in auditioning for the group can visit the CMYC website for audition information at www.cmychorale.com.

Auditions will be held by appointment at the Centre on May 16 and May 28, 2013, and will include students wishing to be a part of the Scotland trip as well as those who want to be members of the CMYC but not go on the trip. To schedule an audition, email Millie Turek now at cmychorale@gmail.com

Adults who wish to sing with the Masterworks Chorale for next season can call 770-846-8278 to schedule an audition by appointment. For more information, visit Masterworkscommunitychorale.com.

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7 Ways to Honor Earth Day

earth day 2

Earth Day is a reminder to honor our planet, to treat it with love, respect and kindness. Author and positive living speaker Diane Lang does a lot of talking about being kind to others, but this day is dedicated to taking care of our environment. Make a difference on this important day and help make this world a better place for both humans and animals.  Lang offers seven tips to make a difference on this day and help make this wo rld a better place for both humans and animals.

1. Make is a community clean up day. This is a great way to have the whole family spend quality time together while helping the planet. A great way to teach the kids about their environment. It’s a simple activity; just go out into your local community and clean it up.

2. Create a compost with all your food scraps. This could be done at home or in school. You can have all the kids take their lunch scraps and start a compost in the school yard. It’s an educational way to save the planet.

3. Make the little things count. Do the everyday things we should do but forget such as recycle, shut off the lights and leaky faucets. Use energy saving bulbs, don’t drive if you can walk.

4. Just grow it. Grow your own veggies and/or go to your local farmers market where you can support your local farmers also. It’s a win-win.

5. The oldie but goodie idea. Plant a tree as a family activity, suggest it to your child’s school, or do both!

6. Make it a day of education. Teach your kids all about planet earth and treating it kindly. Keep it simple but give them different ways they can make a difference like helping their parents with gardening, turning off their lights in their bedroom, taking shorter showers, recycling, etc. Make it fun!

7. Make it a day to donate or reuse. Use cloth napkins or diapers, take clothes you don’t wear anymore and bring it to the Salvation Army or good will, etc.

“The most important tip I can give is to make Earth Day an every day event. We can make a difference,” says Lang.

Diane Lang – Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist – is a nationally recognized speaker, author, educator, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living as well as multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs. In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University. Diane is also the author of two books: “Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career” and “Creating Balance and Finding Happiness.”

Mother of the Year — Enter by April 23!

14650-mothersday-artwork

Should someone you know be Mother of the Year? Let us know! The deadline for Fayette County’s 11th annual Mother of the Year Contest, coordinated by The Citizen newspapers and Fayette Woman magazine, is midnight April 23.

Valuable prize packages for three winning moms are provided this year by Atlanta Market Furniture & Accessories, Atlanta Range & Ordnance, Bedazzled Flower Shop, Carla’s Dance Factory, Cosmedical Spa, heart is found photography, Massage Envy Spa, Merle Norman — Peachtree City, Mucklow’s Fine Jewelry, Sister’s Sweet Creations, Smith & Davis, and the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center.

If you know someone who should be named “Mother of the Year” tell us why in an essay of 500 words or less. Email your nomination to: bestmoms@fayettewoman.com.

Be sure to include:

• Your name and contact information;

• Mother’s name, age, address and contact information (winning moms must be residents of Fayette County);

• A photo of the mother nominated; and

• Why this person should be recognized as a “Mother of the Year.”

Winners will be selected from three age categories.

The most important thing to know about this contest is that if you don’t enter, you can’t win. Three moms are going to have a very nice Mothers’ Day. Why not yours?

Nominations for younger moms are sometimes lacking. There aren’t a lot of young children who write to us, but there are lot of under-40 moms who deserve to have their stories told. Please think of your friends, wives and daughters in this age category and let us know about them too. Don’t forget the under-40 moms who deserve to have their stories told. Please think of your friends, wives and daughters in this age category and let us know about them too.

Backyard Chickens in PTC?

chickens

Campaign Underway to Bring Backyard Chickens to Peachtree City

It was really just a fluke that got Peachtree City resident Julee Smilley keeping chickens: a friend was moving and could not find a place for her four pullets (young hens). Julee offered to find them a new home, but she soon became charmed by the colorful hens with appealing personalities, so she gave them names and decided to keep them. She and her husband, Richard, assembled an inexpensive chicken coop they had purchased online and set them up to live in her garden. For 18 months, the Smilleys enjoyed the benefits of their chicken companions and the fresh eggs they provided, but then they were “busted” by Peachtree City for breaking the zoning ordinance that prohibits keeping chickens.

