Life with Ladybug: The summer ‘bucket list’

By Shannon Magsam

Do you ever get to the end of summer and realize you never did all that stuff you planned to do? The stuff you wanted to do? And then do you try to cram it all in to the last few weeks before school starts again? Camp! Swim! Take a road trip to Kansas City!

I do.

That’s why this year we came up with a summer bucket list. And the list is actually written on wooden clothes pins and attached to a small silver bucket. See?

This idea was a mashup from the outside of a Chick-fil-A kid’s meal bag and an article in Better Homes and Gardens. My husband and I were at Meiji having sushi and Ladybug was eating her Chick-fil-A. We normally don’t do that – especially now that she’s 10 – but she didn’t want sushi. To her credit, she tried it, though.

Anyway, we were reading the back of her Chick-fil-A bag and saw the idea for using clothes pins to write the things you want to do in the summer. You clip them around a jar or container and toss them inside after you’ve done what’s on the clothes pin.

Later that night I was reading my new Better Homes and Gardens and there was an article about deciding on a summer bucket list. Ladybug and I just combined the concepts.

I let her write on all the clothes pins. She wrote some activities several times like swimming and camping. There are also plans for a spa day (meaning we make homemade scrubs, soak our feet, paint each others’ fingernails, etc); taking a road trip in a rented RV (I had to say I didn’t think that one would happen); plant berry bushes at my parents’ farm; sleepovers with best friends; ice cream; plant a “family tree”; catch butterflies; catch fireflies; picnic in the park; dance in the rain; and make a kite.

Sounds like a pretty good summer to me.

I’ll have to weave some work in there, but I bet we can do most of those activities over the course of the next few months. Mostly, I want to be intentional about how we spend our days. Even if the only intention that day is catching butterflies.

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


Inside His Head: Can men and women have “platonic” relationships?

When we ask moms about their favorite Motherlode features, they often mention “Inside His Head”. It’s just downright interesting (and often entertaining) to see what’s going on in there because heavens know we’re often stumped. Yes, we know they feel the same way about us sometimes, right?. We love receiving questions from NWA mamas, so feel free to send us your most perplexing questions and we’ll pass them on to the guys for their advice.

Here’s a really sticky one right now:

Q: My husband is good friends with a particular co-worker who happens to be a woman. They often go to lunch together and she even gives him little gifts. He says married men and women can have “platonic” relationships – and I’m sure some can – but I think this is probably a bad idea. Am I being ridiculous?

GRAY: In all likelihood you are being ridiculous, ridiculous not to lock him out of the house, perhaps, but ridiculous nonetheless.

Platonic relationships? Sure, men and women can be friendly, but I don’t buy that a married man would be spending that much time with a woman if he didn’t have a different agenda.

It’s not that we can’t be friends with women, but a married man has to have a sense of propriety and, frankly, ought to know better than to hang around another woman so frequently as to have his own wife guessing at the honesty of the relationship. Aside from the moral aspects, there’s an ethical question too. A “friendship” like this can get the rumor mill at an office going and it’s seldom for the betterment of the people being talked about. And the gifts? No way, Jose!

During my life I’ve had the pleasure of working in the same office as my wife on three occasions, and at no time did we exchange a single gift during work. It’s not that we’re unromantic, but work was work and play was play. If another woman is sending your husband home with presents there’s something rotten going on.

Perhaps it would be clearer if you reversed the roles. Would you really accept it if your husband were buying her little gifts? Doesn’t really matter if money was no object, does it? Same holds true both ways.

The whole situation sounds too much like an affair in the making. One should call upon the immortal words of Barney Fife and nip this problem in the bud!

MAVERICK: No, he is being ridiculous, or he’s stoking his ego, or he’s cheating. Men can have platonic relationships with women, it does happen, and  there are some men who can be good friends with a member of the opposite sex, even those they find attractive. They are a rare breed, though. Is your husband a rare man?

And when I say friends I mean friends – a confidant, a pal, a companion, not somebody you say “hello” to in the hall or you happen to know the name of her kids. The danger is, if a man likes a woman, enjoys her company (so much so that they become close enough to be friends) well, it’s likely he is or will become attracted to her at some point. It’s sorta how men work.

It’s not good for a guy to admit he’s even seen this movie, but in the film When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal pretty much hits the nail on the head when he says a man can’t be friends with a woman he finds attractive because he always end up wanting to have sex with her. Meg Ryan disagrees. That’s because she’s not a man.

What you describe here is a pretty intimate relationship. They eat together. They spend time together, apparently because they enjoy each other. Even if they’ve not gone over the line already, it’s just too dangerous to ignore. Also, even if he is an innocent, if dopey, by-stander — in this you note she is giving him little gifts. This is a clear sign that she, at least, is becoming invested in the relationship.

I’d suggest putting your foot down and telling him to quit placing himself in this compromising position before something happens. If you explain why the situation bothers you, note her apparent interest in him via the gifts and ask him if he’d enjoy it if you had a similar relationship with another man, he should eventually agree with you. If not, wait a bit and fall back to Maverick’s patented advice: Hire a good detective and see what he’s really up to.

JON: No you’re not being ridiculous. All people have the right to express their feelings. I share your concerns. If you haven’t expressed the level of your discomfort and concerns to your spouse, do so. While I do believe that men and women can have platonic relationships, I see two problems with the relationship as you describe it.

First, you are uncomfortable. I remember an incident that occurred shortly after I was first married that is somewhat similar. I was a bartender and was asked to dance at a bachelorette party in the back room of the restaurant.  I did, got paid $100, and when I got home told my wife and gave her the money. She was furious. She felt I had crossed a line. I thought I had done nothing wrong, but out of respect for her feelings, I never did anything similar again.

Secondly, I believe your husband is in a compromised position. Some of the best marital advice I ever received was that it is impossible to be unfaithful if you are never in the position where it could occur. I know many churches that enact policies regarding male and female contact in hopes of eliminating both temptation and opportunity.

I believe it is possible to be unfaithful in ways that are not physical. Some choose drink, others work, and still others choose games of chance or other proclivities. People can have only one number one thing in their lives. No spouse or child would feel comfortable being outranked by others.

On the other hand, I would advise that you seriously evaluate your own insecurities. How much of this stems from past wounds of your own? I believe we must always evaluate our past hurts and insecurities and how they affect present perceptions. Am I mad at my wife for what she said or is it because the way she said it made me feel like a small boy chastised by his mother?

I have many female friends at work. We regularly joke, text, and laugh. The difference is my wife is included and often even recruits my female co-workers to persuade me on a variety of issues. She is not excluded and uncomfortable, but rather a regular participant in our discussions, jokes, and activities.

Fleet Feet’s new summer dresses plus sale items, too!

We love it when practical meets pretty! And these new Prana dresses at Fleet Feet Sports in Fayetteville are the perfect combo of pretty and practical because they’re made of performance fabric which means they’ll be forgiving even in intense summer heat and the cut and fabric are designed to move with you.

Some moms abandon dresses altogether when they’re chasing after active kids, but this is the kind of dress that’s perfect for a mom who has to be quick on her feet to keep up with toddlers or lightning-fast preschoolers in the park. And look how cute it is!

You could wear it to play in the front yard, to lunch with a friend or out on a dinner date with the hubby. Love this dress. It’ll be perfect with summer wedges, strappy sandals and flip-flops, too.

While you’re shopping for a cute summer dress, be sure to also check out the sale on Fleet Feet’s socks. Now through June 17th, you can get Thorlo Experia socks in a “buy one get one half-off” deal. If you’re one of those people who thinks that “socks are socks”, then trust us when we tell you some socks truly are different. These Thorlo socks are amazing and, if you don’t believe it, then Google a few of their customer reviews. That ought to convince you.

Here’s a picture of the Thorlo socks on sale, so you’ll know what to look for when you’re out shopping. But don’t worry because the people at Fleet Feet are big on customer service, which means someone WILL be sure to ask if you need anything specific and make sure you find what you’re looking for. (We hate wandering around a store where no one seems to care if you’re there or not. Fleet Feet does NOT disappoint when it comes to personal attention.)

Remember, too, that you can get your kids some great athletic shoes while you’re at Fleet Feet, and you’ll have lots of help making sure that they are fitted properly. These guys take shoe fit seriously and have turned it into a science. You’ll see what we mean when you get there and meet the fit specialists who work at Fleet Feet. For more info on the sale or the new dresses, call Fleet Feet Sports at 479-571-8786, or swing by the store in Fayetteville. Click here for directions. Enjoy and happy shopping!

Tweens & Teens: Top four reasons why teens misbehave

By Dr. Billy Jones, psychologist with Mercy Health 

A few weeks ago, this website asked a question in an online quiz that went like this: “Which of the following behaviors would bother you most if you noticed it in your child?” The possible answers were “bad grades, bad hygiene, bad friends, or bad manners.” The winner was “bad friends” by a pretty wide margin, which confirms that most parents worry about their kid falling in with the “wrong crowd.”

I believe that, in order for us to understand people, we must enter their world. We need to be able to think like them, though not necessarily act like them. We’ve already acted like them, so let’s not do that again!  We’ve got to think about hanging out with the wrong crowd from a teenager’s point of view.

Teenagers (and really all children) will misbehave for 4 primary reasons: 

  • Power
  • Attention
  • Inadequacy
  • Revenge

I remember this by the acronym P.A.I.R.  For now, let’s talk about “Attention.”  Everybody wants it, and some are willing to go to great lengths to get it.  If teenagers don’t get the attention they need, then they WILL misbehave in order to get it.  After all, negative attention is better than no attention at all. (Yes, I know you have heard this before, but it IS true).

The teenage years are awkward for everyone — puberty, pimples, dating, and wanting freedom from your parents but deep inside being scared to death of it. We’re also trying to find out who we are and social interaction is how we begin this process. We do this by comparing ourselves to others. This is why teenagers can be so superficial and want the most expensive thing they see, especially clothing. We want to get attention from others, and clothing is the first thing people see.

As parents, we’ve got to teach our children how to get attention without going through such superficial measures. But, not all parents are up to the job. (Not all of them bother to read articles like this designed to help them understand teenagers.)  So if teenagers can’t get positive attention from their parents, they turn to their friends. If they can’t get it from friends, they turn to whoever is left over. This is how many gangs are formed.

Teenagers have somehow learned how to use “the Force” or some sort of “Old Jedi Mind Trick” (Star Wars analogy in case you’re wondering) to find someone who will give them the attention they feel can meet their needs. And there you have it…the “wrong crowd” shows up, and usually it’s at the worst time.

So, what can we do?  First and foremost, we’ve got to talk to our teenagers. Research shows that lack of communication is one of the top reasons teenagers display defiant types of behaviors. Talking to them about their day, and listening, — not lecturing — is the first thing to do. Treating them with respect regardless of whether you agree with them is essential. Remember, it doesn’t matter how you think things should be, it only matters what your teenager believes. They will act on their perception of reality, not yours.

So, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN to what they’re telling you, both verbally and nonverbally. If you do this consistently, they’ll begin to understand how much you love them and how much you’re willing to give them your time AND attention.


Got a question or a tween/teen issue you’d like to get Dr. Jones’ thoughts on? Send it to and we may feature it in an upcoming installment of Tweens & Teens. The post published above is part of our “Summer Remix” series made up of posts previously published on nwaMotherlode and designated as a “reader favorite.” If you missed the original publication date, we hope you enjoyed this encore performance. Happy summer!


Good Gossip: Lovebirds, surprise weddings, chocolate mice and new babies in Hollywood

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s a great day for a little Good Gossip. Speaking of a great day, this popular feature is sponsored by our friends at Great Day Farms, a national brand which happens to be based here in Northwest Arkansas. They’re the makers of good things like Great Day All Natural eggs, Omega-3 eggs, and ready-to-eat hard-boiled eggs. Look for their products at the Walmart Supercenter!

Did you guys already know that Glee stars Lea Michele and Cory Monteith are lovebirds in real life, too? I’m a fan of Glee, but somehow I missed that piece of celeb news. The two were spotted recently exchanging a sweet kiss at a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.

Any old Party of Five fans in the house? You might be interested to know that actor Scott Wolf and his wife Kelley are expecting their second baby. Scott announced the news via Twitter on May 19th. The new baby will join big brother Jackson, who is 3.

Isn’t it nice when billionaires still seem down to earth? As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Mark Zuckerberg and his long-time girlfriend Priscilla Chan threw a surprise wedding May 14th. The guests thought they were attending a graduation party for Priscilla, who just finished medical school. Priscilla was walked down the aisle by the couple’s Hungarian sheepdog named Beast. The couple met while waiting in line for the bathroom at a party in college. She is fluent in three languages and encouraged Mark to learn Chinese, which came in handy on his wedding day when he told her grandmother about the super secret wedding ceremony. At the wedding, Priscilla wore a sleeveless gown she bought off-the-rack online (using a different name in order to keep the secret). Her engagement ring is a ruby ring he designed. The wedding food included dishes from all their favorite restaurants, including mice-shaped chocolates from Burdick Chocolate (see the cute photo?), which they’d had on their very first date.

Did you guys catch the season premiere of Duets last week? We did, and it’s pretty good! Jennifer Nettles (of the group Sugarland) is one of the mentors and judges. In a recent People magazine profile, Nettles said she does yoga and walking to stay in shape but recently took up tap dancing as well. “I love it because it is outside my comfort zone. As a musician I love that your feet become the instruments.” Duets is on ABC on Thursdays.

Katherine Heigl and husband Josh Kelley have welcomed a newly adopted baby girl named Adalaide. She joins big sister Naleigh, who was adopted from South Korea in 2009. Naleigh is now 3-years-old. Her new baby sister is such a cutie. See People magazine for the exclusive photos.

Speaking of new babies, Drew Barrymore and fiance Will Kopelman will welcome one soon. The couple had an engagement party on the rooftop of the Ink48 hotel in Manhattan on May 11th. Friends Cameron Diaz, Ed Norton and Lake Bell were there to help celebrate. Earlier that same day, Drew went shopping for a bridal veil for an upcoming “traditional and romantic” wedding. Kopelman’s mother came along on the shopping trip.

Sources: People magazine, May 28th and June 4, 2012 edition

Good Gossip is sponsored by CCF Brands, a Northwest Arkansas company which makes Great Day All Natural Eggs. These eggs are produced by happy hens who are fed premium vegetarian diets with no animal fats, animal by-products, or antibiotics. Great Day Farms also offers hard-boiled eggs, which you can find in the deli section of the Walmart Supercenter. (Love the hard-boiled eggs because they’re peeled and ready to eat! Perfect in salads.)



Stories from Moms in Northwest Arkansas

Happy Memorial Day, mamas!

A lot of us have kids who got out of school recently for the much-anticipated summer vacation. Woo-hoooo! Although it can be challenging to find ways to keep everybody entertained and out of trouble during the summer, it’s fun to have some extra time to hang out together. We hope you’ll enjoy the long break with your kids, just as we plan to do with ours.

Because so many moms have trips and vacations planned over the summer, we’re going to do a “Summer Remix” here on nwaMotherlode, where we re-post some of our readers’ favorite posts that have published previously. We update the homepage every day, so we often hear from moms who missed the chance to read the “front-page” stories before they got replaced with newer articles. Now you’ll have another chance to see the posts readers enjoyed the most.

This Summer Remix post is one you’re going to love because you guys wrote it! We smiled and laughed when we read the comments posted on our “Listen To Your Mother Giveaway” post in April. We thought the comments deserved a big encore performance at the top of the homepage so everyone could enjoy them. Here they are:

From Kathleen: One thing that I will always love about my mother is here willingness to travel. Her excitement about hitting the road or jumping on plane was contagious! We camped a lot growing up- two kids, two dogs and a VW Vanagon. Probably one of my most memorable “wake ups” was having her sitting on my bed asking, “Do you want to go to Ireland?” I was 14 and two weeks later I was there!

From Angie: My favorite stories always entail how awesome of a mother I was BEFORE I had children. Bribing children in Target with candy? How awful! Kids throwing tantrums in a restaurant? They need to discipline that child! Being annoyed by this precious little one who just needs a hug and kiss? How selfish!

If only I had the patience and will to be the mother I was before I had children. ;)

From Shannon: It’s really hard for me to pick just one….I think my favorite would be how my mom was always able to find her sense of humor and make me laugh even in the most “unfunniest” of times….I was accident prone and also had several surgeries….her humor was needed so many times :)

From Sarah: My kid does not sleep well; never has. I have a friend with a 6 month old who just pulled 13 hours — Anna is more likely to do 5 or 6 at a stretch. Saturday morning she woke me up at 4 saying she was hungry! But I know all those moments by her bedside are precious and fleeting (even though the past 2.5 years seem like forever!) and I’ll get some nice karmic payback if she ever has kids who don’t sleep :)

From Amanda: True story and will have you laughing until you cry. My son was about five, his coat had been dirty so I threw it in the wash the night before. As usual we were rushing around. That evening when I returned home from work, my husband pulled my black velvet thong from his pocket and said look at what your son took to school. Yes apparently by the magic of static cling my underwear was plastered to the back of my son’t coat for all the world to see. Sidenote, the song black velvet has been my ringtone ever since.

From Rosemary: My daughter loves for me to tell her the story about the time we were at the mall and she was squirming so bad while I was changing her diaper. There wasn’t anything I could do to keep her on the bench! Poop fell on the floor and I wanted to cry. People were walking by!! I was so upset and laughing at the same time that I just let her run around with no diaper on. Finally, I was able to calm her down long enough for me to put a new diaper on her! I know someone must have seen the whole episode and must still be laughing or mortified!!

From Annette: I remember the day my daughter turned 1 year old. I nursed her and held her during her entire nap. She was not walking yet but I knew when she walked she would walk away from me and i wanted to just hold her and look at her. She is 22 years old now and I can still see her sweet sleeping face.
From Amy: I love that my mom spent so much time playing games, reading books, gardening, and just enjoying life with us. She’s a great example to me that my kids won’t remember that our house is a giant disaster 99% of the time but they will remember the time I invest in them.
From Jennifer: Being a mom, wow, there is so much to love. I hope to always remember the sweetness in my son’s voice, the faces he makes, and those really genuine sloppy kisses, runny noses and all.

I also love to watch my mom with my children…..I watch her laugh and time stands still. There is such joy in her eyes. That will always stay with me.

From Heidi: My motherhood journey just restarted from the beginning, so now I am enjoying a teen, a tween, and a baby! Learning to love every stage!

From Sarah: My youngest, a 5 year old asked me if I was going to ever have another baby (my body yelling, HECK NO) and I say to him, “I don’t think so, babe”. He answers to me, “but, can’t we just get one at the hospital?”.

From Marian: This is gross I know, but my daughter loves to hear the story of how she spread poop out of her diaper on the wall and my son loves to hear how he would pee all over the wall. They just love potty humor.

From Amanda: I love to tell the story of my little guy Harvie breaking not one, but BOTH his wrists. We lived out in the country and he had just learned how to climb trees. He played with the three little girls up the road a lot. Well one day he was outside playing with the girls. I heard this awful cry coming up the front steps. In stepped Harvie, 7 with big ole crocodile tears streaming down his face saying his arms hurt. I checked him out, nothing seemed to be wrong. We cleaned him up and he didn’t want to go back outside. It was getting close to bedtime anyway, so I gave him a snack, some tylenol and sent him to bed. He woke up the next morning with 2 very swollen wrists, so off to the ER we went. The ER nurse asked him what he did to which he replied “I was swinging like a monkey and Emma (his, as he put it, girlfriend) distracted me. I fell from the tree.” The nurse, while doing his x-rays, then asked him if he was trying to impress the little girl. Harvie replied “yes, she’s my girlfriend!” The joys of being a mom!

From Carey: I have 4 year old twins and it amazes me to hear them use words that I think they don’t understand. However, they use them correctly. This past weekend the girls were playing with something and one of them was not getting her way. Instead of getting upset (we were in the truck) She said “Frustraation”. My husband was driving and we cracked up laughing. She is such a mess. Cracks me up and totally makes the 2am yelling for mommy worth it”

From Lindsay: A not-so-proud Mommy moment…when I locked myself out of the house with my toddler son inside. I never wished so hard that he knew how to open doors than at that moment. And it was raining. And he found the scissors. You can’t make this stuff up, nor would I want to! I’d LOVE to hear the other Mama’s stories!

From Carrie: With three kids, it’s really hard to pick a favorite mommy moment. I wish time would slow down a little. My kids are growing up too fast! I hope I’m helping make some great moments for them to remember.

From Cedar: I have a 6 year old and a 2 year old, very rarely do they get along but when they do it is music to my ears. Most nights if there is time before dinner is ready they run around the house as superheros. They put there arms out and make a swooshing sound to look like they are flying. Man those times a wonderful and so fun to watch.

From Robin: You know how little toddlers will find a string or something and bring it to you…like a prize? When my son was 2 he came to me, fist closed, to give me a prize…of course I opened my hand to accept…and it was a LIVE SPIDER!

From Ambre: During dinner at the camp ground, Addyson started screaming that there was a black bean in her nose… I blew her off… How could there be, right?? Wrong, after several minutes of her crying and not being able to talk her out of it, I flipped her over and saw the black bean in her nose! Then I said, “We DON’T put black beans in our nose!!” #thingsonlyamothersays

From Kari: Love hearing kid’s big words! One favorite in our household was ‘excamator’ (excavator)! One day we were driving down the road and my son, probably 3.5 at the time said, “Mommy, stop antagonizing me!” Guess I told him to stop antagonizing his brother more than I thought!

From Jenny: My daughter loves to hear the story of the day we let our families know that baby would make 3. It was a crazy day with lots of confusion that led to half the family thinking my oldest sister, whose husband has been fixed, and the other half thinking my second older sister who had just recently divorced were the pregnant ones. Only my sis-in-law figured it out. It’s a pretty funny story but too hard to explain in writing and the translation would be totally lost!

From Beda: I locked my daughter in the Mini Van after I put her in the car seat….I then remembered she is double Jointed and was teaching her how she can get out of it! She did do it, but then she took advantage of it and before we would get to our street she would get out….Thank God she stopped doing that!

Devotion in Motion: “It’ll keep.”

4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  ~ Ephesians 6:4 (NKJV)

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

In a couple a weeks I’ll mark the 27th anniversary of the day when I came to “try out” to be the preacher at this country church.  Things (and the world) have changed a lot since that day in the early summer of 1985.  It’s hard to imagine, but back then nobody had a cell phone.  More incredible than that, people still used payphones — you know, the ones you had to put a dime in before you could make a local call. Do they still even make payphones? When was the last time anybody used one?

I’ll never forget my arrival here. I stopped in the nearby town of Decatur, Mississippi because I needed to make a phone call to find out how to get to the meeting with the elder who was interviewing me. I asked a lady at the grocery store if there was a payphone nearby. I was astounded by her answer: “Yes, there is THE payphone in front of the phone company.”

Yes, friends, the town of Decatur had exactly one payphone. It was so unique and singular that the residents referred to it as THE payphone.

Well, things are sure different here now.  Just like in the cities, the country folks talk and text and tweet and FaceBook on their cell phones nonstop. It frightens me when I see someone multitasking when they drive — even if they’re just talking on the phone. I can’t help but think their concentration isn’t totally on driving.

I don’t want to sound like an old crank or a codger, but I want to point out something I think is important. “Back in the day” we didn’t have cell phones. People still had jobs, had kids who played ball games, had social engagements, and sometimes had emergencies. If we wanted to make a phone call away from home, we had to stop and use a payphone. For the life of me, I can’t remember anything that ever warranted me pulling over the car to find and use a payphone. Most of the stuff I needed to tell somebody would “keep” until later.

It has made me stop and think. Is all the information that I’m relaying to others really important, or would some of it keep until later? Will it keep until I finish driving to my destination? Is this message I’m texting worth the time that could be better spent loving my children and raising them “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”?

So make the most of every opportunity. We all only have a short time to raise our children, and we won’t get a second chance to spend time with them. The other things will keep — but your babies won’t.

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 has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 21) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (which is so far out “in the sticks” that it has crummy cell phone coverage.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to

The Rockwood Files: A whole new kind of “first”

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

For generations, parents have been taking note of first steps, first words, and first days of school. But today’s parents also witness a whole new breed of “digital firsts” that our great, great grandparents could never have even imagined.

I saw a “digital first” today for two of our three kids. I picked up my iPhone to check email and noticed it was covered in smudgy fingerprints, which means one of the kids had been playing with it – probably launching angry birds at innocent cartoon pigs. But when I slid the phone’s unlock bar open, a screen popped up showing a text message trail between our 10-year-old son and his 8 year-old brother.

For the record, our kids don’t have phones of their own yet, which – believe  it or not – means they’re fast becoming part of the phone-less minority among an increasingly tech-savvy elementary school crowd.

But this week we allowed them to start playing an app called “Words with Friends”. They use my iPhone and the family iPad to battle each other in this virtual game of Scrabble. But this high-tech version of the classic game also allows them to send text messages to each other while they play.

So when I spotted the text trail between the boys, I knew I was seeing their first few steps into texting terrain. For about three seconds, I thought “Awww, look. It’s their very first text message.” It was adorable for about three seconds, until I read down through the trail. Here’s the transcript of their digital exchange:


“Yeah, good”


“Hey fart to you”

“Toot toot”

“ha! ha! ha! ha!”

“Are you there?”

“I’m very mad. I don’t have good letters.”

“Well poo to you”

“Poo to you, too.”

It’s the kind of texting trail that really makes a mother proud. And it reminded me that not all technological advances elevate the nature of human communication. I’m guessing Robert Frost probably never wrote the words “poo to you” when he was 8 years old.

But to be fair, I can’t blame it all on texting. This same conversation could have easily taken place between the brothers in real life. Words like “poo” and “fart” are comedy gold for boys this age.

This first texting trail makes me wonder what other digital firsts might be on the horizon. Their first Facebook status update? First YouTube video upload? First tweet? Once it begins, is there any way to stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Something tells me the answer is no. And that’s what makes me and so many other parents a tad more nervous than our great, great grandparents probably were.

Recently I heard author and social media expert John Acuff say that posting a photo online is like getting a digital tattoo. Once something is out on the Internet, it’s there for life and not even an expensive laser can erase that temporary case of bad judgment.

As Acuff points out on his blog, “Once you post it, you can never delete it. It’s on there forever, traveling across the world on servers you will never have access to.”

He goes on to say that kids don’t realize that college admissions counselors and future employers will be background checking them online (and seeing all those digital tattoos) for years to come.

So as much as I love all things tech, Tom and I are doing our best to keep the floodgates of technology closed a little longer for our kids. In today’s digital world, it’s just far too easy to get in over your head.

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.

Hummingbird Foundation hosts blood drive/family fun day at Gulley Park on Saturday, June 2

There’s a fabulous new non-profit in Northwest Arkansas called the Hummingbird Foundation and they are hosting a huge event soon:

WHO: The Hummingbird Foundation’s mission is to bring awareness to premature birth and to help families and babies going through a rough, scary ride in the NICU. This year the organization has had the privilege to: raise money and walk in the March for Dimes Baby Walk, make Mother’s Day baskets for mothers spending Mother’s Day in the NICU at Willow Creek Women’s Hospital, make calendars featuring local preemies, and we were even able to send a grieving mother a necklace in memory of her sweet angel baby that she recently lost.

WHAT: Blood drive/family fun day. Not only do you have the chance to help save lives, they’ll have fun games and activities for families, including face painting, coloring contests, cake walks, raffles and FOOD.

WHEN: Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Gulley Park, Fayetteville

Emry holding mommy's hand

The Hummingbird Foundation has other events coming up this year and their big goal is to purchase an AngelEye bed for the NICU at UAMS.

Long-time Motherlode reader Holly Walker dreamed up the foundation after her baby, Emry, was born too early. Tiny Emry was hospitalized in the UAMS NICU for several months.

Holly’s sister, Jamie Stein, shared about the unique piece of equipment there:

“AngelEye was a lifesaver for all of us and especially Holly! If she had to come home or be away from the hospital, we were all able to watch livefeed of Emry in her bed at the hospital and keep an eye on her. Seriously awesome! We found out today that there are only 10 AngelEye beds for 58 rooms.”

Jamie also shared more about Emry’s story:

“Last year, my sister received news that no mother ever wants to hear. Something is wrong with your baby and IF she survives outside of the womb, she will have no quality of life and will more than likely not see her first birthday.

Heartbroken and scared, my sister and her husband were sent to UAMS in Little Rock for further testing and monitoring and on March 21, 2011, sweet Emry Taylor Walker was born at 28 weeks weighing only 1 pound 3 ounces.

Even though my sister was “28 weeks”, Emry had quit growing so she was about the size of a 23-week-old baby. Miraculously, she came out breathing strong and on her own.  She never required some of the machines for support that most preemies are required to have (ventilator, CPAP, etc). She was a little fighter! The doctors were AMAZED and one nurse even named her “Rock Star”.

Everyone in that hospital wanted to come and witness this little girl! Shortly after she was born, her dad wrote a letter to her and compared her little body to that of a hummingbird. Aerodynamically impossible to fly but by some miracle they do! Emry spent several months at UAMS and finally got to come home with Mommy and Daddy and big sister, Alli! Today she is doing well and most recently started walking! We are so proud of her!”

Emry at age 1

Check out the foundation’s facebook page at or visit the blog at to read more about what they are doing to help the local NICU as well as UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. They also have some adorable babies to ooh and ahh over.

5 Minutes with a Mom: Angie Albright

Name: Angie Albright

Son’s name and age: Blaise, 15

A tricky age! For those of us not there yet, what was the most surprising thing about mothering a teenager? The drastic ups and downs. The ups are really high. When my son is feeling talkative, we have great conversations about everything in the world. It’s just the two of us, so it’s easy for me to focus on what’s on his mind. The “up” can quickly become a “down” and suddenly we’re having an intense argument about something seemingly unimportant. We all groan about raising teenagers, but I didn’t expect the laughter and really great conversations we have.

Any advice for those moms whose kids aren’t far behind that age? Laugh as much as possible! Using gentle humor and having a THICK skin will get us through the teenage years. When my son and I are at an impasse, we can still make each other laugh or can agree to sit down to watch a favorite comedy together, and that often brings us back together again. Also, we have to learn to let go of our expectations for our children and let them be who they really are. So much of what I want for my son is what I actually also want(ed) for myself. He has to find his own way, and sometimes I have to get out of the way. But boy, that’s hard to do!

Does your son still let you write about him on your blog(s)? He does! I’m careful about what I write about and would never embarrass him, but if he makes an appearance in my blog, I let him read it before I send it out to the world. He’s very open minded and has never asked me to not to post something.

Where are you from and what brought you to NWA? I grew up in southwest Iowa, something I’m very proud of and talk about often. I went to Iowa State for my first two years of college. My boyfriend and I wanted to expand our world view just a little bit (all the way to Arkansas!) and wanted to move away from home to test our independence. We had heard nice things about Arkansas and came for one visit in March, 1987 and just fell in love with Fayetteville. It felt like home immediately to both of us. We got married in mid-August that year and transferred to the U of A, which was a great decision. I loved the English Department and my years as a Razorback.

Tell us about your job: I am a Project Manager for a web and marketing team at The Belford Group, a marketing agency that does all kinds of really cool things. All the skills I’ve developed over the years as an English teacher and then nonprofit director come into play almost every day. I get to build relationships with clients and work with them to build strategies to promote their business or service, but I also get to work with really creative people and watch them make art and magic happen every day. I’m a serious tech geek, so mostly I get to play at being one of those all day!

If you went back to college what would you study? Everything? I spent a LOT of years in graduate school doing my master’s and doctoral work in African-American and American Literature and Culture. I LOVE that stuff! But I’d also love studying world religions, international relations, social sustainability, things like that.

If you had a whole day to do anything — or nothing — what would you decide? I would sit at a sidewalk cafe, preferably in Europe somewhere, reading a book, watching people go by, and drinking coffee. When that got tiresome, I’d go take a nap, and then go back to the cafe in the afternoon and into the evening. Doing nothing is also a very attractive option.

What’s something you’ve been meaning to do but can’t seem to get around to it? Running. It’s the exercise that works best for me but I hate it.

What are some traditions you enjoy with your son? We like watching sports together and going to West Mountain or Farrell’s to eat pizza or cheese fries and watch whatever game is on tv. We also watch Family Guy together. If we’ve had a busy day or a busy week, my son will still ask if we can sit down together and just chill out before going to bed. I love that he still asks to do that sometimes.

If you were gifted with a home somewhere thrilling, where would it be? Paris! I just love Paris and all the art, language, culture, food, and wine.

What is something you hope to accomplish in the next few months? Turning my blog into article or essay queries and working on some more formal publishing.

If someone wrote a book about your life right now, what would a good title be? Still Standing

One word to sum me up … Resilient

Hair: Help Me Rhonda… on bulky hair

Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

Hi Rhonda!

thinning-shears.jpgI have a hair question. I have A LOT of hair, and I like to keep it thinned out. How do you feel about thinning hair out? I know some hair stylists hesitate to thin out very often.

Dear Lisa,

Well, honestly I’m on the fence about this one. It really depends on your hair type. If you have thin, fine hair, the hair really SHOULD be thinned. If however, you have course, curly hair…..client BEWARE!!

You should always make sure your stylist understands the concept of taking bulk out of your hair. There are several ways to achieve this. Using the thinning shears is great but can often take more out than you want. Again, if your hair is curly, you have to be careful because thinning too much out at the scalp will cause curly hair to stand up and actually be bigger!

The second technique to consider is “point cutting.” This basically takes out bulk but not length. It gives a cut movement and swing, and it’s a great way to personalize a cut and make it fit your style.

Talk to your stylist about thinning your hair or point cutting. If you like what you hear and feel confident, go for it. But if you are hesitant, talk a little more specifically about the look you want to achieve. Thinning is one of those tricky things, and you definitely want to be comfortable with it and KNOW that your stylist can do it correctly to get the look you want.

