The Rockwood Files: An expensive free cat

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

Sometimes you throw one small pebble of change into the Universe and the ripples create a tsunami of trouble. That’s what happened to me last week – all because I felt sorry for a fat cat.

I’ll back up a bit. Our cat Percy, who was once a skinny stray cat we brought home, has since morphed into a behemoth of flab and fur. She looks like she’s been drinking milkshakes and eating Doritos every day for five years.

For years I fed her one small can of Fancy Feast each day. But because she needed to slim down, I switched her to dry food. Percy wasn’t happy about the change, and she let me know it by stalking me around the house and rubbing against my legs to remind me she was hungry for something fancier. Some people say cats rub against your legs to show affection, but I think it’s more of a message: “Either feed me or I’ll weave in and out of your legs until you trip and fall. Take your pick.”

So I found a new cat food in a special refrigerated case at Wal-Mart. It was in a re-sealable bag and claimed to be fresher than other cat foods. It looked like the perfect compromise – not as boring as dry food but not as stinky and fattening as the canned stuff. I bought a bag, and Percy loved it.

Fast forward six weeks. One day as I’m walking through the formal living room, I saw Percy crouched in a corner committing a serious feline sin – peeing on the rug. I could hardly believe it! In the five years she has lived here, she had never once done this and had always been a faithful litter box user.

Certain something was wrong, I took her to the vet who kept her overnight to collect a urine sample. She also suggested I consider having her shaved since her thick, long hair tends to matt up around her nether regions. I didn’t even know cat shaving was an actual service, but I was more than happy to sign Percy up for it if it’d mean less cat hair on the furniture.

Back home, the fallout from the Percy pee incident continued to ripple out. Because I’d witnessed the crime one time, it begged the bigger question: How many times did it happen when I did NOT see it? How could I make sure the mess was completely cleaned up, since pets are famous for returning to the scene of the crime. I Googled the problem and found an article advising the use of a black light to find carpet spills and stains not visible to the naked eye. Tom picked one black lightup from the pet store on the way home from work, and after the sun went down, we set about our detective work.

Note to all pet owners, parents and childless, pet-free people who live in homes: Do not EVER walk around your house at night using a black light, which shows every drop of anything that’s ever touched the rug – past and present. If you do, you’ll want to burn your house down. Or, at the very least, rip out every shred of carpet. Ask me how I know.

We are now having hardwood floors put down in the room Percy christened. Even our professional carpet cleaner told us that all the cleaning in the world wouldn’t guarantee we’d get rid of that awful smell unique to cat accidents. We’re bracing ourselves for the bill.

Speaking of bills, the tab at the veterinarian’s office approached three hundred dollars, but at least we know what caused Percy to lose her mind and ruin the rug – a bladder infection. The cause? Most likely her new cat food which caused a Ph imbalance that made crystals form in her bladder, which caused involuntary bladder spasms, which caused a major room renovation. Remember when I upgraded to that new cat food six weeks ago? That one small pebble of percy haircutchange? Yep. No good deed goes unpunished.

But there is a silver lining. Percy’s new “shaved” haircut is fabulous. She still has long hair on her face and front paws but everything from the front legs back is shaved to the skin, except for her tail and some furry “boots” on her back legs. Under all that dark hair, she has silvery skin with dark black stripes, making her look like a Bengal tiger.

And she is recovering from the infection, thanks to a change in her diet, a prescription for “kitty Valium” that’s supposed to prevent bladder spasms, and an antibiotic which, ironically enough, Percy will not swallow unless I disguise it inside a bowl of Fancy Feast cat food.

I give up. Pass the kitty Valium. I think I need one.

gwen rockwoodGwen 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.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

June 2014: Northwest Arkansas Calendar of Events

calendar

Trail Mix Concert

Trail Mix combines music, hiking and biking for a one-of-a-kind, free outdoor experience which starts along the beautifully sculpted Art Trail near Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (1-3pm) and continues along the Frisco Trail in downtown Fayetteville (5-7pm). Rocky Grove Sun Company will provide solar-power for energy-efficient music for Trail Mix. No tickets or registration are required; this event is free and open to the public.

Artosphere-logoDate: June 1

Time: Varies

Location: Varies

More info: Click here for Trail Mix concert routes

First Thursday, Fayetteville

Date: June 5

Time: Kids’ stage starts at 5:30 p.m. (Magician Scott Davis will perform in cooperation with the Fayetteville Public Library)

Location: Fayetteville Square

More info: Click here

Relay For Life of Benton-Siloam Springs American Cancer Society

Date: June 6

Time: 6 p.m.

