Devotion in Motion: The Apple of My Eye

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Luke 10:38 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

johnny-appleseed-plate.jpgWhen I was in the second grade, my class read a story about Johnny Appleseed. After that, I wanted to learn all I could about Johnny Appleseed. More than that, I wanted to be Johnny Appleseed.

I must have told some of my friends about my wish, because I remember them ribbing me about it on the playground. I can still hear them as they would come up behind me and sing at the top of their lungs, “JOHNNY CASH….PLANTS POISON APPLES!” You might think this is the sort of thing people go into counseling for when they’re grown or weep about on the Montel Williams Show. But, really, I appreciated their teasing and it always made me laugh. You see, they understood my love for Johnny Appleseed. They knew it would be cool to be Johnny Appleseed, but their joke was that if I had the opportunity to become him I would just louse it up.

It surprises some people that Johnny Appleseed was a genuine historical figure. His real name was John Chapman, and he did go from place to place planting apple trees, many in places were there were no apple trees before. He wore cast-off clothing and was a Christian missionary. Most of the paintings of him depict him as carrying a Bible, having a leather bag of apple seeds slung over his shoulder, and wearing a cooking pot on his head for a hat.

Forty years have passed by since I was in the second grade, but I still have a special place in my heart for John Chapman. Here are some reasons I think we would be wise to imitate his life:

1. He lived a life of simplicity. Why have both a hat and cookware when your cooking pan will protect your head from the elements during the day, and you can take it off and use it to heat a can of Spaghetti-O’s at night? Our culture says that more is always better, but when it comes down to it, the opposite is often true. Physical clutter and emotional, spiritual baggage drain us of our vitality. Clean up, clean out, de-junk, forgive, forget, and live better. Less is more. Simplicity is elegance.

2. He took the Lord with him always. We are foolish when we think God is not acting in our best interests and when we think we’ll be happier doing things our way instead of His. It didn’t work for Adam and Eve, and it won’t work for us. God’s way is the best way.

3. He went about doing good. He planted apple trees everywhere he went. Now, that is a relatively small thing in the vast scheme of things, but what if everyone had a holy obsession? What a wonderful place this earth would become!

As you begin this new week, remember Johnny Appleseed, and follow the example of our Saviour, Jesus. “He went about doing good.”

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” (Sing that to the title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church, where they quite often make a pan of apple dumplings (using Tom Rockwood’s wonderful recipe). You can cheer him with a note at extramailbox@juno.com.

The Rockwood Files: Here Comes the Rings

By Gwen Rockwood, columnist and mama of 3

At any wedding, there are at least three people who are really, really nervous – the bride (because she wants everything to go perfectly), her mother (because her daughter wants everything to go perfectly), and the parents of the ring bearer or flower girl (because their kid might be the one who jackringresize.JPGcreates a big, un-perfect scene).

I know this because I’m the mother of a ring bearer fresh off his debut performance, and I unconsciously held my breath for the duration of the hour-long ceremony. I don’t know why I was so nervous, seeing as how we’ve done this before when our oldest son bore the rings in a family wedding two years ago. But this wedding was different because this time the bride tapped our middle child for the honor, and my little Jack has a knack for the unexpected.

While our oldest boy is a meticulous planner and rule follower, 4-year-old Jack likes to fly by the seat of his Spiderman Underoos. He’s a passionate, headstrong kid who rarely meets an impulse he won’t follow. When he was 2, he went through an extended “naked phase,” and I’d often find a trail of his clothes leading to a little nude toddler sitting amongst a pile of Lego blocks. One time when he was 3 and potty training, he had a wetting accident while at the Chick-fil-A indoor playground. Instead of stopping to alert me about it, he simply stripped off his wet undies and kept on playing “au naturale” from the waist down. Since he turned 4 last spring, he has occasionally been frozen by shyness and hides behind my legs when it’s time to meet someone new.

Knowing all this, my husband and I did all we could do to prepare him for the big day. We talked about the tuxedo and the church full of people, and we helped him practice the official wedding walk several times each week. He was so excited about being the “ring bear” and seemed ready for it.

I knew the wedding would be fine despite any antics Jack might pull, but that didn’t stop me from having this internal dialogue in the moments before the wedding started: “Who knows what he might do? Tuxedos can get kind of hot in the middle of August. What if he drops his pants and streaks down the aisle with rings in hand? What if he asks loudly for a juice box in the middle of the vows? What if he gets scared by all the new faces and hides behind the priest’s robes?” A mother’s imagination can do a real number on her nerves.

