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THE LIFESTYLE MANUAL FOR THE MODERN MOM

JANUARY 2018 · THESAVVYMOMS.COM

Spo tlight o n Special N e e ds

New! MOMS'

CHOICE AWARDS CAST YOUR VOTE

Dieting Shouldn't Be Your New Year's Resolution


CENTERS FOR YOUTH AND FAMILIES YOUR HOPES. YOUR STORY. OUR FOCUS.

THE PARENT CENTER OUTPATIENT COUNSELING* SCHOOL BASED THERAPY DAY TREATMENT SCHOOL THERAPEUTIC FOSTER HOMES TRANSITIONAL LIVING RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT *same day access available

Our knowledgeable trauma-focused team works with your child and your family to build resilience and restore hope when depression, anxiety, or behavioral challenges arise. Whether it’s as simple as attending a few parenting classes to accessing outpatient counseling the day you call, to residential treatment, we are here for you with a wide range of services to help you build a stronger family.

CALL US TODAY 501.666.8686 or 888.868.0023 Little Rock • Monticello www.cfyf.org @TheCentersAR 2 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


Yes, recovery may take 12 steps…

But The BridgeWay has always been the first.

As the first psychiatric hospital in the state of Arkansas, The BridgeWay has helped thousands of Arkansans recover from addictions. From legal to illegal substances, we have treated them all.

Under the care of a certified addictionologist, The BridgeWay was the first to offer multiple individualized treatment options: n Abstinence-based treatment n Medication-assisted outpatient treatment with Suboxone n Individualized goal-based recovery Whether you need inpatient care or outpatient treatment, The BridgeWay has always been the first place to call. We provide evidence-based services that treat addictions for adults, ages 18 and older, within a structured setting: n Pet-assisted therapy n Medical detoxification n Art therapy n Intensive Outpatient Treatment n Yoga n Support by AA and Al-Anon n Nutritional guidance n Computer access n Visitation

Let The BridgeWay be your first call.

1-800-245-0011

Our assessment and referral staff is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Assessments are provided at no charge and are always confidential. The BridgeWay is an in-network provider for Medicaid, up to 21 years of age, and all other insurance companies in Arkansas including Medicare and Tricare.

www.TheBridgeWay.com | THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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JANUARY 2018 MODERN MOM 15 MAMA SAID PARENTING IS EXHAUSTING

16 MIND, BODY & SOUL

12

TAKE IT TO THE BANK

SAVVY FAMILY 18 THE POWER OF OBSERVATION KNOW THE SIGNS AND KEEP YOUR KIDS SAFE FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING

21 MOMS’ CHOICE AWARDS

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CAST YOUR VOTE FOR THE BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY BUSINESSES IN ARKANSAS

22 DIETING SHOULDN’T BE YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION HEALTHY SNACKS & RECIPES TO HELP MAKE REAL LIFESTYLE CHANGE

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26 STRENGTH IN NUMBERS THE MUSTEENS HAVE ADAPTED AND LEARNED TO CARE FOR THEIR FOUR KIDS ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM.

30 WILD AT HEART HORSES HELP TAP INTO ELLIE'S UNTAMED SPIRIT

32 SIBLING REVELRY THE LANARI SIBLINGS LEAN ON ONE ANOTHER AND INSPIRE AS AMBASSADORS OF ARKANSAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

34 READING BETWEEN THE LINES HOPE MALMSTROM SHOWS HOW POWERFUL THE WILL TO LEARN CAN BE

36 WALKING TALL LEILA’S JOURNEY KNOWS NO LIMITS

IN EVERY ISSUE 6 EDITOR’S NOTE

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10 NEWS & NOTES CALENDAR, CRAFTS & MORE!

38 MOM APPROVED MINDY VAN KUREN

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ON THE COVER: (FROM LEFT) BABY TITUS, ABRAHAM, BOAZ, BRISTEN, BARNABAS AND HADASSAH MUSTEEN. PHOTO BY KATIE CHILDS.


Beautiful smiles, happy children ... that is our goal.

•Orthodontics •Conscious Sedation •Hospital Dentistry

Pediatric Dentistry

501.868.3331 | 14114 Taylor Loop Rd., Little Rock kitchenspediatricdentistry.com

Upcoming Travel Plans? Start your trip with Laman Library's Passport Service Enjoy our cafe or children’s area if there's a wait Convenient hours Free photos for first-time applicants $5 photos for renewals No appointment necessary THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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LIFE GOALS & INSPIRATION January is all about fresh starts. With the chaos of the holiday behind us, we can finally breathe and take a moment to regroup. We all probably have a lot of the same New Year’s resolutions—spend less, eat better, exercise more, give back, be a better human in general. It’s good to take stock at least annually and see where you can grow. If finances are your kryptonite, you’ll want to check out our interview with a local CPA on page 16. He gives advice on how to budget better with your spouse as well as some tips leading into the new year to pad your savings a little more. Over the last couple of years, Kerry Guice has taken Savvy readers on some amazing culinary adventures; all the while she was on a major lifestyle overhaul of her own. In the spirit of resolutions to not just “diet” but really think about the foods we eat, Kerry shares how she made the decision to overhaul her eating lifestyle and lost 49 pounds in a year. She shares the struggles, a few hunger-satiating tips and healthy recipes to get you through the cravings on page 22. Each January, Savvy puts a spotlight on families with special needs. In this issue we met so many amazing moms and kids who can be an inspiration for everyone. Bristen Musteen is raising five kids, four of who are on the autism spectrum, with her husband in Benton. They’ve built their own sensory playroom and outdoor space to accommodate their unique family. Get a peek inside their home and hear Bristen’s story, along with three other special needs moms, beginning on page 26. New to Savvy this year is the Mom’s Choice Awards! We are very excited to see what our readers have to say about the best in local, family-friendly shops, physicians, restaurants and more. Flip to the center spread or go online to find the ballot to cast your vote! Happy New Year!

Amy Gordy Editor, Savvy amy@arktimes.com

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JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


Book Club

When the weather is too cold to go out and play, the whole family can curl up with a good book! Here are a few suggestions from William F. Laman Public Library.

For Mom New Release

“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals, in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphisbased adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. This riveting, wrenching and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Classic

“My Cousin Rachel” by Dame Daphne Du Maurier When Rachel, the beautiful widow of Phillip Ashley’s cousin, arrives at his Cornwall estate, Ashley is enchanted despite his doubts regarding his cousin’s death and must decide whether Rachel is out to destroy him or is an innocent victim of suspicion.

For the Kids New Release

“The Secret Keepers” by Trenton Lee Stewart When 12-year-old Reuben finds a peculiar, magical pocket watch that has the power to turn its wearer invisible, he is propelled on the adventure of a lifetime. (Ages 9-11)

Classic

“Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren Pippi is an irrepressible, irreverent, delightful girl who lives alone (with a monkey) in her wacky house, and her high-spirited, good-natured hijinks cause as much trouble as fun! (Ages 7-9)

2018 Fun Goal:

de Take a walk on the wild si with a tour like no other Waddle with penguins or wash an elephant in a one-of-a-kind animal encounter. (For ages 6 and up)

Call (501) 661-7229 to book your tour! (Some restrictions apply)

littlerockzoo.com

The #1 family n attractio in Arkansas!

