• Northwest Arkansas Calendar of Events: May 2016
  • 2016 nwaMotherlode Summer Camp Guide for Kids

Beauty Buzz: New trend in facial products

may2016 600By Andi Douglas

You may have noticed a new trend in the beauty aisle lately. It seems our girly, pink and white cleansers are being replaced with much scarier dark gray or black formulas. Um, these do not look clean. They are intimidating and new and have serious benefits if you can get by the weirdness.

african black soapThe first of these products to catch my attention is African Black Soap, a bar soap primarily made in Africa. According to Treehugger, it’s made from the ashes of locally harvested plants and barks such as plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and Shea tree bark. The mixture is then boiled and additional oils and Shea butter are added to create the secret recipe. My husband has been testing out the bar soap and lotion and has seen much improvement with his sensitive skin. The affordable soap, only $4.50 at Walmart, exfoliates and moisturizes gently yet effectively. Two warnings: some people have reported that your skin will get worse for about a week before it gets better (this was not the case with my hubby), and I recommend getting a little travel soap holder for it because the dried black suds dripping down your shower wall can look a little terrifying. Just ask my traumatized 5-year-old.

The charcoal infused product that caught my attention was the Biore Charcoal Pore Minimizer. Apparently, charcoal attracts dirt and oil and essentially sucks it out of your pores which leads to visibly smaller pores. I have no idea if this is technically what is happening, but with the addition of microcrystals for exfoliating, I have noticed that my skin feels smoother and have not had any breakouts. Biore also has added Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore strips that are very similar to the classic pore strips we all love, except that they are now black and the charcoal should enhance the product’s effectiveness.

elizavecca milky piggy carbonated bubble clay maskProbably the most unusual product of all is the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask.  It’s goopy, muddy gray texture takes some getting used to but feels wonderful once it starts to wor. The Korean made mask begins to fizz and bubble up, cleaning deep into your pores. Available through Amazon, the packaging is all written in Korean so I had to google instructions, but you basically smear a decent layer over your skin and wait about five minutes as it reacts. I forced another dance mom to try it with me in the church bathroom and we couldn’t stop laughing at the tickly sensation or jumping a mile and staring at the door every time someone walked in. Thank you, Sherry, for humiliating yourself for me. Embarrassment loves company!

One thing we learned is that it’s very hard to wash away completely using just the sink and a towel, so now I apply the mask while my shower heats up and then rinse under the running water. I got gobs of it in my baby hairs the first time….and then had to sit through a four hour dress rehearsal. I’m smart. A little side note: the link I provided is a combo offer with the Elizavecca Green Piggy Collagen Jella Pack. It is the grossest-feeling lotion I have ever seen and is like “the blob” as it morphs back to its original shape every time…I Loved It!!!! My skin looked so smooth after using it, and it has a ton of collagen in it for skin firming. Sadly, after scouring the Internet for ingredients in English, I discovered it contains propylene glycol, which I’m allergic to, but I loved it so much I still wanted to share.

So, come to the dark side with me and explore these new shady products. Tap back into your goth phase because black lipstick and JNCOs (Lord, help the children) are making a comeback, people!

Andi, 150Have a question for Andi, beauty blogger and fellow mama of three? Andi welcomes your questions and feedback to Beauty Buzz. E-mail her at andi@nwaMotherlode.com.

Summer Kickoff Giveaway: Win a family pack to Parrot Island Waterpark!

parrot4The weather is finally warming up and it’s time to SPLASH, SWIM, SLIDE and enjoy some SUN! After a phenomenal first season last summer, Parrot Island Waterpark in Fort Smith will kick off its second season this weekend on May 27, 2016.

To celebrate the beginning of summer break, we’re sending one lucky mom to Parrot Island with a “Family Fun Pack” that includes admission for FOUR people, a large pizza with one topping and four fountain soft drinks. (Winning this package will earn you some serious “cool mom” points with the kids.) It’s less than an hour away from most people in Northwest Arkansas, and it’s the perfect day trip to kick off the summer with something new and exciting.

ABOUT PARROT ISLAND: One of the things we mamas love about Parrot Island is how it features different areas for different members of the family. If you’ve got little ones, then you’ll love hanging out on Tiny Turtle Island which has tons of water spraying toys, climbing toys, waterfalls, small slides and plenty of shallow-water space to play and splash with friends.

parrot5If your kids are a little bigger, they’ll love the activity pool called Toucan’s Cove. With 250,000 gallons of water, it’s huge, includes basketball hoops and has plenty of space to play, swim or just chill out. It’s also centrally located in the middle of the park so it’s easier to keep an eye on the kids.

