The Rockwood Files: Why persistence matters

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

When we left last weekend for our little cabin in the woods, we had five family members in the minivan. When we returned, there were six. Here’s how that happened:

On Saturday a small gray cat showed up to greet us at the cabin. She weaved between our legs and opened her mouth to “meow,” although no sound came out. We weren’t surprised to see her because the country-road.JPGcabin is on one of those woodsy roads where pets wander from house to house quite often. Our kids sometimes play with two of the neighbor’s dogs who trot down the street when we’ve got burgers cooking on the grill.

But this cat stuck around for hours, sleeping on the deck and rushing to the door any time someone came out. The kids wanted to pet her, so I checked her out to make sure she was friendly. When we started petting, I realized this was probably not a pet that was out for a Saturday stroll. Underneath her long gray hair, I felt nothing but bones. She was starving, and her mute “meow” couldn’t even tell us how bad it was.

We cut up some bologna and cheese and fed her, although Tom (who has always been “anti-cat”) insisted we do it a few yards from the house so she wouldn’t think of our place as “home.” She gobbled down the food quickly.

After the kids went to bed, Tom and I sat in the living room reading and watching TV. About 9 p.m., a little gray head with pointy ears appeared in the window closest to where Tom was sitting. She put one paw up on the window and mouthed her silent “meow” while staring deep into Tom’s eyes.

“Look who’s here,” Tom said warily, nodding toward the

“So much for the plan to feed her a few yards away so she wouldn’t come back,” I said.

“We’re not getting a cat,” he said.

“You know, she’s probably really thirsty… maybe dehydrated,” I said.

“Well…. I’ll go give her some water, but we’re not getting a cat,” he said once more with emphasis.

After giving her a bowl of water, he settled back onto the sofa. Ten minutes later, the gray furry head appeared again in the window. She raised her paw to mime her “meow” for Tom and then she walked down to the window closest to me and repeated the same pitiful scene. She continued working on us every 20 minutes or so for the rest of the night. The next morning, she was waiting on the deck and rubbed up against the kids’ legs when they came out to give her food.

“We’re not getting a cat,” Tom said, in case I’d forgotten overnight.

“And we’re not leaving that animal here to starve, either,” I said, which is something he knew for certain that I’d say.

We asked neighbors if anyone knew her, but everyone agreed she was a stray, probably dropped off by someone who didn’t want her. A neighbor let me borrow a travel crate to put her in, and we packed up our bags and our stray and headed for home.

“We’re not getting a cat,” Tom said during the drive. “This is just temporary until we find her a good home.”

Once we got home, I ran out to the store to fetch a litter box, cat food and a little red cat collar with a bell. We wiped the cat down with some damp cloths to clean her up, and she ate until she was full and promptly fell asleep on the rug, purring her gratitude while the corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly. The kids circled around her, agreeing that she was the coolest cat ever.

“I think we’ve been adopted by a cat,” I said, gently breaking the news to Tom that I’m sure he already knew.

“Well, I’m not cleaning that litter box,” he said.

“Deal,” I said. “I’ll teach the kids how to help.”

Later that night, I found our new skinny cat on Tom’s lap, curled up contentedly while he scratched her head. And I think they’ve forged an unlikely bond. Tom has worked in sales for his entire career, and this weekend he came face to furry face with a cat who knows one of the most effective strategies for getting what you want: “Ask for the sale.” And this cat asked – over and over and over again. She stayed in front of us, and we couldn’t ignore her need.

The only thing left to do was name the newest member of the family. So we did. We call her “Percy”, which is short for “Persistence.”


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

One mama’s review of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

beauty-beast2.JPGOn Tuesday night, I took my 3-year-old daughter Kate to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast musical at Walton Arts Center. It was opening night for this show, and the place was packed! Kate dressed up in all her princess gear, including a pink tutu, just before we left for the show. Can you tell by looking at this photo that she was a tad bit excited?

The musical exceeded my expectations (which were pretty high to begin with) because it truly was like seeing the movie come to life on stage. The stage scenery and the costumes were incredible. And the singing? Well, I had multiple “goose bump” moments throughout the show.

The only thing that interested me more than what was happening on stage was the look on my daughter’s face as she was watching the show. You know how a little kid looks when she is completely surprised and completely thrilled at the same time? It was…. awesome. I won’t forget it, and I know she won’t forget this trip to the theater. At one point in the performance, right after the Beast roared at Belle, Kate turned to me and said, in a very serious tone, “That Beast has bad behavior!” But don’t worry… he redeemed himself in the end and became a “nice Beast.”

After the show, we bought one of the full-color programs with photos of the musical, and she has been “reading” it to me ever since we got home Tuesday night — giving me a play-by-play recap of everything that happened on stage.

