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

tv fast

By Shannon Magsam, nwaMotherlode.com co-founder

The 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 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 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 (this one filled with Starks and thrones and back-stabbing, oh my!).

But the TV fast was so successful that our family will be doing it again this summer.

shan, blue dress, circleWant to join us? Let me know in comments if you’re willing to take the plunge — or if you’ve lived through a TV fast in the past.

Advice from moms to moms-to-be

baby shower, advice

For a recent giveaway, we asked Northwest Arkansas moms if they’d share some advice they wished someone had given them before their first baby was born.

Below a list of the advice, wish is so, so good. (So good that Shannon printed it out, added a little ribbon and gave it to a mom-to-be at a recent baby shower):

Q: What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were about to have your first baby?

Renee: Heating the crib a little with a heating pad before you put baby in will often keep a warm sleeping baby from waking up, and keep a blow dryer by the changing table, if you dry their little bottoms when you change them it will help prevent diaper rash.

Stacye: Don’t let anyone make you feel like a bad mother (relatives especially) and remember, this is YOUR baby, not theirs.

Lisa: Always have a bottle of water in your diaper bag, you never know when you will need it!!!!

Jan: Sleep when the baby sleeps!

Holly: You and your partner should agree on the way you will parent. The fact that both of us wanted a parent-led environment, wanted to keep her on a routine and neither of us wanted to co-sleep meant we had a super easy time adjusting to having a baby. We were married 13 years before getting pregnant and it wasn’t a difficult adjustment for us.

Stacey: If possible, have your husband or someone else stay with you for longer than 2 days once you get home from the hospital.

Desiree: Every parent is different just because one does it in a certain way doesn’t mean you have to do it that way…. Also, you will learn the different cries as time goes by.

Velva: Best advice I ever got was to hang a shirt you had worn that day over the edge of the crib. Baby thinks you’re nearby and sleeps longer. Worked like a charm on our twins.

Cori: It’s okay for the baby to cry! Put them in a safe spot and take a breather.

Lindsay: I wish someone had told me how little of sleep I was going to get. I was mad that my relatives didn’t warn me!

Abby: Listen to your instincts. Even though this is your first child, you know best.

Jordan: Don’t mess with sleepers with snaps or buttons, stick with gowns or zip sleepers ONLY!

Jamie: Babies sense stress! If you’re stressed or nervous, your baby may easily get upset. Just relax, breathe, & think “everything is gonna be alright!” Also, you can read all the parenting books in the world but nothing prepares you more until once that baby is in your arms! Go with your gut & instinct!

Brandy: First-time moms tend to get quite a bit of help in the beginning from family, church, friends, etc with all kinds of things (food, cleaning…) and when that ends it can be overwhelming at times. It’s okay to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed!! I wish I had known, people are willing to help!

Sandra: I wish someone would have told me that the baby stage goes so fast…. to enjoy the middle of the night feedings when all is quiet and seems perfect. There will be time to catch up on sleep later… just enjoy all the sweet embracing.

Christie: A lot of people will give you advice, but always go with your gut feeling and what your pediatrician says!

Carolyn: Chill out.

Shannon: Buy lots of Mylicon. You will need it! Oh, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re going to “spoil” your baby by picking him up too much. It will help him grow up to be a secure person :)

What advice would you give a mom-to-be?

Review: NWA Mobile Detailing

rav 4

By Shannon Magsam, nwaMotherlode

I was never going to eat in it.

That new car smell would be preserved for months. Years! The pristine mats would never be stained and disgusting. The gear shift would never be covered in goo.

That was the first week I had my new car (a Toyota RAV4, like the one pictured above). During week two, my daughter and I were hustling to an activity where we wouldn’t be able to eat for a while and I caved.

Fast food was eaten in the car and all bets were off after The First Time.

nwa mobile detailingThat was a few years ago and, as a mom, I know you know what it looks like now.  To celebrate the fact that I will pay the car off this month (actually TODAY! TODAY!) I called NWA Mobile Detailing about turning back the clock on my nasty vehicle.

Owner Zack Roller agreed to let me review his services as trade for a deep interior clean. I’ve never had a car detailed, so I thought it would be an interesting experience. Zack is pretty new to the business and has never had his services reviewed by a blogger, so he thought it would be an interesting experience.

The first step? I needed to shovel out the car. I knew Zack wouldn’t be able to clean the upholstery and floor mats if they were covered in STUFF when he arrived.

