Devotion in Motion

Giveaway: Mamma Mia Tickets and Bordinos!

Note from the mamas: Amy Cash won this fabulous giveaway. After returning from the show, Amy sent us a note: “I wanted to thank you guys so much for providing this wonderful opportunity for my 10 y/o daughter and I to spend some much needed mommy/daughter time together. You all enabled me to have a rich experience full of fun and laughter, and some dancing queens too.”

This week’s giveaway is going to be so much fun for the mom who wins it. I’ve seen this show before, and it’s humanly impossible not to LOVE it when you see it on stage during opening night, Tuesday, February 8th at 7 p.m. at the Walton Arts Center. We’ll give away two tickets this week!

Mamma Mia is full of laughs and great party music, so it’s perfect for a girls’ night out or for a date night. The show features the greatest hits of ABBA — the Swedish singers who took the 70s by storm with songs like “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All.”

Perhaps the only thing better than a fun night at the theater is a fun night at the theater preceded by an amazing meal. So we’ve arranged for the winning mama and her guest to be taken care of at Bordinos Italian Restaurant, just steps away from the theater on Dickson Street.

There’s a reason why so many moms love going to Bordinos. The food is always incredible and the service is top-notch. We also love the atmosphere, which feels upscale and special but never snobby or intimidating. The folks at Bordinos know how to treat a mama right. If you’re lucky enough to win this package, be sure you save room for one of their incredible desserts. They’re heavenly.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the hat for this giveaway (which would normally cost close to $200 ), click on the orange comment button below and tell us what song (new or old) turns you into a dancing queen. (I love ABBA songs, but it’s downright criminal not to dance to “Brick House” by the Commodores. What’s your favorite?)

You can also e-mail your favorite dancing tune to giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS: As always, you’ll earn an extra chance to win for every friend you tell about the giveaway. Just be sure to put giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com on the CC line of your note so we can give you proper credit for helping us spread the word.

ABOUT THE SHOW: Most of you have probably seen the movie, so you know the story. For those who haven’t, it’s about a mother and daughter in the days leading up to the daughter’s wedding on a Greek island. The daughter, who never knew her father, invites three men from her mother’s past because she believes that one of them is her dad. But which one is it? And what happens when these old flames return to the island? The story unfolds as the main characters — the mother and her two best friends — belt out the ABBA classics on stage. (Note: You will be VERY tempted to sing loudly and chair dance throughout the show. Your inner dancing queen will have a blast.)

Tickets are selling quickly for this show, so call soon if you don’t want to miss a chance to see it. Click HERE or call the box office at 479-443-5600 for ticket info.

Good luck in the giveaway and enjoy the show!

Giveaway: CHOCOLATE!!

Note from the mamas: Kara Ault was the lucky winner of this delicious giveaway. Congrats, Kara!

Oh, yes, yes, yes! This giveaway will make all the chocolate lovers swoon. But first, I’ve got to tell you the back story on these amazing custom-made chocolates I discovered late last year.

I got invited to a jewelry party at my friend Heidi’s house. When I got there, I migrated over to the big spread of appetizers she had on the table. But then I spotted these chocolates out of the corner of my eye, and I felt this magnetic pull toward them. They were beautiful. The chocolate dipped strawberries were enormous. And then there were these little cake balls dipped in milk chocolate and dribbled with white chocolate. And the dipped strawberries and cake balls were nestled into what looked like a chocolate bowl.

“Is this bowl really made out of chocolate?” I asked..

Yep. It is!” said one of other ladies, as she broke a piece of bowl off and popped it in her mouth with a smile.

Genius, I thought. When the strawberries and cake balls disappear, there’s still a big chocolate bowl to eat!

I asked where the delicious chocolates came from, and Heidi pointed toward a young woman with a cute baby boy on her lap. She started her own custom chocolates business shortly after her son was born. It’s called Dojo’s Designs, and the chocolate artist behind those tasty creations is Sierra Dominguez (who just found out she’s expecting her second baby!). If you’re looking for the perfect addition to a baby shower, bridal shower, bachelorette party, wedding, book club meeting, birthday bash or a Valentine’s dinner, these chocolates are IT. They taste even better than they look. I think I’m officially addicted now.

HOW TO ENTER: As you know, Valentine’s Day is coming up quickly, and we thought a chocolate bowl full of dipped strawberries, cake balls or both would make a very sweet treat for one lucky mama. To throw your name in the hat to win the chocolate package, click the orange comment button below and tell us what your favorite chocolate treat is. Do you have any sweet memories that are tied to chocolate? (Chocolate fountain at your wedding reception? Box of chocolates from your first boyfriend on Valentine’s Day? Your grandmother’s famous chocolate cake?)