For water lovers who love a thrill, there are FOUR huge slides at Parrot Island, including the 40-foot tall Pineapple Plunge slide. When you’re standing at the top of the slide, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the entire park before you go flying down this thrill ride of a slide. The other three twisty slides give you the fun of a roller coaster with a cool splash down at the end.

We think this picture says it all:

parrot8If you want something that appeals to everybody in the family, you can’t go wrong with the Crocodile Creek Lazy River. Parents can use a double-tube so they can keep their little ones within arm’s reach. The lazy river is 500 feet long and includes a waterfall and a few other fun surprises we don’t want to spoil for you before you see it for yourself.

Last but definitely not least, the Caribbean Splash wave pool is the ONLY wave pool in this entire region of the state. You can ride the waves in the more than 85,000-gallons of ocean-like fun.

KidsAreaIf one of your kids has a birthday or special event this summer, there are some party package options available at Parrot Island, too. Click HERE to check out what’s available.

Regular park hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted in the season calendar. But keep in mind that people with season passes get early admission.

Cost for a one-day admission is $15 for anyone over 48 inches tall. For those under 48 inches tall, the price drops to $10. Click HERE for info on season pass prices.

We’ll keep you posted on upcoming special events which will be hosted throughout the summer, but you may want to mark your calendar now for the free swim lessons being offered on June 24, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. Click here for more details.

PineapplePlungeHOW TO ENTER: To throw your name in the online hat to win the Family Fun Pack of four admission tickets plus pizza and drinks, just click HERE or click on the word “comments” (right under the headline of this post) and scroll down to the bottom of the comments posted by other moms. Then tell us which part of Parrot Island Waterpark will probably be the most popular with your kids. Pineapple Plunge slide? Tiny Turtle Island? Carribean Splash wave pool?  (Our kids are into the tall slides these days, but we mamas like to relax and float the lazy river!)

You can also email your answer to us at giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

INCREASE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING: Help us spread the word about this giveaway by emailing your friends and family about the giveaway. We’ll give you an extra chance to win for every person you tell. Just be sure to put giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com on the CC line of your note so we can give you proper credit. Spreading the word and earning extra chances can really improve your odds of winning.

You can also earn an extra chance to win by signing up to receive the free email newsletter we send once a week.

Our newsletter subscribers get access to the good stuff, including exclusive giveaways (like this one), information about local events, local mom interviews, recipes and more. It’s delivered straight to your inbox so you don’t miss anything awesome. CLICK HERE to sign up. We won’t fill your inbox with info, no worries. We only send out newsletters when there’s something in it for you — and we know you’ll be interested in hearing about it.

BE SOCIAL: You can also earn extra chances to win by commenting on our Facebook page, following us on Twitter or following us on Pinterest. If you do any of those, just mention it in your comment or email so we can give you proper credit.

Good luck in this fun giveaway, and keep an eye on your inbox because we always notify our winners via email. For more info on Parrot Island Waterpark and to see their season calendar of events and hours of operation, click HERE. Happy Summer!

The Little Free Pantry: A Q&A with the founding mama from Fayetteville


Have you heard about The Little Free Pantry that Jessica McClard started in Fayetteville recently? There’s been a huge buzz around her great idea.

We wanted to get the scoop on Jessica and how her LFP pantry movement is already growing across Northwest Arkansas.

Here’s a Q&A with Jessica about her big idea:

What exactly is the Little Free Pantry?

The Little Free Pantry applies the Little Free Library concept to help neighbors address local food insecurity, which is just a fancy way to say I built what looks exactly like a Little Free Library and put food in it!

The Little Free Pantry is “crowdfunded;” those who donate contribute nonperishable items of their choosing, placing items directly inside the pantry. The pantry contents then become available to anyone.

Where did the idea come from?

I am both an avid runner and reader. When neighbors placed a Little Free Library in their yard, I’d swing by on runs and browse the shelves. Even though the Little Free Library concept encourages users to “take a book, leave a book,” I always felt I could take without giving back—that the spirit of the Little Free Library was about neighbors promoting an activity which makes life better for so many, including me!

As Little Free Libraries were popping up all over Fayetteville last summer, I began to wonder if that compelling idea could address other quality-of-life issues, and the Little Free Pantry was born.

Jessica McClard

Jessica and her dog, Baron

While there are other similar projects (mini-fridges, etc.), a couple of which I’ve linked in The Little Free Pantry Facebook page, the Little Free Pantry is my original idea.

Where is it located?