Location: Siloam Springs High School track

More info: Click here

First Friday: Bentonville Art Walk

Date: June 6

Location: Bentonville Square

More info: Click here

Call of the Wild (Un)Gala, Ozark Natural Science Center

ONSC-CotWDate: June 7

Time: 5:30-9 p.m.

Location: 21c Museum Hotel

More info: Click here

14th Annual NWA International Festival

Date:  June 7

Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: Downtown Rogers

More info: Click here

Second Annual Taste of Summer

This is a unique fundraiser that the entire family can attend. It has two venues: one for the adults and one for the children. The portion of the event for the adults is being held on the rooftop patio of the Coca Cola building in Rogers- just a few blocks away from the YMCA. Adults will get to indulge in a variety of summer-themed gourmet appetizers, created by Mercy’s very own Chef Brad, while they sample summer cocktails and wines, courtesy of E&J Gallo. The “Kids’ Night Out” portion of the event is being held at the actual NWA Mercy Family YMCA facility at Village on the Creeks. Kids attending will be treated to a pizza dinner, a movie and outdoor campfire s’mores.
 *Attendees whose children will be attending Kids’ Night Out should make their reservations by Monday, June 2nd.

Date: June 6

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

Location: Mercy YMCA/Coca-Cola Building, Fourth Floor Patio

More info: Click here. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the NWA Mercy Family YMCA at (479) 273-9622.

Wilson Park Pool Dive-In Movie (free)

Date: June 6, the movie will be Monsters University

Time: Gates open at 7:15 (movie starts at dusk)

Location: Wilson Park, Fayetteville

More info: Click here

Dive-In_Movie_Flyer1

Teddy Bear Picnic

Bring your family and a blanket for an afternoon of charity and family fun with live music by the Fun Time Ramblers, a teddy bear for every child, and picnic lunches from Razor’s Edge Catering. All proceeds benefit Family Network, which provides families in Northwest Arkansas with individualized parenting education and family support. Its programs empower young women who are pregnant and parents of newborns and young children to provide a healthy, nurturing, and stimulating environment for their children, to create positive family relationships, and to develop personal, educational, and vocational skills that lead to a more productive life. Tickets are $10 per adult and includes a boxed lunch while they last; however, please purchase your tickets in advance to guarantee boxed lunch availability.

Date: June 7

Time: 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Location: Gulley Park

More info: Click here or call Family Network at 927-3659. You may also email teddybearpicnic2014@gmail.com.

Gulley Park concert series

Art of Wine, Walton Arts Center

Date: June 12-14

Time: Varies

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

Relay for Life of Benton County

relay for lifeDate: June 13

Time: 6 p.m.

Location: Mercy Family YMCA, Village on the Creeks, Rogers

More info: Click here

Father’s Day Blues Picnic

Date: June 15

Time:  Gate opens at noon, music starts at 2 p.m.

Location: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Eureka Springs

More info: Click here

Moonflowers and Mojitos

Date: June 17

Time: 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Location: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

More info: Click here

12th Annual Summer Salsa

Date: June 20

Time: 7-11 p.m.

Location: Fayetteville Town Center

More info: Click here

summer salsa

Western Days

Date: June 20

Time: 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Location: Parsons Stadium, Springdale

More info: Click here

Captivating Heart Tea Party

There will be a silent auction and vendor booths available. Participants of all ages are welcome and dress can be anywhere from casual to dressy. Tickets are $10 for age 12+ and $5 for ages 5-12. Children under age 5 are free. A short devotional and a presentation about the history of afternoon tea will be included. This is a fundraiser for the Captivating Heart Conference.

Date: June 21

Time: 2-4 p.m.

Location: Frisco Station Mall

More info: Click here

Siloam Springs Whitewater Recreation Park grand opening

Date: June 28

Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (plus 2-5 p.m. there will be a “kayak rodeo”)

Location: 19253 Fisher Ford Road, Siloam Springs

More info: Click here

Freedom Fest

Date: June 28

Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Pinnacle Promenade, Rogers

More info: Click here

NWA No Excuse Moms fitness group (free)

The free group is led by Tiffany G. and meets at Don Tyson Park in Springdale on Wednesdays @ 10:30 Am. No Excuse Moms (NEMS) is a fitness group for moms to help fit in fitness in moms’ already busy lives. It’s a once a week meet up, and moms can bring their kids, but child care isn’t provided. Some workouts will included the kids. The meet ups last no more than a hour long, and the workouts are about 25-30 minutes long. The main website is No Excuse Mom | What’s your Excuse?

Date: Wednesdays

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: Don Tyson Park, Springdale

More info: Email Tiffany at nwaNoExcuseMoms@yahoo.com or call 254-319-6187.

