The Rockwood Files: Kindergarten shot bravery

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

I got a lesson in bravery today from a 5-year-old. Our preschooler, Kate, knew she’d need kindergarten immunizations before she could move into the elementary school big leagues this fall. Her preschool teachers have been talking about it for months now, encouraging everyone in the class to submit to kindergarten shots and earn a special toy reward from the “shot box”.

The kids who run the kindergarten shot gauntlet also get their names on a poster which proudly displays their achievement. If ever there was a good use of peer pressure, this is it.

After Kate’s best friend got her name on the kindergarten shot poster, she was in a big hurry to get hers up there, too. I, however, wasn’t in a hurry because I’ve been through kindergarten shots with her two older brothers and remember all too clearly the weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But the shots were inevitable so I took advantage of Kate’s sense of urgency. Today was the big day.

“You know what’s going to happen after you get your kindergarten shots?” I asked as we climbed into the minivan. “We’re going to go get the biggest ice cream treat you ever saw in your whole life!”

“The biggest?” she asked, wide-eyed.

“Yep, as big as you want,” I confirmed.

This seemed to help, but I could tell she was scared. I distracted her by chatting about ice cream flavors on the way to the clinic, and then we played a game of “I Spy” while we waited for the nurse to come in with the dreaded tray of syringes.

When the moment arrived, I took each of Kate’s small hands in mine and told her to squeeze extra hard. I felt her body tense as the first needle went into her upper thigh. Her face flinched harder at the second injection. But the third and last one – that was the biggie. Her face grimaced with the pain, and two tears ran down her cheek.

But then it was over. After applying three Bugs Bunny Band-Aids, the nurse released her and Kate buried her face in my shoulder as I scooped her up and hugged her tight, telling her over and over how well she had done – how brave she had been. After a few minutes, the relief washed over her and we joyfully walked out of there headed toward the biggest chocolate milkshake of her young life.

The kindergarten shots reminded me of something that’s easy to forget when I’m nervous about something and feel small and alone. Fear is the thing we all have in common. Just like that classroom full of 5-year-olds, we’re all facing something scary.

We may not be staring down the same monster, but we’re all in a stand-off with fear – a job, a scary diagnosis, a loss, a hard conversation, embarrassment, possible failure, what might happen, what might not happen.

I recently heard someone say that sometimes we have to “do things scared”. And it struck me as one of the truest things ever said. Kate didn’t wait for the fear of shots to pass. She didn’t wait for self-confidence to wash over her. She walked into the clinic anyway, squeezed my hands, shed a few tears, and came out the other side. She “did it scared”, which makes it all the more impressive that she did it at all.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” And she was right. But I would add to that bit of wisdom with this: “Do things scared, and then go have ice cream.”

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.

Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw to perform at Northwest Arkansas AMP

Woo-hoooo! Tickets go on sale TODAY at 9 a.m., mamas. The actual performance will be Sunday, June 17th at the AMP (which is temporarily located at the Washington County Fairgrounds.) Don’t waste any time snagging your tickets because we’re betting they’ll sell out quickly.

To call and order tickets, call the Walton Arts Center Box Office at 479-443-5600. Or you can click HERE to get ticket info and order online.

Tickets range in price from $22 to $77.

Colbie Caillat first grabbed our attention with her 2007 hit song “Bubbly”. It became one of the best-selling digital tracks of all time. Her second album in 2009 made it to the top of the charts and also earned two Grammy nominations. That same year, Colbie also won two Grammys for collaborations she did with Jason Mraz and Taylor Swift.

Other Colbie Caillat songs we love: “Realize,” “The Little Things” and “Lucky”

Gavin DeGraw hit the music scene in 2003. His first album went platinum, selling over a million copies and producing three hit singles. His second album in 2008 debuted at No. 1 on the digital sales chart and produced two more hit singles.

Here are some of the songs from Gavin DeGraw you know and love: “I Don’t Want to Be”, “Follow Through”, “Chariot” “In Love with a Girl” and “We Belong Together”

 

Inconceivable Mama: Blocked fallopian tube and HSG

By Inconceivable Mama

Last month I shared with you my Conceptual Plan. We’re currently in phase 2 – Timed intercourse. All I can do now is laugh at how clinical this has all become. What else can I do?

Crying and anger have gotten me nowhere. Jealousy of the 16-year-old student in my class who got pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is and is only keeping the baby because her parents are making her has gotten me nowhere. The tightening in my chest and throat when I read the baby announcements in our church bulletin has gotten me nowhere.

