Photo Contest Winner Announced!!!

After three months of looking through precious pictures sent in by our readers, the panel of judges have reached a decision on who wins the grand prize — a free portrait session with photographer Lisa Mac of Lisa Mac Photography AND a huge 16 x 20 inch wall portrait.

Drumroll please….


The photo sent in by Kathleen Villar, seen above, is the grand prize winner of our photo contest! This sweet photo of her 18-month-old son, Joseph, hugging the legs of the 87-year-old great-grandpa he calls “Opa”, melted the hearts of our judging panel, who evaluated photos based on emotional impact. This is a great illustration of that special connection between babies and the grandparents who love them so much. The story behind this picture makes it extra sweet.

Joseph is actually named after his Opa, so they share a name as well as a wonderful loving bond. They live very close to one another and see each other almost every day. Kathleen says of Joseph, “He squeals with joy walking in the door and cries when it is time to leave.”

She adds: “I have always wanted to have children that they could enjoy and I realize how lucky I am.  The spring before Joseph was born in 2007 my grandfather, who struggles with dementia, had a stroke that has taken away his ability to speak clearly. Since then, life has been very different, but Joseph became the family’s little ray of sunshine. Watching Joseph and Opa play and seeing how their faces beam when they see each other shows us how this relationship brings complete joy to both of them and the entire family.”

Kathleen, who’s pregnant with baby #2, will soon be enjoying a free portrait session with Lisa Mac (who is a new Mommy, by the way! Her son Josiah was born about five weeks ago, and he is SO cute.) Kathleen will also get to choose her favorite shot which will be printed as a 16 x 20 inch wall portrait. What a treasure for any mom to have.

If you didn’t win this photo contest, don’t worry because we’re doing it again! You can submit up to 5 photos each month, which will be placed in our online photo gallery. (Browse through our online photo gallery by clicking on the Polaroid at the top of the page or by scrolling down to the gallery located at the bottom of each page. Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Congrats to Kathleen on snagging the grand prize, and thanks so much to each of you who shared your wonderful photos with us and the judging panel. Thanks also to photographer Lisa Mac for sponsoring our photo gallery and for donating such a generous grand prize for the snapshot contest. (Click here to visit Lisa’s website and blog to see more examples of her work.)

Picking just one winner was such a tough decision because there were SO many great pictures to consider. Keep those cameras clicking, and show off your great kid pictures here on nwaMotherlode.

Beauty Buzz: Summer makeup trends

Dear Andi,

What are the current “trends” in makeup? Any new ideas worth trying?

Dear Trend Seeker,

opi.jpgSummer’s big trend is shockingly bright color on everything! Have fun with your makeup without looking like you’re attending an 80s costume party by avoiding the neon lipstick and blush and staying neutral on your lips and cheeks.

Instead try a new nail polish like Rimmel 60 Seconds in Climax, a shimmery purple ($2.85. Target) or one of the new OPI for Sephora shades ($9 each) and add a vibrant hue to your eye shadow palette. I also like Covergirl Eye Enhancers 3 Kit shadows (Wal-Mart, $4.44).

firecracker.jpgFirecracker (pictured right) made my brown eyes more vibrant. For blue eyes, try the Blazing Blues kit. If you have green eyes, well, I’m jealous, but I will put that aside and advise the Dazzling Metallics trio.

To apply like a pro, use the lightest hue up to the brow bone, and the brightest close to the lash line, using the middle hue to blend into the crease of your eye. Top off the look with dark brown or black eye liner smudged into your top and bottom eyelashes and two coats of your favorite mascara and you are ready for a night out. If you are nervous about new colors but sick of earth tones, try a purple shadow…it looks great with every eye color and is hard to over-do. Have fun with it and send me pics. I’d love to see your new look!

Andi Douglas is a local mom of two and the ruling make-up queen at nwaMotherlode. E-mail your questions to her at and the answer may be featured in her weekly column. 

Win a $360 Disney Rug!


There are so many cool things about this week’s giveaway that I’m not quite sure where to start. Okay, let’s start with something all mamas know — kids love to play and lounge around on the floor. Even when there is a comfy chair or bed in the room, kids will inevitably end up on the floor at least half the time.

So wouldn’t it be nice if you had a large, brand spankin’ new area rug underfoot for your kid’s bedroom, playroom or even family room? (It’s priced at $359.99!) And wouldn’t it be even nicer if it was one of the new Shaw Disney-themed rugs which just arrived in flooring stores? And wouldn’t it just be perfect if you actually got to pick out which rug YOU want that would go with your room? Well…. perhaps we can help.

bear3.jpgMotherlode sponsor Flooring America by Carpetsmart is going to give one lucky Motherlode mama a new Disney area rug — and it’s a huge 6×9 size! Cool, huh? And you get to pick your rug from one of the following designs:

  • rockin6hannahrug2.jpgWinnie the Pooh
  • Cars movie
  • Hannah Montana
  • Disney Fairies
  • rockets.jpgDisney Princess
  • Toy Story

What I like most about the new Disney rugs is that they don’t scream “I’M A LITTLE KID!” They still capture the essence of the various Disney themes, but the patterns and colors are also subtle enough to be used long after your kid stops watching cartoons. For example, the rug with the Cars theme could even cars-5.jpgwork for a teenage boy because it’s gray with black tire tracks on it. And many of the Disney princess or the Hannah Montana designs and colors will still work great with a teenage girl’s room as well. There are also options to get a solid color shag rug, too. Click HERE to get a closer look at the various rug designs and colors.

