THE LIFESTYLE MANUAL FOR THE MODERN MOM
JANUARY 2017 · THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Spotlight on Special Needs EASY, GUILT-FREE SLOW COOKER RECIPES FORGET THE FADS & DETOX NATURALLY! LOGAN’S HARD WORK SPEAKS VOLUMES ON PAGE 24.
HOW TO START SAVING & STILL MAKE ENDS MEET
why should I learn to braid? because it makes my daughter happy spending time with her relaxes me she tells me funny stories while I braid I want her to feel beautiful and loved she’ll only be a little girl for so long because together we’re healthier
Taking care of your family requires taking care of yourself. As the new year gets started it’s time to think about your health, which includes seeing your doctor for an annual wellness checkup. So make your health a priority. Find a primary care clinic near you by visiting chistvincent.com
Primary Care | Specialty Clinics | Urgent Care | Hospitals | Home Health | Rehabilitation | Surgery Centers
A Pediatric Therapy Team FAQs
When should my child start reading and writing? At what age should my child begin using words? What are the developmental milestones for speech, fine motor, and sensory processing? My child can read, but they struggle to understand the text. Is this typical for their age? My child has difficulty getting their thoughts down on paper. What can we do?
WE CAN HELP! OUR SPECIALTIES INCLUDE:
• Speech-Language Evaluations and Therapy • Occupational Therapy Evaluations and Therapy • Dyslexia and Language Based Learning Disorders • Travel to schools and homes • Summer Literacy Camps for Reading, Spelling, and Writing • Preschool Sensorimotor Language Program coming in 2017
WE OFFER THESE PROGRAMS: Lindamood Bell Programs Reading with TLC Handwriting Without Tears Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant Visual Perception Sensory Processing
16607 Cantrell Rd. Ste 6 Little Rock 72223
Auditory Processing and Memory Interventions Individualized Therapy Plans based on your child’s areas of need
AMP UP YOUR WORKOUT!
MODERN MOM 14 MAMA SAID
I RESOLVE NOT TO BE AN ANGRY MOM
16 MIND, BODY & SOUL
FORGET THE FADS AND DETOX NATURALLY
SAVVY FAMILY 18 SAVVY STYLE LET’S GET PHYSICAL!
20 RESOLUTION-FRIENDLY COMFORT FOOD!
EASY, GUILT-FREE SLOW COOKER RECIPES
24 HARD WORK SPEAKS VOLUMES LOGAN MARTIN MAKES GREAT STRIDES AFTER A DIAGNOSIS OF CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH
27 SHE'S ALL HEART
EMMA WASSON, BORN WITH TURNER SYNDROME, SHOWS AMAZING STRENGTH AND COURAGE
36 TIGHTEN THE BELT AND STILL BREATHE
HOW TO SET MONEY ASIDE FOR RETIREMENT AND COLLEGE AND STILL MAKE ENDS MEET
IN EVERY ISSUE 6 EDITOR’S NOTE 10 NEWS & NOTES
CALENDAR, CRAFTS & MORE!
38 BAG CHECK JO ANN CAMP
ON THE COVER: EMILY AND LOGAN MARTIN. PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILY DARRAGH.
JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
At Arkansas Children’s, we have an unyielding commitment to making kids better today and healthier tomorrow. Most importantly, we’re not just pediatric specialists, we’re specialists in kids! That’s what makes us the choice for children. archildrens.org
12/8/16 4:40 PM
PUBLICATION: Savvy Kids INSERTION: January, 2017 MATERIALS DUE: 12-09-16, Friday, LATITUDE JOB NUMBER: ACH-16-0039 CLIENT: Arkansas Children’s Hospital JOB NAME: NWA Ad LIVE: n/a SIZE: 8" x 4.875" BLEED: none COLORS: 4cp; 133ls; SWOP280 FORMAT: Press Ready PDFX, TRG Link to Pub QUESTIONS CALL: Pat Hartman @ 214-696-7913
Pulaski County Special School District
Choose PCSSD schools for– Certified teachers with advanced degrees Test scores higher than other local districts Millions awarded in college scholarships Talented and Gifted programs State-winning sports teams 1;1 tech program providing iPads, Chromebooks Facilities upgrades and new schools underway pcssd.org
501.234.2000 THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
In one much-anticipated day we watched all our hard work come to fruition. All the presents were unwrapped, stockings dumped out on the floor, meals were consumed, and we said goodbye (gratefully) to 2016 to welcome a new year. Then we were promptly pressured into reflecting on our lives and how we could do it better. What are my resolutions? To get through another year and make my loved ones happy, work to be more patient, take better care of myself, make more nutritious meals for my family, stop reading the comments on Facebook, and to have more fun in general. I assume some of these goals we probably have in common, so you may find some guidance in the pages of our January issue. While we can’t give you the strength to refrain from social media battles (you’ll have to look deep in your heart for that one), we do offer tons of tips for how to be a better you. Our health feature on page 16 focuses on diet and myth-busting some detox fads. Put down the lemon and cayenne! There are great ways to rid your body of toxins and still eat. KD Reep offers great guidance from a clinical dietitian. Everyone is trying to spend less and save more. It’s that dark cloud always looming, but it’s easier than you think to get started and secure your family’s financial future. Local financial planners give the confidence you need to start that college or retirement fund and still make ends meet on page 36. Almost every New Year’s resolution list includes a little ditty about working out more. Make those trips to the gym more exciting by treating yourself to some trendy workout gear that will make you want to break a sweat. Find our suggestions on page 18. In the bitter cold of January, sometimes we have to switch to survival mode, where every moment is just about staying warm. Shut out the cold and crank up the Crock-Pot with some easy family-friendly recipes from Kerry Guice on page 20. This issue is also full of some very beautiful children whose strength and spirit will continue to dazzle and warm us throughout the year. With a focus on special needs, we asked a group of moms to share their unique journeys. We met the lovely Emma Wasson, whose parents, Jerilyn and Kenny, are working to create North Little Rock’s first inclusive playground. Logan Martin and mom, Emily, pose for our cover and share their experience with Logan’s diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech. He won our hearts as he rattled off a list of favorite “Star Wars” characters at the photo shoot without batting an eye. We hope you’ll read each of these stories from all eight mothers, and gain a new insight to their worlds and the special talents and achievements of their children. Here’s to a fantastic 2017 as we all converge on the path to become better moms and the best versions of ourselves!
Amy Gordy Editor, Savvy @SavvyAR
JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
PHOTOGRAPHY: LILY DARRAGH
NEW YEAR, I’VE NEVER BEEN SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU
The Reason We Come to Work T H E L AT E S T I N T E C H N O L O G Y. T H E B E S T I N C A R E . At Snell Laboratory, our professional staff members craft custom prostheses and orthoses that are nearly as remarkable as the people who wear them. It's a great responsibility and an honor that we cherish because our patients are truly the reason we come to work each day.
Offices located in Little Rock, Russellville, Fort Smith, Mountain Home, Fayetteville, Hot Springs, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Conway. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
PUBLISHER BLAKE HANNAHS | firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR AMY GORDY | email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR MANDY KEENER | firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR AT LARGE REBEKAH LAWRENCE | email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE LESA THOMAS | firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING TRAFFIC MANAGER ROLAND R. GLADDEN | email@example.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR JIM HUNNICUTT | firstname.lastname@example.org GRAPHIC DESIGNERS BRYAN MOATS | MIKE SPAIN | KEVIN WALTERMIRE PRODUCTION MANAGER | CONTROLLER WELDON WILSON IT DIRECTOR ROBERT CURFMAN
ACCOUNTS PAYABLE/OFFICE MANAGER KELLY JONES BILLING/COLLECTIONS LINDA PHILLIPS CIRCULATION DIRECTOR ANITRA HICKMAN
Visit our website for information on services, upcoming events, and access to our resources! Kidsourcetherapy.com Services We Provide: •Early Intervention Services •Therapy Evaluations •Speech/Language Therapy •Occupational Therapy •Physical Therapy
Supportive Programs: •Sensory Integration •Feeding & Swallowing •Hippotherapy •Aquatics •Special Olympics
Benton• Hot Springs • Little Rock• North Little Rock• Arkadelphia• Malvern
JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
ARKANSAS TIMES PUBLISHING ALL MATERIALS ARE HANDLED WITH DUE CARE; HOWEVER, THE PUBLISHER ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR CARE AND SAFE RETURN OF UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. ALL LETTERS AND PHOTOS 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 ©2017 SAVVY™
KERRY GUICE is a food blogger 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.
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.
Butterfly Learning Center Day Care
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.
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.
