Our Next Photo Contest Is Open!

By now you’ve probably figured out that we, like most mamas, LOVE great photos — particularly great shots of kids. There is a reason why most women say that, if the house was burning and the family was already out safely, they’d grab their photo album before sprinting out the door. Great photos are priceless and timeless.

Our first snapshot contest was a big hit and the entries have filled our online scrapbook located at the bottom of the website. Kathleen Villar won the first contest with a precious shot of her son hugging his great-grandpa. You can check it out by clicking here.

The contest was pretty popular, so we’re happy to announce that we’re doing another contest featuring a very cool grand prize from one of the area’s most talented child photographers — Melinda J. Worthington of MJW Photography. (You can check out Mindy’s work by clicking here or on the banner located above our snapshot gallery at the bottom of this page.)

We really love cruising by Mindy’s blog every week to see what she has been up to and to check out the great shots she has captured of Northwest Arkansas kids. The style of her work and her fun personality really shine through in her blog.

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The shots you see scattered throughout this post are some of Mindy’s favorites. I first heard about Mindy and her work through my friend Jennifer who asked Mindy to shoot her baby’s newborn shots. Oh, I melted when I saw those pictures and almost came down with a bad case of the “baby bug.”

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THE GRAND PRIZE: The winner of the snapshot contest will receive a free portrait session with Mindy fav1vertical.jpgWorthington Johnson and a HUGE 16 by 20 inch wall print of their favorite shot from that session. This is a prize that would ordinarily cost you hundreds of dollars if you paid out-of-pocket. And having a great shot of your kid or kids to treasure for years to come? Well, it’s hard to put a price on that.

HOW TO ENTER: We’ll accept photo submissions in August, September and October. We know how hard it is to narrow down your favorite snapshots, so you can send us up to 5 shots each month during the contest. If possible, please try to send jpeg images and e-mail them to gwen@nwaMotherlode.com.

The photos will be judged by a panel of judges (who won’t know the kids or parents’ names) and they will be evaluated on “biggest emotional impact.” So send us the ones that really make you laugh or make your heart melt. To see some examples of which photos have made it as fav6swingvert.jpgfinalists in our past contest, click on the “Picture Mama” category and scroll back through our old posts where we’ve announced previous finalists.

The judges will select a few finalists from the photos submitted each month, and we’ll display those in a special post so you’ll know if you’re one step closer to the big prize. At the end of October, the grand prize winner will be announced and that mom will schedule her free portrait session with Mindy. She’ll have a new wall photo to display in time for Christmas! Cool, huh?

NOTE: We’re interested in seeing photos of kids of all ages. After all, this motherhood gig doesn’t stop when they turn into teenagers. So send us shots of your tweens and teens, too!

We’ll update the photo gallery with the new snapshots at least once a month so all your fellow moms can “oooh” and “aaah” over your photos. I love flipping through the online gallery. Makes me smile every time. So get your cameras busy and start sending your photos today. Can’t wait to see them!

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Hair: Help Me Rhonda on streaks

Dear Rhonda,

What are the latest trends in hair color? Is the “streaky” look back in?

Dear Streaky,

When you look at hair color magazines or any fashion magazine, it seems like “anything goes”. But remember, these are fashion magazines. Most of my clients want a more natural look for their hair, meaning less “chunks” and more soft, natural tones.

A stylist can achieve a more natural look by foiling in thinner slices of hair and using several colors, lighter and darker, but within the same color family. In my opinion, it’s best to look natural and leave “funky” for the fashion runway.

On an unrelated note, I was watching this show on television a few weeks ago about a “hair jury.” It was a makeover show, and they brought a woman into a room and 12 people sitting behind a one-way mirror commented on their first impression of the woman’s looks. The jury was brutal! They were very direct about her appearance. The poor thing thought her look was very youthful and hip, but, in reality, it was kind of sad. They made her over and she looked fabulous by the end of the show. It just got me thinking about how many of us don’t really take the time to look in the mirror and see what’s REALLY there from an objective standpoint. Just something to think about…

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

Five Minutes with a Mom: Catherine Wright-Dilbert

catherine-wright-dilbert-0907-1.jpgSons’ names and ages? My son, Devan, is 15 and my stepson, John, is 21.

Where were you born/raised? I was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Deer Park, New York (Long Island – just 45 miles east of New York City).

What brought you to Northwest Arkansas? My son! My ex-husband and I divorced when my son was three and decided that we would split custody based on his age.  We were living in Iowa at the time and did not place any geographic restrictions on each other.  Devan’s father moved back to New York and I followed him four years later. Just before my son was scheduled to move in with his dad, my ex moved to Arkansas.  I decided to wait and see if my son would want to stay.  Last summer he told me that he likes it here and did not want to move again.  I made my decision to move close to my son. We arrived on June 1st, 2009.