You can also go see the rugs in person by stopping by Flooring America by Carpetsmart, pretty6.jpgwhich is located in Springdale in Center Pointe Plaza just off Interstate 540. Click here to see their website and get directions to the store.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the hat to win the 6×9 Disney-theme area rug, click the word “comment” below and tell us what you like most about your child’s room decor. Or, if you’re in dire need of a little redecorating, tell us what you’d like to change about the room. You can also send your entries to us via e-mail at

To increase your odds of winning the rug, send an e-mail to your friends and family to let them know about the giveaway and we’ll put your name in the hat again for every friend you tell. Tell 10 friends, and you’ll get 10 extra chances. That’s how it works. Just be sure to copy us on your note so we can give you proper credit for spreading the word.

We love to hear how creative our fellow moms can be when it comes to creating bedrooms or playrooms for kids, so share your ideas with us or borrow a few from the posted comments. Thanks so much to our friends at Flooring America by Carpetsmart for the generous giveaway!

Good luck!


Doc Talk: Tick removal advice


harmon1.jpgDoc Talk is a weekly series of short video podcasts of Mercy Health System doctors answering questions moms want answers to. Click on the Motherlode video podcast below to see and hear the answer to today’s question. Dr. Harry Harmon, an avid outdoorsman, offers advice on how best to remove a tick.

Want to know more about Dr. Harmon? Just click on his photo to watch his biographical video podcast which offers details about his experience and training.video11.jpg

Q: I’ve already found several ticks on my kids! What’s the best way to remove them and should I worry about Lyme Disease?

A: Click on the video podcast icon at right. When the window opens, click on the “play” arrow to begin the video answer.

Dr. Harry Harmon is a family practitioner at Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas. His practice, the Rogers Medical Center, is located in the Physicians Plaza just off Interstate 540. For more info on Dr. Harmon, click on his photo to watch his bio podcast or call his office at 479-338-5555. does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions about a medical condition. Don’t delay getting professional medical advice because of something you read online. This website doesn’t necessarily recommend or endorse any specific tests, doctors, products, procedures or opinions discussed on the site.

Devotion in Motion: Greg’s Lesson

“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  Hebrews 13:16

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

It’s amazing how a person can feel so many different emotions at the same time. As I said last week, seeing the first fireworks stand of the summer always makes me smile at the prospect of happy summer days. But at the same time, whenever I see a fireworks stand, it always makes me feel a little sad — because it reminds me of how much I miss Greg.

My parents only had two children, my sister Cathie and me. Cathie is the best sister a brother could ever hope for, but, because she is 5 ½ years older than me, by the time I was finishing middle school she was already moving away to college. Her departure left me with an emptiness. Suddenly, I was an only child.

Since I had no younger siblings, I adopted myself a set from another 1.jpgfamily: Greg and Gwen Rule. We were as close and had as much fun as any brothers and sisters ever had. (Here’s an old picture of me on the left sitting with Greg when he was just a toddler.) For the three of us, summers were always the time for shooting fireworks.

When Greg was in grade school and Gwen was an infant, he went away for his first week of Summer Bible Camp. From there, he wrote this letter to his mother:

Dear Mom,

How is Baby Gwen?

Have you got me any fireworks yet?



(Below is a picture of Greg and his little sister taken around the time he wrote that letter from summer camp.)


It makes me smile when I think about that letter. It’s always good to see a young man who has his priorities straight!

From the very beginning, Greg was a boy who loved bright lights, beautiful colors, showers of sparks, and colored flames—all the things you get when you’re shooting fireworks. I don’t suppose Greg’s love for these things ever diminished his whole life. In fact, I think the older he got, the more fireworks he bought and the more elaborate fireworks displays he put on for his family and friends.

Greg passed away in his sleep in April 2001. He was only 34. I’ve never really gotten over that, and I think of him and miss him every day. On the day before his funeral, we were sitting around with his friends and loved ones, and his younger cousin, Mark, said this about Greg:

“Greg loved to shoot fireworks. And he was never stingy with them. He wanted you to be happy and to help him shoot them. I mean, he didn’t care if you shot up half the sack. He just wanted to share and for you to be happy.”

You see, Greg had learned a spiritual lesson we all need to know: “You can’t be rich alone.” There’s really no joy in having an abundance of anything—even a sack of fireworks—if you don’t have anybody to share it with. We’re only rich when we have something and we’re willing to share it with others.

I came to the Antioch Christian Church when I was 23 years old, and, in just a couple of years, I’ll turn 50. The longer I live, the more friends and loved ones I have on this earth. But the passage of time also means there are more loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord – people I really miss.