The LFP is located at the Rolling Hills entrance to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, street address 2925 N Old Missouri Rd, Fayetteville, AR, 72703.

Can people in the community help you stock it?


The first day “live,” so many generous people indicated desire to help support the project, I was concerned about space under the pantry becoming a collection point; however, need has far outpaced supply.

Are you encouraging other people to start their own free-standing pantries?

YES! A single Little Free Pantry is “little.” Lots could be BIG, becoming another tactic to address food insecurity in our neighborhoods, communities, cities…

Are any other pantries currently being built?

I know of plans for at least two other LFPs locally and one in Northeast Arkansas. Multiple individuals and groups interested in and with questions about duplicating the project contact me daily.

What’s your background? Have you always had an interest in helping people in your community?

I grew up in a rural community in Northeast Arkansas called Weiner (I’ve heard all the jokes!). Residents there regularly organize to help one another, and I think my sense of “community” as “helping people” at a very local level was cultivated there. Also, having a strong sense of justice from an early age, I nearly always favor the underdog.

Professionally, I’ve been a teacher, a law student, a full-time mom, a nurse, and a financial associate. That they are all helping professions is the common thread.

I am so grateful and excited to have ended up at Thrivent Financial. Thrivent is a membership organization of Christians that helps members be wise with money so they can be generous, benefitting families and communities; we say we “help people do well so they can turn around and do good.”

Outside of work, I am active in Womenade NWA, a women’s giving circle focused primarily on helping local women and children. I am also church council president of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville.

What has been the public’s response to LFP?

Humbling in a way that rekindles my faith and hope for a more neighborly and caring world! I posted the project to Facebook last Thursday.

In five days my page posts have reached 459,351 people, and the first fully stocked pantry photo has been shared almost 3000 times. Though the occasional skeptic presents—“That’ll be vandalized,” or “Someone who doesn’t need it will take it all,”—the overwhelming majority is not just supportive but moved to action by the concept.

Public response to the LFP supports the idea that just as people need food to thrive, people need to serve. The Little Free Pantry is a physical meeting place for both these needs.

CLICK HERE to visit The Little Pantry Facebook page and keep up with all the good news.

Devotion in Motion: Words from the wedding

8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” ~ 1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV)

Note from the mamas: One of the perks of being a minister is that you have the opportunity to speak during your own child’s wedding ceremony. Below are the incredibly touching words that Brother John said during his son Seth’s recent wedding to his new bride, Leanne. Grab some tissues, mamas. You’re going to need them. (And congrats to the newlyweds.)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Seth and Leanne, it is your wedding day! I’ve put together some thoughts for you. Don’t worry. There are only a few.

Dear Seth, it’s hard to believe the time has passed by so quickly. Do you remember that whenever we had to divide the family up for some reason, you always went with me? When you were a toddler, it was MY job to rock you to sleep at night. Your mother said you and I are a good pair; she said we’re very “simpatico,” and I agree. Other people always have to be GOING and DOING exciting things as they live their lives. But Seth and Dad a very sweet boycould always just BE. We could BE together and BE happy. And because of that, I have lots of happy memories, and I hope you do, too.

When you turned 15, we didn’t get along at all for a while; I don’t know the reason, but you and I didn’t “chime.” Fortunately, I’ve grown up a lot over the past 6 years. ;-) But even though we’ve gone through “rough patches,” there has never been a time when I have not loved you. And I love you even more today. I’m so very proud of you and the fine young man you’ve grown up to be.

I have sensed that you’re worried to be starting out without a lot of money. Don’t worry! A lot of people start out without much money. Your mother and I started out with just a little. My father and mother started out with even less. But the Lord has blessed us in our lives and prospered us. When Spencer was little, he said “We aren’t rich. We aren’t poor. But we are MEDIUM.” He was right, and MEDIUM is the best thing to be.

Just use your Pappaw Leonard and your Peachie Elizabeth as an example. Take the little bit of money God has given you, and manage it well. Give your heart to the Lord, and serve Him in His church. And always give your tithe FIRST to the Lord. If you will do these things, and always love Him, I believe you will always have ALL the things you need and SOME of the things you want. That is the happiest life of all.

Something you will see as you live your life is that there are people who start off with a lot of things — but they are not rich toward God. For them, life doesn’t always go well. Other people start out with fewer things, but they have the blessing of God. Because of this, their lives are full of blessing. I will pray that this is what the Lord does for you.

And now, to your wife:

Dear Brenda Leanne, we love you so very much. When you and Seth went on your first date, we looked you up on Facebook and thought you went by your first name, Brenda. So that’s what we called you, and still do! You seth and leanne2are good to put up with that….

