• 2016 nwaMotherlode Summer Camp Guide for Kids
  • Where To See Fireworks: Fourth of July in Northwest Arkansas, 2016

Beyond the Casserole: How to Take a Meal to Your Sick Friend like a Rock Star


By Marissa Henley, local cancer survivor and author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer

In previous posts in this series, we’ve looked at ways to provide emotional support and practical service for a friend with cancer. Close, inner-circle friends will care for most emotional and logistical needs, but those in the outer circles also wonder how they can help.

Even if you aren’t besties with your friend who has cancer, you still have a role to play in her support network.

You have three responsibilities:

1. Pray.

2. Communicate support.

3. Bring food.

If you’ve been an adult for awhile, you’ve probably taken a meal to a new mom. But the needs of women with cancer are different. You’re not dropping in on a smiling (but exhausted) woman cradling a newborn—in fact, you may not see your friend with cancer at all when you deliver a meal. Your friend’s family may be receiving meals for several months, not just a few weeks. She may have strict dietary restrictions or preferences that need to be considered. When you take dinner, you have an opportunity to love your friend well and show your concern.

Here are some ideas for those who want to take a meal like a rock star:

1. Take a family recipe. Ask the patient or someone close to her if they can pass along one of her favorite recipes. If she has small children or picky eaters at home, they will be comforted by familiar foods.

My family received more than 100 meals when I had cancer, and the most memorable was the casserole that my friend Sarah made for us. She asked for one of my go-to recipes. She was willing to cook something that was new to her, but familiar to us. No amount of chemo-induced nausea could keep me from the dinner table that evening!

paper plates2. Bring paper plates. Do you enjoy washing dishes? Your friend doesn’t, either. And she probably doesn’t have the time or energy to finish that chore. She may not have extra money to spend on paper plates. Bring a large package of them with your meal, and you’ll put a smile on her face!

3. Include breakfast, lunch and snack foods. Your friend will be so thankful that you brought dinner. But her family probably wants to eat three (or more) times a day. Consider bringing healthy, ready-to-serve items for breakfast, snacks or school lunches.

Not only will you save her time and energy, you will save her money at the grocery store. When you’re spending money on co-pays and deductibles, lower food expenses are a blessing!

4. Leave your kids at home. If your friend is recovering from surgery or receiving chemo, she needs extra protection from germs. And while I’m sure your children never pick their nose or lick the slide at Chick-fil-a, your friend will benefit from being exposed to as few people as possible. You also want to keep her home calm and quiet in case she’s resting.

Whenever possible, leave your children at home or in the car while you deliver the meal. And if anyone in your home is sick, let your friend know before going to her home.

5. Offer to return dishes. Please take your meal in disposable containers. The last thing she needs right now is to keep everyone’s dishes straight and return them. If you must take a dish you need back, label it with your name and tell her you’ll stop by in a few days to retrieve it.

If you want to go the extra mile, ask if others have left dishes that need to be returned and offer to return them for her. She will appreciate your help with this task!

One last thing to keep in mind: if you are hesitant to take a meal because your cooking skills are like mine (terrible!), consider grabbing a pizza or take-out from their favorite restaurant. When I was sick, some of my husband’s colleagues ordered a pizza for us every Tuesday, and it was my kids’ favorite day of the week! Your thoughtfulness in serving your friend by meeting her family’s basic needs will far outweigh your shortcomings as a chef.

Your friend needs to know she’s loved and supported even more than she needs dinner.

When you meet her need for a hot meal, you also communicate your concern. You let her know she is not forgotten or alone in this fight. So keep taking those casseroles like a rock star until your friend is healthy and standing at her stove again.

Marissa Henley headshotMore about Marissa: Marissa Henley, author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer, is a follower of Christ, wife, mom, and cancer survivor who writes about faith, friendship, and cancer at www.marissahenley.com. Most days, you’ll find her drinking a latte while shuttling her three kids around in a minivan, wondering if the dog will ever learn to stay and if she’ll ever love cooking as much as her husband loves eating.

2016 Swim Lessons in Northwest Arkansas

The pool, lake and beach are scary, dangerous places to be if your kids can’t swim. So swim lessons are a must.

As you may know, there are many swim instructors in our area who offer lessons but don’t necessarily advertise their services and are not affiliated with a specific business. If you know of individual swim teachers, please post a comment or send us an email if that the instructor would like to be listed in our directory (at no charge). We’ll keep adding to the list so our readers will always be able to find a swim instructor when they need one.

