We are just back from a weekend long, low-key celebration of my favorite recent COLLEGE GRADUATE! It hardly seems possible that 4.5 years have passed since we dropped her off on the other side of the state. But that time and distance created the space for a beautiful transformation. In just a matter of weeks she’ll be moving back to Fayetteville, into her own place, and embarking on the next chapter. It sounds cliche… but I cannot WAIT to see what the future holds for my girl!
Miss the Christmas poem last year? Me too! It’s long been one of my favorite traditions. Time to give it another go!
Each day finds Genna hard at work, masterfully juggling her many activities: a regular babysitting gig, working at
Rick’s bakery on Saturdays, and rigorous coursework as part of the Fayetteville Virtual Academy keeps her on her toes!
Regular high school wasn’t her thing. A junior, she takes her classes online and is a very disciplined student!
Youth activities through our church, especially LYO, provide her with her favorite people and favorite past time.
Comedy, tragedy… makes no difference. If it’s a theatrical performance, Ethan wants to be in it!
He’ll be in Richard III in January. This is his 4th performance with the Shakespeare troupe The Crude Mechanicals.
Real life involves a full-time job apprenticing at David Adams’ Fine Jewelry on the beautiful Fayetteville Square.
Imminent plans include pursuing the Certified Gemologist program. For now, he’s getting great-hands on experience.
Senior year is here and Grace is hitting her stride! She earned a 4.0 this semester and graduation is just a year away.
Then she plans to continue her education and pursue training as either an occupational or physical therapist.
Moving back home to Fayetteville is one option. Only time will tell!
As for us – we celebrated our 25th anniversary in May with a Caribbean cruise, worked hard and grew older.
So it is… and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Wishing all of our loved ones peace and health in 2018.
With love from the Dildays,
Mark, Jody, Grace, Ethan & Genna
This weekend I treated Ethan to a belated birthday celebration featuring wall-to-wall theater and good old fashioned mother/son bonding time. As luck would have it, his Godmother happened to be in town and we managed to squeeze in an impromptu Saturday morning breakfast date with her as well.
We started with Springdale High School’s performance of The Addams Family Musical starring our friend Amelia Catanzaro as Alice. The show was charming and the diversity of the cast made it especially enjoyable. The young man playing Uncle Fester nearly stole the show. He was a hoot! Torrential rains made the drive home interesting, but we made it safely!
Saturday morning we picked up Joanna for breakfast at the Farmer’s Table. Ethan raved about the biscuits (with vegetarian gravy, of course!) and I could only manage to eat HALF of my two War Eagle Mill pancakes. Delish!
Saturday evening was the show we planned the whole weekend around. A touring production of Tony Award winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was at the Walton Arts Center. Critics’ reviews were right on the money. “Eye-opening, life-affirming and unmissable,” and “One of the most fully immersive works to ever wallop Broadway.”
The use of lights, sounds, and choreography, combined with the minimalist props and sets created an experience that was mesmerizing. More importantly, the performance gives the average viewer an opportunity to imagine what it might be like to live with autism. In a word: PROFOUND.
Finally, on Sunday we took in the final performance of Assassin’s the Musical by the University of Arkansas Theater Department. This show was especially fun as several of the cast members are a part of The Crude Mechanicals, the Shakespeare Troupe that Ethan is a part of. We always enjoy the performances of these remarkable actors. And I found myself Googling and reading up on the various assassins (and would-be assassins) after the show.
All in all, I think Ethan would agree…. #Theaterpalooza2017 was a pretty great way to celebrate turning 19!
I just got home from a whirlwind three and half days spent on a road trip with my good friend Jessica McClard (founder of the Little Free Pantry and a one time guest of Harry Connick Jr. ). Our destination: Cause Camp 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Cause Camp is a two-day, nonprofit conference which features several of the biggest names in our sector. Most conferences feature one “rockstar” giving the keynote address. The Cause Camp lineup is ALL Rockstars, all the time.
I’ve been to several professional development conferences in my day. Many of them very good. But without question, this was the best conference experience from top to bottom, inside out.
Without further ado, here are my Top 10 Reasons why Cause Camp 2017 was the Best Nonprofit Conference EVER!