We’ve been told there are still good seats available at several of the remaining performances of this show. So if you’re thinking of going to see it but were waiting around to hear whether or not it’s worth the trip, trust me. It’s worth it. You can get tickets by calling the Walton Arts Center box office at 479-443-5600 or by clicking here to check on ticket availability. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Below is a video review recorded at the Walton Arts Center right after opening night. This contains opinions by other audience members on opening night as well as some footage of the performance.

Tweens & Teens: The back-to-school clothes dilemma


Welcome back to another edition of Tweens & Teens. I hope everyone is having a great summer, and it’s so very hard to believe that school is right around the corner. That means SHOPPING for school clothes…which leads right into this month’s article: How we dress our tweens and teens so they can go back to school and look cooler than ever.

Did you know clothing is the No. 1 item purchased by both male and female teenagers? It’s true. The money.jpgsecond is shoes for girls and video games for boys. I’ve read that teens spend approximately $150 billion dollars per year on clothing alone…yeah, billion.

I’ve heard several theories about the financial aspects of dressing your adolescent with everything ranging from doing extra chores to help pay for the clothes to giving them an unlimited amount on the credit card. If the latter is you, then we need to talk…quickly. No tween or teen needs to be given an unlimited amount of money for clothing. I do like the idea of extra chores around the house, though there are certainly times when I will get something for my 11-year-old for no reason other than he asks.

When you’re buying back-to-school clothing, you need to have a budget and your tween and teen can be included in helping with that budget. Adolescents are not typically realistic with money, and this is an excellent opportunity to help give them some perspective on life.

I’m afraid I can’t give you an exact amount you should spend on back-to-school shopping, as it will depend on your financial situation and personal preference. If I had to guess (please no letters about the guess), it would be $200-$400. This is only back-to-school clothing costs and does not include school supplies. Also, this only refers to back-to-school time rather than the entire year. And, yes, I understand that some tennis shoes cost that much alone; however, they are not worn by my children. If tennis shoes cost more than my electric bill, they are too expensive.

To help understand what clothing is popular, and what is not, you can consult various fashion magazines and their websites. Magazines such as Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and GQ are good places to start. Or, you could ask my wife since she’s always up to date on the latest trends. I never thought I would compliment someone on their shoes and/or purse, but alas, I do. Living with my wife has taught me more than I ever wanted to know about clothing.

After consulting fashion magazines to see what the latest styles may be, you can search the internet for designer clothes at bargain prices. You can also shop around by going to outlets, thrift stores, and ugh…the mall.

bare-midriff.jpgDressing modestly is a must, and I won’t budge on this one. I’ve seen WAY too much flesh on tweens and teens who come through my office, or just out in public. I will say this…If a girl advertises her goods, someone will answer her ad. Guys are on the prowl and their eyes, hands, and hormones are running wild at this age. If your daughter raises her arms and her tummy is showing, then you need to consider whether this outfit is too short for her.

I have also seen parents who try to dress like their teenager, which is just embarrassing.

From a developmental and emotional standpoint, clothing is an important way for adolescents to express themselves and give a glimpse of who they are. Simply buying the most expensive, or popular, clothing does not automatically give you style. Manners, charm, and confidence (and a few other things) are required. This is the time for adolescents to learn who they are, who they want to be, and who they do not want to be.

So, let’s all be realistic when buying clothing, especially with finances…we must also be sensitive to the fact that your tween and teen wants to be accepted and, as mentioned in a previous article, wants to avoid embarrassment. Having clothing that’s similar to others at school is one way they feel they can avoid embarrassment, which may give them some sense that they’re going to be automatically accepted.  Though we know this is not true, they may not have yet learned this simple fact. At the same time, they want to establish their individual needs and style, and this is the time they will do so.

Whew…good luck.



Dr. Jones is a child psychologist with Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas. Click here to read previous articles on Tweens & Teens. Got a question for Dr. Jones? Send it to us (we won’t use your name) and we may feature it in an upcoming installment of Tweens & Teens. 


Techno Mama: Blogging 201


By Sarah Martin Hood

It’s the not-so-new-anymore thing: blogging. I can almost guarantee you either have a blog or know someone with a blog. It’s fun! It’s free! It’s ADDICTIVE. Right? Well, if you’ve already gotten your feet wet and started a blog, here are some things I’ve seen on the more successful blogs out there and some fun ideas for taking your blogging to the next level.