You can also e-mail your entry to giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com. To increase your odds of snagging the free chocolates, simply tell your friends via email about this giveaway and be sure to put giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com on the CC line. We’ll give you an extra chance to win for every person you tell. Sweet!

If you’re shopping for a good Valentine’s Day gift this year, this would be a delicious surprise. At only $20 per chocolate edible bowl (which is filled with 5 to 6 dipped strawberries and 5 to 6 dipped cake balls), it’s a gift that won’t blow your budget but still feels very luxurious and high-end. We think it’s perfect for husbands with a sweet tooth, kids, and chocolate-loving friends, too.

But place your order asap if you want it for Valentine’s Day. (It’s only a couple of weeks away, can you believe it?) To order one of these artfully crafted edible boxes filled with your choice of either dipped strawberries, cake balls, (or both), call Sierra at Dojo’s Designs at (479) 715-2302 or email her at dojosdesigns@yahoo.com.

ABOUT DOJO’S DESIGNS: Married to husband Mark, Sierra Dominguez is mother to a 6-month-old baby boy named Khai and is expecting another baby later this year. She and her family moved to Northwest Arkansas last summer and moved into their new home just three days after their son was born. Sierra says that loving chocolate runs in her family. Her grandmother taught her to make brownies when she was only 8 and she is still making them for family gatherings.

Sierra came up with the idea for her famous chocolate boxes after watching an episode of TLC’s Cake Boss.  Here’s her story, in her own words:

“After I saw that episode, I really wanted to learn how to make a chocolate box. Then I had to figure out what to put in it, and who doesn’t love chocolate-dipped strawberries? I also include my chocolate-dipped cake balls because they are so moist that it’s almost like eating cake batter. If you ask me, that’s what cake should taste like!”

“I’m a stay-at-home mom, and my newborn son was and still is amazing and actually sleeps 10 hours at night. (Lucky mom, I know.) So I had the freedom and energy to “try, try again.” I started making these chocolates for family, friends and even made one for a baby shower. The feedback was great, and I became intrigued because I couldn’t find these kinds of boxes anywhere else in the area. They’re so unique and cute… I couldn’t resist. Some stay-at-home moms make hair bows. I make chocolates! And I’m blessed to have this opportunity to start a business and am relying on God to steer it where He wants it to go.”

Good luck in the chocolate giveaway, ladies! We’ll choose a winner next Thursday!


Devotion in Motion: Waffle House

18 “Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” Luke 8:18 (NKJV)

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

Three summers ago I was at a huge summer Christian conference with our youth group.  We were attending a morning session in the auditorium of a private university which was packed to capacity.  Sitting behind me was a group of teenage girls who were fixated on their handheld electronic devices—twittering and texting, whispering and web-surfing.

The speaker that morning was a missionary who labored in an Asian country for a ministry called “Rapha House.”  The Rapha House was established to help young women who had become enslaved in the horrible world of sexual trafficking.  The missionary told how the Rapha House worked tirelessly to deliver the young prostitutes from the men who kept them in slavery.  The girls were given a home at Rapha House.  They were taught a trade at Rapha House.  Most of all, they learned the gospel of Jesus at Rapha House. 

The sermon was very inspiring and informative.  As the missionary was leaving the platform, the crowd gave her a stirring round of applause.

Realizing that the sermon was over, one of the teenage girls behind me looked up from her iPhone (where she was updating her Facebook page.)  She turned to her friend next to her and asked a riveting question that still reverberates in my ears.  She said, “Now why did the missionary say she was taking all the hookers to Waffle House?”

Now, being a preacher, I probably should have been appalled at the girl’s lack of comprehension and insight.  But for some reason, her question struck me as being excruciatingly funny.  Waffle House? (And my mind began to spin off on all sorts of ludicrous tangents….)

For instance, can you imagine the conclusion of the missionary’s street preaching? “Girls, come with me.  You can leave this horrid lifestyle far behind you.  I’m taking you to a place where you can have your hash browns scattered-smothered-covered-chunked-and- topped!”

Or, what if The Police wrote a song about it?  Can’t you just hear Sting singing:

“Roxxxannnnnnne,

You don’t have to turn on the red light.

Come and order the ‘All-Star Breakfast’

You don’t have to sell your body to the night….”

Now I realize I am being silly and over-the-top.  But I think we can see an important lesson here.  It’s important for God’s people to listen.  In our present culture, each new day brings about something new that screams for our attention.  We deceive ourselves when we describe our constant distraction by the nicer-sounding label of “multi-tasking”.  The truth is that when we do two things at once, one task is usually neglected.  And sadly enough, the task that has eternal consequences will probably be the one that falls by the wayside.

