Friday, May 29, 2009

Farewell To My Gyno.....

I recently went to my gynecologist in a borderline state of panic, having noticed some pain in one breast. This came only days after my mother was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer. (Mine turned out to be nothing.) As I checked in, I noticed a sign announcing that my doctor had decided to stop delivering babies. I said an immediate thanks to God that I was past needing those services and went about my visit without another thought. About a week later my mother called me with the news of my gynecologist’s imminent retirement. Your mother is the one you call for support in a crisis of gynecological proportion. She isn’t supposed to be the one who notifies you of one! I immediately corrected her that it was just babies he was retiring from & not the profession as a whole. “No. I don’t think so,” she said, “It’s pretty clear that he’s retiring.” My response was something irrational, I’m sure, like “He can’t be retiring because I’m not done going!” She took that moment to remind me of the Designing Women episode where Suzanne Sugarbaker’s gynecologist retires and her sister Julia says, “Let him go! He’s paid his dues!” I know my mother shared that same thought. In typical “mother-mode”, she appeared at my house the next day, newspaper in-hand, to prove it to me. And sadly, she was right…again.

Now, choosing a gynecologist is no easy task for a woman. I know this, because I’ve been through as many gynecologists as Clinton has girlfriends. In high school, I went to a gynecologist named Dr. Grinny Ho. I challenge you to beat that one. Tell me a funnier name of an actual practicing gynecologist & I will buy you dinner on the spot. He was a nice man & had the redeeming quality of prescribing narcotics for cramps. But eventually, I moved. In college, I chose one from the phone book. Not a method I speak highly of. I thought his name sounded wonderful, like he would be this gorgeous hunk of man who would tend to my issues and give me a little eye candy while there. I was a college girl, after all. Priorities, you know. He ended up looking like the professor from Back To The Future. I will never, ever forget his hair. Or the butterflies all over his ceiling, as if pondering the wonder of the monarch in flight will take my mind off the cold, hard speculum & latex-covered hand.

After moving to Kansas City, my search started once again. I sought an experienced, board-certified male doctor this time & instead wound up with one who looked like a cross between Johnny Cash & Wayne Newton. He stamped my file “chaperone denied” both times he examined me, even though I was never asked if I preferred the nurse to be present. Nice. Completely creeped out this time, I had had enough. I decided to take the advice of all my girlfriends and go to a woman. “You’ll be sooo much more at ease,” they said. Now the entire “do-you-prefer-a-man-or-a-woman” question is not unlike asking someone whether they vote Democrat or Republican. Both can spark a heated debate! People have their distinct preferences, but suffice it to say, she solidified my preference in having a man perform the yearly inspection. ‘Nuff said. Next we moved to Colorado, where I found the gynecologist of my dreams. Not a physically gorgeous man, but he listened & I wasn’t treated like a number. This was a good thing because shortly after finding him, he told me I was pregnant. Although your husband plays the biggest role, by far, in the pregnancy and birth of your children, you have a special place in your heart for the man who not only delivers your child into the world, but orders a steady drip of Demerol & stitches you up with the deftness & talent of Martha Stewart cross-stitching a sampler for the wall of her summer home. This man was wonderful. In my seventh month of pregnancy, I developed kidney stones, literally moments before my husband Chuck’s plane took off for Tucson. Unfortunately for me, not enough moments for him to exit the plane! I was taken to the hospital by a friend and was amazed the next morning when I awoke to find my gynecologist sitting by my bedside. Apparently he had been there off and on through the night since he was on call & felt sorry for me because Chuck couldn’t get a flight out until morning. That’s medical care at it’s finest. When, five months after our daughter’s birth, we got the news that we were moving back to the south, I said, “That’s fine, but no more kids if Dr. C can’t deliver them. That’s it. We. are. done.” God has nothing if not a sense of humor, right?

After settling into our new home and scanning the provider list of our insurance company, I call to make an appointment with one of the few offices listed. They tell me that Dr. Rokas* has an opening and I say, “Fine. Book me.” Now that I’m NOT having kids & I’m much older, I’ve lost some of the gusto & criteria with which I formerly sought out my physicians. I figure a big, Greek guy can’t be all bad. I’ll give him a shot.

I don’t remember a lot about my first visit except for thinking, “He doesn’t look Greek at all.” He seemed nice enough, had a wonderful nurse & I felt very comfortable. I decided to keep him. What I hadn’t planned on was settling down here and eventually having two more babies. I saw him at least once a year for thirteen years and for two of those years, many more times, since I was pregnant. I ran into him on occasion outside of the office, for instance, shortly after my first office visit, at an Arkansas Travelers baseball game. I leaned over to my husband and said, “That’s Dr. Rokas,” & he said, “Wow! She’s gorgeous!” I had to inform him that yes, his wife is gorgeous but her husband is actually my doctor.

