Who’s ready for some football?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Activities, Ava, daddy, family, Featured, Food, football, Margarita Mama, pasta | 4 comments

It’s already that time — the time of the year when most of the weekend is filled with yelling, stomping and pouting. But this time, it’s not from the kids.

Football season is upon us!

Last year's game day gear

Last year’s game day gear

Ava asked this morning on the way to school if it was “time for the Razorbacks yet.” But she doesn’t particularly want to watch the game.

Instead, she’s excited because I promised her some “girl day” time together this football season while Daddy is off in Hog Heaven. And then heavens of every other SEC team out there. And then the purgatories that are the rest of them.

We’ll be doing a little shopping and maybe stopping for special treats, like ice cream. Perhaps going to the library and the park, too, along with more boring duties like heading to the grocery store together. As the season stretches on, I’m sure I’ll have to get a little more creative. So if you’ve got ideas out there, I’m all ears.

I’m generally all about trying to find fun gameday snacks, too, to keep the herd happy. Pinterest, I’m headed your way. Can we top last year’s peppers stuffed with cream cheese and little smokies, then wrapped with bacon?  Oooh, I don’t know.

In the meantime, Woo Pig Sooie! And Go Big Red, my Nebraskan friends!


Margarita Mama

Under the Big Top — A Giveaway post

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Activities, circus, Lucky Mama | 7 comments

The Circus is back in town and Little Rock Mamas has tickets to give away!

But before I tell you how to win, let me introduce you to Cathy Carden, who can shed a little more light about life under the big top. Cathy and her husband, Brett, are the animal trainers for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes.

Cathy (center) with her husband, Brett (right) and their elephants!

Cathy (left) with her husband, Brett (right) and their elephants!

Cathy grew up in a circus family. At the age of 5, she was performing as a ballerina on horseback in her family’s circus, the Hanneford Family Circus. By 7, she was helping care for the family’s three elephants as they toured around the country. By 12, she was training the elephants and horses.

She describes her childhood as “the best you can imagine,” especially growing “up with 3 baby elephants that I played with like pets.”

Cathy did leave the circus to attend college, where she briefly studied television journalism. After deciding that journalism wasn’t the field for her, Cathy made her way back to the circus with a determination to explore areas outside her family’s act. She did an illusion act and worked as a dancer before finding her niche with the animals as their trainer.

“I’ve always had a connection with animals since I was a little girl,” Cathy said, explaining that she inherited her mother’s love of animals and learned how to properly care for them from her dad.

Now she and her husband, Brett, who also comes from a circus family, work together as animal trainers for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. They have two sons, ages 5 and 6.

As an animal trainer, Cathy said it is important to understand the animal’s personality and what that animal does well. THEN, you figure out where the animal will work in the act.

For example, Sophia, a dog she saved from an animal shelter, is a great performer. Cathy said she had this idea of training Sophia to walk on her hind legs while a smaller dog ran underneath her legs. But Sophia naturally hopped on her hind legs instead of walking. The trick just wouldn’t work.

So instead of forcing Sophia to do something that just didn’t come naturally, Cathy said she used another dog in that trick and let Sophia shine elsewhere.

When training animals, Cathy said, “You’ve got to let the animals decide things too. You have to let them shine, then they’ll be happy to perform.”

In Super Circus Heroes, Cathy promises some great animal acts, including dogs riding ponies and the always popular elephant performers.

Super Circus Heroes is based on the idea that “everyone has a superhero within them. You just have to figure out what it is and let it shine,” Cathy said.


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes is performing at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock from Aug. 14 through the 17th.

The show starts at 7 p.m. BUT if you show up then, you’ll miss the Pre-Show, which is pretty cool. For an hour before the show starts, children (and their parents) are allowed into the ring and backstage to meet and interact with the performers, try on costumes, learn to walk on the low rope or juggle, meet the animals and see them getting ready and more.

So are you ready for a night under the big top? Little Rock Mamas is giving one of our lucky readers 4 ticket vouchers for the first night of the circus– Thursday, Aug. 14.

To enter, leave me a comment below (not on our Facebook page) telling me what your favorite part of the circus is. I will draw a winner on Monday, so be sure and check back then.**

** Given the short time frame from Monday to Thursday, please consider whether you’ll be able to pick up the tickets at my office in downtown LR or meet me somewhere in LR/NLR. I am willing to mail the tickets  but I really would hate for your kiddos to be disappointed because the tickets didn’t arrive in time.

