On Your Mind: How to handle school anxiety

Dear Tom,

My daughter is starting Kindergarten this month and she is really anxious about it. I know a certain amount of anxiety about starting school is normal, but I’m worried that she is spending a lot of time feeling scared about this transition – especially at bedtime. I’m not sure if it’s a healthy amount of worry or not. She went to preschool for two years, so I know she can handle being away from me and away from home. What can I do to make this big transition month a little better for her and ease her mind?

Dear Mom,

Transition to a school or new school setting is a significant event in a child’s and many times a parent’s life, too. The child is growing and developing into new environments and new relationships.

One of the most important ways to support your child is to help them have a positive relationship with the teacher. This person will be your child’s “go to” person for learning as well as so many other social experiences for the next nine to ten months.

The relationship you have with the teacher, as well as the teacher with you and your child, should be one that reflects safety, consistency, ability to have a talk easily with each other and basically one that promotes positive feelings. If your child feels connected in this way to the adult that is in his/her life outside of their home, it will promote feelings of emotional and physical safety.

Here are some fun ways to do this:

– allow your child to take pictures of his/her family and/or home to share with teacher/peers,

– talk with the teacher and discuss whether your child can take pictures of his/her teacher and classroom/rooms (music, cafeteria, library) to show these new experiences off at home to the whole family,

– talk with your child about his/her day and what new places or people he/she encountered,

– provide a transition object for children who feel more anxious and worried about this new adventure in their life, such as a favorite toy or stuffed animal

And, most of all, make sure you connect before and after school with your child. Changes, even the positive ones, can be stressful if they are new, and your child may need a little extra emotional fuel and connection time with you, so find something simple to do after school or before that provides this feeling for your child.

Remember that what may seem like a small step to an adult can be an enormous one for a child. Celebrate them every day!

If you need assistance, Ozark Guidance is here to help. You can contact Ozark Guidance at  479-750-2020 or visit ozarkguidance.org to learn more about children services.


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

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

Disclaimer:  This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

Captivating: A retreat just for women at New Life Ranch, Oct. 5-7

How often do you really take time to refresh your spirit and renew your mind? If that sentence makes you sigh, you might enjoy a retreat coming up the first weekend in October called Captivating Heart. It’s going to be held at the awesome New Life Ranch just outside of NWA in Colcord, Oklahoma.

In fact, this event sounds amazing. Today is the last day to take advantage of the early-bird rate and the organizers are also offering nwaMotherlode readers a special promo code for additional savings. Use the code MOMS for additional $20 off registration! (Which is a total savings of $50 if you register before midnight TONIGHT! You’ll still receive the $20 savings after Sept. 1, though.) Register online at www.captivatingheart.com/events or give them a call and you can be registered by phone.  They’ll also answer any questions you might have, although we’ve tried to cover some of the ones we had about the event below.

(Also note: There are a limited number of partial scholarships available. Email info@captivatingheart.com for more information.)

We asked organizers a few in-depth questions about the retreat, since we know it can be intimidating to try something new:

Why is the retreat called Captivating Heart?

It’s called Captivating Heart in some part to because the core message comes from the book, Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge and the event is patterned after Stasi’s Captivating retreats held in Colorado.  But deeper than that, the over-arching message of this retreat is that women bear the image of God in their hearts and core desires in a way that is uniquely and wonderfully feminine. This weekend is about learning to unveil the beauty we have to offer as women and about working through the challenges and wounds that women are faced with in this world.  Each woman bears the image of God in a unique and captivating way….in her feminine heart.

Tell us about the women who are attending and who might enjoy it:

This retreat is for any woman who is seeking to find herself. If you have ever wondered what your purpose is or whether you have something to offer this world, this retreat is for you. If you are woman who needs to understand why life seems so hard sometimes, this retreat is for you.  If you have ever felt you aren’t beautiful or loved or pursued or wanted, this retreat is for you.  If you are busy, tired and running around like a crazy woman, and just need a break, well, this weekend is for you, too.  This weekend has a little something for everyone…some adventure, the option to spend time in nature, movie clips, motivating speakers, fellowship…The message will appeal to women in all walks of life, in all seasons of life: mothers, grandmothers, single women, wives, sisters, daughters…if you are a woman, you should come!

What if I’ve never been to anything like this before?

Awesome! We hope that this experience IS different from anything you have ever been to before!  But we do know how scary your first time at anything can be, so we would love to answer questions and talk you through the weekend’s agenda so you feel more comfortable.

What can I expect from the weekend?

Fun, fellowship with others and with God, and a new outlook on your heart. There will be free time with optional adventure activities like trail riding, ropes courses, hiking, canoeing and kayaking. You can expect motivating speakers who will share scripture, life experiences, and movie clips with you. There will be beautiful moments of personal reflection time.  All set in this amazing, peaceful, and utterly captivating environment at New Life Ranch. What you shouldn’t expect is a “formula” for how to be a better Christian…we think comparisons can be soul-killing…this is about finding yourself, finding your God and learning how to walk in that everyday.

Who is sponsoring the event and how can I learn more about them?

Strings Attached Ministries is the sponsoring ministry for this event.  You can find out more about Strings Attached at www.stringsattachedministries.com.  The Captivating Heart team is made up of women from all over the United States.  You can learn more about them at www.captivatingheart.com.

Do I need to be any certain religion to attend?

No. There is no religious background required, however, the core message of Captivating Heart is that we are created in the image of God.  We will be sharing scripture from the Christian Bible and the message is based in that tradition. We welcome women from all faiths and traditions to come and hear about God’s design for their heart.

