Finding Diamonds in NWA


Arkansas is known as the Natural State as well as the Diamond State. Well, let me tell you, we found an Arkansas diamond this summer – a diamond in the rough!! My family likes to go on adventures and explore hiking trails. We don’t get to do it as often as we’d like, but we had time to do some exploring this past Fourth of July weekend. So we set out to find a hiking trail to a waterfall. We Googled, we surfed, but we really couldn’t find anything with an, “Easy” trail and a waterfall. Our next option was to try an adventure app, and I found this cool app called, “All Trails”. It’s free in the Apple App Store, so I started searching their database and found Kings River Falls. It’s southeast of Huntsville and about a one hour 45 minute drive from Bentonville. It sounded interesting, and we knew from the app that there was a waterfall, so we loaded up and headed to Kings River Falls.



After arriving at the trail head (and I use that term loosely), we ate a quick picnic lunch before heading down the trail. The hike itself takes about 20 to 30 minutes, but what we found was something so unexpected – not only a waterfall but an amazing swimming hole, too!! It felt like we stumbled upon God’s hidden water park; although, we weren’t the only ones fortunate enough to check out this place that day. We weren’t prepared to get wet, but that didn’t stop us. The kids swam in their shorts, and we used our best Bear Grylls skills to dry off when we got back to the car.


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10517669_1212570492092977_616992401031374854_oThis spur-of-the-moment trip was so worth it, and we’ll definitely be going back next summer if not sooner!! Things to remember for our next trip include swimsuits, towels, more food, and maybe a football. Next time, we’ll picnic at the swimming hole. If you have found a similar, “Diamond” in our Natural State, let us know – we want to check it out! ☺

Blog & pictures provided by Nicole Pawlaczyk, Capture Me Photography by Nicole or

Monday Mom~ "Just Start" by Lynn Hancock

So, who has started doing something to become more active this month as we have focused on Health and Wellness? If you haven’t, READ THIS! 2 years ago, Lynn Hancock, left her great corporate career to teach yoga and be a personal trainer. She wanted nothing more than to make an impact in someone’s life. She has not only impacted one person but MANY and is an integral part of our local fitness community. Today she shares with us some inspiring words about overcoming your obstacles and getting started on your health and wellness journey. Enjoy!

One of the most common obstacles that I hear from people regarding their health and well-being is, “I don’t have time.” If being healthier and increasing your level of fitness is a goal you are falling short of, the obstacle is not that you don’t have time. The obstacle is not managing your time and energy. If all your time and energy is going to your work, the only passion in your life is work (and we know that’s not your only passion!). If all your time is going into your family, then your only passion is family. None of these things alone are “bad.” But your family life will suffer if all your energy is sucked into work. Just as your health will suffer if no energy or time is devoted to it. Don’t make yourself a victim to “I don’t have time.” Your energy will flow to where intention goes.  Learn to say no to things that are sucking up precious energy – it’s one of the hardest things you’ll learn how to do!  Saying yes is so easy!  But if those asks are not part of your priorities or are taking time from a goal you just can’t seem to accomplish – redirect!  Just like a child who is focusing energy on a temper tantrum or something they cannot have – redirect!

Don’t know where to start?  If you don’t know what to do to start your health & fitness journey, the second most common obstacle I hear, enlist help!  A friend or a trainer who will hold you accountable – not someone who will let you skip workouts!  A support system is one of the key items to hitting a goal.  Explain to those around you that your goal is important to you and as key people in your life, you need their support to help you meet your goal.  If you don’t find support with those close to you, enlist someone that it is their job to keep you accountable.  

Some of my most successful clients are the ones who made the time, changed their habits over periods of time, and had friends and family to support their journey.

Above all, just start! Start somewhere, anywhere. You are worth it. You are so worth it.  

Thanks, Lynn, for your contribution!



For more inspiration you can follow Lynn on
her Facebook page, Small but Fierce Yoga and Fitness.


