Tag: family

Holiday Food, Fun and Family LinkUp


Christmas Link-Up ARWB

Our 2015 #ARWB Holiday LinkUp is all about sharing the many ways we celebrate food, fun and family. We want to know what traditions you bring to the holidays and just how you go about sharing those with your family and friends. Got a special recipe that is a holiday must have? What holiday event do you ALWAYS attend? Or what new one will be on your absolutely-must-do list this year. Do your family members come from far or near—over the river and through the woods perhaps? Share those posts full of memories and soon-to-be memories with us. You may post as many as you wish.

The #Holiday #LinkUp will remain open through Dec. 18 for you to share your favorite holiday blog posts.

Chaos is my Love Language

by Rhonda Bramell, Miss January 2015


As some of you know, I am the mother of twins. It’s the number one topic of conversation when I meet new people, and often with those I already know. I think people are just naturally curious about twins, and that’s OK. Most people want to know how they are alike, how hard they are to parent and how I manage a household with kids and a full-time job. Now, I’m no expert—at parenting or anything else—but I can share a little bit of what our crazy life is like.


My twins are a boy and a girl, age four. They are twins, but they aren’t a whole lot alike. She is clearly the boss of the duo and he will do whatever mischievous thing that she cons him into doing. He is 100% mama’s boy and gives the best kisses I’ve ever had. She thinks she’s Princess Elsa and lives a “clothing optional” lifestyle. He is obsessed with superheroes and will talk about Batman until your ears bleed. The twins fight with each other like they are in a WWE cage match, but are just as quick to curl up together on the couch and spoon while they nap. The bond that those kids have is very real and so very cool.  I’m glad that I get to witness it every day.


Parenting itself is hard; doesn’t matter if you have twins or not. Sure, having double diaper duty and double potty training was not a walk in the park, but I quickly realized I had to laugh to keep from crying. It’s hard being outnumbered (I also have a seven-year-old daughter); it’s hard not having enough hands to hold everyone as we cross a busy parking lot. It’s hard picking up ALL. THE. SOCKS!

I work all day and come home to chaos, but it works for us. Also, my house is a wreck, but I’m this close to not even caring about that anymore. If I can keep everyone healthy, fed and clean clothes in the closet, that’s what counts. It also helps that I have a rock star hubby who totally picks up my slack. Overall, I’d say the best description of our home is chaotic. It’s loud, rowdy and messy until about 9:30pm. Then, finally, the silence comes and I start to think maybe we can do this after all.  

Creek Walking {Blogger of the Month}

By Miss June 2014, Laurie Marshall of Junque Rethunque and See Laurie Write

I’ll admit it: I have a fascination with creeks. It seems there have always been creeks around, no matter where I lived. When I was a child, we visited my grandparents in Goshen, Arkansas every summer and my grandmother would take me and my brothers for walks in the seasonal creek behind her house. We would hunt for turtles and learn about lichen and fungi and choose rocks to take back to her painting studio to decorate.


In a way, a creek helped define my role as a female.

When I was nine years old, I lived on a suburban street in Little Rock. That summer, a little gaggle of neighborhood kids gathered daily as soon as breakfast was eaten, and we would spend the day in someone’s carport, then someone else’s basement, then someone’s backyard… but I was soon to learn there was also a creek.

imageLaurie at 9 years old. Judging by the coat, we were outside in ALL seasons back in the dark ages.

The yards behind the houses at the end of the street backed up to a large privacy fence, and on the other side of the fence were the Ash boys. There were three boys in the Ash family, and I honestly don’t remember their names anymore. They lived in an older house behind the fence, and they introduced the neighborhood kids to the joys of tromping through the woods.

Of course, I felt like an expert Woods-woman, what with all the experience I had at my grandparents’, so when we came upon a creek during our adventure I simply jumped from rock to rock to get across. But one of the boys was sweet on my friend, Paige, and when she was nervous about jumping across the creek, he held out her hand and helped her across.

A little girl-sized lightbulb went off in my head and I realized that I had committed a terrible error. I tried to double-back with the naive hope that he’d hold his hand out to me too, but it didn’t work… And thus began my life as the Funny Friend, rather than the Lead Ingénue.
We moved out of that neighborhood when I was 10 and my parents divorced. At the time West Little Rock was still a little bit wild and there were large areas of land that were still undeveloped between Rodney Parham and Cantrell Blvd. Our next two homes – an apartment complex and another suburban house – both had creeks behind them. For me and my Barbie dolls (and Marie, and Cher), they were roaring rivers with sandy banks that provided the perfect spot to park the Country Camper.


