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THE LIFESTYLE MANUAL FOR THE MODERN MOM

DECEMBER 2015 路 THESAVVYMOMS.COM

ADOPTIVE MOMS

SHARE THEIR STORIES

MEET THE VALLEY GIRLS!

THE ULTIMATE HOT CHOCOLATE GO-TO GIFTS FOR EVERYONE HOLIDAY FUN!

HELPFUL

HOW TOs FOR PARENTS


Open through May, 2016!

Building Buddies is an interactive village that invites young children to play and explore while helping their buddies improve the neighborhood. The different characters, “buddies,� need help fixing up their houses. This creative construction site features hands-on stations that encourage children to construct, build, decorate, paint, tile and more!

Save the Date Science with Santa Saturday, December 12th 500 President Clinton Ave

Little Rock, AR 72201

www.museumofdiscovery.org

501.396.7050


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DECEMBER FEATURES 27 THE MISSING PIECES

WITH THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN IN THE ARKANSAS FOSTER-CARE SYSTEM, THE NEED FOR LOVING, ADOPTIVE FAMILIES IS PARAMOUNT. TWO CENTRAL ARKANSAS MOMS TELL SAVVY ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES ADOPTING RIGHT HERE AT HOME

DEPARTMENTS 12 NEWS & NOTES

HOLIDAY EVENTS, DECORATIVE IDEAS AND GIFT IDEAS FOR YOUR FUZZY FAMILY MEMBERS

18 THRIVE

OH, WHAT FUN!

22 NOSH

HOT CHOCOLATE, FOUR WAYS

*Sweet Sisterhood!

36 CULTIVATE

ANSWERING THE CALL

IN EVERY ISSUE 6 EDITOR’S NOTE 46 BAG CHECK MRS. CLAUS

MERRY S, KITTY! IS CHR TMA

ON THE COVER: STACEY VALLEY WITH HER DAUGHTERS, MAYA AND QUINN. READ ABOUT THEIR JOURNEY THROUGH THE ADOPTION PROCESS ON PAGE 28. PHOTO BY LILY DARRAGH

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DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


I AM THE AEA Russellville teacher’s career inspired by wife, aided by AEA UR IT’S YOTO E TIM

! THRIVE

BR I A N CHIL SO N

E

ven by the time he got to college, Brandon Cooper hadn’t considered a career in the classroom. And the Russellville native certainly hadn’t envisioned himself returning to his alma mater to work alongside some of the very teachers who helped shape him growing up, although that’s exactly what he’s been doing for the past seven years. It took the perspective of his wife, Cari, to plant the seed of possibility about considering education as a career path. “Well, it certainly was not my initial plan out of high school,” said Cooper, the World History and AP World History teacher at Russellville High School. “My wife deserves that credit for steering me in that direction. She saw there was a real opportunity for me to make a positive impact on young people through this and she really convinced me that I had some qualities that would result in being a successful teacher.” Cari Cooper’s suggestion came after observing Brandon interacting with young people in other venues and seeing his empathy and manner of communicating with them. These attributes continue to be an important part of his teaching success. “I guess it’s a parental quality, being able to connect with young people,” he said. “It’s about being patient and meeting them where they are and not being too judgmental of young people, especially teenagers. It requires a certain approach I guess.” After graduating from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville with a degree in History Education, Cooper discovered that honing that approach for the classroom setting was an education unto itself. He said learning from peers – including his department head Paul Gray, who taught Cooper as a sophomore – helped him develop into the kind of teacher he was meant to be, both in person and through the Arkansas Education Association. “Regardless of where you go to college, there’s not really any way to fully prepare and simulate a classroom environment. Starting out it really feels like being on an island,” he said. “There’s a great peace of mind just knowing that the AEA is there for support. Whether it’s professional development or other activities or legal services or anything along those lines, just having that representative in our building is a really comforting feeling.”

Cooper said the value of AEA programs is substantial and the many and varied resources cater to virtually any need a teacher may have. “Access to information about current events in education is what I most take advantage of,” he said. “The AEA helps me stay informed by passing along information as it pertains to current legislation and other issues that impact our education system. The AEA does a good job of keeping me up to speed on things like that which are important, but that I may not have caught otherwise.” “I also think there’s good value in the professional development that AEA offers. It’s very helpful to have these resources in terms of classroom management or other topics that are out there for us to use.”

1500 W. 4th St. Little Rock 501.375.4611 aeaonline.org


LETTER FROM THE

EDITOR

—PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON The Christmas season is one of joy and miracles, friends and family. But what makes a family? For the moms featured in this issue, a family is a matter of love, not genetics. Stacey Valley became a single mom in 2009, when she fostered and ultimately adopted her first daughter. Since then her family has grown to include her husband Anthony and his two daughters, as well as a second daughter adopted by the couple just last year. Julie and her husband Britt, already parents to two beautiful little girls, chose to adopt their third child, Elijah, just a couple of years ago. And while no two stories are alike, the journeys of Stacey and Julie cross paths at a very special point: Both women chose to adopt children from Arkansas. There are thousands of children in the Arkansas foster-care system at any given time, and the need for loving homes is great. One reason Stacey wanted to adopt was because she always wanted to be a mom; Julie’s own mom, as well as her mom’s twin brother, were adopted right here in Arkansas, which made a huge impact on Julie’s decision to adopt at home instead of abroad. Julie and Stacey both are fortunate in that they are able to have relationships with their children’s birth mothers, and both realize what a special and courageous thing it is to be trusted to be parents to these children. With the exception of one cool cousin, I have very little experience with adoption in my own family. But spending time with both of these moms and their kids…wow. The love among these families is so strong you can feel it. During our high-energy shoot with the Valley family, it was evident how huge their bond was from the moment they walked into the studio. And Julie and Elijah, as well as Julie’s mom, are just the picture of what it means to be a family. Elijah is surrounded by so much love, and it’s not hard to see why. From the struggles to the victories, I have no doubt that these two stories will move you and fill you with the spirit of the season—joy. Our December issue wouldn’t be complete without a little winter wonder, which you’ll find in photographer and food blogger Kerry Guice’s feature on four delectable ways to make hot chocolate. We’ve also got plenty of gift ideas for everyone on your list, from your finicky feline to your local-loving bestie. And in a very special edition of Bag Check, we get an exclusive look at what essentials Mrs. Claus keeps in her red Christmas bag. Here’s to making a list and checking it twice!

Mel Jones Editor, Savvy @SavvyAR

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DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARA REEVES

“PERHAPS THERE IS NO GREATER MIRACLE THAN FINDING A LOVING HOME FOR A CHILD WHO NEEDS ONE.”


New, Earlier Open Enrollment for the 2016-2017 School Year!

K-12/Address Changes P3-12th Grade Assignment Mail Out Forest Heights STEM Academy Magnet/Specialty Schools

December 7-18, 2015 March 4, 2016 November 9-13, 2015 November 16-20, 2015

Early Childhood P3/P4

October 19-30, 2015

During designated open enrollment periods, applications will be accepted at TWO LOCATIONS: Student Registration Office, 501 Sherman St. and LRSD Admin. Building, 810 W. Markham St. Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. PLEASE NOTE: Applications for Early Childhood (P3-P4), Forest Heights STEM Academy, and Magnet/Specialty schools are still being accepted. Registration packets can be downloaded from www.lrsd.org. Parents are asked to bring two (2) copies of the application packet to expedite the enrollment process.

December 7 - 18 Open Enrollment for K-12 and Address Changes

students rising to Kindergarten will “roll up� to their attendance zone school.

December 21 - January 1 Winter Vacation Students out. Schools and offices are closed.

January 4 Professional Development Students out.

January 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Students out. Schools and offices closed.

January 29 Professional Development Students out.

Little Rock School District

PERFORMANCE WORKPLAN CE FOR TOMO lrsd.org

If your student already attends a LRSD school, you do not have to do anything; your student will roll up to his/her attendance zone school. P4

LLEN CREATING EXCE

RROW

For over 30 years, Rivendell Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas has offered physician-led, award winning, quality care. Our services include programs for adults, children and teens who need help with problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, trauma, grief, addiction, and impulsivity. Our mental health professionals are here to serve and offer a no cost assessment 24/7. For details, visit our website or call our toll free number below, and let us help you or your loved one turn over a new leaf in life!

