5 Minutes with a Mom: Jerri Dwyer

Jerri Dwyer Family

Name: Jerri Dwyer

Kid’s names and ages:

Elizabeth, 6

Kaytlin, 11

Kaleb, 16

My nephew, Kaleb, moved in with us after his mom passed away last year. He has been such a fun addition to our household.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions or do you avoid those? 

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I tend to find them difficult to follow for the long term if I label them as a resolution. However, I have committed to lowering sugar and processed foods in my family’s diet.

Tell us about a day in your life:

Like most moms, my typical day is busy. As a homeschool mom, my daily routine revolves around my kid’s school schedules. Except for weekends, my days look something like this:

I wake up at 5:30 am and get my nephew ready for his early bus ride. On most mornings, while I am energizing myself with my morning coffee, we have a visit from a young man in our neighborhood who waits with us for his bus, occasionally, he will bring his electric guitar which really livens the house up early. When the weather is good, my family treats our pug to a mile walk in the neighborhood, while I stay home getting ready for the day. By seven o’clock, my husband and I enjoy our green smoothies and he is off to work.

Then, the house becomes full of energy and life, while the girls practice their Irish Dance. During their workouts, I am usually motivated enough to get some of my own therapy exercises done.

By 8:30, we are in full swing for homeschool. The girls have eaten breakfast and are crafting, while I read aloud a living history book. Right now we are studying Early American History and have enjoyed some great books like Amos Fortune: Free Man, The Witch of BlackBird Pond, and Johnny Tremain.  Throughout the school day, both my Kindergartner and sixth grader complete courses in Bible, Writing, Botany, English, Math, Reading and Spelling.

My oldest makes lunch for her and her sister, while my husband and I enjoy another green smoothie. After lunch, my 6th grader completes her day with Latin and Typing. With the exception of Friday, homeschool is completed by 2pm. Fridays are designed to be lighter school days leaving time for field trips and trying new recipes out at home.

Most afternoons, we are cleaning house and completing chores followed by running around somewhere. On Tuesday afternoon, my girls attend Ecclesia Prep where they enjoy class time with peers. Tuesday nights, we attend Bible Study Fellowship and an additional three nights a week, we have Irish Dance practice. As we all know, being a mom is living a life full with activities and love. Such is my blessed life!

What’s the best part about being a mom?

For me, being a mom was a dream come true. We struggled with miscarriages, adoption waiting lists, and failed adoptions for ten years. Then God blessed our family through adoption. I try to enjoy every aspect of motherhood, but some of my favorites are the hugs, kisses, snuggles, and laughs.

Tell us about some traditions you’ve started with your kids:

Touring and taking photos at the Fayetteville square during Christmas. Going to the Christmas festival at Silver Dollar City. Making a gingerbread house at Christmas. Making tie-dye t-shirts before the end of each summer. Collecting ornaments from every place that we travel.

What has been one of the most surprising things about motherhood?

The amount of grace that my kids display to me. I could make a long list of all the things that I regret saying or a reaction in a given situation. It seems that I remember these more than my kids, they forgive me and keep on going.

What are your favorite hobbies?

Fishing, taking the kids to the park, watching movies, reading books, hanging out as a family.

What was the last thing you really laughed out loud about?

My kid’s impersonations of different family members. They have an interesting view of each other!

If you could vacation anywhere in the world this winter where would it be?


Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

Drew Barrymore

What would the movie be titled?

“Team Jerri: Winning the Spirit Award”

God knew my life would be a wonderful adventure, yet would also include some struggles, so he surrounded me with His LOVE. Love expressed in all the family, friends, and strangers – beautiful faces – cheering me across the finish line.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn?

Scuba Diving

How do you relax at the end of the day?

Watching a Netflix show and enjoying a cup of hot tea

What’s one thing you’d want people to remember about you?

That I lived a life trusting in God and encouraging others

One word to sum me up:


5 Minutes with a Mom: Jessica Pierson

Jessica Pierson, use

Name: Jessica Pierson

Kids’ names and ages?

Stephen (13) and Scott (11)

How long have you lived in NWA and what brought you here?

We’ve lived here 1-1/2 years and moved from Ohio due to my husband’s new job and because we’ve heard wonderful things about living in Fayetteville.

