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See who won the NWA Mall Shopping Spree!

By nwamamas - Last updated: Monday, July 28, 2014

cori fryar

Congratulations, Cori Fryar!

Cori, mom of two, won the shopping spree to the NWA Mall after being chosen at random among all the folks who voted in our annual Mom-Approved Awards. We’ll announce the businesses who won soon. Be looking for that post!

In the meantime, we asked Cori a few questions so we could all get to know her a little better:

Tell us a little about your family:

I am a 5th grade teacher at Lee Elementary in Springdale. My wonderful husband, Matt, is a lawyer at Cypert, Crouch, Clark, and Harwell, PLLC, in downtown Springdale. We have two beautiful daughters – Katie (4) and Anna (3).

Tell us about a typical day in your life:

Well, it depends on what time of the year it is! During the school year, I wake up around 5:30 to get ready for school, get my girls up around 6:45 to get them ready for school, and I leave the house at 7:15! My husband takes the kids to school at 7:45 and then goes to work. I spend most of my day with my wonderful 5th graders and come home and spend my evenings playing baby dolls and watching Doc Mcstuffins, Sofia the First, and Dora with my two daughters and husband!

During the summer, we wake up whenever, lounge around in the morning, play outside, go swimming at the Elks Lodge, get sno cones, and usually play outside in the evening! Totally different than during the school year, but I love both times!!

What do you think you’ll buy with your gift certificates?

Definitely back-to-school clothes!

Which businesses are you really rooting for to win Mom-Approved Awards? My girls go to Oak Grove Montessori School in Springdale, so I’d love to see them win!

How long have you lived in NWA? I have lived in NWA my entire life and even managed to stay here after marrying a boy from Hot Springs!! I love NWA and am so glad that I get to raise my girls here.

We’d like to say thank you to everyone who voted in the Mom-Approved awards. This list will come in handy for moms who are looking for the best of the best NWA mom-friendly businesses.

Mom-Approved Certificate 2014 USE THIS

Devotion in Motion: The still, small voice

By nwamamas - Last updated: Sunday, July 27, 2014

12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19: 12 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash
Editor’s note: This column follows a previous post about the Desiderata (Latin for “the things to be desired.”) The following line is taken from this beautiful poem, and an analysis follows.

“Speak your truth quietly and clearly;”

Sooner or later, all schoolteachers are asked to babysit somebody else’s class for an hour or two. Finding myself in that situation, I’ve often given the following introductory talk to the class. “Students, your teacher had to leave the building suddenly, and I have been left in charge of you with no lesson plans. Therefore, I will allow you to talk quietly, as long as it doesn’t get too ridiculous. And I want you all to be aware of a profound belief that I have. It is called ‘Cash’s Law of Classroom Conversation.’

Cash’s Law states that, if you are speaking or telling a story, and you find yourself having to get louder, and louder, and LOUDER in order to be heard, there’s a strong possibility that nobody is interested in what you’re saying.”

Believe it or not, that statement often begins a discussion that will take up a good portion of the class period. Young people love to discuss (and argue), and they love truth. The dialogue this statement starts is always a quiet and civil one, too. After all, if a student finds himself becoming too boisterous and loud, he quickly realizes that the others have grown tired of him monopolizing the floor, and he should give others a chance to express their opinions. In conversation, quietness really is a wonderful thing.

I have a beautiful Bible story for you to read this week. It is found in 1 Kings 19, and it’s about how God strengthened Elijah the prophet when he was run-down and depressed. The Lord fed the prophet, gave him water to drink, and allowed him to catch up on his sleep. Then He told Elijah to go to the mountain while He revealed Himself to the man of God. First there was a mighty wind. But the Lord was not in the mighty wind. Then there was an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there was a still small voiceblazing fire. But God was not in the blazing fire.

And finally, there was a still, small voice. And this time it was different — because the Lord revealed Himself in the still, small voice.

So, this week, turn down your volume when you’re talking to your children. Then turn down the volume of the world around you. Listen for God’s still, small voice and He will restore your soul.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the country mornings are very peaceful and quiet.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

remix (4)Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

The Rockwood Files: Refrigerator shame

By nwamamas - Last updated: Saturday, July 26, 2014

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

My refrigerator made a fool of me today. This morning when I came downstairs to the kitchen, it was croaking – loudly. It sounded like an elderly frog was frog in rocking chairinside it, sitting in a creaky rocking chair that got louder each time he rocked back. I could hear it across the room.

