Small Furniture for Small People by Jenny Witt

Small Furniture for Small People

By Jenny Witt

Remember the movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? There is that moment when the children become so small that the blades of grass seem to be the size of jungle trees. Their once fun backyard turns into a danger zone, and even the tiniest ants are as large as dinosaurs!

In our homes and in the daily activities of life, young children are processing the big world in which they live. Objects normal to adults may seem very large and can be overwhelming, overstimulating, or intimidating to the young child. To gain the perspective of your young child’s big world, seat yourself on the floor in the living room or eating area of your house to see the furniture of your home at a new angle.

From that perspective, imagine how inviting a soft, cozy, child-sized chair would be for your little one. If you place it in the living room, it will become their new favorite seat! This is a thoughtful and timely first birthday gift.

You can increase the enjoyment of this little sitting area by adding a basket containing no more than three or four board books (remember, you don’t want to overwhelm the child). These can be changed out with new books once a week. And because the child has a natural desire to learn the names of objects, board books with real images of human faces, animals, plants, or moving vehicles are age-appropriate. The repetition of naming these things out loud with your child engages her mind and the hard pages allow her to learn how to turn and discover on her own.

For the eating area, when your child outgrows the highchair you can add a booster seat to an adult chair. Or what may be even better is a weaning table and chair. The benefit of a weaning table and chair is your child’s ability to place their feet on the ground. This support of their body increases their comfort. They may also enjoy doing other activities such as Play-Doh at “their” table. If you want to save money, be on the lookout for an adjustable table and chair sets that grow with your child.

As children master the art of walking, they also climb to develop their nervous system’s ability to coordinate. Do you have climbing areas in your home that can become dangerous? Is the flooring under that area hard or soft? For the hard surfaces, place a rug under the area to soften a potential fall. In addition, your child will enjoy the texture change between the hard and soft surface.

Lastly, climbing a staircase is like climbing the Rocky Mountains for the young child, and excellent for the nervous system. However, just as it is not advised that you go hiking alone in the mountains, it is essential that an adult is present to keep a child safe while they climb the stairs. Place a gate at the staircase so you can ensure your child can only practice this climbing activity in a controlled setting with an adult present to belay a fall and to coach them in their new skill.

Jenny Witt is a Certified Montessori Infant Toddler Teacher, a Certified Early Childhood and Primary Teacher, a Director of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Life: The Ultimate Road Trip by Anne E. Schutt, MBA

Life: The Ultimate Road Trip by Anne E. Schutt, MBA

Associate Lead Advisor, Waite Financial Group

This past year many of us heard the echoing voice of our internal GPS saying, “recalculating…recalculating…” No doubt, we ran into detours, roadblocks, and winding mountain roads that had us wadding up our well-planned life maps and tossing them right into the waste basket! For too many people, sudden job loss or change, moving to a new home, or paying unexpected medical bills uprooted our best-laid plans.

As we’ve come to appreciate, part of planning out the Ultimate Road Trip of Life is having a strong financial plan that can withstand those “recalculating” moments that life brings.

Imagine for a moment with me: your financial plan is much like a cross-country road trip that begins in New York (starting your career), stops in Pennsylvania (getting married), breezes through Ohio (starting a family), and continues all the way to retirement. And where will you be on that cross-country road trip when you retire? Most assume that at retirement you will be soaking in the sun in California, having completed your journey and the work is done. But on this road trip of life, you have just made it through the Midwest and may only find yourself in Kansas at retirement! You may have as many years in retirement as you had working, so making sure your map doesn’t end part way through your journey is important

Through this finance section we will explore different stops along the road and discuss important things everyone should plan for to ensure that the “New York to California Journey” goes as smoothly as possible. I will walk you through important stops on your road trip, addressing common detours, ways to plan around them, as well as certain routes to take to avoid them in the first place. And while I can help map out ideas of the routes you could consider, the things you could pack, and the preparations you could make, I always recommend finding your own financial planner to be your personal GPS who can help you fine-tune and “recalculate” your specific route to—and through—retirement!

And so, we begin in New York! This is our “starting point,” focusing on those first steps as you begin your career: What do you consider when seeking out your first job? What do you need to understand about your benefits through work? How can you best plan your the long trip now?

(And for those of us who have long ago left New York in the rearview mirror, remember that you may be mentoring someone at work, or may have children or grandchildren who are in this phase. My hope is that you can learn some practical information to share with them.)

New York, New York!

Your first job! Congratulations, you have completed your schooling and are ready to start your career. So often, new graduates only consider what salary a company offers them, however, the benefit packages should be closely assessed as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you select a job and start to sign up for your employer benefits.