When my girls were small we lived outside of Fayetteville on two acres that were gifted to me by my grandparents. Following in my grandmother’s footsteps, I introduced the girls to the creek in all seasons as we searching for turtles and speculated on which of the gnarled tree roots and limestone rock formations would be the best spot for a fairy house.

For the last seven years we have lived in Springdale, and my son has been somewhat deprived of the experience of creek walking. There are creeks within driving distance, and we have visited a couple, but it has been difficult to make the time to seek them out when I just want to spend an hour tossing rocks in the water.

The young Boychild does a little creek walking at Devil’s Den State Park.

Thankfully, the city of Springdale and the Illinois Watershed Partnership have spearheaded a massive clean-up and improvement of Lake Springdale, which is just a mile or so from my house. The Razorback Greenway will be running right alongside the creek that surrounds the lake, and there are already walking trails completed with a staircase that allows access to the creek bed when we feel like doing a little rock tossing and wild-flower admiring. I’m hoping to make a habit of it. How are you getting outside this summer? Any creek walking in your plans?


Grateful for the Village

Written by Karen Weido of Ting’s Mom

They say it takes a village to raise a kid. Sometimes it takes more than one village.

My mom was in high school when my grandpa’s job moved them to a small town in Alabama.  She met a guy – the tall, dark, and handsome type. She graduated high school and they got married. The apparent  ‘happily ever after’.

It was three-ish years later when they decided to start a family. It was during my mom’s pregnancy that my dad became ill and was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. In January their baby girl was born (that would be me!). By that time my grandparents and aunt had moved to Arkansas. My aunt was in college. My grandparents were practically done raising children – freedom in sight. But that summer they took in a six month old me.

In October of that year, my mom was 22 years-old, a widow, and mom of a nine month old. Who remembers themselves 22 years-old? Could you have done it?

My mom joined us in Arkansas and we all lived with my grandparents.  My mom got herself a job and enrolled in the local university. She went to school in the mornings, worked the 3-11pm shift, and studied/took care of me/tried to sleep during the remaining eight hours a day. The village stepped in. My grandparents, my aunt, neighbors,and church family all pitched a hand to make sure this baby girl was taken care of. My mom and I eventually moved (all the way across the street), but the village never let us down.

My mom remarried – a nice man who had a son my age, and had also lost his wife to cancer. He had a village as well. Their village took me in. My village took them in.

My amazing husband also came from a village. A host of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. They also took me in when we were married. I love them all like I do my own family.

And now I find myself a mom. I have a completely different story than my mom but I still find myself in constant need of our village.

Our village includes our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. They keep our kids so they don’t have to be in daycare or with babysitters. Our village steps up to the plate every single day to make sure our kids have their every need, want, and wish met. Our village fixes things, gives us tips, motivates us, and provides constant support. Our village makes our like easy.

I will probably never know all the names of all the people who have been a part of my village during my life. I will never be able to thank my village enough for the roles they have played in all our lives. During this Thanksgiving season I am most grateful for my village.


 Karen Weido is a full time wife, full time mom, and works full time in Healthcare Marketing & Public Relations. She and her family live in Southwest Arkansas. She has been sharing her family’s stories and activities on Ting’s Mom Blog since 2010. In her spare minutes she tries to read, is learning to cook, and runs around in the backyard with her kids. Karen can also be found creeping around (and often posting) on Twitter and Instagram.

Our Story {Women’s History}

Our Story {Women’s History}
Written by ARWB March 2012 Bloggger of the Month, Jennifer Janes, of Jennifer A. Janes

As I considered the topic “Women’s History,” I thought about some of the women I have studied and considered researching one who inspires me as fodder for this post. All I could think about, though, was our history.

I have regrets. I am not a genealogist, and I really don’t have a desire to spend lots of time tracing our family roots back to debtors’ prison in Europe. (I have family members who have already done that for me.) What saddens me is that I’ve lost stories that are part of who I am, part of who my daughters are. Our family is full of amazing women, yet their stories are lost because the storytellers have died, relationships have eroded, or I neglected to write down the stories I was told while they were fresh on my mind.

I have some mementoes to pass on to my daughters: a wedding band from my great-grandmother, jewelry from my grandmother, the quilt with flour sacking on the back that my great-great-grandmother made. I have a few stories too, but not as many as I wish I had. One woman in our family survived abuse at the hands of a man struggling with mental illness. After her escape, she got her college degree while raising two boys and had a successful career as an English teacher and school counselor.