Thankfully, none of that happened. What I watched last Saturday was a lovely ceremony, from start to finish, and during his small part of it was my boy – walking strong and steady down the aisle. He never looked to me for an encouraging nod or thumbs-up sign. He didn’t need to. With some helpful nudging from the groomsmen, he followed the cues and did his job in style. As the ceremony ended, I watched him proudly march back down the aisle with a smile of satisfaction for what he’d done.

During dinner at the wedding reception, I sat across the table from my debonair boy and marveled at how much older he seemed. Maybe it was the sharp tuxedo he was wearing or the way he held his champagne glass full of apple juice, but suddenly it hit me that he’s really growing up – whether I’m ready or not. In another year, he’ll start kindergarten and I’ll have to watch from the sidelines as he begins a 12-year march to independence. That feeling of bittersweet anxiety mixed with pride gave me a brief glimpse into how it must feel to be the parents of the bride and groom – to see the babies who are your life’s work become wonderful, kind-hearted adults ready to embrace a commitment as serious as marriage.

Perhaps in a couple of decades, it’ll be my turn to watch Jack take that all-important step. But for now, I’m glad I still have time to hold him in my lap, tickle him before bedtime and fetch his juice boxes from the fridge. Life goes by so fast, and, more than anything else, a childhood should be savored.

Shops on the Move!

movingtruck.gifTwo popular shops in the Bentonville/Rogers area are on the move, and here’s where they’re headed. B LaRue, known for great gifts, Razorback items and much more, is moving to the Bentonville Square at 109 N. Main. The ladies were busy packing boxes this week and said they’ll celebrate their re-opening September 5th.

All About Her, which sells bras, panties, lingerie, casual clothes and more, has left its Village on the Creeks location for a new space in The Shoppes at Pinnacle Hills. As of Aug. 29, the shop is open in the space previously occupied by 3 Monkeys.

Great Date Giveaway: We have a winner!

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Congratulations to Steffi Kellam of Fayetteville! She and her husband are officially headed for a Great Date! Steffi won Motherlode’s Great Date Giveaway — two tickets to the Walton Arts Center and dinner at Bordinos Italian restaurant.

“I’ll start working on finding a babysitter tonight!” said Steffi, mom to Katie, 7, Lucy, 4, and 2-year-old Sam.

Steffi and her family moved to Fayetteville from Dallas just a little over a year ago and have no family around to make date nights a common occurrence. Steffi was psyched about dinner and a show, especially with the line-up.

“We love the Walton Arts Center and we love Bordinos,” she said. “Signing up for this contest was a no-brainer. Of course I was entering for this!”

Steffi has only been to Bordinos once for her 10th wedding anniversary. “I totally look forward to a second visit,” she said.

Steffi is a stay-at-home mom who was previously an epidemiologist for the California Department of Health’s tuberculosis control branch. She found out she was pregnant the first time while she and her husband were living in Argentina and she was telecommuting. Steffi’s husband works for General Electric, a Wal-Mart supplier.

Steffi enjoys reading, walking and swimming (when she can make it to the gym). She loves that there are so many family-friendly places and events in NWA. “This environment is ideal for kids. We’re really enjoying our time here,” she said.

Steffi is originally from Bolivia. Her mother is Bolivian and Steffi’s father met his future wife while in the Peace Corps. Steffi lived there until she was 12, then moved to the U.S. So when you ask her where she’s from, her standard answer is: “From all over the place.”

The Motherlode mamas want to extend a heartfelt “sorry!” to all of you who hoped to win the giveaway. Just remember that we have many more giveaways up our sleeve (hint: a really cool one is coming up next month). And for those of you who want to check out The Second City: DeFace the Nation on Sept. 5, tickets range from $20-$32 and can be purchased by calling the Walton Arts Center Box Office at 479-443-5600 or by visiting waltonartscenter.org. Thanks again to WAC and Bordinos for sponsoring our Great Date Giveaway!

Great Date Giveaway: Win dinner and a show!

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You know what the only thing better than a great date is? A FREE Great Date! As in, free tickets to a great show at the Walton Arts Center. Heck, we’ll even throw in dinner at Bordinos Italian restaurant, just down the street. All you need to do is send us an e-mail at mamas@nwamotherlode.com, and we’ll put your name in the hat for the drawing. If you like, tell us why you really need a Great Date and we may publish your witty or heartfelt answer on the website soon. If you copy your friends on the e-mail to let them know about our site, we’ll put your name in the hat again for every friend you tell. Enter the drawing by 6 p.m. tonight (Thursday) so you’ll have a chance to win. Here’s a little more info about the show:

On Friday, September 5, Chicago’s legendary comedy improv theatre The Second City will appear at Walton Arts Center at 8 p.m. Deface the Nation is The Second City’s all-political revue with customized comedy for the election year. Featuring scenes and songs that poke fun at both political parties and a variety of pundits, The Second City proves that there’s no shortage of comedy coming out of Washington D.C. Tickets for The Second City: DeFace the Nation range from $20-$32 and can be purchased by calling the Walton Arts Center Box Office at 479-443-5600 or by visiting waltonartscenter.org.

