What We’re Reading: Kids books on touchy subjects

We all know that some subjects are tough to explain to little kids with lots of questions or fears. So I was happy when I spotted a certain page in the Fall 2009 edition of Real Simple magazine’s special issue on family. This page suggested children’s books for specific topics. I wanted to pass some of the suggestions along to you, in case you or someone you know is in need of a children’s book that will help kids and parents deal with certaiwhen-dinosaurs-die.jpgn situations.

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death, by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Good for: Explaining why someone dies, the rituals that might take place, and pretty much everything else there is to know about death.

Cost: $8

sam-is-not-a-loser.jpgSam Is Not a Loser, by Thierry Robberecht

Good for: Teaching sportsmanship in different game situations and showing kids that playing and not winning is more fun than never playing at all.

Cost: $12

berenstain-bears-sitter.jpgThe Berenstain Bears and the Sitter, by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Good for: Revealing just how much fun a night with a new babysitter can be, even if she seems really scary at first.

Cost: $4

We’ve linked each book jacket to the page on Amazon.com where you can go to get more info, read reviews by parents or order the book.

Click HERE to visit the Real Simple magazine website for more info on family-related topics.

Dance Into the Decade at Fayetteville’s First Night Party!

first-night-fayetteville-button-2010.gifOn New Year’s Eve, join the family-friendly atmosphere at First Night Fayetteville, a celebration of the community and the arts from 6 to midnight on Dec. 31.

To help you welcome the year 2010, First Night offers music, theatre, dance, visual arts, puppetry, storytelling and magic.

Alcohol-free First Night is held at the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Click HERE to buy tickets, which are: $9 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 5-18, $4.50 for students with ID, $4.50 for seniors 55+ or you can buy a family package for $25 (2 adults and all the children in the family). Tickets can be purchased online, at the mall’s guest services or Collier’s Drug Stores.

We always love the “Imagination Station” where kids can create hats or masks. Then they get to wear them around and act silly! There’s also juggling, face painting, balloon art, clowns, Dance Dance Revolution, karaoke and Guitar Hero challenges, music and the countdown to 2010 with the “hog drop”.

First Night originated in Boston in 1976 as an alternative way to mark the passage of time and promote the appreciation of the arts.

See you there!

Does your kid love an audience?

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We moms tend to find out pretty early when one of our kids is a natural performer. Some start singing, dancing or putting on little “shows” for us at an early age. If you have a child who loves an audience, you’ll want to know about the new series of classes being offered by Rogers Little Theater.

It’s called RLT Spotlight Studio, and it’s designed for kids ages 6 through 18 (categorized by age group). rlt-instructors.jpgStudio director Martina Peacock will work with instructor Dru Peacock Wiser to teach the afternoon classes. This mother-daughter duo, pictured right, is the same team that choreographs musicals presented as part of Rogers Little Theater’s “MainStage” series.

This is a great way to help your child build self-esteem and confidence while making new friends in a safe, creative environment.

Classes begin January 11th for the winter session and March 29th for the spring session. Each session will culminate with two performances on stage at Rogers Little Theater, which is right around the corner from the Spotlight Studio (located at 204 W. Walnut St. in Rogers).

“Our performance will be like a showcase of talent. Each class will perform their own vignette,” said Spotlight Studio Instructor Dru Peacock Wiser. “Spotlight Studio is where rlt-actionshot.jpgstudents take center stage. It’s for everyone, and it’s a training ground for the theater. Children in these classes will experience the full process of being in a show.”

The theme for the upcoming session is “Welcome to the 60′s,” incorporating material from familiar musicals like Hairspray, Grease and Hair.

  • Winter session runs from January 11th through March 13th, with performances on March 12th and 13th at 7 p.m.
  • Spring session runs from March 29th through May 22nd, with performances on May 21st and 22nd at 7 p.m.

There are classes available for kids interested in acting only (“Adventures in Acting” class), acting and dancing (“Show Stoppers” class), and for those interested in acting, dancing and singing (“Triple Threat” class).

Additional information, including the full class schedule, class descriptions, and registration forms are available at the Rogers Little Theater website. CLICK HERE to see it. Or call 479-631-8988 for more information.

