Giveaway: Professional organizing from The Organizer Chicks!

Mamas, we are SO excited about this week’s giveaway because we know it’s something that almost all of us have wished for at one time or another. If you’ve ever fantasized about how great it would be to have a Professional Organizer come over and help you finally get your house in order — organized in a way that truly works for you and your family — this is the giveaway that could make it come true.organizerchicks

We’re hosting a giveaway from our friends at The Organizer Chicks that includes:

  • Initial consultation
  • Four-hour work session with TWO Professional Organizers
  • (Total of EIGHT hours of professional organizing which equals a $480 value!)

For many of us, one of our goals for the New Year is to get our homes and organizing methods in better shape so we can get more done and enjoy clean spaces that don’t make us feel stressed. One of the best ways to finally make that happen is to let someone who is truly gifted in this area come over and not only come up with a plan but help you make it happen. That’s what Professional Organizers do. (And they can do a LOT in four hours. Check out this before and after photo that happened after only two hours.)

before-after-closet1As owner Amber Taggard pointed out in our recent interview, some people feel guilty for needing a Professional Organizer’s help. But the reality is that we moms hire professionals all the time. Would you feel guilty for hiring an electrician to come over and fix a broken fuse box? Nope. The electrician knows things we don’t know and has specialized training in his area of expertise. Professional Organizers are also specifically trained to put rooms and/or entire homes in order as well as develop new systems and routines that will help you KEEP that organization intact.

organizer1Electricians don’t judge you for a broken fuse, and Professional Organizers don’t judge you for a cluttered space. They are simply happy for the opportunity to transform a space and make a positive difference for their client.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the online hat to win this giveaway valued at $480, click the word “comments” (located right under the headline of this post). Then scroll down to the bottom of the posted comments.

Then add your own comment telling us which space in your house you’d love to have transformed by two of the Organizer Chicks. Why did you pick that space? (Would it be your kitchen? Bedroom? Garage? Kids’ playroom? Home office, etc?)

You can also email your answer to us at giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

As always, the giveaway winner will be chosen AT RANDOM and notified via email. (Watch your inbox!)

Once the organization work is complete, we’ll share that person’s experience and before and after photos here on nwaMotherlode.com, so fellow moms can read about and see what professional organizing in action really looks like.

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emailINCREASE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING: Help us spread the word about this giveaway by emailing your friends and family about the giveaway. We’ll give you an extra chance to win for every person you tell. Just be sure to put giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com on the CC line of your note so we can give you proper credit.

You can also earn extra chances to win by being one of our newsletter readers. Newsletter subscribers get free access to the good stuff, including exclusive giveaways (like this one), information about local events, local mom interviews, recipes and more.

The nwaMotherlode newsletter is delivered straight to your inbox so you don’t miss anything awesome. CLICK HERE to sign up. We won’t fill your inbox with info, no worries. We only send out newsletters when there’s something in it for you — and we know you’ll be interested in hearing about it.

BE SOCIAL: You can also earn extra chances to win by commenting on our Facebook page, following us on Twitter or following us on Instagram. If you do any of those, just mention it in your comment or email so we can give you proper credit.

For more info about The Organizer Chicks, click HERE to visit the website or click HERE to read our recent interview with the owner, Amber Taggard.

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Fayetteville Athletic Club’s New Year offer: $500 in free services

Mamas, most of us know that, depending on what you’re buying, there is a good time of year to do it — a window of opportunity that saves you more money. Experts say the best time to buy a car is at the end of summer, for example. But if you’re shopping for a gym, this is the time of year to do it because the incentives are GREAT.facad

One of our sponsors, Fayetteville Athletic Club, gave us a heads-up about their current offer which applies to anyone who becomes a member by January 31, 2017. New members get more than $500 in Club Services. (Just fyi… Fayetteville Athletic Club was named one of the “Best Places to Work Out” by women who voted in the 2016 Mom-Approved Awards.)

