Drama for Mama: Dancing with the Stars Elimination Night

dancingstars-logo.jpgOn Tuesday night’s results show, it was Kim Kardashian who packed up her dancing shoes and headed home. She and Cloris Leachman were in the bottom two couples, and frankly Cloris is a lot more entertaining to watch on the dance floor. Kim is a very pretty girl, but I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward and embarrassed for her every time she step foot on the stage. Dancing just doesn’t come naturally for her, and it definitely showed. But no worries. I’m sure she’ll continue to find success on reality television – just not on a dance show.

“Mom & Me Giveaway”: Free Tickets, Free Tacos!

Hey, there’s still time to throw your name in our online hat to win 4 tickets to a great kids show (The Gruffalo) at the Walton Arts Center plus dinner at Jose’s Mexican Restaurant. But you’ve got to enter by 6 p.m. Wednesday (today!), so CLICK HERE TO GET THE DETAILS or send us an e-mail at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com. Good luck! We’ll announce the winner on Thursday.

Healthy Mama: A Womb with a View

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By Gwen Rockwood

Most mothers and expectant mothers know the intense mix of emotions you feel while lying on the exam table, waiting for your ultrasound to begin. Part of you is so excited you can hardly wait, and the other part of you is so scared you’re holding your breath. Your mind races with twenty questions at once: Is it a boy or a girl? Will we see 10 fingers and toes? Is she healthy? What if something is wrong?

With the anxiety and excitement swirling together, it’s good to have someone calm behind the scope of the ultrasound machine – someone who’s trained to give your unborn baby as thorough a check-up as ultrasound technology will allow. That’s where Dr. Lindley Diacon comes in. He and his team of sonographers at Mercy Health System have been giving parents a glimpse into the womb to see how their baby is developing. Though he downplays his national renown, Dr. Diacon is actively shaping the way ultrasound technology is used nationwide. He sits on the board of the Practice Accreditation Council of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and is one of the physicians writing the exam all ultrasound technicians must pass to be certified.

How does it work?

Ultrasound works by using sonar waves. These sound waves are sent into the body and reflected back, providing a picture. In recent years, we’ve begun to hear references to different “levels” of ultrasound exams, like Level 1 or Level 2. Dr. Diacon said the difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 exam is pretty simple. Level 1 is a basic exam, and Level 2 is a more detailed exam that screens for problems more difficult to spot.

Patients with extremely high risk pregnancies often see a perinatologist – a physician with extensive training in high risk obstetrics as well as ultrasound technology. (Currently there are no perinatologists practicing in Northwest Arkansas, although there are some in Little Rock, Joplin and Springfield.)

To ensure that your ultrasound is being done by someone qualified, you can ask if the person is a registered sonographer with the American Registry of Diagnostic Sonography.

3D and 4D Ultrasounds

Advancing technology in ultrasound equipment, such as 3-D and 4-D ultrasound, has enhanced the experience and provides some great pictures for the baby book. Mercy Health System recently bought a new 4-D machine that gives highly detailed photos of babies in utero. “You can really see the details of the face, so much so that you can sometimes see family resemblance,” Diacon said. “It’s really fun.”

But if you don’t have access to a 4-D ultrasound, Dr. Diacon said you shouldn’t worry that your exam is not as accurate. A basic exam on a machine without 3-D capability is still an excellent tool for catching problems early. “From a diagnosis standpoint, you’re not really missing anything if you can’t get a 4-D ultrasound,” Diacon said.

Ultrasound “Parlors”

Ten years ago ultrasound parlors didn’t even exist, but today it’s not uncommon to see a pregnant woman walk into a small shop in a strip mall and come out carrying photos of her unborn child. Dr. Diacon has reservations about this use of ultrasound and said the FDA has put out some strong statements about these types of places.

“You need to understand that these ultrasound parlors are not doing a diagnostic exam,” Diacon said. “These types of ultrasounds sometimes give parents a false sense of security.”

Medical advancements

The latest improvements in ultrasound technology mean good news for parents. Dr. Diacon said prenatal ultrasounds are getting better at detecting fetal heart defects. And early ultrasounds done between 11 and 14 weeks gestation are now better at diagnosing chromosome problems like Down Syndrome. (Ask your sonographer about the six “soft markers” for Down Syndrome.)

A Day In The Life

Believe it or not, Dr. Diacon does up to 30 ultrasounds a day. He said he usually starts his day doing ultrasounds on gall bladders, livers and abdomens and then moves on to vascular exams and OB patients. But it’s obvious when talking with him that expectant parents are a special part of his job.

“It’s great because 98 percent of the time, things are fine with the baby and I love talking to the patients. I get a kick out of watching them watch their baby,” Dr. Diacon said. “And when things are not fine, I can be there to share their sorrow and reassure the mother that it’s not her fault. That’s such an important thing for a woman to know.”

Sneak Peek at a Miracle

diacon.jpgA final question for Dr. Diacon: “What was your most memorable ultrasound and why?” He answered with this story:

A patient had a certain genetic condition that has a 50 percent chance of being passed to her children. The condition is so severe that any child born with it dies in infancy. The woman and her husband had already suffered through the loss of two babies but had not given up on the dream of having children. Dr. Diacon performed the ultrasound during their third pregnancy, and, after a long, tense examination, told the couple that this baby did not have the genetic disorder. This baby would live.

“I’ll never forget that moment,” Diacon said. “They were so overcome with joy and relief. I really bonded with them and, several months later, I even had the chance to be there during that baby’s birth.”

Dr. Lin Diacon is the head of the Central Imaging department for Mercy Medical Clinic. (Click here to read more about Dr. Diacon’s work with bone density scans.) For more information on ultrasound technology, visit the Fetal Medicine Foundation website. http://www.fetalmedicine.com/

All Akimbo: Baby-making vacations?

By Kim Blakely, Mojo’s mama

I think I might have finally figured out what I need to do to get pregnant. (Besides that.)

seashell.gifI need to take a trip. I’ve heard for years that a vacation ups your chance of conception, but I always thought that was a big ol’ lie dreamed up by the tourism industry. (Well, them and those annoyingly fertile people who insist that if I would just relax I could get knocked up already.)

Silly me.

Maybe I’ve just taken the wrong kinds of vacations. Maybe I needed a “special” vacation. Now, I’m trying to decide if I should give the “Fertile Turtle” package at the Marco Island Florida Marriott Beach Resort a shot or go straight for a dip in the fertility water of Kununurra in Western Australia.

What do you think?

seashell2.jpgThe Fertile Turtle package includes a king-size bed and private balcony (Sounds like a perfect place to hang out with a good book, no? But … oh, wait … it’s possible you’re supposed to be engaging in less solitary activities.). There’s also a “welcome amenity” of red clover and raspberry teas, a couples’ massage with chaste berry and “fertility-promoting” aromatherapy, and a mysterious “authentic Balinese” gift to commemorate the occasion.

Rates range from $419 to $689 per night, and a portion of the package proceeds will benefit the sea turtle monitoring and protection project of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

Hmmmm…

It seems like a bad sign to me that the hotel offers a complimentary 3-night stay to couples who conceive during their visit (a birth certificate and proof that you stayed within 8 to 10 months of the birth date are required). I mean, if there was really a strong likelihood that a stay there would work, would the hotel really be as likely to offer such a gift?

Traveling to the Outback is bound to be more expensive than a trip to Florida but then Nicole Kidman, who suffered a miscarriage and years of infertility back when she was married to Tom Cruise, gives the waters there all the credit in the world for her pregnancy with little Sunday Rose.

That’s definitely something to think about. And it’s bound to be cheaper than IVF (without the benefit of insurance, at least).

I better hurry, though … I bet those waterfalls are so crowded with infertiles by now that I’d be lucky to get my big toe in.

Something else [I thought was] worth considering is this neat little PTeq USB pregnancy and ovulation prediction test I saw advertised online a while back. (Please note: I’m terribly embarrassed to admit how excited I was to see that someone had come up with such a neat-o-bandolito device … until I realized it was actually an April Fool’s joke. And yet, here I am, sharing with all of you anyway. I know! You must feel so fortunate, each and every one of you.)

The faux test, priced at about $20 – including 20 test strips – was described as having an absorbent strip at one end. The other end was meant to be stuck into the USB port of your home computer. It supposedly completed all manner of hormonal analyses, and all that data was to magically appear on the screen.

Sounds too good to be true, right? And it is. Oh well.

Anyway, it’s good to know my options aren’t up just yet. But as gullible as I am, I’m even more frugal (and with good reason! Have you seen what’s going on with the economy lately?!). I think the biggest trip I’ll be taking anytime soon will be to my doctor’s office to ask for a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist who might be able to help me right here in my hometown. My appointment is Thursday.

“Mom and Me” Giveaway: Tickets to The Gruffalo

gruffaloseptoct08.jpgENTER TO WIN: Take your little one to watch the award-winning picture book, The Gruffalo, come to life on stage at the Walton Arts Center on Monday, October 6 at 6:30 p.m. We’ve got four tickets for one winner, and all you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post by clicking below on the word “comment.” Or you can send us an e-mail at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com with the word “giveaway” in the subject line or message. (As always, you can increase your odds of winning by copying your friends on the e-mail.)

To round out your evening, we’re including dinner at a Dickson Street landmark, Jose’s Mexican restaurant, just steps away from Walton Arts Center. You can fill joseslogo.gifthe kids’ tummies with tacos and cheese dip before or after the show, and the adults will love Jose’s legendary salsa, which is made fresh every day. (We mamas love any restaurant that’s kid-friendly, and we’re even more impressed with Jose’s because they showcase the taco-inspired artwork done by their youngest patrons. Click here to see local kids’ taco-related artwork displayed on the Jose’s website! What a great idea.)

Now, back to the show. The Gruffalo is geared toward kids ages 4 to 10. The story centers around the lead character Mouse as she wanders through the forest. Along the way she meets a sly fox, a cunning owl and a sneaky snake. Though she’s small in size, Mouse uses her creativity to scare off enemies by inventing tales of a fantastical creature called the Gruffalo. Her plan works perfectly until she comes face to face with the creature she imagined. Mouse’s encounter with a real Gruffalo is surprising, but she soon learns that what might be scary to imagine can be wonderful in real life. Filled with songs, laughs and scary fun, the show was called “irresistibly charming” in the New York Times review.

As an added bonus, this production kicks off “Pajama Night” at the Walton Arts Center. So any kids who arrive in their pj’s or with their favorite stuffed animal will receive a special treat!

Click here to visit the Walton Arts Center website for more ticket info or call 479-443-5600.

Beauty Buzz: Little White Lies

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There’s just something about a great smile. It never fails to draw attention. That’s why professional teeth whitening has become so popular in recent years. But there’s plenty of misinformation out there about the process, so we sat down with Dr. Ann Hubbs of Life Style Dentistry to get help debunking the most prevalent myths.