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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STAY IN THE LOOP sign up for savvy's monthly enewsletter. be the first to know about giveaways, the current issue and more.

PUBLISHER BLAKE HANNAHS | blake@arktimes.com EDITOR AMY GORDY | amy@arktimes.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR MANDY KEENER | mandy@arktimes.com ART DIRECTOR KATIE HASSELL | katie@arktimes.com EDITOR AT LARGE REBEKAH LAWRENCE | rebekah@arktimes.com SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE LESA THOMAS | lesa@arktimes.com ADVERTISING TRAFFIC MANAGER ROLAND R. GLADDEN | roland@arktimes.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR LARISSA GUDINO | larissa@arktimes.com GRAPHIC DESIGNERS MIKE SPAIN | JASON HO PRODUCTION MANAGER | CONTROLLER WELDON WILSON IT DIRECTOR ROBERT CURFMAN ACCOUNTS PAYABLE/OFFICE MANAGER KELLY JONES

thesavvymoms.com everything for the

MODERN MOM in one place. F I N D

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U S

O N

BILLING/COLLECTIONS LINDA PHILLIPS CIRCULATION DIRECTOR ANITRA HICKMAN

FIND US ON


contributors

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.

ANGELA E. THOMAS is a proud University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate and a member of its Alumni Board. For 11 years, she served Central Arkansas as editor for a locally owned magazine. Thomas is founder and owner of the greeting card company GODsent Greetings.

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.

KATIE CHILDS is a wedding, lifestyle and commercial photographer based in North Little Rock. When she's not behind the camera, Katie and her husband, Jon, can be found rock climbing with their two pups in Northwest Arkansas, and listening to embarrassing rap music.

' S M O M

E C I O H C

S D R AWA 2018

Savvy Moms do their research and choose only the best for their kids. We want to know your favorite family-friendly shops, restaurants, services and more. Let your voice be heard and vote in the Savvy Moms' Choice Awards. Find the ballot on page 21 or online at thesavvymoms.com.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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January Friday12

Katy Perry

This live show on singer Katy Perry’s Witness tour is sure to Roar. Catch her at Verizon Arena and see an imaginative trip from outer space to the ocean floor that includes Perry’s milestones and mega hits right up to her latest album. verizonarena.com.

Saturday 13

STAR WARS SCIENCE

The force is strong at the Museum of Discovery’s Star Wars Science. Bring your future Jedi for a day of fun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to explore the science in “Star Wars.” Activities include: “Star Wars” Awesome Science Show at 10:30, 11:30 and 1:30; Cryo Hovercrafts with Dry Ice; Jedi Training Course; Sith Squeeze Can Crush; Building a Galaxy with Code and more. museumofdiscovery.org.

10 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

Monday 15 Mega Kingfest

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Mega Kingfest, a celebration and day of service at North Little Rock High School hosted by The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. It’s a day of free family-friendly educational events, games, health services and a youth concert by Ayo and Teo at the NLRHS auditorium at 1 p.m. arkingdream.org.

Friday 19

Harlem Globetrotters

You’ll be dazzled by the athleticism of the Harlem Globetrotters at Verizon Arena as they take on their longtime rivals, the Washington Generals. Watch as team members including Big Easy Lofton, Ant Atkinson, Hi-Lite Bruton, Thunder Law, Bull Bullard and Cheese Chishol 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.


Sunday 28 Little Rock Soup Sunday

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 anatmosphere that is casual and family friendly as you sample soups from more than 40 area restaurants. This year, Capi Peck of Trio’s Restaurant will be the featured chef. Don’t forget your muffin tin! aradvocates.org.

Sunday 28 Jan. 24-Feb. 11

The Call

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of “The Call” chronicles the journey of childless couple, Annie and Peter, who decide to adopt a baby from Africa. When they receive some surprising news about their potential bundle of joy, anxiety and doubt threaten their plans. Middleclass cultural sensibilities and global divisions come crashing in on their comfortable existence as they are forced to confront their own preconceived notions about what makes a family a family. therep.org.

Blueberry Pancake Day!

National

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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savvy craft

SNOW DAY INDOOR CRAFTS

Inevitable snow days are right around the corner, and stocking up on craft supplies is a great way to keep the kids occupied between icy romps in the snow

Sparkling Snow Slime

This craft is a big crowd pleaser for its "yuck" factor. Kids will love mixing the ingredients and watching their creation slime before their eyes.

You’ll Need:

• School glue • Water • Borax (find it on the laundry detergent aisle) • Glitter

Big Game

The Party Headquarters

INVITATIONS • DECORATIONS • PARTY FAVORS • BALLOONS • PIÑATAS • CAKE SUPPLIES • INVITATIONS •

12 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


How-To:

In a large bowl mix: 2 cups of school glue 1½ cups of very warm water In a smaller bowl mix: ¾ teaspoon of borax 1 ⅓ cups very warm water

Combine the mixed contents of both bowls and stir until thickened. Add as much glitter as you like to make the slime sparkle. You can also opt for glitter glue instead of school glue if you want it to really shine. Stick the bowl in the fridge for about two hours to set the slime. Put it back in the fridge after use to keep it firm.

11218 N. RODNEY RD.ROCK / LITTLE ROCK 4822 4822 N. HILLS HILLS BLVD. / NORTH ROCK LITTLE ROCK 11218 N. RODNEY PARHAM RD. PARHAM / LITTLE N. BLVD. / LITTLE NORTH 501.223.4929 501.978.3154 501.223.4929 501.978.3154

• DECORATIONS • PARTY FAVORS • BALLOONS • PIÑATAS • CAKE SUPPLIES • INVITATIONS • DECORATIONS THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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Winter Glove Monsters

We all have one or two lone winter gloves that have lost their mates. Transform that glove-with-no-purpose into a friendly little monster with some creativity and a trip to the craft bin!

You’ll Need: • Gloves with fingers • Needle and thread • Poly-fil • Buttons • Felt • Googly eyes • Fabric glue

How-To:

Take your glove and flip it inside out. Thread a needle and sew the glove in an arc from the bottom of the thumb to about an inch past the wrist on the other side. Leave a two-inch opening in the middle to stuff with Poly-fil. Turn the glove back right-side-out and fill it with stuffing. Stitch the opening closed and decorate your monster's face with anything you like!

14 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


mama said...