Founded in Chicago in 1959, The Second City has become the premier training ground for the comedy world’s best and brightest. Their alumni list reads like a who’s who of American comedy, as it includes: Mike Nichols, Elain May, Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Peter Boyle, Harold Ramis, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, Martin Short, John Candy, Bonnie Hunt, Tim Meadows, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Horatio Sanz, Ryan Stiles and countless others.

Not only will an evening with The Second City provide audiences with the chance to see comedy stars in the making, but they will also have the opportunity to see absolutely hilarious satire and cutting-edge improvisation. From Bush to Clinton to Obama to the other Clinton, DeFace the Nation is a hilarious romp through the beltway and beyond. No topic or subject matter is off limits for The Second City. If your parents asked you not to speak about it at the dinner table, chances are it will be made fun of in an evening with The Second City.

Good luck, ladies! Don’t forget to e-mail us be 6 p.m. tonight. We’ll announce the winner on Friday.

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Hair: Help Me Rhonda

Dear Rhonda,

hairscissors1.jpgAlmost every time I get my hair cut, I have one side that ends up longer than the other. It was okay for the first 100 times or so, but now it’s just plain annoying. Is it okay to call my stylist and go back to have her cut one piece or should I tackle it all by myself? I really don’t know what to do. I don’t want to offend my stylist by questioning her work. HELP!

Dear Tweaker,

I definitely think your stylist should know you’re not completely happy. She may need to take a little more time with your cut to execute a precise length all over. Also, I would remind you and anyone who gets a cut to KEEP YOUR HEAD STRAIGHT AND YOUR FEET UNCROSSED! (I capitalize that part because we stylists would like to shout it from the rooftops.) Countless times, I’ll begin a cut and my client will start a big conversation, bobbing her head around and there I am, trying to chase her down like a two year old high on cupcake frosting. One time, a client kept tilting her head to one side so I’d push it back straight. But, in a nano-second, it was leaning again. I secretly wished I had a prop to hold it up!

Here are a few simple suggestions that might help you get a great cut from your stylist. As I already mentioned, keep your head straight and your legs uncrossed. Then, when she’s trying to get that precision cut just right, try not to talk to her too much. I know it sounds silly, but there IS a concentration factor at play here. If she’s chatting it up with you, then she may not be paying as much attention to the cut itself. Some stylists are great at multi-tasking and others just aren’t.

Never, and I mean NEVER, be afraid to contact your stylist for any reason. This is a service industry, and it’s your money. (I say this with a bit of hesitation because every stylist knows there’s at least one person out there who will get out her ruler and measure every single hair. That’s a little extreme.) But if you feel you’ve got a legitimate complaint and you’re self-conscious about it, call your stylist to fix it. Trust me, I’d much prefer to fix my own mistake than to have a client get upset because she took scissors into her own hands and things went terribly wrong.

Rhonda Moulder is a mama of two great daughters and is a stylist at Blue Door & Co. salon in downtown Bentonville. E-mail her a question at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com or give her a call at the salon at 479-273-9944. Have a happy hair day.

Life With Ladybug: Top Heavy

By Shannon, Ladybug’s mother

bigstockphoto_ladybug_2853358.jpgI have been in purge mode. The most recent victim was my bedroom closet. I went through and dragged out all those hanging clothes that I NEVER wear anymore. Near the end of my grab, un-hanger and toss frenzy, I came upon a crisp, white shirt with three little buttons at the top. Then I had one of those moments where your eyes suddenly well up with tears and your heart squeezes with sadness. Truly, I was absolutely overcome with emotion as I pulled the cotton top to my chest. That was the shirt I wore when I was newly pregnant, when no one but close family – and my husband, of course – knew that there was a tiny life growing inside me. Just a few weeks after I found out I was going to be somebody’s mother, that was one of the first “maternity” shirts I bought. It looked like a normal white button-down blouse, but the tag said otherwise. My little secret. Then my chest began to inflate and – this is the thought that sent me into a near-swoon – one day that shirt just didn’t fit anymore. When I couldn’t wear it anymore, when I had to graduate up to a bigger size, that’s when the enormity of the baby growing inside me became real. My swollen belly and burgeoning boobs were proof to me and everyone else that I was, as they say in the Bible, with child. That’s when we told other people, as if it wasn’t obvious, that I was expecting (can I just say that I’m 4’ 11” and began resembling a walking beach ball very early on?).