PRESCHOOL FOR ALL ABILITIES Ages: Birth-5 • Level 2 Better Beginnings • New management • Updated facilities & playground • Small teacher student ratio (2 instructors per class)
9720 N. Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock 501-228-3868 ucpark.org/programs/childrens-services/ butterfly-learning-center/
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
news & notes
Enjoy an evening in the enchanted world of “Cinderella” at Robinson Center. Celebrity Attractions presents this Rodgers and Hammerstein, Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical to delight audiences of all ages with an orchestra, magical effects and musical treasures. celebrityattractions.com.
NATIONAL SPAGHETTI DAY! The childhood classic from the '80s, “The Princess Bride,” will show on the big screen at the Ron Robinson Theater in the River Market district. This family-friendly film is full of adventure, romance and humor starring an all-star cast including: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Robin Wright and Billy Crystal. Catch it at 1 p.m., $5 admission. Don’t forget the popcorn! cals.org/ronrobinson.
Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Mega Kingfest, a celebration and day of service at Little Rock Central High School hosted by The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and the Little Rock School District. arkingdream.org.
The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre performs “Stone Soup” in the Studio Theater. The story is about a wanderer down on his luck who happens upon a little house inhabited by a mysterious woman who holds a treasure even more precious than a pot of delicious soup. arkansasartscenter.org.
Fill your bowl and the help others at Little Rock Soup Sunday, hosted by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families at the Statehouse Convention Center. Enjoy an atmosphere that is casual and family friendly as you sample soups from more than 40 area restaurants. This year, Chris McMillan of Boulevard Bread Company will be the featured chef. Don’t forget your muffin tin! aradvocates.org.
10 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
You’ll be dazzled by the athleticism of the Harlem Globetrotters at Verizon Arena. Watch as they exhibit incredible ball handling, dunks, trick shots, comedy and hilarious audience interaction. Hang around after the game to meet the stars and get autographs. verizonarena.com.
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF VENDORS
HERE’S WHAT 10-YEAR-OLD JACKSON CASE (AND HIS MOM, KERRI) HAD TO SAY ABOUT ALL ABOARD:
GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!
Congratulations to Beatrice Tucker, age 6, of North Little Rock. Her beautiful family portrait was chosen as the winner of Savvy's family portrait drawing contest. The talented artist will receive one $30 gift card to Loblolly Creamery.
we here for young children with special needs UAMS Kids First is Arkansas’s first pediatric day health care program for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with special health care needs and the only academic program of its kind. UAMS Kids First is committed to providing high quality family-centered services and also helping to positively impact all young children in Arkansas by training students from colleges and universities and supporting research in our field. Based at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Pediatrics, Kids First offers a wide array of services, including: Developmental Assessment and Intervention Speech, Occupational & Physical Therapy Nursing & Medical Services Nutrition Services Specialized Interventions Home Visiting UAMS Kids First is helping to enhance health, growth, and development of young children in local communities throughout the state.
New York Times bestselling author Trenton Lee Stewart released his latest work of children's fiction, "The Secret Keepers," last fall. The book was included in Amazon's Best Children's Books of 2016, and tells the story of a boy who finds an extraordinary antique watch with a secret power. It's an adventure tale that invites readers to join in and help solve the mystery. Stewart lives in Little Rock and is also author of the young reader series "The Mysterious Benedict Society." Find Stewart's work on amazon.com.
To learn more, visit arpediatrics.org/kidsfirst or call 501.526.8700.
Fort Smith • Little Rock • Lowell • Magnolia Morrilton • Mountain View • Newport Pine Bluff • Pocahontas • Searcy • Warren THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017 12160166 Savvy Kids ad.indd 1
12/19/16 8:46 AM
SNOW DAY CRAFTING
There’s only so much ice and snow you can take. At some point you have to come inside, thaw out and pass the time. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, your glue gun and a few items easily found around the house to make these fun, easy crafts with the kids!
THIS SPACE CRAFT IS THE PERFECT SIZE FOR LEGO GUYS!
CARDBOARD SPACECRAFT You’ll Need: Cereal box cardboard Cardboard toilet paper roll Paint Glue gun Scissors Pencil Razorblade (adults only!) 1. Flip your cereal box cardboard print side down and trace the outline of a spacecraft, and cut along the outline. 2. Draw an oval with a flat side on the toilet paper roll and cut carefully with the razorblade or an X-acto knife. 3. Paint and decorate your spacecraft any way you like! 4. Once the paint is dry, hot glue the toilet paper roll to the cardboard and your astronauts are ready to head for the stars!
IT’S THE BIG GAME PARTY HEADQUARTERS! THE DISCOUNT PARTY SUPER STORE 11218 Rodney Parham (Pleasant Valley Plaza) Little Rock 501-223-4929 12 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
4822 North Hills Blvd N. Little Rock (off McCain to Kroger) 501-978-31
TIN CAN ORGANIZER You’ll Need:
Clean tin cans A scrap piece of wood Spray paint for metal and wood Painter’s tape Hot glue gun Metal file Chalkboard label Chalkboard pen
KEEP EVERYTHIING IN ITS PROPER PLACE!
1. Remove labels and glue from your tin cans and clean thoroughly. Be careful of sharp edges! 2. Grab a metal file and file down those rough edges. 3. Paint the wood and set it aside to dry. 4. Use the painter’s tape to create any design you like. We went for stripes and geometric forms. Stencils are great, too! 5. Once the paint is dry, peel off the painter’s tape and hot glue to the wood scrap. 6. For added organization, decorate your cans with chalkboard labels. These organizers are great for your office, kitchen, dining table or to set out at your next picnic or cookout!
Blvd. ain, next -3154 THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
I RESOLVE NOT TO BE AN ‘ANGRY MOM’
hen did I become Angry Mom?” That’s what I said with stomach-churning regret after marching our youngest back down the stairs—the fourth time—to join her siblings in bed. I am not a yeller. I don’t want to be a yeller. My parents weren’t yellers. And yet, so often, there I am: yelling at my children. We all know parenting is stressful and hard. No one sane has ever said parenting is easy. Some days are better than others. Some days at my house it’s all rainbows and lemon drops, swinging at the park in the sunshine, or biking to the neighbor’s fish pond followed by cookies and chocolate milk. Other days, though … meltdowns, drama central, complete and total freak-outs. In my house, it’s almost always Thursday or Friday. The kids are tired from the week of school. The parents are tired from the week of school—and work, and laundry, and dinner, and yard work, and family drama and puppy potty training. The list is endless. Sometimes I just want to sit down and watch mindless TV, or lock myself in the bathroom and turn the vent fan on to drown out the whining. And, of course, that’s exactly when one child beats on the door and says over the sound of the vent that her brother spilled milkall over the new carpet. (This is all hypothetical, of course.) So, what is a sleep-deprived, stressed-out, ruined-milk-smell-conscious parent to do? Open the door, exit with grace, find the offending spiller, gently touch his face while whispering ‘That’s OK, sweetie. Accidents happen.” Yeah right. Maybe in ''Leave It To Beaver'' land. In a perfect world, yes, we parents would never overreact or raise our voices or storm through the house cursing the day milk was invented. But life isn’t simple. Parents aren’t perfect. And milk is still a crowd favorite. Parents fail. Often. Then we feel awful for snapping at our kids, for delivering epic rants no one listened to anyway, for nagging constantly, and for not giving more instructive reprimands. What can we do, though? Time crunches and external stressors would not magically disappear even if we all went off-grid, farmed the land and homeschooled. I’m no expert, but I am a mom of three and I do lose it fairly consistently. I want to do better, to be better, and to raise healthy
children. I have read respected pediatricians and behavior experts who remind us that as adults there will always be worries and short fuses. It’s how we handle our anger, and our reactions, that matter. Sure, the advice is oversimplified, but it’s also true. One suggestion is to divide behaviors into “smallies” (annoyances and nuisances that aren’t worth it to you or the child to get angry about) and “biggies” (which are harmful to self, others, property and require a response for everyone’s sake). They recommend practicing responses in advance so that you can control an angry snap. “That’s OK, I’ll grab a towel,” or “I’m mad at the mess, not the child,” for the milk example above. There are other things we parents can do, too. Adjusting expectations is a good start. By nature, kids simply cannot care for themselves. Do I feel my precious time is wasted when I have to sit on the edge of the tub every time my 3-year-old goes to the toilet? Yes. Yes I do. But she’s 3 and still needs help. Expecting her to do it alone only leads to frustration for both of us. Finding moments, even tiny ones, to recharge every day is important. Hiding in the bathroom to check a website you love counts. Coffee and Al Roker while the kids watch “Paw Patrol” counts. Of course, an evening with a girlfriend or dinner with your partner is even better. Maybe you need an outlet, a hobby. I know, I know: Who has the time? But sometimes change is necessary. Parents’ mental health must be a priority. It’s OK to cut back on commitments, to slow down and re-evaluate priorities. And if you’re finding yourself habitually stressed, it may be time to look into anger management activities or counseling. Nobody’s perfect, though you would never know it by our Facebook feeds. I’ve written before about the dangers of comparing our behindthe-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. Feeling stressed and frustrated is normal. Kids mess up. Parents mess up. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. It’s important to evaluate both ours and our kids’ stressors, and work to do better so that next time, maybe we don’t lose it quite so quickly or so dramatically. I think it’s also important to talk about our shortcomings and struggles with other parents. It helps to know we are not alone. It helps to know others don’t always meet their goals. It helps to know parenting is a work in progress.