The ministry is a little bit sad sometimes because we preachers bury our best work. One of the men in my congregation has had a lot of sadness in his life. Though he is not an old man, he has had the tragedy of, on separate occasions, losing a parent, a wife, a child, and an infant grandchild. When I asked him how he has borne all of this sadness he said, “Whenever I lose a loved one, I always think of them as a deposit in the ‘Bank of Heaven’. The older I get, the more Heaven means to me because I have so much treasure there.”

The older I get, the more I believe what my friend has told me. My sadness is tinged with joy because I realize that Greg and my other loved ones are a treasure God is keeping for me in Heaven. And if I remember to live Greg’s lesson–sharing my fireworks and every good thing–in this life, too, I’ll be very rich indeed.

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 25th year 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 18) and Seth (age 15) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the church people share vegetables from the garden every summer.) You can cheer him with a note at

The Rockwood Files: Cereal Killer


By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Last night for dinner I had two bowls of Froot Loops. Tom was on a business dinner with co-workers. The kids were in bed for the night. So I went downstairs and peeked into the cabinet where I keep my secret stash of sugar cereals. I opened a brand new box of Froot Loops, tore open the plastic bag and got a strong whiff of fruity flavor. The colorful rings “plink, plink, plinked” into the bowl, and I doused them generously with milk.

Then I curled up on the sofa with a blanket and my cereal bowl and watched a favorite chick flick I’ve already seen too many times. Ah, heaven!

I should be ashamed, I know. I buy Froot Loops pretending they’re for the kids and then take them home and hide them so the kids won’t see their mother’s bad example. Empty, sugary calories – it’s disgraceful. But it’s so gooooood.

I say all this realizing that only my fellow cereal addicts will understand my obsession. Most people who want to indulge pick something with broader appeal, like ice cream, cookies or chips. But for me and other cereal enthusiasts (including Jerry Seinfeld), it’s the cereal that whispers our name and beckons us into the kitchen.

Part of the lure for me is the memories attached to cereal. It’s the ultimate comfort food. It’s the thing I’ve been eating since before I can remember. Those old familiar boxes cluttered my mother’s kitchen countertops and were packed in my bag for summer visits to Grandma’s house. And cereal was the most accessible of after-school snacks. No cooking required – just a bowl, a box and a carton of milk and I was all set.

captain-crunch.gifMy big brother, who was a loyal fan of Captain Crunch, used to dump nearly half a box of it into my mother’s largest mixing bowl, pour in the milk and then use the biggest spoon in the kitchen to eat it while watching Scooby Doo reruns after school. To this day, Captain Crunch always makes me think of him.

When I went to college and walked into the university’s cafeteria for the first time, I fell in love with the big buffet of cereal machines. When I got my first apartment, I rarely had real food in the kitchen but the pantry was always well-stocked with cereal favorites.

Speaking of favorites, true cereal junkies have certain rules we live by. Here are a few of mine:

  • Raisin Bran is better when you let it soak to the semi-soggy state.
  • The pink milk leftover after a bowl of Apple Jacks is the best part of the treat.
  • Each spoonful of Captain Crunch needs to be dunked under the milk at least once or twice because otherwise it will scratch the roof of your mouth.
  • Frosted Flakes must be eaten quickly because they practically disintegrate if they get soggy.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios are best with a sliced banana that is about a day away from being too ripe.

(You can click “comment” below to list your own cereal rules. We’ll call it “research”.)

I realize I’m too old for all these kid cereals. I should know better. I should be eating something sensible like Total or Cornflakes. But everybody needs at least one vice and this one is mine. Right now, I’m in a Froot Loops phase, having just transitioned out of several months’ worth of Golden Grahams. Before that, it was Frosted Flakes with sliced strawberries. Yum.

All this cereal talk has stirred up some cravings, so I will wrap this up and go join Toucan Sam in the kitchen for a few artificial flavors. Enjoy your web surfing and your cereal. Pass the milk.

Want to read previous installments of The Rockwood Files? Click HERE!

See who won Legally Blonde tickets and dinner!

It always pains us to pick just one winner, but this mama won the giveaway fair and square with!

The winner is … Angie Coleman! And it sounds like she could use it, since she hasn’t been out for a girls’ night in at least 14 years. In case you missed, it here’s Angie’s comment:

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a “Girl’s Night Out”- not for 14 years anyway (since I got married and have a son). Before marriage there were lots of fun times- some didn’t even involve the police. I’m thinking a fabulous Girl’s Night Out is just what I need! And THANKS for all the fun raffles and giveaways! XOXOXOX”

Angie, who makes “mommy necklaces” (click HERE to check out her website) will enjoy dinner out at delicious Bordinos Italian Restaurant - AND receive two tickets to the summer’s hottest legally-blonde-3.jpgshow at Walton Arts Center – Legally Blonde The Musical!

About the show: Broadway’s new smash hit musical follows the story of sorority star Elle Woods. People underestimate this blonde who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. When her boyfriend dumps her for someone more “serious”, Elle puts down her credit card, hits the books and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has ever gone before – Harvard Law. Along the way, Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style.

