Fasting from TV for one week this summer: Why you’ll be glad you did

tv fast

By Shannon Magsam, nwaMotherlode.com co-founder

Summer-Remix4The summer I turned 17, I traveled across the United States (and Bermuda – hard job!) in a huge tour bus with a Christian group called the Continental Singers.

I was one of the youngest among the group of singers, guitarists, drummers, other band members, directors and sound techs. We were often in a different city every night and stayed with host families from the churches where we performed, everywhere from Florida to Texas.

When I returned home just before my senior year in high school, I realized I hadn’t watched television – or seen a movie (nobody had Facebook back then) – the whole summer. And then I realized I hadn’t missed it one little bit.

My family recently went on vacation and about mid-way through I mentioned (with a little surprise) to my husband that we hadn’t watched television in our hotel room at all. He told me he had consciously not turned it on. We decided we’d continue to literally unplug for the remainder of our trip.

It turned out to be an awesome idea.

Want to join us one week this summer in a TV fast? Here’s why you’ll be glad you did:

Top 5 reasons to unplug (so you can plug in to your family – and yourself. Remember you?)

You’ll be more connected. Without the television’s numbing qualities, you’ll naturally talk more to your family — and get to know each other better. You’ll think of deeper things to ask besides, “How was your day?” and “What do you want for dinner?” You might even ask your husband or kids something like, “What’s making you happy lately?” or “What’s making you unhappy?”

paint brushYou’ll be more creative. Chances are, with the extra time you would normally spend sitting on the couch, passive, you might realize you can work on a project you’ve been hoping to tackle. My daughter drew in her sketchbook a lot while we were in Florida and I wrote down ideas for future blog posts (and even jotted down a few ideas for a novel I’d love to write). Getting reacquainted with out our creative genius is grounding and finishing a project can be really rewarding (painting project done, craft with the kids completed, clean garage shining, organized office beckoning).

You’ll be less stressed. Have you ever heard of second-hand stress? It’s a real thing. If you sit next to someone at work who’s a stress ball, you’ll start to internalize it and feel anxiety, too. And like second-hand cigarette smoke, that stuff can kill you. I get stressed while watching TV shows, too. I’m naturally empathetic and if there’s an emotional or violent scene, I’m right there with the wronged party. I can literally feel my blood pressure rise and I often pace the living room when certain scenes fill the screen. And while you’re fasting from television, why not also take a break from the Internet (social media, that is; I know some of you have to use a computer at work). Research shows that as time spent on reading Facebook increases, for example, the more a person’s happiness decreases. Social comparisons are not your friend.

You’ll be a better parent. How many times do you shoo your kids out of the room when you’re watching a TV show that’s not really age appropriate for them? I’m picky about what my daughter sees and it seems like she happens to walk through every time something inappropriate pops up on, say, The Big Bang Theory. There will be 10 full minutes that are completely fine for her to watch, then watch out: a zinger. Or heck, the commercials can make me cringe more these days than some of the TV shows. The other day we were all watching some completely innocuous TV show and the commercial for the movie “Sex Tape” came on. It was horrifying for me and my daughter.

You’ll have more s*x. When you’re not sitting like a zombie in front of the TV, you’ll have more time for lots of activities, including some that involve your husband. S*x is healthy. It strengthens your relationship, it naturally boosts your mood, and it burns calories.

#winning.

Now, I won’t lie: The night we got home from vacation, we grabbed our favorite snacks and sat rapt in front of the boob tube. And it was glorious. It was nice to zone out and travel to another world.

But the TV fast was so successful that our family will be doing it again this summer. Not the WHOLE summer, but a few weeks is a good thing!

The best snow cone stands in Northwest Arkansas!

snow cone sliderSummer-Remix4There seems to be a snow cone stand on every corner right now, which makes us HAPPY. We love a sweet, syrupy snow cone in the summer!

That said, we polled our Facebook friends to find the best snow cones in NWA. They suggested several great ones plus we went out and did a little research of our own over the weekend.