I'M NOT ALWAYS AN ANGRY MOM!
Jen Holman is determined to be a voice of reason in the cacophony of reality TV and mom-judgement-gone-wild. She is often irreverent and frequently imperfect. But she’s happy, by God, and that’s what matters. She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three (im)perfect children.
14 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHANIE PARSLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
You don't have to have a Pinterest-perfect holiday.
Purchase your zoo membership today. Not only is it a great value — members get unlimited visits, free parking, discounts on event tickets and perks at other zoos — but you’ll be helping fund the Zoo’s crucial mission of wildlife conservation and education.
Call us! 501-661-7218 Visit us! www.LittleRockZoo.com/memberships #1 Zoo Drive / Little Rock, Arkansas
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
mind, body & soul
FORGET THE FADS AND DETOX NATURALLY It’s time for resolutions! This year, you’re going to get healthy if it kills you, and when it comes to fad diets and the newest exercise craze, it could come to just that. BY KD REEP
ocusing on your health is a noble and necessary priority, but in our hurried lives, trying to revamp our lifestyles overnight is unhealthy and dangerous. Forget cleanses and detox diets and vow to overhaul your health one step at a time. “There is no merit to trendy juice or detox cleanses,” said Shannon Ledbetter, RD, LD, a clinical dietitian and wellness coordinator of nutrition services at CHI St. Vincent in Hot Springs. “People pay lots of money for something the liver and kidneys already do. They’ll start fad juice and detox cleanses, and once they are off of the program, they begin to gain weight, possibly more than what they weighed before.” This rebound weight gain is hard on the body and harder on motivation. Consuming only juice, a mix of cayenne pepper and lemon water or teas will cause you to lose weight, most of which is water, but will leave you lethargic. While the fast drop in weight is satisfying, your body compensates by slowing metabolism, making it more difficult to lose weight—and keep it off—afterward. “There are ways to naturally detox your body with a healthy lifestyle change that can keep weight off,” Ledbetter said. “The most important thing is to stay hydrated with water and non-caffeinated fluids.” Kicking the caffeine habit can be a huge challenge, but Ledbetter’s tips on how to do it slowly will ensure success.
16 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
“THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO STAY HYDRATED WITH WATER AND NONCAFFEINATED FLUIDS.” “Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day,” she said. “If you are trying to cut back on caffeinated drinks, slowly decrease the amount you consume each day and substitute with more water. If stopping by the coffee shop or whipping through the drive-through are part of your daily routine, challenge yourself to go through every other day. Once you’ve accomplished that, shoot for twice a week. Eventually, that will become more of a hassle than a habit, and you’ll give it up completely.” Another way to stay hydrated and cleanse your body naturally and healthfully is to eat three servings of fruit and four servings of vegetables every day. “That’s a half-cup of each, which isn’t a lot,” Ledbetter said. “Fruit with breakfast and lunch, as well as a snack each day, and you’ve achieved that goal. For veggies, a salad at lunch and two helpings of mixed vegetables at dinner is all you need to fulfill this requirement.” By eating these portions, you’ll have also consumed your daily requirement of fiber, which helps keep you full and eliminate waste.
Since Since 1958 1958,
“Set a goal of consuming 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day,” she said. “I know it sounds like a lot, but when you eat whole grains, nuts and seeds as well as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, greens, kale and radishes, you’ll get your daily allotment quickly. Also, berries, artichokes, garlic, onions and leeks are full of fiber and water, and these foods support your body’s own natural detoxification pathways. Drinking green tea will help, too.” Lastly, Ledbetter recommends consuming adequate protein—between 60 and 70 grams per day—to help naturally detox the body. “Consider taking a multivitamin and multimineral to fill any gaps in a healthy diet since certain vitamins and minerals enable the body’s detoxification processes to function,” she said. “Eat naturally fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut or take a high-quality probiotic to help the body manage toxins from microbes that live in the gut. By making these changes you can naturally detox your body and maintain a healthy lifestyle forever.”
“Emma Kate enrolled in The Allen School at age 2 after having received services in Oklahoma since birth. It was a hard “Emma Kate enrolled in The Allen ageAllen 2 after having to start her school but School the team at at The School, “Emmadecision Kate enrolled ininThe Allen School at age 2 after having made theintransition very easy for us. The dedicated received services Oklahoma since birth. It was a team hardofdecision received services in Oklahoma since birth. It was therapists and teachers worked with her daily and after only 3a hard to start her in school but the team at team The Allen School, made she in was walking and the talking more than ever before. decision tomonths, start her school but at The Allen School, We see daily improvements! We will The forever be grateful to the made transition very easy for us. The dedicated team of therapists thestilltransition very easy for us. dedicated team of the staff at The Allen School for caring and taking time with our and teachers worked with her daily and 3 months, therapists and teachers worked with herafter dailyonly and after only 3 daughter.”
she was talking more before. shemonths, was walking andwalking talkingand more - Wade andthan Katyever Sursa We still see daily improvements! We will forever be grateful to than ever before. We still see daily The Allen School has enabled children birth to five with developmental the staff at The Allen School for caring and taking time with our improvements! We will forever be The Allen through School has enabled nurturing, children birth with developmental disabilities to achieve their dreams treatment, and to five daughter.” disabilities to achieve their dreams through treatment, and grateful nurturing, to the staff at The Allen education. - Wade and Katy Sursa education. School for caring and taking time A dedicated staff directs the school’s inclusive enrollment, where A dedicated staff directs the school’s inclusive enrollment, where typically with our daughter.”
typically developing students with those facing students blend withmental those facing physical challenges. The Allen School developing has blend enabled children birth toand fivemental withanddevelopmental Wadechild’s and Katy Sursa The Allen School’s program is individually tailored to maximize- each physical challenges. disabilities to achieve their dreams through treatment, nurturing, and potential. A combination of early childhood teachers, special education The Allen School’s program is individually tailored to maximize each education. teachers, and paraprofessionals work together with physical, speech, 824 N. Tyler St.and child’s potential. A combination of early childhoodensure teachers, special occupational that all students are given the perfect balance A dedicated staff directs the therapists school’stoinclusive enrollment, where typically Little Rock, AR 72205 education teachers, and paraprofessionals work together with physical, of education and inspiration. developing students blend with those facing mental and physical challenges. www.theallenschool.org speech, and occupational therapists to ensure that all students are given The Allen School’s program is individually tailored to maximize each child’s the perfect balance of education and inspiration. 501.664.2961
potential. A combination of early childhood teachers, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals work together with physical, speech, and occupational therapists to ensure that all students are given the perfect balance of education and inspiration.
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
LET'S GET PHYSICAL!
Get motivated to move in the New Year with perfectly coordinated active wear. Sure, you could go to the gym in your PJs, but there’s nothing like looking the part to push you that extra mile, whether you’re on the treadmill or the yoga mat.
GOTTA HAVE STYLISH STRUCTURE & SUPPORT!
1. Make a statement with a graphic tank from Maddox. The flowy design allows you to breathe and move unrestricted, and look great doing it. Available at Maddox, Little Rock, shopmaddoxonline.com. 2. Keep it all in place with a Moving Comfort Fineform sports bra. The convertible straps offer two styling options—racerback or open back. It’s a stylish sports bra that offers great structure and modesty. Available at Fleet Feet Easy Runner, Little Rock, fleetfeeteasyrunner.com.
18 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
4. Keep your energy level up with some motivating tunes in an eye-catching set of Skullcandy Knockout headphones, sized to fit women. An in-line microphone and remote allows you to answer calls, skip a track and control the volume without having to pull out your phone. Available at skullcandy.com. 5. Stay hydrated while you sweat with a S’well stainless steel water bottle. Gold goes with everything, so don’t be afraid to tote this bottle to the office or playground. The 17-ounce bottle keeps drinks cold for 24 hours, or hot for 12 hours. It’s non-toxic, non-leaching and BPA free. Available at swellbottle.com.
