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: 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 You can also contact me directly at

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

Five Minutes with a Mom: Cristy Norwood {Celebrating her ‘Cancerversary’}

Cristy with the kidsName: Cristy Norwood

Where do you live in NWA? We live in Fayetteville off Wedington

What brought you to the area? I’ve lived here my whole life.

Children’s names and ages:

Chris  18

Remington  12

Rylee Ann  9

Slade “Boo” 7

Taige 5

What’s the best thing about having a large family?

There is truly never a dull moment! I love that my house is constantly filled with love & laughter….and of course the crying, fighting, chaos & yelling too! But I love every bit of it. I look forward to large family dinners and the holidays as my kids all someday have families of their own.

The most difficult?

Is trying to be on time! It seems there is always something we have to run back in the house to get or someone can’t find something they need for the day. I’m lucky my friends & family understand!

Also, making sure I spend quality time with each of my children individually. Whether it’s just taking a few minutes to just sit with them alone and talk about their day or things they have going on at school or going to dinner and a movie or the mall. I think it’s important to have that time together.

We understand you celebrated your 6-year “Cancerversary” on Oct. 17. Can you tell us about that?

I was diagnosed with stage 3 grade 3 Triple Negative BC on October 17, 2009 while I was pregnant with my 5th child, Taige.

I was misdiagnosed for 6 months and finally, after me telling the doctor I wanted a biopsy done, they found I had BC. I will never forget the night my surgeon called me to tell me. I had my biopsy on a Wednesday and came home on Thursday. I was by myself resting,  my husband with with our daughter Remington who was 5 then, at her basketball  practice. I answered the phone and his words were, “I don’t know how to tell you Cristy but it came back malignant.” 

I told my husband we were facing this head on. I handed it all over to God. I knew he would keep my baby safe and that whatever my outcome was he would use me to help others. I got the call on a Thursday night about 7pm, had a PET Scan done on Wednesday of the next week and a double mastectomy on Friday.

I only had cancer in my right breast, but chose to have a double mastectomy.

Two weeks after surgery I started chemo. It was very hard on my family. My 4 children would stay at friends or family the week I had treatment.  I had treatments every two weeks.

Taige was born via emergency c-section on January 27, 2010. She was beautiful & healthy and had more hair than me! She stayed in the NICU for 2 weeks before she came home. One of the hardest things I had to was leave her at the hospital and come home after having her, without her. I started my next round of chemo a week after she was born and did weekly treatments. 

Cristy Norwood with baby

To date I have had well over 350+ doctors appointments, 35 chemo treatments, 33 radiation treatments and 19 surgeries. Through my cancer journey I have been so greatly blessed, I wouldn’t change a thing!

I have a beautiful, healthy 5 year old little girl that truly completed our family! My children are my greatest blessing and my whole heart. The Munchkins5 is what I call them My husband and I have been through so much after only being married 8yrs this coming February, but our marriage is stronger than ever and we know that anything our lives together brings we can face it as long as we hand it over to the Lord and trust He’s got it covered.

I am beyond grateful for this 2nd chance at life God has blessed me with and I know he is using my journey in great ways to help others in some way!

Cristy with bald head

What advice would you give other moms who have just been diagnosed?

Just breathe God’s got it, just trust in him. You will go through so many emotions and fears, write it all down in a journal, it helps. Stay positive even on the days you feel like you wanna give up. It’s ok to cry and ask for help even though it’s hard to do. Be as honest with your children with what you are going through as you can be. It’s hard, but I think it helps them to understand.

Find support groups or talk to others who have been on the journey, it helps to know you aren’t alone.

What are your favorite hobbies?

I love to do crafts and enjoy reading (which rarely happens! Ha) I love to watch my children in their activities & sports. I enjoy traveling and spending time with my family.

How would you describe a typical day in your busy mama life?

I get up about 6am, get the kiddos up dressed & fed. Then we load up, say our morning prayer together in the car on the way to school, drop my oldest daughter off first, then drop the other 3 off.

If it’s a Monday or a Thursday, I head to Cross Church and work in the infant room for the KDO program from 8:30-2:30. On the other days it’s home after dropping kids off to do laundry & straighten up the house, get dressed and sometimes go run errands or go to the store…if I’m called to sub at the school I will do that.

I pick the 3 little ones up at 3pm, pick my oldest daughter up and then it’s time to start taking kids to their activities, then pick up, eat and get kiddos ready for bed. By 9-10pm it’s my turn to shower and then sit and watch a little TV with my hubby around 11pm…bed about 11:30-midnight and back at it the next day!