And don’t forget: those who don’t win the tickets will receive a special Motherlode discount if you wish to purchase tickets for this show. Expect to see an offer from Walton Arts Center in your e-mail over the next week with some great savings opportunities to see the show.

Performance times are Tuesday, July 7th at 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 8th at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 9th at 7 p.m., Friday, July 10th at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 11th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 12th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets start at $30 each. You can purchase tickets at the Walton Arts Center Box Office by clicking here or by calling 479-443-5600.

Crafty Mama: 10 Budget-friendly “Designer” Birthday Party Ideas


We all know how fast a birthday party can go from “small get-together” to “budget-blowing, stress-inducing ordeal.” When you start adding up all the little things that go into throwing a party, it can get out-of-hand before you realize it.

So our crafty friends over at Signed Sealed Delivered came up with a list of 10 great ideas that will help us create a “designer” birthday party for a reasonable budget. (By the way, did you know that Signed Sealed Delivered will even host kids’ birthday parties? We’ll bring you more info on that later, but keep it in mind if you have a birthday girl who likes arts and crafts.)

1. One-of-a-kind placemats and doilies: Create die-cut paper placemats that match your party’s theme. Choose any scrapbooking paper you like and die-cut it into a fun shape, giving everyone their own birthday3june09.jpgplacemats that look like custom decorations. We used black and white polka dots for our theme.

2. Fun balloons: Balloons are back in style and available in so many great designs. Create your own bouquet that brings your theme to life. (Some dollar stores have them for a dollar or 50 cents each!)

3. Custom cupcakes: Order plain cupcakes (we love the ones from Sam’s Club) and make your own cupcake toppers. You can use stickers, die-cuts or print images off of the computer and cut them out, attaching them to popsicle sticks or skewers.

4. Make your party favors: Rather than spend money on party favors, host a creative party where the activity IS the party favor, maybe a scrapbook page or even a crazy hat!

5. Do-it-yourself invitations: Custom invitations are all the rage. Lend your individual style and ask your family to help do the work and add crystals, stickers, etc. to dress up any basic invitation.

6. Birthday chair bow: Create a great oversized bow that makes the birthday girl or boy feel like a million bucks It’s perfect for a birthday party at home, or you can take it to your favorite restaurant and tie it onto the back of the chair.

7. Dress-up theme: It’s not just for little kids anymore! Choose a theme where each child dresses up like an assigned character for the party. Choose a movie, TV show, book or other fun theme and let the kids themselves be part of the decorations. By preparing for their part, they’ll have fun even before the party gets started. You might even incorporate games that they play where they have to stay in character.

8. Create and decorate “green”: Environmentally friendly is the name of the game, and it can also help keep the budget in line for party decor. Ask everyone to bring a list of products that are great for recycling and have fun creating works of art with your recycled materials. Turn newspaper into huge flowers. Cover cereal boxes with fun papers to hold school work on your desk. Bring an old t-shirt and tie-dye them to make them new again. Decorate with the same materials you’re recycling and even tie them into your invitations.

9. Customized birthday banner: Banners are hot right not and, with a little canvas, paper and ribbon, you can create your own customized banner that says the birthday girl or boy’s name or says “happy birthday.”  This fun banner can be used for many birthdays or is the perfect addition to bedroom décor when the party is over.

birthdaypartyjune09.jpg10. Photo birthday: Photos are so much fun and are a great way to introduce kids to a new hobby. Take pictures prior to the party, have them printed before the kids arrive and revolve the party around the activity of scrapbooking the photos. Kids love seeing their pictures, and they’ll come away with a fun party favor they can hang up in their home or use to begin their own scrapbook. For a fun decoration, get one picture blown up (Wal-Mart is a good source for poster size) and adhere it to foam core and have it on display at the party. After the party, hang it up in your child’s room. so she’ll remember that birthday for a long time.

For more birthday party ideas, check out the birthday display at Signed Sealed Delivered in Rogers and ask their crafty mamas for pointers. Signed Sealed Delivered is located on 52nd Street in Rogers (not far from Village on the Creeks). Click here for directions or call them at 479-271-7747.

Fireworks, bouncies and face painting, oh my!

impression.jpgImpressionable Entertainment Costume Characters and More, one of Motherlode’s newest sponsors, will have its characters Razor Ray and the Impressionable Teddy, along with airbrush face painting, available at Centerton Fireworks!

Airbrush face painting starts at $1.50 per design, which is a good price. But it’s an even better price if  you mention seeing the Impressionable Entertainment ad on nwaMotherlode! Those who mention seeing this ad to the right will receive FREE face/body painting!

Impressionable Entertainment will be at Centerton Fireworks from 1 to 8:30 p.m. on the following days: Saturday, June 27th; Sunday June 28th; Friday July 3rd; and Saturday, July 4th.

Centerton Fireworks is located off of HWY 102, right next to the First National Bank of Centerton (look for the signs or give Impressionable Entertainment a call at 479-586-3575); parking is located in the rear of the bank.