What’s something you did recently to make your kids laugh (and were glad nobody else was around to see it)?

I turned up the volume on some 1980s music, specifically something a little more “rock-n-roll” than what I’m known to enjoy, and I danced in a goofy way, played air guitar, and even finished by sliding across the kitchen floor (at least a 5-foot span) in some slick socks.  These are the kinds of things a mom must do to impress kids this age.  Afterward, I had to rest, but it was worth it for such approval.

Tell us about a day in your life:

I’ve learned it’s necessary to rise before the two young teen drill sergeants awaken so I can get breakfast and sack lunches rolling.  Some hot tea propels me in the right direction, and before I know it, I’ve hugged my kids and husband and they’re off to do daily business.  My work shift seems long and leaves me forgetting to eat, but when it’s a leftover-dinner night, that allows me an extra hour to assemble some healthy afterschool snacks (and on the rare occasion, a dessert!).  Carrots and dip, or some apple slices and cheddar…those are the kinds of snacks that cheer everyone up and give that little end-of-day lift we all need.  Amazing how much better I feel after that one small effort!

If you went back to college what would you study?

I’d want to study the language and culture of a country or region abroad where I’d like to live and work someday, even if just for a few years of adventure.

What are three things you always have with you?

Cell phone, keys, and kids’ inhalers.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

I plan to make better use of this upcoming spring for getting out on some of Fayetteville’s awesome trails and for walking in general, for both physical fitness and the tranquility one finds on a walk.

Your favorite places to hang out with your family in NWA?

The Square downtown has a stunning light display—perfect for hot cocoa and a walk together.  My kids seem to find something new in the display each time we go, and we’re sure to pass through their even in the car on the way home from a late errand.  We also have a favorite restaurant down that direction, so in getting there, we find that a “bonus” opportunity for a walk on the Square allows us to see up close what the various shops offer.

What’s something cool that happened to you recently?

A lifelong friend of mine, who’s been living and working in New Zealand for nearly 10 years, came to visit for the Christmas holiday break.  Together, we explored more of NWA—so many things I didn’t even know were here, from restaurants to an art gallery to some cool spots that make Fayetteville funky!  We found several pigs around town from the Pigshibition collection too!  Even though I’d previously been to Crystal Bridges Art Museum a couple of times, we were able to slow down this time to see more of that as well, including learning the intricacies of the architecture and outdoor sculptures.

Your favorite hobbies?

Reading, trying out new recipes, and writing.

One word to sum me up


Five Minutes with a {teacher} Mom: Jenna Donnell

Jenna Donnell & family

Name: Jenna Donnell

Son’s name and age? Jake, 7

What’s something funny Jake did recently? He was excited about shooting off a model rocket with his dad and said, “It will be just like the fireworks for April 5th!”  Of course he meant July 4th – it was cute.

How long have you lived in NWA and what brought you here?  I have lived in NWA for 20 years now (feels like 10). My family moved to NWA when I was 16 years old. We moved here from our busy life in Southern California to my Nana’s little farm in West Fork.

Being the outdoorsy adventurous type, it was easy to fall in love with the area.

Tell us about a day in your life: I wake up with coffee in hand, pack lunches for Jake and myself, and head out the door by 7 a.m.

We pass in the halls of Shaw Elementary at least once a day as I drop my other 27 4th grade children off at their specialty class. We make it home in time to eat dinner and hopefully play outside before it gets dark.

Depending on the day of the week, I might go to the nearby gym, take Jake to practice, or teach a 1st grade Bible class at church. As we settle down and get Jake in bed after reading a good book, my husband and I talk about our day and what favorite shows are on that night.

In my jammies, I grade papers, type lesson plans, or do a little online Christmas shopping.  Finally, I make myself go to bed… with house hunters on, of course. There is something calming about that show.

What’s been the most unexpected thing about motherhood for you? How 1 little person can bring so much stuff into a house!

What’s a piece of advice you received when your son was born that share with other new moms? To cherish every moment even if you don’t feel like it.

If you went back to college what would you study? If I went back I might study sports medicine or some type physical therapy. I originally started out with this but switched majors so I could work more closely with children.

What are three things you always have with you? My phone… I pack light!

Do you have any fun winter plans? The Liberty Bowl and playing in the snow!