Favorite all-time movie?

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (the original one), The Wizard of Oz

Last book you read?

Purpose Driven Life (reading it now)

What’s some great parenting advice you used and then passed along to others?

Laugh with your kids a lot. Tell your kids you love them. Enjoy your kids, life’s to short not to enjoy every moment with them…the good times & the bad times.

Something you’d love to learn in the future?

I’d love to write a book….not sure if that’s learning something or just doing it…Maybe a bit of both.

What’s your favorite way to relax?

I don’t know what that word even means! Ha!

One word to sum me up …


Photo credit {photo at top}: Maliah Pinkleton Photography

Five Minutes with a Mom: Andria Sisson Bittle

The Bittle Family

Name: Andria Sisson Bittle

How many children do you have?

I have been honored to raise four beautiful children. Right now their ages are 13, 11, 7, and 3.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in NWA?

I grew up in Hope, AR. I went to college in Searcy, then spent some time in Little Rock, Ft. Smith, and moved to Fayetteville almost 11 years ago.

What brought you here?

My husband’s job took us to Ft. Smith for seven years. After some time with his company, we had the liberty to move to Fayetteville. We absolutely loved the area and have not regretted the decision to move.

What are your family’s favorite things to do in the area?

Northwest Arkansas is like a breath of fresh air! Our family enjoys camping, canoeing, and hiking. However, we spend most of our time at the soccer fields watching our 11-year-old daughter play with Comets and at the shooting range watching our 13-year-old son compete. We also have enjoyed many wonderful trips to Silver Dollar City and Big Cedar Lodge.

Tell us about a typical day in your homeschooling mom life:

The funny thing about Homeschool is there really is no “typical” day.

I will do my best to give you an idea of the schedule for which we strive. Most mornings my husband and I rise early and spend time together exercising and having breakfast before the kids wake. Once the children are up and going, they have breakfast and complete their morning chores.

After chores, we get Math done right away (of course, because Math is the most fun!). All of the children have independent workbooks they are going through. After they are all finished with their workbooks, we join together at the school table for Bible, Geography, and Science.

After lunch, the kids finish up any work they have left from the morning assignments, go through a Spanish lesson with Rosetta Stone, read, and complete their afternoon chores. By this time, I am preparing dinner (we eat early) and getting all the kids ready for whichever activity/practice they will be involved with for the evening.

Writing the schedule out gives the impression that homeschool is tidied up in a neat little bow. However, each family has its own challenges and ours is no different. We meet those challenges with the understanding that we are all still growing, changing, and working on our character (mom and dad included)!

What’s something your friends might not know about you?

I really feel I am an open book to the people I meet-especially my close friends. So, I am not really sure what they don’t know about me. One comical thing that came to mind, is that I really enjoy rap music! I grew up listening to rap and country. As an adult, I choose not to seek out rap as it can contain lyrics I would not want my children to hear. However, there are a few Christian rappers I have discovered, and when I need a “pep-me-up” I find rap works!

What was the last song you sang along to?

I like to walk while listening to music. Sometimes I find myself singing along. On my most recent walk I was singing with Rachel Platten “Fight Song”.

What’s your favorite Fall tradition?

I enjoy decorating my house for Fall. I am NOT gifted at decorating, however, I am capable of setting out a few pumpkins and faux fall leaves. With the colors in my house, fall fits right in. We also enjoy taking the kids to the Harvest Festival at Silver Dollar City, and have had a blast at the “Right Choice Corn Maze” in MO.

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

This winter, I would love to take a trip to Big Cedar Lodge. We typically visit the lodge in the summer, but I understand it’s just as beautiful in winter. I don’t intend for my answer to seem short sighted. My husband and I have had the privilege to travel quite a bit. However, I seem to enjoy the short family vacations close to home much more than jaunts to Italy, Canada, Hawaii, or Mexico.

We love where we live! Taking some time to enjoy the beauty locally actually feels like a vacation.

What’s the most enjoyable thing about being a mother? The most difficult?

The most enjoyable and difficult thing about being a mother are the same. I have delighted in my children’s different personalities. It is amazing to me to see them turn into the people God created them to be.

The longer I am a parent the more I am convinced we are only to guide what God has already placed in the little ones he has sent to us.

