West Georgia Health to host two sign-up events for Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Exchanges
LaGrange, GA — West Georgia Health, in partnership with Seedco, will host two upcoming events to provide information and sign-up assistance for individuals wanting to learn more about options under the Health Insurance Marketplace exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The LaGrange event is scheduled for Saturday, March 15, at the LaGrange Memorial Library at 115 Alford St., and the West Point event is scheduled for the following Saturday, March 22, at the West Point Gymnasium located at 1201 Ave. D. Both events, which are free, are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also will provide health screenings for blood pressure and blood sugar checks.
During these events, general information sessions will be offered and certified navigators will be onsite to assist residents with understanding and accessing the new system. The navigators will help attendees sort through the information available in the Georgia Health Online Marketplace, which offers Georgians a gateway to affordable healthcare.
Certified by the State of Georgia to provide confidential service, these navigators will help people evaluate their eligibility, inform them of available subsidies, compare options and enroll in the health insurance plan that best suits them.
To apply for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace and determine whether they are eligible for additional subsidies, attendees will need to provide information pertaining to themselves and their households relating to income, current insurance coverage and additional items. To complete the application onsite, attendees should bring:
- Social Security Number (or document numbers for legal immigrants).
- Employer and income information for every member in the household needing coverage (recent pay stubs or W-2 Forms – Wage and Tax Statements).
- Policy numbers for any current health insurance plans covering members of the household.
These events will provide last-chance opportunities to understand and sign up for coverage, as Open Enrollment to sign up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act ends on March 31, 2014. Information about the health plans is available at HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.
Husband, Father, Grandfather….and Monster Truck Driver, Ed Eckert
By Laura Erickson, editor, LaGrange Moms
© 2014 – Muscogee Moms LLC
LaGrange Moms recently had the opportunity to interview Ed Eckert, driver of the truck Fullboar for Monster Jam®. He is a husband, father, grandfather, and certified ASE mechanic when is he isn’t driving his truck in Monster Jam® events. He is also one of Monster Jam’s most ardent fans, even spending his free time watching other drivers when he is not driving.
Ed Eckert became interested in driving monster trucks while living where he spend his childhood: in Michigan. As a certified ASE mechanic, he knew everything he needed to know about cars and trucks. But he never thought about building or driving a monster truck until he and a friend hosted a car show for restored and collector’s cars. While searching for entertainment to provide during the show, they decided to bring in a monster truck driver to crush a car (not one of the show entries!). The driver offered to let Ed drive the truck, but knowing the high cost of the trucks, he declined. The driver offered again and again, and Ed finally agreed.
Once he hit the gas, the adrenaline rush overtook him. It was all over…..he knew what he wanted to do. So he set out to build his own monster truck. With his mechanical knowledge, skill, and perseverance, he was accepted into the Monster Jam® organization and has been driving for 13 years.
He enjoys warmer weather these days in Knoxville, TN after moving to be closer to his parents. He and his wife miss their grown children and grandchildren, who still live in Michigan, but technology keeps them in touch. And though he travels frequently with Monster Jam during parts of the year, he enjoys spending time at home with his wife of three years who was high high school sweetheart.
“I had a big crush on her in high school” recalls Eckert. “She was shy, and I was a talker with the gift of gab. I could never get close to her. We each went on to marry but neither worked out, and we found each other 24 years after high school. She shares my love of this sport and she supports me completely. She has a day job so she doesn’t always get to travel with me, but fortunately we work out some long weekends where she can join me on the road.”
They keep up with their children and grandchildren through visits and calls, and Eckert loves receiving videos of the grand kids. “At Christmas, I sent my two-year-old grandson a Hot Wheels toy version of my Fullboar truck, and my daughter sent me a video of him seeing it. He was running over all the other toys to get to it! He was so excited….I love watching that video over and over.”
Eckert is by far one of the Monster Jam® organization biggest supporters, and he doesn’t hide his passion for the sport. “It’s just so exhilarating! It’s so much fun that when I’m done driving, I come out and watch my buddies drive,” he says. “And if I’m not driving in an event, I’ll still go watch! Monster Jam® is absolutely the best of the best. Their top priority for everyone is safety, plus a great experience for the fans.”
He’s also a family man whose thoughts are even on the littlest fans. He recommends that when families come to a monster truck event, they bring earmuffs–not ear plugs– to protect sensitive little ears. Monster Jam® events are loud, and the noise can frighten younger fans, but when their ears are completely covered they can enjoy the event without being overwhelmed by the loud sounds.
Eckert’s driving talent was recognized when he received the 2008 Monster Jam Monster Jam Rising Star award. He and his bright yellow truck, Fullboar, are a big favorite among Monster Jam® fans. He will be driving in the competition Friday and Saturday at the Macon Centriplex. He also encourages fans to attend the Pit Party on Saturday for a chance to meet and take photos with drivers and their trucks.