Your favorite places to hang out with your family in NWA? Devil’s Den State Park, Farmers Market, Razorback games, local restaurants

If someone wrote a book about your life right now, what would the title be? Enjoy the Little Things

What’s something cool that happened to you recently? Friends of mine at school found out that a boy in my class was saving his own money for a pair of boots from Wal-Mart. Within an hour of finding this out, we had the boots bought and paid for by the efforts of 3 sweet teachers.

I have witnessed this many times from my colleagues. These random acts of kindness are my favorite moments.

What are your favorite hobbies? camping, snow skiing, exercise, mud runs, watching movies, painting, and shopping

One word to sum me up …  Hopeful

Five Minutes with a Mom: Laura Grutz

Laura Grutz

Name: Laura Grutz

Children’s names and ages: Son, Seth Grutz, Age 26, married to Lindsay; Daughter, Sidney Grutz, Age 24

What’s one movie you could watch over and over? We love movies, so there are many. However, probably Sleepless in Seattle, Princess Bride, or My Big Fat Greek Wedding are some that never get old.

Tell us about some traditions you’ve continued with your kids, even though they’re out of the “nest”: One is a silly tradition. When I was growing up, my mother would say, “Eeee, Bob!” to my dad anytime he was driving and she didn’t like what he did (like drive too close to someone or stopping quickly). So we started saying it, too, and still do. I also still do Christmas stockings for my kids each year that includes fingernail clippers and Chapstick.

Also, I’m not sure if this a tradition, but a family quirk—we use a LOT of movie quotes in our communication with one another.

Where does your family love to play in NWA? That’s one of the things that struck us when we moved to NWA in 2001—there were so many recreational choices! We love everything from Crystal Bridges, to the trail system, to hiking Lost Valley, to playing Bocce ball in Tontitown.

What’s something your friends might not know about you? I have a real thing for muscle cars.

If you could vacation anywhere in the world this winter, where would it be? Somewhere tropical, I love the beach. Or maybe Italy.

What’s something you have always wanted to learn? I have always wanted to learn more about brain development and the way the brain works. In my work, we are learning more and more about how trauma affects the brain. The brain is a fascinating organ.

Which three things do you always have with you? My phone (unfortunately), lip balm, and reading glasses.

Tell us about your work training foster/adoptive parents: I worked for child welfare for about two and half years before beginning to train foster parents for an agency that contracts with the Division of Children and Family Services. I have been training foster and adoptive parents and completing home studies for 12 years. At this time, the process consists of 27 hours of training plus the home study.

How can people find out more about how to be foster parents? People can visit the website:  http://www.fosterarkansas.org/ or call 479-442-4029 in our area for more info. We need more foster parents…and adoptive parents!

How do you wind down at the end of the day? A glass of iced tea or cup of hot tea (depending on the season) and a hot shower.

One word to sum me up … Dependable.

Five Minutes with a Mom: Andrea Murr

Andrea Murr

Name: Andrea Murr

Kids’ names and ages? Our sons, Sutton and Turner, are 5 and 3 years old, respectively. Our daughter, Lucy, is 1 year old.

Where were you raised? I was born and raised in Arlington, Texas.

How long have you lived in NWA and what brought your family here? This is actually our second time to live in NWA. We left NWA in 2009 and returned last spring, March 2015. My husband, Ben, is with a vendor, Flowers Foods, which is why we are back in Walmart country.

What was the last song you sang along with? Live and Die by The Avett Brothers

What’s your favorite vacation spot? Our absolute favorite thing we were able to do when we lived in Thomasville, Georgia (where we recently moved from) was take day trips to the Gulf Coast and eat at our favorite little oyster bar, Boss Oyster Bar in Apalachicola, Florida. We also took a few weekend trips to Mexico Beach, Pensacola and Destin. Such great memories! We got so spoiled being only a couple of hours from white sandy beaches!

Your favorite place so far in NWA? The Bentonville Farmers Market! We went every Saturday morning to buy our produce and eggs for the week.  I am sad it has ended.

What about your favorite chick flick? Oh man, do I love a good chick flick! I don’t think I can choose just one. It is a tie between Father of the Bride and Big Business. Brilliant films, I tell you!