What are the benefits of attending a retreat like Captivating Heart?

For me, this retreat is about gaining a deeper understanding of our own hearts and desires. It is about throwing off the labels that wound us and hold us back and learning about God’s infinite love for His daughters.  Relationships will be built, rest and refreshment will be gained, and a deeper understanding of God’s love and relationship with Him are all benefits you can expect from this experience.

To see more answers to more FAQs, click here!

September 2012 Calendar of NWA Events!

61st Annual Clothesline Fair

Date: Sept. 1-3

Time: Varies

Location: Civil War Battlefield, Prairie Grove

More info: Click here.

NWA Run for a Child

Join others on Labor Day at the Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers for the 9th Annual Run For A Child. When you register you will be helping support CASA of Northwest Arkansas.

Date: Sept. 3

Time: 5K RUN & 1 Mile WALK/RUN – Registration: 6-7:30am with Start: 8:15am

10K RUN – Registration: 6-7:15am with Start: 7:30am

The 10K and 5K are chip timed courses for competitive runners.

The 1 mile course is for children and families to walk or run.

Location: Pinnacle Promenade, Rogers

More info: REGISTER NOW www.nwarunforachild.com

Shrek Day at Arvest Ballpark

Walton Arts Center has partnered with the NWA Naturals to bring Shrek Day to the ballpark! Join them at Arvest Ballpark on Saturday to watch the Naturals and get some complimentary Shrek ears… plus, you’ll have a chance to win FREE tickets to Shrek The Musical playing at Walton Arts Center Oct. 30-Nov. 4. Special offer for Naturals tickets: BUY ONE GET ONE FREE! If you already have tickets to Shrek The Musical, just bring your ticket confirmation to the Arvest Ballpark box office and take advantage of a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE ticket offer to the Naturals’ Sept. 1 game.

Date: Saturday, Sept. 1

Time: 1 p.m. (gates open at noon)

Location: Arvest Ballpark, Springdale

More info: You can find out more on the WAC Facebook event page.

Ozarks Juniors Youth Volleyball League

Volley Tots “Mommy and Me” class is designed for boys and girls ages 3-6 years old, all levels, and will be held on Wednesdays from 9:30am – 10:30am begining September 19, 2012. This class is designed to developage appropriate basic motor skills and volleyball concepts, eye-to-hand coordination and body awareness, all while building self-esteem and social skills for your preschooler. NOTE: This is a parent participation class. A parent or guardian is required to participate in the class with their child, following all class activities as outlined by the instructor.

Date: First class is Sept. 19

Time: 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Location: AAO facility, Fayetteville

More info: Click here. 

Farmland Adventures opens Sept. 7

Farmland Adventures is the Northwest Arkansas has a variety of attractions including a 9-acre Giant Corn Maze, a pumpkin patch, pony rides, petting zoo, pig races, a kids play area and more awaits you. They are open September 7th to November 3rd on Fridays from 3PM-9:30PM and Saturdays from 10AM-9:30PM. It’s a short drive from wherever you are in Northwest Arkansas.

Date: Sept. 7

Time: Varies

Location: Parsons Road, Springdale. Click HERE for directions.

More info: Visit their website HERE.

Children’s Enchanted Forest Ball (an American Cancer Society event)

The Innagural Children’s Enchanted Forest Ball will feature a silent auction, live music, dinner and more. Children under 10 are encouraged to wear their favorite costume and attend with their parents. Tickets are $50 and include a parent and child. $10 for additonal children and $80 for a family of 4.

Date: Sept. 7

Time: 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Location: Pratt Place Inn Barn, 2231 West Markham Road, Fayetteville

More info: For more information or to order tickets call 479-246-0002 , send a Facebook message or e-mail jessica.duquesne@cancer.org

Polo in the Ozarks

Not only does it feature the area’s only polo match, the Polo in the Ozarks event also includes tailgate parties, dinner and dancing under the stars, children’s activities, and both live and silent auctions.

Date: Sept. 8

Time: Varies

Location: 2232 Bowen Road, Fayetteville

More info: Click HERE to visit the Life Styles site.

*If you haven’t signed up to win tickets to the Polo in the Ozarks event on nwaMotherlode, click here!

Hike Against Hunger (A LifeSource International event)

This event provides an opportunity for participants to “go take a hike” for a good cause – feeding needy families in Northwest Arkansas. Groups, co-workers, families, and friends alike will spend the morning hiking the beautiful Mud Creek and Scull Creek trails in Fayetteville. Breakfast will be provided prior to the hike which begins at Panera Bread in Fayetteville at 8:30 a.m. Hikers can walk or run as far as they like. Also welcome: Bikers, Strollers, Wheelchairs, and leashed pets to join in on the Hike.

Date: Sept. 8

Time: 8 a.m. (early check-in and same day registration 7:30 a.m)

Location: Starts at Panera Bread, Fayetteville

More info: Click here to register or visit the website.

Goodwill Industries grand opening in Fayetteville

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas recently announced the grand opening of our sixth location in Northwest Arkansas. The ribbon-cutting will take place at the new store on Sept. 13 at 8:45 a.m. at 703 Appleby Rd., the former home of ALDI’s grocery store. The new 14,620-square-foot building will feature retail space, a career services center and donation center. The store will immediately provide 20 jobs. The career services center will provide free training, education and employment services.

