Drama for Mama: Desperate Housewives

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If you missed Sunday’s episode of Desperate Housewives, here’s a quick recap:

Gabi and Angie: When she realizes that Anna and Danny Bolen might be doing more than playing footsie, Gabi decides to appeal to Anna’s materialistic side. She gives her an unsigned check for enough money to pay for her first year of modeling school plus an apartment in New York. The check will be signed once Anna graduates from high school without having sex. Anna takes the deal but still ends up getting caught by her Uncle Carlos with a half-naked Danny on top of her on the sofa. Carlos goes nuts and threatens Danny physically. Angie sees it happen through the window and bursts through the door to get all “mama bear” with Carlos, saying that if he ever touched her kid again she would kill him. Yikes! Later, Gabi and Carlos go to the Bolen house to apologize but hesitate when they hear an argument between the Bolens going on inside. What they heard tipped them off that the Bolens are definitely hiding something BIG.

Lynette: She and Tom are now in couples counseling, but Lynette wasn’t happy in this episode because she was always the one getting reprimanded at counseling. But by the end of the episode, the couple made a breakthrough when they realized that Lynette always plays the bad cop and Tom always plays the good cop. They agreed to back each other up from now on and not get stuck in the roles they’ve always been in. Then the therapist threw them out because they both said her acting skills (they saw her in a community play) were horrendous.

Susan: She sold her half of “Double D’s,” the strip club that Karl had left her in his will. But before she left, she gave a pep talk to a stripper who clearly wants to do more with her life than lap dances. The stripper took her words to heart, quit her job and came to Susan to say “What do I do next?” Susan helped her get a job as a teacher’s aide at the school but she was soon fired when a parent recognized her as a stripper he’d seen at the club. Susan feels guilty and wants to help, so she invited the stripper to move in with her and Mike and MJ until she gets back on her feet financially. This should be interesting.

Bree: She was worried when her volatile, wheelchair-bound husband finally got really peaceful and happy. Then she found a suicide note he was writing on his laptop. She confronted him and he admitted that he was planning to end his life. So Bree went on a suicide watch and tried to cheer up Orson. But when she couldn’t bring herself to say that she loved him, he was even more intent on ending it. Then they went to an anniversary party for an older couple, and Bree realized that this couple had made it through rough times but still remembered why they fell in love with one another. She found Orson just as he was about to roll himself into a swimming pool and she begged him to stay with her because she wants to “recapture” what they once had together. Looks like Orson is starting to fall for her all over again.

There were no previews for next week’s episode, so it might be a repeat. We’ll let you know what happens!

Devotion in Motion: Fifty First Dates

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Psalm 103:2 (NKJV)

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

When Susan had her surgery earlier this month, there were two outcomes that she wanted. First, she was praying the doctor would not find any cancer. And, secondly, she hoped the doctor would leave her an ovary so she would not have to take hormone replacement therapy.  (The doctor said that HRT would not be a good match for Susan because of a cancer risk in her family.) These were the things for which we asked God in prayer.

As soon as Susan woke up from surgery, she began asking questions about what the surgeon had done and what she’d found. She had a whole list of rational and well-thought out questions, and each query I answered led to another list of questions. The conversation went something like this (only longer and much more drawn-out):

“Did Dr. Nelson find cancer?”

“No”

“Did she leave me an ovary”

“Yes.”

“Which one?”

“Your left one.”

“I thought that was the bad one.”

“No, when she got in there, it was the good one.”

“What was wrong with the right one?”

“It had a cyst on it.”

“Did she do the surgery robotically?”

“No. She had to make an incision.”

“Why?”

“Because she wasn’t able to see what she needed to see with the robot.”

“Oh.”

She was so rational and reasonable I thought, “My goodness, she certainly is alert after having major surgery.” But then a tedious pattern emerged. After each 10 minute conversation about her surgery, her eyes would roll back into her head and she’d take a nap for 5 minutes. Then she would open her eyes, ask the same questions, and we would have a conversation identical to the first.

dory.jpgIt didn’t take long for me to realize my wife wasn’t remembering at all. She was stoned out of her gourd on anesthesia. She was exactly like Drew Barrymore on the movie Fifty First Dates. Or maybe like Dory, the little blue fish on Finding Nemo —you know, the one that forgets everything she knows every seven seconds.

This went on all day. Then it went on all night. The next morning, she awoke in the sunlight with a kiss and a smile for me. Then she began her list of questions again. I thought, “Finally! She is sober, and I can tell her once and for all.” And this time, since she was lucid, I gave her a long explanation of everything I knew. After our detailed conversation, she smiled and closed her eyes. Then she opened them again and began her list of questions for the 999th time….

I have to confess, at this point I lost my patience. Wearied by the previous conversations (and the extensive explanation I’d just given) I said (a bit sharply), “Susan, look. The doctor said you’re fine. 50-first-dates.jpgEverything is fine!”

