Archive for the ‘Art Therapy’ Category

Got problems? 3 things you can do to help your child become more resourceful and resilient

April 17th, 2012

We all want to teach children to be resourceful and resilient. As adults we see the necessity of learning how to cope with difficulties and find the strength and resources to overcome adverse situations. No matter who you are, and how you were raised, there will be times when you encounter problems and you must decide what to do.

 

Obstacles are opportunities in disguise. Understanding this statement may help you the next time your child (or you) encounters a problem. When your child encounters a problem they are building up their natural abilities to create solutions and figure out how to do or think differently. Our “emergency response system ” to the problems we encounter starts to be developed in childhood. If a child learns to get their needs met by a specific behavior they will continue that behavior. Even if they do not get their needs met they may repeat the same behaviors due to learned helplessness.

 

Think about your own moments when you’ve struggled with a problem you have had no control over. What type of behavior did you exhibit? When this happened did you meltdown in tears, stuff your feelings, push through the obstacle, blame others, act helpless, or act out? If you’ve had these moments you’ve probably slipped into childlike thoughts, feelings, and behaviors perhaps because you didn’t have a parent or adult that modeled appropriate ways to get your needs met or how to communicate what you needed. Although we’ve all had these moments we can teach children a different way to cope with adversity.

 

Here are 3 things you can do to help your child become more resourceful and resilient:

 

1. Lovingly let them struggle

 

Yup! Sometimes when you jump in to help too quickly you take away an opportunity for your child to learn how to overcome the problem. Unless it is a safety issue, give your child some space to figure it out before you step in. Do this in a gentle loving manner.

 

2. Offer support not solutions

 

Rather than jumping in and coming up with answers allow your child a chance to talk about their options. Just by listening you allow them an opportunity to figure things out on their own. This works wonderfully with teens & partners too!

 

3. Let them know you love them

 

Sometimes their solutions will be different than yours. That’s OK. They are learning to figure it out in their own way. Reinforce that you love them even when you may not love their choices.

 

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:           

 

As adults when we encounter obstacles and revert back to childlike behaviors we have an opportunity for a “do-over”. We can give ourselves what we didn’t get as children. Pull out the finger paints or some messy art materials the next time you feel overwhelmed by an obstacle. Create two images. The first image create what you are feeling- allow yourself to express all your emotions. In the second image create marks, colors, and words your inner child would like to hear to help soothe and comfort that aspect of yourself.

 

Use this tool with your child too. Before you jump into to fix or problem solve, provide your child with a creative outlet for expression of their feelings- then listen without judgment to what they choose to share.

 

If you are in the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Venice Florida area and you are looking for child therapy, we can help. Schedule a Support Consultation here. Want lots more empowering creative tools? Join our NEW Supportive, Non-Judgmental & Downright Awesome Community of Parents & Professionals committed to lovingly transforming the lives of children across the globe.

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As a parent what do you choose to reflect?

April 5th, 2012

Every moment in connection with another is a moment where we can choose to uplift or negate another’s experience. Think about this for a minute. Each encounter with a child, partner, friend, community member, and even moments by yourself, are moments when you are given a choice. You can understand, validate, hear, honor, regard, witness, listen, or you can disregard, threaten, punish, negate, challenge, shame or diminish (of course there are many more choices too).

Yes, life is stressful and at times our tempers are short, we don’t have the desire to hear things, we are super busy and frankly just want things to be taken care of without having to ask another 100 times. Oh how human we are!

Here’s a valuable insight to help you navigate these moments- you are reflecting to others what is inside of you. You may ask your partner to listen, beg your child to do what you’ve asked, felt frustrated that you are not heard or respected, and at the core the question to ask yourself is are you respecting, listening to and honoring yourself?

We cannot ask others to give to us, what we do not give to ourselves. Now before your mind jumps ahead to reasons why this is not possible, or if you catch yourself moving into critical, blaming or shaming thoughts, take a deep breath-EXHALE.

How can you choose to honor, respect, listen to, validate yourself? In every moment when you desire to be critical or negative towards yourself or others, pause and exhale. Ask yourself what you choose to reflect.