- It all started with the app. Seriously. I knew I was in for something special when, just a few days before the conference, I downloaded the conference app by Attendify. Conference schedule, speaker bios, profiles of fellow attendees… all of it in the palm of my hand and no dreaded tri-fold program to keep up with. Then, when the conference kicked off, the social component kicked in. It was like a dedicated Twitter and Instagram feed all-in-one. Perfect for the compulsive phone/status checker. (Who are you looking at?) P.S. I love a good hashtag. #CausetheChange
- The caliber of the speakers.Hello???? Dan Pallotta!!! His Ted Talk has been viewed 3.8 million times. I also found John Rood from Disney, Derek Feldmann , author of Social Movements for Good, and Tyler Riewer from Charity:Water particularly compelling. Look them up.
- The personality/spirit/tone of the conference. In a word, “Unstuffy.” I appreciated the “let’s not take ourselves too seriously” attitude of both the Nonprofit Hub’s Publisher Randy Hawthorne, and Marc Pittman – aka the Fundraising Coach – who emceed the event (with the perfect amount of CHEESE, I might add.) Another thing about spirit of the conference worth mentioning: the “traditional Cause Camp welcome.” The organizers set the tone (and the expectation) right from the beginning. We welcomed EVERY speaker with a standing ovation and loud cheers. You know that had to help in getting presenters “pumped up.” It also ensured that attendees were high energy and attention spans on high alert. Simply brilliant.
- The format of the conference. No breakout sessions! All the speakers spoke in one main auditorium, which means I had no FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) by having to “choose” one presentation or topic over another.
- The conference venue itself.
Oh. My. Word. The Nebraska Innovation Center was an ideal location. The audio/visual component was state of the art. The very cool (and very comfortable) swivel seats in the auditorium – which had a POWER OUTLET for every participant and their device – provided ample room for each attendee and their gear. And, if you can believe it, the TEMPERATURE was comfortable all day, both days. Apprarently they don’t subscribe to the “If we freeze them, they will stay awake” mantra of most convention centers. I could go on and on about the venue (cleanliness of restrooms, the Mother’s Room – which I don’t need but can certainly appreciate, the free Wifi… all of it. Perfection.)
- The host city: Lincoln, Nebraska.
Yes, you read that right. While it IS fun to visit big, splashy cities, like San Diego and Baltimore (which the AFP International Conference seem to favor) let’s face it…. they can be really EXPENSIVE. The hotels, restaurants, airfare, etc. I absolutely LOVED that Lincoln was just an easy day’s drive (about 7 hours) to get to from Northwest Arkansas. Our drive home provided a lot of valuable time to digest and discuss what we had learned, without all the added stress of airport security, connecting flights, layovers, etc. Disclaimer: I realize my #6 Reason Why Cause Camp 2017 was the Best Conference Ever won’t apply to everyone… but it certainly works for me.
- No Sales Pitch. Cause Camp doesn’t have a giant vendor expo. In fact, they had a very small, carefully selected (I presume) group of partners who were conveniently located around the perimeter of the commons. I didn’t feel obligated to visit the booths (nor avoid eye contact with any pushy sales people). They were there and accessible if a participant was interested in learning about their service, but there was no pressure to “drop a business card and win a prize!” Even the presenters refrained from pushing their books, or blogs, or websites, or whatever… Instead, I WANT to visit their site to learn more. The perfect tease.
- Coffee, food, cocktails, repeat. From an opening night reception at the Nonprofit Hub on Sunday (where we met and became fast friends with Beth and Becky with Drug Prevention Resources, and Jude and Leilani from the YMCA Austin), to morning coffee, lunch and snacks each day, ending both days with a cocktail networking reception – AND the infamous karaoke PARTY on Monday night – Cause Camp kept us full of both fuel and fun.
- Lunchtime activities. A two hour lunch break was built into both days, and each day had a variety of optional activities to partake in. Everything from meditation and yoga, to a tour of Spreetail (inside the Nebraska Innovation Studio), a make-your-own t-shirt station and more. Spoiler alert: I made the t-shirt on day one and had really nice, long conversation with a new friend on day two.
- Swag. We received a really nice box with great swag. But the best part is having all the resources of the Nonprofit Hub at my fingertips until I can go back for Cause Camp 2018 March 26th and 27th, 2018.
I hope to see YOU there!
What is it about re-reading a favorite book? Its sort of like visiting an old friend, but finding out that they’ve changed. . . or maybe you have.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Joy Luck Club was published in 1989 when I was a senior in high school, though I don’t think I read it until 1992 (the year I was married). Amy Tan immediately became my new favorite author (replacing S.E. Hinton – favorite author of my youth) and for years I faithfully read everything Tan published. A year later (1993) JLC was made into a movie – a movie which remains one of my all time favorites. When the title came up as a potential read for my Book Club, I was thrilled to revisit an old friend.
Of course, I couldn’t find my paperback version of the book (most likely in the attic) so I went out and bought a new copy. At first, I couldn’t believe how SLIM this edition was. I remembered it being an incredibly thick saga. Nope, just 288 pages.
Details/Topics: The Joy Luck Club tells the individual stories of four Chinese women and their Chinese American daughters. It is a story about both the complexity of mother/daughter relationships, and the immigrant experience.
Reading it again, this time as the mother to a young adult woman, I found myself sympathizing (perhaps even relating?) to the mothers in Tan’s story.
“In two year’s time, my scar became pale and shiny and I had no memory of my mother. That is the way it is with a wound. The wound begins to close in on itself, to protect what is hurting so much. And once it is closed, you no longer see what is underneath, what started the pain.”
“And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.”
We had a New Year’s Eve Family PJ Party at the Nabholz Cabin this year – complete with lots of games, puzzles, and of course… FOOD!
My brother and sister-in-law and their brood arrived by 9 a.m. on NYE – just in time for breakfast. And since it was still officially Hanukkah and we pride ourselves on being ecumenical (*smile*) we had latkes on our breakfast menu. Everyone RAVED about these crispy potato pancakes, so of course we served them again on New Year’s Day. Mom, Dad and Grandma J loved them as well. Who knew that such a simple dish would be such a hit! I figured I’d better archive it on my blog since I’m expecting requests for the recipe!
- 4 large potatoes grated
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- Sour cream and/or applesauce for garnish
Grate the potatoes in a large bowl, add the eggs, salt and pepper and mix well (I used my hands). Sprinkle in the flour. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons – but Mark did this part and I think he used considerably more – maybe even half a cup. Patty up the potatoes as best you can – they don’t really stick together. Then fry in the oil until brown. As they get crisp, they stick together.
Serve with sour cream or applesauce as a topping.
After I don’t know how many years of volunteering at and putting up with the traffic of Bikes, Blues and BBQ, Mark and I finally got wise. Well, not really. It just so happened that Glen Hansard was making an appearance in Tulsa the same weekend – so we accidentally and happily escaped. Glen Hansard is, hands down, the BEST live show I’ve ever seen and I would (and hopefully WILL!) go again and again and again. If you’re not familiar with him, do yourself a favor and watch Once on Netflix, follow him on Spotify, and watch everything – especially THIS – of his on YouTube. He’s my favorite. By.A.Mile.
We made a weekend of it and I was pretty stoked to go to the ACTUAL Curtis House from my favorite movie, The Outsiders. They’re raising funds to convert it into a museum. I WILL be back.
A road trip with AMAZING friends to see Lutheran “S-hero” and author of Patrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint and Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, Nadia Bolz-Weber. Said road trip included lots of laughs and bonding over frequent potty stops (#bladdergrils), and several Uber experiences. We also took advantage of photo ops, enjoyed a fantastically fortunate dining experience at The Drop, and a less than fortunate recommendation for a local watering hole. We ended the weekend with a gorgeous afternoon of shopping at The Plaza and lunch on the patio at McCormick’s and Schmick’s.
Two kids home from college, plus Collin, made for a very happy Thanksgiving for me! There’s nothing I love more than having all my chickies at home and cooking for them and feeding them. Ethan introduced us to Cards Against Humanity (not my finest parenting moment) and we had a family game night plus chislic before Grace and Collin headed back to Jonesboro. Honestly, the fact that they stayed late specifically FOR game night was the highlight of my holiday.
On November 30th Mark and I spent 5 hours on the road (down and back to Conway) with mom and dad to see Ethan for 20 minutes on the stage in a one-ace play at UCA titled “The Decision.” It was incredible and Mark and I are still, both, BEAMING with pride.
