The Rockwood Files: Confessions of a fraidy-cat

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

This time of year, some people actually like to be scared. They go to novelty shops and buy plastic halloweencat.giftombstones, fake severed limbs, and cobwebs to decorate their homes and yards. I like Halloween as much as the next person, but I’ll pass on the scary stuff. I stay scared 365 days a year. Why? Because I’m a mother.

Without question, parenting is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. The fear affects both mothers and fathers, but I think it’s particularly hard on moms.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a self-admitted scaredy-cat. Genetically speaking, I didn’t have a chance. I come from a long line of scaredy-cats. My mother is a scaredy-cat, and her mother was a scaredy-cat. There’s no telling how far back my scaredy-cat lineage reaches. I’m not one of those lucky people who think, “Oh, that would never happen to me.” I’m much more likely to think, “Oh my gosh, that could totally happen to me.” That’s what makes me a scaredy-cat with particularly strong worry wart skills.

A few days after our first son was born, I went on a crying jag that lasted a couple of hours. Granted, those intense post-partum hormones were washing over me at the time, and that probably explains at least 80 percent of the tears. But the other 20 percent came from pure fear. I looked at our tiny little son swaddled in his bassinet, and it hit me like a maternal freight train: I was in charge of keeping him safe. And as soon as that realization sunk in, I began to notice all the ways in which the world is a scary place.

There are viruses, house fires, illnesses, accidents, kidnappers, car wrecks, burglars, plane crashes, toxic household chemicals, terrorist attacks, slippery floors, carbon monoxide leaks, irresponsible babysitters, lightning strikes, defective cribs, tornadoes, choking hazards, flash floods, sharp edges, broken bones, gang violence and gravity – the list goes on and on. Life can change in an instant, and the nightly news can be terrifying. If a mom spends too much time thinking about it, she might never leave the house.

But that’s only half of it – the physical half. Once the baby starts to grow up, you realize there are a whole host of other things to worry about. I’ve spent lots of days wondering “Am I doing this right?” “Have I hurt his self-esteem?” “Does he play well with other kids?” “Is he going to recall this incident decades from now in a therapist’s office?”

I don’t know a single mother who hasn’t worried, at least once, that she has unintentionally messed up her kid. Fear and worry are part of the job description.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’d be up to the challenge if I didn’t believe that God has my back. I was in church long before I had kids, but becoming a mother is the thing that has shown me how much back-up and guidance I truly need. The job is just so much bigger than me, and the fear can sometimes feel paralyzing.

Fortunately, God builds in plenty of good stuff to balance out the frightening parts. There are first smiles, baby steps, giggles, bear hugs, first words, new friends, good check-ups, sunny days, bedtime books, kind nurses, first days of school, great teachers, soccer games, dance recitals, holidays, loving relatives, trick-or-treating, and a million little sweet moments to reassure you that – despite the ways you might be messing up – you have good kids who know they are loved and who love you back. Those things make it easier to brave the world and live your life and teach your kids to do the same.

Though my scaredy-cat nature struggles with the fear and worry motherhood often brings, I’m beginning to accept that it’s part of the deal. I’ll probably always be the kind of mom who says “Be careful” way too many times in the course of a week. And when the kids get old enough to drive cars instead of tricycles, I’m going to need some serious lessons in stress management from trained professionals. But I do know this – that the good times with our kids are more than worth the scary stuff we’ve got to deal with along the way. I wouldn’t trade the thrill ride for anything.

From my family to yours, here’s wishing you a spooky and safe Halloween.

Want to read previous installments of The Rockwood Files? Click here.

Don’t Forget to Set Your Clocks!

daylight-savingstime.gifWell, it’s that time of year again — time to “fall back” one hour tonight! Yay for the extra hour of sleep.

We just wanted to remind you about the time change tomorrow so you could set your clocks back an hour tonight.

Can you believe it’s already the first Sunday in November? Enjoy the “extra” hour of sleep! Or the “extra” hour of Halloween party-time!

Halloween Grab Bag!


Thanks so much to all who sent in photos of cute kids in costume! I’ve sprinkled the pictures throughout this post, and they are SO cute. I can’t wait to go trick-or-treating Saturday with the kids to check out more costumes. Hope you guys like the grab bag of Halloween trivia we’ve put together for you. Have a great weekend!

0033villinesoct09.jpgFun songs to download for Halloween!

Monster Mash, by Bobby Pickett

Thriller, by Michael Jackson,

Ghost Busters, by Ray Parker Jr.