That leaves me to believe that if all the things that are easy to do are getting me nowhere, then it’s going to take pain and hard work to get where I want to be. No pain, no gain, right?

Having undergone countless medical tests, procedures and surgeries was a step in the right direction. The HSG I had in February clearly indicated that my left tube was blocked. The procedure was quite honestly the most painful thing I’ve ever done in my life. I was conscious but sedated during the procedure and while I cannot remember the actual pain, I remember thinking it was the worst thing I’d ever felt. Yet however painful it was, the doctor was able to successfully unblock the tube therefore increasing my probability of conceiving.

The thing that stood out to me most that day was what happened during pre-op. The nurse took my blood pressure. My reading was 120/74.  My blood pressure was excellent! Even though I hadn’t lost more than seven pounds during the last three years, I had successfully lowered my previously “high-normal” blood pressure.

This got me thinking about what else I could do to increase my health. Hubs and I have recently increased our exercise routines from three to six days a week. We’re doing strength training and cardio workouts and we’re doing them together!

In addition to the benefit of spending time together, we have found that exercising has helped us shed some of the stress and anger we feel towards our current situation. We’re also testing a gluten-free diet. Research has led me to believe that a gluten-intolerance may be a contributing factor in my inability to get pregnant.

Some days it’s hard to convince myself that skipping that brownie and doing that extra stomach crunch may help me have a child. We have become closer to each other and we’re becoming healthier. Whatever the outcome, through all the pain we’re gaining many things.

Inconceivable Mama has lived in Arkansas for 15 years and is a teacher. She and her Hubs don’t have any kids (…yet) but live on a small farm with dogs, cats, chickens and horses. She is writing anonymously for now. To read previous posts, click here.

*Photo by blmiers2 via Flickr

Northwest Arkansas Easter Egg Hunts 2012

Kiwanis Easter Eggstravaganza

Here comes Peter Cottontail!

Yes, Easter is almost here and lots of Northwest Arkansas cities are hosting egg hunts, some starting this Saturday. We rounded up some of the region’s best, but please let us know if we left anyone out. We’re happy to add an event!

Bring your cameras, kids and Easter baskets to these NWA Easter egg hunts:

Saturday, March 31 events:

4th Annual Easter Egg Round-Up, Parsons Stadium

Age groups: 4 and under; 5-7; 8-10; 11 and up. The rodeo is also partnering with For Pet’s Sake for the 1st Doggie Easter Parade following the Easter Egg Roundup.

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Parsons Stadium, Springdale

More info: Rodeo of the Ozarks site

The 3rd Annual Kiwanis Easter Eggstravaganza

Here, you’ll find 40,000 Stuffed Easter Eggs, 3 age divisions with several prize eggs in each division, FREE face painting, $1 pictures with the Easter Bunny by Birdsong Photography, Farmington Methodist Church providing 500 hot dogs & chips, Live Music Provided by Inside Out Studio’s, Games & Activities too! There will be a canned food drive for the Homeless and would appreciate any donations. If postponed due to weather decision will be made at 10 am and rescheduled for the following Saturday 1-3 pm

Time: 1 to 3 pm

Location: Williams Elementary School on Broyles Rd. in Farmington.

More info: Like Farmington Easter Eggstravaganza on Facebook for more details or call 479-236-7196. Farmington Schools and Farmington Kiwanis.

Rogers Mayor’s 2012 Easter Egg Hunt

Boys and Girls ages 0-8 are invited to participate. Prizes awarded in 3 age groups. Register one of 3 ways: on the city website; by calling the City of Rogers, 631—0336 * 631—3350 * 621—1117 *; or on site from 2—2:45 pm

Time: 3 p.m.

Location: Veteran’s Park, Rogers

More info: City of Rogers site

Hershey’s Easter Egg Hunt

Proceeds from this event benefit the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter, so to Hershey’s, we say a big, “Thanks!” Bring your camera and your Easter basket (not provided at the hunt) and join us for activities including: search for thousands of eggs filled with Hershey’s chocolates and candy, hundreds of Golden Ticket Eggs (redeemable for valuable prizes), a Bunny Hop, coloring area, face-painting, crafts and games, Hershey Kiss and Reese’s characters, and a special appearance by the Easter Bunny!

Time: 3-4pm

Location: Orchards Park (Bentonville)

More Info: $3 Individual/$5 Family (Suggested donation.) http://nwacs.org

April 1 event:

Easter at the Boys & Girls Club of Fayetteville is open to the public. There will be 16,000 eggs for kids ages 2 to 11 (4 age divisions) to hunt. In addition to egg hunting, there will be games, coloring and face painting booths, frisbee golf and climbing wall for $1.