*** Thanks to the Angela Rogers Group, which provided us with the tickets to give away and set up the phone interview with Cathy Carden.

Tips for roadtrip sanity

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Activities, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized, vacation | Comments Off

As we’re coming off a set of 10+ hour family roadtrips and another round just a month away, I’ve got travel on the brain.

Kayla, Ava and Kendall, ready for summer fun

Kayla, Ava and Kendall, ready for summer fun

Normally, I make tons of lists, overorganize, overprepare and drive myself batty until the moment we hit the interstate. For whatever reason, time just got away from me and I didn’t have any moments left to get all that done — and we still made it to our destination and back in one piece! Better than usual, even.

I think we’ve benefitted from getting this long car ride business down to a science. The keys are movies, music, toys and snacks. (Duh, right? But everyone’s got their own twists on this.)

Here’s our strategies:


MOVIES: Our oldest has a portable DVD player with headphones kinda like this one from Best Buy that she can operate herself from the back seat of the minivan. Money well spent, my friends. It has held up well through several years of abuse, and it plugs right into the car’s power jacks.

3021086_saFor the toddler twins, who clearly aren’t old enough yet to maneuver a movie screen on their own, we strap on seatback screens pretty similar to these at Best Buy. Again, this kind of setup is a bit of an investment. But over time, it’s one that pays off in sanity points. They can hook together to play the same movie, but most of the time, our girls go their separate ways and watch something different. This gives us an easy switcheroo when they’re done and extends the happiness.

We always keep a flip-book-style carrying case of movies handy since it’s way easier than hauling around a bag of movie cases, and it mostly lives in the car, so we never forget it. All we have to do is slide in the current hot tickets — Frozen and How to Train Your Dragon, naturally — and we’re on the move.

For a cheap mood booster once everyone’s hit their limit in the car, stop at a McDonald’s for lunch and hit up the Redbox. Nearly all of them have one, and you can return the movie at your destination or another McDonald’s along the road. This makes the kids rather happy, and it’s pretty cheap, too!

MUSIC: Everyone knows music sets the mood. After a long round of movie watching, switch them off for awhile and take a break for some music.

We still have Baby Einstein in the rotation for sleepytime, although it’s rare that we actually have kids sleeping in the car these days.

For the most part, I prefer a round of peppy car dancing to help nudge out everyone’s grumpies. It also helps everyone move a little bit, lessening complaints about being trapped in car seats.

Our rotation right now is generally “Happy,” “What Does the Fox Say” and the entire Frozen soundtrack. And Kids Bop 20-whatever. I’m amazed at how those CDs get even the 3-year-olds into a groove.

TOYS: Previously, I packed vast bags of small items to constantly interchange among the children in an attempt to keep everyone entertained. Over time, I’ve realized that all that does is lead to things getting thrown down on the floor, which adds to my own nuttiness because then the van’s a mess and no one can move around on it.

Instead, this time we stopped at Walgreens at let each child pick out one thing from the toy aisle. (They often have buy one, get one free deals there, too.) Kayla and Kendall each picked out a sticker/activity book, and Ava chose Gak, which somehow managed to stay contained. Somehow, this one small switch seemed to make a big difference — when you give children choices, it makes them feel special.

SNACKS: Again, this is an area where our kids’ ability to make choices has let to a happier trip. We start out from home with everyone getting a sippy cup or juice pouch and a breakfast item. At any post-lunch stopovers, I have stopped packing a big bag of things that end up getting crushed, instead letting the girls each pick an item for themselves at whatever gas station we land at.

For the most part, our kids don’t eat a lot of junk food at home, so it’s still a genuine treat to them when we’re on vacation. They also usually enjoy sharing their treats with each other, so everyone gets a little bit of each thing. Last  time, this was chips, gummy bears and Twizzlers. (Note: This was kind of a treat for mom to snag a bite, too!)

If anyone out there wants to share their travel sanity tips, I’d love to hear them!

June is all about Dads

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Activities, daddy, Giveaways, Health, holidays, Margarita Mama, The Promenade at Chenal | Comments Off

It’s almost Father’s Day, so it’s time to get shopping to show the guys in our lives how much we appreciate them. All that breakfast making, lawn mowing and car washing that he does should pay off with a nice reward.