In today’s Scripture lesson (at the top), Jesus tells us to be careful how we listen.  He says that “how will hear” will determine our destination and reward when we see Him on the last day.  Ask Him to help you refocus your attention this week, that you can hear the voice of our Saviour and the words of those around you who need your encouragement.

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 Preacher’s family loves to stop at Waffle House, even if they don’t see any missionaries there.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to jcash@scott.k12.ms.us.

The Rockwood Files: The Squirrel Sequel — Revenge of the Varmits

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

We thought it was over. Three months ago, I wrote about a squirrel invasion in our garage and the two-week battle my husband waged against them and won – or so we thought. The holidays passed quietly with no signs of squirrels re-entering the attic space above the garage.

But last week we had a nasty cold snap when temperatures plummeted into the single digits and the neighborhood squirrels were freezing their bushy tails off. We think that’s what triggered their return. So the squirrels are back – and this time it’s personal.

The current battleground for the Great Rockwood Squirrel War of 2011 is the attic above our second floor. As I walked down the hall toward my writing office, I heard an all-too-familiar scratching sound coming from a hall closet. At first, I assumed one of the kids had accidentally closed our housecat into the closet and she was scratching around to get out. But then I realized the cat was right behind me, staring intently at the closet door while her ears perked up at the strange sound and her nose twitched suspiciously, as if she had registered the intruders.

“Squirrels,” I thought. “They’re back.”

I went downstairs to break the news to Tom. He came to investigate and listened by the closet door. The sounds were so loud that I was sure if we opened the closet door, a squad of angry squirrels would come flying out. Cautiously, Tom cracked the door open and peered inside. There was nothing there except some Christmas decorations and a few storage boxes full of old photos. But the squirrels sounded close, and we figure they’re probably traipsing through the attic or somehow climbing down behind the closet wall.

What makes this squirrel incident worse than last time is that I can hear them clearly from my writing desk, and the “toenails on a chalkboard” sounds they make are driving me nutty. A little while ago, I got up from my desk mid-sentence and went over to the wall and banged on it as loud as I could while shouting at the top of my lungs, assuming I could scare them into silence. But they went on scratching and bumping as if I wasn’t even there, although the kids were certainly alarmed by their mother’s rage against a wall that didn’t seem to have done anything wrong.

Tom climbed up into the attic on another squirrel hunt but didn’t see anything but a sea of blown-in insulation, with no obvious squirrel hole in sight. So I decided to call in reinforcements.

The first pest control company I called told me simply, “We don’t do squirrels.” But I got lucky on the next call, and the woman who answered said they did have a squirrel catcher on staff. When we spoke, I recounted our ongoing tale of woe and he sympathized, saying that squirrels are, indeed, incredibly hard to deter when they make up their mind to chew a way into your house. After he asked me a few questions, he said they were likely getting in through an attic fan vent and agreed to come have a look and set some traps.

I’m hoping this guy is some kind of squirrel whisperer who can help us evict the furry intruders once and for all. By the sound of what’s going on behind the walls, I’m concerned they’re in there building some kind of squirrel city complete with a state-of-the-art gym and a Starbucks. What if they organize and stage a coup in the middle of the night? What if they invite their second cousins to move in with us, too?

If any of you have waged your own victorious squirrel war, send your best battle strategies to us at the email address listed below. We need all the help we can get.

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

Tweens & Teens: Friendships and hardships

“Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ~ Albert Camus

Hello all and welcome to the January edition of…drum roll, please, Teens and Tweens!

I had a question posed to me not too long ago and thought I’d take this opportunity to respond. Here’s the question:

“My tween daughter and her BFF (that is best friend forever for you not-so-geeky people) had some kind of problem a few weeks ago and they haven’t been speaking to each other ever since. My daughter is SO upset about it but won’t tell me many of the details about what caused the argument. She says that she doesn’t want to talk about it.”

“At what point do I get involved? I don’t want to meddle too much in her friendships, but she seems so depressed lately and I’m not sure what to do. Is this one of those hard lessons I let her get through on her own, or should I call her former friend’s mom and try to broker a peace agreement?”

Oh boy, where to start? How about the beginning…

In most parent-child relationships, the adult typically has the power and authority over the child. BUT, in peer relationships, this is not the case.  Power and authority must be negotiated (please don’t take those terms to mean dominating, bullying, abusive, etc.). It simply means they’re learning who does most of the talking and who seems to make most of the decisions, etc. That’s why some teens lead and others follow…the negotiating process is being established. These patterns, by the way, become more ingrained as we get older and leaders often remain leaders while followers often remain…well, followers.

We must also understand the difference between two terms which may sound alike, but are not. They are:  peer interactions and peer relationships. Peer interactions consist of behaviors such as verbal exchanges, chit-chat, etc., while a peer relationship suggests that the teen will consistently seek out the same person to have continued interactions over time.

As such, the emergence of a “true” friendship becomes apparent when 4 things occur. They are:  (1) Tweens/teens (and adults) consistently seek out each other’s company, (2) They show some level of distress when the other is not present, (3) They discuss positive features and feelings about each other, and (4) They adjust their own behaviors to help meet the needs of the other.

As people become friends and interactions with each other increase, there will inevitably be conflict. Think about the first year of your marriage and how disagreements occurred. “He will not put the toilet seat down” is what I always heard.  To which I responded, “She won’t leave the toilet seat up…enough said on that matter as I really don’t want to sleep on the couch and, yes, my wife does read these articles. Though, to be honest, the seat could just as easily stay up as it could down. Can I get a big testosterone high five from some of the men reading this article?

Okay, where was I?

As disagreements occur, then people must problem-solve the situation. This is a part of the negotiation process mentioned earlier. It’s also #4 on the list above of the features found in a true friendship (i.e., adjust their own behaviors to help meet the needs of the other). Assuming the tween/teen knows how to problem-solve, they will usually work things out for themselves without your help. Or, they may part ways if this cannot happen. As we grow older, our thoughts, feelings, and interests change. As they change, we typically become friends with people who are, at least partly, the same as us.

As parents, though, you should always be there to listen. Giving advice would be perceived as lecturing, which is a definite No-No. I often say to my children, “If you need me to listen, I’m there for you. If you want to ask a question, I will do my best to answer it. But, no matter what, I am always there to support and love you.”

On occasion, my oldest son will actually ask a question. It is at that point, I typically respond, “Do you want me to lie and make you feel good, or do you want me to tell you the truth?” He always says, “Tell me the truth” and then I’m free to do so. Many times he is right, or he has played a good football game, etc. For the times when he’s wrong, or has not had a good game, I tell him the truth. I’m nice when I do so but also honest.  “You really sucked and cost the team the game” is NOT the way to go. I have, however, said on more than one occasion, “You did not play well today, but don’t worry, that’s why we practice.”  Or, “I think your friend is the one who’s right because…”

So, to sum this up:  When should you get involved? Immediately. This is done by telling them that you are there when they are ready to talk.

When should you butt in and let it all out? Only if there’s a real danger to themselves or others.

That means that MOST of the time, you’re doing the former and letting them know that you’re there TO LISTEN whenever they would like to talk.  If they have any questions, you’ll do your best to help answer. And always let them know how much you love and support them.

I just thought of one more thing…telling them some of your past mistakes is not so bad and can let them know that they are not the only one who has had that type of problem. I should add that I would only do this when your past mistake is similar to their situation and it does not involve something too personal. For example, “I remember in high school when I made out with the prom queen in the middle of the football field…SCORE!” is not something I would share. Use your best judgment and you should be fine.

Take care, and I’ll see you next month.

billy

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


Mamas on Magic 107.9 Thursdays

January is already halfway over, and a lot of those New Year’s resolutions are starting to feel like a big drag, right about now. If losing weight or getting in shape is on your list, you may want to join our radio discussion this morning (Thursday) on Magic 107.9 with hosts Jennifer Irwin and Guy Westmoland. We’ll be there talking about weight loss, diets and more between 7:45 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Click here or on the graphic at right to listen to Magic 107.9 live on your computer. You can hear the morning show while you surf anywhere online!

Here are the top three questions we’ll tackle today:

  • Is it harder for moms to lose weight and why?
  • What are the most bizarre fad diets, and which celebrities were crazy enough to try them?
  • What’s the latest weight loss research, and why does it conflict with what we’ve all been told about losing weight?

Shannon and I will also talk about the “three-day cleanse detox diet” that we tried out recently. We’ll give you the good, the bad and the ugly on the whole experience, and we’d also love it if you guys would call in and share some of your best weight management tips with us.

Here are a few more links about this week’s radio topic, which we’ll reference on-air. Click the title of each article or video below to see it.