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Make Your Home a PUBLISHER REBEKAH HARDIN | rebekah@arktimes.com EDITOR MEL JONES | melanie@arktimes.com

No-Freeze Zone!

CREATIVE DIRECTOR MANDY KEENER | mandy@arktimes.com ADVERTISING DIRECTOR ELIZABETH HAMAN | elizabeth@arktimes.com

Quick & Simple

Preventative Measures to Protect Your Plumbing

NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BLAKE HANNAHS | blake@arktimes.com

Frozen pipes are costly to fix and a common cause of home insurance claims in the United States. Start preparing now for winter freezing temperatures with the following steps:

SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE LESA THOMAS | lesa@arktimes.com

❄ Eliminate Drafts and Insulate Pipes

The fall season is the best time to insulate pipes in unheated areas to prevent freezing. Close crawl space vents and doors, seal cracks, and breezy spots to prevent outside air from entering.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE RHONDA CRONE | rhonda@arktimes.com ADVERTISING TRAFFIC MANAGER ROLAND R. GLADDEN | roland@arktimes.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR ERIN HOLLAND | erin@arktimes.com

❅ Winterize & Protect Outside Faucets & RPZ Valves

Disconnect water hoses and insulate outside faucets. If you own an automatic sprinkler system, remove or insulate your backflow device (RPZ) to protect it during the winter season.

DIGITAL MEDIA PRODUCER BRYAN MOATS

❄ Locate Your Shutoff Valve

Know how to turn your water off using your shutoff valve or at your meter in case of an emergency. Paint it a bright color or hang a tag on it. Make sure your family knows where it is and what it does.

❄ Drain Pipes Before Extended Vacations When leaving for extended periods during the winter, set temperatures above 55 degrees, turn off the water at your meter, and drain waterlines to reduce the risk of frozen pipes. For additional tips to protect your home this winter visit www.carkw.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR LAUREN BUCHER | lauren@arktimes.com GRAPHIC DESIGNERS BRYAN MOATS | MIKE SPAIN | KEVIN WALTERMIRE PHOTOGRAPHER BRIAN CHILSON PRODUCTION MANAGER | CONTROLLER WELDON WILSON IT DIRECTOR ROBERT CURFMAN ACCOUNTS PAYABLE KELLY LYLES

221 East Capitol Ave P.O. Box 1789 Little Rock, AR 72203 Customer Service: 501.372.5161

BILLING/COLLECTIONS LINDA PHILLIPS CIRCULATION DIRECTOR ANITRA HICKMAN

Emergencies: 501.377.1239

carkw.com

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DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

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ALL MATERIALS ARE HANDLED WITH DUE CARE; HOWEVER, THE PUBLISHER ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR CARE AND SAFE RETURN OF UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. ALL LETTERS AND PICTURES SENT TO SAVVY™ WILL BE TREATED AS INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION AND ARE SUBJECT TO SAVVY'S™ UNRESTRICTED RIGHT TO EDIT OR TO COMMENT EDITORIALLY. 201 E. MARKHAM ST. SUITE 200, LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985. ALL CONTENTS ©2015 SAVVY™


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Snell Laboratory's network of nine offices located throughout the state is especially important for individuals like Preston Breshears. As a cattle rancher living in rural Missouri, Preston can visit Snell’s community-based facility in Mountain Home for adjustments and maintenance so that he rarely has to travel to the main office in Little Rock.

SOAPY

CARWASH!

Accredited Facility

Statewide Toll-Free:1-800-342-5541 • www.snellpando.com www.boomerangcarwash.com www.boomerangcarwash.com

Offices located in Little Rock, Russellville, Fort Smith, Mountain Home, Fayetteville, Hot Springs, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Conway.

IF YOUR CHILD KNEW HOW TO TELL YOU SHE WAS BEHIND, SHE WOULDN’T BE BEHIND. Learning disabilities can be difficult to spot; subtle cues like an unstable pencil grip, slow and choppy reading, or difficulty rhyming words. Luckily, we know what to look for; and, at our Evaluation & Resource Center, we know how to address them.

ADD/ADHD APRAXIA AUTISM DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS DOWN SYNDROME DYSLEXIA FEEDING DISORDERS HEARING IMPAIRMENTS INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES LANGUAGE DELAYS LEARNING DISABILITIES READING DISORDERS

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EVALUATION & RESOURCE CENTER • SPEECH, PHYSICAL & OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY • ACADEMIC THERAPY • PRESCHOOL • ACADEMY • YOUNG ADULT PROGRAM THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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contributors DECEMBER 2015

BETH HALL is a commercial and

LILY DARRAGH is a photographer in Little Rock. She studied photography at Parsons the New School of Design in New York. Currently working out of a photography studio in downtown Little Rock, Lily loves to shoot people and places unique to Arkansas.

KERRY GUICE is a food blogger

DWAIN HEBDA is a writer and editor living in Little Rock. He and his wife Darlene are the parents of four grown children. The empty-nesters spend their time traveling, working out and spoiling their two dogs.

KD REEP is a writer and public relations practitioner in Little Rock. She owns Flywrite Communications, Inc., a public relations agency, and is the PR director for Mass Enthusiasm, a fullservice marketing communications firm in Little Rock.

MRS. CLAUS is an Elf Mom living in the North Pole with her husband, Mr. Claus. She spends her time overseeing all of the elves in Santa’s workshop. One of her favorite things to do is baking cookies, and she can often be found trying out new recipes on the reindeer.

editorial photographer in northwest Arkansas, using her eye to capture the art and essence of others. She subscribes to the saying: “if you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”

families function best when they are

together.

The BridgeWay reconnects people with their families by helping them overcome emotional and addictive problems. We offer extensive in-patient and out-patient programs for all ages. Help someone reclaim their life.

Contact The BridgeWay for a no-cost assessment.

and photographer living in Little Rock with her husband, two kids and their dog. When she’s not sharing her latest meal on Instagram, Kerry is planning her family’s next Arkansas adventure or crafting with her creative tots.

21 BridgeWay Road • North Little Rock, AR 72113 501.771.1500 • 800-BRIDGEWAY • TheBridgeway.com Accepting most insurance plans, including Medicare and Private Option.

10 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


Hayden needs YOUR

HELP

Because of you, children fighting cancer and other illnesses at Arkansas Children’s Hospital get the care they need to survive. All gifts, from $1.00 to $1 million, help save the lives of children like Hayden. Please give generously. Kids like Hayden are counting on you.

Go to giving.archildrens.org or call 800-880-7491 to make a gift.

Until no child needs us, we need you!

HolidayS in theWild little rock zoo’s

DECEMBER 4-5-6, 2015

$

$$ 6-9PM

FOOD

MUSIC

SANTA

ADMISSION $ 10 ADULTS $ 8 CHILDREN

$

$

members $2 DISCOUNT

CRAFTS

free train rides

to the north pole

!

free CAROUSEL RIDES! Meet some animal friends up-close-and-personal including our penguin pals!

www.littlerockzoo/holidayS THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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nest

NEWS & NOTES

THE LATEST FOR PARENTS & KIDS STYLE

GIVE BACK

SHARE A MEAL

Finally, an acceptable reason to whip your phone out at the dinner table! The United Nations World Food Programme’s ShareTheMeal app makes fighting hunger easy. Whether you’re having dinner with your family or lunch with coworkers, with just two taps you can make a donation that will help feed Syrian refugee children. For 50 cents, you can feed a child for a day, or $3.50 for a week, $15 for a month or $182.50 for an entire year. Since the app’s launch in midNovember, almost 2.5 million meals have been shared so far. Available for iOS and Android.

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY VENDORS

MAKE YOUR TREE SHINE!

TECHNOLOGY

ALL IS BRIGHT

We’re generally attracted to shiny objects all year, but at Christmas our love for all things sparkly is at an all-time high. We love a radiant tree filled with glowing orbs and gleaming decorations, and these throwback “Vintage Celebration” Shiny Brite ornaments from Christopher Radko meet all of our requirements. The mixture of shimmering silvered glass and vibrant translucent glass recreates the classic designs from the 1940s, and the reflectors bounce light and color for a disco-worthy tree. Available at Dillard’s.

FUN FACT

UP ON THE ROOFTOP?