Date: Sept. 13

Time: 8:45 a.m.

Location: 703 Appleby Road, Fayetteville (formerly ALDI’s grocery store)

Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra Dinner

Enjoy a 5-course meal and beverages with great music featuring Calle Soul (salsa band) and the Arkansas Philharmonic String Quartet. Donation is $100 ($50 tax deductible). The APO is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to broaden and deepen the appreciation of the musical arts through performance and education.

Date: Sept. 22

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: Rolando’s Latina Cantina, Rogers

More info:

Bikes, Blues & BBQ

The first Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally was held in the year 2000 with just over 300 riders. Today, Bikes, Blues & BBQ is the largest motorcycle rally in the United States benefiting local charities. Last  year, it was estimated that over 400,000 people attended the rally from all 50 states and many other countries.

Date: Sept. 26-29

Time: Noon

Location: Fayetteville

More info: Click here to visit the official site.


Fayetteville – www.faylib.org for a full calendar.

Bentonville – www.youseemore.com/bentonville for a full calendar.

Springdale – www.springdalelibrary.org for a full calendar.

Rogers – library.rpl.lib.ar.us for a full calendar.

NWA Mama Doc: Doctor makes a confession

By Dr. Haley Vo, Mercy physician and mama of 3

I have a confession to make. After 8 years of school, 3 years of post-graduate training, and 3 years of private practice, there’s still something I struggle with each and every day. I have seen the effects of poor lifestyle on people for several years, yet it’s still something that is hard for me. I preach the benefits of good decisions, but I don’t always make them myself.

That’s right, making healthy lifestyle choices doesn’t come easy for me. To remind myself of all the healthy things I should be doing, and hopefully help out a few other moms, I’m jotting down a few recommendations for healthy living.

Let’s start here: exercise. It’s 8 letters. That means it’s a double four-lettered word. It’s hard. I know it is. But it is soooooo important to your health.

Current recommendations by the American Heart Association to stay healthy include 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise for at least 150 minutes each week (30 minutes, 5 days a week). If you’re trying to lose weight, then that number likely needs to be doubled.

As a busy mom of 3, I understand that finding time is difficult. However, I try to remind myself that investing the hours now will hopefully lead to extra years with them later.

Just in case you need a little help on getting motivated to exercise, here are some benefits:

  • Decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Decrease your risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s)
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Improve your mood
  • Helps to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia

Moving on to diets…. I’m frequently asked about recommendations for how to improve someone’s diet. We live in a world where cheap, highly processed food is available 24 hours a day.

There was a 24-hour McDonald’s and a Taco Bell open till 4 a.m. across the street from one of the hospitals where I trained. I’m embarrassed to guess how many Quarter Pounders with Cheese and 7-Layer burritos I consumed at 3 a.m. Nobody needs that! (disclaimer: This is not a slam against those fast food restaurants. There are healthier choices at both of those establishments. I just never chose them, and I bet I’m not the only one.) Apples just didn’t seem to taste as good in the middle of the night.

Here are some general diet recommendations:

  • Everyone needs 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables, everyday. Do not count juice for more than 1 of those servings.
  • 25-30 grams of fiber daily is a good goal. If you begin reading labels, you’ll learn that is a lofty goal for most.
  • Only 2-3 servings of red meat and/or pork WEEKLY. Yep, that’s right. Most of your protein should be from lean sources.
  • Increase your “good fats”, including omega 3 fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fats. Some good sources of these are fatty fish such as tuna or salmon (fried catfish doesn’t count!), tree nuts, olives, avocados, olive and canola oil, just to name a few.
  • Milk should be skim or 1% for everyone over the age of 2, unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
  • Cut out soft drinks. Just don’t drink them. One here and there won’t hurt you, but really, you don’t need them.

Finally, I hear this all the time: “I have to keep chips and cookies and Little Debbie’s Snacks around because I have kids.” Unless you have willpower greater than 95% of the general population, you will eat them if they are in your pantry. Trust me. Little Debbie’s Holiday Cakes are my kryptonite. I’m salivating just thinking about Christmas Tree Cakes.

Listen closely: Your kids don’t need them either. Really. Even if your children are very small for their age (which is defined as less than the 3rd percentile on the growth chart), they do not need to get extra calories from junk food! I have a whole list of high calorie recipes from Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Christmas Tree Cakes are not on there one time. I checked twice just to be sure.

So that’s my speech, mamas. I hope you find it useful and take at least part of it to heart. After all, your heart is depending on it.

Photo credit: Flickr

To visit with Dr. Vo in person, you can schedule an appointment with her by calling the Mercy Clinic Primary Care Sugar Creek in Bella Vista.  It’s located at 24 Sugar Creek Center and the phone number is 479-876-1414. Same day appointments will be available at the clinic.

If you have a general health question for Dr. Vo, you can email it to mamas@nwaMotherlode.com and she may answer it in a future post.

Good Gossip: Celeb proposals, close calls, weight loss or a new book

Time to serve up a steaming hot dish of Good Gossip – the only guilt-free celebrity news column in Northwest Arkansas. We strip out all the nasty half-truths and give you only the good stuff. This delicious post is sponsored by Great Day Farms, a national brand based right here in NWA. (FYI: Great Day is a sister brand to RingO’s Chicken Rings, and you can get a $1.25 coupon from the RingO’s Facebook page today. Just click HERE and then click the “coupons” tab and print it out. Happy shopping… and eating!)

Avril Lavigne will be heading down the aisle with her boyfriend Chad Kroeger, who is a singer and guitarist for Nickelback. The two met about six months ago when they got together to collaborate and cowrite a song for her upcoming album. Apparently, the writing went well and so did the new romance. Kroeger gave Avril a pear-shaped diamond ring with a half-moon diamond on both sides. There are more than 14 carats worth of diamonds.

What if your job required you to lose weight? Actors often have to do it to take on movie roles. Matthew McConaughey lost 30 pounds for his current role in The Dallas Buyer’s Club. He plays a man with AIDS. Tom Hanks lost 50 pounds for the movie Castaway. Rapper 50 Cent also lost 50 pounds while on a nine-week liquid diet in order to play a cancer patient in the movie All Things Fall Apart. Matt Damon lost 40 pounds in 1996 for the movie Courage Under Fire. And Christian Bale lost a whopping 63 pounds in order to play a man with insomnia in the movie The Machinist. He did it by eating one can of tuna and one apple a day.

Funny man and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel proposed to Molly McNearney, his girlfriend since 2009. She is a co-head writer on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show.

Sounds like Rosie O’Donnell, who is only 50, had a very close call when she had a heart attack. She took an aspirin when she began experiencing symptoms (nausea and an achy chest) but was unsure of the cause and waited a day before going to the doctor. The doctor discovered a major blockage and inserted a stent and now Rosie is recovering well.

For those of us who spent our teen years watching Molly Ringwald movies, we may want to check out Molly’s newest project — a book called When It Happens To You: A Novel in Stories. It got rave reviews in a recent issue of People magazine. These interlinked stories cover topics including love, loss, fertility, child stardom and more.

Source: People magazine, September 3, 2012 editions

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.)

Mealtime Mama: Q&A with celebrity chef John McLemore plus recipes!

Celebrity Chef John McLemore will be signing his brand new cookbook, “Dadgum, That’s Good, Too! at the Cabela’s Sporting Goods grand opening on Thursday morning near Pinnancle Promenade.

We asked John, CEO of Masterbuilt, a few questions and to share two of his favorite recipes:

Which cookbooks will you be signing at the Cabela’s opening? My new cookbook, “DADGUM That’s Good, Too!” (and I will also sign my first cookbook, “DADGUM That’s Good!” for anyone who brings one.)

What was the first meal you recall making? Fried fish with my dad.

Why (and when) did you decide to write your first cookbook? I always wanted to write a cookbook and share recipes from all of our travels and family get-togethers, but really became serious about it in 2009.  QVC requested a cookbook that would be a guide for all of our cooking products and it became that and so much more.

Does your wife leave most of the meal prep to you? What’s her favorite thing for you to make? I do most of the prep and cooking for the main dish and Tonya prepares the side dishes. She loves my smoked prime rib and smoked salmon.  She is a big fan of our Grilled Blackberry Cobbler, also.

What about the kids’ favorites? Do you have any picky eaters among your three? There are no picky eaters in the McLemore house.  The kids really love grilled steak and smoked mac n’ cheese.  One of their favorite desserts is fried donuts.

Here are two of John’s favorite recipes:

Cajun Fried Turkey

1 10 to 12 pound fresh or frozen turkey
3 Gallons oil for frying
1 (12-ounce) jar Butterball Buttery Creole Marinade
Butterball Cajun Seasoning to taste

Directions: Completely thaw turkey, if frozen. Preheat oil to 400º F. Remove giblets and neck; reserve for other uses. If present, remove and discard plastic leg holder and pop-up timer. Rinse turkey well with cold water; drain cavity. Dry turkey well with paper towels. Inject 1/2 cup marinade into each side of breast. Inject 1/4 cup marinade into each leg and thigh. Sprinkle turkey generously with Butterball Cajun Seasoning. Place turkey, breast side up, in basket. Slowly lower basket into hot oil; be cautious of splattering oil. Maintain oil temperature around 350º F. Fry turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound. Remove from oil to check doneness. Insert an instant-read thermometer in the meaty part of the thigh; it is done when it reads 180º F. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Let rest 15 minutes. Carefully carve with sharp knife.

Low Country Boil

½ cup Butterball® Cajun Seasoning (or your favorite seafood boil seasoning or bag)

2 lbs. of whole new potatoes

8 to 12 pieces of short-ear corn

2 lbs. pre-cooked smoked sausage (­ to 1-inch thick slices)

2 lbs. shrimp, preferably split and deveined

Dipping Sauce:

½ cup butter

4 medium cloves garlic, minced

Serves 4 to 6


1. Fill Butterball® or Masterbuilt Fryer to the MAX fill line with water. (NOTE: If using a seasoning bag, place bag in basket.) Set heat to 375° F and bring to a boil. This will take approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Add whole potatoes to basket and lower carefully into boiling water; boil for 12 minutes.

3. Add corn to the potatoes, and boil an additional 9 minutes.

4. Add sausage to the potatoes and corn, continuing to boil for 9 more minutes.

5. Lastly, add shrimp. Boil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes until shrimp are pink. Total cooking time for the boil is 33 to 35 minutes. Lift the basket from the hot water slowly, hooking the drain clip on the basket into drain clip mounting hole. Allow Low Country Boil to drain, and serve hot.

Dipping Sauce:

1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over a low heat. Add minced garlic and mix. Drizzle butter sauce over each plate or serve on the side.

***You can substitute 1 lb. of crawfish for 1 lb. of the shrimp in this recipe.***

Don’t forget: John will be signing autographs at the Cabela’s grand opening on Thursday (Aug. 30) at 9 a.m.!

