July 2016 Back-to-School Preview

I can imagine what you’re thinking when reading our cover. Are they crazy? Back-to- School Preview in July? Unfortunately, that’s not a typo. Mid-August will be here before we know it and we need to start preparing for it now. How can you plan ahead? For starters, look at pages 2-38 for businesses that offer school-related services or products. It may be after-school activities, school physicals, clothing, hair cuts, tutoring, child care or schools but we’ve kept them all together for quick reference. We’ll have even more to share in our BIG August Back-to-School Issue!

Last month I traveled with my oldest daughter to New York City with the University of Arkansas Children’s Choir for their final concert tour of the year. We planned, talked and saved for it nearly all year and it seems impossible that it’s already a thing of the past. We saw and did more in five days than most would see in over a week there. What an amazing experience with my girl!
I didn’t value or appreciate studying history as a kid, but as an adult I find it fascinating. I’m especially grateful for our country’s history and had time to reflect upon the importance of it on this trip. I visited NYC a couple of times about 20 years ago but obviously the landscape has changed greatly since September 11, 2001. After visiting the United Nations, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and while standing at the 9/11 Memorial looking at the name of one of our relatives, I have a deeper understanding of how blessed we are to live in the United States of America.

image2No doubt our freedom is paid with a high price and living here isn’t always the easiest. Just read stories of immigrants who came to Ellis Island or look at the number of people who lost their lives on 9/11. But so many have fought to keep us free and fought to build or rebuild their lives here and make a better life for their families. It makes me proud. And I want to honor their sacrifices by doing what I can to continue their legacy.

image4It seems fitting that we visited so many historical sites and now we get to celebrate our independence this month. Makes we wonder how much sweeter it will be this year. I hope you have a fun, memorable and safe 4th of July with your family and friends and that you’ll remember why we celebrate. Please check our community calendar in the middle pages for lots of fireworks’ events throughout NWA.



Happy 4th!








June 2016 Cover Kid Contest Winner

Summer is officially HERE!!!! Not because the calendar says so but because our kids are out of school. Some of you may already have your summer completely planned but then there are those of you like me who have plenty of gaps in between camps and trips. Too much time on our hands is the only thought running through my mind! The comforting comes in knowing there are more opportunities in our area than we can do in just a few months. So I’m keeping this issue on hand as I look for spontaneous outings with my kids and hope you’ll do the same. Sometimes those end up being the most memorable anyway.

Here are a few other fun and free ideas:

  • plan family game nights (board games or make up your own ie minute to win it, scavenger hunt)
  • play water wars
  • visit the library or park
  • make an obstacle course (think Ninja Warrior or Summer Olympics)
  • camp in your backyard or living room
  • host a karaoke or dance party
  • color your entire driveway with sidewalk chalk
  • visit local farms or farmer’s markets
  • make puppet shadows and catch fireflies
  • volunteer at charities

At the NWA Boutique Show, we hosted a 2016 Cover Kid Contest and we’re happy to show off our winners on this month’s cover! Channing, Collins and Carrington are some sweet sisters who also happen to be super adorable. We enjoyed our time with them and thank their mom for entering her precious girls and Amber Lanning once again for her photography magic.

We never want to overlook one of our favorite super heroes  – our dads. Being a dad is no doubt a tall order and I feel certain it’s one of the reasons God gave men broad shoulders. You have much to bear. Your families depend on you for more than bringing home a paycheck. They mostly need your unconditional love and undivided attention. No wonder you’re tired and overwhelmed. But, please remember how much we love you and we are especially thankful we get to celebrate you this month!

Sadly, summer will be over too soon and we’ll have to switch gears again. What a change the fall brings. Breathe a little easier knowing we’re walking this journey with you and work to help ease fears and frustrations. Be watching for our August Back-to-School Guide which serves as a perfect resource for all your back-to-school needs (supplies, extra-curricular activities, clothing, check ups, etc).

Happy Summer!