After I had pressed the shirt to me for a while, I got down to the next layer of forgotten maternity-wear: the bigger-in-the-boobs-and-belly clothes I wore throughout the exciting, sickness-filled, fibroid-producing, thrilling ride to the emergency C-section delivery table. There was the black with thin white stripes top that I wore with my elastic-waist jeans. And there, at the end, the stretchy ankle-length leopard print skirt and matching top that kept me from going naked at the newspaper where I worked until the last days of my pregnancy (sorry, former office-mates that you had to see that one so much near the end).

I ponder whether to keep these clothes or not. I won’t need them anymore. We have our 6-year-old Ladybug and feel our family is complete. We don’t plan on any more children, so I could technically give the leopard skirt and white shirt away. But I think I’ll keep them — those two items, at least, as a reminder of the new life I was beginning.

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To refrain from being a Debbie Downer, I give you the following conversation with my husband:

“I think it’s sweet how Ladybug likes to watch Westerns with you,” I told him.

“Yeah, but you have to watch closely because inappropriate stuff pops up a lot,” said husband. “The old Westerns are better.”

“Yeah, but they all have fights, someone gettin’ killed and cussin’,” I noted.

“Yeah, I guess. But without that, you’d have Brokeback Mountain,” he said.

“Mind Your Mama” on yelling

Dear Jennifer,

Do you think it’s always a bad thing to raise your voice or yell at your kids? My best friend thinks it’s terrible to yell and she never does it. But her kids run all over her. I yell at my kids when I get really ticked off, but I think it’s okay if I don’t overdo it. What’s your take on it?

Dear Ole’ Yeller,

There’s no right or wrong about yelling. There’s right and wrong about honesty and self-control.

If you’re honestly upset at your kids and you yell at them within reason and then get it under control and get life back on track, you may have made your point the best way you were able. You also may have cleared the air and gotten everyone’s attention. If it’s a rare event, it has big impact. On the other hand, if your idea of yelling means screaming uncontrollably and berating or ridiculing your children, then yelling is absolutely not OK. Parents who yell all the time need to find other ways to solve problems.

If your friend can control her children without yelling, she’s doing great. But if she can’t control her children (poor parenting) or is pretending she’s not angry when she really is (dishonest communication), then what she’s doing isn’t working. Yelling certainly doesn’t have to be the answer. Lots of people can express themselves and set healthy boundaries their kids respect without it. In reality, though, most good moms yell from time to time. No one enjoys it, but it happens and it can get results. The absolute absence of yelling is a wonderful goal but hard to achieve while being honest and running a household.

Bear in mind that every family has a different family culture. Yelling is how some families relate. It’s how others hurt each other. Your own family culture will have something to do with whether yelling happens and especially with what it means. Yelling at your kids is largely a situational decision. In other words, it’s not the yelling itself that matters, it’s the parenting that goes with it, the duration and focus of the episode, and the recovery that follows. When we lose it, our children see that we have limits, we’re human, and we won’t be pushed too far. Sometimes, a brief loudness lets everyone enjoy a long quiet after.

5 Minutes With a Mom

gailnation023.JPGName: Gail Nation

Residence: Fayetteville, Ark.

Child(ren): Kelli, 22 and Chase, 20

Grandchild(ren): 22-month-old Matthew (Kelli’s little one)

Born and raised: In Dumas, Ark.

Where do you work? “I’m an RN, but right now I’m staying home with my grandson.”

Favorite all-time movie? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Last book you read? The Gift of Change by Marianne Williamson

Parenting advice you used and then passed along? “Patience is a virtue. The second time around (with grandson, Matthew) I have been more patient than the first time. I don’t sweat the small stuff as much.”Gail added that she couldn’t get through a day without “the good Lord” and said He blesses every day. She also offered one more piece of advice: “Just enjoy your time, your day, your minute, while you have it.”

If the house was on fire (and all the people and pets were safe) what would you grab? Photo albums

Favorite phrase: “Oh my goodness.”

Guilty pleasure? “Chocolate!”

Best thing about being a grandmother? “I can take him home when I’m tired,” she jokes. But seriously, Gail said the best thing about being a grandmother is being able to “see” her daughter, Kelli, as a young child all over again. “He reminds me so much of her, even though he’s a boy,” she said of grandson Matthew.

One word to sum me up … “energetic.”

