Coffee in the Garden {The Grounds at Garden Living}

Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living.

If you’re on the hunt for your new “third place” or just want to grab a great cup of coffee in a gorgeous garden setting, check out The Grounds at Garden Living in Fayetteville. I recently wrote about the new coffee shop in uptown Fayetteville for Only in Arkansas:

Tucked away in uptown Fayetteville is a lush little courtyard; an urban oasis complete with greenery, blossoms, brightly colored bistro tables and now, coffee. This secret garden of sorts is ensconced behind an iron gate, and hedged in between a flower shop on one side and, on the other, a garden shop that is now home to Fayetteville’s newest destination for coffee.

You would totally make my day if you read the complete article here.

Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living. Tucked away between a flower shop and a garden shop is Fayetteville's newest urban oasis--The Grounds at Garden Living.

Coffee and cake in the courtyard soon? I heard that they’ve added waffles to the menu too, but that doesn’t exactly fit the alliteration. Who’s up for a coffee date?

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The Art of the Dance

Dancing shoesThis month is National Novel Writing Month or #NaNoWriMo for those in the know. This is my first time to attempt the ambitious goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November. I am also going to post here every day this month along with the novel writing challenge. I already kicked my writing into gear last month by enrolling in a free online writing class through the University of Iowa. There is a certificate that you can earn, but my main goal for the class was to put pen to paper and actually write instead of just talking about it. My other main goal was to finish one complete work of fiction. So far I am faring well on the first goal, but I have started three separate stories and still have not finished one. The class is still ongoing, and I plan to continue on with it while also working earnestly on the last piece I started.

After writing and posting my first piece for the class, an excerpt about a girl starting a new school in a new town, I decided to pivot and write from a different perspective. Then, I decided I hated all of it and never submitted another writing assignment to the class. I did not want to proceed with either piece. I felt stuck. I needed some inspiration. So on Monday I decided to go explore Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

I started out on the trails because nature is one of my favorite places to find inspiration, plus, I needed the exercise. The morning was still cool when I hit the Tulip Tree Trail and then part of the Art Trail. Though I have walked the trails at Crystal Bridges many, many times, I discovered new things on this particular walk. I could hear the sounds of a construction crew and the occasional kid shrieking, but it was mostly quiet enough for me to immerse myself in the natural surroundings. I could hear the creek flowing, leaves falling down from the trees and the crunch of the rocky path beneath my feet as I walked along. I felt inspired almost immediately and decided to come back to the the Tulip Tree Trail Shelter with my notebook to write. However, when I got back to the car to get my notebook, I was suddenly thirsty so I went inside the museum in search of water.

Sights along the Art Trail at Crystal Bridges

What happened next was pure serendipity. I found that the current temporary exhibit on display is titled, “The Art of the American Dance.” I had a new character forming in my mind already that just happened to be a ballet dancer. I had not written a word of her story at this point, but she was there in my mind. I forgot all about the water I came in to find and walked up to the Guest Services desk, paid $10 to view the new collection (Though there is no cost to visit the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges, there is a fee to view the temporary collections. However, you can visit this collection for free on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m.), picked up a headset and went directly to the gallery.

Art featured in the traveling exhibit Art of the American Dance at Crystal Bridges

I have always just walked through the galleries on my own without a guide or an app to tell me about the art. I do recommend using the app (or one of the handsets you can check out) for this particular collection though. It really added to the experience because you are able to not only look at the art, but also see videos of the dances portrayed in the artwork, hear more about the time period the artwork is from, and listen to the music that would have been played. They even have a Spotify playlist you can listen to featuring some of the major dance songs from the 1940s to now. It would have been fun to listen to beforehand to get in the spirit, but I am enjoying it afterwards too. There is also this great playlist on YouTube to watch dance videos from Fred & Ginger, Beyonce, Swan Lake, Singing in the Rain, Westside Story, Elvis and many I have never even heard of before.

Once I had toured the entire exhibition, I grabbed a cup of soup and some water at the museum restaurant and got to work. I filled several pages of my notebook before leaving the museum. I hope to share some of my story here someday soon!