The Time Warp, by Richard O’Brien

I Want Candy, by The Strangeloves

This is Halloween, by Danny Elfman

Fun Fact:

Did you know that the Snickers bar is the most popular candy bar in the world? According to the website “The Most Popular Journal,” Snickers had more than 2 billion dollars in 0028villaroct09.JPGannual sales last year. And here’s an interesting little sidenote — “Snickers” was the name of a horse in the Mars family, which created the candy.

Most Popular Halloween Costumes in 2009

According to a report in the Hartford Courant, some of this year’s most popular costumes are:

For adults:

  • Kate Gosselin
  • Michael Jackson
  • Britney Spears
  • Lady Gaga
  • Sarah Palin
  • 0027hopkinsoct09.JPGBernie Madoff
  • Vampires

For kids:

  • GI Joe
  • Transformers
  • Star Wars
  • Yo Gabba Gabba
  • Light-up Fairies and Princesses

Fun fact:

Over 10 percent of pet owners dress their pets in Halloween costumes. (Source: Purple Trail Party Ideas website)

0036villinesoct09.JPGKid-friendly Halloween Movies

We found a top 10 list of “not-so-scary” movies for kids on the website. Here are a few that were listed:

  • Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (Rated G)
  • The Haunted Mansion (Rated PG)
  • Wallace & Gromit Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Rated G)
  • Hocus Pocus (Rated PG)
  • The Worst Witch (Rated G)
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (Rated G)

Click HERE to go to the Family Education website and see the others on the list.

The photo below was sent in by Motherlode reader Kathleen Villar, and it’s a shot from one of her Halloweens as a child. So cute!


Fun Fact:

The world’s largest pumpkin weighed 1,385 pounds!! (Source:


History of Jack-o-lanterns:

Some say jack-o-lanterns originated with the Irish, who used to carve turnips and put small pieces of coal or candles inside them. They’d place the carved turnips outside their doors to ward off evil spirits. Sometimes they also used potatoes or rutabagas.

When Irish immigrants came to America, they figured out that pumpkins were easier to carve, and the tradition caught on.

Show me the money:

Surprisingly, Halloween is second only to Christmas in terms of spending. Consumers will spend more than 2.5 billion dollars on Halloween!



Fun fact:

Did you know there are no words in the English language that rhyme with the word “orange“? (Okay, now you’re trying to think of one, right?) There are also no words that rhyme with “purple” or “silver.”

Halloween Cup Cake Recipe:

0047aultoct09.JPGPreheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Add 1 (6-ounce) package chocolate chips.

Add 12 dropos of yellow food coloring and 8 drops of red.

Blend well; set aside.

Sift 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Stir in 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

0046takeoutoct09.jpgFill 15 cupcake liners 1/3 full with chocolate batter.

Drop 1 heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mix on top.

Bake 30 minutes.


If you’re still looking for fun Halloween events to do this weekend, click here to see the list of events we published earlier this week.

From our families to yours, here’s hoping you all have a fun, safe Halloween weekend!


NWA Boutique Show on Saturday, Nov. 14!

nwaboutiqen157075892442_2247.jpgEvery year I go to the NWA Boutique Show and I’m amazed by all the talent we have around these parts. These Northwest Arkansas girls create some SUPER-CUTE stuff — bows, bags, furniture, jewelry, custom clothing, unique paintings, baby stuff. The list goes on.

This year, the show will feature 35 very talented vendors. They’ll be at the Springdale Holiday Inn Convention Center  from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14.

CLICK HERE to see a slide show of  the Spring Boutique and you’ll get an idea of how cute some of this stuff is! HERE for directions.

CLICK HERE to see a list of vendors and what they bring to the table.

Hope to see you there! I’m taking my Christmas list.

5 Minutes With a Mom: Heidi Stephens

heidistephensdsc_0019.jpgName: Heidi Stephens

Child(ren)’s names and ages: McKenna 12, Dillan 8, Ashlyn 5, Hannah 3

Where are you originally from? I was born in Salinas, CA.  We moved to Monroe, GA when I was 4…all my happiest childhood memories are there. 

What is one of the funniest things that’s happened to you as a mom? With four kids there are so many!  (“laughing”)  I swear all the funny moments have happened during potty training!!

One of the worst?  McKenna got really sick when she was 4 weeks old. The doctors kept giving us a different diagnosis, she got sicker and sicker. Finally one night I took her to the ER, they ran tests and found out she had pyloric stenosis (the muscle that lets food into the intestines was completely grown shut). They had to do surgery right away and later told me that if I had waited another 24 hrs she probably wouldn’t have made it. I cried for a month! (Seriously) I was a new Mom and really scared. 