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Beauty Buzz: Going glam on New Year’s

Dear Andi,

I want to look “glamorous” on New Year’s Eve, but I am stuck in my old make-up routine. What do you recommend to make the night more special?

Dear Glamour-envious,

Back in the day, you could have piled on the glitter make-up, thrown on your shortest dress and felt as special as the night ahead of you, but, if you want a look that’s more glam than glitz, you might want to consider turning to the pros.

mydivascloset_2081_57748247.jpgFalse eye-lashes are instant glamour, but can be a little intimidating to apply. The MAC counter at Dillard’s offers eyelashes for $13 and will adhere them to your lids for $8 (the cost of the glue, apparently).

home_lauramercier.jpgIf you really want to go all out, locally owned Glo Limited (479-571-4456) has special occasion make-up application available starting at $35, or you can just get a little oomph with an eyes, cheeks and lips application for $15.

Have the sitter come early and do something unexpected with your hair. If it’s normally curly, straighten it with a ceramic iron (if you don’t have one, someone you know does…try your friends for a loaner).  If straight hair is your daily look, add some curl with a 1” barrel curling iron. Pin the curls up and 31s2np6t4bl_aa280_pibundle-1topright00_aa280_sh20_.jpglet them cool before shaking them out with a few head flips, just don’t let your date see you because flinging your head around like a maniac really zaps the glamour out of your image, fast!

Have a fabulous New Year’s Eve!

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

Little House on the Prairie Giveaway!

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This is one of those giveaways that’s going to bring your childhood rushing back to you — particularly if you were a HUGE fan of Little House on the Prairie, like I was. We’re giving away two tickets to the opening night performance of Little House on the Prairie, The Musical at Walton Arts Center on Tuesday, January 5, 2010. We’re pairing the theater tickets with a free dinner at nearby Flying Burrito, too. And get this! Melissa Gilbert, the actress who played Laura Ingalls in the famous television series, is starring in this production as “Ma”!

When this musical first opened in Minneapolis last year, it shattered all the box-office records and sold out for 12 straight weeks. It’s directed by the same director as Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

ABOUT THE SHOW: Just in case you’re not a child of the 70s or haven’t read the books that this musical is based on, we’ll fill you in on the basic story line of Little House on the Prairie. It’s about an little-house-book.jpgAmerican family living in America’s newly settled heartland and about all the challenges, heartbreaks and joys they experience there. It’s also a love story that tells us how young Laura Ingalls grows up and begins her life as a young woman, finding purpose and finding love.

I read the entire Little House series and couldn’t race through the books fast enough to find out what would happen next. My small hometown didn’t have a bookstore, so my mother would drive me 45 minutes to the nearest larger town that did. She’d get so frustrated on the way home because I was already reading as fast as I could through the next book in the series, so she knew it wouldn’t be long until I was begging to go back to the bookstore and get another one.

little-house-1755_sm.jpgThere are so many scenes from the books I still remember so vividly — the blizzards, Pa playing his violin while the girls dance, the Christmas holidays, Mary’s scarlet fever, the grasshopper plague, Laura getting her first teaching job, and Laura falling in love with Almanzo — I could go on and on.

This is one of the Walton Arts Center’s biggest shows this season, and tickets range in price from $30.50 to $58.50 each. When you add in the free dinner at Flying Burrito, this package is about a $150 value! Even better, it will be one of those nights at the theater you’ll always remember.

Melissa Gilbert, who plays Ma in the musical, has starred in more than 40 movies for television and has appeared in more than a dozen television series, including “Nip/Tuck” and “Sweet Justice.” She is also a best-selling author who recently published her autobiography called Prairie Tale — A Memoir.

Show dates begin Tuesday, January 5th and run through the Sunday, January 10th. Click here or call 479-443-5600 for more info on tickets and specific show times.

ABOUT THE FOOD: If you haven’t been to Flying Burrito yet, well…. why not? The food is awesome, flying-burrito.pngand it’s fun to watch it being made just the way you want it. Even if you’re a super picky eater or a total control freak, you’ll LOVE this place because you basically get to dictate exactly how your burrito is put together and what goes into it. Your kids will also love getting to call the shots at this burrito bar that specializes in large, California-style burritos made to order. (Yum. I’m hungry just writing about it.) Also, kids eat FREE all day on Mondays through Wednesdays!