Beach Bingo Bash

Date: July 11

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Location: UARK Bowl, Fayetteville

More info: Click here

beach bingo bash

Countdown to Summer 2014!

summer ready setThere’s only about a week to go before most kids in Northwest Arkansas burst through those school doors and straight into summer vacation. Are you ready?

If not, no worries. We’ve got you covered. We discussed this topic on our daily radio show, the Mamas on Magic, which you can listen to each weekday at 7:45 a.m. on Magic 107.9.

Click the LEFT side of the audio bars below to hear lots of tips on getting ready for a fun summer with the kids, including info on local summer camps and reading programs.

On embracing the summer “slow down”

Summer Camp options — part 1

Summer Camp options — part 2

Tips for getting your kid to read this summer

 Creating a fun summer “to do” list

Fashion Fairy Godmother: Cute cover-ups that transition from beach to brunch

Dear Fashion Fairy Godmother,

I refuse to wear a ratty t-shirt and shorts over my swimsuit this summer. I want to wear something “cute” as a cover-up since we’re going on a vacation to the beach. Do you have any ideas for what I might shop for? I’m also thinking about how I might go straight from the beach to lunch or dinner.

Thank you!

Dear Beach Mama,

First things first: You are a beautiful woman who deserves a relaxing time at the beach, so good for you for taking the time away.

Secondly: Cover-ups are a pain for every woman. Regardless of shape, size, or age, the cover-up dilemma always seems to ask every woman to choose between the clothes that resemble those “ratty” things you mentioned or (on the very other end) clothes that resemble those that should never be seen outside of the bedroom.

Kaftans and tunics both offer women elegant alternatives. #1 is a kaftan. I adore the flowing sleeves and the loose bodice which leaves women of every body shape feeling elegant.  The key to this style is the length- much longer and it will start looking like your grandmother’s house-dress.

#2 is a tunic. This style is similar to the kaftan in that there are loads of wonderful looseness, but it’s a bit straighter and not as blouse-esque. When worn over a pair of white linen pants, both styles feel refined yet relaxed.  The only problem would be deciding which style you like most.

Maxi dresses are a second cover-up option that are insanely popular. You can find them everywhere and for every body shape.

For example, #7 #8 & #9 all have defined waists (which flatter every shape), but the waist doesn’t stop the long lean line that maxis are nice enough to supply.  Another trick is one color per dress which tends to look slimming as well.  #10 is a jersey and is very form fitting, i.e. a little less forgiving.  If you do decide to go with the maxi dress option, pick one that you can wear with confidence and everyone will see that beauty I was talking about earlier.

Something that would be lovely with both of these options would be simple metallic sandals (#3. #4). The fact that they are flats means that you won’t feel silly sinking into the sand on the beach (which would happen with heels), but the metallic kicks up the “pretty” factor just a bit. Oh, and these are something I would definitely compliment you on if we ran into one another at the grocery store after you got back from your trip. (Let’s be honest, the fashion fairy godmother loves a good justification to buy another cute pair of shoes.)

Another way to dress up a beach outfit is to ditch the big tote for evenings and carry one of these clutches (#5. #6).  The neutral and neon combo are a super fun trend that screams summer and the simplicity demands that you pare down and only carry the essentials. (Do you really need that third tube of lipstick anyway?)

Hopefully, this way of thinking would be something that carries over from your outfit to your attitude and allows you to most fully enjoy this amazing time with your family.

About Paige Meredith @ApproachingJoy: “Fabulous twenty something who’s into photography, food, fashion, fun. I blog because I believe everyones 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. Great ideas!

Note from the mamas: This post originally appeared on nwaMotherlode in May 2012. It was such great advice that we wanted to re-post!

 

Inside His Head: Who should take our kids if we die?

insidehishead, 500

Dear Inside His Head,

My husband and I are leaving on a big trip soon without the kids. The problem is, we can’t agree on which relatives would take our kids if something happened to us while we were away. We’re leaving soon and need to make a decision. I want my sister to be named guardian (I think she’s the most qualified), but he says his sister should be the one. There’s really no middle ground here. Any advice?

MICHAEL: Sounds like you’re in a pickle. There’s no easy answer to this but I can tell you what I’d do.

Sit down with your husband and make a list of the most important things you want for your kids as they grow up.

I’m not talking about material things.

I mean things like a good education and treating people the same no matter what their background or life choices. Focus on what it is you think will make them the people that you want them to be. Then talk about each of your sisters and determine which of them you feel would be most likely to accomplish your wishes.

Don’t forget that these things don’t happen in a vacuum. If one of your sisters already has four kids and the other only has one then that could make a difference.  Don’t be too quick to judge each other’s choices. Most likely either one would do their best to follow your wishes.

