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Help your child learn and understand math

It’s that time of year again. Parents and teachers are doing everything they can to get students off on the right foot for the new school year. We want our children to make the most of every moment – every social interaction, science project, and yes, math class.

It’s not a secret that students in the United States consistently underperform in math. Although there are numerous plausible reasons for this, it seems likely that the content of math classes matters.

In typical U.S. math classes, students spend a lot of time learning step-by-step procedures. Although this isn’t inherently bad, the result is a lot of rote memorization without a lot of understanding. For example, why do you “carry the one” on certain subtraction problems? What does it mean to “do the same thing to both sides” of an algebraic equation? I still remember learning to “cross multiply and divide” and not knowing why. Without this deep understanding, students are unlikely to succeed when presented with new math problems and ideas.

One math idea that is particularly hard is fully understanding the equal sign. Students often misinterpret the equal sign, thinking it means “find the total” or “get the answer.” As a result, they solve many problems incorrectly by simply adding all the numbers they see. For example, for the problem 3 + 4 = 5 + __, they often write 12 in the blank (the sum of the numbers) as opposed to 2 (the correct answer).

So how can we get students to solve problems correctly and actually understand why it is correct? Based on research conducted at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, I have several suggestions. Although these minor changes will not solve all students’ struggles in math, they are easy to implement at home or at school and provide a step in the right direction.

1. Provide your child with many explanations of the concept. Too often we spend time telling students the steps to solve a problem without explaining the principles behind those steps. For example, explain to students that the equal sign means that two amounts are the same. In every problem with an equal sign, everything to the left of the equal sign should be the same amount as everything to the right of the equal sign. If I have 12 on the left side of the equal sign, how much has to be on the right side? 12! And repeat this in new contexts. Once is not enough!

2. Give your child a chance to apply the explanations. After hearing an explanation of the concept, students need a chance to use that information. Have students solve a variety of problems that rely on the concept. For example, after explaining the meaning of the equal sign to students, have them solve different types of arithmetic problems. Include problems with operations on the right side of the equal sign (e.g., __ = 3 + 4) and operations on both sides (e.g., 3 + 4 = 5 + __).

3. Have your child explain his or her answers to the problems. Students often benefit from having to put their own understanding into words. While they are solving relevant problems, have them explain how they got their answer and why they think it is correct. For example, for the problem 3 + 4 = 5 + __, you can ask students “Why does 2 make this a true number sentence?” or “Why is 2 the correct answer, but not some other number?”

Written by Emily Fyfe, a graduate student studying how children learn in math in the Psychology Department at Vanderbilt University. These suggestions are based on research conducted at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College under the direction of Dr. Bethany Rittle-Johnson.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the third trimester! Now it’s time to write down your desires for the big day. This is a great tool to make sure your medical team understands your wishes for labor, birth and immediate postpartum care. One or two pages is best; it doesn’t have to be long. Because pregnancy is dynamic, you won’t be able to orchestrate everything, but you can set the scene for what your ideal labor and birth will look like.

Here are five things to include when creating your birth plan:

  1. Who your support group will be. It’s often helpful for your care team to be able to call people by name and know who’s invited to the birth.
  2. Plans for pain management. Flexibility here is important, but it’s also wise to think about your wishes in advance. Pain management can include using the labor tub or shower, knowing your progress before choosing medication or trying nitrous oxide first.
  3. Any special equipment?  This could include a birth ball to sit on, a squat bar to hold on to while pushing, or a birth stool to help support a squatting position.
  4. Special requests. Do you want a mirror to watch or to receive the baby into your own hands? Does your partner want to help receive the baby or be the one to announce the gender or name if it’s a surprise?
  5. A contingency plan. If an induction or Cesarean section becomes necessary, what can give you a positive experience? For some women that means skin to skin contact as soon as possible and a visit from a lactation consultant the first day. One support person is usually invited to accompany mom to the operating room, so this and other standard procedures are not necessary to include in your plan.

