Last week I had the thrill of having an article published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for the first time.  The article was about consignment sales and ran as the lead story in the family section on Wednesday, September 29th.  I’m not going to re-post the whole article here, but it ran with a sidebar that listed all the upcoming Fall sales across the state.  I thought that might be useful, so I’m posting it.

For those of you who have not experienced a children’s consignment sale, it’s a great way to score some excellent clothing, toys, and gear at great prices.  It’s also a good place to make some money on all the stuff your kids are growing out of.  It’s also very eco friendly, as you’re helping to recycle tons of products instead of consuming more new things.

Popsicles
Oct 7: 9am – 8pm
Oct 8: 9am – 5pm
Oct 9: 9am – 1pm
Northeast Arkansas District Fairgrounds
2731 East Highland Dr, Jonesboro
http://www.popsicleskidssale.com/

Duck Duck Goose
Oct 7-10 8am – 5pm
612 JP Wright Loop Rd, Jacksonville
http://www.duckduckgoosesale.com

Central Arkansas Mothers of Multiples
Oct 8th: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Oct 9th: 7am – 3pm
Trinity Lutheran Church
3802 N Olive Street, North Little Rock
http://www.centralarkansasmoms.org/

Peek-a-Boo
Oct 14: 9am – 7pm
Oct 15&16: 9am – 5pm
2213 N. Reynolds Road, Bryant
http://www.peek-a-boo-consignment.com/

NWA Mothers of Multiples
Oct 15: 7am – 2pm
Oct 16: 7am-Noon
Trinity Fellowship Church Gymnasium
1100 East Rolling Hills Dr., Fayetteville
http://www.nwarkansasmultiplesclub.4t.com/ConsignmentSales.html

Duck Duck Goose
Oct 14-16 7am-6pm
Crossgate Church
3100 East Grand Ave, Hot Springs
http://www.duckduckgoosesale.com

Just Between Friends
October 24-25 9am-6pm
NWA Convention Center
Hwy 540 & Hwy 412, Springdale
http://springdale.jbfsale.com/

Duck Duck Goose
Nov 11-13 7am-6pm
Former Sonshine Academy at 803 Harkrider, Conway
http://www.duckduckgoosesale.com

Second Look Kids
Nov. 11&12:  8am – 7pm
Nov. 13: 7:30am – 3pm
Elm Springs United Methodist Church
Hwy 112, Elm Springs
http://www.2ndlookkids.com/Home_Page.html

If you know of any other upcoming consignment sales, please leave a comment and I will add it to the list.

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WordCamp, that is.  I’m all signed up and anxiously awaiting my trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas to attend WordCamp Fayetteville.  WordCamp is a small conference for people who use the WordPress platform to blog (and/or do other more techie stuff that I don’t understand). WordCamps are held all over the country, but this is the first one in Arkansas. Other than clues that the names of the conference sessions give me, I have no idea what to expect.  I won’t know anyone there. That really doesn’t bother me, except that I just hope I’m not the only one that doesn’t know how to code in HTML or why I get 20 hits a day on my blog for people searching for “fire ant”.  I also hope no one laughs when I ask about the “fire ant” search issue.

I’m really quite excited. I’m looking forward to learning more about blogging and WordPress, and for the prospect of connecting with other bloggers.  I am also pretty stoked about getting away for a couple days.  Hubby booked my hotel room for me, and got an upgrade to business class.  I don’t know what that means, but maybe I’ll get some free chocolate or something.  Either way, hopefully the end result is that I will come back from WordCamp Fayetteville with some new tricks up my sleeve to try out here on the blog.

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!

The first day of the new year is coming to a close.  We’ve already said goodbye to 2009.  I hope that you are as excited as I am about the promise of this new year. As that Semisonic song goes, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Normally I am not one to put big stock in New Year’s Resolutions.  However, this year I have some very real goals that I plan to make good on.  I think having this blog to write these goals in actually helped me to think harder about what my goals should be.  Plus, I recently learned that you are 10% more likely to reach a goal if you share that goal with someone else.  So, now you can all hold me accountable.

Buy More Local Food – This year I will make it a priority to utilize local resources for my family’s nutrients.  In addition to providing fresher food with fewer preservatives and other ingredients that I can’t pronounce, locally grown food is better for the environment because fewer resources are used for transportation and processing.  After watching Food, Inc. and listening to Joel Salatin talk, I also feel it is my duty as a consumer to put my “vote” behind real food instead of mass-produced, chemical laden junk.