In conjunction with 4th of July festivities, they will also be offering a special, free face/body painting for anyone with a $40 or more purchase in fireworks from Centerton Fireworks (one design per person). Centerton Fireworks will also have a bounce house and great fireworks at affordable prices.

Centerton Fireworks is also offering a special, up to 50% off fireworks when customers buy groceries at the Centerton Harps. To learn more about this special there is a flyer posted at the Harp’s store and at Centerton Fireworks.

Motherlode Must-Have: Pledge Multi Surface Cleaner


Moms multitask. No big news there. But when we find something that helps us multitask while multitasking? Well, that’s huge.

Recently SC Johnson asked the Motherlode mamas to review their new cleaner — Pledge Multi Surface. It’s important for you to know that we are NOT being paid by the company to write about this product. The only thing we’ve received from the company are seven bottles of the product to use during our test.

Shannon and I each used one bottle, and we sent the other five bottles to a few of our readers so we could ask for their opinions as well and share them with all of you. Here’s what happened when seven Northwest Arkansas moms put the new Pledge Multi Surface to the test:

Gwen Rockwood, Motherlode mama and mom to three kids, age 7, 5 and 2: I’m one of those people who cleans when I’m procrastinating doing something else. So I end up cleaning a lot, and it’s therapeutic for me. I’m always jazzed about finding a new product that lives up to its claims.

Of course, the best part about this new Pledge product is that it eliminates the need for switching between different bottles of cleaner. When you’re in a hurry (and when are we mamas ever not in a hurry?), having one bottle that can “do it all” is a big benefit. I cleaned my kitchen table, granite kitchen island, stainless steel refrigerator and my windows — one right after the other — with the bottle of Pledge Multi Surface and the same cloth. I’ve gotta tell you. I was pretty impressed, particularly with how it cleaned the granite. I’ve only found one other product that cleaned granite without leaving that irritating dull film on it.

I also asked my friend Diana Zecena, who owns Zecena Cleaning Service, if she had used this product and what she thought of it. She said she does use it and likes it, which carries a lot of weight coming from a true cleaning professional.

For my product test, I used the “rainshower” scent, and I like the fact that I could barely smell it. For those of us who don’t want a lot of intense smells competing with one another, it’s nice to have a cleaner with a nice yet subtle smell. Overall, I give it a thumbs-up, particularly for convenience and speed.

Shannon Magsam, Motherlode mama and mom to a daughter: When I saw the UPS-delivered package sitting by my doorstep, I tore it open enthusiastically until I remembered: This Pledge means I’ll actually have to clean.

I decided to tackle my much-used laptop first. As directed, I sprayed the cleaner on a separate cloth, then went to town on the keyboard and screen. I immediately felt happier. It could have been the lavender scent, which is one of my faves. Then I ran the Pledge-dampened cloth over a wood/granite table, an end table and my television set and was pleased with the result. I’m still smiling about the gleaming black metal on my gas stove, so that was a yes as well.

My next test surface was one I considered the ultimate. Could the Pledge really clean wood AND glass? Score! It seemed to work better on my bathroom mirror than the storm door, where I experienced a little streaking. But those were eliminated with a few more sprays and wipes. It was great being able to talk on the telephone while zooming around the house with one cleaning product. Tons of work done in the course of one phone call. Multitasking at its best.

Final analysis: I give this cleaner 4 1/2 out of five stars! 

Kristy Brown, speech language pathologist and mom of a 10-month-old son: So many positives! I used it on our back door. Since we had the storm it was a good project … part metal/wood/glass.  It was great!  Can I say how much space this little cleaner in ONE can will save!  Saves space, $$$, and materials in general! I love it!

Manda Hamilton, stay-at-home mom of 4 kids, ages 8,5,2, and 10 months : I used the cleaning spray the very day I got it. I had plenty of dusty, finger-marked surfaces to try it on. After trying the spray on the same pieces of furniture that I always use regular Pledge on, I started to experiment. I wiped down my stainless steel fridge, the oven door, the microwave door, my granite countertops and even the bathroom mirror. The Multi Surface spray cleaned all the surfaces without leaving streaks!

I especially loved that I could clean a wooden picture frame and then continue cleaning the glass without switching products or rags. When my husband came home, he made a comment about how nice the house looked and also how it smelled. (I tested the lavender scent.) I loved using this spray and will buy it when I use up the rest of this one. 

Laurie Marshall, development coordinator, Etsy store owner and mom of three, ages 17, 15 and 4: When the Mamas at nwaMotherlode contacted me asking for my opinion about the new Pledge Multi-Surface cleaner, my first response was “You want me to clean?? MULTIPLE SURFACES!!???” I laughed out loud for about 20 seconds… then I realized they were serious.

The promises of no streaks, no residue, no noxious fumes… it was a pretty easy sell. Who doesn’t like the idea of using ONE product to clean every surface in their home? I have granite, vintage tile, fake stone tile, stained wood, painted wood, glass, vintage paneling. But I limited my testing to the room that needs it most in my house – the kitchen. After donning my favorite kitten heels and vintage half-apron, I got busy.