We turned our annual #Brewtheran Beervent party into a fundraiser for the ministries at our church and it exceeded all of my hopes and expectations. My good friend Sherilyn transformed our fellowship hall into a warm and cozy space reminiscent of a chalet. Our praise band musicians set the mood with their amazing talents, and Alan Gann provided several tasty home brews. My heart is FULL!
This weekend my favorite people are coming to visit my favorite city! The Arkansas Women Bloggers will descend in Fayetteville for Megaphone – an Influencer Conference. It will be a weekend full of learning, bonding, blogging, eating, laughing, drinking and….. of course….. SELFIES.
It’s no secret Fayetteville has TONS of unique shops, boutiques, restaurants, parks, trails and neighborhoods. But our beloved city also offers ample opportunities to capture the essence of “Funky Fayetteville” in a photo.
Here are a list of 8 MUST STOP Photo Ops in Fayetteville, brought to you by yours truly. (Bonus! Most of these are within walking distance of our conference headquarters, The Chancellor Hotel.)
- Step inside the Dickson Street Bookstore, inhale the unmistakable scent of good, old fashioned PAPER books, peruse the shelves (you could get lost for HOURS), and be sure to snap a selfie.2. The paramount view of our beautiful city can best be viewed from Mount Sequoyah. It’s kind of awe-inspiring.3. I’m particularly partial to photos which include a pint glass atop the purple picnic tables at Fossil Cove. Located just off our bike trail, and part of the infamous Fayetteville Ale Trail. Enjoy a pint (or two) and say hi to “Barley,” the pub dog while you’re there.4. Alexis Diaz’ recently completed mural, part of the #UnexpectedFS project, is INCREDIBLE. (photo credit, @Alexis_Diaz on Instagram).
5. A super fun, super colorful installation known as the #MaudeWall, created with all you fashionistas and photographers in mind. It makes for a perfect backdrop, no matter WHAT you’re wearing. And if you don’t LIKE what you’re wearing, they can help with that too. It’s located on the back wall BEHIND the Maude Boutique on North College Ave.
6. Hank Kaminsky’s World Peace Prayer Fountain is located just outside the Fayetteville Town Center on the South side of the square. It is not to be missed.
7. Saturday morning: get up early and grab a cup of coffee, walk outside and greet all of Fayetteville as they participate in the quintessential Fayetteville Saturday ritual. Between the flowers and produce, the art and artisans, the pluckers the pups and the people… you’ll have plenty of subjects to photograph.
8. No trip to Fayetteville is complete without a hand-crafted cocktail at Maxine’s. The drinks themselves are photo-worthy, and the mural on the front wall makes an excellent photo backdrop as well. Need a drink recommendation? I highly, highly recommend “The Bell of the Bar.”
Welcome to Fayetteville! Enjoy!
Yesterday was “Move-In” Day at UCA. Ethan was up, showered and dressed by the time I got up at 7 a.m. He had already packed his car on Saturday. We poured a travel mug of coffee and were on our way.
Conway is a relatively short 2.5 hour drive, but a misty rain made it seem much longer. We arrived by about 11:30 and located State Hall, checked in with the student staff, and had all of Ethan’s belongings in his room in two short trips.
He didn’t want to “settle in” too much, as his roommate wasn’t scheduled to arrive until 4 p.m. My kind and courteous son wanted to consult with his roommate about furniture placement, etc. We were able to convince him to let Mom and Grandma help make his bed for a quick photograph (or three).
Then it was off to Walmart for a few dorm room essentials (ramen noodles, Crystal Light peach tea, and Command Hooks for hanging artwork on the cinder block walls).
We then met up with big sister Grace, who was helping her boyfriend Colin move to Conway too this weekend. We had lunch at the Dixie Cafe and before long, it was time to hit the road.
A quick selfie in the parking lot to mark the moment, followed by hugs, kisses, “I love yous” and goodbyes.
I had a moment when I was about to tear up, then Gracie gave me the “moola” gesture (I promised her birthday money) so I ran around to my side of the vehicle to grab my checkbook. At that same moment, Genna had just climbed in the backseat and I heard her exclaim, “Alone at last!” That was it. All laughter and smiles, no tears for this mama! So happy/proud/excited for this new chapter for Ethan. Happy that Grace has met such a kind and thoughtful young man who so clearly makes her happy. And happy, too, for Genna. Her 3rd child status is finally paying off!