For 364 days of the year, the men and woman at NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) are watching the skies and waterways in the United States and Canada in order to keep citizens safe. But on Christmas Eve, NORAD trains its eyes in the skies on Santa Claus, using satellites, radars and even fighter jets (!) to keep up with the guy. Kids can also check on Santa’s ETA via the NORAD Tracks Santa app, available for iOS and Android. You can also log on to noradsanta.org for the latest updates on where the Man in Red is.

STOP FEELING GUILTY ABOUT GIVING GIFT CARDS FOR CHRISTMAS—FOR EIGHT YEARS IN A ROW THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION’S HOLIDAY SURVEYS HAVE FOUND GIFT CARDS TO BE THE MOST-REQUESTED ITEM DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON. AND HOLIDAY SHOPPERS ARE PAYING ATTENTION TO THE REQUESTS OF THEIR LOVED ONES: TOTAL SPENDING ON GIFT CARDS HAS INCREASED 28 PERCENT SINCE 2006.

12 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


SIGN US UP!

GIFTS THAT KEEP ON GIVING No matter what you’re into, these days there’s a “subscription box” for everything. Whether you’re a beauty junkie (Birchbox), a foodie (Taste Trunk), dog lover (BarkBox) or even a doomsday prepper (Battlbox), you can have a curated selection of items delivered to your door every month. But this trend isn’t just for adults; we’ve found a couple of cool subscription-box programs that youngsters and young adults alike will love.

A SCHOOL AND AN OUTPATIENT PEDIATRIC THERAPY CLINIC’ Citrus Lane creates surprise packages for kids and their parents, offering an assortment of items tailored to the age and stage of each child—from newborn to 5-years-old. Each month, you’ll receive four to five top-rated products recommended by real moms and dads. Citruslane.com.

A place where children with developmental disabilities and learning differences can grow and develop in an environment tailored to meet their unique needs.

OUTPATIENT THERAPY SERVICES

OCCUPATIONAL • PHYSICAL • SPEECH

IF YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH A Autism DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER: • Asperger Syndrome

Pervasive Developmental Disorder Down Syndrome • Apraxia • Other Language Disorders Sensory Integration issues

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an evaluation for your child. In addition to having the best name ever, Owlcrate offers a monthly “magical box” that your favorite bookworm will love. Each box contains a new Young Adult novel based upon a chosen theme (first love, dystopia, mystery), as well as three to five other bookish keepsakes to help set the mood for your literary adventure. Owlcrate.com.

(501) 663-6965 • AcademyAtRiverdale.com 1600 Riverfront Drive, Little Rock, AR 72202 We work with a variety of private insurance providers as well as ARKids 1st, Medicaid, TEFRA and TRICARE.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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EVENTS

HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS Mark your calendar to make merry at these exciting Christmas events!

The Gingerbread Man

Dec. 4-20, The Children’s Theatre at the Arkansas Arts Center Grandma Tic and Grandpa Toc couldn’t be more surprised (or pleased) when the Gingerbread Man springs to life and dances around their small clock shop. He’s a happy little cookie man made of ginger and molasses, and he’s so much fun to play with. But when the sly, hungry Fox comes along, playtime is over and the race is on! Tickets are $12.50; $10 for Arts Center members. Show times are 7 p.m. on Fridays, and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Nutcracker

Dec. 11-13, Maumelle Performing Arts Center, Maumelle High School Ballet Arkansas brings the music and magic of this captivating holiday classic alive. Join Clara at her family’s home as guests arrive for a festive Christmas Eve celebration where her godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, gives her a very special present, a Nutcracker doll. As the hour becomes late, the magic in the air begins to grow, along with Clara’s house and everything in it. The adventure is only beginning as a battle breaks out between an army of giant mice and life-sized toy soldiers. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Visit balletarkansas.org for tickets and more information.

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE CAPITAL HOTEL, ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER AND BALLET ARKANSAS

HELLO, HOLIDAY PHOTO-OP AT THE CAPITAL HOTEL!

LITTLE ROCK

NORTH LITTLE ROCK

501.223.4929

501.978.3154

11218 N. RODNEY PARHAM RD.

14 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM 1115-07M_Xmas Ad_SavvyMagv2.indd 1

4822 N. HILLS BLVD.


SHOP LOCAL!

Christmas at the Capital

The Capital Hotel is special, no doubt, but at Christmas it becomes a winter wonderland full of events for everyone in the family. Sundays with Santa (Dec. 6, 13 & 20) is held from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., and is free. Tales from the South will hold its annual holiday show in the Capital ballroom on Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $45 for adults. Brush up on your food-art skills at the Christmas Cookie Decorating Class on Dec. 19. Two classes will be held; 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.- 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 for kids and $20 for adults. And for celebrating with your girlfriends, make a reservation for Holiday Afternoon Tea in the Mezzanine. Held each weekday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for up to 16 guests daily. $35 per guest; $40 includes a glass of champagne. For complete details and to make reservations, visit capitalhotel.com.

JEDI FANS!

Sounds of Christmas Benefit Show & Star Wars Costume Contest

Dec. 10, Southwest Christian Academy Come enjoy the talented students of SCA and celebrate the Christmas season together, Star Wars style. Judging for the Star Wars costume contest begins at 5 p.m., and doors open at 5:30 p.m. so you and your family can enjoy the costumes, special Star Wars guests, food and drinks, photo spots and a silent auction of original student art. Tickets are available for $10 in advance or $12 at the door on the day of the show. Proceeds benefit the SCA Performing Arts department. Visit swchristian.com for details.

Holiday Pop-Up Shop!

Join the Green Corner Store and Erin Lorenzen for the second annual Holiday Pop Up Shop at studioMAIN in Little Rock’s SoMA neighborhood. Participating local artisans this year include Julie Holt, Michael Church, Bella Vita Jewelry, Beth Lambert Pottery, The Modern Table, Sweet Home Candle Company and more. The shop will be open from Friday, Nov. 27 until Sunday, Dec. 6; Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Little Craft Show

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, The Little Craft Show is a twice-yearly indie destination for unique, handmade products from Arkansas and surrounding states. With more than 75 makers at the winter show— scheduled for December 4 and 5 at the Fayetteville Town Center— you’ll find creative gifts for everyone on your list, including jewelry, clothing, art, pottery, bath and beauty products, and even edibles. Check out littlecraftshow.com to preview the artists and their work, and to purchase tickets.

Art of the Bar

A Handmade Holiday Market, returns to South on Main in Little Rock on Sunday, December 13. From 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., shop works from more than a dozen Arkansas artisans, including American Native Goods and Sally Nixon. Enjoy Christmas carols from Bonnie Montgomery and Amy Garland, and don’t miss the festive cocktails and holiday treats. Visit southonmain.com for more details.

Christmas Patterned Tableware

50

%

OFF MSRP

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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11/11/15 10:13 AM


SO RIGHT MEOW! COOL KITTY HIDEAWAY!

FEROCIOUSLY FESTIVE If Fido and Fluffy could write their Christmas wish lists, this is what they would ask for 1. The Cat Ball kitty cave bed was made for playing…

2. “A modern grooming science for age-old filth,” Dr.

McGrath’s dog shampoo is unscented and made with plant-based cleansers, apple cider vinegar, lanolin, glycerin and organic herbal extracts of cucumber, lavender, cornflower and peach. Dr. Elinor McGrath is recognized as the nation’s first practicing female veterinarian; after practicing in Chicago for more than 40 years, she moved to Hot Springs in the 1950s, where she lived until her death in 1963. Learn more about Dr. McGrath, the products and the scholarship programs established by her family for aspiring veterinarians at drmcgraths.com.

BRIGHTEN UP YOUR DAILY WALK!

STYLISH POOCH PERCH!

3. Who’s a pretty kitty? Made By Cleo’s collars and

accessories are offered in a wide range of colors and patterns to fit every feline personality. We love the “Little Wonder” blue and green plaid collar, which is decidedly on-trend and includes a removable bell and your choice of gold or silver hardware. Madebycleo.com.

4. The mission of FOUND My Animal is simple: To

promote animal adoption over purchasing by letting your dog “wear your values.” Each Brooklyn-made leash and collar has an individually numbered, stamped tag to serve as a reminder of the uniqueness of our pets, and allows FOUND to keep track of the number of animals they have helped so far. We love the happy and bright Prismatic style. Foundmyanimal.com.