Good Gossip: A guilt-free dish

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Welcome back to Good Gossip – the only celebrity and local gossip you can enjoy guilt-free because it’s all “good.” You’re welcome to submit a few tidbits of your own, too. Know somebody who just had a baby? A friend promoted at work? A sister who works her tail off for local charities? Send us an e-mail and we’ll spread the good word. Now… on to the gossip:

Celebrity Dish

caketopper.jpgSinger Jewel and her long-time boyfriend and rodeo star Ty Murray eloped on a secluded beach in the Bahamas. She was barefoot, and he was in cowboy boots. The resort surprised the couple with their own fireworks display over the water. It was a tiny wedding, with only two friends standing by – one of which officiated the ceremony. Their wedding cake was topped with a figurine of a cowboy and his bride (similar to the one pictured here), which Jewel found online. Ty said they eloped because “That’s what marriage is, just me and her.” Jewel said they’re ready to start a family. (Source: People Magazine, August 25, 2008 edition)

Dr. Phil and wife Robin said the rumors about their marriage being on the rocks are “absolutely, unequivocally, blatantly false.” The couple celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary on August 14th. The false rumors began when a tabloid reporter shot a picture of a moving truck outside their home. Robin says the truck was there to put furniture in storage while their home was being renovated. (Source: People Magazine, Sept. 1, 2008 edition)

Clay Aiken of American Idol fame is the proud dad of son Parker Foster Aiken, who was born August 8th in North Carolina. Aiken said “The little man is healthy, happy and as loud as his daddy.” He was conceived via in vitro fertilization. (Source: People Magazine, August 25, 2008 edition)

 

In other American Idol baby news, Season 4 runner-up Bo Bice, 32, and his wife Caroline Fisher welcomed their second son, Caleb on August 5th in Nashville. (Source: People Magazine, August 25, 2008 edition)

And speaking of baby news, when asked about saving his son Levi’s placenta to plant in the ground, Matthew McConaughey said: “It’s going to be in the orchards and it’s going to bear some wonderful fruit.” (Source: US Weekly, Sept. 1, 2008 issue)

applegate1.jpgMaintaining her sense of humor as she approaches breast reconstruction over the next eight months, Christina Applegate recently joked “I’m going to have cute boobs ‘til I’m 90.” Having already been through two lumpectomies, the star decided to undergo a double mastectomy recently after learning she had the breast cancer gene. Her mother, Nancy Priddy, 67, has also battled breast cancer and a recurrence. Christina began having mammograms at age 30 but credits her early diagnosis with a doctor-ordered MRI. She is now cancer-free. (Source: People Magazine, Sept. 1, 2008 edition)

Around 7:15 p.m. on August 16th, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi walked into a candlelit den in their home where the two were joined in marriage, surrounded by 19 of their closest friends and family. (Portia wore a wedding gown; Ellen wore white pants and a gauzy white shirt.) After California’s Supreme Court ruled a previous ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional last May, DeGeneres proposed with a Neil Lane marquis-cut diamond while the two animal lovers were tending some goldfish that de Rossi had rescued earlier in the day. Ellen said of the union “I think the most beautiful thing about this relationship is that she makes me better.” Asked what they’d like to be doing on their 25th anniversary, the couple said they’d be on a farm, taking care of every kind of animal that needs taking care of. (Source: People Magazine, Sept. 1, 2008 edition)

Brad Pitt has teamed with Kiehl’s to create an Aloe Vera Body Cleanser, with all net profits going to JPF Eco Systems, a charity that supports global environmental intiaitives. Pitt created a handwritten note that will be featured on the label. Cost: $16.50 available online on August 29th. (Source: People Magazine, Sept. 1, 2008 edition)

Prince William and his 6-year girlfriend Kate Middleton watched the sunset on the private island of Mustique recently. The prince was on break from the Navy and will start Special Forces training this fall. The couple enjoyed intertubing and wakeboarding during their third trip to the island. (Source: People Magazine, August 25, 2008 edition)

Model Rachel Hunter, 38, is engaged to ice hockey player Jarret Stoll, 26. Rachel has two teenagers with ex Rod Stewart. (Source: US Magazine, Sept. 1, 2008 edition)

On Sept. 1, 27-year-old Natalie Portman will make her directorial debut at the Venice International Film Festival in Italy with her short, Eve. (Source: US Magazine, Sept. 1, 2008 edition)

Local Dish

Two Northwest Arkansas women have started a new baby equipment rental business called Baby Smart Travel. Glenda Miner and Judy Palmer dreamed up the idea after being frustrated that they couldn’t rent baby gear for their grandchildren (they have five between them!) when the little ones came to visit. Glenda says Baby Smart is ideal for people who are, like her, grandparents with visiting grandchildren; corporate folks in the midst of relocation; and couples who have friends with children flying in who don’t want to pay additional fees associated with checking extra baggage (or in this case, car seats and strollers) at the airport. It’s also great for people vacationing in the area. Baby Smart delivers and sets up the gear at your destination and then comes back to pick it up. They make sure the equipment meets JPMA standards, is sanitized and is rigorously safety tested.