  1. Do they offer a retirement plan? Most employers offer a retirement plan that allows you to contribute money to an investment account and they may match your contributions to a certain level. There are several different types of retirement plans depending on the size and type of company. Some common types of retirement plans offered by employers are the following: 401k, 403b, SIMPLE IRA, and 457. One question to ask when considering a job is, “Do you offer a retirement savings plan and how much of my contribution will you match?” You should consider, at minimum, to contribute the same percent that they match—building a habit of saving early can build your retirement savings quickly. Developing a habit of saving 15% of your income when you start in New York can make that post-retirement leg of the trip much more comfortable!
  2. If they do offer a retirement savings plan, ask if they offer a Roth version of that plan. Ina traditional retirement plan, the money you contribute is put into the plan before you pay taxes on it, and it grows tax deferred. You then pay taxes on the money as you take the money out in retirement. By contrast, more and more companies are offering Roth retirement plans, where you pay tax on the money now and then put it in the savings plan. The money grows over time and when you take it out in retirement you don’t pay any additional taxes. Right now, most young people are in very low tax brackets and it may make sense to make your contributions to a Roth retirement plan. Check with your financial advisor which is the best selection for you.
  3. Healthcare insurance is not something you think about when it comes to financial planning, however, there is a powerful tool you can use called a Health Savings Account. Many companies now offer what are called High Deductible Health Plans. This means you pay a lower premium every month for your insurance, but if something happens and you need to use it, you will pay more out of pocket before insurance covers the costs. For many young people who are healthy, this type of plan makes sense because they may only need their health insurance to cover major problems. If you have one of these types of health plans, you are eligible to open a Health Savings Account (HSA). You and your company can add funds to this savings account and get a tax deduction up to the yearly limit. Over time, these funds grow tax free and when you use them for qualified healthcare expenses, you don’t have to pay tax on the money. HSAs are also portable, and the balance carries over each year, so if you don’t spend it, the balance builds. If you change jobs, it goes with you. This isn’t to be confused with a Flexible Spending Account(FSA), which is another benefit companies offer that is not portable and most of what you put in these accounts you lose at the end of the year if you don’t use the funds. Check with your advisor to learn which is the best for you.
  4. Life insurance isn’t something many young clients think about, and often we see them sign up for group term insurance through their employers. “Hey, its only $10-20 a month, why not?” Having life insurance is important, but if you are young and healthy, getting life insurance outside of work is most often going to be your best choice. Group life insurance is often more expensive for younger and healthier employees because they are subsidizing the older and less healthy employees. The insurance also isn’t always portable, meaning if ten years down the road you leave your job and only have insurance through work, you may lose your coverage. If you have any health issues that have occurred in those ten years, you may not be able to get new insurance. Getting life insurance from an outside insurance company when you are young and healthy should be explored.
  5. Keep the engine running! What is your number one asset? When you are young you may say it is your car. As you get older, maybe it is your home or your retirement account. But I’m here to say, your number one asset is YOU! It is you and your ability to earn income through your working years. You are the engine, keeping the car moving across the country on this road trip. For instance, a young person starts a job making $50,000/year. If she didn’t receive any raises her entire career and made that amount for 30 years, her income is worth $1.5 million! If you owned a $1.5 million home, wouldn’t you insure it? This is one of the largest gaps we see when helping people plan. Often your employer will provide some disability income insurance, however it usually only replaces 40-50%of your income after taxes if you become ill or disabled and can’t work. Bridging that gap with supplemental disability income insurance is like putting oil into your engine to keep the trip moving forward.

I cannot wait to travel this road with you! See you next month at our next destination!

Do you have a specific question? E-mail me at: [email protected] and we can include your question when most relevant along our road trip together.

Interior Design by Theresa Mosley

Interior Design

By Theresa Mosley

Going back to school can be such an exciting time for kids (and sometimes even for Mom and Dad). One way to help children transition back to school is to design a special space of their own—this might be a bedroom, a study area, a hang out spot, or a combination of the three. Having as pace to read and study, hang out with friends, or get a good night’s sleep, can make this time extra memorable for the child (and even helpful to the parents).

Believe it or not, (re)designing a space can be accomplished regardless of the size of your budget. Before you begin, I suggest that you spend some time with your child discussing any ideas they would like incorporated into the space. Compromise is key here, as you want to please your child and keep a visually appealing space. You may consider taking them shopping with you and allow them to pick out items that spark joy.

If spending money is not an option, that’s okay, too! You can revive and remodel spaces by “shopping” around your own home. This is a great way to give various areas of your home a fresh look without spending a dime! Ask yourself, “What can I take from another room and repurpose in my child’s new space?”