Time: 3 p.m.

Location: The Donald W. Reynolds Boys & Girls Club of Fayetteville (Rupple Road)

More info: Call 442-9242

April 7 events:

8th Annual Easter Egg Hunt, Bella Vista Village

There will be 10,000 plastic eggs filled with candy and prizes for children 12 and younger. Parents may take pictures of their children with the Easter Bunny before and after the egg hunt. A free carnival with an Easter basket raffle will immediately follow the egg hunt. Tickets, limited to the first 250 children are available at Riordan Hall.

Time: 10 am

Location: Riordan Hall (map)

More Info: www.BellaVistaPOA.com Call (479) 855-5073

2nd Annual NWA helicopter drop

A FREE family event! 30,000 Plastic Easter Eggs; 30,000 Prizes; 1500 Golden Ticket Prizes; 3 Age-Graded Fields; 1 HELICOPTER; A prize in every egg!; Over 1500 Golden Ticket Prizes! Golden Ticket Prizes include:  Chocolate Eggs…PEZ…Hershey Bars …Gift Certificates for Free Helicopter Rides…. and more. Everyone must register to participate. Go to www.NWAEggDrop.com for more information and to print the registration form.

Time: 10:00 – 11:00

Location: First Baptist Church, 3364 W. Pleasant Grove Road, Rogers

More info: www.NWAEggDrop.com

Fayetteville Egg Drop

Fayetteville’s first ever Helicopter Easter Egg Drop. This is a free event opened to all children up through 6th Grade. Pathway Baptist Church is providing 15,000 candy-filled eggs that will be dropped over the Gary Hampton Softball Complex (next to Holcomb Elementary).

Time: 2-3 p.m.

Location: Gary Hampton Softball Comples

More info: Visit www.FayettevilleEggDrop.com for more information and to preregister your kids.

April 8 event:

War Eagle Mill Easter Celebration

The fun starts at 2 p.m. and goes until 4 p.m.  Crafts and activities for children of all ages. There will be candy, prizes and chances to earn “Bunny Money” to spend at War Eagle Mill.

Time: 2-4 p.m.

Location: War Eagle Mill

For more info: Contact Tammy Bennett at tammy@wareaglemill.com

Sponsor Spotlight: Ozark Natural Foods

Ozark Natural Foods is our new Mealtime Mama sponsor and we wanted to introduce this fabulous local gem to Motherlode readers.

Obviously, many of you already know about — and take advantage of — this great cooperative which offers a huge selection of natural and organic foods and products to Northwest Arkansas and beyond. (Not to mention the fabulous deli where you can find healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options.)

We asked Alexa McGriff, marketing director at ONF, a few questions so you could get to know the co-op a little better:

How exactly does the Ozark Natural Foods Co-op work?

ONF is a cooperative grocery store, which means that everyone can shop at our store, and anyone can become an owner. Ownership is $20/year for 7 years, or a total payment of $140. Click here to read more about being an owner or to purchase an ownership online. You can also sign up in person at the Owner Services Desk at ONF.

What are the advantages of becoming an “owner”?

When you are an owner, you get 90-100 extra discounts per month that other guest shoppers do not receive. There are 3 owner appreciation weekends per year where you receive 10% off your entire purchase, plus an extra 10% off cases. Owners also get to vote on any changes to our Bylaws, and vote for our Board members each year. They can also run for the Board.

Each owner also receives The Nutshell, the Co-op’s monthly newsletter distributed to every owner. You can sign up to receive the newsletter electronically. Go green!

Are there any special events/incentives for moms and kids at ONF?

Yes! We have a Co-op Kids program for kids. It’s free to join, and you can get a membership card at the Owner Services Desk.

You get a free piece of fruit every time you visit the store, and we also have events throughout the year for kids. We have a monthly activity sheet they can fill out and enter to win a prize each month! The Co-op Kids mascot is Ronnie Raccoon.

What kinds of unique foods/products can moms find there?

Items that are free of harmful chemicals, additives, etc. that can harm people, especially young children. Organics are a great way to go, and our produce section is 100% organically grown.

What’s available at the ONF deli?

We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at the deli. We are the only place in town with an all organic latte. The breakfast burritos are served all day. We also have a hot bar and salad bar. Choose from all-natural meat and wild-caught seafood, healthy vegan and vegetarian dishes, great side dishes, and fresh salads. We also have soup, pizza, sandwiches, wraps and a bakery (look for the delicious vegan chocolate cake).

CLICK HERE for a full deli listing.

How often are you able to use the food produced by local farmers?

Our Deli tries to purchase all of their produce from our Produce section, and a lot of it is local. We try to purchase as much local product as possible. We support over 70 local producers who sell over 200 products in our store.

Does ONF help out a different NWA organization every month with donations, etc.? How can I get involved?

Yes we do! We have 2 boxes at each register for different non-profits that customers can donate to called Community Share. We also donate to different organizations monthly through our donation program, and a form can be filled out to request that here: http://www.ozarknaturalfoods.com/resources/donations/

Life with Ladybug: A slave to pets

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama and pet parent

I’m back home after dropping my daughter off at school in the morning and I walk over to my computer.

I’m itching to get to work. I have stories to write, clients to call and social media to appreciate.

As soon as my butt hits the office chair, the family poodle prances over, sits at my feet and stares up at me. I quickly glance down and we lock eyes. Her chocolate eyes are begging. She wants to go outside.

She sits perfectly still, but keeps staring. Staring. She’s trying to put me in a trance.

“You’re getting sleepier and sleepier. Now get up and go open the refrigerator. Find that mesquite-flavored turkey breast from dinner last night and offer some to the faithful dog. Now walk over to the door and open it. The dog will bounce outside and you’ll wake up when you hear the storm door bang shut behind her.”

I obviously can’t think properly while trying to ignore the staring, which means I can’t write, make calls or surf. I get up and let her go out. We skip the turkey.

I sit back down and write maybe three sentences before the boy cat jumps on my desk and clumsily drapes himself across my keyboard. I give him an affectionate pat, a few kind words and scoop him up. By the time I sit down again, he’s already back on the table, like a furry ninja. This time he’s settles near my computer, not on top of it, so I get back to work.

Just as I jump over to Twitter, the girl cat decides she’s really, really hungry.

“Meow?” “MeOW?” ME-OW?”

I get up, go into my daughter’s room and pour some dry cat food into the bowl.

(Why didn’t my daughter do this before she left for school? What am I teaching that kid about responsibility? Where did I put that chore chart? We haven’t talked allowance is forever. We’re so hit and miss. Oh no. I bet she put food in the bowl and the dog ate it before the cat could get to it. The vet said it’s bad for dogs to eat cat food. Too much protein. This dog needs to live a long, long time. We’ll be devastated when she dies. Ladybug would be … let’s see if she lives for 15 years. Ten, 11, 12. Oh my gosh. I can’t think about that right now. That is such a depressing thought.)

Knock.

KnockKnock.

It’s the dog. Sitting at the door. She sits and imperiously knocks with her paw. “Open the door now,” the taps demand. “I am DONE with my squirrel-chasin’ out here, woman. And it has done got HOT. Open the bloomin’ door!”

*Sigh*

To review, I’m getting no work-work done, but I’m doing a fabulous job serving as pet butler.

Many doors opened and closed and cat cuddles later, it’s time to race over to school and pick up Ladybug.

When she hops into the car, she immediately launches into a story about how she thought about rabbits all day – even drew some all over her homework and in art class.

“Wouldn’t it be fun to have a rabbit?” she asks.

“Absolutely not,” I say. No. Just no.

Shannon Magsam is mom to 10-year-old Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-creator of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of Life With Ladybug, click here.

 

Math tutoring website helps kids and parents, too

You have no idea how happy I was when I found out about this website from a report on 60 Minutes. My kids are in elementary school and I’m already having trouble helping them with their math homework. It’s very, very humbling, not to mention frustrating, when I honestly can’t remember how to do some of the stuff I supposedly learned in grade school.

So… if you’re like me and find yourself stumped by some of the math homework, check this out. It’s called Khan Academy and it’s a FREE non-profit website where math wizards have recorded thousands of video tutorials that will refresh your math memory and also help your kids understand math concepts. (I’m going to start watching the videos with my kids.) It starts with basic arithmetic and goes all the way up to very advanced, complex mathematical problems including calculus.

During the report by 60 Minutes, they said Bill Gates uses this website to help his kids understand their math homework. I don’t know about you, but if it’s good enough for Bill’s kids, I’d say it’s good enough for mine, too.

Some schools in California are actually using this website in the classroom to improve students’ math performance. It’s a fascinating new way to look at education. If you have time, watch the report about this site on 60 Minutes by clicking here. Pretty exciting, inspiring stuff.

Here’s an example of one of the tutoring videos. I picked one on “multiplying fractions” so you can see how well the teacher explains the concept. Click HERE to see it.

When you go to the site, click the “watch a video” button and then choose a subject. For elementary kids, you’ll want to scroll down to the arithmetic sections. Hope this helps you and your kids during homework time. Bookmark it so you’ll have it for next fall, too!

You gotta see this video: The most patient, laid-back cat in the world

As moms, don’t you wish we all had this kind of patience all the time? Enjoy.

Easter traditions in Northwest Arkansas

Only 10 days to go until Easter. Can you believe it? It’s coming up fast, and we’re finding so many cute things to put in the kids’ Easter baskets this year.

Speaking of baskets, we did the coolest thing last month when we were at the Blissdom bloggers conference in Nashville. Hershey’s was one of the Blissdom sponsors and they had a booth set up, manned by none other than the Easter Bunny himself. Here’s a shot of us and Peter Cottontail. Cute, isn’t he?

After rubbing elbows with the Bunny, we made our own Easter baskets at these computer kiosks set up by Hershey’s. We each selected a basket color and then filled it with our choice of favorite candies and chocolates.

I put a solid milk chocolate bunny in mine, as well as Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, Hershey’s Cookies & Creme Eggs, Jolly Rancher Sour Bunnies and Cadbury Mini-Eggs candy. Hershey’s is shipping these baskets to us, and they’re scheduled to arrive today. Woo-hoo! If all goes according to plan, we’ll be in a lovely, chocolate-induced coma by mid-afternoon.

Chocolate is definitely part of our tradition, but there are so many fun things we love about Easter. At the Rockwood house, we love dyeing the Easter eggs about a week before the big day. (Do any other mamas out there have a little trouble backing off and letting the kids decorate the eggs however they want? The control freak in me wants to dictate how long the egg stays in the cup so we can achieve that perfect shade of turquoise blue… but I digress.)

The kids also love racing to the living room on Easter morning to see what surprises the Bunny may have left for them. Then we get down to the business of hunting eggs. That crafty Easter bunny is quite a good egg hider. We find them nestled among the flowers, tucked into the fork of a tree, just inside the drain pipe, in the mailbox, behind the flower pot. They’re everywhere!

And if it happens to rain on Easter, we don’t worry because everybody knows that the Easter Bunny has a magical “master key” that opens all doors so he can hop on inside and hide eggs in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms. You might even find one hiding inside your shoe when it’s time to go to church.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Easter if Mom didn’t force at least one group photo. This isn’t the kids’ favorite part of the day, but the Easter photo is a must. (Click here for a few tips from a professional photographer on how to get a great shot this year.)

After church, it’s all about the Easter ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, hot buttered rolls, a strawberry dessert. Jeesh… I’m hungry just writing about it.

This year and every year, we look forward to Easter because it’s the “Mother” of all holidays. It’s the one that makes all other good things possible because it symbolizes the resurrection, forgiveness, hope, joy and the promise of eternal life. Does it get any better than that?

In a recent post, we asked many of you to share your family’s Easter traditions with us and we loved reading about them. If you missed that post, click HERE to read about the fun Easter traditions which will be in full swing in Northwest Arkansas in only 10 days.

And if you’re in need of some cute Easter basket ideas this year or fun crafts to do with the kids leading up to the holiday, click HERE to check out the Hershey’s website which is chock full of fun ideas for mamas and their little chicks. We love this Hershey’s Flower Pot Bouquet Craft. It would look so cute as a table centerpiece. Click HERE for details on how to make it.

 

Beauty Buzz: Correcting — and beautifying — with color

By Andi Douglas, nwaMotherlode beauty editor

As a visual learner, a lot of beauty advice doesn’t always resonate with me without a frame of reference. Enter the color wheel. I’ve seen a lot of references to using the color wheel as a beauty tool lately and it boils down to one rule: opposites work together.

Start with concealer.
If you need to cover a red spot, use green concealer (that’s what the weird green stuff is for). Those pesky circles under your eyes are often tinged with a bluish hue, so concealer with an orange tint will lighten them. Beige concealer looks muddy when mixed with all of the competing colors.
Once you learn how to take all of the unwanted color out of your face, let’s put some back in.
Spring is the perfect time to play with new colors. To make your natural eye color pop, go across the wheel when picking out your shadow and liner. Opposite colors enhance each other and make them appear brighter.
In an attempt to make my bloodshot allergy eyes less red, I decided to try green eyeliner. Sadly, it didn’t do much for the redness, but I did stumble upon a pretty new hue. Bright colored eye shadow is not my style, so colored liner is a fun way to brighten my eyes.
I accented with a rosy shadow (opposite green on the color wheel) and kept the rest of my makeup simple.
For blush, it is important to determine if you have cool or warm undertones.
Look at the inside of your arm. If your veins are blue, you’re cool; if they are green or yellow, you’re warm. Still not sure? Cool coloring is more common so it’s a safe bet that you are too. Cool tones wear pink blush, warm tones can handle red or orange.
Okay, I’m surprisingly jazzed right now after staring at the color wheel for so long. I see a trip to Ulta in my near future!