Here’s the list of swim instructors/local swim lessons we have so far.

  • Donna Speed (school teacher & swim instructor — private or small group lessons) — 479-366-7921
  • Angela Shadduck (former swim teacher — private or small group lessons in Bentonville) 479-268-5060
  • Swim Ranch — 479-521-2932
  • Bentonville Community Center — They have “Parent and Tot” swim lessons plus lessons for preschoolers and older kids. 
  • Rogers Aquatics Center — 479-936-5482
  • Razorback Aquatic Club AquaHawgs — contact through website at www.aquahawgs.org
  • Fayetteville Athletic Club Aquatics Center — 479-587-0500

New this year: The Jones Center for Families has added a new class called Survival Swimmers for infants as young as 3 months. They also have new Adults Learn to Swim classes as of summer 2016, which teaches swimming and water safety skills. Click here for more info

Click the comment button under the headline of this post if you know of other businesses and/or individuals offering swim lessons from certified instructors. We’ll be sure to add them to the list!

Good Gossip: Hollywood baby boom

Good Gossip slider 700Yes, 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 and share it with your celeb-loving friends because this “dish” is ashton mila instagramall guilt-free.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher are expanding their family. A second baby is on the way and will join big sister Wyatt, who is 21 months old.

kris allen baby girlSpeaking of babies, there’s a baby boom in Hollywood these days! Some of the celebs who have recently welcomed new babies include Chelsea Clinton and her husband Marc Mezvinksy (a baby boy named Aidan); Eddie Redmayne and his wife Hannah (a baby girl named Iris Mary); and American Idol winner and Arkansas native Kris Allen and his wife Katy (a daughter named Rose Elizabeth, pictured left). Congrats to all the new parents!

christina aguilera 2016 instagramChristina Aguilera released a new song called “Change” earlier than originally planned and she is using the proceeds from the song to benefit victims and their families in Florida. Some of the lyrics say “Waiting for a day that hate is lost and love is found.”

matthew mcconaughey people 2016In a recent issue of People magazine, Matthew McConaughey talks about the night he met his wife, Camila. …”We went on our first date three nights later, and I knew then. The next night after that, I wanted to go out on another date. I’ve been wanting to go on a date with her for the last nine years and not with anybody else.” (Let’s say it together, ladies: “Awwwwww.”)

olivia wilde jason sudekis instagram 2016Actress Olivia Wilde says her fiance, actor Jason Sudekis (who is also father of their 2-year-old son, Otis) is good at giving compliments. “It’s really nice when you’ve been working hard all day and you’re exhausted, and your dude says, ‘You look fantastic.’ And you’re like, ‘Little do you know I”m a hollowed-out zombie.’” Olivia, who is currently pregnant with their second child, says that pregnancy makes her feel beautiful because she feels more connected to her body. “Other times we lose touch with that, so now I feel beautiful just living my life, working hard and being a good mom to my son.”

jinger duggar 2016Local celeb Jinger Duggar, who appears on the TLC show “Jill & Jessa: Counting On,” is featured in the most recent issue of People magazine, which reports that she is dating a professional soccer player named Jeremy Vuolo. The pair were introduced by her sister, Jessa, and got to know each other better while they were part of the same mission trip. “I really admired his character,” said Jinger. (Did you know Jinger likes to take photos of her family and friends? Check out this post and video which captures the day she shadowed one of our favorite family photographers, Lisa Mac.)

Jinger Duggar Lisa Mac 2016 600

Local family photographer Lisa Mac and Jinger Duggar of “Counting On.”

Source: People magazine, July 4, 2016 edition

Inside His Head: How to handle your mother-in-law moving in

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Dear Inside His Head husbands,

My mother is planning to move in with us soon — for a while. My father passed away recently and she’s going to stay with us so she can get her finances in order and deal with her grief. My husband is worried about our family dynamic. It’s just a big change. What can I say to help with the transition?

generichead-1MICHAEL: The first thing I hope you can say is that you’ve discussed with your mother exactly how long this arrangement is going to last and that you’ve talked about ground rules for life at the house.

Because it’s your mother you’re going to be the proxy for all disagreements and snide remarks. Be prepared to deal with it. It’s understandable that this type of thing happens, however, it doesn’t sound like it’s been planned for so the best thing you can do is anticipate what the challenges will be.

remix (4)Examples are things like:

♦ Your mother doesn’t hear well so now the television has to be turned up all the time.