I

Parenting is EXHAUSTING

’m so tired. Like, all the time. Tell me if you’ve heard this one: parenting is exhausting. I remember—well, in truth I remember bits and pieces—of that new parent stupor, that zombie-like state between sleep-deprived and overjoyed. Newborn tired is the kind of exhaustion when you finally find your missing phone…in the fridge. My three are past diapers and midnight feedings now, but we’re experiencing a whole new tired. A perpetual one with no end in sight. Before I had children, I remember other parents saying they fell into bed at 8 or 9 p.m. At the time, I thought they were crazy—or even lame—but now I wonder how in the world they managed to get it all done and in bed that early. My husband is a huge contributor to our family. He works long hours, feeds the kids breakfast each morning, and almost always gives the littles their bath. He pitches in on laundry and dishes. And we still can’t get it all done. We feel like we’re always dog paddling, barely keeping our heads above water before the next day, and a whole new deluge of parenting and household chores sucks us under. Most of my work these days is done from home, but I can’t find time to do the laundry. How do working moms get it all done? Do they set alarms in the middle of the night? Manage it all on the weekend? Just let the kids go to school in dirty jeans? No, really. I’m asking. How? Adding to the physical exhaustion of parenting is emotional fatigue. If one of our kids isn’t stuffing the laundry full of perfectly second-day wearable clothes, then they’re whining, crying or fighting with one—or both—of the others. I got so sick of brokering arguments recently that I did a little research on the topic. Guess what? Experts say a little sibling rivalry is a good thing, that it helps them learn to resolve negative feelings and that life isn’t always fair. I’ve been trying to intercede less and instead say something like, “Sorry you’re frustrated. I’m sure you can work it out.” So far, this strategy isn’t working. They still argue like political opponents. But I’m holding out hope for the future. Part of the issue in my house is that my husband and I have three children. A man-to-man defense is no longer possible. We’re outnumbered. We’ve moved to zone coverage, but it needs work. A few passes still get through. I realize much of this is my own fault. The kids probably have too many activities. But how many is too many? I read that if kids can’t remember their own schedules, then

it’s too busy. I love this idea. I’m looking forward to polling mine and dropping everything they can’t remember. For older kids, homework is stressful for both the kids and their parents. Math was never my thing anyway, but this stuff is tough and time-consuming! They’re learning great new strategies for an ever-changing world, though, and that’s great. They’ll be ready for college and an increasingly-techy workforce. College. Good lord, I can barely think of it without breaking into hives. It’ll be here much too soon. We’re telling our kids now that we’ll maybe go halfsies so they don’t expect too much. Well, okay, it’s a strategy for commitment and accountability, too. Our 10-year-old is already getting used to the disappointment. Since her school-issued seedling wilted the first week, she did not, in fact, grow the biggest pumpkin in America this year and ceded a $1,000 scholarship. So, what are exhausted parents to do? How will we ever catch up on the sleep we’ve lost? One thing I wish I’d done—in hindsight, of course, because it’s so hard to see when you’re looking straight ahead—is take more people up on their offers to help. At the time, I felt I had something to prove, that I could and should do it all. Now, I roll my eyes at my own inflated ideas. But even short breaks can give rest to weary minds and spirits. Pedicures have saved my life many times. Another option: going to bed with the kids and leaving the chores for tomorrow. I know for some people that’s so hard. They can’t think if their environment isn’t orderly. What if even when you do go to bed on time, you find pudgy hands and feet in your face and lower back in the wee hours of the morning? What then? Not one of my three was a good sleeper. Obviously, we did it wrong. In my research—and near-insanity—I read something that struck a chord. If you start to resent something, make a change. We rearranged cribs and mattresses and sleeping partners until we found something that worked. And when it stopped working, we made changes again. A flexible parent is a sane parent, after all. Parenting is hard. It’s uncertain and exhausting and stressful and maddening. I mean, I only learned what the wide necks of onesies were for after my kids were out of onesies. But parenting is also wonderful and gratifying and, sometimes, pure, unfiltered joy. Sure, we’re all perpetually exhausted and emotionally zapped, but we’re happy, too. Right? Right??

I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER BEING SO TIRED THIS DAY.

Jen Holman is determined to be a voice of reason amongst reality TV and mom-judgment-gone-wild. Her newest novel (as yet unpublished) won the 2018 Rosemary award for excellence in young adult fiction. She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three (im)perfect children. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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mind, body & soul

TAKE IT TO THE BANK

A little planning can go a long way to securing your family's financial future BY DWAIN HEBDA

T

he adage "Failure to plan is planning to fail" is apropos when it comes to managing family finances. Having a solid, reasonable plan for money coming in and going out is critical to the family unit, whether that's newlyweds, new parents or even those who have been at this for a while. "The number one reason why people don’t succeed or get to the place that they want to is they don't develop a plan," said Deron Hamilton of Denman, Hamilton & Associates of Little Rock. "A lot of times, people want results but they don’t develop a plan to get there." "The second thing is, once they do develop a plan they don’t execute the plan, and that could be because either the plan is too aggressive or you’re not as disciplined." Crafting a plan that works is a process that requires communication, professional expertise and periodic revision and adjustment. Few people get the right plan immediately, most of us have basic components that evolve over time and with changing needs.

16 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


HAMILTON'S HOT LIST

Hamilton recommends starting with something simple, such as newlyweds deciding to have joint or separate checking accounts. "For me and my wife, we put everything together because it works well for us," he said. "The advantage to that is we’re able to pool our resources, manage one major account as far as tax planning, as far as what we want to do for the kids, as far as saving for college. But the biggest thing is, it allows us to prepare for our retirement and future together." "A lot of people that I talk to don’t want to do that, they say 'I want my money and she can have her money, but I just don’t want it to be together.'" Hamilton said while the decision to pool or separate such money is a personal one, there are certain shared expenses that should be funded and managed out of one joint bucket of money. "I think at the core of it is realizing that financially there’s a partnership," he said. "At a minimum, I think that you need to get a budget for the home and then decide between the two of you, OK this is how much we need for this budget. Then based on that, you contribute what you agree to contribute to the budget and pay all the bills out of that." Any financial plan should include ways to save more, something at which modern Americans have shown themselves to be notoriously bad. Again, Hamilton said, be deliberate and strategic in your savings in order to help maximize your chance for success. "The first thing you want to do is make sure that you have a certain level of savings set aside for operational living," he said. "For some people that’s three months' [worth], for some people that’s six months, for some people that’s one year. Whatever it takes to where if you didn’t have a job and weren't working, you would be able to make it without any additional help." From there, Hamilton said, families should look to identify specific elements that they're saving toward. This helps keep one's eyes on the prize, so to speak, be it retirement or saving for the kids' college education. It also helps you make smarter choices on exactly what kind of savings vehicle you want to employ to reach your goals. "I’m really, really big on retirement savings and I’m really big on setting aside resources for college education. But you want to do it carefully because nowadays we have some really bright students and you can save for college and then they may get a full ride," he said. "You want to make sure that a part of your college savings is in vehicles that will allow you to transition those monies to other things if needed." Once you know where you're going and you've determined how much you can afford to kick in every paycheck to get you there, it becomes a matter of discipline. That's where a trained financial professional—either a financial planner, CPA or both—can play a critical role in keeping you on track, getting you into the right savings or investment products for your needs and helping you minimize your tax liability in the process. "It’s all about developing the plan and sticking to the plan," Hamilton said. "If you miss it a little bit that’s OK; go ahead and try it again and work toward your financial goals. If you’re persistent and consistent at it, they’ll definitely happen."

Heading into the new year, Little Rock CPA Deron Hamilton recommends you consider the following as you look to make 2018 your best money year ever. To find out more about how these may affect or benefit you, consult a licensed financial planner or CPA.

NEW YEAR, NEW TAX CODE—Congress passed major tax reform to close out 2017; do you know what it means for your household?