Thanks for the great question!

Rhonda Moulder, pictured right, is a mama to two beautiful daughters and is also a stylist in Bentonville at Studio 28 Salon. E-mail her a hair question at or call for an appointment at 479-270-4480. Have a happy hair day.

Crafty Mama: DIY decoupaged picture frame!

By Sarah E. White

Now that Mother’s Day has come and gone, why not make a quick craft to hold one of those sweet pictures of you and your kids that you took that day? This project is super-simple, and other than the picture frame you probably have all the materials you need right at home.

I designed this project as a recycling or upcycling project (using old things in a new way), but you could absolutely use some of your nice scrapbooking paper to decorate the frame. And if you don’t have a paper punch to make the flower form, use a stencil or cookie cutter to cut out a fun shape, or use a purchased decorative wood piece.


  • Wooden picture frame (mine came from JoAnn)
  • Newspaper
  • Decoupage medium
  • Foam brush
  • Scrapbook paper and a paper punch (or other decoration of your choice); I actually used index cards and paint instead of fancy paper
  • Adorable picture*


  1. Rip up paper and decoupage to the frame. I did mine in a couple of layers; if you do the same, allow to dry between applications.
  2. Use a paper punch (mine is the EK Tools Scallop Frame Large Punch, but anything fun and graphic would work) to punch out several of the same shape. Use decoupage medium to glue them together, then paint the top one if desired (I just used blue poster paint). Again, if you don’t want to go that route, find a fun piece of craft wood, add the letters of your child’s name or spell out the word “love,” paint over the paper, whatever you like.
  3. Decoupage the flower to the frame and let dry.
  4. Cut picture to size if necessary and insert into frame.
  5. Hang somewhere you’ll enjoy it.

*The picture in mine is not actually from Mother’s Day; it’s from my daughter’s first birthday. It’s fun for me to see because she’s now almost three!

Sarah E. White is a Fayetteville-based freelance writer, editor, crafter, wife and mom of a 2-year-old. She’s the Guide to Knitting for ( and shares her crafty exploits at Our Daily Craft (

Beauty Buzz: Andi shares some of her pretty little tricks

By Andi Douglas, nwaMotherlode Beauty Editor

Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

Andi adores trying new beauty products or adapting the products she finds in her cabinets. Take a look at four of Andi’s “must-haves” (plus be sure to read the bonus tips that are included):

Lansinoh brand Lanolin ($8.34) for my lips: After reading in In Style that Angie Harmon uses the nipple cream on her lips every day, I had to give it a try. I happened to have some, thanks to over-zealous nursing from Lexi, and was eager to find another use.

After getting past the “ick factor”, like the first time I used hemorrhoid cream on my thighs, I realized it worked really well. It stayed on all night and in the morning my lips looked fuller and had no lines. I was an instant convert, but remember, a little goes a long way!

Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Lip Gloss in Wet ($12): The color is perfect for a neutral lip but also blends well with a lipstick when I want something darker. This is the only lip gloss I have found that is not too sticky and doesn’t have any flavor to it. If I wear any gloss with a sweet taste, I compulsively lick my lips, which makes my chapped lips even worse.

N.Y.C. Browser Brush-On Brow Kit ($3.99): This is my favorite cheap find ever! There are two sides to the little box, one with a clear wax and the other with a dark brown shadow. It comes with a little applicator brush and tiny pair of tweezers, so it is perfect for on the go touch-ups. The shadow makes a much softer line than a pencil and the wax helps keep my massive eyebrows in check, especially when I have gone way past waxing time. Bonus: I use the shadow for one of my favorite make-up tricks. Apply a little to the top of your collarbone to create a shadow and you look instantly thinner.

Estee Lauder Artists Eye Pencil in SoftSmudge Black ($19): I had always used drug store eye liner in waterproof formulas because my sensitive eyes are always watering, but they were hard to apply and always broke, so when I got this pencil as a free gift I tried it out and was hooked. It lasted longer than any of the other brands I tried and didn’t smudge all over my face. The smudging tip on the end was ideal for creating the smokey eye I can’t get enough of. Even though it costs more than I usually spend, it lasts a long time, so long, in fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought it.

Andi Douglas is a local mom of three and the ruling make-up queen at nwaMotherlode. E-mail your Ask Andi questions to her at and the answer may be featured in her Beauty Buzz column. 

Empty Nexter: “I’ve got this idea for a business … “

By Carrie Perrien Smith

roller coasterI can’t tell you how many times someone has pulled me aside and said in a hushed voice, “I’ve got this idea for a business …” They have that look of anxious excitement in their eyes as they proceed to tell to tell me about it. No one has ever asked me to sign a confidentiality agreement. They just know their secret is safe with me because I’m one of them. Small business people are my people [waving clenched fist in the air].

Anyone can learn to start up and run a business, but I’m pretty sure that your DNA determines whether you can handle the roller coaster ride. Entrepreneurs and the people who love us despite ourselves know the ride well.

I get so excited about new ideas for my business and designing marketing strategy. Too bad I can’t figure out how to make a living on that part. Business owners cannot live by vision and creativity alone. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” It should also be noted that no one gets a paycheck until someone receives payment for something they sold. Sigh. That is my world. But if I do the former right, there’s a lot more the latter.

Entrepreneurs Don’t Necessarily Need Perfect Conditions to Be Successful started as an idea four years ago and celebrated its birthday on May 1. Happy birthday, mamas! What if they had said, “Let’s wait until the economy improves”?