The Promenade at Chenal has helped us generate a few ideas with a handy Father’s Day Gift Guide that provides plenty of cool gifts like this one:

You know he wants one of these! Apple iPad, iPad Mini & the newest iPad Air From $299-$499 Covers From $39+

Apple iPad, iPad Mini & the newest iPad Air
From $299-$499
Covers From $39+ at the Apple store

And this one:

Rugged Wireless Boom Box, $129 at Gearhead Outfitters

Rugged Wireless Boom Box, $129 at Gearhead Outfitters

There’s also an added perk if you go the gift card route from June 2-13. You get a voucher for a free iced coffee or tea at the brand new Cafe Brunelle with every Promenade gift card purchase, so you can try it out while you’re there, or pass the treat onto dad.

But wait, there’s more.

Right before Father’s Day, the Promenade and St. Vincent West will be hosting a Men’s Health Month event Friday, June 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers and sons can take a little lunch break in the spirit of health while showing off their putting skills in exchange for a set of Wilson Staff 50 Elite golf balls, courtesy of Everett Buick GMC. And there’s more! The guys can also enter to win other prizes from Nike, lululemon athletica, Gearhead Outfitters, Big Orange Burgers, the Tavern Sports Grill & Bar and Chenal 9 Theatres.

Check out more details here.

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This is a compensated post. However, all opinions expressed are my own, of course.

Out with the ladies

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Activities, drinking, eating/food, lady stuff, Margarita Mama, The Promenade at Chenal | Comments Off

Had a GREAT time last night at The Promenade at Chenal‘s Ladies Night Out! Every mama needs a break now and then for a little kid-free relaxation with good friends.

Selfie fun!

Selfie fun!

The rain put a little damper on the fashion show, unfortunately. But it cleared up just in time for us to enjoy the very best part of the rain-free portion of the festivities, free cocktails and desserts. The mini strawberry shortcakes were totally my jam.

Dessert bites from YaYa's Euro Bistro. Fabulous!

Dessert bites from YaYa’s Euro Bistro. Fabulous.

Cocktail hour!

Cocktail hour!

Champagne spritzers, thanks to The Pointe Brodie Creek luxury apartments

Champagne spritzers, thanks to The Pointe Brodie Creek luxury apartments

Then we had a delish dinner at A.W. Lin’s, where the server told us that they’re going to start doing Ladies Night specials every Thursday. Whoo hoo! Who doesn’t get excited about half-off appetizers and drink specials? The sangria was quite good, I must say.

A sampler of appetizers

A sampler of appetizers

My chicken teri don dinner was practically a work of art.

My chicken teri don dinner was practically a work of art.

When mama's happy, everyone's happy

When mama’s happy, everyone’s happy

Next up at The Promenade will be a men’s heath weekend in June. Stay tuned for more details, and have a great weekend!

promenade ad



Note: This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.

Time for a Ladies Night Out

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Activities, fashion, Food, Margarita Mama, shopping, The Promenade at Chenal, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Need a break for a night of fun? We do! So round up your besties for Ladies Night Out at the Promenade on Thursday, May 15.


This year, a runway show with a fundraising raffle will benefit Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing for families with hospitalized children, among other things. A $10 donation by cash, check or credit card will enter you to win great prizes from the Promenade, and every $5 donation after that will give you another chance to win.

The first 100 ladies to arrive at the 6 p.m. event will receive a swag bag with coupons, product samples and more. The Pointe Brodie Creek luxury apartments will host a cocktail hour, and there will be sweet treats from YaYa’s Euro Bistro, too.

And just as exciting, if you R.S.V.P. for the event before noon on May 15, you’ll be entered to win a drawing for Bruno Mars tickets for his June 10 show at Verizon Arena. Click here now!

There will also be a few sales and drink specials going on, which you can take a sneak peak at here. I’m so excited! I could really use a night of relaxation during this hectic rundown to the end of the school year. Hope to see you there!

promenade ad


Note: This is a compensated post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.

Review: Disney on Ice, Rockin’ Ever After

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Activities, kid stuff, Margarita Mama | 1 comment

Verizon Arena turned into a princess-packed party house Wednesday night for the opening show of Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After.

