Picture Mama: We LOVE photos!

"Um, Rover, you have a call on my toy phone. Want me to put them on hold?"

One of the best parts of our job here at nwaMotherlode is opening email with picture attachments. We LOVE it when a new snapshot comes in. We feel like it gives us a real peek into your homes, your hearts and your lives. And we really love getting photos from the same people over time because we get to watch your kids grow up right along with you. So thank you to all of you picture-snapping mamas who have shared your kids with us through photos.

Guess who's got Mommy's camera?

Just wanted to remind you that our snapshot contest is still going strong right now and will continue through the end of March. Today is the last day to send up to 5 photos for the month of February. Starting tomorrow on March 1st, you’ll have 31 more days to send in 5 photos for that month. Later this week, we’ll post the photos which are named as finalists for the month of February so keep an eye out for that.

At the end of March, the photo finalists from January, February and March will be reviewed by our judges, and then a grand prize winner will be named. That winner will receive a free photo session with photographer Melinda Worthington of MJW Photography. She will also get a huge 16×20 wall print of her favorite shot from that session. That’s a package worth HUNDREDS of dollars, not to mention the priceless photos you’ll have forever. Click here to see some of the photos Melinda took of our previous snapshot contest winners.

As for now, we just wanted to share a few of the great shots we received during the past two months. As always, you can see these shots and many more in our photo gallery located at the bottom of this page. Have a great week, mamas! And keep your cameras handy so you can capture great moments like these.

Winnie the Pooh's foot tastes fabulous when you're teething.

"No place is as comfy as Grandma's lap."

Who needs clothes when you're this cute in cowboy boots?

I picked them just for you, Mom.

Devotion in Motion: A Sticky Problem

1 ¶ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2

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

Back in Bible college, our preaching professor, Dr. Vernon Eaton, always told us, “Make sure when the Lord teaches you something that you learn the right lesson. Very often we get things backwards. We learn a lesson that’s very different from what the Lord intended to teach us.”  I found his statement intriguing and was fascinated by the examples of the principle he provided.  And ever since then, I’ve always been on the lookout for examples in my daily life when the wrong lesson is learned. Allow me to share one.

When I was in first grade, glue sticks hadn’t been invented yet. Instead, every student had a little paste-pot with a brush in it. My favorite brand of school paste was “Pogo Paste.” I liked it because it had a picture of a kangaroo on it. Looking back on the whole process of using school paste is hilarious to me now. It was identical to using mashed potatoes to stick your cut-color-and-paste sheets together. Nevertheless, we all had a paste-pot with a brush.

At the beginning of 1st grade, there was a boy in my class who ate Pogo Paste. When his supply was all gone, well, he started on his neighbor’s pot of paste. After about a week of this, the boy wasn’t in our classroom any more. He’d been moved to another classroom. I didn’t see him again until I went to the lunchroom one day. He was eating lunch in the cafeteria, and he was wearing the container from a set of Lincoln Logs on his head. He was also shouting, “I am the king!”

Upon seeing the self-proclaimed monarch with the highly-colored cardboard tube on his head, I reached a revolutionary conclusion. I thought to myself, “Now I understand why Mrs. Thompson told us not to eat Pogo Paste. It’s harmful to people’s brains. When you eat out of your paste-pot, it makes you silly!”

You see, I was the victim of a situation just like Dr. Eaton later talked about. I had learned the wrong lesson. The “wrong lesson” is that eating Pogo Post damages your brain and makes you silly. The “right lesson” is that eating library paste is part of the long list of things that silly people do.

This Pogo Paste example might be a little silly, but it’s a much more serious situation when people learn the wrong lesson spiritually. People often come to me and say, “Brother John, I’m having so many problems now. I never had all these troubles before I started following the Lord.  I must be doing something wrong!”

If I understand the Scriptures properly, that person has learned the wrong lesson. I always tell such a person, “It’s very possible that you’re doing everything right! The devil didn’t have to try to trip you up before you started to follow Jesus. He didn’t have to—because you already belonged to him!”

Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) shows another side to that situation. Jesus said that troubles aren’t always a sign that we’re doing something wrong. Instead, He says the Heavenly Father “prunes” us like a fruit-bearing tree, so we can bear more fruit for Him. So learn this lesson well. Our frustrations can lead to great fruitfulness—if we are faithful to “stick” to our task.

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 sister once remarked that she didn’t understand why they make “mint-flavored-Mucilage” when you’re not supposed to eat it.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to jcash@scott.k12.ms.us.

The Rockwood Files: What’s in a name?

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

A few days ago I did something I don’t normally do. I took two of our three kids out shopping. Typically I arrange to shop solo because little kids aren’t big on browsing and tend to suck the joy out of the whole experience. But I figured I could make the trip quick since all I needed was a new toaster.

We stopped at a department store, and I told the kids we were going in for one thing. I find that if I manage their expectations before stepping foot in the store, it cuts down on the amount of “Mom, can I have this?” activity. We looked through the kitchen department but I didn’t find the type of toaster I was looking for. I was just about to herd the kids toward the exit when 6-year-old Jack said, “Mom, I gotta go to the bathroom.”

I was immediately suspicious about his request because I’ve been fooled before. Sometimes when a kid wants to go to a public restroom, it’s less about the call of Mother Nature and more about the desire to play with the automatic soap machine and the motion activated paper towel dispenser.