GOLD GOES WITH EVERYTHING!
3. Stand out during savasana with these electric Side Pop leggings by Onzie. The bright pastels make them the perfect statement leggings to get you in the flow of things. Available at Blue Yoga Nyla, North Little Rock, blueyoganyla.com.
6. These colorful kicks are great to hit the pavement or the treadmill. The Brooks Glycerin 14 running shoe is the ultimate in super-soft cushioning. Available at Fleet Feet Easy Runner, Little Rock, fleetfeeteasyrunner.com.
3RD ANNUAL ARCADE COMPETITION! JANUARY 21ST AT 2:30PM
NEED SOME WORKOUT JAMS? LOAD UP YOUR IPOD WITH A FEW OF OUR FAVORITES!
NEW 2017. A hex aerial adventure high ropes course with a giant human maze underneath it!
“SURVIVOR” DESTINY’S CHILD “HEY YA!” OUTKAST “MILKSHAKE” KELIS “WORK FROM HOME” FIFTH HARMONY “BURN” ELLIE GOULDING “CHEAP THRILLS” SIA “7/11” BEYONCE
•Go Karts •Mini Golf •Bumper Boats •Lazer Maze •Arcade & Prizes•Batting Cages•Big Party House!
www.bigrockfunpark.com • 11411 Baseline Road, Little Rock (near Bass Pro Shops)
Let Us Plan Your Party!
NOW OFFERING AUSTIM DIAGNOSTICS AND SPECIALIZED THERAPY SERVICES • OCCUPATIONAL • SPEECH-LANGUAGE • DEVELOPMENTAL • PHYSICAL THERAPY • APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS (ABA) • MENTAL HEALTH / COUNSELING • OUR AUSTIM CLINIC - REACH Serving children & families across central Arkansas #501-481-8930 artherapyoutreach.com
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
WARM UP WITH A BOWL OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH & KALE STEW! 20 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
RESOLUTION-FRIENDLY COMFORT FOOD! EASY, GUILT-FREE SLOW COOKER RECIPES TO GET YOU THROUGH THE WINTER SEASON. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KERRY GUICE
t’s January! Let’s say it together: This is going to be our year! We’re going to eat right, exercise, keep our house clean, actually send out birthday cards, put away the phone more often, and keep in touch with old friends. Right? Well, we’ll try. That’s all we can do, anyway, and I think trying should be enough to call anything a success. We don’t need to commit ourselves to a long list of strict standards, but we can try to make little changes that will add up to bigger changes throughout the year. For me, the New Year always starts with eating better. I eat with the seasons, and we all know what season just ended! All too often we try to diet and restrict ourselves so much that we feel unsatisfied and creep back into old habits. We want to eat better, but it’s still winter outside! We’re all still craving that comfort food that can get us in trouble. I wanted to create a few comfort food recipes that will leave us feeling full, but not guilty! In this endeavor, the slow cooker is our friend. Choosing the right ingredient swaps is the most important factor in cutting calories without sacrificing flavor. For the chicken tacos, I don’t omit the avocado. Even though it’s high in fat (it’s the good kind!) and higher in calories, it gives the tacos the creamy texture that will balance out with the shredded meat and the crunchy cabbage and radish, which are there for pure crunch. Cabbage and radish add virtually no calories, but they add tons of texture, color and substance. The cilantro and hot sauce add that final kick to round everything out. You won’t miss cheese or sour cream here! Because the chicken is made in the slow cooker, it’ll melt in your mouth. Be sure to use small corn tortillas rather than flour tortillas to save even more calories. I love stews. It’s an essential winter staple. Everyone should have a tried-and-true stew recipe they keep in their back pocket for when that perfect snowy night comes and everyone is stuck at home. For me, this Butternut Squash and Kale Stew is that recipe! Smoked turkey sausage is roughly half the calories of pork sausage. Half! That’s a tiny effort that makes a huge difference in this stew! Not only is this light in calories, but also loaded with nutrition. I add the kale in at the very end so it stays nice and green. If you’re saving some for leftovers (it’s always better the next day!), just add a little handful of kale to the bottom of each bowl, rather than stirring it into the pot. The deep flavors of the sun-dried tomatoes and butternut squash are the perfect contrast to the crunch of vibrant green kale. I know bread is frowned upon by the “health nut elites,” so it’s a good thing I’m not one of them. This stew begs for just one tear off of a nice crusty baguette. Life is all about balance, after all.
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
SLOW COOKER CHICKEN TACOS 6-8 servings
3 large chicken breasts ½ cup chicken stock ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper ¼ teaspoon dry mustard ½ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon cumin ½ teaspoon oregano 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 2 teaspoons honey 2 teaspoons dijon mustard Small corn tortillas Shredded cabbage Sliced avocado Sliced radish Cilantro Hot sauce (I recommended Cholula) Place raw chicken breasts in slow cooker turned on low. In a bowl, whisk together the chicken stock with the seasonings, vinegar, mustard and honey. Pour over chicken and cook on low for 3 hours. Run errands, read a book, take your kids to the park or take a nap. After 3 hours, shred chicken and toss with the sauce made from the cooking liquid. When ready, serve a spoonful of hot shredded chicken in corn tortillas with toppings. (Yes, it’s that easy!)
22 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND KALE STEW WITH TURKEY SAUSAGE Makes 8-10 servings (hello leftovers!)
2 links smoked turkey, sliced and browned ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes 1 can drained white northern beans 4 cloves minced garlic ₁ ⁄₃ cup chopped onion 1 cup frozen or fresh corn 2 cups diced butternut squash 3 handfuls rough chopped kale 6 cups chicken stock ½ cup white wine 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper ½ teaspoon dry mustard ½ teaspoon thyme ½ teaspoon coriander Slice and brown the turkey sausage, then add to the slow cooker with all other ingredients but the kale. Cook on low 5 hours. Add the kale to the finished stew. Serve hot with crusty bread (preferable also with a fire going in the fireplace and snow falling outside).
We offer services for children with various disabilities ranging from six weeks to 21 years of age. Our Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency Program is the only program offered in the state of Arkansas and one of only seven Pediatric Physical Therapy programs in the country. Mother’s Day Out Available At Both Locations 1500 Wilson Loop Road, Ward (501) 941-5630 5532 JFK Blvd., North Little Rock (501) 588-3211
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
Six-year-old Logan Martin of Ferndale makes great strides in language development after a diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech. BY DWAIN HEBDA PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILY DARRAGH
24 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
THE OLD PARENT ADAGE OF “IT’S TOO QUIET, SOMETHING’S GOING ON,” IS PARTICULARLY POIGNANT FOR EMILY AND GARY MARTIN OF FERNDALE. It was the
Logan Martin lights up when talking about "Star Wars."
nagging thought that tugged at them daily over the lack of baby babble by their son, Logan, now 6 years old. “At 14 months is when the pediatrician sent him to be evaluated because he wasn’t making any sounds and he wasn’t crawling or walking—he wasn’t doing anything but sitting up,” Emily remembered. “We were evaluated at 14 months and he started [outpatient] speech therapy at that time. “Then at 2, he still was not saying anything and so they thought there was probably something more going on than just delayed speech.” It was then that Logan was tested for, and diagnosed with, apraxia, a neurological disorder that affects a child’s ability to do things they recognize how to do, but for whom the brain cannot properly translate to other body systems what actions are necessary to complete the task. Logan’s diagnosis, childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) also sometimes called verbal apraxia, specifically affected his language development. Classified as rare by the Office of Rare Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, apraxia, or its various subtypes, affects less than 200,000 people in the United States. According to the website of the childhood apraxia of speech Association of North America, CAS impedes patients’ ability to plan and produce the complex set of coordinated motions of the tongue, jaws, lips and palate that are required for intelligible speech. The patient may recognize an object, but imagine the brain as a television satellite receiving a clear signal but lacking the technical ability to decode that signal to the TV set and communicate with an audience. So far, science has failed to explain what causes the condition, but any family that has dealt with it can attest to how perplexing and frustrating CAS can be. “Logan is a very laid-back child; some kids get very frustrated because they can’t say it. He never really did that. He just did not speak,” Emily said. “Then once he could start speaking, he just wasn’t producing the sounds clearly so a lot of people could not understand him, including us. That’s when he got more frustrated, when he was a little older. He knew what he was saying but we couldn’t understand what he was saying.” THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
Hard work has paid off for Emily and Logan Martin.
