Walk for the Waiting is tomorrow morning (rain or shine)

Walk for the Waiting is tomorrow morning (rain or shine).

There are now 4, website like this 800+ kids in Arkansas’s foster system, human enhancement 600+ of which need an adoptive family today. Over 200 foster youth will age out this year because they were not adopted or did not find a permanent family.

The funds from Walk for the Waiting will go to The CALL, viagra Project Zero and Immerse Arkansas who are working hard to make sure each of these children get the family and care they deserve.

If you’ve already signed up to walk or give – THANK YOU!

If you haven’t participated yet, can you help to make sure every kid in Arkansas has a family? You can give at https://www.walkforthewaiting.org/staceyvalley

Here are my two precious girls that were in the Arkansas foster system, but are now part of a forever family — my family. They are my treasures, and I thank God that I get to be their mommy. meandmygirls

May Events at Clinton Presidential Center

FTC disclosure: I am a social ambassador for the Clinton Presidential Center, unhealthy and do receive a small compensation for promoting the Center.

American Champions: The Quest for Olympic Glory continues through September 11

Bridge to the Future – May 21 (see info below)

Conversation with author Garrard Conley – May 24 (see info below)


Bridge to the Future Festival

bridge to the futureOn May 21, 2016, the Clinton Center, along with partners Hippy Arkansas and Special Olympics Arkansas, will host the Bridge to the Future Festival, a free community festival that encourages students to read throughout their summer break and will include fun activities for kids, and literacy, health, and safety resources for parents. The free festival is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday, May 21, 2016
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Clinton Presidential Park

According to extensive research, all students experience some level of “summer learning loss” or “summer setback” while on summer breaks.  Some students are more effected by the summer break than their peers.  Some quick facts:

  • Students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do at the beginning of summer vacation.
  • Students who see the biggest drops in test scores are already in higher-risk low-income groups.
  • “Summer setback” has a cumulative effect and can follow students through high school.
  • Educators, on average, spend four-to-six weeks re-teaching material that was lost during the “summer setback.”

Activities for families:
–Free books from the Reading Is Fundamental “AR Kids Read” program
–Crafts and coloring activities, including making a book
–Appearances by Cookie Mouse and Curious George
–Story time
–Central Arkansas Library System library card applications
–Writing activities with Foreign Tongues Poetry Troupe
–“Commitment wall” encouraging students to commit to reading throughout the summer
–Puppet shows
–Fire safety demonstrations
–Flag Football and the Young Athletes Program
–Face painting and bounce houses
–Free vision screenings for children provided by North Little Rock and Little Rock Founder’s Lions Clubs


Arkansas Author Returns Home for Book Tour

Garrard ConleyThe Clinton Center is proud to host a conversation with Garrard Conley, author of the soon-to-be-released memoir, Boy Erased, on May 24 at 6 p.m. The son of a pastor in Arkansas, Conley writes about his experience at a church-supported conversion therapy program to be “cured” of his homosexuality after he was outed to his parents at the age of nineteen.

Go to the Center for more information and reservations.

Clinton Center

Anniversary Weekend in NW Arkansas

My husband Anthony and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary tomorrow. To celebrate, gerontologist we spent the weekend in Eureka Springs and Bentonville.

The drive up on Friday was perfect. IMG_5110We stopped in Conway for lunch at Tacos 4 Life — our first time at this delicious taco place that gives back to hungry kids. I had the shrimp taco, buy and seriously: it was so good. The chips and cheese dip were yummy too.

IMG_5113Since Prince just died the day before, youth health Anthony and I listened to the 80s station on XM Radio, then once we found out that they had a new ALL PRINCE station, we switched over to that. We sang and talked all the way up Pig Trail to Eureka Springs. Arkansas is really just breathtaking sometimes.