The Flying Burrito Company began in Fayetteville in a little storefront close to the Walton Arts Center parking lot, a block off Dickson Street. It has been so popular that it has grown into new locations flying-burrito-bentonville.pngand new cities, including locations on North College Avenue in Fayetteville, one in Springdale, one in Little Rock and its most recent addition in Bentonville. This is a locally-grown, locally-owned restaurant chain with great food and a cool, fun atmosphere. Try it once, and we bet you’ll be hooked, just like we were.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the hat for the theater tickets and dinner at Flying Burrito, click the “comment” button below and tell us about one of your favorite books you read as a child. If you read the Little House series or watched the television show, tell us what you remember most about it.

You can also e-mail your entry to us at giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com. Enter by 10 a.m. on Friday!

As always, you can increase your odds of winning by helping us spread the word about the giveaway. Simply send an e-mail to your friends/family about it and be sure to put us in the CC line of your note so we can give you proper credit. We’ll enter your name in the drawing again for every friend you tell. (10 friends means 10 extra chances to win.)

Good luck, and thanks to Walton Arts Center and Flying Burrito for the great giveaway!

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Devotion in Motion: A New Year in Our Father’s Care

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)

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

I overheard a story this week. A man was recounting the time when, as a small boy in the early 1950’s, he was forced to spend the Christmas holiday with his grandparents because his mother was scheduled for surgery. He said he worried and worried and couldn’t sleep because he couldn’t figure out how Santa santa-chimney.jpgClaus would know what he wanted for Christmas and how the jolly old elf would ever find him so far out in the country.

Imagine his surprise and relief on Christmas Day when he awoke at Grandma’s to find that, not only had St. Nick found him, but he’d also brought the gift he’d wanted. The man telling the story made a wry observation;  there had really been no reason for him to worry at all because his father had taken care of the situation long in advance.

Well, we’re starting a brand new year. This new year is going to bring a lot of joy and blessings because the Lord blesses every year with good things. But, I feel sure that because we live in a fallen world, this new year is going to have its fair share of problems, trials, and difficulties, too. In spite of that, I’m optimistic this year. Just like the little boy in the story, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s really no reason for us to worry. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us. Our Heavenly Father has taken care of our situation long in advance.

We sing a song here in the country church that says,

“Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear!

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.”

I’ve resolved in my heart to do some things differently in this new year, 2010. I intend to worry less and rocking-chair.jpgpray more. Worry is like rocking in a rocking chair. There’s a lot of agitation, but you don’t really go anywhere. But, prayer is another thing altogether. Prayer moves the hands of God. And He is the Maker of heaven and earth.

Dear mama, won’t you join me in making prayer a priority in 2010?  I’m sure our lives and the lives of our little ones will bear the mark of God’s peace–as we entrust all our concerns into the care of our loving Father.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” (Sing that to the title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man) He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his 25th year of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi.  He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 18) and Seth (age 15) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where Santa always finds his way to our house, even though there isn’t snow to travel by sleigh.) You can cheer him with a note at extramailbox@juno.com.

A long winter’s nap…

Anybody besides us feeling worn out after all the holiday hoopla?

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Buddy, we know EXACTLY how you feel.

Here’s hoping your weekend is peaceful and relaxing.

Merry Christmas to you!

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Picture Mama: Santa baby!

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Merry Christmas Eve, everybody!

How much do you LOVE this photo of the little Santa Baby above? If this doesn’t get you ready for Santa’s visit later tonight, then we don’t know what would. Thanks to local mom Lisa McSpadden who sent in this photo of her son, Josiah. He will soon be joined by a baby brother in the New Year!

Thanks so much for stopping by the website on this special day. From our families to yours, here’s wishing you a safe, blessed holiday.

More fun pictures!

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Thanks to local mom Ryan who sent in this photo of her adorable little Christmas mouse.