  • Have a niche. Some of the most successful blogs out there are more than just about “parenting” or “stories of me and my kids”. They are ABOUT something. Pick something you know something about – and go with it. Do you have twins? Write blog posts specific to parenting multiples. Do any of your children have special needs? Write out your feelings – smiles AND tears – and things you’ve learned from your personal parenting experience. Do you have teenagers? Great! Not a lot of moms-of-teens out there in the blogosphere. Go for it!
  • Go for Quality over Quantity. Specifically photos. And I am terrible at following this advice… It’s HARD, ok? My kid is so gosh darn cute that I just know the internet needs to see us playing outside from every possible angle. And oh – THAT one because his hair looks a little different in that one. And THAT one because Grandpa is in it. And THAT one because you can see the house in the background. You see what I mean? Photos should help you tell the story – but be choosy about photos you post. Don’t let your readers get bogged down in 20 pics that all kinda look… well… the same. 
  • Get to the point. Same quality over quantity story, here. But with words. You should be able to get there in about 400 words. Give or take. If you get too far above 500 words, you’ll encourage skimming rather than really READING. And for gosh sakes, break it up into paragraphs. Sometimes reading on a computer screen can get hard on the eyes. Make it easy for people to have fun reading your blog.
  • istock_000004080421xsmall.jpgCommit to it. People who read your blog will be hungry for more. So give the people what they want! Have a regular posting schedule. Or as close to “regular” as busy Moms get… If that means once a week, then so be it! And if you have to go on a hiatus for, say, a family vacation or if you’re taking a nice long break for the summer — tell your readers! There’s nothing worse than losing a reader who has dropped by your blog a few times to see that you haven’t updated. If you leave a nice note that tells your faithful public you’ll be back after the holidays or if you’ll be on the beach without internet access for the next 10 days — they’ll be ready and waiting when you’re back to blogging!
  • Get a makeover. There’s no better way to re-energize yourself and your readers than to give your blog a new look. And you don’t have to spend a fortune. Blogging sites let you choose from basic templates and colors, but getting a custom header is easy and relatively inexpensive — I’ve seen them for around $20! And it will give your blog a professional, credible look. You want people to land on your blog and fall in love – stand out from the crowd!
  • Share the love. Be sure you provide a way for readers to easily “share” your posts via a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter. You will be surprised how quickly this will work! Yeah new readers!
  • Don’t overdo it. There are TONS of plug-ins and widgets and buttons out there that are tempting, tempting, tempting! But they can become clutter. Be choosy about what widgets you add to your blog. Be sure everything on your page serves a purpose and enhances the experience that is your blog. Sometimes it takes an honest, outside opinion for this one — it’s a toughy.

Blogging is fun – so run with it! And if you’re like me, you’re always looking for new blogs to follow. So leave a comment with your link! And Happy Blogging!

sarah-hood-technomamamugshotthumbnailthumbnail.jpgSarah would love to hear from you with questions or feedback regarding gadgets, technology, or blogging. You can also stop by Sarah’s personal blog, Musings of Mother Hood to say hello. To read previous installments of Techno Mama, click here!

Mamas on Magic 107.9 on Thursday mornings!

If you’re reading this between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. on Thursday (July 29), flip your radio to Magic 107.9 ‘cuz kezaad4.jpgthe mamas will be in the HOUSE! We’ll be stopping by the station for our usual Thursday morning chat with radio hosts Jennifer Irwin and Guy Westmoland.

(Click on the radio graphic on the right to listen to Magic 107.9 live on your computer.)

This week we’re digging into a topic that is near and dear to the mamas’ hearts: food, glorious food. We’ll be discussing everything from picky kid eaters to favorite comfort foods to some of our all-time favorite recipes.

We’d love for you to get involved! Call in and share your own favorite recipes, the comfort foods you remember from the good ole days or anything else around the subject of food that we can all sink our teeth into.

Here are a few of the resources we’ll be sharing on the radio:

A pediatric nurse practitioner offers picky eater answers!

Creamy Tomato Bowtie Pasta (Shannon is addicted to this one)

stage2.jpgGetting sneaky with kids’ food (hint: they’ll never see these vegetables coming)

Regionally-grown baby food

Green Smoothies your kids will actually drink

Recipes that sound crazy (your kids will like these)

Go-to Pasta Mama recipe

crockpot.jpgImportant info about hot dogs

Tips from local cooks

Awesome crock pot recipes

nwaMotherlode Kids Eat Free list!

Life with Ladybug: Do kids make you (un)happier?

By Shannon Magsam

new-york-mag.gifnew-york-mag.jpgAt the library the other day, I was looking for an article in Time Magaine about only children (since I’ve got one, I’m always drawn to conversations on the topic) when the headline splashed across another magazine cover caught my eye.

It said: “I love my children. I hate my life”.

You can see why I was intrigued. The story focuses on how parents’ “happy” quotient isn’t necessarily raised after they have kids. That they are, in fact, less happy than their non-parent counterparts.

Some of you may have seen the article’s author on the Today show recently. I read the article in New York Magazine first, then, when I mentioned it to my husband over the weekend, he asked if I’d seen author Jennifer Senior on the show. Since I hadn’t, I went to find the interview online.

