The Rockwood Files: The quiet house


By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

For the past few weeks, I’ve been ping-ponging between two internal monologues. The first one goes like this: “Oh, I love the summer and how the kids and I are free from strict schedules, homework, filling lunchboxes, school programs and ballgames. Summer is awesome.”

And then the second version goes more like this: “If these kids don’t go back to school soon, I’m going to lose my freaking mind.”

I’ll be honest and tell you that last week, I found myself chanting the second one in my head more than the first. So even though I’ll miss the lazy days of summer, I’m also happy to drop off the kids for adventures in elementary and middle school.

After school drop-off yesterday, I came home and it was gloriously quiet. The place was mine – all mine. I should have seized the opportunity to do something completely decadent, like a hot bath or a long nap. Maybe pop a few bonbons and paint my toenails.

LaundryInstead, I cleaned the house, did laundry, wrote a few articles for work and returned phone calls and email. Despite the list of mundane tasks, I loved every minute of it. Why? There were no distractions. No sibling squabbles to referee. No snacks to supply. No missing socks to find.

On the first day of school, even housework feels nearly luxurious when you do it in peace and quiet and get reacquainted with the ability to hear yourself think.

It was so quiet, in fact, that I could also hear the refrigerator making a strange noise that sounds like a frog croaking in the crisper drawer. (I checked. There’s no frog in there.)  I’m not sure how long it’s been making this sound. It might have been croaking all summer long and I wouldn’t have heard it over the dull roar of the Disney channel, Jack’s remote control helicopter buzzing from room to room and the nearly constant request for frozen pizza, or snow cones, or a game of Monopoly, or a trip to the pool or the often-heard phrase, “Mom, look at this!”

For the next several months, the middle of the day belongs to me again. Of course, the solitude is necessary to balance out the demands of the school year, which can sometimes feel like a job in itself. There’s homework to supervise and projects to help create, forms to fill out, costumes to find for all those programs to attend, after-school practices to shuttle them to, tests to help study for, and volunteer requests from the PTA – not to mention the ongoing effort to make sure your kids navigate the often treacherous social waters of school and come out relatively unscathed.

Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but it seems like, only a generation ago, parents were only expected to get their kids to school and sign report cards now and then. These days, sending kids to school is a full contact sport and keeping up with the day-to-day routine requires plenty of mental and physical energy.

It’s worth it, of course. And it’s exciting to see how the kids grow and change as they learn new things. Adam has fallen in love with American history, and Jack is learning to play the drums. Kate can’t get enough of Ramona the Brave and all the other adventures she finds on the shelves of the school library. By the time three o’clock comes around – which always happens quickly – I’m ready to hear about the school day. And as the noise level ramps up and the kids buzz about, I revel in how full and alive the house feels once again.

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

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

Northwest Arkansas Calendar of Events: September 2013

Jersey Boys, Walton Arts Center

JERSEY BOYS, the 2006 Tony Award winning Best Musical about Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi, finally arrives in Northwest Arkansas. This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. JERSEY BOYS features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Content consideration: contains “authentic, profane Jersey language.” Parental discretion advised.

Date: Sept. 3-8

Time: Varies

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

True Lit, Literary Festival

True lit festivalTrue Lit is a collaboration between multiple Fayetteville institutions interested in celebrating literary adventures for all ages. The four-day festival includes many events that are free and open to the public. The festival website is True Lit’s inaugural year will feature a stellar line up of talented national and regional authors.

Book Character Parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. As part of the True Lit Festival, there will be a costume parade for all ages. Dress as your favorite character and parade from the Fayetteville square to the library with a chance to win a prize for best costume. (We have it on good authority that some of the prizes will be from Bath Junkie. Love.) Click here for the full schedule.

Date: Sept. 5-8

Time: Varies

Location: Varies

More info: Click here

Bella Vista Hay Days

Bella Vista Hay Days is a community festival complete with free live music, games, and family activities. We all remember back to our “hey days” as an era when times were good and life was simpler. We hope this festival will recreate those memories. Bring your chairs or blankets and enjoy free live music.

Date: Sept. 6-7

Time: Varies

Location: Arkansas 279 and Rogers Drive (click here for directions)

More info: Click here

Polo in the Ozarks

Since 1976, Life Styles, Inc. has been dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities achieve the skills and talents they need to live as independently as possible. With almost 2,000 attendees every year, Northwest Arkansas’ longest running charitable event, Polo in the Ozarks has been a highly anticipated occasion in this region for 23 years. Featuring the area’s only polo match, this fun, family event also includes tailgate parties, dinner and dancing under the stars, children’s activities, and both live and silent auctions.polo

Date: Sept. 7

Time: Varies

Location: Buell Family Farm, Goshen

More info: Click here


cupcakeThe final four elimination rounds for the professional and amateur divisions will be held September 8th at the Sam’s Club Home Office. Contestants will bake their signature Red Carpet themed cupcake for celebrity judges, including Chris Hanmer, winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Just Desserts” and owner of CH Patisserie in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Proceeds benefit the youth in the Benton County Emergency Shelter.

