Kids and politics, where do we begin?

It’s impossible to deny that our kids are witnessing quite a bit of turmoil relative to the political landscape in our country today. While it might be at school, at a friend’s house, on the nightly news or social media, young children are concerned about what they see and hear. Some things they see or hear may even be upsetting or confusing to them.

What to do? How do parents navigate this touchy area? Is it best to talk about it, wait until your child brings up the topic, or ignore it altogether? Most important, how to we teach our children to make their own independent decisions without leaning the … Read More...

Children’s books to understand emotions


There’s no better feeling than seeing a child losing themselves in the world of a favorite fictional character.

The benefits of reading go far beyond literacy: An emerging body of research brings to light how stories have the undeniable power to bring emotions to life, and help children understand and handle their own feelings and those of others.

The process of understanding and managing feelings and emotions usually happens quite naturally when children are given ample opportunity to:

  •         authentically feel a range of feelings
  •         have a chance to reflect on their feelings and decisions
  •         problem solve as they grow and learn
  •         observe others experiencing a range of emotions and feelings

Reasons to Consider Pet Adoption

Adopting a pet has many advantages, some of which you may not have thought of. Here are some reasons why pet adoption would benefit you and your family.


You are saving a life – The most obvious reason of them all is you are saving an animal’s life.  By adopting from a shelter, you are providing an animal with the second chance they deserve. Shelters work tirelessly to nurse animals to optimum health, rehabilitate disturbed animals, and do everything they possibly can to ensure they are prepared to go to a new home. By adopting a pet you can give an animal that has lost their home through no Read More...

Get out of your comfort zone, learn how to do something you never thought possible

This past weekend Roxie the Doxie and I traveled to Joliet, Illinois to compete in a Nose Work competition, level 1.  Nose work is a sport where the dog is trained to locate the source of a specific odor: birch, anise, and clove.  The very tiny amount, super tiny, is put on a Q-tip and placed in a small container and hidden.  The dog has to find the container and “alert” the handler.  They have to search in four different elements: exteriors,  interiors,  in containers, and on vehicles.  No easy task!

For vehicles, there are three cars and the scent is hidden on only one of them. In the container … Read More...

Deja Vu All Over Again – I Knew I Would Adopt One day

By Maura McLarty

Megs and Jimmy as young kids.

My friend sent me a children’s book called “Roxie the Doxie Finds Her Forever Home“. It’s a beautiful book about a little dachshund named Roxie who needs a permanent home. Her foster mother explains that a “forever home” for Roxie has been found. Roxie has lots of questions about adoption and the book explores these topics. This book touches my heart for two very perfect reasons.

At age 6, before I had any understanding about the birds and bees , I knew that I would adopt children. It wasn’t because I was trying to be a heroine, or change … Read More...

Meet Renee Smola, the therapist who wrote the guides for our latest book

Meet Renee Smola, the therapist who wrote the parent and clinician guide for our latest book.


Renee Smola has been working with children in residential and in private practice since 1995. She is certified as a Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (TF-CBT) working with children who have been severely abused and neglected. Renee owns a midsized counseling agency in St. Louis where she supervises other counselors, provides counseling and offers trainings to Children’s Division, Parent Aides and school districts.

Additionally, she teaches part time at two local colleges. In her spare time, Renée volunteers as a board member for the Missouri Mental Health Counselor Association and is the President of … Read More...

No, Adoption is Not Like in the Movies…


If you believe TV and movies, adoption is pretty easy, you happily somehow “sign up” to adopt, maybe get a home visit from a smiling social worker, or sometimes the situation is not realistic and suddenly you receive a made to order child. Maybe in the movies, but in real life, not so much.  Some movies that deal with this topic you may not even realize are very popular today, like The Blind Side, Elf, Disney’s Tarzan, Superman, Kung Fu Panda 2 and many more. Adoption is not like in the movies and is very challenging emotional and mental process. During the adoption process, you will find yourself … Read More...

Kids Say “We Aren’t Little Adults”!


Back when I was in clinical practice I was often amazed at the insight young children had related to how others viewed them. The most compelling thing that kids would tell me was “adults just don’t think our feelings matter. They think because we are kids, our feelings are not important”!

I would ask them what they meant by that. They would explain that if they were sad or upset about something, often their very well meaning, probably busy and stressed parents would say “oh well tomorrow is another day” or “it will pass don’t worry”, without really asking them “what are you sad about” or “did something happen that … Read More...