Mamas on Magic 107.9 on Thursdays!

Since we kicked off our big Spring Clean Giveaway this week, we’ll be talking about great cleaning tips when we stop by Magic 107.9 Thursday morning to chat with radio hosts Jennifer Irwin and Guy Westmoland. We’ll be there a little earlier this week, starting around 7:25 and staying for about an hour, so turn on your radio or click on the graphic at right to listen to the show live on your computer.

We’ll be talking about three spring-related topics today, and here are a few links where you can read more about each one.

Spring clean your house!

Spring clean yourself!

  • Have some bad habits that need cleaning up? Click here for 9 tips on how to clean up your act.

Heads up: April Fools’ Day is tomorrow!

Don’t forget about the BIG Spring Clean Giveaway going on this week. We’re giving away a brand new front-loading washer and dryer set on pedestal stands, courtesy of Metro Appliances & More in Springdale. Click HERE to check it out and throw your name in the hat!

 

Military Mama: Counting down the days

By Jade Stone

We have reached that point when the countdown to pre-deployment training begins. We are now within the “180 day mark” which means everything from insurance and paychecks to Drill and training dates begin to change.

In an effort to combat the upheaval, the military has begun to offer what is called Yellow Ribbon Training. We went two weekends ago and it was great. This training is for anyone supporting a soldier, not just the spouses. I saw grandparents, brothers and sisters, significant others, extended family members and even best friends-all interested in doing everything they can to support their soldier.

Truthfully, it was a bittersweet sight to look into the eyes of these people, many already beginning the mourning process and at the same time filled with tears of pride. Hurt and yet Proud of their soldier. It’s an emotion that truly is a culmination of so many other feelings marbled into one and every person’s is marbled differently.

For example, I feel angry for losing him again, proud that he would stand up and fight when others would turn away, saddened because I’m losing my best friend for 18 months, and worried for the harm’s way in which he will be placed.

I also fear for my child’s reaction to missing his daddy for so long. But finally, the feeling of exhaustion is sometimes overwhelming. There’s just so much to do and so many hats to wear that one seldom knows exactly where to begin.

At any rate, this training is to bridge the gap between what the soldier tells the family and what might have been left out or lost in translation. Sometimes the soldiers get so caught up in everything that has to be done and all the paperwork that has to be completed they forget to pass along vital information to their loved ones. So this even was set up as an opportunity for the families to learn more about the resources available to them financially, legally, and emotionally.

While much of this I have already lived, I still found it invaluable and was disappointed I wasn’t able to attend something like this the first time. I truly would have been much better prepared.

Tricare and Military OneSource were both discussed in detail. Tricare is the military health insurance and just like everywhere else, it changes regularly. We are actually in the middle of transitioning from one type of Tricare insurance to another-it’s based on the soldier being active or inactive.

Since Jay is within the 180 day mark, we are considered eligible for the active duty insurance. If a family doesn’t keep an eye on these changes and keep checking with Tricare, the results can be costly. Military OneSource is a reference point for family members and loved ones. It’s a place to start when there is a need for something. I was amazed at the resources now available for the families! Furthermore, they offer so many of their services for free!

Next, the JAG officer pointed out important items to consider when filling out a Last Will and Testament, as well as what type of Power of Attorney is best for our situation. For me this was one of the hardest sections to deal with. There’s really no getting around the idea that Jay might not make it home when you start talking about beneficiaries and wills. When they say “reality bites” they weren’t kidding, I had just forgotten how razor sharp its teeth could be. While I could’ve waited a lifetime without discussing these issues with the man I can’t bear to lose, it was an absolute must. God forbid it come to this but truthfully, when it’s all said and done, having these conversations now would make the proceedings that happen after death move much smoother, with as little anguish as possible.

Finally, The unit’s Chaplain’s Assistant spoke. By the way, this is the same person whose sole job is to throw himself in front of a bullet for the Chaplain at all cost. Since the Chaplain cannot carry a weapon, the military appoints an assistant to act as his body guard. This was a new piece of information to me so I thought I’d share. He seemed to be the kindest, most genuine person I’d met and it was hard to imagine him in such a role. But, he was a great communicator which is why he talked about communication mediums along with techniques. He discussed the “art of communicating across an ocean” which truly can be an art form!

When Jay deployed last time, the soldiers couldn’t have a cell phone (they are used by the insurgence to detonate bombs). Maybe that’s changed but until then, we will have to settle with Yahoo messenger video chat or Skype. Neither are guarantees, but both are certainly better than not seeing him at all! It can be very frustrating trying to talk to one another with the delay on the line and while trying to hold back the day’s stress. This can lead to stale conversations about the weather and what you ate for dinner last night. Not exactly meaningful topics of conversation but sometimes it’s hard to decide what to say.