5. Hollywood Feed’s line of dog beds—Mississippi FELT FUZZIES FOR FELINES!

Made—are crafted with fabrics made with Delta-grown cotton in Sherman, Mississippi. The beds are available in a variety of sizes and styles, like the cuddly donut shown here, and come in dozens of colors and patterns. You can find them at Hollywood Feed stores statewide, and at Domestic Domestic in Little Rock.

6. Purrfect for chasing, pouncing and flinging, these hip

little kitty toys from hauspanther are handmade in the USA. Crafted with sewn felt, each sphere measures two inches in diameter and comes in a cool color combo. Shop.hauspanther.com.

16 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

PHOTO COURTESY VENDORS

and hiding and napping. The 100-percent cotton, sixsided sphere has thick padded-foam walls that make for a cozy hideaway, and is available in a variety of colors and patterns, like the quirky Mod TV teal and orange style shown here. Thecatball.com.


DO THIS!

SIT, STAY & SMILE!

Don’t miss Family Photos with Santa on Saturday December 12, from noon until 4 p.m. at Russell Chevrolet in North Little Rock benefiting the Humane Society of Pulaski County. Get a professional pic of the family (pets included!) with Santa for a $15 donation to the HSPC. There will be no charge for active duty military families. Loblolly Creamery’s ice cream truck will also be on-site with sweet treats and a hot cocoa bar featuring their nonprofit flavor “Puppy Chow.” A percentage of the proceeds will also benefit the HSPC. 

HELP FOR HOMELESS PETS

The Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church in Little Rock is reopening its Pet Food Pantry, which provides cat and dog food to people who are homeless with pets or are struggling to feed their pets. Lend a hand to animals in need by donating dry cat and/or dog food, save your plastic grocery bags and bring them to the church for packaging food donations, or make a financial contribution. It costs about $300 to stock supplies for each distribution day. The QQUMC Pet Food Pantry is open the third Tuesday of each month from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. For more information, visit qqumc.org or call 501-375-1600.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY VENDORS/BRIAN CHILSON

Thrive

L E T ’ S F A C E I T — S O M E P E O P L E A R E V I R T U A L LY I M P O S S I B L E TO S H O P F O R , E S P E C I A L LY AT C H R I S T M A S . B U T B E F O R E Y O U G I V E I N A N D G O F O R T H E G I F T C A R D ( W H I C H I S TOTA L LY A C C E P TA B L E , B Y T H E W AY ) , C H E C K O U T O U R P I C K S F O R E V E RYO N E O N YO U R L I ST, F R O M Y O U R C H I C S I S T E R TO Y O U R A D V E N T U R E - LO V I N G N E P H E W . 18 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


great stocking stuffers!

COOL CAMERA REMOTE!

CH LOW-TE IN T TEX G

STITCH YOUR OWN CASE!

EP RSOINTA! LIZE

SMART CHARGE!

1. Never miss the opportunity to be in the picture. The HISY Bluetooth camera remote allows snap-happy teens to take photos from up to 90 feet away—just prop your phone in the included stand, and start clicking. The Apple Store; apple.com. 2. ArtBird’s “Internet Fun” crossbody sling is lined with cozy cotton flannel, and is a fun and quirky way to protect your gadgets and other goodies. Moxy Modern Mercantile, Little Rock. 3. The contents of Little Mountain Bindery’s refillable Fillion journal are completely customizable; add a name or monogram to the outside to make it personal. The Social Type, Little Rock. 4. This DIY iPhone case kit is the perfect marriage of crafty and techy. The walnut case features a geometric cross-stitching grid, embroidery floss, a needle and instructions for creating your very own design. Bella Vita Jewelry, Little Rock. 5. Perfect for bedside, desktop or living room, Conway Electric’s Mint Extō dual-USB, dual-outlet uses smart chip sensors to automatically sense what device you plugged in and deliver the optimal charging current for faster charging. Once your device is fully charged, the Extō USB automatically shuts off to preserve your battery and extend device life. Domestic Domestic, Little Rock. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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don't forget your BFF!

LIMITEDEDITION DESIGN!

local & delicious! TEACHERS WILL LOVE THIS NOTEPAD!

15

SWEET TREATS FOR YOUR SECRET SANTA!

16 6. Small-batch dark chocolate—flavors include Icelandic Sea Salt and Mylo Coffee—made in Little Rock by Izard Chocolate. Izardchocolate.com. 7. For the beauty obsessed, YouTube-tutorial watching #makeupjunkie, the Beauty Station from iSkelter has loads of space for organizing her daily must-haves and more, and is a universal docking station for most phones and tablets. Handcrafted in Phoenix of natural bamboo. iSkelter.com. 8. Limited-edition bar necklaces boast a hand-stamped mantra (you can even customize it!) and a gemstone embellishment, like this blue chalcedony. Bella Vita Jewelry. 9. Arkansas-themed t-shirts by Ozarks artist Jason Jones, available in a variety of colors and styles. Moxy Modern Mercantile. 10. In the late 1960s, Eliot Wigginton and his students created the magazine Foxfire in an effort to record and preserve the traditional folk culture of the Southern Appalachians. The Foxfire Books are a vast compilation of the original magazine, and volume one featuring sections on hog dressing, log cabin building, planting by the signs, preserving foods, snake lore, moonshining and more. Domestic Domestic. 11.The Bearded Feller line of beard oils and grooming kits are just the thing for any guy who needs a little help taming his facial hair. The Green Corner Store, Little Rock. 12. Hardcore hikers and day trekkers alike will love the Suunto Traverse watch. With GPS for

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manly stuff! A REISSUED CLASSIC

IT’S A ROBOT!

11 14 SERIOUS STORAGE!

made in ARKANSAS!

13

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route navigation, a real-time “breadcrumb” view of your recorded track, route planning via movescount.com, daily tracking of steps and calories, weather trends and a storm alarm, compass, flashlight and mobile notifications, the Traverse is a must-have companion on the trail. Oh, and it also tells time. Ozark Outdoor Supply, Little Rock. 13. Springdale-based Piltdown Packs’ Hustle is a combo daypack, backpack and excursion pack all in one, featuring a hip belt and sternum strap with safety whistle buckle, oversized bottle pockets, a fleece-lined tech pocket, sleeping bag compression straps and more. Uncle Sam’s Outfitters in Fayetteville, and Gearhead Outfitters statewide; piltdownpacks.com. 14. Blending kids’ love of robots with the joy of learning, the Sphero SPRK Edition robot lets your children take control using commands they’ve programmed with the Sphero app on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Kids immediately see the connection between the program they created and how the guts of Sphero work and react, which can inspire an interest in coding and STEM principles. Sphero.com. 15. Hand-decorated cookies from Ann Potter Baking are a sweet treat. Facebook.com/annpotterbaking. 16. Send a note of thanks to a favorite teacher with a personalized Haute Papier notepad. Available in a variety of colors and sizes at The Social Type. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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NOSH

Hot Chocolate, FourWays RECIPES & PHOTOGRAPHY BY KERRY GUICE, STEALMYRECIPE.COM

Archer Guice and his sister Violet enjoy a Christmas morning treat!

WHAT BETTER WAY TO WELCOME WINTER THAN WITH A CUP OF HOMEMADE HOT CHOCOLATE? KERRY GUICE OF STEAL MY RECIPE SHARES A CLASSIC MIX RECIPE—WHICH MAKES AN EASY SEASONAL GIFT—PLUS THREE VARIATIONS ON THE TRADITIONAL DRINK THAT WOULD MAKE WILLY WONKY GREEN WITH ENVY. 22 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


CLASSIC HOT CHOCOLATE MIX (makes 16 servings)

1 1/2 cups sugar 1 cup cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 2 teaspoons cornstarch Combine all ingredients in an airtight container. To make a mug of hot chocolate, whisk 2 heaping tablespoons of the mix into 8 ounces of very hot—but not boiling—milk. For a creamier hot chocolate, substitute up to half of the milk with half and half. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows (optional).

MAKES A YUMMY GIFT!

4 Ways ?


JUST FOR GROWN UPS!