I’ll never forget her shocked expression. She looked up at me and said, “I got a bad report. You’re not telling me everything. And on top of that, you’re being mean to me!”

Well, readers, eventually she sobered up. We got it all worked out. We’ve even laughed over this story a number of times since then. But let me tell you something I learned through all this.  It’s bad when a person can’t remember.

Today’s Scripture text (at the top) teaches us about the importance of remembering—especially when it comes to remembering the blessings of God. David, the Psalmist, teaches us the importance of recalling the many ways the Lord has blessed us, and he tries to construct the whole list. David doesn’t succeed in listing the manifold blessings of God, and neither will we. But it’s important for us think on all the benefits that God gives us so we can offer thanks to Him. That’s bound to make us all more grateful and joyful in our daily lives.

By the way, there’s a part of the story I left out until now. Each of the many times I gave Susan the good reports of her surgery, she had the same reply: “Praise the Lord. Thank you, Jesus. Praise God.”  It made me think. Maybe it’s not so important if you can’t remember your own name—just so long as you remember the Name of the most important One of all. Mamas, let’s remember, give thanks, and make it a blessed week.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad”  He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is enjoying 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’s wife says the entirety of Psalm 103 is her new favorite passage. We studied it at Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.)You should write him at extramailbox@juno.com.

The Rockwood Files: Making peace with snap, crackle and pop

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

During the holiday break, I did something stupid – something that would have been no big deal if I was about 10 years younger than I am. But alas, the decade has taken its toll.

My kids, ages 8 and 5 and 3, challenged me to a game of Wii Fit, the video game system that exercises your body instead of just your thumbs. For the record, I love the Wii Fit because it gets you active with your kids, and, as an added bonus, it’s really fun. The kids let me choose the game I wanted to compete wii-fit-hula-hoop.jpgin, and I chose hula-hooping. You have to stand on the Wii balance board and move your hips in a big circle in order to keep your virtual hula-hoop on your virtual waist.

I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m pretty decent with a hula-hoop, real ones as well as the video game version. I was determined to show the kids that their old mom still had a few moves she could teach them. We started the hula-hoop tournament, and I’m proud to say that I totally smoked those guys. I hula-hooped multiple hoops for long periods of time without ever dropping a rotation. So there. I won. Ha, ha! The kids were duly impressed.

The next day, I knew something wasn’t right because my back was screaming at me. Apparently, I’d shaken my groove thang right out of its groove. My left hip hurt. Something felt like it was poking the middle of my back. And my lower back seized up every time I reached for something in a lower cabinet. In short, it was a New Year and I was feeling very, very old.

I took some ibuprofen and tried a few stretching exercises over the next week or so. It helped a little, but the aches and pains came back, moved from one spot to another and made it hard to get comfortable enough at night to go to sleep.

I had to do something – even if it meant something that scared me. I made my first-ever appointment with a chiropractor. I’d heard great things about the doctor, and several friends told me that chiropractic “adjustments” had helped them through an array of different ailments over the years. But I was really nervous, although the reasons were silly.

If you have an aversion to things “popping,” visiting a chiropractor is not typically high on your list. In high school, one of my friends had a habit of popping her knuckles, and the noise made me crazy. I hated snap-crackle-pop.jpghow painful it sounded, although she swore to me it felt good. So I was nervous about the popping my own body might make on the chiropractor’s table. And I had this ridiculous vision of my head being twisted the wrong way and popping right off my body in one of those colossal “oops” moments no one wants to experience.

But I pushed the irrational fears aside and promised myself I’d be a grown-up about it. I admitted to the doctor that I was a first-time fraidy-cat, and she was very gentle with me and explained every step along the way. Sure, things popped a little here and there but it wasn’t nearly as loud as I expected and it didn’t hurt.

During the exam, which included x-rays of my spine, the doctor asked if I had any past accidents, even from childhood, which may have caused any of the symptoms I was experiencing now. I’ve been fortunate because there are no big car accidents to talk about or sports injuries to report. But when I thought about the question after the exam, I began remembering all the little things that seem like ancient history – falling off a swing, wipe-outs on water skis, bicycle crashes, and the back-hand-spring in gymnastics when I landed on my head, not to mention the three babies who each took up residence in my body for nine months and then moved out during hours of childbirth.

The doctor said all these things can have a cumulative effect on a person’s spine. Apparently, my overly ambitious hula-hoop session was just the proverbial straw that messed up the camel’s back, so to speak.

Though I didn’t feel an immediate difference when I left the doctor’s office, I did notice that suddenly I was able to turn my head over my shoulder while backing out of a parking space without whispering “ouch” under my breath. Then later that day, I stretched out on the bed for just a few minutes and unintentionally fell asleep more quickly and easily than I have in years. I slept soundly for almost two hours and woke up feeling decidedly “less old.”