What’s your occupation? I’m Membership Development Director of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers (NAMC). I’m thrilled I now have the opportunity to provide support to mothers, families and employers interested in supporting their employees’ work/life needs in Northwest Arkansas.

How can local moms benefit from the National Association of Mothers’ Centers? NAMC has been helping mothers connect with other mothers in a non-judgmental environment where they can support each other since 1975.  Mothers have the opportunity to be heard and validated as they share their experiences, concerns and insights with one another.  Because of the model and training we provide, members learn from each other and develop a whole new level of communication and advocacy skills that serve them in every area of their lives – relationships, community and career.

You can learn more about the Mothers’ Centers by visiting www.MothersCenter.org.

Mothers’ Centers partner with experts in parenting, maternal well being, early childhood care and education and overall child development to bring a wealth of resources to parents through articles, seminars, conferences and webinars. Our next webinar is Thursday, Aug. 6, from 7 to 8 p.m. (CST), “Creating a Parenting Roadmap to Success” for parents of children from birth to 18 who want to enhance their parent-child relationship while raising an empowered child. People can learn more or register by e-mailing me at catherinew@motherscenter.org.

What has surprised you most about living in NWA? After living in Iowa for 9 years, I was ready for a slower pace and a difference in culture.  Although I figured that people in the south would be cordial, what has surprised me the most is just how friendly and ready to help people have been!  My husband and I are very outgoing people.  We left a huge network of wonderful friends behind.  While forging new friendships always takes time, I am encouraged by how quickly people are opening up to us and even inviting us to socialize with them.

Favorite place in NWA so far? Our favorite place so far is Devil’s Den.  It is really beautiful. And I know there is still so much more to see!

Favorite way to de-stress? Turn the lights down, light every candle in the house and put some soft jazz on the stereo.  Then curl up on the couch with a cup of tea or a glass of wine (depending on my mood) and my journal or a good book.

Your pet peeve? People who drive under the speed limit.  Hey, I’m from New York!

Where did you first meet your husband? We met over the phone.  Ron was calling organizations to offer his speaking and coaching services for single parents.  He called the National Association of Mothers’ Centers and I happened to answer the phone. As a single mother who is also committed to helping other single parents, I offered to network with him. We finally met in person two months later. We sat down at a Borders coffee shop at 10 a.m. for what we both planned to be a one hour meeting. When I got up to leave, I looked at my watch and it was 2!

How long have you been married? Seven months. We were married December 28, 2008 and had both our boys in the wedding party.

What has been one of your favorite parts of motherhood? It’s hard to say what has been my favorite. I have enjoyed every part (although not every moment) from pregnancy to nursing, the toddler years to the teen years. If I have to boil it down, my favorite part is the love my son shares with me, watching his gifts and talents develop and learning from him.  My favorite part of motherhood can be summed up in this story:

When Devan was about 3 years old, he loved going up the slide. Not down – UP. No matter how much I tried to convince him that slides were more fun when you go down, he wanted to climb up. One afternoon, after our usual debate about the slide, my son said, “Come on Mommy, do it.” To which I replied that of course I could not. He just calmly repeated, “Come on Mommy. Do it.” After repeating this several times, wouldn’t you know, Mommy gave in – and I DID IT!  My 3-year-old’s response – “Good job, Mommy!”  Sometimes my son teaches me to go beyond my self-imposed limitations.

How are you handling your son’s teenage years? My focus is to be as supportive as possible while also teaching him what will work for him as he becomes an adult. I remember well what it was like to be a teenager. Thanks to a seminar put on by the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, I learned some very helpful information about how adolescents are wired (read the article by clicking HERE). I work hard to show him love, to listen to him and guide him while allowing him to learn his own lessons within the boundaries of keeping him safe. And I do my best to not take his rough moments personally.

What’s the last book you read? The Book of Genesis.

What is your favorite thing about summer? I love being warm, enjoying the outdoors whether it is a hike in the park, an outdoor concert, playing miniature golf or sitting on the deck drinking my coffee.

A precious childhood memory? I am the oldest of five children. One very precious memory I have is when my Aunt Vivian, my mother’s sister, would come to visit and the five of us with my mom and dad would gather in the living room for one of her performances.  She would put on little skits that would have us all in stitches!

A project you can’t wait to tackle? I am working on a book about healing relationships and making marriage work called “I do?” and I can’t wait to finish it and get it published! In the meantime, I am writing a blog to get my thoughts flowing. You can read my musings at catherinewright.wordpress.com.