Myth: Having your teeth professionally whitened takes a long time.

Fact: Actually, it takes about two hours at the dentist’s office.

Myth: When you have your teeth professionally whitened, it hurts and makes your teeth overly sensitive.

Fact: For two weeks prior to the whitening appointment, Dr. Hubbs asks patients to brush their teeth with a special de-sensitizing toothpaste which helps prepare the teeth for the procedure and minimizes any sensitivity.

Myth: The over-the-counter stuff works just as well as the professional methods.

Fact: Teeth are whitened by the concentration of the bleaching agent as well as a good carrier or application system. Custom fabricated trays, such as those made from impressions in the dental office, are the best. Dr. Hubbs said most over-the-counter bleaching kits contain around 6% to 8% of the bleaching agent with a tray or other carrier system that doesn’t isolate the teeth or whitening agent from saliva and the tissues to allow optimal results. The professional whitening kits will contain 7% to 30% of the whitening agent and must use a specially designed tray system to avoid chemical burning of the tissue. In-office whitening procedures will use up to 38% whitening agent with several applications during a two-hour session.

Myth: Everyone can have their teeth whitened.

Fact: Sadly, there are some people whose teeth just won’t lighten up as well, no matter how hard the patient or dentist tries. People whose teeth have a grayish or brownish hue may not get as good a result as people whose teeth are more yellowish, but it’s always worth a try when trying achieve optimal results along with other cosmetic prodecures, said Dr. Hubbs.

If you have had bonding, tooth-colored fillings or crowns in your front teeth, bleaching doesn’t work because it won’t affect the color of these materials. If you whiten the rest of your teeth, those bonded areas or fillings will stand out.

If your mother took the antibiotic tetracycline while she was pregnant, you may have brownish gray banding on your teeth which won’t respond as well to professional teeth whitening.

Myth: Whitening your teeth damages the tooth enamel. It’s not safe.

Fact: “It doesn’t weaken or strengthen your tooth enamel,” said Dr. Hubbs. “It is safe and there are no side effects.” Dr. Hubbs is so certain of it that she allowed the procedure to be done on her own teenage daughter who wanted some whitening for a special event.

Myth: Smokers can have their teeth professionally whitened.

Fact: This one is true only AFTER the smoker has quit the habit. Dr. Hubbs said that if a patient smokes during the two-week whitening period, he or she will reverse the effects of whitening and is likely to permanently stain the teeth.

Myth: You can’t over-whiten your teeth.

Fact: Oh, yes you can. Dr. Hubbs often sees patients who’ve gone a little overboard with whitening products. Overuse of whitening agents can cause the teeth to take on a translucent appearance that looks unhealthy. “Whitening is just like anything else. You can over do it,” said Dr. Hubbs. She recommends against using multiple products that all contain whitening agents (toothpaste, whitening strips, mouthwash, etc.). “Choose one good whitening system and stick with that,” she said. “Over-using multiple products can cause tooth sensitivity.”

Myth: The effects of professional teeth whitening don’t last very long.

Fact: Nothing lasts forever, and that holds true for teeth whitening as well. But Dr. Hubbs said it’s not uncommon to see a professional teeth whitening last up to five years, especially if it’s touched up along the way. Lifestyle choices also affect how long your teeth stay white. Coffee, cola and tea can stain teeth. (Dr. Hubbs recommends drinking through a straw when possible, especially with green tea which can really stain teeth.) Certain vegetables and even spices can also contribute to tooth discoloration.

Myth: It’s really expensive.

Fact: The word “expensive” is in the eye of the consumer, so that may be true for some people. But others just assume the procedure is financially out of reach before they ever check around for prices. You may be surprised to learn that a professional at-home whitening system (prescribed by your dentist) costs about $300.00. The in-office teeth whitening procedure costs about $600.00.

To learn more about teeth whitening options, visit Dr. Hubbs online by clicking here. Or call to schedule an appointment at her spa-like dentist office, call 479-636-8700. Life Style Dentistry is located in the Tuscany Square shopping plaza across from the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers. To read more about the practice, click here to read our profile of Life Style Dentistry, published in June 2008.

Drama for Mama: Desperate Housewives Season Premier!

By Gwen, mama of 3

desperate_housewives_2.jpgOh, those writers are tricky people, aren’t they? Producers for Desperate Housewives had leaked info a few weeks ago saying dear old Mike Delfino would be killed in a car crash. So of course we all bought it hook, line and sinker when Susan climbed out of a flipped car and screamed at the sight of bloody Mike sprawled out on the street. It wasn’t until nearly the end of the episode that we realize that vision of Mike standing outside Susan’s window is actually no vision at all but rather the man himself – in the flesh.

It was Susan and Mike’s marriage that died following that car crash in which the people in the other car – a mother and child – were killed, though the accident was no one’s fault. Apparently Susan wallowed in the guilt so long that it drove Mike away and the two divorced. Mike shows up now on weekends to pick up 5-year-old M.J. Meanwhile Susan has been getting some pretty personal house calls from her young house painter, who wants to be her boyfriend. But Susan is hesitant about letting him into her life in any real way. (Is it just me, or does this guy really need a haircut? He looks like a much older version of a Jonas Brother, and I don’t think it’s working for him.) I’m rooting for Susan and Mike to get back together.

In other Wisteria Lane news, Bree is the Martha Stewart of the town and is about to publish her first cookbook. Friend and neighbor Catherine reads the book and is shocked to find that Bree took credit for 12 of her recipes, some of which Bree can’t even make. There’s definitely trouble simmering between these two. I’m guessing Bree went a little nuts when her daughter, now married, came back to reclaim her child and ripped him away from Bree and Orson. (Orson, by the way, is back in Bree’s life after apparently having served time in prison.)