Another woman in my family has been strong through circumstances that would have destroyed a weaker person. At the end of her ordeal, her husband’s health was wrecked, and she had relocated and left behind all of her friends and most of what she owned. When my girls are older, I will share her story with them, and they will look at her with new respect and will appreciate even more the time she has invested in their lives.

I remember snippets of other stories too: a crippled cousin who had to live with other family members because her own family couldn’t care for her medical needs, a maiden aunt who had a very long and successful nursing career, the woman who watched her brother walk away to buy a pair of shoes and never saw him again. No one ever knew what happened to him.

As you think about Women’s History this month, please take time to consider your story. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Talk to the history-keepers this month. Record or write down their stories. Your children will thank you.

Jennifer is a history buff who lives with her husband and two daughters in Southwest Arkansas. She enjoys reading, writing, Bible study, and spending time with friends and family. To follow her story, visit:



Blog: http://jenniferajanes.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jenniferajanes

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jenniferajanes

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jenniferajanes

Categorizing Grey Hair {Women’s History}

Categorizing Grey Hair {Women’s History}
Written by Sweety Darlin’.

When Julie sent out the call for March guest posts I tried to think of all the women that I felt had influenced my life and who I admired. I had a long list… Catherine the Great of Russia, Queen Elizabeth I, Eleanor Roosevelt, Madonna, there were more it was a strange list. Then I realized while I admire all of these women they didn’t really shape me into the person I became.

My post last month was a letter to my mom, and while I don’t want to seem like I do nothing but sit around pining for my mom it was just the luck of the draw that the next month was about women’s history.  My mother is a critical part of my personal history, and she had a theory of her own history by categorizing her grey hair. She would either hold small bits of hair or lay her hand on large patches and explain some of the following….

This area is for when I married Steve Brady. This is for when my first child died at the tender age of eight days old. This is when I had a healthy daughter. This is when I left Steve Brady due to his alcoholism. This is when I was raped. This is the abortion I had to have from that rape. This is the cancer diagnoses (that one got a big patch). This is for all the trials of motherhood (big patch again). This is for the next three rounds of cancer. This is for running my own company. This is for marital trials and tribulations.

Then she would explain that the non-grey hairs were for all the happy times. Watching my daughter grow up. Finding a man that truly loved me. Having success in my career. Seeing my daughter marry a man that loves her. Seeing my first grand child born, named for my deceased daughter.

When we think of the history of women, we should really think about the history of mothers. Our mother’s love(d) us beyond understanding, punish us when we deserve it, weep for us in prayer, put bandaids on boo boos, and then after all that effort have to let go of us and pray that they did the best they knew how.

Now that I am a mother I realize that even though I did not agree with my mother’s behavior and all the crazy things she did, she was only doing what she thought was the best for me at the time with the information she had. Did she regret some things, I have no doubt that she did. Hindsight is 20/20. However she loved me madly and only wanted me to become the best possible.

So this month as we read all the various posts regarding the History of Women, remember that those people all had mothers that made them exactly what they are, so I deem this the Month of the History of Motherhood.

You can call me Sweety Darlin’.  I am a 29 year old mother of two teenagers, don’t argue!  I love to sew and design and make things.  If it goes through a sewing machine I am game!  My kids are amazing when they are sleeping, and pretty decent the rest of the time.



General Tso’s Chicken {Foodie Friday}

General Tso’s Chicken {Foodie Friday}
Written by Sarah of East9thStreet.

This weekend my step-son is visiting from Tulsa.  He’s a typical teenage boy and typically eats burgers and fries.  Recently he’s become a huge fan of Asian food so we decided this would be the perfect weekend to try out some new recipes.

Browsing some of the foodie blogs, I came across a recipe from Far Away.  Having the majority of the ingredients on hand, I decided it was time to attempt General Tso’s Chicken.

This version of General Tso’s Chicken is sure to challenge even your favorite take-out restaurants versions.  The ingredients merry well together and there is just the right amount of heat.  My only deviation from this recipe was not using the dry, white sherry to marinate the chicken.  Instead I used rice wine vinegar only because I couldn’t find white sherry.  I hope you enjoy this and it becomes a regular in your dinner rotation.