Date: Sunday, Sept. 8

Time: Registration 1-1:45 p.m./Event 2-5 p.m.

Location: Sam’s Club Home Office, Bentonville

More info: Click here

Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert, The Amp

The American rock band that rose to worldwide recognition on the basis of its driving live southern hard-rock performances and signature tunes like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Simple Man,” “Saturday Night Special,” and so many more is coming to Northwest Arkansas.

Date: Sept. 12

Time: Gates open at 6 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.

Location: The Amp

More info: Click here

Calling All Superheroes 2nd Annual Children’s Gala (American Cancer Society)

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of childhood cancer and raise support for the American Cancer Society.  This family-friendly event will feature live music, food, children’s activities, and a silent auction. Children are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superhero. Children currently going through cancer treatment will be admitted for free with a caregiver. $50 for a ticket (includes 1 parent and 1 child). $20 for additional child and $40 for additional adult. $100 for a family of 5.

SuperheroDate: Sept. 13

Time: 6-9 p.m.

Location: Pratt Place Barn, Fayetteville

More info: Click here or call 479-246-0002

Bikes Blues & BBQ

Date: Sept. 18-21

Time: Varies

Location: Varies

More info: Click here

Walk to End Alzheimer’s (5k or walk)

Date: Sept. 21

Time: 5k check-in 7 a.m./Walk check-in 8:30 a.m.

Location: Arvest Ballpark

More info: Click here

Harvest Moon Festival Boutique Show

Happy HollowBring the entire family! Come celebrate the Harvest 10am-5pm with a Vendor Boutique Show, Pumpkins|Gourds|Mums, Food, Kid Zone & Museum displays highlighting the history of Happy Hollow Farm, Exhibits from local farming and environmental groups, Entertainment and Demonstrations. Free Admission. Happy Hollow Elementary School, 2175 E Peppervine Dr. Fayetteville 479-444-3085

Date: Oct. 5

Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Happy Hollow Elementary, Fayetteville

More info: Click here

Inside His Head: Husband had ‘emotional relationship’ at work, wife still angry

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Dear Inside His Head,

My husband had what I would call an “emotional relationship” with a co-worker last year, but he has since taken a new job and we are working on our marriage. He has apologized profusely for allowing himself to get attached to this other woman, and we have been to counseling a few times, but I am still not over it. I don’t ever bring it up anymore, but I am still SO MAD. And hurt. I want to let it go, but I keep wondering if he’ll do it again or if it will be a “physical relationship” next time. Do you have any advice?

generichead-1MICHAEL: I can speak from experience on this one. First I think you should continue counseling to determine why your husband felt the need to do this. There was apparently something that he didn’t feel like he could share with you. You’ve got to find out why. You’ve got to know that you might not like the answer.

Secondly it’s ok to be mad. You feel hurt that he could do this to you and you could possibly even be wondering what you were doing wrong. In order for things to get better you’re going to have to move past it. It’s over. Deal with the underlying issue and don’t waste time in the past. It might help for you to have a few counseling sessions without your husband just to vent.

Lastly, if you work on the problem that caused this situation I doubt you’ll have to deal with it again. And if your husband loves you and gets what he needs from your relationship it’s unlikely that something like this would progress to a “physical relationship”.

greg1.thumbnailGRAY: Friedrich Nietzche said “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Trust is difficult to repair once it’s broken. And I’m right there with you: I’d be very mad and hurt and resentful for a long time, but at some point you have to live with your husband and trust him, however difficult that may be.

My best advice to give you is to be a good wife. You may not be bringing the incident up anymore, but are you acting mad or keeping him at bay as a way of protecting yourself? If you suspect he might cheat on you then he may be even more inclined if he feels you’re withdrawing from him. After all, if he feels like you no longer care about him then what would he really be losing?

You shouldn’t feel like you need to secretly listen to phone calls or check to see if he’s really where is says he is. You two need to be completely open with each other. He needs to be aware of how you feel and he needs to provide any and all evidence to prove he’s not betraying your trust again. Neither of you can keep a marriage going without the other and it may take a long time before you get to where you once were.

At the end of the day, both of you have chosen to be with each other. Rebuilding trust isn’t something that happens overnight and be mindful of the steps you take together. Show each other that you care and love one another and the rest will fall into place.