Just make sure they know what those wishes are by writing them down.

GRAY: It sounds like you’re both too personally invested to make a decision. It’s likely both sisters are equally qualified or there wouldn’t be a debate, so the real argument becomes about your opinion instead of who’s passing muster.

And, really, what‘s “qualified” to you may be different from your husband’s.

First, I would open the conversation up to your respective families (or at least the family members you trust). It may yield some surprising insights or considerations you have not thought about. Who knows, if you haven’t mentioned it to your respective sisters already, you may discover one would hate being named guardian. Similarly, you may have someone you hadn’t considered suddenly become a viable choice.

 Next I would get your kids input (assuming they’re old enough to have input). I mean, if something happens to then this is the last decision you’ll be making for them and arguably the most important in their lives. Even if they have no say, it could be wise to include them in the conversation so they’ll at least understand what’s could happen.

Finally I’d suggest that you put emphasis on the potential guardian’s personality and ability to love over their financial means or living conditions. If you’re taken away from them they’re going to need all the love they can get and no degree of money can make up for losses like that.

Hopefully these steps will help some and make your family realize that no matter who gets chosen, they’re all still there to support and help raise your children…let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.

MAVERICK: Well, since you say there is no middle ground, I don’t know how I can provide any advice, since by definition, you are at an impasse.

It makes sense that you are both championing members of your respective families. Unless you have an unhealthy family dynamic that you can actually recognize it seems natural to favor your blood relatives over in-laws, all things being equal. You know your family better and assuming what you know is positive, you’d want that for your child if you were gone.

But are all things really equal?

I suggest you both write down on a hunk of paper the qualities and qualifications of the two prospective guardians and exchange lists and then discuss the pros and cons of your choices.

As you do, frankly consider these issues:

First, ask if the person you are championing would really willingly take your kids. I mean without reservation, not just accepting the role of surrogate parent out of guilt. This is a key consideration. If your choice isn’t willing to take on the responsibility of raising your children with full commitment the end result will be disastrous.

Can your choice financially take on the addition to your children into their family? Look at this one with cold logic; it’s a vital issue.

Will your children fit in with the rest of the prospective guardian’s immediate family? What is the family dynamic like and do you approve of it? Are there other kids in the equation, so your children will not only be getting surrogate parents but surrogate siblings as well? How do you think that would work?

It’s also important to consider what the spouse is like. Would you want your children to grow up under his or her influence? Are they even capable of parenting and loving your children? How do they do with their own kids? Would you like your children to grow up like your brother-in-law or sister-in-law?

Kick around the notion of whether the selected guardian really understands who your children are at their core. Do they realize who your children are as people? What they love? Who they could turn out to be? Does the prospective guardian have the willingness and ability to nurture what makes your children unique? Will they raise your children with your and their best interest at heart?

Talk all this stuff out with your husband and be willing to listen to what he has to say.

If, in the end, you can’t make an informed decision, flip a coin, ask your child who they’d like to live with, or fight a duel to the death. I suggest a battle of wits using iocane powder.

In the end, you have to make sure your preference is really in the best interest of your child or more in the interest of keeping the family peace. You will be gone, but your child will have to live with your choice for the rest of their life, so don’t let family politics or dynamics sway you.

Choose wisely.

Beauty Buzz: How do I heal my super dry hair?

Dear Andi,

My hair is so dry and brittle from the winter. I know you usually answer makeup and skincare questions, but I need help! What do you recommend I do to get my hair looking good again?

I think we’re all ready to leave that crazy, roller coaster winter behind, including the damage it did to our skin and hair. And I will always take an opportunity to talk hair when it comes my way.

The best thing you can do for your hair is making the switch to sulfate-free shampoo. I don’t totally understand the science behind the new lines of hair care that are growing in popularity but I was sold after just one use.

The first difference you’ll notice is the lack of suds involved.

Although the bubbles can be used to sculpt a super awesome Mohawk, they serve no real purpose when cleaning your hair.

I have incredibly dry hair, even on the best day, and one wash after making the switch to sulfate free, I was blown away. I had straightened my hair and was so excited that I had “second day hair”.

I have tried a couple of different brands and keep going back to the affordable, and conveniently available L’Oreal line of sulfate free hair products. They have formulas designed for color care, curly hair, silky straight and thickening (I’m a little bummed I couldn’t keep the rhyme going).

All of the lines have two versions: one normal and one for repairing hair. I like to alternate them every time I buy based on the super scientific principle of “why not”, but definitely start with the reparative formula this time. Also, a leave-in creme conditioner will help you to detangle your hair without adding more damage and is well worth the extra time.

masqueNow, at the end of a long, brutal season, treat yourself with a hair masque like the EverCreme Sulfate-Free Moisture System Deep Nourishing Masque from L’Oreal.