We found these cuties at Shave the Planet (in the Hobby Lobby parking lot) on College Avenue in Fayetteville. They are eating Funky Monkey, Invisible Cherry and Root Beer. Isn’t “invisible” cherry a genius idea? Right after we snapped this pic, the little girl in the middle spilled it right down the front of her outfit. Wet and sticky, yes, but not red!

sno cone kids, resized

Shave the Planet has multiple locations in NWA. Here’s a current list of where you can find them:

Fayetteville
744 Joyce Blvd
(In the Mattress Firm parking lot next to Walgreens)

3078 N College Ave
(Next to the Bank of Fayetteville and Hobby Lobby)

Springdale
1308 N Thompson
(Across from AQ Chicken & Kum and Go)

2940 W Sunset Ave
In front of Malco Theater and Harps

Why don’t you join us in eating at as many snow cone stands as possible around NWA?! Here’s a short list of recommended stops (updated for 2015):

Did we miss your favorite? Tell us about it comments so we’ll all know where to find it! We’d also love to know your favorite flavor!

Sam's Snow Cones

Looking for a new series to watch on Netflix this summer?

netflix, cropped

We recently asked our nwaMotherlode. com Facebook friends about their favorite shows to watch on Netflix.

If you’re looking for a series to binge-watch this summer, you might try a few of these series suggestion. Some are a little “older”, but if you never watched them, now could be the time!

nwaMotherlode Readers’ Top Picks:

Call the Midwife

About: Set in the 1950s, this period drama based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth follows new midwife Jenny Lee and the other midwives and nuns working in a nursing convent in an impoverished section of London’s East End.

parenthood

About: Four grown siblings juggle parenthood, relationships, careers and more as they cope with life’s ups and downs in this family drama set in Berkeley, Calif. Meanwhile, their parents face an unraveling marriage and their own parenting challenges.

west wing

About: Winning four consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, creator Aaron Sorkin’s powerful political epic chronicles the triumphs and travails of White House senior staff under the administration of President Josiah Bartlet.

orange

About: From the creator of “Weeds” comes a heartbreaking and hilarious series set in a women’s prison. Piper trades her comfortable life for an orange jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.

bob's burgers

About: In this animated series, hamburger restaurant owner Bob Belcher, his happy-go-lucky wife, Linda, and their three rambunctious kids try to outwit a rival eatery and overcome their own family dysfunction to get their greasy spoon off the ground.

raising hope

About: Slacker Jimmy suddenly finds himself a father after a one-night stand with a murderer, but his eccentric family — including his dim-bulb father, sarcastic mother and addled great-grandmother — reluctantly pitches in to help with the new arrival.

breaking bad

About: Emmy winner Bryan Cranston stars as Walter White, a high school science teacher who learns that he has terminal lung cancer and teams with a former student to manufacture and sell high-quality crystal meth to secure his family’s future.

house of cards

About: Ruthless politician Francis Underwood and his ambitious wife Claire will stop at nothing to conquer Washington D.C. in this dark political drama, winner of three Emmy Awards, including Best Director, and a Golden Globe for Best Actress.

arrow

About: This adaptation of the story of DC Comics’ Green Arrow stars Stephen Amell as the titular character, an affluent playboy who becomes an archer superhero at night, saving the city from villains armed with just a bow and arrows.

once upon a time

About: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin and Robert Carlyle star in this fantastical series that follows the travails of a young woman who is drawn to a small Maine town and discovers that it’s filled with the mystical elements of the fairy tale world.

dr. who

About: After more than a decade off the air, this epic sci-fi series returns with an all-new look — and the ninth (and beyond) incarnation of everybody’s favorite time-traveling Doctor, who promptly sets about fighting nefarious aliens and other foes.

sherlock

About: In this updated take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved mystery tales, the eccentric sleuth prowls the streets of modern-day London in search of clues. At his side — though hobbling — is flatmate Dr. John Watson, fresh from the war in Afghanistan.

freaks and geeks

About: A group of high school students in 1980 faces various social struggles. Lindsay Weir rebels and begins hanging out with a crowd of burnouts, courtesy of an invitation from Daniel Desario.

the walking dead

About: In the wake of a zombie apocalypse that desolates the world as we know it, a group of survivors led by police officer Rick Grimes holds on to the hope of humanity by banding together to wage a never-ending fight for their own survival.

scandal

About: Olivia Pope leads a team of Washington, D.C., lawyers who specialize in making scandals disappear. As they secretly handle crises at the highest levels of government, the dysfunctional team must also cope with problems closer to home.

revenge

About: Inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, this modern-day drama follows a lovely young woman who moves to the Hamptons and charms the pants off her new neighbors — while plotting their downfall for sins committed against her family.