Giveaway: Spring Carpet Cleaning for the WHOLE house!

In case you missed it, the official first day of spring was last week. What’s that you say? You say you did NOT get all your spring cleaning projects done on that first day of spring? Well, neither did we. And guess what? This week’s giveaway will do some of that spring cleaning for you. Because we’re giving away a WHOLE HOUSE carpet cleaning, courtesy of our favorite professional carpet cleaner — Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning. Woo-hoooo for clean carpets!

We’ve both had our carpets cleaned by Matt Lane of Heaven’s Best, and he is pretty amazing. You may remember that he even managed to heal some carpet spots in my kids’ playroom that I swore would NEVER go away. (Click here to see that post.) I’m happy to admit I was wrong. Matt made the stubborn spots go away.

Another thing we particularly like about this service is that the carpets don’t stay wet all day. I was able to walk on mine after about an hour or so. And the smell is nice — kind of a fresh, citrus smell. Safe for kids and pets, too.

If you’ve ever had your carpets professionally cleaned, you know that having the entire house done is a BIG deal — as in hundreds of dollars “big deal”. So we want to say thank you to Matt at Heaven’s Best for the generous offering. He is a fellow parent, so he understands how much moms appreciate clean floors.

Heaven’s Best is also going to do a carpet cleaning for the big Mother’s Day giveaway package coming up in May. If you haven’t heard about that one, click HERE to see the post and throw your name in the hat. In addition to the carpet cleaning, that giveaway package also includes a spa day, closet organizing, shopping spree, dinner at Bordinos and lots more.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the hat for this drawing, click the orange comment button below and tell us what you love about the spring. More daylight hours? Warm temps? Tulips? The smell of cut grass? (After a very rainy spring break week, we are loving the sunshine!)

Remember that winners are always chosen at RANDOM. You can also email your answer to giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS: If you really want some freshly cleaned carpets this spring, you can increase your odds of winning and it’s easy to do. Just email your friends/family about the giveaway and we’ll give you an extra chance to win for each person you tell. Just be sure to put giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com on the CC line of your email so we can give you proper credit.

If you can’t wait another second to get your carpets cleaned, here’s Matt Lane’s contact info. His number is 479-427-9800. Or click here to see the Heaven’s Best website. Good luck in the drawing, and happy Spring!

 

MomTalk on Motherlode: Surprises about motherhood

Look, mamas! We dreamed up a new video feature for the website, and we’re asking local moms to answer the big questions, like this one: “What has surprised you most about motherhood?”

Click the play arrow below to see four Northwest Arkansas moms answer it. (We met these four amazing, funny mamas at a bloggers retreat last summer. You can check out their blogs by clicking here: Fawn at Instead of the Dishes.com; Heidi at  The Busy Nothings.com; LaTonya at LaTonyaRichardson.com; and Stephanie at The Park Wife.com.)

Mealtime Mama: Make the perfect springtime meal courtesy local cooking coach Jen Lewis

Recipes by Jen Lewis

Jen Lewis teaches cooking/entertaining classes at the design studio Whiteline Designs. She teaches cocktail/appetizer demonstration classes, 3-course meal classes with wine pairings and private parties.

We’ve seen Jen in action and she’s a natural in the kitchen and as a hostess extraordinaire. She loves teaching groups and her classes would be a perfect Girls’ Night Out activity. “Like” Jen on Facebook at “Jen’s Art of Cooking” Or call 871-4139 for more info.

Feta & Herb Stuffed Shrimp

  • 4 ozs crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 ozs cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives or green onions
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ t ground black pepper
  • 24 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
  • 12 slices of prosciutto – cut in half
  • ½ head red cabbage, shredded
  • 4 cups spinach leaves
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze (for garnish)

Makes 24 Stuffed Shrimp

Preparation:

Whiteline Designs, 188 E. Township, Suite 2, Fayetteville

In a small bowl combine the feta cheese, cream cheese, parsley, chives or green onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well, using your hands to combine thoroughly.