If You Go:
What: Monster Jam®
When: Friday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, February 23 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Pit Party Saturday 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Where: Macon Centriplex Coliseum
Cost: Advance ticket prices start at $10 and go up to $30 per person; $2 more on day of show. Click here for complete details and to purchase tickets.
Duplication and/or publication without permission is strictly prohibited.
Please contact Charlotte Bowman, Muscogee Moms LLC, at
(706) 888-0260 or firstname.lastname@example.org for duplication/publication use.
Guest blog by Monica Cobis
He asked me what would happen to him if I died soon. I told him that he would live with his Dad. He wanted to know what would happen with the house. He says he loves this house and does not want to leave. He also asked about if I had a will and if anything would be left to him.
We talked for awhile and then he became quiet. I gently touched his face and wiped his tears away. He said, “Mom, I don’t want you to die.” I began to cry too. He asked me why, and I said that I would miss him very much and that I wanted him to remember how much I loved him. We held each other and he began to pray silently. I let him doze off before leaving his side.
I am not dying, but it made me ponder.
For Valentine’s Day, I have decided to write him, in penmanship, a love letter so that if I were to die suddenly, he would have something to hold onto. Love letters are tangible symbols of what we feel in our heart.
My hope is that my son will hold onto this letter long after I am gone and remember the love that I had for him. What love letter will you write this Valentine’s Day?
Monica Cobis, M.Ed. is an Academic Coach with Academic Life Coaching. She is a speaker, author and educational consultant. Her desire is to assist students and educational systems in creating successful and contributing future global leaders. She can be contacted at monica.cobis@
Guest Post by Carmen Overton, M.Ed, Right From the Start
Happy Valentine’s Day!
It’s that time of year again. Everywhere you turn is pink and red, chocolate, hearts, and candy. This year, instead of the usual box of assorted chocolates, make it a special time of celebration of your significant other and the love that you share.
Here are some Valentines Day date ideas to help keep things new and fresh!
- Make a book of all the things you love about your spouse and why you are thankful for him or her.
- Create a fun scavenger hunt around town. Let the clues lead to items that you placed somewhere or bought for him or her
- Hide love notes in his or her car, coat or pants pocket, or purse so they can find them throughout the day.
- Book a Spa day for two. Be relaxed, together.
- Let loose and live a little with Karaoke night.
- Recreate the first date you ever had together.
- Rent your or your partner’s “dream car” and go on an exploring adventure.
- Fill balloons with paint and play a unique game of darts
- Cook together
Carmen Overton, M.Ed, is the director of Right From the Start, a community initiative dedicated to strengthening marriage and families. Find out more at www.rightfromthestart.org.
Guest blog by Monica Cobis
9 Indoor Games for Kids
As the cold weather lingers, I think I am getting lazier and the kids are getting crazier. As the snow begins to melt, make some memories that will stay.
- Look at old photo albums together and tell the kids stories of your youth
- Make a notebook or photo collage of your child’s special moments
- Clean out a closet and the toys that they don’t want to play with put in a box on the upper shelf. Uncover the box in 3 months and they will think they have new toys
- Play Monopoly or other board games
- Have the kids make a hot meal with you as the supervisor cook
- As you clean out the closet, make a donation bag of clothes to give to local charities
- Decide on one service activity that your family will participate in this year. The upcoming VIP bed race is a fun one coming up and it supports local homeless families.
- Have the kids make a scavenger hunt of five items and have them write out the clues
- Test the senses: blindfold the child and have them guess 3 spices/herbs (cinnamon, vanilla, rosemary) and 3 fruits – then make a snack out of the cut up fruit
Whatever you do, make this day special. It is not often that we can spend precious time with our kids. Create some great memories and when the kids look back at the Snow Days of 2014, they will remember more than just the fluffy white stuff on the outside.
Monica Cobis, M.Ed. is an Academic Coach with Academic Life Coaching. She is a speaker, author and educational consultant. Her desire is to assist students and educational systems in creating successful and contributing future global leaders. She can be contacted atmonica.cobis@
Do your kids have the winter blues?
We can help!
Are your kids bored or bickering? Are they getting restless from being cooped up indoors? Winter is the time of year when cabin fever usually sets in. Don’t despair. Here are 10 ideas to help you keep your kids happy and busy all winter long.
Go camping indoors.
The sky may be grey, and the wind bitter cold, but you can still go camping indoors. Clear off your dining room table and cover it with blankets. Let your kids build their camp site using blankets and sleeping bags. Add a few pillows and flashlights, and you’ve got a sure cure for boredom.