What are your favorite hobbies? Reading. My husband calls me his bookworm. Knitting, I can do a mean knit stitch, but any other stitch renders me hopeless. Maybe knitting isn’t so much a hobby as it is a work in progress! I also like to do a bit of drawing and painting.

Tell us about a day in the life of Heidi: I wake up at 6am (groggy, grumpy & off balance), jump in the shower (quickly), wake up the kids (except Hannah, she is last), make the kids a quick breakfast (cereal one day, oatmeal the next), make lunches (pb&j one day, ham & cheese the next), get the kids dressed (find shoes…I know I should do it the night before!), fix everyone’s hair, oops… forgot to get dressed…just kidding…hee hee!!

Get Hannah up (this could go really easy or really not…she’s 3), load everyone in the car and head off to school (hope Hannah stays in her car seat), come home and make breakfast for Hannah and I, time for some preschool fun with drawing and flash cards, do a load of laundry, pick up around the house, make Hannah lunch, do another load of laundry, put Hannah down for short nap, eat lunch, read a little, do another load of laundry (not kidding), get Hannah up and play for a bit, take out ingredients for dinner (what am I going to cook..ugh), pick up kids from school, listen to kids yell and fight all the way home because they are tired and grumpy (hope Hannah stays in her car seat), help kids with homework, start on dinner, thank goodness my husband is home, finish dinner, eat, get baths/play, put kids to bed…whew I’m exhausted! (“laughing” I know it’s a huge run-on sentence!)

My favorite moments are:  1) Dinnertime.  We all sit down and eat as a family every night.  This is our time to laugh and talk about our day.  2) Bedtime…another day survived.

How do you like to de-stress? Reading. I would do it all day if I could.

What’s your favorite place in NWA to hang out with the kids? We love Fast Lane! 

Favorite NWA date night activity? I love just going to dinner and a movie, NWA has so many good restaurants to choose from!

What’s the best advice you received as a mom? I can’t remember where I got this advice, but it was mountains vs. mole hills. If it’s a mountain then you are allowed to stress and do what you have to in order to fix it. If it’s a mole hill, just let it go. I have kind of broken it apart: Mountains – issues that will keep your child from growing up to be a civilized human being with good morals.  Mole hills – everything else! :o)

Something you never would have guessed about motherhood? The amount of love you feel. It’s so overwhelming how much that love changes you…everything about you! I see the whole world differently as a Mother.

One word to sum me up    kind.

Just for laughs

Usually I’m not a big fan of those e-mails that get forwarded all over the universe and crowd your inbox. But every now and then I get one that I’m really glad someone took the time to send. And this is one of them.

A friend forwarded a few of these hilarious photos last week that bear the subject line, “Why Dogs Hate Halloween.” Some of the other photos here are ones I found online. Hope these shots make you laugh.





Got a funny photo of your dog or cat in costume? Send it to us at

Hair: Help Me Rhonda recalls hair disaster

Dear Rhonda,

What’s the worst thing you have seen someone do to their hair?

Dear Curious,

Well, this question requires a ot of thought because I’ve seen some crazy hair over the years. Let’s see, where do I begin? Okay, I’ve got it: One day a lady came into the salon where I was working shortly after finishing beauty school. She had colored, or, in her words, “died” her own hair.  She started out with blonde, sort of a yellowish blonde, and then she added an ash brown color.  What she didn’t know was that some ash colors have a blue base to them. (Can you see where I’m going with this story?) If you have kermit-the-frog.jpgyellow and then you add something with blue… what does that make? GREEN! It’s simple art class basics — yellow and blue make green.

It was bad for her, and it was pretty bad for those of us at the salon who had to figure out how to fix the color calamity. Amazingly enough, we did fix it and her color came out even more beautiful than anyone anticipated — and definitely better than the Kermit the Frog green she walked in with!

rhondapic.jpgRhonda Moulder, pictured right, 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 or call for an appointment at the salon at 479-273-9944. Have a happy hair day.

Tweens & Teens: Need-to-know info for moms


Note from the Motherlode moms: We’re so excited about the launch of this new feature devoted to helping moms understand and help our kids (and ourselves) through the “tween” and teenage years. This is such a critical time in our kids’ development, and it’s important for moms to be up-to-date about what’s really going on in the minds of teenagers.

Though we’ve wanted to do this feature for more than a year, it wasn’t until we met with Dr. Billy Jones that we put things into motion. We knew he was the right guy to deliver this important information. He’s a psychologist with Mercy Health System who specializes in children and adolescents. He regularly visits area schools to help evaluate kids who need help.