For example, if you need an organization idea for a desk, try empty food jars.

As for wall décor, try framing your child’s artwork, music sheets, medals, or even a test or paper from school. These are creative ways to personalize their space, and display their talents and hard work.

You can easily and affordably design an area that parents and kids can be proud of!

Recently, a vibrant, bubbly, growing 8-year-old girl was ready for a space of her own and her parents called me to help with the design.

Color, art, music, and rainbows were a few of this sweet girl’s favorite things. After discussing her hopes for her new bedroom, we were able to come up with the perfect plan…

We kept the bones of the room neutral so that the space could grow with her, and added pops of color in the bedding, wall décor, and in her art/study area. We were gifted 100-year-old antique pieces for the bed and dresser, which had belonged to her great-grandparents, and a marble top dresser that had been used by her Nana when she was a child. So in addition to having quality furniture (that didn’t break the budget), there were lots of happy memories in all of these pieces. The bedside tables were purchased at a local thrift store and painted a fun shade of blue, which happened to be my young client’s favorite color. For her study area, a desk and chair were bought from Third Sunday Market. The desk needed new life, so it, too, got a fresh coat of (gray)paint. The chair was already teal, so we left it as was.

Above the desk we hung a pegboard for organization. I first saw this in an issue of HGTV magazine, and this was the ideal space to recreate it! This setup provided ample storage for her art supplies. Since art and music were important to this aspiring artist/musician, we framed her personal artwork and hung it on the wall above her pink record player and ukulele.

We added a small area rug that brought even more color to the space, while protecting the carpet underneath from any accidental spills.

This was one of my most fun projects. My young client’s ear-to-ear smile and pure joy at seeing the finished product is exactly the reason why I love what I do!

Cramping Her Style by Diane Dunniway, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC


(How to help manage painful periods)
By Diane Dunniway, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC

        It is a new school year with the promise of more open social activities, sports, and perhaps a part-time job for your teen daughter. However, she’s awake through the night with painful menstrual cramps, so how will she

have the energy to make it through the day? As a parent, you know how much she already missed due to COVID shelter-in-place last year. Here I will outline some simple steps so her painful periods do NOT have to cramp her style any more. (And although I am writing this for moms of teen girls, anyone with menstrual cramps can utilize the information provided. Maybe it is YOUR style that is “cramped?”)

Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for menstrual pain. It is estimated that up to 90% of women will experience it in their lives (1). Yet a woman’s body is amazing and there IS a purpose to the madness (shedding the lining of the uterus to get ready for the next cycle). However, in the process, chemical messengers called prostaglandins cause the uterus (made up of smooth muscle tissue) to contract, resulting in the cramps that are felt. Since the lining of the uterus has been thickening and changing to a more vascular lining, the uterus is also heavier in the pelvis. Many women can feel pressure and discomfort in their low back, pelvis, and thighs just before and during their periods, as well as nausea and fatigue.

So what can be done to alleviate the pain—or at least make it more manageable?


When inflammation goes down, prostaglandins (and thus pain) go down, so an anti-inflammatory diet is the number one change that can impact her pain. Basically sugar = inflammation. The typical teen diet of pizza, soda, chips, and other processed foods contributes to inflammation and thus more pain. Making some simple changes can make a huge difference. Here are some options you could try:

  • Cauliflower crust pizza
  • Increase in-season fresh vegetables and fruit
  • Limit/avoid high fructose corn syrup and other processed sugars and foods

Let your teen decide and take ownership of these choices. But you can support her by keeping healthy alternatives on hand at home and in the car.


    1. Magnesium Glycinate acts as a muscle relaxant (2). I have had girls tell me they feel this is a “miracle pill.” However, make sure to avoid magnesium citrate, as this can cause diarrhea, which is already more common around period time. This may also cut down on her use of NSAIDS like Ibuprofen which, if taken routinely, can lead to other issues for gut health, kidneys, and can even cause ovulation issues (where the follicle does not ovulate but instead becomes a cyst).
    2. Calcium and Vitamin D have been shown in some research to improve cramps (2, 3). I usually prefer a plant-based calcium such as AlgaeCal, and a D3 that also has vitamin K2 (the vitamin D helps absorption of the calcium and K2 pushes the calcium into the bones where it belongs). And don’t forget, getting out in the sun for natural vitamin D is always an option! Consider adding foods high in these vitamins such as:
      • Almonds
      • Broccoli
      • Smoothies with almond milk
      • Low sugar yogurt
      • Fatty, wild caught fish
    3. Omega 3s have been proven in research to decrease prostaglandins and improve cramps (4). That being said, most of my young female patients did not like taking a fish oil pill because they would complain of burping fish or feeling like they smelled like fish when they sweat during sports. (Though, if you choose a high-quality supplement, that is less likely.) They preferred the taste of Barlean’s Omega Swirl or Lemon Fish Oil. If your teen likes salmon, make sure that is on your menu as much as possible as well—just be sure to look for wild caught.
    4. B Vitamins have been shown to be of some benefit—especially vitamin B6 and B1 (5, 6). However, taking a high quality B-complex can be simpler and just as effective. I usually recommend finding one that is already methylated, since we are finding many women with genetic defects are not able to methylate their vitamins. (What that also means is that these women often cannot methylate and get rid of their estrogen.) Methylated vitamins can be found at local compounding pharmacies or natural food/supplements stores.