“Really? We’re on our way home right now, Jack” I said. “Can you wait until we get home?”

He shook his head vigorously which told me I’d better find the bathroom in a hurry. We power-walked across the store to the bathroom and Jack disappeared inside. While 4-year-old Kate and I waited outside the door, she started doing the all-too-familiar potty dance and said “I gotta go potty, too!” So as soon as Jack came out of the bathroom, I sent in Kate.

When Kate emerged from the bathroom, I doused all three of us with a generous amount of hand sanitizer and we headed toward the door. But on the way, I saw one of my favorite words out of the corner of my eye – SALE. And the word “sale” might as well be the word “stop” because it’s sure to halt any progress a bargain-loving woman was making toward the door.

“Kids, let’s stop here for just a minute while I look through these pajamas on sale,” I said.

The kids pounced on the opportunity to look for something on the sale rack that they liked, too. Jack quickly found a Super Mario Brothers sweat suit and rejoiced when I approved his choice. Kate asked for a paper-thin nightgown that was sure to shrink or disintegrate in the dryer, so I turned her down. I pointed her toward a rack of warm, zip-up pajamas with built-in feet. She found a pink one with polka-dots and a pig on it and held it up for my review.
“Yes, that looks much warmer,” I said. “You can get that one.”

Kate danced down the aisle toward her brother, waving her pink, pig pajamas at him. “Look, Jack! I’m getting new pajamas! Kate-pot!”

Thinking I’d misheard her, I turned around to face her and said “What did you say?”

“Kate-pot!” she said again in a sing-song shout, smiling broadly as she held up her new pj’s.

“Jack, do you understand what she’s saying?” I asked, hoping he could translate for me.

Jack rolled his eyes and motioned for me to bend down so he could explain it. “She thinks it’s the same thing as jackpot. You know… jackpot, Katepot.”

I laughed out loud when it all finally clicked. Kate had borrowed one of her brother’s favorite phrases and customized it for herself. Suddenly “Kate-pot” made perfect sense.

As we walked through the parking lot with our shopping bag, I was glad I’d brought the kids along for the trip. We all found something we liked. We got a good deal. And Kate taught us a brand new word. I felt like I’d hit the “Mom-pot”.

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.

Inside His Head: My cheapskate husband

Dear Guys,

My husband is what I’d call a cheapskate. For example, I love to go out to dinner, but he always wants to eat at home because it’s “cheaper”. He also complains when I buy new clothes. We’ve talked about it many times but it always ends up in an argument. Any advice?

GRAY: I’m all about saving. Living in a nation mired in debt and with so many people up to their neck in credit card debt, it’s difficult to recommend anyone just throw caution to the wind; however, life’s not much fun if you’re pinching every penny and never having any fun either.

My suggestion is to find a compromise. Naturally, this may mean either finding ways to save a few extra bucks for his sake or to point out to him ways you’re already saving the family money (i.e. clipping coupons, buying products that aren’t brand names or planning your weekly menu so you can take advantage of sales at the grocery store). This might help combat his feeling that you’re simply burning money for no reason.

Also express that you’re not simply buying frivolous stuff. Sure, eating out isn’t a necessity, but having a meal out on the town together usually isn’t about the food as much as it is the company. Buying clothes isn’t exactly the same as throwing money at your 43rd pair of shoes because they were on sale. You might point out expensive things like the costly cell phones you’ve avoided even though nearly everyone is brandishing them these days.

And watch to see if he’s practicing what he’s preaching. Does he hold himself to the same standards or is he the exception? Is it OK when he decides to buy the 42″ plasma TV, but not when you need a new purse? He may really be as thrifty as he expects others to be, but sometimes that double standard exists.

In the end, nobody should lose their head tossing money down the drain or end up paying several times more for a meal than it actually cost because it was put on a credit card and sat there for years. But life’s too short to sweat every dollar, heck, it’s too short not to just go hog wild every now and again.

MAVERICK: So you say he’s cheap and you tend not to be? And now it’s bugging you? How did you miss this trait you consider irksome during the dating process and then go on to marry this guy?

I’m gonna assume that his cheapness is becoming more apparent — that he’s being significantly more aggressive and confrontational with his complaints about your spending or that he’s just suddenly become pretty tight with a buck.

I’d ask him what’s brought on sudden concerns about your spending. There might be something going on you need to know about that he’s avoiding telling you. Perhaps he’s trying to shield you from a financial problem or he’s trying to cover up some spending or financial goof of his own making.

Be up-front but not a jerk. Tell him you’ve noted he’s been pretty focused on money and you’d like to know why. Don’t come at him saying he’s a kill-joy who makes you miserable because he won’t let you spend a penny.

Talk to him in a calm, nonjudgmental way and get a good idea of your financial situation. If you don’t know how your family is doing financially, how much is reasonable to spend on a new outfit or a dinner out, you should.

The second thing you have to ask yourself is are you possibly overspending? Is your eating out reasonable or do you want to eat out five days a week? Are your clothing expenses within reason or are you a compulsive shopper? Maybe he’s not cheap, maybe he has a good point.

Assuming you’re not a crazy spender, and you know your financial situation and the cost of a new blouse or a meal out once a week won’t sink you, just be rational and explain your position. Often most frugal folks simply don’t grasp that some people don’t hate to spend money like they do.

Tell him you need the new blouse for work or that you’ve not updated your wardrobe for years. Simply tell him you work hard and you enjoy buying yourself a pair of pants now and again. On the food front, tell him a meal out once a week or a lunch with your friends keeps you sane and happy, and then prove to him it’s therapeutic by being extra kind or attentive.

As in all things that make a good marriage, try to communicate, be reasonable and hear what he’s telling you about why he thinks you shouldn’t be spending money. If he has a valid point, adjust your thinking and behavior. If it’s not valid, work on getting him to see your side of things by positive reinforcement.

MAX: “Never was a miser a brave soul.” ~George Herbert

Since talking with him hasn’t solved the problem, you need to take matters into your own pocketbook. (Do people still use the term pocketbook?) I will assume you are a working wife, so I would suggest you start your own money account and if your lugnut has a problem with that, just tell him y’all will have to agree to disagree on this issue.

As long as you spend your own money responsibly and having your own separate account doesn’t excuse you from contributing to the family expenses then he will have no legitimate gripe.

I don’t know what his reasons are for being so tight with money and you will need to show that you still respect his philosophy. There is a lot of wisdom to saving money — eating out costs up to 80 percent more than eating in –but there is a lot more wisdom in enjoying the life you’re living, too. (If I told my wife we couldn’t eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant anymore, she just might divorce me and I’m not kidding).

Have one more sitdown with him — without getting argumentative — and reassure him that you still love and respect him, you’re not going to start spending money like my ex-wife but you want to enjoy your time with him a little more.

Don’t expect to get 100 percent of your own way but insist that a loosening of budget constraints will happen. If he still wants to eat at home, then I know a great Mexican place with $2 frozen margaritas that you can take your girlfriends to on a Girls Night Out.

Note from the mamas: If you’re trying to get a handle on debt, etc., as a couple, we recently found a few websites we think are interesting, Couple Money and Broke Professionals.

Mamas on Magic 107.9 on Thursdays!

We all have a few pet peeves that drive us nuts, and today when we stop by Magic 107.9 to chat with hosts Jennifer Irwin and Guy Westmoland, we’ll all have a chance to vent about those peeves. We’ll be on the air from about 7:50 to 9 a.m., so turn on your radio or click on the graphic at right to listen to the radio live on your computer.

Does it drive you nuts when other parents won’t reprimand their kid when theirs is throwing sand in your kid’s face at the park? What about that one mom in the playgroup who is constantly trying to “one-up” the other mothers with tales of how advanced her kid is? When your kids say your name — “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” — a zillion times while you’re on the phone, do you want to scream? (We do.)

And what things do WE do as moms that drive our kids a little nuts? I’m sure our kids could rattle off a few things that they wish we wouldn’t do.

Call in to vent your pet peeves with us on air. (We’ll discuss a few solutions for managing those pet peeves, too.) Or if you’d like to post your top pet peeves here, just click the big orange comment button below to leave a note on this post.

Want to see if your pet peeves made the BIG list of annoyances listed at the GetAnnoyed.com website? Click here to see that massive list.

Pet Parenting: Child is scared of dogs

Dear Denise,

My 6-year-old was bitten by a dog on the leg when she was younger. Now she’s really scared of dogs. It’s hard to convince her that not all dogs bite. What can I do?

Dear Mama:

This is really a ‘human behavior’ question not a dog one, but I’ll do my best. I’d start by getting your daughter to read/look at books about dogs, or watch a movie about dogs. There are LOTS of children’s books about dogs. As for movies, I’m pretty partial to Because of Winn-Dixie. Most movies are about boys and their dogs, that one is about a girl.

Hopefully, watching movies and reading books about nice dogs will help her see that dogs can be okay. From there, I’d maybe take her to an obedience or agility class somewhere, just to watch. Make sure she understands that she doesn’t have to pet or even get close to a dog unless she chooses to do so, and let her know that you can leave whenever she wants to go. Don’t stress her out.

At some point, she may begin to show a preference for some sort of dog. If she does, try to find someone who has THAT kind of dog, or something similar, and make sure it’s a nice, calm dog. The first time you actually introduce her to a dog, it’s important that the dog be completely neutral and very calm. You don’t want a dog that’s going to be over-zealous with a greeting, maybe even a slightly shy dog would be good. Don’t try to force an interaction. Let your daughter choose. You can encourage her, but don’t make her do anything she isn’t comfortable doing.

I’ve actually done this before with a few people. You can get there, it just takes some patience. If you need some nice, neutral dogs, seek out therapy dogs. These dogs go to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc and are usually pretty calm, laid back and well-behaved animals. If you need additional help or guidance in finding an appropriate animal to work with you, please contact me at 479-225-6063.

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, helped set up a variety of local programs and produced a CD to help expecting parents introduce the family pet to a newborn, www.LoveTrustTeach.com. Denise not only answers questions for nwaMotherlode, but is also on the air Wednesday mornings on Magic 107.9 to answer callers’ pet-related questions.

Medicine Meets Technology: “My Mercy” is a medical game-changer

Even if you’re not an admitted technology geek like I am, you have to admit that sometimes new technology makes our lives as moms SO MUCH EASIER! This is one of those times. If your doctor works for Mercy Health, you can now ask him or her questions via email! You can also check your lab results, renew prescriptions, schedule appointments, track your health history, manage health care for your kids and/or aging parents, and even print out your kids’ immunization records. LOVE the fact that I now have this kind of instant access to take care of business.

The program is called “My Mercy” and it’s a free service for Mercy patients. You can use it from any computer or smart phone. This is a first-of-its-kind service in Arkansas.

To start using the service, click HERE and set up a profile for you, your kids, your husband, your parents, etc. I just set up my profile today and it was VERY easy.

Click the play arrow on the video below to see how the technology works.

“Patients often call with questions and inevitably forget everything they wanted to ask while on the
phone,” said Dr. Cheryl Fulton of Mercy’s Lowell Medical Clinic in Lowell, Ark. “MyMercy allows
them to focus on the important questions they want answered. They can sit down at a computer
and compose those questions at a time that is convenient for them – sometimes in the middle of
the night. This is truly futuristic stuff we’re talking about here.”

Winner of the Beakman tickets + shopping sprees!

Congratulations to Donna Hardcastle, winner of FOUR tickets to see the great kids show Beakman on the Brain tomorrow night — February 24th at 7 p.m. — at Walton Arts Center!

Tickets start as low as $9. Click here for info on getting tickets!

If you recall, this giveaway had a special twist. That means Donna — a local architect and mom of two — will also get a $75 shopping spree for educational toys at School Squared in Bentonville and so will the school teacher of her choice!

Congratulations to Mrs. Susan O’Meara from Root Elementary in Fayetteville! Donna nominated Mrs. O’Meara, so she’ll also win a shopping spree!

In her comment on Motherlode, Donna said, “There are so many good teachers that both of my girls have had at Root Elementary, but we would like to nominate Mrs. O’Meara. She and the fourth graders run a Charlie Brown book sale where all the proceeds go to the Animal Shelter!”

Donna also said Mrs. O’Meara lets the kids use marshmallows, twizzlers and jelly beans for science experiments and they always get to eat a few, which they love. “She also knows when the kids need a short break and will have the kids walk around the track to refresh them,” she added.

Donna said Mrs. O’Meara and her fourth grade classes have done the Charlie Brown book sale for a long time. It’s not only great for the kids running the sale, but for the kids and families who benefit from being able to get books cheaply, she said. And the proceeds go to the Animal Shelter. Last year they raised about $750. “This is something she initiated and does above and beyond her regular teacher duties! She just has a big heart and is super sweet,” Donna added.

Rhonda Moore, principal at Root Elementary, was also very complimentary of Mrs. O’Meara.

After hearing that the Root Elementary teacher had been nominated on Motherlode, she wrote, “Susan O’Meara is indeed a much-admired teacher at Root Elementary and is so deserving of compliments and praise. She is incredibly dedicated to her students and has a real gift for making every single student feel valued. She does the same for me — she always tells me how much she appreciates me, how much she loves me being her principal, etc.  Because she is so grateful and so gracious, it makes me want to work harder and be a better leader. She inspires all of us!”

Mrs. Moore also had kind words for hard-working school volunteer Donna Hardcastle. She noted, “I’m not sure a more positive person has ever lived.”

ABOUT THE SHOW: Beakman a.k.a. Paul Zaloom’s children’s show, called “Beakman’s World” won an Emmy and aired on CBS from 1993 to 1998 and was seen in 90 countries. This new stage show tells kids and parents everything you wanted to know about the brain. It includes lots of audience participation and humor, and Beakman uses a series of large-scale, fun, visual demonstrations to illustrate how the brain works.

Ever wondered how we think, feel, smell and see? What makes us cry, laugh, smile and sneeze? You’ll even learn how our brains can get fooled — or the effect of music and art on the brain. Beakman investigates the neuroscience of the brain in a fun, wacky way that kids and parents both love.

ABOUT THE SHOPPING SPREE: Since the Beakman show features everything you ever wanted to know about the brain, we wanted to pair these fun WAC tickets with a chance to win some new educational toys and games from School Squared, located on the Bentonville Square. Enjoy your shopping sprees at School Squared, Donna and Mrs. O’Meara!

Good Gossip: Oscars, models and babies!

Gossip doesn’t necessarily have to be bad for you, ya know. It all depends on how you serve it. Here on nwaMotherlode, we strip out all the nasty, negative stuff and just give you the fun, interesting celebrity tidbits you’ll enjoy — minus the guilt. Enjoy!

After completing his successful treatment for throat cancer, Michael Douglas is looking great again and was recently spotted with his 7-year-old daughter Carys at a Madison Square Garden hockey game.

James Franco seems to be everywhere these days! Not only is he gearing up to host the Oscars this Sunday with Anne Hathaway, he’ll also be back on General Hospital on Friday. He’ll be playing a cute psycho who is also named Franco. James is also nominated for the Best Actor award for his role in the movie 127 Hours.

Calling all reality TV junkies! Tyra Banks is bringing back America’s Next Top Model tomorrow, February 23rd, on the CW channel. Sources say the show will cut back on all the sad back stories of the contestants and will move a little quicker than seasons past.

Katy Perry and husband Russell Brand took Katy’s grandmother to the Grammy Awards to help celebrate her 90th birthday. Katy’s mom also attended and was quoted as saying that she “can’t wait for them to have babies!”

