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Archive for September, 2008

Savvy Southern Mama Q&A: Beth Howells

Friday, September 19th, 2008


Welcome to another SouthernMamas Q&A with one of our savvy readers about parenting tips, troubles and triumphs. (If you know a SouthernMama you’d like to nominate for a profile, email Read past profiles by clicking here. )

Meet Beth Howells, English professor and Armstrong administrator.

Your family: husband, David Thompson, Nurse Anesthetist; daughter, Elsie (Elizabeth Locksley Thompson), 2 years old; pug, Oscar, 7 and aging quickly with Elsie around; cat, Baby, who has better things to do. We live in midtown Savannah.

How would you describe your parenting philosophy?

Wow! We don’t really have a philosophy since this is our first. We are kind of making it up as we go. I guess we try to encourage Elsie’s independence, we try to let her explore and experience the world, and we try to stay positive. Most of this is not premeditated, though, we just end up trying to react appropriately in the moment and later reflect on whether or not our reaction was correct.

What are your child’s favorite books and toys?

It seems there are new toys every day: new instruments, animals, puzzles, balls… She finds them, loses them, refinds them, and loves them. And of course, the toys she likes best aren’t toys at all: toothbrushes, hair products, shoes… Actually, her current favorite is the Dora umbrella her babysitter Elaine gave her for her birthday.

Elsie loves books, every book, really. She loves the Boynton books; Each, Peach, Pear, Plum; Knufflebunny; the Carl books, the Peggy Rathman books; and Good Night Moon, of course. We’ve moved from the touchy-feely books to those with words and stories and find she even likes longer ones like Amelia Bedelia or Sylvester and the Magic Pebble–though we might summarize a bit. Ultimately, at this point, it is more about her parents’ favorites, books we aren’t tired of or too tired to read!

What are your child’s favorite TV shows or movies?

Elsie likes the Wiggles, Hi Five, and the Doodlebops–oh and Thomas, she has a thing for Thomas the train. She adores the bonus DVD that came with catch-the-moon.jpgthe Lisa Loeb/Elizabeth Mitchell CD–it has two songs that she dances to over and over: “Catch the Moon” and “Stop Go.” As for movies, she likes parts of Charlotte’s Web best but watches bits of Nemo from time to time. Of course, we try not to do too much TV, and then again, we just broke down and got the car DVD player for long roadtrips.

What are your child’s favorite foods?

Guacamole and chips. Edamame. Cheese. And ice cream for special treats.

What one adjective would you choose to describe motherhood?


Describe your most humbling parenting moment:

The most humbling moments are probably yet to come with #2 on the way in January. When we find our hands full with one two year old and see those handling much more than that with such grace, we are incredibly humbled. And we’ll have two girls–I imagine the teenage years with two will be a daily lesson in humility.

Describe your most beautiful parenting moment:

Coming home from work every day and seeing her face lit up and having her run to me saying “Mommy… Mommy…. Hug.” If she is anything like I was, unfortunately, she won’t always have that reaction to her mother, so it is especially beautiful to me.

Favorite local kid-friendly eatery?


Favorite local kid-friendly spot/event?

We love all of the little parks and playgrounds in Ardsley. We walk and bike to them daily.

What resource for children does our area lack, one that you would like to see here?

I hear the Charleston Children’s museum has a kid’s size little grocery story. I think Elsie would love something like that.

Who is your pick for the area’s best pediatrician?

Dr. Dudley Stone

What is your pick for the area’s best preschool?

Montessori Academy of Savannah.

Most valuable baby gift you received that you couldn’t live without?

Our Mountain Buggy stroller.

If you had zillions of extra bucks to donate, what charity/cause would you select?:

Fighting Cancer.

What is the one phrase you hope your child will say to you when she’s all grown up?

Nothing’s better than “I love you,” though, I will miss the childish little lisp–“I lub you.”

Island Child owners create clothing line

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

The owners of think-tink-tank-smaller.jpgIsland Child on Hilton Head Island are more than just the duo behind the upscale boutique that’s been dressing children for generations.

Steve and Senny Powell – who have seven adopted children and have fostered seven children – also have designed their own line of children’s items produced solely for their store in the Village at Wexford on Hilton Head Island.