In addition to the local Farmer’s Markets, Central Arkansas has a great resource for accessing the local food market: ArkansasFood.net.  This website offers two wonderful programs.  First, the basket a month program is a subscription program that provides members with a basket full of locally grown food such as produce, meat, eggs, cheese, milk, and rice. The cost is $180 per three months.  The second program is the Online Market, where you can choose which products you would like to receive and order them online each week.  Two amazing services, really.  Before we moved here, I had never heard of such a thing.

Basket a Month Baskets

Spend More One-on-One Time with My Kids – This is the “gimmie” of the bunch.  Carina will be starting official preschool this week. Her hours will be different than Callen’s Parent’s Day Out, so it will give me an opportunity to spend time with each of them separately each week.  The important part will be making sure I fill this one-on-one time with activities that are important to each child. For Carina: arts and crafts, cooking and baking, and playing with puzzles and blocks (Callen eats her crayons and markers, is very dangerous in the kitchen, and is all about scattering puzzle pieces and toppling block towers). For Callen, basically, anything where he doesn’t have to share or take turns, since that is so hard for a person his age to have to do all the time.

Submit My Writing Once a Month – For over 6 months now, I’ve been saying that I’m working on “getting my freelancing career started.”  The problem is I’ve spent a huge amount of time researching freelance writing and very little time actually writing.  I’m sort of famous for that.  So, this year, I will submit my writing for publication or competition at least once per month.  My research tells me that actual publication will be few and far between, but it will be a huge learning process and a step in the right direction.

Back in the Day

Compete in a Triathlon – You can’t have a New Year’s Resolution list without a nod to fitness, right?  Callen is coming up on two years old, and while I feel pretty happy with the way my body has recovered from childbearing, I still have about 5 pounds of flab flabbing around my mid section.  For those of you who didn’t know me pre-kids, I used to compete in sprint distance triathlons. This is a hobby I miss greatly.  So, two negatives are coming together to make a positive goal here.  Fitting in the necessary training will be a challenge, but I know I can do it.  Anyone want to join me?

Happy New Year to all of you!  Do you have any resolutions?

Race For the Cure StartLast weekend I ran in my second Komen Race for the Cure 5k.  I fell in love with this event last year – there is just something so electrical about 45,000 women gathered in one place, for one cause, with one purpose.  There are men and children there too, but it is the girl power that I especially feed off of.  This year, this was doubly true, as I fed off of the girl power of the entire crowd, but also of one specific girl in particular that I did not expect.

I challenged myself to run the 5k in less than 27 minutes, knowing that it would motivate me for training and also get me a spot closer to the starting line (faster runners wear colored race numbers that gain them entry to a “corral” at the front of the massive start).  After eight weeks of helter-skelter training, I found myself standing on the starting line, feeling nervous about whether I would meet my goal or not.  I was intimidated by the other runners around me, who all seemed to be either very tall, very skinny, or both, and many of them were equipped with iPods or GPS units – obviously all somewhat serious runners.  I had visions of the gun going off and all these runners taking off, leaving me trailing behind like a three year old trying to catch the ice cream truck.  I stared down at my $9.99 “sports” watch from target, queuing up the timer function while listening to the conversation around me.  One woman, dressed in a chilly looking red singlet and shorts, was asking the people around her what their goal times were.  It didn’t make me feel better when several answered, “24”, “22”, “23”… But then I heard this woman say that she wasn’t going to go that fast and that she was just getting back into running after having two kids.

I looked up at her, and she asked me what my goal was.  “I’m getting back into running after two kids too. I hope to be at 27 or 28 minutes, ” I said.

“Oh, yes,” she grinned.  “Me too.  Maybe we’ll run together.”

Our conversation was halted by the suddenness of the countdown to the start gun, after which I got lost in the blur of trying to get out fast, not trip on anyone or myself, and trying to squint enough to stop the wind from forcing water out of my eye sockets and down my cheeks while still being able to see where I was going.