Now that I’m not afraid of snap, crackle and pop, I’ll probably go back to the chiropractor’s office as the need arises. And I’m going to keep doing exercises designed to strengthen my back. Because I’m frockwoodheadshot2010compressed3.jpgar too young to retire my hula-hoop just yet.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.

Fashion Mama: Top Trends for 2010

Welcome to our new nwaMotherlode Fashion Editor, Michelle Thompson! Here are some of her best picks for the New Year:

Top Ten Trends for 2010:

  1. mark-dress-2.jpgFlowy, fluid floral dresses and tops.
  2. Tribal Influence: dresses (like this Mark dress from Avon at right), tops, shoes, bags, belts, and scarves  (Do this trend sparingly…don’t be tribal from head-to-toe.)
  3. Neutrals: use of monochromatic nudes, in clothing and accessories.
  4. Metal Studded Accessories:  belts, shoes, and purses:  This trend is img_2881.jpgeverywhere I look.  I tend to see the most of gold studs on black leather, which will add a big punch to your wardrobe.  As with most trends, only wear one studded item at a time.  DON”T OVERDO THIS TREND!!!!!!!  My favorite item for this trend is a black, gladiator style high-heel with gold studs (pictured at right, from Warren’s Shoes at the NWA Mall). GORGEOUS SHOE!!!!!
  5. 74027500156_220x220_a1.jpgRuffle Shoes, bags and tops: I love, and have always loved ruffles, and this year they are all over dressy shoes all the way to flats and yummy purses. Ruffles add such a feminine touch to your outfit so have flirty fun with this trend this Spring. (Like this ruffled beauty from Warren’s at right.)
  6. Denim dresses and skirts.
  7. Lingerie Trend:  You can wear this trend by adding a bit of lace or a bustier-inspired top or dress.  Don’t wear your favorite nightgown out of the house! (See an example at right from locally-owned Masons)
  8. dsc_6753.jpgSaddle Leather:  This trend is everywhere in bags, purses and shoes.  Love this distressed, warm leather look.  It is really complimentary to many Spring styles. 
  9. Tie/High waisted, pleated, tapered, cropped pant:  Quite a mouthful I realize, but it is the best way to describe this fun/new trend.  Paired with a basic white tee, fun jacket and sneakers or flats it is the perfect new ensemble for going into Spring.  Oh, and don’t forget the jewels to dress this look up. 
  10. Jump Suits:  Not a trend for everyone, but when you do find the right one paaaaamnnbiinmhf.jpgfor your body type it will most likely become one of your favorite go-to pieces in your wardrobe. Stick to a basic black if you jump in to this trend, then you can accessorize to funk it up and make it you. Maude Boutique in Fayetteville has an entire armoire devoted just to jumpsuits this season. (And here’s a cute suit at right from Masons.) Go check them out, and see what style suits you best.  You will be surprised how cute they really can be with the right accessories. 

Comeback Pieces to Take Into the New Year:

  1. Skinny Jeans:  These babies aren’t going anywhere this year.  Keep enjoying their versatility. 
  2. Boyfriend Blazer:  Such a great go-to piece!
  3. Boyfriend Cardigan:  Great belted over a dress or left open over a tank and boyfriend jeans.
  4. The Boyfriend Jeans.
  5. Leggings.
  6. Biker Jacket.
  7. dibai323527_178594_fs.jpgCowboy Boots: I added this one, because they really just don’t go out-of-style.  There are such cute styles around town, so have fun with it in Spring.  Just don’t cowgirl from head-to-toe. Unless, of course, you really are a cowgirl. In that case you have a free pass. 

Accessory Trends for 2010:

  1. Big Bold Silver Jewelry: Cuffs and Thick Chain Necklaces (Check out Heidi Klum’s necklace on the cover of In Style this month.)
  2. Fringe: This is mostly seen on purses. Not one of my favorite trends, but if you love it, do it sparingly on just one item of your outfit. 
  3. Scarves: This is a continuing trend, but jazz it up with some fun tribal prints and bold bright colors.
  4. Embellished Flats: There are numerous styles available in the shops around town.  Warren’s and Dillard’s had my favorites. I even spotted some cute ones on the 50% off rack at Warren’s. 
  5. Adorned Cuffs: Check out Stelladot.com and Francesca’s at Pinnacle Promenade. 
  6. Straw Bags and Shoes: This trend seems to come back every year, but in a subtle, new way.  I have seen some great pieces pairing black patent with gold accents with the straw. I love this trend because it just screams SUMMER IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!
  7. Oxford Shoes: Not my favorite trend, but could be cute with the knee-high sock trend with a cute skirt or a wide-legged pant. 
  8. Smaller Bags: This is one trend I personally will have an extremely hard time accepting. As a mom of two beautiful young daughters, I live out of my purse, so my bag probably resembles carry-on luggage. However, our backs will thank us in the end. 
  9. Tribal Jewelry:  There are great Indian-inspired pieces at Masons. Also, the Cortez Cuff on Stelladot.com..
  10. Woven Sandal:  Love this trend, especially with the flowery dress trend. I am looking for the perfect pair right now. 
  11. Platform  Heels:  They are everywhere this year. This is actually a great trend for your foot and back health.  The platform actually gives you the illusion of a higher heel without the actual incline.  Love these!!!!!!!
  12. Snakeskin: Mostly seen on shoes and bags.