We stayed in a little cottage run by Eureka Zen. It IMG_5124was our second time staying at an Eureka Zen cottage, and once again, it didn’t disappoint. It even had a private courtyard out back with a hot tub! The inside was tastefully decorated (not too frilly as some B&Bs can be in that area), and it was walking distance to downtown’s shops and restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, Anthony and I ate well over the weekend. Here is a run-down of where we went:
Dinner Friday: Chelsea’s for pizza on the outside deck

Anthony on the top deck at Chelsea's Pizzeria
Anthony on the top deck at Chelsea’s Pizzeria

Dessert Friday: Farm to Table – FRESH
Breakfast Saturday: Mud Street Cafe — best. pancakes. ever.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie at Mud Street Cafe
Peanut Butter Cream Pie at Mud Street Cafe

Lunch Saturday: Pepe Tacos at Casa Colina (love their outside dining area)

Patio area at Pepe Tacos
Patio area at Pepe Tacos

Snack Saturday: The Magic Pan Creperie
Dinner late Saturday: Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking

For something different on Saturday, we visited a big cat rescue just outside Eureka Springs called Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Going at 1 p.m. wasn’t the best choice as most of the animals were napping in the shade hidden from the humans. But we did see several and learned their stories of being rescued. Bottom line: Don’t get a wild animal for a pet. It is cute and cuddly now, but will grow up and want to eat you. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Eureka Springs is a colorful little mountain town. You never know what surprise you’ll find around the next bend or down a stairway ally.Eureka Springs stair art

Sunday morning we went to Thorncrown Chapel for their 9:00 a.m. service. This church is an architectural beauty surrounded by nature. We sang out of hymnals. The sun beamed through the windows. It was truly a spiritual experience. Thorncrown Chapel

After church, we drove to Bentonville — straight to Crepes Paulette. We arrived at 10 minutes til 11:00 which is opening time. Good thing because there was already a pretty decent line. I gushed a bit over the owner and his sexy French accent. Luckily, this doesn’t phase Anthony. He refused my request to start talking with a French accent. Anyway, the wait was totally worth it. We each got a savory crepe AND a sweet crepe. OMG — best food I’ve eaten in a long while.

Crepes Paulette
Line at Crepes Paulette
Ham, cheese, spinach & egg crepe
Ham, cheese, spinach & egg crepe

Next we visited the 21c Museum Hotel (lots of funky modern art) and Crystal Bridges. There wasn’t time to see everything, so we just took in the new photography exhibit, The Open Road. Really good stuff.

It was a glorious weekend just being with my honey. I really am blessed to be married to such a sweetheart as Anthony K. Valley.

Woolly Hollow State Park Camping Trip

Last weekend I took Maya camping for her first time. We joined a big group of our friends from church up at Woolly Hollow State Park which is just about an hour from our house. It was an amazing weekend of food, decease laughter and kids playing in the wild. Here are a few pics from the weekend.

Maya had such a blast — and not an electronic device in sight! Even if she did wear the same clothes for three days in a row, I don’t care — I count this a win. In fact, we loved it so much, I bought a big 8-person tent for the next time, so Anthony and the other girls can go too. These are precious memories in the making right here.IMG_4911

Arkansas Declaration of Learning

U.S. Department of State and Arkansas Announce Launch of Year Two
“Arkansas Declaration of Learning”
in Support of Secondary Education & Learning with Historical Objects & Art

Bentonville, rx AR – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces the launch of the second year of the “Arkansas Declaration of Learning” program, cost which works collaboratively with Arkansas teachers and school librarians teaching 7th-12th grade students in the fields of art, English language arts, and social studies to develop innovative curriculum that brings history to life and shares the importance of civic engagement with students.

Through this program, teachers have the opportunity to work with historic art, as well as objects from national and state partners, to develop innovative lessons for their classroom and school libraries that inspire student learning.  While Arkansas is the first state in the country to participate in this national program, all states are eligible to apply, and others are already in the pipeline.

Applications are now open and close at midnight on March 29, 2016. Stipends will be provided to selected participants.

This innovative public-private partnership, launched in 2015, is conducted by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms in partnership with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and the Arkansas Department of Education. To date, more than 1,700 Arkansas students have benefited from this initiative.

In 2015, a group of 28 Arkansas teachers and school librarians were selected to create dynamic teaching tools using historic objects, works of art, and primary sources from the collections of the founding partners:  the U.S. Department of State, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

Objects selected for the program were used to tell national and state-based stories that vibrantly illustrate the many ways our nation valued civic engagement during our country’s formative years, and the importance of this continued focus today.

This program is part of a national Inter-Agency Educational Initiative that began when representatives from 13 national partnering organizations signed the “Declaration of Learning” in 2012.

This document pledged that the U.S. Department of State, the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, and 11 other national organizations would work with state and local partners to co-create learning tools for educators and students in middle and secondary education using historic art and objects from their respective collections and best practices in education.

The Diplomatic Reception Rooms are the site for many of our nation’s diplomatic meetings and events including summits, treaty negotiations, official State Luncheons, and important Presidential speeches.

Located on the top two floors of the U.S. Department of State, these 42 rooms are modeled after 18th century historic rooms and spaces in our country’s history.  The rooms house a historic museum-quality collection of more than 5,000 fine and decorative art objects valued at $150 million that tell the story of our country’s founding and formative years (1730-1840).

The rooms and their historic collections were created and are sustained through generous gifts from American donors, corporations, and foundations.

To apply to participate in the program, please visit: http://bit.ly/1M2Cubo

For more information about the application process, please contact Zev Slurzberg at zev.slurzberg@crystalbridges.org.

For more information about the “Declaration of Learning” or the “Arkansas Declaration of Learning,” please contact Anne Menotti at MenottiAD@state.gov or 202-647-1990.

Follow @StateDept using the hashtag #ShareHistoryAR.


About Crystal Bridges
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.

Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. Since its opening, the Museum has welcomed more than two million visitors, and garnered 9,000+ membership households. Some 110,000 school children have participated in the Museum’s Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. More than 250,000 visitors a year utilize the Museum’s 3.5 miles of walking trails.

Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s  Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola [3]— each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution—as well as major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell. The permanent collection, which continues to grow through a strategic acquisition plan, is on view year-round and is enhanced by an array of temporary exhibitions.

Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages. including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. An award-winning app, available free for both Apple and Android devices, features audio tours of current and past exhibitions, and many of the Museum’s lectures and gallery talks are available in Crystal Bridges’ iTunes U site. A new initiative to develop high-quality distance-learning opportunities for students and teachers is underway.

Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program supports full-time scholarship in the history of American art. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences. Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at CrystalBridges.org.

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March Events at the Clinton Presidential Center

FTC disclaimer: Sponsored post as a social ambassador for the Clinton Presidential Center.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Center & Park, health located on the banks of Arkansas River in Little Rock, Arkansas, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world to its grounds each year. Here are some of the exciting events happening at The Center in March.
The NEW Clinton Museum Store opens TODAY.

Opening today, March 1, the new Clinton Museum Store, located inside the lobby of the Library, offers guests a one-of-a-kind, presidential shopping experience. The shelves are stocked and the staff is eager to help! Museum Store customers are not required to pay admission fees to shop.

American Champions: The Quest for Olympic Glory
Opens March 12

The Clinton Center’s upcoming temporary exhibit tells the story of American athletes in the modern Olympic and Paralympic Games. But it goes beyond just celebrating the Olympians’ achievements and athleticism. Like the Games themselves, it honors the common humanity that unites our world’s people across borders, generations, gender, and race.

Spring Break at the Clinton Center

School will soon be out for Spring Break, so get ready to run, jump, and play. The week of March 21-25, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the Center will celebrate Spring Break with free family activities. In conjunction with American Champions: The Quest for Olympic Glory, students will learn about and participate in sports from the Olympic Games. Spring Break activities are free; however, admission fees to tour the Center still apply.

Easter Brunch at the Clinton Center

Easter Brunch at the Clinton Presidential Center is filling-up quickly! Join us on Easter Sunday for a delicious brunch including a “Build-Your-Own-Omelet” station, a “Breakfast Favorites” station, an array of house-made desserts and more. Reservations are required. Please call (501) 537-0042 to make your reservation today.

Clinton Center

The William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park is a world-class educational and cultural venue offering a variety of special events, exhibitions, educational programs, and lectures throughout the year. Visit the website for more information.