Whether you have teenagers right now or you’re still years away from this phase of your kids’ lives, this is information we can all learn from and use in our day-to-day lives as moms. So… read it, learn it, live it. Here we go:

By Dr. Billy Jones, psychologist with Mercy Health 

A few weeks ago, this website asked a question in an online quiz that went like this: “Which of the following behaviors would bother you most if you noticed it in your child?” The possible answers were “bad grades, bad hygiene, bad friends, or bad manners.” The winner was “bad friends” by a pretty wide margin, which confirms that most parents worry about their kid falling in with the “wrong crowd.”

I believe that, in order for us to understand people, we must enter their world. We need to be able to think like them, though not necessarily act like them. We’ve already acted like them, so let’s not do that again!  We’ve got to think about hanging out with the wrong crowd from a teenager’s point of view.

Teenagers (and really all children) will misbehave for 4 primary reasons: 

  • Power
  • Attention
  • Inadequacy
  • Revenge

I remember this by the acronym P.A.I.R.  For now, let’s talk about “Attention.”  Everybody wants it, and some are willing to go to great lengths to get it.  If teenagers don’t get the attention they need, then they WILL misbehave in order to get it.  After all, negative attention is better than no attention at all. (Yes, I know you have heard this before, but it IS true).

The teenage years are awkward for everyone — puberty, pimples, dating, and wanting freedom from your parents but deep inside being scared to death of it. We’re also trying to find out who we are and social interaction is how we begin this process. We do this by comparing ourselves to others. This is why teenagers can be so superficial and want the most expensive thing they see, especially clothing. We want to get attention from others, and clothing is the first thing people see.

As parents, we’ve got to teach our children how to get attention without going through such superficial measures. But, not all parents are up to the job. (Not all of them bother to read articles like this designed to help them understand teenagers.)  So if teenagers can’t get positive attention from their parents, they turn to their friends. If they can’t get it from friends, they turn to whoever is left over. This is how many gangs are formed.

Teenagers have somehow learned how to use “the Force” or some sort of “Old Jedi Mind Trick” (Star Wars analogy in case you’re wondering) to find someone who will give them the attention they feel can meet their needs. And there you have it…the “wrong crowd” shows up, and usually it’s at the worst time.

So, what can we do?  First and foremost, we’ve got to talk to our teenagers. Research shows that lack of communication is one of the top reasons teenagers display defiant types of behaviors. Talking to them about their day, and listening, — not lecturing — is the first thing to do. Treating them with respect regardless of whether you agree with them is essential. Remember, it doesn’t matter how you think things should be, it only matters what your teenager believes. They will act on their perception of reality, not yours.

So, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN to what they’re telling you, both verbally and nonverbally. If you do this consistently, they’ll begin to understand how much you love them and how much you’re willing to give them your time AND attention.


Got a question or a tween/teen issue you’d like to get Dr. Jones’ thoughts on? Send it to We’ll have a new installment of Tween & Teens next month! If you’d like info on counseling services for your kids, yourself or your family, contact Dr. Jones and he’ll connect you with the right people.

Waiting for Shlomo No More: He’s here!

By Erin, mama to 2 boys

sollys-toes.jpgYes, y’all it FINALLY happened after 17 months! Baby Shlomo, aka Solomon Lee, has joined our family. He was born on October 1 at 9:19 p.m., weighing 5 pounds and 7 ounces. We got our phone call from the agency on Saturday morning, and we were in the car by 2 p.m.

It is a crazy coincidence (or “meant to be”) that we were already in Dallas this past weekend for my work and a visit to Michael’s parents. Isaac stayed with his grandparents while we traveled to San Antonio to meet the baby and do all the paperwork. We arrived in San Antonio around 8:30 p.m. and headed “home” to Dallas around 12:30 the next afternoon. There is much more to tell, but I just want to give you a quick announcement and introduction!

We were in Dallas until all of the paperwork went through to allow us to leave the state with the baby. As you might remember, we went through some struggles with my in-laws regarding our plan to adopt.  It was meant to be, though, and Solomon’s Meemaw and Zaidy were in love from the first moment they heard the news – Thank God!


Michael flew home during the first week to do some work, take care of stuff around the house and pick up some “stuff” as we have nothing with us (thankfully my in-laws have lots of baby stuff including a car seat)! Michael’s trip to Fayetteville was lengthened by some surprise glitches in our adoption paperwork, that necessitated a drive to Little Rock and back to take care of! Our stay in Dallas ended up about 12 days longer than anticipated due to paperwork issues allowing us to come home, but we finally hit the road after 20 days on Wednesday, October 21! We are so glad to be home, and Solomon has hardly noticed his change in surroundings! Solomon is an “easy” baby so far (knock on wood one thousand times), and is growing like a weed – already up to 7 pounds and 4 ounces!