Empty Nexter: No honey, you can’t retire yet

By Carrie Perrien Smith

The last thirty days have been full of milestones.

We just celebrated my husband’s sixty-first birthday, the fifteenth anniversary of his proposal to me, his thirty-year service anniversary with Walmart, and our two-year anniversary of moving into the distressed house we shouldn’t have bought.

In addition, I also quietly celebrated the ten-year anniversary of my company, Soar with Eagles. We even did our annual review with one of our financial planners, where each year, my husband asks, “Can I retire yet?”

All these milestone events make me ponder what is next for this pair of empty nesters.

The vision for the Empty Nexter series is to help empty nesters make the most of the years between 40 and 60. But like everyone else, I have questions. The answers to them aren’t black and white. Our future and the economy are unknown. However, we know we have much more to offer this world. Every day, I wake up and pray that God will help me make the most of the day ahead. I’m perfectly capable of wasting every single day on my own. Being productive in this attention-deprived world requires divine intervention.

I’m the big picture planner in our family. My husband Tom is the tactical, finish-it-and-move-on, done-is-better-than-perfect person. I think out loud in incomplete sentences, long-term plans, and variables. Tom is more of a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of guy. He just wants to know what the plan is so he can move forward to execution.

And occasionally he asks, “Can I retire yet?”

Tom is a few years ahead of me; thirteen to be exact. He’s a Baby Boomer and I’m a Gen Xer. I gauge our life plans based on his age.Our financial life was pretty sweet before Tom became obsessed with moving into a bigger house. The old one was the size house you retire into, and we had a small mortgage. He was afraid we couldn’t get financing once he retired — a valid concern. We didn’t want to move the business out of the house, but we used 22 percent of the old house for the business. We needed more space.

So we became accidental land barons.We bought empty residential lots, decided not to build, and then sold them. We also bought a fixer-upper after a nine-month house search. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a decent sales price on the original house so it is rented for now. Hopefully, that chapter will close after my tenants move on and the housing market improves.

But to be truthful, I’m not sure we shouldn’t finish this fixer-upper and move back to the original one. Tom loves the new house. It has a pool and it is beautiful even if every single mechanical item is at the end of its useful life. Just today, I realized the toilet upstairs needs to be rebuilt. And it’s a two-story house. It just doesn’t seem practical. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could plan better.

But if I’d had a crystal ball two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it anyway. I didn’t know that I would ever want to run for political office or sing in a rock band but here I am. Both take a ton of time and that has sucked up the time that I allotted to fix up house we bought. I was unprepared for how much more my body would ache now and how much I would slow down. I don’t know how I juggled all the demands on my time when my daughter was growing up. I’m not really sure when or even if my ability to super-multi-task will return. And frankly, I don’t know if I want to run at that pace anymore.

When we were going through the house search, I was talking with my friend Rob Farinholt about challenges of finding a house that fit our needs. All the houses we considered felt more like a temporary residence or an investment property. In his typical way of sorting out the million details I’m evaluating, he says, “You’re right. It is just a temporary house. Everywhere we live on earth is temporary. Our true home is waiting for us in heaven.”

From then on, I looked at where we live through a different set of lenses. It doesn’t matter where I live but what I do with the time I have. The new house feels like a vacation home when I’m not dealing with something that has broken. And since I office from home, the days when I don’t have to leave the house for meetings or errands feel like I’m on vacation. That is a really, really cool feeling.

But now, I am staring the reality of my husband’s question, “Can I retire yet?” The extra $1,000 a month this house costs (mortgage, utilities, and maintenance) means that he cannot retire yet. And should we keep a house that we couldn’t fully utilize for the next thirty years.  We might want to move into something easy care without a yard to maintain. Maybe we will decide to ditch home-ownership completely. I’m definitely lukewarm on the idea of selling both and building something ideal after calculating realtor fees and closing costs. Once you factor in interest, home ownership is not the wise financial investment it once was.

So in the absence of the crystal ball, I’m finding myself exploring all the options. It’s fairly unusual for a forty-eight-year-old woman to consider these decisions so seriously, but my planning is based on my husband’s age. Our family gets old so it pays to really think seriously about the next few decades. We’ve got another six months at least to make a decision about selling the original house and we could always rent it another year while we finish the fixer upper.

In the meantime, my husband is content with going to work every day. But I still feel like I did when I told my young daughter she couldn’t have a cookie every time I tell Tom, “No, you can’t retire yet.”