On the flip side, it is my greatest challenge to be the best parent I can be to the differing needs of the children. A disciplinary method may work for one child, while not all for the next in line. I would say this is the area I feel least equipped, but am learning as I go.

What’s something you have always wanted to learn?

I have always wanted to learn to play the piano. Growing up I had a few people in my life tell me I had “piano fingers”. It has always been my desire to learn to play.  Maybe one day…

How do you recharge at the end of the day?

At the end of my day, I usually unwind by checking out houses on Zillow. My husband and I have looked at houses and land for almost two years. In that quest, I find it relaxing and helpful to take a look at what is on the market. However, there is very little time during the day to do that. So, nighttime it is!

One word to sum me up:

I guess one word to some me up is … reliable.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

Five Minutes with a Mom: Lori Collins

Lori Collins, cropped

Name: Lori Collins

Kid’s names and ages:

Cassia 9 years old and June 5 months

Which songs are on your iPod right now? 

Funny story, I took all my music off to try an update and it didn’t work-I’m not tech savvy- I still haven’t put my tunes back on but, when I do it will consist of Luke Bryan, Andy Grammer, and the playlist from my wedding. :)

Tell us about a day in your life:

Our 9 year old is awesome. She’s gets herself up at 6:30 to get ready for school. That allows me to get up with the baby at 6:30 or 7:00 and get her fed and changed and then we head off to school. When we get home, I start whatever chores I want to work on for the day. Usually laundry  or cleaning/organizing a room in the house. Sometimes I’m even brave enough to unpack a box or two. We moved into our house when June was just a week old so we still have boxes everywhere. And of course, I throw in some snuggles with June before we get Cassia from school.

What’s the best part of being a mom of two?

I have the best of both worlds right now. I have this little one that lets me hold her and kiss on her and she needs me for everything. And then I have my big girl who also loves hugs and kisses but we can hang out and paint our nails or go to a movie together or just talk. It’s great.

Tell us about some traditions you’ve started with your daughters?

Cassia likes to call it ” Mommy and Cassia day”. We would go get a mani/pedi or maybe go to a movie. Sometimes it would be as simple as going to get ice cream or a sno cone. It’s a little harder with the little one here but I try to find a way to make special time for Cassia. And I will do the same for June when she is older.

We understand you’ve had to deal with cancer while also taking care of your new baby. How are you doing right now?

I am doing great right now.

I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in my second trimester of pregnancy. Talk about a scary time! I couldn’t have any of the typical tests/scans since I was pregnant, but I did have surgery to remove my tumor and had a test to show if the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. There was some risk to the baby having these done, but we had the ‘A team’ and God on our side. Our baby girl is now 5 months old and happy and healthy. 

I have now had all the scans I need, all of which were clear, and a second opinion in Little Rock. That led me to decide no further surgery and no treatment right now. I will have frequent check ups and scans.

By the grace of God, I have been healed and given a second chance!

I have learned so much through this process. A lot about having faith in God, turning everything over to Him because He is in control, not me, and has a plan for my life and this cancer didn’t take Him by surprise. I struggle with the anxiety of the ‘unknown’ on a daily basis. Thank the Lord I have the most wonderful husband who supports me and prays for me. And, that I have two beautiful girls that keep me busy.

You just renovated a 1950s home, right? What’s your favorite room in the “new” house?

I LOVE our house! It took us many months of searching but this one just spoke to us. There are so many favorites but I have to say, my husband turning the den into our bedroom and the very small bedroom into a closet is pretty high on the list. And, we have a balcony off the kitchen that has an awesome view and plenty of room for Tom to do some grilling.

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

Mothering instincts and intuition. It’s crazy how you can know absolutely nothing about taking care of these little helpless humans but you suddenly know exactly what to do when they cry or fuss. You know when they are sad, or upset, or lying about if they brushed their teeth…lol

for the loveDo you have any fun hobbies?

I really enjoy reading. I just started a book by Jen Hatmaker, For the Love. I’m not very far in but I love it already. And I like to sing. When no one is listening, of course.

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

Anywhere as long as it’s with my husband. And warmish temperatures.

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

Probably Reese Witherspoon. She knows what it’s like to be a southern girl and I just love her.

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

How to be crafty…But really, I would love to play guitar or the piano.

What three things do you always have with you?

My phone, a diaper bag, and one or both of my kids

How do you relax at the end of the day?

I curl up with my husband and watch tv and sometimes have a glass of wine.

One word to sum me up: