The Rockwood Files: Mom pleads the Fifth

rockwoodfiles2-205x300By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

It started about a week ago – a strange itching sensation on the palm of my hand. No redness, no bumps. Only a pesky itch with no apparent cause. I mentioned it one day to my dad, who said an itchy palm means you’re about to receive some unexpected money.

What I got instead was a deluge of other symptoms, not just for me but for two of our three kids. One kid had a low-grade fever, which I chalked up to the common cold or 24-hour virus. The other had achy legs, which I attributed to the kind of growing pains that take a kid from 46 inches tall to 48 inches seemingly overnight.

Then I came down with a combination of the kids’ symptoms – fever and general body aches that made me miserable for most of a weekend. But the tiresome symptoms passed, as most illnesses thankfully do.

After several days of being back on our feet, 6-year-old Kate woke up with bright red cheeks. She looked as if she’d been outside riding her bike on a blustery, cold day. Even though she felt fine, the red cheeks lasted all of Sunday and into the next Monday, when the school nurse called to say she thought Kate might have something called Fifth Disease.

Any illness with the word “disease” as part of the name tends to quickly get a mama’s attention. But the school nurse assured me it wasn’t as dire as it sounds. It’s just a simple virus with a tell-tale red rash that has earned it the nickname “slapped-cheek rash.” By the time the rash appears, the contagious part of the illness is already over.

After two days of extra pink cheeks, Kate was back to normal. I, on the other hand, was not. I climbed out of bed and winced in pain as soon as my feet touched the floor. They felt as if they’d fallen asleep and couldn’t wake up. That pins-and-needles feeling made my feet throb with each step. And my hands and knees had that same strange, prickly soreness.

When I hobbled downstairs, I found11-year-old Adam at the breakfast table looking like the sandman had slapped him hard across the face all night. Fifth Disease had come back for its second act. The rash traveled from his cheeks to his arms, legs and feet, so I kept him home from school so he wouldn’t have to explain why his splotchy arms and hands weren’t contagious.

I googled the symptoms and found that an adult who catches this common childhood virus doesn’t typically get the signature rash but does often get achy joints, particularly in the hands, knees and feet. Check, check and check. I was three for three. It felt like a faint hint of what it might be like to move around as a 90-year-old arthritis patient.

The good news is that we’re finally getting better, and the rash is fading into an unpleasant memory. Most of all, going a few rounds with Fifth Disease has reminded me how great it is to feel great again.

One of the occupational hazards of motherhood is battling the bacteria and viruses your kids drag home from school, and there’s not enough Germ-X in the world to keep from catching something now and then. But when the fever breaks and the symptoms subside, you realize that the real windfall is having your good health back. All the unexpected money in the world can’t buy that.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

Northwest Arkansas Calendar of Events: December 2013

Gardenland-Express-Logo-small-300x177Gardenland Express

The popular Gardenland Express returns this year! The model trains of the Sugar Creek Train Club and the Northwest Arkansas Garden Railway Society will take over the Event Hall amidst a winter wonderland of sparkling lights. Enjoy some hot chocolate while the kids visit with Santa and take a barrel train ride around the garden. All of the fun will take place the first three weekends of December.

Date: Dec. 1-15

Time: Varies

Location: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

More info: Click here

Rogers Christmas Parade

Who doesn’t love a parade? Especially a sparkly, musical, sugary Christmas Parade?! Nearly 100 floats, marching bands, decorated cars, scouts, dogs, choirs and kids take part each year in this extra-special event – each covered with bright Christmas lights! Expect a blizzard of fake “snow” on this year’s entries as they all try to win one of the four special awards for the theme “Winter Wonderland.”

Date: Dec. 2

Time: 7p.m.