♦ You watch what your kids eat very carefully and your mother questions your choices in front of them.

Just having another opinion and voice around the house will make it stressful. You’ve got to make sure that you’re not consistently siding against your husband. Remember you’ve got to put with him forever. Your mother hopefully only for a short while.  Make sure he knows you realize that.

MAVERICK: I’d tell him in the nicest way possible that there’s no sense in worrying about something until an actual problem occurs.

If you mother is overbearing or generally a pain in the butt or objects to your husband breathing air or thinks him a fool, well, you or more accurately he, is hosed. But since your husband agreed to this arrangement, I can assume either he likes your mother or he’s a good son-in-law, or really just a decent guy trying to help here.

The main way you can calm his fears about your mother messing with the family dynamic is not to let her mess with the family dynamic. She’s your mother, so she’s yours to deal with where conflict is concerned. He’s the son-in-law, which gives him less power in the relationship than a bum off the street.

♦ The best way to avoid trouble with the new situation is to head it off.

♦ Make your mother feel welcome, let her pitch in and help, be there for her, be kind, be supportive, be family.

♦ Don’t let her take over your house, determine your family routine, decide what you eat or where you go or undermine your husband’s authority in his own home.

If she likes certain TV programs, get her her own flat-screen for her room – they’re not super expensive now-days and this ill will avoid conflict. Most of us guy-types can relinquish control of the remote when needed or on short trips to visit family, but don’t expect us to do it for an extended period of time and in our own living rooms.

If she becomes critical of your husband, nip it in the bud. Your mother is in a less than happy place and needs support but she doesn’t get to bad-mouth your spouse. If it starts, you have to tell her to stop. It’s your place. Fight the dynamic that says your mom is always right. Your husband does not deserve to be ganged up on.

And remember, even with your mom in the house, he’s still your husband.

Don’t let the new arrangement turn you into your mother’s daughter at the expense of being your husband’s wife. Turn things to your advantage. Let mom watch the kids so you can go out on a date or a romantic mini-vacation. Spend time together.

In short, give your mother a place in your home but don’t let her make herself comfortable at the expense of your husband’s peace of mind or your relationship. This could be a great time for your husband and your mother to become close.

He’s being a decent guy for opening up his home. Don’t make him regret it.

greg1.thumbnailGRAY: “We’ll get a cat…because your mom is deathly allergic. That way she can’t move in,” would likely be my wife’s remedy to the issue should we face a similar situation.

We’re not a culture that’s used to living with extended family and it can be a mess. The best thing is to get your husband’s worries addressed before the situation turns into a bundle of frustration, before your mother even arrives.

I would be worried about never having privacy, always turning around and finding her there, perhaps thinking I’d like to hear the 2-hour story of the summer she grew a pumpkin for the county fair.

So set some boundaries. Maybe meals are family time, but after the last meal of the day it’s understood that everyone gets some alone time, completely uninterrupted. You get the idea.

But what if mother says, “Well, I’m so comfortable here. What if I just stayed? Would that be so bad?”

The thought of having an in-law transition from temporary to permanent would push many husbands right off the edge of the cliff (and, no, that’s not just a figure of speech) but it’s easy enough to allay. Put a timeline in place. It doesn’t have to be meticulous, but don’t let “three months” become “some day.” Always move forward and don’t let a setback derail the whole works.

The most difficult issue would be personality conflicts. Does your husband fear hearing “my daughter used to date that nice boy before she met you…he’s a doctor now” or some kind of continual drone about how he’ll never be good enough? You may need to play referee for a while and make sure his head doesn’t explode. Just keep reminding him it’s only temporary.

Finally, having you on his side can carry a lot of clout. Let him know that if things don’t go as planned you’ll buy that cat she’s allergic to ensure she’s heading out the door.

July 2016: Northwest Arkansas Calendar of Events

july slider2FireworksWondering where to see fireworks in Northwest Arkansas? Click here for a detailed list and a printable version for your fridge!

Other July 2016 events:

Friday, July 1st:

Reading Roadshow with FPL at Panera

The Fayetteville Public Library and Panera Bread are partnering to bring an Interactive Reading Program to the Fayetteville Panera restaurant. The FPL Reading Roadshow is a 30- minute interactive reading session, will be at on these dates from 9-9:30 a.m.:

Dates: July 1 & August 5

Time: 9-9:30 a.m.