Break the routine.
Change things up by serving dinner outside of the kitchen. Pack a picnic basket with kid-friendly foods — juice boxes, water bottles, packets of raisins, string cheese, sandwiches, paper plates, napkins. Spread a blanket in the family room and put together some sandwiches. Then unpack your picnic and enjoy.
Tour Phenix City and Columbus.
Pretend your family is on vacation in Phenix City and Columbus. Visit the River walk, local historical sites, parks, shops, and indoor play areas. Younger kids will enjoy Transformations (a hands-on gallery for kids) at the Columbus Museum.
Older kids will enjoy watching an IMAX movie and seeing the exhibits at the National Infantry Museum. There are a lot to things for kids to do in Phenix City and Columbus, so get out and explore your hometown.
Read a book.
One of my fondest memories is listening to my mom read a story every afternoon. Reading to your children at least thirty minutes a day has numerous benefits. The nurturing that takes place when you read to a child helps strengthen the child’s sense of security.
The Phenix City-Russell Country Library, the Columbus Public Library, and Barnes & Noble offer free story times and activities for kids of all ages.
The Columbus Aquatic Center is open to the public year-round. Memberships are available in 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year options for the public (Muscogee County residents receive a discounted rate.) The Columbus Aquatics Center offers its own selection of swimming lessons, including Water Tots. Get a jump start on summer and register your kids today. For more information, call 706.225.3980.
Schedule a play date.
Invite a friend over for a playdate. Fewer things make familiar toys look new again, than having someone over to play.
If you have preschoolers, check out MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) at Wynnbrook Baptist Church in Columbus. This faith-based group meets twice a month and offer many activities for mothers and little ones. For more information, send an email to MOPS@Wynnbrookbaptist.com.
Take a day trip.
There are lots of fun destinations within a day’s drive of Phenix City and Columbus. One of our favorites is the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. This family-friendly museum is packed with fun, hands-on activities for kids ages 8 and under. For more information, go to www.imaginit-cma.org.
Another of great destination is Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain. For the past five years, Callaway has offered complimentary admission on weekdays between January 1 and February 28. For more information, go to www.callawaygardens.com.
Throw dance party.
If your kids like to dance, cue up some classic tunes like “Dancing Queen,” by ABBA, and “I will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor and rock out. My boys’ favorite dance tunes are “Cupid Shuffle,” by Cupid and “Cha Cha Slide” by DJ Casper. They really love it when my husband and I join in.
Learn a new skill.
Embrace your inner Robin Hood. Every Friday night at 7 p.m. is Kids Night at Archery Connection in Phenix City. Kids ages 5-16 are welcome to bring their bows and shoot in the kids league. The cost is $8. Kids will compete on the 35-lane indoor range at 10 yards. For more information, go to http://www.archeryconnection.net/
Haul out the craft supplies and set up a home Hallmark business. Let your children create their card with stickers, glitter, cut-out magazine photos, or whatever else they like. Then you ask them what they want to say to the recipient, and you write it inside. When the weather clears up, let your child stamp the envelope and slide it into a nearby mailbox.
What is ADHD?
Does my child need treatment?
Will my child outgrow it?
The Pediatrician’s Perspective
Guest Blog by Ritu Chandra, MD, FAAP
The awareness of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has markedly increased over the last 10 years, as have the number of cases being diagnosed. As a pediatrician, I feel that increasingly I am swamped with appointments for ‘ADHD evaluation’ or ‘ADHD testing.’ And, I also know that sometime in October of each year is when the new evaluation requests skyrocket…the October and March timeframes coincide with the release of report cards for the first 9 weeks of the school year. Many parents who see a line of “C’s” “D’s” or “F’s” will immediately make a beeline for ADHD assessment.
As a pediatrician, my job is to evaluate and diagnose those children with true ADHD versus those who are simply struggling in school and grasping for Adderall as a miracle performance-enhancing solution. Gains from ADHD treatment can be huge for children who actually have ADHD.
However, parents must understand that giving ADHD medication to children without this condition will not benefit the child and that the medications do have potential side effects. Instead, parents may request a detailed list of reasons for why the child is struggling in school (lack of studying, overly rigorous course material, or learning problems) to figure out how to best help the child to improve.
What do the numbers look like?
Between 3 to 7 percent of school children are affected by ADHD in the U.S. In the pediatric age group, ADHD is much more common in boys than in girls. Also, inner cities of the US have the highest worldwide incidences of ADHD.
In 2000, the USA used 80% of the world’s stimulant medicines such as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse. Most other industrialized nations use 1/10th of the amount that we use in the US. Between 2000 and 2004, sales of medicines used to treat ADHD went up by four times. In 2008, 3.5% of children younger than 18 years of age received a stimulant medication.