May 2016 Moms-in-Business Guide sponsored by Bethany Opp Web Studio

We had a BLAST at Champions for Kids RazorFest! Not only did we have gorgeous weather, but watching kids as young as two and several brave adults (including our own Katinka Sweet) ride the mechanical hog provided by 16:9 Entertainment was family fun at its best! Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth to ride the hog, register for our giveaway to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Walton Arts Center and share about the fun you were having with your family. It was a picture perfect day!

Now our focus shifts to one of the most important people in our lives. MOM. Much has been said, sung and written about mothers but we choose to honor them with this special issue dedicated to some especially over-achieving ones aka mom entrepreneurs. Please check out the Moms-In-Business Guide sponsored by Bethany Opp Web Studio beginning on page 36. Bethany offers responsive web design, WordPress training, site management and client support to small business owners and teams. See her ad on page 7 for one month of FREE maintenance and client support! Contact her at 530.921.3807 or www.bethanyopp.com to learn more about her services. Let’s help show all these moms how much they’re appreciated by inquiring about their services or referring them to a friend.

As a mom, if you’ve ever questioned how you can manage raising kids in the midst of what seems like constant chaos (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), Allie Casazza shares an insightful blog post, “How to Be a More Present Mom: Living on purpose in the middle of the chaos on our website this month. Allie says, “Here’s the thing – chaos isn’t going anywhere unless you tell it to. So if you’re tired of living every day in survival mode, tired of being tired, and feeling totally overwhelmed, here are my very best tips for a mom life well lived.” Visit our website at www.nwakidsdirectory.com for the complete article.

To all NWA mothers, whether you’ve come by that name naturally, through adoption or fostering or by acting as surrogate mom, we wish you a blessed Mother’s Day!

How to Be a More Present Mom: living on purpose in the middle of the chaos

The baby needs a snack, the seven-year-old needs to do her homework, the toddler is screaming from the bathroom. He needs to be wiped. Fun.

The five year old has been asking me to play Mario with him for the last hour and I keep forgetting, the laundry timer is buzzing, the dishes are calling my name, my husband is running late for dinner, and there are so many crumbs on the kitchen floor I forget what the tile looks like.

Motherhood. The season of everyone smiling and telling you to “enjoy every minute!” when you’re counting down the minutes till bedtime. It’s total chaos, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar and should be deprived of coffee. I’m kidding. I wouldn’t wish that sentence on my worst enemy. But seriously, how are we as moms supposed to soak up the moments that are so fleeting, that we will desperately miss when our kids are grown, when we can’t even remember if we showered today?

As a mom of four kids all born within six years and a husband with some crazy work hours, I’ve had to learn to be a steady statue in the storm. I found myself living every day in survival mode a few years ago, and after my fifty-sixth meltdown from behind my locked closet door, I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to be remembered; it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my child-raising years, and I knew something had to change. Through trial and error, I figured a few things out that shed some light on the pit I was trapped in, and if you can believe it, I’m now able to be a mom who plays, who sits (yes, actually sits down!). I’m able to make memories and soak up those messy kisses and sticky hand-holds because I put the chaos in its place.

Here’s the thing – chaos isn’t going anywhere unless you tell it to. So if you’re tired of living every day in survival mode, tired of being tired, and feeling totally overwhelmed, here are my very best tips for a mom life well lived.

Take it moment-by-moment. Chaos is just what it sounds like – a total disaster zone. It’s hard to be in the moment when things get out of control, but it’s a skill you can train yourself to have, and let me tell you- it’s worth it- your motherhood and your kids’ memories are worth it!

Take one step at a time. Toddler screaming? Get down at his level and smile, pick him up and see what’s wrong. More often than not, that’s all they want from us. Laundry buzzing at the same time as the dishes are taking over your sink and your five-year-old is begging for some time with you? Breathe. Involve your little guy in the chores. Talk to him about his favorite thing while the two of you fold the laundry, then sit and play a round of Candy Land with him. I know not everything can wait, but not everything can get done either. So prioritize, right there in the heat of the moment. Take control of your mind and teach yourself to roll with the punches with a smile on your face. You’re a mama! And you can do this.

Get rid of your stuff. I know this point seems like it doesn’t belong here, but this is so very helpful if you want to be a freer, more present mom! We Americans have a nasty habit of buying, storing, and hoarding far too many things that we don’t need. Our problem is so big that the storage industry is one of millions per year! Think about that – we have so much stuff we can’t fit it in our homes, so most of us have purchased even more space to store it all. For what? It doesn’t make any sense, really.

I’ve found that if something is taking up space in your home, then it’s taking up space in your mind, and it’s taking up your energy and time too. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a myth. If something is in your house, odds are it comes out of its place pretty often (especially with kids who get into everything), so you’re spending time picking it up and putting it away over and over and over again. You buy new bins, you spring clean, you re-organize, and at some point, it’s all back on your floor, or your dining room table, or wherever you don’t want it, and there you are spending your precious time picking it up yet again.

Three years ago I got rid of the stuff in my house that I didn’t need and you know what? My house was nearly empty, and I was suddenly a very free person. I was a lot happier too. There’s something to the idea of less.

Consider the toys, my friend. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point. I mentioned that three years ago I got rid of most of our stuff; I started with the toys. We had a giant play room full of colorful bins that were overflowing with toys. My kids were wandering into that room, getting overwhelmed, and coming out whiny and bored, so I figured what was the point? I donated almost all of them. What happened next was we became a family who spent time together.

My kids’ bond with one another grew incredibly close and has stayed that way, and I find myself spending much more time with them. I’m not saying you have to throw away all your kids toys, but consider the point of them, and how you want your kids to grow up remembering you. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have less distracting them and you? Wouldn’t some purposeful time together each day make for a beautiful childhood? When you think about it, toys and electronics really do get in the way of intentional living.

Make a weird tradition. In our house we have dance parties. Every couple of nights, we get our little bluetooth speaker out, blast some Taylor Swift and cut the rug right in the middle of the living room. The kids love it, I get a workout, and we make some memories that will last forever. You could make it a nightly habit to take a walk around the block, or initiate Friday game nights, or start a new Netflix series as a family- whatever floats your boat! The point is to set up some regular, wholesome family time where memory making is the point.

Remember, they’re kids. Being a mom is no easy gig. It’s so easy to get frustrated and caught up in our own bad day and forget that it’s their day too. We expect our kids to tag along and be quiet and not be hungry when it’s inconvenient and act the way we want at the times we need them to- it’s a lot for them. They’re just little people, and your days are their childhood.

So get down on your knees, look in their eyes, be warm and kind, understand them, smile at them, pick them up and twirl with them. Be the mom you always wanted to be; it’s up to you how this thing goes. Sometimes all you need to do is step back and fill your motherhood with a little intention and purpose.

About the Author


Allie Casazza is a blogger, author and inspirational speaker. Her passion is helping her fellow women find hope and light when chaos has stolen their motherhood, and infusing them with the truth and purpose. She believes motherhood and humor should always go hand-in-hand, otherwise you’ll never get through it.

Allie is the wife of Brian, her seventh grade algebra partner turned sweetheart. They have four small kids who were born in five years, and they’re SoCal natives living in the beautiful Northwest corner of Arkansas. You can find Allie writing and producing live workshops at her blog, The Purposeful Housewife.

Spotlight Feature - Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000-acre slice of alluring Ozarks paradise that has largely been left untouched since its earliest settlers.

Glory Hole Falls 3

Since Johnny Morris began acquiring parcels of Dogwood Canyon in 1990, conservation education combined with family fun has become the cornerstone for development of this authentic wilderness experience.

Big Cedar Lodge Trail Rides in Dogwood Canyon

The natural beauty of the park includes towering bluffs, waterfalls, creek beds, hand-crafted bridges and wildlife such as bison, elk and whitetail deer. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park offers hiking and biking, Segway tours, park tours via tram or private jeep, horseback riding, and trout fishing.

Big Cedar Lodge Father and son fishing for lunker trout in Dogwood Canyon

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park recently received its largest renovation to date, and will open a fully-functioning mill, restaurant, education, and bike barn this spring.

mill with logos web

The park has also added a treehouse built by Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters and a new stables facility with a rider’s lounge.