“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” 

The Rockwood Files: “You better watch out…”

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Even though Christmas isn’t over yet, I’m already a little sad that soon it will be. The kids will rip through those hours of shopping and gift-wrapping in about 30 minutes on Christmas morning. Then a few days later, I’ll have to pack away all the fun Christmas decorations and haul them back to the garage. But santa-list.gifworst of all, I’ll once again lose one of the most effective parenting tools in my arsenal – the “Santa card”.

Playing the Santa card is an age-old technique that’s still popular today mostly because it works. The closer we get to December 25th, the more I invoke the power of the Santa card. I did it a little earlier today when 3-year-old Kate was whining about not being granted her third cup of chocolate milk for the day.

“But I waaaaaant more chocolate milk,” she said in a nerve-grating, whiny voice.

“Uh-oh. I sure hope Santa doesn’t hear you whining. You know he doesn’t like it when people whine. You better stop that or he might put you on the naughty list,” I said with wide eyes, indicating how terribly tragic it would be to wind up on said naughty list.

“Naughty list?” she said, questioning just how bad that might be.

“Yes, the naughty list. Santa doesn’t bring toys to people on the naughty list,” I said, confirming her worst fears. She was quiet for a few moments, re-evaluating just how severe her need for chocolate milk really was.

“Mama, I not whining. I’m happy now. See?” she said, smiling her biggest, fakest smile.

“Oh, good. I’m so glad you’re not on the naughty list. Go play while Mama puts away the dishes,” I said, smiling as she trotted away. The Santa card wins again.

Maybe it’s wrong to basically blackmail one’s children with one of the most beloved Christmas icons of all time. But wrong or not, I don’t know one single parent who doesn’t secretly look forward to November – when Christmas is close enough that kids are extra careful not to tick off Old Saint Nick.

One time, during a heated moment when 5-year-old Jack had done something that really made me crazy, I said “Jack! If you don’t stop that right this second, I am going to pull this van over and call Santa and tell him what you’re doing!”

santa-on-phone.jpg“But Mom, how do you know Santa’s phone number?” Jack asked, innocently.

“He e-mailed it to me,” I fired back without hesitation.

“Santa has e-mail?” Jack asked.

“You bet he does, and he sent his phone number to all the moms and dads, so you better just remember that and think about what you’re doing,” I said, while Jack sat there imagining Santa fielding calls from angry mothers. Needless to say, Jack straightened up right away when he realized Christmas presents were on the line.

Unfortunately, to preserve the effectiveness of the Santa card, you have to pack it away after the holiday along with the ornaments and garland. Once January rolls around, Christmas is just too far away for kids to worry much about it. On the bright side, I do have a day or so left before Christmas. I might as well enjoy the upper-hand a little while longer, right?

Of course, every now and then, something happens to remind me that I’m not the only one manipulating the season to get the kind of cooperation she wants. Tonight, I walked into the bathroom and noticed that Kate had splashed water out of the tub and all over the floor. I was just about to launch into a sermon about how much Santa dislikes it when kids splash water all over the floor, but Kate saw the irritated look on my face and cut me off at the pass.

“Mama, are you mad?” she asked sweetly.

“Yes, Katie. I’m mad. You got water all over the floor!” I said, pointing to the evidence.

“Don’t be mad, Mama. Santa doesn’t like it when moms are mad.”

And so it goes. The student becomes the master.

From my family to yours, here’s hoping you and your loved ones have a happy, blessed Christmas full of joy and gratitude for the real reason behind the season.

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

Military Mama: Just Keep Swimming

By Jade Stone, military mom

bell01.gifThe Christmas season is in to full swing and there’s a myriad of Christmas parties that one feels obligated to attend.  I do my social duty to make an appearance at each one mostly to prove that I’m doing okay.

Though most of these people I see every day or at least once or twice a week, it never fails once people “realize” the hubby has been gone for pre-deployment training the onslaught of questions is close behind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though they didn’t know anything about it. Everyone was aware he was leaving, it’s just that slowly but surely, their mindfulness of his absence was thrown to the wayside and replaced by Christmas pageants, parties, who got the best deal where and daily holiday gossip and now a few months later its “oh!  Is he still gone”?