Neither side wants to share the agonies they are living through so as to not they don’t bring the other down. It’s important that you don’t burden the soldier with the mini-tragedies going on stateside with the house, car, work, and the kids. While explaining that it’s been hectic is one thing, detailing all the problems is a distraction the soldier doesn’t need. Likewise, the soldier shouldn’t necessarily talk about all the harm they’ve been through until they are safely home. Family members may not react in a positive manner to that type of news.

Jay told me once while deployed that he now knew what the scariest sound in the world was. I asked the obvious-“what?” to which he replied “the sound of a bullet flying past your head”….yeah, didn’t need to know that at that very moment.

The other side of the communication coin is that it’s important to remember sometimes you may not hear from your soldier for several days in a row. There are lots of reasons for this and usually, it’s not because they don’t care about you. The military will close off all communications when there has been some sort of incident, sometimes their missions don’t run on a set schedule and lets face it, when an NCO barks at a soldier to do something, the soldier does it without regard to when he or she is scheduled to appear online!

We even received special kits for the kids as well as the spouses that were full of post cards and “starter letters”, as well as creative ways to communicate and keep each other updated on the daily life at home through written word. In fact, and I can say this from experience, while the instant gratification of email is amazing, there is nothing more special in the world to people than receiving a hand written note from a loved one.

I was listening to the Chaplain’s assistant talk about how important letter writing was when Jay leaned over and said, “I always kept your most recent letter in my side pocket no matter where I went just to have a piece of you near me.” I remember smiling widely with admiration and a sense of connectedness before saying, “I kept one of yours under my pillow to read every night before bed so that the last thoughts of my day were words from you”. Yes, romance does exist in war, it’s just a little more creative!

The take away message today would be that please tell anyone who finds themselves in a position to support a soldier about the resources available to them and about Yellow Ribbon Training. Some units are not as great at communicating this kind of information as others. There are tons of resources to pull from. If the person doesn’t know where to begin, go to Militaryonesource.com. That should set them up for a great start!

Have an awesome week and enjoy the Spring Season!

Jade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at akajadestone@yahoo.com. To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.

Beauty Buzz: Taking the sting out of hair removal

By Andi Douglas, nwaMotherlode.com beauty editor

I admit that I have several irrational fears, but one of the oldest and least justified is my fear of hair removal creams for my legs. I have only tried a depilatory cream on such a large surface once with my college roommate and we almost knocked each other over trying to get to the faucet first to wash off the burning chemical. Now, 10 years later (and yes, I’m rounding down), out of necessity I have decided to try again.

I decided to try Veet Hair Removal Cream for it’s promise of “a deeply moisturizing delight” and the “mess-free” Perfect Touch Spatula that comes stuck to the side of the bottle. (If you go to www.veet.us — or click on the coupon at right — you can save $3 if you’re feeling brave.)

The good news, it did not burn like fire per my previous experience, but it did get a little itchy. Once the actual hair removing distracted me, I barely noticed.

The width of the spatula is comparable to a razor so covering the full surface of my legs did take some time but overall the results were pretty good. I had to go over a couple of spots more than once and there were a few areas of unsuccessful hair removal, but I can’t remember the last time I finished shaving, started lotioning and didn’t find a giant patch of hair that previously escaped my attention, so I decided to accept that as an unavoidable part of being a woman.

The aloe vera and vitamin E left my skin smooth and moisturized, as promised, as opposed to the itchy, bumpy mess I am usually left with, especially during the drying winter months. Also, with no fear of cuts or razor burn, I say the Veet system has surpassed shaving for me. I still haven’t got up the courage to try the cream on my bikini line yet but I am optimistic and would love to hear any reviews you might be able to offer, or words of encouragement.

Have a question for Andi, beauty blogger and fellow mama? Andi welcomes your questions and feedback to Beauty Buzz. E-mail her at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com.

Devotion in Motion: What holds it all together

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  Colossians 1:17 (NIV)

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

Glue is a wonderful thing. Even as I type this, there are innumerable things in my life that have been repaired (and are now held together) by glue. A couple of years ago, the side-view mirror of Spencer’s “Ford Focus” got knocked off his car. It was one of those mirrors that you can adjust from in the inside of the vehicle, and we reckoned that it would cost several hundred dollars to have it professionally repaired.

Since it was still hanging by its wires and cables, we figured that we might have shot at fixing it ourselves. We bought a tube of very strong glue at the hardware store, applied it to the broken surfaces, and then applied duct tape to brace it until it dried. The next morning we peeled off the tape, and admired our handiwork. The mirror is still stuck to the car, and it rides up and down the road every day.

The most recent thing that I have fixed with glue is our mailbox, which had fallen off of its pole. On the day I found it broken I was short on time, and I decided that I would make a “temporary” fix. I mixed a tube of epoxy glue with a separate tube of hardener, slapped this on both surfaces, and replaced the mailbox in place on top of its stand.  I figured that this “patch job” might hold it until I could make a more permanent repair. Well, I checked it yesterday, and it shows no sign of coming loose. I think the mailbox is there for good. It is “stuck like glue.”

But, by far the most interesting thing at our house that is held together by glue is our younger son, Seth. When he was in kindergarten, he was swinging from a top locker door at the school where I taught when it slammed closed on his fingers. Inspecting the damage, I thought for sure that he would need stitches. Instead, they super-glued the skin on his fingers back together in the emergency room. Later on that year, Spencer accidentally hit Seth in the nose with a garden shovel. I thought for sure that Seth would need stitches—but once again, the doctors used medical super-glue to close the wound on his nose.

(I’ll never forget Seth’s words to the nurse as she scrubbed his nose with gauze before the glue was applied. He said, “OUCH!! No, no, don’t bother with that. Just leave it.  You don’t have to fix my nose. I don’t need to smell.”)

Glue is remarkable stuff. Epoxy from the hardware store makes a bond that is often stronger than the surface that it is bonding. And that medical glue that they used on Seth didn’t even leave a real scar. It’s great when you find something that holds things together.

Sometimes it seems like the world we watch on the news and the lives of many people around us are falling apart. Did you know that the Scriptures teach that there is Someone who holds all things together? In today’s Bible text (at the top), St. Paul says that  Jesus Christ is preeminent before all things. And the apostle literally says that, “in Him all things hold together.”  Jesus Christ holds everything together.

So, if you’re a bit cracked and broken this week, take heart! Little things can be taken care of with glue. For the bigger things, we can turn to our Saviour.

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 once fixed the refrigerator shelves with a brand of epoxy known as “Gorilla Glue”.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to jcash@scott.k12.ms.us.

The Rockwood Files: Let’s Get Physical

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

In the early 80s, I got an Olivia Newton John album that featured one of her biggest hits called “Physical.” In the music video for “Physical”, Olivia wore a spandex leotard and headband, and she danced and sang while exercising in the midst of muscle-bound men.

I was about 9-years-old when I saw that music video, and I decided that I’d work out all the time if I could be as cool as Olivia Newton John. She made it look so glamorous and fun. But the leg warmers and spandex leotards didn’t make me fall in love with exercise, which was okay because I was an active kid who had one of those super-fast metabolisms that let me eat nearly anything and still stay thin.

Fast forward 25 years: After having our third baby four years ago, I realized that the super-fast metabolism of my youth had vanished the same way leg warmers in the 80s did. Suddenly I needed to exercise. I tried running. Hated it. I tried a spinning class. Hated it more. I flirted a little with step aerobics and home work-out videos of various varieties. I’d do the work-outs with enthusiasm for a week or so. But then it became like taking a big dose of bad-tasting medicine. I’d do it only because it was “good for me”, but I sure didn’t want to.

Now and then I’d go on an exercise strike and stop doing it altogether because I was sick of the drudgery, and there were always other chores and errands that convinced me I was too busy to exercise anyway.

Then late last year I read an article titled “The Real Truth about Exercise,” written by a personal trainer named Claudia Smith, and it surprised me. Typically, fitness articles are a remix of every exercise cliché we’ve ever heard – “no pain, no gain; feel the burn; put in the work to get the results; self-discipline; blah, blah, blah”. But this one was different. It basically said we should take a cue from kids. Little kids don’t “work out”. They go play. They move around because we’re designed to move around. They do what feels right, what feels like fun. My kids aren’t scampering up and down the driveway because they desperately want to fit into their skinny jeans. They’re just moving around to do what they like – ride bikes, shoot hoops, jump rope, climb the jungle gym.

The trainer also advised against calling it a “work-out” since that sounds about as appealing as a root canal. Putting it in a category of things you have to do automatically makes it a drag.

So this year, instead of making my traditional New Year’s resolution of working out more and losing weight, I decided to focus on finding some type of exercise activity that I actually like – or, at the very least, don’t hate.

After lots of searching, I’m finally “moving” at least twice a week now. (Notice how I didn’t call it working out?) And I’m discovering that it is, indeed, fun to move. I’m taking a Pilates class twice a week and doing a few of the moves at home on my own while watching TV at night. When I wake up on the day of my Pilates class, I don’t immediately think “Oh, no. I’ve gotta go work out today.” I actually kind of look forward to it. Believe me, no one is more surprised by that than I am.

One of the best parts of finding the exercise that “fits” is feeling like I’m doing something that’s just for me. When you spend so much of your time taking care of work, your house and other people, doing something that takes care of yourself can almost feel like a luxury. And, for the first time, I’m not exercising to fit into smaller jeans or to look a certain way in a swimsuit – although I’ll be thrilled if that happens. I’m doing it because I want to feel good in my own skin again. I want to be stronger, leaner and more flexible than when I started.

It’s only been a couple of months since I started this quest but it’s going well so far. Today I sneezed and felt some soreness in my stomach muscles because I exercised them yesterday. And it made me happy to know that those muscles were actually still in there and might even make a comeback one day. I was beginning to worry that the doctor had removed them during that last C-section.

I may never rock a spandex leotard the way Olivia Newton John did in the 80s, but I’ll say this: When you finally find an activity that fits, it feels pretty good to “get physical.”

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.

LOVE this idea: Artwork display and storage frame!

Shannon and I were taking a spin around Target not long ago when we spotted this product and decided it must have been invented by a fellow mom because it’s pure genius.  It’s an “artwork display and storage frame”, which basically means it’s like a regular photo frame only this one has a front door on a hinge that lets you open it up quickly and put in the latest piece of artwork created by your kids. We love how accessible it is!

Most of the time, we moms have the best of intentions when it comes to framing the pictures our kids draw for us at school. But then we get busy with the zillion things we have to do every day and the special artwork never finds its way into a frame.

This is one of those products that makes it easy to simply insert the latest drawing or painting and keep the others stored right inside the frame so they don’t get misplaced. If your kid is old enough, he or she could probably even swap out the pictures themselves. You could buy one for each kid and create your own little art gallery in a hallway, kids room or wherever.

According to the Target website, the frame is out of stock online but we found one in the Fayetteville Target store just a few weeks ago. It’s the ReStyle brand and measures 12×16 and can also be used to frame a picture/drawing that is 8×12 because it comes with a mat.

We also saw a very similar frame to this one in the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers, so you can check there as well.

Once your display storage frame fills up with masterpieces, check out this idea for storing your kids’ artwork on a long-term basis. Click here to see how we created a book of kids’ artwork using the Shutterfly photo book process. It’s easy! We promise.

 

Fayetteville Farmers Market season opens Saturday, April 2

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan will kick off the 38th Annual Fayetteville Farmers’ Market Season at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 2, on the Historic Downtown Fayetteville Square.

Honorees will include long time market members, Marcella Thompson and Vivian London. Over 60 vendors will attend with a riot of spring flowers, produce, meats, eggs, baked goods, plants, crafts and fine art. Giant Puppets and musicians will be among the surprise visitors.

New for the 2011 market season, SNAP/EBT (food stamp) recipients will be able to use their benefits at all the Fayetteville Farmers’ Markets with a wooden EBT token system, thanks to grant money provided by the USDA. This USDA program was designed to keep federal dollars within the local community, increase access to fresh produce, and build safe, secure local food systems by supporting small farm families in their stewardship and preservation of valuable agricultural lands.

Affectionately referred to as “The Crown Jewel of Fayetteville,” and “Fayetteville’s Front Porch,” the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market on the Square began as a vision of Marcella Thompson and others at the Economic Opportunity Agency of Washington County in 1973 and was incorporated as The Rural Mountain Producers Exchange in 1974.

Distributing only products grown or made within the 4 county area of NWA , this farmers’ market organization has grown to be one of the largest in the state, and has matured into an innovative model of local, creative, sustainable, green economic development. Additional markets, the Mill District Market on Thursday evenings and the Botanical Garden Market on Sunday mornings, were opened in recent years to keep pace with the need for increased distribution opportunities for the community.

Click here for more information about times/dates for the various market locations.

Pet Parenting: Best dog for a little boy?

Hello Denise,

I would like your recommendation(s) for a pet for our family. Specifically, we would like to get our 6-year-old son a puppy; he is an only child. We want this to be our son’s dog and feel he is ready for the responsibility with some help from mom and dad.

A couple of other things to know prior to making your recommendation(s). We need a light shedder. I have horrible allergies and sinuses. We prefer a primarily inside dog. We currently have a Miniature Schnauzer. Charlie is at least 13 years old. We are partial to Schnauzers but at the same time hesitant. Charlie does not do well with children.

The only other stipulation is that my husband does not want a “frou-frou girlie dog.” We have a fairly large backyard on a 1 acre lot, so plenty of room for exercise. While I understand the individuality of all dogs, I was hoping you could recommend a breed that would likely be a good fit for us?

We are not in a big hurry, but it is something we have been thinking about for a while now. What are your thoughts in regards to timing? Specifically, would you recommend that we hold off on a new puppy until after Charlie passes. We have heard that having Charlie around could aide in the potty training of a puppy, but we don’t want to overly stress Charlie. He did have a companion for much of his life — another Miniature Schnauzer who passed two years ago.

I look forward to hearing back from you and THANK YOU!

Dear Mama:

Thanks for the question. I’m thrilled to know that you are making a well-thought out and informed choice about adding an animal to your household. I wish more people did!

First, on getting another Schnauzer…if that is what you like, I think that would be fine (as long as you can refrain from judging the new dog based on your expectations from previous dogs. They are all different). The breed does not have a reputation for being unfriendly to children, so your current problem probably has more to do with the age of the dog and not having been raised with your son. If you brought in a younger dog, they would likely be fine together. Let me also say that by ‘younger,’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘puppy.’

I think you may want to consider adopting an adult dog from rescue. Aside from being an advocate of rescue, which I admit I am, I think there are definitely some advantages for you, specifically. An exuberant puppy may not be very well tolerated by your older dog. Whereas a dog that’s perhaps between 1-3, might be a little calmer and easier to take.

That dog is also less likely to be biting and nipping at your son, as he should have outgrown at least some of those things. AND big bonus here, adult dogs are usually easier to potty train.

All that being said, the breed that just immediately popped into my head when I first read your email, was BEAGLE! Something about beagles and little boys just seem to go together. The dogs are friendly, outgoing and playful. They can have lots of energy and with a 6 year old boy and an acre of land (are you fenced? Beagles like to trail things), that’s just the perfect set up. They are also very sweet and content to snuggle, and make excellent house dogs.

Beagles can be a bit stubborn on the training end, but they are smart and enjoy learning; they are great at tricks. Positive reinforcement goes a long way with any breed but especially the stubborn ones,  and some of my best trainers are kids. Kids just
naturally seem to get the concept of positive reinforcement.

As for shedding, most dogs do it, and it’s the dander not the hair that causes allergy problems. A good healthy diet based on a premium pet food (and supplemented with fresh fruit, veggies, yogurt, and eggs if you wish) will keep his skin and coat healthy. Healthy skin and coat will reduce not only dander but shedding as well. That being said, Beagles are light shedders anyway.

I encourage you to do some research on the personality of the breed and see what you think. There is a national breed club associated with the AKC and there are also breed rescues for every breed. So it is possible to find/rescue a young adult dog. Rescue is also great because in general, the foster home will be able to tell you A LOT about the dogs personality. You may also want to check with the local shelter and put your name on a list.

If they get a beagle or beagle mix, it would be worth it to at least meet the dog.

One more dog you may wish to consider is a Cavalier. Their hair is a little longer and they will require regular grooming, much like a Schnauzer, but they are also friendly, outgoing little dogs with great personalities and they are  easy to train. Again, do your research.

Once you decide what you are looking for, Petfinder is a great place to start your search as most shelters and rescues will post available dogs on that website.

Good Luck!

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.

Good Gossip: New love, great movies, and Martha becomes a granny!

It’s Spring Break, mamas! Let’s celebrate with a little “Good Gossip.”

It looks like actress Eva Longoria (of Desperate Housewives) has a new boyfriend. She was spotted getting cozy with a songwriter named Eduardo Cruz, who is 26. Eva and Eduardo have been friends for a while now and were first spotted together a couple of months ago. Eduardo’s sister is actress Penelope Cruz, who is married to actor Javier Bardem. A source close to Eva says that he is a good guy and that they’re sweet together.

Attention all movie lovers! Tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC, People Magazine and ABC News join forces to present a TV special called “The Greatest Movies of All Time.” Watch it if you’d like to know which films snagged the honors for best comedies, thrillers, screen kisses, as well as the award for “best movie ever.” Here’s a little sneak peek: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet win for the “Most Romantic Onscreen Couple.” And “The Notebook” starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams won for “The Best Chick Flick”.

If you love the Bachelor and Bachelorette reality series, you’ll be interested to know that Ashley Hebert will be the next Bachelorette looking for love on television. Ashley is a University of Pennsylvania dental student and is 26 years old. Filming is already underway on the show. Hebert told People magazine that she is going to “use my gut to tell me what to do.”

In baby news, Victoria Beckham and David Beckham are expecting their fourth baby, and this time it’s a girl! She will be welcomed by three older brothers ages 12, 8, and 6.

Singer Jewel, who is also pregnant, was in a minor car accident recently but says she and the baby are doing fine. Jewel is expecting her first child this spring with rodeo champion husband Ty Murray.

Matthew McConaughey has a new movie out called “The Lincoln Lawyer”. Co-stars include Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe and William H. Macy. McConaughey did an interview with People recently in which he reveals something he thinks his fans might not know about him. “…I write a lot. I have hand-written journals stacked four feet high from over the years. I try to take a week off every year to go through them and transfer them to disk on a computer.” Matthew also revealed the last time he cried, which was at the birth of his daughter Vida. (Vida is 1-year-old and her big brother, Levi, is 2. Mom is Camila Alves, a Brazilian-born beauty who is teaching Matthew and the kids some Portuguese.)

Simon Cowell said he doesn’t miss American Idol because “it was time to get out of my comfort zone” but he does miss Randy Jackson, who is still one of his best friends. Cowell said auditions for his new show called “The X Factor” will begin next week in L.A. He also revealed that Paula Abdul is in the running to be one of the judges. He also likes Jessica Simpson and thinks she is underrated as a singer. He said Mariah Carey may even make an appearance after her babies are born.

One more baby update! Martha Stewart is a grandma!! Martha’s daughter Alexis Stewart, 45, became a mom on March 8th when her daughter Jude was born via a gestational surrogate. Alexis had struggled with infertility for many years. Stewart says that new baby Jude has her mother’s “pouty little mouth” and is an “ideal baby.”

(Source: People magazine, March 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!


Mealtime Mama: Jump into spring with this bunny cake!


I know it’s a little early, but I saw this adorable Easter bunny cake on the Kraft website and wanted to share! I have a very fond memory of my mom making a cake almost exactly like this and bringing it to my first-grade spring party. She looked so pretty and so did the cake — and all my classmates thought the bunny was delicious!

Kraft is also offering a way to upload your own bunny cake and yours might be featured on their recipe by email Easter edition in late April (click here for more details) If you send a pic in to Kraft, we’d also love to see it!

What You Need

2 baked 9-inch round white cake layers, cooled

1 tub  (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed

1 pkg. (7 oz.) BAKER’S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut

Suggested decorations: licorice, gumdrops, jelly beans

Make It

LEAVE 1 cake whole. Use serrated knife to cut remaining cake into 3 pieces as shown in diagram. (See Tip.) Arrange on large foil-covered board or platter to resemble a bunny’s head and bow tie, using small amount of COOL WHIP to attach pieces to each other.

FROST cake with remaining COOL WHIP.

SPRINKLE with coconut. Decorate with remaining ingredients as shown in photo. Keep refrigerated.

Devotion in Motion: On Springtime

26  ”Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  Matthew 6:26 (NKJV)

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

Some years it seems like winter skips us altogether here in our part of the Deep South. My son always said that you can tell that you’re growing up in Mississippi when you spend Christmas Day playing outside shoeless and shirtless with the toys that Santa brought! Most winters are so mild that many people here don’t really own a winter coat. You can usually get by with just a heavy jacket.

But this past winter has been an exception to that rule. We missed so many snow days (and ice days) at school that we’ve had to forfeit some of our later holidays to make them up. And we had several weeks of damp, disagreeable cold—you know, the kind that gets in your bones and causes you to ache. The kind that makes you feel like you may never thaw out again. Everybody that I’ve talked to has been looking forward to warmer weather.

Well, springtime is finally here, and we are enjoying a beautiful spring morning here at the country church. The grass is coming up green, and the trees are blooming pink and white. Our two barking-dogs, Billy and Thaddeus, are sunning themselves today in the clover patch outside our kitchen window. (We keep them around to announce if someone we don’t know drives up at night. They eat dry food and table scraps. Sort of an inexpensive security system.)

The parsonage cats, Marvin and Sister, are longingly watching the yard dogs through the storm door, wishing that they could go out and enjoy the sunshine. (Alas, it is not to be.  The cats have been de-clawed, so they will have to remain indoors.)

And there are birds everywhere this year. Last week at the office we had hundreds of a type of bird I had never seen before. They swarmed in huge flocks, and when anyone approached the tree they were all in, they would leave that tree (in a great rush of flapping and wind) and all fly to another tree. It was quite startling (and beautiful).

The birds of springtime reminded me of a story that I heard that I want to share this morning. It seems that there were once two sparrows sitting on a telephone line. The two little birds had a wonderful vantage point from which they could watch all the people in the city scurrying to and fro as they went about their busy lives.

One of the sparrows said, “Have you noticed how unhappy all of the humans are? They are always in a hurry, and their faces always look sad and worried. I wonder why their lives are so bad?”

The other sparrow said, “Oh, don’t you know why they’re unhappy? People aren’t like us birds. They don’t have a Heavenly Father like we have who takes care of them!”

Well, today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) makes it clear that the sparrows in the story are correct about one thing. Jesus clearly taught that the Heavenly Father takes care of the birds. In fact, in another place, the Saviour says that not a single sparrow can fall to the ground apart from the Father’s will (Matthew 10:29).

But on another account, the birds are completely wrong. The same Heavenly Father who cares for the birds takes care of people, too. And Jesus said that we are more valuable than many birds….

Dear mamas, let’s get this new season of springtime off to a smashing start! Give thanks for the beauty of the earth, and entrust the cares of each day into the hands of your Heavenly Father who loves you!

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 people know that since Spring is here, Easter can’t be far behind.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to jcash@scott.k12.ms.us.