Once, during the horrid ice storm of 2000, we were forced to hole up in a hotel for almost 5 days. Chuck came down with a stomach virus with our family of four, my mother and our elderly neighbor all crammed into one room. It was & still is, the closest I’ve ever come to hell on Earth. After an intensely frustrating night with a screaming one year-old, a bored pre-schooler & a violently-ill husband, I announced to the room that I would have Dr. Rokas tie my tubes right there on that hotel bed if he was available. I was officially done. Early the next morning, as I was headed to the lobby for breakfast, the elevator doors opened & there he stood, like a genie out of a bottle, fresh off of a night on-call, ready to grant my wish. Apparently he had no power at his house either & they, too, had sought refuge in this hotel. He didn’t actually tie my tubes that day but his sweet wife did occupy my restless children long enough for me to grab a bite to eat. Two months later, he would give me the news that my third and final child was on the way. So much for that tubal.

I have many memories from the 13 years that I was in Dr. Rokas’ care. Seeing the ultrasound images of our boys and watching our daughter’s eyes well up with tears when she learns that a little sister is not in the cards…finding out when I go in to schedule a tubal that I’m already pregnant and will have to postpone those plans…hearing Dr. Rokas assure me that I AM indeed pregnant no matter how much I think I am not…bringing that third child into the world & getting him to cry when he came out completely silent----at that moment, my doctor was elevated to hero status…and in a moment of serious airheadedness, wrapping my entire body in the small sheet the nurse handed me to cover myself, forgetting to first don the snap-front robe. (She should have handed IT to me too! I thought it was strange but, in my defense, I never saw the robe & I had completely covered myself.) His expression when he opened the door is one I will never forget & that moment of embarrassment is second only to removing my pants at my neighborhood pool to reveal I had never put my swimsuit bottoms on. In all honesty though, if you’re going to kneel eye-level with my vagina, shouldn’t we just dispense with the glorified table runner & get on with it? All dignity went out the door with that one… But I digress…

I will miss him, for sure & I am glad that my childbearing years are behind me. Dr. Rokas was present at both the boys’ births and was just as comforting & wonderful as the doctor who delivered my daughter. I’m glad I didn’t stop with the childbearing like I had threatened to. He has assured me that his colleagues can step in & take over once he’s off lying in the sun with a margarita in hand. I hope so. Because dentists fix teeth & orthopedists repair bones, but a good ob/gyn changes your life. I have three wonderful children to prove that!

*Name changed so as not to force him into hiding from embarrassment!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Need I Say More?

Arkansas is one state that is celebrating tonight! Congratulations to our own Kris Allen for proving the Idol judges wrong and coming out on top! And kudos to Adam Lambert for displaying the style and class he showed all season. Really couldn't call either of these guys a loser. What a great Idol season! Cannot wait to see what they both do...

Monday, May 18, 2009

One of my very favorite children's illustrators, J. Otto Seibold, has teamed with Siobhan Vivian to produce another delightful children's book. Vunce Upon A Time is the story of an atypical vampire named Dagmar who is shy, afraid of humans and a vegetarian! It's been out since Halloween but I'm just now blogging about it. Forgive me. And now you have plenty of time to purchase it before next Halloween! I promise you it will be worth it for the artwork alone. J. Otto is also the artist behind my very favorite Christmas movie ever, Olive The Other Reindeer. (Sorry Frosty, they just nudged past you...) And he's the creator of Mr. Lunch. One of my very favorite creative minds....check anything by J.Otto out for your kiddos and you won't be disappointed.

Weekend goodness....

Finally we get a break from the clouds & rain! What a great weekend we just had. I could go for a slight rise in temperature but the sunshine was wonderful. Funny thing is that my kids are now so conditioned to being inside, we practically had to drag them outside kicking & screaming. In all honesty, they were not out there nearly as long as I had hoped & I'm considering telling a little white lie regarding the positive effects of Vitamin D. Builds muscle, makes you run faster, gets you to the next level on Lego Star Wars for Wii....whatever it takes...

Wasn't too creative this weekend, with the exception of this bouquet, which, I must say, I am quite proud of! Needed a little "pick-me-up" for the living room, so I went to Kroger and purchased 5 of their"3 for $12" floral selections and put this arrangement together. I'm loving the greens and purples with just a hint of white. It makes me so happy, I'm dreading the day it begins to wilt. I did buy a few more succulents this weekend but I have done nothing with them so that will have to wait for a new post. They are seriously addictive!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Add This To My List....