CQ Playful Creative Activity:

Take out a piece of paper, collage materials, markers, pastels, or paint. Find a quiet place to work. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself, what is it that I need to hear right now? Allow yourself the space to explore with the art materials. Hold whatever you create with loving kindness and allow any judgments or negative thoughts to be released.

When you take the time to honor and witness your thoughts and feelings (both good and bad) you’ll likely feel re-energized, nourished, and ready to reflect your inner calm to those around you.

Want lots more empowering creative tools? Join our NEW Supportive, Non-Judgmental & Downright Awesome Community of Parents & Professionals committed to lovingly transforming the lives of children across the globe.

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My good kid has gone bad

February 6th, 2012

What happens when a good kid starts to show some bad behaviors?

Your child or a child you work with all of sudden starts to act out in ways you haven’t seen before. Maybe it’s a refusal to listen, difficulties with peers, acting out or being aggressive, shutting down and saying, “whatever”. You notice they have begun to have an attitude, maybe they are getting in trouble, or perhaps their teacher is worried.  It seems sudden and a bit random and you aren’t sure what’s going on.

Here are 5 ways you can use art and creativity to understand a child’s negative behaviors and teach your child some tools to manage their behaviors.

1.     Use art as a self-calming and self- soothing tool. Before your child becomes so overwhelmed and acts out or shuts down bring in some art activities. Choose art materials that are calming such as chalk pastels, markers, or modeling clay. Have a basket of calming activities to choose from and take an art break before your child loses control of their emotions. As a parent or teacher you want to notice what triggers your child and redirect behaviors before they become full blown meltdowns or shutdowns.

2.     Use art to understand your child’s point of view. You may think that things at school are just fine, but your child may not feel that way at all. Sometimes children have a hard time identifying or articulating what’s bothering them. Use piece of paper and markers or crayons and ask your child to draw a picture of their classroom; then ask them to tell you what they created and listen. You may learn about stressors and triggers that upset your child. Make sure you fully listen without trying to jump in and problem solve.

3.     Use art to understand your child’s perception of home. Ask your child to create a picture of your family together. You’ll learn about your child’s point of view of your family when you listen without interruption as your child shares what they created. This is a touchy topic for many parents. Be aware of your response. If your child explains things that you feel are “not true” be aware of how this triggers you and what your initial response is.  Your child will have a difficult time safely expressing their feelings if you become upset when they share. Be open, curious, and ask questions help you understand.

4.     Use art to solve the problem. If your child identifies problems at home or at school (if age appropriate) ask your child to make an image of what they could do about that problem. Remember that you are encouraging your child to express themselves, therefore, they may create a silly or “inappropriate” solution. Don’t lecture. Let them know that’s an option and ask them about other options they could choose, and come up with a bunch. At the end of exploring options together discuss the consequences of each option by asking questions such as, what would happen if you did that?

5.     Use art as a way to teach positive social behaviors. Sometimes a child has a hard time getting along with their peers and siblings. You can use art to sneak in teaching positive ways to behave socially. Set up some play rules and have the children/siblings work together on a common goal, such as building or drawing something. When problems arise, point out the rules and use it as a teaching opportunity. Use the experience to help identify and label feelings and work together to create solutions. Children will learn socially appropriate behaviors while having fun.

Got a child who quickly goes from happy to meltdowns in less that the count of 5? Then it’s time to teach them new coping tools to help them become aware of their emotions and behaviors. If you are in the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Venice Florida area and you would like more support we can help. Schedule a Support Consultation here.

If you don’t live in the area, don’t worry. I created parenting resources to help children and teens you can immediately download and implement to help your child.

P.S.- CQ disclaimer: The CQ believes that there’s no such thing as a BAD child, just BAD behaviors and these tools can help.

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Creative Tips to Reduce Stress

January 9th, 2012

Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out?

When your brain is stressed out it becomes flooded with peptides and hormones and you may be unable to process information.

Take a creative break!

