Posts tagged ‘texarkana parent’

Fertility Facts and Considerations When Trying To Conceive

By D’Andrea Bingham

For pregnancy to occur, an egg is released from the ovary, fertilized by sperm as it travels from the ovary to the uterus, and then implants into the uterine lining. Women can have trouble getting pregnant if there is a problem with any of these steps.

Sometimes these steps all appear to be normal, and a woman still may have problems conceiving. Certain things such as age, cigarette smoking, obesity, and excessive caffeine or alcohol intake in both women and men can decrease fertility.

Most couples will not conceive immediately when they start trying. You should see your doctor if you do not get pregnant after having unprotected intercourse for one year. If you are over 35 years old, see your doctor if you do not conceive after 6 months of trying. This is because a woman’s fertility begins to decline after age 35.

A general obstetrician/gynecologist can do initial testing for infertility. At the first office visit, it is helpful to bring a menstrual calendar from the last 6-12 months, which is a calendar that indicates what days your period starts and ends. This can be written down, or recorded with one of several apps available.

Ovulation predictor kits can also be useful. These are available overthe- counter and test for a hormone in the urine that precedes ovulation by about 24 hours. They can be used to time intercourse when chances of conception are highest. It will help your doctor if you also record results of theovulation predictor kits on your menstrual calendar.

At the initial visit, your doctor will usually do a detailed history on you and your partner, and a physical exam. Evaluation includes testing of the male and female. For a man, this usually starts with a semen analysis to see how many sperm he makes and how healthy those sperm are. For the woman, tests may include:

• blood tests to check hormone levels

• ovulation tests to see if eggs are being released from the ovaries

• Tests to check the uterus and fallopian tubes- These can include ultrasounds, x-rays to see if the fallopian tubes are open (hysterosalpingogram), or even surgeries to look at the inside of the uterus and/or the tubes and ovaries.

After the tests are done, your doctor may or may not be able to identify a problem. Treatment is usually aimedat fixing whatever problem is identified. Even if a problem cannot be identified (unexplained infertility) there are still treatment options available that can help a woman get pregnant.

Many initial treatments can be done by your local gynecologist. For patients that need more advanced treatments, referral may be made to a reproductive endocrinologist, which is a doctor that treats infertility. In Texarkana, we usually refer to specialists in Shreveport, Dallas, or Little Rock.

Fortunately, the majority of couples who desire pregnancy do end up conceiving. However, it can be very stressful and frustrating when it takes longer than normal. It may be helpful to talk to a counselor or support group for couples who are having trouble getting pregnant. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has an excellent website that provides additional resources and information for patients about infertility (


July 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

Encouraging Your Children In Faith

by Chris Thomas


“…that you and I may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith, yours and mine.”  Romans 1:12


    When I was invited to write a column of spiritual encouragement for parents and families, I spent time remembering how I have received encouragement.  I remember David, my husband, standing by my side, holding my hand, his eyes twinkling above the surgical mask as each of our three children were born by c-section.  I remember my mom giving Andrew, our oldest, and Catherine, our youngest, their first baths in the bathroom sink and showing me how to hold this wet, slippery baby and still test the warmth of the water with an elbow.  I remember a time when David couldn’t get home, so a dear friend, Cathy, took me to the hospital and held my hand through the testing and diagnosis of appendicitis.  She kept close by and reassured me, sometimes with words, always with her presence.

    When have you been encouraged by a loved one?   Did they offer instruction, words of encouragement or just their presence?  Was it a time of crisis or just an ordinary day?

    The word encouragement is derived from three roots:  the prefix, en-, which means to “cause to be in”, the Latin word “cor” for heart and the suffix -age, which in English means “the outcome of”.  To encourage could be said to be the result of holding in the heart.  Definitions include to stimulate spiritually, to revitalize and galvanize, to fortify and to console.    