Although chicken-keeping has been around for centuries, it is being rediscovered in urban gardens as people seek to “get back to their roots” and become more self-sufficient. While keeping chickens is now a popular trend, the practice had been out of fashion in previous decades as the emphasis moved to factory-raised chickens, warehoused in incredibly crowded and unsanitary conditions (not to mention cruel). It took trend-setter Martha Stewart to recapture the public’s interest in chicken-keeping when she featured her flock of rare-breed chickens and their colorful eggs in her books and magazine publications. She presented her chickens as family companions with endearing personalities that actually produce something worthwhile and beneficial.

Chickens in Peachtree City…Oh My!

Although she had to find another home for her hens, Julee has not given up on the idea of keeping chickens in Peachtree City and has spent the last few months doing research on the subject. Believe it or not, residents of the city of Atlanta can keep chickens, and other communities, including Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Roswell, Decatur and Duluth, have been successful in passing chicken-keeping ordinances.

On many Saturdays, you will find Julee at the Peachtree City Farmers Market talking to interested residents about keeping chickens. She is amazed at the positive response and already has collected over 300 signatures on a petition that she hopes to present to the City Council to show the support for chicken-keeping in the community.

Rather than working to change the zoning ordinance right away, Julee is requesting the City Council approve a two-year pilot program to test the feasibility of chicken-keeping in Peachtree City. Other cities, including Bonita Springs, Florida, have implemented successful pilot programs. Under the program, a limited number of Peachtree City families will be able to apply for a permit to set up coops and keep a small number of chickens. Selected families will agree to guidelines regulating the program, including the exclusion of roosters, creating setbacks from neighbors’ property, setting maximize size for coop area and allowing Peachtree City Zoning Department to check on the hen houses. Chicken-keepers will be encouraged to invite their neighbors to “make friends” with their chicks and to help educate the public about the benefits of keeping hens by participating in a “coop tour” – much like a home or garden tour.

Myths about keeping chickens

“There’s too much fear and not enough facts known about keeping chickens,” Julee contends. Contrary to popular belief, chickens are not dirty, smelly creatures when owners limit their number and consistently clean the coop and compost the manure. Noise is another perceived problem, but while roosters can make a bit of racket, they are not allowed in chicken-keeping programs and are not necessary for laying eggs. Dogs are much louder than hens, which make softer clucking sounds and are roosting in their coop when the sun goes down. Hens will not attract predators when the rules are followed to provide a predator-proof, enclosed coop area. And rather than being an eyesore, chicken coops have become charming focal points in the garden.

Benefits of keeping chickens

Chickens make great pets. They come in stunning colors and have appealing and quirky personalities. And you get the bonus of fresh and flavorful eggs! During the short time Julee kept her hens, she became more connected to her neighbors as she shared her bounty of eggs.

“Neighborhood kids were particularly fascinated by my hens and loved to help with their feeding,” recalls Julee. “There is a marked difference in the taste and nutritional value of fresh eggs and growing your own fruits and vegetables, and keeping chickens is a way to have some control over what you eat.”

Chicken manure and egg shells are loaded with nutrients, and when added to the compost bin, will become a wonderful soil amendment that your plants will love. Chickens also help control insect problems and weeds in the landscape by eating many garden weeds and pests, including beetles, grubs and ants.

For more information about keeping chickens or to sign Julee’s petition to start a chicken-keeping pilot program in Peachtree City, contact Julee Smilley at chicks4ptc@comcast.net.

 

 

 

Remembering Loved Ones on Your Wedding Day

remembering loved ones

It’s the joyous occasion you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little girl: your wedding day. But, as the special approaches, perhaps you’re also feeling a tinge of sadness as you think of loved ones who will not be in attendance — those who have passed. Many brides have found meaningful ways to remember loved ones who have held a special place in their lives and hearts. Be it a parent, sibling, or grandparent, there are lots of ways to honor the deceased in your wedding ceremony or reception to make it something everyone will appreciate and remember.

Memorial Candles One of the easiest ways to remember a loved one is to light a memorial candle near the front of the church. You can also ask the officiant to speak a few words about your loved one or recite a favorite scripture or poem. If you choose to have a wedding program, you can include verbiage about the memorial candle and the person it honors.