Location: Downtown Rogers

More info: Click here

Pinnacle PromenadePajama Party with Santa

Date: Dec. 3, 10 & 17

Location: Pinnacle Promenade Mall, Food Pavilion

More info: Click here

A Christmas Carol

Date: Dec. 5-29

Time: Varies

Location: TheatreSquared, Fayetteville

More info: Click here

Sing-a-Long, The Sound of Music

sound-of-music-singalong-with-dateDate: Dec. 6

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

Breakfast with Santa

Date: Dec. 8


Location: Arts Center of the Ozarks

More info: Click here

O Night Divine Gala, Mercy Health Foundation

MERCY2Date: Dec. 7

Time: 6 p.m.

Location: John Q. Hammons Convention Center

More info: Click here

Junior League of NWA Winter Dreams Tour of Homes

Date: Dec. 8

Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Homes in Benton and Washington counties

More info: Click here


An Evening with Ronnie Milsap

Date: Dec. 8


Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

best christmas pageantDate: Dec. 13-15


Location: Arts Center of the Ozarks, Springdale

More info: Click here

Annual Christmas Show on Ice and Skate with Santa

Come enjoy our annual figure skating Christmas Show! Spend your time watching talented skaters skating to all your favorite Christmas music. Included in the ticket price is the opportunity to skate with Santa after the show. Concessions will be available. There will be 2 shows, 1pm and 4pm.

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 1 p.m and 4 p.m.

Location: Jones Center for Families, Springdale

More info: Click here

Bentonville Christmas Parade

One of the largest daytime parades in the state, the Bentonville Christmas Parade host thousands of participants and brings over 10,000 people into downtown to celebrate the holiday season. Participants from the area compete for best float and best walking group.

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Bentonville Square

More info: Click here

Mrs. Santa’s Kitchen

Mrs. Santa's kitchenHomemade cookies, candy, bread and gift sale. All proceeds go to missions supported by the church.

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 9 a.m. to noon

Location: Sequoyah United Methodist Church

More info: 479-442-8677

SoNa Christmas Concert

The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) presents its Christmas Concert under the baton by Maestro Paul Haas. Sponsored by Bob and Marilyn Bogle, the concert showcases a mix of your favorite sacred and secular music celebrating the beauty and wonder of Christmas. Featuring vocal soloists, the SoNA Singers and regional choirs.

Date: Dec. 14

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

Cherish the Ladies: A Celtic Christmas

Cherish the Ladies has grown from a one-time concert concept to an Irish traditional music sensation, literally the most successful and sought-after Irish-American group in Celtic music.

Date: Dec. 17

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

Nutcracker-Web-Ad-266x375BThe Nutcracker

Date: Dec. 20-22


Location: Walton Arts Center

More info: Click here

Fall photos that make us smile

count your blessings bannerThese photos from nwaMotherlode reader and friend Kathleen Villar remind us how blessed we are by the children in our lives. The top photo is one of Kathleen’s favorite shots from a few years ago, and the bottom shot is an updated one showing the newest little member of the family — baby brother Thomas who is wrapped up in the papoose. :-)

Give your kids an extra hug today, and have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

villar post

Beauty Buzz: How can I brighten up my look for winter?

Dear Andi,

Are there any new trends you would recommend for the winter? My makeup routine is so boring lately.

Dear reader,

As the weather cools and my summer color fades, my complexion is turning as grey as the skies. Ugh, dull and boring describes my look perfectly right now.

The minimal makeup and nude lip I wear all summer are looking dull with my winter wardrobe, so it’s the perfect time to mix it up and explore the fall trends.

The fastest way to brighten up your look is with a new lipstick. Wine or burgundy lip colors are being spotted on red carpets and runways alike and since a wine colored lipstick can have either red or pink undertows it is more versatile than a traditional red lip.

lipstickWhat finally made me see this as a wearable trend was the Kat Von D Foiled lipstick in F.T.W. (Sephora, $20) featured on The combination of the metallic specks and an application with a lip brush made the color light enough for everyday wear.

Or try a more affordable version with Ulta lipstick in Good Year for Wine (pink undertones) or Sangria (red undertones), $8 each.

Another idea: eat enough cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving to stain your lips red for a few days. That’s my plan.

The number one trend I am seeing for winter 2013 is a cat eye. Traditionally, a cat eye is when you use black liquid eyeliner along your upper lash line and wing it out and up to create a dramatic eye. Liquid liner can be tricky and, frankly, scares me a little.

A toned down version would be more of a kitten eye, created with a pencil or kohl liner and winged up only slightly at your outer lash line. Because the wing itself is more subtle, combine the technique with another great trend and use navy blue eyeliner. The color makes hazel and brown eyes really pop.

For the makeup pro, or someone who is not squeamish about almost touching your own eyeball for sake of beauty, lining the inside rim of your your lower lashes with a metallic gold eye pencil is a fun evening look paired with a smokey brown eye. Your eyes sparkle, and no one will be able to look away. Be warned if uninterrupted eye contact makes you uncomfortable.

cat eye

If you are addicted to braiding your hair, like I am, don’t be sad that beach season is in the past. Thanks to the glorious Jennifer Lawrence and a little movie she’s in (you may have heard of it, Hunger Games?), braids are only getting more popular.

To winterize the trend, try for a more polished look by spraying a toothbrush with hairspray and brushing back any fly always. The tiny bristles will tame the fuzz without giving you a shellacked appearance.

As a mother, be thankful for any time that you ave to spend a moment on yourself, because taking pride in your appearance gives you confidence and feeds your energy; energy that you need to keep up with your kids when school is out and the combination of tryptophan and pumpkin pie has turned them into tiny terrors.

Be thankful for the kids old enough to help with the cooking, at long last, and the tiny hand print turkeys posted to the fridge that fall off every time you reach for the milk. And for the three year old that says you look beautiful when you still have curlers in your hair and flour covered pajamas on, because children see true beauty.

Happy Thanksgiving, mamas!

AndiAndi is mama to 3 and lover of all beauty trends and products. If you’ve got a beauty questions for her, email it to

The Metro fridge at its new home in time for Thanksgiving!

The Lewis’ and their four kids are grateful this Thanksgiving week for friends, family — and that brand new FRIDGE!

Tamara Lewis won the Big Chill Giveaway from Metro Appliances & More and it will definitely be getting a big workout over the holidays with houseguests and kids opening and shutting the doors hundreds (thousands?) of times.

Here’s a sweet pic of the Lewis kids with their new fridge (don’t you love how it already looks loved with all those magnets on the front?):

Tamara fridge collageCongratulations, again, to the Lewis family. In honor of Thanksgiving week, we thought we’d share just a FEW of the amazing comments we read related to this giveaway (read them all by clicking here). These thank you notes are a reminder of everything we have to be grateful for:

I’m so thankful for my daughter’s hair and mine! No we are not cancer patients. Kylee was attacked by a dog earlier this year and most of her stitches and staples had to go in her scalp. We thought they were going to have to shave her head so I told her that I would get the same haircut. Amazingly the doctor did not! It took me over 18 hours to untangle her hair. Her long beautiful hair is a blessing, even when it’s a hot mess. Mine is a bonus. ~ Kristi

I am thankful for my children’s health. We’ve had a very rough month, several bouts with strep and our youngest had scarlet fever. Thankfully though he is on the upswing and doing so much better. ~ Shannon

I have a LOT to be thankful for, but the first thing that comes to mind is the healthy little girl wiggling and growing inside me! ~Savanah

I am thankful that after 40 years of waiting, praying, and believing I received the man of my dreams, my one and only husband, John Charles Deckert….. Thankful for him. ~Malen

I’m thankful my mom survived chemo and radiation and such a serious neck surgery .. A long road ahead but things are looking up!! ~Cammi

I am thankful that I BEAT breast cancer this year! ~Sharon

Thankful for FaceTime with my grandchildren.
We live a distance away & it is wonderful to see their faces when we talk ~Debbi

I am thankful that a friend’s adoption was finally approved after three long years of waiting! ~Melissa