Check out their very own THINK TINK collection on their online store here. The collection features Tinkerbell, a cute little teacup Yorkie. Picture this THINK TINK tank pictured here paired with island-child-pink-tights.jpgthese ruffled leggings or island-child-pink-boots.jpgpink cowboy boots, both available @ the Island Child, for a fun fall look.

The Powells actually started in the retail business by creating children’s items and selling them to upscale boutiques in the Chicago area. Their dream was to produce their own line and sell it in their own store.

See, dreams do come true.

We’re thrilled to have Island Child as a sponsor of Watch for announcements on about an upcoming Tink Tea Party to be hosted by Island Child.

Click here for more info or call 1.888.705.5437 or 843.686.5437.

The winner of the Belly Bandit giveaway is…

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Jen Williams!

Congratulations, Jen.

She wins belly-bandit.bmpa $50 Belly Bandit Couture , an abdominal compression binder to help flatten the belly and redefine the waistline post-baby. The wrap also helps decrease bloating caused by water retention, give support to legs and back, improve posture and reduce back and shoulder pain associated with breastfeeding.

Thanks for all your entries and for sharing your plans and tips on losing baby weight. Jen is due Oct 2 with her first baby. She writes her to plan to shrink her post-preg belly includes water aerobics class @ the Chatham County Aquatic Center, breastfeeding and eating right.

Even if you aren’t pregnant or a recent new mom, these tummy wraps make fun shower and baby gifts. Check out the wraps here.

Thomas the Tank Engine visits southwest Georgia

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

thomas-train-cordele.jpgThomas the Tank Engine fans get ready. The beloved storybook character is chugging into to Cordele, Ga. for two weekends in October.

Children of all ages can take the “Day Out With Thomas Great Discovery Tour 2008” @ SAM Shortline Excursion Train depot in Georgia Veterans State Park on Oct. 17, 18, 19 and 24, 25, 26.

Take a 25-minute ride on real train that looks like Thomas the Tank Engine; meet and snap photos with Sir Topham Hatt and Fifi Forget-Me-Not; join in on storytelling and crafts; and enjoy live music, mini-golf, bouncy inflatables, food vendors, wildlife displays and more.

The train departs every hour on the hour, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Rain or shine. The park is @ 2459 U.S. Hwy. 280 West in Cordele, 9 miles west of I-75 via Exit 101. Tickets cost $18 for ages 2 and older.

For tickets, call 1 (866) 468-7630 or click here. For more information and directions, click here or call 1 (877) GA-RAILS.

Free Baby Bonding book from Love & Blessings

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Our wonderful sponsor
Love & Blessings is giving away a FREE copy of The Baby Bonding Book to anyone who visits and signs up to receive their monthly newsletter for savvy mamas absolutely FREE.

The Baby Bonding Book makes a terrific baby shower gift. While visiting the Love & Blessings Web site, check out the beautiful, organic gift baskets for baby and mama.

The folks @ Love & are pros at putting special gift baskets together, for moms, new moms, expectant moms. You can create your own gift basket or select one that Love & Blessings already has set up and filled with all their goodies.

“He’s my favorite honkey … Buried in his jamies, King Tut”

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

king-tut.jpgSteve Martin also sang of King Tut: “Now if I’d known, they’d line up just to see him, I’d have taken all my money, and bought me a museum.”

Get ready to stand in line to see the exhibit “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” opening Nov. 15 in Atlanta.

The exhibit @ the Atlanta Civic Center features more than 130 treasures from the tomb of celebrated pharaoh King Tutankhamun and other ancient Egyptian sites at the Atlanta Civic Center. It runs through May 25.

Due to the popularity of this exhibit and the 30-minute timed entrances, tickets are on sale now. Advanced tickets ensure you can see King Tut and provide you with the “Tutlanta” affiinity card, which will get you deals at more than 75 area businesses. To see full listing of offers is available, click here.

To get your tickets or for more information, click here. Adult admission is $32.50 and children are $16.50.

Mommy-and-toddler yoga starts Oct. 7

Monday, September 15th, 2008

twisted-warrior-logo.gifSoon your toddler may substitute ‘bye-bye’ with namaste.