Christina Applegate and fiance Martyn LeNoble recently welcomed a baby girl into the world. Sadie Grace was born January 27th after 18 hours of labor! (Check out the CUTE baby photos in the latest edition of People magazine.) Applegate, 39, is a breast cancer survivor. She said her cancer history did not interfere with her fertility because she did not have to go through chemo or radiation. She had a double-mastectomy in 2008 and is now cancer-free. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, but now, I’m just happy,” she said. “I’m happy because I have her. I’m happy that I get to be here for her.”

Lisa Ling, who used to be on The View and is now a correspondent for National Geographic and Oprah, recently opened up about the problems that nearly brought her marriage to physician Paul Song to the brink of failure. Ling suffered a miscarriage last summer and said that the experience helped the couple decide to get couples therapy, which “has done wonders.” The couple recently moved into a home in Santa Monica that they spent three years renovating. Ling also has a new documentary series called “Our America with Lisa Ling” which just premiered on the OWN network. She says she and husband Paul are ready to try again.

(Source: People magazine, February 28, 2011 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!

So what does a personal trainer eat? Read on!


Sometimes I just don’t know what to eat to be healthy. As a personal trainer and nutritionist, what do you eat during the day? When you want to “splurge” what do you go for?

First of all, I think about food in terms of chemical composition. I know. That’s weird. It does mean I sometimes create unusual food combinations, but that keeps things interesting. My general meal plan is to eat a high fiber carbohydrate with a protein (animal or vegetable) and healthy fat, then add fruit for breakfast, fresh or cooked vegetable for lunch and dinner (usually fresh for lunch and cooked for dinner). (CLICK here to read Tara’s blog which has great ideas for healthy meals and snacks.)

A high fiber carbohydrate is unrefined and of plant origin. Unrefined carbohydrates are typically grains or minimally processed grain products. Some of my favorites are basmati/wild rice, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats, sprouted whole grain bread. I don’t like to eat a lot of bread or pasta (though I do eat some) and I almost never eat crackers, chips, white sticky rice, or anything made with “white” flour.

As a general rule, the less pulverized the original grain is, the better it is for you. For example, dense bread with chewy whole grains in it would be better than “white” bread. It’s all about moderation though. If you really want it, eat it.  Just don’t go crazy.

Some vegetables are starchy enough to be counted as a carbohydrate. Potatoes are probably the best example, but peas, carrots, corn, and squash are on the list too. Generally, I prefer purple or red new potatoes to fluffy, white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a personal favorite. Do include these foods in your diet, but don’t count them as your serving of vegetables, but rather as your carbohydrate.

Protein probably makes you think “chicken” or “beef”, but along with meat and poultry should include fish, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, and lean dairy. Plant protein like beans and nuts are super healthy because, like any unrefined plant food, they have fiber! I like to alternate vegetarian meals with non-vegetarian. I’m not a huge fan of dairy (excluding eggs). In my fridge, I always have parmesan, feta, and plain greek yogurt. I like to use these for flavor and to make spreads or toppings.

Healthy fats include olives, olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, nut butters, and seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin). Sometimes your healthy fat will already be a part of your food. For example, salmon has a generous amount of healthy fat and no more needs to be added when cooking. My favorite and most highly recommended cooking oil is extra virgin olive oil (with expeller-pressed canola oil as second, and butter third).

So, sometimes fat will be added in cooking and you hardly have to think about it. Sometimes, it’ll be a few olives in your salad, or a little guacamole as a side. Including healthy fats in your diet is one of the best food choices you can make. Often you can decide whether a food is healthy or not just based on what fat is in it. There are two fats I avoid that seem to save me from eating just about every unhealthy food out there: vegetable oils/blends and partially hydrogenated oils. You’ll find these in all fast foods and just about all prepackaged foods.

Snacks are like simpler, smaller meals: nuts, fresh fruit, almond butter on sprouted grain toast, hummus with fresh cut veggies, muesli, a hard-boiled egg, a thin bean burrito, a thin open-faced sandwich, pretty much whatever.

Now, for the good stuff, what are my splurge foods? Definitely, dark chocolate with nuts. Once in a while, I make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (click here for Tara’s recipe). I love fruit or pumpkin pies, but more often I make apple blackberry rolled oat crisp, which I enjoy just as much but is a little better for me :) Simple treats like cinnamon toast and herbal tea are always wonderful. Ah, yes, chocolate brownie ice cream is my favorite. Sometimes, pepperoni, pineapple, and jalapeno pizza is better than sweet stuff.  I am picky that my junk foods have simple, recognizable ingredients and are either homemade or could have been. I find that I’m a (junk) food snob – Lol!  If it’s not worth it, what’s the point!

Tara Kelsey holds a degree in biochemistry and nutrition. Along with Claudia Smith, she co-owns bfiton Block Street in downtown Fayetteville where she teaches nutrition and fitness.  Tara is author of bfit, be full, a nutrition column on www.bfitfayetteville.com.


Tweens & Teens: What you need to know about ADHD

“I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.” — Steven Wright

Hello all and welcome to the February edition of Tweens & Teens.

ADHD is a hot topic these days, but, in my professional opinion, the disorder is over diagnosed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very real concern for many people, but it’s over diagnosed — primarily because many of the symptoms are also found in other disorders.  Go down the “ADHD checklist”, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s estimated that about 3%-5% of the population actually have ADHD, though everywhere you turn, it seems that somebody has been diagnosed. So, let’s try to dive into this a bit further and see what’s really going on.