    In the sixteenth century, the mystic and holy woman, St. Teresa of Avila once wrote, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours; yours are the only hands with which He can do His work. Yours are the only feet with which He can go about the world; yours are the only eyes through which His compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.”

   I believe Christ encourages us through His presence found in loved ones and even in strangers.  Often, he uses us to console and fortify others with our words, our presence and even our questions.  Sharing concerns, questions and prayer requests gives others the opportunity of realizing they are not alone on this journey and more than likely that others have the same needs and desires.

    Just for today, notice the others whom God has placed in your life:  spouse, children, co-workers, strangers.  What is the result of being held in their hearts?  How have you held them in your heart?  How has Christ looked through your eyes or worked through their hands?

    Texarkana Parent Magazine has the goal of promoting a balanced and healthy life for our community’s families; physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.  One way to encourage others and find encouragement for life’s big and little obstacles is to share with our online community.  You are invited to join the discussion at my blog,  to share, to ask, or to encourage.

May 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

Faith Can Be Caught, Not Taught

By Chris Thomas


Pray, then, in this way:  Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name… Matthew 6:9 NAB


When our sons were small, evenings would be full of bubbles and baths, pajamas and stuffed animals. The lights would be lowered and the four of us would share prayer. Memorized ones like the Lord’s prayer and spontaneous ones beginning with “thank you, Jesus” followed by gratitude for the day’s happenings. We would end with a blessing by tracing a cross on each others forehead. I treasure the memory of our middle son’s two year old face – so solemn and so cherubic – as he touched his chubby thumb to my forehead and said “God bless you, Mommy”.

As parents, we made a special effort to set aside time for family prayer during Lent. These forty days after Ash Wednesday mark a time of reflection and preparation for Easter. Christians have a long history of observing Lent. As early as the second century, St. Irenaus wrote about the early churches readying for Easter. Forty days mirror the time of fasting that Moses endured before receiving the Ten Commandments; Elijah walked for forty days to Mount Horeb; and perhaps most importantly, Jesus spent forty days in the desert in preparation and reflection before he began his public ministry.

The word Lent comes from the Dutch word “lente” which originally meant the “lengthening of daylight” and eventually became the general term for springtime. In 2012, it is observed by most Western Christian churches from Ash Wednesday, February 22 to Easter Sunday, April 7.

Traditionally, Christians have spent this time in prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  I have always been of the belief that faith is more “caught” than “taught”.  Instead of just telling our kids about these practices, we did them together. 

Prayer is our conversation with God. As we take time to speak and to listen, we grow closer in our relationship with him. During the rest of Lent, your family might commit to attending your church on Sundays, praying together at bedtime or saying a blessing before meals.

Fasting can take many forms. It is an ancient practice that reminds us of our hunger for God. In the past we have given up chocolate, sodas or eating out. One year, we decided as a family to give up television. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. We had more time for reading, family games and getting to bed earlier.

Almsgiving is giving to the needy in love and is our response to all God has given us. Your family might give up a night out to give that money to your favorite charity or collect change to have the children put in the offering at church.

Finding time for prayer and reflection, fasting from food or activity, and giving from our material goods are not necessarily easy but they are worth the effort. The celebration of the resurrection of Christ at Easter will be experienced more deeply when our hearts have spent Lent in reflection and preparation. 

May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

Nutrition Before and After Pregnancy

by D’Andra Bingham, MDImage

Most moms to be will change some things about their nutrition while they are pregnant.  In fact, dietary changes should actually begin prior to conception.  One of the most important things to do prior to pregnancy is to begin taking a multi-vitamin or prenatal vitamin with folic acid.  Women need at least 0.4 to 0.8 mg of folic acid daily for a minimum of one month prior to pregnancy to prevent certain types of birth defects.  It is best to visit your health care provider prior to pregnancy to see if there are any additional things you may need to change based on your health and history.

Eating the right foods will help your baby’s development and help you have a healthier pregnancy.  Eating the wrong foods could harm your baby.  The best diet for a healthy pregnancy and baby includes lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and protein.  Women who do not eat much dairy will need to take a calcium supplement as well.