Yoga instructor Cathy Baxter of Twisted Warrior Yoga will start a parent-and-toddler yoga class Tues. Oct. 7. The 45-minute class for ages 2-5 will be 10 am Tuesdays @ the Charles H. Morris Trustees Garden Center, 10 East Broad St. (downtown Savannah next to the Pirates House).

Children’s yoga mats are provided. Toddlers must be accompanied by an adult. No need to worry about donning hip yoga wear, just dress in any comfortable clothing.

I definitely want my son to be a little yoga warrior in this class when he’s old enough. All that peaceful, hand-clasping and deep-breathing has got to have a cleansing effect on toddler tantrums, right? Plus, it will be a kick to see him do downward-facing dog.

Cost is $10/ class or $29/ month. For more info, call 912.704.5111 or email Or visit the Web site here for toddler yoga info as well as adult yoga classes.

SouthernMamas Newsletter woes

Monday, September 15th, 2008

southernmamas-logo-small.jpgAre you receiving your weekly SouthernMamas newsletter?

We’ve heard from several readers who didn’t receive theirs this week. Please let us know if you didn’t and we will try to individually email you one.

The newsletter is emailed regularly every Sunday and packed with quality information about local kid-friendly events, so we really want you to read it. If you are not receiving yours, we want to hear about it and fix the problem. Email

Belly Bandit Giveaway

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

belly-bandit.bmpBaby weight.

How do you lose it? Why is there so much of it? And why do other moms seem to banish their baby bellies immediately after giving birth?

Maybe their secret is Belly Bandits, an abdominal compression binder to help flatten the belly and redefine the waistline post-baby. The wrap also helps decrease bloating caused by water retention, give support to legs and back, improve posture and reduce back and shoulder pain associated with breastfeeding. Check out the wraps here.

Belly Bandit is giving away a $50 Belly Bandit Couture to a lucky SouthernMamas subscriber. See the giveaway wrap here. Even if you aren’t pregnant or a recent new mom, these tummy wraps make fun shower and baby gifts.

To be eligible to win, email us your name and your secret to losing baby weight (or your gameplan on how you will lose it.) Deadline is 9 pm Thurs. Sept. 18. Send email to We’ll pick a name at random and announce the winner here Friday. The winner can select her size of Belly Bandit.

You have to be a SouthernMamas subscriber to participate. Subscribing is free. Click here to do so.

How your newborn can save lives

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

mother-child.jpgIf you are pregnant or know someone who is, please check out my column today in the Accent section of the Savannah Morning News to find out how that newborn can help save lives.

Read it by clicking here.

To find out more about Cryobanks International Inc.’s free donation program, click here.

Public vs. private schools

Friday, September 12th, 2008 has an interesting and quick Q&A today with Sanda Tsing Loh, author of the new book mother-on-fire.jpgMother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting.”

Loh , a writer, performer and NPR essayist, is now a staunch defender of “those scary, scary” public schools. She points an accusatory finger at moms like me who are leaning toward choosing private schools (if we can save enough money by the time my son’s ready and if we don’t make the lottery for the public school Charles Ellis Montessori Academy).

Should we feel “judged” or “disrespected” or “guilty” for choosing private schools over public?

That depends, according to Loh. If you are disgusted with the state of public education, the best solution is getting involved and making improvements as a public school parent. Loh says she has a big problem with “The very elite, wealthy blue, blue Democrat, Manhattan or L.A. people railing against the educational system” while sending their kids to exclusive private schools.

“They could make it (the public school system) better. All the money they’re dumping into the private schools, all the favors they’re doing for private schools — speaking at commencements, the fund raising, teaching the little Latin class, dumping all their resources into the private schools — then looking critically at all of us people out there in the not-so pretty schools. Those are people I would judge most harshly,” Loh says.

She also defends the stereotypical PTA mom who makes school fund raising her life’s mission, leaving other parents feeling inferior.

“It’s the moms at public schools who are doing all of it: cutting out cute heart-shaped figures, bringing snacks for field trips, figuring out the system, selling the wrapping paper, writing grants for the violins, getting money together for a music program,” Loh says. “So the PTA mom is glaring at you. . . leave her alone, she’s getting a new gym built!”

Read the Q&A here.

Below is a blurb from Amazon about her book. It sounds like an interesting, albeit guilt-provoking, read.