DWC Treehouse-Evesmall

Call or visit the website to start planning your exploration!
1-800-225-6343 | dogwoodcanyon.org

13th Annual April Summer Camp Guide sponsored by Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Get your calendars ready! The most anticipated issue of the year is here, The April Summer Camp Guide sponsored by Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. We love working with these businesses to bring your family all the resources you need to make your summer the very best! If you’re concerned about summer slump or boredom, check out pages 2-37 then read more about these opportunities in the quick-reference camp guide feature on pages 46-56. You can fill your child’s summer calendar with quality child care, education, sports, creative arts, dance, day and overnight camps and more all within these pages. When you inquire or enroll in a program, please take a moment to offer your thanks and tell them you heard about them from Kid’s Directory.

We’re especially honored that Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, located in Lampe, MO, sponsored this year’s camp guide. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000 acre nature lover’s paradise, teeming with outdoor adventure. Visitors can explore the canyon on horseback, via tram ride, bike, segways or on foot. Other activities and amenities include 3D archery, fishing, a two day fly fishing school, Dogwood Canyon Mill and Restaurant, an education center, and a treehouse featured on Animal Planet’s TV show, Treehouse Masters. To learn more, visit www.dogwoodcanyon.org.

Come see us April 23rd, 9:00 am-11:30 am at Champions for Kids RazorFest held at Razorback Stadium! We’ll be joined by 16:9 Entertainment who’ll be providing a mechanical hog, the ONLY one in Arkansas! It’s sure to be an absolute blast! Vist www.championsforkids.org/razorfest for more information about this FREE family fun event.

May’s issue will feature our Moms-in-Business Guide as we celebrate hard-working, entrepreneurial moms just in time for Mother’s Day. Please contact our Sales Director, Katinka Sweet, at 479.616.2358 or sales@nwakidsdirectory.com if you are interested in being included or know someone who might be.

March 2016 Summer Camp Preview

I’m loving the spring-like days we’ve had this month though I’m bracing myself for the colder temps and snow potential that’s heading our way as I write this letter. My family and I are going to Colorado for spring break so I’ll get my fill of cold and snow while there! Even if you’re a cold weather person, I’m sure you’ll agree that consecutive outside play times have been a VERY welcome change.

The good news about being snow bound is that you’ll have this issue in hand to start spring and summer planning for your kiddos. Look to pages 2-22 to fill their days with camps and programs to suit every child’s interests. And be watching for even more opportunities in our April Summer Camp Guide.

We’re excited to partner once again with Champions for Kids for their biggest event of the year…RazorFest! This year’s event is April 23, 9-11:30 am at Razorback Stadium. RazorFest is a free, family-friendly event held prior to the annual Red-White game (12 pm kickoff) and includes games, inflatables, concerts, performances, autographs, mascots, healthy tips, giveaways, and more. They also host a food drive to benefit NWA Food Bank and UA Full Circle Pantry. If you’ve never been, we strongly encourage you to come and stop by our booth for some fun! Visit championsforkids.org/razorfest for more information about this amazing organization.

Our special thanks this month to Rhea Lana’s for providing our cover models with adorable game day gear! Their spring sale is March 6-12 at 1106 N. Old Missouri Rd, Springdale (previously National Home Center). They offer high quality, name brand children’s clothing, furniture, toys, baby equipment, maternity clothing, video game systems, books, DVDs, nursing items, sporting equipment, and more. Join them as a  Shopper, Consignor or Volunteer Worker. Learn more at nwa.rhealana.com.

Remember to set your clocks forward on March 13th and enjoy an extra hour of sleep. Ahem…that’s if your kids comply! Happy Spring NWA!

February Baby Guide 2016 sponsored by Harvey Pediatrics

There’s nothing to me as sweet as a newborn and it’s true that they only stay little for a short time. That’s why we love bringing you our special delivery…the 2016 Baby Guide sponsored by Harvey Pediatrics. If you are an expectant parent or grandparent or one who’s in the thick of it, be sure to keep a copy of this issue on hand. It’s jam packed with fun activities, preschools, health care and dental providers, photographers, clothing, furniture, gifts, child care providers and foster care specifically for little ones who’ve yet to be born through precocious 3 year olds! It gives me baby fever every time.

Look for these advertisers on pages 2-35 with the guide feature beginning on page 36. Please be sure to thank them for the services and opportunities they offer and tell them you saw their ad in Kid’s Directory.

We’re honored that Harvey Pediatrics chose to sponsor this issue. Harvey Pediatrics was founded in 2004 in Jonesboro by Dr. Bryan Harvey and he moved the practice to NWA in 2010. Their team is comprised of four pediatricians, a nurse practitioner and a certified behavioral specialist. One distinction that sets them apart is their designated clinic for the well care of newborns through 6 month old babies.They also serve patients up to 18 years old by providing developmental testing and counseling.

This spring, they plan to open a 15,000 square foot state of the art facility at 900 South 52nd Street in Rogers (Pinnacle Hills). The facility will not only house Harvey Pediatrics but also offer office space for other pediatric providers in order to serve as an integrated medical campus for children. You can learn more about Harvey Pediatrics at harveypediatrics.com or 479.254.1100.

Even with all this talk about babies, we haven’t forgotten about this month’s holiday. One of my friends recently posted a creative idea for her little one to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Honestly, this could be used year round. It’s a beautiful reminder to be thankful for the people and things in life that we love.

photo (2)
Save the date. Our Summer Camp Guide is coming in April. It’s filled with camps and programs to keep your kids active, learning, engaged and having fun all summer! Let the countdown to summer begin!

A Mentoring Story

Happy January, National Mentoring Month, and the perfect time to learn about Big Brothers Big Sisters, the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the country! Since 1993, BBBS has been in Northwest Arkansas, forming over 1,900 mentoring matches in Washington and Benton counties. These one-to-one mentoring relationships between caring adults (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”) have documented positive outcomes for the children. Survey results show that Littles have improved school attendance, healthier peer relationships, enhanced self-confidence and outlook for their future, and are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, or get into fights. In 2015, BBBS NWA volunteers gave over 19,000 mentoring hours to help 260 children.

In order to be a Little, the child typically either lives below the poverty level, has a parent in jail, or comes from a single parent home, and often a child qualifies on all three accounts. As child safety is a primary concern, there is structured protocol that all chapters follow regarding the recruitment and interviews of the Bigs, the Littles and their families; the matching process; and then the monthly monitoring by the program staff. It costs about $1,000 to set-up and monitor a match for the first year. All programs and services are provided free to the Little, their family and the Big. Littles joining the program are 6 to 14 years old, and then age out at 18 years old. Many Littles and Bigs are lifelong friends.

We have a significant need for Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Northwest Arkansas, as well as Big Couples and Big Families (where the entire family can enjoy being with the Little.) In fact, putting a child with a Big Family is a great way for that child to experience healthy family dynamics and, in the case of a Little who is an only child, provide him or her with virtual siblings. Participating families have remarked that their family time together actually improves when a Little is around as the family is often more focused on doing an activity together instead of scattering in different directions! There are 40 children on the waiting list right now, many of whom are boys.

Match activities don’t need to be fancy or expensive; it is all about spending time with the child. Activities can include going to the park, visiting a museum, baking cookies or tossing a football in the backyard! And yet, what a difference this attention from a caring and encouraging adult can make in the life of a child.

Here is one of the success stories…

Zayne and his Big, Jeff Young, were matched in 2014 when Zayne was nine years old and going into fifth grade. His counselor recommended to his mother that Zayne might enjoy having a Big Brother. Zayne lives with his mother Melissa and sister, and his parents are divorced. Melissa strongly felt that Zayne would benefit from a having a kind, caring and positive male role model, particularly one that could model how to positively express and control one’s emotions, as at times Zayne would get angry and lash out. She felt the Big Brother would need to be fairly energetic and athletic to keep up with Zayne, and hoped he would be a good leader, exhibit a strong work ethic and be willing to have fun and try new things. Melissa is quite pleased with the match, reports that Zayne is having a wonderful time with Jeff, and is so appreciative of the time and attention he devotes to her son.