The first thing I noticed is that the scent is AWESOME. It doesn’t linger long in the air and make it obvious that Mom’s Cleaning The Kitchen, but it’s nice as it’s being used. After cleaning the counter, there was no hint of a tacky feeling, and after the initial product that was wiped across the surface dried, I didn’t detect a hint of streaking.

I next used it on our sliding glass doors, and I have to say I was VERY impressed with the results there. There were some tougher spots that smeared a bit as I sprayed and wiped, but another application of the Pledge Multi-Surface cleaner took care of them. The front of my gas stove and dishwasher were just as easy to clean. 

Bottom line: I loved the scent of the product, and was very impressed with the speed with which it dried and the streak- and residue-free results. I’m looking forward to using it in other needy areas of my home!

Lindy Kern, stay-at-home mom of 3 busy boys, ages 7, 5 and 2: I really liked this product, particularly because I didn’t need to carry around two or three different bottles of cleaner to clean the room. It made the process go a lot faster, and that’s great. The smell didn’t bother me, and I would definitely buy it to use it again.

Melanie Faught, mom of 2 sons: Melanie did a thorough testing of the product and offered reviews for various surfaces:

  • First, you must read the fine print b/c it says it’s safe for granite but the fine print says sealed granite. I haven’t sealed our granite recently so I didn’t use it on the granite.
  • It’s excellent on stainless steel & plastics. Cleaned the outside of the microwave, dishwasher & refrigerator really well.
  • Left some streaks on mirror. It recommends using a soft clean cloth – I tried it & then tried paper towels to clean the mirror. Using paper towels caused less streaking but I would continue using a glass cleaner for my mirrors.
  • I didn’t notice as much streaking on glass as I did on the mirror. It quickly cleaned the frosted glass of the shower door well. It was also nice to quickly clean pictures with wood frames & glass quickly with one product.
  • It did a very good job picking up the dust on wood furniture. It did leave a dull finish. It recommends using Pledge Furniture Polish for more shine. I would probably continue using it for my kitchen table b/c it cleaned it really well & I don’t want my table to be shiny & oily.

Overall, Pledge Multi-surface is a good product. I think it would be very useful if you found out company was coming over & you wanted to do a quick clean of your house – this product helps you clean quickly.

Mamas, you can go to to get a $1-off coupon! Plus, the site’s just plain fun. It features cool cleaning tips videos from cleaning expert Trish Suhr and hilarious posts from guest bloggers as they chronicle their cleaning habits.

Work + Life: 6 1/2 weeks away!

By Autumn Manning, soon-to-be mama of two

autumn-pic1.jpgI am getting so close now to getting to meet Marin, our first daughter.

After having a little boy for the past 2.5 years, I have no idea what to expect with a little girl. This is quite the change of perspective from when I was expecting Miles. Having helped raised my three sisters, girls were a breeze for me…until I had Miles. Now, I just can’t imagine what to expect. I am filled with so much excitement to meet her and love her and be a wonderful mother and teacher to her, but I am equally as nervous…for a million reasons.

It’s funny. For those of you who don’t know, Miles came about rather unexpectedly. Morgan was working in Little Rock for an architecture firm at the time, and I was here, working for SVI. We were doing the weekend visit thing and hadn’t really addressed when we would make our home permanently in NWA or in Little Rock. I think we both wanted the other to give in and move.

When we found out we were having Miles, I wasn’t willing to put up a fight. I felt I needed to support our family by supporting my husband and the move he felt was necessary. I know I am making myself sound like this sweet, supportive wife, but believe me, I went kicking and screaming. I mean, my career, my family, and my life (except for my husband) were all here in NWA. Was he really going to make me say goodbye to all of that for a town that filmed a documentary called “gang banging in Little Rock”?? Really?? At the time, Morgan kept saying that SVI would work with me. “Just talk to them…it’ll work out”, he’d say.

But in my mind, this was something that just wouldn’t work. How was I going to live 3 hours away from the office, have a newborn, and still show the commitment and loyalty I needed to show? It wouldn’t work. But, it did work. We moved to Little Rock and had Miles in January of 2007.

For the next year or so, I worked from home and commuted to NWA anytime I was needed for work. I scheduled one week in NWA per month, but would come up for any relevant meeting or event, ensuring that my lack of physical presence wouldn’t mean a lack of leadership, work, or contribution on my part. I honestly felt my company was going out on a limb for me, but I knew I could do it and I refused to fail.

I did, however, struggle a lot through this time in my life. I struggled to fight a perception that probably wasn’t there, but I didn’t want others to feel that I was getting special treatment, heaven forbid. I wanted to be in the middle of the important conversations at work still, so I tried to be more assertive and more involved than I would have ever needed to be if I would have been in the office physically. And…I struggled to PAY ATTENTION through all of those conference calls. The other struggles were related more to having just had a baby…in Little Rock…away from family and friends.