But the comments on the Today show’s website were the most interesting find. So many of the commenters had chosen not to have kids or wished they hadn’t.

I can sympathize with those who may not have found parenting to be the most satisfying experience. But I can’t quite comprehend it. Admittedly, motherhood came at the exact right time in my life. It wasn’t a surprise pregnancy  (we were very much “trying”), I was married to a man I adore and I had some maturity under my belt. And I had mostly realistic expectations.

Of course, nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind that is parenthood. Your kids might not have the personality you expected, health concerns you never could have anticipated, temper tantrums from Hades. But nothing can prepare you for the joy, either. You can imagine what it will feel like to have tiny little arms wrap around you and squeeze tight, but the reality is much, much better.

On the other hand, the “lows” can be low-lier than you can imagine, too.

But, all told, I can definitely say my life is better, happier, fuller than before I had a child. I think the important things that have made it more positive than negative are: having good friends around me who weren’t afraid to discuss heavy issues;  having a husband who shared with me the feeling of ‘we’re in this together’; having done many of the things I wanted to do before the responsibility of a child eliminated certain life choices; and being able to continue my work while simultaneously staying home with my daughter.

I don’t mean to simplify things. Parenting is amazing, scary, tiring, fun, perplexing, defeating, uplifting, unselfish. And that only scratches the surface. But I can say without hesitation that I’m definitely happier.

Are you?

Drama for Mama: The Bachelorette Men Tell All

By Cara Cleek Ogden

red-rose.jpgI was looking forward to some juicy scoop this week on The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All special. I didn’t exactly hear any revelations, but there was a lot of gossip and trash-talking, which psyched me up for next week’s finale.

The Men Tell All special is usually a non-event in my opinion, but it’s fun to watch the guys in a more relaxed setting. I always look forward to the blooper reel, and this year’s was pretty cute, while reinforcing my opinion that Chris L. is a pretty fun guy behind the scenes. He’s my choice for next week’s final rose.

Some of the highlights of the evening:

JESSE showed up with a nearly bald ‘do, and he looked quite nice that way.

CRAIG R. talked a LOT. And they let him, which was unusual. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them focus on a contestant so much, let alone one who wasn’t a top-three choice. Maybe they’re setting him up to be the next Bachelor?

KASEY, the awkward singing/tattoo guy, really redeemed himself by not taking himself too seriously and laughing along as the others gave him crap. He sang a hilarious song to Ali at the end, which brought the house down. The other guys all seemed to like Kasey a lot, although most agreed that he’s a bit over-the-top. I think he’ll find someone who appreciates him someday, and he can “guard and protect” her heart 4-ever!

JUSTIN (aka Rated “R”) wasn’t even there and he was still the focus of the evening. It was a bit off-putting that they couldn’t think of anything better to do than trash Justin all evening. Not saying that he didn’t deserve a little grief, but still…. it was overkill. Yeah, yeah, he was there for the wrong reasons, he’s a jerk, we get it!

KIRK had his time in the hot-seat, and talked about how Ali broke his heart a little. My hunch about Craig R. aside, Kirk would be the most obvious choice at this point to be the next Bachelor.

ALI came out briefly and answered a few questions. She seemed genuinely happy to see the men, but didn’t give anything away as to her decision next week.

Ali introduces the final two men, Chris and Roberto, to her family. The final rose ceremony takes place, and who will receive the final rose? Will she choose Chris or Roberto? Or will she choose to keep the rose and remain single? I can’t wait to find out!

cara-cleek-ogdenthumbnail.jpgCara is a working single mom of a very energetic 10-year-old daughter, Ibby. Cara says, “At the end of my day, I often have just enough strength left to operate the remote control. Thankfully, my personal life is fairly calm. So in order to up the drama quotient, I keep up with my favorite TV shows. I may feel differently in a few years when my daughter hits puberty. But for now, I’m glad to have some ‘Drama for Mama’.”

Two spots available in next photography class!

Hey girls! Just wanted to let you know that two spots have opened up in the next photography class being class1small.jpgtaught by photographer Melinda Worthington of MJW Photography. When we announced this class several weeks ago, we had such a high number of moms sign up that Mindy agreed to teach two classes on two different dates. Mindy keeps the class sizes small so there’s time for plenty of one-on-one help as well as questions and answers. The next class happens on Saturday, August 21st from 1 to 4 p.m. at my house in Rogers. If you’re interested in one of the two remaining spots, send me an e-mail ASAP because the first two people I hear from will get those spots. Send a note to

class2small.jpgI signed up for the first class, which happened last Sunday, and it was GREAT. I finally understand what all those buttons on my camera mean! Mindy even taught us how to shoot using the manual settings. (The two snapshots you see here were taken during our class and no “auto-focus” or flash was used. Beautiful baby Cora was such a good sport and didn’t mind at all when seven camera-wielding mothers came at her on the front lawn. The picture at right is my 6-year-old son Jack, who agreed to be photographed because he was wearing his “cool dinosaur shirt.”)