As expected, many many little girls dressed in Disney gowns showed up for the fun, and a few grown-ups did, too. In fact, there was a whole family with seats down at the floor dressed in Frozen wear. It was pretty impressive.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

The show kicked off with Mickey and Minnie and the gang, featuring spunky songs. Kayla was extremely excited to see Mickey “for real.” I had no idea that Mickey was her jam before this! Then the first story up was our family’s favorite by far, The Little Mermaid.

The ice skaters tell the stories presented in extremely modified bits using the movies’ big show songs. Ariel’s segment heavily featured her mermaid sisters and some really cool glow in the dark costumes. My kids were mesmerized — especially 3-year-old Kendall, who wore her Ariel costume to the show. I also saw more than one mom rocking out to their version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” including KATV’s Alyson Courtney, who was sitting in front of us.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Next up was Rapunzel, her mom and Flynn Ryder, with a 2-skater Maximus that the little ones seemed to get a kick out of, followed by Merida and the Scottish clans of Brave. Her red-headed little brothers were pretty cute, and they skipped all the turning-into-a-bear-business, which Ava tends to find scary.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Speaking of scary, there are a few pyrotechnic bursts in the second half of the show that made the twins a bit nervous (including blasts when Merida hits something with her arrows). Fortunately, they’re small and sparse, so a little hand-holding got us through.

The beast from Beauty and the Beast was also just a teensy bit scary for the littlest ones, but Belle’s beautiful skating quickly won them over.

I must admit, my favorite part of all was seeing the pure joy on the faces of the kids there — mine included. And even though it put us home way way past bedtime, it was totally worth it.

Note: Our tickets for the show were provided in exchange for this review, but all opinions expressed are my own, of course. 

Disney on Ice winner!

Posted by on Apr 25, 2014 in Activities, Giveaways | 1 comment

Congrats to Amy, the randomly picked winner of our Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After tickets. We hope you enjoy the show!


And many thanks to the Angela Rogers Group for providing the tickets for this giveaway, as well as all of you who entered.

Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Activities, Giveaways, kid stuff, Margarita Mama | 12 comments

Disney on Ice: Rockin’ Ever After is coming to Little Rock, and we’ve got tickets to give away!


Last year, Ava and I were fortunate to get a chance to see another Disney on Ice show, Dare to Dream. If you want a good idea of what to expect at this one, check out last year’s review.

This year, I got to speak with one of the cast members, Meagan Midkiff, to hear how it works behind the scenes. She’s 20 and has been skating on the tour for twp years after growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a competitive skater.

Both of her coaches had worked with Disney on Ice, and she grew up loving the shows, so now she’s getting to live her dream and travel the country, exploring the cities they stop in along the way.

She said each of the high-energy shows involve about 40 skaters — 20 girls and 20 guys — and each of them play multiple parts. You’ll be able to check Megan out playing Aquatta, Ariel’s sister dressed in blue, during the Little Mermaid portion of the show.

Before the show hit the road, the cast members spent six weeks putting it together in Lakewood, Fla., and they rehearse now about every two weeks to keep things fresh. But after performing up to nine times a week over and over, they’ve pretty much got things down pat.  At that point, “Your body knows what it’s doing more than you do,” Megan said.

Rockin’ Ever After is what she described as a “modern take” on the stories — the show will feature the Little Mermaid, Tangled, Brave and Beauty and the Beast. Based on how much my kiddo loved the Dare to Dream show last year, I have no doubt it’s going to be a great time.

Wanna go? Tickets for the performances at Verizon Area are on sale already here or through Ticketmaster. Or you can leave me a comment before Friday for a chance to win a family four-pack of passes to the 7 p.m. show on Wednesday, May 7 or the 7 p.m. show on Thursday, May 8. (And if you need to purchase an adjacent seat for an extra family member, it’s no problem at all.) Good luck!

The Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Activities | Comments Off

Philip Mann and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will present a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Central High’s Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium.



The Young Person’s Guide to Orchestra is presented as a gift to the city by Joel Pugh in honor of the birthday of his wife, Mrs. Caroline Pugh, to whom the composer dedicated Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, along with her siblings.

Here’s the lineup:

Britten – Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

Saint-Saens – Selections from Carnival of the Animals

Again, this concert is FREE and open to the public. What a wonderful way to introduce kids to classical music! Just click here to make your reservation at the ASO website.