Monday Mom~ Adventures in the Ozarks

To continue our focus on Health and Wellness during the month of September, we are excited to share some great family fall outdoor activities to get you out and moving. Jessie Koller, is a local homeschool mom of two boys and an Ozark adventure blogger. We can’t wait to start incorporating some of her great fall ideas with our families! Enjoy!

As a mom of two boys, I have always put a lot of emphasis on keeping my family physically active, and I certainly feel blessed to live in an area where there is never a lack of options for fun outdoor activities! Every Fall, we sit down and make a fall bucket list of things we’d like to do before Winter arrives such as camping, s’mores, pumpkin carvings, bonfires, and jumping in big piles of leaves. I’d like to share with you some other ways our family stays active:

  1. “The Greening Hour”: We have always been an outdoor loving family, but a few years ago I started to incorporate what I call, “the greening hour,” into our daily life Familywhich is simply a commitment to spending at least an hour outside together each day. I fully believe in the power of nature and both the cognitive and physical benefits of spending time outdoors- whether that’s in our own backyard, hiking, going to a local event, or spending time at one of our local parks. This commitment has definitely benefitted our family and has led to some wonderful explorations of Northwest Arkansas as well!
  2. Geocaching: In case you’ve never heard of this fun outdoor pastime, Geocaching is a fun and FREE outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy! It’s basically a real Geocachingworld outdoor treasure hunt in which you use your phone’s GPS to seek and find hidden containers or special locations at specific coordinates all over the world! There are millions hidden around the world and hundreds of Geocaches hidden in Northwest Arkansas. These containers usually contain a log book, and small trinkets such as stickers, toys, geo coins, etc. My boys have so much fun finding these and it’s a great outdoor activity to encourage teamwork as a family! Visit to learn more and start treasure hunting!
  3. Cobblestone Farm in Fayetteville: Cobblestone Farm is a Cobblestone Project Initiative that focuses on hunger relief in NWA. This farm is largely driven by Cobblestone Farm
    community volunteers and the food they grow there is distributed to local shelters, soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, etc. You can spend your time there as a volunteer farmer with many different opportunities to help around the farm. Fall is an especially fun time to volunteer at the farm because it’s harvest time! We started volunteering at Cobblestone last year as I was seeking an outdoor volunteer activity that the whole family would love. It quickly became a place near and dear to our hearts. To learn more about Cobblestone Farm and how you and your family can become volunteers, visit
  4. SWEPCO Eagle Watch Nature Trail in Gentry: Most people in NWA will associate Gentry with it’s most popular attraction, the Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari Eagle Watch Nature TrailZoo, and while we certainly love it there it’s also home to one of our favorite kid and stroller friendly trails- the Eagle Watch Nature Trail. This trail will take you on a leisurely, but very pretty stroll leading to an observation deck overlooking SWEPCO Lake. The trail has a great little climbing tree, and in the Fall the trail is littered with Osage Oranges, or “horseapples,” which my kids always love to find (and we usually end up taking home a few-or dozen!), but it’s most notable feature is the reason behind it’s name-it is a very popular Fall and Winter destination spot for Bald Eagles! There are picnic tables at the observation deck, so you could bring some sack lunches and binoculars and spend some time looking for Eagles. If you don’t see an Eagle, there are plenty of water fowl, and other wildlife to spot at the lake and along the trail. For more information and directions to the trail, visit
  5. Fish Hatchery: The Ozarks are home to a few really great fish hatcheries which we have always found to be great outdoor family fun with little to no expense! Apart from the fun of watching and feeding the trout, most hatcheries have an indoor nature Roaring River Fish Hatchery-2exhibit as well. The Charlie Craig Fish Hatchery located in Centerton contains 16 large ponds on their vast 116 acres which you can drive through or walk around to see at your leisure. The hatchery’s gates are open to the public 7 days a week from daylight to dusk. It’s a beautiful place and you’re sure to see lots of wildlife! Visiting in the Fall can be especially fun because the hatchery is a temporary home to many migratory birds! Another wonderful hatchery is located at Roaring River State Park in Cassville Missouri, just about an hour north of Bentonville. Also free of charge, the expansive outdoor facility is stocked full of trout which you can walk around to view in cement troughs. Bring some quarters for feed for even more fun! At Roaring River you can also visit the nature center, hike one of the many trails, and in the Fall it is a very likely place to spot a Bald Eagle. In fact, every time we have visited Roaring River in the Fall and Winter months, we have seen Eagles!