What is it?

Parents need to understand the basics about this disorder, so let’s start with something a lot of people don’t know – the diagnosis is now referred to only as “ADHD”. ADD is an old term and still used, though TECHNICALLY it is all ADHD; however, there are three subtypes of ADHD:

(1) ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive Type (this used to be called ADD)

(2) ADHD-Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

(3) ADHD-Combined Type (which is a combination of the first two)

Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic which helps illustrate some of the symptoms for each of these subtypes:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275/DSECTION=symptoms

What causes it?

ADHD results from neurological factors, but genetics also play a part. It is believed to occur because certain chemicals in your brain (called neurotransmitters) are not working efficiently. There are two neurotransmitters which are particularly important — Dopamine and Norepinephrine.

Inattention and distractibility (i.e., ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive Type) appear related to low levels of Norepinephrine. Low levels of Norepinephrine make it hard for ADHD children (and adults) to sustain focus on tasks, plan ahead, sequence appropriately, and demonstrate effective time management skills.

Impulse and hyperactive problems appear related to low levels of Dopamine (i.e., ADHD-Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type). When dopamine levels are abnormal, we find it hard to repress urges to do or say something in public, often blurt out responses, fidget, and get up out of our seat at the wrong time.

Obviously, low levels of both Norepinephrine and Dopamine are indicative of ADHD-Combined Type.

Genetically, if one parent has ADHD, there is an approximate 25% chance that their child will have it. If both parents have been diagnosed, there’s a 60% chance their child will have it.

How is it treated?

There are several ways to treat ADHD, though none are more popular than medication. Medications effective for ADHD alter levels of Dopamine and Norepinephrine, especially a class known as stimulants. Stimulate medications include Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Focalin (as well as several others) and are known to increase the production of these two neurotransmitters. Research has shown them to be effective approximately 70%-80% of the time.

When neurotransmitters are effectively managed, areas in our brain can develop more easily. The majority of areas impaired by ADHD are known as “executive functions” and include planning ahead, regulating your emotions, sequencing appropriately, managing your time effectively, problem-solving, and analyzing behaviors.  This is by no means a complete list, but you get the idea.

Let’s be clear though, neurotransmitters (as well as medications that increase their production) do NOT give you skills. They only allow your behavior to be controlled to the point that appropriate skills can develop more naturally.

Also, too high of a dosage will “over-stimulate” the brain and give you that “zombie” look.  This is alleviated by lowering the dose.

To medicate or not to medicate?

I also want to make something else ABSOLUTELY CLEAR. Medication is not always the answer and I try very hard to avoid recommending medication, if possible.  Medication should always be used as a last resort.

There are other methods that help, including behavior modification programs and counseling to address poor executive functioning skills.  Social skills are often included in counseling as peer relationships can be difficult for the ADHD child.

Though many people would disagree, I have not found herbal medications to be helpful for ADHD.

How is it diagnosed?

Dr. Russell Barkley has developed a theory about ADHD that describes it as a neurodevelopmental disorder that adversely impacts several areas, primarily executive functioning and behavior inhibition (obviously there is WAY more than that, but this is simplest way I can put it).  Since I believe in his theory, I buy tests that measure areas of the brain that involve executive functions.

If you have ADHD symptoms AND executive functioning skills are impaired, then I feel pretty confident that a diagnosis should be considered.

If you have ADHD symptoms, but executive functioning is NOT impaired, then I say, “I believe you. You have trouble concentrating, focusing, etc. BUT…it is not ADHD. It is something else that is mimicking ADHD (usually anxiety, but it can also be other things such as dyslexia, etc.).”

Your medical doctor can also diagnose ADHD, but they do not usually do a complete psychological evaluation. They will likely use checklists obtained from the parents and teacher(s) as well as observations of the child. If enough symptoms are found to be present, then a diagnosis can be made.

What goes with it?

Many times, ADHD is not the only diagnosis assigned. There are oftentimes “comorbid”, or co-existing disorders that are diagnosed in addition to ADHD. Here are some of the more common comorbid disorders and the approximate percentage of times they are diagnosed with ADHD:

1.       Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) = 60% of the time

2.      Conduct Disorder = 40%

3.      Depression or Anxiety = 25%

4.      Reading Disability (dyslexia) = 20%

5.      Math Disability (dyscalculia) = 20%

6.      Writing Disability (i.e., dysgraphia) = 15%

FYI…Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder are  more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD-Combined Type, while Anxiety and Depression are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive Type.

Who else has it?

Although ADHD is a serious disorder, having it does not necessarily limit a child’s potential or future achievements, as evidenced by the list below. I was looking online and found a list of famous people who have either been diagnosed, or been suspected of having, ADHD. Obviously people who lived a long time ago weren’t officially diagnosed that way, but their history suggests they might have had ADHD.  I think you’ll recognize these names and see that they were able to accomplish some pretty wonderful things.