Your most-loved hobbies? I have recently discovered that my No. 1 hobby, passion, gift in life is people. I prayed for two years that God would show me what my “thing” is in this life. I kept waiting for a huge revelation – something seriously creative or very impactful. Looking back, I realize He tried telling me for two years.

A few months ago, I started reading For the Love by Jen Hatmaker and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My “thing” is people. What I have discovered is that your gift/passion, although it may seem small or not very important when we compare it to someone else’s gift, it is huge and very impactful because it is what God gave you to make a difference in this world.

You have a passion for helping women be healthier. Can you tell us a little about that?  Over the last 13 years, different women in my life have impacted my health for the better. They have taught me things I honestly didn’t know before I met them.

My most recent discovery was regarding personal care products like our makeup, hair care, face care, body care, etc. One of my best friends introduced me to a company called Beautycounter. Its mission is to get safe products into the hands of everyone. My first thought was, “Why does this company care? I mean, aren’t most personal care products safe? We have the FDA to protect us, right?” What I discovered is Beautycounter cares because this industry is self-regulated and therefore not as safe as people assume it is.

The last law regulating this industry was in 1938. So, companies are allowed to use known toxins – ingredients such as formaldehyde, lead, parabens and phthalates that have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive issues. When it comes to this industry, FDA approved really does not mean much.

I have watched people I love battle cancer; people I love struggle with infertility; people I love hear the diagnosis Autism for their beloved child; people I love get hit with numerous other nasty illnesses, diseases and disruptions. Frankly, I am tired of it. After learning about this industry, how much of an impact the environment has on our health and loving the products my kids and I used for a few weeks, I decided to join Beautycounter.

I care about people and saw this as an opportunity to use my gift, passion and hobby in life. It is also a way to give back. So many women have invested in me and changed my life for the better, so now it is my turn. Plus, being a new person in town it has helped me connect with other women and form friendships. My main goal with Beautycounter is educating women about personal care products so they can make healthier decisions for themselves and their family.

Beautycounter has a list of 1,500 ingredients known as the Neverlist. Any ingredient that has ever been linked to a health issue goes on this list. After I give people the information, they have options for safer products whether they buy Beautycounter products from me or they take their Neverlist card to Target or another retailer to buy safer products. To learn more about Beautycounter and this industry, visit www.beautycounter.com/andreamurr. You can also contact me directly at andrea.murr@gmail.com

What could women cut out of their lives right now to be healthier STAT? One thing I know is we have one shot at this life. We cannot control every single risk factor in our life, but there are things we can control like our diet, exercise, parts of our environment and what we put on our bodies.

Small changes can add up to big health rewards: replacing your current personal care products with safer non-toxic ones, changing out your cleaning/laundry supplies with safer products, replacing plastic Tupperware and dishes with glass or stainless steel, choosing whole grains over white, eliminating food dyes and artificial flavors. Commit to making one change to benefit you and your family’s health.

What are some of your favorite parenting moments? Catching my kids loving on each other. Also, the moments where I see God – a question about faith in Jesus or one of my kid’s sticking up for one of their friends or siblings. Probably the best is how easily and quickly they forgive me for being an imperfect mommy. They have taught me so much about love, life and faith in my God.

What’s your favorite way to get your kids laughing again after a hard day? Usually a little visit from the Tickle Monster does the trick. Occasionally, though, they just can’t escape the foul so a little reverse psychology is in order: “Don’t you smile…don’t do it…oh, don’t let me see those teeth…you better not crack that smile!” Gets them laughing every single time! What in the world?!!!

What’s a meal you make over and over for your kids? My kids are pretty young, so I don’t get a lot of requests for certain dishes. I hear less complaints with the following foods: fruit, edamame, rice with soy sauce, honey chicken, spaghetti and tacos. The truth is I just cook and they either eat or don’t. I am respectful, though, and don’t cook crazy dishes that I know they absolutely will not touch. Here’s what I do know…they are not starving even if they skip a meal.

What’s your idea of a relaxing day? Honestly, not having anywhere to be, nothing to do around my house, absolutely no obligations except for hanging out with my family all day long. It could be a super lazy, pj’s all day kind of a day or a fun packed day where we leave the  house in the morning and don’t come home until dark. Whatever it is, it is with my family and their are no restrictions or constraints.

One word to sum me up …passionate