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Sessions provide children with some pure mom-time

(ran PC edition)

Mothers and youngsters can share some special moments, thanks to the Dade City Women's Club.

At one burlap-covered table, Natalee Gude, 6, and Josie Tomkow, 4, carefully strung beads for a colorful necklace.

At another table, children lined up to have their faces painted.

"The best part was getting my face painted," said Natalee, sporting blue, orange and purple Indian symbols on her cheeks and forehead. "Next, I'm going to make a headband."

Realizing that working mothers need more quality time with their children, the members of the Dade City Women's Club has initiated a monthly Saturday morning program called "Mommy and Me." After two successful summer sessions the membership has opened the program to the the general public, providing reservations are made in advance.

On Saturday, 25 children, and their mothers, participated in a morning celebrating and learning about Native Americans.

Inside the Dade City Women's Club building on Palm Avenue tables were covered with burlap and on each one a different craft was set out for the children to make. Headdresses out of paper and feathers, dreamcatchers out of yarn and paper plates, necklaces and bracelets out of string and beads and drums painted a variety of colors were among the crafts created.

Near the stage, an Indian campsite was set up with an artificial fire, a fishing pond, blankets to sit on, and punch, chips and brownies to consume, as children banged on toy drums and strummed on toy guitars.

A horse named Artie visited the event outdoors for a photo opportunity for the children.

"Sitting on Artie was my favorite," said Josie.

Fanchone Gude, Natalee's mother, said she brought her 2-year-old to the first one that featured a beach theme.

"He is still talking about the goldfish he got to bring home," she said.

"Sonny had just turned two and was so impressed."

Dorothy Anderson, a member of the club for more than a year, was painting the children's faces.

"This is a great way to be civic minded," she said. "It is not just talk, it is action."

Anderson, brought a neighbor's child with her to help with the little children.

Rachel Williams, 11, said she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, so this activity was good experience.

"It's fun, too," said Rachel.

But the person behind the idea is Karen Stalnaker.

"She (Stalnaker) is in charge and she is so creative," said Anderson.

Stalnaker said she has been a member for two years.

"My mom was a member and my girlfriends and I used to come to meetings and help with projects," she said. "This event is mostly geared for toddlers, but we will allow children up to age 10."

The club is in need of new members said Kathy Simpson, membership recruitment chairwoman.

Ginger Storch said the children's event was a great idea for mothers and their children to have fun and get to know each other better.

"It is nice to put children's faces with their moms, too," she said. "Everyone works so well together."

Three-year-old Dakotah Cotton was trying his hand at the fish pond.

Casting like a pro, he was determined to catch a paper fish with his ruler, string and sticky tape.

"Fishing is his favorite thing to do," said his mother, Julie Cotton. "At home, he has his own rod and reel and he has actually caught a fish."

Dakotah said he was going to catch a mangrove snapper, showing his knowledge of the sport.

During the two-hour session, the children were able to make several crafts and choose a prize off the prize board.

They each took home several photos of themselves sitting tall in Artie's saddle.

The next session is at 10 a.m. Oct. 14 and will highlight a "Fantastic Fall." The cost is $5. Call Stalnaker at (813) 779-3439 for reservations.

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