The Martins looked for different resource in the community that could help Logan, initially with limited success, before they heard about Access Academy in Little Rock. “We had several people tell us about Access, which was kind of difficult to get into, so we started outpatient therapy there the summer of 2013,” Emily said. “They actually had a spot come open that fall, so he started there in August of 2013.” Many apraxia patients have an excellent prognosis with the proper help, and Logan is a shining example, said his mother. “Access’ whole learning program in the classroom is very reading-based and so everything that they do is about sounds,” she said. “They may read one book for two weeks and really focus on the different sounds in the book, or if it’s numbers, they’ll focus on numbers. They’ll do basically a two- or three-week theme on one certain thing, and that’ll be everything they do those two weeks or three weeks; whatever it is.” A bright student, Logan has flourished in the three years he’s attended Access Academy. Emily said the family noticed gradual improvement at first and then the floodgates opened for the boy. “This past year, pre-K, we really saw a huge difference,” she said. “They’ve started doing a little bit more focusing on the sounds. They’re learning how to make every single sound, how to put sounds together, and then they start doing words and putting words together.” Apraxia is often accompanied by other conditions such as autism, though that’s not the case with Logan. However, his condition also robbed him of early core strength development, and so he completes physical and occupational therapy as part of his school day to catch up. He also benefits from the protective tendencies of his 10-year-old sister, Olivia. Emily’s advice for other parents is to trust their gut when it comes to what their baby is, or is not, doing. “Don’t hesitate to question the pediatrician, to get early intervention,” she said. “I think that’s the biggest success of most children with apraxia is just catching it early. If they’re not babbling—I mean, [Logan] didn’t babble at all—if your child’s quiet and not putting words together, definitely bring it up to the pediatrician.” Although she knows that challenges lie ahead, Emily said watching Logan learn to deal with his condition is inspiring and gives her hope for his future. “He’s an extremely hard worker and that hard work pays off,” she said. “He works harder than probably most children, maybe than most adults, do in a day with therapies and he’s very patient. I guess good things come to those who work really hard.”
26 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Emma Wasson sets the example of what strength and perseverance look like. She was born with a heart defect and diagnosed with the rare genetic condition Turner syndrome. Through their journey, the Wasson family has found a passion for advocacy and education, and are heading up the construction of North Little Rockâ€™s first inclusive playground. BY AMY GORDY PHOTOGRAPHY BY LILY DARRAGH THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
Jerilyn and Emma Wasson spend their day reading, singing and playing.
TO MEET EMMA MICHELE WASSON IS TO IMMEDIATELY BECOME ONE OF HER CHEERLEADERS. SHE’S 4 YEARS OLD AND ONLY 27 POUNDS, but she’s got more power and charisma
WE OPTED TO TRY THE MOST INVASIVE ROUTE OF IN VITRO FERTILIZATION, AND WERE TOLD EVEN THEN THERE WAS STILL ONLY A SMALL CHANCE. THE ODDS WERE NOT IN OUR FAVOR FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.
28 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
than most adults. Her mother, Jerilyn Swalve-Wasson, is another force to be reckoned with. Jerilyn is Emma’s primary caretaker. She holds a part-time job, but her full-time job is Emma. In Emma’s short four years, Jerilyn has developed a rigorous routine. She keeps a binder in the family room that she and husband, Kenny, refer to as “the pink book.” Within its pages they note any changes, no matter how subtle, in Emma’s health and behavior so they can easily trace patterns and know exactly when a new issue may have started to show symptoms. In the bathroom is Emma’s extensive list of medications laminated and taped to the mirror. Several new additions are written in near the bottom of the Excel document. In early December, Emma had just returned home from an 18-day hospital stay that Jerilyn feared could have been her baby’s last. “Emma got hit with two respiratory viruses and one stomach virus at once. Her immune system was really compromised, so we are keeping her out of school and taking extra precautions with her until her strength is back,” Jerilyn said. The Wassons’ road has been one with ups and downs and a series of “miracles,” according to Jerilyn, that have led them to where they are today. “I’ve suffered from endometriosis since I was 12 years old. Kenny and I were told we had a very poor chance of conceiving on our own, so we opted to try the most invasive route of in vitro fertilization, and were told even then there was still only a small chance. The odds were not in our favor from the very beginning.” The in vitro worked, however, and Jerilyn became pregnant with a baby girl, Emma. “My pregnancy was pretty normal. I thought it was odd that I didn’t get very big, but I figured I was just lucky. Then I noticed the baby wasn’t moving and kicking as much as other babies seem to do.” At 37 weeks, Jerilyn went in for a stress test and an ultrasound didn’t pick up any abnormalities, but Jerilyn and her doctor both had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. She was induced a week later due to heart rate decreases.
(From left) Emma at 11 months wearing a helmet to help reshape her head topped off with a hat from Disney World from an uncle; Emma's first Easter in a fancy butterfly dress at 7 months with mom and dad; and Emma listening to music on the iPhone at age 2.
“She came very fast. It was a stressful delivery. Her heart rate kept dropping every time I would push, so they finally turned the monitors away from me. When she was born I had a feeling something wasn’t right. The nurse took her and thought she looked a little blue. It wasn’t a very obvious color, but she called the on-call pediatrician who came and detected a heart murmur. They took her straight to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.” Emma embarked on an eight-month stay at the hospital that was full of close calls and procedures with slim odds. At 6 days old, she had her first heart catheter. She was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum, a congenital heart defect that affects approximately 7-8 out of 100,000 births. Six weeks later, she was diagnosed with Turner syndrome, a genetic condition affecting only girls due to a missing X chromosome. Only 2 percent of fetuses live to term with this condition, and only two other people in medical journal history have had Emma’s combination of disorders—Emma is the only known survivor. During the first eight months of her life, Emma endured a total of four heart catheters, an open-heart surgery she was given a 50 percent chance of surviving, and two abdominal surgeries that resulted in placement of a drainage tube and gastronomy-button to allow her to be fed through the stomach. Seeing Emma, now at 4 years old, one would never have doubted for a moment that she would overcome all the obstacles in her path. She’s a smart, happy, vibrant girl. She attends therapy at Pediatrics Plus, where she’s eager to learn and develop. Like any typical kid her age, she likes music and singing. She laughs along to “Little Einsteins” and plays with toys while mom keeps a close watch. Jerilyn’s life is devoted to Emma. In a typical day, Emma’s morning medical routine can last up to two hours, then she receives a series of respiratory treatments throughout the day. Jerilyn spends much of her time on phone calls with doctors, insurance companies and pharmacists or researching new medications or devices introduced into Emma’s routine. “I’m just so worn out at the end of our day. Sometimes I just want to be a mom. I want to be able to wake up my child in the morning and snuggle and play. There are so many things that parents take for granted like babies being on their belly, or taking a pacifier or eating baby food. There are all these little things that we missed out on. Since I’m around Emma the most, that means I also get to do all the hard stuff, like daily hormone
shots. It’s hard on the parent to constantly be the bad guy.” The family finally caught a break when they started Emma at Pediatrics Plus. “She started therapy and school at Pediatrics Plus and they saved my life. After two years of staying home with her and never getting a break, starting school there gave me a chance to do something besides think about Emma, and I really needed that mental break. I feel fine leaving her there. The nurses love her, and I know she’s being well taken care of,” Jerilyn said. Since her December health scare, Emma is on the mend and her immune system is regaining strength daily, which gives mom and dad time to resume fundraising for a new project the whole family is excited about. “Kenny and I are really big into advocacy and education. We serve on the [ACH] Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit advisory board, and are always looking to raise awareness,” Jerilyn said. The couple was looking for a bigger project when they met Terry Hartwick, director of North Little Rock Parks and Recreation. Hartwick had wanted to build an inclusive playground in North Little Rock for some time, and reached out to the Wassons to collaborate on the idea. “This park is special and something this city needs desperately. It’s for everyone—it’s for Emma, and it’s for the parent in a wheelchair who can’t take their kid to a playground. It’s something we can all use. I had ideas for a playground, and then I met Emma and the idea just came together. I melted when I met her,” Hartwick said. Hartwick aims to open One Heart Park at Burns Park in North Little Rock in May, and is confident they will meet their fundraising goal of $250,000. Fundraising has been an ongoing effort. Last summer a family-friendly concert was held in Burns Park and raised $20,000. The city of North Little Rock has donated money, and Hartwick has revived the Downtown Tip Off Club, a weekly sports-themed speaking event, that will donate proceeds to the playground. “This playground will be inclusive. It’s not just for kids, the goal is to meet all generations. There will be wheelchair-accessible ramps and rubber flooring. It will be great for people with autism who have sensory needs. It will also be perfectly enjoyable for any typical kid. It will be so great to see all kids playing side by side,” Jerilyn said. To support One Heart Park, contact North Little Rock Parks and Recreation at 501-791-8538 or email email@example.com. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
Sam Weir and his grandmother, Delisa Rader.