Coca-Cola Exhibit at Clinton Presidential Center

I am a social ambassador for the Clinton Presidential Center, discount but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Coca-ColaLast Saturday I was invited to tour the Coca-Cola exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center. Ted Ryan, the director of heritage communications for The Coca-Cola Company, gave me and my fellow Clinton Presidential Center social ambassadors a private tour of part of the exhibit.Coca-ColaThis framed piece showed how one painting was used for multiple marketing materials. Line markings indicate different ways this one painting could be “cut” — like for a horizontal billboard. Ted also shared with us interesting Coca-Cola history like how the Santa everyone knows today was Coca-Cola’s doing and how three original Normal Rockwell illustrations for Coca-Cola are missing. Coca-ColaLater we joined the public in the Great Hall for the Coca-Cola Collectors Convention. People from across the state brought their Coke collectibles in for an Antiques-Roadshow-type event where Ted appraised each item. Coca-ColaThis Coca-Cola picnic cooler is from the late 1950s. Ted could date it from the fishtail logo. He appraised this piece at $300 – $500. Coca-ColaTed told us that the term soda pop came from when the bottles used a cork to seal them and you had to “pop” the cork down into the bottle to drink it. Fun little facts like this were scattered throughout the event which made it really interesting. These old Coke bottles appraised from $100 to $300 each. Coca-ColaThis is a Coca-Cola marketing bulletin from around 1928 that outlined prescriptive paint colors, standardization of the logo, etc. for people who would paint a billboard on the side of a building. Ted said that it’s so rare that he couldn’t appraise it. Coca-ColaThis is an advertising spinner. It would have been on top of a product display on an end-cap of a grocery store aisle or on top of a gas pump at the corner gas station. Ted appraised this item at $600 – $1000 since it was in such pristine condition.

“Coca-Cola: An American Original” continues through February 15. This exhibit celebrates the art and history of the Coca-Cola bottle on its 100th anniversary. The exhibition features a chronology of the Coca-Cola Bottle, pop art by by Andy Warhol, American classics by Norman Rockwell, Santa Clauses by Haddon Sundblom, and folk art by Howard Finster.

On Saturday, February 13, 2016, the Clinton Presidential Center is hosting Valentine’s Day Family Activities.

William J. Clinton Presidential Center
1200 President Clinton Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

Center Hours 
Monday – Saturday: 9–5 p.m.
Sunday: 1–5 p.m.

Learn more about the Clinton Presidential Center.

Little Rock Staycation

For New Year’s Eve, information pills my husband Anthony and I did something different: a DAY-LONG DATE DAY. I copied the idea from my brother Rob and his wife Ines. They recently did a day-long date day for their wedding anniversary. They played tourist around their own city. I thought that was a splendid idea, stomatology and Anthony and I needed some quality time away from the kids anyway.

I got a BUNCH of great ideas from friends on interesting places to go and yummy places to eat around Little Rock and North Little Rock. Here are some of the suggestions given to us:

Breakfast / Brunch options:

The Root
One Eleven at the Capital
Del Frisco
1620 Savoy  
Red Door
Mylo Coffee Co.
BJ’s Market Café
I decIMG_3222ided on Leo’s Greek Castle for breakfast. I had the Greek omelet, and it was devine with juicy portions of lamb throughout. Anthony had the eggs, bacon and pancakes. The coffee was really good too. Luckily we got there early (before 8:30 a.m.) because the place filled up fast (especially for a Thursday) and there was a line of people waiting to be seated when we left.

Things to do / see:

Esse Purse Museum
Green Corner Store soda fountain
Historic Arkansas Museum
Old State House
Tour of local breweries
Central Arkansas Escape Rooms
Segway of Arkansas
Museum of Discovery: Science After Dark
Heifer Village

Our first stop was the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site which is open daily 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Sunday throughout the year except New Year’s Day. They were closing early at 2:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the day we were there, but we arrived in plenty of time to watch the short film and take in all the exhibits. Bonus: this is a totally FREE national park! Little Rock Central High MuseumLittle Rock Central High MuseumLittle Rock Central High MuseumI loved this museum and will take my daughters there very soon. Heaven knows we still have a long way to go to cure racism in this country. Learning where we’ve been and what those before us went through is a step in the right direction. This museum is a must-see in Little Rock!