Thanks, Jessie, for sharing! For more ideas for fun family adventures around NWA and the Ozarks, visit Jessie’s blog at!





Monday Mom~ Hannah Carter's Health and Wellness Journey

September’s Kid’s Directory is focused on helping families get healthy and maintain good health. Today we have a special Monday Mom’s Edition to share! We interviewed local mom, Hannah Carter, to learn how she has incorporated health and wellness into her lifestyle as a stay-at-home AND work-from-home mom of two busy little boys! We are so inspired by her journey!


  • When did you first start your fitness journey?
    • I started my journey in January 2014. Baby steps in the beginning.
  • Why did you start your journey?
    • I was tired all of the time and wanted more energy to be able to keep up with our two little boys. Plus, I didn’t feel good in my own skin.
  • What is your favorite exercise?
    • I LOVE to run! I never would’ve imagined in a million years that would be me, but I love it best when I get to run with my hubs or a few friends. I also love strength training and have a favorite class at my gym that keeps me motivated to come back for more!
  • What did you do to stay motivated when you wanted to quit?
    • Well, it can be so discouraging in the beginning when weight doesn’t fall off super quickly. I remember thinking “this is just NOT working” and then I’d suddenly be down another pants size! So, fitting into new clothes and shopping in fun boutiques I’d not been able to shop in before was huge for me! Plus, getting the energy to actually outrun my two boys is super fun too! I guess the best piece of advice I’ve got is just to stay the course. Changes are being made. The longer it takes weight to come off–the less likely it is to come back because hopefully that means real changes are being made in your lifestyle.
  • What is the biggest piece of advice you can share to other parents looking to start their own health and wellness journey?
    • Find someone to support and help you through your journey. For me, I enlisted professional help to keep me accountable and guide me through what I needed to do. I still workout with my trainer (the fabulous Lynn Hancock) once a week because she keeps me sane and gives me perspective and attainable goals. I remember that’s one thing Lynn always talks about. Your goals need to be smart. They need to be real, attainable, and probably most importantly, measurable! Small changes add up to big changes over time!
  • How did you balance working out while raising two kids?
    • I’m so thankful for a gym with amazing childcare provided by my husband’s employer for a minimal cost. Plus, my husband and I work our schedules around time with kiddos.
  • I hear you got your husband to join you in the journey; how has that helped or changed your relationship?
    • It has definitely impacted our relationship for the better! We are both on the same page as far as getting healthier and generally keep each other on track. I won’t lie and say that I’ve never been jealous of how easy this seems for him and it took him no time at all to lose weight! Ha!! Probably just a guy thing though.
  • What’s your favorite new food or snack?
    • Well…this is tricky! Before, I was a “junkfoodaterian.” I mostly ate junk and was super picky. Part of my journey has been changing EVERYTHING about how I eat! I do really enjoy just simple grilled chicken with salads. It’s easy and tasty!
  • What were your original goals, what have you accomplished, and what are your new goals?
      • My original goals were pretty small. I think it was to lose 30 pounds and I wanted more energy. I’ve lost 60 pounds and have SO much more energy. It’s not easy–always a struggle! My ongoing goals are to maintain my current weight (at a minimum)–since this is more about lifestyle changes, I’ll never be “finished.” There’s always room for improvement! And, I would like to be able to do pull ups! That’s one thing I cannot do!