Pregnant women need to be careful about avoiding germs in food.  Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and other meats need to be fully cooked.  Fresh fruits and vegetables need to be rinsed under lots of running water before eating them.  Listeria is a bacteria that can be especially dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause miscarriage and fetal death.   It can be found in ready to eat foods and can grow at refrigerator temperatures where most other foodbornebacteria do not.

Here are some specific things regarding nutrition that pregnant women need to know:

Fish:  You should avoid fish that may have high levels of mercury in them.  These include swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark. (Fortunately, not found too often on the menus around here, but may be if you travel during your pregnancy.)  It is okay to eat other cooked fish and seafood during pregnancy.  Women can safely eat 12 ounces of cooked fish per week during pregnancy.  A typical serving size is 3 to 6 ounces, so this is around 2 to 3 servings per week.  This includes shrimp, canned light tuna, and catfish.  Tuna steaks should be limited to one serving per week.  Raw fish (sushi) or raw shellfish (oysters) should be avoided.

Sprouts:  Alfalfa, clover, and radish should be avoided.  Bacteria can get into the sprout seeds before the sprouts grow.

Juice:  Fresh squeezed juices sold by the glass may not be pasteurized or otherwise treated to ensure safety.  Pregnant women should avoid all unpasteurized juices.

Lunch meats and hot dogs:  These should be heated well prior to eating.

Soft cheeses:  These include feta, brie, camembert, queso blanco, and quesofresco.  These are typically made with unpasteurized milk and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Caffeine:   There has been an observation between high caffeine intake and several adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Caffeine consumption should be limited to less than 200 mg a day (between  2 to 4 beverages).

Artificial sweeteners:  There is no clear cut evidence that use of these are associated with increased risk to the developing baby.  Studies are conflicting on risks with high doses of saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low) so most clinicians recommend trying to avoid it.  Aspartame (Nutrasweet) and sucralose (Splenda) are currently considered safe to use in pregnancy.

Herbs:  It is recommended to avoid herbal preparations during pregnancy.  The strength and purity can vary widely and there is limited data on their safety .  It is also important not take vitamin supplements in addition to your prenatal vitamin unless approved by your health care provider.  Certain vitamins can be toxic if taken at too high dosages.

Eating the right foods (and avoiding the wrong ones) is important for your health as a mother and for your baby’s development.  A well-balanced, common sense diet with a prenatal vitamin both before and during pregnancy is one of the best gifts you can give your new baby.

May 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

It’s Raining It’s Pouring, My Mommy’s Not Boring: Rainy Day Activities for Your Cooped Up Kids

By Molly Sullivan Taylor, Ph. D

When the showers appear, find things to do inside the house and go puddle splashing after the storm passes. This hello kitty froggy rain slicker can be found at for $44.00.















Sunny days are right around the corner when parenting can seem fun and somewhat easy but before we trade in our warm boots for flip flops we have some rainy days ahead. Most mothers of young children would agree that although everyone says these years go by fast there are days that seem very long especially when it’s raining outside and everyone must play indoors. Sometimes having some tricks up your sleeve and a little preparation in mind for a rainy day can be just what you need for a fun day at home.

In the Kitchen:

Bread Painting

  • Bagels or Bread
  • milk mixed with a little food coloring
  • bowls
  • clean paint brushes

Let your little one paint his/her breakfast and then toast it. This is so fun and very easy to prepare.

Flour drawing

  • Cookie sheets
  • flour
  • and a few little fingers

Let your children draw pictures, letters and numbers in the flour.

Alphabet cookies

  • sugar cookie dough
  • icing
  • sprinkles
  • chocolate chips
  • any other eatable decorations you might have in your pantry

Roll the dough out into small balls and let the children roll it into letters and place on a cookie sheet to bake.Then decorate as you please.