Keepsake Charms Charms are the perfect choice if you want to keep your tribute low key. You can either carry or wear a special charm that reminds you of your loved one or, my personal favorite, fasten a small picture of them to your bouquet. You can find vintage-looking charms that allow you to insert a small picture at craft stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. Not only will you have carried your loved one throughout the ceremony, but you will also have created a beautiful family keepsake to be cherished for generations.

The Empty Seat If your missing loved one is your mother or father, consider leaving his or her seat empty in the front row along the aisle. As you walk by, you can place a flower from your bouquet on the seat. Because this can make for an emotionally charged moment, it is not for every bride. Remember, above all else, your wedding day should be happy. If the empty seat evokes too much sadness, opt for something else.

The Wedding Program Guests love a wedding program. Through it, they get to know your family and friends, so it makes sense to include the deceased here as well. In fact, even if you are doing any of the above remembrances, it’s still a good idea to include mention of them in the program. It allows your guests to fully experience the occasion with you and they will appreciate the sweet token of remembrance.

Photo Display Create a display of treasured photos of your loved one. Arrange them prominently on a table near the guest book or wherever guests enter the church or reception hall. You won’t be able to display all of your photos, so pick a few favorites. If they are small, scan and enlarge them to 5×7 and 8×10 sizes. Shop discount stores for unique frames. Mix and match them for added interest. Guests are guaranteed to stop, look, linger, and remember with you.

Post Wedding Tribute A private graveside tribute can be a special moment for you and your new husband. Take your bouquet, or a specially designated bouquet or corsage, and place it on your loved one’s grave after the wedding. Alternatively, if you have a church wedding, you can donate your altar flowers for Sunday services in memory of your loved ones.

However you decide to remember your loved ones is up to you. Don’t let well-meaning family members pressure you into doing something you aren’t comfortable with. Most importantly, relax and know that your loved ones will be with you in spirit, smiling down on you on your joyous day.

10 Family Travel Tips

family trip

Spring is almost here, and summer is right around the corner! This means increased family travel and fun with the kids. Here are 10 family travel tips:

  1. Pack light – this might not sound easy when we are used to overflowing diaper bags, but with the Babee Covee, a new baby blanket and cover that is six uses in one, you can save a ton of space but have all what you need with a little one in tow. Not to mention the time you will save from packing or turning back to the house when you forgot something.
  2. Always have wipes – use them for everything…from cleaning the usual suspects of diapers to hands and the unexpected mess on you, on them or in the car. I don’t leave home without them.
  3. Bring snacks – for the fussy child or the adult, it’s always better to have a snack to stay on track. Hungry people get cranky; snacks will help avoid this.
  4. Have a box of “tricks” – before going on any travel whether by car or plane, I always head to the $1 store to grab a whole bunch of stuff. So, when necessary, I can give the kids something new and exciting. When you arrive at your destination pack the tricks away so on the return home the toys will be exciting still!
  5. Layer up – you can never predict the weather so it’s always good to have a few layers to take you from morning until night. It’s much easier to take off than to not have enough. Being cold is not fun for anyone.
  6. Charge up – when all else fails, hand your child your phone. Be sure to have a backup battery or charger. There are a ton of smart phone apps that kids can play with too depending on their age.
  7. Use GPS – especially when traveling far, it’s best to know where you are going than to guess. Kids can’t wait to arrive so avoid lengthening the trip by not getting lost.
  8. Bring a friend — the more the merrier so if you can plan a trip with others, do so. Then, you can create lasting family memories together.
  9. Be comfortable – you’re traveling not going on an interview!
  10. Have fun! You are with your family, enjoy them! Life is too precious.

To interview Alma Moussa, Co-Inventor of the trendy must have baby item, Babee Covee, please contact Tasha Mayberry at media@babeecovee.com or call 207.317.6099.

Your Post-Baby Bloom: 9 Resolutions for Renewal

mom and baby

Your Post-Baby Bloom: Nine Spring Resolutions for Renewing and Refreshing Yourself

If the winter winds have been howling outside (while your baby is howling inside), you might be experiencing a touch of the winter blues. After several weeks or months of caring for your new arrival, it’s easy to become stuck in a rut of wearing warm, baggy clothes and staying indoors. And as you contemplate the coming arrival of spring (it’s just around the corner!), you may feel like you are coming out of hibernation, a little sluggish and sleepy-eyed, wondering how to get into the swing of things again.

Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes knows how you feel. Realizing that you exist as an individual can come as a shock as you gradually emerge from “newborn fog,” and focusing on personal renewal as you move into life as a mom can feel like a bridge too far.

“As you spend so much of your time and energy taking care of a baby—and possibly other children—the idea of starting a new phase for yourself can feel overwhelming,” acknowledges Ivana, who is a featured blogger at Modern Mom, founder of Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, and coauthor of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. “Don’t get hung up on the idea of major overhaul; take small steps instead. Little changes can make a surprisingly big impact. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s important to feel good about yourself, because that’s what will make you the best mother.”

Ivana points out that spring, which is naturally a time of growth, change, and renewal, is a wonderful time to start freshening yourself up.

“Start to plan some spring resolutions,” she recommends. “For me, they make more sense than New Year’s resolutions because springtime is what really feels like the new year. With more hours of sunlight, warmer weather, and vibrant colors to brighten your days, you’ll naturally feel more energized and motivated to refresh yourself and re-enter the world, baby in tow.”

Here are nine of Ivana’s spring resolutions that will help make your winter doldrums a thing of the past while you begin to blossom as a mom:

Take a step (or two, or three, or more!) toward change. If you’re disappointed to see that last spring’s wardrobe doesn’t quite fit the way you want, don’t worry: You’re normal. Most of us tend to put on winter weight in general. (Did you know that you actually need more calories to keep warm in colder weather?) And with a new baby, your body was bound to change shape regardless of the temperature.

“Instead of vowing to start a huge new exercise routine, which, of course, you don’t have time for, I suggest developing a new attitude instead,” Ivana shares. “First, accentuate the positives! Look into the mirror and say, ‘Hey, you’re looking pretty good for the end of the winter.’ Then, start burning calories in baby steps. Promise yourself a ten-minute routine in the mornings; maybe a simple, fun dance DVD that gets you moving for the day. As you build up stamina, you may want to lengthen your routine. And if time is in short supply, remember, a ten-minute workout is better than none.

“You might also try to find ways to work out with your kids,” she continues. “With warmer weather and sunny days ahead, load up the stroller and hit the local park or walking trail. Find a mommy-and-me yoga class, or have older and more mobile little ones do the dance DVD with you. Whatever you choose, take plenty of moments to honor your progress with a big ‘Way to go!’”

Spring clean your closet. (And be sure to include a dose of color therapy!) If you’ve recently had a baby, then you may be living in wardrobe limbo. The clothes from last spring don’t fit the way they should (and might not be suited to nursing anyway!), but you’re sick of wearing the drapey, frumpy winter clothes that have been hiding the leftover baby weight. What better time than now to “spring clean” your closet? Take an inventory of what you have, what doesn’t work for you anymore, and what you’d like to purchase. Clean out any pieces that you know you won’t wear anymore, even after you’ve reached a goal weight—like that skimpy number you wore on your honeymoon five years ago. Start thinking about ways to reinvent the pieces you keep.

“It’s perfectly okay to go out and buy some new pieces that actually fit you now,” Ivana assures. “Don’t spend the entire spring and summer season in clothes that don’t fit or don’t make you feel good just because you are ‘waiting to lose the weight.’ Invest in some fun new accessories and shoes to spice up existing basics. Trust me; when your clothes fit and you feel put together, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.

“As you’re punching up your wardrobe with new pieces, bear in mind that colors affect our moods,” Ivana adds. “Whether we had babies or not, most of us have spent the past several months covered up head-to-toe in heavy grays, blacks, and browns. Chances are, you’re more than ready to turn to vibrant high-energy colors like pinks, greens, yellows, oranges, and blues for an instant boost. So try out a new color that makes you pop. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Go for a simple t-shirt, new lip color, or nail polish.”

Get outside and play. Admit it: After short days, cold temperatures, and the need for your schedule to revolve around a newborn, you’re more than ready to leave your house. As soon as possible, take advantage of the warmer weather and longer daylight hours to reconnect with your body.

“Go for walks,” Ivana urges. “Spend more time at the playground with your children. Act like French moms, who have their own playtime on the benches talking with each other, while their kids run wild and are forced to fend for themselves. Amazingly, this works! (For more on laissez-faire parenting, see my blog at http://www.modernmom.com/blogs/princess-ivana-pignatelli/laissez-faire-parenting.) And remember, in addition to the benefits of getting your body moving, you’ll also be absorbing more vitamin D from the sun. It can help regulate your immune system, boost your mood, and more.”