So, why are we having more ADHD diagnoses? Is it:
- Improved recognition by physicians?
- Increase in prevalence?
- An easing of standards for making the diagnosis?
- An easing of standards for prescribing medication?
- Increased scholastic demands?
- Changing parental habits?
- Marketing through the pharmaceutical industry?
- 1991 amendments to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)?
In about two thirds of the cases, ADHD is associated with other diagnoses, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, Tics, etc.
Correctly Diagnosing ADHD
I explain to parents that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, inattention, and in some cases, hyperactivity. All of us have occasional difficulty sitting still, paying attention, or controlling impulsive behavior. For some children and adults, however, the problem is so pervasive and persistent that it interferes with their daily lives at home, at school, at work, and in social settings.
Studies show that patients with ADHD have demonstrable low levels of catecholamine in their brains, and the actual brain volume in certain areas of the brain may also be smaller. Scientists have also isolated certain genes which are specifically associated with ADHD. Essentially, ADHD occurs due to low levels of certain chemicals in the brain.
To make the diagnosis, several of the ADHD symptoms must be present before the age of 12 years, and symptoms must be present in more than one setting. Diagnosis is made mostly by getting history from the parents, caregivers, teachers and other adults who work with the child. Your doctor will ask the parent/caregiver and the teacher to fill out one of several different rating scales. Some of the commonly used rating scales are the Connor’s, Vanderbilt, and Child Behavior Checklist. Then, the doctor will do a very detailed interview with you and the child. Some real time computerized tests also can be done but these are relatively new and extremely expensive. These are not commonly used and are not covered by most insurance companies. In Columbus, Georgia, no one is using these tests at this time.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD has three sub types, and symptoms will vary accordingly:
- ADHD inattentive type
- ADHD hyperactive/impulsive type
- ADHD combined type
The symptoms of the inattentive type of ADHD include:
- Makes careless mistakes/poor attention to detail
- Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks/play
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Difficulty following instructions
- Difficulty organizing tasks/activities
- Avoids tasks requiring sustained mental effort
- Loses items necessary for tasks/activities
- Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
- Often forgetful in daily activities
The symptoms of the hyperactive/impulsive type include:
- Leaves seat
- Runs or climbs excessively (or restlessness)
- Difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
- “On the go” or “driven by a motor”
- Talks excessively
- Blurts out answers before question is completed
- Difficulty waiting turn
- Interrupts or intrudes on others
So, what is the cause for ADHD, and will my child “grow out of it?”
We do not have all the answers. However, there is a very strong familial tendency e.g. if one child has ADHD, the chances of the siblings having ADHD will increase by 3-5 times.
A lot of times parents ask me if the child is likely to outgrow the condition. I tell them that as the child matures, the hyperactivity and impulsivity decrease, but the inattention is more likely to be a lifelong issue.
We often use the “Rule of Thirds” to break down the potential outcomes of ADHD cases:
- 1/3 -> complete resolution
- 1/3 -> continued inattention, some impulsivity
- 1/3 -> early Oppositional Defiant Disorder/Conduct Disorder, poor academic achievement, substance abuse, antisocial adults
So, once the diagnosis is made, what are the treatment options?
The Gold standard of treatment is stimulant medication, though there are several other classes of medications also that can be used. Other things that could be used in conjunction are: cognitive behavioral therapy, parent management training, social skills training and educational support at school in the form of a 504 plan and/or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP.)
Sometimes, I get the question: “Why is a ‘stimulant’ being prescribed when we are trying to get the child to slow down?” Yes, it does sound counterintuitive! The stimulant actually stimulates dopamine and norepinephrine, and the release of these chemicals effectively decreases the symptoms of ADHD.
Is medication really necessary to treat the symptoms of ADHD?
Parents must realize that ADHD is a neurobiological condition for which treatment is warranted. Purely disciplining a child will not correct the chemical imbalance occurring in the brain.
Your child’s doctor may choose one of several different medications and will closely monitor the child and may adjust the dosage and/or the medication until the perfect fit for your child is achieved. When I start a child on medication, I always follow the philosophy of ‘start low, start slow’ so that there are minimal side effect for the child while giving him/her the needed medication.
I frequently encounter two common scenarios when I discuss ADHD medication with parents:
First, is the parent/family who really wants to get their child started on ADHD medication because the child has poor school performance. The parents often feel that the medication will help improve the grades. In this case, I try to explain that all of us have some periods of inattention, but if the child does not meet criteria for ADHD then, I do not believe that the child should get a prescription medication.
