Swine Flu: What Moms Need to Know Right Now

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Unless you’ve been living in a remote cave, you’ve probably heard lots about swine flu lately. (It’s also referred to as the H1N1 virus.) Some of it is pretty scary stuff. And that’s why it’s so important for moms to have the facts about the illness and be as prepared as possible in preventing it and spotting the symptoms of it.

NOTE: We heard recently from several moms who tell us there is a student at a middle school in Fayetteville who has a confirmed case of swine flu.

Now that school has started again, it’s especially critical for mothers to be armed with good information because we all know how easily germs can be shared among kids in school. We interviewed Dr. Brad Johnson, Vice Presdient of Emergency Services for Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas to learn what moms need to know about this new strain of influenza.

The following Q & A was compiled using Dr. Johnson’s comments as well as information provided on the website of the Centers for Disease Control. As always, use this article for informative purposes only and always ask your own doctor for medical advice that is best for you.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?

In the majority of cases, symptoms are identical to the common flu that we see seasonally. According to the CDC, symptoms of swine flu infections can include:

  • fever (usually high, but unlike seasonal flu, is sometimes absent)
  • cough
  • runny nose or stuffy nose
  • sore throat
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills
  • fatigue or tiredness, which can be extreme
  • diarrhea or vomiting, sometimes, but more commonly seen than with seasonal flu.

Serious Swine Flu Symptoms

More serious symptoms that indicate a child or adult with Swine Flu needs urgent medical care include:

  • fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • bluish or gray skin color
  • not drinking enough fluids
  • severe or persistent vomiting
  • not waking up or not interacting
  • being so irritable that the child doesn’t want to be held
  • flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

How are the symptoms of swine flu different than regular flu?

The symptoms are very similar, at least initially. The most concerning thing that makes Swine Flu potentially more serious is its tendency to infect lower airways, often progressing to pneumonia and difficulty breathing.

Who is most at risk for catching swine flu?

Although any of us can potentially “catch it,” it’s more concerning in certain populations. Most U.S. cases of H1N1 swine flu have been in older children and young adults. It’s not clear why, and it’s not clear whether this will change.

There is a possibility that older folks may have some immunity as they may have been “historically” exposed to a virus with similar characteristics at an earlier stage in their lives and that younger adults and kids may lack this protective immunity, since H1N1 is a “novel” virus to their systems. It is still possible, however, that this virus will affect many adults, and only time will tell.

The following groups are at particularly high risk of severe disease or bad outcomes if they get the flu:

  • pregnant women
  • young children, especially those under 12 months of age
  • elderly people (Relatively few swine flu cases have been seen in people over the age of 65.)
  • people with heart problems
  • people with liver problems
  • people with kidney problems
  • people with blood disorders (including sickle cell disease)
  • people with neurologic disorders
  • people with metabolic disorders, including diabetes
  • people with immune suppression (including HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy patients, transplant patients)
  • nursing home residents or other chronic-care facility residents

Next Wednesday, we’ll publish the second part of Dr. Johnson’s Q&A about swine flu. The article will cover questions about how the virus is spread, how long it incubates, how doctors test for it, vaccines, treatments, and — most importantly — how to help prevent transmission of the virus.

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Mealtime Mama: Eat half/freeze half dinners!

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It’s the last day of August. Time to start thinking about warm food and Fall. And what mama doesn’t love a recipe that’s easy freezy? Motherlode reader Kristen Gemeiner recently shared two of her favorite recipes just perfect for eat half, then freezing the other half. We can all appreciate the joy of heating up a (previously) home-made dinner in just minutes. Of course, these look so delicious, there might not be any leftovers to freeze.

Thanks, Kristen!

Spinach-stuffed shells:

Ingredients:
shellsimages.jpgLarge package of jumbo shells (16), 1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 cup shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1 jar pasta sauce
Directions:
Cook pasta, drain. Meanwhile, drain thawed spinach, pressing out excess liquid. For the filling, combine: eggs, ricotta, both shredded cheeses, half the parmesan and the spinach. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of filling into each shell. Place 1/2 of shells into one casserole dish to bake and place the rest into a dish to freeze. Top with sauce, sprinkle with parmesan.
to eat: bake casserole, covered at 350 for 25 minutes
To freeze: seal, label and date for up to 3 months. To serve, bake casserole covered at 375 for 1 hour.

