Friday, July 26, 2013

Supporting Families Affected by #FAS: A NEW partnership between Emory University and NOFAS Georgia!

Department of Psychiatry,
Behavioral Science and Pediatrics
“What lies behind us & what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I find it so surreal. I almost cannot believe this is happening, but it is and it's only going to get better. Our meeting at Emory went great!! Tracy and I are so happy in our role of strengthening NOFAS Georgia (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). We are even more honored to take part in a new partnership between NOFAS Georgia and Emory University that will allow us to offer support for families affected by ‪#‎FASD‬! Our hope is to quickly begin work in the Metro Atlanta area and then expand this network of support throughout the state so we can impact as many lives as possible!

Before now, NOFAS Georgia has held on by a string, thanks to the herculean efforts of Melissa Cook (a parent volunteer facing the same challenges as us) and the folks at Emory University. Tracy and I have joined Melissa, and the three of us have pledged ourselves to lead a parent initiative, through NOFAS Georgia, that will offer families in our state the support they so desperately need. Great things start from humble beginnings. Our goals are very modest...we just want to change the world!!! I just love a good fight. That's just me...challenge accepted!!!

Our Family's Story:
The girl that stole our hearts
My wife and I actually talked about adoption on our first date. We knew from the beginning that we had found a similar spirit in each other. I sincerely believe that divine providence lead our lives in that very direction. Our hearts led us first to become foster parents. I was an educator, with a particular love for early childhood education and Tracy would be a stay at home mom. We had been prayerful and saw this as the role we were meant to fulfill. We still wanted to adopt someday, but we put that on hold to answer the call of serving children and families in need. We went through the training, orientation, and evaluation that goes into becoming foster parents and soon had our very first placement. God blessed us with Aniah!

I held her in my she holds my heart in hers.
Aniah's birth mother had tried to do the right thing. She attempted to curb her drug use during pregnancy, but tragically turned to consuming greater amounts of alcohol instead. Aniah weighed a little over two lbs when she was born prematurely. We could cradle her in a single hand. Thankfully due to the close relationship we formed with her birth mother, we were made aware of so many details regarding the pregnancy. Aniah will struggle with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) her entire life. FASD is often referred to as the invisible disability. Thankfully, we knew what we were up against. This knowledge can be a unique blessing for any child suffering with FASD and we were determined to make the most of it. 

What is FASD?
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a group of conditions that can occur when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is a disability that lasts a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sept. 9th is now Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day in Georgia!

Georgia NOFAS (National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) is set to start moving mountains! September 9th is now ‪#‎FASD‬ Awareness Day thanks to the efforts my friend Melissa Cook (the author of this proclamation signed by our Governor) and her efforts on behalf of families dealing with FASD! So glad to be part of this revitalized GA NOFAS team, that includes the smart and talented Tracy Rodriguez! 

The effects of FASD have had a huge impact on our family. I've been blessed with so much information that has helped us and now we just want to offer our support to others. Once upon a time, I would have thought that despite my good intentions, my efforts wouldn't really make that much of a difference. I'm so glad to have left that thinking far behind me where it belongs. Wayne Gretzky was quoted as saying "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." I'm not sure how much we will be able to accomplish, but I truly believe the three of us are going to be getting a lot done. I am POSITIVE that it will be more than we ever expected, especially if we had just convinced ourselves not to act! This is just the beginning!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Feeding Your Brain AND Body: Our Family's Journey

**This is a guest post by a VERY special guest poster...Tracy Rodriguez!!! I am hoping she will accept a very low paying position as a regular commentator on nutrition and clean eating here at WiseLearners! Welcome Tracy!

Feeding our children well is so important for the development of their bodies and brains. When I say "well", I don't mean what taste good. What I mean is food packed with nutrition and healthy fats. I use to think I fed my family well. The boxes of food said things like "whole grain", "all natural", "fat free", "multigrain" and a whole host of other labels that are misleading. It turns out that I wasn't feeding my family well at all because I wasn't feeding them actual food. I'd like to share with you a little about how we went from eating processed products to real food. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The 4 types of parental involvement: Is there such a thing as too much?

Is that even a serious question?

When it comes to limits on parental involvement, I believe honestly that there is NO LIMIT at all! In fact, give me all you got! Where things seem to go wrong comes from the focus we sometimes place on some types of involvement to the exclusion of others. I don’t think we do this on purpose, but the effects are deleterious. This is where that sense of hopelessness first begins with parents that are so desperate to help their children, yet feel lost in regards to how and where to begin.  This may not make me popular, but teachers often do make this situation worse without even meaning to. Let me break it down the how and why.

3 Superpowers Your Kids Can Possess

BunnyGirl, IronRunt, and FrankenBro
Superheroes are cool!
Wouldn't it be great if we had super powers? I love superheroes, in fact my kids are pretty darned convinced that I may be one (and who am I to dissuade them). I think this is where my fascination with learning and the brain first started. Here you have these larger than life characters that are just beyond extraordinary! Some had superpowers that you just can't ever dream of duplicating, but others LEARNED how to become awesome! In fact, it is their brain that makes them truly standout! That's within OUR reach!