 

 

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A Weekend of Abundance {Megaphone Summit}

Megaphone Summit

When I sat down to write out some thoughts on my experience at Megaphone Summit, I noticed that there was a theme to what was coming out on paper. The theme was one of abundance. Usually, I leave these kind of conferences feeling overwhelmed, even more unsure of myself and doubting that I have what it takes to be on the same playing field with the other attendees. This time I didn’t feel that way at all. Instead, I feel like I have been filled up all the way to the brim, and then some.

Dinner out at Taste of Thai

My heart is filled up with the many new connections friendships I made, not to mention the opportunity to see, chat with and hug on many of my “blogger” friends. I think that it’s time to drop the qualifier. These folks are my friends, plain and simple, and I love them! The community I feel when I am around these women (and a few good men) is the reason that I decided I couldn’t miss out on the conference this year. Pictured above are two of those new friends I met at the conference, Lacie from Easy Peasy Pleasy, and Renee from If Spoons Could Talk (if I were a food blogger I would be kicking myself for not coming up with that first!). On night two of the conference we had a chance to go out and dine around downtown Fayetteville and we made pigs of ourselves at Taste of Thai! Buddha clearly enjoyed our entertaining conversation (You might be a blogger if you pick your table based on where you’ll get the best photos).

The Unexpected mural in Fayetteville
The Unexpected mural in Fayetteville

I am filled up with knowledge. Knowledge that is technical and has useful application to my blog, and knowledge that will help me tell my story even better than before. I am filled up with ideas for posts, organizing my blog schedule, social media, collaborations, SEO, and ideas for stepping away from all of the screens to cultivate my own real happy (thanks for that, Jacqueline Wolven)….so many ideas. However, like I said before, I don’t feel overwhelmed by this knowledge. I feel empowered and ready to get to work making my blog the best it can be, and the best reflection of who I truly am. Who wouldn’t want to read that??

Soapbox Insights Lounge
The *teal* Soapbox Lounge!

My home is also filled now (sorry, not sorry, hubby). Filled with a ton of great products from the amazing sponsors without whom Megaphone Summit would have looked quite a bit different. Riceland Foods is in the business of filling bellies, and they filled our bags with enough rice to feed the 5,000! Okay, not that much, but it’s a lot of rice, y’all! In my kitchen there’s also AriZona Energy Shots and some smoothie mixes, all from our presenting sponsor Soapbox Insights + Influence. Other swag I picked up from the conference include Ferrero Rocher chocolates (my favorite!), a bag of Pop Pop Shop popcorn, a Keep Fayetteville Funky mug, a jar of homemade jam, and a nail file, reusable shopping bag and ribbon hair tie all in First Security Bank TEAL! I almost forgot about the Remington hairbands and clips that I picked up in their Thermaluxe Blow Out Bar (yes, they had a complimentary blow out bar at the conference!!). I’m probably still forgetting something, but needless to say, I didn’t leave empty handed.

Thermaluxe had me #remready for the conference
Thermaluxe had me #remready for the conference

I am grateful to all of the organizers, sponsors, speakers and fellow attendees for making Megaphone Summit an amazing weekend! I am so glad that I was able to go this year, and I’m already looking forward to next year!

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Winter Getaway in Eureka Springs

This post is sponsored by Eureka Springs Main Street | ESDN and LetsTravelSmall.com. All words and opinions are my own. 

Winter may not be the first season you think of when you imagine a trip to the mountain town of Eureka Springs, especially not after the magic of the holidays has faded. However, that is exactly when we decided to go. We discovered winter in Eureka Springs has its own magic.

Winter is when you can walk down the all but deserted downtown streets and although it’s just for the season, you imagine the place exists only for you. Quite romantic when you are there to celebrate an anniversary like we were.

When the people who are still around are mostly locals–the ones you run into in the coffee shops, hole-in-the-wall lunch spots and watering holes. The ones that have lived there all of their lives or at least a good portion of it. The ones that can tell you the stories that still live on, whether they be truth or tall tales–it doesn’t matter–those stories make up the rich history of this vibrant Ozark gem.

If that is not reason enough to pack your bag and head there right now, perhaps this list will help sway you.