It Takes a Village
Sam Weir, 4, is lucky to have such a great team cheering him on. His grandmother, Delisa Rader, makes sure Sam gets to school at United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas through the week, and her son, Cody Weir, cares for him on weekends. Sam has made fantastic progress and continues to amaze his team daily. SAVVY: HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE? DELISA RADER: One son, Cody Weir, age 27. WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION? I am an executive secretary in the corporate office at Baptist Health. WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? We have Sam on a routine that works well for him, my husband and myself. We start each day at the same time with Sam watching a few minutes of HGTV, then we are headed off to work and school. Dinner and bath time are at the same time each evening, which works very well for Sam. He has about 30 minutes to an hour in the evening for play/TV time. YOUR GRANDSON WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CEREBRAL PALSY. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GET HIS DIAGNOSIS? Heartbreaking. My son called me from the hospital and shared the news with me. I was driving at the time and had to pull over. My son never cries, and hearing the pain in his voice was devastating. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER FAMILIES WHO RECEIVE A SIMILAR DIAGNOSIS FOR A CHILD? Know that there are schools and facilities that specialize in these situations. Schools like United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas are essential to help reach obstacles that were thought unreachable. DESCRIBE THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECEIVED AT UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY OF ARKANSAS. HOW HAVE THEY BEEN ESSENTIAL TO YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS? UCP has been a huge factor in Sam’s life. Sam has been attending UCP since he was an infant, and they all love him and he knows it. We never knew if Sam would be able to walk, but with therapy provided by UCP, he can walk and run! Granted, he still needs a spotter to be nearby, but it’s still such a blessing. Sam receives speech, occupational and physical therapy weekly, and is so proud of each goal he reaches. Sam isn’t able to speak very well—yet—but he could someday. He is very bright, he knows his ABCs, can count and operate an iPhone like nobody’s business. WHAT IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM LIKE? We are more like a team. Sam is with me through the week, and with his parents on the weekend. With all of our schedules and our different addresses, it works great for all of us and most importantly, Sam. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? Sam knows me as “MeeMaw,” and it’s the greatest thing ever. He signs to tell me he loves me, and anything else he wants us to know. WHAT MAKES YOUR CHILD AMAZING? Sam is truly a special child. He is a gift from God. He is so happy, he knows he is loved and he brings such joy to everyone who spends time with him. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? The workweek is pretty routine, but Sam loves to watch HGTV and is a huge fan of “Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. We actually sent them a letter with a picture of Sam standing next to a photo of them. They wrote Sam back and signed his picture. I have the card and signed photo in Sam’s room in a frame. He shows anyone who hasn’t seen it before. On the weekends he spends time at the farm with his dad, and loves riding the tractor and helping his dad herd cattle. The one word that Sam can say very clearly is “Momma.” He loves his mom and sister, Lexy, with all his heart. He also loves his grandparents and greatgrandmother who adore him. WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? To know that there are places like UCP for your child or grandchild with cerebral palsy or other issues. I truly believe that in addition to the therapy and teachers at UCP, the love and commitment of family are the key ingredients to any child’s success. For more information on United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas log on to ucpark.org.
30 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
Life’s Little Blessings
Shelly Sawyer of Benton is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver to 4-year-old CoCo. The pair discovers new ways, with the help of Arkansas Therapy Outreach, to help CoCo thrive, learn and grow. SAVVY: HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE? SHELLY SAWYER: I have two children, Bo Sawyer, 21, and CoCo Sawyer, 4. WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION? I was a nail technician for 14 years. I am currently a stay-at-home mom to CoCo. WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? Taking care of the household, working with CoCo using therapy techniques acquired from books, the internet, Arkansas Therapy Outreach and trial-and-error techniques. YOUR DAUGHTER WAS DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GET HER DIAGNOSIS? The diagnosis was devastating. It was an emotional roller coaster of anger, sadness, depression and even jealousy of neuro-typical children. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER FAMILIES WHO RECEIVE CoCo and Shelly Sawyer. A SIMILAR DIAGNOSIS FOR A CHILD? You are not alone. Your emotions will level out, and the intense day-to-day struggles you face dealing with a toddler with autism isn’t forever. In time, your child learns to cope—something that isn’t possible at the age of 2 or 3. WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES YOU HAVE FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM? My husband works out-of-state because of higher pay and better insurance. Much of CoCo’s treatment is biomedical, therefore not covered by any insurance. It is a tough job being sole caregiver, but it’s also a “do whatever you have to do” situation to ensure she succeeds. Our family motto is: Sacrifices now will pay off later. DESCRIBE THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECEIVED AT ARKANSAS THERAPY OUTREACH. HOW HAVE THEY BEEN ESSENTIAL TO YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS? What Arkansas Therapy Outreach means to my family and me cannot be put into words. CoCo would not be where she is today without her therapists. In less than a year, she has made unbelievable strides intellectually and emotionally because of her therapists and her medical doctor working together, along with a gluten/casein-free diet and biomedical treatment, including vitamins and supplements. We are all very excited to see what CoCo will accomplish! WHAT IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM LIKE? My support system is my sister, my son, CoCo’s speech pathologist and my husband. Although he cannot be hands-on, my husband lends emotional support by telephone everyday. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? Seeing the therapy and hard work pay off when CoCo has communication breakthroughs, and then enjoying the little things like spending every day together just having fun. WHAT MAKES YOUR CHILD AMAZING? CoCo has a great sense of humor. She loves to laugh. She is intelligent, rambunctious, persistent and feisty, but best of all she is sweet and loving. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? We love to play outside with CoCo at home or at the park. We enjoy going to McDonald’s PlayPlace with her friends, and we like watching movies occasionally. WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? Children with autism are special little blessings. Each child is individually unique, with a wonderful gift to offer the world! For more information on Arkansas Therapy Outreach visit artherapyoutreach.com.
THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
A Learning Process
Molly Humphries has dedicated her life to the health and wellness of the public as a cookbook writer, and to the success of her daughter, Helen, who was diagnosed with dysgraphia and discalculia. With the help of Beyond Speech in Little Rock, this family is creating their own learning curve. SAVVY: HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE? MOLLY HUMPHRIES: My husband, Matt, and I have two children: Helen, 6, and David, 2.
(From left) Molly and Helen Humphries with therapist Caroline Crow.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? Experiencing both of my children growing everyday. From the time I found out I was pregnant with each of them, I was amazed at their growth. They hit these fun markers in life like rolling over, walking and talking. They continue to amaze us with their little personalities. Helen’s determination and love for others is breathtaking, and David is just hilarious.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER HELEN’S LEARNING IMPAIRMENT? I noticed small things when Helen was in preschool. I honestly didn’t think too much about getting specialized help (although the teachers suggested it). I felt that she was too young for intervention. When Helen was in kindergarten I noticed her handwriting compared to the other children was very different. Her teachers addressed this with me along with some other concerns about her reading, and we agreed that Helen could benefit from some early intervention. I called a very dear friend of mine, Caroline Crow. I think I was about in tears and just needed her expertise on what to do next. Caroline is a speech therapist and had opened her own business, Beyond Speech, just a few years before. Caroline set up a time the next week to test Helen. She was very quick and efficient with the testing process. A week after that, we met with Caroline at her office to discuss the results and create a plan. WHAT IS HELEN’S DIAGNOSIS? Helen was diagnosed with dysgraphia last spring. This fall, she had a full evaluation performed by Dr. Sabine Falls at Access and was diagnosed with dysgraphia and discalculia. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER FAMILIES WHO RECEIVE A SIMILAR DIAGNOSIS FOR A CHILD? 1. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You are your child’s BIGGEST advocate! 2. Begin to build a positive team of people around you and your child. You should be able to fully trust this team with your heart and your words. My team is made up of my husband and family, other mothers that have children with similar learning journeys, teachers, administrators and specialists. 3. Gather all the facts. Have your child tested. Talk to everyone that has been teaching your child. Plan follow-up meetings and stick to them! 4. Know and understand that all children learn differently. If your child’s development concerns you, then ask for help. My daughter is learning at a different pace, and with some subjects in a different way than other students. This is not a disability to me. This is a journey to figure out how Helen learns best. WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES YOU HAVE FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM? One of the recent obstacles we faced was the anxiety Helen began to experience this fall. She didn’t want to go to school in the mornings and would often complain of a stomachache or try to go to the nurse’s office. After having our pediatrician check her out and told that everything was OK with her physical well-being, I began to question other areas that could be affecting her mood leading to her anxiety. Dr. Falls tested Helen and discovered the discalculia diagnosis. We also discovered her anxiety was before and during math class where she was having a difficult time understanding the material presented. The school immediately began math tutoring, and Beyond Speech incorporated the language of math into her therapy sessions. Since implementing these changes, Helen’s confidence and independence at home has improved, her anxiety at school has decreased and she is happy to go to school! DESCRIBE THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECEIVED AT BEYOND SPEECH. HOW HAVE THEY BEEN ESSENTIAL TO YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS? Beyond Speech has been instrumental during this process from the very beginning. Caroline and her team have been at every meeting we have had with the school, and she was with us when we met with Dr. Falls. Caroline has been the bridge of communication that we needed in order to navigate this road. I don’t understand it all, and Caroline was able to walk me through it! The summer reading program at Beyond Speech was very beneficial to Helen and helped her keep up with her reading techniques! The team at Beyond Speech is available to us whenever we have questions or need to find a different approach to Helen’s learning process. It has been the best experience for us! We are very lucky to have this team of professionals! WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? I want readers to know that we are in this together. It is OK to reach out for help when your child is struggling. There is nothing to be afraid of and the answers are just a question away! Together we can begin to find the best way to teach our children, which is a learning process in itself for all of us. For more information about Beyond Speech call 501-944-5968.