It’s not a bad idea to bring your birth plan to a prenatal visit in the last month of pregnancy. A copy can easily be put in your chart, but don’t forget to bring an extra in your birth bag just in case. Happy birthing!

Bethany Sanders is a Certified Nurse Midwife and cares for women at the West End Women’s Health Center and Cole Family Practice. A graduate of Vanderbilt, she is thrilled to be back in Nashville after spending the last six years in rural Northeast Georgia. When not attending births or measuring pregnant bellies, she can be found at the local park chasing after her two-year-old son or talking about cloth diapers with anyone who will listen.

In July 2011, after my son Ethan’s second birthday, we started noticing he wasn’t talking as much as other children. He mostly said one word at a time, never combining more than two words.

He was a late crawler and walker so for the next few weeks we just hoped he would get the hang of it.

In August 2011, we started him in an at-home daycare, in hopes that maybe if he was around other children his age that would help him with verbal communication. We learned that Vanderbilt had a program called KidTalk, which provides intervention for young children with language delays.

Ethan joined the program in November 2011. He was diagnosed with a receptive language delay and tested on the low end of the spectrum for autism. As parents, Nick and I learned what works best for Ethan when it came to teaching him new words. We are so thankful for KidTalk and the wonderful staff; they were always eager to answer our questions, and they were very patient with us as we worked with Ethan to get him speaking on the appropriate age level.

Over the course of 18 months, we all worked with the staff. The visits were sometimes long, but the staff always put Ethan’s best interest first. Most visits consisted of Ethan working with a staff member answering questions through a work book, social interaction between Ethan and his father, and playtime with a staff member or Ethan’s dad.

Ethan’s last visit to KidTalk was in March 2013, and he no longer has receptive language delay. That all this happened before before he started preschool is a miracle.

At any given time the staff at Vanderbilt can be giving a child a heart to love, lungs to breathe or entertaining a child while they sit through a round of chemo. They’re also helping families like ours have an opportunity at an easier childhood.

Written by Ethan’s mom, Rhiannon Parsley

We’re excited to share a special series this month on Wishing Well: 31 Days of Miracles. As a founding partner of the Children’s Miracle Network, which turns 30 this year, we thought it would be fitting to share a collection of miracle stories from our hospital.

Join us each day as we share touching stories, told by our patients, their families and our staff, of health-related miracles involving everything from car accidents to organ transplants.

Stories of miracles can be found in every hallway and every room of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. But the miracles don’t stop in the hospital’s walls. They live on in the millions of special people we’ve treated over the years, wherever their lives have taken them.

You would do anything for your child. So would we. We’re honored to be a part of so many families’ lives.

Each day we will update this post with the most recent miracle from the series. We hope that what we share touches you. To ensure you don’t miss a post, subscribe to this blog here or follow us on Facebook.

Day 1: 31 Days of Miracles Overview
Day 2: Transplant Miracle: Meet Katie
Day 3: Heart Miracle: Meet Jamie
Day 4: Miracle: Meet Pearl Joy Brown
Day 5: Miracle: Baby Has Surgery Inside the Womb
Day 6: Hearing Miracle: Meet Chloe
Day 7: When Miracles Abound
Day 8: Cancer Miracle: Meet Allison
Day 9: Cleft Lip and Palate Miracle: Meet Fin
Day 10:Brain Tumor Miracle: Meet Hannah
Day 11: Speaking Miracle: Meet Ethan
Day 12: NICU Miracle: Meet Lily
Day 13: Ewing Sarcoma Miracle: Meet Miranda
Day 14: Miracles Come in Surprise Packaging
Day 15: Car Accident Miracle: Meet Brittany
Day 16: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) Miracles: Meet Jonah and Emory
Day 17: Eating Disorder Miracle: Meet Hannah
Day 18: Amputation Miracle: Meet Jay
Day 19: NICU Miracles: Meet Eli & Isaac
Day 20: The Miracle of Music
Day 21: The Miracle of Twins (and Every Other Child)
Day 22: Spina Bifida Miracle: Meet Katie
Day 23: Health Miracle: Meet Matthew Brown
Day 24: Cancer Miracle: Meet Brieanan
Day 25: Down Syndrome Miracle: Meet Lillian
Day 26: The Bare Bones of Miracles
Day 27: Miracle: Cool Cap for Cool Baby Maddox
Day 28: NICU Miracle: Meet Maddie
Day 29: Birth Defect Miracle: Meet Miracle and Destiny
Day 30: An Orthopaedic Miracle: Meet Kayla
Day 31: A Halloween Heart Miracle: Meet Sam