This time of year in Eureka Springs…

1.  Learn local folklore and history while strolling through downtown

Think speakeasies, mafia bosses, prohibition, bank robberies and an underground downtown. We were glad we braved the cold to go on the Hell Raisers, Hoodlums and a Heated History tour with guide Christie Braswell. “Guide” does not really capture the nature of what Christie brings to the tour, I think “story-weaver” is a more apt descriptor. From Basin Spring Park we embarked on a journey through the history of Eureka Springs, from the early stories of Native Americans traveling from afar to be healed in the waters from the spring, to the first (and last) attempted bank robbery in town. Christie knew the stories well as many involve folks from her family’s past and places where she has grown up. I could tell you all of the wonderful stories, but you really should hear them from Christie!

2.  Book a room in a cozy Bed & Breakfast and retreat from the cold 

There is no shortage of places to stay in Eureka Springs, and certainly many Bed & Breakfasts to choose from but only one that I can wholeheartedly recommend. True, it is the only one that I have ever stayed in, but I truly loved our room in the Daffodil Cottage. It is one of the five All Seasons Luxury Properties. The owner, Pat, was such a gracious and accommodating hostess. She made sure we were comfortable and even called around to find a place that was still open for dinner when we arrived Monday evening. Our room was called the Blue Willow Suite and was beautifully decorated with blue and white antiques, a four-poster king-size bed, a sitting area and an antique wardrobe. We also enjoyed modern comforts such as a flat screen TV, an electric fireplace that added warmth as well as ambiance, and a kitchen that included a microwave and a fridge. My favorite thing in the whole suite though was the Jacuzzi tub–large enough for two, but I enjoyed having it all to myself each evening after Jeremy went to bed. With the cook away, we did not get to partake in the breakfast part of the bed and breakfast, but that forced us to go explore the local eateries, much to our delight. Pat did extend to us an invitation to come back sometime for breakfast even if we were not staying at the inn!

3. Pamper yourself with a spa treatment (or two!)

If you must leave the cozy comfort of your room, you might as well get pampered. Located on the 2nd floor of the Basin Park Hotel, Spa1905 is an Aveda salon and spa featuring massage, facials, hair care and more. The staff was tremendously accommodating, especially Ashley, she made sure to ask about our other plans so she could help me schedule treatments around them. After our walking history tour, I warmed up with a Swedish massage. Then, after a behind-the-scenes tour of the Passion Play, I returned for a luxurious Elements Facial. Both treatments were relaxing and implemented Aveda products which I already use and love! Both the massage therapist, Lacey, and aesthetician, Jenni, were caring and asked questions to help tailor the services to my needs.

4.  Go on a private tour

 
 At least it will feel private because it’s very likely you’ll be the only ones there besides the guide. That was the case on our behind-the-scenes tour of The Great Passion Play. We met Passion Play Assistant Executive Director Kent Butler at the gift shop and began our tour in the Bible Museum. He admitted he is not the one who normally gives the Bible Museum tour, but we still enjoyed seeing many rare and precious bibles from all different eras and in an array of different languages. I definitely want to return when we have more time and peruse the collection again. From the Bible Museum we moved on outside to the amphitheater where the Passion Play is performed. While Kent was very engaged in the Bible Museum, you could tell that the play was truly a passion for him (no pun intended). His enthusiasm for everything from the effects to the soundboard is likely due in part to the fact that over the years he has always had some sort of a role in the play. He started by playing a Roman soldier and now is one of the actors that portray Jesus.

5. Walk on the wild side

When you take a tour of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, you quite literally walk on the wild side of Eureka Springs. Our tour guide was Megan, an intern from Minnesota who plans to go on to be a zoo keeper in her home state. She was so kind to guide us through the refuge even though it was extremely cold and many of the lions, tigers and bears were keeping warm up out of sight in their dens. We did get to see a few of the cats though, as well as one monkey. She told us the stories behind how many of the big cats were rescued and subsequently brought to live at Turpentine Creek. The stories we heard stirred up feelings of both heartbreak–in hearing of abuse and neglect, and hope–in knowing that the people who are now caring for these animals have their best interests at heart.

I am so glad that Eureka Springs is only a hop, skip and a jump from home because I already made another list…a list of all of the things we didn’t fit into this trip that we need to go back to see and do!