One word to sum me up … Passionate

Life With Ladybug: Driving me mad

By Shannon Magsam, neurotic new car owner

I remember it like it was yesterday: we awkwardly – and delicately — clicked the car seat into the base and I gingerly climbed into the backseat with my screaming newborn. After a ride down from room 616 in a wheelchair – and realizing that I’d have to wear house shoes and my pregnancy clothes home – it was time to leave with our precious cargo.

My husband pulled out of the hospital parking lot like a 96-year-old man with acute arthritis. His hands were claw-like on the wheel, he gripped it so tightly.

When we finally hit the main road, he picked up the pace — only slightly. Every passing vehicle was a potential threat – every pothole leading to a possible case of shaken baby syndrome. We didn’t breathe until we got her home and into the house. Then we slumped down together in the shared gratitude that we had made the trip home with our new baby unscathed.

That was seven years ago. Now that our presh-us has stopped spilling apple juice quite as regularly on the car upholstery and only occasionally jumps into the backseat with her feet caked in mud, we decided to get a new vehicle. Well, that and we wanted to take advantage of the government’s “Cash for Clunkers” incentive. My husband’s old Jeep met the requirements so we decided to trade it in (and it’s a good thing we made the decision last week, since the $1 billion is apparently pretty much done for). We got the entire $4,500 as a trade-in allowance since the gas mileage on the new RAV4 is so much better than what we had with the Jeep.

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The way I’m acting with the new vehicle is what reminded me (somewhat) of that first ride home with Ladybug. Every time I drive out into traffic I feel like cars are intentionally swerving into me or pulling out in front of me. I’m sweating by the time I make it home and the silver paint is still pristine.

Ladybug and I went to the Springdale Aquatic Center the day after I signed all the paperwork making me the (first-time) owner of a new SUV. Each time we reached the top of the tall water slide, I looked over into the distance for the silver glint of my new baby. I had parked it out in the back 40, but everyone in NWA was at the water park, apparently, because they even started taking up parking spaces way over by me. Once, I panicked because I thought it had been stolen (my keys were in the beach bag, after all!), but realized it had been obscured by a banged-up black pickup truck. “Oh, lordy,” I thought, “that pickup was probably hauling seven kids and they’ll all throw open the door and let it slam into my car.” Then I thought, “You are a freak. Certifiable. Chill out.” But I didn’t.

I chose silver over white because I thought it might hide scrapes better. Well, that and I swore I wouldn’t have another white vehicle again. I had just spent about 13 years driving two white cars. Unfortunately, when I test drove the only two RAV4s they had on the Fayetteville Autopark’s lot, they were silver and white. The silver would have been a no-brainer except the white one had advanced security options and blue-tooth capability. And there was only a few hundred dollars’ difference.

So for five days I test drove the white, then the silver, then the white. I was relieved when someone else showed an interest in the white one because I felt satisfied that I had the silver one home with me. I realized I would be “settling” if I went with the white one. So silver it is. (Special thanks to salesman George Torres at the Autopark for his endless patience with my indecisiveness.) And, nope, I wasn’t given any incentives to write about the Autopark on my blog. Not unless you count that fifty cents I borrowed to buy a Dr. Pepper.

Everyone says I’ll get over my protective tendencies after the vehicle is a few months old. For now, I’m just staying off the road unless it’s absolutely necessary. Maybe then I’ll be able to drive with abandon like my husband apparently can.

Yesterday, when he returned from errands and drove wayyyyy too fast into the driveway, I felt a little murderous.

I greeted him with: “Dude, you just evil-knieveled up the driveway!”

It’s a good thing he brought home grocery store flowers.

Update on the kitten: She has a name! Ladybug finally settled on “Asia”. She’s adorable. See for yourself:

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Motherlode Must Have: Lands’ End backpack

A few days ago, I got confirmation by mail that the summer is almost over. Two letters addressed to my sons arrived from the elementary school they’ll be attending as a second grader and kindergartner next month. Is it just me, or does the summer seem like it has literally flown by? Wow, that was fast.

The letters included a list of school supplies and a notice of when school starts in Rogers — August 19th. So now we’re on the hunt for supplies and something to carry them in, which brings me to today’s small-haul-backpack.jpg“Must-Have” item: The Lands’ End Backpack. I’ve been a fan of Lands’ End for years because their kids clothes are cute and they really hold up through a lot of wear and tear and multiple washings. (By the way, we are NOT paid to write product reviews. We reserve the “Motherlode Must-Have” label for products we’ve used and really like and would recommend to other moms.)

So I bought a Lands’ End backpack when my oldest son started kindergarten two years ago. The bag has held up so well that I’m buying another one this year for our middle child to start kindergarten with. What I like about Lands’ End bags is that they come in a variety of sizes (preschoolers, little kids and bigger kids). And the catalog and online guide is very detailed — telling you exactly how much stuff each bag can hold. There are also coordinating lunch boxes that can be clipped onto most of the backpack styles, and most of the backpacks have reflective strips that help with safety.