Water acts as a smooth muscle relaxant, so encourage your daughter to keep a water bottle with her (glass or metal, not plastic—to avoid BPA), and encourage water throughout the day. Since caffeine constricts and dehydrates, it is also important to avoid caffeine! Maybe she would be willing to try a naturally decaffeinated herbal tea instead of the latte from the local coffee shop?


A warm bath can relax muscles that are tense from pain and reduce pain. Putting Epsom salts in the water may be another way to get magnesium (especially if your daughter does not like taking pills). A heating pad can be of benefit, or another over-the-counter heat wrap product applied to the low abdomen


Destressing with low impact exercise for endorphin release can also help overall. Deep breathing, prayer, meditation—some of the same things you were most likely taught to help with contractions during labor—can also help the pain during her period. When I was teaching a prenatal class about some of the breathing techniques for labor, one of our staff members who was having dysmenorrhea that same day told me afterwards that she performed it with us and it really helped her cramps. (On the positive side, when I worked Labor & Delivery, I noticed those with a history of dysmenorrhea often tolerated labor better since they would often tell me, “I have had menstrual cramps worse than these.”)

Although dysmenorrhea can be painful, it is usually not a concern if easily managed. However, there are times that call for further investigation. Here are some red flag signs to be aware of:

  1. Acute pain that started suddenly and is not getting better
  2. Bleeding heavily to the point of feeling as if she is going to pass out
  3. Any chance of pregnancy
  4. Fever/chills
  5. Risk of sexually transmitted disease, along with any of the above symptoms

If you or your daughter have any of these red flag signs, seek out care at your nearest emergency room.

I know these guidelines seem almost too simple. However, I have seen them enable a young woman to go off previously prescribed narcotics and anti-nausea pills and NOT miss school or work days due to cramps. Most gynecologists will suggest starting birth control pills, but those also come with their own set of side effects.

Another benefit to this dysmenorrhea protocol is that it can ALSO help the PMS that often can precede the period as well. So increased peace and less drama may also result for your household.

DISCLAIMER: The medical advice found in this article is based on scientific studies and this doctor’s experience. Before trying at-home remedies, be sure to check with your general practitioner to make sure these remedies may be a good fit for your personal health. Neither Dr. Dunniway nor Construction Beauty Magazine guarantees positive results, nor are they responsible for any reactions that may result from trying these remedies.


  1. Ju, H., Jones, M. & Mishra, G. (2014). The prevalence and risk factors of dysmenorrhea. Epidemiologic Reviews, 36(1). 104-113. Published online: 26 November 2013. Doi:
  2. Charandabi, SMA et al. (2017). Calcium with and without magnesium for primary dysmenorrhea: a double-blind randomized placebo controlled trial. International Journal of Women’s Health & Reproductive Science; 5(4), 332-338. Published online: April 2017. Doi:
  3. Abdi, F. et al. (2021). Role of vitamin D and calcium in the relief of primary dysmenorrhea: a systematic review. Obstetrics & Gynecology Sciences 64 (1), 13 -26, 2021. Published online: 7 January 2021. Doi:
  4. Sadeghi, N. et al. (2018). Vitamin E and fish oil, separately or in combination, on treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Gynecological Endocrinology, 34 (9), 804-808. Published online: 15 March 2018. Doi: 10.1080/09513590.2018.1450377.
  5. Nayeban, S., et al. (2014). A Comparison of the Effects of Vitamin E and Vitamin B1 on the severity and duration of pain in primary dysmenorrhea. Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, 2(2), 143-146. Doi:
  6. Randabunga, E., et al. (2018). Effect of pyridoxine on prostaglandin plasma level for primary dysmenorrheal treatment. Indonesian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (6)4, 239-242. Doi: https//