Black Bean & Sausage Burritos:

beans82581_150x150.jpg12 oz chorizo or Italian sausage (casing removed)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 4 oz can of diced chili peppers drained
8 10-inch flour tortillas
1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed & drained
For filling, in a large skillet cook sausage, onion, green peppers and garlic till meat is brown and onions tender. Drain off fat. Stir in ricotta cheese, cheese and chili peppers. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook tortillas. Use a fork to mash the black beans into a paste. Spread 2 tablespoons of beans in center of tortillas, spoon 1/2 cup of filing into tortillas. Fold/roll up. Bake 4 burritos immediately.
To eat: Arrange 4 burritos on baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until hot. Serve on shredded lettuce. Top with salsa and cheese.
To freeze: Wrap 4 burritos individually in heavy duty foil. Label, date, freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, bake at 375 for 45 minutes in foil or thaw overnight and bake for 15 minutes.

Recipe source: Better Homes and Gardens “Cooking for Two” book

If you’ve got nothing in the freezer to heat up tonight or no time to cook, remember you can pick up a take-home dinner from Cuisines Gourmet to Go. They’ve got different meals each day, and they are SO good. Today’s take-home meal choices include red beans and rice with sausage and cornbread, or a fajita chicken salad with tomato basil soup. Yum. Click here to visit the Cuisines website and get more info!

Devotion in Motion: The Little Boy Next Door

3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.  2 Timothy 2:3-4

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

Susan called me at work on Friday and gave me such bad news that it made me nauseated. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach, stabbed me through the heart. She told me Matthew Ingram matthew.jpghad been killed in Afghanistan.

I hear on the news most days about soldiers who get killed in the war. I always consider it to be terrible news, as everyone who hears it does. But this time it hit me a million times harder. Because, for 15 years, Matthew Ingram was the little boy next door.

I watched Matthew grow up through the stages of his childhood, from a beautiful baby and busy toddler, to a happy teenager and brave young man. I will never forget the day when he was 5 years old that he knocked on my back door  to invite me to a very unusual weenie roast he was hosting—unusual because he didn’t have any hot dogs to cook! Matthew told me it was still going to be a wonderful lunch because he had a pound of bologna, and he was going to wrap the slices around a coat hanger and cook them on the fire. I was tied up at time and didn’t go to the picnic, but others who attended that day told me recently that bologna cooked over an open fire makes a delicious sandwich.

Ten years ago I was Matthew’s freshman English teacher at Newton County High School. I taught his section during last period every day, and it was made up completely of boys who had just left football practice. Talk about a rowdy bunch! But, looking back on it, that hour each day with Matthew and his friends is something that I have warm memories of even to this day. As they say here in Mississippi, those fellows were “all boy”. But, they were good boys. And all of them, and especially Matthew, grew up to be good, good men.

I never forgot Matthew, and I was honored and blessed that he never forgot me. We wrote letters during his first deployment to Iraq. When he got married two years ago, his family flew me to Colorado so I could perform the wedding near the military base where he was stationed. Out of all the preachers in the world, he chose me. It is humbling to be so highly honored.

Matthew leaves behind his beautiful wife, Holly, and their 10-month-old daughter, Chloe.  He also leaves behind his parents James and Patricia, his older brother Jamie, and so many friends and family members that love him. It is heartbreaking beyond words.

Dear mamas, please never forget that it is the veteran, not the preacher, who gives us freedom of religion. And you should exercise your freedom every Sunday. Have you ever slaved to make a special meal, and then you can’t get anyone to come to the table to eat it? How did that make you feel? I think the same principle applies when we have the freedom to worship God and do not use it. We treat it as if the soldiers have labored for nothing.

Dear mama, I hope you’ll take your babies to Sunday school this week. You should take them because the Lord wants you to take them. But, on another level I hope that you will go to church because you can go, because of what the soldiers have done. I hope you’ll attend worship this week, out of love for your Father above—but also for the little boy next door.

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Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his 25th year 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 18) and Seth (age 15) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (from which they will send you an address if you would like to send Matthew’s family a card). You should write him at extramailbox@juno.com.

Note from the Mamas: You can also post comments for Matthew’s family and friends by clicking the word “comment” below. We’ll make sure they are sent to Matthew’s family.

The Rockwood Files: What a Woman Will Do for a Haircut

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

The day started out great. It was the last day of summer vacation, so the kids and I slept late that morning. I didn’t wake up until Jack, my soon-to-be kindergartner, climbed into bed and snuggled up next to me. I put my arm around him, and we talked about how exciting the first day of school would be. We stayed there doing nothing for a while, and I soaked up the feeling of how nice it is to lounge around lazily with your little ones. One last day of “no fuss, no rush.” The next morning promised to be much different.

Finally we got up, got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. Then my babysitter arrived so I could leave for a haircut appointment I’d had scheduled for more than a month. I got in the car, turned the key and heard a familiar sound that told me I was about to be late for my haircut. The battery was dead.