Apply the mask to towel dried wet hair and wrap your hair in cellophane, then go pick your kids up at school and scar them for life…

(Just kidding, unless you’re looking for creative new punishments.)

Do heat your cellophane wrapped head with a hair dryer set on warm and allow it to cool. Then, rinse it out in the shower as usual.

Last but not least, step away from the blow dryer (after your hair masque, of course) and the hot styling tools for a while.

Natural texture is in style right now and summer is a perfect time to try it out.

You can DIY a beach hair spray to get the vacation look by mixing a little salt with water in a spray bottle. Mind blowing, right? Or a texturizing creme will help give your hair some oomph.

If you feel bare without a sculpted coif, try out some of the super on-trend braided styles on Pinterest. If you’re not on Pinterest, please tell me what you do with all that free time..have you written a novel yet?

If you can’t break the hot habit, protect your hair by applying a heat protectant hair oil or coconut oil before styling, avoiding you roots. Also, apply a little olive oil to the plates of your flattening iron once a week.

Okay, to summarize: Sulfate free hair products, be super lazy and stop fixing your hair, and search braids on Pinterest. Done! Sounds like the formula for a pretty stellar summer!

AndiAndi Douglas is a mama of three who loves to play with makeup (and hair!). She shares her advice and real-life adventures with makeup and makeup accessories here on Motherlode. To ask her a question, just email it to mamas{at}nwamotherlode{dot}com. CLICK HERE to read previous installments of Beauty Buzz or search the site to see if Andi has answered your particular question already.

Mealtime Mama: Quick side dish for your Memorial Day gathering

mealtimemama-ONF

Happy Memorial Day, mamas.

We hope  you enjoy this recipe, which is tasty and healthy:

Roasted Green Beans & Asparagus

green beans 21 pound whole green beans (fresh)

1 bunch asparagus (fresh)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions: Wash and drain the green beans and asparagus. Trim the stems of your green beans, but keep them whole. Trim asparagus if needed. Stir together olive oil, black pepper, salt, garlic powder and balsamic vinegar together in a large bowl. Place the beans and asparagus in the bowl and mix well, coating all pieces.

Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil spray and spread out a single layer of the beans/asparagus. Cook for 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees.

 

ONF store

Devotion in Motion: Pressing the Button for Others

27 ¶ Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so.

 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you.   Proverbs 3:27, 28   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

My older son, Spencer, has just finished his first year as an educator. I think he is a great teacher, and he loves his work. Spencer went to community college for two years (which is a very common thing to do in the state of Mississippi) and then studied for his last two years at Ole Miss. He received a scholarship that paid his room, board, tuition, and books for two years at The University. That’s a pretty hefty chunk-of-change. Spencer’s parents are very, very thankful for this blessing.

But the scholarship that our son received had one stipulation. If Spencer taught for two years at an “in need of help” public school, the entire amount of the scholarship was forgiven. If not, the entire amount of the scholarship would be treated as a loan that must be repaid with interest. He made it his mission to be hired at a qualifying school from the official list.

Spencer graduated last May, got married in July, and by August was not able to secure a teaching position at a school that was on the official-scholarship-repayment-list. Having a wife to support, he decided to take an available teaching job at a local middle school. He was told up front that his year at this school would NOT count toward the repayment of his obligation. He would still be fully indebted even though he had finished teaching an entire year of school.

Flash forward to last week. Spencer called some bureaucrats in another state to update them on his progress and to make sure the necessary paperwork had been received. The man on the phone said, “Yes, we’ve received your paperwork. And, by the way, we’ve given you credit for your year of teaching. We’ve red buttonrepaid one year of your scholarship. We recognize your school is not on the official list, but you’re doing a good job. So I opened the repayment screen on the account. And I ‘pressed the button’ for you.”

Just like that, $20,000 was paid. And we are eternally grateful to that man. He had the authority to press the button. He was allowed to press the button—but he didn’t have an obligation to do so. I’m so glad he pressed the button. It made a world of difference for our family.

God has given us all resources and influence. We all ought to do everything we can to “press the button” to help others whenever we get the chance. Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) has a lot to say about that subject. Take a moment to read it, and ask the Lord to show you who you can bless as you go about this new week.

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 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 posted Bible Camp registration forms at www.ilovechurchcamp.com.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 19).

Looking for a wonderful (and inexpensive) Christian summer camp for your children? Check out our website at www.ilovechurchcamp.com for details.

The Rockwood Files: Is picky eating genetic?

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

Ham salad sandwiches.