The Truth About Fad Diets, from Web MD

Video Clip on Do’s and Don’ts of Detox Diets, from The Today Show

Quiz: Test your knowledge about which foods help flatten the belly, from the Dr. Oz website

Dr. Oz’s morning 7-Minute Daily Workout, from the Dr. Oz website

Diets for your body type, from the Dr. Oz website

Slide show of post-baby bellies, from the Baby Center website

The New Mom Body Survey, from the BabyCenter website

New book: Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It, by Gary Taubes, from the Amazon.com website

The 3-day “detox” diet that Gwen and Shannon tried

Pet Parenting: Dog considers child a sheep

Dear Denise,

Our new shelter dog, an Australian shepherd mix, just started “herding” my 4-year-old today. She kind of even goes after her and nips. She doesn’t do it to my 8-year-old though. What should I do?

Dear Mama:

Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a herding dog. I assume you have no plans to get any sheep? Okay then, I guess we better do something about this herding behavior.

I’m not sure why your dog herds the four year old and not the 8 year old. My guess is there is something more exciting and fun about the four year old’s movement and behavior (probably more erratic). Start by teaching your dog a ‘leave-it’ command. After that is learned, you can apply it to the four year old.

You’ll also need to talk with your four year old about not ‘running’ from the dog. Things that run obviously want to be chased. The other thing you can do is teach your child and dog some fun games to play together, like fetch. This will engage both of them without arousing your dog’s herding behavior. Your four year old isn’t too young to learn to how to behave with the dog (I’ll be teaching a class for kids this age, 3-4-5-year olds, at Terra Tots beginning in February. *See information about the class below).

If these strategies don’t work, and I’ll admit that sometimes they won’t because instinct will just overwhelm your young puppy, then you should use a time-out. This is done the same way you would with your child. Simply remove the dog from the situation, and ‘time-out’ his play with a mandatory ‘sit-stay.’ Just 10-15 seconds is enough to make a point. Especially, if you do it immediately and EVERY TIME your dog exhibits the behavior. Fortunately, border collies are very smart and the dog should quickly learn that whenever he herds, the play stops.

Good luck,

Denise

* The class Denise will teach at Terra Tots is called Kids and Canines. It’s a special class designed for children ages 3-5, their parents and the family dog. Denise will help parents teach their children how to train and interact appropriately with their own pet, as well as stranger dogs.  This interactive class is limited to five dogs and their respective people. Only one dog per family. Children will learn how to pet and groom their own dog, ask to pet/greet a stranger’s dog, get their dog to sit – not jump up and come when called, and how to play safely.

Each class will last approximately 30 minutes. All dogs must have proof of vaccination, be house-trained and pest-free. 4 weeks for $60.00. Reserve your spot by Jan. 29 for the first class. Other classes will be formed on an as-needed basis. Call 479-587-8687.

Denise Holmes is a pet behavior counselor with over 25 years of experience. She focuses on family pet training and animal-assisted therapy.  She has consulted with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, produced a CD to help expecting parents introduce the family pet to a newborn (which is available at Terra Tots), www.LoveTrustTeach.com.  For more information or questions about the class please call 479-225-6063. Denise is also on the air Wednesday mornings on Magic 107.9 to answer callers’ pet related questions.

Good Gossip: Celeb pregnancies and a surprise baby!

We’ve whipped up a fresh batch of Good Gossip for you. But don’t worry because it won’t mess up your New Year’s diet. As always, our gossip column is “guilt-free” because we strip out all the nasty half-truths and negative rumors and leave you with only the good stuff. So have an extra helping. Enjoy!

Celebs have been busy, and they’re keeping the stork pretty busy these days, too. Here’s a list of some of the celebrities who are expecting new babies this year: Jennifer Connelly is expecting her third baby. Tia Mowry is expecting her first child in July. Alicia Silverstone will be a first-time mom when she and her husband welcome a baby this year. Selma Blair is also expecting her first. Kate Hudson is expecting her second child. Victoria Beckham and husband David will add Baby No. 4 to their family this year. And Jewel and husband Ty Murray are expecting their first baby, after two years of trying. Congrats to all! (Source: People magazine, January 31, 2011)

It seems like celebrities are getting better at keeping secrets. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban managed to keep a 9-month long secret which ended in the birth of their second daughter, Faith Margaret, who was born via surrogate on December 28th in Nashville. The baby is the biological daughter of Nicole and Keith and joins big sister Sunday Rose, who is now 2, as well as Kidman’s kids Isabella and Connor who were adopted when she was married to Tom Cruise. Sources say the baby’s middle name is in honor of Nicole’s grandmother and the first name, Faith, is what the parents relied on while trying to fulfill the dream of expanding their family. (Source: People magazine, January 31, 2011)

Christina Aguilera took her son Max to Disneyland on January 11th to celebrate his 3rd birthday. Mother and son paused for a photo opp with Mickey, Minnie and Donald. (Source: People magazine, January 31, 2011)

Attention all long-time married people! There’s a great article in the most recent issue of People magazine about the marriage of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. In it, they outline some of the relationship secrets that help keep them on track. Here are a few that jumped out at us: “Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader.” “Fess up to mistakes.” “Learn from each other.” “Don’t jump to the divorce place.” To read the rest of the secrets, check out the magazine article. The pics are great, too. (Source: People magazine, January 31, 2011)

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!