I am blessed! I am extremely thankful for my neighbors who are an extension of my family. We are a group of moms that are here in NWA without our families. They have been there in so many ways, from mopping my floor when sick to mopping up my tears when having a bad day or mom moment. I truly believe god put these ladies in my life I am very thankful:) ~Marie

 I am thankful for the closer relationship I have built with my Dad this past year. ~Kimberly

I’m so thankful that my mom is cancer free this year. I’m also thankful for the genetic testing that is allowing me to be proactive with my health. I am BRCA 1 positive. I just had my ovaries removed a little over 5 weeks ago and bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction begins in January. I am truly thankful that breast and ovarian cancer are not in my future. ~ Dana

Thankful that the Lord took care of my youngest when she decided to somersault out of her top bunk instead of taking a nap. She’s missing a few baby teeth, but she blessedly doesn’t have a broken neck or spine. ~ Robyn

I’m thankful that I’ve been given a fun opportunity to start a new business venture. It’s been so exciting!  (I’d also like to add that we’ve gotten most of our appliances from Metro, and they provide some of the most excellent ongoing service I’ve ever experienced. They’re a great company!) ~Amy

Giveaway: Win 2 tickets to the 2013 Winter Dreams Tour of Homes + a Junior League cookbook!

Don’t you love peeking into other people’s houses? And when they’re all decorated for Christmas? Even better!

Today we’re giving away 2 tickets to the 2013 Winter Dreams Tour of Homes, which is an annual Junior League of NWA fundraiser. Through great fundraisers like this, Touch a Truck and Moonlight Masquerade, the Junior League is able to help out organizations in our area who serve women and children. The winner will also receive an “Add Another Place Setting” cookbook which we both own and know for a fact is absolutely fabulous!

Winter-Dreams-296x300The tour is on Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you don’t want to take your chances with this giveaway, click here to purchase your Winter Dreams tickets online*. Tickets are only $20 for a whole day of fun — and Christmas inspiration! It’s a great day for a group of girlfriends to hang out together.

Winter Dreams tickets include directions to each home from I-540. Homes will be located in both Benton and Washington counties.

HOW TO ENTER: If you’d love to win the two tour tickets and the Add Another Place Setting cookbook, click on the word “comment” below and tell us about something in your house that you would love to “show off” if folks came over for a little tour. It could be your favorite ornament, your signature Christmas tree, a Bible that belonged to your great-grandmother or a special dessert you make that is absolutely beautiful.

I have a 150-year-old armoire that I treasure. I would not be able to open it up, though, because it’s filled with games, toys and my Pilates ball! Ha!

FOR MORE CHANCES TO WIN: If you’d love to win these tickets and want to do a little extra to help your chances, just tell your friends and family about the giveaway! When you email them, be sure to cc us so we’ll be sure to give you credit. You’ll get an extra chance for each person you tell. Email is

*If you would prefer to purchase your tickets in person you can visit one of these following locations:

  • Arvest on Joyce Street in Fayetteville
  • Arvest on Crossover in Fayetteville
  • Arvest Fayetteville Downtown
  • Arvest Rogers Village On The Creek
  • Signed Sealed Delivered in Rogers

Good luck in this giveaway, mamas! We’ll let the winner know on Monday when everyone’s back in the groove after Thanksgiving.

Ask your most pressing OB questions at a meetup with Dr. Matthew Steed

steed family

Dr. Matthew Steed, who writes great Healthy Mama articles here at Motherlode, is hosting a little get-together on Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. at Starbucks on Promenade Road in Rogers. (That’s him in the picture above with his wife, Kimberly, right after the birth of their second child. Dr. Steed delivered their sweet daughter, Araceli.)

Dr. Steed, in Family Medicine and Obstetrics at Mercy Health and a father of two, wants to give you time to ask OB questions in a relaxed atmosphere. This event is perfect for Northwest Arkansas women who are pregnant or hope to be pregnant in the near future.