Alexander Graham BellTelephone Inventor

Thomas Edison, inventor

Jim Carrey — Comedian
Sir Winston Churchill — English Statesman (Failed the sixth grade)
Bill Cosby — Actor, Comedian
Walt Disney — Cartoonist (A newspaper editor fired him because he had “No good ideas”.)
Thomas Edison — Inventor (His teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything)
Albert Einstein — Physicist (Einstein was four years old before he could speak, and seven before he could read)
Dwight D. Eisenhower — U. S. President, Military General
Henry Ford — Automobile Innovator, invented the Production Line
Whoopi Goldberg — Comedienne, Actress
Michael Jordan —  Basketball Player
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Composer
Napoleon Bonaparte —Emperor of France
Babe Ruth —  Baseball Player
Steven Spielberg — Filmmaker
Robin Williams — Comedian, Actor
Henry Winkler – Actor (he played Fonzie on Happy Days)

Wrap Up Time…

Well, there you have it.  Whew!  I’ll tell you that this is a complicated disorder, and there are many schools of thought and theories on it.  The one I’ve presented here is only one, though obviously it’s the one I believe. I have also met people who do not believe that ADHD is a real disorder. As you can guess, I completely disagree with that school of thought.

One more thing: Adults can have ADHD, though it’s usually the Inattentive subtype. Hyperactivity and impulsivity related to ADHD typically decrease around puberty. As such, some children diagnosed with ADHD-Combined Type are re-diagnosed as ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive Type as an adult.

AND…you cannot suddenly develop ADHD as an adult. If you have it as an adult, you had it as a child. You just found ways to compensate for your areas of weakness or, in some cases, this was not addressed with your doctor and you essentially went undiagnosed. I see this with college freshman who were able to “breeze” through school because they were smart enough to compensate and make decent grades. Then, when they got to college, they found out they really didn’t know how to organize, study, etc. and end up getting an evaluation or going to see their physician.

I hope this helps, and I’ll see you next month.


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.

Mealtime Mama: Crockpot creations

Gwen and I have been on a crockpot kick lately. Well, we want to use our crockpots, but they’ve mostly sat out on our respective kitchen counters taking up space — and not cooking up any dinners.

Right now, for example, mine sits empty, except for the unopened bottle of Catalina dressing inside. I’ve been wanting to make this “Sweet and Sour Chicken” that my husband really likes.

You just take some boneless chicken breasts (I prefer the frozen tenderloins because they cook faster), pour a bottle of Catalina salad dressing over the top, then turn on low for about seven hours. At about hour six I add green bell pepper slices and pineapple rings. It’s delicious served over rice.

While I was at the library over the weekend, I grabbed a “fix-it-and-forget-it” cookbook by Phyllis Pellman Good with 600 slow cooker recipes inside. I’m determined to give my crockpot a purpose in life! Here are a few recipes I’m ready to try:


1 lb. hot or mild Italian sausage (removed from casings)

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 tsp. minced garlic

16-oz. can chopped or diced tomatoes

12-oz. can chicken broth

6-oz. can tomato juice

1/2 cup long-grain rice, uncooked

1/4 tsp. black pepper

14 drops hot pepper sauce or to taste (optional)

1 chicken breast, cooked, cut into small pieces or 2 cups leftover cooked turkey

1/2 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled

Directions: Brown sausage in skillet with celery and onions, breaking up sausage as it cooks. Spoon meat, celery and onion into slow cooker. Add green pepper, garlic, tomatoes, broth, tomato juice, rice, pepper and hot sauce to cooker. Stir together well. Cover. Cook on low 2-3 hours or until rice is tender. Five minutes before end of cooking time, stir in cooked chicken and shrimp. Cover and cook five more minutes. Serve with rice.

Cowboy Beans

1 lb. ground beef

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped

28-oz. can pork and beans

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1 tsp. vinegar

3 T. brown sugar

2 tsp. prepared mustard

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Directions: Brown ground beef, onion and bell pepper in skillet. Stir often to break up clumps of meat. Continue cooking until meat is no longer pink. Drain off drippings. Spoon met and vegetables into slow cooker. Add all other ingredients to slow cooker. Mix well. Cover cook on low 1-2 hours.

spicycow.jpgIf you don’t have time to cook tonight, why not take the night off and enjoy Chick-fil-A? TONIGHT (Feb. 21) — and also on the 28th — NWA Chick-fil-A locations are offering date night” for couples in the area. During date nights they’ll have special section of the restaurant reserved with table cloths, mood lighting and live music. You don’t have to register for Date Night, and you can dine in or take out. Also, they have teamed up with NWA Healthy Marriages and you can take a “Couple Check-Up” for free online. Click here for more info!

Celebrate Magazine’s ‘Mother of the Year’ contest

If you have an amazing mother — or know one — who deserves a “Mother of the Year” title, Celebrate Arkansas magazine is currently taking nominations through Feb. 28th! We’d love to see a Motherlode mama’s mama featured in the mag!

You can nominate a fabulous mom online (www.celebratearkansas.com) and the winner will receive a $500 shopping spree at Maude Boutique in Fayetteville and be featured in a fashion spread in the May issue of the magazine. In March, Celebrate readers will be able to vote online for the winner. Sounds like fun!

I know what some of you are thinking: if only my kid was old enough to fill out the nomination form! :) Someday, mamas. Someday.

Devotion in Motion: A Word Fitly Spoken

11 ¶ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV)

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

The right word spoken at the right time can be a treasure.  And I never cease to be amazed where some of these cherished phrases originate.