I can’t help but chuckle as I think how easy it was for them to forget as I have painstakingly gone through the past few months carrying on the daily routine of caring for a small child who doesn’t understand why daddy is gone, keeping up with vehicle and home maintenance, as well as finances without him.  I don’t blame them, they do have other more pressing matters at hand but it can be disheartening at times.

At any rate, many of the questions are things like “so, does he get to come home on weekends?”, or “How do you do it all alone”, reminding me constantly of how much help I don’t have! And while my first response is “WE do it so people like YOU don’t have to bat an eyelash over anything other than your own self absorbed lives”, eventually the irritation wears off and I begin to formulate an answer that seems to sober them up a bit.  How do I do it?  How does any single parent do it?  I think you wake up one morning at a time, determine the objectives for the day, kiss your children and tell them you love them, and then accomplish your objectives.

You don’t look at tomorrow, or worry about the bank account that never seems to be quite full enough, nor do you pine away after the loved one who is not there. In my case, while I’m excited he will be home soon, I don’t think about how long he’s been gone or how much longer he will be away, nor do I stress over where he’s going to be deployed. My goal each day is to provide for my family, and let them know I love them, everything else can wait. And, while some days are more hectic than others, I always know that nothing is forever and God will never give me more than I can handle. 

“How do I do it?” you ask? I take it one day at a time, eyes forward, one foot in front of the other and with the knowledge that I am never truly alone as long as I have my faith in God. I do it because it is what has to be done in order to support our country as a silent soldier by my husband’s side.  So in short, as my child would say, in the words of my favorite cartoon fish, Dory, “just keep swimming”!

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Picture Mama: More cute pics!

Get ready to say “Awwwww…..”

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Here’s hoping that we are ALL this happy during the holiday season!

Thanks to local mom Ryan who sent in this adorable picture of her little boy.

Need a job? Census Bureau is hiring 1,000 people

pencilimages.jpgThe U.S. Census Bureau will hire a thousand people in the Fayetteville/Springdale, AR area between now and next spring. This is a strong economic shot in the arm for the area. Up to 1,000 people will be on staff during peak times.

“This is the largest civilian mobilization of workers in the history of the United States,” said Dennis Johnson, Regional Director.

According to info from the Census Bureau, these are good paying, temporary jobs for the field positions of Recruiting Assistants, Crew Leaders, Crew Leader Assistants, Census Takers and Census Clerks. Amount of pay depends on position and location. Work related mileage is reimbursed. There may be some opportunities for advancement.

Positions are available in every community.

The U. S. Census Bureau says people can apply for these jobs by calling the Toll Free Jobs Line at 1-866-861-2010.

Underwood’s diamonds are this girl’s new best friend!

And the winner of the $1,000 diamond Underwood’s necklace is … DENISE BONANNO!

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Merry Christmas to Denise, huh?!

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This marquise-shaped filigree pendant has 29 round Underwood diamonds on it. The filigree design gives it a look of feminine, classic lace but it has all the strength of 14 carat white gold. The lace design carries through to the back side of the pendant as well. And it hangs on an 18-inch white gold wheat-design chain — the strongest chain Underwood’s carries.

Denise, mom to 4-year-old Brooklynn and 2-year-old Bella, was so excited about her new necklace that she went to pick it up just a few hours after finding out she won.

Denise and her husband, who works for Tyson, moved to NWA nearly four years ago from South Dakota. She’s a volleyball coach who’s taking her Ozarks Juniors team to nationals in Reno, Nevada next year. She travels with the team quite a few weekends a year and she also teaches private volleyball lessons.

Denise requested jewelry from her husband for Christmas this year, but in the end, they decided to buy a combined gift they could both enjoy: a digital camera.

“I love jewelry, but it’s not usually something we spend our money on,” she said.

Denise wanted to pick up her diamond necklace so she could have it before heading out of town for the holidays. She wants to be sporting her new diamonds when they visit family in Nebraska and Dallas.

“I’m so excited!” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever won anything.”

Well, this was certainly worth the wait!

Denise said in comments that all the Underwood’s rings are beautiful, but her favorite is this platinum ring with a 3.6 carat fancy yellow radiant diamond (it got quite a few votes!):

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