Eureka Springs, here we come

Jeremy and I are headed to Eureka Springs for a little anniversary getaway. This is significant not only because we are leaving Young Master Gray for more than one night for the first time, but also because we had originally hoped to be married in Eureka Springs nine years ago. More than hoped. We had the Thorncrown Chapel booked and a reception site all picked out. Our date changed and then the chapel was no longer available so we ended up getting married in the place it all began (Mountain Home) instead. I don’t regret the change, but sometimes wonder, “what if?”

After that we never made it back to Eureka Springs. Not even for a day trip. I am so excited to remedy that over the next few days! I can’t wait to come back and tell you all about it!

Here’s the song that I walked down the aisle to, it still gets to me:

Christmas Train Fun in Northwest Arkansas

Tomorrow morning, downtown Springdale will be full of excitement and wonder as the Children’s Christmas Train departs on a magical 30-minute excursion to Johnson and back. Those aboard the cozy 1940s era train will enjoy storytelling, Christmas carols, and a visit with the man in red. More fun is in store once the train returns to the Emma Street Train Depot, including rides on ponies masquerading as reindeer, operating a model train, live music, penning letters to Santa, and a cake walk. It is an extremely popular event year after year and the tickets sell out quickly.  If you want to be the first to know next year, be sure to like The Children’s Safety Center on Facebook. Proceeds from the event go to the organization to further their efforts in helping victims of child abuse. The tickets are usually available starting in September. I’m putting a reminder on my calendar for next year!

Photo by Children’s Christmas Train

 If you, like myself, are just now hearing about the Children’s Christmas Train, or if you just missed your chance to get tickets, don’t worry, there are plenty of other train-theme holiday events in the area to awe kids of any age!


Holiday Express departing from Springdale, Van Buren & Seligman {various dates and times}
The Holiday Express is a more low-key option offered by the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad. The Express is a 30-minute excursion like the Children’s Christmas Train, and you still get to see Santa Claus. Go read fellow Arkansas Women Blogger Rhonda Franz’s article about the Holiday Express on OnlyinArk.com and then check back later this month for pictures and stories from our own ride!

Gardenland Express in Fayetteville {December 5 & 6, 12 & 13}
Gardenland Express is presented by the Botanical Garden of The Ozarks and features a model train display from the Northwest Arkansas Garden Railway Society. The train is sure to delight the train-obsessed kid and adult alike as it chugs around a winter village landscape. You can also participate in a holiday craft, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy a hay ride and more! Here are some details on the particular events for each day:

 
December 5–Storytime with the the Little Sprouts Program Team
December 6–Making Ornaments out of Recycled Materials with Washington County Environmental Affairs
December 12–Stone Balancing with Gravity Whispers
December 13–Making Ornaments out of Recycled Materials with Washington County Environmental Affairs

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children 5-12, and free for kids under 5. 


Santa on the Caboose in Rogers {Saturdays, December 5, 12, & 19}
A Christmas wish come true for boys and girls of Northwest Arkansas! Hosted by Main Street Rogers, Santa on the Caboose is just that, a chance to visit with Santa Claus and get a photo inside a Frisco caboose in Downtown Rogers! You can find Santa on the corner of Walnut and 1st Street each Saturday in December before Christmas, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. There is no charge to visit with Santa, bring your own camera for photos!

Photo by Main Street Rogers

Did I miss any Christmas train activities that your child loves? I know Young Master Gray is looking forward to our Holiday Express train ride, and I know he’ll enjoy Gardenland Express. However, judging from last year’s visit with Santa at Northwest Arkansas Mall, I have a feeling we may have to settle for a picture of him with the caboose sans Santa!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be sexist

I have never really considered myself a leader. Yes, I have gone out for and won leadership roles at various times in my life, but I never felt a strong call to lead. The moment I became a mom, that changed. Now my days are full of leadership. A heavy burden, and one that I do not take lightly. My son is only two and at this point in his life he believes that the world is all about him (it’s also sometimes about mama, daddy or papaw). It is up to me to lead by example, to show him that the world is also about others, about giving to others, about sharing with others, and taking the time to listen to and care for others.

Recently, I filled out a form for his school and one of the questions asked, “What are your hopes and dreams for your child?” I had left the task of filling out the form to the last minute and had to turn it back in that morning so I jotted down some generic things about wanting him to be healthy, successful, educated, a good citizen and a good father. I do want all of those things for him, I do. I want so much more for him than that though. I want him to be compassionate towards others, those that are downtrodden, left out in the cold, homeless, orphaned and in poverty. I want him to be passionate about his beliefs and to follow his heart without listening to the naysayers or those who would tear him down or doubt him. I want him to be generous, giving of his time, funds, and heart to those that he loves and even to those he may not even know. I want him to treat all people with the same regard, no matter their gender, skin color, sexual preference, religious affiliation, or anything else that society continuously tells us divides us. I want him to be exposed to, learn about and embrace other cultures. I hope that he will speak out against injustice.

This month, #NWARKCares is spotlighting women in politics and leadership. It occurred to me while reading about all the ways that we as women can work to improve the appalling statistics, no one mentions training up boys and men to advocate for women in these roles. There is plenty of talk about empowering girls to engage in leadership roles, but not one thing about making sure we are teaching boys that women belong in those leadership roles right alongside them, or even teaching them to think being subordinate to a women in leadership is normal. Now it is very possible that I missed those articles or was not looking in the right places, but I read many and out of those I would think there should have been at least one mention.

About those appalling statistics I mentioned before. Let’s just talk about right here in my state. Did you know that even though women are half the population in the state of Arkansas, only 17 percent of the General Assembly in Arkansas is made up of women? Arkansas is one of 24 states that have never had a female governor. According to a 2012 Legislative Report, the poverty rate in Arkansas for female-headed families with children was 47 percent. Not surprisingly then, women continue to make less money than men in Arkansas. All of these statistics were gathered from womenleadarkansas.org, a non-partisan non-profit with a mission to empower women and girls to engage in politics, policy and leadership. I should note that they welcome men to join, as long as they share their belief that women should be better represented in politics, leadership and policy.

In a recent speech at Glamour’s Woman of the Year awards, Reese Witherspoon spoke about women being underrepresented not only on screen but in every industry. She drew attention to the fact that ambitious women are stigmatized. “I want everybody to close their eyes and think of a really dirty word.
Now open your eyes. Was any of your words ambition? I didn’t think so.
Why do people have prejudiced opinions about women who accomplish
things? Why is that perceived as a negative? In a study by Georgetown University in 2005, a group of professors asked
candidates to evaluate male efficient versus female efficient in
politicians. Respondents were less likely to vote for power-seeking
women than power-seeking men. They even reported ambitious women as
provoking feelings of disgust,” she said. The rest of the speech is full of eyeopening and empowering antidotes like this. If you have the time to watch it, I highly recommend doing so.

So, how do we raise our boys to see ambitious women as women who need support, not derision? Where do we start?

-Start early. 
At the age my son is now he plays with trucks and dolls, his play kitchen and his train set. He loves helping with “chores” like washing dishes, sweeping and vacuuming. According to Lise Eliot, author of “Pink Brain, Blue Brain,” parents are more likely to encourage girls to freely choose to play with whatever toys they like and to advocate for them to be whatever they want to be. They are not so likely to facilitate the same environment for boys, and are more likely to discourage them from playing with traditionally girl toys. Our own preconceived notions about gender shape what our children will come to believe. Instead of being encouraged to play with toys that teach nurturing, boys are left only with toys that teach strength, physical ability and aggression. It doesn’t take long then for them to see what values are held in higher esteem.
 
-Teach them to value and understand the perspectives of others.
If boys are taught early to value the perspectives of others, including girls and women, they are more likely to continue to value their ideas, perspectives and plights into adulthood.
 

-Take every opportunity to teach about diversity and equality. 
See an ad on TV that objectifies women? Stop at the moment and talk to your son about that issue. It will resonate much more than if you just brought it up out of context.

-Talk to your sons about how women and men are portrayed in movies, TV shows and advertisements.
Reese Witherspoon, Geena Davis and others are working hard to change Hollywood, but the fact is that women are still mostly represented in stereotypical and supporting roles.

-Most importantly, lead by example in the home.
It is so vital that the values you want to instill are modeled at home. Division of household duties, how you and your partner speak to one another, and your actions showing that you value yourself and your partner will inform the your son’s own personal beliefs.

Maybe all of this is a lot to put on my son’s slight shoulders. Maybe it is a lot to put on the shoulders of parents. Maybe. But isn’t it also a lot to put on our sons the burden of always being strong, never being able to express emotions, especially fear, sadness and hurt? Isn’t it a lot to ask them to be the sole breadwinner in their families, and to take on the guilt that inevitably follows when they feel they are unsuccessful? Isn’t it a lot to put on them the burden of being the ones who are supposed to fight? The thing is, these two years have flown by and I know that in a moment I will turn around and he will be 18. I absolutely must start thinking about this now and begin to teach him that women can and should lead.

Imagine: A Child’s Adventureworld {Giveaway}

This post was compensated by Imagine: A Child’s Adventureworld. All thoughts are honest and my own. 

Imagine a place where you can take your child on a playdate and sit chatting with other moms while still being able to watch your children play. Now imagine that place as a bright, fun, engaging play space with predominantly wooden toys separated by half walls into areas that let their imaginations run wild–a veterinarian clinic, a fire station, a market, a cottage, a train depot and more. This is the dream that Orie and Amanda Quinn have made into reality at Imagine: A Child’s Adventureworld in Fayetteville. Just as important as the things that they have included in the space are the things that they have left out of it, including screens, coin-operated games and to the best of their ability, germs. Rule number one when coming into Imagine is that everyone must wash their hands before any play begins. That, along with a strict sanitation policy goes a long way in easing my mind about taking my son into a place where toys are played with by many children throughout the day.

 
When the Quinns were unable to find the kind of play space that they wanted for their kids in the Fayetteville area they began to dream up plans for a theme park based on imaginative play. The themed areas in Imagine were modeled after the way the Quinns facilitated play for their own sons, Aiden, 5, and Spencer, 3, in their home. They would transform their spaces into themed areas to play and interact in, implementing various challenges and scavenger hunts within those themes. Once they scaled down their ideas to something that would work here in Northwest Arkansas, they brought in James and Brittany Flammer as partners. James was able to take their ideas and make them into reality by building out the space into the separate areas, and even building some of the playscapes, such as the train that captured my son’s attention the moment we walked in.

You really have to see it yourself to appreciate all of the wonderful detail that was put into the play areas, from the walls painted by artist Jason Jones, to the toys chosen, to the woodwork, but here is a virtual tour of the space. 

Isn’t it a fun space? This place is the the stuff of kids’ dreams, well, at least for my kid. I love watching my son so engaged in play and really using his imagination and creativity. The separate areas help to capture a child’s attention and keep them occupied with an activity for longer than if there were in a wide open space with lots of different options. If you’ve ever taken your child to play in an open concept play area, you may have noticed them jump from one activity to another to another without spending much time with any one activity.  It’s exhausting to watch and overwhelming for the children. The first time we visited Imagine, my son spent all of his time in the first 3 play sections. Each time we have returned, he has discovered a new area to play in. I can definitely see his appreciation for some of the different toys/play areas growing as he grows up.
If you live in Northwest Arkansas and haven’t already visited Imagine with your children, I highly recommend it! The other parents I chatted with seemed to really love the seating in the middle of the space that allows them to keep an eye on their kids while still enjoying the company of other adults. They also appreciate the idea of having everyone wash their hands first thing, especially now that we’re entering cold and flu season.  
The Details:
  • Open Monday-Saturday from 9-5
  • Admission for adults: $4 flat fee
  • Admission for children 1-8: $4/hour with an hour minimum, then $1 for every 15 minutes thereafter. So if you play for and hour and a half, it would be $6. 
  • Monthly passes are $35 for one child and one adult
  • Yearly passes are $150 for one child and one adult
  • Located at 3801 Johnson Mill Blvd in Fayetteville
  • Kids and adults must remove their shoes before playing so make sure you bring socks!
  • Healthy snacks are available for purchase, and you can even buy the toys you find in the play center

Imagine also offer birthday party packages starting at $200. There is a separate birthday room, or you can reserve the entire space if you choose their after-hours package. You can view the different packages offered on their website.