Glenda and Judy have been friends for over 36 years and both graduated from John Brown University. Glenda has a teaching degree and Judy graduated with a degree in organizational management. The Baby Smart website is now up and running, so check it out by clicking here. Great idea, ladies!

Laura Kellams of Fayetteville has left the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after 11 years to take a new post as Northwest Arkansas director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a non-profit, non-partisan child advocacy organization. The organization has been active in Little Rock for 30 years but this is the first NWA office. “There has been a core group of Northwest Arkansas people who have been helping the organization, but they have long wanted a staff member here,” Laura said. She said Arkansas Advocates doesn’t provide direct services to people, but instead develops and advocates for policies that help families. One of her long-term projects will be working with the Arkansas Finish Line Coalition. The Coalition’s goal is to make sure every child in Arkansas has health insurance. Congrats on the new job, Laura.

Northwest Arkansas author Padma Viswanathan, whose first novel, The Toss of A Lemon, is being distributed to bookstores next week, will be reading excerpts from her book at a reception at Ozark Mountain Smokehouse (note the change in location) on Dickson St. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. She’ll soon embark on a 10-city book tour, including Fayetteville. Nightbird Books in Fayetteville already has the book, but it will be widely available in early September.

Fashion Mama: My Closet Makeover

By Gwen, mama of 3

There have been many times I’ve watched the show “What Not to Wear” on TLC channel and secretly wished for my own wardrobe intervention – only without the public humiliation and national television exposure. The truth is, my wardrobe lost its mojo somewhere between the dressing room and the delivery room. After three stints of maternity clothes and post-partum “roomy” clothes and “almost back to normal clothes,” I had to face the sad truth that I’d become a “uniform” dresser – jeans, t-shirt and comfy shoes – just about every day. In the winter, that uniform would include a zip-front hoodie over the t-shirt, but that’s about as versatile as I got.

There were mornings when I’d be sitting in the drop-off lane at my son’s school and notice another mom walk by who looked completely put together – with accessories, make-up, cute handbag, the works – and wonder why in the heck I couldn’t pull that off. Then I’d drive home, praying that I wouldn’t be in a fender bender because, if I was, I’d have to get out of the car wearing my pajama pants and my husband’s white t-shirt. Not a good look.

I knew I needed to shop for new clothes, but I felt like I was in a rut and didn’t know what to buy or where to get it. It was just easier and more fun to shop for my kids’ clothes, so that’s what I did. That’s when, as luck would have it, we moms here at nwaMotherlode heard about Stephna Masters – a former manager of a ladies’ clothing store (national chain) who’d left the company recently to start her own fashion consulting business in Northwest Arkansas. We just happened to be looking for someone qualified to write fashion articles for the website at the time. Needless to say, when Stephna offered to demonstrate her expertise by doing a closet makeover for one of the website mamas, my hand shot up into the air to volunteer. I was nervous about it but also really glad that perhaps help was on the way.

Here’s what happened: Stephna came over to my house (on a day when my kids were at Mothers’ Day Out) and looked through my sad, pitiful closet. I held my breath while she was in there because I figured she’d come out, shake her head and say, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do here.” But she didn’t. She started plucking things off the hangers and went to work. She laid out a large taupe-colored sheet on my bedroom floor and started assembling different outfits on that sheet – pants, top, shoes, and accessories. She’d ask me what I usually wore with a certain top and then she’d go find something completely different to put it with – a look I’d never thought of before. I couldn’t believe the number of outfits she managed to pull out of there that I’d never worn that way before.

She made notes on each outfit and then took a photo of it. While she did all this, she had me look through some of her fashion books so I could point out photos of outfits I liked best and we talked about how to achieve that look. Flipping through those books, I realized just how long it had been since I’d actually thought about what kind of image I wanted my clothes to convey. I’d been so busy being a mom and dressing my kids that the only real effort I put into dressing myself was to find a t-shirt that didn’t have a baby spit-up stain on it.

After a couple hours, Stephna finished her closet magic and we put everything away. She told me what basic pieces she thought I could shop for that would expand my outfit possibilities. She even wrote a list for me in a little purse-size notebook, with ideas for which shops to check out and what types of fabrics and colors to look for.

When she left, I was actually excited about the thought of going shopping – a task I usually dreaded. For the first time, I felt like I knew what I was looking for and, more importantly, why those pieces work for me. It was quite an education in two hours’ time.

A few days later, Stephna dropped back by my house to deliver a small photo album containing pictures of all the different outfits she’d pulled together from my closet – 25 different looks, complete with typed-up notes on each outfit. It’s my own little cheat-sheet book that lives in my closet and helps me answer that age-old question “What could I wear today?”