smallmichelle2.JPGMichelle Thompson is mom to two beautiful daughters, Macy and Brooklyn, and is nwaMotherlode’s new Fashion Mama editor. Look for new articles from Michelle on the last Friday of the month. To read more about this local fashionista/mom/marathon runner, click here

Recalls: Find out first

The news about the big Toyota recall reminds us how important it is to be “in the know” about potentially dangerous products — for ourselves and for our kids. You can go to a website called www.Recalls.gov and sign up for an e-mail alert service that will send you an e-mail when recalls are issued by the government. You can get recall info on consumer products, motor vehicles, warning.gifboats, food, medicine, cosmetics and environmental products. So if you miss an announcement on the televised news, you won’t have to worry because the info will be delivered to your inbox as well.

To sign up, click here or go to www.Recalls.gov and then click on  “Sign up for e-mail.” Follow the instructions, which are quick and easy, and you’ll start receiving updates soon after. (I just received an e-mail yesterday with news about recalls for three children’s products.) You may be sent an e-mail asking you to confirm that you want to be on the list. The website states that your e-mail address will only be used to send you safety-related info. Hope this tool is helpful to you, too!

Picture Mama: Enter the snapshot contest!

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Oh, I do love the pictures! Opening e-mail is a little like Christmas because I can hardly wait to see what kinds of photos might be waiting there. Thank you to those moms who have already sent in a few 0008adamsjan10.jpgsnapshots. Some of them are scattered throughout this post, and they are SO cute. Love, love, love ‘em!

ENTER THE PHOTO CONTEST: Remember that we’re still accepting photos, and the winner of the snapshot contest gets a FREE photo session with photographer Melinda Worthington of MJW Photography. Not only do you get the free session, you also get a HUGE wall print (16×20) of your favorite shot from that session. Just in case you’re doing the math, that’s a package that would normally cost you hundreds of dollars. So don’t miss out on a chance to win it.

Melinda’s photography is pretty amazing, and we guarantee you’ll love having her photograph your kids in action. Did you see the recent article she wrote for us with tips on how to photograph a newborn? CLICK HERE if you didn’t see it because the photos are way too good to miss.

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Please don’t think that your chances of winning are low if you’re not fabulous with a camera. These shots are not judged on photography skill but rather on “emotional impact.” (We call it the “awwwwww” factor.) So choose snapshots that are dear to your heart — the ones that make you warm all over, the ones that make you laugh or cry or the ones that capture a wonderful moment. (The moment pictured above includes a sweet little boy going nose-to-nose with a dog named “Hershey’s Kisses.”)

You can submit 5 photos per mama per month. (We know it’s impossible to narrow it down to one favorite.) So keep those photos coming! E-mail your photos to gwen@nwaMotherlode.com. The judges will pick a few finalists at the end of January and we’ll post them early next month. The grand prize winner will be named at the end of April, just in time for a spring photo shoot!

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Hair: Help Me Rhonda on thinking pink

Dear Rhonda,

My 8-year-old wants to get PINK streaks in her hair. She says kids are using Kool-Aid kool-aid.jpgto do it. Is it safe? I don’t want her to have pink hair, but if there is a simpler, safer way, I could give in and let her experiment a little. Please HELP!!!

Dear Pinky,

Although 8 is a young age to begin changing hair color, it’s not uncommon these days.  Seems like every time you open a magazine, you’ll see someone with a freakish hair color.  Now, about the Kool-Aid, please hear me when I say “STAY AWAY!!!”  It’s not smart to put it in anyone’s hair but especially someone with blonde hair. It will NEVER come out. Sure, it makes a great color — blue, green, pink, purple — but when the novelty of the fad wears off, the child is still stuck with funky-colored hair, whether she wants it or not.

My suggestion is to look into colored extensions. They can be a little pricey but well worth the money, if you ask me. The extensions are colored before going into the hair, and they’re simple to remove once the “cool” wears off. Normally, they’re placed into the hair with tiny beads of glue. (Don’t worry, this glue is safe for hair.) The extensions are attached to several strands of the hair and stay by adding heat from a tiny flat iron to melt the glue.