Our next stop was the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge. This bridge is special to me and Anthony because it’s where we had our first real kiss (cue the romantic soundtrack) back in 2012. Today the river was at moderate flood stage and due to crest over the next couple of days. It was wild and exciting and scary all at the same time. And the view of downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock is absolutely beautiful from up there. Arkansas River, Clinton BridgeClinton Presidential Park Bridge

After the bridge, we went home to warm up and have a light lunch. I took a nap — my favorite indulgence. Afterwards, we got ready for our New Year’s Eve dinner date. I had three dresses sent from Rent the Runway and tried them each on to make my final selection. You can read more about my Rent the Runway experience here.Stacey and Anthony Valley

For dinner we had reservations at Good Food by Ferneau. The meal was fantastic, and you can read my review hereIMG_3278

After dinner we went to a friend’s house for a NYE party.

It was a great day just hanging out with my hubby. And our city has so much to offer. I can’t wait until our next staycation. Any suggestions on places we should go?


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October Recap

Yes, shop I know that October isn’t over yet, viagra order but it’s been a busy month already.

We started the month off in Florida — a glorious week of relaxation on the beach. IMG_1692I rode the post-vacation high for a week or so.

Anthony and I took advantaIMG_1874ge of me having a day off for Columbus Day and free entrance to the Arkansas State Fair during lunch hours to enjoy some delicious fair food. The super long corndog was my favorite. The chicken on a stick was good too, as was the Bacon Bomber deep fried dessert. Then we checked out the baking competition judging and wondered how we could get that gig next year. IMG_1877

Maya lost another tooth. IMG_1894
We went to a delightful birthday party at Carol and John’s. Their daughter Bella turned five. Carol is a master at themed birthday parties. MASTER. IMG_1916 Quinn didn’t care for Elsa and Anna. IMG_1939
Maya, Quinn and I now all have strep throat, although Quinn and I don’t really feel bad. Poor Maya spent the morning sleeping on the bathroom floor so she’d be close to the toilet. Poor thing. But Q, she’s just chillin. IMG_1974
So that’s our October so far. The weather is getting cooler. YEAH! This is my favorite time of year. Stay tuned for more.


Spring Break Fun

Maybe it’s because of all the snow days recently or maybe it’s because I’m hoping to go back to work full time soon, contagion but I am so excited for Spring Break this year. I want to get out, web explore, approved and feel the sun on my skin. (Please be warm and sunny. Please be warm and sunny.)

When Maya and I lived in DC, we were always taking advantage of the museums and sites around us. But back here in Arkansas, I forget how many cool places are right in my back yard. So I got the March issue of Little Rock Family for inspiration and have narrowed down our outings options.

In Little Rock/North Little Rock:

  • River Rail Streetcars. Maya loves to ride the streetcars, and I love downtown, so this is a no brainer. Plus it’s cheap. $1 for 12 and up; $0.50 for kids 5-11; under 5 is free. (Note: The streetcars are NOT baby stroller friendly.) We’ll probably eat lunch downtown too.
  • Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. I’ve never been to this museum, so this is high on our hit list. It’s only open Friday – Sunday though. I think I heard on the radio that they are opening additional days for spring break. (But I could have dreamed that.) $7.50 for adults; $5 for under 12. (Children under 5 not recommended.) www.AIMMuseum.org
  • Witt Stephens Jr Central Arkansas Nature Center. Nature stuff. It’s FREE. Nuff said. (Closed Mondays.) www.centralarkansasnaturecenter.com
  • Pirate Week at The Wonder Place. Again, I’ve never been here, but it sounds fun. It’s geared for kids 8 and under — arts, climbing thingies, pirates. $7/person. Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. www.thewonderplace.com

In/Around Hot Springs:

  • Mid-America Science Museum. I remember going here when I was a kid. It’s completely renovated — just had their grand re-opening on March 7 — so it’s definitely time for to introduce my kids to this place. Their website is down today, so I don’t have prices.
  • Oaklawn. My girls love horses, so if the weather cooperates, we’re going to the ponies. They open at 10 a.m. Post times are 1:30 p.m. on Thu, Fri & Sun; 1:00 p.m. on Sat. www.oaklawn.com
  • Garvan Woodlawn Gardens. I’ve never been here either. I’m starting to realize how many Arkansas treasures I’m missing! The flowers should be starting to bloom next week, so I can’t wait to see this place. $15 for ages 13 and older; $5 for ages 6-12. Open 9-6 daily. www.garvangardens.org

What are you doing for Spring Break? What “staycation” ideas do you recommend?

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