Since then, I’ve been implementing the tips I learned, and my husband and even my kids have noticed the difference. Even better, I notice a difference in myself. When I take the extra time to put together an outfit I feel good about, I carry myself differently. I feel like I can handle the day a little better. I flirt with my husband more. It’s all good. Of course, there are still days when I’m running behind and I race out of the house looking a lot less than polished. Hey, we’re all human. But I’m definitely on the road to fashion recovery, and for the first time in a long time, clothes are fun again.

For more info on closet consultations like the one I had, e-mail Stephna at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com or call her for your own consultation at 479-841-2360.

Mealtime Mama: Juicy Fruit and Greens

My mom’s group was passing recipes around recently via e-mail and Megan Lawler, mom of two girls and a baby boy, sent out a message that reminded me: A) Of getting one over on your kids with the help of that book, Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld or that other one, The Sneaky Chef, by the lady who’s suing Seinfeld; and B) That I suck at getting my kid to eat green, leafy vegetables. Here’s Megan’s e-mail:

This isn’t a dinner recipe, but I had to share. When your children start eating spinach and romaine lettuce for breakfast, you have to spread the word! I’ve been making green smoothies every day lately. There are thousands of combinations, but here are some of the simpler ones:

1 banana
1-2 cups strawberries
1/4 cup water
1-2 cups baby spinach

Blend and enjoy! You won’t believe it, but you can’t taste the spinach! My girls are really enjoying these.

Also good is:
1 banana
1 orange (peeled, make sure seeds are out)
spinach

You can also use romaine lettuce. I used a bunch of Kale today, but that is a bit heartier, and the kids wouldn’t drink it. You can also use parsley and field greens, etc. I made a great one with pineapple, mango, and baby greens the other day. Just throw some stuff in the blender. You won’t believe it until you try it!

Thanks, Megan!

Devotion in Motion: Bucktoothed Babies – Unplugged

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11, NKJV

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

pacifier.jpgMy late father adored his grandchildren. He thought they should have anything they wanted. Anything, that is, except a pacifier. He hated pacifiers because he’d learned a hard lesson after dealing with my older sister, Cathie, and me. He put it this way: “It’s the easiest thing in the world to give a kid a pacifier when he’s born and the hardest thing in the world to take the same pacifier away when the kid outgrows it and starts to get bucked teeth.”

Cathie and I were both pacifier addicts when we were little. And it was Daddy’s job to break our habits. He tried everything with both of us. When every other strategy failed with my sister, Dad finally succeeded with bribery. At age 3, Cathie spotted a beautiful doll in a Kroger’s grocery store, and Dad cut her a deal that he would buy her the doll if she would throw away her pacifier. She entered the agreement, and still has the doll (and is pacifier free) to this very day.

Nobody remembers what Dad went through to break me of the pacifier habit, only that it was a bad chapter in the life of our family. My mom said she thought I might have suffered through cold-turkey pacifier withdrawals after “the cat stole it”. Maybe I had to be given electroshock treatments, and that’s why I can’t remember it now. The only thing the whole family agrees on is this – when it came time to detox me from the pacifier, it was BAD.

Ironically, it was my dad who broke his grandchildren of the pacifier habit, and it was amazingly easy. I saw it happen with my younger son, Seth Madison, who was too little to talk but very attached to his pacifier. Dad looked him straight in the eye and said softly, “You don’t need that. You don’t even like it. It’s not good.” Sometimes you can see the gears turning in your kid’s head, and that’s what I saw. Seth thought carefully about the three statements that his Papaw had made and recognized that everything he had heard was truth. Then he spit out his pacifier, making the sort of noise you make when you spit a tiny piece of nutshell out of your butter pecan ice cream. As far as I can remember, it was the last time Seth ever took a pacifier.

When I think back on it, it gives me cold chills when I think about the incredible power of words. The Bible says that when God spoke words, the universe came into existence, and that Jesus is now “upholding all things by the word of His power.” (Heb. 1:3) Your words have power, too, especially in the lives of your kids. So use your words well this week. When children hear words that are true, spoken in love, from someone they love, those words have been known to move mountains. Or even greater than that – to unplug a pacifier.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where they are currently eating a lot of fried okra and yellow squash from their parishioners’ gardens). You should drop him a line at extramailbox@juno.com.

The Rockwood Files: Letter to my daughter

Dear Kate,

letter.jpgI know it seems strange to be writing you a letter now, seeing as how you’re only 1 ½ years old and can barely put two words together. But one day, about 14 years from now, I’ll dig this dusty letter out of a box and show it to you so you’ll understand what it was like to be your mother when you were only 25 pounds and 31 inches tall.

There’s an old rhyme that says boys are made of “snakes and snails and puppy dog tails,” while girls are “sugar and spice and everything nice.” But I think perhaps a few jalapenos got thrown into the mix when God dreamed you up. You’re surprising, intense and sometimes, at the end of a challenging day, you send me racing toward a cold Dr. Pepper to wash down the day.