This meetup is part of Mercy Health’s “Coffee with a Doc” series of events. Dr. Steed expects to attend these coffees approximately once a month for moms or soon-to-be moms.

If you’d like to get to know Dr. Steed a little better before you attend the Dec. 5th meetup at Starbucks, here are a few posts he’s written for us:

MERCY2Healthy Mama: What to expect on Delivery Day

Healthy Mama: On identifying that scary newborn rash

Healthy Mama: What pregnant women need to know about the flu shot

Healthy Mama: When new moms have the blues

If you’d rather connect with Dr. Steed as a one-on-one patient, you can reach him at the Mercy clinic at 479-338-5555. His office is located in the Mercy Physician’s Plaza just off 540 in Rogers.

Things we’re thankful for

thankful sliderWe know this is a BUSY week for most of us — whether you’re hosting and cooking for Thanksgiving or if you’re packing up and traveling to a relative’s house. So it’s important to remember why this holiday exists in the first place — to stop and be thankful for the blessings that surround us everyday.

This week on Mamas on Magic, we’re talking about things we’re thankful for — some serious and some silly — and we’d love it if you’d join us. Listen to Magic 107.9 at 7:45 a.m. each morning. Or if you miss a radio segment, click the LEFT side of the audio bars below to hear them online.

Here are some of the things that made our “Thankful List.”

  • Dr. Pepper
  • Spanx
  • Smartphones
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Food
  • Readers of
  • Cards in the mail
  • Swiffer sweepers
  • Dishwashers
  • DVD players for long car trips
  • Elastic waistbands
  • A great sale price

Monday’s segment:

Tuesday’s segment:

Wednesday’s segment:

Thursday’s segment:

Friday’s segment:

Devotion in Motion: Thankful for the imprints

 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ~ Deuteronony 6:6-9 (NKJV)         

By Bro. John L. Cash

The events of this past week reminded me of something out of my childhood. When I was a tiny boy, I used to go and visit at my grandmother’s house. The house I grew up in had furniture and books and masses of miscellaneous things everywhere. But my grandmother’s house was always very neat and tidy, and she had only a few special things she had saved.

My sister and I spent hours and hours looking at these special things every time we went for a visit. One thing my grandmother had saved was a stack of magazines from jfkNovember, 1963. These reported the events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  I looked at these magazines every time I visited my grandmother. And because I was at such a tender age, an amazing thing happened. A permanent imprint was made on my young mind. And ever since then I’ve had a fascination with the facts and theories about the Kennedy assassination.

Over the decades I have read almost every book that has been written and watched every documentary that’s ever been made about this subject. Susan says I have an obsessive and compulsive fixation with it all—and I must confess  there is a lot of truth in that. When something imprints us, we are changed for a lifetime.

I wish I could have a conversation with all of you, each of my loyal readers. Because something I have found is that everybody has something they are inordinately fascinated by, as a result of something that happened in their childhood. Something imprinted you, and you were changed for a lifetime. And I would be so interested to hear your story—because it would be as unique as you are.

As I have been preparing for Thanksgiving this week, I have realized how grateful I am for the things that the adults around me impressed upon me when I was a child. I was surrounded by people who had a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, adults who made sure I was in the Lord’s House every time the door was open. The “fiery brand” of their faithfulness (in life and doctrine) made an indelible mark on my heart, soul, and mind.

A friend once said, “John, you are just ‘hard-wired’ to be a part of the Church.” I am eternally indebted to those who by their godly lives have “marked me for life.” Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) tells parents to impress upon their children the Word of God using every means possible.

Strive to do this in the coming week. But, more than that, give diligence to living a life that shows the veracity of the faith that you profess. Our children do not always believe what we say to them, but they cannot deny the way we live.  