There are lots of colors, styles and even cool ways to personalize each bag so that it’ll be a little easier for your kid to tell that this bag is his. (They’ve got everything from butterflies to dinosaur emblems, monograms, favorite numbers, sports balls and lots more. My 5-year-old wants the dinosaur patch put onto his new backpack.)clearpocket-backpack.jpg

And their smallest backpack (called the TinyTake) has a really cool feature for preschoolers. The bag has a clear pocket on the outside that can hold artwork they’ve made in preschool, Mother’s Day Out or daycare. Or you could use it to hold important forms that you’re trying to remember to turn into the school office. Love that idea because it’s both creative and practical.

If you’re not on the Lands’ End catalog mailing list, you can always jump over to their website by clicking here. The website will let you zoom in on the details of each photo, which is pretty helpful. Considering the “cute factor,” the ability to customize, and the great durability of these bags, I’d say the cost is very reasonable. The bag I’m ordering is about $24.50.

Lands’ End is owned by Sears, so if you don’t like the items you order you can return them at the local Sears store so you don’t have to hassle with returning something by mail.

Hope this tip helps with your school supply shopping trip! Enjoy the rest of summer!

Only a few spots available for Naturals youth camp!

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As of Tuesday morning, only 10 spots remained for the Naturals two-day youth instructional camp, to be held August 4th and 5th (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).

The youth camp is designed for children ages 7 through 12 to receive on-field instruction and participate in drills designed to improve fundamental skills.

This is a complete instructional baseball experience that is very unique to this area.  All campers will have the chance to develop numerous skills directly from the pros. There will be numerous learning stations set up, with a major emphasis on hitting, fielding, pitching, catching, base running and bunting, with instruction from Naturals Manager Brian Poldberg, Hitting Coach Terry Bradshaw, Pitching Coach Larry Carter, and five current Naturals each day.

Participants receive a Naturals Youth Baseball Camp T-Shirt and are treated to a ballpark lunch each day. Each child also receives four (4) vouchers for a General Admission Ticket on the Subway Berm at any regular season game based on availability.

To register you child or to get additional information, contact Danny Helmer with the Naturals at (479) 927-4067. A registration form can also be obtained at the Naturals main offices at Arvest Ballpark as well as through the website, nwanaturals.com.  The cost is $75 per camper.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.  The Naturals have a toll-free ticket hotline (1-877-444-2637) for fans to purchase Naturals tickets. Their website, nwanaturals.com, offers fans the opportunity to purchase tickets online and avoid lines at the ticket windows by printing their tickets at home or at the office.

Work + Life: Out of steam

By Autumn Manning, WOHM blogger

autumn-pic1.jpgI am running out of steam. Ten more days and I get to meet Marin. Ten more days and I get to spend time with her and Miles together, our new little family. Ten more days and I get no more sleep for at least 90 days. Oh well…it comes with the territory.

I am glad this is finally the home stretch because I am not sure I have much left to give at this point, no matter how much I try to think that I can keep going and going. My typical day looks a little something like this:

Wake up around four since Marin likes to do a little jig in my stomach at that time every morning; take a shower; do something that resembles a horribly out of rhythm white-girl dance to stretch my maternity jeans/slacks on over my newly plumped up backside thanks to pregnancy; wake Miles up and beg him to lay on his bed so I can lay down sideways next to him to try to change his diaper as this is the only way I can comfortably get down that low; take Miles to school; waddle into the office with bright red, swollen hands and feet; put everyone at the office through hell with all my complaining and groaning; almost fall asleep by noon, which causes me to have to run home and nap over my lunch break; rush back to the office and work until I have to get Miles at the end of the day (unless it’s Morgan’s turn); drive home and tell Morgan we are having leftovers again; get frustrated because I am not making time to exercise anymore and complain to Morgan about how I look and feel; pass out by 9 p.m. and do it all again.

I am spent. I am ready to be “pampered” in the hospital for a couple of days. There is something wrong with me when I think labor is being pampered. Seriously, though, I am actually excited. Ha! Maybe I should listen to my body and take it easy for this last week and a half.

When we had Miles, we didn’t have any family and very few friends around in Little Rock, so we didn’t get many visitors in the hospital. I have taken advantage of the family in friends in NWA and basically have done all except send out an evite to the actual event. I am sure I will regret that when fatigue sets in, but I am so excited to share this time in my life with the people we love. Although I have been through this before, there are a lot of things that I am not sure how to take because they are kinda new for us.

For example, I had the ability to work from home when I had Miles. I didn’t have to worry about fitting into any work clothes for work meetings as I conferenced in to most of them for the first year. I didn’t have to worry about my boobs leaking all over my shirt from breastfeeding since no one saw me throughout the day. I was able to run out at lunch and work out, visit Miles at daycare, or shower.