HOW YOU FEELIN'?—

Medical expenses can be a major tax benefit. If you're spending a lot on health care, it's a good idea to discuss with your tax professional exactly what you can deduct.

ROTH ROCKS—In the right

situation, the Roth IRA is one of the best things going from a tax and savings perspective. However, it's only available to people in certain income brackets.

FREE MONEY—If your company

offers a 401K, that's good. If it offers matching funds, that's great. Always maximize this benefit; it's free money that can grow quicker than you think.

PAY YOURSELF LAST— Auto-drafting money for regular bills, investment and other necessities helps keep your cash from tempting you to stray from your savings plan. You can't spend what you can't get your hands on.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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THE POWER OF OBSERVATION

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, as of June 30, 2017, 4,460 cases of human trafficking were reported last year—at least 19 of these victims are Arkansans.* In recognition of January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we are sharing tips to help parents protect their children. BY ANGELA E. THOMAS

I

t can begin with a young girl posting a social media status about a breakup with her boyfriend, about a fight with her parents, a post expressing dismay about having to move, getting bad grades in school or about feeling like an outsider. “Anything that makes her look vulnerable can be an opportunity for traffickers to move in. He’ll pretend to be a good-looking, 17-year-old boy or another 12-year-old girl who is also struggling. They’ll become friends and share information about their lives and eventually set up a meeting,” explained Louise Allison, executive director of PATH. “Social media has become such an open door to trap kids.” Partners Against Trafficking Humans, PATH, was founded in Arkansas in 2011. The organization provides services for victims of sexual assault and sex trafficking. They offer day services and run a safe house for individuals recovering from sexual assault and trafficking.

18 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?

“Our safe house is a residential center where anybody older than 18 may stay for 12 to 18 months and receive intensive trauma therapy for PTSD, night terrors and other issues associated with sexual assault,” Allison said. “We also partner with others to provide dental and medical care and Cornerstone Women’s Clinic in Little Rock provides gynecological services for all our female clients.” Their clients generally range from teenagers to adults; however, they have provided services for a 4-year-old child. Allison said it’s not unusual to find a situation in which fathers have been the perpetrators, or men who have “pimped” out their girlfriends. “We see all types of situations. Sometimes women are abused as children. They meet a man who is a sex addict or a sex offender and get married when they’re young, have children. The husband then abuses the children, pimping them out or uses them to produce pornography. And Mom simply shuts down because she is a victim. So the damage goes from one generation to the next,” she explained. PATH works with women and their children to help them recover and stop the cycle of abuse. They’ve just recently started providing services for non-violent sex offenders, who were not long-term offenders—“men who want to change their lives and don’t know how,” Allison said. Quite often they were victims. Statistically, one in four sexual assault and sex trafficking victims are boys. She offered the following advice to parents to help protect their children. • “Parents have a responsibility to spy on their kids.” The internet can be a slippery slope. “For instance, your daughter may go online to purchase a blouse. She decides to look for underwear and encounters a soft-porn popup. She clicks on it, and it leads to hard porn. It’s an easy thing to do from one area to another with popups. Spy. Spy. Spy. Look at their social media. Check out their phones, tablets and laptops.” • “Develop a close relationship with your child. Create and maintain open communication with your children. Be a good listener.” Institute a device-free, all-hands-on-deck dinnertime. • Know your children’s friends. "Question new friends, friends that no one else seems to know and friends your child doesn’t want to talk about. Red flags include ‘friends’ who say things like ‘You should be a model. Your mom doesn’t want you to be a model because she’s jealous;’ ‘Your father is too controlling;’ or who try to isolate your child by saying things like ‘I want it to be just you and me.’ ‘Friends’ who try to separate your child from her family and friends.” • “Allow your child to have friendships with other safe adults, people you know you can trust, like a neighbor who has children close to your child’s age. We once received daily, check-in calls on our hotline from a 14-year-old who was trying to get back to Arkansas. When she arrived, she went to her school counselor— someone she trusted—for help.”

Under U.S. law, trafficking in persons is defined as “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age;” or “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery." —humanrightsfirst.org

• “Look for changes in behavior, such as withdrawal or sexual promiscuity. Talk to and maintain contact with your child’s teachers and counselors. Often they may notice changes in behavior.” Ashley was victimized for 18 years—she is now a victor and works with others at PATH—and said she hid her abuse. “I became an actress,” she said, “but I’d ask my teachers questions like ‘what would you do if someone told you they were being forced to have sex.’” She said parents should also watch how their children dress and talk. It’s also important that parents believe and support their children when they tell them about abuse. Rachel has been at PATH for several months and said she told her mother; however, her mother’s reaction made her afraid to further speak up. “She said, ‘If you say something, no one is going to believe you. Your name will be in the papers and all the tabloids.’ I thought something was wrong with me.” Louise Allison is a clinician with more than 30 years of experience as a nursing administrator. For many of those years, she has worked with individuals recovering from eating disorders and sexual assault. “It’s vital that survivors recognize that they are survivors, no longer victims but girls, boys and women getting their lives back and stepping out of victimization. Healing cannot begin until victims are released from feelings of shame and guilt. We work to make sure our clients heal and stop the cycle of victimization.” If you or someone you know needs help, shelter and/or counseling, call the PATH office at 501-993-1641 or the 24-hour hotline at 501-301-HELP (501-301-4357). For more information about PATH, log on to pathsaves.org. *Allison said statistics are often difficult to accurately obtain because victims, especially boys, must recognize that they are victims, that they have been trafficked. “Also, I’ve found that often victims believe what has happened to them is their fault. They make excuses and believe the lies of their perpetrators.”

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' S M O M

E C I O H C

S D R A AW 2018

Savvy Moms do their research and choose only the best for their kids. We want to know your favorite family-friendly shops, restaurants, services and more. Let your voice be heard and vote in the Savvy Moms' Choice Awards. Tear this ballot out and mail it in, or find it online at thesavvymoms.com.


Name Email Address (Required for authentication purposes) HEALTHCARE

Sign me up for Savvy's monthly enewsletter so I can be the first to know about giveaways, the current issue and more. No thanks, I don't want anymore emails, but I still love Savvy!