You can put as many crazy colors as you want in there, and when you get tired of them, you simply use a glue remover for extensions. (The salon you choose should have everything you need to take care of the “coming out” process.) Be sure to have a consultation BEFORE making any appointments for the service.  You want to make a list of questions and concerns and take your daughter so she will understand the upkeep for her new doo! Prices vary among stylists and salons.pink-extension.png

Another alternative is extensions that clip into the hair. They literally have tiny clips that go under the hair wherever you want them, and you can remove them every day. The photo on the right shows a single clip-in hair extension in pink.

I hope this has helped “de-stress” you about your daughter and her pink stripes. Keep in mind that if her quest for pink striped hair is the worst thing you have to worry about, you’re in great shape for when she becomes a teenager. Good luck!

rhondapic1.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 mamas@nwaMotherlode.com or call for an appointment at the salon at 479-273-9944. Have a happy hair day.

Life With Ladybug: Kitten crisis!

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

asia.jpgWe’ve have a bit of a kitty crisis around here.

Right before I picked up Ladybug from school yesterday I said goodbye to the pets (and turned on the TV for them to stave off any loneliness my absence might cause. Sucker) and noticed the kitten’s right eye looked very odd. It was glowing fluorescent and its surface looked like a swamp in Louisiana. It was so filmy you could barely see her pupil.

By the time I got back from picking up Ladybug, Asia’s eye was blood red. Ladybug noticed it first, gasping when she got a good look. I called the vet and got an appointment within the hour (love Stanton Animal Hospital).

Visiting the vet was a miserable experience and I’m sure the kitten wasn’t very happy either. She got blood drawn to check for a few life-threatening diseases (negative, thank goodness), her temperature taken via a very unexpected place (in her opinion) and some pink medicine forced down her throat.

After paying the $126 bill (woo-hoo!), we were sent home with three medicines. One I have to administer three times a day to the affected eye, one is the aforementioned pink that to be forced down the kitten’s gullet twice a day and the third is once a day in the eye.

That last one is just absolutely awful. Dr. Smith warned us that Asia might “hypersalivate”. Well, that was understatement. Perhaps the phrase “She’ll foam at the mouth like Cujo” would have better prepared us. If the vet hadn’t told us about it we would have no doubt thought the kitten was dying, considering she flung the spittle from room to room in a futile attempt to runawayfromthespittle.

And I get to do it again tonight. And for the next five nights until we go back to the vet for a re-evaluation.

When Asia looks at you from just the wrong direction, she could be a cat from Pet Sematary (Stephen King book, made into a horrible movie). But I can see a slight improvement. Poor kitty cat.

I was really proud of Ladybug after we left the vet’s office and I tsk-ed over the bill. I have no idea why I said this out loud, but I said, “Well, that was your birthday party money.”

After it came out of my mouth, I regretted it. But then she said immediately, “That’s OK. I just want my cat to get better.”

Wow. That was a very mature response.

In other news, Ladybug had to have two LARGE hunks of hair cut out near the base of her scalp. She has so much long hair you can’t really tell, but there’s no putting it up in a ponytail for a while. It was just such a tangled snarl in there and there was nothing I could do. I’d tried all kinds of conditioner, tangle-free goop and intricate combing – to no avail. She is really tender-headed (as we Southerners say) and her screaming when I tried the combing strategy could probably have been heard in Benton County.

Speaking of Ladybug’s hair, John just emailed me this picture with the comment: “I don’t remember as many hair problems when it was shorter.”

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Seeing this picture (she’s nine months old here) makes my heart hurt. She turns 8 next week. I guess maybe that explains the unexpected bouts of mature thinking.  Happy Birthday, little Ladybug! (Photo credit, Bedford’s)

Meet our new Fashion Mama editor!

Editor’s Note: OK, you fashion-minded mamas, we’ve got a new fashion editor we’d like you to meet. Her name is Michelle Thompson and she exudes fashion. We asked her to write a little about herself and you’ll see her first fashion post on Friday. It’s about 2010 trends, so be sure to tune in. From Michelle:

First and foremost, I am the full-time mom of two passionate, beautiful girls, Macy and Brooklyn, who make my life have more meaning than I ever knew possible. My husband, michelle2.JPGChris, who always keeps me on my toes, is the love of my life. I praise God everyday for blessing me with this life that I share with these amazing people. 

Before my current life with my husband and girls, I grew up in a suburb of Tulsa, where I began my love affair with FASHION. My dear mom, who is now affectionately called “Nana”, realized my interest and signed me up for fashion/modeling classes where my love for all things fashion blossomed.

My family used to get a kick out of going shopping with me because I used to waltz into boutiques and completely redress their displays and mannequins. As an adult, now I realize I was probably really annoying to the manager of the store. One boutique in particular used to love (or put up with) my creative take on the displays and just let me do what I chose.

My room all through high school may have seemed to some a complete mess, but to me it was a design room, with outfits laid out (accessories and all) across my pink carpeted floor. During that time in my life, I would lie in bed at night and sketch outfit after shoulder-padded outfit while I should have been sleeping. I did also love working at several boutiques all through high school and college.