So I did what most of us do when a complex piece of machinery starts to make a weird noise we don’t understand: I smacked it. But it went right on croaking at regular intervals, completely undeterred.

Having exhausted all my repair expertise with that unsuccessful smack on the side of the fridge, I called our appliance repair guy, Steve. I told him about the loud croaking noise and asked if he could swing by to check it out. With an out-of-town trip on the horizon, I wanted to make sure we didn’t come home to a dead fridge full of spoiled food.

A few hours later, Steve showed up at the door holding his appliance doctor bag, ready to inspect the refrigerator that sounded like it was croaking, both literally and figuratively. He followed me into the kitchen and we both sidled up to the refrigerator and listened – to nothing.

It had gone completely silent. All we could hear was the occasional clink of an ice cube falling into the freezer tray below.

“Just give it a minute. It was definitely croaking this morning, and it was loud. Tom heard it, too,” I said, hoping that an ear witness would make me seem less crazy.

So we waited. And waited, enveloped by the sound of silence. Embarrassed that I’d made a big deal out of what was turning into nothing, I did the only thing that can make this kind of situation even more awkward – I did my best impression of the croaking sound and asked what might make that kind of noise.

Steve did some official-looking diagnostic things, hoping to prove I wasn’t as nuts as I sounded. He laid down on the kitchen floor with his flashlight and peered underneath the fridge. Then he took a long screwdriver and scraped something out from under it which turned out to be the largest grey dust bunny I’ve ever seen. It was more like a dust bear. I think I even saw it move once.

With no croaking and no answers in sight, Steve pulled the refrigerator out from the wall so he could get a look behind it. That’s when I learned something I’m guessing is universally true, no matter how clean you think your kitchen is. Behind the refrigerator, we’re all slobs. All of us. It’s a nightmare back there. I’ve seen things I can’t ever un-see.

“Steve, is it this bad behind most people’s refrigerators?” I asked, ashamed of the dead dust bear at his feet and the wasteland of dust balls, crumbs, bread twist ties, and unidentifiable food fragments under the fridge.

“Oh, sure,” he said in the most non-judgmental way. (And that’s how you know you’ve got a good repair guy because he will reassure you that you’re not disgusting even when it’s obvious that you are.)

Steve let me clean a few things behind the fridge before pushing it back toward the wall, where it will likely gather another nine years’ worth of God-knows-what. He packed up his bag and said the loud croaking could possibly be the refrigerator’s fan on the fritz. It’s hard to know for sure because the fridge played a game of “quiet mouse” as soon as Steve showed up, so we’ll have to wait it out.

When it starts croaking again – and you know it will – I’m going to record it so I’ll have proof. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and I’m getting a new fridge.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

Blog 66: Things to do in Denver, Colorado

By nwamamas - Last updated: Friday, July 25, 2014


Shannon and Gwen dreamed up this nwaMotherlode feature during a looong drive to a blogger conference in Nashville a few years ago. They interview bloggers across the U.S. (and beyond), looking for tips from the people who know their cities best. Most recently we chatted with bloggers a little closer to home in Little Rock. Twice!

This month, we head over to beautiful Denver with blogger Emily Vanek of Colorado Moms as our guide:

When you’re in Denver, you should definitely plan to eat at …

Casa Bonita! Where else can you see cliff divers and get endless sopapillas? Also Little Man Ice Cream or Sweet Cow Ice Cream are great places to beat the heat.

You do NOT want to miss seeing …

Denver-Mountain-Parks-Logo_smallRed Rocks. A park, hiking trails and the world famous amphitheater. Views of the city are just a hike away!

A few “hidden gems” that only the locals know about …

The splash pad at the Westminster Promenade. Hidden behind the hustle and bustle of the shopping area is a great wade pool area with tons of shade. There is also a great indoor play area at Cherry Creek Mall, perfect to let the kids run around when it’s cold or raining outside.

The most kid-friendly hotels are …

Omni Interlocken has a great kids program. Also the Curtis Hotel Downtown has themed floors and just steps away from the 16th Street Mall.

For couples-only excursions, stay here …

Cheyenne Mountain Resort just 90 minutes south in Colorado Springs. Great views, heated outdoor pool that can be enjoyed year round and great restaurants are nearby.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

If you visit when it’s cold, you can enjoy …

Summit County. Just 90 minutes west to great Ski areas like Keystone, A-Basin, Copper Mountain and Breckenridge!