Today is a good example. I was working diligently on my computer while you played quietly on the floor behind me, turning the pages of picture books and reading to yourself in a jabber language only you understand. It was a nice moment that lasted exactly one moment. In the next moment, I glanced behind me and you were gone.

I went from room to room calling your name but there was no answer, which scared me because an absent, quiet toddler is a toddler who has definitely found trouble. Sure enough, I rounded the corner into my bathroom and there you were – standing in front of the toilet holding a half-empty box of Q-tips. You looked up at me and smiled widely, incredibly proud of how you’d just deposited roughly 150 Q-tips into the potty.

I told you firmly that it was a “no-no,” which I doubt you’ll remember. But I’ll certainly remember how I had to find a rubber glove and spend several minutes fishing soggy Q-tips out of the potty. It was a fun morning.

I tell myself this is just a phase – your fascination with the bathroom. About a month ago, your grandma caught you climbing into the potty to use it as a wading pool. Dad caught you sitting in the sink one time, spraying water from floor to ceiling. So this morning’s Q-tip debacle convinced me to put child-safety locks on all the bathroom doors. The rest of the day, your big brothers danced wildly outside the door yelling, “Mom, I gotta go. I gotta go! And I can’t open the door! HURRY!”

But I don’t mind because I’m sure that sprinting up the stairs to open a bathroom door for a panicky 4-year-old is really good cardiovascular exercise for me. Let’s face it, I need to be in top physical condition to keep up with you when you’re climbing into the dishwasher or repelling down the back of the sofa or running down the driveway to get a closer look at the FedEx truck.

The truth is, Kate, you scare the life out of me nearly every single day. You’d eat a toxic level of Aquafresh toothpaste if I didn’t lock it in a high cabinet. You have no reasonable fear of gravity whatsoever. And what you lack in cautious judgment you more than make up for in reckless speed – a very troubling combination in a toddler.

I tell you all this because one day you’ll be a teenager, and teenagers are famous for pushing the envelope. But sweetie, you’ve already done your share of pushing the envelope. If you pushed it any more it would be in an entirely different zip code. Therefore I’ve decided that you’re not allowed do any scary envelope pushing in your teen years. I’ve already paid my dues, you see, and there’s only so much a mother’s fragile nerves can take.

Having said that, I will tell you that I found a quote from Mark Twain the other day that reminds me of you. He said, “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” And I’m sure she did, just as I’m sure of how much I love you, despite the small heart attack you give me on a regular basis. Somehow, you balance things out just enough to keep me chugging along. At lunch time today, you pointed to the carton of chocolate milk and said “Peeze?” When I handed you a cup, you said “T’ank eww,” which gives me hope that perhaps even little girls made of jalapenos can be civilized.

Sometimes, when I wake you from your nap, your little pink rosebud mouth turns up into the sweetest smile and your eyes flash with excitement for whatever new adventure you’ve dreamed up next. Your small arms wrap around my neck, and I melt into a pool of maternal love that’s far deeper than any trouble you can get into. Funny how that works.

Enjoy your teen years, Katie-bug, and try very hard not to make your mother crazy. She’s already dangerously close.

Love,

Mom

Bentonville teachers win Motherlode drawing at fair

mercydocs135.JPGBy Shannon Magsam, Motherlode mama

Aren’t teachers great? I had a fabulous time last week meeting Bentonville School District teachers while representing Motherlode at their annual Teacher Fair. As someone had mentioned, it was indeed like Halloween for teachers as they scooped all kinds of goodies into their bags from all the fun booths. Motherlode shared booth space with Mercy Health System, our corporate sponsor, and their free blue Mercy totes were going like hot cakes. The pic you see here is of Mercy docs chatting with a teacher. Mercy had information at the booth on everything from vaccinations to sleep disorders.

Motherlode also offered some giveaways (in addition to pens and chocolate) from two regular contributors, Stephna Masters and Teresa Huddleston. Elm Tree Elementary ESL teacher Aimee won the wardrobe makeover from Stephna of Closet Consulting. Stephna writes for our Fashion Mama category and her business is to re-imagine outfits you already have hanging in your closet (with suggestions for accessories to update your look).

Bentonville High School teacher Brenda won the free design consultation with Teresa of Huddleston Designs. Teresa offers decorating advice for all of us decorating-challenged mamas on Motherlode. Brenda, who moved to Benton County from Corpus Christi, Texas, three years ago, was excited about the possibilities she and Teresa will dream up. The long-time teacher enjoys quilting, reading and, most recently, canoeing with her husband.

Congratulations, teachers. Have a great school year!

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