This time will be a little different since I will be working out of the home again. We also decided to take Miles out of daycare and bring someone into our home to watch him and Marin. I am THRILLED that we found someone who loves our kids and who also fits within our budget. But of course, I am nervous since it will be so different than daycare has been. I wonder if I will be depriving Marin of the social interaction that Miles got for 2.5 years. I am more excited than nervous, though. There will be no more juggling taking kids to and from school everyday; no more worrying about a meeting at work running late if it is my day to get the kids. I think it’s going to be GREAT. Now, I just need to find a nanny-cam so I am allow my insane self to make sure my kids are treated fairly and given lots of love and attention at home.

Last time, I remember being more nervous about leaving work for a couple of months. This time, I feel a little better about it. Living in Little Rock, working out of my home last time when everyone was in an office together in NWA gave me a lot of fears and insecurities that I probably don’t have anymore since I am physically present with the rest of the team. Or, this calm might be part of growing up, realizing things handle themselves as long as you have taken care of all you can before you leave.

As the day draw nearer to us having this second child, I am equally excited and nervous. People who know me know that I have a hard time slowing down, and I pray to God every night that He gives me the strength and dedication needed to continue going at this pace, the pace I love.

With work, The MACC Initiative, and family life, I am kept up a lot of nights worrying that I will forget something or let someone/something down. But that’s when I pray and say to myself, “Other people do harder things all the time. If they can do it, why can’t I?” I also think of my husband, Morgan, who is so supportive and helps me out more than I could have ever hoped for. I hope he doesn’t grow weary and tired of the pace one day because I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.

Beauty Buzz: Andi reveals her (slightly unusual) favorites

Andi’s 4 Beauty Must-haves:andi-douglasimg_7324.jpg

Lansinoh brand Lanolin ($8.34) for my lips: After reading in In Style that Angie Harmon uses the nipple cream on her lips every day, I had to give it a try. I happened to have some, thanks to over-zealous nursing from Lexi, and was eager to find another use.

After getting past the “ick factor”, like the first time I used hemorrhoid cream on my thighs, I realized it worked really well. It stayed on all night and in the morning my lips looked fuller and had no lines. I was an instant convert, but remember, a little goes a long way!

Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Lip Gloss in Wet ($12): The color is perfect for a neutral lip but also blends well with a lipstick when I want something darker. This is the only lip gloss I have found that is not too sticky and doesn’t have any flavor to it. If I wear any gloss with a sweet taste, I compulsively lick my lips, which makes my chapped lips even worse.

N.Y.C. Browser Brush-On Brow Kit ($3.99): This is my favorite cheap find ever! There are two sides to the little box, one with a clear wax and the other with a dark brown shadow. It comes with a little applicator brush and tiny pair of tweezers, so it is perfect for on the go touch-ups. The shadow makes a much softer line than a pencil and the wax helps keep my massive eyebrows in check, especially when I have gone way past waxing time. Bonus: I use the shadow for one of my favorite make-up tricks. Apply a little to the top of your collarbone to create a shadow and you look instantly thinner.

Estee Lauder Artists Eye Pencil in SoftSmudge Black ($19): I had always used drug store eye liner in waterproof formulas because my sensitive eyes are always watering, but they were hard to apply and always broke, so when I got this pencil as a free gift I tried it out and was hooked. It lasted longer than any of the other brands I tried and didn’t smudge all over my face. The smudging tip on the end was ideal for creating the smokey eye I can’t get enough of. Even though it costs more than I usually spend, it lasts a long time, so long, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought it.

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

New Product for Moms-to-Be: Tummy Shield

tummy-shield.jpgWe just found out about a new product designed for pregnant women that really got our attention. It’s called the “Tummy Shield” and it’s designed to help protect your unborn baby while wearing a seatbelt in your car.

Anybody who has been pregnant before knows that, especially when you get huge in those last few months, it’s tricky to wear a seat belt because of where it fits around your belly. This product is designed to help protect your baby and the baby’s placenta in the event of a car accident. You place it in your seat and then fasten the seatbelt through the piece in the middle to divert the belt from hitting your belly directly in a crash.

We did a little research on the product online and learned that, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association, “Motor vehicle crashes account for four of five deaths that occur among unborn babies of pregnant women who experience trauma.” That’s a really scary statistic, and we all know how much time we spend in a car on a day-to-day basis. It makes sense to reduce your risk as much as possible.

According to the product website, the Tummy Shield was invented by a father of four in Australia. When his wife was 7 months pregnant with their first child, the couple was in a minor car accident when they swerved to avoid a collision and hit the curb instead. Although the mother was fine and the baby was born healthy, there were developmental delays and a doctor later concluded that it was probably caused by a brain trauma sometime during the pregnancy. That’s when the father started working on an invention that could prevent the same type of thing from happening to other babies.