I have long been satisfied with traveling within the United States & the Caribbean. In fact, it irritates me how some get so obsessed with Europe, the Orient, etc. that they take for granted what is right under their nose! Sure, some day I would like to take in a little more of the earth, but for now, I'm happy to skip the Xanax prescription & travel by boat or car. Flying is not my thing. Really, the only country I have on my "must-see-before-die" list is Greece. But today, I add another.....Have any of you ever heard of the Whitsundays? The Whitsundays are a collective of 74 islands, off the coast of Queensland, Australia, bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. BEAUTIFUL. Apparently, folks, it really looks like the photos. Blue water and white sand so fine that NASA has used it to make the glass for its telescopes. (And the penalty for taking some can run up to $5000! I'll just sit in it, thank you.) Both Fool's Gold & Muriel's Wedding were filmed on Hamilton Island, one of the 74. I think a week at the Daydream Island Resort & Spa might be just what I need. I mean, seriously, this is stunningly beautiful landscape. And I'm trying not to think about those deadly jellyfish I saw on Animal Planet that are native to Australia.......

Monday, May 11, 2009

Art Fairs & Art Links!

My husband, Chuck & I love to explore art fairs but find little time to do so now that we have three kids. They don't seem quite as interested in them as we are! We used to love going to the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver & the Fairhope Art Festival on Mobile Bay in Fairhope, AL. I was also lucky enough to attend the Broad Ripple Art Fair in Indianapolis with my mom -- great show! I love art fairs because, regardless of budget, you can usually find some little work of art or craft that was created by hand, something not always possible in galleries.

Now that we have little time to travel to these events, I'm loving the internet and the surge in popularity of sites like Etsy, Poppytalk, and papernstitch. Soooo many creative minds out there just creating like crazy and many of them doing it as their sole source of income. I encourage you to browse these sites if you haven't. Make it a goal to find something for your home. This morning I've been surfing papernstitch & found the following items that I would love to add to our decor....

With my love of Airstreams, this caught my eye by the talented Jenni Horne.

Love this planter by Irene McCollam & Leslie Greer of Greenware Design. I want to hang one in my bathroom. Or a couple of them together! This is a favorite shop because I have a soft spot for succulents.

One of my favorite artists, Sarah Ahearn, has a great little shop with delightful collage art. Check out her blog too for some inspiration! I dream of taking one of her classes someday!

Finally, I love these little magnets & think I might have to get them while Brooks is in his robot/monster phase!

Friday, May 8, 2009

So Glad I Went....

Today, Kris Allen, one of the American Idol Top 3, came home to Little Rock & Conway to perform and film footage for the Homecoming show on Tuesday night. I am sooo glad I decided to go. It made me really proud to be an Arkansan & really proud to be a part of something, that for Kris, is HUGE. The turnout was wonderful, especially considering that he is appearing more than a couple of times today in different venues. It made me hope that I do as good a job turning out a boy as his parents have. Not a star, but a good boy. He just reeks goodness and humility. His family made an appearance about an hour before he did & his mother just seemed to be bursting with pride and overwhelmed by the support for her child. It sounds corny but the entire experience was just heartwarming. I really can't say enough good things about Idol, because I think it's been a great catalyst to bring families together. I can't tell you the last show we all viewed together before Idol began. And although our teenager is a bit too cool to join in now, it really is something that we all enjoy watching and commenting on. Overall, it's fairly positive, feel-good, reality tv, and that's something that's hard to come by these days. And have I mentioned how much I truly love Simon???


I had my eye on this book when it was first released. Summer is my season. I live for it each year. I spend the winter in complete hibernation, decked out in old sweatshirts & jeans, waiting for the leaves to turn green, the neighborhood pool to be filled to the brim & the humidity in Arkansas to reach unbelievable levels! I love not having to get up & get the kids out the door. I love for them to be able to play in the neighborhood late in the evening. I love an impromptu firefly hunt with no rush to get to bed by 8:00. I love our day trips to Albert Pike Recreation Area to play in the river and grill hot dogs. And I LIVE for our annual beach vacation. Summer is nothing but good for me. And this book embraces it wholeheartedly. Author Suzanne Brown has done a great job of capturing it in all it's essence. The subtitle, "A User's Guide", could not be more perfect. Filled with gorgeous photos that are an inspiration in & of themselves, the book includes such things as:

* a great recipe for key lime pie
* ideas for planning an awesome 4th of July
* how to grow a herb garden
* how to hang a hammock
* how to make a tire swing
* how to lure butterflies to your yard
* how to use a skim board & ride a boogie board
* how to fly a kite
* how to skip stones
* how to run a lemonade stand
* how to whistle on a blade of grass
* how to identify stars & constellations
* history & information on summer staples, such as beach cruisers, margaritas, the bikini, the
Adirondack chair, flip-flops, etc.