Second, is the parent/family who realizes that their child has ADHD, but do not wish to give their child medication to treat the symptoms. They struggle with the realization that their child is not like other kids and may have to take medication for a long time. In these situations, I help the parents by explaining to them the different ways by which ADHD affects the functioning of the child. I explain to them that we are not helping the child by not giving him/her the needed medication.
With untreated ADHD, the potential areas of impairment are:
- Academic difficulties- The child is not able to learn well because his ADHD impairs learning.
- Less than optimal social interactions- The child with ADHD frequently misses out on social cues and ends up annoying other children and losing friends.
- Self-esteem suffers- When a child constantly hears an adult say ‘stop’ or ‘be good’ or, he/she sees that trying to be good or quiet is futile because unlike other children he rarely gets rewards for being ‘good.’ Therefore, the self-esteem of the child starts to suffer.
Also, adolescents with ADHD who are treated with medications have lower rates of substance abuse, academic problems, motor vehicle accidents and employment problems
Sometimes, parents are simply afraid that the medication will make the child a ‘zombie.’ My answer to that is that medication is used in a dosage that helps the child and does not cause any obvious change in the personality of the child. I often use the following analogy to explain the ADHD child and the effect of medications:
The child with ADHD is like a racecar that is driving recklessly at a high speed down the mountain. When this same child starts on medication, the racecar will drive down the mountain with the same horsepower, but now the racecar has brakes and a steering wheel and can now take the curves more deliberately and carefully.
This really helps the parents understand how the medication will help and not harm the child.
Having a child with ADHD has a significant impact on the entire family:
- Parents of children with ADHD are 3-5 times more likely to become separated or divorced.
- Parents of children with ADHD have a higher incidence of depression & family discord.
- The majority of parents of children with ADHD report making changes in their work status.
- There is a 9 – 35 percent risk that a parent of a child with ADHD has ADHD as well.
I have so many success stories to tell about the gratification of treating kids with ADHD. These are the stories where we made the appropriate diagnosis on the child, did the education and teaching with the parent/family and started the child on medication. Then, that same child started excelling in academics, social skills and so much more. But, the key is learning when ADHD medication is necessary due to a neurological imbalance in the child’s brain, and when a child is struggling in school due to other factors. Your pediatrician, who is privileged to be a trusted partner in the medical care of your child can assist you with this process of diagnosing and treating ADHD.
Dr. Ritu Chandra is the founder of Preferred Medical Group, with locations at Phenix City Children’s and Fort Mitchell Clinic. She is a board-certified pediatrician and specializes in ADHD, asthma, and school-related problems.
- Children and Adults with AD/HD: http://www.chadd.org/
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/ADHD_Resource_Center/Home.aspx
- National resource center on ADHD: http://www.help4adhd.org/
- HealthyChildren.org: http://www.healthychildren.org/english/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/default.aspx
Muscogee Moms recently had the opportunity to talk with circus mom Maria Dominquez of the Lopez Troupe. She is a native of Chile and a performer in the Gold Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents the Super Circus Heroes, a show coming to the Columbus Civic Center on January 28-29, 2014.
Maria performs in the Lopez Family’s Globe of Steel, a gripping, high-speed act that features three motorcycles racing more than 60 mpg around the inside of a 12-foot steel sphere. In addition, Maria also performs a nail biting high-wire routine with her fearless husband and and the Lopez’s. Their aerial stunts have unbelievable risks, including a sideways hand-balancing stunt on the high wire, shoulder stands, blindfolds, and a handstand on a precariously-balanced bike.
In our interview, this daredevil mother of three shares with us how she juggles motherhood with an on-the-road lifestyle that comes with being a part of the Greatest Show on Earth!
MM: How did you become a circus performer?
Maria: I grew up in a regular city and went to regular schools. My mom was a circus performer and she wanted us to have a normal life. But ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a Circus performer. So my dad got me a contract to perform in Mexico. I moved with my dad to live in Mexico and never went back.
I love the circus life. I have for 14 years. This is the stuff that I love. I do it not just because I’m the wife of a circus performer. I practice a lot. I practiced three years before I could join the high wire act. It’s not like a job. It’s my passion. I enjoy it.
MM: When and how did you and your husband meet?
Maria: Down in Mexico, I worked for a different company with my dad, but both circuses were in the same city at the same time. I liked to watch all the different circuses and saw his particular show. I saw him on the high wire and fell in love. After the show, like any fan, I went to up say hello. My dad and his dad were friends. We have been together for 11 years now. We hope in the future we can work with our sons.
MM: Are your children involved in the circus?
Maria: They just started practicing to walk on the low wire last year. Everyone has to start somewhere. Maybe one day they will want to walk on the high wire. They love it. They see their father and I working in the show, so for them it’s like a dream. They enjoy it when we are working. It will be their decision if they want to be circus performers. My parents gave me the option. I will give it to them. They like the show and want to ride a motorcycle.