So, please welcome Solomon Lee Cohen, named in blessed memory of my wonderful Mother, Sharon Lee Myers. He is a gorgeous baby, and we are already much in love (Isaac is not so sure yet, he’s pretty disinterested, but in a positive way).

Solomon’s bris (the Jewish circumcision and naming ceremony) was in Dallas on Tuesday, October 13. The circumcision went well, the ceremony was lovely, and Solomon and Isaac were showered with love, attention and gifts! In Judaism, it is customary to name a baby in memory of a loved one who has passed away. We never thought we would be naming in memory of my mother – always intended to name in memory of one of OUR grandparents like Isaac is – but that was not to be. It is also customary for the parents or grandparents to talk about the baby’s namesake at the bris – the characteristics and qualities of the loved one they hope the baby will have). It was hard to write, but I did it.  Michael had to read the first paragraph because I was crying, but I got it together and finished it. More later on our journey to bring Solomon home . . .


More about Solomon’s namesake: Solomon Lee Cohen is named in loving memory of my Mother, Sharon Lee Barenblat Myers. Although we miss her terribly, and our grief is still very raw, we are so proud to name our precious baby boy in her memory. She would be so happy and thrilled . . . so amazingly supportive and overjoyed at Solomon’s arrival in our family.  She waited with us, lived with us during our struggles and long tenuous wait to bring both of our children into our family. She was with us for the first 10 months of our long wait for Solomon, not to mention all of the preparation we did to be eligible to adopt. I can just imagine now what her reaction would have been upon hearing the news last Saturday morning. She would have simultaneously jumped up and down and cried with joy. Then she would have gone straight to the computer to book a flight to be with us!

Solomon – She would have loved to hold you, play with you, and just bask in the joy of her gorgeous grandsons. As for your Daddy and me, we wish for you to have some of the wonderful qualities that your Grandma possessed. The humbleness and ease in which she lived her life — her calm, comfortable, easy presence, that made her so easy to be around and helped her to feel at ease in all situations – we wish that gift for you.

To care for others whole-heartedly – to care about their feelings, stories, reactions, and lives, and to listen and help others really feel that they are understood and appreciated. We hope that your efforts in life will be based on goodness and respect for others, regardless of what you choose to pursue. We hope you will embrace the qualities of dependability, loyalty, openness, and hard work that she possessed, as you grow into the unique person you will become.

Finally, Solomon, let the legacy of her gentle, good spirit guide you in life.  For you, our greatest desire is to have a life full of love – to love others and to be loved in the way that your Grandma did. If you can accomplish that, you will be as blessed in your life as she was in hers. 

Healthy Mama: Answers to your questions

Last month, we attended the annual Business Women’s Conference at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center along with about 1,000 other women. It was a great group of women, and the informational sessions were particularly strong this year. One of the sessions was on women’s health and was led by an all-female panel of health-care providers from Mercy Health System.

The panel invited the room full of women to send health questions via text message to the experts on the panel. Well, long story short… there was a whole lot of texting going on. There were so many questions from the audience that the panel didn’t have time to answer all of them in the time provided. So they asked us if we’d  post the answers to those questions here on Motherlode where those inquiring minds could find the answers they’re looking for. We are happy to oblige.

morgan.jpgThis is the first of a series of question-and-answer articles and video podcasts covering real questions from real women in Northwest Arkansas, answered by female nurses and doctors in our community. We’ll run the next article in two weeks and continue until we’ve published all the answers to questions asked at the conference. Even if you didn’t ask these particular questions, we’re betting there are some answers here which will give you practical medical info you can use.

The following seven answers were provided by panelist Megan Morgan, a family nurse practitioner at Mercy Health in the Physicians Plaza in Rogers.

Q: I have a family history of breast cancer. When should a mammogram be done?

A: At age 40 or ten years prior to your family member’s diagnosis. For example if your mother died at age 39 of breast cancer you would want to begin annual mammograms at age 29. Talk to your provider about other breast cancer contributing factors, including smoking, alcohol use, and your reproductive history that can influence your risk as well.

Q: Is soy protein okay if there is breast cancer in the family?

A: My mom is a survivor. There are no contraindications to “phyto” estrogens such as soy products in a person with a family history of breast cancer.

Q: How much calcium should a woman have per day?

A: Pre-menopausal women should have 1,000 mg of calcium daily, while post menopausal women should have 1,500 mg of calcium split 3 times daily plus 800 units of vitamin D daily to improve absorption. Food sources of calcium are best, but supplements will work as well. This helps to keep your bone bank well supplied for your body to make withdrawals from each day.

Q: Are the birth control pills that limit your body to only one or two cycles per year okay?