Location: Panera Bread, 3638 N Front Street, Fayetteville

reading roadshow 2016

First Friday Flicks, Lawrence Plaza, Bentonville

The movies start at 8 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket.

  • Friday flicksJuly 1st- Finding Nemo
  • August 5th- Teen Beach Movie 2
  • September 2nd- Zootopia

More info: Click here

First Fridays Bentonville

On the First Friday of every month (April through November) Bentonville Square is transformed into a themed community block party with live music, food and family-friendly activities. Thousands of members come out to celebrate the community. This month’s theme is Americana Music. The main stage opens at 4:30 p.m.

Date: July 1

Time: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Location: Bentonville Square

More info: Click here

Firefly Run

firefly runGrab the kids and enjoy a 1-mile “glow run” at Gulley Park. Participants will receive flashy neon accessories and navigate the Gulley Park trail. The Firefly Run is $10 a person or $30 for a family of 5. All proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Arkansas Chapter. The Firefly Run will take place within Gulley Park, using the paved trail around the perimeter of the park. This fun-run will not be timed. The glow run will start at 8:00 pm.

Date: July 1

Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Gulley Park, Fayetteville

More info: Purchase tickets at the event or before the event at https://www.register-wizard.com/events/fireflyrun/register. Click here to visit the event’s FB page.

Saturday, July 2nd:

Astronomy Night

No registration required. You may use our telescope “Big Boy” or bring your own. Binoculars work too. Bring a red lens cover, such as a cloth or balloon. You may also bring chairs and drinks for outdoor comfort.

Date: July 2

Time: Evening

Location: Hobbs State Park, Rogers

More info: Click here

Monday, July 4th:

**To see a list of fireworks displays on July 4th, click here!

41st Annual Devil’s Den Games

Celebrate the 26th year of the Devil’s Den Games. Enjoy a fun-filled family day of horseshoes, softball, sack races, parades, and much more… all topped off with homemade ice cream. Free event. Meet at the softball field in Area E.

Date: July 4

Time: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Location: Devil’s Den, West Fork

More info: Click here

Independence Day Celebration at War Eagle Mill

This event is for families. It will include a lunch special at the Bean Palace, kids’ crafts and more. It will start at 11 a.m. on Monday and run through 3 p.m.

Date: July 4

Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: War Eagle Mill, Rogers

More info: Click here

Tuesday, July 5th:

Ice cream and old-fashioned toys

On Tuesdays in July, enjoy a different family activity at the Rogers Historical Museum. Tuesdays from 5-8 p.m.

Date: July 5 (Every Tuesday in July)

Time: 5-8 p.m.

Location: Rogers Historical Museum

More info: Click here

Thursday, July 7th:

Movie nights rogers

Summer Movie Series, downtown Rogers Farmer’s Market

Date: July 7 (and other Thursdays in July)

Time: Movie starts at dark (see movie titles in the graphic above)

Location: Downtown Rogers Farmer’s Market

More info: Click here

Fleur Delicious Weekend, Eureka Springs

Date: July 5-10

Time: Varies

Location: Various venues around Eureka Springs

More info: Click here

Saturday, July 16:

firefly fling

Firefly Fling

Garden fairies, food trucks, live music, fairy house building, obstacle course and more.

Date: July 16

Time: 6-10 p.m.

Location: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Fayetteville

More info: Click here

create it conCreate-it-Con

Create-it-Con at the Rogers Public Library is a celebration of the Maker Movement. It’s a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Create it Con gathers together tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, food artisans, hobbyists, engineers, musicians, actors, science clubs, artists, students, cosplayers, food trucks and lots of other exhibitors. Admission is always free so come and play all day.

Date: July 16

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

Location: Rogers Public Library

More info: Click here

Thursday, July 21st:

Homegrown Music Festival

A weekend on the Mulberry River, with Leftover Salmon, The Wood Brothers and more. Arkansas’s first sustainable festival. Family-friendly.

Date: July 21-23

Location: Byrd’s Adventure Center, Ozark

More info: Click here

Friday, July 29th:

mary poppins clipMary Poppins

Date: July 29-31 & August 4-7, 11-14

Time: Varies

Location: Arkansas Public Theatre, Rogers

More info: Click here