Please note that we have not tried this product ourselves because — well, we’re not pregnant! But we would love to hear from any of you who may have experience using it. We do know that it’s available at The Baby’s Room in Rogers. You can also read more about it on the product website by clicking here. You can also see crash testing videos on their website.

If you have any questions about it, call Stephanie who is the owner of The Baby’s Room in Rogers. Her number is 479-631-6001. The Baby’s Room also has info about this product on their website, which you can view by clicking here. 

The Four Mom “Musts”

By Vikki Spencer, The Mom Whisperer

The last thing any mom wants is additional lines on her “to-do” list – especially if she can’t delegate it to someone else. So, allow me to warn you – the following might add a few new goals that just might be worth replacing some old ones for.

Beyond home management, music lessons, sports, the friends and the foes, here are four things that every mom must handle because it comes with the territory of growing the next generation – (with minimal years of therapy needed – for them and us).

Know the developmental stages – from 3 months to the teenage years.
Brain and physical development are crucial keys to understanding our kids, especially what they are and are not capable of (physically, mentally, emotionally). In fact, until age 21, the brain continues to develop. So, stages of development will be a normal part of life even into the college years. You’ll know a new stage is coming on when you had life down and now there are curveballs and adjustments. Google “child development”, check the nearest bookstore, or phone the nerdy girlfriend who’s always got a tip for you.

Perks: It’s all the things the kids would tell you about themselves if they could. Guaranteed decrease in feeling crazy. Complete understanding of what’s too much to ask. Realizing what is appropriate in everything from chores to discipline.

Instill values. Values (the super short version) are the things you spend time and money on that are really important to you (beyond food, clothing and shelter). For some, it’s family time, sports, adventure, education, money, or church. It can also be the intangible things like respect, adventure, intelligence, service, or honesty to name a few. Figure out your own values and choose the top 5. Look for “teachable moments” when you can hand down those values. Kids as young as 4 years old can understand them. Older ones need the reinforcement.

Perks: You are doing the “mom” work that is the foundation of family. You’re giving them an inner compass that points them in the right direction now and after they leave the nest. Also, when these are hammered out, it’s easier to say “no” and pare down a schedule because values are the new plumbline. For example, our family values sports AND time together. The result – only one sport each season. Everything else gets a gut wrenching, “sorry.”

Master the art of discipline – we aren’t their BFF’s, we’re parents. Wise discipline includes a wide range of actions and takes time to figure out. So, ask friends, websites, or grandma for advice and try some new things out for a week or so (religiously). Learn what works for each kid and what works for you – and stick to it.

Perks: they ultimately leave home with respect for you, themselves, and others – not to mention fewer run in’s with the law.

Have traditions. Traditions don’t come around just on holidays. They can be the weekly TV show everyone watches together, or a monthly chess showdown, or a quarterly sleep over in mom and dad’s room (pup tent optional). C’mon, give your future adult kid a reason to finish the sentence “My mom made us ____ and at first I hated it, but then I really looked forward to it.” Traditions connect family.

Perks: stories to listen to when you’re old and gray about how silly everyone thought you were, but were so glad you did it.

The four “mommy musts” of child development, values, discipline, and tradition are the building blocks of family. These areas remind us how to regroup and establish family identity regardless of age, stage, or financial position. We are family. We build this generation for the next (so we can have fun with the grandkids and not worry about being so daggum intentional!)

Vikki Spencer is a freelance writer and mom coach. You can follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/momwhisperer

©2009 V. Spencer

Doc Talk: How to stop a nosebleed

dr-carl-engmann2.jpgDoc Talk is a weekly series of short video podcasts that allow you to go on a virtual visit to a doctor’s office. We’ve asked many of the questions moms want answers to, so all you have to do is click, watch and listen to get the info you need from an expert at Mercy Health System.

For more information about the doctor’s background and training, simply click on his photo to see a bio video podcast. This week’s answer comes from father of three, Dr. Carl Engman, who is originally from Ghana.

Got a great question for a Mercy doc? Send us an e-mail with your question and we may include it on an upcoming installment of Doc Talk.

Q: What are the common causes of nosebleeds and what’s the best way to stop one?

video13.jpgA: Click on the video podcast icon at right to see and hear Dr. Engmann answer this question. A window will pop up prompting you to click the “play” arrow to begin the video.

Dr. Carl Engmann is a pediatrician at Mercy Health Center Pediatrics of Northwest Arkansas. His practice is located at 3101 SE 14th St. in Rogers off Interstate 540. For more info on Dr. Engmann, click on his photo to watch his bio podcast or call his office at 479-986-6120.

logo_mercy1.gifNWAMotherlode.com 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: Key Priorities

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”  1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB

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

car_and_truck_keys.jpgSometimes somebody will teach me something that is so obvious, and so logical, but that I would never have thought of in a million years.