Now for the really fun part, I’m giving away a one month pass to Imagine-A Child’s Adventureworld! Open to readers in the Fayetteville, AR and surrounding areas only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 Myths about Domestic Violence

This month’s #NWARKCares cause is a tough one to talk about.
It’s tough because in 2015, I feel like domestic violence should be a thing of
the past. But it’s not. It’s hard because it’s not something that people want
to talk about, which is exactly why the topic needs to be broached. It’s hard
because people close to me have been victims of domestic abuse. Three out of
four Americans know someone who has been victimized domestically. If we keep
silent then those statistics simply will never improve. 

Because many are so reticent to speak out on the subject, there
are countless misconceptions about domestic violence that are accepted as truth.
These myths about domestic violence only serve to perpetuate the violence.

Myth 1:

Only women are affected by domestic violence.

While it is true that women are targeted more often than
men—1 in 3 women compared to 1 in 4 men are victims of domestic violence—abuse
against men does happen. If domestic abuse is a hush-hush topic already, then
speaking out about abuse against men is almost nonexistent. Unfortunately, this
happens in both the heterosexual and homosexual communities.

When I was a young manager for Dillard’s in Dallas, I had an
employee that I will call Sam. Sam was a flamboyant, happy-go-lucky, young man.
He was openly gay and was in a relationship with a man that I remember as
middle-aged and dowdy. When Sam came to work with a black eye one day, I was understandably
concerned. I asked him what happened, but didn’t press the issue when he didn’t
want to talk. As time went on, Sam began to open up to me about the physical
and emotional abuse that he endured at the hands of his partner. At the time, I
had never encountered a male victim of abuse, nor had I even imagined that it
was possible.

If he had been a woman, I know that I would have suggested
any number of resources that are available to female victims of domestic
violence. However, I could think of nothing to offer besides my support if he
chose to leave his abuser. Sam ended up leaving Dillard’s after an accident put
him in the hospital. Whenever I went to visit him at the hospital his partner
was always present, acting the doting caregiver. I will never know if he truly
suffered an accident or if things escalated with his partner.

You may be surprised to know, as I was, that there are resources for male victims of domestic violence. The Northwest Arkansas Women’s shelter states on their website, “Domestic violence does not discriminate; therefore, our clients are from
across all demographics in terms of age, gender, race, socioeconomic
status, and educational background. We assist any person who meets the
criteria for emergency intervention and assistance due to domestic
violence or sexual assault.”

Myth 2:

Abuse is deserved.

Victims of domestic abuse need support, not judgment. The
women and men who are abused usually already have the idea in their head that
they deserve to be treated they way they are treated, or that something that
they have done has caused the abuse. This simply is not true. The only person
responsible for abuse is the abuser.

Myth 3:

Physical battery is the only form of abuse.

Abuse stems from the abuser’s need for power and control. This can
manifest itself in many forms of abuse including economic, emotional, sexual
and isolation.  

Myth 4:

Domestic violence is a heterosexual issue only.

Homosexual partner abuse is prevalent and occurs at the higher
rates than in heterosexual relationships. In this eye-opening article from “The Atlantic,” the
author quotes a report from the CDC stating that “bisexual women had an
overwhelming prevalence of violent partners in their lives: 75 percent had been
with a violent partner, as opposed to 46 percent of lesbian women and 43
percent of straight women. For bisexual men, that number was 47 percent. For
gay men, it was 40 percent, and 21 percent for straight men.” 

Myth 5:

Domestic violence only affects the poor.

Abuse can happen to anyone. Persons of any economic
background, class, culture, age, sexual orientation, and marital status can be
victims of domestic abuse or abusers.

Myth 6:

Many reports of sexual assault are false.

The fact is that only 2-4% of sexual assault reports are
false, in keeping with the rate of false reports for other felonies.

Myth 7:

If the abuse were really that bad, he or she would just
leave.

There are many reasons that a victim of intimate partner
violence might stay with the abuser. Often times, the abuser will threaten the
victim’s life if they try to leave. Not leaving does not mean that the victim
is in a safe situation, or that they are not being abused. Family and social
pressure, shame, financial barriers, children and religious beliefs all can
factor into a victim staying with their abuser.

Myth 8:

Abuse is rare.

As stated earlier, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been the
victim of severe abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Furthermore, the likelihood that someone close to you has been victimized is significant. 3
out of 4 Americans know someone who has been victimized domestically.
Myth 9:

Abuse is the result of alcohol or drugs. 