Now that the first class is over, I and the other moms in the class are able to send Mindy photos we’re taking and get her tips on how to make them better. It was a very hands-on class, and we shot pictures of real kids so Mindy could walk us through it and give feedback on how to improve the snapshots. I learned so much, and I’m looking forward to hosting the second class at my house so I can pick up a few more tips.

Cost for the class is $50 and worth every penny, in my humble opinion. If that date and time works for you, e-mail me quickly and snag a spot!

Ask an Allergist: Dust Mites peak season upon us!

Provided by Dr. Curt Hedberg, allergist and owner of Hedberg Allergy & Asthma Center

While not everyone has a dust mite allergy, many people are irritated by dust. Dust consists of many things and includes not only dust mites but also skin scale, pollen, mold spores and fibers. Dust mites are dustmite2.jpgtiny, microscopic creatures that belong to the arachnid (spider) family (pictured at right). For individuals who have dust mite allergies, these creatures can cause nasal, chest, skin and eye allergy problems and lead to congestion, sneezing, wheezing and eye itching.

As the hot and humid summer months progress, dust mite numbers increase. Dust mites thrive in humidity. The life cycle of the dust mite is about a 40-day cycle. Dust mites feed on skin scale. So areas where you place your head are particularly high in dust mites, like your pillow, your mattress, the soft cushion of your favorite chair and in your child’s favorite stuffed animal! You don’t actually inhale the dust mite, but you do inhale dust mite body parts. It’s the dust mite’s digestive enzymes that give allergic individuals the most problem… yes, dust mite poop! Disgusting, I know.

Dust mites are found almost everywhere, but the highest concentrations of dust mites are in our beds, our furniture and in the carpeting. Since we shed most skin between the sheets, high concentrations of dust mites can be found in our beds.

Now that you’re thoroughly disgusted about dust mites, you may be thinking “I am such a good house keeper that surely these dust mites are not in MY house! WRONG… everyone has them. Of course, messier houses may have more of them. Unfortunately, you cannot get rid of them. There are chemicals that will kill dust mites, but they will be back soon after you use them.

For individuals who have dust mite allergies, there are three things we can do to help them:

  1. Avoidance Measures
  2. Medications
  3. Immunotherapy (allergy shots)


  • If it’s a hard surface, wipe it down.
  • If it’s a washable fabric, use HOT water to wash it.
  • If you cannot wash it or wipe it (like your pillow or mattress), ENCASE IT with material that is impermeable to dust mites.
  • If you cannot wash it, wipe it or encase it, then REMOVE it.
  • If the indoor air is humid, DEHUMIDIFY it.

As you can see, there are many things you can do to avoid dust mites. All of these measures help, but they need to be done regularly in order to gain the best control. Encasing your pillow and mattress with impermeable material to dust mites is the MOST cost effective thing. Vinyl mattress and pillow encasements are very inexpensive and work well. As children grow older, they become like adults and are usually displeased with the noise and discomfort of this material. More desirable fabric encasements can be found (hypoallergenic pillow and mattress covers) at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond or ordered from the internet from reputable sites like Mission Allergy ( These fabrics have complex weaves and high thread counts that trap dust mites in. If they cannot get out to get food, then they eventually die and quit multiplying.

For the child whose favorite stuffed animal cannot be washed, consider placing the stuffed animal in a plastic bag and freezing it overnight. Repeat this monthly.


Your allergist, pediatrician or family doctor can provide suggestions for medications to use to control dust mite allergies. These may include drugs from a number of classes such as antihistamines, nasal steroids, asthma controllers and leukotriene inhibitors. Many of the over-the-counter antihistamines do good jobs these days, especially the 24 hour ones like loratidine (Claritin, Alavert) and cetirizine (Zyrtec).


For individuals who have asthma or cannot control their allergy symptoms with avoidance measures and medications, allergy shots may provide additional help to control and treat the problem. Allergy shots work by gradually desensitizing (building tolerance) to an allergen. In this case the allergen is dust mite.  What happens is the body begins making less of the allergy antibodies, IgE antibodies specific for dust mite, and begins making good antibodies, IgG4 specific for dust mite. This process is similar to a tetanus immunization. Your body responds by making specific antibodies to tetanus. The difference in allergy is that a large amount of the vaccine contacting the particular antigen cannot be given. If it is, it could result in a severe allergic reaction. This is why allergy shots require frequent dosing of small amounts with gradual build-up to allow the body to build tolerance. In most individuals, allergy shots can provide not only relief of symptoms, but a permanent modification (not necessarily a cure).