FAMILY SERVICES

Best Pediatrician ___________________________________

Best Kids' Hair Salon _________________________________

Best Orthodontist ___________________________________

Best Spa for Mom ___________________________________

Best Pediatric Dentist _________________________________

Best Family-Friendly Fitness Center ______________________

Best Pediatric Asthma & Allergy Specialist __________________________________

Best Yoga or Pilates Studio _____________________________

BIRTHDAY PARTY Best Kids’ Party Venue ________________________________ Best Kids’ Party Entertainment _________________________ Best Party Decorations ________________________________

TASTY EATS Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant ___________________________ Best Kid-Free Date Night Restaurant _____________________ Best Pizza ___________________________________ Best Healthy Kids' Menu ______________________________ Kids' Favorite Dessert ________________________________

SHOPPING

Best Children’s Photographer ___________________________

EDUCATION Best Daycare ___________________________________ Best Parents’-Day-Out Program _________________________ Best Preschool ___________________________________ Best Public School ___________________________________ Best Private School ___________________________________ Best Dance Lessons ___________________________________ Best Theatre Programs _______________________________

GET OUT THERE Best Free Family Outing _______________________________ Best Family Day Trip _________________________________

Best Locally-Owned Children's Clothing Store _____________________

Best Field Trip for Kids _______________________________

Best Kids' Consignment Shop ___________________________

Best Overnight Summer Camp __________________________

Best Local Store for Baby Gifts __________________________

Best Recreational Outing for Families _____________________

Best Local Place to Buy Toys ____________________________

Best Annual Event for Families __________________________

RULES: Ballots must have at least 50 percent of categories completed. Only one vote per reader, please. We reserve the right to discard any ballot we deem fraudulent. Balloting closes at 11:59p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Mail to: Arkansas Times Attn: Savvy Moms' Choice 201 E. Markham St., Ste. 200 Little Rock, AR 72201


Dieting Shouldn't be Your

New Year’s Resolution

It's January! The month of new beginnings; the perfect time to start fresh, to learn something new, or to finally change those bad habits, right? STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KERRY GUICE

22 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


L

ast January, like most Januaries, “get healthier” was right up there on my list of New Year's resolutions. Unlike most Januaries though, I decided I wouldn't focus on my weight—I wasn't going to “go on a diet.” I wasn't going to step on a scale every day and judge myself based on a number. I wouldn't spend half the day counting calories or carbs or grams of fat. I wouldn't even have a “goal weight” or a timeline to get there. I, like so many moms, have always tried to find a quick fix to lose weight. I wanted to fit into a certain size like it was the only way I could be happy, yet when I didn't achieve that it was a double loss, because I was still overweight and I had also failed at reaching a goal. Last year, I decided not to follow the latest “diet plan” that gave a one-size-fits-all regimen that wouldn't take into account my love for cooking, what my personal metabolism is, or how my body reacts to certain foods vs. others. I decided what I would focus on is how food made me feel. What was my body telling me when I ate certain foods? What did my body say after going for a run, or drinking more water, or getting a good night's sleep? What did it tell me when I didn't drink enough water and didn't get enough sleep? I finally decided to try what all those “spiritual gangsters” I follow on Instagram always say: listen to yourself. In 2017, I lost 49 pounds. I'm not even sad about not losing that one last pound to be able to say 50, because it's not about the number. I've learned things about myself that I never noticed before—good and bad. It wasn't just a weight loss journey anymore. I think I'm most proud because I've finally started taking all the great advice I give my 8-yearold daughter: “Eat healthy and exercise because you LOVE your body, not because you hate it. Forgive yourself. Mistakes are lessons—be grateful for them. Be the same friend to yourself that you are to others.” Our

daughters (and sons) listen to our actions and it comes through crystal clear to them, while what we say with our mouths is often as muddled as the voice of Charlie Brown's teacher. Taking care of myself is the best gift I can give my daughter, because it will teach her to love herself, too. My friend and Little Rock native Natalie Freeman is a registered dietician, and her advice is “don't diet.” She'd much rather see people make lifestyle changes that have enough flexibility that they can maintain these patterns long term. In other words, don't change your eating habits unless you plan to do so for the rest of your life. Know going in that you have to find a compromise you can live with, or it will be impossible to maintain. This has been a big part of my “listening to yourself” journey. You have to really think about your own strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to work with them rather than against them. I wrote down the reasons why past diets didn't work for me, and I made sure not to put those same restrictions on myself anymore. Freeman also talks about avoiding trendy diets. “Fad diets such Adkins and Keto are always coming and going, but these two in particular do not use your body's natural metabolic pathways and are known to actually cause long-term complications,” she said. Fitting in a size four may not be worth actually changing how your body is supposed to work! She says slow weight loss is ideal; around one to two pounds per week. “Most people who maintain long-term success are those whose eating plan allows for some flexibility, and those who don't overly restrict (such as very low calorie or eliminating a macronutrient).” All that being said, I'm someone who had to find a compromise between making a big change and learning to live with those changes. It's obvious that moderation is key, but that doesn't work for all of us. If it were easy to just eat right and exercise, we'd all be fit and healthy. I've decided to completely give up processed sugar and wheat (yes, forever), and although it was difficult, it's what's worked for me. It is a big sacrifice, but the compromise is that I don't have to count carbs or weigh portions. I don't have to worry about “cheat meals” because that usually turns into cheat days and then “I'll just start over after Valentine's Day.” It sounds like it's overly restrictive at first, but I've arrived at a place where I don't even have to think about it. What works for me won't work for everyone, so I won't claim this is the magic formula and promise results. For some, counting calories and weighing food is the only thing that will work for them. The point is this: If your goal is weight loss and a healthier life, you are facing a big challenge because it's not as easy as following someone else's rules. The real challenge is finding out what your rules are and promising yourself that you'll stick to them.

Kerry Guice lost 49 pounds in 2017 by undergoing a complete eating lifestyle change. THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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I've learned to avoid putting myself in a hard situation by keeping nuts, seeds, dried fruit, jerky, and/or almond butter in my car at all times, along with a stainless steel bottle of water. The console of my car currently looks like a small pantry! I never have an excuse for going through a drive-thru or to not drink water throughout the day. I'm always busy, but high protein snacks are the perfect way to hold me over until I can get to a healthy meal. When I'm craving something rich, my go-to treat is a banana topped with almond butter and berries with a light sprinkling of cinnamon. If I'm in a hurry I'll just use a spoon and switch bites of banana and small spoonfuls of almond butter! It's rich and satisfies my sweet tooth. For meals, I've always loved a lazy weekend breakfast, so this thoughtful fried egg “breakfast salad” really hits the spot. No need to punish yourself with boring egg white omelettes. This pretty plate is loaded with nutrients and will leave you feeling full well into the afternoon! For dinner I try to stick to lighter ingredients, and even though I'm late to the spiralized veggie game, I'm currently obsessed with cucumber noodles (coodles?). This cold salad of boiled shrimp, cucumber and jalapeno with an Asian-inspired dressing is refreshing, yet filling, and it's been on rotation for a while at my house.

While Natalie Freeman and I say no to adding “diet” to your list of resolutions, “loving yourself” should go right at the very top. Happy New Year!

BREAKFAST SALAD Serves 2

1 bunch kale, roughly chopped 1 radish, thinly sliced 1 pint cherry tomatoes 12-18 thin asparagus tips (about 2-­3 inches from the top) 1 avocado 2 large eggs Salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons olive oil Set oven to broil, then place tomatoes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with about 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper (about ⅛ teaspoon). Broil about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to burst. While tomatoes are broiling, sautee kale over medium heat with about 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt until it just starts to wilt. Set aside. Boil a small pot of water and boil asparagus tips for 2 minutes, then immediately place in a bowl of ice water (this stops cooking and keeps the spears bright green). Fry the eggs with about 1½ teaspoons olive oil over medium heat until desired doneness. Thinly slice radish and avocado. To assemble, start with the kale on the plate, then layer with the egg and the rest of the toppings. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

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COLD SHRIMP AND “COODLE” SALAD Serves 2 (or 1 large portion)

For shrimp: About 8 ounces (1 cup) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 teaspoon salt 5 cups water 1 cup ice water 1 lemon, sliced For salad: 1 large cucumber, peeled then spiralized ½ small jalapeño, very thinly sliced 1 green onion, sliced 1 avocado, diced 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, torn ½ teaspoon black sesame seeds (optional) For dressing: Juice of ½ lime ½ teaspoon grated ginger ½ teaspoon soy sauce ½ teaspoon rice vinegar ½ teaspoon sesame oil Bring 5 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add raw shrimp and boil, stirring occasionally for only 3 minutes. Remove from heat with slotted spoon and place directly in bowl of lemon ice water. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine spiralized cucumber noodles, jalapeño, green onion and shrimp. Pour dressing in and toss to combine. Carefully toss in avocado, then serve cold, topped with cilantro and black sesame seeds. If not serving immediately, do not add avocado until ready to serve.