Here’s an outline of what the free services include:

  • $60 value: One month of WAYMO cross-training classes (designed for people who want to get in the best shape of their life) 30 class times per week
  • $120 value: Two, one-hour private tennis lessons with instructor
  • $140 value: Two, one-hour personal training sessions
  • $68 value: 1 week of after-school child care (offered Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.)
  • $139 value: 1 week of preschool for 1 child (ages 1 – 5 years old, offered Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.)
  • $50 off: Any Med-Spa service (includes BOTOX, Juvederm or Skin Pen treatments)
  • $20 off: Spray Tan
  • $20 off: Facial
  • $20 off: Massage Therapy

Note: All program certificates are non-transferable and must be redeemed by February 28, 2017.belly-2354_640-2

If you’re already serious about making this the year you get in better shape, you might as well give yourself the extra perks that come with this type of offer. (When is the last time you had free child care and time to work on yourself with a free personal trainer?) Those kinds of gifts don’t come along every day.

Go by the gym if you’d like to try it out for a few days while you decide, but if you’re interested in membership, be sure to do it before January 2017 ends so you won’t miss out on the $500 in free services.

If you have questions about the gym or the New Year offer, call them at 479-587-0500. The gym is located at 2920 East Zion Road in Fayetteville.

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Sponsor Spotlight: The Organizer Chicks

Mamas, we met Amber Taggard years ago when her new business, The Organizer Chicks, was just a baby and she had become a mama to her first baby. Her business has taken off like a rocket since then, and when you read this Q&A, you’ll know why. Her life’s work is about so much more than putting “stuff” in order. She’s about helping people in ways that give them more peace, calm, joy and time for things that truly matter to them.  We’re happy to share this sponsor interview because Amber is a “chick” you should definitely get to know.organizerchicks

Has organizing always come easily to you or is it a skill you developed over time?

I’d say that the desire for organization came naturally for me. I’m a typical oldest child in many ways — social, driven, and someone who likes and appreciates rules and processes. I learned early in life that I not only felt better, but thought more clearly and was more productive in an environment that was orderly.

My formal education — a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health  — paired with my experiences helped me to develop the skills and the insight necessary to do what Professional Organizers do best, which is to help people make decisions and set up processes that they know they need to, but likely wouldn’t do on their own.

What made you want to begin your own professional organizing business? What was that first year of business like?

I was several years into a career in Higher Education, which I loved, before I started The Organizer Chicks. I traveled extensively and had a lot of job satisfaction, but finally, after a years-long attempt to start a family, my stork2husband and I were excitedly expecting our first child — a now-6-year-old named Ryan. Suddenly the thought of getting on one more plane or staying one more night in a hotel was more than I could bear, and I knew that it was time to make a change.

I wanted to do something I genuinely loved and enjoyed, something that Northwest Arkansas would have a demand for, and something that would use my skills and education to benefit my fellow man. And ultimately, I wanted to have a real, meaningful career that could work around my new most-important-job-ever job: Mom. One of these days I’ll have to thank Ryan (and now his siblings Evan and Lana) for giving me the the drive to be brave and jump into the unknown! Six years and 16 employees later, I’m so grateful I made that scary, but important decision to quit my job and start my career.

My first year of business obviously coincided with my first year of Motherhood, and while there was a lot for me to learn about finding the right balance and running a business, I was thrilled to see business take off right from the start. One woman’s transformed craft room led to her friend’s organized home office, which led to her co-worker’s overhauled pantry, and so on. When you can help someone feel and function better inside the walls of their own home, that’s powerful, and word of mouth helped a momentum start to grow, and an official Facebook page soon followed.

One of my early struggles was that most people in middle-America have often never heard of, much less met or hired, a Professional Organizer. Mine is a field that many people only ever see on HGTV, or “Hoarders,” and I think there can sometimes be a stigma attached. People often reach out only after unsuccessfully trying on their own to get (and stay!) organized, and they call us feeling like they’re a failure, but here’s the truth — each of us have different strengths and weaknesses, and any one of my clients is going to be fantastic at 10 things that I just have no skill for.