I plan to try several of the ideas & hopefully I will remember to post them as I do. If you enjoy summer, this is a must-read for you. If you don't enjoy summer, maybe it's what you need to change your mind....

Monday, May 4, 2009


Our annual beach get-a-way is exactly two months away. Every year when the time draws near, I really enjoy reminiscing by going back through the photos that were taken the year before. It never fails to amaze me when I notice how much the kids have grown and matured. Although Brooks looks pretty much the same - piercing blue eyes, shaggy "do" and a smattering of freckles across the nose - he has a more mature look that makes me just a tad sad. Every day he loses a little more "baby" and gains a lot more "boy"! There are so many things that I'm soon going to miss - his love of monkeys and how George, his best monkey, is still his favorite companion, his sweet little accent that is unique to him (& his buddy Sammy!), and the fact that he still likes to snuggle. I guess it's always hard to see the last one grow up, even though there are habits and stages that I will gladly usher out as maturity bears down on him! It does seem though, as they age, what we remember is the sweetness and not the fits and mischief. I think that's exactly how it was intended to be & although I often struggle, I'm trying so hard to cherish the good stuff! Remind me of this tonight when I attempt to get him to go to bed.

Note: Letting this shot of Brooks serve as today's photo of the day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Photo of the Day

This shot was also taken on my little photo safari last night. As I was rounding a curve in Little Rock's Stifft Station neighborhood, I caught the reflection of the neon signs in the window at Pizza D'Action in my side mirror. Not swift enough with my reflexes to safely grab the shot, I had to circle two more times and make a conscious effort! Totally worth it. I think my ISO was set at 1250 or 1600 and I think I used Program mode on my Canon 5D. Focus was manual and I had to hurry before a car came up behind me. Thankfully not many out on this rainy night!

Official White House Photostream

I think it's pretty cool that there is an official White House Photostream on Flickr. This was one of my favorite shots, though I couldn't help but think of the criticism that would abound if the same shot was a Republican office holder. "What?? The economy & swine flu & war and pestilence & Britney possibly pregnant and he has time to play with a football?" Love that the photostream gives a glimpse into their lives and shows that they're just human like the rest of us. You should browse it. Just click the link under the photo. The shot of them watching a 3D movie is pretty neat too.

Photo of the Day

Technically I missed a day because it's 12:36 on the 2nd but I'll just do two today! One really early and one late! Tonight I went on a little creative photo safari, shooting at night, in the rain. Loved it. One of my very favorite types of photography....and soooo fun to experiment with!

This photo is of a string of lights that hangs over the entrance to the Flying Fish restaurant. To get this effect, you need to have a lens that is "fast" which means it has an aperture that will open wide (f1.2, 1.4, 1.8, 2.0, 2.8, even f4). For optimum creative control, you should also be able to focus the lens manually (AF lenses usually have a switch on them that you can flip to MF). Your ISO will depend on how fast the lens is. I believe this was at 800 or 1000 speed because it was black dark outside. Experiment with different ISO's until your histogram pleases you. I set the control to Av or "aperture-priority" which means I selected my f-stop (in this case f4, I think) & the camera did the rest. Turn the focusing ring until you see the blurry dots in the viewfinder and snap away. You can do this with most kinds of light bulbs, Christmas lights, even sparkles on water....I shot with a Canon 5D and tweaked the saturation a bit in Photoshop CS3. Feel free to leave a question in the comments if I left something out & I will try to reply soon!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Photo of the Day

I know the days when I walk in a room to find this are really numbered. Afraid this could be the last time, I actually grabbed the camera and clicked before they had a chance to duck.

Ongoing Project....

After cross-stitching for years, I have branched out into embroidery. I've listed this as an ongoing project because, at this point, "ongoing" can be read as S-L-O-W! I'm still learning. I'm sure if any readers out there are experienced embroiderers, they will be able to tell just how novice I am! But I found this pillow kit on deep discount and it spoke to my love of bright colors and purple, in particular. I have, however, decided to skip the pillow part & just frame and mat it for my wall. The kit is by Kristin Nicholas, who also has a blog. I love Kristin's work and her love of color. She has a great book, Colorful Stitchery, that I highly recommend, as well as a book for teaching kids a love of stitching, called Kid's Embroidery.

It's hard for me to convey what an escape needlework is for me. I read once about a woman who found solace & strength in knitting when she faced the death of a child. Thankfully, I don't know what that feels like but I do know that it certainly helps me unwind & forget after long, stressful days.