Lynette is worried that her twin boys are headed for trouble if she and Tom don’t tighten the reigns. She caught them running their own high school casino out of the restaurant one night. She convinces Tom to get serious about discipline.

Gabi and Carlos have two little girls now who aren’t so “little.” After overhearing comments of other moms, Gabi realizes that her 4-year-old has a real weight problem. She tells Carlos that sometimes she’s glad he is blind so he can’t see how she has let herself go over the past five years of motherhood.

Never boring Edie Britt came back to Wisteria Lane, complete with leopard skin bathing suit and a body that looks like it has never seen a single potato chip. (Did I mention that my diet starts tomorrow?) She brought with her a new husband who is more than a little bit creepy. This guy has got psycho villain written all over him, and last night’s episode alluded to the fact that charges were once dropped against him in exchange for him receiving therapy for his rage issues. But rest assured the rage is still in there and is sure to bubble out against someone on Wisteria Lane. The only question is – who? Stay tuned, mamas. Looks like it’s gonna be a good season.

Drama for Mama: Brothers & Sisters Season Premier!

By Gwen, Motherlode mama of 3

brothers-sisters-logo.jpgYou only thought your family dynamics were complicated – until you met the Walkers. With a whole new batch of problems, the Walker family is back and they’re in a big, hot mess. The season premier wasted no time bringing us up to speed on the latest developments in Walker-world. In case you didn’t see it, here’s what you missed:

Kitty and Robert and trying to adopt a baby, and Kitty asked Sarah to write a letter of recommendation. But Sarah was too caught up her in own life to get it done so she asked Nora to do it. Kitty didn’t think the letter sounded like Sarah so she tricked her into telling the truth about it. She was pretty furious at her sister for not being there for her when it counted.

Still a newlywed after marrying Scotty late last season, Kevin was on the fast track at his law firm and was even offered the keys to the partner’s million-dollar beach house for the weekend. He invited the whole family to go with him, secrets started spilling out left and right, things got heated, and – long story short – the whole weekend went right into the ditch. Sarah’s kids accidentally broke some very expensive glass sculptures that belonged to Kevin’s boss. Sarah broke the news that their dad had not one but at least two different lovers and that he did father another child – Ryan, who lives in Bakersfield. Sarah wants to call him up, but Nora is strongly against it. (She didn’t mind, however, letting her enemy Holly know that William had cheated on her, too.)

Tommy had to break the news to Kevin that, because of budget cutbacks, he was being fired from handling the company’s legal business – a blow that will no doubt hurt his chances of making partner at his firm. Kevin makes it clear that this is a line in the sand that the two brothers will not come back from, and then he stops taking Tommy’s repeated calls.

Meanwhile, the bright spot in all this was that Justin and Rebecca are now dating. Of course, that secret got spilled right away, too. Both of them are moving slowly and are more than a little tentative as they transition from buddies to a couple. Rebecca is afraid of losing Justin and her surrogate family along with him, and Justin is afraid of losing his best friend. But if the coming attractions are any indication, it looks like next week’s episode might involve some heat for this Walker and his ex-half-sister turned girlfriend.

Devotion in Motion: “Hut, two, three, four!”

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“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (KJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

I’ll tell you a parable today. Once, a man became stranded alone on a desert island. After several years, the Navy came to rescue him. The admiral said to the castaway, “I see that you’ve built three huts here. Why three?” The castaway said, “Well, the first hut is my house. I live in that one. My second hut is my church. I go to that hut and pray on Sunday. And the third hut… well, that’s the church I USED to go to.”

I think most Christians have thought about changing churches at some point in their faith journey. After a period of time, we see imperfections in the pastor and the people of the church where we worship. Pastors, too, become discouraged from time to time and look for greener pastures.

Although a change in congregation sometimes can’t be avoided, we need to think prayerfully and long and hard before we leave the one where God has placed us. I don’t have a lot of inside experience with different congregations because I’ve served the same congregation since I graduated Bible college. But, my sister’s husband, Dr. Ron M. Buck, has served a few congregations over the past quarter-century. Once, when I was having a time of discouragement in my ministry, he told me “John, if God is providing an opportunity, pray about it. But don’t ever change churches just to be changing churches. Every congregation has the same people in it. They just have different names.”

This has proved to be excellent advice. Look a little closer and you’ll see that each congregation has some fine folks: Faithful Fred, Loving Laura, and Patient Pat. Unfortunately, every congregation has Tactless Ted, Discouraging Donna, Irritating Ira and their cohorts. Each congregation has “all the same people,” just with different names. What’s more, “Wherever you go, there you are.” You and I don’t really need to look for a perfect church. Since we’re imperfect, as soon as we arrived at the perfect place, we’d foul things up!

I weathered that storm and stayed put. I’m very glad I did. The Lord has poured out great blessings on me and my family. You see, sometimes we don’t need a change of congregation. We need a change in ourselves. We just need more prayer, more patience, and more love, and the belief that God is using our circumstances to make us more like Him.

The principle holds true in other parts of our lives, also. You may be feeling you need a new house, a new spouse, a new job or a new set of circumstances. But our Heavenly Father may have you exactly where he wants you to be because He often sends trying times to make us grow in faith and patience.

So, dear friends, this week don’t build a new hut. Pray that the Lord will give you a new heart.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where he and Dr. Ron Buck once fed the first pancake to the dog). You should drop him a line at extramailbox@juno.com.