After high school, while following the normal college route, a friend suggested a fashion design school in Dallas. I was hooked; I knew that it was what I had to do. During my time there, I learned so much about textiles, design and merchandising, and I worked for several designers at the Dallas Market.

After Dallas, I came home to Tulsa, and met my husband Chris, who at the time was finishing his degree. I decided to go back to school and pursue my other love, which was writing; I earned a B.A. in English a few years later. Writing this column is such a dream for me because it brings both of my lifelong passions together.

During the last eight years as a full-time mom, I have kept my love for fashion fresh by having a small purse and accessories business and now I am a Stella & Dot stylist for fun.  I also love taking friends shopping and giving advice on the newest trend out, and the best places to shop around town. (I have curtailed redoing store displays, as of now.)

I love helping friends and family feel their best through fashion. I believe that when you feel good about the way you present yourself to the world, you have more confidence in every facet of your life. My goal is to find affordable fashions so that all moms can look and feel their best while running the busy lives we all lead.

In my spare time, I am an absolute health/fitness nut, and this last November I ran my first full marathon. To me fashion, fitness, and health really all work together to create the best life you can live. 

Michelle will write monthly (maybe more at times!) articles about fashion for us on the last Friday of the month. Welcome to nwaMotherlode, Michelle! 

Military Mama: Little man’s logic

By Jade Stone

black-hawk-helicopter.jpgIt’s amazing how much kids learn from their environments, even when we are absolutely certain that they are focused on playing and paying no attention to their surroundings. Nonetheless we do our best to continue our daily lives while keeping a fine tuned ear to the music they listen to, and a watchful eye on the movies/shows/cartoons that are playing in their vicinity. We believe that at the end of the day, we’ve managed to protect them from the mean, nasty world that exists around us.

But there are two truths revealed in the world we live in: 1)no matter how hard we try, they do not live in a bubble; and 2) we cannot always shelter them from the harsh realities of the world.

With my husband being a soldier, we determined early on that we didn’t want our now 4-year-old son to know too much about what daddy does. Jess learned at a very young age that daddy works on “hedicockers”(helicopters) and sometimes has to go away to fix them.  We in no way share the harsh realities of deployment and all that entails. However, somehow he’s learning.

One day while preparing for a drill weekend, we were helping daddy pack so that he would have all the things he needed to “fix hedicockers”. He neatly folded all the important things into his backpack and began folding up his ACU’s (uniform) when Jess began gazing curiously at it.

You can always tell when a child is seriously contemplating an idea and working as fast as his cognitive wheels will turn to figure something out.  Well, this was the look.  We waited a millisecond to see if he  might share his thought when, before we could ask, Jess looked at the uniform with big, brown, inquiring eyes, and then up at Jay and asked “Daddy, do you shoot people”? You could hear a pin drop. 

If you’ve ever felt the air being sucked out of a room, you know that there is a tiny fraction of time in which no one breathes, or speaks. The blood drains from the face as shock overtakes your expressionless face while you frantically sift through your babbling thoughts to find a coherent answer, and not just any answer but one that a 4 year old can comprehend.

Jay and I looked at each other, dumbfounded at our little man’s sense of logic. As I tried to figure out where on earth he might have gotten such a notion, it occurred to me that he has learned from toys that gun-like objects shoot (Nerf toys, or any number of boys’ toys), and that on TV, men in clothes just like daddy’s carry guns (the news) so it stands to reason that he has put two and two together to make four. 

Finally, through tear filled eyes, Jay managed to explain that “daddy just works on helicopters and only uses his hands to help others”.  And while that answer seemed to satisfy Jess enough to continue playing, the sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs that represented the very possible reality of the future seemed overwhelming.

The fact is, one day we will have to approach this very same topic with our son in the future and while right now we could tell him the honest truth, we may not get off the hook so easily in the future with a much older, wiser little boy.

To read previous installments of Military Mama, click here.

Oh Baby, are these winners smiling!

headshot.jpgHelp us congratulate the winners of the professional teeth whitening from Northwest Orthodontics and Oh Baby Foods goodies!

Mitzi Traxson is the randomly-selected winner of the professional teeth whitening giveaway from Dr. Jesse Gray! (We happened to have a pic of Mitzi from when we featured her in 5 minutes with a Mom. Click here to see the Q & A!)

And Angela Watson is the lucky mama who won the Baby Shower Gift Set from Oh Baby Foods!

We said we wanted the smile makeover to be all about you, mamas, and Mitzi said she’s always wanted to have her teeth whitened but didn’t want to spend the money on herself. Sounds like she’ll definitely be doing something just for herself with this giveaway. Thanks to Dr. Gray for making it happen.

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In this giveaway, we asked what makes you smile. Well, your answers had us smiling all day long. Mitzi said in comments:

“My almost four year old makes me smile constantly…oh and shoes…even if I can’t afford them!”