Giveaway: Tickets to see STOMP at Walton Arts Center

Note from the mamas: Congratulations to Jennifer DeRose! She won these awesome tickets + dinner!

Happy Monday, mamas! This week we’re giving away an amazing night at Walton Arts Center to see the legendary show STOMP on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 8 p.m. It’s one of those shows that’s so unusual that it’s tough to explain, which is why we thought it would be best to give you a video clip taste of it.

Fun stuff, huh? This is one of those shows that you’ll be talking about for a long time after the last performer stomps off stage.

We’re pairing TWO tickets to the show with an equally amazing dinner at Bordinos Italian Restaurant on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, just steps away from the Walton Arts Center. This date night package would normally cost almost $200.

ABOUT THE SHOW: STOMP has earned its reputation as an international percussion sensation. It has appeared on lots of national TV shows and has won awards and rave reviews around the world. The eight people in this show use everything BUT the normal percussion instruments you would expect. They use matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps and more to fill the theater with rhythm.

If you’re thinking of taking your kids to see this show, you should be safe in terms of content. Information we’ve been given indicates that the content is suitable for most audiences including kids — especially if your kids LOVE to make noise. :-)

If you have seen this show before, you should check it out again because it has been updated with two new routines that use props like tractor tire inner tubes and paint cans. USA Today says “STOMP finds beautiful noises in the strangest places.”

ABOUT THE FOOD: We love sending our winning mamas to Bordinos because they always tell us afterward that the food and service was incredible. We love hearing that! Moms deserve a great night out on the town. As for the food itself, we think the menu selections say it all: Beef Tenderloin Meatballs in a Port Wine Tomato Sauce with Parmesan Crisps; Chicken Fettucini with Roasted Bell Peppers, Spinach, Shittakes in a White Wine Cream Sauce. And then maybe you could finish it off with their famous “Chocolate Mousse Dome.” (Is anybody else starving now besides us?) Click here to see the entire Bordinos menu.

HOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the online hat to win STOMP tickets and dinner at Bordinos, click the big orange comment button below and tell us what your favorite “noise” is. Is it raindrops on the window at night as you fall asleep? Maybe the sound of a baby’s belly laugh? We are quite fond of the clickity-click-click of fingers tapping away on a computer keyboard, for obvious reasons. :-)

You can also send your answers to us via email at giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS: We know this show is going to be hugely popular, so you can increase your odds of scoring the free tickets simply by helping us spread the word. Send an email to your friends/family about the giveaway and be sure to put giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com on the CC line of your email so we can give you credit. We’ll give you an extra chance to win for each person you tell. Easy as that.

HOW TO GUARANTEE YOUR TICKETS: Well… just buy some! And this is a show you definitely don’t want to miss, so we’d recommend reserving your tickets asap if this is a “must-see” show for you. Call the Walton Arts Center Box Office at 479-443-5600 to order tickets or click HERE to order them online.

Good luck in the giveaway! We always choose winners using a random number generator so anyone can win. We’ll email the winner at the end of the week, so please watch your inbox for a message from us!

Giveaway: Polo in the Ozarks date night!

Note from the mamas: Congratulations to Jane Keen, winner of the Polo date night!

Woo-hoo! Two giveaways in one week! We always like to bring giveaways to Northwest Arkansas mamas which pass our strict test: they must have the “wow” factor. This one has definitely got it.

We’re giving away two “gala package” adult tickets to attend the Polo in the Ozarks match and gala on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. It promises to be a unique, fun date night.

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

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

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

HOW TO ENTER: Click on the orange comment button below and answer one of these questions: What’s the most unusual date you’ve ever been on? Or tell us why you could really use a date night right now. The Northwest Arkansas polo event is more family fun than super-fancy, though, and supports a great cause!

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

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

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

Devotion in Motion: Growing comfortable in my own skin

34 Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.Proverbs 3:34 (NKJV)

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

Thalidomide was a drug once given to pregnant women to treat morning sickness. It was later found to cause severe birth defects and was banned.

The coolest thing in the world is when a person is completely comfortable in his own skin. And for some reason, when we possess that quality others are attracted to us.

You know what I’m talking about. You see it in the thalidomide victim who is a dynamic school teacher. You see it in the cancer patient who wears a bright red cap. You see it in the less-than-beautiful girl whose vibrant personality, loving manner, and sense of style combine to make her a knock-out at the wedding.

I haven’t reached the point where I want to be yet, but as each day passes I become more and more comfortable in my own skin. I think part of that has to do with being 50 years old. By the time you turn 50 you’ve lived long enough to work out some of the issues that you developed when you were in the 8th grade.

When you’re in junior high school, the world is divided into two groups: “The Beautiful People” and “The Wormy Kids With Bad Haircuts.” (Guess which category I fell into.) Even if you are in the better category, when you’re a teenager you may not even realize it. I recently was talking to a friend from high school who was a couple of grades ahead of me.

I said, “I envied you so much. You were one of the cool people.” She replied, “I didn’t think of myself as one of the cool people then, and I still don’t now. Back then I was ‘awash in a sea of cheerleaders.’” It’s a sad reality of life; most people don’t feel comfortable with the things they have or being who they are.

My wife Susan isn’t 50 yet, but I think she is progressively getting more comfortable in her own skin, too. When we were first married, she felt like she had to wax the ceilings and polish the toilets if anybody was coming to the house to visit.