Ticket Giveaway: Ferdinand the Bull at Walton Arts Center

One of my favorite things to do is take my preschooler to the Walton Arts Center. Her eyes light up even before the curtains open on that big stage, and she gets so excited about what we might see that she can hardly stand the anticipation. If you have a little theater lover or would like to introduce your preschooler or elementary-aged kiddo to the magic of the theater, we’ve got a pair of tickets that will help you do it. We’re sending one mom and her lucky kid to see Ferdinand the Bull at the Walton Arts Center on Sunday, January 30th at 2 p.m.

This is no ordinary kids’ show because Ferdinand is certainly no ordinary bull. In fact, this bull is so special that his story has been told for 50 years. The performance is based on the classic children’s story by the same name, written by Munfro Leaf. It’s about a bull named Ferdinand who’s a little different than the other bulls. He doesn’t want to charge through life, snorting and fighting. This mellow bull prefers to sit under a shade tree smelling the flowers.

But one day he accidentally sits on a bumblebee which triggers such a big reaction that he gets noticed by some men who think he’d be a good animal to send to the famous bull-fighting ring in Madrid. Have no fear, however, because this story has one of the best happy endings in all of children’s literature. Perfect for little ones on up through age 8 or for anyone who loved the Ferdinand story as a child.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the online hat for the drawing, simply click the orange comment button below and tell us what you like to do to mellow out or “stop and smell the flowers” with your kids. (My kids and I like to declare “pajama day” and lay around the house watching movies and playing board games!) You may also e-mail your entry to us at giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

INCREASE YOUR ODDS: As always, if you email your friends about this show, you’ll earn extra chances to win for every friend you tell. Just be sure to put our address on the CC line of your email so we can give you proper credit.

To order tickets to see Ferdinand the Bull this weekend, click HERE or call the Walton Arts Center box office at 479-443-5600. See you there!


HUGE shoe sale! Mark your calendar!

If you love shoes and have often wondered if you might just have a bit of a shoe addiction, you’ll definitely want to know about the mega-shoe sale happening this Saturday (January 29th) starting at 8 a.m. at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale. Get this: ALL THE SHOES AND HANDBAGS WILL BE ON SALE FOR 10 DOLLARS EACH! The selection of more than ONE THOUSAND shoes includes NEW and gently used shoes which were donated from the best stores and closets in our area. The fundraiser is organized by Ozark Guidance Center, one of our nwaMotherlode sponsors, and the sale will continue only as long as the shoes and bags last. Get there early!

We can’t even begin to say how much we LOVE this idea for a fundraiser, which is called “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.” (Click here for more event details.) Not only does it give all of us a chance to clean out our own closets and donate gently-used shoes and bags, it also gives us a chance to pick up a few new pairs for super cheap. No matter how many 10-dollar pairs of shoes you buy, you won’t need to feel a bit guilty because the proceeds are going to fund counseling services for kids and adults in Northwest Arkansas.

Because mental illness is not discussed as often as other illnesses, most people don’t realize that it affects more people than cancer, heart disease and diabetes. So the money from this fundraiser is incredibly important for our community.

If you’d like to get a jump on the majority of shoppers, you can check out some of the most valuable items in the sale by going to the online auction site called “Obay”, which can be accessed through the Ozark Guidance website at www.ozarkguidance.org.

Happy shoe shopping, ladies! We’ll see you at the sale!

Mealtime Mama: Snow ice cream!

Did you ever eat snow ice cream as a kid? Well all this snow is reminding us of how good it is! We found a few recipes you can try. To start, just put out a big bowl when it starts to snow so you can collect enough for your ice cream.

This is the recipe we remember from our own snow days:

1 gallon or big bowl full of snow

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup cream or milk

Just mix the ingredients together and enjoy plain or with your favorite toppings.

Recipe #2:

1 gallon or big bowl of clean snow

1 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Snow Ice Cream:

Big bowl of snow

1 cup sugar

1 cup chocolate milk

Chocolate Snow Ice Cream Recipe #2:

Big bowl of snow

1 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk

chocolate syrup or cocoa powder, to taste

Mealtime Mama is sponsored by Chick-fil-A on Razorback Road, owned by Paige Frost.  As fellow moms, we know you can appreciate that Chick-fil-A earned the award for America’s Healthiest Chain Restaurant for Kids by Eat this Not That for Kids.