Color a Mandala- Trace a circle the size of a paper plate and use colored pencils or markers and fill in the circle with any pattern or designs. Notice how you feel calmer and more centered.

Play with play-doh- Squish the colors, play with shapes, smell the dough. These sensory activities will help you calm and self-soothe.

Do a brain dump- If you’ve got too many thoughts swirling around in your head you can easily become overwhelmed. Take a piece of paper and write down all the things that you’re feeling stressed about. Then rip it or crumple it up and throw it away. Pick one thing to focus on and give your full attention to that.

Create a calm collage- Look though magazines and cut out words and images that are calming and centering. Paste them on paper and put them above your desk. When you need a reminder, look at the image.

Doodle- Research published in the Applied Psychology Journal suggests that doodling while listening will help you remember details. Have a pad colored pencils or markers and a pad on-hand during your next meeting.

If you have stress in your personal life or you’re worried about other family members, your work may be affected.
Need more support?

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Want a Happy Child? Positive Psychology & Creative Gratitude Strategies to Reduce Depression

November 15th, 2011

What are your thoughts on happiness? It seems like you either have it or you don’t, and as a society we are continually pursuing it. Heck, it’s even a constitutional right here in the U.S. as decreed in the Declaration of Independence. These days Happiness is a Hot Topic in therapeutic research and for those whose lives are impacted by mood disorders and depression there are some hopeful findings. Interestingly enough the research on Positive Psychology (yes, the study of happiness) suggests focusing on our strengths and giving gratitude daily can reduce symptoms of depression and long-term change. Now that is something to be very grateful for!

Positive Psychology is the study of mental well-being encompassing positive emotions, and character traits (Park et al., 2005). The research offers some insight into happiness and how much we control we have over our happiness.  David Lykken studied 4,000 sets of twins to determine how genetic influence happiness.  Lykken concluded 50% of our happiness comes from genetic predisposition.  Moreover only 8% of circumstantial factors (life events) influence an individual’s well-being.  Gratitude appears to be linked to happiness and quality of life.

Research by Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests doing five acts of kindness increased overall happiness.  Moreover, Robert Emmons found gratitude exercises improved health and energy levels, especially for those with neuromuscular disease (Wallis, 2005).

Martin Seligman and his colleagues (Park et al., 2005) studied positive psychology interventions using the internet to collect data. They presented one of five exercises to participants and one placebo (or fake intervention).

The five exercises were:

  • gratitude visit (write and deliver a letter of thanks),
  • three good things in life (document three positive experiences daily),
  • you at your best (write about a time they were at their best),
  • using signature strengths in an new way (using top five strengths identified on inventory of character strengths in a new way),
  • identifying signature strengths (take the survey of character strengths),
  • and the placebo intervention: early memories (write about earliest memories).

The results suggest that two interventions reduced depressive symptoms and increased happiness for six months, using your signature strengths in a new way and three good things.

The gratitude visit caused a spike in positive change for one month, however within three months participants resumed their baseline status.  Notably, those who participated in three good things saw an increase in positive affect at the one-month follow-up and they maintained this positive affect at the six-month follow-up. In addition, using signature strengths in a new way yielded long-term change in affect at the six-month follow-up, but immediate effects were not as pronounced as three good things.

So what can you take away from this article and apply in your own life?

Happiness is not “fixed” or genetically based; so you can increase your happiness and there are some specific strategies you can use such as learning what your signature strengths are and using them in a new and novel way. Also, a very simple tool of three good things in life, documenting three positive experiences daily, may reduce symptoms of depression.

You can use art and art therapy practices to help reduce depression and increase happiness by creating a a daily gratitude practice. Write in a journal, ask your children to name three good things at dinnertime or bedtime, create an art journal and draw, paint, or collage images of three good things that happen each day. Create a gratitude box and each day add words, objects, and images to it and when you are feeling down go back and look at what you added to the box. Document three good things with your camera each day and if you have a social media page start a daily gratitude post or share a daily gratitude picture. Do this daily and see how it impacts your mood over the next 3-months.