But not too long ago, as we were awaiting the arrival of some “important” company, I noticed that she had given the house her usual thorough “Saturday cleaning” but really wasn’t panicking about doing anything over-the-top. I asked her what had brought about this change. She shrugged her shoulders. “We’re clean people,” she replied. “We vacuum the floors, wear clean clothes, and we’re clean-living, too. I don’t guess we really have to apologize to anybody.” (That’s another one of the 8 million reasons I’m still in love with her.)

William Carey

One of my heroes in the faith who embodied this attitude was William Carey. He was an English Baptist missionary who lived back in the late 1700’s, and he is known as “the father of modern missions.” Dr. Carey had grown up in poverty and desired to be a missionary during a time when being in such a ministry required financial wherewithal and political pull.

While attending a state dinner, one of the prominent guests sought to shame him by pointing out the young missionary’s humble beginnings. “Brother Carey,” he said in a voice that everyone in the room could hear, “is it not true that you were once a shoemaker?” With great humility, the man of God kindly replied, “No sir, that is not true. I was never that skilled. I was only a cobbler — a shoe repairman.”

By the grace of God (or sometimes in spite of it) we all are what we are. We all have our share of faults. And if there is anything good in us, well, it’s only there because Jesus put it there. Let’s accept who we are and what the Lord has given us, even as we strive to follow Him more faithfully. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 27 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, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the folks don’t see the need to “put on airs”). The Cashes have two sons, Spencer (age 21), and Seth (age 18), who live in the parsonage, too, except when they are away at college. He would love to hear from you in an email sent to countrypreacherdad@gaggle.net.

The Rockwood Files: Mama in a quiet house

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

By this time next week, I’ll be sitting in a quiet house. The boys will have gone back to school and this time they’ll be taking Kate with them. Kate, the baby of the family, begins kindergarten on Monday. Her new Tinkerbell backpack is stuffed full of school supplies and waiting by the back door.

For the first time in more than a decade, I’ll have seven whole hours stretching in front of me once the three of them walk through those elementary school doors. I’m mostly happy about it. It has been so long since I was able to work and write uninterrupted that I’m not even sure I’ll know how to handle it. I’ve become accustomed to the sudden starts and stops of working in a noisy house where someone always needs a grilled cheese sandwich or a Band-Aid or a witness to their new high score on Super Mario Brothers.

The thought of that much time to myself sounds decadent. I can finally clean out those closets and work on that photo album and tackle the long list of projects that get put off for another day. Heck, I might even stop and take a little cat nap if I want to. No one will be here to wake me and ask for a juice box and a game of Connect Four.

But that’s what makes me a little sad, too – the fact that no one will be here to ask for a juice box and play time. Kate won’t crawl into my lap while I’m at the computer and ask me what I’m writing about. My babies – my best and most important work – will be off chasing their own adventures at school.

As much as I’m looking forward to some peaceful hours on my own, I also wonder if I’ll still feel like a mama if I don’t have a baby on my hip or a toddler to tag along with me to Target. Will I still feel as needed if I’m not shuttling a preschooler to play dates or reading picture books before naptime? It’s not just the kids who are growing up and changing. It happens to mothers, too.

Other moms who have already cleared this hurdle tell me that life will be different but I’ll adjust quickly. They say those seven peaceful hours will go by in a blur and get filled with work and errands and the countless responsibilities we all juggle in addition to kids. They say the main difference is that I’ll get to go to lunch with a grown-up when I want to and not feel the need to pick a restaurant with chicken nuggets on the menu. I’ve got to admit – that does sound nice.

Having all three kids in school will hopefully bring a little more balance to the day – some quiet hours to work while the kids are away, balanced out by the flurry of activity that rushes in when the bus drops them off at 3:15 p.m. There will still be after-school grilled cheese sandwiches to make. There’ll be basketball practices and gymnastics lessons and swim team sessions to shuttle them to and from. And there will be homework, of course, to fill in the gaps.

As they walk away from me Monday morning, I’ll be walking away from this phase of my life – a phase that has pushed me to my physical and emotional limits at times but one that has also blessed me with so many incredible moments. Raising human beings is the ultimate adventure. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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.

Fashion Fairy Godmother: Late summer clothes for him, them and you!

Dear Fashion Fairy Godmother,

What should we wear for a family outing to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings? We always seem to run into friends and acquaintances while we’re there and it would be nice to look a little more put together. Any suggestions?

September in Northwest Arkansas is almost magical — the shiny new school supplies, the undying hope that the home team will go all the way this year, and a welcome drop in temperatures.

But between team practices and music lessons and after-school tutoring and tailgating, it seems like there’s never a chance to get the whole family together. By taking advantage of the farmer’s market, you have a chance to make up for this and more. A trip to the square on Saturday morning is an easy way to get several things accomplished at once:

Grocery shopping: done
Live music event: attended
Easy home decor: accomplished with fresh flowers
Time spent together with the family: most definitely

As for what to wear, Dad will be comfortable in a t-shirt and pair of shorts. Let folks know you support the local movement by grabbing a “Made in Arkansas” onesie for the youngest Razorback fan in your life. The portable water container will keep them both hydrated.

A loose fitting jersey maxi dress just begs for the layers that will be needed as the season progresses, but for a crisp early morning in September all you need to grab is a pretty scarf and your favorite pair of earrings. Big and tough is the way to go for a bag to bring to the farmer’s market. (This particular patterned lovely is big enough to fit everything from your diaper bag and your nice camera. Bonus points: It’s easily wipeable and has at least eight pockets.)