I tossed the trash and put everything else in plastic bags to go through later. I was astonished at the things I found in my vehicle:

  • Books (so that’s where that overdue library book was hiding!)
  • A tennis ball lodged underneath my daughter’s seat
  • CDs. So many CDs.
  • Sonic straws. Sonic straws with paper on. Sonic straws without paper. Sonic paper with no straws inside.
  • Hair accessories from 3rd grade on.
  • Years-old receipts.
  • Years-old to-do lists.
  • A Christmas gift list from 2010.
  • Something sticky in the driver’s side pocket.

After I picked everything up, the dirt underneath was even easier to see:

Rav before collage

Zack worked for about two hours on my dirty RAV4, then called me outside to check out the improvements:

rav after collage

Don’t you just love before/after pictures? Click here to see more of Zack’s before and after shots on his Facebook page. Pretty impressive! Not only were my mats awful, my seats were covered in stains and greasy smears (mostly in the back seat, of course, where the kids hang out).

PROS:

♦ Zack showed up on time in my driveway on the appointed day (we’d had to initially reschedule several times because of rain, but that wasn’t his fault). He was courteous and kind, introduced me to his girlfriend Stephanie (who often helps out) and they got straight to work.

♦ He came to ME. I stayed inside and worked at my desk while he and Stephanie worked outside. I didn’t hear a peep until he rang the doorbell to tell me he was finished (although I did walk out once to see if they wanted something to drink. I’m Southern, after all).

♦ He steam cleaned the upholstery and carpets, cleaned the dashboard and other surfaces (windows included) and used pressurized air to blow all the gunk out.

CONS:

♦ I made the mistake of keeping all the doors and windows closed after Zack left and it smelled musty the first time I got in. I kept the windows down for a while, put in a carton of baking soda and now it smells good.

♦ There were still a few stains here and there  (but I don’t blame him — they were no doubt completely ground in).

The rest of the story: The first time I got into my car after the Big Deep Clean, I just sat there for a while, basking in the loveliness.

kind barI happened to be on my way to an event and I realized halfway there I was starving. Not cool, as it would probably be a while before I could eat.

I remembered that I had a Kind bar in my purse.

And then I looked down at my clean carpets and the lack of crumbs in the gear shift and decided I could wait to eat when I was OUTSIDE my car.

But by the next exit, I had gingerly opened the Kind bar packaging. I ate it very, very slowly, not dropping  a single crumb.

I’m going to need to call Zack again in a few months, right?

rav mobile detailing truck

The Party Place: Inexpensive, personalized banners for your family events

party place logoWhen we were visiting The Party Place recently we noticed some adorable banners, including one that had a picture of a baby on one side and on the other side, a picture of that baby all grown up and graduating from high school. SWEET.

It was for the graduate’s family party and we thought it was genius, especially when the owner said it only cost $19.99.

We started thinking of all the possibilities for before and after pics on banners. What about a pic with braces and a pic without a few years later? Getting braces off is a great reason to party ;)

If you design your own (visit the Party Place website here to see more about it) you save $5 (bringing the price down to $19.99). You can ask for help designing, of course, or you can DIY. You just choose a professional design, personalize it, order it and pick it up at The Party Place Store (in Rogers, over by Pinnacle Hills Promenade Mall). You can look through a library filled with layouts and simply change text, font, colors, add clip art, what you want it to say and much more. You can upload personal photos to personalize your banner.

Here’s a cute example of a personalized banner that The Party Place made for a 1-year-old’s birthday party:

party place birthday

It only takes 3 days to process your order.

The banners can be used at birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, retirement, welcome home parties, to name a few. They also make lawn signs. Anyone having a baby?

The Party Place also makes photo collages like this one:

party place banner graduationThe Party places also has balloons, party supplies and decor, custom napkin engraving and more. Click here to visit The Party Place website or call them at 479-230-9494. If you stop by, tell them you saw their ad on Motherlode!

Looking for summer activities?

summer ready set

We hope your summer is off to a great start!

We know it can be challenging to keep the kids entertained during summer vacation. So here’s a list of resources that are full of ideas for fun things to do this summer with the kids.

Just click on each article below to get the full scoop. Hope this helps you plan for a safe, fun, memorable summer. :-)

Summer Camp Guide

Modern Mission Laser Tag’s new indoor battlefield

The Jones Center Summer Camps

Nerdies camps for smart, unique kids

Summer Fun Activities Printable

How to keep the yard mosquito-free

Looking for swim lessons in NWA?

June Calendar of Events

Best snowcone stands in NWA

Fun workshops at Fayetteville Public Library

Dance summer camps

Ozark Natural Science Center Camps

Make a summer bucket list + 25 things to do

Family Fun Nights at the NWA Mall every Tuesday in June

Is there anything you would add to the list? Click on the comment button below and fill us in!

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