ALMOND BUTTER BANANA BITES Serves 2

1 large banana, sliced into thick rounds About 1 ounce (or 1 single serve pouch) plain almond butter (with no added sugar) Blueberries (or any berry you like) Sprinkle of cinnamon Slice banana into thick rounds and set on plate. Top with a small dollop of almond butter, then top with a berry, then very lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. Be sure not to overdo the cinnamon,­it's not sweet on its own!

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Strength s r e b m u in N

Bristen and Colt Musteen knew they wanted a large family. They’ve quickly grown and adapted their home and lives while learning so much raising their five kids, four of whom are on the autism spectrum. BY AMY GORDY, PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATIE CHILDS

(From left) Baby Titus, Abraham, Boaz, Bristen, Barnabas and Hadassah Musteen.

26 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM


T

he Musteen home is unlike any other in so many ways. You’ll find it at the end of a rural street in Benton. The yard is large with plenty of room to run. Inside, the home has been built to suit this unique family’s needs. Bristen Musteen’s decorative touch and her husband Colt’s handyman skills come together to create a space that caters to their five children—Abraham, 8; Hadassah, 6; Barnabas, 4; Boaz, 2; and Titus, 8 months—the four oldest are on the autism spectrum. They thought of everything from custom, reclaimed wood floating shelves that are just out of reach of little hands, to an elaborate sensory playroom and secure outdoor play space. “Our home in itself is built around the children. My husband installed a sensory room—it’s their game room—with sensory features like an indoor swing, crash pad and slide. One of the kids likes to throw things for visual stimulation. A therapist recommended hanging a ball on a string, and he loves it. He’s stopped throwing cars and things at his siblings,” Bristen said. “Outside there’s a fenced-in playground because I can’t take all of the kids to a typical park because one likes to run. Our home playground has fake grass because Barnabas and Hadassah put a lot of stuff in their mouths. They would cover themselves in mud and dirt if they could.” Bristen is the primary caretaker for the kids, though she has a hired nanny who helps out tremendously and her husband is very active with the children when he’s not working at his job as a Benton firefighter or at his side business as a handyman. “Colt is my best friend and an extremely hands-on dad. He doesn’t miss a beat about understanding the kids. They are all very different, and juggling the needs of the different kids can be difficult. For example, something like going to the grocery store—one kid likes going and getting the balloon, and two can’t handle the lights so I can’t just take everyone.” The Musteen family spends a lot of time shuffling back and forth to therapy appointments at Kidsource Therapy each week. The four oldest take speech therapy, occupational therapy and developmental therapy. Titus, the youngest, is enrolled in developmental therapy to keep a close eye on him, as Bristen has noticed some stemming and realizes the odds are not in his favor. Research funded by Autism Speaks found that in families with one or more children on the autism spectrum, the chances that a baby sibling will develop autism are around 1 in 5, which is more than double previous estimates. In families with more than one older child on the spectrum, the odds increase to 1 in 3 infants eventually developing autism. These odds don’t scare the Musteens, who though Bristen thinks they are done having biological children, have started paperwork for adoption. “We are really open to adopting a special needs kid who needs a home. We decided on that after Boaz was born, and we put it on hold when Titus came, but we have resumed it now.” From the outside it looks like the Musteens have their hands pretty full, and Bristen admits there are many who question their decision to keep growing their family, and just don’t understand. “Even families who are close to us don’t always understand it. The kids are so joyful, they are the happiest sweetest kids, and having one, two, five—it doesn’t seem overwhelming to us because of the joy they bring. There are days and moments that are hard, but I enjoy serving them and being the person who gets to love them,” she said. All of the Musteen kids have their own unique stories. Abraham is 8, and it wasn’t until about 18 months ago that his language started opening up. “Two years ago he was still wrestling over learning colors, and now he’s thriving in a very small private Christian school where he’s able to get the attention he needs,” Bristen said. The Musteens’ only daughter, Hadassah, is the most severely affected. “When she was 6 months old we were seeing red flags. At 9 months, my husband and I sat down at the breakfast table and said there’s something going on. We couldn’t imagine that we would have two kids with autism.” Hadassah’s symptoms were so apparent and severe she was officially diagnosed at 14 months. “She’s still not verbal. We have a lot of trouble pulling her out of the world she lives in. There’s

(Above) Abraham likes to spend his free time playing video games. (Below) Barnabas loves his toy trucks and cars.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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a myth about autism that the children are not affectionate. Hadassah is extremely affectionate. She’s such a daddy’s girl. She’s come so far—she’ll hug my mom now and engage with my sisters. She’s like a butterfly, she’ll float around and if she comes and shows anyone affection everyone just freezes and watches. She’s so pretty and graceful.” Barnabas is the most severely affected of the Musteen boys. Bristen said he’s more engaged with the outside world than Hadassah is but is also nonverbal though he’s recently begun saying “get down,” which as an avid climber is a command he hears frequently. “Barnabas is very joyful. He’s always rocking and smiling

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28 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

and laughing. He’s a serious cuddler—he likes that pressure and usually carries a weighted blanket.” “When Boaz was diagnosed it was really shocking to me. He’s nonverbal but trying to talk. He doesn’t seem to present the same social or sensory problems the others do. I expect him to be more verbal than Abraham.” The road will be long, but Bristen does expect all of her kids to get to a place where they can talk. “Even the nonverbal ones are trying, and we are looking at communication devices, which we will start implementing their therapy.” While Bristen can easily list her children’s symptoms and diagnosis history, like a mom who’s spent endless hours with doctors and therapists, she paused to consider before recounting how it felt to receive each diagnosis. “With Abraham I was relieved, because we finally had a name for what was going on with him and could work on a plan to help him. I was shocked about Hadassah’s diagnosis—I was always told girls aren’t supposed to have autism. When I got Barnabas’ diagnosis that was a hard season because I was pregnant with Boaz. I was very confused about why God would continue to trust us with these kiddos. I was worried about us being able to give them the best quality of life. I asked, ‘Why would you give all of them to us?’ Getting Boaz’s diagnosis was also really hard. He was our fourth, and I was hopeful it was just a severe speech delay, so it was hard when the


diagnosis came back. I called my husband on the drive home and said ‘I’m not going back, if we have to go back for Titus you’re taking him.’” The Musteens’ goal is to make sure the kids get the therapy they need, but to still give them a typical childhood that may just look a little different from most. Their typical day requires lots of patience and a go-with-the flow attitude. Bristen has found a great support community at her Crossfit gym, which encourages her to bring her kids during her workout, and her church, Highland Heights Baptist, which created a special “calm down” room for when the kids get overwhelmed. “We went from a really dark place—I realized I had no friends shortly after Boaz was born—to having great support through both Crossfit and the church. I would never in a million years have thought we’d find this support in a Crossfit gym, but they are like my family now,” Bristen said. Her advice to other parents with kids on the autism spectrum: “Number one—if you have any concerns about your kids act on it—early intervention is so important. Number two—something we have learned to help us stay joyful is the perspective we keep. It’s easy to get on Facebook and see a girl Hadassah’s age getting mommy/daughter pedicures and get upset about it, but it’s all about perspective and what culture decides is normal vs. what we have as normal, which can be two different things. We just keep faith and love our kids.“

(from left) Boaz, Hadassah and Titus love to play in the Musteens' safe outdoor playspace.