That’s why we need each other –  we lend our strengths to others who have weakness in a certain area, and vice versa, and we trade this thing called the dollar for that strength. There’s no shame in needing an electrician, a personal trainer, or a real estate agent — all of these people have specialized skills and training to help you get from Point A to Point B, and a good Professional Organizer is no different. The judgement stays out, and the help comes in.

Some people think organizing is just about putting “stuff” in order, but there are often a lot of emotions (anxiety, fear, guilt, nostalgia, etc.) attached to the things people keep. How do you help clients untangle the emotions that can keep them drowning in too much stuff?

One of the things I like most about my job is that no two days are alike, and that’s largely because no two clients are alike. We keep things for a wide variety of reasons, and often someone who can easily get rid of even the black-cardigannicest of handwritten thank you cards just can’t seem to part with those 12 black cardigans collecting dust in their closet. For most people, however, I find that keeping most often boils down to emotional attachments.

The woman with the 12 black cardigans doesn’t look at that collection and see cotton-poly bends, she remembers the pride she felt when she wore cardigan #1 to her college graduation. She recalls the love and heartache she experienced when she wore #2 to her beloved grandmother’s funeral. And so-on. Particularly with women, clothing is especially tied to memories. Perhaps it’s the intimate nature of our clothing, as it hugs our curves and walks through our experiences with us, but this is a category that is repeatedly difficult for my clients to cull.

I lean heavily on my formal education in Counseling Psychology, and we practice a lot of what might be called “tough love.” We remind the client of the goals they said that they had for the particular space, and ask whether the keeping of this item or that gets them closer to, or keeps them further from, their goals.

We also work with our clients a lot on remembering that what we truly want to keep often isn’t the item itself, it’s the memory that the item evokes. Clients often need to feel that they have permission to let go of things, and we help them to relinquish what’s only serving as a memory-jogger by capturing that memory in another (preferably smaller and/or digital) format. For instance, we would suggest that a client set up a photo shoot with the beautiful handmade quilts that are sitting in boxes in their attic and make a coffee table book, complete with journal notes about who made each quilt, and where and when. Capture who the people were and what they meant to you. Then honor them — the quilt and the quilt maker — by giving the quilts as a donation to a local  shelter so that they can keep someone warm tonight.

You’ll feel a thousand pounds lighter, and you’ll have blessed someone else while you were at it.

Tell us about one of your favorite before and after stories and what kind of impact it had on your client.

The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies to Professional Organization, but one of my stand-out favorite before and after stories can’t be seen in photos. It’s the story of a mom who had a very busy life with her husband, children, an in-law in the home, and a taxing corporate job. Because of the demands on her time, she felt that she couldn’t possibly accomplish all of her work during the typical work week, and had, emoji clockfor years, been working Monday through Saturday.

Over the course of several weeks we worked space by space, item by item through her home, identifying processes and habits along the way that were leading to not only inefficient use of space, but inefficient use of time. (I find that there is nearly always an overlap in physical organization and time management, and that was certainly the case in this situation.) When we were finished with our sessions, not only was their home more functional, easier to clean, and more peaceful, but I had been able to create for her a Master Schedule that allowed her to see that she could, with better planning and organization, reclaim her Saturdays for herself and her family.

It’s experiences like these that remind me of what an honor it is to do what I do for a living, and how much I appreciate my clients, who let us into their personal spaces — their homes, their tax records, their calendars – in order to get the help they need.

Which room of the house is your favorite one to organize and why?

Some of my employees love kitchens the most, some love home offices, but I’d have to say master closets are my personal favorites, and specifically, the women’s side of the closet. As you can imagine, I’ve seen hundreds rp_clothes-hangers-582212_640-300x200.jpgand hundreds of women’s closets at this point, and unfortunately, I often find that the rod space is jam-packed full of clothing that just flat out doesn’t fit anymore, and often because it’s too small.