Of course, if you or your child has any symptoms of depression or concerns please seek out the support of a professional immediately, and if it is an emergency call 911. If you or your child is in need more support you can schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking here.

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Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Art Therapy For Depression

November 11th, 2011

child depressedIf you are suffering from depression there has been a tremendous amount of research that suggests that Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an effective form of treatment. The recent research on positive psychology that suggests it may be complementary to CBT interventions as it relates to depression. Moreover, how can we use art therapy to reinforce these theories and interventions?

Garratt, Ilardi, and Karwoski (2006) offer a compelling article on the integration of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and positive psychology for the treatment of depression. The authors present the two primary goals of cognitive behavioral therapy, modifying dysfunctional thoughts and creating long-term cognitive skills to reduce relapse. The meteoric popularity of CBT as a treatment modality arose with Beck’s research of CBT and depression. However, studies suggest that long-term recovery is sustained in less than half of the clients who receive CBT for treatment of depression. It is the implication of long term success with clients that leads the authors to explore the principles of positive psychology as it relates to cognitive behavioral therapy.

The article suggests the conceptual overlap between CBT interventions and positive psychology approach, including a strong therapeutic alliance, focus on distinct goals, here-and-now focus, cognitive reappraisal, and client collaboration. Moreover, the authors suggest there is an overlap in techniques that are congruent in both CBT and positive psychology. Both encourage pleasant activities scheduling, identifying and reviewing success experiences, mood monitoring, relaxation training, and problem-solving. The authors suggest that positive psychology can provide CBT with the opportunities to move beyond removing negative affect, consequently moving the client towards positive affect, influencing quality of life. The positive psychology constructs that could blend with CBT to reduce depression and enhance over all well-being include: capitalizing on strengths, instilling hope, flow (being absorbed in the moment while engaged in an activity), mindfulness (being fully present), addressing unsolvable problems, optimism training, meaning, physical exercise, and humor.

The aforementioned interventions blend well with art therapy. Using art the art therapist can capitalize on the inherent creative strengths of the individual. Creating a picture of what the individual can imagine as a possible positive outcome can instill a sense of hope and provide a tangible road map to achieve their goals. Flow and mindfulness occurs when the individual is fully present in the creative process and is often accomplished in an art therapy session. The art making process can be used to explore choices for problems that appear unsolvable, and create meaning and purpose for the individual. Therefore, art therapy offers a bridge to CBT and positive psychology by the process of using therapeutic art interventions that reinforce the tenants of these two theories.

If you live the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton area child art therapy can help your child develop new coping strategies to overcome their depression . To learn more sign-up for your complimentary child support consultation here.

If you don’t live in the area, don’t worry. I created parenting resources to help children and teens you can immediately download and implement to help your child. You can lean more here .

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Sexual Abuse and Trauma Treatment for Children

October 18th, 2011

Children respond to sexual abuse in their own way and each person processes their experiences individually. Depending upon the relationship with the perpetrator a child may feel shame, self-blame, and guilt. They may experience dissociation, whereby they become disconnected emotionally as a way to cope with the sexual trauma.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) responses include triggers of smells, tasted, textures, places or other sensory or physical experiences that may cause the child to re-experience the trauma. A child may become regressive in their behaviors and take on younger developmental behaviors such as sleeping with the lights on. Their endocrine system, which regulates the body, may be taxed to to continual stress and hypo-arousal. Children may developed physical illnesses, such as ulcers, in response to sexual abuse.

As they mature they may struggle with wanting to feel loved and how to be receptive to affection and expressing their sexuality. They maybe overtly sexual in an attempt to assert control and power or to feel validated and loved, or they may withdraw from expressing their sexuality and may feel threatened or vulnerable in close relationships.

They may seek out ways to feel in control of their feelings or body, such as using eating restrictions or self-injurious behaviors (cutting/ substance use) as a way to manage their feelings. They may also sublimate their feelings and become over ambitious in sports or in school and later in life use work as a means of control and power (and perhaps as a means of  avoiding feelings).