Cut the shrimp along the back to “butterfly”, cutting about ½ inch deep. Spread the shrimp open and stuff 1 teaspoon of the filling into each shrimp.  Wrap shrimp with the proscuitto.  Place on a broiler pan or cookie sheet.  This recipe can be made several hours ahead up to this point.  Just place in refrigerator until ready to cook.

Preheat broiler and broil the shrimp 6 inches from the heat source until the shrimp is cooked through.  About 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Place shredded cabbage and spinach leaves on a serving platter to make a bed of greens for the shrimp.  Place cooked shrimp on the greens, cheese side up, and drizzle with balsamic.

Rack of Lamb with Fresh Mint, Golden Raisin & Pine Nut Relish

  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, plumped in hot water for at least 10 minutes and drained
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 racks of lamb (8 ribs and 1 to 1-1/2 lb. each), frenched and at room temperature

Preparation:

In a small bowl, combine the mint, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir in 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Season the lamb well on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Working in batches if necessary, sear the lamb racks on all sides until well browned, about 5 minutes per batch. Put the browned racks bone side down on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reads 125° to 130°F for rare to medium rare, 20 to 25 minutes, or 135° to 140°F for medium rare to medium, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the lamb rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing it into chops.

Serve the chops on the same plate as the cucumber, fennel and roasted potato salad with some of the mint relish spooned around the meat.

*Adapted from a recipe on FineCooking.com

Carmelized Banana Tartlets with Bittersweet Chocolate Port Sauce

Crust

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, ground
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Filling

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 6 medium-size slightly under-ripe bananas, peeled, each cut on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons warm water, divided
  • 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream
  • Bittersweet Chocoloate-Port Sauce (see below)

Preparation

For crust:
 Using electric mixer, beat first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Add flour; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Press 1 piece evenly onto bottom and up sides of each of six 4 1/2-inch-diameter tartlet pans with removable bottoms. Bake crusts until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Cool crusts completely in pans on rack. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

For filling:
 Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to brown. Add half of bananas to skillet in single layer; cook until bananas brown on bottom, about 45 seconds. Using thin spatula, turn slices over; sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar evenly over bananas. Cook until sugar dissolves and turns golden, occasionally swirling pan, about 3 minutes. Turn banana slices over; add 3 tablespoons warm water and continue cooking until caramel thickens slightly, swirling pan, about 2 minutes. Arrange banana slices in each of 3 tartlet crusts; spoon any caramel from skillet over. Clean skillet, then repeat procedure with remaining butter, bananas, sugar, and water. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand uncovered at room temperature. Warm in 350°F oven 10 minutes before continuing recipe.)

Top each tartlet with scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle each tartlet with Bittersweet Chocolate-Port Sauce and serve.

Chocolate Port Sauce

Port Sauce

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tawny Port

Preparation

Bring whipping cream, whole milk, and unsalted butter to simmer in small heavy saucepan. Remove saucepan from heat and add chopped chocolate. Whisk mixture until smooth. Stir in tawny Port. (Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Warm over medium-low heat.)

Mealtime Mama is sponsored by Ozark Natural Foods, Northwest Arkansas’ natural-foods co-op. ONF is owned by a community of more than 8,000 investors.  Click here to purchase  your part of the community. The co-op offers natural and organic products plus they have a large deli with a wide range of healthy ideas for lunch and dinner. Catering is available and they also have vegan options.

We love that ONF has all kinds of unique products — not just healthy food. For those of us suffering from allergies right now, they have this — Emerald Laboratories Allergy Health. It can be found in the Wellness department in the Specific Conditions section. It is vegan as well as 100 percent additive and irradiation free. It is also free of: gluten, corn, milk, soy, salt, sugar, wheat, yeast, and artificial colors and preservatives.

Call 479-521-7558 or click here to visit the ONF website.


Devotion in Motion: On dried fruit and moderation

¶ Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit.  Proverbs 25:16 (NKJV)

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

Today in the elementary school cafeteria, one of the menu choices was a little plastic cup of dried fruit. I always pick up one of these to eat with my lunch whenever I get the chance. Something I’ve noticed, though, is that nobody else ever picks one up. I’m always the only person in the whole lunchroom eating the little chunks of dried cranberries, raisins and dates. I don’t think the kids have any idea what the stuff is. (Truth be told, the mixture does look a bit like something you might dip out of a litter box.) Maybe more kids would take the little cups of dried fruit if their teachers showed a Powerpoint presentation about the virtues of the raisin and date industry, and the lunchroom ladies put up a big sign that said “DRIED FRUIT HERE.”