Arts Center of the Ozarks Flat Stanley Giveaway

The beloved children’s book, Flat Stanley, written by Jeff Brown in 1964 has become a literary and pop cultural phenomenon and now, a musical! Stanley Lambchop is your ordinary, every-day, run-of-the-mill ten-year-old: normal mom and dad, normal little brother, normal life. That’s just the problem…for Stanley, life is too normal. He wants to travel the world, do something amazing, something no one’s ever seen before. Careful what you wish for, Stanley! An ACO Childs Play production that’s perfect for the whole family.

We have 8 tickets to giveaway to see this fun family musical at Arts Center of the Ozarks!!
Show times are as follows:
Saturday, September 12 & September 19, 11 am & 2:30 pm
Sunday, September 13, 3 pm

TO ENTER, click on this post to share your child’s (or your) favorite place to travel! Two winners will be drawn & announced Monday, September 7th!

For additional information or to see a complete line up of shows, contact Arts Center of the Ozarks at or 479.751.5441.


Healthy Eating Tips from Dr. McCord

Dr. McCord invited us into her kitchen to share some healthy eating tips she uses with her family that includes Kate, age 6; Reed, age 3; and her husband Blake.

  • Start children early on a good variety of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, and fish. If you start children on healthy foods when they are toddlers, they will crave these foods instead of chicken nuggets and junk food.
  •  I make one meal for my family and don’t prepare a separate meal for the children. I encourage everyone to eat the same thing and don’t give them another option.
  • We only have milk or water at our house. I limit juice and soda sparingly. Soda adds tons of sugar to a child’s diet.
  •  If I want my children to eat healthy, I have to lead by example. I‘ve given up diet coke and don’t bring junk food into the house on a regular basis. If candy or chips are in the house, I will eat them! I don’t expect my children to have more self-control than me.
  •  When my children were toddlers, I would puree vegetables like squash, pumpkin and beets and add them to their favorite foods! Some good foods to hide veggies are spaghetti sauce, yogurt, mac and cheese, and pancakes. There are a lot of recipes in Jessica Sienfield’s book “Deceptively Delicious”
  • Fresh food can be expensive. I like to buy in bulk and either freeze it or put food in smaller containers. Fresh fruits and vegetables are best, but frozen is good too and lasts longer.
  • How did I get my kids to eat fish? I started with fish sticks, then breaded tilapia, now they eat broiled fish fillets, crab legs, and all kinds of fish. (Tip: Store bought bread crumbs have all kinds of added ingredients. Keep the heels of your bread in the freezer and make your own bread crumbs by pulsing in the food processor for a few seconds).
  • Like most busy families, I need my food to be convenient. On Sunday, my down day, I chop all of our vegetables for the week and put them in separate containers. I buy large containers of plain yogurt and hummus and split them into individual serving containers with fruit or veggies. I also boil eggs and sometimes grill a chicken to add to our salads. I keep cheese sticks and ham rolls in individual containers for the children.
  • September 2015 Healthy Families Guide

    I do love fall y’all but I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet. Too bad we can’t hold on to the people & moments we love a bit longer. As I write this letter, I’m reminded of our good friend who lost his father unexpectedly this week. I’m also reflecting on how my sweet grandmother will celebrate her 100th birthday next month. These life events make me grateful for the time we have but they also make me ask myself, “What steps am I taking to stay healthy & how am I teaching my kids healthy habits?” Not that I’m aspiring to live to be 100 years old, but I hope to be a grandparent one day & soak up more memories with my loved ones.

    This marks our 5th year of bringing you this special edition featuring our Healthy Families Guide sponsored by MANA Medical Associates. MANA, Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas, is a group of local independent physicians working together to provide exceptional care for the people of NWA. Their clinics encompass women’s health, pediatrics, chiropractic care, family medicine, urgent care, psychiatry, sports medicine & more. By sponsoring this issue, they’re ensuring we have the best resource in our hands for quality health care. Thank you, MANA, for 5 years of good health!