Carrie Perrien Smith is mama to Darcie and a pack of black dogs (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, Business: Engaged! small business radio show host, community activist, singer in a party band called Paper Jam, and home improvement junkie. Follow her on Twitter @soarwitheagles or contact her at

Mama Review: BooginHead Squeez’Ems, PaciGrip and PaciPouch


We were recently approached by the company BooginHead about reviewing some of their fun products, the Squeez’Ems pouches, PaciGrip and PaciPouch. The customizable pacis and PaciGrips are apparently all the rage, even among royalty. People Magazine recently featured the customizable paci in its Royal Baby Souvenir section and the BooginHead site calls out lots of “sightings” of celebrity babies using the PaciGrip.

Northwest Arkansas mama Amber Hutson said she’d love to let her little boy try them out and share her thoughts about the products with fellow mamas.

Here’s her review:

BooginHead1, resizedI was given 3 items to use and review for  I was given the Squeez’Ems pouches, PaciGrip, and PaciPouch. 

The Squeez’Ems pouches make to-go eating a breeze.I chose to try it for the first time while we were at home because I thought my messy mini would squeeze it everywhere.  I put a fruit smoothie inside and he loved it.

When we went out to eat a few days later I popped in some strawberry applesauce and threw it in his backpack. When we got to the restaurant I quickly realized the top popped open and half of the yummy treat was spilled into the bottom of the backpack.  The pouches cleaned up easily.

I chose just to wash them out by hand but they are dishwasher safe for easily clean up.The plastic material made it really easy to rinse off.  My only critique would be to make a better top that wouldn’t pop open as easy.Otherwise, this is the perfect product for on the go for kids and adults. 

The PaciGrip was put to the test by my little paci lover. We were given a girl pattern (Black Flourish) to try but this boy isn’t afraid of a little pink.He loves knowing his paci is close by so it helps to strap it to him.

The PaciGrip has a clasp that little fingers cannot get open which is helpful since our new thing is throwing the paci out of the crib to get Mommy to come back in.I love the different cute patterns available in the PaciGrips and they are so affordable (just $5 on the booginhead website).

I washed the PaciGrip in the dishwasher as well as the washing machine just to put it to the test.Both times the PaciGrip came out smelling clean and didn’t ruin any parts of the products.Make sure you dry the metal clasp after washing so that it doesn’t start to rust.The PaciGrip is helpful for babies of all ages because you don’t have to worry about the pacifier falling on the ground or getting lost.If you have a paci lover like my little man then you will love the PaciGrip.

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The final product I tested is called the PaciPouch.  It is a little fabric pouch that hooks onto your diaper bag to store your pacifiers when they are not in use. We are done using a diaper bag but I found this nice to hook onto my purse and little man’s backpack in order to always have an extra on hand.The bag holds 2 pacifiers with PaciGrips.The PaciPouch has a nice inside that is easy to wipe.The inside is the same material as lunch boxes.After you are done with the PaciPouch you could use it as a little snack pouch.

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I would recommend the PaciGrip to other mommies because it is so easy to lose those little pacifiers. With the PaciGrip you always have it attached to them so no need to worry about them falling on the floor. The PaciPouch is a nice product but I don’t know if it’s a necessary product. I do like having a clean backup though. The Squeezem pouches leaked in his backpack so I don’t know if I am 100% sold on them or would recommend them.  I think the pouches are a great idea is the top can be made more secure. (Note from the mamas: The BooginHead folks are listening to their customers, apparently. A new screw top on the Squeez’Ems is becoming available on Sept. 1.)

One of the BooginHead products I’d love to try is the SippiGrip. That’s needed in my household right now as Carter likes to fling his cup to the floor!

About Amber: Amber Hutson grew up in Fayetteville where she met and married her high school sweetheart.  Together they have two dogs and a 13-month-old son who is a ball of energy.  Amber works as a church Nursery and Childcare Coordinator and as a family photographer on the side.  She enjoys spending time with her family and playing at the neighborhood park.

Note from the mamas: We were not compensated for posting this BooginHead product review. nwaMotherlode reader Amber Hutson received the products in exchange for her her honest feedback.

Healthy Mama: When to treat a child’s fever

By Kimberly Steed, nurse and mother of 2

Every parent has battled a child’s fever. It often happens after the doctors’ offices have closed, in the middle of the night or on the weekend. As parents, we’re often left wondering, “What should I do, or should I do anything at all?

feverFever in a healthy child is usually not serious. Fever by itself is usually harmless and just the body’s way of fighting an infection. For healthy, normal-acting children with a rectal temperature lower than 102° F (38.9° C), medication is usually not required. If your child’s fever  is making him or her uncomfortable, try giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen but be sure to follow the package directions.

As a mother, I’ve been there. My son had several fevers as an infant and early toddler. He was fine and playing one minute, and the next minute he was fussy, crying & inconsolable. Except for a few throat infections, Glyn has been a healthy child and eventually I started to recognize other symptoms such as a strange smell on his breath, a grimacing when he swallowed, pulling at his ears, not eating/drinking normally, or a red throat.

My husband (who is also a doctor for Mercy) recommends getting medical attention for a fever for the following situations:

  • Infants who are less than three months of age and who have a rectal temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, regardless of how the infant appears (Even the infant that looks well should be evaluated by a medical professional.)
  • Children who are three months to three years who have a rectal temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater for more than three days or who appear ill (other symptoms might include being fussy, clingy and/or refusing to drink fluids).
  • Children 3 to 36 months who have a rectal temperature of 102° F (38.9° C) or greater.
  • Children of any age whose oral, rectal, tympanic membrane, or forehead temperature is 104° F (40° C) or greater or whose axillary temperature is 103° F (39.4° C) or greater.
  • Children of any age who have a febrile seizure. Febrile seizures are convulsions that happen when a child (between six months and six years of age) has a temperature greater than 100.4° F (38° C).
  • Children of any age who have recurrent fevers for more than seven days, even if the fevers last only a few hours.
  • Children of any age who have a fever and have a chronic medical problem such as heart disease, cancer, lupus or sickle cell anemia.
  • Children who have a fever as well as a new skin rash.

Besides treating a fever with medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, a parent should make sure their child is drinking more fluids because it’ll decrease the risk of dehydration. Also, be sure your child is getting enough rest.

One of the less effective methods of bringing a fever down is “sponging” or baths. Alcohol sponging is NOT a good idea, though, because of the risk of toxicity throfever articleugh skin absorption. If you’re ever in doubt on whether to treat a fever or what a fever might mean, or if your child appears ill and it concerns you, call your doctor for advice.

Last summer while Matt was in Alaska, Glyn developed a fever. He was playing with his trains, and this is how I found him. His temp was 103° F degrees. But after an injection of “vitamin R” (Rocephin) and oral antibiotics, he was ready to welcome daddy home. :-)

Kimberly is wife to Dr. Matthew Steed, whose number one passion is to care for the pregnancy and birthing needs of women. You may call him at the Mercy clinic at 479-338-5555 to begin your prenatal care and let him help you enjoy your pregnancy journey. His office is located in the Mercy Physician’s Plaza just off Interstate 540 in Rogers. does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions about a medical condition. Don’t delay getting professional medical advice because of something you read online. This website doesn’t necessarily recommend or endorse any specific tests, doctors, products, procedures or opinions discussed on the site.

What We’re Reading: New book by author of Must Love Dogs

Have you read any good books lately?

We got a little extra time to sneak in some reading over the summer and have a few recommendations if you’re looking for something new.

Wallflower in Bloom is a novel by Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs. (Remember that movie with Diane Lane and John Cusack?) Deirdre Griffin is the lead wallflower in this book and she’s the personal assistant to her brother, a New Age guru.

When her on and off-again boyfriend tells her he’s marrying another woman, who’s pregnant with his baby, she goes a little nuts and ends up getting herself voted on as a last-minute replacement on the show Dancing with the Stars. There are lots of insights about families, siblings and what it means to take responsibility for your own life.

An aside about the author, Claire Cook: She wrote her first novel in her minivan when she was 45. Love that!

wallflower in bloom

Right now I’m reading a book called Mom In The Mirror. Whoa. It is about body image, beauty and how that all can collide once we become moms. It’s written by eating disorders expert, Dr. Dena Cabrera, and an author and recovered anorexic, Emily T. Wierenga.

If you feel like you need help restoring a positive body image, this is a thought-provoking book. Of course, I’m only on page 21, but it’s truly insightful and makes you rethink how you feel about the mom in the mirror: you.

mom in the mirror

The Back-to-School Snapshot Winner

winner collageCongrats to local mom Jana whose back-to-school snapshot won her two movie passes and a Red Robin gift card! As always, the winner of this giveaway was chosen at random (using a random number generator), but we were thrilled when we saw how adorable Jana’s snapshots are.

Pictured above is her son on his very first day of school as a Kindergartner at Root Elementary. The shot on the left shows how bright-eyed and bushy-tailed he was Monday morning, ready to tackle the first day. The shot on the right is the one Jana snapped in the car, shortly after handing her son an after-school Happy Meal treat. Have you ever been so tired you fell asleep while eating? (Yep, we know how you feel, buddy.)

This just proves that our little ones really do work hard during the school day. We hope this little guy and his family will have fun refueling at Red Robin and relaxing at the movies.

Congrats to Jana and her son, and thanks to ALL of you who shared your snapshots with us. Click HERE to see the slideshow of all the photos we received.

Good Gossip: Celebs and their kids and Oprah’s latest gig

good gossip celebrities Love a little gossip but hate to do something you teach your kids not to do? Yep, we get it. That’s why we only spread around the “Good Gossip,” — celebrity news minus any mean stuff. So have as much as you want because this “dish” is all guilt-free.

As always, this feature is sponsored by Great Day Farms, a national brand based right here in NWA. Look for their products at the Walmart Supercenter. Click HERE to like them and get coupons on their Facebook page.

strahanIf you’ve got twins, you’ll want to see the adorable feature article on celebrities who are also parents to multiples. Celebs featured in the most recent edition include Michael Strahan (of Live with Kelly & Michael), Lisa Marie Presley, Ken Jeong (of The Hangover movies), Fredricka Whitfield (a CNN Newsroom anchor), and Chely Wright (country music star). Strahan, Presley and Jeong all have twin girls. Whitfield has boy/girl twins, and Wright has twin boys. patrick dempsey 2013Oh, Patrick Dempsey. Can you get any more McDreamy? When asked about the last time he cried, Dempsey said “I’m moved to tears quite a bit. I’m a big crier. Sometimes your kids say something, and it’s so amazing with insight. Their wisdom, whether they realize it or not — there’s something so beautiful in that.” Dempsey, who is a race car driver in addition to his work on Grey’s Anatomy, is also starring in a miniseries about racing called Racing Le Mans. kara-dioguardiRemember former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi? These days she stays busy as mama to 7-month-old son Greyson. Kara and her husband Mike had Greyson via gestational surrogate because Kara was diagnosed with the BRCA2 cancer gene mutation. Her own mom died of ovarian cancer at only 50 years of age, so Kara opted to have her ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes removed a year ago. She said, “Grey may not know my grandmother or mother, but I can sing the songs they sang to me and I know he’ll feel connected to them through me. That’s what I love about music.” oprah winfrey butlerHave you seen Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels’ The Butler? She’s amazing in this movie. And the subject material of the movie meant a lot to her personally. “My mother was a maid, her mother was a maid, her mother was a maid, her mother was a slave. My grandmother’s dream for me was that I would be not just a maid, but a maid for some good white folks.” In recent feature article about her life after her record-setting talk-show, Oprah says she is LOVING the ability to wake up when her body wants to, which seems to be around 7:24 a.m. She also says she loves the show Scandal, her iPad (which she proofs shows for OWN on) and she is never out of touch with her long-time BFF, Gayle King. Source: People magazine August 26th and September 2nd, 2013 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.)

Cute kid alert: Ready for the Hogs to play!

baby hog collage july 2013 with copy

Only a few more days to the first official Razorback game of the season!! Who’s ready to CALL THOSE HOGS?

(Our thanks to local mom Hannah for sharing these snapshots of her ADORABLE little Hog fan.)

Click the “post a comment” words below and tell us what you LOVE about football season.


Mealtime Mama: Pauline’s Pesto


Pauline, the produce manager at Ozark Natural Foods, offers all kinds of great advice and recipes on the cooperative’s website. We noticed her pesto recipe on the site recently, and since ONF sponsors Mealtime Mama, we thought we’d share it here!

Paula says it’s definitely time to make pesto — and she likes the recipe below not only because it’s delicious, but because you can also make it vegan if you don’t do dairy.

Pauline’s Pesto

basil, ONF

Organic basil at ONF

½ lb fresh basil leaves
1 ½ cups walnuts
1 4oz container of parmesan cheese
3 ripe avocados
7-10 fresh cloves garlic
Olive oil
Braggs amino acids

Directions: De-stem the basil and mix leaves, walnuts, cheese, avocado, and garlic cloves in a large bowl. Fill up the food processor and add small amounts of olive oil, braggs, and if you need a little splash of water (to help with the processing). Eyeball it each time and taste as you go. I enjoy this variation for several reasons, the avocado makes the pesto soooo much more creamy and the Braggs adds a lot of flavor. For a non-dairy version substitute the cheese for 3 more avocados and add a little more Braggs for a salty flavor. The only real difference is that it will brown faster.