Try something new you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s trying out a dance class or yoga, exploring a new park, or just giving yourself permission to do something you want to do (like hiring a sitter and getting a massage!), put your own desires first every once in awhile. “If you try something new and don’t like it, drop it and find something that’s more your speed,” Ivana comments. “Enjoyment—of life, of yourself, of your surroundings—is the key to springtime renewal.”

Eat more fresh foods. With a new baby at home (and all the work, irregular hours, and exhaustion that entails), you’ve probably been in survival mode this winter. While there’s nothing wrong with eating take-out and casseroles brought over by family and friends as you adjust to the new normal, now’s a great time to freshen up your diet with healthier choices. Remember, good nutrition affects mood, energy, and beauty.

“Take advantage of the spring harvest with delicious beauty foods like asparagus, strawberries, and cherries,” Ivana recommends. “Asparagus is known as the ultimate detox vegetable. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, which produces collagen and prevents wrinkles. Cherries are considered both a brain and beauty food, with some of the highest levels of antioxidants of all fruits.

“In general, you might consider planting a small herb container garden so that you’ll have fresh seasonings all summer long,” Ivana says. “Spend a Saturday morning enjoying the spring weather with your new little family as you stroll through a local farmers’ market. And remember, becoming healthier doesn’t have to mean a total diet overhaul. Integrating new, fresh ingredients a little at a time can make a big difference!”

Laugh and reconnect. If you’ve been cooped up all winter with a newborn at home (and/or stuck inside with kids as you try to avoid cold and flu season!), then it may be time to reconnect with friends. Try to make a weekly or monthly date with your girlfriends—and keep it.

“We moms tend to be overly obligatory to responsibility, and under-obligatory to fun,” Ivana observes. “But without a good dose of fun and laughter, life gets dull, and so do we. Moms, we owe it to ourselves to book fun into our busy schedules.”

Make regular dates for mama maintenance. With a newborn at home or little ones taking up most of your schedule, it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside—and before you know it, you wake up one day and hardly recognize the frazzled, frumpy woman staring back at you in the mirror!

“Take some time to catch up on appointments for yourself,” Ivana suggests. “It doesn’t have to be an all-out spa day. (Although if that falls within the limits of your time and budget, I say go for it!) Get your hair trimmed and your color touched up. Get a manicure and pedicure. Schedule a facial or a massage. Even a trip to the dentist for your bi-annual cleaning can work wonders when it comes to feeling refreshed, energized, and more like you again.”

Renew your vow to drink more water. If you’ve traded your daily water intake for coffee and caffeine (and who can blame you?), then it may be time to make a conscious effort to work water back into your daily routine. H2O is good for your skin, muscles, and energy levels, and it can even marginally help your weight-loss efforts. (Of course, the real benefits come from replacing sugary beverages with water.) And if you’re breastfeeding, it’s worth noting that staying hydrated is a great way to maintain or even increase your supply of milk.

“Yes, drinking the recommended eight glasses a day is much easier said than done,” Ivana admits. “Again, baby steps are the way to go! You might start by drinking water after every caffeinated beverage, for example. Or gulp a whole glass each time you brush your teeth! Over time, these habits will become hardwired into your routine.”

Spark up a spring fling (with your spouse!). If the last few months have revolved around feeding schedules, diaper duty, and discussions of who got up with the baby last, then it’s likely that the new roles of “mom” and “dad” have put your other roles as “wife,” “husband,” or “partner” on the back burner. Now’s the time to reconnect with your significant other and refresh your love. After all, your romance is the foundation on which your growing family is built, and it’s in everyone’s best interests for your relationship to remain strong, healthy, and exciting.

“If you’re not quite ready to leave your little one with a sitter for date night, set up a candlelight dinner at home, or better yet, take the baby monitor outside for a sunset picnic in the backyard,” Ivana says. “Buy a new dress that makes you feel sexy. Leave your man a love note in his briefcase. More than anything, make a conscious effort to talk about something that doesn’t have to do with the new baby (as hard as that may be!).”

“As the flowers and trees outside your window begin to bloom in the upcoming weeks, make every effort to join them,” Ivana concludes. “When you commit to tackling one small spring resolution at a time, you’ll be well on your way to blooming—both as an individual and as a mom—after welcoming your baby.”

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About Princess Ivana: Ivana is the author of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom. For more information, please visit www.princessivana.com.