Mitzi is mom to Sam and she’s managing director for the local Jackson L. Graves Foundation.

ohbaby.jpgAngela is mom to 2 1/2-year-old Jacob and a brand new baby who was born via VBAC in Ft. Smith on Dec. 30.

“So with a new baby I will be very excited to try this baby food,” she said. “With my first, I never bought a jar of baby food and made my own- the joys of having one child- but now with 2 I am glad to have some prepared baby food that is organic and even locally made!”

For the Oh Baby Foods giveaway, we asked moms to comment on their baby’s favorite first foods. Angela said her firstborn was crazy about avocados.

Thanks to Fran Gunsaulis at Oh Baby for the generous gift of first foods and Oh Baby gear!

Cheez Quiz: An “Idol” question

Hey, mamas, ready for a little cheese? We’ve got a fresh question for you in our Cheez Quiz category. Here it is:

Will American Idol survive next year without Simon Cowell on the judging panel?

  • idol-logo.pngNot a chance. He’s crucial to the show’s success.
  • Maybe, but only if they find another judge we love to hate.
  • Don’t watch it and don’t care.
  • Definitely. The singers are the true stars of the show.

Click on the Cheez Quiz jar below to submit your vote and see how your fellow mamas have voted.

Giveaway: Tickets to Goodnight Moon/Runaway Bunny and Drowsy Chaperone!

wac_motherlode_goodnightmoon.jpgFor nearly two years now, the Walton Arts Center has generously offered tickets to our readers for many of the great shows they’ve attracted to Northwest Arkansas.

Today we’re giving away two sets! The first is for a double-bill adaptation of the beloved bedtime classics Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny. With FOUR FREE TICKETS to the Feb. 6 show this would make the perfect family outing. The second set of tickets is just right for a date night (or girls’ night). We’ve got two tickets to give away for the Tony award-winning show The Drowsy Chaperone on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

And you know the Motherlode mamas never let you go out on an empty stomach! The winner of the Goodnight Moon/Runaway Bunny tickets will also receive a gift certificate to Flying Burrito, right across the street from Walton Arts Center. Yum.

The Drowsy Chaperone winner will be treated to dinner at Bordinos — always a date night favorite!

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HOW TO ENTER: If you want to win tickets to the show based on popular board books Goodnight Moon and the Runaway Bunny, just tell us about your child’s favorite bedtime ritual (I bet many of us could say reading one of these books is definitely a favorite!).

If you want a shot at winning The Drowsy Chaperone tickets, we want to hear about a wedding. The Drowsy Chaperone tells the hilarious tale of a celebrity bride on her uproarious wedding day. Do you have a good wedding day story to tell? We’d love to hear it (yours or someone else’s!). Just click on the word “comment” at the bottom of this post and tell us about those bedtime rituals and wedding days!

You can also e-mail your entry to us at giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

As always, you can increase your odds of winning by helping us spread the word about the giveaway. 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.)

Please let us know in comments (or e-mail) whether you’d like to be in the running for both sets of tickets or if you’d rather just have one or the other.

About Goodnight Moon/Runaway Bunny: What to say about these two fabulous board books? Of course, both books feature sweet baby bunnies. And I think most adults love to hear the rhythm of Goodnight Moon, a short poem of goodnight wishes, as much as the kids. The pictures are just beautiful.

The Runaway Bunny’s pretend tale of leaving home gives his mother a chance to offer reassuring responses. The pictures in this one are also lovely.

About The Drowsy Chaperone: Appropriate for the whole family, this show is a 1920s musical throwback comedy that won more Tony Awards in 2006 than any other musical on Broadway. It will be on stage at WAC for only three nights (Feb. 2-4) at 7 p.m.

This light-hearted musical is a cleverly constructed homage to the bygone of the Jazz Age. This single-act show begins in a dreary apartment with a cheerless gentleman sitting routinely in a chair. The man, aptly called “Man in Chair,” decides to cope with life’s hardships by listening to his favorite show tunes album; a 1928 smash hit called “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As soon as the first song begins to play, the ordinary quickly turns extraordinary. What follows is a whimsical show-within-a-show that focuses on a newly-engaged narcissistic showgirl and her dashing husband-to-be, an avaricious producer, a know-it-all British butler, a pair of cookie-cutter 1920s gangsters, an over-the-top Casanova and a dotty heroine.

“Surely few productions have ever pulled an audience so immediately and unconditionally on their sides,” said the New York Times.

ABOUT THE FOOD: We love Flying Burrito and Bordinos, who are also generous supporters of Motherlode and the mamas out there.

The Flying Burrito Company is a burrito bar that specializes in large, California-style burritos made to order. You choose the toppings and they have all kinds of tortilla flavors (I like the jalapeno cheddar wrap best. Delish.) Kids eat FREE all day and all night (well, ’til they close!) Mondays through Wednesdays and they also have a program for moms on a budget. It’s a frequent diner program, so for every $100 you spend, you get $10 of in-store credit.