After what seemed like only a few short minutes of crossing the bridge over the Arkansas River; under the mayor of North Little Rock, who was hoisted high above the street in the bucket of a “cherry picker” truck; through a pleasant storm of pink and white confetti; and past a couple bands, I became aware of an amplified man’s voice yelling out times in the urgent, yet matter-of-fact style of a high school track coach.  “Seven Eighteen!  Seven NINEteen! Seven Tweeeenntty!”  I wondered why someone would be yelling out run times at this point in the course, until I finally located the voice on the sidelines and saw that he was standing next to a huge banner that said ” 1 MILE”.  I was stupefied.  I had just run the first mile in 7:24?!  I blinked and looked around, shocked again to find that I had just run up next to the woman in red.

“I think we ran that first mile a little fast,” I said.  She agreed, but we didn’t drop our pace.  We continued on, taking in the sights of the race: firefighters dancing atop their trucks, bikers revving their bike engines, karate kids, marching bands, belly dancers and yogis, and of course, the wonderfully enthusiastic “regular” spectators.  We introduced ourselves – her name is Lindsey.  She introduced me to other runners that we passed and who passed us along the way.  We carried each other along in that magical way that only runners know about. I was amazed at our progress when we made the turn onto the last straight stretch of the course.  We ran past Lindsey’s husband and son, who offered her the cutest little dixie cup of water.  I started to wonder where my husband and children were, and then I finally glimpsed them as we neared the finish line.  Waving with both hands to Carina, Callen, and Craig, I crossed the finish line right next to Lindsey with a time of 25:16.

Even though I am trained in communicating through written words, I still can’t find the right ones to explain why I love to run, or the feeling that a great experience like the Race for the Cure gives me as a woman and a runner.  I am so blessed to have my health, my abilities, and most importantly, to be surrounded by wonderful people (family and new running buddies included) to share it all with.

Breast cancer is a scary, scary thing.  It’s hurting our mothers, our sisters, our friends, and therefore, it’s hurting all of us.  The 2009 Race for the Cure is finished, but the battle continues.  You can fight it right at home.  Forward this link on to anyone you know who has breasts, or anyone who loves someone who does.  It’s a form to sign up for a monthly email reminder to do a self breast exam.  Early detection is the best way to ensure survival!

http://www.bebrightpink.com/programs/support-community/breast-self-exam-email-reminder/

We’ve been living in Little Rock for nearly a year now, a fact that is made obvious by the repetition of some yearly events in the same setting.  At the end of August, my daughter Carina will turn three.  We’ll celebrate with a party at our house.  Her second birthday a year ago was the first party we had in our new home.  Like all parents, I am amazed by and proud of the growth and development my baby, nay toddler, nay little big person has achieved over the past year.

I’m also gearing up for this year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which was the first large event I experienced in downtown Little Rock last fall. To call it a “large event” is an understatement. It was probably the absolute most amazing sporting event I have ever been to.  I’m not even sure you classify it as a sporting event so much as a mixture of many things, a culmination of sisterhood, a rally for the greater good, a huge party, a vehicle for awareness, an inspirational journey, a sea of pink, a memorial, therapy, a fundraiser, and a call to action.

There were over 45,000 women that ran or walked in the race. There were thousands of spectators cheering, including bands; firefighters on top of their trucks; people handing out water, beads, leis, and bracelets; kids doing karate; and my favorite, a group of motorcycle riders revving their engines and holding a sign that said, “Save Second Base!”  It was so amazing that it was over before I had a chance to really take it all in.  I do remember running and feeling thankful that I could run.  I thought of the women I was running in celebration of – the fighters, the survivors, and those who will never be forgotten by the loved ones they left behind.  I thought of my family and how lucky I am to have such a wonderful husband and two fantastic kids.

After the race, I met up with my family and we watched the survivors’ parade, which featured breast cancer survivors dressed all in pink and holding signs that said how long they had been cancer free.  It made my skin tingle. As I held tightly to my daughter perched on my shoulders, I said a silent prayer that she will not have to worry about breast cancer – a prayer that all the effort and energy will be fruitful and a cure will be found.

This year, I’m older and wiser, and so am hoping to be able to take it all in a little better.  I’ll spend less time looking at my watch during the race, and more time enjoying my surroundings.  I’ll head down to the festivities even earlier in the morning, and perhaps stay a little later.  I’ll make another year of memories, and in the process, hopefully help put us another stride closer to the finish line in The Race for the Cure.  Whether you walk, run, or cheer from the sidelines, I’d love it if you’d join me.

Visit the Komen Arkansas Race for the Cure Website