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PAPER TRAILS: Restaurant serves gifts to baby girl with Olive Garden-inspired name; Arkansas' top Google search

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NOODLE CABOODLE: We couldn't "pasta" up the chance to catch up with Jordan and Justin Garton, the Fort Smith couple who got viral attention for planning to name their baby girl Olivia Garton -- sounds like Olive Garden, the Italian chain they frequent.

Their little breadstick recently celebrated her one-month birthday, already boasting a pretty head of "angel hair." Olivia Michelle was born Dec. 8 at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith ("weighing 8lbs and measuring 20.5 inches! 'Oh Holy Night' was playing on the radio and she was absolutely perfect!" Jordan gushes via Facebook Messenger). The restaurant had reached out to the couple, saying it wanted to give the little O.G. some gifts. And it did deliver.

"Olive Garden first sent us a gift box with an "I (Heart) Pasta" onesie, some mints and a gift card with a sweet note," Jordan says. "They also catered the nurses and us for lunch after she was born!"

And that wasn't all.

"Then a couple weeks ago we received another package," she says. For the parents, the franchise sent "two nice wine glasses and a huuuuuge bag of their mints!" And for Olivia, there were bibs with cute sayings.

Including, "Have yourself a marinara little Christmas!"

EYE SPY: TheDailyDot.com, devoted to Internet culture, recently released a report: "What each state has Googled more than any other in 2017."

While neighboring states were Googling "Bathroom bill" (Texas), "Bill Paxton" (Oklahoma), "Allegations against Matt Lauer" (Missouri), Get Out (Alabama), and "Fats Domino" (Louisiana), Arkansans, out of concern for our sight, were searching: "Eye damage from solar eclipses."

Here, I'll make that bigger so we all can see it: "EYE DAMAGE FROM SOLAR ECLIPSES."

...

I'm heartbroken to report that someone I covered in this column, Asher Brooklyn Ray, nicknamed "The Bit," passed away last Sunday at age 9, after a brave six-year battle with Ewing's Sarcoma. A celebration of her life will be held today at The Anthony School in Little Rock where she was a student.

The Bit, the sassy and spirited daughter of my friends Susan and Justin, inspired a Facebook following of nearly 10,000 with her page, The Brooklyn Project.

In September, an anonymously donated private plane flew Asher, a Diamond State Princess, to the Miss America Scholarship Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., to cheer on Miss Arkansas Maggie Benton, with whom she shared a special friendship.

Benton, who will sing at today's memorial service, blogged about Asher: "May her story encourage us to live life to the FULL, with JOY in the midst of trials, with LOVE in the midst of pain, with COURAGE in the midst of questions."

She was indeed a Ray of sunshine. And my life is a Bit brighter having known her.

Email: jchristman@arkansasonline.com

SundayMonday on 01/14/2018

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