Pet Parenting: My dog chews everything!

Dear Denise,

My dog is not a puppy anymore, but she chews like she is! What can I do to keep her from destroying shoes, electric cords and even my brand new throw pillow! I give her things to keep her mouth busy, but I’m obviously doing something wrong. Please advise. Thank you.

Dear Mama:

You say your dog is not a puppy anymore, but you don’t mention how old she is or her breed. Some dogs take a long time to mature and there’s more to ‘not being a puppy’ than just being full-grown. If you have a large or giant breed dog or mix (lab to great dane size), then you are looking at at least 2 years of age before you can say ‘not a puppy.’

If you have a medium dog, then expect something in the range of a year and half. Those are just guesses though and all dogs are different. I have a friend whose Ridgeback mix chewed until the day she died, though she did, eventually, for the most part, figure out what she could and could not have (toilet paper and paper towel rolls were a common exception).

So, what can you do? You’ve mentioned that she has things of her own and that’s a good start. Make sure, though, that those toys don’t look like things you own. For example, if you have throw rugs or pillows with tassels, don’t give her rope toys. “If it looks like mine, it’s mine.”

Also, be sure that when you DO catch her chewing things she shouldn’t, that without making too big a deal of it, a simple ‘no’ will suffice, you take what is not hers and redirect her to something that is. Then offer lots of praise for chewing the correct thing.

If you’ve done these things and you’re still having trouble, perhaps the toys you give her should be more interactive. A kong with frozen peanut butter takes longer to go through than one that isn’t frozen. A buster cube filled with breakfast or dinner, can occupy her time and provide more stimulation than just eating out of a bowl. There are several lines of toys designed to entertain your dog, so check them out and get creative. Kong and Premier both have some good ones.

There is a chance that the chewing isn’t just an oral fixation and due to boredom or anxiety. If that’s the case, then perhaps more frequent or longer walks is the solution. If that doesn’t help then maybe try some Comfort Zone, either spray or plug-in, to help calm her.

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,


September Calendar of Events

September 2011!

First Fridays – Bentonville

Activities, food and live music for the whole family! Held on the Bentonville square March through November.

Date: Fridays

Time: 11:30am

Location: Downtown Bentonville Square

More Info:

First Thursdays – Fayetteville

First Thursday Fayetteville is a monthly event held on the Downtown Fayetteville Square. It features various works of art, live music, outdoor movies and other cultural arts representations. This year the event has expanded onto Mountain Street and includes a Kids’ Zone! Terra Studios will sponsor the kids’ activities. Free and open to the public.

Date: First Thursday of the month

Time: 5 – 8pm

Location: Downtown Fayetteville Square

More Info:

Studio Leilani fall art classes kick-off

Studio Leilani launches its art-making season with Toddler Tuesday’s (3-6 yr. olds) & Wednesday After School Art Class (6-12 yr. olds) and Plein Air (outdoor painting & drawing) for teens at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

Date: Varies

Time: Varies

Location: Studio Leilani, Center Street, Fayetteville, and Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

More info: Studio Leilani class schedule

Fayetteville Farmers’ Market

For the last 37 years, the downtown square market has offered the finest in locally produced vegetables, fruits, flowers, plants, meats, baked goods, honey, eggs, jams, crafts, and  fine art from the NWA area. Each market day is a feast for the eyes, ears and palate, with a riot of color, aromas, and sounds — street performers, tourists, and the residents of Northwest Arkansas visiting with over 60 vendors around the beautiful square gardens.

Date: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays

Time: Tuesdays & Thursdays 7am – 1pm, Saturdays 7am – 2pm

Location: Downtown Square (Fayetteville)

More Info:

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Market

The BGO market is held adjacent to the Lake Fayetteville bike trail in the meadow south of the Garden’s trailhead parking lot. There are 15-30 vendors offering fresh, local produce, cut flowers, meat, eggs, baked goods and handcrafts in this spacious market. Every Sunday morning the farmers literally “circle the wagons” next to the trail like an old wagon train. You can relax, let the kids play, talk with the farmers, walk the trail, and even visit the Botanical Garden.

Date: Sundays

Time: 9am – 2pm

Location: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (Fayetteville)

More Info: EBT/Food Stamps, WIC, and Senior Vouchers gladly accepted. Plenty of free parking. Musicians are welcome at this rapidly growing relaxed market.

Springdale Farmers’ Market

Fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, eggs, baked goods, plants and crafts. All items sold are produced by members of the market.

Date: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

Time: 7am – 1pm

Location: Memorial Walk of the Jones Center for Families (Springdale)

More Info: Free admission. Call 479.751.3352 with questions.

Pickin’ in the Park Series

Bring your instrument and join in with live gospel, country and bluegrass music or just bring your lawn chair, sit a spell, and enjoy a memorable Ozarks evening. Acoustic instruments only. No alcoholic beverages please.

Date: Saturdays

Time: 6pm

Location: Frisco Park (Rogers)

More Info: Admission is free.

Little Sprouts

Join the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks for a short nature-based activity, weather permitting. Activities include a story, game or a take-home craft.

Date: Wednesdays

Time: 10am

Location: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (Fayetteville)

More Info: Tickets – Kids over 13 are $5, Ages 5-13 are $2.50 and Kiddos under 5 are free.

Sunset Tour on A&M Railroad

Take a ride to support The Children’s Christmas Train. Ride from Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville to Winslow & back. Dinner in all cars, wine tasting in #107.

Date: Thursday, September 1

Time/Location: Departs Springdale at 4:30 and 6:30, Departs Rogers at 5:45 pm, Departs Fayetteville at 7:15 pm

More Info: For details & reservations call 479.725.4017


Marc Camoletti’s 1960s “non-stop comedy” is coming to Northwest Arkansas! Winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Revival, this is a must-see!

Date: Runs September 1-25

Time: Thursdays 7:30, Fridays 7:30, Saturdays 2:00 and 7:30, Sundays 2:00 and 7:00

Location: TheatreSquared, Walton Arts Center (Fayetteville)

More Info: Tickets are $22-28. Discounts available for groups. Rated PG.

First Friday Flicks – Toy Story

The Bentonville Parks & Recreation department will host a family-friendly movie on a 25 foot inflatable outdoor screen at Lawrence Plaza. This event will be in conjunction with the First Friday events on the Bentonville Square. Bring your blanket and popcorn!

Date: Friday, September 2

Time: 8pm

Location: Lawrence Plaza (Bentonville)

More Info: Toy Story is rated PG and runs for 1hr 31min.

The Charlie Daniels Band

Country music royalty! Right here in NWA!

Date: Friday, September 2

Time: 7:30pm

Location: AMP at the NWA Mall (Fayetteville)

More Info: Tickets $22-77.

60th Annual Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair

The oldest of NWA’s craft fairs with over 200 top artists and craftsmen.

Date: Saturday, September 3 – Monday, September 5

Time: Saturday and Sunday 8:30am-5pm, Monday 8:30am-3pm

Location: Prairie Grove Battlefield Park (Prairie Grove)

More Info:

Kids Workshop – Home Depot

On the first Saturday of each month, the FREE Home Depot Kids Workshops offer useful projects like building toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, as well as more educational projects, such as window birdhouses, bughouses or a Declaration of Independence frame kit.

Date: Saturday, September 3

Time: 9am – Noon

Location: Your local Home Depot (Fayetteville or Rogers)

More Info: Great for ages 5-12. or CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

8th Annual Run for a Child – 10K,5K, Fun Run

Proceeds benefit the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter.

Date: Monday, September 5

Time: 8am

Location: Pinnacle Promenade Mall (Rogers)

More Info: Registration is $20 before September 3, and $25 until race day.

4th Annual Walmart LPGA NWA Championship presented by P&G

The LPGA Tour returns to Northwest Arkansas and to Pinnacle Country Club in September 2011.

Date: Monday, September 5 – Sunday, September 11

Location: Pinnacle Country Club (Rogers)

More Info: for tickets

4th Annual Fort Smith Cox Community Concert: Travis Tritt

The Cox Community Concert is FREE to the public. Tickets are available (while they last) at Cox Stores in Fort Smith, Van Buren, Rogers, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Siloam Springs, Harrison and Berryville. While tickets are free, they will be required for entry to the concert and are limited to four at the time of request.

Date: Thursday, Sept. 8

Time: Gates open at 6 p.m.

Location: Downtown Fort Smith River Park

2nd Annual Vegetable Sculpting Competition

Watch as the finest in locally grown fruits and vegetables transform into imaginative sculptures. Vote for your favorite at the Fayetteville Farmers Market around the downtown square.

Date: Saturday, September 10

Time: Sculptures must be entered by 9:30am for display, voting ends at noon.

Location: Downtown Square (Fayetteville)

More Info: Free admission. Contest open to individuals and groups.

16th Annual Arkansas Hot Air Balloon State Championship

The Festival kicks off Friday evening with over 20 balloons tethered to the ground for the exciting balloon glow. The event includes several balloon race competitions for all to enjoy.

Date: Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 11

Time: Check website for schedule of rides.

Location: First National Bank Soccer Complex (Harrison)

More Info: Tethered rides are offered for $5/person.

Northwest Arkansas Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Unite in a movement to reclaim the future for millions. With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, and nearly 11 million more serving as caregivers, the time to act is now! 3 mile walk.

Date: Saturday, September 10

Time: 8:30am

Location: Arvest Ballpark (Springdale)

More Info: Call or email Oklahoma/Arkansas Chapter at 479.273.5559 or

Fall Music Festival – Terra Studios

Song Circles are a unique, intimate way to experience a wide sampling of the great, local, musical talent in NWA. 7 different circles throughout the Art Park, 5-7 musicians in each circle playing a wide variety of music. Musicians take turns showcasing their originals and covers.

Date: Saturday, September 10

Time: 12-6pm

Location: Terra Studios (Fayetteville)

More Info: Free admission.

The Hike Against Hunger

Hike the beautiful trails of Fayetteville and help a neighbor in need. The hike will start at Panera, following the Mud Creek Trail, connecting to the Scull Creek Trail. Participants may hike or run as little or as much as they would like.

Date: Saturday, September 10

Time: 7:30-10am

Location: Panera Bread Company (Fayetteville)

More Info: Please bring canned goods.

Butterfly House

Visitors will enjoy strolling through the butterfly enclosure, surrounded by many species of Arkansas native butterflies and plants.

Date: Sunday, September 11 – Sunday, September 25

Location: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (Fayetteville)

More Info:

Third Friday Twilight Walks

Merchants downtown host local artists, photographers and musicians, and promote special sales on the third Friday of each month from May through September. Also enjoy live music, community art projects for kids, street musicians, artists and crafters lining the sidewalks, loft tours of historic downtown residences, and food vendors.

Date: Friday, September 16

Time: 5 – 9pm

Location: Downtown Historic District (Rogers)

More Info:

Quilting a Memory, Friendship and Commemorative Quilts

This special exhibition features a selection of 19th and 20th century friendship and commemorative quilts from the collection of the Rogers Historical Museum. Examples include pieced and applique quilts, some feature highly artistic designs and lavish embroidery.

Date: Saturday, September 17 – Saturday, November 19

Location: Rogers Historical Museum (Rogers)

More Info:

The American Tenors

As individuals, Marcus McConico, Nathan Granner, and Ben Gulley have performed in opera and theater productions from Italy to Hawaii. As a trio they shine as bright as a spotlight. Accompanied by piano, their clear, buoyant voices join to enthrall and inspire audiences.

Date: Sunday, September 18

Time: 2pm

Location: Arend Arts Center (Bentonville)

More Info:

Huck’s Corn Maze

This new 5-acre maze in Lowell is cut in the shape of Popeye. Hay rides, water balloon launcher, pumpkin patch, maize, concessions and more! A large portion of the money raised will go to the Lowell Fire and Police Departments.

Date: Opens Friday, September 2

Time: Wednesday/Thursday 2-8pm, Friday 2-10pm, Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 2-6pm, Monday/Tuesday closed

Location: Lowell (Check website for a map.)

More Info:

Farmland Adventures

Corn maze, pumpkin patch, pony rides, petting farm, kid’s play area, wagon rides and campfires.

Date: Opens Friday, September 9

Time: Friday 5-10pm, Saturday 10am-10pm

Location: Springdale (Check website for a map.)

More Info:

Ozark Corn Maze

It’s a-MAZE-ing! 5 ½ acre corn field labyrinth in the shape of a Razorback! NEW FOR 2011 – a second maze – family-friendly Haunted Maze! Open nights in October, hours TBD.

Date: Opens Friday, September 16

Time: Friday 4-9pm, Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday 1-6pm

Location: Cave Springs (Check website for a map.)

More Info:

Teen Book Discussion

Pick up a copy of the book from Bentonville Public Library in advance to be ready for the discussion. Books provided by the Arkansas State Library.

Date: Monday, September 12

Time: 6:30pm

Location: Bentonville Library Café (Bentonville)

More Info: September book – Chains.

Library Storytime

Choose the storytime right for your child!

Baby Play & Rhyme Time, Thursdays @9:30am

Tales & Tunes for Toddlers, Tuesdays and Wednesdays @9:30am

Preschool Stories, Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursdays @10:30am

Date: Sessions run through December 17

Location: Bentonville Public Library (Bentonville)

More Info:

Ice cream social

September 10th: The Washington County Historical Society will host the 41st annual Ice Cream Social on Saturday, September 10, from 4 pm to 6 pm, at Headquarters House, 118 E. Dickson St., in Fayetteville.  This event will raise awareness of and support the Historical Society’s educational programs for children and adults.  The cost for admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for children ages 6-12, and $15 for a “family ticket,” and children under 6 attend free.

Homemade cakes and Hiland Dairy ice cream will be served plus activities and musical entertainment.

Teen Girls Mystery Mayhem at the Library

September 16th: Teen girls are invited to the Fayetteville Public Library on September 16 for twelve hours of murder mystery mayhem with your BFFs after hours on a Friday night!

The Fayetteville Public Library’s Pretty Little Library Lock-In, themed on the popular TV series and book series Pretty Little Liars, will have plenty of adrenaline-pumping thrills, plus cool chick flicks, snacks and pizza.

For girls in grades 6-12 only.

Pre-registration required; space is limited.  Registration fee is $20.

WHAT:  Pretty Little Library Teen Girls Overnight Lock-In

WHEN: Friday, September 16 2011 at 8pm through Saturday, September 17 at 8am

WHERE: Fayetteville Public Library, Walker Community Room, 401 W. Mountain St., Fayetteville

To schedule an interview about this event, call Lolly Greenwood at 479-856-7120.

International Storytime & Festival

Celebrate our cultural diversity with stories and activities from around the globe.

Date: Saturday, September 10

Time: 1-3pm

Location: Bentonville Public Library (Bentonville)

More Info:

Fayetteville MOPS

In a nutshell: It’s a faith-based fellowship for mothers of preschoolers age birth to 5. The group meets regularly to share breakfast, share support, to learn from guest speakers and to celebrate Jesus Christ.

Date: 2nd Monday of every month

Time: 9-11am

Location: Trinity United Methodist Church (Fayetteville)

More Info:

Banff Mountain Film Festival SOLD OUT!

This festival hosts films on outdoor activities from all around the world with videos that range from skiing down the highest mountains to exploring an underground cave, and everything in between… Come prepared for an epic adventure!

Date: Friday, September 16

Time: 6:30pm

Location: University of Arkansas Global Center (Fayetteville)

More Info:

Teen Tie Dye Workshop

Bring your own white cotton item to tie-dye! Registration required and limited.

Date: Saturday, September 24

Time: 2pm

Location: Bentonville Public Library (Bentonville)

More Info:

Spring Valley Redbone Fly Fishing Invitational

“To Catch the Cure” for Cystic Fibrosis.

Date: September 29, 30 and October 1

More Info:

12th Annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ

The largest nonprofit, family-friendly motorcycle rally in the country, offering the best motorcycle riding, blues music and barbecue. The fall festival draws an estimated 400,000 people!

Date: Wednesday, September 28 – Saturday, October 1

Time: Various. Check the website!

Location: Dickson Street (Fayetteville)

More Info:

Good Gossip: Love, marriages and celeb baby carriages!

Every other Tuesday, we dish out some delicious, guilt-free celebrity gossip, courtesy of our favorite magazines. Here are the highlights from the past two weeks’ worth of celebrity news, minus the mean nasty stuff your mama told you never to spread around about people. As always, we hope you enjoy the “good gossip”. (Speaking of  a tasty “dish”, the sponsor of this feature, Great Day Foods, is offering a coupon for peeled and ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs, which you can find in the deli section of the Wal-Mart Supercenter. They make awesome snacks! Click here to get the coupon from their Facebook page. See the product image below so you’ll know what to look for.)

Awww, how sweet. Harry Potter is in love. Or at least the actor who brought him to life is. Daniel Radcliffe has been dating Rosanne Coker for a year now. She is a painter and a former production assistant on one of the early Harry Potter movies. Radcliffe said he is “very much in love.” The two were photographed this month walking hand-in-hand in New York City.

Score another point for the institution of marriage! Will and Jada Pinkett Smith shot down a frenzy of rumors that they are splitting up. The couple has strongly denied any marriage trouble. They have been married now for 13 years and have two children together — Jaden, who is 13, and Willow, who is 10. Both stars are busy filming and have spent time apart because of work schedules, but their relationship is intact. Will has been quoted before as saying “Divorce just can’t be an option.”

By now you have no doubt seen oodles of photos from Kim Kardashian’s glam wedding held August 20th. But here are a few details you might not know. Kim’s “something old” was a heart-shaped piece of fabric cut from one of her late father’s signature Tommy Bahama shirts. Kim said she cried before the ceremony after reading a heartfelt letter given to her by sister Khloe. So she told her stepfather, Bruce Jenner, not to let her cry and ruin her makeup as she walked down the aisle. She said “I told him to talk to me about the weather – anything that’s not emotional. He kept me cool.”

Have you heard the happy news? Beyonce and husband Jay-Z are expecting a baby! She was showing off a baby bump at the MTV Video Music Awards recently and looks happier than ever. She and Jay-Z have been married for three years. After performing a song during the VMA show, Beyonce unbuttoned her sparkling jacket and rubbed her belly while the crowd cheered.

Jennifer Garner is already an experienced mama of 2 daughters, Violet and Seraphina, but she and husband Ben Affleck will be adding to their family soon. Jennifer is pregnant with their third baby and the couple is thrilled. Violet and Seraphina are 5 and 2.

Coupon alert: Great Day Foods, which sponsors Good Gossip on, is currently offering a coupon on their peeled and ready-to-eat hard boiled eggs, which you can pick up in the deli section at Wal-Mart. They require no prep time or mess and they’re great for egg salad, deviled eggs or just a snack. Look for the package below in the deli section. Click here to get the coupon on the company’s Facebook page.










What We’re Reading: Teenage as a Second Language

By Dannie McClain

Hmmm… what am I reading?

Moms of teens–do you have about five parenting books sitting around trying to decipher the chatter coming from your teens mouth? It can be frustrating to get “Whatever!” from your teen when you ask a question and need an honest reply.

Maybe you’re the mom who gets a shoulder shrug, or a “Yep”. Yep, I’ve gotten them, too! I’ve even had doubles, like “Fine, whatever!” Frustration is my nice word for how I truly feel.

Deciphering exactly what my son is trying to tell me when all I understand is, “Mom, leave me be,” is confusing. Sure, I was a teen once, we all were, but teens have evolved and their language has definitely changed. I was against picking up another “help me” book because they just don’t seem to help, they’re not interesting, and many times read like a repeat of the last purchase.

So, when I was approached by Barbara Greenberg to chat about having her on my web show, I’ll admit, I got a bit of a crush because she was able to do something I couldn’t do… talk to teens. And, not just talk to teens, but understand what their words meant! Bingo! There was no way that I was passing up having her come to chat live.


Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual (TSL) is exactly the kind of book I didn’t want to purchase again, a self-help parenting book, but what makes this particular book stand out from the rest – sure it works – but it works on a level of teen. Barbara, and her co-author Jennifer Powell-Lander, don’t talk over your head, but instead bring you into the conversation.

This was the one great thing about reading TSL, I was not talked at, or to, about my fears of not understanding my teen. My fears of raising a withdrawn teen, and his fears of a Mom with no clue, were greeted on the same level of communication for once where we could finally understand each other. Of course, we still have issues; nothing is fixed overnight. But we weren’t exactly broken, just a bit bruised.

The two best parts of reading TSL, the Get Them Talking and Teen Speak sections. These are not chapters within the book, but strategically placed bits of information throughout the reading. The Get Them Talking bits offer you talking points on how you can approach certain life topics with your teen. These are great if you’re uncertain how to begin, but once you begin the dialogue is all yours.

My favorite bits, Teen Speak, are exactly what this Mom needed. These are the language deciphers, when we really get to understand what “Whatever!” means. They’re interesting to read because each word or phrase is broken down into what parents hear, what teens mean, and a response to help break the code.

Thankfully this book is a great guide and not a must-do. As Moms, we know, we just don’t want to be alone on the bumpy teen highway, so it is great to have some support that can reinforce our knowledge and make suggestions where we might not have a clue. By the time your finished TSL, you’ll be a pro at teen speak and can check this off your must-learn list of languages.

Interested in learning more? Author of Teenage as a Second Language Barbara Greenberg will be joining CreateChatter TV for a live video chat Monday, September 5, 2011 at 8pm. You can also sign up for a giveaway happening right now! One lucky parent will walk away with their own copy of TSL.

Dannie McClain is a mom of two from Bella Vista. She is the Co-Founder of CreateChatter TV, a twice-weekly web show offering viewers an opportunity to discuss through a live video chat new and interesting brands directly with the creators. 

Inside His Head: Football widow needs advice

Dear Husbands,

It’s almost time for football season to start and from experience I know that my husband will soon be so engrossed in all the games that the kids and I will feel nonexistent. I don’t want to be a buzz kill, but it really does hurt my feelings when he “checks out” on us for about three months straight. How can I get my point across without being a nag?

GRAY: Have you ever watched a game? I don’t mean sitting in a corner, rolling your eyes thinking “this is dumb” while a game is on – I mean genuinely trying to understand the sport.

I ask because I believe a lot of wives lump sports into a category of Stupid Men Running with Balls or Sticks without ever sitting through a game. Though neither my wife nor I are particularly big football fans, we both enjoy basketball. Being able to talk intelligently about the team, about new recruits and second-guessing the coach enhances our relationship. We’ve taken our daughter to see games at the arena and she loved all the lights and noise even if she didn’t understand what was happening in the game.

Been there, done that and still hate football? I’ll guarantee educating yourself about his favorite team can go a long way. A simple trip to can give you an idea if the next game is really a big deal or merely another game.

If you suggest going to watch a movie when his team’s playing a non-conference or unranked team he’ll be a lot more inclined to give it consideration. As a bonus, he’ll likely respect you taking the time to look it up instead of assuming all games are created equal.

Still not the solution you’re looking for? Strike a compromise. Suggest he restrict his viewing to a certain number games each week or month, but you’ve got to offer something in return. One of the most equitable solutions I’ve seen friends do is have a get together.

Inviting a few couples over on game days can give you some conversation time with similar-minded wives and will make him interact with your guests instead of becoming a living room zombie. Besides, you can use it as an excuse to order some pizza and not have cooking or dishes for anyone to worry about. One tip: get the other wives on board with the idea first so you don’t end up with a handful of cheering men in your house all day.

Most of us associate nagging with someone saying the same thing over and over without rhyme, reason or consideration. Showing a little respect for something he’s kept up with since he was a child and taking time to educate yourself about his favorite team can go a long way in breaking down the barrier.

MAVERICK: You can’t really make a point on this one without coming off like the bad guy, and here’s why.

It’s pretty clear this is how things have been with you and him since the start. So, you can’t suddenly and dramatically expect him to change just because now you’re seeing where his football watching might be getting in the way of his time with you and the family.

You also have to realize that football is, like most guy hobbies, sometimes hard to fathom from the outside, and particularly by women. That’s not said as a matter of justification, it’s just a fact.

So, keep in mind that while this seems mindless to you, it’s very important and sometimes vital for his sanity for him to scream at the TV or spend a whole afternoon and evening watching guys smash into each other while he drinks beer and eats salty snacks.

All that said, if you want to shift his habits you need to start slowly and be happy with gaining just a little ground now and again.

Instead of saying “All  you do is watch football!! We should spend more time together!!” plan an activity, like a hike or a movie afternoon or anything else fun (shopping for shoes for the kids or following you around the mall is not “fun.”) Give him an activity he has to actually turn down to watch football, rather than a nebulous demand he “Spend more time with the family.”

If he turns you down, go anyway. Don’t nag, don’t sulk, just go and enjoy yourself.

Then try again.

And again.

And again if needed.

He’ll get the hint and eventually play along and realize he’s missing something good.

On the flip side, maybe you’ll find out it’s more fun not to have him around than listen to him whine like a baby that he’s missing his game.

Also, some compromise on his part would be nice and necessary and you’re not off base to ask. Just don’t bring it up while he’s watching a game or getting ready to. Not the best time.

Maybe, around Tuesday, you could make a suggestion that he watch football only one day on the weekend. Let him have Sunday and in return, he acts like a human and a dad and a husband on Saturday.

If he wants both days, ask that he limit his watching to one game each day totally uninterrupted and in return he has to make eye contact, speak with you and hang with the kids for the rest of the weekend.

HUSBAND#3 (a.k.a. the pinch hitter): You are nonexistent. Except for when I need a drink or something to eat. I wait all year for this. I work all week until I’m exhausted. The only thing I have to look forward to is watching the games on the weekend. I mean is that too much to ask? Some uninterrupted time where I can actually enjoy something? A chance to not have to listen to anyone’s problems for a while?

The rest of the year I’m mowing the yard or dragging the kids to baseball or soccer. If I don’t have a chance to watch some violence, I may become violent.

At least that’s one viewpoint. Hopefully that’s not your husband. I don’t know about your particular situation, but I can only assume your husband is plopped down in front of the TV from Saturday morning to Sunday night, plus Monday night and Thursday night.

First let’s start with a baseline. If he’s watching that much football, I’m going to estimate that he’s watching three college games and four to five pro games a week. I’m not counting the flips back and forth to other games and the pre- and post-game shows. I think we both know that that isn’t going to drop to zero. So let’s set some realistic goals here.

He’s going to watch his favorite college and pro team no matter what, so don’t bother with those games. I think you should go for one college game on Saturday, two pro games on Sunday and then either Monday or Thursday night football.

Now to accomplish this you need a strategy. We’re logical creatures (most of the time), but when cornered we will act irrationally. Expect this. He’ll come up with excuses. If you try to counter each one he’ll just feel like you’re attacking, so take it easy.

Start by letting him know that you and the kids really would like to spend more time with him on the weekends. You’ll say this with sincerity, but what he hears is, “I want you to take care of the kids while I do something” or “Let’s go shopping all afternoon with our screaming, griping children”. Face it, it’s just not much fun for us most of the time.

You need to have concrete examples of things you’d like to do that he is actually going to enjoy. I don’t know what he likes, but hopefully you do. If you don’t, you need to find out because if you don’t find something at least close to his football experience, all you’re going to do is make him feel guilty and that will only work for so long.

So once you’ve got your list of things to do, you start negotiating. You let him know that you understand how much he enjoys his games so you don’t want him to quit watching, you only want him to cut back. Use my proposal above. See what kind of response you get. When it comes to the Monday and Thursday night choice, let him know that you can also play games on the off night (wink wink). Hey nothing’s free.

It would also help things if you make it a family affair. The football, I mean. Get involved with him.  Learn the game and watch with him.  If you really care about spending time with him, it has to be on each others’ turf.  Not just yours.

*The mamas want to thank Husband#3 for pitching in his opinion at the last minute.

Giveaway: Tickets to Polo in the Ozarks!

Note from the mamas: Congratulations to Julie Brannon, winner of the four Polo in the Ozarks tickets!

Woo-hoo! It’s giveaway time again! We always like to bring giveaways to Northwest Arkansas  mamas which pass our strict test: they must have the “wow” factor. This one has definitely got it.

We’re giving away FOUR “gala package” adult tickets to attend the whole day of Polo in the Ozarks events on Saturday, Sept. 10  — a $300 value! Wouldn’t this make an awesome double date or fabulous Girls’ Night Out? We think so.

ABOUT THE EVENT: Not only does it feature the area’s only polo match, the Polo in the Ozarks event also includes tailgate parties, dinner and dancing under the stars, children’s activities, and both live and silent auctions. Tickets for the Polo match are $15 for Adults and $10 for children. The Gala package, which includes the match and dinner are $75 for adults and $25 per child.

Kids six and under are free and there’s a petting zoo, pony rides and all kinds of kid-focused activities. There’s actually a drop-off area for kids with supervision provided during the gala.

With almost 2,000 attendees every year, Polo in the Ozarks is Northwest Arkansas’ longest running charitable event, benefiting Life Styles, Inc.- a nonprofit supporting adults with disabilities in Washington and Benton counties since 1976.

The gates open at 4 p.m. and starts with the silent auction, tailgate parties and children’s activities. The polo match begins at 4:30 and the gala begins at 7. The gala includes a live auction and dinner is provided by Spring Street Grill. Dancing under the stars courtesy of Big’Uns.

The theme this year will again be Polo around the World and each tailgate pair will be assigned one of the 77 countries that have Polo Clubs.

HOW TO ENTER: Click on the orange comment button below and answer this question: When you think of polo, what immediately comes to mind? Polo makes us think of Prince William, cool hats or that one scene in Pretty Woman. The Northwest Arkansas polo event is more family fun than super-fancy, though, and supports a great cause!

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS: As always, we reward those mamas who help us spread the good word about giveaways here on Just email your friends about this opportunity and we’ll give you an extra chance to win for every friend you tell. Be sure to put on the CC line of your email so we can give you proper credit. Couldn’t be easier.

If you want to buy Polo in the Ozarks tickets now, click here to order tickets online.

Good luck in the giveaway! (Remember that all our drawings are completely random, so anybody can win!) Have a great week!

On Your Mind: Meet your new online counselor

Dear Tom,

Lately I feel like I’m in a slump I can’t get out of. I don’t feel like doing anything, and my husband says I’m always in a bad mood. How do I know whether or not this is a real depression that needs treatment or just a passing phase? My husband thinks I should just “snap out of it”.

Dear Friend,

That’s a great question, and you’re definitely not the first mom to feel this way. A friend of mine who travels a lot for work recently said to me “I find myself eating dinner by myself a lot. It’s kind of lonely, and my wife says I don’t seem to have the same energy or mood when I get home. I wonder if I’m a little depressed.”

It’s pretty common for husbands and wives to notice these kinds of changes in each other. Most of the time, they’ll say something like “You seem like you’re in a bad mood all the time. What’s going on? You don’t have the same energy you did when we first got married.”

Feeling “blue” or low is one of the most common experiences in the world, no matter who you are.  At some point in all our lives, we’ll experience setbacks, challenges or losses that make us feel down. Sometimes we just feel like we’re in a rut or going through a low period.  So, when that happens, does it mean you’re depressed and need help or treatment? No, not necessarily. Here’s how you tell the difference:

Some of the signs for depression which may need the help of a professional counselor are:

  • chronic fatigue or low energy
  • feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • difficulty making decisions
  • sleeping way more or way less (insomnia)
  • less interest or happiness in most, if not all, activities of the day

For it to be a true depression, however, these symptoms I mention above need to be “chronic”. What chronic basically means is that the symptoms are bad enough to mess up your life and interfere with your ability to do the things you need to do on a daily basis — like function at home, work, school or interact with other people.

If the symptoms rise to that chronic level of changing your ability to handle day-to-day life, then it’s a good idea to get help from a professional counselor and don’t wait around too long to do it. A true depression is not something you can simply “snap out of”. And the great news is that there’s a lot of research that shows that even a couple of sessions with a counselor can provide relief from those symptoms mentioned above. It doesn’t mean you’ll be needing therapy for the rest of your life.

Here are a few other practical tips that can help:

  • Do something fun or energizing with friends or family.
  • Try regular exercise or yoga.
  • Volunteer your time to an organization you care about.
  • Give or donate to a local charity.
  • Make it a daily habit to give thanks or notice the good things in your life.
  • Do things you know will make you laugh. (Watch a funny movie; joke around with a friend, or surf some hilarious YouTube clips :-))

I know those tips sound simple, but they really can help you deal with those low feelings and swap them out for positive energy and happiness. So take a few minutes and think of what you’re going to do today or this week to put more fun and energy in your life. You don’t have to tell anybody. Just make your own “happy plan” and then stick to it. It’ll definitely help your mood and add some fun to your day.

Hope this helps. Feel free to write in again with anything that’s on your mind.


Tom Petrizzo serves as CEO of Ozark Guidance and has degrees in social work and law. He has spent the last 20 years managing non-profit centers in Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas. He has also served as adjunct faculty at the social work graduate program at three large universities. He’s married to Teri Classick, a licensed clinical social worker, and they have two daughters. When he’s not at work, Tom likes to jog, bike ride, read and he even belted out the National Anthem lately at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals Game!

Tom would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback. Tom will be back each month to answer another woman’s question.

Devotion in Motion: An Early Morning Remedy

17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  Mark 2:17  (NKJV)

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

Who is the medic in your family? Most families have one. You know what I’m talking about, right? When someone is under the weather in your family, who “doctors” on that person? When I was growing up, my grandmother was our first-line-of-defense-family-physician. The daughter of a midwife, my grandmother married a country doctor and spent decades working in a drug store. She knew more remedies than anyone else I’ve ever met. I learned a lot by watching her over the years.

So, as I became an adult, it was only natural that I would become the resident medic when I started a family of my own. Something I’ve noticed is that when folks in the household are well and fine, they might poke a little fun at the person in charge of home remedies. I don’t mind. After all, they laughed at Edison, and they laughed at Einstein, too. Besides, I’ve learned that when someone has their head resting on the toilet seat at 3 a.m., they often call out for my assistance and treat me with a much higher degree of respect.

So, as your babies are starting another year of school, I want to share one of my remedies that I stumbled across when my boys were little. When I was in school, I was a “town boy.” What this meant is that I could sleep until 7 every morning and still make it to school on time. But my sons have always been “country boys.” When you’re a country boy, the schoolhouse is probably at least 30 minutes away. What that means is that you have to get up about 6 a.m. each day — even when you’re in kindergarten.

Susan and I both remember when Seth was making the transition into his first year of the school routine. He was 5-years-old and worked and played very hard every day in kindergarten. Even though we put him to bed early (usually about 7:30 or 8 p.m.) he was still tired when he got home each day. One morning after I left for work, I got a frantic phone call from Susan. She said, “I need you to help me with Seth. He’s slumped over in the car and he says he’s too tired to go to school. What can I do to help him?”

I scanned through my mental list of home remedies and told her the first thing that popped into my head. I said, “Stop at the little store in Hickory. Go in and buy him an ice-cold 6-ounce Coke in a glass bottle. It has to be a 6-ounce Coca-Cola. And it has to be in a glass bottle. Give him that to drink, and he’ll probably pull through.”

(Friends, when you live in a tropical climate like the State of Mississippi, there’s really no better friend than a 6-ounce Coke in a glass bottle. You can hold the frosty glass to your feverish forehead, and it will comfort you and sympathize with you. The six ounces are a carefully metered and calibrated dose of cool and refreshing goodness. It is without a doubt monitored and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a medicine, not a mere beverage. That’s why you can’t find one just anywhere.)

Later on that day, Susan called me back. She said, “That 6-ounce ice-cold Coke in a glass bottle worked great. He snapped out of his coma and was able to go to school. You saved his life. Spencer and I drank one, too. It was really amazing.”

Well, I’m telling you this story for a reason. I tell it in hopes that this bit of knowledge might come in handy for you and yours someday. And I also share it because when you know a great cure, it’s a shame not to share it.

There’s an old, old  hymn that I love so much that goes like this:

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,

No not one, no not one !

None else could heal all our soul’s diseases,

No not one, no not one !

It reminds us that Jesus is the Great Physician. (That’s certainly been true in my life.) Won’t you share Him with someone today?

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 26 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 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where it is so hot today, the Preacher wishes he had a glass bottle of Coca-Cola right now.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to

Legal Disclaimer: This article is the solely unsolicited and unpaid opinion of the country preacher who wrote it, and he received no payment or compensation of any sort from the Coca-Cola Company, or even the little store in Hickory, Mississippi. The author happily buys his Coke products out of his own pocket — even though he wonders why a 6-ounce glass bottle costs $1.29 when a 12-ounce can costs only 69 cents. :-)

The Rockwood Files: Pow! Right in the kisser.

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

I got a phone call a few weeks ago when 4-year-old Kate was at a gymnastics day camp. The teacher told me there’d been an accident but then quickly added that Kate was okay. I was grateful for the second half of that sentence because my heart immediately jumped into my throat as soon as the word “accident” had been uttered.

Face meets pole. Ouch.

During a spirited game of tag, Kate had run head-first into a pole, and her teacher thought she would need to see a doctor or a dentist or both. So I sped toward the gym and raced inside to find her curled up in the lap of a fellow mama, who just happened to be a nurse who happened to be at the gym that day. (As accidents go, it’s awfully good to have one when a nice nurse is standing nearby.)

When I knelt down to look at the damage, I saw blood on her shirt and her favorite pink skirt and her cut lip had already begun to swell to twice its normal size. The gymnastics teacher told me one of her front teeth had been knocked backward and was barely hanging on. I scooped her up in my arms with a plan in mind. Located in a shopping plaza, the gym was only a few steps away from my dentist’s office so I rushed her over there and asked if the dentist could possibly see her right away.

Three minutes later, we were in the dentist’s chair getting some emergency front-tooth treatment. (One of the top criteria for choosing any doctor, in my opinion, is finding one that will help you out when you’re in a parenting panic moment, as I was then.) The dentist numbed Kate’s mouth and then went to work trying to save the tooth. Somehow she got it back into place and glued it to the teeth on either side of it, hoping that it would stabilize and tighten back up over the next few weeks.

Her lip didn’t need stitches, so we went home with orders to put ice on the swelling, eat only soft foods for several days and watch for any signs that the tooth was turning grey or getting infected. Kate looked pretty rough those first few days – a little like she’d been in a bar fight with those low-life Bratz dolls and had come out on the losing end of it.

A few days later, her lip was getting better and the tooth, although still wobbly, was still there and still white. We cut her favorite foods into small pieces that she could stick in her mouth and chew with her back teeth.

After two weeks of lots of applesauce, yogurt and back-teeth chewing, we went back to the dentist for a follow-up appointment. The news wasn’t good. The tooth was still very wobbly and didn’t seem to be tightening up as we’d hoped. The dentist did an x-ray that revealed the answer – a fracture through and through near the root of the tooth. In short, it was a goner.

I’ll admit I felt a small sense of loss when the dentist said the tooth had to come out. Sure, it was a baby tooth that was destined to fall out at some point anyway, but I was hoping she could keep that neat little row of baby teeth she always flashes in photos. And I knew that losing a front tooth would immediately make her look older, just as it did when her brothers began to lose their baby teeth. We mom-types tend to get sad when the “baby” of the family starts looking less like a baby.

But it had to be done, so we soldiered through our first tooth extraction. Kate was absolutely fearless at the dentist, only whimpering for a second or two when the numbing injection was given. A few minutes later, it was over. When we left, Kate had a cotton roll sticking out of her mouth and was carrying her baby tooth which the nurse had encased in a small plastic treasure box. She was very much looking forward to a visit with the Tooth Fairy later that night, and her older brothers told her that losing a tooth was “cool” which definitely earned her some credibility as a big kid.

In the end, I worried for nothing. Because Kate’s new snaggle-tooth smile is even more endearing than the one with perfect little teeth. And it matches her personality – headstrong, fearless, quirky and cute. I’ll take personality over perfection any day of the week.

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



Radio: Mom Chat on Magic 107.9 Friday mornings

The word “teenager” has the ability to strike fear in the heart of many anxious parents. We’ve all heard the horror stories, right? But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be a period of life we simply try to survive. We’ll talk about a new parenting book specifically about teenagers when we stop by Magic 107.9 Friday morning for our weekly radio chat with hosts Guy Westmoland and Jennifer Irwin.

Tune in between 7:25 a.m. and 8:25 a.m. to join the discussion. We’d love to hear from parents of teens! Click on the graphic below to listen to the radio live on your computer.

Although our kids are not quite tweens yet, we both like to get a jump on things so we read a new book called “The Available Parent,” by Dr. John Duffy, a fellow parent and clinical psychologist and parenting expert. The author has been working with teens and tweens for more than 15 years.

We loved this book, mainly because it helped destroy the notion that our precious babies are going to turn into something we don’t even recognize once they turn 13 and that the whole teenage ordeal is something to be dreaded. During our radio chat, we’ll cover some of the highlights and our favorite pieces of advice from the book. We’ll touch on the three areas the book discusses most:

  • Part 1: Your Teenager’s Wild World
  • Part 2: What NEVER Works
  • Part 3: What ALWAYS Works

We learned a lot from this book and are happy to report that we’re not nearly as skittish about our kids becoming tweens and teens now. We know they’ll definitely be some unexpected bumps along the way, but the perspective offered by this book encourages parents to not only be optimistic but to also enjoy the crazy adventure that raising a teenager provides. Click on the book cover above to read more reviews of the book from other parents on the website.


Want your kid to be a Motherlode field correspondent?


You’re always taking your kids somewhere cool, right? Their favorite local park, a neat NWA attraction, your bank to make their very first savings deposit, on a fun vacation!

We’re starting a new feature on nwaMotherlode today called “Kid Field Correspondent” and we’d love to see your kid be the star! It doesn’t have to be an elaborate video project. We’re talking about a one-take, short video (2 minutes or less) that you can shoot and email to us on the fly. For example, if you’re at a frozen yogurt shop, you could film a quick video of your kid saying what his or her favorite toppings are. Just have fun with it. :-)

How to participate: Just shoot a short video on your Flip camera or smart phone and send it to us here. Not only is your kid adorable, of course, but you and your child’s on-location “report” could give other moms great ideas about where to take their children and fun things to do around NWA.

After your child shares a little about what they’re doing on video, end the segment with:

“I’m YOUR CHILD’S NAME reporting for, Where Moms Click! Of course, if your kiddo isn’t talking yet — or has trouble remembering their lines — you can fill in for them! (See the video example above of Gwen’s three kids reporting from the Rogers Splash Park!) Email short videos to

One kid correspondent will win! All you need to do is send your short productions to and we’ll post a few periodically on the site. And here’s a bonus: at the end of the year, one of these video stars — aka your child — will win his or her very own Flip camera!! Our kids LOVE making their own movies on them and they’re so easy to share with friends and family.

We can’t wait to see your videos!


2nd Look Consignment now has a storefront!

Kylie and her mom, Sara

We want to welcome 2nd Look Consignment as a new sponsor on nwaMotherlode! 2nd Look has been around for a while, but only as a seasonal sale.

Owner Sara Russell now has a Springdale storefront where moms can shop smart, make money and save money — six days a week, not just at certain times of year!

We love that when Sara was working in an unrelated field full time, she always used her vacation time to help put on 2nd Look twice-a-year sales. She finally decided to pursue her passion and opened the 2nd Look Consignment storefront on Elm Springs Road just a few weeks ago!

We caught up with Sara to ask her a few questions about her family and her passion, 2nd Look Consignment:

Sara, tell us a little about you and your family: My husband Gerry and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary on the 30th and have a daughter, Kylie, who is 6.  We’ve both lived in NWA all our lives.

How long have you owned 2nd Look? About 2 years.

Wasn’t 2nd Look previously a seasonal consignment sale only? Yes. I bought the sale from a couple of ladies who’d had it for about 8 years. It’s the only one in the area that has adult clothing and household items along with children’s items. (Note from the mamas: They also have toys, bedding, stuffed animals, coats and even some swimsuits. Of course, the selection is constantly changing!)

Will you still have the big, special sales? When is the next one? Definitely! The next one is November 10th – 12th at the Elm Springs United Methodist Church.

What inspired you to open the storefront? I had a full time job in an unrelated field and used my vacation time to have the sale. Many people thought I was crazy but I really enjoyed doing the sale.  The more sales I had the more I realized I liked it better than what I was doing at my full time job. The more I talked about it the more Gerry encouraged me to open a store. I took the leap and opened the store full time July 25th.

What are your hours?  I’m open Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm and Saturday 9am – 4pm.

What types of items can moms find at your store? I carry children’s, teen’s and women’s clothing and accessories along with household items, furniture, bedding, toys and baby equipment.

What extra-special items have you had for sale in the store recently? I have a beautiful purple dish set with place settings for 10 along with the complementary pieces, a Gibson Epiphone acoustic guitar with case and a women’s hip-length leather jacket.

What’s your policy for consignors, moms who want to bring in items to sell? At the store you get 40% of the selling price and I keep most items for 3 months (some longer). All you have to do is bring in your items and I’ll price them for you.

For the sale, you price everything and bring it to the Church the week of the sale. You get 70% of the selling price you set and either pick up what doesn’t sell or allow it to be donated to the Church. I mail the checks to you the next week.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?  I like to spend time with my family, read and cross stitch.

Click here to visit the store’s website. Click here to visit their new Facebook page!


5 Minutes with a Mom: Mindy Brewster

Name: Mindy Brewster

Children’s names and ages? Cheyenne 8, Kiralyn, 13 months.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in NWA? Originally from Key West,Fl. moved to NWA 2 yrs ago.

Where did you and your husband meet? I met Bill in Key West.

He’s in the Navy, right? Yes, he is a Seabee in the Navy. We are here for recruiting duty. We have lived in Iceland, Mississippi, Texas, Florida and now Arkansas.

Tell us about your schedule right now: I am a stay at home mom but i have 2 home businesses (Dove Chocolate and Partylite) and i run all errands, and love going to caffinity every morning.

What books are on your nightstand right now? Christine Feehan’s Dark Prince

What was the last movie you watched? The Help, it was amazing.

What are your favorite childhood memories? Leaving school every day and walking straight to the beach until my mom yelled for me to come in for supper.

Tell us about some traditions you’ve started with your kids: Every Christmas we buy a round ornament for them to put their names on and why they were thankful for the year. And every school year i must take my kids to their first day of school.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NWA? Go spend time with Christie at Caffinity if i am by myself, with the family i would have to say horseback riding.

What are your favorite hobbies? reading, crafting, making Diaper Cakes and diaper tricycles.

If you could have a vacation anywhere this fall, where would it be? I would love to go spend time in Eureka Springs or Branson. If not that then Italy lol.

Which songs are on your MP3/iPod right now? Anything and everything Reba.

If a song was written about your life, what would the title be? I actually wrote one called “Life of a Military Wife” .

One thing I have been meaning to do is: Get my teaching degree. I would love to be a reading teacher.

How do you unwind at the end of the day? Watching back episodes of Greys Anatomy i recorded.

One word to sum me up … There isn’t just one word as my hubby says.

Getting Healthy for Good: School lunch news!

By Laurie Marshall

School time! The tax-free weekend was taken advantage of, a new package of socks and two pair of sneakers were purchased for the boy-child (his first pair of Converse!) and his dad took him for a “big boy” haircut.

Time to start getting up earlier, keeping track of backpacks and papers and lunch money, and another year ahead of trying to figure out what my son can eat now that we’ve gone the gluten-free route with him. We relaxed a bit this summer since he wasn’t dealing with classroom structure during the day, but now it’s time to get back to the routine.

There’s a lot of talk about school lunches in the news lately, have you noticed? President Obama signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act last fall, thanks in large part to First Mama, Michelle’s hard work. It will provide more funds to subsidize free and reduced-cost lunches for qualified kids, and also gives the government more oversight as to what is offered in those lunches.

I’ve already noticed changes in our school – a large full-color brochure that lists all the lunch options for the month came home yesterday, and the price of a school lunch went up to $2. The options listed on the menu definitely aren’t as “nugget-like” as they were last year, so I am happy to pay the increased amount on days when there are gluten-free options.

Another recent story in the news was about a study done on lunches brought from home. Apparently, some lunches were tested to see if they were maintaining the correct temperature to deter salmonella, and the results weren’t good. They were looking at the little cooling pouches that we use in lunch bags and boxes, as well as the lunches that are kept in refrigerators at schools, and neither one of those methods were keeping foods cool enough. Since I send lunch with the boy fairly often, the story was an unwelcome surprise. I will be using TWO of those little cold pack thingies from now on…

One of my favorite stories is local. The Fayetteville Public Schools are working to include local farmers in their menu plans for local schools. I love this idea! Northwest Arkansas has such a variety of home grown food options – everything from tomatoes to apples. There is no good reason why the district couldn’t take advantage of that. I’m hoping that Springdale will start looking into something similar soon.

Finally, there are e-coli scares all over the place. Turkey from Cargill was the culprit a few weeks ago, now it’s beef from a feed lot in Dodge, Kansas. It almost makes me want to try going vegetarian… but if I did that the Hubster would starve to death in a less than a week. And I don’t know if I could live without barbecue.

Are you packing lunches this year or buying? What do you think about the federal government’s actions and local school initiatives on behalf of our kids?

Look for Laurie’s fitness tips and updates on her personal health-focused journey every other Friday on nwaMotherlode in Mom Blogs. Send questions or input to her at Or click on the comment button below and share your thoughts right now! To see previous installments of Getting Healthy for Good, click HERE.

Business Women’s Conference 2011

Do you have your ticket to the  Northwest Arkansas Business Women’s Conference? It’s on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center. Gwen and I are excited to be at a Motherlode booth again this year with an awesome giveaway, so we hope to see you there!

This is our fourth year to attend and it’s really a well-organized, energizing event. We always leave inspired and glad we went.

Remember, this is a women’s conference, so if you’re a woman, you’re invited! We know that Mercy Health will have a fabulous panel about managing stress, a topic we can all appreciate. There are lots of breakout sessions, lunch, and we can’t wait to hear keynote speaker Deborah Norville.

We spoke to Krista Khone of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce about this year’s conference:

How many women are you expecting at this year’s event? We expect over 1,200 attendees this year.

 Who can benefit from attending the conference? Anyone can benefit! We try to offer something that will be useful to all attendees no matter where you are personally, career-wise or family-wise.

Can you give readers a taste of what the event is like? I have heard the conference described as the largest, most influential gathering of women in Northwest Arkansas. But the great thing about the day is, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living, how many kids you have or what your daily demands are, everyone is there to meet new people and enjoy being around other women to share commonalities. The energy in that building is absolutely unbelievable!!

How many breakout sessions will there be this year? Hot topics? There are six different breakout sessions this year. We really went outside the box for some of the topics this year. Fraud and identity theft are extremely relevant topics right now and we have some of the region’s leading experts to talk about how you can protect yourself. Another hot topic is personal branding. We put a different spin on it this year from past years. Our focus will be on your digital branding and how what is online about you can affect your image and your career.

Tell us a little about the booths we’ll be able to visit: We have several new vendors joining us this year and several will be marketing new clothing lines. We also have some very familiar faces returning for 2011. I know everyone will be very excited to visit the Hershey’s booth (It’s rumored there will be lots of chocolate!!)

Will there be goody bags again this year? We openly admit to loving swag. Yes, of course we will have a goody bag! And the committee has outdone themselves this year; we have a record number of goody bag items and swag bag items. We have a lot of new items in the bags this year and I think everyone will be very pleased!

What do women seem to love about the conference? There’s such a spirit of camaraderie. I really like the way Gladys Knight described it a couple of years ago: we all come from different walks of life, we all have different circumstances and different struggles, but at the end of the day, we are all women and we all want to be loved, accepted and appreciated. I think for one day every year, attendees get to feel loved, accepted and appreciated.

Can you spill the beans about who will receive the ATHENA award this year? Yes, Karen Parker with the Walmart Foundation is our ATHENA Woman of the Year. If you don’t know Karen, you will by the end of the conference. What an incredible role model and servant leader!

Why do you think this conference is important for NWA business women to attend? Not only is it great for women to have the opportunity to come together one day a year to build new relationships, network and gain insight on relevant topics, it’s a day to celebrate and reenergize. It’s very powerful to see so many women in one place enjoying themselves and lifting each other up!

What are you most proud of regarding the conference? The thing I am most proud of is the way the committee works together to build an incredible event. The committee chairs work year-round to make each event bigger and better. At the conclusion of each year we always ask “what are we going to do next year?” But I never worry about that because somehow, someway, it always comes together. There is such a passion and pride of ownership with these ladies and I am always humbled and amazed at what they can do. It’s truly an honor for me to get to work with them!

For tickets or more information, contact the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce at 479-273-2841. Or click here to visit the website.