If you or someone in your family is struggling with a possible dust mite allergy, call your doctor or see an allergist for help.curthedberg.JPG

Dr. Curt Hedberg, pictured right, is a board-certified allergist and owner of Hedberg Allergy & Asthma Center, with offices in Rogers and Springdale. Dr. Hedberg’s clinic is very mom and kid-friendly, and we’ve heard nothing but great reviews of him from lots of local moms, dads and kids. To contact the clinic, click here to visit their website or call them at 479-464-8887. Our thanks to Dr. Hedberg for the heads-up on peak dust mite season and how to manage it!

Good Gossip: Weddings, babies, Fall TV news and Brad Pitt, too!


Time for some delicious gossip, ladies! And don’t bother feeling guilty about it, either, because our “Good Gossip” column is completely guilt-free — as in no nasty half-truths or anything meant to humiliate the people mentioned here. Please welcome a new sponsor of this regular feature! It’s RingO’s Chicken Rings, which are a favorite around our house. Find them in the freezer section! Now… on with the good gossip!

chelsea_clinton.jpgBy Saturday night, Chelsea Clinton (who many of us watched grow up) will be a married woman! The wedding is reportedly taking place at the Astor Courts mansion in New York state. It’s a 13,000-square foot home built in 1904 for John Jacob Astor IV. The groom, Marc Mezvinsky, is 32 and is an investment banker. His parents are former politicians. Best wishes to the happy couple. (Source: People magazine, August 2, 2010 edition)

brad-pitt2.jpgIt’s not like Brad Pitt can ever really look bad, but is anybody else besides us really glad he shaved that beard recently? Want to know what Angelina thought about it? Here ya go: “I like it when he changes,” Angelina says. “I like that he’s an artist and tries different things. I like him always.” Enough said. (Source: People magazine, August 2, 2010 edition)

james-tupper.jpgAttention Grey’s Anatomy fans! A new doctor is coming to Seattle Grace this fall. It’s actor James Tupper, who was nicknamed McTreemy when he starred on the show Men In Trees. He will play a trauma counselor brought in to help the staff recover from the season-ending bloodbath. So far, Tupper’s character is on board for three episodes, but we don’t know what will happen to him after that. Stay tuned! (Source: Entertainment Weekly, July 30, 2010)

pregnancy_test.jpgVince Vaughn, 40, and his wife Kyla Weber are expecting a baby and are excited to be first-time parents. The star of Wedding Crashers told People magazine that “It’s the first time that I really want to have kids.” (Source: People magazine, August 2, 2010 edition)

sela-ward.jpgRemember actress Sela Ward from the shows Sisters and Once and Again? We love her work! She will now be starring on CSI: NY this fall. Ward says she is happy to be joining a show that is already established. “There are advantages to that. My kids are older, and I’ve really missed working. In this situation, I can still be a mom and have a life. I’ve never done a procedural like this,” she said. “It will be fun.” (Source: Entertainment Weekly, July 30, 2010 edition)

tiffani-thiessen.jpgActress Tiffani Thiessen (formerly of 90210 and now on the show White Collar) recently endured a C-section after going through 30 HOURS of labor! But now that her daughter, Harper Renn Smith, is at home, things have settled down. Thiessen is married to actor Brady Smith, who hand-painted white birds on the walls of his daughter’s nursery. Sounds like the new parents are doing fine.  “This is a kind of love that you never really knew about, ” Tiffani said. “You haven’t known this person for very long, but you love them so much.” (Source: People magazine, August 2, 2010 edition)

lays-potato-chips.jpgIf you love, love, love potato chips, you’re in good company. Rocker and fellow mom Sheryl Crow said her favorite snack food is Lay’s potato chips. “I have such low blood pressure I’m a salt fiend. I want the plain old greasy Lay’s potato chip.” (Source: People magazine, August 2, 2010 edition)

Good Gossip is a bi-weekly feature sponsored by RingO’s Chicken Rings, which is a USDA Child Nutrition Certified food. RingO’s (original flavor) have only 3 grams of fat per serving and NO trans fatty acids. Click here to read more nutritional info about RingO’s.  Click here to see what parents are saying about the product on Facebook!


Beauty Buzz: Naked face solutions


Dear Andi,

During the summer, I hate wearing makeup. How can I look my best with a bare face?

A: With this sticky heat and frequent trips to the pool, I have been taking a vacation from makeup, too. I haven’t worn foundation in over a month and not only have I not missed it, but I haven’t had one blemish or breakout…a pleasant surprise.

The natural look is all about the prep-work. If your skin is in good shape, people will notice your natural glow, not your lack of eye-liner. Start by exfoliating away the dead skin that dulls your skin and leaves it uneven. My mom and sister both rave about Origins Modern Friction: Nature’s gentle dermabrasion (Dillards, $37.50) and are so enamored they actually bought me my own so I could try it and they are right…I love the gentle exfoliating and saw an instant improvement in my skin’s tone.