While it is true the 1/4-1/2 of all abusers have substance
abuse issues, the alcohol or drug use is not to blame. Alcohol and drugs cannot
cause domestic violence.

Myth 10:

Domestic violence is not a community issue. 

We all have the responsibility to care for one another.

Here in Northwest Arkansas there are many resources for
victims of domestic violence. Here are some ways that you can help:

  • Ask a local shelter what their current needs are and donate. Peace At Home Family Shelter has a list on their website, you can view it here: http://peaceathomeshelter.org/in-kind-donations/ 
  • Volunteer at Peace At Home Family Shelter or Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter.
  • Donate your gently used clothing, furniture and household items to one of the shelter thrift stores. I have a load of items all ready to take to the NWA Women’s Shelter Thrift Store.
  • Be informed. Know the signs of abuse and speak up.
If you are reading this and you need help or know someone in an abusive relationship, please seek help by calling one of these confidential hotlines: 1-800-775-9011 and 1-877-442-9811. Someone is available to assist you 24 hours a day. 

Bookish

An infographic of “Surprising Book Facts” has popped up in my Facebook newsfeed a few times during this National Literacy Month. Included with statistics showing a decline in literacy among the impoverished, imprisoned, and those over 8 years old, is this gem: “Reading for one hour per day in your chosen field will make you an international expert in 7 years.” Of course, the other statistics are incredibly revealing and powerful, but this one really stuck out to me. Reading has so much potential to open doors and expand horizons.

I learned this early on while reading fiction and nonfiction books as a child. Opening a book allowed me to step into other worlds and see things from other perspectives, as well as learn new things about the world I lived within. I read everything I could get my hands on. From flyleaf to flyleaf, no page in a book was left unread. I still try to read as much as I can, but lately the books I read the most are ones with repetitive titles featuring colors and animals, such as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” or “Llama Llama Red Pajama.”

Yes, that is a copy of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” Don’t worry, we have 2 more copies.

My efforts to surround my son with as many books as possible, and to encourage a love of reading in him has created a bit of a surplus in his book collection. Now a surplus in books in itself is not a bad thing, but these were mostly duplicates. Earlier this month, I took him to a Little Free Library to donate them.

I got the idea after attending my first meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers last month. It just so happened that at this meeting the group launched #NWARKCares, an initiative to bring awareness to causes right where we live using our collective voices on our blogs and social media. For the first month, our mission was to shine a light on literacy. I was so excited that I got busy going through all of our books right away and brought them to the Little Free Library of a fellow Northwest Arkansas blogger I met at the meeting. I had learned from her that children’s books were what the libraries needed the most. Looking at the date that these particular photos were taken, I see that I did all of this before September 3, and yet I’m just now getting to this post. At least it’s still September!

“The Legend of the Bluebonnet” and the only non-children’s book we brought, “Dreaming Cows”

Helping to grow Young Master Gray’s book collection (and creating some of those duplicates), is our subscription to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. When someone posted about the Imagination Library in one of my online mom’s groups, I thought it was too good to be true. One free book a month from birth up until 5 years of age?! Sign me up! I have heard from several moms that the program is not available in their area, but if it is available in your part of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or Australia, then I highly recommend signing up. Simply fill out a form on the website to start receiving books about 6-8 weeks later. We have received the books while living in both Benton and Washington counties. If you live in either of these counties or in McDonald or Madison counties, you can contact Karen Bryant with the United Way of Northwest Arkansas with any questions you have about the program. Her email address is kbryant@unitedwaynwa.org. If you are passionate about childhood literacy and would like to help, please consider donating to Imagination Library. A donation of just $25 is all it takes to sponsor a child, and they will receive a book every month.

Some of the Imagination Library books we’ve collected so far. 

Other ways of getting involved and improving literacy in our community include:

  • Volunteering with the Ozark Literacy Council. You can tutor, be an ESL conversation partner, stuff envelopes or help with event planning.
  • Donate to a Little Free Library. Right now, if you buy the Little Free Library book for $25, you will get $150 worth of brand new books! 
  • Volunteer at your local library. For someone that loves reading, this won’t even feel like work!
  • Read to a child. Yep, it’s really as simple as that.

Before you go implement these ideas in your community, tell me, what was your favorite childhood book?