“Prompted by her own midlife crisis, Loh throws her frantic energy not into illicit affairs, shopping binges, or exotic trips, but into the harrowing heart of contemporary, dysfunctional L.A. life when she realizes that she can’t afford private school for her daughter, and her only alternative is her neighborhood’s public school, Guavatorina, where most of the kids speak Spanish and qualify for free lunches. “

SouthernMamas receive 10 percent off @ LeeAnn Ritch Photography

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

I want to live in a ritch-photo.jpgleeann ritch portrait. Check out her photos ritch-baby.jpghere and you will, too.

The Savannah photographer and new mom – her 3-month old treasure Easton is pictured here – has a love for life, children and, now, motherhood that is evident in her photography (and in her blog). We’re thrilled to have her as our newest sponsor.

LeeAnn shoots portraits (like this mother-daughter shot pictured here), weddings, even pets.

She has a knack for natural lighting and candid shots. A native Floridian, LeeAnn also has lived in California, and, now, Georgia. She’s obviously not one to be landlocked. LeeAnn has had a passion for photography since she was a little girl and has been shooting all her life.

Mention SouthernMamas when booking your session with LeeAnn, and you will receive 10 percent off the sitting fee. Click ritch-logo.jpghere to contact LeeAnn. Or call 912.308.9327 or email

The winner of the Just for Baby & More giveaway is….

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Ginger D. Thompson!

Congratulations, Ginger.
She wins a $50 gift card to use @ just-for-baby-cropped-better.jpgJust for Baby & More, which is in a new location @ 7701 Waters Ave. – right across from their former spot. Look for the polka dots.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Look for a different giveaway from a different business to be announced here Monday.

Puppet shows illustrate Aesop’s Fables

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Make plans to attend the aesop-puppets.jpgAesop’s Fables family puppet show presented by The Red Herring Puppeteers visiting from North Carolina.

The FREE! puppet shows will be various branches of Live Oak Libraries including:
4:30 pm Thurs. Sept. 18 @ Oglethorpe Mall Branch, 7 Mall Annex, Savannah.
10:30 am Thurs., Sept. 25 @ Effingham (Springfield) Branch, 810 Hwy. 119, Springfield
4 pm Thurs. Sept. 25 @ Islands Branch, 125 Wilmington Island Road, Wilmington Island

Best for ages 5 to 12.

Sponsored by The Savannah Coastal Puppetry Guild and the Live Oak Public Libraries Foundation.

Travel planning made easy and personal

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

easy-travel-planner-button.gifLet SouthernMamas sponsor and travel agent Jennie Tarver book your next trip.

Visit Jennie’s Web site – My Easy Travel Planner – by clicking here to book travel direct or to have Jennie find and create a great vacation that you can afford without the extra fees that traditional agencies charge. This is especially handy for a large group trip because reserving them can be time-consuming.

Jennie specializes in honeymoon travel, but also books other types of travel including: family vacation packages, business travel, wedding destinations, golf packages, cruises, and even tickets to concerts, theme parks, sporting events. You can be on vacation and pull up My Easy Travel Planner and purchase tickets for events etc.

Jennie also helps other moms start their own travel business. Find out more about how to work from home as a travel agent by clicking here.

Contact Jennie: 912.272.9965; email
Or visit My Easy Travel Planner.

Help bring an orphan with Down syndrome home

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

polkadot-raffle.jpgWe’ve heard a lot of talk lately about the value of carrying a baby with Down syndrome to term.

One of our sponsors, Bethany from The Polkadot Platypus, and her husband are actually CHOOSING to adopt a little girl from Russia who has Down syndrome. The couple already has two birth children including a daughter with Down syndrome.

Bethany and her husband will be traveling to meet their soon-to-be adopted daughter within the next couple of weeks and will hopefully bring her home soon after that. As you know, adoptions are pricey.

The Web site – The Mom Crowd – is hosting a raffle to raise funds to help with their substantial adoption costs. Each raffle ticket purchased will enter you into a drawing for amazing prizes listed here.

Raffle tickets are $5 each. The more raffle tickets you purchase, the more chances you will have to win.

The raffle ends midnight Wed. Sept. 24. Winners will be announced Fri. Sept. 26. Click here to purchase tickets.