    Our special thanks also go to Dr. Virginia McCord of the Northwest Arkansas Pediatric Clinic, a MANA Clinic! She shared her home, her family & her healthy eating tips (page 7) with us for this issue. Her adorable children, Kate & Reed, were a delight to photograph for the cover & not only could name nearly every vegetable pictured, but also had eaten them! Some of which they were quick to share as their favorites. Clearly, these kids have learned from their parents how to eat healthy.

    What we love most about Dr. McCord’s tips is that they are practical. Any of us can use them. Don’t like eating vegetables yourself? Purée them & add them to the foods she suggests. As the saying goes, “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. Or as my friend says, “don’t yuck my yum!” Maybe you can’t bear the thought of eating vegetables every day. Try drinking water instead of soft drinks. Today I jumped on the trampoline holding our nearly 30 pound son. My legs only lasted about 10 minutes but he made exercise fun with his giggles & “whoas”! Making one healthy change can make a big difference in the way we look & feel.

    Kid’s Directory of NWA will celebrate 13 years in business next month! It’s a joy working with our phenomenal team & providing the highest quality family resource for NWA. And Cat Hoyle, our Creative Director, has been making our magazine beautiful for nearly all those years! Her creative talents blow me away. She’s also one of the most generous & kind people I know. I count her as a huge blessing in my life. Thank you, Cat, for your friendship & for being the easiest person on the planet to work with!

    Wishing you healthy, fun memories with your family!

    11th Annual August Back-to-School Issue 2015

    Remember the scene from Finding Nemo where Nemo excitedly wakes his dad with anticipation for his first day of school? While bouncing on his dad he yells, “First day of school! First day of school! Wake up, wake up! C’mon, first day of school!” His dad is exceedingly much less enthusiastic about this moment for his first born & only son! [Finding Nemo, Dir. Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich. Perf. Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2003. Film.]

    The notion of being hesitant to send your kids back to school might make you chuckle as you’ve exhausted all your summer-time activities and are ready to get back into a routine. Or you may be a bit weepy (like me) as with the realization that another school year means the kids are one year older!

    No matter where you fall on this spectrum, we hope you’ll find this 11th Annual Back-to-School Issue a valuable tool & that this will be a seamless school year for your family. There are 68 advertisers featured in this issue who want to help make this a reality. You can find their ads on pages 7-48 with the back-to-school quick reference guide on pages 49-59.

    We’d like to offer a very special THANK YOU to ONCE UPON A CHILD of Fayetteville & Rogers for sponsoring this issue & for providing the cover clothing. They have a huge selection of gently-used, affordable clothing with brands like Justice, Aero, Children’s Place, Gap, Old Navy & more in sizes from preemie to 16/18. They also buy items every day & pay you on the spot with no appointment necessary.

    We’re also proud to partner again with N.c.K. Talent Academy for our cover models. Their kids are talented, respectful & engaging. We’re always amazed with their poise & maturity. Having your picture taken in a field with a school desk was a strange notion for a 4 year old but Kaleena Matthews was a delight to photograph. She even received a toy bow & arrow from her mom as a reward–way to go!


    September Healthy Families

    October Birthday Bash

    November Holiday Gifts & Events

    December Holiday Gifts & Events

    July 2015 Issue

    How do you know July is here? Christmas displays start showing up in retail stores! It seems unfortunate that we can’t live in the moment for being bombarded with the next major holiday. At Kid’s Directory, we aren’t thinking that far ahead but we are shifting our focus from summer to fall in hopes of helping you be prepared for this next school year.

    If you still need a few summer activities to fill in the gaps, there are plenty of summer programs & camps included in this issue. But if you need extra time to plan for school, you’ll also find helpful information to begin the process. Next month, we’ll feature our Back-to-School Guide which is the best resource to keep on hand for your kids’ school needs.

    If you’re looking to start a new 4th of July tradition with your family, we’re pretty confident you’ll have a hard time finding better fireworks displays than the ones NWA has to offer! And several of the events listed below offer family-friendly activities prior to fireworks so you can celebrate all evening. Visit their websites for complete details.