That’s what the school cafeteria lunch menu listed for Wednesday’s meal, which meant I’d be packing three lunches for school the next day. Ham salad? Those two words shouldn’t even go together. Did Michelle Obama sign off on this menu? Doubtful, I pulled the lunch-making necessities out of the fridge and started smearing mustard on six slices of bread.

I pack lunches in the evening and stick them in the fridge overnight for one important reason: We’re not morning people. I’ve heard there are real live people who are razor sharp and even cheerful early in the morning. At any other time of day, I’d say I admire those people and wish I could be more like them. But at 6 a.m., I want to throw things at those people and go back to sleep.

Our family of night owls tends to zombie-walk through school mornings, relying heavily on routine and things laid out the night before. If I packed lunches in the morning, the kids would open up their lunchboxes to find an apple, a stray sock and a stapler inside.

ham saladAs I assembled lunches for the zillionth time this school year, I wished my kids weren’t such picky eaters – although avoiding something called ham salad sounds less like picky eating and more like a survival strategy, if you ask me.

But the truth is they get their pickiness from me. When I was in second grade, there was a rule about trying one bite of everything on your lunch tray – a rule that was, no doubt, designed to coax picky eaters like me out of our chicken nugget rut. I was one of those quiet, law-abiding students terrified of breaking a rule so I went along with the cafeteria mandate right up until the day tuna fish sandwiches were on the tray.

I’ll try a bite of a lot of things – beets, turnips, breaded beef fingers – but I will not put tuna fish anywhere near my mouth. If possible, I’d rather the tuna fish be in a different zip code.

So I told my second grade teacher, Mrs. Wood, that I couldn’t try a bite of the tuna salad sandwich because I was allergic to it. The blatant dishonesty must have been written all over my terrified face because she said, “You’re allergic? Are you sure about that? If I call your mother and ask her, is she going to tell me that you’re allergic to tuna fish?”

I weighed my options – either put tuna fish in my mouth or deal with an angry mother and teacher – and I wholeheartedly embraced Door No. 2. I solemnly nodded that yes, my mother would confirm the tuna fish allergy. And as luck would have it, my teacher never called my mom, and I managed to slide past the “try one bite” rule that day.

Mrs. Wood, if you’re out there reading this, your suspicion was well-founded. I told a lie as bold as the fishy smell rolling off that cafeteria tray. It was wrong. I knew better. But, given the same set of circumstances, I’d do it again.

Picky eaters can be annoying, frustrating and even irrational sometimes, but we all listen to our gut instincts. For most people, that little voice is adventurous enough to give something called “ham salad” a whirl and see what happens. But for others, a certain smell, look or texture triggers an aversion strong enough to turn even a straight-laced second grader into a frightened fibber.

We’ll just pack our sack lunch and wait for the certainty of spaghetti and meat sauce and the comfort of a familiar chicken nugget. Bon appetite.

gwen rockwoodGwen 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.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

On Your Mind: Mom feels overwhelmed and unable to ‘measure up’

measuring stickMamas, we recently received the below question through our “online hotline” button.

It’s a question so many moms can relate to and we appreciate licensed professional counselor and fellow mom, Lauren Levine, for this thoughtful answer:

Q: I’m a mom of two kids under the age of 6 and lately I’m feeling completely overwhelmed. Even though my family is doing fine, I can’t shake this feeling of not being “enough.”

I constantly feel like I’m not measuring up to what I should be – as a mom, a wife, an employee, a daughter, a friend, a church member, etc. No matter how much I get done in a day, it’s never enough and I’m beginning to think it never will be, which just makes me feel depressed, on edge or even angry at myself.

If my husband even vaguely implies that I haven’t done something I should have, I get really upset and dwell on it for days. It keeps me up at night sometimes. He says I need to “lighten up,” but I’m not sure I know how to do that anymore. What can I do to solve this problem?

A: I am so sorry to hear how overwhelmed you are feeling. I’m glad you are reaching out to ask your question.

It sounds like part of you ( maybe even just a small bit) has a sense that this “feeling” might be something you might be able to shake. That’s an encouraging view. When your husband tells you to “lighten up” you say you are not even sure how to “anymore”.  Maybe there was a time that you were able to lighten up a bit more. It’s important to identify if something has perhaps  changed or interfered with your ability to do this.

Us humans tend to look for solutions to coping with overwhelm in two different ways:

laurenThe first way is more external and requires looking at what we can alter in our present situation. For instance, letting go of some responsibilities that might be too much for you to do at the moment.

The second way is to make changes to our internal sense, or our attitude towards a situation. It seems you might benefit from exploring a blend of both.

How do you change outlook? It’s important to look at your reality base or where your scale of “doing enough” is coming from. I have met with with many working moms ( myself included) who seem to have a warped sense of  what is expected of them.