Indoor Picnic Lunch

  • Tablecloth
  • paper plates
  • lunch foods
  • dress up clothes

While you prepare the lunch encourage your little one to dress up for a super hero lunch or a princess tea party. At our house we put the tablecloth under the table and let our girls eat under there, it’s way more fun than eating on top of the table.

At the Table:

Sock puppets

  • old socks, you know the ones that the dryer ate up and you can’t find the match
  • buttons
  • yarn

Make sock puppets with your kids and then let them put on a puppet show for you.

Paper Animals 

  • paper plates or paper bags
  • crayons
  • markers
  • construction paper
  • scissors and glue

Paper plates can be made into animal faces and paper bags can be made into animal puppets. Make an example and then let your children use their imagination and creativity.

In the Living Room:

Vehicle Track

  • books of equal thickness
  • cars
  • trains
  • tractors
  • trucks

Lay down the books to make a street with turns and bumps along the way for your little racer to play with. This can be done in one room or build it so long it goes into another room. You can even make it a race with sound effects.

Dance to the Music

  • music
  • dress up clothes
  • scarves or Daddy’s ties

Turn on some music and dance to get those rainy day wiggles out. You will be surprised at how your kids will giggle when you join in the fun.

Secret Hide Out 

  • sheets
  • blankets
  • an empty table

Drape the sheets over the table to make a secret hiding place. At our house we stock the fort with flashlights, books and special snacks. This is a great place to tell stories and read books with your children.

Obstacle Course: Set up an obstacle course throughout the house. For example, start by hopping on pillows on the floor in the living room, ride a tricycle around the kitchen three times, skip around the dining room chairs to the bedroom, do five somersaults on the carpet, and finish with ten jumping jacks. This will be a favorite, I promise.

In the Garage

Indoor Play Yard: Back out your car and close the garage door. Get out those scooters, bikes and roller skates. Another fun addition is a CD player with some fun music playing.

May 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

Childhood Obesity: Know The Facts

By Christina Payne, MD

Healthy eating habits should be established early with children to prevent obesity.

It’s time for your son’s 9 year-old check-up. He appears healthy,

but needs a physical form signed for camp. He isn’t due for shots and

hasn’t contracted anything more than a cold in the last year, so the

entire appointment seems unnecessary. As your doctor visits with you,

he expresses concern that your son is obese and discusses a nutrition

and exercise regimen to help the condition. He also suggests blood

work to evaluate cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which seems

premature to you given he is only 9. Although always appearing a

little “pudgy”, he has never given cause for alarm. He goes to P.E. three

days a week and plays outside on a regular basis. Lunch is eaten from

the school cafeteria and dinner often involves fast foods due to a busy

family schedule.


Childhood obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater

than the 95 percentile for age and gender. BMI is calculated as weight

(in kilograms) divided by height in meters squared. An overweight or

at-risk child has a BMI greater than the 85 percentile. Most physicians

calculate the BMI with their electronic charting systems at check-ups

for children over 3. Almost one in five children in the United States

is overweight or obese, this amount tripling over the past 30 years.

Therefore, obesity prevention and diagnosis is fast becoming a regular

part of health maintenance. Obviously, appropriate nutrition leads the

list of interventions to maintain healthy weight children. Guidelines

can be found online at AHA nutrition guidelines.

Good nutrition along with regular exercise must be enforced to help

prevent obesity and its associated diseases.


Obese children have increased medical care usage when

compared to healthy weight children. They begin developing adult type

illnesses at a young age, often requiring medications still unapproved

for children. Type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol),

hypertension, asthma, and fatty liver disease are the main medical

issues increased in obese children. Obstructive sleep apnea is 5 times

more likely in obese children compared to those at a healthy weight.

Orthopedic conditions and sports related injuries are significantly

higher in these children as well. Once present, most of these issues tend

to worsen into adulthood. Fortunately, weight reduction and a modified

lifestyle help reverse these problems. Obesity is definitely a major

problem to be treated by the medical community, but also a serious

public health issue as well.