Before Miles came, I had NO anxiety about having a newborn around because I felt like I had that covered. I had experience with kids and the thought of not knowing what to do never crossed my mind. I shouldn’t have been so confident. I was thrown for a loop from the get-go. I know people go through this all of the time, but for some reason, I took it harder than I thought I would. I look back and think I was a sad during this time in my life, probably because of all of the other transitions going on and not having time to properly adjust to them. I missed my family and friends, but wanted to be supportive to my husband and show that I liked Little Rock and was committed to making it work.

I traveled away from my newborn son too much for my liking, giving me an immense amount of guilt about being a working mother and “choosing” to leave him at such a young age. And, Miles was definitely NOT the picture perfect baby. He wouldn’t breastfeed, wouldn’t sleep, wouldn’t stop crying, and wouldn’t do anything I thought he should do. I didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time until he was 5 months old. I feel for my co-workers at the time, having to deal with my insane mood swings. I let all of this sit within me until one night, only 5 months after buying our first home. I looked at Morgan and asked him if he ever thought of moving back to NWA. Either he felt the same way, or he knew what I needed at the time. He looked at me and said, “Let’s do it”.

All of these struggles definitely brought about positive things for our family. Morgan and I were able to lean on each other, becoming a tight family unit, knowing we could rely on each other for anything, so proud of our “club” and what we formed. Morgan became a phenomenal dad to Miles, having to keep him for a week at a time without me from the time Miles was 8 weeks old. I developed an even deeper passion for and commitment to my company for the opportunity to “balance” my family life with my work life the way they did. I believe their trust in me grew as well.

Even with all of these positive benefits of that time in my life, it did leave me with some anxiety about what to expect with this new child and all of the new and different things we will have to work through. I just have so many bittersweet memories from this time that I think I have even more anxiety now that I await the birth of our daughter. It’s like…I was tested then and I refused to fail. So I didn’t. What will happen this time? Will I be able to balance everything? Will I be an insane person? And will I form the type of connection to Marin like I formed with Miles?

I guess my biggest source of anxiety is the thought of being able to connect to a little girl in the way that I feel she deserves. Girls are tough and complex and I want to be a source of love and support to her. I equally want her to look up to me and admire the choices I make in my life as her mother and as a woman today. I hope I can deliver. I feel like it is a little easier with Miles. Miles thinks I am the best thing in the whole world, but that’s a given. Boys always love their moms. I know that the mother/daughter relationship is one that is so important, yet so fragile. So over the next 6.5 weeks, I will be praying for the strength I need to be the mother to Marin that she already deserves…even before she is born.

What’s On Sale: Block Sidewalk Sale!

big_sale_tag2.jpgWe just found out about a BIG Block Sidewalk Sale that involves an entire shopping block just off of Highway 71 Business between Springdale and Lowell. The sale includes the following stores:

  • Metro Builders Supply
  • Quality Millwork
  • The Masters Craft
  • Lighting Emporium

The sale begins this Friday, June 26th at 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. If you shop Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., you and the kids can even snag some free hot dogs, chips and drinks. The sale will continue on Saturday the 27th from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Participating locations will offer giveaways and door prizes. (You know how we mamas LOVE a giveaway!) And we also heard from our buddies at Metro Builders Supply that one of the hottest deals during the sale will be a top-loading washer and dryer pair for $550. (No, that is not a typo. I got that info from the manager himself, so check it out.)

Each of the stores participating in the Block Sidewalk Sale will have special deals to offer, so this will be a good sale to investigate and a chance to get lots of bargain hunting done in a one-stop environment. Call Metro at 479-750-2200 if you need specific driving directions for how to get to this shopping plaza. Happy sale shopping!

Mealtime Mama: Scrumptious Summer Recipes!

by Rhonda Franz, contributor

Enjoy adding these recipes to your list of summer foods. These are perfect for light meals, picnics, casual eating on the back porch or pool parties for the neighborhood.

I adapted the following recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette. Just for fun, I say “Bam!” when I put in the salt or pepper. For even more fun, I let my three-year-old help by letting him shake the ingredients together in a jar. If you try this in your home, make sure the lid is screwed on tight.

Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing


  • ¼ c Balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • approx. ¼ tsp salt
  • approx. ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ c olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp mustard


Whisk together balsamic vinegar, cider, garlic, salt, and pepper

Add mustard and whisk some more. Repeat with brown sugar.

Slowly add olive oil, whisking constantly.

No-Bake Cookies

No-bake cookies are the perfect summertime treat when you don’t want the oven heating up your house. This recipe is my version of the tasty cookie.


  • 2 heaping cups of sugar
  • ¼ c cocoa
  • 1 stick (¼ lb) butter
  • ½ c milk
  • dash of salt
  • ½ c extra crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 ½ tsp extra strength vanilla
  • 3 cups oatmeal (Either quick oats or old fashioned oats can be used, or try 1 ½ c. of each)


Combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter in sauce pan over low to medium heat.

When the mixture starts to boil, put the lid on and cook only two minutes (this melts down the sugar from the sides of the pan). Remove from heat.

Add vanilla, salt, and peanut butter. Mix well.

Stir in oatmeal.