The Rockwood Files: Queen for a day

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist  and mama of 3

In a couple of days, I’ll have another birthday. When you’re cruising through your late thirties, birthdays don’t always rank up there as a big deal. But I’ve planned a few fun things to do like a haircut, lunch with a friend and then dinner with the family at my favorite pizza place.

I may score some homemade cards from the kids, but Tom and I decided not to exchange birthday gifts this year since we’re saving up for a weekend trip soon. If I did get just one birthday wish, however, I might wish to trade places with our cat Percy – just for the day. Here’s her daily line-up of activities:

  • Allow human to serve me breakfast.
  • Take nap.
  • Clean my face; Lick my full belly.
  • Take nap.
  • Watch stupid squirrel in front yard.
  • Take nap.
  • Watch stupid birds in backyard.
  • Take nap.
  • Watch toilet water shimmer and swirl after humans flush.
  • Take nap.
  • Allow human to entertain me with a string.
  • Take nap.
  • Test the odor-controlling abilities of the cat litter humans bought on sale.
  • Take nap.
  • Stand beside pantry looking pitiful so humans will give me cat treats.
  • Take nap.
  • Stare at my own glorious reflection in the window.
  • Take nap.
  • Hide behind corner then jump out and pounce on humans’ ankles ninja-style, just to remind them who’s boss.
  • Take extended nap in humans’ bed.
  • Day 2 and beyond: Repeat.

Even on birthdays, most people don’t have it nearly as good as the average housecat. Percy the Persistent has become so spoiled lately that, if I take too long to brush my teeth in the morning, she brushes up against my legs lovingly for 5 seconds and then bites my ankle. Not a vicious bite, mind you, just a small nip to remind me that she has teeth and would like to be using them on Cat Chow right NOW.

After she has her breakfast and completes her long, tedious spit-bath process, she finds the nearest spot of sun and stretches out in it. She slowly rolls onto her back with her legs splayed out in a pose that would make you think she’s dead, except for the gentle rise and fall of that furry, expansive belly.

The only time Percy expends any real effort during the day is running past me in the hallway. At least a few times a day, a grey blur streaks by, glancing back at me as if to gloat about winning a foot race that only she knows about. No matter where I’m heading, she’s determined to get there first.

I wouldn’t mind having Percy’s sense of self-assurance, either. She’s convinced that she’s the rightful center of the universe. She walked onto the newspaper I was reading today and sat down on it. Watching me read was exhausting for her so she lay down and promptly fell asleep on the Travel page before I had a chance to finish reading about the great food in Montreal.

But perhaps the best proof that Percy enjoys continual birthday girl treatment is the fact that she NEVER has to clean up after herself. Seeing as how she has no opposable thumbs, I wouldn’t hold it against her if she didn’t always insist on watching me scoop clumps out of her litter box. She sits there in a queenly stance with a look of smug superiority on her furry face. If one living thing cleans up the poop of another living thing, who’s the real boss? The pooper or the scooper?

Don’t answer that.

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.


Two weeks left to send in snapshots!

Time to feed the chickens!

Good parents raise great Hog fans.

Time to send in your snapshots because there’s only two weeks left to get them submitted before the end of March. We’ve already received lots of cute pictures this month, and we’re showing off several of those here in this post. At the end of March, all the snapshots received during the month will be reviewed by a panel of judges who will then choose their top finalists. Watch for a post during the first week of April which will announce which photos were chosen as March finalists.

As you may have heard, the grand prize winner of the snapshot contest will receive a free photo session with Melinda Worthington of MJW Photography as well as a HUGE 16×20 wall print of her favorite shot from that session. It’s an awesome prize that’s worth literally hundreds of dollars, so don’t miss a chance to win it.

To see the finalists from photos submitted in January, click HERE.

To see the finalists from photos submitted in February, click HERE.

To see professional shots of previous contest winners taken by Melinda Worthington of MJW Photography, click HERE.

To send in some pictures before the deadline arrives, click HERE or just email me at gwen@nwaMotherlode.com.

Remember that ALL of the photos submitted will be showcased in our online photo gallery located at the bottom of each page on nwaMotherlode.com. If you haven’t clicked through the photo gallery lately, you should check it out. It never fails to make us smile. And many of the photos submitted are turned into Polaroids which are used in the upper right hand corner of the homepage.

Hope you enjoy these photos of some of the super cute kids in Northwest Arkansas. Have a great weekend!

The bib says it all...

"Watch and learn, Daddy. This is how it's done."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"See this drop of milk on my lip? I'm savin' it for later."

On Your Mind: Practical step-parenting strategies

By Paige Stephens, Ozark Guidance

PARENTING can be one of the most challenging jobs known to man — or womankind.