Almost twenty-five years ago, when I first came to the country church, I was having lunch in the home of a family from my congregation. A television news bulletin interrupted the regular programming, and the announcer said that a prisoner had escaped from a nearby facility, was possibly in our area, and that we should consider him to be armed and dangerous.

I was very surprised what the man of the house did upon hearing of the jailbreak. He immediately walked outside and put the key into the ignition of his pickup truck.

I asked my host why he was doing that. Wasn’t he afraid that the convict would steal his truck? I will never forget his wise answer. He replied, “John, if an escapee comes by here, he will be looking for transportation, and he will be desperate.  If he comes by the house and finds my truck with a key in it, he’ll probably take the truck and leave without causing us any harm.  But if he comes and there is no key, there’s a good chance he will come in the house looking for a key and hurt us or kill us all. We’d a lot rather lose that old truck than to lose our lives.”

I don’t know what law enforcement officials would think of his plan, but it makes perfect sense to me. There is no earthly possession that is worth forfeiting your life or the lives of your family for. It’s no good to keep your truck, but to lose your life in the process.

In today’s Scripture lesson (at the top), Jesus impresses upon us the same spiritual truth.  This world has so many beautiful and wonderful things.  But if we gain “the whole world” but end up losing our own soul, we have not profited.  We have lost everything that matters in the end.

Dear mamas, as we go through this new week, let’s strive to keep eternity’s values in view.  The most important thing that we can give to our children is a saving faith in Jesus Christ, because he is the “key” to happiness in this life and to life eternal in the age that is to come.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” (*Sing that  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 Preacher has an old work truck that even escapees don’t want to steal).  You should write him at extramailbox@juno.com.

The Rockwood Files: Couples Chemistry

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By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Married people like to hang out with other married people, but not just any other couple will do. When you go out as a group, you want everyone to get along and like each other. You want the conversation to be easy and the laughs to be frequent. But finding the right couples to hang out with requires a test drive. Some couples just seem to click while others don’t.

Typically, women set up these double dates. When women become friends, we want our husbands to be buddies, too. So we ask each other questions and hope to find common ground between our guys. Maybe they both play golf or they’re both into cars or they do the same type of work. We don’t really care what it is. We just need one little link of commonality to get the ball rolling.

My guess is that most husbands aren’t too crazy about these first dates with people they don’t know. But a good husband will usually agree to something he knows will make his wife happy. And most guys are nothing if not practical, so they figure that, even in a worst case scenario, they’ll still be out somewhere eating a good steak.

Last weekend I invited a friend and her family to spend the day with our family at the lake. I’ve known this family for a couple of years because our oldest son and their oldest son became friends on the first day of kindergarten. Soon after that, we realized that we both have three kids almost exactly the same ages. Between our two families, there are two second graders, two kindergarteners and two toddlers. For the past two years, we’ve seen them at elementary school, soccer games, basketball games and birthday parties, and we’ve dropped kids off at each other’s houses for occasional play dates.

Even though I already knew them and liked them, I felt a little nervous on the way to the lake because this would be the first chance for the adults to hang out together. I wanted them to think Tom and I were fun and interesting, and I wanted us to feel the same about them. Most of all, I wanted it to be relaxed and not plagued by those awkward silences or foot-in-mouth moments that kill some evenings out with new people.

After a few hours of boating and swimming and riding the inner tube with the six kids, we went to the cabin to have dinner and talk. With that many little kids running around, I wasn’t sure conversation would even be possible. But the kids entertained each other and, to our amazement, let the grown-ups eat in peace. We had a chance to visit and laugh and compare notes on raising kids and the funny quirks of each child’s personality. It was interesting to talk with people who seem to be living a life so parallel to our own, and it was reassuring to know that they, too, are figuring things out as they go along, just like we are.

The weekend was great. The kids had fun, and the grown-ups did, too. We told them we’d love it if they’d come back again sometime, and I hope they’ll take us up on it.

Many families like mine don’t live in the same town or even the same state with their extended families. My kids don’t have cousins nearby to play with or uncles and aunts that they see more than a couple times a year. I wish that weren’t the case but it is. So it’s that much more important for us to build a strong network of friends – people to laugh with, people to learn from and people to keep us company on this adventure we call parenthood.

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(Note: The picture at the top with the gorgeous wedding bands called “Piaget Possession” is a photo of the same style of rings worn by Eva Longoria Parker of Desperate Housewives and her basketball-playing hubby, Tony Parker. They’re a beautiful couple with a couple of stunning rings! Wow.)