Pauline adds: Between the basil special and the slicer tomato sale, I have been filling my freezer with pesto and my pantry with tomato sauce. Last weekend I put up 22 jars of just plain tomato sauce. Simply chop up the tomatoes, cook down for about 20 minutes and add salt to taste, then immediately place in wide mouth mason canning jars and let sit until the lid seals. With so many tomatoes to chop I didn’t want to add other ingredients right now but rather make a base sauce that I can turn into salsas, pasta sauces, or soup bases later.

ozark-natural-foodsOzark Natural Foods is a locally owned consumer cooperative dedicated to participatory democracy. Its mission is to provide owners and the Northwest Arkansas community with natural and organic products that encourage healthful living and a sustainable planet. Click here to become an owner, which has all kinds of special benefits! New on the ONF website: The Fresh Flyer features products in the ONF Fresh departments weekly. These products are on sale or are seasonal. Click here to see the latest.


Kids and music: Good kids, bad lyrics?

headphones beatsHas this happened to you lately? You’re cruising down the road with your kid in the backseat, jamming out to a great song on the radio you’ve never heard before, and then BAM! You’re scrambling to turn the radio off because the lyrics just took a sharp turn into the gutter. (Yeah, we’re looking at you Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke.)

Maybe your kid is too young to understand the lyrics but that won’t stop him or her from singing it — sometimes within earshot of Grandma or the Sunday School teacher. So what’s a music-loving mama to do?

Join this week’s discussion about kids and music. Listen to Magic 107.9 at 7:45 a.m. each day this week, and share your opinion on our Facebook page.

Click on the LEFT side of the black bar below to hear Monday’s radio segment online:

Click on the LEFT side of the black bar below to hear Tuesday’s radio segment online:

Click on the LEFT side of the black bar below to hear Wednesday’s radio segment online:

Click here to read more about music therapy for babies

Devotion in Motion: The Thing Parents Should Pray For

9 ¶ And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight.  Philippians 1:9 (NRSV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Cash6It’s kind of nice when you look up and see that your kids are approaching adulthood. You have a sense of perspective you didn’t start out with. The passing of time allows you to look back and see what worked and what didn’t — and what things were important and what things weren’t.

If I had to go back and raise my kids again, there is something I’d do a lot more often;  I would pray that the Lord would provide me with insight. When you understand better, you can know better. And when you know better, you can do better.

spencer bathAllow me to illustrate with a couple of personal examples. When our older son Spencer was born, we naturally thought he was the coolest and most beautiful baby on the planet. We spent our days and evenings rocking him and playing with him and watching him be the happiest baby in the world. He spent every waking hour cooing and smiling at us. (See how happy he was, splashing in the tub?)

Naturally, we wanted the rest of humanity to see what a remarkable and wonderful kid the Lord had sent us. So we decided we would take him to church to show him off.

Imagine our horror when three times a week (Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights) we took him to the Lord’s House and he immediately behaved as if he was possessed by the Devil. One lady actually said, “You know, he really sounds more like an animal than a child.” He would scream and cry and arch his back and shed hot tears of anger, much to the chagrin of his exhausted mother (and his harried father, who was trying to preach a sermon.) See Exhibit A below:

spencer baby

This went on week after week until Susan had a sudden flash of insight. She realized that church services corresponded exactly with Spencer’s nap time and bed time. And he couldn’t go to sleep without a bottle, a blanket with a silk edge to touch, and a teddy bear to scratch with his other index finger. If Susan merely supplied these three things, he immediately dropped off to perfect, peaceful sleep with an angelic half-smile on his cherry lips.

How nice it would have been if we had figured that out just a little sooner. These things call for insight.

brothersLikewise, with our younger son Seth, we (thought) we faced a dilemma when he was about 4 years old. With his older brother at school all day, Seth spent his days playing alone in the backyard (which is located smack-dab in the middle of a temperate deciduous forest.) He was perfectly content all day building things from sticks and twigs, acorns and leaves. (See how peaceful he looks here, lounging around on the sofa with his big brother?)

Being the diligent mother that she is, Susan became concerned. “Seth needs to get involved in group activities. He needs to mingle with kids his own age. This life of solitude needs to stop!” So, quicker than quick, Seth was hustled off to the youth soccer league. He was a good sport and went to all the practices and games for a whole year, without making any fuss or comment.

When the next autumn rolled around, I said, “Well, Seth, it’s time to sign up for youth soccer league.” He immediately said, “Oh no! Please, not that!” When pressed for a reason why he did not want to join up again he said, “It takes too long.” (Admit it, parent, you’ve had that exact same thought at a t-ball game that you were required to watch.) He continued his explanation: “I have things to do. I need to be home with my stuff.”

We presumed that “his stuff” consisted of the twigs and stones he ruled over daily in “The Little Yard in the Big Woods.” What we didn’t realize at the time was that Seth was fine with his life. He just wasn’t “into” big into group activities, and he still isn’t. Now that he’s nearly grown, he still doesn’t enjoy crowds of people. He spends his days in quiet hours of diligent labor, usually helping somebody else on a one-to-one basis.