    Friday, July 3:
    *Freedom Fest & Fireworks, Loch Lomond Recreation Complex, Bella Vista, 6pm (
    *Uptown Fayetteville Freedom Fireworks Display, Northwest Arkansas Mall, 7pm (
    *Prairie Creek Marina and Cabela’s Firework Display, Prairie Creek Marina, 9pm (

    Saturday, July 4:
    *4th at the Field, Arvest Ballpark, 6:35pm (
    *An Evening at Orchards Park, Bentonville, 7pm (
    *July 4th Fireworks Spectacular featuring SoNA, The Walmart Amp, 8pm (
    *Ventris Trail’s End Resort Fireworks Display, Beaver Lake, 8pm (
    *Rodeo of the Ozarks, Parsons Stadium, 7:30pm (

    Be sure to also mark your calendars for The Scott Family Amazeum’s Opening Day, July 15th! This highly anticipated children’s museum began with dream in June 2006 & became a reality with groundbreaking in April 2014. The Amazeum will feature approximately 50,000 square feet of exhibit, meeting & learning spaces. Exhibitions include the Tinkering Studio, water area, climbable tree canopy & an exploratory wet lab. Learn more at
    Happy 4th of July!

    June 2015 Cover Kid Contest Winner

    Seven years ago last month, we moved to our current house. One funny thing that sticks in my mind from our first summer here was how often I heard the buzzing sound of lawn mowers. Nearly every day–morning, noon & night. Now it doesn’t feel like summer until I hear that familiar sound & smell freshly cut grass. Every year, I seem to appreciate more all that summer brings like having my kids home, taking a break from routines, enjoying longer days. Makes life feel simpler.

    We think summer is an important time for kids too. That’s why we continue to spotlight camps, programs & activities offered in this issue. It may feel overwhelming to choose but you can try one or two each year. It doesn’t all have to be done in one summer. Look for more information about these advertisers on pages 8-25.

    Our June Cover Kid Contest Winner is Rodrigo Carmona! He’s the 21 month old son of Joaquín Carmona & María Peña of Fayetteville. He may be too little to play baseball now but he has a pretty mean throwing arm so pitching may be in his future! Thank you, María, for entering him in our contest. You have a beautiful family!

    I close this letter with a heart-warming story of two little girls, a simple lemonade stand, an adoption story & the non-profit organization that brought them all together. Harper Hoyle (4 yrs), the daughter of our very own Cat Hoyle & her friend, Ember Crawford (3 yrs), granddaughter of Patricia Yatsko (a 20 yr volunteer at Loving Choices), decided they wanted to support Loving Choices during their Baby Bottle Campaign that runs from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. But could two preschool children really make a difference by selling lemonade?

    Then there’s Holly Hook. She serves on the board for Loving Choices & along with her husband, Todd, has experienced the joy of adoption. Jacoby became their son when the birth mom who came to Loving Choices couldn’t care for him. Holly says, “I know first hand that there are babies that can be saved and if the birth mom is not able to take care of the baby, then adoption can become an option. My husband & I have been blessed to have adopted our sweet Jacoby. Volunteering of my time to Loving Choices is a small way to give back to the organization that truly gives life.”

    So how do these stories collide? At the simple lemonade stand. When Holly heard about it, she wanted to show her support & share her story with these little girls of why their efforts matter. What a perfect way for them to see they’re not too young to impact lives. In one afternoon, they got to meet real people changed by Loving Choices & raised $300 to help continue their work of serving women experiencing unplanned pregnancies! I couldn’t keep myself from sharing this story & hope it encourages you to consider ways you too can become involved.

    Loving Choices serves hundreds of women each year with free & confidential services that includes help with pregnancy & other reproductive health issues including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STD testing & abortion information. Learn more at

    Don’t worry dads. You are NEVER forgotten. We shared about hard-working mommas last month but there’s usually a strong man behind them supporting their dreams. We are thankful for all the dads out that see themselves as co-parents & are actively involved in their kids’ lives. We wish you the happiest of all Father’s Days!