 

Shabnam Aminmadani
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Shabnam heads the Human Resources department of a locally based company. She started blogging in 2006 to keep her Spanish husband’s family informed of the milestones and day-to-day antics of the first grandchild. She is a mother of three and can often be found driving her kids to soccer practice in the minivan she had vowed she’d never drive (yet now she can’t imagine life without it). In her free time she enjoys photography, tennis, and reading to her children. She is a contributor for the local site Bringing Up Nashville, and you can read about some of her parenting adventures on her personal blog, NoTodoYago.

Maura Ammenheuser
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Maura is a web content producer for strategic marketing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A longtime journalist, she’s written and edited for many newspapers and websites, especially about health/wellness and parenting. Maura is mother to a teen and a tween, who astonish her not only with their brilliance and charm but total inability to turn off lights. Maura is an enthusiastic foodie but lazy cook; the slow cooker is her best friend, but her ultimate fantasy is a personal chef. When she’s not micromanaging the household, Maura is walking, swimming or trying to sneak off with a book and some dark chocolate.

 

Tobi AmosunTobi Amosun, M.D.
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Tobi is a pediatrician, wife and mother to two active young children. She works for Vanderbilt in the After-Hours Clinics and Fast Track. She moved back to Nashville in 2009 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after getting her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt. She loves traveling, cooking for people, throwing parties and aspiring to be as cool as her Pinterest boards. Tobi is the type of person you definitely want to have as a buddy in case your kid gets sick in the middle of the night. Or in case of a zombie apocalypse.

 

Katie Beard
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Katie Beard is a Certified Child Life Specialist working in the Hematology/Oncology Division of Children’s Hospital who looks forward to coming to work every day. She spends her days helping pediatric patients cope with their clinic visits by providing education about cancer and other chronic illnesses, preparing patients for many different procedures, and providing fun in a variety of ways. Her day may include painting with syringes, taking deep breaths with patients, laughing at Laffy Taffy jokes, and celebrating a last chemotherapy treatment with her patients. Katie’s nieces and nephew make her laugh more than anyone and she enjoys having pretend tea and sword fights. Katie enjoys photography, traveling, and writing for blogs and in her journal. Katie loves to learn and seeks new information from colleagues, blogs, publications, and social media.

 

Marlee CrankshawMarlee Crankshaw, DNP, CNML
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Marlee is the administrative director of nursing for neonatal services at the Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. In her 30+ year career, she has grown from bedside nurse to charge nurse to case manager, director, and now administrative director. She has raised four children and now loves being a grandmother to 13! She feels she has been richly blessed with her career and her family. Her time away from work is spent writing, enjoying home and family and finding reasons to have large family dinners—which she happily refers to as ‘blessed chaos’.

 

Ashley CulverAshley Culver
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Ashley Culver is the media relations manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She coordinates media relations efforts with print, broadcast and electronic news media. She first joined Vanderbilt in 2007. Ashley and her husband both grew up in Nashville and currently live in the 12 South area with their son Theo and dog Nala. In her spare time, Ashley loves running and writing songs on her upright piano or acoustic guitar.