32 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN CHILSON
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? We enjoy our annual family vacations to the beach with our friends, and traveling to see the Razorbacks play! We also love being at home. We have a wonderful home full of natural light and a great yard, so we try to utilize it as much as possible.
Love, Patience and Family
Maria Padilla, wife and mother to five, hails from a small, picturesque town in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. She resides in Little Rock where, with the help of her large family and the team at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Kids First program, she helps her youngest, Jeronimo, navigate Down syndrome to lead his life to the fullest.
SAVVY: HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE? MARIA PADILLA: I have five children, the oldest is 27, the second is 25, the third is 18, the fourth is 13, and the youngest, Jeronimo, is 3 years old. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? I love to see my children thrive, and I enjoy their love and company. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? We love to cook and enjoy meals together, which is a big Mexican tradition. We also love to take walks in the park and watch television together. WHAT IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM LIKE? I have all my family to help— especially my husband and older kids. I believe that family unity is a great support, like strong walls, for any problem you might be facing. If you have your family by your side, everything is possible.
Maria and Jeronimo Padilla at the UAMS Kids First clinic in Little Rock.
YOUR SON JERONIMO HAS DOWN SYNDROME. HOW AND WHEN DID YOU RECEIVE HIS DIAGNOSIS? When I was six months pregnant my doctor did some blood tests and told me that my baby could have Down syndrome. At that time I felt very sad, devastated with the news, and was very much afraid. I didn’t know what to think or what to do. The only thing I knew and was certain about was that I wanted to have my child because he was my baby. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER FAMILIES WHO RECEIVE A SIMILAR DIAGNOSIS FOR A CHILD? My advice to all the families that receive a similar diagnosis is, please don’t feel bad and afraid. A child with Down syndrome is a child with great capabilities and incredible qualities despite the disability. They are incredible, smart, funny and add so much happiness to one’s life that I cannot even describe it. Personally, it has been a beautiful experience that I would never exchange for anything in the world. Please thank God for such a blessing, and accept them with all the love you have—they are adorable kids! WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES YOU HAVE FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM? The fear of not knowing how to best help Jeronimo to thrive with his diagnosis. I’m thankful there is so much available information to guide me, and especially thankful for the wonderful early intervention program of UAMS Kids First and its staff that has helped us in so many ways. DESCRIBE THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECEIVED AT UAMS. HOW HAVE THEY BEEN ESSENTIAL TO YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS? It’s awesome and has provided great support for Jeronimo and me. At UAMS Kids First early intervention program, where Jeronimo receives speech, occupational and physical therapies on a daily basis, he has become stronger and has learned so much. WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? I want the readers to know that to have a child with Down syndrome is the most wonderful experience that you could ever have. Please do not be afraid. Get informed and take advantage of all the wonderful programs available to help you be a skillful and successful parent to help your child. These kids will bring incredible surprises to your life and challenges that I believe God gives you to make you strong. We can all do it if we have these essential ingredients: love, patience and family unity! For more information about the UAMS Kids First program visit arpediatrics.org/kidsfirst. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
Welcome to the Family
Katy Sursa is dedicating her life to helping those with special needs thanks to her inspiring daughter, 3-year-old Emma Kate, who attends The Allen School in Little Rock. Katy works at the school as she also works toward a master’s degree to achieve her dream of running a nonprofit dedicated to those with disabilities. SAVVY: WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? KATY SURSA: My day starts at 5 a.m. with coffee! I wake Emma up at 6 a.m. so we can get ready. It takes her a little bit longer in the mornings because I let her try to get herself dressed, teeth brushed and general morning routine. Then it’s off to school! YOUR DAUGHTER WAS DIAGNOSED WITH MOSAIC DOWN SYNDROME. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GET HER DIAGNOSIS? It was horrible at first. Doctors, at least the ones I had, do it wrong. My OB’s nurse called me and told me there was an abnormality on a blood test early in pregnancy. In her words, “There could be something wrong with your baby.” That’s the news every mother dreads. My husband, Wade, and I saw a perinatologist from 16 weeks gestation until delivery. Emma Kate had a birth defect called duodenal atresia (basically a tissue blockage in the bowel), which she was able to see on the 4D ultrasound prenatally. Because of this blockage, Emma Kate had surgery three days after she was born. She also had a very large hole in her heart called a ventricular septal defect, which required open-heart surgery.
Emma Kate and Katy Sursa.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER FAMILIES WHO RECEIVE A SIMILAR DIAGNOSIS FOR A CHILD? I would say, welcome to the family! There is an unspoken, often unseen, network of families of people with Down syndrome—and this is true for any child with special needs, no matter the age. We are here. We support each other. We listen to each other’s pains and joys. We celebrate everything!
WHAT IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM LIKE? Like I mentioned above, the Down syndrome community seeks out those families of people with Down syndrome. I am the state coordinator of education and advocacy for the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association, a member of Buddy Talk and other online support groups. My family is great! My parents live in Hot Springs and come over all the time. They’re a very big part of Emma’s life. Above all, my partner and husband is my rock. Emma Kate is fortunate to have a father as active and involved as he is. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? Watching her learn. She learns so quickly and picks up on things I never would have imagined. She teaches me daily to slow down and notice people. Because of the way Emma Kate pays attention to everyone she meets, it’s not uncommon for me to stop with her and say hello to anyone or everyone we meet. WHAT MAKES EMMA KATE AMAZING? Even as an infant, she has had an extra-sensory ability to pick up on people’s emotions. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? We like to hang out at home mostly. There are occasions where we’ll go to the zoo or a museum, but honestly, Emma Kate is happy just to play at home and be around family.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KNIT TOGETHER MINISTRIES
DESCRIBE THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECEIVED AT THE ALLEN SCHOOL. HOW HAVE THEY BEEN ESSENTIAL TO YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS? The Allen School is technically a developmental day treatment facility for preschool age children. Their aim is to never turn away a child due to their diagnosis or ability. My daughter is no exception. No hurdle was too big or problem so complicated they weren’t able to tackle it full force! Everyone at The Allen School, from the chef to the teachers to the therapists to the administrative staff, all the way to director Suzy Benham, genuinely cares about each child.
WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? Children with Down syndrome are not anomalies. They’re not much different than other children. Families with a child with Down syndrome just want to be seen. They want to have the world notice they’re there, and that their family is no different. We want teachers to feel empowered to be a wheel, which moves our child’s education down a path to independence. We want the community to understand that some behaviors are unavoidable and we want to apologize upfront for the day our child will do something seemingly socially inappropriate because they don’t understand. We want to also never apologize for raising our child the best way we know how. We want the government to understand that we have no interest in freeloading on government funds. We pay a monthly premium for our Medicaid services under the TEFRA program because our private insurances could NEVER cover the bulk of services like therapy and day-habilitation, which our child deserves. For more information about The Allen School log on to theallenschool.org.