Summer-Remix4Here’s to a little downtime. Happy watching, mamas :) If you’d like to join our fun conversations on Facebook, click here! Note: We’re republishing this post because it was so popular — and we know some mamas may have missed it!

2015 Northwest Arkansas Summer Fun Printable!

One of the worst phrases a parent can hear from their kids over the summer is, “I’m bored”.

That’s why we rounded up a list of fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas in this UPDATED 2015 Summer Fun Printable. We also added a few summer camp ideas (click here for a more detailed list of 2015 camps with links and descriptions), rainy day ideas and annual events that happen every summer here.

We couldn’t include everything, of course, because that would fill an entire book! But if we missed one of your VERY FAVORITES, click on the words “post a comment” below and tell us what your family loves doing in the summer here in NWA.

CLICK HERE to print out the Summer Fun list. Stick it on the fridge as a reminder of all your options, no matter what your mood.

Summer Fun Printable 2015

Savvy Banking: How should I start saving for my child’s college?

savvybanking FNBNWA use this

In this new nwaMotherlode segment, Savvy Banking, you’ll find the answers to your most pressing money questions.

Local moms asked lots of questions in last week’s $50 Visa shopping card giveaway (courtesy of FNBNWA) and financial experts will answer them here — in this new money category.

Many of you wanted to know the answer to this question: How do I begin to start saving for my child’s college?

Don Paul, an investment executive with First National Investment Services, offers some good advice here:

Saving for your child’s college education can be a very difficult and tiring journey. It’s already challenging to save money for any purpose, but putting the money in the right places to save for college funding can make it even tougher.

Before you get overwhelmed with this challenging task, let’s break it down to smaller, more manageable tasks.

Step 1: Determine what to save each month.

piggy bankLook over your budget and come up with a dollar amount that you are comfortable saving each month. The amount may be small, which is perfectly fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day! If it’s $25 a month and that is all you can do, then start saving that $25. You can always increase the amount later!

Step 2: Determine where to invest the savings.

There are two good options. One is the 529 College Savings Plan account. This account can be started with as little as $25. There are very strong tax savings to this type of account for now and for the time when you pull the money out for college.

A very important note on the 529 Plan is that the money can only be used for “Qualified College Expenses” which is primarily tuition, room & board and books. There are many things that a college student needs and uses that would not be considered “Qualified Expenses” so you must be careful with how you save for this account.

The 529 Plan is a very popular option however it may not necessarily be the best option for you and your situation.  Don’t be too quick to open one of these without looking into the next option.

The next option for College Savings is the UTMA account or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. This is a great place to save money for college but also for all types of expenses that a child will have during Jr. High, High School and College.

There is no restriction on what you can use the money for as long as it is for the benefit of the child. The UTMA account is opened under the child’s social security number so none of the taxes related to the account would be a burden on the parents.  This account can also be opened with as little as $25.  It is just more flexible and a very good option for college savings.

Step 3: Get Started

Like most things, the hardest part of executing any plan can be making the first step and getting the plan into motion. After completing the first two steps, all you have to do is press play!

My encouragement would be to sit down with a financial advisor and discuss these options and figure out the best option for you. Our children are not getting younger and every day that goes by is moving them closer to that first day of college classes. Start savings for their college education today.

You won’t regret it!

Don Paul, FNBDon Paul is an investment executive for First National Investment Services. He has been working with individuals and families in the areas of financial services for over 23 years specializing in Financial and Retirement Planning. Don is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and is the father to three boys. He and his wife Terri live in Fayetteville.

The fine print: Arkansas Insurance Producer License #32555 located at 3706 Pinnacle Hills Pkwy, Rogers, AR 72757. Securities and Insurance Products offered through Cetera Investment Services LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.

Advisory services are officered through Cetera Investment Advisors LLC. Neither Cetera Investment Services nor Cetera Investment Advisors is affiliated with the financial institution where investment services are offered. Investments are: Not FDIC Insured ·  No bank guarantee ·  May lose value ·  Not a deposit ·  Not insured by any federal government agency