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (a congregation which will prepare metric tons of cornbread dressing this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

The Rockwood Files: Give the turkey its due!

rockwoodfiles2-205x300By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Dear Thanksgiving,

No matter how many twinkle lights go up around town or how many holiday songs I hear on the radio, I haven’t forgotten you. November is yours. I have a turkey decoration on the center of my kitchen table, and that bird will stay in its place of prominence until the sun sets on November 28th. I promise.

bad santaFor years now, you’ve been getting the short end of the wishbone, thanks to a phenomenon they call “Christmas Creep.” Don’t worry. Christmas Creep is not some weirdo in a Santa Suit. It’s a strategy used by retailers to move the holiday shopping period earlier in the year. They want a longer runway leading up to Black Friday, when holiday sales officially take off.

Speaking of Black Friday, there are a few stores planning to turn Black Friday into Thankless Thursday this year. Yep, they’re moving in on what may be the only 24 hours you have all year.

They say that opening stores on Thanksgiving Day is a response to eager shoppers who’d rather gobble up sales than spend a leisurely evening with family, snacking on leftover slivers of pumpkin pie. But I’m not sure I believe it. It feels like just one more way that Thanksgiving is getting stuffed into Santa’s armpit.

Part of the problem is that, as holidays go, the only trimmings you’ve got are the cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving. You have no presents to open. No exploding fireworks, no colored eggs, no Halloween candy, no love notes with red roses. You don’t have the razzle dazzle other holidays have, but maybe there’s a good reason for that.

In my experience, it’s the quiet moments in life that teach me the most. It’s hard to hear that still, small voice when there’s a New Year’s Eve party in progress. It’s tough to notice the sweet, small moments of the day when there’s huge explosions in the night sky. Thanksgiving gives us some much-needed time to be with people who matter most. Time to gather around a beautiful meal and recognize how blessed we are to have food that sustains us, a home that shelters us and people who love us.

Those three simple but crucial elements give us the opportunity to celebrate not only this holiday but all the others. And it’s no accident that Thanksgiving comes before the most popular holiday of the year. The timing of Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful, not only for the everyday blessings of life, but also for the gift of a Savior whose birth created Christmas in the first place. If we can’t take time to be thankful for that, do we deserve the parties, gifts and excitement of Christmas?

thanksgiving 2013 columnWhen I see red and green splashed around town too early, I say, “But what about Thanksgiving?” Now my kids have learned to spot the injustice of it, too. I don’t want them to think nothing worthwhile happens between October 31st and December 25th. Because even though Thanksgiving’s specific date on the calendar may move around, the fourth Thursday of November will always be an immensely important day.

In this loud, hectic world, we need you, Thanksgiving – now more than ever. You’re not just an excuse to eat too much. You’re not just an opening act for a headliner holiday. You give us time to honor all the things we so easily take for granted.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I, for one, promise to deck no halls and trim no tree before it’s time. This window of time is reserved for Thanksgiving and the opportunity to say a heartfelt “thank you.”

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography

Funny Friday: Why Candy Crush Saga is Evil

If you have managed to avoid getting sucked into the black hole we know as “Candy Crush Saga,” then you can skip this Funny Friday video. But if you’re like me and you’ve spent way more time than you’d like to admit trying to beat “just one more level,” then this little clip will really make you laugh.

Have a great weekend!

Healthy Mama: Dealing with PMS

healthy mama logoBy Kimberly Steed, RN, MNSc. (woman, nurse, mother of 2 and wife of Dr. Steed)

Tense and irritable? Crazy appetite? Tight clothes? Feeling depressed? Can’t concentrate? Feel like curling up into a ball and being alone for a while?

And did you feel just like this about a month ago?

pms comic picMost of us know exactly what all those symptoms add up to — Premenstrual Syndrome, a.k.a. the dreaded PMS. Another more severe form of PMS is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD.)

There has been some controversy about PMS being real, but for women who suffer with these symptoms each month, they’re VERY real. With the holidays coming up, who has time to deal with PMS? Identify the symptoms and talk to your doctor to find out if there’s a treatment right for you that could help.

PMS is common and includes a group of symptoms a women has right before her monthly period. Mild PMS is the most common and affects 75% of women with regular menstrual cycles. When PMS symptoms are severe, they’re called PMDD which is not as common. PMDD affects 3 to 8% of women and is usually a chronic condition that can have a serious impact on a woman’s quality of life.