Devotion in Motion: Mistaken Identity

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.  1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV)

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

For some reason, whenever I’m shopping at Dollar General or Wal-Mart, there will always be a customer who thinks I work there. Some little old lady will come up to me and ask, “Sir, can you direct me to the Pine-Sol?” or a little-old-man will say “Son, will you help me get this sack of Tidy Cat off of the top shelf?” Most of the time I don’t explain to them that I don’t work there. I just help them find the product and put it in their cart.

My sister’s husband, Dr. Ron M. Buck, tells me the same thing often happens to him. (He is a preacher, too, so maybe we give off some kind of pastoral vibe that customers mistake for discount store management.) He has told me that he almost always helps the customer, too, without stopping to explain their misunderstanding. But one time an elderly lady asked him if the store had any 33-gallon trash bags;  she had seen the 30-gallon trash bags, but she needed 33-gallon trash bags. It just so happened that Dr. Ron was pressed for time, so he pointed out to the woman that he didn’t work there.  Storming off, the old woman slammed down her walking cane and shouted, “Well, I KNOW that!  I just thought you could TELL me if you had seen any 33-gallon trash bags!”

So, most of the time, my brother-in-law and I just try to help folks in the laundry detergent aisle without a lot of explanation. It’s just quicker that way—and safer. And we’re still not sure what it is in our appearance or demeanor that makes people think we work at Bill’s Dollar Store.

Like it or not, our outward appearance affects what other people think we are. And, if you’re raising children, sooner or later you’re going to have a disagreement with them over what their outward appearance should be. When they’re babies, you get to pick out their clothing and dress them, but before you know it they’re big enough to dress themselves. Mark my words, there will come a time when  your young one will want to dress in the latest fad and fashion, and you’ll feel that some aspect of it is not appropriate (or modest enough).

You need to be prepared for what I’m about to tell you. Your child is going to present an argument to you, an argument based on Scripture. They are going to say, “The Bible says that God doesn’t look at our outward appearance. God looks at the heart.” Now this is true. The Bible does say this in 1 Samuel 16:7. So they’ve “gotcha.”  They’re right. You are wrong. They win. Game over.

But wait, not so fast. You need to learn your next line. Practice it in front of a mirror until you can say it calmly without missing a beat. Here it is: “That is true. God does look upon the heart. But people can’t see our hearts. So we’ve got to make our outsides match what’s inside us so that people can see Jesus.”

It’s a nicely done argument, isn’t it? But, truth be told, if we’re going to use it on our kids, we’d better strive live it out in our own lives. Dear mama, let’s make it our goal this week to make our outward walk match our inward profession. Your babies may not always believe everything you say. But they can’t deny the life you live.

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 not too long ago a lady at a vegetable stand asked the Preacher to help sack her okra, because she thought he worked there.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to jcash@scott.k12.ms.us.

The Rockwood Files: Three Days

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Right now I’m wondering what in the heck I was thinking when I agreed to this. A few days ago, while having a wonderful lunch at a favorite restaurant, my friend asked me if I’d do a “three-day cleanse diet” with her that she heard about from a nutritionist on The Today Show. The cleanse is supposed to help rid the body of extra sugars, salt and processed foods. She figured there’d be strength in numbers and that, if both of us were doing it, we could help each other stay on track.

I’d heard about these types of cleanse diets before because they’ve become a trend with celebrities, and magazines love to talk about what famous people eat or don’t eat. But when my friend described this one, it sounded pretty harmless: fruit smoothie for breakfast, spinach salad for lunch, a grapefruit, some unsalted pistachios for a snack and then fish or a lean protein for dinner, along with as much steamed broccoli as you want. And it is only three days. I can do anything for three days, right? I even talked my husband Tom into doing the three-day cleanse with me. We both have a multitude of Christmas indulgences to repent for.

But here’s the thing: You can’t add salt, sugar, condiments or anything else tasty to these menu items. And you can’t wash it all down with anything other than water or green tea. My husband likes green tea, but I think it tastes like something you would wring out of a linebacker’s sweat sock. So I’m skipping the green tea and having plain old water.

I’m nearing the end of Day 1 of the three-day cleanse and wondering why I ever thought this plan sounded doable. When I agreed to this during lunch with my friend, I was drunk on pasta and feeling guilty for inhaling my entree the way I did. I figured a little cleansing would do me good. And I’m sure it is doing some good, but it’s making me miserable right now. If I were not bound by the honor system and the strong desire to see if this cleanse diet actually does anything, I would jump up from this computer right now, sprint down to the kitchen and dive head-first into the biggest bowl of forbidden Froot Loops you’ve ever seen. Then I’d chase it with a couple glasses of sweet tea. Oh, if only.