When our younger son was a baby, Miss Susan began to pray God would send the perfect wife for Seth. How does it feel to be the person we asked God for? We believe you are the perfect wife for Seth. Your family did a wonderful job in raising you to be a lovely girl. And we are glad to be joining our families together.

Brenda, you know I’m always preaching about Martin Luther. He lived 500 years ago in Germany and reformed the Church. He said that God is the Trinity — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is like a family. God the Father is like the father,  Jesus the Son is like the child, and the Holy Spirit is like the Mother. (This analogy isn’t perfect, so I won’t bind this on you.) But it seems like there’s a lot of truth in what Luther said about how this relates to human homes. The Father (Husband) CREATES the home. The Son (Child) obeys the Father and the Spirit.

But the mother is like the Holy Spirit in the home. She helps to determine the SPIRIT within the home. In Mississippi we say, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy!” (Miss Susan has figured this out. Twenty-five years ago we would have had a fight on your wedding day from all the stress! But today, she has been trying to promote a peaceful spirit, and we’ve had a wonderful day.)

You will have a happy home (if Seth does his part) and you remember that YOU are the SPIRIT of the home. The people of Antioch tell me, “That Leanne is a ray of sunshine.” Live for God, and fill your home and the world with sunshine.

It is sad when your children get married and leave home. But it wouldn’t be good if I wanted you to stay children forever. As your parents, we all wanted to have our own lives in the world, and it’s good and holy and right that you want to go out on your own, too. It’s a comfort that you live nearby where we can see you.

So, go with God…and rejoice! You are dearly loved.

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 30 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, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the honeymooners stopped by for a visit when they got back from Pensacola.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 24), and Seth (age 21) and his wife Brenda Leanne (age 20). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

The Rockwood Files: The Royal We

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

After you become part of a couple or get married, “you” become a “we,” and “we” is a powerful pronoun.

rp_crown2-1024x752.jpgCouples begin many of their sentences with the word “we,” and they’re particularly fond of “the royal we.” In case you’re not familiar with the royal version, “the royal we” was originally used by kings and queens to suggest they were acting in conjunction with the people over whom they ruled. Queen Victoria is famous for the quote “We are not amused.”

But couples tend to use it for more practical reasons, like passively handing off responsibility for a task to someone else, while giving the illusion that we are in this thing together. Here’s an example of the royal we in action:

“We should get up early and take the puppy outside for a bathroom break.”

Now if the we is not specifically clarified, both he and she go to bed thinking the other half of the royal we is going to take care of said puppy. Then the next morning, there’s a puddle on the floor and “we” are definitely not happy about it. Now “we” have to clean this up.

See how easily the royal we can go astray?

That being said, I definitely use “the royal we” to my advantage. After 17 years of marriage, my husband knows that when I say, “We should really put down new mulch in these flower beds,” I am referring to the “he” part of “we.” The “she” part of “we” prefers to avoid the pollen and supervise the job by staying inside and glancing out the window supportively. If the flower beds get new mulch, it’s always the “he” part of “we” that gets it done.

Of course, there are also times when Tom benefits from use of the royal we. If we bump into a friend with a new baby, I might say, “We saw your baby announcement and we think your baby girl is just beautiful. Her big blue eyes are amazing!”

Tom will nod his head and offer his congratulations, even though he knows that the “we” refers only to me, who actually looked at the birth announcement and sent a gift. The “he” part of “we” never laid eyes on the birth announcement and was probably not even aware that the friend was pregnant.

Once “the royal we” have children, the kids learn how to get in on the act and take advantage of the pronoun’s perks. Not long ago, our middle-schooler said, “Mom, we forgot to wash my gym clothes and put them in my backpack.”

What that sentence translates to is this: “I forgot to take my stinky gym clothes out of my backpack and give them to you for washing because I was far too busy playing whatever iPhone app happens to be cool this week. I also forgot that I’ve been taught how to use the washing machine, which means I could’ve washed the gym clothes by myself. But I will use the royal we in this sentence on the off chance that it will trigger some misplaced mom guilt and get me off the hook.

we are not amusedThe kids also like to say that “we” lost the remote control and now “we” really need to find it, even though “we” can’t be bothered to lift a sofa cushion and find the thing.

Needless to say, sometimes use of “the royal we” is more about a person’s reluctance to get off his or her royal duff, and, to that, I’ll reply by borrowing that famous line from Queen Victoria: “We are not amused.”

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen 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 book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.