Doing Good


This year's shirt design.

I got my Race for the Cure shirt in the mail yesterday, which means it’s almost time for the big event.  This year’s event is October 16th.  It is my third year to run in the Little Rock Race for the Cure, a race that I am absolutely in love with.  I’ve blogged about it before here and here. The big draw for me is the purpose of the event (fighting breast cancer via screenings and research), which creates an electricity in the crowd that is palpable.  Over 40,000 women came downtown last year to take part.   You’ll float from the race expo with tons of cool giveaways (and the fanciest port-a-potties you’ll ever see), to the stage with the bands, through the mass of estrogen at the starting line, past three miles of men (including firemen, bikers, shriners, musicians, and of course all those kids and daddies) cheering along the way, and on to the grand finale: the pink wave of the survivors’ parade moving down Broadway.

This year I’m running as part of the KTHV/MomsLikeMe.com team.  It’s a great opportunity to join up with other moms for a great cause.  I’ll be running the race, but other team members will be jogging or walking the 3.1 mile course, and others will be doing the 2k family walk/run with their kiddos in strollers.  If you’d like to join the team, you can get more information here, and register for the event here.  If large events aren’t your thing, or you just can’t make it, you can also donate to the Komen Race for the Cure through my fundraising page.

There are tons of other fun events surrounding Little Rock’s Race for the Cure.  Here are a couple you might like to know about:

Wednesday, September 22nd 6:30-8:30 @ Go! Running: GET YOUR PINK ON! Ladies Night Out.  Come on out to the Go! Running store for a fun evening of fashion, food, and facts (about Race for the Cure)  Go! Running will be offering some great discounts on their apparel and shoes, and you’ll even have a chance to win a pair of New Balance shoes!  If you’re on Facebook, you can learn more and RSVP here.

So, maybe you’re not into running or walking, but we can all spit, right?  Spit for the Cure recruits females 18 years and older to contribute a DNA sample (by spitting into a tube) and answer a short questionnaire.  This will be used to create a “bank” of information for future studies.  You can Spit for the Cure at the race, or you can contact Dr. Martha Phillips if you would like to participate via phone at 501-526-6413 or via email at mmphillips at uams dot edu.

Dillards is hosting Fit for the Cure at various locations across the state.  A $2 donation  will be made for every Wacoal & b.tempt’d bra fitting, plus an additional $2 donation for every bra or shape wear sold.  Check with your local Dillards to see if they are participating.  In Central Arkansas, the McCain Mall Dillards’ event will be October 7th.  Park Plaza Dillards’ event will be October 8th.

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These MOMs did:

Valerie Nguyen, Nicole Walberg, Liz Bram, and Me

And this one too:

Ashlee Bechdolt . . . . photo credit: Greg Benenati

I’ve said it over and over, and just in case you didn’t hear, MOMcation 2010 could not have happened without the planning committee.  These moms put in countless hours with no compensation, except for the rather pitiful snacks I supplied at our meetings.  They each applied their own special talents to MOMcation to make it special.

Valerie was the chief “getter of prizes”.  She wrangled more cool prizes and swag than any one person on any project I’ve ever seen. She also organized the jewelry making, deal finding, and cooking I workshops. V is for Versatility and V is for Valerie!

Nicole championed the t-shirts and the wine, showed off her charm at an early morning television promotion, and was “the woman behind the curtain” during the actual event, where she helped with anything I needed, and then some. And let’s not forget the book discussion.

Liz rounded up the yoga instructor, scored us some awesome spa gift certificates, and always, always gave me her open, honest opinion when I sent out frantic emails about some minor detail I was stressing over.

And Ashlee, who couldn’t join us the night of our group picture, was the logistical guru.  She asked the questions that needed asking (How far to the nearest hospital?  Don’t you think we should keep track of the potential sponsors we contact?) and she often found the solutions to those questions.  She set up our document-share site for us, and created the spreadsheets we needed to track everything.  She also created our flyer, and was brave enough to lead those 6:30am trail runs that most of us never even knew happened.