MM: Tell us what it’s like to raise children in the circus.
Maria: It’s special. I get to travel and be with my children all the time. We get to meet many different cultures. My boys are 11, 9, and 7 years old.
The best part about Ringling Bros. is that they care so much the families that come to the shows, and they care for the families that perform in the shows. They want the families to be together. Having our family together makes us happy. The Ringling Bros. are very special by providing the school and daycare. So while the parents are performing, we don’t have to worry about who’s taking care of them. We have two teachers. One for the older ones and one for the little ones.
The other performers are from all around the world. They are willing teach the kids if the kids are interested in learning dance, ballet, gymnastics, juggling. Every day they are learning something different.
MM: What is a typical circus day like?
Maria: We are like a normal family with different jobs. The day starts out with the boys practicing one hour a day. Balance, gymnastics. After that they go to the company school. The company has its own school with a teacher that travels with us all the time. We also have a day care for the little guys. My boys have to study 4-5 hours day and take tests just like regular kids.
Before each show, we have to warm up. We put on our make up. We play with our kids. We check all the props. One hour before each show, they let everyone come to the pre-show. The public can interact with us and our families. Then can do activities with us. I love watching our kids and other kids interact together. We are the only unit that offers the backstage area. You get a sneak peek behind the scenes. It’s a family experience.
MM: What is the best part of being a circus mom?
Maria: We have a chance to see so much of America. Our children get to go to school, and we all get to see so many sights. This company is all about family. The company owner and his entire family are involved with the shows. They like having the families be together. It’s one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for. You can travel with your family and they provide you with the the means to do so.
MM: There is an element of danger in what you do. How do you feel about your children following in your footsteps?
Maria: Like every mom, I want the best for my sons. I want them to be happy and safe. They know that they have a crazy mom, but they say they love it. They say they want to be like me. There aren’t any words to describe that feeling when your children want to be just like you. They keep me straight. They are my best and worse critics. They tell me when I did a great performance and they tell when it wasn’t so great. I value their opinions. I love it when they tell me I did well.
If they become circus performers, I will be very happy. If they don’t, I will be very happy. My mother was a circus performer, but she left the circus to give me a regular childhood. But I knew as a child I wanted to be a circus performer. My mom is proud of me. It was a hard for her to see me go and live my dreams. But she let me go. I want to my boys to follow their dreams too.
If You Go:
What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Super Circus Heroes
When: January 28-29, 2014 at 7pm
Where: Columbus Civic Center
Cost: $12.50 – $32.50. Tickets can be purchased at the Columbus Civic Center Box Office, online at TicketMaster.com or ordered by phone (1.800.745.3000).
For more information: visit Ringling.com.
Top 5 Parenting Resolutions for 2014- LEARN
Guest post by Michelle DeRamus, Ph.D.
At the start of a New Year, many have extensively planned rigid weight-loss diets, to spontaneously eradicate unhealthy habits, to achieve personal greatness or to conquer the world in 2014. The sky is the limit. While intentions may be pure, inevitably many of the difficult benchmarks set on January 1st are long forgotten by February. Parents, particularly, tend to make unrealistic resolutions centered on their children. They may be planning to never argue with their children in the coming year, to give their children everything they ask for, or to push them beyond their comfort zones to make straight A’s, to get onto all of the sports teams, or to get into an Ivy League school. Again, these may be great goals to strive for, but may prove to be unattainable in the long run. Parents and children may end up feeling high pressure and a sense of failure when they don’t measure up to the proverbial bar.
Instead, I encourage both children and adults to take a step back and reflect on all aspects of their lives during 2013 to determine the areas that they would most like to improve upon or change. Then, create realistic shorter-term goals to be carried out throughout the year. An important factor is finding accountability for meeting these short-term goals through a spouse, a friend or a co-worker.
In my office, I sometimes hear from parents who want to develop an entirely different approach for parenting their children but simply don’t know what or how to change. Because many look upon the New Year as a clean slate and a chance to start fresh, I have devised a list of my “Top 5 Parenting Resolutions for 2014.” You won’t become Super Mom or Dad overnight, but committing to LEARN throughout the year may help you to develop a more positive and open relationship with your child(ren) gradually.
(L)isten – really listen – to your child(ren).
Families are busy and constantly rushing from work to school to extracurricular activities. Sure, parents want to spend more one-on-one time with their children, but many believe there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Commit to giving your child your undivided attention for a period of time every single day.