Treatment of the obese child involves interventions in almost all

areas of life. Busy families may have good intentions but have difficulty

putting a physician’s recommendations into practice. The goal of

weight reduction therapy is to allow younger children to maintain their

weight as they grow taller, and older children to undergo slow weight

loss (around one or two pounds per month). Successful dietary plans

enforce portion control and food selection. One such plan called We

Can!, is sponsored by the NIH ( More rapid

weight loss or complicated cases should involve a nutritionist. The

American Academy of Pediatrics Sports Medicine and Fitness

recommends 60 minutes of physical activity a day. To get this amount

of exercise definitely requires more time than school programs allow.

The entire family must be involved in the change, from the type of foods

kept at home to family time afterschool and on weekends. Studies have

shown that if just one parent is present for a sit down meal with the

family in the evening, those children are more likely to maintain a

healthy weight.


In conclusion, the topic of weight management and obesity in

children is a very sensitive topic, but its treatment is essential for a

healthy childhood. Patients like the boy mentioned at the beginning of

this article are rapidly increasing. As pediatricians, our goal is to

encourage healthy changes without making a child feel insecure or

develop other unhealthy eating disorders. Steady lifestyle modification

with progressive small changes in diet and exercise over time remains

the mainstay of treatment.


Nutrition Guideline for a healthy weight

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continued breastfeeding until at least 12 months
  • Limit dining out for meals
  • Limit sugared beverages
  • Eat breakfast daily
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium
  • Try to eat whole grains when possible
  • Consume recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Allow a child to self regulate the quantity of food he eats within
  • the appropriate portion size
  • Have at least five family meals at home per week


May 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm Leave a comment

Be At My Side by Chris Thomas

by Chris Thomas

…and Mizpah,

for he said “May the Lord

keep watch between you

and me when we are

absent one from

the other.” Gen 31:49 NASB

One of the first gifts from my husband was a Mizpah coin inscribed with the above verse. We each wore half of the coin for years until they were literally worn through. It gave me comfort during college or vacations to know that David and I were praying for each other and reminded of each other by this simple token.

As our love solidified into marriage and we took on the role of parents, separations remain a part of life. They might be as short as a visit with a friend or as long as a week at Grandma’s during the summer. My goal as a mom is not to be such a snug cocoon that our children are hindered from growth but rather to be the foundation from which they stretch their wings and fly.

How does one provide stability and refuge as well as freedom and the confidence to explore?

I asked our children to share memories of going to a new school or camp for the first time. Our fifteen year old daughter said she was comforted when we told her that no matter where or when, if she wanted us badly enough, one of us would come. She confessed to testing us a few times when she was so homesick in kindergarten that she couldn’t stop crying. I remember sitting with her on my lap as I savored her warmth knowing that the next morning I would open my arms and encourage her to

run into the classroom with laughter even as she seemed to forget my presence. Today we remind her that we are still only a phone call away if she needs us, yet we all celebrate as she explores her world.

Our middle son values the strength of a family structure with parents serving as role models. The rhythm of a day’s comings and goings full of familiar activities helped him to feel grounded but not dependent. Mark’s dream career is in the world of opera. Though we have little personal expertise in this field, we delight in encouraging him to pursue his gifts even though to do so he needs to live a thousand miles away from home.

Our eldest son appreciates the fact that we always strive to make our goodbyes and hellos heartfelt. He recognizes the need to take time to be present and not just “there” for these moments.

Mizpah, a Hebrew word for watchtower, was the place east of the Jordan River where Laban bid farewell to his daughters and son in law in the book of Genesis. They shared a meal, accepted gifts and built a memorial at the place of their parting for they knew they might never see one another again. They took time to say goodbye.

Summer is full of opportunities for exploration and growth through experiences around the corner and even around the world. How do you provide your children a grounded environment?

How do you encourage them to fly?

April 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

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