So walk with me through the morning’s events… You wake up, stretch, and decide to get dressed and tackle the day. You walk into your closet and find that not only are the items that do fit you hidden and hard to get to, but they’re being overwhelmed with all the clothing that used to fit you. When you were younger. When you were smaller. When you were better. Someone is calling you fat first thing every morning, and that person is you.

I love working in women’s closets because it’s an opportunity for me to go through these items one-by-one with ladies and really assess whether that precious rod space is being used for the pieces that work for us, or if it’s a heckling ground for the sizes of years gone by to remind us that we’re not where we think we should be. Rod space is for what fits our bodies here and now — what we look good in, feel good in, and would purchase all over again if we were in the store today. Taking those taunting size 4′s off the rod and putting them in a bin that can sit quietly at the top of your closet doesn’t mean you’re abandoning your goals or will never be that size again, but it does mean that between now and the time you achieve that goal, you can start your morning with positive feelings and with the efficiency of a rod of clothing that you know you can select from.

If you could give moms only one piece of advice that would make the biggest difference in their ability to stay more organized, what would it be?

Ultimately, the simplest route between chaotic and calm is to have less, and while this is true for every room and every age range, I would particularly encourage Moms to give their kids the gift of less.

toy-115485_640-2Think of a time when you’ve had what felt like an insurmountable work load staring at you. Those overwhelming feelings are not unique to adults –  children can and do feel them, too, they’re just not equipped to recognize and articulate them. I encourage a 1:1 ratio of minutes to years when it comes to toys.

For example, a 4-year old needs to have access to no more toys than it takes her 4 minutes to clean up by herself (after a few days of “training” with Mom or Dad, of course), and there are several good reasons for this: We want to set up our children for success; We want to help our children develop intrinsic motivation to be tidy; and we want to allow children the blessing of boredom.

Boredom is too often treated as a terrible enemy to be avoided at all cost, but keeping the number of available toys lower keeps kids from “toy hopping” — jumping from one exciting new figurine or gadget to the next without any deep, extended, imaginative play. Boredom is the breeding ground of new and creative ideas, and it also is an important departure from a society that says we must be stimulated at all times. Constant media, increased consumerism, and the increase in diagnoses of ADHD all correlate, and it’s no surprise.

It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily have to get rid of the toys that push you above and beyond the 1:1 ratio. Feel free to keep a bin or two of excess toys out of the reach (and sight!) of your kiddo, and swap the toys out from time to time. This will keep the toys fresh and exciting while still keeping the task of clean up doable.

Note from the Mamas: We’re going to keep picking Amber’s brain for organizing advice over the next few months, so be sure to watch for those upcoming posts. And next week, we’ll host an AWESOME giveaway from The Organizer Chicks that you do NOT want to miss. Look for it on Monday, January 16th. Until then, get more info about what Amber’s company offers by clicking here.

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Meet The Domestic Musician: This former public school music teacher is taking her lessons to kids online

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Guest post by Jessica Peresta, The Domestic Musician

For several years, I taught elementary music for Tulsa public schools, taught private piano lessons, and played as an accompanist for Tulsa Children’s Chorus and Boston Avenue children’s choir.

I had our first  little boy and went back to work, found out my school would be closing at the end of that current school year, found out my husband would be  starting a new job at Walmart and we would be moving to Northwest  Arkansas, and THEN found out I was pregnant with our second little boy.

After moving here and going on to have yet another little boy a couple years later, I felt ready to shift back into teaching music and wanted a way for me to still teach, yet be able to stay home with my little guys.

I have several homeschool mom friends who would ask me questions about what to do with the music portion of their curriculum or stay at home moms who wanted music ideas who just wanted general music ideas for the home. I also knew of several schools that had no music program and it broke my heart because the benefits of a quality music education are so important. So…The Domestic Musician site was born and I couldn’t be more excited.

I started my blog as a way to bring music into any home or school that needs it, wants it, or can benefit from it. I have music education videos recorded and plan to launch a beginning piano course in the next few months. Music teachers in the schools and private lesson instructors are doing amazing things and I support them wholeheartedly. My goal is to offer another option for those who would rather learn online from the
comfort of their own homes.

