Mamas on Magic 107.9: How to stay on holiday budget

Happy Friday, mamas! Are you heading out to do a little holiday shopping this weekend? We know how hard it is to not get caught up in the Christmas rush and end up spending too much money. Nobody likes to be flat broke in January!

So today during our Mamas on Magic segment, we talked about our attempts to stay on budget in December. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. If you missed the segment that aired on Magic 107.9 this morning at 7:45 a.m., click the blue bar below to hear it now.

Tips for staying on a holiday budget Nov. 30, 2012

Here are a few more helpful articles about not spending too much green this season.

How Do You Stay on a Budget During the Holidays, from the Real Simple website

9 Genius Ways to Save Money this Christmas, from the Good Housekeeping website

 

Picture Mama: Boutique Show shots + gift ideas!

We had SO much fun at the NWA Boutique Show on November 9-10, 2012. This event is always popular but this year the crowds were AMAZING. Seriously, the place was packed pretty much the entire time we were there, which was most of two days!

We were able to visit with so many moms (and often babies and kids, too) who stopped by the nwaMotherlode booth to say hello and to throw their name in the drawing for the free washer and dryer giveaway from Metro Appliances & More. (Click here to see who won!)

Shannon snapped a few photos with her iPhone during the Boutique Show, so we’re sharing them today in these nifty picture collages we whipped up at PicMonkey.com. (It’s a super fun photo site that is free to use, just in case you’re wondering.)

We want to say a big thank you to everyone who came by our booth. It’s always a real treat for us to be able to meet people in person because most of the time we only see you in cyberspace! We hope you guys know how much we appreciate you in the online world and in the real one. :-)

If you missed the NWA Boutique Show, here are links to a few of the vendors who were at the show:

 

December 2012: Northwest Arkansas Calendar of {Christmas} Events

Gardenland Express, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Date: Starts Dec. 1

Time: Varies

Location: BGO in Fayetteville

More info: Click here

Block City Bizarre 2012

Toast some marshmallows! Get your Christmas shopping done! Do it local, and do it indie. See the list of participating businesses and special things they have planned here.

Date: Sunday, Dec. 2

Time Noon to 4 p.m.

Location: Various Block Street businesses, Fayetteville

More info: Click here

Rogers Christmas Parade

Don’t miss the spectacular sparkle of the annual lighted Christmas parade, right through downtown Rogers on the evening of Dec. 3 (it’s always the first Monday in December). Floats, candy… and of course Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to visit with good boys and girls.

Date: Dec. 3

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Downtown Rogers

More info: Click here

FUPC Celebration of Light

The Fayetteville First United Presbyterian Church (FUPC) is pleased to announce their second annual Celebration of Light. FUPC cordially invites the community to join them on December 5, 12 and 19 for food, fun and fellowship from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. All programs include dinner at no charge. Wednesday, December 5 will be a Celebration at the Manger; On Wednesday, December 12 the program will be The First Noel; and Fa-La-La and other Favorite Christmas Songs will be featured Wednesday, December 19. All events are open to the public. In addition to the programs and dinners, atop the hill on the church campus there will be a spectacular life-size Nativity scene created by acclaimed local artist, Leilani Law. The lighted, drive-by Nativity scene may be viewed nightly throughout the Christmas season.

Date: Dec. 5, 12 and 19 (plus drive-by Nativity scene nightly)

Time: 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Location: Fayetteville First United Presbyterian Church is located at 695 Calvin just off Old Wire Road.

More info: Visit www.fupcfay.org or call the church office at (479) 442-4411.

Bentonville Christmas Parade

The theme is “Holiday Traditions Around the World”. One of the largest daytime parades in the state, the Bentonville Christmas Parade hosts thousands of participants and brings over 10,000 people into downtown to celebrate the holiday season.  Come early and stay late for the live music, food and festivities surrounding the event.

Date: Dec. 8

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Downtown Bentonville

More info: Click here

Kappa Gala Event benefiting the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter

Guest are asked to bring a charitable gift or toy to benefit the Northwest Arkansas children’s Shelter. Highlights: Scholarships for graduating local senior students; Dinner; Live Entertainment; Celebrity Host; Celebrity Guest DJ; Custom Art Display for sale. Ticket Price: $50 per person

Date: Dec. 8

Time: Cocktail hour 7 p.m.; Dinner at 8 p.m.

Location: Holiday Inn Springdale, Grand Ballroom

More info: For tickets or more information: kappaballnwa@gmail.com

MOPS Craft Fair and Cookie Walk

Free admission, merchants, raffle for gift baskets, and pack-your-own box of festive cookies.

Date: Dec. 8

Time: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: First United Methodist Church, Rogers

Events at The Rink at Lawrence Plaza

The ice skating rink is now open! Through Jan. 20 in Bentonville. Look for movie night events here. Pictures with Santa will be Dec. 17-18, Dec. 20-21 and Dec. 22. While you’re at the rink, drop a letter to Santa in the adorable mailbox they have there. Include a return address and mail it by Dec. 15 to make sure you get a letter back by Christmas.

Date: Varies

Time: Varies

Location: Lawrence Plaza, Bentonville

More info: City of Bentonville’s website

Mamas on Magic 107.9: The non-gift gift ideas

If you’ve ever tripped over your kids’ toys — or worried that your mother’s knick-knack shelf would crash to the floor under the weight of just one more trinket — you’re probably wondering how many “things” you really need to buy them for Christmas.

What if, instead of things, you placed “experiences”, like pottery lessons or a gift card to the local movie theatre, under the tree?

Today, in our Mamas on Magic 107.9 segment, we talked about great gifts that won’t need to be dusted once a week.

Click on the blue bar below to hear about some of them!

Gift ideas for things that aren’t things Nov. 29, 2012

Thanks for listening!

Animal behavior expert Denise Holmes helps solve pet problems in NWA

We get lots of comments about our Pet Parenting feature on nwaMotherlode.
What makes it so good is the practical approach that Northwest Arkansas pet behavior expert, Denise Holmes, takes when answering pet problem questions. She loves animals and it shines through in her answers.
We recently did a little Q&A with Denise and thought we’d share below. If you’re thinking about getting a puppy for Christmas, consider inviting Denise over to ensure (s)he becomes a fabulous member of the family, not a barking, accident-making pest :)
Q: How did you get started in an animal behavior career?

Purely by accident! I have always worked with animals, training my own pets, the neighbors animals, etc, and I was always good at it. However, my degree is in microbiology (i do have a minor in psych).

I went to school with the intentions of being a physician. After college, I was tired of school and had to be realistic about my study habits. I was looking for a job in pharmaceuticals, but there were a lot of changes going on in that industry at the time, and there was a lot of competition for jobs.

I knew it could take a few months, and when a friend suggested I apply for a job as the in-store trainer at a local large chain store, I did. This was way before Caesar had a TV show, and it had never occurred to me that something that came so naturally to me, was a service for which I could charge people. I had always just done it. When I left there, with zero intention of starting a business, my students came with me, calling me and asking me to finish their training. I felt I owed them that, so I did. Then, based simply on the referrals I received from those first few students, and the relationships I had built with local rescues and veterinarians, I started my business.

Q: You go to people’s houses to help with pet behavior problems, right?

Yes, I do, but I also offer a lot more (and not just with dogs). We can go anywhere the problem exists. I’ve worked at the park, the vet clinic, on the grooming table, you name it. In the beginning, I offered classes as part of my business, but this is just so much more personal. I really have the opportunity to get to know people, and customize a training program that gives families exactly what they want and need. And seeing the problem in action with my own eyes, gives me a much better perspective than relying solely on what a pet parent is able to tell me.

Q: What’s the most common problem that your clients in Northwest Arkansas have with their pets?

Potty training and door manners are the two things that seem to most frustrate people; no one wants a dog going in the house, and not having door manners is not only a nuisance to guests, but can be dangerous to the animal if they run into the street. I also get quite a few calls about aggression. However, I think in general, just establishing a basis of communication with another species can be difficult. I like to think I help translate. 

Q: Can you tell us about some unusual problems you’ve encountered?

I once had a client whose (little) dog was afraid to walk into the living room. They had tried everything they knew, but couldn’t solve the problem or figure out why the problem existed. We scheduled an appointment so that I could observe the behavior.

If you called the dog into the living room, it would run down the hall, then get real close to the wall and sort of ‘sneak’ into the living room. It only took a few minutes to realize that mounted above the fireplace was a replica of a Bald Eagle with wings and talons in full extension as if swooping in on prey.

I had them take the eagle off the wall and place it on the floor. We let the little dog sniff it, reluctantly at first, but then a little more confidently. I suggested that the mount stay on the floor for a few days, then they could try putting it back in place. Once the dog realized it wasn’t real, and it wasn’t going to eat him, the eagle went back on the wall and there were no more problems.

Another case that sticks in my mind was a dog named Gracie. She had grass allergies, but HATED to have her feet touched, and she was quite nasty about it. Over the course of many sessions, we able to teach her to plunge her feet into a water bucket and then dry them on a towel herself. This was one of those times when the solution wasn’t entirely clear when I first met the family, but ‘revealed’ itself over the course of time. We were actually working on something completely different when it occurred to me that we might be able to teach her to do that. I like it when that happens! It’s amazing what you can learn or figure out when you get to know the animals and their families.

Q: Can you share with us a few of the programs you’ve helped develop to help people and pets?

I have been very involved with animal-assisted therapy, even before beginning my business, but it’s not about helping people and pets, it’s about pets helping people, and it is something about which I am very passionate.

Animals can do amazing things. My proudest accomplishment is the work I did with Arkansas Children’s Hospital in 2000. They did not, at that time, have a visiting animal program, and the people who wanted one, were being met with resistance. I worked very closely with Esther Pipkin in Child Life, to help develop and coordinate a research project that would validate the impact animals could have on the children.

From the results of that study the TAILS program was created, and is now 12 years strong. I occasionally get the chance to go to ACH and watch the kids in the playroom interact with the dogs (they also do room visits, by ‘prescription’). Anyone who witnesses that knows the value of it; watching a child forget their illness, even for a moment, can bring tears to your eyes.

In NWA, I was very active in starting the Sit. Stay. Read! program at the Fayetteville Public Library. What began as an in-library referral-based (from teachers in the school district) program on Saturday mornings, is now in all but one Fayetteville elementary school, including St. Joseph’s. I am very proud of what Lolly Greenwood, and the Sit. Stay. Read! volunteers have accomplished. Emerging and struggling readers are being taught and encouraged simply by reading out loud to a dog! It’s really wonderful work, and I get very excited when I see that a new client might have the potential or desire to do therapy.

Q: Where can people find your CD that helps introduce pets to new babies/children?

My New Best Friend: The CD is available at Terra Tots in Springdale, through the Humane Society of the Ozarks (proceeds benefit the organization), the Freckled Frog in Little Rock, and through Amazon.com. I suggest that if someone is expecting their first baby, they get the CD as soon as possible and begin working through the sounds and the recommended steps. It also makes a great gift if you pair it with a Kong, and some Comfort Zone (two products recommended in the instructions).

Q: Your tagline on your website is “Love.Trust.Teach”? Tell us why those three words are so important to you.

I truly believe that’s the way it is, that’s the order of things. You can’t teach anyone, anything if they don’t trust you, they just aren’t going to care what you say. But if you have an honest, genuine love for them, they will feel that, and they will, eventually and sometimes with work, trust you. I think it goes for humans and animals both, really.

Mamas on Magic 107.9: Great gifts for moms!

Ho-ho-ho, mamas!

Are you already finished with your Christmas shopping? No way? Oh, thank goodness! We’re not even close. (For those of you who said yes, we salute you!) Well, we know that moms are awesome at picking out the perfect gift for the people we love. But sometimes it can be difficult for our loved ones to know what to buy for US.

Today, in our Mamas on Magic 107.9 segment, we talked about the best gift ideas for mom. The most important thing? The gift should show that you really know her — and what makes her eyes light up. For us, a gift card to our favorite store is absolutely fine, but we know not everyone loves that. So we also talked through a few things to NOT buy for mom.

If you missed this morning’s segment, click on the blue bar below to hear our suggestions:

Great gift ideas for Moms Nov. 28, 2012

For other suggestions on how to buy for your mama — or MIL — click on the links below:

Inside His Head: Husband turns into Scrooge at Christmastime

Dear Inside His Head guys,

This might sound rude, but my husband is obsessed with not spending money. With Christmas coming up, I can already feel my blood pressure going up. I’ll want to spend a reasonable amount of money on presents for the kids, family and friends and he’ll freak out that it’s “too much”. Do you have any advice for us? It makes both of us nuts every year and is NO FUN.

Thank you!

GRAY: So shoving a cup of egg nog under his nose and encouraging him to get in the Christmas spirit isn’t working, eh? Not to worry, the financial side of the holidays can bring out the Grinch in the best of us.

My suggestion is not to poke or prod the Grinch because it only makes him angry. Instead, use strategy. Getting hit with the bill all at once can make anyone’s heart shrink a few more sizes, but if you divide it up throughout the year it makes it easier to swallow. Set aside money each month or try to buy gifts as early in the year as you’re able.

Appeal to his strength. Ask if he’ll set up an account for just this sort of thing. Maybe it’s not just for Christmas, but birthdays and other special occasions as well.

If he feels more in control over the amount and understands what it’s going to be spent on right out of the gate it may melt a few of those icicles.

Make sure your idea of reasonable is reasonable. Those Jing Tinglers, Flu Floopers and Tar Tinkers can add up to more than you may realize. If he’s not just a miser, but genuinely worried about making sure the mortgage is paid then it might be a good idea to scale back some.

And the best advice I could pass along is to remember how the Whos in Whoville were still happy for Christmas even without the presents. If all your fun is centered squarely on getting and giving things then maybe you ought to shift your focus.

After all, the gift that made the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes didn’t come in wrapping paper.

MAVERICK: I’m assuming an average person would consider his stance stingy at best. Basically, you can afford to spend a “reasonable” amount but for some reason he can’t seem to ease up?

Is he just a cheapo in general? Does he hesitate to spend any money?

It’s hard to battle something like that. It’s likely deeply ingrained.

But you can work on him.

Be specific. Don’t say, “Let’s spend $200 on Billy’s big present this year.” Instead, try something like: “Billy has really stepped up with his chores and school work this year, let’s get him that tablet he’s been wanting. He’s earned it.”

Then his only argument is – that’s too much money. To which you can reply, “We have it. It won’t kill us to spend it. And he deserves it.”

Be firm but don’t start a fight. If you can afford the expense, in the end, he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Just don’t attack him for being cheap. Just point out that his assessment you can’t afford it, is simply not the case. Remember though, that if he really is a deeply, cheap person, it will likely be hard for him to agree.

In the end, though there’s money involved, make sure the focus isn’t the spending but that the presents are what the kids want and deserve.

If he does loosen up some, be supportive. Let him know how happy it makes you that he’s willing to relent and get the kids a proper gift. Let him know his decision to open the purse strings has made the season a little more fun for everyone.

Eventually, he’ll see the light.

MICHAEL: This is tough. It’s apparent you two have different ideas about what “reasonable” is. I know we have somewhat similar issues in our house. It’s more philosophical than financial. I’ve always wanted to minimize the gifts so as not to make it too commercial. I prefer to get the kids things throughout the year instead.

You don’t say what your husband’s reasoning is. It sounds like its just that he’s tight with his money. Perhaps you could shorten your list of recipients and spend more per person. Most people have enough stuff laying around their house, another $20 trinket isn’t going to help things.

Instead, for those not in your immediate family, you could do something different like a more personal note in their card. Or send them some baked goods. I know I’d rather have that than something from the $20 gift table at Kohl’s.

If you are intent on spending more total money then you’ve got to start planning ahead. You’re going to have to save during the year or take a part time job to supplement the funding. Just remember the lesson that you are teaching your kids is that you can’t have a nice Christmas without spending lots of cash. Plus most of the the things they get are forgotten by January.

Differences of opinion about money are difficult to get past. It sounds like you have underlying issues around the subject. If this is something that is going to happen every year I’d recommend seeing a counselor to help work through your differences, because these subjects can cause a lot of underlying tension in the relationship that will show up in other areas.

Mamas on Magic 107.9: Hot Toys for 2012

The shopping season is in full swing, but you may be at a loss for what to put under the Christmas tree this year for the kids. We’re here to help!

Today, in our Mamas on Magic 107.9 segment, we talked about some of the season’s most sought-after toys. As you can see from the graphic above, the Crayola Digital Light Designer made the list as well as the retro Cabbage Patch Kids and a new high-tech Furby.

Click on the blue bar below to hear what other toys made the list (and tune in every day at 7:45 a.m. this week for more shopping tips, tricks and ideas!):

Hot toys for the holidays Nov. 27, 2012

On Your Mind: “I worry all the time…”

Dear Tom,

I feel uptight all the time because I have fears that something bad might happen to one of my kids or my husband or my parents. I can’t seem to stop imagining worst-case scenarios. What can I do to make this constant worrying stop?

Dear Mom:

Sorry you’re feeling the uneasiness of constant worry. Some people are worriers; others are more laid back. A little worry or anxiety is a useful thing – if it were not for the motivation of a little anxiety, we would never catch a train, pass an exam or meet a deadline.

But there are people who constantly worry about money, their job, their family, their health and anything else they can think of. In this case, the chronic worrying is a form of anxiety and may disrupt daily functioning. When this happens, the chronic worry or anxiety causes us to feel nausea or headaches, not sleep well, and/or be more irritable with people around us.

Some folks who worry a lot have some form of anxiety, so they need to understand some of the triggers that may cause anxiety. Knowing the triggers or factors can help you identify the problem and find ways to deal with it.

Some of the causes of excessive worry or anxiety are genetics, chemical imbalance in the brain, or simply a certain way of thinking. Some tips to relieve worry or anxiety are practicing staying in the present (mindfulness), letting go of things you cannot control, and learning to embrace uncertainty as a normal part of life. There ARE ways to get help in practicing these tips. Self-help meditation and mindfulness videos or tools are available online or at your local bookstore.

For more professional help, you can talk to your doctor or to a therapist who can teach you tips on how to slow down or relieve the constant worry or anxiety. In some cases, medication may be of help but that measure would certainly require a talk with your doctor or a psychiatrist. The main message, Mom, is that you’ve taken a very healthy first step because you recognize that worrying is really impacting your life in a way you don’t want. Now, take that next step to help yourself; you can do it.

Tom

Tom Petrizzo serves as CEO of Ozark Guidance and has degrees in social work and law. You can reach Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020.  Tom 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.

Mamas on Magic 107.9: Genius ideas for hiding Christmas gifts

Happy Monday, mamas!

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and survived Black Friday shopping. Speaking of shopping, we bet many of you now have a few gifts you’d really like to remain a surprise until Christmas morning.

Today in our Mamas on Magic 107.9 segment, we shared some genius ideas for stashing all those presents you’ve already scored.

Click on the blue bar below if you missed it this morning (and tune in every day at 7:45 a.m. this week for more shopping tips, tricks and ideas!):

Where to hide the gifts! Nov. 26, 2012

Below are a few of the good ideas we mentioned on the air this morning (and a few we didn’t) for where to hide gifts:

  • An ice chest
  • Luggage
  • Your office (or your husband’s)
  • In the bottom of a clothes hamper

Who won the washer and dryer from Metro? Meet her here!

Fayetteville photographer Erica Erck was feverishly editing holiday photos for her clients when she got a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize.

Distractedly, she answered the phone and heard news that shocked her: she had won the brand new washer and dryer from Metro Appliances & More in the annual fall Motherlode giveaway.

After a few questions: “Are you sure? Are you serious?” she finally announced, “I”m about to fall over right now.”

Erica is mama to three little ones, so she is familiar with the ins and outs of laundry. In the washer, out of the washer. In the dryer, out of the dryer. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It sometimes surprises her how much laundry her family of five generates.

“I feel like I can never stop,” she said. “I am constantly doing laundry. This is the greatest thing a mom could ask for!”

The Erck’s current washer and dryer has been around since Erica and her husband married 12 years ago. The machines have been hauled across country many times as the family moved for Erica’s husband’s job. He works for the University of Arkansas as an athletics fundraiser.

Erica said the new, improved models might give her a little laundry respite since they’ll be able to wash and dry more clothes at once. “These will be big enough for our family,” she said.

Erica is a kids and family photographer and grew up in Little Rock. After various moves, and taking her photography business with her each time, she’s enjoying her time in NWA. The Ercks have been back for nearly three years.

Metro delivered the Ercks’ news machines last week, just two days before Thanksgiving. Erica sent us this little pictorial:

Thankful … and excited to do laundry!

can’t you just hear the BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. ?!

This was my first meeting of the new machines. Can’t you feel the excitement?!

And TA DA!! Here they are in their new home, our new home, with a pile of laundry waiting every day! THANK YOU NWA MOTHERLODE and METRO APPLIANCES. We are so grateful for this prize … Happy THANKSgiving!

Come out Thursday night for some fun + help women and girls in need!

We’d love for some of you mamas in the Motherlode community to join us Thursday night for Womenade of NWA’s annual “BRA-raiser”.

The event, called Give Thanks for the Girls, benefits local agencies that serve women and girls in need like Peace at Home Family Shelter, Fayetteville’s Glass Slipper Project and the NWA Children’s Shelter. It’s from 6-9 p.m. at Mermaid’s Seafood Restaurant in Fayetteville on Nov. 29th. (Click here to visit the event page on Facebook)

Admission is only $10 or a new bra (all sizes needed!). It’s not necessary, but you’re also invited to join in the bra decorating fun. Just take one of your bras and get crafty with it! Enter your creation in the decorating contest for a chance to win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place and all kinds BRAgging rights! Woot!

Motherlode co-founder Shannon will be one of the “celebrity” judges, along with Kim Sharpe of Citiscapes Magazine, Tim & Jeff from Power 105.7,  Brad Reed from Fox News Edge, Stephanie McCratic from EvolvedMommy.com and Lela Davidson, author of Blacklisted from the PTA and the soon to be released Who Peed on my Yoga Mat?

For inspiration, here are a few decorated bra pics that have been featured on the Womenade Facebook page:

Please come out and help support the girls Thursday night!

 

Devotion in Motion: The gift of understanding

1 ¶ O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. ~ Psalm 139:1,2  (NKJV)

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

Throughout this November, people have been making lists of blessings for which they are thankful. Thankfulness is a holy habit and one that is commended by Scripture. So, today I’d like to mention just one thing that I am particularly thankful for today: I am thankful for you, my loyal readers.

When I started writing my weekly online column 4 ½ years ago, I imagined that only my relatives and church members would read it. But that’s not what has happened at all. I’ve been amazed that my readership comes from all age groups and every walk of life; from places all over the United States and around the globe; from people who have known me all my life, from people I’ve met in the past, and folks who have never met me at all. I’ve found that you, my faithful readers, are a very diverse group.

But, judging from your many comments, emails, and feedback, I believe that you all have something in common: You all “get me.” After all, isn’t that how we choose which columnists we read? When I write something, you read it, and immediately you know where I’m coming from. Then, sometimes you come back the next week to read again. This is a great blessing—the blessing of being valued and understood. It may be the greatest blessing of all. Thank you for that gift.

Back in July, Susan and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. For a present, she bought me something that I have always wanted–a concrete statue of St. Francis of Assisi. I am glad that he is now standing in our flower bed because I have always loved “The Prayer of St. Francis” :

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

Did you notice that Brother Francis said it should be our goal to understand others rather than to be understood ourselves? Writing my column has made me realize why this is so. When a person feels he is understood, even in small things, it changes everything. It makes that person feel like their life’s work is worthwhile. That’s why we should daily pray to understand others—because it can make all the difference in the world for them.

So, dear reader, thank you for taking time to read these words each week. Thank you for your kind comments and notes. But most of all, thank you for understanding.

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 Autumn and Yuletide bring good things to eat! ) 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: Meeting of the married minds

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

When Tom and I were young and dating, we’d sometimes notice an older couple sitting in a restaurant in total silence. We wondered if perhaps they were mad at each other and using the silent treatment. But their facial expressions didn’t hint at an argument.

Were they mute? No, that couldn’t be it because they’d occasionally ask for refills on their iced tea.

So if they weren’t mute and they weren’t mad, then why weren’t they talking? We finally decided it must be boredom. Maybe they’d been together so long that there was nothing left to say. “So sad,” we’d say. Then we’d stare into each other’s lovey-dovey eyes and feel privately smug because we knew that would never happen to us. Because we were young and in love and endlessly fascinating.

Then we got married. And had kids. And years went by – 14 years as of November 14th. And now we know exactly why those older couples in restaurants aren’t talking. And it’s not because they’re dull. And it’s not because they’re bored. It’s because they don’t have to.

An interesting thing happens when you’ve been married for a while. Betrothed brains begin to operate on the same frequency. They become so finely tuned to each other that thoughts from one brain can jump – invisibly and wordlessly – into the other brain.

During the past few years, it has happened to me and Tom more times than we can count. Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s downright creepy, as if someone has tunneled into your brain and can pluck your thoughts like grapes off a vine.

Skeptics might dismiss it as mere coincidence or a predictable thing that happens when two people’s daily lives intersect in so many ways. But married people can tell you it’s not just coincidence or familiarity. Because sometimes the randomness of the thought and the timing convince us there’s something else going on.

Our theory? It’s “marital mind meld” – when two married brains join forces and instinctively know what the other one is thinking. I’m not sure if it means the couple is now using a combined super-brain or that, over time, each spouse ends up with half a regular brain that functions best when it’s in close proximity to their spouse’s half-brain. The jury is still out on that one.

But I can tell you that marital mind meld is often convenient – like when one spouse knows the other one is ready to leave a party and helps out by telling the host that they need to get home and pay the babysitter. Or when, during a long car trip, one spouse wishes out loud for a Dairy Queen Dip cone and the other person was – just at that very second – craving a Dip cone, too.

This brain-sharing phenomenon isn’t fool-proof, however. There are lots of times when Tom says the very thing I was just thinking, but sometimes our wires get crossed and we end up in a tense face-off yelling things like, “What were you thinking?”

But after 14 years of marriage, he’s still the person who makes me feel the most joy and the one who makes me the most furious, too. He makes me laugh and cry. He knows the best and worst of me. And the more our minds meld together, the more blessed we are by it.

So if you see us in a restaurant one day and we’re not talking much, don’t feel bad for the quiet middle-aged couple in the next booth. There’s actually plenty of conversation going on, but you can’t hear it. It’s just between his brain and mine.

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. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Mamas on Magic 107.9: Thank you notes to our husbands + big sales!

If you missed this morning’s Mama’s on Magic 107.9 segment, click the blue bar below to hear the thank you notes we wrote for our husbands:

Dear Husband, Thank you for…. Nov. 23, 2012

Here’s a link with info on a few of the big Black Friday sales (or upcoming holiday events) we’ve heard about at locally-owned businesses:

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