A: Actually you need to have a minimum of 4 cycles a year to prevent endometrial cancer, but taking the active pills 11 weeks in a row is fine for most patients. Most any pill pack can be made to due this, so talk to your provider about adjusting your prescription.

Q: I have been looking for long-term birth control. I am 24 years old and have been thinking about Mirena. I have heard there are certain requirements. Is this true?

A: It is beneficial if you have had a child previously for ease of insertion and are in a monogamous relationship to lessen the chance of a uterine infection, but not absolutely necessary depending on your provider’s level of comfort with Mirena. You want to use the method for at least 2 years to make it cost beneficial. There can be some vaginal bleeding similar to Depo-Provera that some patients find burdensome, but this stops or regulates in the majority of patients after 6 months. The website is a good resource for you to look at in addition to speaking with your provider.

Q: Why are VBAC’s discouraged? Isn’t the risk just as high with multiple C-sections?

A: Obstetrics is not my specialty, but current thought is that the uterus is not as strong after being cut through and more likely to cause tearing. Also, those risk factors that resulted in the C-Section the first time may still be present, such as a small pelvis. This is an issue to be discussed with your provider.

Q: Is there a correlation between low thyroid and depression?

A: Certainly low thyroid or hypothyroidism is a risk factor for depression and is included in depression screenings, though it is not a leading cause of depression.

For more info on Megan Morgan, the nurse practitioner who provided these answers, click on her photo to see a video podcast with info about her training, experience, etc. To see and hear more info from Megan, click on the Doc Talk category to watch some of her video podcast answers to additional frequently asked questions.


All Akimbo: Sweet Days of our Lives

By Kim Blakely, blessed mama

Today has been one of those days. Not one of those days, but one of those days I wouldn’t mind having over and over.

I don’t have any more money than I did yesterday (which is to say none at all), deadlines are looming and it’s been cool and dreary day.

In my house, though, it’s warm and dry and it smells nice because my mom is here – I love having my mom here – and she’s been in the kitchen making vegetable beef soup and potato corn chowder and frying fish and hushpuppies (not for the same meal, of course).

Moxie took a decent nap and Mojo has spent the day pretending this and that, unfazed by the morning’s disappointment about a rain-delayed trip to the pumpkin patch.

My husband just got home, and we’re all relaxed and eating and talking and just being.

I could use more of these days. I can’t get enough of these days. I wish these days for each and every one of you.



Halloween events this week!

pumpkin-cake-o-lantern-halloween-recipe-photo-260-ff1000halloa03.jpgHalloween in Northwest Arkansas is being celebrated practically all week! Here are a few events to consider. Just think: more chances for your kiddos to wear their costumes! (Click on the event to learn more — and click on the treats to see the recipes!)

On Thursday, Oct. 29, Circle of Friends is hosting the 2nd Annual Fall Carnival to benefit Arkansas Children’s Hospital at the Pauline Whitaker Arena in Fayetteville from 5-8 p.m. Kids should wear their costumes! Wristbands are $20 (for kids only) and there will be food, games, the Fayetteville Fire Department’s fire truck, Central EMS’ ambulance and more! 100% of proceeds go to the hospital. Presented by Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation Inc. Pre-purchase wristbands at The New School lobby on Tuesday and Wednesday, 3-5:30 p.m.

hairy-daddy-long-legs-cupcakes-halloween-recipe-photo-260-ff1001treata12.jpgThe Fayetteville Visitors Bureau 8th Annual Trick or Treat on the Square, Friday, Oct. 30, 3-5. Pick up lots of yummy treats from downtown merchants and mingle with other creepy characters out on the prowl! Dress up your pets, too, and enter them in the pet costume contest sponsored by Dog Party USA. A highlight: about 30 Razorback student athletes will be on hand to sign posters and game schedules from 3-5 as well!

Community Access Television’s Spooktacular at the Fayetteville Town Center, Oct. 30, 4-7. Family-friendly games, costume contests, face painting, a magician, a Haunted Hallway and lots of tricks & treats! Admission is $3. (For the grown-up ghouls: CAT will also be hosting a Masquerade Ball later that night from 9 to midnight. Costume contests, dancing, DJs, cash bar and lots of treats. $10)

swamp-juice-halloween-recipe-photo-260-ff1009totma01.jpgThe 25th Annual Goblin Parade, downtown Rogers, Oct. 30, 3:30-5:30. Children in costume follow a planned route through downtown Rogers and trick-or-treat historic district businesses along the way. Sponsored by Main Street Rogers.