CINNAMON HONEY HOT CHOCOLATE

BLACK AND WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE

1 cup half and half 1 cup milk 1/4 cup honey 1 teaspoons cinnamon 1 tablespoon cocoa

1 cup half and half 2 cups milk 1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur 1 cup Ghirardelli dark chocolate melting wafers

Serves 2

Heat all ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring often, until outside starts to bubble. Remove from heat before the milk boils, and serve hot. Top with whipped cream, cinnamon and teddy bear graham cracker snacks (optional).

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Serves 4

Melt the dark chocolate wafers in the microwave for 30 seconds (or in 30-second increments until melted). Holding your glass at a slant, pour a few tablespoons into the glass, and swirl around to cover half the glass. Repeat with remaining 3 glasses. Let sit at room temperature to cool and harden (up to 2 hours). Heat remaining ingredients in pot over mediumlow heat, then pour into cooled chocolate glasses. Serve with spoons for stirring, and encourage spoon licking while there are still big bits of chocolate in the glass! Top with whipped cream and chopped chocolatecovered espresso beans (optional).


PEANUT BUTTER CUP HOT CHOCOLATE Serves 2

2 cups milk 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 4 teaspoons cocoa powder 3 tablespoons sugar Heat all ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring often, until outside starts to bubble. Remove from heat before the milk boils, and serve hot. Top with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and chopped peanut butter cups (optional).

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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DEVELOPMENTAL PRESCHOOL SERVICES

www.helpinghandcc.com • 501-791-3331 4901 North Shore Dr • North Little Rock Helping Hand Learning Center Is A 501 (C)(3) Non-Profit

PING HAN EL

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D

INFO & JOB POSTINGS

H

Occupational Therapy | Physical Therapy Speech-Language Therapy DAY HABILITATION: 6 weeks – 5 years old OUTPATIENT SERVICES: Birth to 21 years old

YEARS

We take your child’s education With quality public schools like Chenal Elementary, the education you want for your child is close at hand. Choose PCSSD schools with: • Test scores higher than other local districts • Millions in college scholarships awarded • Teachers with advanced degrees • Talented and gifted programs • State-winning sports teams

pcssd.org

501.234.2000 26 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y B E T H H A L L & L I LY D A R R A G H

MAYA, QUINN & MOM STACEY

JULIE & ELIJAH

WITH THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN IN THE ARKANSAS FOSTERCARE SYSTEM, THE NEED FOR LOVING, ADOPTIVE FAMILIES IS PARAMOUNT. TWO CENTRAL ARKANSAS MOMS TELL SAVVY ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES ADOPTING RIGHT HERE AT HOME

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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Happy harmony: Madison, Anthony, Kennedy, Stacey, Quinn and Maya Valley.

28 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


BY MEL JONES P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y L I LY D A R R A G H

Stacey Valley always knew she wanted to be a mom. Her journey began in 2009 as a foster mom to an 11-day-old baby who she would later adopt. When she married her husband Anthony, a senior database analyst in marketing at Windstream, in 2013, she gained two stepdaughters. After a year of marriage, the couple decided to begin the adoption process and continue to grow their blended family. Today, Stacey and Anthony have four daughters—Kennedy, 16, Madison, 12, Maya, 6, and Quinn, 1. The story of how they became a family is one of strength and struggles, tears and triumphs, and the power of unbreakable bonds. SAVVY: WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? STACEY VALLEY: Most days are busy juggling work and home with kids’ schedules and our volunteer and church activities. We try to relax on Saturdays. HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK, FAMILY AND INTERESTS? Although it’s not a perfect system, we rely heavily on scheduling to make sure the right people get to the right places and do the right things at the right time. Anthony and I are a good team. Communication is crucial. HOW DID YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND, ANTHONY, MEET? I was living in the DC area and was home visiting family in North Little Rock. My brother introduced us. But little did Anthony know that he had already caught my eye while he was playing the piano at church. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO FOSTER, AND ULTIMATELY ADOPT? I became a foster parent in 2009 as a single person. I knew the need was great for foster parents, and I really wanted to be a mom. Maya was my first foster placement. I didn’t know when they placed that precious little 11-dayold baby in my arms that I would adopt her a year later. When Anthony and I got married in 2013 we discussed becoming foster parents together. Anthony comes from a large family, so having lots of kids around is normal for him. At our one-year anniversary, we started the process. Quinn was placed in our home in September 2014 at two weeks old, and we adopted her this past summer. We went through The CALL (thecallinarkansas.org).

WHEN DID YOU ADOPT YOUR FIRST DAUGHTER, MAYA? January 2010, a week before her first birthday. WHEN MAYA WAS 6-YEARS-OLD, YOU AND ANTHONY ADOPTED HER BABY SISTER, BUT NOT WITHOUT SOME MAJOR OBSTACLES AND STRUGGLES. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT PROCESS? We have a beautiful relationship with Maya’s birth family, especially her grandmother. When we found out that Maya’s birth mom was pregnant again, we started the process to become an open foster home in case the baby came into the Division of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) custody. Our DCFS resource worker knew our history and that we were opening our home as a “fictive kin” home for this child. Birth mom asked me to be in the delivery room with her and stay in the hospital with her and the baby. It was truly special, but also complicated. I was shocked when DCFS placed the baby with another foster family. I petitioned to have her placed with us, and ultimately that happened. But it wasn’t an easy process. (To us, they were sisters by blood. But to the legal system, they were not sisters because we had adopted Maya.) WHAT HELPED YOU STAY STRONG AND NOT GIVE UP ON ADOPTING QUINN? Honestly during those 11 days she was with another family, I wasn’t very strong. I was a sobbing mess. But I knew that her birth mom wanted her girls together and that despite the obstacles, she was worth fighting for. DESCRIBE THE DAY YOU AND ANTHONY OFFICIALLY BECAME QUINN’S PARENTS. Going to court is stressful, but adoption hearings are a celebration. We had lots of family there with us. It was extra special because we had the same judge who had done Maya’s adoption five years earlier. It was a huge feeling of relief when the judge declared her our forever child.

WAS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO ADOPT A CHILD HERE IN ARKANSAS? Yes. There are about 3,500 children in the foster care system in Arkansas at any given time, but only about 1,100 approved foster homes. About IN ADDITION TO YOUR TWO ADOPTED DAUGHTERS, YOUR FAMILY 500 of those children are eligible for adoption. There really is no reason to look INCLUDES ANTHONY’S BIOLOGICAL DAUGHTERS FROM A PREVIOUS anywhere else—the need is right here in our own state.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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MARRIAGE. WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO GROW YOUR BLENDED FAMILY? Surprisingly it has been a very easy transition. Kennedy and Madison are with us every weekend, and they are sweet girls. Maya loves having big sisters. As a stepmom, I think it’s important to let the children set the pace of relationship. They have a mother, so I serve a different role. Anthony’s take: As their dad, I see the four girls as the same. I don’t differentiate between how they arrived into the family because we are one family. Stacey’s a great mom. She gives plenty of space for each child to develop a healthy relationship with her. It’s wonderful work of grace unfolding.

Stacey adopted Maya when she was just a year old. Five years later, Stacey and Anthony also adopted Quinn, Maya’s biological sister.

WHAT DO YOU ALL LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? HOW DO YOU SPEND TIME TOGETHER? When the weather is nice, we like to take family walks together. We live near the Lakewood lakes, so that’s our favorite spot. Family meals are an important part of our lives as well. We love to laugh. We often spend time sitting in the living room, watching TV and adding witty commentary to whatever we see. As parents, we use our family time to teach the Valley girls how these moments relate to loving God and loving your neighbor. DO YOU TALK TO MAYA ABOUT HER BIRTH STORY? WILL YOU DO THE SAME FOR QUINN? I made Maya a storybook about her birth story. She will pull it out from time to time, and we’ll read it together. She knows that she and Quinn have the same “tummy mummy.” I don’t hide anything from her, and she asks tough questions sometimes. I’m working on Quinn’s storybook now. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GIRLS’ BIRTH MOTHER? Her story is hard, and for her protection, I won’t disclose much here. But I will say that I talk to her on occasion, and I have an open relationship with her and her family.