If you visit in the summer, you’ll like playing here …

water worldWaterWorld! A huge water park with tons of thrill rides, kiddie pools and fun for the whole family!

One of the most awesome things about Denver is …

You are only less than 90 min away from the best ski areas, great outlets malls and many other adventures!

I would describe the “vibe” in Denver as …

Laid back. Don’t be in a hurry, just find a great place to sit and stare at the Rocky Mountains.

Denver is a good vacation choice because …

There are tons of things to do all around Denver and into the mountains. Catch a game at Coors Field, visit the Museum of Nature & Science, take a hike around Bear Creek Lake.

emily vanek, blog 66Emily Vanek is the owner and editor-in-chief of Her work is also featured on, and She and her husband live with their three sons near Denver. Her youngest child is on the Autism Spectrum, so she is passionate about connecting with parents with special needs. In her spare time, she knits, shops, and reads. She is also a master tortoise wrangler and expert in getting water out of various electronics (don’t ask).

Life with Ladybug: Back to life. Back to reality.

By nwamamas - Last updated: Thursday, July 24, 2014

shan at the beach

On our way back from Panama City Beach in Florida, we stopped by my parents’ house to spend the night – and to pick up a chicken.

No, not KFC. Against my better judgment, we were bringing home one of the chickens from my mom’s flock to join our lone chicken survivor, Tessa (we lost our other two chickens recently).

That morning, as we visited over my mother’s homemade waffles, she commented, “Well, vacation is over. Back to reality.”

I groaned at her words, but as I took another sip of my hot tea, I realized that the thought didn’t actually make me sad. I pondered over why that was and came to the conclusion that I love my work, my community, my life.

My reality doesn’t bite. So heading back wasn’t a bad thing.

Sure, there are plenty of things I’ll miss about vacation. Things like:

The food. No cooking! No clean-up! One of my favorite meals was at Great Southern Café (my daughter also gave this restaurant the Best Lemonade Award from along all the places we ate along the Panhandle). We also had fun seeing the alligators and eating crab legs at Bayou Bill’s Crab House. I’m not typically a sushi fan, but we also had a great experience at the restaurant FireFly. Our waiter was amazing and had actually lived in NWA for a time a few years back. I tried my husband’s Bubba Roll and it was gooooood. It was cooked, so I didn’t get all ooged out about raw fish. I also loved my Caesar salad with blue crab.

Great Southern Cafe salad

Great Southern Cafe salad

The sunsets. Wow, those Florida sunsets. Gorgeous.


The ocean sounds. I love the sounds of waves lapping against the shore. I even have a sound machine so I can hear the beach anytime, right here in Northwest Arkansas. Granted, it doesn’t sound exactly the same, but it still has a calming effect.

view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

Endless fun without the interruption of work. I didn’t say “Hang on! Just let me answer this one last email” even once. My daughter noticed.

The awesome pillows. Seriously, I miss my Holiday Inn Resort bed pillow. That was a first.

Riding bikes at Rosemary Beach. We had a great time riding around the little town. It’s so pretty!

That eclectic book store. We loved visiting Sun Dog books while we were visiting Seaside. It’s so adorable and we bought a few new beach reads (as if we didn’t already have a stack to mow through).

Sun Dog Books, Seaside

Sun Dog Books, Seaside

But, truthfully?

I’m glad to be back home where reality is doing laundry from the trip, jumping with both feet back into my work groove, setting up lunches with friends and enjoying Game of Thrones marathons with my husband (where I can mostly be found with my eyes shut tight, my fingers in my ears and humming so I can’t see or hear what’s on the screen).

That said, I do believe vacations – or even staycations where the whole family is out of their routine together – is a balm for the soul. It’s nice to be pampered and to experience the bonding that naturally happens when you have fun together as a family unit. And the beach is my happy place (my husband’s, too).

As I took my dishes to my mother’s sink after breakfast, I remembered that the day before we left Florida, my daughter expressed regret at having to come back home.

And I told her: “It is better to have vacationed and departed than to never have vacationed before.”

Au revoir, Panama City Beach. Hello, realistic {lovely} life.

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl who still likes things like superheroes and unicorns, thank goodness) is wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John and is co-founder of

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