I was mad at myself when I realized why this had happened. Yesterday I left the key turned on to the accessory position so the kids could see the last five minutes of a robot movie they’d been watching on the car’s DVD player. I got out and immediately dialed my hairstylist’s phone number to tell her I’d be a little late.

jumper-cables.jpg“I can do this,” I told myself. “I’ll just ask the babysitter to pull her car into the garage and I’ll use the jumper cables. It’ll be quick.” I hit the button to raise the second garage door, but nothing happened. I pressed it again and heard nothing but a groaning sound while the garage door remained still as stone. If I couldn’t get the door open, I couldn’t pull another car into the garage and use it to jump my battery. There had to be another way.

“Okay, just think about this. If the other car can’t get in, then I’ll push mine out,” I said. I jumped in the driver’s seat and tried to shift into neutral so I could push the van out of the garage, having no idea whether or not I’d actually be strong enough to push a minivan backward on my own. I briefly pictured lining the kids up and having them help me push against the grill but I dismissed that idea quickly and felt a little guilty for imagining it. The gear shift wouldn’t budge out of park. I was still stuck.

It’s silly, I know, this frantic desperation to make it to a simple haircut appointment. I could have just called to reschedule for a different day. But we women look forward to our hair appointments and will do hair-salon-chair.jpgjust about anything to avoid missing one. Because a haircut appointment means you get to sit still for at least half an hour – sometimes close to two hours if you’re getting your hair colored as well, which I was. On top of getting to sit still, you also get a grown-up conversation with another adult without being interrupted by someone who wants to know if we can go get a Happy Meal when we leave. Sitting still, having a grown-up conversation AND walking away from it with great-looking hair? Well, that’s pretty close to Mommy Nirvana.

That’s why I was trying so hard not to be undone by a stupid battery. Finally, I reached Tom on his cell phone and told him my dilemma. He explained how I could unlock the garage door and pull it up manually, which I did with the brute strength of the Incredible Hulk. The babysitter pulled her car into the garage, and we both tried to pop our hoods. I looked everywhere for the release lever and couldn’t find it. I finally had to dig the owner’s manual out of the glove compartment and look it up. But I didn’t feel too bad because the babysitter seemed to be surprised to learn that she even had a hood release lever at all. It was an educational day for both of us.

I did remember how to attach jumper cables, and soon my minivan’s engine was humming again. When I detached one end of the cables, I accidentally let the metal clamps clank against each other, and a shower of orange sparks shot up, which gave me and the sitter a scare. But soon I was peeling out of the driveway toward the hair salon, running about 25 minutes late.

And I knew my hairstylist would not turn me away for being late because she is also a mother and would appreciate how valiantly I’d fought to make it into her chair. I sat still while she clipped, snipped and shampooed me into a better frame of mind. I had fought the good fight against Murphy’s Law, and I had won.

Want to read previous installments of The Rockwood Files? Click HERE!

Free gift alert: Dillard’s this weekend

Hi, Andi here! Just wanted to share: Estee Lauder has a great free gift right now, but, according to the associate at Dillard’s, it’s only available until the 30th of this month (that’s Sunday!), so you need to move quick.

There are no restrictions on what you have to buy as long as you spend more than $29.50. I got my favorite eyeliner (Artist’s Eye Pencil in Soft Smudge Black) and finally got the blue eyeliner I have been coveting for months (Smoked Eye Pencil in Smoked Sapphire).

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Crafty Mama: 10 ideas to create a fall centerpiece!

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With as much time as most moms spend in the kitchen feeding kids, it sure is nice to have something pretty to look centerpieceaug09.jpgat on the kitchen island or table. So we asked our crafty friends over at Signed Sealed Delivered to give us some ideas on how to make great fall centerpieces to use anywhere in your house. They even threw in some ideas for pretty holiday centerpieces, too. Enjoy!

Idea No. 1: Everyone has a crystal bowl or pretty glass dish in their cupboard. Fill the bowl with water and float some fall flowers, flower petals or floater candles on the surface of the water for a lovely glow.  Surround them with preserved fall leaves or small gourds or pumpkins.

Idea No. 2: Hollow out a pumpkin and place a potted mum inside for an inexpensive and colorful fall arrangement that works inside and out.

Idea No. 3: Place tea lights inside hollowed out vegetables, mini pumpkins, or fruits and set around the table for subtle illumination.

Idea No. 4: For seasonal table décor, place moss balls, pine cones, Easter eggs, or Christmas ornaments in a decorative bowl or footed decorative glass vases, depending on the season.

Idea No. 5: Fill wine glasses, martini glasses or footed candle holders with various seasonal candies and nestle a tea light in the candy. Candy corn, red hots, gum balls, jelly beans… anything goes!

Idea No. 6: Wrap a potted flower, like a mum or a geranium, with burlap and tie with rope or ribbon.

Idea No. 7: Wide mesh is one of our favorite ribbons right now. We love to open it up and run it down the center of any table and decorate for fall and holiday events.

Idea No. 8: If you are decorating for a child’s holiday event, start with a favorite toy (or a new one) that is tied with a beautiful fall or holiday bow. We love to theme even our holiday parties. Try filling a Tonka truck with candy for the boys and tea cups for the girls.

Idea No. 9: Let beautifully wrapped gifts become your centerpiece. Choose papers and ribbons that match the décor of the room or your holiday theme, and then wrap small, medium and a few larger boxes to make a statement. You might even fill each with a small gift and put a tag for each guest at the party to take with them when they depart.

Idea No. 10: Buy or grow a series of small evergreen trees and place them down your table’s center.  Add fresh greens, berries and pine cones directly onto the table to add a bit of nature to your holiday.

Don’t forget: Children love to help with the holidays. Let them create a series of holiday ornaments and décor with paper, Styrofoam, glitter, ribbon and add them to a fabric, mesh or ribbon covered center.  No centerpiece2aug09.jpgother table will look as special as yours and the kids will love to see their work.

Our thanks to the ladies of Signed Sealed Delivered for all the great ideas you see listed above. If you are short on the time or energy to create your own centerpiece this fall, you could always swing by Signed Sealed Delivered and take home something you really love. The store’s designers, Terri, Shirley and Barbara, have become well-known for their gorgeous centerpieces and arrangements that have a real “wow” factor. They can even design arrangements specifically for your event, home decor, colors, etc. (The centerpieces you see pictured in this post are available at Signed Sealed Delivered, too.) For more info, click here to see their website or call the store at 479-271-7747.

Mamas’ Tip of the Day: Turn photos into canvas wall art

A few months ago, I had this decorating dilemma. In my family room, there is a weird space between the top of my bookshelves and the ceiling. It needed something, but I wasn’t sure what that “something” was. I spent a few months browsing at different stores for framed artwork that would be exactly the right size but nothing fit just right. Then this idea finally hit me. Since it is our family room, I decided to fill the space with oversized snapshots of the kids because I didn’t want anything too formal. I picked out four of my favorites, put them on a disc and took them to my go-to framer, Scott McGowen of Scott Frame & Art, who has been framing my kids’ photos since his shop opened in 2007.

The cool part: Instead of traditional framing, Scott suggested that we print the photos onto canvas and stretch them across a wooden frame to give it a gallery look, which is exactly what I wanted. He “gallery wrapped” the sides of the photos so that you don’t see any blank edges.

canvas31.jpgWhat I love about this idea is that I don’t get any glare off of glass because there isn’t any. And I don’t have to climb the bookshelves to dust frames because there aren’t any. But I still get great artwork (my kids’ faces) to fill the space that I needed to fill. (I told Scott what the dimensions of my space were and he helped me figure out how large each photo should be in order to balance the space.)

By the way, that white thing between the photos is a surround sound speaker that my husband insists must stay in this exact spot. Yes, I hate it. But messing around with a man’s surround sound system is not a good idea for maintaining a healthy marriage. So… the speaker stays.

canvas11.jpgI did this little home decor project last fall, so I used some photos of my kids playing in the leaves in our yard. Considering how expensive framed artwork can sometimes be, this project was very budget-friendly. It’s affordable enough for me to keep changing out the photos every year with new shots as the kids grow. (To print one photo on a 16 by 20 inch canvas and gallery wrap the edges, the cost is about $54.)

People who have stopped by for a visit have noticed my little gallery of kid photos above the bookshelves and remarked on how much they like that idea. So I thought I’d pass it along to my fellow photo-loving canvas41.jpgmamas. If you don’t have snapshots you want to use, you could easily do this same idea with some of your kids’ artwork from school and hang it in their rooms, a hallway or a play area.

Call Scott at Scott Frame & Art if you have questions about how to pull this off. He and his staff are full of good ideas on how to display just about anything. Visit them online by clicking here or call the shop at 479-696-8263.

Hair: Help Me Rhonda on Bed Head

Dear Rhonda,

Is there any cure for “bed head”? I really don’t want to have to wash my hair every day, but it seems so bad in the morning that I feel like I have to start all over to get it to look the way I want. Do you have any tricks for transforming “bed head” into something presentable enough to leave the house with? I don’t want to wear a ball cap every other day!

styling-lotion.jpgDear Bed Head,

You know, a lot of people pay big money to get the “bed head” look. But I do know exactly what you mean. I scare myself some mornings and wonder what position I slept in that caused the front of my hair to stand up like that. You gotta laugh about it. Thank the Lord no one is there to take a picture.

There’s a product from Bumble and Bumble called “Styling Lotion” that can be sprayed into wet or dry hair, and, with just a brush and a blow dryer, your style is back to normal. I put this one to the test myself. I have extremely fine hair and it doesn’t take much to weigh it down. I tried the Styling Lotion one morning and, to my amazement, IT WORKED! I had great volume without the greasy look you can get from using some products. I was happy with it, and I think you will be, too. Try it and rhondapic2.jpglet me know if you go from “frazzle to dazzle.” Good luck.

Rhonda Moulder, pictured right, is a mama to two beautiful daughters and is also a stylist at Blue Door & Co. in downtown Bentonville. E-mail her a hair question at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com or call for an appointment at the salon at 479-273-9944. Have a happy hair day.

Great Date Giveaway winner!

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Congratulations to a lucky mama, Sharon, who won Motherlode’s “Great Date Giveaway”! This mom of a teenager snagged two tickets to the Second City comedy show at Walton Arts Center for Friday night and dinner at U.S. Pizza on Dickson Street to boot!

Give us a shout, Sharon, and we’ll fill you in on all the winning details!

We LOVED all the funnies you moms shared (including the off-line ones!) and, as always, we’re glad that Random.org chose the winner instead of us. Here’s what Sharon had to say in comments:

“I have a 13 year old, we have DRAMA in our house right now. Boy a night of laughs would be perfect, especially with no kids.”

About the show: The Second City is a touring company that has launched some of our country’s most famous comedians and actors. So this is your chance to see the next big comedians in the making. Stars including Dan Aykroyd, Joan Rivers, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey are just a few of the big names who did a stint with The Second City.

The cast members perform satire and improv. They even take suggestions from the audience and create catchy jingles and sketches off the cuff — with no scripts! But be aware that no topic is off limits with this group, and no subject is too sensitive. 

In addition to the Friday night performance, there is also a Saturday show at 8 p.m. For more info on ticket availability, pricing and show details, click here or on the graphic above to visit the Walton Arts Center website. Or call the box office at 479-443-5600.

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Fashion Mama: Turn Summer clothes into great Fall finds!

By Stephna Masters, owner of “Closet Consulting with Stephna”

While thumbing through the latest “Instyle” magazine, I found an article similar to one I read every year about transitioning your wardrobe into fall. If you have a summer piece that you just love, you can find a way to wear it during the fall, too. And using pieces of your wardrobe for more than just one season is a great way to save money.

I worked in clothing retail for years. When new merchandise came into the store for early fall, the marketing strategy was to get customers to buy the new items by showing them how to “wear now and wear later.” That means that we would display mannequins wearing an item for the last part of the summer and then we’d add a few pieces from the fall wardrobe to accommodate the cooler temperatures. Of course, we were trained in how to do this, but, trust me, it’s not rocket science and you can do it, too. I’ll show you how.

What I recommend is to visit web sites or flip through your favorite fashion magazine to find an outfit you like, and then take a close look at what you already have in your closet. You don’t want to go out and buy new things if you’re able to recreate the same look with things you already have. Part of my “closet consulting” service is to dig into my client’s closets and help them create the latest looks with things they already have. It’s a lot of fun to show people how to pull this off, and they’re always amazed at all the options they didn’t even know they had.

To illustrate how to carry pieces of your wardrobe from summer into fall, I used clothes and accessories from my own closet. (Okay, I might have pulled a few things from my daughters’ closets as well.) Take a look at each example and I bet you’ll realize that you have similar pieces in your own closet that you can use to create these outfit options for fall.

Example 1: Let’s start with a dress I bought last year to wear to a summer wedding. It’s a silk dress fall31.jpglined with polyester. Light pink and black are great contrast colors and make it easy to extend this outfit’s use from one season to the next.  When I wore it to the wedding, I paired it with black heeled sandals, a small black purse and sparkly earrings. For cooler functions or those in a freezing air-conditioned room, a cardigan or short sleeve jacket can help keep you warm.

To transition this dress into early fall, I can get one of my black lightweight turtle necks that will layer nicely under the dress. Add a pair of black boots or black tights and booties and a leather jacket. Then just choose the size of purse needed for a day out on the town. See how it works? Your s

ummer dress just became a fall fashion.

Example 2: I chose a classic pencil skirt, and I bet there may be one in your closet as well. For the summer, I pair this skirt with sleeveless tops and maybe a shrug if I’m going somewhere air-conditioned. I accessorize it with a fun wedge sandal and big chunky beads. It’s hard to go wrong with a khaki pencil skirt, but a black one is just as versatile.

Because the pencil skirt is such a classic piece, I can keep using it during the fall because it’s a great look at any time. A crisp white fitted blouse tucked in with a big black belt will really make

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it sharp. Then add black pumps or tall black boots. A black blazer from a suit can add for additional warmth if needed, and of course a black purse. You could throw in a leopard purse if you have one for a pop of print.

This look may seem a little boring for some of you who might want a little funk, so I pulled a graphic t-shirt from my daughter’s closet. I like to layer a t-shirt on top of blouses for the early fall, because it gives me a little warmth for the days that a heavy sweater is a bit too much. Wear it with a pair of tall black boots or even ankle booties with or without tights (fishnets would be funky too). According to the fashion trend for fall 2009, leather is the “in” thing, so pull it out when the temperature is right. Leather jackets are always a classic to complete any look.

Example 3: Okay, let’s do one more example, and this time I’ll pull something together that’s a little more casual. I love my denim ankle pants because they fit great and they’re really comfortable. I wear them in summer with fun print tanks or camisoles and sandals (flat or with a wedge heel).

While surfing around online for fall fashion trend updates, I found this idea that I think is practical and can fall71.jpgeasily be reproduced with things in your own closet. Using the same ankle denim pants and crisp white blouse, add a v-neck cardigan and skinny belt to create an outfit that’s great for the office or even going out with your friends. Booties and fishnet knee highs would be an updated shoe look for fall, but a pair of pumps would also work. To give this a little pizzazz, throw in a grey and black animal print scarf tied to the handbag or around your neck.

While the weather is still warm, those creative store displays will be enticing you to buy new styles for fall. But be sure to analyze what you have in your fall/winter wardrobe before you go out to buy a whole new outfit. Start looking in magazines or online sites that give advice on trends for upcoming seasons. Try to recreate an outfit with what you already have in your closet, and then buy small items such as a new white blouse or fun accessories so that you cut down on the clutter your closet doesn’t need.

The money you save by doing this can go toward something else like a great trip, a spa day, a few sessions with a personal trainer or a new hair cut/color for the new season. Most of all, get that closet organized so you can really use what’s in there, and have some fun with it!

If you want some hands-on help getting the most use out of your closet or finding new pieces for your fall wardrobe that work best for you, I’d be happy to help. Visit me online by clicking here or call me at 479-841-2360 or 479-751-1531. You can also e-mail me at findfashioninyourcloset@hotmail.com.

iPeriod. Yes, there’s an app for that

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We were out walking and got to talking about that time of the month. I asked my friend when she was supposed to start. That’s when she pulled out her iPhone and started punching. Then she told me the date.

What the … ?

“I just checked iPeriod to see when I’m supposed to start,” she said.

Seriously, there’s an app for that. And it’s on sale for $1.99 at iTunes right now.

If you’re trying to get pregnant (or not!) this is a cool tool. Among other things, it remembers your last period dates, predicts your future 12 periods (vacation planning made easier) and predicts ovulation and fertility.

Of course, in the Frequently-Asked-Questions section, they make the point that you shouldn’t become too dependent on your phone for pregnancy prevention. Amazing that they have to say that, but they do. Check out #3:

Why can’t I use iPeriod to prevent pregnancy?
iPeriod calculates statistics based on averages, and only offers estimates of fertility and ovulation. Always use proper protection when trying to prevent pregnancy. Ya think?

Beauty Buzz: “Ask Andi” about brushes

Dear Andi,

Do you think the type of make-up brush makes a real difference in application? My sister bought a very expensive set, but I say the drugstore kind work just as well. What’s your opinion?

Dear Applicant,

brushes.jpgThe more expensive brushes can create a smoother, more polished look, but unless you are being photographed and broadcast in high-def, you can do just fine with the drug store brushes. The biggest problem I have (because I, too, cruise the drugstore aisles) is that the bristles will fall out and they aren’t as soft, but that just doesn’t bother me. It is more important that you use the right brush for the look you are trying to achieve (i.e.: don’t use a powder brush for blush).

I do invest in a moderately expensive foundation brush, but, mysteriously, lose blush brushes on a regular basis so I look at price before quality when I go to replace them. 

If you are going to splurge, try buying them individually so you avoid winding up with a bunch of brushes you don’t need. Also, you have to wash them regularly (a couple of times a week with dish soap and water) and always keep them in a protective case. If you plan on letting your kids play princess with your make-up bag, keep it simple and just buy what makes sense to you and won’t make you cry if it ends up in the toilet or under the refrigerator.

Andi Douglas is a local mom of two and the ruling make-up queen at nwaMotherlode. E-mail your questions to her at mamas@nwaMotherlode.com and the answer may be featured in her weekly column.  

All Akimbo: Light bulb moment

By Kim Blakely, mama to 2

bennett-and-juliana100_41091.jpgWe were blissfully happy when we finally got to introduce Moxie to our families and the next two days in the hospital are a blur of oohs, aahs, and wondrous gazes.

Moxie had a gift for her brother – amazing that she had the presence of mind to shop before birth, I know. She gave him an Iron Man action figure, and he held on to that thing like it was his very own life preserver in an ocean of uncertainty. Mojo would look at her, he would talk to her, but he refused to touch her – or me – for at least a couple of days.

Still, I would have to say we were all pretty happy.

On the third day, there was a bump in the road.

The pediatricians rounded early in the morning, so Moxie was wheeled off to the nursery before I got my breakfast. The lactation consultant visited while she was gone … but what she said didn’t really register.

She told me my daughter’s bilirubin level was something around 13 – not in the danger zone, which I’ve since learned is closer to 25. She told me I might consider doing three-step feeds: Nurse, pump, and have my husband feed her as much breast milk as she would swallow with a syringe following every nursing session.

Huh, I thought. OK. Three-step feeds sound a little complicated, but I’ll give it the old college try if it comes to that.

My husband had stayed at home with Mojo the night before and wasn’t yet at the hospital when the lactation consultant, and then the pediatrician, came in. If he’d been there, he might have been lucid enough to ask why she made that suggestion.

I should explain that I didn’t sleep much while I was in the hospital. It wasn’t so much that the baby was keeping me up as it was that I was up keeping the baby.

Say what you will about co-sleeping, but I did it with Mojo in the hospital and we both rested better. Maybe I’ve seen too many Lifetime movies, but I was honestly worried that someone might steal her away if I closed my eyes for too long.

I couldn’t move after the c-section anyway, so it was a given that I wouldn’t turn over while he slept on my chest. This time, the nurses barked at me about putting her in the isolette if I so much as felt drowsy. (They also forbade against cutting her sharp fingernails with the clippers I had brought for that very purpose – “She’ll bleed!” they warned.)

That said, by the third day I was feeling a little loopy and it took me a few minutes to comprehend what the doctor was saying. He was telling me that Moxie was jaundiced and that we had to put her in a “light box” immediately. She could be taken out only every three hours to nurse and was to be put back in as soon as she was done.

Whoa.

My milk was just coming in, and I knew that nursing every three hours – let alone only holding my baby every three hours – would slow that process down, if not put the kibosh on it altogether.

“I don’t really want to do that,” I told him. I wanted a little time to process this information, to do a little research on my own to figure out what was best for my baby, and the lactation consultant had told me the situation wasn’t dire.

What the doctor said next will stick with me for a loooong time.

He told me that if I didn’t do things his way, I would go home the next day without my baby. (I found out later that wasn’t true at all. My doctor would have discharged me a day later or I could have roomed in with my baby while she was being treated, but no one would have insisted that I go home without her.)

He also said that if he let her go home and then had to readmit her later, it would make him look bad. Wha … ?!

I was angry. I felt defeated and so upset with myself for not being able to address this bully, even to ask him logical questions. Instead, I just burst into tears.

He left and a couple of nurses showed up with the gigantic light box. They were both friendly and compassionate, but they comforted me as much as they could, and then they plugged the machine in, turned it on and left.

Another nurse came in and told me that she would be assigned to Moxie, that she would check on her at least every couple of hours. She would be the one to come in and take Moxie out of the box when it was time for her to nurse and would return to put her back when she was done, she said. (Icily, I might add.)

My instincts told me Moxie needed to nurse – and I know now that my instincts were right on. From what I’ve learned, the more a jaundiced baby nurses (and poops), the quicker the bilirubin can be removed from his or her little body.

When I tried to explain to Nurse Icy that I was concerned about feeding my baby only every three hours, she put her hands on her hips and demanded, “What can I do to make you happy?”

What she could do, I told her, was leave my room.

My husband answered the phone when the doctor called my room a couple of hours later. He didn’t ask to speak to me, nor did he offer any explanation – but he said he had changed his mind about the light box.

We did the three-step feeds, my husband and me as a team, until late that evening, when I felt like Moxie was stuffed to the gills and that any more nourishment might just make her ill.

The next morning, her bilirubin level was up a little more, as to be expected, and the sweet nurse who broke the news told me she would get things rolling for Moxie to go under the lights. However, she told me I should feel free to take my baby out and nurse her anytime I felt like she needed to eat.

I <HEART> her.

In the end, Moxie spent no time in the box, but it stayed in my room – still plugged in, still turned on – for the next 24 hours.

Now, I know that jaundice isn’t the worst thing in the world. I know lots of parents have had to deal with truly scary situations with their new babies and I am in no way trying to compare this to that. If she had to go under the lights, we would have survived.

But the way this was handled seems way off base to me.

We took Moxie to our pediatrician’s office the next day – and again two days later – for follow-up examinations, and her bilirubin levels dropped off and her weight came up, which is just what was supposed to happen. She is fine.

I’m pretty sure I, however, lost weight from all the tears I shed about the situation. I guess I do have to thank the mean doctor for something.