— S TA C E Y VA L L E Y

WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? WHAT SHOULD THEY KNOW ABOUT ADOPTION AND BLENDED FAMILIES? Fostering and adoption is not for “the special.” Anthony and I are just normal people. God has called us all to care for the orphans. EVERYONE. If you can’t foster or adopt, you can support someone who is or be an advocate for fostering and adoption. You don’t have to be a stay-at-home mom or have a big house. Children in Arkansas need loving homes. That’s it. In addition, I’d like people to learn how to talk about adoption and blended families using loving language. Yes, these are my “real” children. No, I don’t love some of my children more. Please don’t ask silly and hurtful questions. What’s a silly or hurtful question? If a question seems too awkward to ask a biological family made of only biological children, it is out of place to ask a foster or adoptive family. Mostly don’t make foster and adopted children feel different. They are just kids who needed a loving family. Read more about Stacey’s adoption story on her blog, staceyvalley.com.

30 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


“I LIKE MUSIC A LOT. L I S T E N I N G TO GOOD MUSIC IS ENJOYABLE, AND BEING ABLE TO P L AY G O O D MUSIC IS EVEN M O R E S O. ”

“PUT ON SOMETHING WITH A BEAT AND I ’LL DANCE FOR YOU. DANCING AND EATING ARE MY FAV O R I T E. ” —QUINN

—KENNEDY

“WHEN I GROW UP I WA N T TO B E A C H E F, AN ARTIST OR A NINJA.” — M AYA

“ I LIKE TO READ BOOKS, LISTEN TO MUSIC AND I’M R E A L LY G O O D AT MATH. MY GOAL IN LIFE IS TO BECOME A VETERINARIAN OR A MARINE B I O LO G I S T. ” —MADISON

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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Julie & Elijah

32 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


WITH TIES TO ADOPTION THROUGHOUT HER FAMILY, JULIE KNEW THAT ONE DAY SHE WOULD DO THE SAME BY KD REEP PHOTOGRAPHY BY BETH HALL

Meet Julie and Britt: Parents of daughters Riley, 8, Maddie, 5 and son Elijah, 2. Like any other Arkansas family, they are busy shuttling kids back and forth to school and activities while maintaining careers, a home and, at times, their sanity. One of the unique aspects of this family is their willingness to adopt a child from ABBA Adoption in Benton. A full-service private adoption agency, ABBA provides abortion alternatives, crisis pregnancy and adoption services, and its team of professionals work with both birth and adoptive parents to provide education, support and serve as advocates. Julie and Britt always knew they would adopt, and through ABBA, they were able to meet Elijah’s birth mother. On the day he was born, Julie got to be in the room. “It was the most amazing and difficult thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Julie says. “What was one of the happiest days of our lives was one of the saddest of hers. The feelings are indescribable.” This is the story of Elijah’s welcome to the world, one that brought people from different backgrounds together through love, sacrifice and compassion. “We left the hospital with Elijah the day after he was born, but his adoption wouldn’t be official for several more days,” Julie says. “We were so thankful to have our son, but our hearts were breaking for his birth mom. I think Jody Landers put it best: ‘A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me.’”

Julie and Elijah look at the family photos that line the wall of his nursery.

SAVVY: YOU HAVE TWO BIOLOGICAL DAUGHTERS. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO ADOPT ANOTHER CHILD? JULIE: God laid it on my heart at an early age, and I’ve thought about it for years. My mom and her twin brother were adopted domestically here in Arkansas, and once I really started to understand her story and was able to see how truly blessed we were to be a part of the family that we are because of adoption, I knew I would adopt as well. I also have some amazing cousins in China who’ve adopted and work THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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“Our lives would not be complete without our little man,” says Jullie.

34 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


in orphanages there, and their hearts for orphans pulled at my heartstrings and has had a lasting effect on me. Adoption isn’t right for everybody as there are many ways to help, but it was what my family and I were meant to do. WAS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO ADOPT A CHILD HERE IN ARKANSAS? We had to do a lot of praying and discussing, and we went back and forth between domestic and international. God’s children are God’s children—there are no borders when it comes to them. In the end, we felt the most peace with doing a domestic adoption. The agency we worked with felt right, and ABBA’s director, Kandi Cox, has a heart for children, birth mothers and adoptive families. Getting with the right agency is so important because the process can be difficult, and you need to feel supported and secure with the people facilitating everything.  HOW WILL YOU TALK TO ELIJAH ABOUT HIS BIRTH STORY WHEN HE’S OLDER? HOW DID YOU EXPLAIN IT TO YOUR DAUGHTERS? We have been very open with the girls from the beginning. They were a part of our fundraising and walked through the waiting period with us. They understand adoption and our oldest, Riley, has already said she wants to adopt one day. We will also be open with Elijah. He will grow up knowing he is loved by many and that his birth mom loved him so much she had to make the selfless, brave and most difficult decision of her life to give him a better one. We have many pictures of her and other family members and will share those when he is ready. We will base the rest of it on when we feel like he is ready and able to understand it all. We want to be honest with him and protect his heart at the same time. It’s helpful to have my mom, as an adoptee, offer advice and views from both sides.

Learning her mom’s adoption story informed Julie’s own decision to adopt.

WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ELIJAH’S BIRTH MOTHER? From the first time we met her, we loved her. We spent quite a bit of time with her towards the end of her pregnancy. We’d go to lunch and her doctor appointments with her. She knows she is loved, respected and cherished, and we know she trusts us strongly enough to raise Elijah. Her heart and mine are forever connected: We are mothers that love the same boy, who is our son. We keep her updated with letters and pictures through the agency, and she is always in our hearts and prayers. WHAT SHOULD READERS KNOW ABOUT ADOPTION AND BLENDED FAMILIES? Adoption can be hard, but it is worth it. Birth moms are brave, selfless and make probably the hardest decision of their lives for the betterment of their children. We are honored to be Elijah’s parents, and adoption has changed our whole family for the better. Our lives would not be complete without our little man, as he has strengthened our bond as a family, our marriage, our relationship and reliance on God, and our hearts. In a perfect world, children would be raised by their birth parents and neither of them would have to suffer that loss. We don’t feel that adoption was God’s original plan for families, but we live in a broken world and luckily adoption is a wonderful option. Thankfully, God can make beautiful things out of dust and our family is far more beautiful with Elijah in it.

—JULIE

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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CULTIVATE

ANSWERING THE CALL AS FOSTER AND ADOPTION NEEDS IN ARKANSAS REMAIN HIGH, THE CALL DEALS WITH RAPID GROWTH TO MEET DEMAND BY DWAIN HEBDA

S

ince 2007, Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime has earned an impressive reputation for promoting foster families and adoption and backing it up with training that prepares willing families to open their homes to a child in need. Known as The CALL for short, the group has brought the issue of foster and adoption to 3,175 families via nearly 443 information meetings held in churches that have made the issue a matter of faith in action. More than half of those who attend a meeting completed training to foster or adopt and of these, about 70 percent become open families for foster and adoptive children. Most significantly, 225 children have been adopted as a direct result of the group’s work, 76 of them through the first nine months of 2015 alone. “The CALL is a successful model that is making a difference in communities with local support of churches, local businesses and local government working together, building that synergy that’s important to accomplish a goal,” says Lauri Currier, CALL executive director. “We all want what’s best for the kids.” Such performance doesn’t come without a price, however. The growth has been so sudden it’s provided challenges to the home office to keep up. “There are always challenges that come with growth,” says Currier. “We started this little ministry with the idea that one day we would replicate the model and that it would grow beyond Pulaski County and beyond central Arkansas but that’s just happened at such an incredible pace that we really didn’t anticipate.”