The Rockwood Files: Style Wars

By Gwen Rockwood, Motherlode mama of 3

There’s one big reason why there are so many old sofas and chairs in American homes. It’s not because consumers don’t like major changes, and it’s not because furniture is so darn burgandybeast.jpgexpensive – although those factors definitely play a part. It’s mainly because a husband and wife only tend to agree on the same sofa or chair about once every other decade.

Tom and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary in November, and we’re blessed because we agree on lots of things like parenting, religion, politics and even what shows to watch on T.V. But every time we walk into a furniture store and I see him sidle up to the ugliest chair in the joint, I wonder “Who is this man, and why is he trying to make me crazy?”

To be fair, Tom would say I started this style war years ago when we married and merged our furniture. We were about to move to a new city for his new job, and there was one piece of Tom’s furniture I thought should be left off the moving truck. It was a leather burgundy recliner, and it’s what I’d call “style challenged.” It was puffy and tufted in all the wrong places, and it looked wrinkly and old even though it wasn’t.

I convinced Tom it really had to go because it wouldn’t look right with our other furniture. Trying to please his new bride, he reluctantly agreed, and I sold that burgundy beast faster than you can say “classified ad.” But he has never let me forget it, and often he reminisces about just how much he loved that chair, how comfortable it was, how much he misses it – as if I’d ripped him away from a faux-leather Siamese twin.

Now before you start feeling too sorry for him, I did replace the burgundy beast with a more suitable wingback recliner chair that he liked just fine and took many naps in. But last year two of the chair’s springs snapped off and the frame got wobbly. We had it repaired once, but lately it’s making lots of creaks and squeaks even when the kids crawl into it. So we’re back on the market for a new chair.

This time I’ve got nearly ten years of marriage under my belt and I’ve learned a thing or two about what men want. And one thing they want is a chair of their own where they can stretch out and relax and watch T.V. and doze off after they’ve eaten too much pot roast. Typically, these men will not argue about the other furnishings in the house, mostly because they just don’t care that much. But when it comes to THE chair – they care, a lot.

So this time I resolved to let Tom pick out the recliner so he’d be sure to have something he really liked. We walked into a furniture store today, and right away I saw several chairs that might be perfect. They are recliners that don’t look like recliners – a rare, new breed of chairs designed to give men comfort while giving women style at the same time. Tom checked them out and picked one he said was especially comfortable. But just to be sure, he wanted to walk the store to see if anything else caught his eye.

Then, it did.

As if drawn by some kind of bizarre man magnet, his eyes locked on a recliner at the back of the store. It was a big, puffy rocker that looked like a beefier first cousin to the burgundy beast I’d banned so long ago. When Tom sank down into it, his eyes lit up and he said, “Oh, yeah…” The male salesperson pointed out that this particular recliner comes with a remote control massager attached to the chair, probably because this guy knows that the only thing a man loves more than an ugly recliner is an ugly recliner with bells and whistles.

The thing reminded me of the Michelin Man character, with rolls upon rolls of bloated foam padding covered with wrinkly leather. But I didn’t say much because I’d promised to be open-minded. Tom said, “Sit down and try it out, honey.” So I did, and I’ll admit the chair feels fabulous – like a vibrating bed of Twinkies. It’d be great if I could just wear a blindfold every time I walked into the room.

He narrowed it down to two choices today – a nice-looking chair you’d never guess was a recliner and the massive, puffy chair with massager. At this point, it could go either way. Maybe I’ll get lucky. If I don’t and he picks the Michelin Man chair with built-in massager, I’ll just have to bite my lip real hard and remember that I made vows to this man – to love him for better or for worse, even when the “worse” comes to live in my living room.

Drama for Mama: Grey’s Anatomy is back!

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By Gwen Rockwood, Motherlode mama of 3

After months of waiting, it’s finally here. Grey’s Anatomy is back! I was glued to the tube for the two-hour season premier Thursday night, but I was surprised – no, make that shocked – at what the season premier didn’t give us. (More on that later.)

But before I complain, I’ll recap what did happen on the show, in case you missed it. The episode kicked off with Meredith racing to the hospital where Derek was being pronounced dead on the table after a horrible accident involving a bus. WHAT? McDreamy dead? Are you kidding me?

Yes, actually, they were kidding me. Just a bad dream that Meredith quickly woke up from. (I think my heart nearly stopped for a minute there, too.) Meredith rejoined the group of doctors who were anxiously awaiting the release of hospital rankings posted online. They were shocked to learn that Seattle Grace dropped from second to 12th place on the list, and the Chief was particularly wound up about it. But then a trauma came in, so the team got to work. Then more crash victims arrived, accompanied by an Army surgeon (Dr. Hunn) who happened upon the accident scene and used a ballpoint pen to do an emergency tracheotomy on one of the victims. Christina was impressed and whispered the word “hot” under her breath as she watched him walk away. (The army surgeon is on leave from Iraq). She was even more intrigued when, while preparing to suture an open gash on Dr. Hunn’s leg, he snatched the staple gun away from her and stapled his own injury with no anesthetic.

Meanwhile, Meredith could not stop talking to Christina about whether or not she should ask Derek to move in with her and if happy endings are ever really possible. One of the most entertaining scenes of the show was the “shut up” scene where Christina walked outside and made it clear that she was really sick of hearing about all the on-again-off-again stuff with Meredith and Derek and that she thought it would never work out between them. It was not nice. But then she walked back toward the hospital, slipped on the ice, fell on her back and was then impaled by a falling icicle. Seriously.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t too serious. The army surgeon carried her back into the hospital and eventually was the one who pulled out the icicle, which for Christina, is equivalent to foreplay. There was one very good kiss between them, and then he left after turning down a job offer from the Chief. (But, don’t worry, I think we’ll definitely see more of this guy.)