And these sandals!!

Uber comfortable, insanely versatile, and they support a women powered business that fights poverty in Africa. That friends is a win all around. (Most especially for your toes which are soaking up every bit of sunshine they can get before being stuffed into a pair of boots all winter.) Learn more about the lovely sandals HERE.

The best part? Every single piece in this post can be found locally in The Mustache on the square in Fayetteville, their new location right off the square in Bentonville, or online HERE. While you’re there, tell Brian and Ashley we said “hello”; they are such cool people.

About our Fashion Fairy Godmother: Paige Meredith @ApproachingJoy is a “Fabulous twenty something who’s into photography, food, fashion, fun. I blog because I believe everyone’s prettier when they share.” Click here to read Paige’s fabulous blog. Click here to follow her on Twitter @ApproachingJoy. Thanks, Paige, for being our Fashion Fairy Godmother this month. We love your picks!

Picture Mama: Back-to-school pictures!

Happy Friday, mamas! How was the first full week of school?

Thanks so much for sending in your snapshots of the kids heading back to class. We LOVE those cute, excited faces. Take a look!

A new school year “takes flight.” Love those wings!

Look out, First Grade. She’s on her way!

Backpack? Check. Nice haircut? Check. Sweet smile? Double check.

“It has been a fun summer, Mom, but we’ve got to be getting back to our office now.”

Thanks to Pinterest, now our back-to-school pics have cute props!

After dropping off her high-school student, this Mama enjoyed a cup of coffee and the sweet taste of freedom. Ahhhhh! Tastes GOOD.

Mom’s Choice Award Winner: Aspire Gymnastics Academy

My 5-year-old daughter Kate practically cartwheeled out of the womb. The kid has not stopped moving since before birth. So I knew early on that I’d need to find an outlet for all that extra energy. When she took her first gymnastics lesson, she was in love.

For the past year, she has been taking lessons at Aspire Gymnastics Academy in Bentonville. (That’s Kate on the right with her awesome coach, Valerie, who she adores.) Aspire was recently voted “Best Gymnastics Lessons” in Benton County by moms voting in the 2012 Mom’s Choice Business Awards.

I wasn’t surprised to see Academy win this category because the facility and the coaches are top notch. I’ve been amazed at how quickly they teach students new skills. Below is an interview we did with the owners of Aspire, Steve and Karen Cherry.

When and how did Aspire gym get its start?

In 2004, a couple of moms decided the Bentonville area needed a quality, family-friendly place to take gymnastics. When enthusiastic moms get together, big things can happen. I started working at Aspire in 2005 as the director of the Tot program and later the Recreational Gymnastics program. I saw what a great place this was. When I had the opportunity to buy the gym from the previous owners in May 2010, we did it and re-named it Aspire Gymnastics Academy. I love this place, and I want to continue to offer the best experience to kids in Northwest Arkansas.

How many students do you teach each week?

We now average 900 students each week!

At what age can kids begin to learn gymnastics?

Our WeeTots program starts at 21 months of age.

What is the average class size?

For preschool and 5-year-old classes, we limit the class size to six students. For kids ages 6 and up, class sizes are limited to eight students each.

What different types of gymnastics classes/programs do you offer?

We offer preschool, recreational, competitive (both boys’ and girls’ teams), urban gymnastics and tumbling. (Click here to see a video that shows you what urban gymnastics looks like. Active boys, in particular, love this sport.)

How did your competitive team do in its most recent season?

We are so proud of these young athletes. The girls in our Level 7 team ranked 1st in the state of Arkansas. The Level 5 girls’ team also won 1st place statewide for their age group. And our Level 6 girls’ team ranked third in the state.

How do you ensure that students learn new skills safely?

We follow all USA Gymnastics (USAG) guidelines and our coaches stay certified with USAG by attending learning seminars and conventions with the most up-to-date safety guidelines for teaching gymnastics.

Other than physical fitness, what benefits does gymnastics offer for kids?

This sport teaches discipline, body awareness and listening skills, and it builds self-confidence as well.

What is it like to be a part of so many childhoods? What’s your favorite thing about your job?

It is so rewarding to know that you’re playing a role in a child’s physical and emotional growth and maturity. My favorite part of this job is watching a child learn a new skill because I get to see the big smile that spreads across their face. There’s nothing like it!

For more information about Aspire, click HERE to visit their website or call them at 479-464-9993.

5 ways to make your carpets last longer

New carpet isn’t cheap. We all know it’s a big investment and makes a HUGE difference in how your home looks. (No amount of dusting and cute furniture will make up for carpets that look terrible.) So when you’ve shelled out good money for carpet, it makes sense to do whatever you can to make it last as long as possible while looking as good as possible.

So we asked our favorite carpet expert, Matt Lane at Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning, to give us his best tips on how to extend the life and look of carpet. Heaven’s Best was recognized as one of the “Best Carpet Cleaning” services in Benton County in the 2012 Mom’s Choice Awards. (The company services all of Northwest Arkansas and also accepts Visa/Mastercard/Discover.) Votes collected from local mothers determined which businesses earned awards.

From Matt Lane, owner of Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning:

My advice to the mama’s is simple: You can’t vacuum too much. I know that’s not exactly great news, but carpet needs to stay free of debris and dirt. The longer you go between vacuuming, the more time dirt and dust has to make its way down into the carpet backing. This is especially true when there are pets in the household.