Rub-a-dub-dub, Mom’s in the tub

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By Gwen Rockwood, bath-loving mama of 3

When I was growing up, there was a commercial on television with a frazzled housewife and mother who threw up her hands and cried out, “Calgon, take me away!” Anybody else remember that one, or did I just show my age? Either way, the point is that moms throughout the ages have not only enjoyed a nice, hot bath but also rely on one to help preserve our sanity.

Even the toughest day of potty training or arguing with a teenager or dealing with a grumpy spouse gets a whole lot better once you’re relaxing in the tub in a quiet room where you can actually hear yourself think. And if the tub is one of those awesome tubs with all the jets and the comfy angles to recline against — well, then, all the better.

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We found out recently that one of our sponsors — Metro Builders Supply — added a new product line in their showroom, and this one is of particular interest to bath-loving mamas. Metro now offers the famed Jetta whirlpool bathtubs, pictured here. Most of you are probably familiar with the Jetta brand because it has been around for quite a while. The company is based in Edmond, Oklahoma and was the first manufacturer to insulate its bathtubs and the first to offer upper body jets for the neck and shoulder area. (And all the mamas with tired shoulders said “Thanks, Jetta! Finally somebody gets it!”)

In addition to whirlpool tubs, Jetta also makes “air baths.” These air bath tubs have hundreds of tiny bubbles forced through small holes in the bathtub, and this style is great for those of us who prefer a gentler, more enveloping massage.

But, if you ask me, the best feature is the “Stay Hot Guarantee.” That means that the water temperature in the whirlpool and soaker baths will stay within two degrees of its original temperature after 30 minutes of use! (Is there anything more irritating than getting chilly in the bathwater only a few minutes after the tub fills up and then having to keep “re-heating” it with more hot water?) To keep it hot, the Jetta engineers figured out a way to re-circulate heated air from the motor back to the bath water through the jets. (Isn’t technology cool?)

The tubs are also insulated so much that motor noises and vibrations are virtually eliminated. And we moms appreciate that because most of us deal with noisy environments all day long, and the bathtub is the one place we can count on some peace and quiet. Other optional features include lights, pillows, grab bars, aromatherapy and metallic trim.

The manager at Metro Builders Supply, Dave Wicklund, tells us that Jetta has tubs in a wide range of sizes, shapes and configurations, and the sales staff can help you find one that would best fit your budget. Speaking of sales staff, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The level of customer service at Metro is first class, and that means a lot to me when I’m shopping for things like appliances. To read more opinions about Metro, click here and scroll through the comments that local moms posted about them during our washer/dryer giveaway event this spring. The response was amazing.

Hope you’ll find this info helpful if and when you’re in the mood for a little bathroom remodeling or if you’re building a new home. Every busy mama needs and deserves the best bathtub she can find.

To see the Jetta tubs, go by the huge Metro Builders Supply showroom and check them out. They’re located on Highway 71 Business between Lowell and Springdale. Click here to go to their website and get directions, or call them at 479-750-2200.

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SWEET!!! Look who won circus tickets & pizza!

Congratulations to Nikole, who won FOUR tickets to see the Sweet Can Circus at the Walton Arts Center! So she and her guests don’t go hungry, they’ll also be treated to dinner at U.S. Pizza just minutes away from the arts center.

Nikole said in comments: “My favorite spot is the living room because that is most often where everyone is gathered.”

Nikole is the mom of two boys — 5-year-old Owen and 2-year-old Ryan. She’s originally from the East Coast, but moved to Arkansas after she met Shane online and they married. Her living room is even more filled with family now, though. Nikole fixed her sister up with a guy from the Natural State, so she moved here as well. And since their mom has three grandsons here, she’s moved to NWA!

About the Circus: The Sweet Can Circus is a show that integrates circus, live music, dance and theater. Audiences get a chance to see circus arts performed up close in the small, black box Starr Theater which seats nearly 200 people.

You’ll see trapeze stunts, aerial silks, slack rope, juggling and acrobatics. Performers walk on their hands, and mailboxes will levitate!

This show is best for kids ages 7 and up. Show times are Thursday, July 30th at 7 p.m.; Friday, July 31st at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, August 1st at 2 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.

seetcan-0858_hr.jpgSweet Can Circus is also offering an “Open Circus Studio” where kids 16 and under can attend an aerial rehearsal, ask questions and test their skills with circus apparatus including aerial silk, trapeze, rolla bollas and juggling equipment. (Again, this event is best for kids ages 7 and up, and an adult needs to attend with them. You can come for the whole 90 minutes or just drop in. Cost is $5 per kid and parents are free.)

For more info on the Sweet Can Circus, click here or on the photos to go to the Walton Arts Center website, or call the box office at 479-443-5600.

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