While all this was going on, nurse Rose had “delayed rage” about Derek breaking up with her. She made several snotty comments to him during surgeries and even accidentally cut him with a scalpel. They had a little talk, and she decided she’d be better off by transferring to pediatrics.

Callie and Erica worked together to help one of the crash victims regain movement in his legs. Then they admitted to each other that neither had ever kissed a girl before, so they’re both in the same boat in this new “experiment.” The Chief cracked the whip with the whole staff and said they had all gotten sloppy on his watch. He’ll be instituting a whole new surgical protocol to get things back in shape.

In other news, Izzie and Alex shared a close moment at the end of last season, but Alex couldn’t stand the thought of being vulnerable and therefore sabotaged his friendship with Izzie by bringing home a one-night stand, just to prove he’s the same old shallow guy he always was. Lexie is desperately in love with George but can’t bring herself to tell him, even though Sloane has already figured it out just by watching her around him.

Christina finally gave her blessing to Meredith about asking Derek to move in, saying “I’m your person. I’m on your side.” One of the final scenes shows Meredith helping Derek pack boxes at his trailer. But what the final scene didn’t show was the one thing we Greys’ fans have been waiting for all summer long. THERE WAS NO SMOOCHY REUNION SCENE WITH DEREK AND MEREDITH!!! Can you believe it? I mean, you can’t leave an audience watching a girl confess her love in a candlelit outline of a dream house and not come back the next fall without even one little kissing reunion scene between the main characters! That’s just cruel, and I’m a little ticked off about it. I can only hope the writers will make up for this oversight in the weeks to come. Looks like the next new episode will come two weeks from now and will involve some sort of flood in the hospital. Stay tuned, Grey’s fans. If Meredith and Derek don’t steam things up soon, I have a feeling that Christina and the new Rambo character will not disappoint us.

Fellow Grey’s fans, what did you think of the premier? Click on the word “comment” below to post your opinions!

Drama for Mama: Ugly Betty Season Premiere

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By Gwen Rockwood, Motherlode mama of 3

Ugly Betty kicked off the new season with Betty breaking the hearts of both love interests from last season. She turned down a marriage proposal and a trip to Italy in order to find herself, grow up a little and have a few adventures of her own. After a month-long trip across the country, she came back resolved to do three things: Take on more responsibility at work, get her own apartment, and avoid all romantic entanglements.

But when she went back to work, she discovered that Daniel had been fired as editor-in-chief of Mode and was replaced by the evil Wilhelmina. Daniel is now heading up a publication called Player Magazine and was being more of a buddy than a father to his newly discovered French son.

Betty did manage to snag her own place in Manhattan but signed the lease sight-unseen and soon learned that she’d bought a disaster apartment. Betty’s dad started a new job at a burger place that happens to be managed by Betty’s high-school bully (played by guest star Lindsey Lohan). The two got into a huge food fight, and Betty’s dad comforted her later by telling her that making decisions and dealing with the outcomes is part of growing up. She went back to the restaurant the next day and made peace with her old nemesis.

Meanwhile, Wilhelmina manipulated Alexis into downsizing her mother’s magazine, Hot Flash. Betty embraced her less-than-ideal assignments at Player Magazine. And Daniel realized that he can’t always be a buddy if he wants to be a good dad.

The show ended with Betty and family fixing up her dumpy apartment. Then she began checking off her to-do list, marking through “Get an apartment,” and “Take on more at work.” She was just about to mark through “Avoid romantic entanglements” when loud guitar music from the next apartment interrupted her. She knocked on the neighbor’s door to ask him to keep it down. When he answered, she got that “Oh, he’s kinda cute” look on her face. Then he returned her famous “B” necklace which he found in the hallway and assumed belonged to her. (Definitely more to come between these two.) Oh well, Betty… two out of three ain’t bad.

Healthy Mama: Answers about Allergies

If you’re one of the millions of people battling fall allergies right now, this Q&A with Dr. Jenny Campbell of Hedberg Allergy & Asthma Center is just what the doctor ordered. Be sure to e-mail the link to this page to friends and family with allergy issues.

What is your busiest time of year and why?ragweedplant.jpg

The spring and fall tend to be the busiest times of year. In the spring trees and grasses are pollinating, and in the fall ragweed (shown right) is a big trigger for allergy symptoms.

How do you know when it’s time for you (or your child) to see an allergist?

If you are having allergy symptoms that are not well controlled, you should consider seeing an allergist to identify your allergen triggers. Avoidance of the allergens that make you sick is the first step in preventing allergy symptoms.

What is more common – food or seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies are much more common.gummi.JPG

What is the most unusual allergy trigger you’ve ever come across?

Gummy Bears—it was actually the gelatin that caused the reaction.

If you only suffer from seasonal allergies once or twice a year, should you see an allergist or try to get by with over-the-counter remedies?

You can definitely try over-the-counter medications first. There are good antihistamines that are now available over-the-counter, and many people with mild, intermittent allergy symptoms are well controlled with antihistamines alone. If over-the-counter medications are not relieving the symptoms, it’s time to talk to your doctor about allergy testing and/or other medications that may be helpful. Some over-the-counter medications can actually make symptoms worse if used too often or for too many days in a row.