If your child has experienced trauma art therapy can help. Click here to schedule a child support consultation.

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Sarasota Therapy Group for Children: Art Therapy Group Now Forming

October 4th, 2011

Child Therapy Group for Children in the Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Lakewood Ranch area

Do you have a child between the ages of 9-13 who struggles with school, friendships, or siblings?

Do they easily become frustrated, worried, or angered?

Are you looking for a group to help your child learn new positive behaviors?

ART THERAPY GROUP is Now Forming!

Using Art To:
★ build confidence
★ learn positive ways to communicate
★ develop friendship skills
★ manage frustration & worries

Using art and creative problem solving children learn coping and communication skills  to help them positively express their feelings, make positive choices, connect with peers, develop their social skills, and increase self-esteem.
Ages 9-13
Tuesdays 4:00-5:00 pm
October 25th- November 29th

Call Dr. Laura Dessauer (941) 504-8498 for more information and to register!

Therapy groups for children in the Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Lakewood Ranch area.

Space is Limited Call to Register Today or Email laura@thecreativityqueen.com with your child’s name, age, what support your child needs,  your phone number and email and the best time and way to reach you.

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Anxious Child? Here’s a Creative Solution

October 4th, 2011

Did you know that children’s mental health statistics suggest as many as 1 in 10 young people may have an anxiety disorder?

Did you know that 8 percent of children between the ages of 13-18 have an anxiety disorder?  The National Institute of Mental Health notes that symptoms commonly emerge around age 6. However, of the children who experience symptoms of anxiety, only 18 percent received mental health care.  And if you are a parent who is anxious, studies suggest that children or adolescents are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if their parents have anxiety disorders (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).

Stress, worries, anxiety, fear- it’s all part of life. Yet, if we are not given the opportunity to express our fears and realize that it’s okay to feel scared (worried, etc) and learn tools to manage these feelings we may develop an anxious disposition. Part of it may be biological, just the way we are hardwired. However, it is believed that genetics only shapes us by 50%, the remaining 50% is environment, situations, people, and perceptions. So we have control over half of our worries and can learn the tools to manage these feelings. The interesting thing about anxiety is that it is often overlooked, yet it has lasting impacts. If a child is anxious they often internalize their feelings and they do not get the attention that a child who is acting out gets. However, this internalization may lead to feeling of inadequacy, self-criticism, and may trigger addictive and self-harming behavior.

The National Institute of Mental Health noted that, “studies on treating childhood anxiety disorders found that high-quality cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), given with or without medication, can effectively treat anxiety disorders in children.  One small study even found that a behavioral therapy designed to treat social phobia in children was more effective than an antidepressant medication.” Essentially, if your child suffers from anxiety, they can be helped in therapy, and they can learn strategies to reduce their anxiety.

Okay- so what’s a parent to do? Here’s a creative solution. Ask your child to create an image of what is bothering them. So if there is a certain situation (like homework or going back to school) or person (like a classmate) that triggers their anxiety and worries ask them to make a picture of it. Allow them to create without censorship or judgment. Ask them if they would like share what they created (“no” is an acceptable answer). Here’s the important part, listen to what they say without offering your perspective. Instead be empathetic and validate their feelings. After listening without offering advice ask your child questions about what the person in the drawing could do or think differently so they feel more in control and less worried. Allow your child to be creative in their responses.

Allowing flexible creative divergent thinking helpings your child re-pattern their brain neural pathways helping your child think in terms of what’s possible. There are other specific cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies we will be teaching in our art therapy group to help your child reduce the physiological impacts of anxiety and stress. Even if your child has normal worries about homework and friends this fun and creative group will give your child some cognitive and behavioral tools to tackle worries when they arise!

If you have a child between the ages of 9-13 in need of more support we are offering a children’s therapy group in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, or Venice area . We’ll be offering an art therapy  group and teaching some very cool art therapy strategies to help your child feel more confident and happier. You can learn more about the group by sending an email with your child’s name, age, what support your child needs, your phone number and email (and the best time and way to reach you) to laura@thecreativityqueen.com We’ll get back to you with the group details and answer any questions you may have.