Teaching music is my passion and there are so many benefits of learning music. Music is a universal language that anyone can understand. It is so awesome to me that anyone can listen to the same piece of instrumental music, no matter what their spoken language is, and can hear the same
sounds and experience similar feelings.

  • Kids who struggle in other academic subjects, like math or reading, can feel successful when participating in music.
  • Any sporting event, movie, commercial, or even shopping in a store would be so bland without music to listen to an experience.
  • Music can be found in science, math, reading, writing, foreign language, and social studies. From the science of sound, to counting rhythms, to following a music score that includes notes and words, to learning rhyming poems, to learning an opera in another language, to the study of the composers who have come from all around the world.
  • Music uses parts of the brain where attention spans and predicting things are involved.
  • Music helps children express themselves and experience feelings they didn’t know they had.

the-domesict-musician-kidsSo have you always wanted to incorporate music into your home, but you don’t know what to do? I think so many parents do not realize how simple teaching music to their kids can be. Everyday household objects can be used as instruments, music can be sang, and music can be danced
to. I have listed below some simple music tips that are simple to implement in any home.

Sing:

music-lessonWhile rocking your baby, sing a simple lullaby or any song, really. It is so neat when you hear the baby cooing back to your song. Toddlers and preschoolers love to sing simple songs.

Ideas include “Old McDonald had a Farm”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, “This Old Man”, and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. As a parent, teach the child the motions to the song and sing right along with them. I promise you that your child doesn’t care what you sound like or what you look like. They WILL love the interaction and being able to experience music with you.

Sing a story. What I mean by this is, instead of reading a book, sing a book. Make up a simple melody and sing the words. My kids love doing this with me and they think they are writing their own song.

Sing about life. While doing laundry, eating, playing, going on a walk, washing dishes, or anything else going on in your daily life, make up a song! It makes life so much more fun. One day we were eating lunch, and my kids and I made up a silly song all about sandwiches and chips and I heard them singing it the rest of the day.

Play your child’s favorite song on the radio and sing right along with it. Some kids may be shy or afraid to sing because they don’t think they sound very good. Here’s the deal. Your child’s singing voice can be developed, it just takes time. Don’t push it. I’ve seen students go  from not being able to carry a tune in a bucket, to being in the honor choir. If a child has never experienced hearing themselves sing, it is unfamiliar and with time, they will be belting out a tune at the top of their lungs.

Move:

Have a dance party. My kids and I love to play music and dance all over the house. It is so fun to see them let their hair down and the creative dance moves they come up with. They LOVE to see me dance with them too. Another fun activity to do is to play freeze dance. This is when your child dances, you pause scarfthe music and they have to freeze until the music plays again. Kids love this game and it is a perfect rainy day activity.

Give your child a scarf. Tell them to experiment with moving it high, low, fast, and slow and they can twirl it around, wiggle it, or wave it.

Make your body the instrument. Kids can pat their legs, snap their fingers, clap their hands, or stomp their feet to the music. While listening to a song, call out a different body percussion for the child to use. They could also walk around the room while doing these different body percussions.

Play:

Play music with household items. Give a baby some wrapping paper. They will love hearing the different sounds crinkling the paper makes. Household items to play as instruments are: plastic bowl and spoon, metal spoons that can be hit together, the floor with a spoon, a bucket used as a drum, rice put in a plastic bowl with a lid can be used as a shaker, and rubberbands on a kleenex box can be used as a guitar.

Start music lessons. When your child starts learning to read (usually 5 or 6), is the perfect age to start a music lesson. I usually recommend starting with piano lessons before moving onto guitar, drums, or whatever instrument they choose. The reason why I suggest waiting until 5 or 6 is that the child will be reading music notation and will need to be able to think about several things at the same time: playing the keys, counting rhythms, reading notation, curving hands, proper sitting, etc.