Match Day

Match Day

Since Jeff and Zayne both adore sports, much of their time together is spent participating in or watching sporting events (an activity that Mrs. Young is just as happy to miss!) Together, they have enjoyed going to Razorback football and basketball games, watching Naturals baseball, volleyball and other assorted teams. Jeff has also cheered on Zayne at his wrestling matches and baseball games. Together, they have participated in two of the Razorback football practice visits that Big Brothers Big Sisters matches get invited to watch, both in 2014 and 2015, where they were lucky enough to meet Coach Bielema and get autographs from the football team members.

Coach and Zayne and Jeff Young 2014

Meeting Coach Bielema

Zayne also enjoys spending time with Jeff’s family including daughter Rachel, a Razorback cheerleader, and RHS Mountie football playing son Jay, and Jeff will jokingly tease that Zayne prefers spending time with his kids rather than him. Zayne has also benefited from some extra one-on-one reading help from Mrs. Young, and has significantly increased his reading score at school. Zayne has gone to church with the Youngs, and now is interested in getting baptized.

Hog Game with Rachel

Hog Game with Rachel

Jeff and Zayne took part in the inaugural NWA Lemonade Day in 2015 where the two studied the 14 lessons of entrepreneurship, culminating in having a lemonade stand in Rogers on the first Saturday in May. There, Zayne exhibited his salesman skills and sold $150 of lemonade.

A more typical visit includes them throwing the football in the backyard and then going out for some pizza, or maybe out for a fun activity like a quick trip to the trampoline park or golf course. On their first day together, they ended up going to Casey’s for a slice of pizza and a soda, and that quickly evolved into “their spot” to just hangout and talk. According to Jeff, they spend quiet time talking about life, how to handle challenges, school, God, and of course, girls (a thought that sends Zayne into giggles). Jeff says that Zayne is caring and kind, fun and funny, and over their time together, he has seen Zayne grow from a quiet and shy boy to one who is confident and comfortable with whom he is.

First Outing

First Outing

To learn how you can become a mentor, contact us at bbbsnwa.org or (479) 966-4366.

Sarah Van Vleck
Development Director
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NWA


January 2016 Non-Profit Spotlight brought to you by Arkansas Virtual Academy

Happy 2016!

A new year usually brings to mind one thing…new year’s resolutions. For us at Kid’s Directory, we approach the new year a bit differently. It’s our opportunity to salute the organizations who resolve to make a difference all year. These non-profit agencies fight tirelessly for their cause usually with very small budgets. This special issue dedicated to non-profits is our way of saying THANK YOU and recognizing their efforts. Please take a moment to learn more about the work they’re doing in the spotlight feature on pages 34-41. You may find one that provides a service you need or prompts you to give back.

We also offer sincere thanks to Arkansas Virtual Academy for sponsoring this issue. ARVA is a publicly-funded online charter school that provides an education that meets or exceeds state standards using the world-class K¹² curriculum and allows you to be an active participant in your child’s education. ARVA families receive a complete set of curriculum, lesson planning programs, books and instructional materials, the use of a computer for qualifying students, subsidized Internet access for qualifying students, and the guidance of a highly-qualified, licensed teacher. Visit their website at arva.k12.com or call 866.339.4951 for more information.

One final thank you goes to The Billings Family for allowing us to photograph Piper Josie for the cover. Her joy and love are contagious. And that smile! It melts your heart every time. We first learned about Piper from Sunshine School & Development Center where she is a student. Their services encompass programs for disabled to “typically developing” individuals through special education, therapy (physical, speech, occupational & outpatient), preschool enrichment and after school care. Learn more at nwasunshineschool.org or 636.3190.

If you are expecting a little one or have one or two already, you’ll want to pick up our Baby Guide coming in February brought to you by Harvey Pediatrics! It’s the perfect resource for any parent, grandparent, or child care provider of newborns to preschoolers.

We’re thrilled to share another year with you! Thanks NWA!