Seth didn’t need any intervention. His parents just needed to get some insight.

So, this week, let’s pray this prayer:

“Lord, give me the insight to know

  When to hold on and

  When to let go

  And help me to understand the situation

  So I can make the right decision

  At the right time

  With wisdom.

  In Jesus’ name

  And for His sake


For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6(NKJV)

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught  Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher has found an envelope to mail photos to Gwen Rockwood’s parents and now is simply procrastinating.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

The Rockwood Files: Hanging with my peeps

rockwoodfiles2-205x300By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Alaina, Christy, Jennifer and I grew up together in a small southern Arkansas town. We survived puberty and junior high school together. We cruised around in cars together singing the lyrics to every song on the Chicago 17 cassette tape. We put each other back together again after bad breakups. We dreamed, made plans and eventually stood side by side and tossed our graduation caps into the air during the spring of 1991.

But after high school and college, we scattered to different cities and, despite the sporadic phone calls, texts and Facebook updates that kept us loosely connected, we all knew that one of the things our grown-up lives were missing most was time with each other.

So during our 30s – all of us waist-deep in marriage, motherhood and work pursuits – we made a long-distance pinky swear that, during the year we all turned 40, we’d go on a girls’ getaway trip to celebrate – without kids, husbands, work deadlines or anything else that would keep us from feeling like the carefree girls we once were.

Last weekend, the long-awaited trip finally arrived. Jennifer and I snapped a celebratory “selfie” picture of us on the airplane as we waited for it to whisk us away to Chicago where we met up with Alaina and Christy at the Four Seasons Hotel.

chicago viewWe squealed when we opened the door to our hotel room on the 34th floor which had a corner view of Chicago’s skyline as well as nearby Lake Michigan. We all flopped into the king-size bed and snapped more photos to mark the beginning of our “40 and Fabulous” tour of the Windy City.

From those very first moments, I could feel the years sliding off my shoulders. Suddenly we were all just girls again, seamlessly picking up where we left off, resuming the familiar rhythms of conversations that got us through the teen years.

We agreed that our agenda for the weekend would be relaxed and spontaneous with the only “must do” activities being a visit to the hotel spa for massages and plenty of the best food we could find in Chicago.

stuttgartgirlsAnd boy, did we find it. Halfway through our second day, we started referring to our trip as an “eating tour” of Chicago, with stops at an American bistro, an Italian restaurant, the Ghirardelli chocolate café, a great Mexican grill and a hole-in-the-wall pizza place. Between all the meals and snacks, we shopped leisurely along the Magnificent Mile, chatting, people-watching, trying things on and playing at the make-up counter – all the things you can’t do with a preschooler or tween-age kids in tow. In short, it was girl heaven.

At the Mexican grill during our last night in town, our twenty-something waiter took our drink order and promptly asked for our I.D.’s to prove our age – a request that was met with howls of laughter and even a snapshot of him studying the driver’s licenses that proved our middle-age status. He was probably just angling for a great tip, but it totally worked. As we toasted with wineglasses and mojitos, we felt like we “still had it.”

After decadent desserts – because everyone knows calories don’t count on vacation – we stayed up late into the night, shifting between silly fits of laughter, trading recommendations on everything from wrinkle creams to novels, and more serious talks about our kids, husbands, the way our parents are getting older, illnesses, worries and all the things we manage back in the real world. It was everything we needed it to be, and we all agreed that we can’t let another decade go by before we do it again. We’re already mulling over possible destinations for our next trip together.

What last weekend reminded me is that to-do lists can and should take a backseat when you have the rare opportunity to spend time with “your people” – the ones who know you best and love you anyway, the ones who get your jokes, know your history, and cheer for your dreams. Life is too short not to spend a little more time with your people.

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

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

Back to School snapshot slideshow

Congrats on getting your kids through the first week of school! We’ve been practically giddy over all the awesome back-to-school snapshots we’ve received this week which feature preschoolers all the way up through high school seniors. And we think the slideshow below proves that kids in Northwest Arkansas are WAY cuter than average. Must be in the water. :-)

Also, sprinkled throughout the slideshow you’ll also see some sweet baby faces. They might not be in school just yet, but babies are always busy learning things like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking and saying “mama.” Before we know it, these babies will be grabbing a backpack and heading off to Kindergarten, too.

Click on the right arrow button to advance to the next photo.

Thanks to all the mamas who shared these great snapshots with us. Please watch your email inbox. We’ll send a note to the winner of the movie passes and Red Robin gift card later today!