You can also buy a FBC plastic cup for $2.99 and bring it back each time for 69-cent refills!

flying-burrito.pngFlying Burrito began in Fayetteville at the location near the Walton Arts Center, just a block off Dickson Street. It became so popular that they opened new locations in new cities, including locations on North College Avenue in Fayetteville, one in Springdale, one in Little Rock and its most recent addition in Bentonville. They also have a new location at the Northwest Arkansas Mall food court!

bordinos2.jpgBordinos. Well, we love this place for its food, atmosphere and overall rating as a great date place — or a fun girls’ night out stop. We also love the beautiful art boxes designed by Kathy Thompson. It always feels like a special occasion when we eat at Bordinos. That’s why we like to send NWA mamas there!

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Good luck!

Mealtime Mama: (Easy) From-Scratch Brownies

smallnwacookbook.gifThe Junior League of Northwest Arkansas’ Add Another Place Setting cookbook is filled with fabulous recipes from cover to cover (click on the cookbook picture to order one!).

I tried a sweet one over the weekend when I had company over. We were all hungry for chocolate — and there wasn’t a brownie mix in a box to be found. So I grabbed this cookbook from the shelf and started looking. Aha! On page 170, a ‘Chewy Brownies’ recipe that I had all the ingredients for. And when they were ready, we all got our chocolate fix.

They really are delicious — you could really tell they were homemade. And I feel strangely virtuous if I make things from “scratch”. We did have to improvise with two pans since we didn’t have a double broiler, so keep that in mind.

Chewy Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

6 tablespoons baking cocoa

2 cups sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I left them out!)

Directions: Combine the butter and baking cocoa in the top of a double broiler over simmering water (or use two different-sized pans if you don’t have a double broiler). Cook until the butter is melted, stirring frequently. Remove the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the sugar and eggs quickly. Fold in the flour, vanilla and nuts. Pour into a buttered 8X8 inch or 9X9 inch baking pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes; do not overbake. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour. Cut into squares.

Makes 12 servings.

Note: You can order the cookbooks through the Junior League’s website (link) or you can find them at various retail outlets across the region. The website offers a complete list.

Devotion in Motion: A good meal

9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.

Proverbs 22:9 (NKJV)

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

Things have been very busy here. My wife Susan had “female surgery” (complete with bikini incision) two weeks ago, and it has brought domestic work in our house to a standstill. The doctor says that she has to take it easy and not lift anything over 10 pounds for 6 weeks. She’s being a good patient.

I’ve been married to Susan for almost a quarter of century, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen her laid low for any period of time by a medical condition. I’ve always said that she is the kind of woman who would have thrived in the frontier times. I mean, if she got shot mop-and-bucket.jpgwith an arrow, she would just break it off, mutter “I’ll take care of that later,” drink a cup of coffee and finish mopping the floor. And she gets her housework done quickly. My Grandma Davis said that Susan’s habits reminded her of the way my Grandma Cash washed dishes: “Those two wash the dishes fast. There may be soapsuds on the ceiling, but, by golly, they get it done fast!”

People who know us always laugh at how Susan and I live our lives at totally opposite speeds. She lives her life in overdrive, and I kind of move steadily, always in 2nd gear. (Susan would say I move steadily in 1st gear.) That’s the way that the Lord puts good marriages together. Most of the time, married people are opposites. But, they are opposites like a pair of gloves—perfectly reversed, but making a complete set.

I’ve been trying to keep the house picked up, the dishes washed, and the laundry caught up—because if things aren’t straight, well, then Susan is tempted to mess with them, and she’s not supposed to do that. It hasn’t been too bad, because we have a washing machine and a dishwasher, and they really simplify the matter. But the greatest blessing that I’ve had, the thing that has made everything run so casserole.jpgsmoothly, is the fact that my church members are bringing us meals. We’ve had such a variety of foods, nutritious and delicious, and there’s always enough to microwave for lunch the next day. May God richly bless all the people who have been so good to us!

Will you bless someone with a meal this week? It may seem like a very small thing, but take it from somebody who knows, it means the universe when times are stressful. Over the decades I’ve seen Susan prepare hundreds of meals for others, but I never realized what a help it is until now. And something I’ve learned from Susan is that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. When the pace is leisurely she prepares a regular meal, but when she is pressed for time she picks up pizzas at the one mom-and-pop store in our little town, and delivers them with beverages and a dessert. (Families with children seem to particularly enjoy that.)

Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) says that the Lord will bless those who are generous in sharing food with those in need. Dear mamas, who will you share with this week? I guarantee you’ll feel happier when you’re a blessing to others—and the Lord has promised His blessing, too.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is enjoying 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’s wife says she is getting tired of being an “invalid.” :-) You should write him at extramailbox@juno.com.

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