Chris Dodd MDChris Dodd, M.D., Ph.D.
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Chris is a native of Williamson County and a graduate of Brentwood High school. He moved to Alabama for college and lived there for much of his adult life before returning to Middle Tennessee in 2012 to work at Vanderbilt. He and his wife have three children and enjoy being involved in their community either through community service, their church or their kid’s programs. Chris loves to garden, run, and canoe (when he can)!  One of his lifetime aspirations is to hike the Appalachian trail, and with each passing year, that goal seems more elusive.

Amy Donovan
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Amy Donovan is the blogger behind Fearless Homemaker, where she documents her navigation through the world of homemaking – taking care of her family, cooking, baking, making cocktails, throwing parties, and crafting. She’s the wife to a clever architect, a mother to a wonderful newborn girl, a yoga lover, + a social media junkie. She was raised in Boston but moved down to Nashville over 10 years ago to attend Vanderbilt University, and fell in love with the gorgeous South. She now lives in fabulous East Nashville, in a charming little home with her always-willing-to-taste-test husband, their happy newborn daughter, and their lovable pup.

Christina Echegaray
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Christina serves as editor of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt publication, Hope, and contributes stories involving Children’s Hospital to other Vanderbilt News and Communications publications, social media and websites. She is a former journalist, having covered everything from education to health, sharing people’s unique stories and informing the public. When not at work, Christina’s often at her son’s little league baseball games or watching a Major League Baseball game (or any just about any sporting event) – on television or in person – with her family.

Lindsay FerrierLindsay Ferrier
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Lindsay wears a number of hats in the online world. In addition to authoring the award-winning parenting blog “Suburban Turmoil,” she’s host of the popular web series “I’ll Take That Dare” for CafeMom Studios, which is now in its third season. Lindsay is mom to 8 and 5-year-old children and stepmom to 19 and 21-year-old girls. In her spare time, she enjoys sleeping.

Leisa A. Hammett
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For 19 years, book author, blogger and speaker Leisa A. Hammett has navigated the parenting journey with her artist daughter, Grace Goad–much of it traveled as a single mother and 15 years of it with the known diagnosis of her daughter’s “disAbility.” The enigmatic disorder of autism, which severely limits her daughter’s speech and challenges her intellectually, among other hurdles, turned out to be the greatest opportunity of Leisa’s life. She has learned to embrace what really matters in life, the beauty in different, the gift of patience, the importance of tolerance and that her daughter is her greatest teacher. Leisa has worked in public relations and owned a small corporate communications business in Atlanta and has freelanced for national newspapers and magazines. About 10 years ago, she began writing about the experience of living with disAbility via books (one published and another in process) and on her blog, “The Journey with Grace.” Her still yet fully unexplored passion, all these years since she graduated from an arts high school, is making her own visual two and three-dimensional art. For now, she enjoys painting pictures with her camera.

Kelly Hancock
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With a common sense approach to money management that starts at the grocery store, Kelly is a mother of two whose fun, fresh ideas leave you with more money and more time. As the founder of the popular money-saving blog, FaithfulProvisions.com, Kelly shares her practical approach to cost-cutting, as well as her generous view on giving back, with readers every day. Her passion for serving others by teaching them the valuable lessons of grocery savings began as a newsletter and evolved into a blog. From there, Kelly became an author, writing her first book, Saving Savvy, which is currently in stores everywhere. An advocate for global orphan needs, Kelly has traveled to Equador with Operation Christmas Child and to Nicaragua with Compassion International. Her authenticity as a trusted voice for moms has served her readers well and built the perfect platform to work with brands like Lifetime, Chick-fil-A, VeggieTales, Tropicana, Kroger, Chili’s, and LifeWay. Kelly also has appeared in various media outlets including Moody Radio, Better TV, DaveRamsey.com, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, People.com, and iVillage.com. Kelly, her husband Bradford, and their children make their home in Franklin, TN. Connect with Kelly on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Sydney RobinsonSydney Hutson
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Sydney is a creative soul who enjoys pouring her heart into the things she loves and creating life with her best friend/husband. Her feisty one-year-old daughter keeps her on her toes and leads her to pursue more natural and creative ways of living. She documents her journey of motherhood by writing love letters to her daughter on her blog, Dear London June, and is an administrator and advocate for Project:Breastfeeding. When Sydney isn’t busy cleaning cloth diapers or applying essential oils, she can be found at local thrift stores and yard sales searching for the perfect piece to rescue, restore and repurpose. Ideally, she would have her own HGTV show.