Mamas with allergies or kids with allergies to dust and dander will benefit greatly when they vacuum often. I prefer the closed filtration systems with a canister you empty. There are a lot of good units on the market and I really like a removable/cleanable HEPA filter. That’s what we use.

Secondly, when you do have a spill or an “oops”, you should use 50/50 white distilled vinegar and water to clean up. When the kids spill their juice, soak up as much of the spill as possible with a clean, white (so no color bleeds) cloth or paper towel. Mix up some vinegar and cold water in a spray bottle and spray down the area. Then use a new white cloth or paper towel to scrub the carpet and soak up the solution.

A great way to lift red or pink stains that have just happened is use ice cold water. Soak the spill and use a white cloth or paper towel to dry up. If you can’t get the stain out with ice water or 50/50 water and vinegar, give us a call and we would be happy to assist.

I strongly urge Mamas not to use ANY over the counter carpet cleaning products. They don’t work! They may appear to lift the stain, only to have it come back a few days later. Most leave a sticky residue and some will even ”bleach out” the carpet.

Another great tip is to rearrange your furniture a couple times a year to alter the traffic pattern in your rooms. Some rooms are hard to arrange more than one way but research shows that even when you move your furniture 6 inches forward, backward, left or right it’s enough to keep from building a ”trail” to your favorite chair.

To get a really thorough, deep clean, I also recommend having your carpet professionally cleaned at least once a year.

My last tip is rarely mentioned: Be sure to replace your return air filter once a month. I’ve been in a lot of homes where you can see black dust around the edge of the baseboards. This is caused by a ”choked up” return air duct.  It’s virtually impossible to remove. The lighter the color of your carpet, the more noticeable it is!

So, just to recap the 5 best ways to make your carpets last longer, here they are:

  1. Vacuum
  2. Clean up with a vinegar/water solution
  3. Rearrange the furniture
  4. Professionally clean the carpets once a year
  5. Replace the return air filter every month.

Tweens & Teens: The back-to-school clothes dilemma


Note from the mamas: It’s the first week of school, which means your tween or teen might be asking for more new clothes, if he or she hasn’t bagged them already. To help you navigate those tricky waters, here’s a great post written by child psychologist Dr. Billy Jones of Mercy Health.

Did you know clothing is the No. 1 item purchased by both male and female teenagers? It’s true. The money.jpgsecond is shoes for girls and video games for boys. I’ve read that teens spend approximately $150 billion dollars per year on clothing alone…yeah, billion.

I’ve heard several theories about the financial aspects of dressing your adolescent with everything ranging from doing extra chores to help pay for the clothes to giving them an unlimited amount on the credit card. If the latter is you, then we need to talk…quickly. No tween or teen needs to be given an unlimited amount of money for clothing. I do like the idea of extra chores around the house, though there are certainly times when I will get something for my 11-year-old for no reason other than he asks.

When you’re buying back-to-school clothing, you need to have a budget and your tween and teen can be included in helping with that budget. Adolescents are not typically realistic with money, and this is an excellent opportunity to help give them some perspective on life.

I’m afraid I can’t give you an exact amount you should spend on back-to-school shopping, as it will depend on your financial situation and personal preference. If I had to guess (please no letters about the guess), it would be $200-$400. This is only back-to-school clothing costs and does not include school supplies. Also, this only refers to back-to-school time rather than the entire year. And, yes, I understand that some tennis shoes cost that much alone; however, they are not worn by my children. If tennis shoes cost more than my electric bill, they are too expensive.

To help understand what clothing is popular, and what is not, you can consult various fashion magazines and their websites. Magazines such as Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and GQ are good places to start. Or, you could ask my wife since she’s always up to date on the latest trends. I never thought I would compliment someone on their shoes and/or purse, but alas, I do. Living with my wife has taught me more than I ever wanted to know about clothing.

After consulting fashion magazines to see what the latest styles may be, you can search the internet for designer clothes at bargain prices. You can also shop around by going to outlets, thrift stores, and ugh…the mall.

bare-midriff.jpgDressing modestly is a must, and I won’t budge on this one. I’ve seen WAY too much flesh on tweens and teens who come through my office, or just out in public. I will say this…If a girl advertises her goods, someone will answer her ad. Guys are on the prowl and their eyes, hands, and hormones are running wild at this age. If your daughter raises her arms and her tummy is showing, then you need to consider whether this outfit is too short for her.

I have also seen parents who try to dress like their teenager, which is just embarrassing.

From a developmental and emotional standpoint, clothing is an important way for adolescents to express themselves and give a glimpse of who they are. Simply buying the most expensive, or popular, clothing does not automatically give you style. Manners, charm, and confidence (and a few other things) are required. This is the time for adolescents to learn who they are, who they want to be, and who they do not want to be.

So, let’s all be realistic when buying clothing, especially with finances…we must also be sensitive to the fact that your tween and teen wants to be accepted and, as mentioned in a previous article, wants to avoid embarrassment. Having clothing that’s similar to others at school is one way they feel they can avoid embarrassment, which may give them some sense that they’re going to be automatically accepted. Though we know this is not true, they may not have yet learned this simple fact. At the same time, they want to establish their individual needs and style, and this is the time they will do so.

Whew…good luck.



Dr. Jones is a child psychologist with Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas. Click here to read previous articles on Tweens & Teens. Got a question for Dr. Jones? Send it to us (we won’t use your name) and we may feature it in an upcoming installment of Tweens & Teens.