Of course, you need to moisturize, but as I’ve gotten older, regular face lotion isn’t enough. BeautiControl’s Regeneration Skin Renewing Lotion tightens my skin while moisturizing, which helps to minimize those pesky lines that are popping up everyday.

The common misconception is that foregoing makeup means you don’t care what you look like or don’t try and that just isn’t true. But, nothing will make you look more like a crazy bag lady than rogue eyebrows and without the distraction of make-up, a neglected brow will be all the more obvious.

If you are new to this amazing, yet torturous, grooming routine it’s a good idea to go into a salon to have an initial brow shaping and then maintain it at home with tweezing. In the past, I was anti-tweezing and had a waxing about once a month, but there has been a lot of talk about how waxing can cause your eyelids to sag over time so I gave in and have been brow-scaping at home.

softlips.jpgFor slightly less painful tweezing, pluck after a hot shower so the hair follicles are loose. If you have a lot of work to do (like I do right now) a cool new trick I learned is to put a little Orabase mouth ulcer cream on your brow to numb the area first. Most importantly, do not over-tweeze! With no makeup on, a full brow will add much needed color and dimension, where an overly plucked pencil-thin brow will be a stark contrast to you otherwise natural face.

Finally, keep your lips hydrated with Softlips Lip Balm, available at Walmart. It is super hydrating, but leaves a matte finish that looks great by itself or over lipstick.

Going bare can take some getting used to, but when people tell you look nice or compliment your glowing skin, it feels wonderful, because it’s all you!

andi-douglasimg_7324.jpgHave a question for Andi, beauty blogger and fellow mama? E-mail it to

“Beauty Buzz” is sponsored by Hull Dermatology, with offices in Rogers, Bella Vista and at the Eureka Springs Hospital. Dr. Hull has published several scientific papers and has received numerous awards and honors for her work in dermatology. For more info, click here to visit the Hull Dermatology website.

Doc Talk: Done having kids? Watch this.


Happy Tuesday, mamas! It’s time for another online trip to the doctor’s office at Mercy Health System. This time we’ve got an appointment with local gynecologist Dr. Randall Feezell of Northwest Arkansas Gynecology. We asked him about a procedure called NovaSure, which is designed only for women who are feezellmugshot.jpgcertain they’re done having children. The doctor told us this procedure often ends menstrual cycles for the majority of patients or lessens it dramatically, which might be great if you’re someone who struggles with unusually heavy periods.

If you’ve never met Dr. Feezell before, we bet you’ll notice right away that he has an easygoing manner that makes him super easy to talk to — an important quality for any doctor but especially for a gynecologist. Click on Dr. Feezell’s photo at right to hear more about his background and specific areas of expertise. (He is also a specially trained weight loss physician.)

Click on the “play” arrow below to hear the doctor discuss his thoughts on NovaSure and what benefits it offers for those who are good candidates for the procedure. Dr. Feezell welcomes any questions you might have, so call his clinic at 479-338-3080.

What We’re Reading: Can’t-put-it-down novels!


One of my favorite things to do is get so wrapped up in a novel that I lose track of time and stay up way too late just to find out what happens next. It’s like letting my mind take a vacation to a completely new place.

If you love a good page-turner, here’s a list of novels that Shannon and I put together. These are books we’ve read recently and just couldn’t put down. Click on the name of each book to go to and read more about it, including more reviews from other readers. Enjoy!

fly-away-home.jpgFly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner

I’ve heard so much about this author, but this is the first book of hers that I’ve read. (It was just released last week.) Jennifer Weiner lived up to the hype! The pages just flowed into each other, and I was up until 2 a.m. reading about what happened to this perfect politician’s wife (and her two grown daughters) after she was devastated by something she never saw coming.

the-help.jpgThe Help, by Kathryn Stockett

I can’t recommend this one enough! What a wonderful book by this first-time author. It’s written SO incredibly well, and you will absolutely fall in love with the characters. It gave me a whole new appreciation for women living in the midst of the civil rights era.

backseat-saints.jpgBackseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson

This is one of those books that will seriously have you hooked about five pages in. The momentum and suspense in this one is really great. The story is about a woman’s struggle to escape an abusive husband who she knows, sooner or later, is going to kill her. Great story with a great ending.

gods-in-alabama.jpgGods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson

This book, also by Joshilyn Jackson, stands on its own, but the story line does intersect with the story told in Backyard Saints, mentioned above. This one is not quite as suspensful as Backyard Saints, but the characters are very interesting, and the ending will definitely surprise you.

The Winter Garden, Kristin Hannah

winter-garden.jpgI picked this one up as a “light” read and found myself completely sucked in to the story of two sisters, Nina and Meredith, who uncover some amazing truths about their mother after their beloved father dies. I was thinking about this one long after I read the last page. It was haunting.