You are never allowed to resign or take a vacation or even a sick day. If parenting is hard, imagine yourself as a step-parent. Wow, why would anyone ever sign up for that? It’s a question that each person should ask themselves very seriously before taking this job.  The main key to being successful in this job is to go into the family with eyes wide open. Discuss in depth with your new partner strategies for integrating into the family and be willing to be very flexible in your approaches.

Strategy-Don’t Change TOO Much

Remember that change, even wonderful changes, are stressful. The entrance of a new person into the family is a significant change and will unbalance the previous equilibrium of the family. Think of a Teeter Totter.

As children play, they learn to compensate for the differences in size and weight. Each child may have to push harder on the ground to help the other or even bounce up and down to help the teeter totter to come down. If you added another person to the game, what happens? The Teeter totter hits the ground flat, no movement.

Each person in the game must figure out how to re-establish balance in order to continue. A new step-parent could be much like adding a new person to the teeter-totter game. The very presence of the step-parent will make the game difficult. Each person will have to re-establish how to play the game and be successful.

For the step-parent, it’s important not to encourage many changes initially. Maintain family schedules and routines. By incorporating yourself into this family culture, you are respecting the family balance.

Strategy-Expect your Step-Child Not to Like You

This may be difficult, but very important to realize. Your step-child is very likely struggling with several issues. These issues could range from losing their previous role in the family to guilt at the possibility that they may like you, which could represent betrayal to their other parent. It is important that you provide unconditional acceptance of these emotions.

Strategy-Becoming Involved

Begin to integrate yourself into the daily routine of the family. The best way to become an accepted part of any group is to become an active and needed part of that group. Take on chores in the home. Attempt to incorporate the step-child’s wants for meals or activities. Be genuine in your interactions. Children are human barometers and they will quickly be able to tell if your interactions are real or a misguided way to earn their trust.

Strategy-Discipline

Discipline is often one of the most difficult areas in step-parenting.  It’s strongly encouraged that parents discuss discipline in detail prior to practicing in the family. Often there are very different opinions about the best way to discipline children.

Also, deep resentments can occur between parents if the discipline methods are far apart from the other. As in all parenting it is important that parents are together in their presentation to the children. It is recommended here that the biological parent be the primary disciplinarian in the family, with the step-parent as the support.

Strategy-The Other Biological Parent

It is always best if the step-parent and the other biological parent have a respectful relationship. This is not always possible given the issues that are present for both parties. It is very important that the step-parent not share any negative feelings or thoughts with the children regarding their other biological parent. While all the negative feelings and thoughts may be true, the children are not equipped to handle this information and what it might mean about their other parent.

No matter how difficult it may be for the step-parent, you must remember that the children did not sign up for this, you did! You must place your conflictual feelings or thoughts in places other than the children.

Follow these strategies and you’ll be a step ahead in helping to re-define the family to include a step-parent.

Techno Mama: Swackett:: A different kind of weather app

By Sarah Martin Hood

I have always struggled with translating the weather forecast into appropriate clothing choices. I am always wearing the wrong length sleeves or forgetting my umbrella or wishing I had a sweater. But a few weeks ago, I found THIS.

Swackett :: a different kind of weather app.

It’s my new favorite website – and I’ve started leaving it open on my desktop at work all day so I can click over for a quick (and cute!) check of the weather any time I please.

The term swackett combines Sweater, Jacket, and Coat. But what it really means is a whole new way of looking at the weather. Swackett turns radar screens and dew points into a weather forecast my toddler could interpret!

They have all of the raw weather data, charts, radar, detailed forecasts — if you’re into that sort of thing, but they’ve distilled it all down to graphics so checking the weather becomes quick and painless — great for a time-starved Mom trying to get everyone out the door in the mornings!

Here’s how it works:

  • Visit www.swackett.com
  • Click “Test Drive Your City” in the upper right-hand corner
  • Enter your zip code — Swackett provides current conditions and forecasts for every zip code in America – and all major cities WORLDWIDE.
  • Swackett delivers the weather via people symbols (called “peeps”) who always seem to be appropriately dressed for the weather. If it’s cold, the peeps are wearing stocking caps, heavy coats and gloves. If it’s warm and sunny, the peeps are wearing shades and shorts — and they are even pictured remembering their sunblock!
  • Enjoy!

But wait! There’s more! The people behind Swackett have a quirky sense of humor, and they’ve built several fun features into the website to keep you guessing. Similar to the custom “Google” designs for holidays and special events, Swackett features custom peeps for cultural events – and some just at random – that appear just like ordinary peeps (appropriately dressed for the weather), but guaranteed to make you smile!

Where’s the iPhone app?? I know! I want this, too! It’s coming, it’s coming. Swackett currently runs as a Mac App, and with any modern web browser — and of course you can follow all the silliness on both Facebook and Twitter.

Bottom line: Swackett combines weather information and graphic design to give you a weather forecast like no other:  The simplest, most easy to understand, most accurate weather forecast available.

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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