Knowing where these critical voices originate is helpful. Do you have a story in your past of someone telling you that you are not doing a good job? Our culture certainly does a fine mess of enforcing these myths.We don’t necessarily have to subscribe to these stories.

Make sure to talk to other working moms. By doing this you can ‘normalize’ your experience and feel supported in your struggle.

Lastly, make a point of practicing self care which may include seeing a therapist who can help support your process in making these changes.

CLICK HERE to read more about therapist Lauren Levine. If you’d like to ask Lauren a question about something on your mind, click the butterfly icon below and submit your question. The form is NOT tied to your email address or any other identifying information, therefore your question will be submitted anonymously. You can read the answer to your question by reading the therapist’s response here on nwaMotherlode.com.

on your mind

5 Minutes with a Mom: Beth Christy Hamilton

Beth Christy Hamilton

Name: Beth Christy Hamilton

Children’s names and ages? Lily, 7 and Jackson, 5

What’s something funny your kids did recently? They enjoy playing pranks, so together they took a plastic snake and put it outside Lily’s bedroom door to “scare” me. I saw it but still did a little scream. They thought they played a great prank on mommy!

How long have you lived in NWA and what brought you here? We moved to NWA in October 2011 from Joplin, MO.

I decided to relocate following the tornado due to the emotional trauma it left on myself and the children. They were buried in the rubble in Wal-Mart and the heartache of that night and the months following was devastating. My son also was diagnosed with a heart condition which required invasive surgeries. I decided we needed a fresh start. I loved Arkansas and we have been blessed by support since moving here.

Tell us about a day in the life of Beth: I begin the day at 5:30 and it is go-go from there. I travel with my position as a mobile assessor for Lakeland Behavioral Health System, which is a behavioral treatment facility for children and adolescents. I work closely with therapists and probation officers as well as families throughout NWA. The evenings are family time and one tradition we have is to sit around the dinner table and discuss our day. This is our time to laugh and enjoy one another.

What’s been the most unexpected thing about motherhood for you? Priority change. I no longer care about the latest styles or name brands..I just want a world that is better for my children. I strive to make them proud and happy.

What advice would you give a brand new mom? Don’t sweat the small stuff! The dishes can wait..enjoy your time as a mom because they grow up sooo fast! Take time to play!

If you went back to college what would you study? I would study Special Ed.

Having worked in mental health I realize the need to change the attitudes of society toward children with mental illness.

What are three things you always have with you? My phone (lost without it!), paper towels (we are a messy group!) and lip gloss (I am still a girl at heart!)

Do you have any fun summer plans? Silver Dollar City! We have season passes. It was my favorite place as a child and my kids adore it!

What are your favorite places to hang out with kids in NWA? We love all the parks and the splash pad is a hit! We also love the First Friday events in Bentonville!

If someone wrote a book about your life right now, what would the title be? Girl From Kansas Still Following Her Yellow Brick Road

What’s something interesting that’s happened to you recently? I was asked to interview for an article for nwamotherlode.com :) {And we’re so glad you said yes, Beth!}

One word to sum me up … Determined

Fayetteville Public Library offering free “science” workshops this summer

The Fayetteville Public Library is offering several Teen “science” workshops this summer.

These look like so much fun and they’re FREE! If your kiddo is in 6th to 12th grade, they’re eligible to attend these workshops.

Registration opens three weeks before each class starts and you can register online at the event links below:

Teen 101 Series at FPL:

Cartooning 101 • July 10 – 11, 2 p.m.

Digital Photography 101 • Tuesday, July 24, 2 p.m.

barre3 Workshop • Tuesday, July 1, 2 p.m.

3D Printing • July 7 – 12, 2 p.m.

Wordplay: Creative Writing Workshop • July 7 – 11, 4 p.m.

Boxing 101 with Straightright Boxing & Fitness • Tuesday, July 8, 2 p.m.

Songwriting Workshop with Joe Crookston • Thursday, July 10, 1 p.m.

Wanderer Design Workshop • July 14 – 17 & 21 – 24, 2 p.m.

Molecular Gastronomy 101 Workshop • Tuesday, July 22, 2 p.m.

CSI: FPL Forensics Lab • Tuesday, July 29, 2 p.m.

Click here to see summer events for kids. And click here to sign up for FPL’s Summer Reading Program!