I hope these suggestions help you get started with implementing music in the home. Remember that music does not need to be complicated, it just needs to be experienced. Have fun with it and come up with your own ideas on bringing music into your home.

For more ideas, head over to thedomesticmusician.com.

headshot-jessica-the-domestic-musicianMORE ABOUT JESSICA PERESTA:  I am a wife, mom of 3 boys, pianist, and music educator. Every child should be given an opportunity to learn music through lessons (traditional or online), home music education, and in the schools. Read more here: website-thedomesticmusician.com (also find me on facebook, instagram, pinterest, and twitter). To subscribe, click here: watch.thedomesticmusician.com.

Northwest Arkansas Holiday Shopping Guide: Stocking Stuffers

stocking-stuffers-headerKindness and Joy Toys

No matter how old your kids are, they still love digging into their stockings on Christmas morning to see what small but special gifts might be hidden in there. For some new ideas for stocking stuffers, we asked Lindsay Ramsey, owner of one of the hottest new toy stores in Northwest Arkansas — Kindness & Joy Toys.

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Tenzi: Everyone gets ten dice. Someone says “Go.” Then everyone rolls and rolls as fast as they can until someone gets all their dice on the same number. Tenzi is recommended for ages 7 to 97 but can be adapted for players younger than 7 under supervision with the dice. This quick, entertaining game is a great after-dinner activity. Cost is $15. Click here for more info.

Watchitude: Watchitude watches have comfortable silicon slap bands that are printed in full photographic color images. Watchitude watches come in a wide range of colors and patterns, making it the perfect gift for a variety of ages. (Gwen bought one for her daughter and liked it so much she wanted to wear it herself!) Cost is $20. Check out the shop’s Instagram page to see a video of the Watchitude slap watch in action.

Where to shop: Kindness and Joy Toys doesn’t have a store front, so you can ship the toys to your house or to the person receiving the gift. (She gift wraps! Hurray!) Also, Kindness and Joy will have a Pop-Up Shop at Sara Kathryn’s in Fayetteville on December 10th from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (if you want to order now and pick up at that event.) They’ll also be at Shop For Mankind/3 Monkeys in Rogers on Thursday, December 15th from 10-2, if you’d like to order and pick up there.

How to contact: Visit website by clicking here; Message via Facebook; Find it on Instagram; Email owner by clicking here.

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stocking-stuffers-bubble-fizz-collage2Bubble and Fizz Shop

Left: We fell in LOVE with these Duckie Bath Cupcakes when we saw them at the NWA Boutique Show. We bought several of them for the kids and tweens/teens on our Christmas list. The bottom part of this bath cupcake is a fizzy bath bomb, and the frosting is a solid bubble bath. (Use both for one bath or use one part at a time for two separate baths.) The rubber duckie separates easily from the frosting, and the ducks are available in green, blue, yellow or orange. (During the holidays, you can even get duckies that are wearing scarves and winter hats!) The scent smells like tropical fruits, sugared oranges, lemons, limes and mountain greens. Cost is $6 per cupcake.

Right: What if your kids’ bubble bath soap was squishable and squeezable — something they could shape, mold and play with in the tub? That’s exactly what Bubble Dough can do! It’s a lot like that other famous “dough” kids play with, only this one will help them look forward to bath time and get them clean even when they think they’re just playing. This handmade soap is gentle, light-lathering and available in scents including tutti fruitti, grape, lemon, orange, cherry and even fresh cut grass! It comes in a resealable container so you can save any leftover dough for the next bath. Cost is $2.75 for a 2 oz. ball of dough.

Where to shop: Bubble and Fizz Shop is a new local business doing pop-up shops at regional craft fairs, but you can always shop online at the Bubble and Fizz Shop (on Etsy) or message the owner via Facebook with questions and/or info about your order. NOTE: Bubble and Fizz Shop will be at the Wampus Wonderland Holiday Arts and Crafts Show on December 10th (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Free admission. There will be arts, crafts, food, music, and bubble and fizz!

How to contact: Visit the website; Follow on Instagram; See more on Facebook.

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