Is this maybe the perfect time for you to chase that business idea? Bloomberg News reported recently, “The National Federation of Independent Business’ optimism index rose to 94.5, the highest since February 2011, from 92.5 the previous month … Six of the measure’s 10 components increased.” I don’t know if this signals an improvement in the economy. However, I do believe it is a signal that business owners are moving on despite unrest in Congress and an economy that has changed forever. The small business community is able to adapt quickly, and we will rise to the occasion to contribute to America’s success. Yeah! [waving clenched fist in the air]

Resources for Small Businesses

You might be interested to know that this week (May 20-26) is National Small Business Week. It is hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). They are holding a conference during the week. I’m attending via the convenience of my office computer. You should too. Visit to learn more.

Grab a cup of coffee and spend some time at the SBA website at They have tons of resources for small businesses at all stages of their life. You can get free small business counseling from their organization, SCORE at their website Whether you are thinking about starting a business or have lived the small business life for years, you’ll find useful resources at both websites.

I’ve wanted to host a weekly internet radio show for small business owners for a long time. Finally, I was able to restructure my business to make some time for it. I just finished recording the fifth show. You’ll find the Business: Engaged! archive at

It’s so much harder than I thought it would be. Geez, all I’m doing is talking to another person about a topic, right? I’m a speaker so shouldn’t this be easy? I’m even a master at making conversation. My radio show coach, Mike Stern (, says I’m coming along fine and the content is great. I just need to get out of my head. It’s what I tell my friends running for public office — just be your natural authentic you and speak your heart. Why is it we already know the advice we should follow but still need a reminder?

Is Now the Time for You to Start a Business?

The choice to journey into self-employment is a big one. You can own a business and never leave your full-time job, or you can devote everything you have to it. There are many different types of business formats out there from network marketing to franchises to stand alone start-ups.

The thing to remember is that small business is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter what your demographic or how much education you have. If you are willing to learn what you need to know, meet market needs, and work hard, you can be as successful as you want to be. And that my friends is what the American dream is all about! [waving clenched fist in the air]

Carrie Perrien Smith is mama to Darcie and a pack of black dogs (Speckles, Snappy, Jazmin, and Midgieboy — in pack order), grandma to Robert, wife to world-traveler and Walmart-blue-bleeding Tom, daughter to Wayne and Phyllis, speaker bureau and publishing company owner, small business radio show host, community activist, and home improvement junkie. Follow her on Twitter @soarwitheagles or contact her at

Giveaway: Tickets to see Daughtry in concert!

Note from the mamas: Congratulations to April Parkhurst-Harp, winner of this giveaway!

We’ve got one word for you, mamas: DAUGHTRY.

And here are a few more words: Four free tickets to see Chris Daughtry live in concert at the Arkansas Music Pavilion on June 19, 2012 at 7:30 p.m! And we’re pairing the hottest tickets in Northwest Arkansas with one of the best meals in Northwest Arkansas — Pesto Cafe in Fayetteville. This will be the ultimate date night or girls’ night out so make sure you throw your name into the online hat asap.

ABOUT THE CONCERT: Just to be completely honest, we’ve had a bit of a celebrity crush on Chris Daughtry ever since his American Idol days in 2006. And what’s not to love? He’s got that raw, powerful rock voice. He plays guitar. He’s bald but somehow makes it look cool. And, to top it off, he’s a family man. (He has been married for 11 years and is a father of four!)

Apparently we’re not the only ones with a thing for Daughtry. He has had four No. 1 hits, four Grammy nominations, has played sold-out concerts around the world, and has sold more than seven million albums in less than four years. His self-titled debut album was the fastest-selling rock debut in Soundscan history. His second album, Leave This Town, was also a No. 1 album. And his latest album, Break The Spell, was certified gold in four weeks.

Here are a few of Daughtry’s most popular hits. Click on each title to hear the song:

Here’s a video clip of one of our favorite Daughtry hits:

ABOUT THE FOOD: Pesto Cafe has been near and dear to our hearts (and taste buds) for many years. We’re constantly looking for excuses to head to Pesto Cafe for a business lunch or dinner just so we can get our “fix” of their one-of-a-kind cuisine.

We’ve never had a bad meal at Pesto Cafe so you can pretty much order anything on the menu and rest assured you’ll love it. But here are some of our favorites: The “Pesto Pasta” is incredible because they use the best herbs and ingredients. And if you’re in a pizza mood, we love the “Mara’s Magnificent Make.” The crust is so thin and crunchy and the veggies that are piled on top are always so incredibly fresh. They sprinkle it with these pine nuts that just make the dish sing.

We also love the lasagna and the Fettucini Alfredo at Pesto Cafe, and our husbands love the “Angel by the Sea” entree, which features shrimp, scallops and salmon in a white wine-based pink sauce over angel hair pasta. So many incredible dishes — so little time. And that’s why you’ll end up going back there as often as you can, just like we do. Click HERE to see the very yummy dinner menu.

We also love how Pesto Cafe falls into that “hole in the wall” category that tells you it’s a real gem. It’s tucked away in an unlikely place (on the corner of the Chief Motel on North College Avenue). But trust us when we tell you that the ambiance and the whole vibe inside the restaurant just works. It feels authentic and cool and never, ever pretentious. We love it.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name into the online hat for the Daughtry concert tickets and gift card to Pesto Cafe, click the orange comment button below and tell us about one of your best dates and/or girls’ night out. What’s that one night out on the town that stands out in your memory?

You can also enter via email by sending your answer to

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING: Okay, we know there are LOTS of mamas out there who seriously want to win these tickets. So here’s what you can do to improve your chances. (Remember that we always pick winners at random, using an online random number generator.) Send an email to your friends/family to let them know about this giveaway, and be sure to put on the CC line of your email. We will give you an extra chance to win for every person you tell. It’s like putting your name in the hat a whole bunch of times!

HOW TO GUARANTEE YOUR TICKETS: If you don’t want to rely on lady luck to score tickets to this concert, call the box office and get yours asap. It’ll be a sell-out. To order tickets, call Walton Arts Center at 479-443-5600 or click HERE to order tickets online.