Make sure that you allocate a realistic amount of time for each child. As little as five minutes each day can go a long way. This time can be spent at the dinner table, playing a game together or during bath time. It can be in the morning, in the afternoon or at night. The when and where don’t matter so much as the fact that you are making it a habit to talk with your child and to listen to the things that they think are important, worrisome or exciting. You are teaching them that what they have to say is valuable. In turn, by taking the time to listen to your child, your child may also be more likely to listen to you.
When you’re busy trying everything and nothing seems to be working, frustration can build for parents and children.
Decide on a comprehensive parenting strategy and discipline style and implement it throughout your day-to-day interactions with your child. Make sure that other key people in the child’s life are on the same page with this strategy, such as your partner or the child’s grandparents.
If you feel that you don’t have a solid approach for adopting an overarching parenting strategy, break it down. Choose one new technique to test. You could select a discipline strategy to implement, such as time out, taking away privileges, or positive reinforcement. You may also create a sticker chart to track rewards for good behavior. Stick with whatever strategy that you choose for at least two weeks so that you will see if it works well for you and your child. Research shows that it takes a full 30 days for a new habit to stick. If the strategy that you chose seems to be ineffective after the trial period, try something else for two weeks. Eventually, you will discover the strategies that you believe will work toward your long term resolution.
(A)djust your expectations.
No, your five-year-old won’t be able to write that college level essay. And, your teenage daughter (believe it or not) probably won’t want to come home right after school to do her homework. It’s normal.
Discover age-appropriate “norms” that may help you to understand your child better. Correlate your expectations for their behavior with their stage of development. Become familiar with your child’s personal strengths and weaknesses.
Short-term steps: (Pick any of the following options):
· Observe your child’s class at school and see what the other children are doing. Are they following directions properly? Do they know how to sit in their seats quietly, or are many children up and running around? If you are not typically around other children, you may not know what is “normal” and what’s not.
· Read an article or book, if you are an avid reader, on the stages of child development.
· Ask your friends or your parents what their children were doing at certain ages to get a better handle on whether your child seems to be doing things at a similar pace as other children. They may also be willing to share ideas for rewards and punishments that worked for their family in a particular stage.
· Take an hour and watch your child at play without trying to direct his/her play. See what your child is naturally drawn to and where he/she excels. On the other hand, you may observe areas of weakness and learn where you can support your child.
· Seek counsel from a psychologist if you are struggling to set age-appropriate goals and expectations. Your child’s teacher can also be a great source of information about age-appropriate goals.
(R)emember to follow through.
A classic example is when Mom says, “Clean your room or Santa won’t come to see you this year.” What really happens? The child doesn’t clean his/her room out of defiance, but Santa comes anyway with lots of toys for the child. The child has just learned that he/she doesn’t have to clean up because the threatened consequences were not implemented.
Follow the age-old saying “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” This goes for both positive and negative interactions with children. Follow through on threats for punishment as well as promises of rewards.
Take it one day at a time. When you wake up in the morning, decide to be mindful of what you say that day, including any promises or threats that you make to your children. When children see that you follow through, they are more likely to trust what you say and to listen to you more often. When parents don’t follow through on what they say, kids may eventually learn to tune their parents out.
(N)otice the good.
Families often come to my office because they need help dealing with a difficult problem or situation. Sometimes parents spend too much time and energy telling their child over and over again about all of the negative behaviors that need to be changed. However, research shows that positive energy is better for the relationship in general and may go a lot further in helping a child to overcome a difficult situation.
Improve your relationship with your child while simultaneously building up your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
Acknowledge one good thing that your child does every day. Mix it up by praising them privately and in front of others, such as extended family or friends. Acknowledgement for positive behaviors each day can make the behaviors more likely to happen again and will boost your child’s confidence that he/she can make good choices in the process.
Parents, as the New Year rolls in, don’t forget to LEARN. These parenting recommendations require dedication and commitment, far beyond January 1st. Know that it’s OK to break these up into even smaller steps, such as committing to following one letter of LEARN each month.
And, as with any New Year’s resolution, please recognize that it’s OK to mess up, and that inevitably you probably will mess up at some point. Treat each new day as a fresh start, and try again. As an added bonus, you will be modeling goal-setting for your children throughout the year. Encourage them to set their own New Year’s resolutions. It’s OK to think outside the box and get creative here. You can help them to break bigger resolutions down into smaller, more manageable goals, so that you may LEARN together.
I wish your family a safe and Happy New Year.
Dr. DeRamus earned her Ph.D. in child psychology at the University of Alabama. She specializes in autism and works at Phenix City Children’s.
LaGrange Art Museum: The Campaign for Creative Learning
In a most unusual and creative jump-start to the New Year, the LaGrange Art Museum is once again surprising us all with its creative approach to arts educations and creative learning.
While most of us were busy filling stockings whilst visions of sugar plums danced in our heads, the Art Museum was working busily behind the scenes to fill a void in Arts Education.