36 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

The CALL recruits interested individuals by partnering with churches of all denominations, tapping into reservoirs of potential foster or adoptive families. CALL representatives, through their relationships with churches across the state, introduce congregations to the need for more foster and adoptive homes through informational presentations. Interested congregants then apply for the CALL’s certification programs, which utilize the same materials as the Division of Children and Family Services uses in state-sponsored training. All prospective candidates’ eligibility is evaluated according to DCFS guidelines, including background checks administered by the state agency. Families looking to foster or adopt through The CALL must meet an additional requirement by the organization: Families must demonstrate affiliation with a faith congregation. (Faith affiliation is not a requirement of DCFS.) This requirement is rooted in The CALL’s philosophy that a faith community is vital to supporting families as they take on this new challenge in the life of their family. The organization’s growth attests to the effectiveness of their recruitment and training model, as well as the missionary-like zeal with which proponents pursue change in their respective communities. Since 2007, The CALL has grown from operating just in Pulaski County to statewide in 2011 and today operating in 35 counties. The growth has been so sudden, it’s driven administrators to provide a more structured system for setting up county affiliates. “We’ve kind of been playing catch-up to create the structure that we needed and actually providing the tools and the training that were needed for our local


we

MORE THAN 200 CHILDREN HAVE BEEN ADOPTED DUE TO THE CALL’S EFFORTS. affiliates,” Currier says. “Our process for launching a county has changed. There are more requirements now because we’re realizing how important it is to have that structure in place before we try to launch a local organization.” Even with the growth The CALL has enjoyed, the need for more foster and adoptive homes remains high. As of September 25, there were 4,567 children in the foster care system in Arkansas versus 1,112 open foster homes. Most youngsters seeking foster care come from abusive, criminal or otherwise dysfunctional households, Currier says, and without placement face few options within the system that are little more than warehousing, some until they age out in their late teens. Even if they are fortunate enough to be placed, more than half of these children are placed outside of their county of residence. “The numbers are really staggering. I can’t think of one county in the state of Arkansas that doesn’t have children placed outside their home county,” Currier says. “The burden is, we need every county to raise up the number of families that they need just for their own communities. If we can just get people to focus on that, that’s huge.” Foster and adoptive homes, particularly locally, provide a much better alternative for helping kids move past the difficulties they have experienced and reduce the likelihood they will continue the cycle in their adult lives. Currier says the extra work and guidelines The CALL has implemented to set up and support affiliates in the field is worthwhile, because it improves the local groups’ chance for success in meeting a critical need. “We want our local organizations to thrive and be very successful in building their relationships with churches for recruiting families and for providing support for those families,” Currier says. “Those things are crucial to our ability to really do well.” For more information on becoming a foster or adoptive family or to have The CALL speak at your church, call 501-907-1048 or visit the organization’s website at www.thecallinarkansas.org or on Facebook. Individuals inside Pulaski County can also contact the local affiliate at 501-823-0607 or via email at pulaskicounty@thecallinarkansas.org.

all about making the holidays special

With the hustle and bustle that comes this time of year, it’s easy to forget the reason many of us look forward to the holidays each year: Quality time with loved ones. “The holiday season provides ample ways for the entire family to spend valuable time with one another, so it’s important to remember to take advantage of as many of those opportunities as possible,” said Chuck Smith, M.D., a family medicine specialist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). If you’re looking for fun holiday ideas for your family, here are a few to remember: • Community Holiday Activities. Each holiday season usually brings several free, familyfriendly community activities, so be sure and check your community’s calendar for events. • Take in the Holiday Lights. Touring the neighborhoods in search of the best lights can be a family favorite activity, especially if you have young children. • Giving Back to Those in Need. Volunteering as a family at a local shelter or food bank can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved. We hope this season of the year brings you and your loved ones much joy. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe, happy holiday season.

For an appointment, call 501-686-8000 UAMShealth.com/centerforprimarycare THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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LET US PLAN YOUR PARTY!

The PediaTric clinic, P.a. of norTh liTTle rock

Over 50 Years of •Go Karts •Mini Golf •Bumper Boats •Lazer Maze •Arcade & Prizes •Batting Cages •Big Party House!

Call Us Today! 501-455-3750 www.bigrockfunpark.com

11411 BASELINE ROAD, LITTLE ROCK (NEAR BASS PRO SHOPS)

Caring

Accepting New Patients Birth Through Adolescence Most Insurance Accepted Lourie Battles, MD • Robert Choate, MD • Kim Clinton, MD Anthony Elias, MD • Kim Hurlbut, MD Stephen Fiedorek, MD • Eric Fraser, MD • Gary Fowler, APRN Bishawn Morris, MD • JoAnne Wilson, APRN Tina Jones, MD • Nicole Turner, APRN 3401 Springhill Drive, Ste. 245 North Little Rock · 501.758.1530 CLINIC HOURS: MONDAY-FRIDAY 8 AM-6 PM WALK-IN SICK CLINIC: SATURDAY 8 AM 203 B Plaza Boulevard Cabot · 501.843.0068 CLINIC HOURS: MONDAY-FRIDAY 8 AM-5 PM

Rhea

Drug Store

A Traditional Pharmacy with eclectic Gifts. Since 1922

Goldilocks & the Three Bears Toy House & Storybook 2801 Kavanaugh Little Rock 501.663.4131

38 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


As a parent, sometimes it seems like there are a million answers to even the simplest questions when it comes to our children. The Savvy How-To Guide is here to help with the decisionmaking process for some of your most pressing concerns.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | DECEMBER 2015

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HOW TO: Select a Virtual Academy for Your Child Sometimes, your child’s studies and extracurricular pursuits exceed what traditional public schools or homeschooling options are available. If you are

“Virtual learning provides an opportunity to support the individual needs of students and provide additional time or assistance when needed.” —Dr. Scott Sides, ARVA head of school

ARVA.k12.com | 866-339-4951

40 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

considering enrolling your child in a virtual school, the Arkansas Virtual Academy offers these reasons that it may be the perfect fit for your student. “ARVA is an excellent choice for parents who want to be directly involved in their child’s education,” said Karen Samuhel, a sixth-grade math and science instructor at Arkansas Virtual Academy and one of Little Rock Family magazine’s 2015 Amazing Educators. “Parents are the ‘learning coaches’ for their children at ARVA with the bonus of additional teacher support through online interactive classrooms. Accountability, as well as individual encouragement and support, is provided to families. There is also some flexibility not usually available in a traditional brick-and-mortar school that may better meet the needs of individual families. Students are from all over the state and many different backgrounds. The diversity in the school provides another layer of educational opportunity as we learn from each other.” ARVA provides students a world-class K-12 curriculum, flexibility for student and parent schedules, and achievement levels that exceed those of traditional public schools. Unlike homeschooling, ARVA is a publicly funded online charter school that provides families and students with a complete set of curriculum, lesson planning programs, books and instructional materials, the use of a computer and subsidized Internet access for qualifying students, and the guidance of a highly qualified, licensed teacher. Everything needed for an exceptional education is provided to students who participate in ARVA. “Virtual schooling provides a quality option for families and parents who want to be more involved in their child’s learning,” said Dr. Scott Sides, head of school at ARVA. “Virtual learning provides an opportunity to support the individual needs of students and provide additional time or assistance when needed. “We leverage the expertise of teachers, working with parents who are committed to the academic growth of their children.” Because ARVA is a publicly funded open-enrollment charter school, students are required to participate in state-mandated standardized achievement tests to demonstrate content understanding and academic progress. These achievement measures, such as state testing, are important to ARVA as it works to ensure each of its students is excelling in his or her academic pursuits. “I have taught in traditional public schools, private school and even homeschooled before teaching at ARVA,” Samuhel said. “In my opinion, it combines the best of all types of schooling. The K-12 curriculum and extra class sessions meet and exceed the state standards as set forth by the Arkansas Department of Education, and although the students are schooled within their home, the online classroom sessions allow them to interact with others in their class. There are many field trips available all over the state so students and teachers may meet each other in person several times a year.” The freedom to pursue an activity the student loves, travel as needed and still obtain a top-notch education in a public school system is what makes ARVA the best option for parents, students and educators who require flexibility, diversity and support. “Arkansas Virtual Academy is not just a school,” Samuhel said. “We care about each individual family and want to provide the best education we can for our students. We are personally invested, and the teachers, administrators and staff are more than just a faculty.  We are a part of something so much more - we are a family.” For more information about Arkansas Virtual Academy and how it can help your family meet your student’s unique learning needs, visit online at ARVA.k12.com, like on Facebook at ArkansasVirtualAcademy or call 866-339-4951.