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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WILD AT HEART Horses help tap into Ellie's untamed spirit

BY DWAIN HEBDA PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN CHILSON

G

lenda Grimmett walked into the corral and took a deep breath. A self-proclaimed "horse girl," she loves everything about these places—the smell of the coat, the touch of a muzzle, the echo of every snort and whinny. She knows the power a 1,500-pound horse holds, in more than one sense of the word. A former instructor here at Hearts and Hooves near Sherwood, Grimmett has watched children experience the transformative nature of hippotherapy, heard the delighted squeals and seen parents weep for joy at the sight of it. "There’s something—I don’t know how to medically or psychologically explain it—about a relationship between a child and a horse," she said. "When I worked there, children with autism spectrum disorder would come out there and talk to a horse like they never talked to a person before. There’s some kind of magical thing that I can’t explain." Yet for all that, coming back here had her heart beating so hard she was sure 2-year-old Ellie could somehow feel it. The little girl, her first, had already been through so much in her short life and had so far to go. Glenda and her husband, Jeff Grimmett, believed that the journey should begin here, gently, on horseback. All of these things collided in her mind as they approached the doeeyed horse for Ellie's first ride and sat her atop the animal. After a few safety precautions the horse was led forward in a slow, easy walk. Glenda's eyes were riveted to her daughter. "It was like she just got the best Christmas present ever," she said. "That’s when I was like OK, this horse thing must be genetic because

30 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

her eyes lit up and she started clapping. She was a natural." The phrase "one in a million" fits Ellie Grimmett almost literally. She came into this world early and with a chromosomal duplication disorder that's so rare there are only about 500 known cases in the world. The condition affects various body systems including musculoskeletal where low muscle tone, combined with severe curvature of the spine, delayed her normal development of sitting up, crawling and walking. Ellie's condition was a blow for the Grimmetts to absorb; made worse by the fact that the condition was so rare, it was difficult for physicians to get a handle on treatment or provide a reliable longterm prognosis. "It took a little while for us to get a diagnosis. For the longest time we had no idea what was going on," Glenda said. "That was pretty scary. But as soon as we were able to figure out what was going on with her and know some of the things that went along with that, rather than be all upset about it, I was like well, how are we going to fix this?" Hippotherapy immediately sprang to the top of the list for helping accelerate Ellie's development. Utilizing horses, hippotherapists help bring about amazing improvement in physical development and socialization across a range of conditions. Merely being astride a horse has benefits, but as Grimmett is quick to point out there's more science going on than meets the eye. "There are two different types of therapy that they do out there," she said. "One is called therapeutic riding and the other is


hippotherapy which is what Ellie does. Hippotherapy, if you saw it, would probably make you wonder what on earth is going on. You sit on the horse backward. You sit on the horse sideways. You lay down on the horse. All of these different positions engage different muscle responses." The Grimmetts were committed to this type of treatment early on, but had to wait until Ellie reached Hearts and Hooves' minimum age of 2 years old. More pressing was getting the approval of her physicians. Ellie's spine had to be reinforced with special rods meant as a temporary fix until she was old enough for more substantial surgery to treat her scoliosis. These rods have to be lengthened as she grows, requiring more surgeries, so medical permission to mix horseback riding into this scenario was not a given. But after six months of lobbying by her mother, Ellie was cleared to participate. That was five years ago, and the cumulative benefits of the Hearts and Hooves program have surpassed everyone's loftiest expectations. The toddler who could barely sit up without assistance has grown into a 7-year-old dynamo of activity, a precocious walker, runner and dancer who gives her parents and little sister, Emmy, all they can handle. "I could see a change in her after two months," said Glenda. "We used to spend so much time in the hospital with respiratory illnesses. Once we started developing those core muscles, I think we went two years at one point without having to go in as a patient. It's made a huge difference in not only her strength but her quality of life." Ellie's journey isn't over, but what she's done thus far gives her parents unbridled hope for the future. It's a message that Glenda, a Hearts and Hooves board member, loves to share with other parents of special needs children. "It took some time to get there. When you have a child who’s born with medical complications there’s a grieving process that has to take place for what you thought was going to happen," she said. "That was not easy, but as Ellie continued to grow and turned into this cool little person she really helps me keep it in perspective." "To any mom who’s got a kid that has been newly diagnosed with a disability, I would want that person to know that you’re going to have so much joy that you cannot imagine right now. So, buckle up sister, it’s going to be all right."

Changing Lives,

One Ride at a Time.

People of all ages with physical and/or cognitive disabilities discover freedom through equine assisted activities. Contact Hearts & Hooves to learn more about our services, how to volunteer, or donate to support our valuable mission. We appreciate your support!

(Opposite page) Michele Easter (left) program director at Hearts and Hooves and Ellie's mom, Glenda Grimmett (right) act at Ellie's "side-walkers" to keep her safe and sitting on the horse for her lessons.

2308 Kellogg Acres Rd. Sherwood, AR 72120 info@HeartsandHooves.com 501.834.8509

THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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Fran, Michel Joe and Rachel Lanari

SIBLING REVELRY

The Lanari siblings lean on one another and inspire others as ambassadors of Arkansas Children's Hospital.