Drop by spoonful on waxed paper, parchment paper, or cookie sheets

Let stand several hours until cookies hold together (if you can wait that long).


Summer Salad (This is my new favorite salad).


  • Several cups of mixed greens (I use a mixture of green leaf, romaine, and whatever I can find at the farmer’s market)
  • As much or as little of the following as you want: raisins, sunflower seeds, shredded parmesan cheese or crumbled blue cheese, croutons, chilled vinaigrette dressing.
  • For a salad to serve four, I would use about two large bunches of romaine lettuce, a cup of raisins, ½ c. sunflower seeds, 1 ½ cups cheese, and 1 ½ cups croutons.


Put all the ingredients in a big bowl and toss.

Drizzle vinaigrette dressing over the salad just before serving.

Tasty Veggie Sandwich


  • Toasted bread (sandwich bread or ciabatta rolls)
  • Cream cheese
  • Avocado
  • Cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Salt & pepper
  • salsa


Spread cream cheese on one slice of bread.

Add one thick slice of avocado, a couple thin slices of cheddar or mozzarella cheese, lettuce, two tomato slices, salt and pepper to taste, and about 2 tsp of salsa.

Party Dip

Add some zing to the popular Rotel and Velveeta cheese dip! Here’s how to do it:

Mix according to directions (1 can Rotel to 1 loaf Velveeta cheese), or however you like to make it. Add the following and stir:

  • One diced tomato
  • 1 cup chopped roasted red pepper (found in the grocery store on the pickle aisle)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder

Heat the mixture in microwave or on stovetop. Pour over warmed tortilla chips, or serve in a bowl for dipping.

Rhonda Franz enjoys cooking for her husband and two young boys. She loves the classic Rotel cheese dip, but hopes that if she eats enough of the summer salad, it will help balance out her diet. When she’s not making a mess in the kitchen, she writes about all kinds of things at

No time to cook tonight? Remember that Cuisines Gourmet to Go, which sponsors this feature, offers lunch daily and take-home meals for dinner. Today’s specials are Chicken Breast Gorgonzola with Orzo Tuscano pasta ($8.95) or Scallops Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta ($12.95). The Motherlode Mamas have eaten at Cuisines many times, and we are huge fans. The food is amazing. Click here to see the list of daily lunch specials and take-home meals or call them at 479-631-2900. Bon apetite!  

Two Ways to Raise Funds for Children’s Hospital this weekend!

ach_mp_img_logo.gifThe Northwest Arkansas chapter of Circle of Friends, the fund-raising organization for Arkansas Children’s Hospital is hosting its first “Friendraiser” event this Saturday, June 27, at George’s Majestic Lounge on Dickson Street from 7 to 11 p.m. All proceeds benefit Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Look for live music by Miller & The Misdemeanors as well as a silent auction and door prizes. Dinner will be provided by Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers. Tickets are $25 and available at the door. For more information, contact

If you already have plans for Saturday night, but want to help out ACH on Dickson Street this weekend, don’t forget about the Jackson L. Graves Foundation’s annual Red, White and Baby Blue fundraising event. This fundraiser is Friday, June 26, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Garden Room, next to the former Ozark Mountain Smokehouse on Dickson Street in Fayetteville.

For 25 bucks you get dinner, drinks and live music on Dickson Street. The specifics: music from award-winning local band Leah & the Mojo Doctors, heavy hors d’oeuvres, assorted beverages and a silent auction that includes trips to Sonoma or Napa Valley, California, and Key West, Florida, as well as a Razorback kids’ party at Bud Walton Arena and a Princess for a Day party, and more.

Buy your tickets at (link), the Northwest Arkansas Mall Guest Services booth or Everett-Maxey in Bentonville. You can also call Mitzi at 479-466-6103. Proceeds will help provide a sibling playroom and private family transitional care room at Arkansas Children’s Hospital NICU.

Help ACH and have a blast doing it on Dickson Street!

Fireworks Show This Weekend!


One of the first fireworks shows of the season is this Sunday, June 28th at 6:30 p.m. at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers. This is the second year for the event, and it was a big hit last summer. My husband took our two boys to this fireworks show last year while I stayed home with a sleepy baby, and fireworkscrosses.jpgall three of my guys said the fireworks were “awesome.”

Sunday morning services at the church will feature Vietnam Veteran Tim Lee as well as Ronnie Floyd, pastor of The Church at Pinnacle Hills. At 6:30 Sunday night, the fireworks show will surround the three towering crosses outside the church.

Just before the fireworks show begins, the church will hold an outdoor baptism at the base of the crosses which stand in a huge reflecting pool. Those interested in being baptized during the event can sign up on the church’s website. Last year, 64 people were baptized during this celebration.

Finding The Church at Pinnacle Hills is very easy. Just take Interstate 540 to exit 83 in Rogers. You can easily see those huge crosses from the exit ramp, so there’s no way you can miss it. It’s just off Pinnacle Hills Parkway.

For more info or to see some great photos taken during last year’s “Fireworks at the Crosses” event, click here or on any of the photos above to visit the church’s website. Enjoy the show!