My “fun” in planning MOMcation was getting to work with these great women.  At some point, our committee meetings became a great excuse for us all to get together every few weeks.  Thank you, Valerie, Nicole, Liz, and Ashlee, for putting up with me, and for putting together a great event.  I hope these quotes from the MOMcation feedback forms let you know how appreciated you are.

“I cannot begin to express how recharged I feel after this weekend. … I am a better mother when I have more to give and in order to do that, I need time to recharge.  I could not have asked for a better experience to do just that.  Thank you a million times over for this weekend.”

“Thanks to all of you for your hard work and dedication.  I had a blast and got to meet and get to know better so many great moms – I can’t say enough!”

“I am so glad I came.  Thank you all for all your hard work to put this together for us.”


MOMcation 2010 wrapped a week ago.  So, I’ve had a whole week to ruminate and reflect.  If you want it in a nutshell, MOMcation turned out as close to how I had imagined it as possible.  Minus the tornadoes.  But then, it’s really fitting that Mother Nature would come and show off her skills, talent, and personality at MOMcation too.  It was, after all, a retreat for every MOM.

The longer version, for those of you who like details and pictures, starts with the fact that 18 wonderful women showed up to Heifer Ranch, near Perryville Arkansas.  Some of them had friends in tow, and some of them didn’t know a soul.  We had young mothers and grandmothers, working moms and stay at homes, single, married, and things in between.  The only thing, really, that we all had in common is that we are mothers.  And that’s all we needed.  You can say in spite of, but maybe we should say because of our diversity, we meshed wonderfully.  No cliques or hurt feelings, no alienation or obnoxious-ness.  And when it was all done, the MOMcationers were feeling renewed and headed home with at least a handful of new friends.  Some moms came with trepidation, with a self-consciousness, or a pre-determined idea of who wouldn’t like them.  It was amazing to see that all fall away through the weekend, with this being the end result:

MOMcation 2010 attendees

MOMcation 2010 Attendees

As one of the event planners, I had a different perspective on the weekend.  At the outset, I was nervous too.  I wanted everyone to be comfortable and have fun, but more than that, I wanted these MOMs to learn from each other, and to see that sometimes taking time away for yourself has benefits that reach far beyond just a couple days of goofing off out in the boonies with some other women.  But as things got rolling, I quickly saw that all was well and good in the land of MOMcation.

We had tons of activities; some group oriented and some self-starting.  One of the more popular group activities was yoga.  Some of the moms were experienced in yoga, and some had never done it before, but everyone who tried it seemed to like it.

Yoga and Nap time combined - MOMs are always multitasking!

Photo Credit: Greg Benenati

There was also jewelry making, deal finding, and two great cooking sessions.

Tammy Felder teaching Bruschetta and Shrimp Bisque

Christie Ison, The Fancy Pants Foodie

We had nightly get-togethers.  One of my favorite things was getting the camp fire started with Stephanie (aka The Park Wife) sans lighter fluid…Ok, maybe she mostly started the fire, but I threw a few kindling sticks on.  We made s’mores and huddled around to tell tales of mommy life.

Photo Credit: Christie Ison

We also took a tour of Heifer Ranch and learned more about what Heifer International and the ranch itself does.  The covered hayride was both relaxing and educational. I was really impressed by the fact that many of the MOMcationers took time to explore the ranch on their own and to really think about Heifer’s mission of ending world hunger and building peace.

On the Hayride

The icing on the cake is that thanks to the four awesome members of the planning committee* and some really awesome sponsors, we were able to give away some really great stuff, including spa services, gift baskets, books, locally grown food, gym memberships, and even a couple weekend get-aways.  Overall, MOMcation 2010 was  a huge success, and there is already high demand for a MOMcation 2011.  So stay tuned for a date announcement.  If you’re on Facebook, you can “like” the MOMcation page to stay up to date.

*The four awesome members of the planning committee will be showing up in a later post, after I force them to take a group photo. But truly, I cannot say it enough times, MOMcation 2010 would not have happened without them. Thank you Valerie, Nicole, Liz, and Ashlee!

In case you missed it in the comments section of my Hungry Kids post, Brooke over at Parenting from Scratch tipped me off to this great event that addresses local food AND hungry kids.  Sounds like an excellent way to spend the evening.

Join the ROOT for a Friday Night Dinner on Friday, April 9th, 2010, at Christ Episcopal Church (6th and Scott in downtown Little Rock).  Enjoy a sit-down meal made from delicious local ingredients followed by a presentation from the Arkansas Rice Depot, Arkansas’ only statewide food-bank network, about their 28 years of important work combating hunger in Arkansas.

Dinner will be served at 6:30 pm.  Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids.  Please RSVP to therootcafe@yahoo.com and specify meat or vegetarian option.  Five percent of ticket sales will be donated to the Arkansas Rice Depot to support their mission of finding “sensible solutions to hunger in Arkansas.”  Guests may also arrive early for an art exhibit opening and reception in the Christ Church Gallery for artist Lynn Bell starting at 5:00 pm.

Heifer Ranch

As I mentioned in my last post, there have been a few things preventing me from keeping up with my blog ramblings.  One of those items is something that I am quite proud to announce here – MOMcation 2010!  MOMcation 2010 is a retreat for moms – a chance to get away from the daily grind, connect with other moms, learn a few new things, and most importantly, relax. Heifer Ranch, located near Perryville AR (about 45 min. NW of Little Rock), will be the location of the retreat. You can visit the website to learn more:

http://momcation.org

The idea started with my own MOMcations (MOM vacations).  On a MOMcation with my friend Kristen, I hatched the idea of creating a series of retreats for women and families.  Several of my friends have asked me to include them in my next MOMcation. So, MOMcation 2010 was born.  Luckily, I have a great group of moms who have volunteered to be the planning committee, and hubby has put in tons of hours to make the website functional.

I’m very excited about this new project, and hope all you mommies within traveling distance will come out and join us for a weekend of fun and relaxation.

I just learned about a great blogger movement called One Small Change.  The basic concept is that between now and Earth Day (April 22, 2010), each participating household makes one change to be more earth friendly and blogs about each month’s change, so that by the time Earth Day rolls around everyone has made four changes and shared those changes with others.  I love this idea because it gives me a way to FOCUS (That’s my word for the year.  More on that later.) on greening our household, and also prompts me to do more blogging about environmental topics, which I’ve been wanting to do.

I’ve actually already told you about the first change for our household in my post about resolutions.  The first change will be to eat more local foods.

I would love it if you would join me in this adventure.  Check out the One Small Change webpage, and post about your change on your blog.  If you don’t have a blog, you can leave a comment on this post saying what your January change is.  Then, when I post in February, you can comment with your February change, and so on.

I’m headed over to the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market website to see about placing an order through their online market!

I recently sent a care package to my old high school buddy, Travis, who just started a year-long tour in Iraq.  I had never sent a care package before, and it turned out to be an educational project.  It’s a great project if you have middle school and older kids, too.  It gets them thinking about what everyday life is like for the soldiers, and of course there are the lessons in geography and politics to be had, too.

If you don’t know anyone stationed overseas, you can still send a letter or care package to show your support.  AnySoldier.com will match you up with a member of the military who could use some love from home.  If you do want to send a care package, they will help you figure out what to send.

In my case, Travis had a specific request for healthy food.  He works nights searching cars at a military checkpoint and misses breakfast and lunch because he is sleeping. Healthy food that ships well to a hot place is hard to find, but I finally settled on these items:

  • dried fruit
  • protein bars
  • cereal and fruit bars
  • granola
  • Horizon’s single-serving, organic milk.  (These are great because they are ultra-pasturized and don’t require refrigeration)

All these items turned out to be pretty heavy once they were packed – almost 10 pounds. I expected the shipping to be around $30, but it was only $14.  However, the postal clerk informed me that you can use the USPS flat rate shipping boxes to send items to military addresses.  When you use those boxes, the most you will be charged is $11.95 for up to 70 pounds  (that’s a lot o’ mail!).  The boxes are free and available at the post office or on the USPS website.

One other thing to note: You’ll need to fill out a customs form when sending a package to an overseas military address.  The post offices have them sitting out with all the other shipping forms, so you can fill it out before you get up to the clerk.

So, brightening a compatriot’s day is not as hard as you might think.  It might make your day a little brighter too.

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