Downtown Bentonville will present an trick-or-treat event with a costume component for kids of all ages, Oct. 31! From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Arkansas Kids will perform downtown and around 11, costumed kids can trick-or-treat with Bentonville Farmers’ Market vendors and merchants (you’ll know which ones because they’ll have a pumpkin cut-out in their window or display!). This will be the last farmers’ market of the season. Around noon, there will be drawings in four different age groups for Walton Arts Center tickets. You MUST be wearing a costume to win the tickets, which are for: 0-3, Goodnight Moon/Runaway Bunny; 4-8, Peter and the Wolf; 9-16 The Hobbitt; and 16 and up, Thank You, Gregory. Each winner scores four tickets. Fun!

Fayetteville Farmers’ Market Halloween Kids Day III, Saturday, Oct. 31, costume contest!

Mall-O-Ween, The Northwest Arkansas Mall’s celebration, Oct. 31, 6-8 p.m. For children 12 and under. Trick-or-treating and costume contest!

2009 Trick-or-Treat Open, presented by The First Tee Northwest Arkansas, Oct. 31, 2-4. All-Star Sports Arena, Springdale. Enjoy an indoor putt-putt course and trick-or-treat experience for kids of all ages! Treats will be given at every hole.

We also saw a list of some church functions in the Morning News online, all for Friday, Oct. 30. Click HERE to see these “trunk or treat” options!


Mealtime Mama: Mac & Cheese from Scratch in 3 Steps!

Is there anything better than hot macaroni and cheese on a cold day? I think not. And it’mac-and-cheese-photo.jpgs one of those classic meals that most kids LOVE.

(Did you know mac & cheese is Baby Bop’s favorite meal? I know this because my 2-year-old has watched the same Barney video roughly 2 million times — the one where Baby Bop sings about mac & cheese and the song sticks in your head FOREVER.)

We found this recipe in the October issue of Southern Living magazine, and you can also check it out by clicking HERE to visit their website, which is always a great place for finding cooking tips and recipes. Bookmark it!

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups milk

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 (10-oz.) block extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)

1/2 (16.-oz.) package elbow macaroni, cooked

Step 1 — Whisk flour into butter. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Microwave milk at HIGH for one and a half minutes. Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.

Step 2 — Whisk in warm milk: Gradually whisk in warm milk and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. (Note: Whisk warm milk into the flour mixture to ensure a lump-free sauce.)

Step 3 — Whisk in cheese: Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, and, if desired, red pepper until smooth; stire in pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. (Note: We recommend shredding your own cheese for a creamier texture. In the Southern Living test, we used Cracker Barrel Extra-Sharp Cheddar.)

(Photo credit: Beth Dreiling Hontzas)

Drama for Mama: Desperate Housewives


Sunday night’s episode of Desperate Housewives was all about judgments — the ones we make about people around us and the ones they make about us. If you missed it, here’s my judgement of what went down:

Gabi: While hosting a playdate for Juanita, Gabi was pouring herself a glass of wine when she heard a loud “bump, bump, bump” coming down the stairs. It was her daughter and the friend riding in an open suitcase down the stairs. The friend’s mother walked in to pick up her daughter just as the girls landed at the bottom of the stairs, and she was horrified to learn that Gabi hadn’t been supervising every second of the playdate. When Gabi called the mother a bit of a “wet blanket,” the mother said she thought Gabi was a lousy mother. Ouch. She told Gabi her daughter wouldn’t be coming for any more playdates or Juanita’s upcoming birthday party. The offended mother spread the word and soon Gabi had lots of cancellations for guests who suddenly couldn’t make it to the party.

monkey.jpgIn true Gabi style, she upped the ante and made the party huge and lavish (including a clown, bouncy house and a monkey) and then spread the word with the kids so they’d beg their mothers to come. It worked, and the party was full. Gabi and Susan were having margaritas on the front porch while the party went on out back. They saw kids running from the backyard and realized that the performing monkey went nuts and attacked the clown which sent the guests running for cover. Gabi worried that perhaps she is a bad mother, but Carlos assured her that her lack of supervision has turned their girls into quick thinkers who can hold their own — even when faced with a crazy monkey. (I don’t know about you guys, but I wouldn’t let Gabi watch my kids either. I’m just sayin’.)

Bree: Bree got her own taste of disapproval when a housekeeper walked in on her and Carl kissing in their cheap hotel room. Carl left, but then Bree detected a distinct “look” from the housekeeper when she overheard Bree lying to Orson on the cell phone about where she was at the moment.  The next day, Bree came back to confront the housekeeper about the judgemental look, but the housekeeper wouldn’t back down. She said it sounded like Bree had a nice husband at home waiting on her.