Jessica Miller Kelley
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Jessica is a working mom, pastor’s wife, and Christian book editor in Nashville, Tennessee. With two biological daughters and a special needs foster child who has been with them for over a year, life is full of gymnastics (literal and metaphorical), church activities, and therapy appointments. When the pint-size night-owls are finally in bed, she enjoys relaxing with wine, a good book or TV series, and her equally-tired husband. Jessica acquires and edits books for Westminster John Knox Press, based in her hometown of Louisville, and blogs about parenting, foster care, and family fun at The Parsonage Family.

 

Alisha LampleyAlisha Lampley
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Alisha is the founder of Coily Locks. She has been married to Jeff for 13 years and they have two beautiful daughters, 12 and 5. A former social worker, Alisha retired to focus on her family. She believes family is the most important gift and is committed to being there for them. She started blogging as a way to share her natural hair journey, musings of motherhood and marriage, and her passion as a food and wine aficionado. In addition to her blog, Alisha is a consultant for Oragami Owl. She is committed to enjoying life to the fullest and living out loud.

 

Nathalie Maitre, M.D.
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Nathalie is a mother, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt specializing in NICU care and developmental follow-up and a researcher on brain injury and development. She has absolutely no experience at writing or blogging, but is enjoying being a member of the Wishing Well team. She is the nervous and geeky mother of two boys (8 and 5 years-old) and has therefore read countless articles, internet stories and books on subjects from plastic baby bottles to Baby Einstein to vaccines. This has proven helpful to her friends and neighbors (along with her encyclopedic knowledge of important cultural publications such as US, People, Time and Entertainment Weekly magazines). Nathalie and her boys enjoy hiking, Tae Kwon Do and rock-climbing, although her boys enjoy the 40-foot drops more than she does.

 

Cynthia ManleyCynthia Floyd Manley
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Cynthia brings 20 years of experience to Wishing Well – both as a communications professional at Vanderbilt and as a mom. She began her career as a journalist and brings the same curiosity and desire to connect and share stories to our blog and to her job guiding content and social media strategies for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her daughter, a student at Belmont, and her nieces are her pride and joy. Outside of work, Cynthia loves to read, walk outdoors and be with friends and family.

Chazlie Miller
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Chazlie is the Safe Children coordinator for the Vanderbilt Children’s Health Improvement and Prevention program. She is currently pursuing her M.Ed. and has a passion for working with children and teens. In Chazlie’s current role at the Children’s Hospital, she is responsible for working with the community and hospital staff, to coordinate and implement special programs promoting pediatric safety. During her down time, Chazlie loves to sing, play the sax, travel, volunteer with various mentor programs and stay up all night pinning items to her boards on Pinterest.

Alicia Moorehead
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Alicia loves telling and sharing stories, especially about Children’s Hospital. A journalist by nature and marketing professional by trade, she always has been interested in health care, even working as a nurse technician through college. Outside of her position as market development manager for Children’s Hospital, Alicia loves getting lost in a good book (preferably on the beach), forgetting the world on the back of a Harley, and spending time with Rascal and Harlie, her four-legged fur children.

 

Maya NeelyMaya Neely, M.D.
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Maya Neeley is a board certified pediatrician in the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She feels privileged to work with amazing children and their families in such a warm and supportive atmosphere. When she is away from work she spends time with her favorite person, her husband Roy, and their own three amazing sons whose favorite activities include not-sleeping, making loud noises, creating messes, making her laugh, and sweetly cuddling.