34 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
One Step at a Time
Shana and Jeff Fryar have their hands full raising a special set of 5-year-old triplets who have overcome many obstacles after a premature birth. One of the triplets, Jacob, is still making big strides with the help of Snell Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory and Easterseals Arkansas. SAVVY: WHERE ARE YOU FROM? SHANA FRYAR: I’m from Texarkana, Texas, but have lived in the Little Rock area since 2008. HOW MANY CHILDREN DO YOU HAVE AND HOW OLD ARE THEY? My husband, Jeff, and I have 5-year-old triplets. We found out we were having triplets when I was eight weeks pregnant. I was considered a high-risk pregnancy with multiples. I went on bed rest at 23 weeks, and went into preterm labor at 28 weeks. Ryan was born weighing 1 pound, 15 ounces; Alexa weighed 2 pounds, 1 ounce; and Jacob weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces. They spent a total of five months in the neonatal intensive care unit. WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION? I am the social services coordinator at Easterseals Arkansas Children’s Rehabilitation Center. WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? Crazy! These kids keep us on our toes. Having three kids all the same age is eventful to say the least. We thought it would get easier when they were older but that hasn’t been necessarily true! In some ways it’s easier and in other ways it’s harder. YOUR SON JACOB WAS DIAGNOSED WITH LEFT HEMIPLEGIC CEREBRAL PALSY. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GET HIS DIAGNOSIS? All three kids attend Easterseals preschool.
(From left) Alexa, Jacob and Ryan Fryar.
Because they were born 12 weeks early, they each had their own struggles in the NICU. While Ryan and Alexa did not have a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, they did have a diagnosis of developmental delay. They all started receiving therapy at 6 months old. As they got older, Ryan and Alexa tested out of therapies, and are now meeting developmental milestones. Jacob is lagging behind them in certain areas, but has come leaps and bounds from where he was. In the NICU, Jacob showed signs of spasticity and was slower progressing than his siblings. We were fairly certain he had cerebral palsy before a doctor formally diagnosed him with left hemiplegic cerebral palsy at 2 years old, so it wasn’t a shock to us. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER FAMILIES WHO RECEIVE A SIMILAR DIAGNOSIS FOR A CHILD? Be proactive. Early intervention is the best thing we did for our kids. We got involved with Easterseals when they were 6 months old to be evaluated for therapy. When they were 10 months old they began going to the developmental preschool at Easterseals so they could get the therapy and preschool education they needed. WHAT ARE SOME OBSTACLES YOU HAVE FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM? When we were in the NICU, we were faced with many health concerns for all three kids. We had a doctor tell us to take a step back and not look at the day-to-day because each day may present a new obstacle. Instead he told us to look week-to-week and month-to-month because that would show us the progress in our journey. DESCRIBE THE CARE AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECEIVED AT SNELL PROSTHETIC & ORTHOTIC LABORATORY. HOW HAVE THEY BEEN ESSENTIAL TO YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS? Snell has provided for Jacob since we began at Easterseals. They have worked very closely with his physical therapist for the last few years fitting him for ankle foot orthotics (AFO) and shoes. Jacob relies on the AFOs to ambulate independently. There have been many occasions when Jacob needed additional orthotics like shoe inserts, a cast shoe (when he broke his ankle), modifications to his shoes or AFOs, and they went above and beyond to provide quickly—sometimes the same day. WHAT IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM LIKE? Our family is very supportive of us. They help as much as possible. Jeff and I are a big support to each other. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MOM? Seeing my kids smile. I love hearing them laugh. The craziness of our lives is all worth it when we see them accomplish something. WHAT MAKES YOUR CHILDREN AMAZING? All of our kids have had to overcome obstacles, especially Jacob. They had to learn to do things at such an early age, things that didn’t come naturally to them given their prematurity. We have seen them grow and develop into funny, smart, 5-year-olds. They may not have learned to do something the way a typically developing child learns to do it, but they find their own way and accomplish it. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO AS A FAMILY? The kids love to go to the park and go swimming. They especially love celebrating anything with a party. WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR STORY? God gave us these kids for a reason. They taught us that you can accomplish anything one step at a time. For more information on Snell Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory and Easterseals Arkansas visit snellpando.com and easterseals.com. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2017
TIGHTEN THE BELT AND STILL BREATHE
We all know we should be saving—for college, for retirement, for that much-needed new car or bigger home. But how do we set money aside and still make ends meet? BY DWAIN HEBDA
ost families know they should be saving for college or retirement, but many find it very challenging. According to financial professionals, where there’s a will to save, there’s generally a way, and once a family gets into the habit, it gets easier as they go. “[Saving] sucks, when you start doing it at first. Who wants to give up $100 or $500 a month?” said Rocklin Senavinin, president of Fiduciary Wealth Management in Little Rock. “But once you do it, once you kind of jump off the cliff, it’s not as bad as a lot of families think. “You’ve got to save as much as you can as quick as you can. Once you start doing that, you build a portfolio and then you really get engaged because now you’ve got this money and it’s a lot more important than your $100 in a savings account.” The national statistics on Americans’ saving habits are troubling. As Matthew Frankel reported last year on MotleyFool.com, 92 percent of people in the U.S. had less than $1,000 in savings and a third of them had zero set aside. This, he said, comes at a time when credit card debt is the highest in nearly a decade. Mary McCraw, associate financial planner with The Arkansas Financial Group in Little Rock, and a mother of two, said it’s not just frivolous spending that hamstrings many families’ saving plans. Other aspects of a household’s financial picture also have to be taken into account. “There are a lot of other financial things going on with younger people and young families who also need their resources,” she said. “You don’t want to ignore paying off debt, and getting into a house and those types of things.
36 JANUARY 2017 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM
“As a goal and for somebody who’s just getting started, get to that point of saving at least 10 percent [of your income]. If you can start that early and young, you’ll get a really good start.” Frankel goes on to note some good news in his article, that being more young people are heeding the age-old advice to save—67 percent of 22-year-olds and 76 percent of 30-somethings, according to a Transamerica study. That’s music to McCraw’s ears. “The earlier you start, obviously, the better, the more bang you get for your buck,” she said, noting some college savings plans allow socking away as little as $10 a month. “When kids are small, you have no idea where they’re going to go to college or what they’re going to do,” she said. “But to get something started is great, especially if you’re talking about young children.” Senavinin agreed, saying it’s often just a matter of finding a way to get off the bench and into the savings game. Fortunately, this can be accomplished relatively easily with a little planning and the discipline to stay committed. “It’s a mindset,” he said. “A lot of times when families make those initial deductions out of their accounts, it hurts the first couple of months but they always adapt. “People tend to procrastinate, or they make up excuses or think this or that, but the truth of the matter is, you’re never going to fail if you save too much. I’ve rarely seen a situation where clients have oversaved. It just doesn’t happen.”
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL SAVING It doesn’t take much to get into the habit of saving; here are a few pointers to get you started on a brighter financial future:
MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK AT WORKΠ Employer-sponsored retirement plans are among the easiest and most consistent ways to save, because employees have money deducted from each paycheck before they can spend it. The best of these plans feature your employer matching some portion of your contribution. “If your employer offers some type of retirement plan match, that’s free money,” Senavinin said. “If a family is absolutely new to saving and they’re not contributing to their work retirement plan, we start there.” NEW BABY = NEW COLLEGE SAVINGS ACCOUNT Christen the new bundle of joy with his or her own education savings plan. It’s a great way to put aside money for college while giving other relatives the opportunity to pitch into the cause. “The Arkansas 529 plan is a really great savings vehicle, especially if you’re starting with a very young child,” McCraw said. “It’s very easy to set up, and they have age-based investments so you don’t need professional management. Plus, they have tools to email other family members to contribute or print out little coupons for grandparents who earn a state tax deduction for contributions up to $10,000 a year.” CHECK YOUR PLAN OFTEN AND ADJUST WHEN NEEDED There’s no absolute timeline that works for every family, and your situation is going to have elements that are uniquely your own. A good financial plan accommodates these differences and changes over time. “Families working with a financial planner should evaluate their situation every two or three years,” Senavinin said. “It’s very easy for a financial planner to look at the balance, run a projection and say this is how far behind we are of the goal, or we’re on track or a little bit ahead.” GET PROFESSIONAL HELP People wouldn’t dream of following an online tutorial for removing their appendix at home, and the same thinking should apply to financial health. While there is much you can do on your own, including a number of free budgeting apps, you often get what you pay for. A financial professional can take a lot of the guesswork and worry out of saving, provided you’ve done your due diligence to find one you’re comfortable with. “Look for someone who can be objective,” McCraw said. “Our firm, in particular, like many others, is fiduciary, meaning we do not get paid by anyone other than our clients. We’re very focused on giving advice in their best interest because we’re not getting any compensation outside of that.”
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