Later that week, Bree was back for another rendezvous and was waiting on Carl when the housekeeper showed up to change a lightbulb. Their conversation revealed that the housekeeper had also once had a husband who she cheated on, just like Bree is doing. She said it ended badly and she now has nothing and no one. Bree was clearly moved by the woman’s story, but the way she locked lips on Carl at the end of the episode indicates that she is not ready to reform just yet.

Lynette: Nothing much happened at Lynette’s house this week. As a favor to Mrs. McCluskey, Lynette hired Karen’s elderly boyfriend to do some odd jobs around the house. But the handyman kept asking for Tom’s sign-off on the jobs instead of following Lynette’s lead. Lynette was so furious that she fired him walnuts.jpgand smashed a birdhouse, to which the handyman replied that Lynette has a habit of “crushing Tom’s walnuts.”

You could tell that he struck a nerve because Lynette worried aloud about it later, asking Tom if she emasculates him. (If you ask me, she totally emasculates him on almost every show… but I digress.) But Tom doesn’t seem to mind. He realizes that Lynette’s tough childhood causes her to want to control people and things in order to feel safe, so he lets her control him because it makes her feel safe — and that is his job.

Susan: Well… what can we say about Susan? She shot Katherine. Yep, she shot her. Fortunately, it’s just a flesh wound. The bullet barely grazed crazy Katherine’s shoulder. Let me back up. The Bolen boy gave Julie a gun so she would feel safer at home because she was nearly strangled to death a few weeks ago. Julie thought she heard a bump in the night and took the gun downstairs to investigate. Susan got up to check it out. (Mike was on a late-night plumbing emergency.) Susan peered out the window holding the gun, and when a person popped up she fired without looking first. It was Katherine, who was trying to tell Susan that she was filling in for the person who was assigned to do the next neighborhood watch shift. Oops.

At first, Katherine threatens to call police and have Susan arrested. But Angie Bolen talks her out of it, convincing her that Mike will think more of her if she “takes the high road.” Katherine agrees. But Angie isn’t really trying to help crazy Katherine. She just didn’t want the police to get involved and trace the gun back to her — and her real name and identity. Hmmm… the plot thickens with the Bolens.

Next week: Susan and Katherine have a cat fight in a bubble bath. Carl tells Bree he wants to marry her. Gabi and Carlos get into an argument. And Susan and Mike finally act like newlyweds. Stay tuned!

Devotion in Motion: A String of Pearls

20 ¶ My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.

21 Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck.

Proverbs 6:20,21

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

For several years of my career as a Mississippi public schoolteacher, I taught a Bible class as part of the high school curriculum. The specific name of the class was “Biblical History of the Middle East”, but pretty much I was free just to teach the whole Bible as history.

school-prayer.jpgIt’s kind of amazing in this pluralistic age in which we live, but during the whole time that I was teaching Bible, I never got one phone call of complaint from any parent or administrator. I always pictured that this was because the students’ grandmothers were telling them, “Now you don’t complain about Mr. Cash. He is a preacher. And you kids could use some Bible.”

So, whatever the reason, I never had any complaints. And I look back on those years as a very special and profitable time in my life. I met some really neat, neat, kids in the process.

As you might imagine, I had students from every background and every denomination.  All of my students went to church somewhere. But, as time passed, I made an amazing discovery. Some of my high school students knew a great deal about the Bible, and some of my students knew hardly anything.

So, I set out to find out why this was. Whenever I had a chance to have a conversation with a student one-on-one, I would say something like, “Hey, where do you go to church?” And I would follow up that first question with, “How do you learn the Bible at your church?”

The conclusion I reached was so simple it was shocking. The kids who knew a great deal about the Bible studied through books of the Bible at Sunday School, Wednesday Night Bible Study or Youth Meeting. Their teachers took a book of the Bible, and they worked their way through the whole thing a verse at a time. Among those kids who knew a great deal of Scripture, their standard answer was, “We study through whole books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse.”

In today’s Scripture lesson (at the top), King Solomon speaks of children wearing the commandments of God (that their parents teach them) like a necklace around their necks.  The way I imagine it, each verse pearls.jpgof the Bible is a single pearl. It doesn’t seem like much when you look at it by itself, but as the beads are collected and joined together, they become a thing of beauty.

So teach your little ones the Holy Scriptures. Now I don’t want you to feel like I’ve handed you an impossible task. The emphasis here is not on “whole books of the Bible” but instead on “a verse at a time”. Teach your babies about just ONE verse of Scripture today. It doesn’t sound like much–but every beautiful pearl necklace starts when you string the first bead!

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * 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 congregation has studied through a lot of books of the Bible, verse-by-verse). You should write him at