As much as I hate to admit it, this little three-day experiment is revealing something I didn’t expect. I may be a little addicted to the processed foods, sugars and salt that I thought would be so easy to give up for a few days. Because the truth is I’m not feeling a gnawing sense of hunger. I’ve eaten enough food today to avoid feeling hunger. It’s my brain that’s not satisfied. It wants a certain taste – a salty chip or two (or 20) and then maybe a hit of chocolate – and the fact that it can’t have those tastes is what’s making me feel so frustrated.

During dinner tonight, I was shocked at how many times I felt the urge to reach for a salt shaker that wasn’t there. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about how much better the meal would be better if it just had a mound of cheesy rice on the side. After dinner, Tom and I watched television to get our minds off the dessert we both desperately wanted to have, but that didn’t help. Every few minutes, we had to quickly change the channel because we would groan every time we saw images of juicy burgers from Red Robin and decadent platters of pasta from Olive Garden. Tom finally gave up, leaned back in his recliner and fell asleep at 7:30 p.m. He figured he couldn’t fall off the wagon if he was unconscious.

I went upstairs to tuck the kids into bed and realized I wasn’t nearly as sweet to them as usual. Every little thing seemed to irritate me, and they, too, sensed that their mother had somehow morphed into a grumpy bear they did not wish to poke.

After the kids went to bed, I decided it would be best to put as much distance between me and the kitchen as possible. I went to bed at 9:15 p.m. with a good book because I knew the book’s drama wouldn’t be interrupted by images of Dairy Queen’s frosty treats.

I won’t go to sleep tonight hungry, but I am definitely frustrated and surprised at just how dependent I’ve become on those daily indulgences. Can I make it through the next two days without caving to cravings? Will the next two days turn me into a shrew who desperately needs a chocolate fix? This detox experiment might be good for me, but it’s no cake walk. (Wow, cake sounds really good right now.) Stay tuned for the results.

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

Techno Mama: My baby has an e-mail address

By Sarah Martin Hood

I know. I know. It seems nuts. But it’s true. My two year old has his very own email address. It’s free, it’s easy to set up — and unless something better comes along, he may just need it one day.

And I may not be alone. Consider these statistics, from a recent survey conducted by Antivirus maker AVG:

  • The average age children acquire an online presence is 6 months.
  • More than 70% of moms post photos of their baby or toddler through social networking sites like Facebook.
  • 81% of kids have a “digital footprint” by the age of 2.
  • 33% of kids have had photos posted since birth.
  • 23% of parents upload pre-birth photos to the internet.
  • (And just to prove I’m not the only one!) 7% of infants have an email address!

So there you have it. Babies are online. And those of us who live and play in Blogland or Facebookville are constantly faced with the endless stream of questions.

Is it really ok? Should I use his real name? Is it ok to post photos? Just my family and friends can see it, right? How will my kiddo feel about this when he’s old enough to read my blog? Should I make my blog private? Or am I vague enough with our information that I feel safe?

The problem is that it’s like most everything else with parenting — there are more questions than answers, and the more people you ask for advice the quicker the differing opinions will start to pile up. You’ll have friends that refuse to post photos of their kids (or even of themselves) and use pseudonyms or nicknames in place of all names.

And then you’ll have friends that Tweet every pregnancy symptom, Facebook every update from the delivery room, share Baby’s First Photo within minutes of the birth, then launch a blog chronicling their daily lives, complete with photos – all properly tagged and dated. (I see a few of you nodding and smiling.)

No right or wrong. We all have different levels of comfort with our online footprint. And we should be as respectful of our children’s digital footprints as we are of anything.  No one can tell you what’s right or wrong for your family. Online privacy can be as personal a decision as discipline methods or breastfeeding.

You’ve probably heard a story or two about what can happen if someone gets your information off the internet. We all have. But much like tragic news stories of car accidents don’t cause most of us to swear off riding in cars, stories of misuse of the internet shouldn’t scare us away from a very useful and convenient technology.

Those stories of terrible car accidents teach us to use caution and wear our seatbelts — and teach our children those same habits. So maybe the same applies to technology and the internet. The reality is we can’t hide from technology. And we can’t shield our kids from the future. But we can be smart about how we protect their privacy and proactive about the lessons we teach them.

So put some thought into your kiddos’ digital footprints. Be smart about it. And teach them about technology. Tell them stories of how you grew up before the internet even EXISTED! But be sure and teach them to always, always wear a seatbelt.

Sarah 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!

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