“What We’re Reading” is sponsored by Witherspoon Optometry, owned by Dr. David Witherspoon and Dr. DeAnne Witherspoon. Their practice is located at 5212 Village Parkway in the Village on the Creeks plaza in Rogers. You may also call 479-464-9702 to ask questions or schedule an appointment. Click here to visit them online.

Don’t forget the Birthday Girl’s List giveaway!

birthdaygirl.jpgTime’s almost up! If you had a birthday or wedding anniversary in July, let us know and you could win dinner on us!

Here’s how the Birthday Girls List works: During your birthday month — or wedding anniversary month — send us an email telling us the date (we also like hearing all the fun details) and we’ll throw your name in a special party hat. At the end of the month we’ll choose two winners at random and you’ll get a birthday or anniversary dinner gift certificate on us, courtesy of!

Winners will be announced on the first of every month. In this case, the winner will be announced on Monday, August 2, so there’s not much time left to share. And we’ll also run a list of all the birthday girls celebrating out there!

The July winner will enjoy a birthday dinner at Petit Bistro. The anniversary couple will win a gift certificate to Bonefish Grill.

Thanks, girls!

Devotion in Motion: Happy Memories

11 ¶ And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Romans 13:11  (NKJV)

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

I was looking through some photographs today that stirred up a lot of happy memories. When our oldest son Spencer was midway through high school, he spent his summers traveling with a Christian musical group sponsored by one of our Bible colleges. One year he sang in the choir, and the next year he played bass guitar. There were two busloads of kids, and they spent about three weeks together. As you can imagine, they had a wonderful time together.

In the process of practicing, traveling, and performing, Spencer made so many good friends. His main side-kick was Josiah, the drummer for the ensemble.  And, as you might imagine, Spencer had a large number of “friend girls.” I once asked him which of the many young ladies in the group was the prettiest.  He thought about it several moments and then said, “I don’t know, Dad. Every time I looked up there was another beautiful face looking at me.”

spencer-and-katie2.JPGAt one church that they were visiting, Spencer put his arm around an auburn-haired girl he was traveling with and told the pastor the girl was his twin sister. An elderly lady looked at the pair and said, “Well, you can tell it. You look just alike!”  This prank succeeded until the pastor figured out that the “siblings” resided in different parts of the country.

{After his last concert (in Dallas), Spencer introduced me to three young ladies whose last names were “Rice,”  “Lamb,” and “Supan.”  I told Spencer that “Rice, Lamb, and Soup-pan” didn’t sound like prom dates, but rather like the beginnings of a casserole. He just shook his head, the way 15-year-old boys do when their dads say things like that.}

When your kids get old enough to travel with a Christian group, you should let them. They’ll get to see different parts of the country and experience new things. Spencer got to tour Colorado and got altitude sickness from running up “Pike’s Peak.” (Altitude sickness is not something we deal with very much in Mississippi.) And when we went to pick Spencer up after his last concert, we toured Dealey Plaza in where-mr-zapruder-stood-with-his-movie-camera2.jpgDallas—the site where President Kennedy was killed. Spencer and I climbed atop the pedestal from which Abraham Zapruder filmed his famous 8mm movie. Someone snapped our picture (shown right) —and it always makes me smile when I look at it.

It’s always good for your kids to travel to meet different kinds of people. We can learn something from everyone we meet—even if we only learn that we don’t want to be exactly like that person. In the course of his travels, Spencer stayed in overnight in the home of a man who was fascinated with the game “Free Cell”—a solitaire card game that comes free on all Microsoft computers. The object of this game is to “solve” hands of solitaire. This man loved “Free Cell” so much that he started with game #1 and played all of the hands in order until he finished game # 99,999.

Spencer said that after the man finished game #100,000 of  Free Cell on his computer, he replaced his old ailing computer with a new one. His new computer has a newer version of freecell.gifFree Cell on it—and this version has one million different hands of solitaire to solve. The man has started solving each of the games in numerical order, but he doesn’t think he’ll live long enough to finish them all.

Dear mamas, I’m heading somewhere with this story, so stay with me. I’ve played my share of solitaire and other computer games in my lifetime. And I don’t really remember any of them. But there are so many memories of times I’ve had with my sons that I’ll never forget. I think it’s fine to use things like computer games and Facebook as a diversion from our daily labor. But we have to be careful not to use them as an escape from things we need to be doing. Games are temporary. But our children’s souls are eternal.

In today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) St. Paul says it’s time to “wake up” and make the best use of our time. We have a limited number of hours and days to spend with our babies—and then they’re gone to make their way in the “big world.” What better way can we spend our days and hours than in doing things that show our love for God and our families—making happy memories in the process.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 25 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 16) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the kids are more entertaining than computer games.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to