MING HOME BORED IS VIRTUAL SCHOOL RIGHT FOR YOUR CHILD? FROM SCHOOL? THIS SCHOOL REALLY FITS ME

We offer personalized education through statewide, tuition-free, online public charter school for grades K-10 with state-certified teachers. Little Rock Information Session Nov, 10 • 6pm Hilton Garden Inn, North Little Rock 4100 Glover Lane

Fort Smith Information Session Nov, 12 • 6pm Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House 3324 South M Street, Fort Smith

Springdale Information Session Nov, 13 • 6pm The Jones Center 922 E Emma Avenue, Springdale

Learn more at ARVA.K12.COM 866.339.4951

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4th • NW AR Winterland of Gingerbread | 866.339.4951 Learn more at K12.COM/ARVA 1:45pm, CST at The Jones Center in Springdale, AR Wednesday, December 9th • Online Information Session 12pm, CST Your home, Online Friday, December 18th • Little Rock Winterland of Gingerbread 1:00pm, CST at Arkansas Skatium 1311 S. Bowman Rd. Little Rock, AR 72211

Register at ARVA.K12.COM/EVENTS-CALENDAR


HOW TO: Protect Your Family From Secondhand Smoke Is everything you have heard or read true about secondhand smoke? There are countless myths associated with secondhand smoke. People know smoking is bad for them, but often times, they do not realize the dangers of secondhand smoke and how it affects their loved ones and pets. Here are three common myths related to secondhand smoke and the truths that are backed by over 50 years of medical research that debunked them.

Myth #1: The little bit of smoke that my kids or family members get doesn’t hurt them. Here’s the truth: Since 1964, over 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. As you smoke, mixtures of gases and small particles are given off and stay in the air of your house for up to two-and-a-half hours. The smoke still lingers even if you smoke by an open window or shut the door. A few side effects of secondhand smoke include coughing, wheezing, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and eye and ear problems. The list of negative health effects is endless. Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke because their bodies are still developing and growing.

Myth #2: Quitting smoking would be stressful on my baby. Here’s the truth: Quitting smoking will improve your pregnancy health. Smoking while pregnant has many harmful effects on your baby. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight, ear infections, heart defects, and chest colds and coughs are issues your baby could suffer. Low birth weight in babies can also cause chronic lung disorders, underdeveloped brain capacity and anemia. Quitting in the early stages of your baby’s development can have a positive impact on their health.

Myth #3: My cigarette smoke doesn’t hurt my pet. Here’s the truth: Pets that inhale secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lung or nasal cancer than pets living in smoke-free homes. Cigarette butts can be deadly, too. If a puppy ate just two cigarette butts, it could cause death in a short time period. Cats exposed to secondhand smoke may have a higher chance of oral cancer. This is because when cats groom themselves, they will ingest the residue left from secondhand smoke.

Since 1964, over 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. STAMP OUT SMOKING 1-800-QUIT-NOW

Arkansas Department of Health

1-800-QUIT-NOW

42 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

This is how you can protect your family, friends and pets. To quit smoking, there are resources available to help you. The Arkansas Tobacco Quitline quit counselor will help you develop a personal quit plan, deal with withdrawals, and determine if gum, patch or lozenge is right for you. Pregnant women receive 10 calls from a dedicated quit counselor. Quitting is hard to do. You don’t have to do it alone. Make the first step by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. If you’re not ready to quit, take the necessary steps to ensure your loved ones are not being exposed to secondhand smoke. It’s illegal to smoke in the car with anyone under the age of 14, but refrain from smoking in your vehicle at all times. For more information visit www.stampoutsmoking.com


“I have my

first cigarette of the day when I get up.”

When you smoke, it’s like they are smoking. Secondhand smoke can hurt their lung growth and permanently damage lung functions. Quit now. Quit together.

1-800-QUIT-NOW

STAMP OUT SMOKING 1-800-QUIT-NOW


HOW TO: Find, Land and Keep Scholarship Dollars

Savvy Dec 2015 ad.pdf

1

11/17/15

3:17 PM

Lock’s other tips include: Don’t kid yourself, this is a competition National Merit Scholars or students who ace their ACT notwithstanding, competition for aid is fierce. Students who get financial aid aren’t getting as much as they used to and a lot of it is in loans. Some schools have done away with merit-based scholarships altogether, to better focus resources on recruiting lower-income students. “Always approach it with the fact that you’re not the only person applying for the scholarship,” Lock said. “Something as simple as knowing deadlines is important. The sooner you can get information in, the better your odds are along with meeting the other requirements.”

ASMSA is your opportunity to be

Leverage culture and interests

Take time to look into the subspecies of scholarships targeting students of various ethnic, cultural or religious backgrounds. If you know what you want to study, seek out trade associations and professional groups related to that field—these organizations often award scholarships as a means of attracting students into certain disciplines. Lock said parents should also look for scholarships through their job or through the clubs or organizations to which they belong.

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Pre-World Wide Web, it made sense to hire a company to do the time-consuming legwork involved with digging around to find scholarship opportunities. But times have changed. “That’s really one of my ‘don’ts,’” Lock said. “I don’t believe One doesn’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know college As costs are school at an junior, students andattend parentsone should have to pay someone to schools search forright scholarships a high you can of the nation’s top public here for all-time high. The National Center for Education Statistics reports public fourthem because Internet is there tofor itsthat.” 2015 “Public Elites” list, which in Arkansas. The Washington Postthe named ASMSA year institutions cost an average of $17,474 in school year 2012-2013 and private recognizes 25 of the highest-performing high schools in the nation. In 2013, four-year institutions were roughly twice that. Put in as theNo. extra effort Newsweek ranked ASMSA 13 time in theand nation on its “America’s Best High Schools” We asked Penny Lock, assistant dean of counseling services at Arkansas To 2014 land scholarships, remember get out isTop generally proportional to list. The School Daily Beast in placed ASMSA No. 10what in itsyou “America’s High Schools” for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs, for best strategies for findwhat you put into the process. Lock said a surprising number of students pass on rankings. ing, landing and keeping scholarship dollars. scholarships because they don’t want to write an essay or will wait until the last “My number one ‘do’ is always read the school requirements andWith criteria closely,” minute toavailable seek a letter of recommendation. Others swing too farfamilies in the opposite more than 60 courses in which to earn college credit, ASMSA she said. “A lot of times, students who lose their scholarship say well, I didn’t knowper year direction, suffocating themselves with too many extracurricular activities save $4,000 in college tuition. Combining a residential commuinty withor exagI had to meet this certain criteria. gerating their highresearch, school accomplishments. opportunities to conduct scientific a growing arts program and the chance “When you are awarded a scholarship you have to meet obligations, like main“Don’t misrepresent yourself sell yourself she said. “Just be really to study abroad, ASMSA offers experiences youorcan’t find atshort,” any other high school taining a certain GPA, maintaining a certain amount of core units or or aware and understand what the scholarship committee is asking you and target in credits Arkansas. maybe you have to do some service work.” your responses.” Be a researcher. Be an artist. Be a scholar. Visit us online or in person to discover how you can become extraordinary. Learn more at asmsa.me/asmsaevents. CY

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Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

A Campus of the University of Arkansas System

asmsa.org | Hot Springs 200 Whittingon Ave. • Hot Springs, AR 71901

44 DECEMBER 2015 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

“Always approach it with the fact that you’re not the only person applying for the scholarship.” —Penny Lock, #ASMSA Assistant Dean of Counseling Services, ASMSA


ASMSA is your opportunity to be

As a high school junior, you can attend one of the nation’s top public schools right here in Arkansas. The Washington Post named ASMSA to its 2015 “Public Elites” list, which recognizes 25 of the highest-performing high schools in the nation. In 2013, Newsweek ranked ASMSA as No. 13 in the nation on its “America’s Best High Schools” list. The Daily Beast in 2014 placed ASMSA No. 10 in its “America’s Top High Schools” rankings. With more than 60 courses available in which to earn college credit, ASMSA families save $4,000 per year in college tuition. Combining a residential commuinty with opportunities to conduct scientific research, a growing arts program and the chance to study abroad, ASMSA offers experiences you can’t find at any other high school in Arkansas. Be a researcher. Be an artist. Be a scholar. Visit us online or in person to discover how you can become extraordinary. Learn more at asmsa.me/asmsaevents.

Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts

A Campus of the University of Arkansas System 200 Whittingon Ave. • Hot Springs, AR 71901

#ASMSA


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High quality child care looks like

HAPPINESS.

Your baby was born learning. Every word and action

Choose quality child care to give your child the best

is a lesson for your baby. Positive early experiences

start in life.

play a big part in your baby’s development and happiness.

Visit our website to use our Child Care Checklist. Learning more about what quality child care looks like will help you to make your child care choice.

www.ARBetterBeginnings.com • 1-800-445-3316 Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education


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SAVVY | December 2015