For those with seasonal allergies, what is your best day-to-day advice for getting through the season as comfortably as possible?

Keeping windows and doors closed in the home and in the car is very important. Also if you are outside during a high pollen time, rinsing off and changing clothes when comisinusrinse.jpgng inside may be beneficial to reduce your exposure to the pollen. Some people may benefit from wearing a mask when mowing the lawn or doing other yard work. Using an over-the-counter sinus rinse can also make you more comfortable and help decrease levels of mucus that may lead to sinus infections.

In children, what are the signs that would tell a parent that the problem could be an allergy versus a virus or an infection?

Itching is a key component of allergies. If the child is rubbing their nose/eyes (or complaining that the roof of their mouth itches) that’s a sign that the child likely has allergies.

What is the most common food allergy?

peanut.jpgIn children the most common food allergies are milk, soy, wheat, egg, and peanut/tree nuts. In adults the most common food allergies are peanut/tree nut, fish, and seafood.

Some moms have told horror stories about allergy testing on kids. What is it really like and what can be done to make it easier on children?

The testing device is an 8 pronged plastic device that’s placed on the back. It is uncomfortable but does not cause significant pain. I usually tell children that it feels like a hairbrush on their backs. We let our younger kids sit in the parent’s lap facing the parent while the tests are being applied. That seems to make the children feel much better and decreases their anxiety levels. We also have cartoons for them to watch which often helps distract them from the testing.

What is the biggest misconception about allergies?

A lot of people think they are allergic to things such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, and strong candles. These substances are not actual allergens but are irritants. These irritants can produce many of the same symptoms that actual allergens do (nasal congestion, sneezing, etc), but people do not make allergic antibodies to these things so are not actually “allergic” to these substances. The same thing also occurs with food allergies—people can be intolerant to certain foods without actually having an allergic response. An example of this is lactose intolerance which is different than a milk allergy.

Can you have an allergic reaction to a food the first time you eat it?

No. This is another misconception about allergies. You have to be exposed to a substance before you can develop an allergy to it. Sometimes adults who have eaten a certain food throughout their life can suddenly develop a serious allergy to it.

What are the latest medical advancements in treating allergy problems?

There are newer medications that are very exciting for patients with moderate to severe asthma. Also there is a lot of research being conducted on food allergies and possible treatment options with desensitization to certain foods. Investigations are underway for treating seasonal allergies with drops under the tongue rather than shots. This is an exciting field with many new advancements being evaluated.

Why did you choose this specialty? What about this field interests you the most?

I really enjoy taking care of patients with allergies, asthma, and food allergies. It’s very satisfying to help patients identify things they are allergic to and realize that, with avoidance measures and medications, their quality of life can drastically improve.

What is the hardest part about your job?

The most challenging part of my job is keeping up with the latest allergy/asthma treatments so that I can provide the best care for my patients. This requires reading lots of medical literature and a devotion to lifelong education.

What would your ideal day at the office be like?

All of my patients would tell me that they have been taking their medications…and really mean it.

jennycampbell.JPGWhere did you grow up?

I lived in Helena, AR until I was 5 then moved to Fayetteville, AR.

Any family you’d like to brag about?

My mom! She has been so supportive throughout my entire life. She always encouraged me to choose a career that I really enjoy. I don’t have children yet, but hope to in the future.

Favorite food?

Chocolate, definitely!

Name three songs on your ipod.

See You Again—Miley Cyrus; Free Bird—Lynyrd Skynyrd; Picture to Burn—Taylor Swift (Dr. Hedberg has Allergies by the Bare Naked Ladies!!)

If you had 5 hours of free time and couldn’t work or do chores or errands, what would you do?

I would go for a run, get a massage, and watch a movie.

Dr. Jenny Campbell practices at the Hedberg Allergy and Asthma Center in Rogers, located at 700 S. 52nd Street next to Signed Sealed Delivered in Metro Park. There is also a location at 406 W. Emma Avenue in Springdale. For more information about the center, click here to visit their website or call 479-464-8887.

Life With Ladybug: Tooth Fear-y

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

lbfairy03.gifDecember 2007: I sat on my 5-year-old daughter’s bed at 10:28 on a school night silently berating myself for letting her drink hot chocolate at Tim’s Pizza earlier. We had been out with her little friend’s family after a Partytime Ponies birthday party — where she had already consumed a chocolate cupcake and a juice box.

Anyway, she couldn’t sleep. I was sitting beside her, reading, hoping she’d start that tell-tale twitching that meant she was really asleep.

“Mama, how did you eat with no teeth?” she asked suddenly.

Momentarily confused, I asked, “What do you mean?”

“After all your teeth fell out,” she explained.

Ah. She was concerned that her baby teeth would all start to topple out of her mouth like dominoes. Once the first one fell, it was all over and she’d have to resort to strained pears. I assured her that her teeth would fall out slowly and would be replaced by grown-up teeth.

On to the next concern: “I hope my last tooth doesn’t fall out at school. That would be so embarrassing.”

Hmmm. “How come?” I asked.

“It would be embarrassing to have none teeth,” she answered.

toothbrushtn_7-3-07_12g.jpgFast forward to September 2008: When I picked Ladybug up from school recently she was ebullient. “My tooth is wiggly!” she shouted.

“Really?!” I shouted back, then “Buckle up! We’re almost to the real road.”

When we stopped just before heading out on the main road, I reached back and stuck my finger into her mouth for verification. I’ve heard tell of wiggly teeth before. But she was right. This WAS a wiggly tooth.