Kim suffered years of secondary infertility before getting pregnant with Moxie. Read previous installments of All Akimbo or nwaMotherlode.com’s other mom blogs now!

Great Date Giveaway: Comedy show and pizza, too!

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NOTE TO MOMS: We’ll choose a winner at random by 4 p.m. today (Aug. 26). Good luck!

If you could use a good laugh, good food and a good time with your sweetie out on the town, we’ve got you covered. Today we’re doing another of our famous “Great Date Giveaways,” and the lucky mama who wins it will get two tickets to the Second City comedy show at the Walton Arts Center this Friday, August 2nd-city-ad-slick.JPG28th at 8 p.m. (The tickets alone are a $65 value!)

Of course, we never send our ticket winners to a show on an empty stomach. After all, we are mamas and our maternal instincts like to ensure that our winners are well-fed. So we’ll be sending the winning couple to dinner at U.S. Pizza on Dickson Street before the show. We think pizza and laughs go great together. ($30 dinner value!)

After dinner, you’ll be just steps away from the Walton Arts Center where you can pick up your show tickets and settle in for a night of really funny comedians.

About the show: The Second City is a touring company that has launched some of our country’s most famous comedians and actors. So this is your chance to see the next big comedians in the making. Stars including Dan Aykroyd, Joan Rivers, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey are just a few of the big names who did a stint with The Second City.

The cast members perform satire and improv. They even take suggestions from the audience and create catchy jingles and sketches off the cuff — with no scripts! But be aware that no topic is off limits with this group, and no subject is too sensitive. (If your parents asked you not to talk about it at the dinner table, chances are it’ll be made fun of during the show.)

In addition to the Friday night performance, there is also a Saturday show at 8 p.m. For more info on ticket availability, pricing and show details, click here or on the graphic above to visit the Walton Arts Center website. Or call the box office at 479-443-5600.

About the food: What can we cay about the food at U.S. Pizza? Might as well keep it short – it rocks. In fact, it’s so good that I’ve heard more than a few people say that, once they’ve had pizza from U.S. Pizza, they are forever spoiled after that. No other pizzas seem to live up to that standard. What makes it so great? Some say it’s the crust. Others say it’s the sauce. I have no idea, but I do know it’s goooooood. If you’re not into pizza, the restaurant also has award-winning salads so you’ll be covered either way. (Click the logo to check out their online menu.)

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HOW TO ENTER: Since we’re sending one of you out for an evening of laughs, we’d like a few giggles, too. So, in order to throw your name in the hat, tell us something funny. (Toddler flushed 14 socks down the toilet? Teenager said something hilarious last week? Your husband gagged when he changed his first poopy diaper? Got a corny joke? Anything goes, as long as it’s clean.) Can’t think of anything? If you’re all out of funny, then just tell us you could use a few laughs and we’ll put your name in the hat. No pressure.

To post your comments, simply click the word “comment” just below the dotted line at the bottom of this post. (You can use initials or a nickname, if you like.) Or you can e-mail your comments to us at giveaways@nwaMotherlode.com.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES:  As always, we give you an additional chance to win for every person you tell via e-mail about our site and/or the giveaway. Be sure to put us on the CC line of your note so we can give you proper credit. (Tell 10 friends and you’ll get 10 additional chances to win. That’s how it works.)

Hope all of you have a great week this week! We’ll pick a winner AT RANDOM (using www.random.org) on Wednesday and notify that person via e-mail. We’ll post the winner’s name on Thursday. Good luck to all who enter!

Doc Talk: Advice on ‘growing pains’

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harmon1.jpgDoc Talk is a weekly series of short video podcasts of Mercy Health System doctors answering questions moms want answers to. Click on the Motherlode video podcast below to see and hear the answer to today’s question. Dr. Harry Harmon, a long-time pediatrician, answers a mom’s question about “growing pains.”

Want to know more about Dr. Harmon? Just click on his photo to watch his biographical video podcast which offers details about his experience and training.video11.jpg

Q: My son’s legs hurt quite a bit at night — enough that I have to give him ibuprofen. Could this be “growing pains” or something else that I should be concerned about?

A: Click on the video podcast icon at right. When the window opens, click on the “play” arrow to begin the video answer.

Dr. Harry Harmon is a family practitioner at Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas. His practice, the Rogers Medical Center, is located in the Physicians Plaza just off Interstate 540. For more info on Dr. Harmon, click on his photo to watch his bio podcast or call his office at 479-338-5555.

logo_mercy1.gifNWAMotherlode.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions about a medical condition. Don’t delay getting professional medical advice because of something you read online. This website doesn’t necessarily recommend or endorse any specific tests, doctors, products, procedures or opinions discussed on the site.

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