About 20 years ago I spent my days teaching middle school students. I have happy memories of teaching 5th and 6th graders and often make myself smile by thinking about those days. To me, middle-schoolers were a wonderful age of students to teach. They were old enough that they could do a lot of things without teacher assistance. Still, they were little enough that they still had a bit of “fear” of the teacher that made it easier to keep classroom discipline. But, best of all they, they were young enough that they still had a bit of affection in their hearts for all their teachers. I was often touched by their kind words and thoughtfulness. It was from one of my 6th graders that I heard one of the sweetest sentiments I’ve ever heard.

It happened when I was having a very bad school day. Nothing was going right. I don’t remember all the things that were going wrong, but I do remember a scary thought that passed through my mind that day: “If one more thing goes wrong, I may start crying.”

(Now, mamas, I rarely have that kind of thought. Men are trained not to show their emotions. It’s very rare indeed when I reach that sort of breaking point. But when I do, it has been an exceedingly bad day.)

Beginning a new class period,  I turned around to get an absentee slip out of my desk drawer, and that’s when “one more thing” went wrong.  The drawer unlatched at the back and pulled completely out of the desk and crashed to the floor. The crash sent a metric ton of chalk, paper clips, push-pins, loose change, and every sort of junk rolling into the far corners of the room. As you can imagine, the 6th graders roared with laughter.

I turned suddenly and faced the class. My face went pale and then flushed bright red.  The students became strangely quiet. I closed my eyes and clenched my fists. And as I shook my fist (at no one in particular) I quietly spoke four words — words that Job spoke in the Scriptures so many years ago: “Why was I born?”

Again, the room became quiet — this time for a long time. Then the silence was broken by the words of a young girl:

“To be our teacher,” she said.

“What?” I asked.

She spoke again. “To be our teacher. God made you to be our teacher, Mr. Cash.  That’s why you were born.”

I have been alive nearly 50 years, and, to date, that’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. It must have been important to me, too, because I remember it nearly two decades later. It made me realize the importance of words. Sometimes, somebody can say a sentence that will turn a bad day completely around. Sometimes a person can say something that will remind the struggling one of his purpose in this world.

Dear mamas, never forget that your words have power. You have the power to turn someone’s day (or whole life) around. Use your words well this week.

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 is trying to keep his words tender and sweet—because he may have to eat them tomorrow. ) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to extramailbox@juno.com.

The Rockwood Files: Mama loves her brands

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Tom did something shocking the other day. He came home from the store with a few things I’d asked him to pick up before the snowstorm hit. As I unloaded the shopping bags, I stopped short. I picked up one of the packages, turned it around in my hands in disbelief and then held it up to Tom, as if he’d accidentally brought home toxic waste.

“What is THIS?” I asked.

“It’s toilet paper,” he said, as if I’d somehow mistaken it for a Crock Pot.

“I know it’s toilet paper, but it’s not OUR toilet paper. Since when do we get this kind of toilet paper?” I asked.

Listen, the store was crowded and this brand was on the end of the aisle and it was on sale, so I just grabbed it,” he explained, as if any willy-nilly explanation could be good enough for switching toilet paper brands. “I’m sure it’s fine,” he added.

He walked out of the room to tend to more important things while I glared a hole in the back of his head. You can’t just go switching toilet paper brands on a person with no advance notice. Some things are just too personal.

By the next day, there was nearly half a foot of snow in the driveway so I had to make peace with Tom’s brand selection. I did not like it, mind you, but I tried my best not to complain since we were stuck with it for the time being. Three days later, the snow began to melt and so did Tom’s theory about impulsive brand substitutions. As we stood in the bathroom brushing our teeth, he said “You know, I don’t like that toilet paper. Next time we go to the store, let’s go back to our old brand.”

I smiled and nodded, but on the inside I was thinking “Yes, and next time let’s not grab the wrong brand just because it’s within arm’s reach. Some things are worth looking for.” (When you’re married for a long time, you learn which things are best said internally.)

What those three days with the wrong toilet paper taught me is that most of us are a lot more brand dependent than we’d like to admit. Sure, we may buy generics on a few things and pat ourselves on the back for saving money, but, for the most part, we love our brands. We grow up with them. And sometimes brands become our buddies.

I read an article recently about a study on brand attachment that was done last year at the USC Marshall School of Business. The results showed that people can be so attached to brands that we suffer separation anxiety when our favorite brands are replaced. (Snippy comments made to husbands are also a common side effect.)

Brand attachments explain why some people panic at the thought of being away from their iPhone for too long. It explains why Pepsi people scoff at the thought of having a Coke. It explains why some teenagers would consider selling a kidney just to have the “right” pair of jeans. Successful brand managers are like business wizards who cast a powerful spell over an unsuspecting public.

But I, for one, am not ashamed of my brand attachments. I know what I like and I stick to it. Give me a quality product, and I’m as loyal as a Labrador, consistent as a clock. So I offer this poetic vow of consumer devotion to what, for many of us, have become our “love brands”.

“I, average consumer, do take you, preferred brand, to be my constant shopping cart companion. You are the Apple® of my eye, and my Gain® is a generic brand’s loss. The purity of my commitment is like a Dove® taking flight at Dawn®, soaring across the Quilted Northern® plains. Despite the great Bounty® of brand variety, I will not Bounce® from one name to another, for I am Glad® to forsake all knock-offs and imitations. While others get swept away by the Tide® of change, I enjoy the gentle Febreze® of familiarity. I hold steadfast to my favorites and Nestle® my beloved brands safely into my shopping bags. Truly, I love you All®.”

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.