Supported by local philanthropists and business leaders, the LaGrange Art Museum has successfully raised over 90% of the almost $500,000 needed to convert the Center for Creative Learning (CCL), which sits immediately adjacent to the Art Museum, into a vibrant, mixed-use multi-art community space.
Major funding for this project has been provided by the Callaway Foundation, Inc., the City of LaGrange, the Charter Foundation, Inc., and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional critical support has been provided by The Home Depot, Commercial Bank & Trust and Georgia Production Studios.
Leadership for the Campaign has been provided by Honorary Chairs: Jerry & Cindy Fulks, Scott & Stacey Malone, Edward & Laura Smith, Bill & Melissa Stump.
The CCL is part of a “Creative Place Making” Gateway enhancement project that will bring together the local community groups, arts agencies and individuals through the adaptive re-use and rehabilitation of the former c.1890’s Feed & Seed.
When complete, the CCL will encompass a parking area featuring an artist designed and installed exterior mural, a kitchen, bike racks, artists’ studios, fire rated kiln, potters wheels, sinks, and a full wall of glass garage doors which will roll open and provide light into this environmentally efficient space that will be used by children, adults and seniors, and by community art and civic groups.
Ethyl L. Ault, President of the Museum’s Board of Governors says that when complete, “The CCL will become the Center where learning takes on a truly creative and colorful tone, and the Museum will serve an essential role in helping to provide arts education, develop cultural identity within the next generation, and foster community pride and sense of place among our youngest citizens – ensuring that Arts Education is a permanent part of our future.”
The LaGrange Art Museum will kick off the public and final phase of the Campaign for Creative Learning on January 24th with a Hard Hat Gala at the Del’avant Event Center, 141 Main Street. Tickets are $100 each or $800 for a table of eight.
“The Hard Hat Gala will give the community the opportunity to participate in the Campaign and see the plans for the Center for Creative Learning unveiled,” says Executive Director Karen Anne Briggs. We hope everyone will enjoy our campaign video featuring amusing and candid interviews with our youngest citizens on their reasons for supporting creative education”. Footage has been provided by Georgia Production Studios.
Under the direction of Jill Sistino, creative leadership for the Gala has been provided by Committee Members: Ethyl L. Ault, Connie Boccucci, Jeff & Mary Higgins, Nanci Lechacz, Mariennis Flowers, Jill Sistino, Kerri Vice, Leigh M. Newman, Jackie Lloyd Terrail and Cathy Winslow.
The event theme, “Creative Construction” will feature a yellow hard hat theme and centerpieces of construction detritus-turned-table-sculptures in this Hard Hat Party where grown-ups are given crayons and issued hard hats at the door.
Even the event’s dinner menu is designed to feature creativity in what will look like a “Taste of LaGrange” where local restaurants and chefs who have willingly donated “one course, one night” will showcase their creativity.
From tuxedos to jeans, rhinestones to pearls, anything goes as guests are encouraged to come dressed in creative black tie and ready to kick it up to the music of live band Pioneer Chick’n Stand.
A complimentary “Creative Event Cocktail” and wine and beer are included in ticket price. “I Heart Art” drink buttons will be $20 each.
The LaGrange Art Museum is a not-for-profit art museum dedicated to the enjoyment and understanding of the visual arts through the quality of its collections, exhibits, education programs, and community outreach initiatives. It is committed to being a vital partner in the educational and cultural life of the community it serves.
It is proud of growing relationships with a wide array of community partners and the many programs it delivers.
The Museum’s education partners include: Boy Scouts of the Chattahoochee Council, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, City of LaGrange, Circles of Troup County, the Cochran Gallery, the Downtown Development Authority, the Junior Service League, the LaGrange College Lamar Dodd School of Art, LaGrange Housing Authority, LaGrange Academy, LaGrange Music Studio, Lafayette Society for Performing Arts, Keep Troup Beautiful, Poplar Creek, Twin Cedars, Troup County Public Library System, Troup County Public Schools, Troup County Chamber of Commerce, Vernon Woods Retirement Center, West Georgia Health, and West Georgia Technical College.
Known as one of Georgia’s best regional museums, the LaGrange Art Museum collects and presents contemporary art by emerging and established artists. The Museum’s permanent collection holds works by artists such as Benny Andrews, Beverly Buchanan, Howard Finster, Lamar Dodd, Mildred Thompson and Andy Warhol. Housed in a former jail dating to 1892, the Museum is committed to connecting community with creativity and the role the arts can play in our wider society. The Museum’s educational programs develop the creativity of thousands of people each year from all backgrounds and ages.
Contact: Karen Anne Briggs, Executive Director, LaGrange Art Museum