Fellowship North hosted it’s first “Family Camp” last Sunday – Wednesday at Castle Bluff in Newton County, Arkansas. For as long as I can remember, the church did a snow camp in Colorado, but this year, it was decided to stay closer to home and utilize our beautiful camp in the Ozark Mountains. There were 13 families there — including mine.
The weather was beautiful until the last half day. We hiked, played GaGa Ball, ziplined, rappelled, sat in rocking chairs and visited with friends old and new. It was very relaxing, and the kids ran and played until they collapsed in their beds each night.
It was a fun 72 hours with great people! Hopefully this will become a spring break tradition.
FTC disclosure: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s of Central Arkansas. I am one of their brand ambassadors, hair but all opinions here are my own.
It’s December: my favorite time of the year. I’m not sure if it’s the holiday lights, approved the upcoming days off from school and work, stomach or the chill in the air, but everyone seems lighter, happier, jollier.
It’s cold nights like we’ve had recently when I feel like bundling up the kiddos and heading out to see all the Christmas lights and decorations around town, so that’s exactly what we did the other night. I surprised them all with a “Grab your heaviest coats, kids, and get in the car for a big surprise!” They obliged with only a few grumbles. Those grumbles soon turned into smiles as we drove through our neighborhood McDonald’s drive-thru for Peppermint Hot Chocolates for everyone. (A small one is only $2.) Then with warm “December in a cup”, we drove to the “Inflatables House” just a few miles away.
The “Inflatables House” is a North Little Rock Christmas institution. I’m not sure how many years this family has done it, but it’s huge. Even Little Rockians (who think crossing the river to North Little Rock is worse than a trip to the dentist) will come to see this spectacle of Christmas blow-ups, decorations and lights. The owner of the house sits out at his curb dressed as Santa handing out candy canes to all who come. (Donations are welcome, but not required.) My kids and I sipped our Peppermint Hot Chocolate from McDonald’s as we wondered around the maze of inflatables taking in all the details that this family puts into their annual display. It’s really a sight to behold.
Another awesome tradition around this holiday season is how people are more willing to give back. McDonald’s does this, and not just in December. Through their Values in Action program, McDonald’s is on a journey towards good. They are committed to doing the right thing – from making quality food to being good stewards of our planet. It’s important to them, and as a parent, it really makes me feel better about being a loyal customer and feeding my children there.
Here are just a few of the ways McDonald’s is making a difference:
I wish all my readers a glorious Christmas season. Take time to be present with your family – especially your children. They grow up so fast, and these memories you make now will hold a special place in their hearts for years to come. And find a way to give back to your community. There are many worthy organizations making a difference in your community. They need you.
Last Friday, anemia Anthony, viagra Kennedy, artificial Maya, Quinn and I loaded up the car and drove to Bentonville for the day. I had wanted to take the kids to the Scott Family Amazeum since it opened, and we finally got a free day to go. Our 12-year-old Madison was at church camp, so unfortunately she missed out this time.
Amazeum lives up to it’s name! We all had such a great time. Even though it’s geared toward kids ages 4 though 9, it has two play areas for toddlers, as well as managed to peak the imagination of our teenager. Anthony and I enjoyed watching our daughters have so much fun.
We had lunch at Crepes Paulette, a food truck in downtown Bentonville — not too far away from the Amazeum. There was a long line, but the wait was worth it. Maya got a strawberry and Nutella crepe.
After lunch, we went back to the Amazeum. We had 2:15 passes to the Hershey Lab. I thought we would get to play with chocolate (as in EAT chocolate) in the Hershey Lab, but instead it was an experiment about weights of items. This was my only disappointment of the day because I WANTED CHOCOLATE of course.
After we left the Amazeum, we drove back to downtown Bentonville and parked near the square. We walked to the Walmart Museum and did a quick tour through there, then walked over to Onyx Coffee Lab for a pick up me before the drive home.
It was an awesome day. We definitely want to spend more time in Bentonville — and spend the night next time; maybe even a whole weekend. There is so much to do in this bustling, little town.
Maya and Quinn conked out on the drive home. I call that a sign of a good day.
Please share your favorite family town to visit in Arkansas. I want to do more of these family roadtrips and welcome your suggestions.
Disclosure: I received free admission to Playtime Pizza in exchange for promoting AR Family Fun Days. However, prostate all opinions expressed her are my own.
There’s a lot of good research out there about the benefits of families spending time together – how it builds confidence in kids, dysentery encourages a healthy lifestyle, breast etc. The goal of Arkansas Family Fun Days is to create an opportunity for families to get out of the house and experience something new and fun together. Several Little Rock area attractions offering special deals for families this weekend (June 4-5):
Plus all locations are also offering two for one ice cream, courtesy of Hiland Dairy!
I spent yesterday celebrating my birthday at Playtime Pizza, one of the participating attractions. Playtime Pizza is a 70,000 square foot indoor family entertainment center. My parents, my brother and his family, and my family were there for the fun — and we all had a blast! Not only does Playtime Pizza have a great selection of pizza, pasta, salad, desserts and more, it has games that appeal to kids of all ages. (And I got to act like I’m 8 instead of 48!)
Please take advantage of the savings this weekend and go enjoy some family time. These are memories that you and your kids won’t forget. And it’s the perfect way to start off your summer!
Big thanks to Tiffany, Playtime Pizza general manager, and all the Playtime Pizza staff for their hospitality yesterday. You were so kind and made my birthday party a smashing success. Thank you!
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!
Conversation with author Garrard Conley – May 24 (see info below)
Bridge to the Future Festival
On 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
–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
–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
The 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.
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.
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.
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 — 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.
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:
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! I 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.
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.
The Valley family is completed humbled and honored to be the featured cover story in this month’s SAVVY magazine. The editor saw our adoption story on Twitter and contacted me about the feature. I didn’t hesitate.