I don’t know many people who like dried fruit. I like it, but, then again, I was born without a sense of smell. The next time you read through the Bible, take notice that the people in the Scriptures were very different from us when it came to raisins and dates. They loved them, and they considered them a delicacy — perhaps because cane sugar hadn’t been invented yet. Without a doubt, if Moses had had a steady supply of M&M’s and Skittles, he would have thrown his dates and raisins behind one of the pyramids when nobody was looking.

After lunch today, I was curious about the origin of government-sanctioned dried fruit so I went to ask one of the lunchroom ladies. I asked her if it came shipped in 50-pound cans or in 55-gallon drums. She said it actually came packaged in 10-pound plastic bags. I tried to exhort her not to be discouraged that not many kids chose the little plastic cups of dried fruit. “I like it a lot” I said. “Besides, it’s probably just as well that the kids don’t eat it. It’s awfully sweet. If they ate the whole serving. they’d probably go into insulin shock. I mainly eat the dried cranberries and raisins and just a few of the dates. And if they finished the whole three tablespoons, they might get a stomachache. It’s kind of like eating prunes on steroids.”

In dried fruit (and many, many other things in life) moderation is the best practice. Today’s Scripture verse (at the top) uses honey as an example of how too much of a good thing can make you very sick. My father always quoted the adage, “Moderation is the key” and his life was very productive and balanced — something I’m always striving to imitate. This week, let’s ask the Lord to help us have the right priorities as we strive to do all that is pleasing to Him. Perhaps St. Paul says it best: “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phillipians 5:4, KJV)

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 the folks prefer to eat fresh peaches.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to jcash@scott.k12.ms.us.

The Rockwood Files: In-flight fishing

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

I watched a man fish today at 30,000 feet above the Earth. He was sitting across the aisle one row ahead of me on an airplane heading for home.

Wearing tiny white earbud headphones connected to an iPhone, he fished for nearly an hour on his lake in the sky. I don’t typically stare at strangers on a plane, but he was hard to miss because he kept making a dramatic casting motion with his phone, which flung his imaginary line out into the water. Then he slowly traced his thumb in a circle against the phone’s touchscreen to reel the line back in again, slow and easy.

I bet he could hear the “click-click-click” of the fly wheel in his headphones and maybe the gentle sloshing of water against his hip waders. I wonder if he felt the line go taut and quiver under the weight of his imaginary trout.

The airplane fisherman was a middle-aged businessman in a tan sport coat and light blue dress shirt, but the way he cast his pretend fishing pole reminded me of a 5-year-old boy embroiled in a pretend sword fight. I don’t know how many fish he caught as we hurtled through the sky, but I certainly couldn’t blame him for pretending to be anywhere but on that plane.

After all, fly fishing might actually be fun. Airline flying is most decidedly not. Air travel is exhausting, and if you’re one of those people who must do it for work on a regular basis – well, I’m sorry. And I admire your fortitude. Perhaps you should look into a good fly fishing app.

The tediousness of air travel begins long before the airport. You can’t throw things in a bag and take off. You must pour your liquids into tiny approved bottles and store them in a sandwich bag that can be passed through security scanners. But is hair mousse a liquid? What about toothpaste? Creams? Ointments? It’s so confusing.

If you somehow manage to pack according to regulations, you’ll have an easier time going through security, but you’ll still get the distinct feeling that you now know how cows feel during a cattle drive. You and your fellow cows must hoist your carry-on bags onto the conveyor belt, take off your shoes, and form lines in front of the metal detector, all of you praying the same traveler’s prayer – “Please don’t let it beep. Please don’t let it beep.” Because if it beeps, you’ll be herded to the pat-down area where cows receive a less-than-friendly frisking. Nobody wants to be that cow.

Even if you don’t feel like a cow, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up looking like one if you spend much time in airports. I was amazed at the number of hot dog counters, Cinnabons and Ben & Jerry outlets lining the concourse of three different airports. But after a long flight, a fast trek through the airport carrying a heavy bag followed by a boarding delay for the connecting flight, I wanted a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream fix more than oxygen itself.

Still, despite all the hassles, I’m amazed by flying. Sitting on the runway looking out at the enormous jets poised for take-off, I’m always stunned by the sheer possibility of it. How did humankind – the same species who came up with spray-on hair and Jersey Shore – figure out how to get a 400-ton metal giant with wings into the air and make it soar over oceans and across continents? It’s a technological miracle.

But still, I’d rather be fishing.

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.

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