Good Gossip: Celeb baby news and life lessons

good gossip celebrities

Yes, we do love a little celebrity gossip but we also know it’s not cool to do something we teach our kids NOT to do. It’s never okay to indulge in stuff meant to humiliate or hurt another person. That’s why we came up with the concept of “Good Gossip,” which is celeb news minus any mean stuff. 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.

stork2There’s nothing scandalous about Kerry Washington‘s most recent delivery. The actress and star of the hit show Scandal gave birth to a daughter, Isabelle, on April 21st. Kerry is married to Nnamdi Asomugha, an NFL player, and the couple have been super successful at keeping their major life milestones under wraps and as quiet and private as possible. In fact, only those closest to the couple knew about the birth for two weeks before the rest of the world found out. Congrats to the new parents.

savannah guthrieHost of the Today Show and mom-to-be, Savannah Guthrie says her mom is her moral compass. She said that one time, as a teenager, she sneaked out of the house at night to go to a party. When she got back home at 2 a.m., her mom was sitting on her bed saying, “Welcome home!” Guthrie said she and her mom always go to see a Broadway show when her mom comes to town. “If I could copy the kind of mom she was, I’d be in good shape,” Guthrie said.

ariana huffingtonSuper busy moms can take a lesson from the wildly successful Arianna Huffington, a single mother who also built the Huffington Post website and sold it for more than $300 million in 2011. She still works as editor-in-chief of the website. Arianna collapsed in 2007 and, after lots of medical tests, it was determined that the collapse came from sheer exhaustion. “I did not realize how burned out I was,” she said. “I must have been way below zero percent battery and did not even know it.” She has written a new book about her experience and what she learned from the past seven years of reading about exhaustion, and it’s titled “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder.”

maleficentIf you go see the movie Maleficent (which hits theaters May 30th), you might wonder who the cute little blonde girl is in scenes with Angelina Jolie, who plays the title character. The sweet girl is actually Angelina and Brad’s real-life daughter, Vivienne. Angelina says, although she does not want her kids to be actors, she allowed Vivienne to be in the movie, in part, because it was so difficult to find another child actor who wasn’t terrified of her once she had on the Maleficent costume, complete with cape, creepy contacts and tall horns. Angelina said Viv is very feminine and likes to pick flowers and take care of animals. She plays Princess Aurora as a child. Angelina said two of her other kids, Pax and Zahara, are also in the film and that having them on the set was her “secret weapon.” “It made me so much more playful.”

Source: People magazine, May 19th  and May 26, 2014 issue

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.)

Fabulous Five: Answers from local moms

mamas on magic 107.9We love asking questions on Facebook and Twitter and getting answers from local moms. That collective insight from so many women throughout the area makes for great reading — witty, clever and thoughtful, too.

We compiled several of those questions and answers received from readers and put them into the Mamas on Magic radio segments. Click the LEFT side of the audio bars below to hear each day’s on-air segment.

Monday, May 12th:

Tuesday, May 13th:

Wednesday, May 14th:

Thursday, May 15th:

Friday, May 16th:

The best snow cone stands in Northwest Arkansas!

shave the planet

There seems to be a snow cone stand on every corner, which makes us HAPPY. We love a sweet, syrupy snow cone in the summer!

That said, we polled our Facebook friends to find the best snow cones in NWA. They suggested several great ones plus we went out and did a little research of our own over the weekend.

We found these cuties at Shave the Planet (in the Hobby Lobby parking lot) on College Avenue in Fayetteville. They are eating Funky Monkey, Invisible Cherry and Root Beer. Isn’t “invisible” cherry a genius idea? Right after we snapped this pic, the little girl in the middle spilled it right down the front of her outfit. Wet and sticky, yes, but not red!

sno cone kids, resized

Why don’t you join us in eating at as many snow cone stands as possible around NWA?! Here’s a short list of recommended stops (updated):

  • Sam’s Sno Cones, northwest corner of Mission and Crossover, Fayetteville
  • Tropical Sno, Joyce Blvd. (near TJ Maxx) and in Fiesta Square (off College) in Fayetteville
  • Frozen Tung, Southwest A Street, Bentonville
  • The Chill Zone, near the Lawrence Plaza Splash Pad, Bentonville
  • The Frozen Coconut, downtown Rogers off North 2nd Street (across from Harps, near the Rogers Activity Center)
  • The Sugar Shack at Golf Mountain, 1115 N. Dixieland, Lowell
  • Shave the Planet, three locations, College Avenue (Hobby Lobby parking lot) Fayetteville; in Jose’s parking lot in Springdale (off Sunset, just off I-540); and at the corner of Backus Avenue and Thompson (71b) in Springdale (across from AQ Chicken)
  • Cam’s Mountain Snow, Frisco Station Mall parking lot, Rogers (off Walnut)

Did we miss your favorite? Tell us about it comments so we’ll all know where to find it! We’d also love to know your favorite flavor!

Sam's Snow Cones

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