When I turned left out of the school parking lot the view was blurry for a while.

“My little girl is growing up,” went through my head, ever so corny, yet true.

The truth is, she’s been dying for this day. (After I convinced her they all wouldn’t fall out at once, that is.) Before kindergarten ended last year, Ladybug had a few snaggle-toothed friends. She often thought a tooth was loose, then, with extra wiggling, realized it was just a figment of her imagination.

The wiggling made me think about the last time we’d been to the dentist. Bad mom phrases danced in my head. She’d been brushing her teeth by herself for a while and I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the inside of her mouth in recent weeks. Unfortunately, a few days later, Ladybug was laughing uproariously out in the sunlight and I spotted it: a mottled-looking tooth. Uh-oh.

I decided we better get to the dentist STAT.

Sure enough, a cavity. And two wiggly teeth! And a new tooth already growing in behind one of the wiggly teeth.

I told her she’d better get to wiggling so that other one could grow in properly.

I asked my friends how long it took their kids’ teeth to fall out and they all groaned. “Weeks!” they said knowingly.

Well, at least the Tooth Fairy will have a heads-up.

Recently some moms in my e-mail group were talking about the going rate for a kids’ tooth.

The consensus was $1 apiece, with one mom saying her daughter adored a single gold coin equaling a dollar. One mom said she often leaves a note about the castle made out of teeth (wasn’t that an Arthur episode?) or a little “fairy dust” (a.k.a. glitter) scattered around the pillow.

petit180px-petitsfourswmt.jpgMy favorite suggestion was buying a Petit Four from Rick’s Bakery. This mom’s daughter considered it a perfect fairy-sized cake. The problem, I think, is knowing when to purchase said fairy cake. Because it could take weeks for the cake to be needed, as we now know.

The moms also had a few suggestions about accelerating project tooth eject: eat an apple; have a younger child throw a book at her (not recommended, but this is really how one mom’s siblings “helped” each other out); by “sawing” back and forth on the roots with one of those kid dental floss pick thingies; or just plain old tongue action on the loose tooth.

Not long ago, I asked local pediatric dentist Jeffrey Ward a few questions about when kids’ teeth start to fall out.

What’s the average age to lose a tooth? Typically around age 6, he told me. He said the permanent molars also start to come in on bottom back and top (unfortunately, this is where my child’s cavity is located. On her ADULT molar. Bad mom, bad mom…) He said kids often will get headaches when these teeth start coming in. He recommends sealant on those back molars (why, oh why didn’t I heed his advice?) since kids often have trouble getting to those back teeth with their toothbrush.

Which tooth is usually the first one to go? The two on the bottom front, usually, but Dr. Ward said he had seen “every kind of pattern.” There are 20 baby teeth — a total of 32 teeth altogether (including the 12-year-old molars) and wisdom teeth.

At what age should parents be concerned if a child hasn’t lost a tooth yet? Dr. Ward said his own nephew didn’t lose a tooth until a week before the child’s 8th birthday, so there’s a lot of leeway.

How long will it take for the permanent teeth to come in? He said it can be a few months, six months or even up to a year for the permanent teeth to arrive. Often the bottom permanent teeth will come in quick, but that’s sometimes not the case with those on the top.

Do all the baby teeth fall out in secession? After the first round of baby teeth fall out (four on bottom, four on top) there will be a break for two to three years before children lose more around age 8 or 9 (six on bottom, six on top), Dr. Ward said. Some will lose the first round of eight teeth in a span of a few months, but others will take a year or two.

Dr. Ward agreed that the going rate for the Tooth Fairy is $1 per tooth.

That wasn’t the case when he first started losing his teeth.

“I just got a dime,” he said.

*Ladybug fairy photo courtesty of A Kid’s Heart website

Calling all Razorback Mamas!

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Okay, so our beloved Hogs struggled through their last home game against Alabama. It happens. When your fifth grader has trouble in math class, do you give up on him and root for some other kid? No, you hang in there and know that he’ll get better with time, practice and maturity. So we’re proving our loyalty by showcasing a few great Hog items we found at Signed Sealed Delivered that would add a little more cheer to a gathering in front of the big screen TV or your next tailgate party. The Hogs will play a tough away game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against the Texas Longhorns. (It will be televised on ABC.) GO HOGS! BEAT TEXAS!

apron12.jpgIf you or your husband loves to grill out on game day, check out the cute Razorback apron we spotted. It has a matching oven mitt to go with it.

The rhinestone studded Hog graphic (pictured at the top of this story) was on a short-sleeved, fitted tee shirt. We also saw a different style that would be perfect for a pregnant Razorback fan – white top with a scoop-neck, an empire waist and a red Razorback on the bottom left hem. Very cute.

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If you need something to serve all those grilled burgers and dogs on, check out the photo above to see a selection of Hog dishes and platters.

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Once the weather turns cold, the Hog mugs shown here would be perfect for hot coffee or cocoa and might also be a cute gift presentation for a fellow Hog fan.

We also found monogrammed Razorback baby blankets, photo frames, several decorative signs (one of which says “There’s nothing like spending an evening in Razorback stadium”) and you can even get your die-hard Hog fan an embroidered stadium blanket bearing his name so he can stay warm during those end-of-season games.

There was way too much stuff to list here (including the ceramic platter pictured below), but you can see it all for yourself in the Hog section of Signed Sealed Delivered, located at 602 S. 52nd in Rogers, or call 271-7747. Tell ‘em the Razorback mamas of Motherlode sent ya. Go Hogs.

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