F

BY DWAIN HEBDA PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN CHILSON

ew who meet Rachael and Michael Joe Lanari come away with the same view of children with special needs. The teenagers, who are children of Fran and Michael Lanari, have been inextricably linked since the day Michael Joe came home from the hospital. "Rachael just has this kind of sixth sense on how to relate with Michael Joe, and she's had that since the time he came home," Fran said. "At just 2 years old, she turned on that little mother personality. If you look at our family pictures her arm is right around his little neck— it's that little hold that says she's gonna take care of him." Born with Down Syndrome, Michael Joe experienced typical complications, including heart problems. However, the test administered at his birth hospital was misdiagnosed to read his cardiac functions were normal. After switching to Arkansas Children's Hospital, the error was discovered and the family learned the sobering truth. "By 5 months old, they realized he was in serious heart failure," Fran said. "He had two holes in his heart." The open-heart surgery that followed was the first of several procedures Michael Joe would have before the age of three. With each one, the bond between himself and his big sister only grew stronger, much like the bond between the Lanari family and Arkansas Children's Hospital. "A lot of times, people ask me how do you handle it," Fran said. "I say I turn it over to God and I turn it over to Arkansas Children's Hospital and that is really the truth. Between God and ACH, I feel like I can manage." Which is why a few years ago when Rachael suffered a grand mal

32 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

seizure, Fran knew exactly where to direct the ambulance, even if she didn't have a clue what had brought on the episode. "We did not know at that time that she had epilepsy," Fran said. "I think I held my breath all the way to the hospital, but having the experience that I had with Michael Joe and knowing the level of care that Children's Hospital gives, as soon as those emergency room doors opened, I could breathe. I was like, 'OK, she's here. She's got a chance now.'" Today, Michael Joe is in maintenance mode, where every six months he visits his battery of doctors and specialists to monitor progress. Rachael's condition has triggered several more seizures, resulting in multiple concussions, so doctors are actively working to make her condition manageable, especially with her first year of college looming. In the meantime, the Lanari kids have found numerous ways to promote the good work of the institution that has played such a central role in their lives. Both are Arkansas Children's Ambassadors whereby they help with various events on behalf of ACH. Rachael, whose passion for persons with special needs and their families preceded her own diagnosis, has given talks to various groups. Michael Joe, who has also represented Easter Seals, is a well-known voice on the radio during fundraising events, such as the one annually sponsored by his parents' business. Over the past 12 years, Fran said, this effort has raised more than $350,000. "There are really so many things that [the kids have] taught me," Fran said. "They handle conditions that they know are lifelong and they face it with courage and grace. They've taught me we really don't have much to be afraid of. God is going to always give us what we need, so just trust and look optimistically to the future."


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READING BETWEEN THE LINES Hope Malmstrom shows how powerful the will to learn can be BY DWAIN HEBDA

M

ore than anything she's ever wanted in her young life, Hope Malmstrom wanted to read. Taking a cue from her older brother Luke, 13, and sister Grace, 10, the bright, engaging 7-year-old from Little Rock loved school and was well-liked among her classmates. But as hard as she'd try, the skill of reading eluded her. "When she was 5, she would ask me at night, 'Mama, my friends are reading. When am I gonna learn how to read? Who's going to teach me how to read?'" said her mother, Andrea. She paused. "It's hard as parents to watch your children struggle." Until she started school, Hope was typical in every way. But after just one year of preschool it was obvious there was something different about the way she learned, or more accurately, was not learning. "Hope is laid back; always smiling, life is a party," Andrea said. "She loved school, but when we met with the teacher, her teacher said things just are not clicking." A former preschool teacher herself, Andrea would review materials with her youngest every day, to no avail. After the first

34 JANUARY 2018 | THESAVVYMOMS.COM

year, Andrea and her husband, Scott, made the painful decision to have Hope repeat preschool in the hopes that she would make more progress. A couple of months in, however, the youngster was again falling behind her peers. "I wish I had started sooner in my early intervention, but I just thought that Hope would catch up with everybody else," Andrea said. "By her second year of school, even Hope realized she wasn't where the other kids were. She told me one night, 'Mama, my friends are way smarter than me.' And that’s when my husband and I realized we had to lay the pride aside." Her parents decided on a new strategy and had Hope tested at Access School in Little Rock where she was diagnosed with unspecified neuro developmental disorder, which affected her processing skills and working memory. The diagnosis was hard to hear, but also represented the first real step toward addressing Hope's problems in the classroom. As soon as they were able, the Malmstroms enrolled Hope at Access. Immediately recognizing that teaching her to read phonetically wasn't going to work, her instructors switched to methods


that better fit Hope's learning style. Just a few months in, remarkable things started to happen. "Let me tell you, this child is doing phenomenal things," Andrea said. "She not only loves school, but she loves to learn. I cannot say enough good things about the teachers and therapists on staff at Access. They're amazing, they truly have a love and a desire for these children." The techniques enabled Hope to progress so quickly her teachers decided she could skip a level of coursework. Today she reads along with her mom during story time, and has made up a lot of academic ground overall. "Her teachers are honest with her. They tell her, 'You can do it, it's just going to take you longer.'" Andrea said. "She's realizing that and she's pushing through those hurdles. Every time Hope comes home, she's got a big ol' smile on her face and she says, 'I need to practice this' or 'I want to learn this.'" Andrea said the successes have fueled a boundless energy for school and a newfound self-confidence in her daughter. "Since she's been at Access, her confidence level has soared," Andrea said. "She even told me, 'Mama, I'm smart. I really am.'"

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Hope Malmstrom and her mom, Andrea, marvel at Hope's progress at Access.

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THESAVVYMOMS.COM | JANUARY 2018

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WALKING TALL Leila’s journey knows no limits BY DWAIN HEBDA

L

eila Correa is a star. Everywhere she goes she meets new people and makes new friends, exuding a joy for life that can barely be contained by her 5-year-old frame. She's also one of the most recognized kids in her native Siloam Springs, appearing as she does in articles, commercials and even on her own billboard promoting the good work of Friendship Community Care there. She's a living reminder about what's possible when you put your mind to it, even at a young age or under special circumstances. "Leila's our little social butterfly," said her mother, Deidre. "Throughout all of the obstacles that she's had, she always had a smile on her face no matter what. She's very outgoing, she never meets a stranger, she's all about having new friends. Not just one, but many people have referred to her as being just like a little angel." Deidre and her husband Valentin are Leila's biggest fans, of course. After all, it's her family who've had front-row seats to the remarkable strides she's made—quite literally in fact. The little girl started outpatient therapies with Friendship at just eight weeks old to help address issues related to De Morsier Syndrome, a congenital condition that typically includes an underdevelopment of the optic nerve, pituitary gland dysfunction and absence of the septum pellucidum. By the time Leila started the organization's full-time daycare program just shy of her second birthday, her mother had a clear-cut objective in mind. "Leila came to Friendship to learn how to walk," Deidre said. "When we were doing outpatient therapy, I was doing everything in my might to get her to start walking. I was putting her in a stander for 30 minutes; once she could bear weight, we went to a walker. She was in that walker for a good three to four months." "She was our first child, so it was a really hard for us to make the decision to put her into daycare. But once we decided, OK we'll go ahead and put her in, within two months she left the walker and started walking by herself." The Correas' leap of faith paid off thanks to Friendship's unique brand of therapy that dealt with Leila's issues in a manner that was caring without being coddling. "The therapists there are incredible," Deidre said. "They always encouraged her and set goals so high for her. They encouraged her to keep going and going, and I truly believe that’s why we are where we are right now." Today, Leila is enjoying her Kindergarten activities and while she's experienced some developmental delays, she's already demonstrated that she's not about to let anything get her down for long. "She wasn’t quite sure what was going on (in school) in the beginning, but now she's kinda wrapped her head around it," Deidre said. "Change is super hard for her but she's done very well thus far. We're still behind in some things where we'd like to be a little bit farther along, but the one thing that we are excited about is, she's making a progression. It's slower than what we expected, but she's getting there."

Leila Correa and her mom, Deidre, are so proud of Leila's progress!

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SAVVY | January 2018