It is believed that PMS and PMDD are caused by tissues throughout the body being sensitive to hormone level changes during a women’s menstrual cycle. Studies have found that rising and falling levels of hormones can influence chemicals in the brain, such as a substance called serotonin, which affects mood.

Common symptoms associated with PMS and PMDD include:

  • Bloating
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling angry
  • Feeling worried
  • Feeling sad or hopeless, or crying a lot
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating more than usual or craving certain foods
  • Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
  • Breast soreness or swelling
  • Headaches
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Weight gain

Most women have one or more of the above symptoms with PMS, but with PMDD the symptoms can be more severe and can lead to problems at work, school or getting along with family and friends.

PMS or PMDD symptoms will occur one to two weeks before your period starts but not during or right after your period. The symptoms will also affect both your body and mood.

There are several things that can be done to help you feel better during PMS. They include:

  • Exercise – regular exercise usually helps people feel less sad and worried.
  • Relax – find ways to unwind. Yoga and relaxation exercises can help you achieve relaxation.
  • Avoid foods high in salt and avoid eating large meals.
  • Take an NSAID for pain and/or headaches. NSAIDS are medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

You can talk to your doctor about other treatments that include:

SSRI medications used to treat depression and anxiety

Birth control pills can also help some symptoms improve. There are various types of birth control pills and your doctor can help you choose the right one.

Other disorders can mimic PMS and PMDD. Those conditions include depression, anxiety disorders, and perimenopause (4-5 year period before menopause). Distinguishing between underlying depression and PMS or PMDD is important because treatments are different.

There’s not a test for PMS or PMDD, but your doctor can determine if you suffer from them by talking with you. He or she will want to know which symptoms you have and when you have them. It will be important to document your symptoms each day for 2 monthly cycles.

Dr. Steed’s number one passion is to care for the pregnancy and birthing needs of women. You may call him at the Mercy clinic at 479-338-5555 to begin your prenatal care and let him help you enjoy your pregnancy journey. His office is located in the Mercy Physician’s Plaza just off Interstate 540 in Rogers.

MERCY2 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.

Life with Ladybug: That unwelcome monthly guest

aunt flo2-1

By Shannon Magsam

I woke up this morning and realized:

The B*tch is Back.

Aunt Flo.

She always shows up on my doorstep with her red suitcase at the worst times: Before I head out to go swimming, on the day I planned to wear white pants, almost anytime I’m about to leave the state for a beach vacation. And this one time? On my wedding anniversary.

When she arrives, I always get super cranky. She’s the worst houseguest.

Always just a few days into her visit, I always notice that most of the food in the house is gone. ESPECIALLY the chocolate.

And since I’ve gotten older, she does that awful houseguest thing and just stays and stays and stays.

In addition to her inconsistent departures, she also never arrives on the day she’s expected. So I spend several days just waiting for her just to pop over any minute. All that waiting is exhausting.

You know what else marks her as a bad houseguest? Aunt Flo never brings a hostess gift. She just takes and takes like an energy vampire until I’m too tired to argue any longer about her irritating need for more chocolate or her insistence that we watch poor quality television shows that end up making us cry.

Well, not quite ALL of my energy is sapped. I often find I’m more argumentative than usual, alternately sobbing and snapping.

And can we talk about all the times my bad houseguest digs through the medicine cabinet in search of Midol or Advil? By then I’m ready for her to go. Just.GO.

And when she finally does indicate she’s about to leave? Just when I think she’s backing down the driveway in her Lincoln Town Car, she flounces back into the house to tell me one last thing.

When she finally leaves for real, I breathe a sigh of relief and get back to business as usual.

Just 28 more days (maybe more, maybe less) until the b*tch is back.

Blue dress, blogShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl who still likes things like superheroes and unicorns, thank goodness) is wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John and is co-founder of