Jamie Reeves
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Jamie Reeves is a Nashville-based writer, editor, and lover of all things social media. She and her husband Alan have two daughters, two dogs, and too much laundry. This busy soccer mom can typically be found cheering from the sidelines or in her car on the way to school, gymnastics, or Girl Scouts meetings. She loves traveling with her family and exploring fun things to do in Middle Tennessee. Jamie has been pontificating about poop and pinot noir on her personal mom blog, Blonde Mom Blog, since 2005.

 

Mary Romano MDMary Romano, M.D. M.P.H.
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Mary is board certified in pediatrics and subspecialty board certified in Adolescent Medicine. She loves taking care of adolescent patients and working with adolescents and their parents to keep them safe and healthy.  She enjoys speaking with parents and adolescents outside of the office about any and all topics related to adolescent health. Mary is the mother of an almost 2-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old pup. She is also expecting her second daughter later this year—so she has yet to experience teenage parenting herself! Mary cherishes spending time with her family, who keep her busy, and enjoying life!

 

Bethany Sanders, VanderbiltBethany Sanders
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Bethany is a certified nurse midwife, caring for women at the West End Women’s Health Center and Cole Family Practice. A graduate of Vanderbilt, she is thrilled to be back in Nashville after spending six years in rural Northeast Georgia. Her love of all things pregnancy and birth related started with a paper on homebirth in high school and now manages to find its way into most conversations, much to the chagrin of dinner guests. When not attending births or measuring pregnant bellies, she can be found at the local park chasing after her son or talking about cloth diapers with anyone who will listen.

 

Natasha StonekingNatasha Stoneking
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Natasha is the blog author behind Hello! Happiness. She is a native thirty-something Nashvillian who is always on the go and loves everything southern. Natasha is most proud to be mama to two amazing girls, Caroline,2, and Carson, 1, and wife to her best friend, Jeff. Additionally, she is a small business owner of the children’s boutique, Sugar Bit. It’s the business she always wished for and hopes it demonstrates to her daughters that women can be great mothers and professionals. In her spare time, Natasha loves to travel, plan parties, workout, entertain, cook, and do any and all outside activities with the minis. A self-proclaimed addict of all things happy and the epitome of an eternal optimist, Natasha is the most type-A person you will ever meet.

 

Mandy Stribling
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Mandy is a Brentwood-based southern gal who loves decorating, fashion,blogging, and celebrity gossip. She is a small business owner and mama to fantastic boy and girl twins, Josh and Jules. She and her husband Jake love to travel, and they are over-the-top Tennessee Vols fans. You can read more about Mandy and her “multiples” over at her personal blog, www.mandywithmultiples.com

 

Jessica Turner
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Jessica enjoys interacting with the wide diversity of writers and readers that visit the site every day. A member of the Vanderbilt Interactive marketing team, Jessica assists with Vanderbilt’s social media activity and oversees content projects. When she isn’t at the office, she can be found with her husband and two young children, probably reading storybooks, pretending to be a superhero or cleaning Cheerios off her floors. In her limited free time she enjoys photography, reading a good book, getting crafty and writing on her personal blog, The Mom Creative.

Jenny YarbroughJenny Yarbrough
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When she moved from Chicago to attend college, Jenny could not have foretold a future that held marriage and raising three beautiful children in Nashville, Tennessee… yet here she is. She is now happy to call Nashville home and stays busy homeschooling, sewing, designing patterns, and writing, among the many other things that mothers and wives do each and every day. You might find her sitting with her daughter at a local coffee shop, sipping a yummy drink and pouring over schoolbooks, but rarely will you find her just sitting around. She blogs at The Southern Institute.

 

Jessica WolstenholmJessica Wolstenholm
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Jessica is co-founder of Grace for Moms and co-author of The Pregnancy and Baby Companion books. After 15 years in the music and publishing industries, Jessica came home to be with her two small children. Although the transition from the corporate world to the playground has been an adjustment, she is learning every day how to thrive in her most important job yet. Jessica lives in Nolensville, Tenn. with her husband, Dave and two miracle babies, Hope, 6, and Joshua, 3.

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