General Tso’s Chicken


  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp hoison sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha sauce (I’m not a huge fan of spicy and I could have easily added another tsp)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tsp cornstarch, divided
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in 1-in pieces
  • 2 tbsp dry white sherry (or substitute rice wine vinegar like I did)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 dried red chilis
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts cut into ½” pieces


  1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients up to the cornstarch.  Add the 2 tsp of cornstarch and whisk until well blended.
  2. In a large bowl, marinate your chicken for 15 minutes in the dry white sherry or rice wine vinegar.  Add a sprinkle of salt.
  3. This step is important.  Because you want your cornstarch mixture to be a dry coating on the chicken, put the chicken in a colander and drain any excess liquid.
  4. Using the 1/3 cup of cornstarch (use more if your chicken seems wet), coat the chicken.  In a large skillet, warm the peanut oil over medium heat (my oil wasn’t very deep, just enough to cover the surface of the pan) and once hot, add chicken and brown the chicken on all sides.  Once the chicken is done, remove it from the pan and set aside.
  5. Drain any leftover oil out of the skillet and add garlic and ginger, cooking for 20 seconds or so.  Add chilis, chicken and green onions, mix gently.  Add the sauce mixture and stir frequently until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken.  Because of the cornstarch in your sauce mixture, this happens fairly quickly so watch your food!
  6. Top with sliced green onions and serve over a bed of rice.


When not chasing toddlers, planning playdates or studying to be the most awesome healthcare administrator in the world, Sarah runs the family blog, East9thStreet.  There you’ll find amazing recipes, tips and tricks on surviving parenthood and an occasional random rant.


Crayons and Old Songs. {Love Story}

Crayons and Old Songs. {Love Story}
Written by ARWB December 2011 Bloggger of the Month, Stephanie Hamling, of Proactive Bridesmaid

I sat behind the tech as she took pictures. Measurements, diagrams, the dull “thumpthump…thumpthump” that ecohed in the small room — there it was, my daddy’s heart. The possibility that something could be wrong with it was as impossible as the fact that something I knew to be so boundless could fit on the monitor’s screen. “Thumpthump…thumpthump.

My Mom had called that morning with the news that they’d gone to the ER shortly after midnight. Dad’s arm had gone numb. They’d been running test after test. He was in his own room when we got there. A nurse was questioning him, “Do you walk much?” My brother and I laughed. My dad walks, hunts, fishes, helps Mom tend a large country garden, enjoys woodworking, and does just about anything his kids ever need help with. And I’d been feeling the guilt of that — repairing my roof, trimming my trees, hauling away the hundreds of rocks left as a legacy from a previous tenant — since I’d heard, wondering what part of that was the one thing that was too much. I’ll probably never know.

When I was small and sick, Dad would pull a rocking chair up to the fireplace and, old blue Kiwanis songbook in hand, cuddle me in his lap and sing to me. “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” was my favorite. It’s a shame none of us, my bothers nor I, got his singing voice. It is one worth hearing. We can all lay claim to having a few of his dance moves, though, even if we pale in comparison.

After an evening of coloring, the ornery six-year old me refused to pick up my crayons. With more than fair warning, Dad tossed them one by one into the fireplace. I was bitter about the loss of my favorite, wrapper-less, burgundy stub for longer than I care to admit. First I sat and cried. Then I picked up my crayons. I learned to take care of my things after that. And I learned that getting up and doing something is almost always better than sitting around crying. In retrospect, I bet those ten minutes were far harder on Dad than they were on me.

I recently got into my car, heading back to my house from Mom and Dad’s, and found the gas tank that had been sitting on “E” was filled to the brim. Dad. I walked out my door during a recent visit, and guess who was putting new blades on my windshield wipers? Dad. When he sat up to eat at the hospital, he offered to split his dinner with me because I’d been sitting with him for a few hours. Dad.

I could go on and on — the secret handshake, the games of Crazy Eights, the notes, the hunting knife that he happened to be sharpening when my high school boyfriend walked in the door. For some things though, there just aren’t words.

My Dad has taught me so many things, but, when it comes down to it, he taught me the one thing that trumps all. Love is a verb.

I love you, Daddy.

Content © Stephanie Hamling 2012.

Stephanie, originally from Wonderview, AR, now lives in our state’s capitol. A freelance graphic artist and a local-food activist, she enjoys gardening, photography, and cooking. You can indulge in more of her musings by visiting her blog, Proactive Bridesmaid. Stephanie was Arkansas Women Blogger of the Month in December 2011.

Every Tree Has A Story {Love Story}

Every Tree Has A Story {Love Story}
Written by ARWB February 2012 Blogger of the Month, Gina Knuppenburg of Desperately Seeking {Gina}.