If you don’t live in the area, don’t worry. I created parenting resources to help children and teens you can immediately download and implement to help your child. You can lean more here .

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Setting Up Children for Success

October 3rd, 2011
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”
~Sydney J. Harris

Join Candace Vorhaus and Dr. Laura Dessauer

for a 60 Minute Tele-Seminar
– If you have a phone, you’re there! –
(Recording will be made available for download)

Wednesday October 19th, 2011
8pm ET/ 5pm PT
Fee: $47
Help Your Child be Successful Using the Unique Principles of Feng Shui & Art Therapy
In this 60 minute tele-seminar, Candace will share her C3D Feng Shui solutions to an environment that supports children to maximize their learning experience, increase self confidence, and get along better with friends and relatives.  Did you know that the improper placement of a desk can cause children to go unnoticed, feel out of control, and cause an inability to see problems coming?  Did you know that a bed in a poor position can cause anxiety, mood swings, headaches and insomnia?  Did you know that a a door to a bedroom that is misaligned can create family conflict?

In the C3D Feng Shui portion of this tele-seminar, Candace will share:

  • The best desk placement to increase IQ
  • The most important bed placement to give children confidence
  • A method for children to feel safe in their beds
  • How to handle electro magnetic fields that can cause irritability, insomnia and increase stress
  • An easy way to correcting beams, slants and poor door placements to avoid emotional instability and physical disorders
  • The design details that can create a bully with simple environmental solutions
  • A color palette to support children’s success and happiness

Click Here to Register

Dr. Laura Dessauer, board certified art therapist, will teach Creative Parenting strategies from the Head and Heart System to help your child creatively manage their emotions and behaviors.  She’ll share with you her art therapy toolbox to help your child shift their behaviors, change communication patterns, and eliminate power struggles, meltdowns, and shutdowns to help your child feel happier.

With Dr. Laura Dessauer you’ll learn:

  • Creative strategies to help your child manage their behaviors and feelings.
  • How to help your child shift behaviors and finally get your child to listen to you.
  • What you may be doing (or not doing) that is negatively impacting your child and what you can do instead.
  • Signs and signals that your child may need additional support and what to look for in a therapist or doctor to ensure your child is getting the best help.

Dr. Laura Dessauer’s mission is to teach children, parents, and professionals creative ways to connect and communicate with respect and compassion, so children feel happier and more confident. As the founder of the Creativity Queen, LLC, Laura’s a Board Certified Art Therapist with a doctorate degree in counseling psychology offering individual and family art therapy sessions and professional trainings. Laura has worked with families for 23 + years in over 21 school districts and she has been featured in Parent’s Magazine, eHow Parenting, YourTango, FoxNews, PBS This Emotional Life, Working Mother, Head Drama, Gal Drama, and Psychology Today. Laura is recognized as an international presenter, esteemed clinician, author, and her business, the Creativity Queen, LLC, was the winner of the 2007 Small Business of the Year Award (SCORE).

Visit www.thecreativityqueen.com to receive your free audio mini-course Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff)

Click Here to Register

The process is easy:

After you register, you will be sent a conference call telephone number you can dial into and listen from wherever you are.  After the call, you will be sent an audio file from YouSendIt.com within 24 hours.

Whether you are on the call live or prefer to listen at another time, a recording of the call will be made available to each participant to download to a computer or iPod.

Candace believes focusing on your personal space is the missing link to lifelong fulfillment and happiness.  In her work with clients, Candace emphasizes C3D Feng Shui: Color, Clutter, Ch’i (life force), and Design.  A classically trained interior designer with over 20 years experience, Candace is the recognized leading Feng Shui consultant in the world-famous Hamptons, also advising clients worldwide.  Candace is also a well known heart-centered spiritual coach, and an original member of the International Association of Women in Business Coaching. Candace lives in Sag Harbor, New York, with her husband, Robbie, two children, and very cute dog, Ollie. For further information, contact Candace at: www.candacevorhaus.com

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