Most of us learn the genealogy of our family tree early on in life. We can connect Mom to all the children of Great- Auntie Betty or name Grandma Minnie’s father’s second wife’s son. I certainly can. But what I can’t retell is the story of how the tree was planted.

I know, for sure, the story of how my parents met; at least I know the basics. It’s the details I don’t remember. Was my mom head-over-heels in love with my dad? Were they a mushy couple? Did dad buy mom trinkets and flowers and declare his undying love every Valentine’s Day? I know that I’ve asked these questions countless times and my mom patiently retells their love story each and every time.

As my grandmother’s aged and I sat with them and listened to their stories, I never thought to write them down. At the time, I never thought about a future without my beloved grandmas. It never occurred to me that the leaves of their branches would fall from the family tree and be lost in the wind.

As bloggers, we often tell stories of our day-to-day activities. We relate our lives to current events. We explore thoughts, feeling, emotions, and struggles. Good news is shared.; good fortune proclaimed. We type out goals and lists. Recipes are shared and pretty pictures pinned. It should be easy for us, then, to tell the story of how our respective family trees were started.

So, my question for you, ladies of ARWB: are you recording your {love stories}? Are you blogging about them? Journaling them? Will your children, ages from now, be able to recount the story of how their parents met, fell in love, and married {or didn’t marry…there are SO many different kinds of stories to tell}? Will the story of grandma’s and grandpa’s love be retold throughout countless generations?

Relationships change, love may fade. Marriages dissolve or never happened to begin with. Not every story will end happily ever after. Those stories need to be told, too. Not every story will have a beginning, middle, and end. Details may already be lost. The important thing is to jot down what you do know.

Need some ideas to get started?


  • Blog about it! Be sure to print out your posts.
  • Journaling. Dedicate a notebook to telling your love story. Even if you don’t fancy yourself a story teller you can use this method. Don’t write in complete sentences. Jot down thoughts, feelings, dates, times, specifics.
  • Scrap booking. Include pictures, mementos, menus from restaurants, corsages, etc.
  • Videography. Write up a list of questions. Sit grandma, dad, mom, aunts, and uncles {or yourself!} in front of the camera and get them talking.


  • How did you meet?
  • What did your parents and/or friends think about your new relationship? love?
  • Who proposed and how?
  • What was your wedding/first home like?
  • What did you like to do together?
  • Can your associate your significant other with a scent? sound?
  • First impressions

The possibilities are endless. Be creative. Or, don’t. How the story is told is less important than why it should be told. No matter if your family tree is merely a seedling or as tall as a California Redwood, the leaves of it’s branches should be watered, nurtured, and most importantly it’s canopy of love stories should be told and retold for generations to come.

Retro Wednesday {More Christmas}

Welcome to our new feature called ‘Retro Wednesday’.  We know you, the members of ARWB, are busy writing tons of great content for your own websites.  We want you to have the opportunity to share these links with our other readers.  Each Wednesday we will feature several posts from our archives as well as your archives by providing an excerpt and a link to your favorite post from your personal blog.  Sometimes we will have a theme, sometimes we will post a variety of links.  This weeks theme is Christmas! Enjoy!


Gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Read Gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh from Kimberly’s blog Write Your World and the next time you talk about Christmas with your friends you will be able to impress them with your knowledge of the gifts the Magi brought to baby Jesus.


MyTop 10 Foodie Christmas Gifts

Are you looking for some last minute gifts for that Foodie on your list?  Terri, from Terri’s Table, shares a list of what she thinks are the Top 10 Foodie Christmas Gifts complete with links to online marketplaces that will help make your Christmas shopping a breeze!


Four Days of Christmas

When you have a big family, sometimes the Christmas celebration extends beyond one day! Karen (Ting’s Mom) shares her Four Days of Christmas with us.


Do you have a post on your blog that you would love to share with our readers?  We will be doing this through our Retro Wednesday feature.  Each Wednesday we will feature several posts from our archives as well as your archives by providing an excerpt and a link to your favorite post from your personal blog.  If you would like to submit a post for our Retro Wednesday feature please email a short excerpt (300 characters or less) along with a link to the post to Julie@arkansaswomenbloggers.com with “Retro Wednesday” in the subject line.  Please be sure to also include your name and blog title.  Please note that we will keep an ongoing list of Retro Wednesday posts and may not be able to notify you regarding the specific day on which your link will appear.  Additionally, if you are interested in submitting original content for our site you may click here to see our Posting Guidelines.