Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day to You!

With the exception of a brave trip to the grocery store, we're spending this Memorial Day at home. Ironically, there isn't a grill going in the entire complex today. While Emma is taking advantage of a beautiful day spent outdoors, I've decided to get a head start on the week ahead. The iTunes are jumping, the washer is spinning, and the kitchen is all ready for me to start dinner. I've taken full advantage of this weekend "off", and I've done so guilt free.

To set the mood to my domestic day, I'm rocking an old favorite scarf in a turban style. I'm getting my Rosie the Riveter on. Believe it or not, its been a while since I've rocked a scarf and I needed a reminder of just how to pull it off. I used this fun turban tutorial by Natural Chica.

Scarves are some of the most functional accessories. I'm gonna want to rock this around town a lot, as well as some head wraps, so I think I need to get me some more pretty silk in my possession. And speaking of hair, the end of this month marks 1 year since my second big chop! Don't let this little puff of bang fool you, this girl's got some hair up under there!! I think I'm working with a good 3 1/2 inches or more. I'd planned to do a blow out, but I still haven't gotten my hands on my blow dryer yet. This is what I get for not packing it with the rest of my hair essentials. A blow out will be coming soon though, as well as a length check. Stay tuned.

I hope that all of you have had a great weekend with family and friends, and have taken some time to remember loved ones and other service men and women.

(Sidenote: What the hell is really going on with Blogger, and Youtube?!?)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Young Mommy was Right!

"May your inner self be secure and happy" - Yogi Tea

It has undoubtedly been an interesting couple of weeks. Most of the time I've been left feeling like a wreck on a wreck - chasing down each new day's extreme challenges, having no choice in declining to meet them. My latest challenge was presented to me yesterday. My long term temporary assignment turned out to be not so long. Without warning, I've officially worked my last week. A complete shock? No. I knew that the assignment would be ending eventually, I'd just hoped to push it into the end of the year.

Naturally, this turn of events has hit at a bad time, and naturally, it threw me for an emotional loop. Bills are due, Emma's birthday is in a week, and despite having my car repaired at the auto body shop, it's still in need of repairs and is nearly non-drivable. Again, I was hoping to push my little engine that could into the summer when Emma would be out of school and public transportation wouldn't seem like the worst thing in the world.

Ironically, prior to receiving the news about my employment, I'd read a post by Tara Pringle Jefferson of The Young Mommy Life. She was talking about her Gratitude Project, about learning how to see the benefits of life's challenges. I can dig that. I allowed myself the space to feel what I needed to feel, but last night, I decided that I was going to take a deep breath, try not to freak out about my rent being due next week, and just let this weekend coast.

I slept in extra long this morning, and my baby let me. She grabbed herself some left overs, popped them in the microwave, and did her big girl thing until I was up to make her the breakfast that she loves. I hit the button on my electric tea kettle, stuck my extra crispy bacon in between some grilled cheese and came back to my bed with a tall mug of Stress Relief. And that was after submitting an application to a job opening that I had been sitting on, going back and forth about if I was going to apply or not. Shoot, now I can spend Emma's birthday with her like she wanted because I wont have to spend my weekends in the office!

All of this sends me the message that things will be ok.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On 'Just Being'

Barnes & Noble

We've finally added this book to our library, and I'm glad we did. I was interested in owning it the minute I learned that it existed. Emma and I read it for bedtime last week, and she was very much in love with the idea of being able to express one's self freely. She told me that was her most favorite part of the story. She did not take too kindly to the reality that not everyone feels that way. She responded very strongly to the possibility that a princess boy could be made fun of. She was completely against it, and said that she'd love to have a princess boy as a friend.

Despite the fact that my educational background is based in gender studies, its not something that Emma and I talk about regularly. In other words, its not necessarily something that I school her on. Rather, I take advantage of teaching moments and/or I keep myself available to her with truthful answers whenever she has a particular question. Reading this book together created such an opportunity. We talked about gender, and the difference between gender and sex, because she wanted to know. We talked about the gendering of toys and colors and clothing as I reiterated my belief that objects are just objects - free for everyone to enjoy - that life outside the box is actually ok, and can be quite fun, because I felt it was something she should know. Thinking about her love of cars and sports and legos and video games, Emma was down with that ideology.

I think, the most beautiful thing about this book was its message of acceptance. Acceptance is a much more productive practice than tolerance. Its all about respecting the space and desire of another to 'just be', and teaching our children to do the same in the process. Kudos to the mothers and fathers who are secure enough, brave enough, and who believe in their love for their children enough to lift their princess boys up with support, and for setting the stage for strength and free thinking.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Its been nearly a week. I've been consumed. I've wanted to write. I've been staring at the vast blankness of the lines in my journal, which follow the line that reads, "I want to write about it." Even with all the constant chatter of my mind, words will not appear on the page; this is the first time that I've been able to make them appear on screen. I've come to the realization that I am traumatized. Upon realizing that my episodes of lightheadedness were the result of subconsciously not breathing for long periods of time, I further realized that I am now under post traumatic stress.

It was right after Monday night's dinner. I had whipped up a dish, compliments of a few extra things that my grandmother sent home with us the week before. Satisfied with the outcome, I did as I always do, and gave my grandmother a call to tell her all about it. I had tried calling her earlier in the day and had gotten no response. Her 17 year old picked up that evening. I waited, hearing bits and pieces, as she told me to hold while she got back to the call she was simultaneously handling on her cell.

When I asked if my grandmother was at home, she was surprised that I hadn't "heard". "I guess mama had a stroke. Dad says she's in the hospital." I didn't even really know how to process that information. It was after 6 in the evening. She said that my grandfather told her that it happened earlier in the afternoon. She didn't know what hospital she was in, just the city. At that moment, I believe I went into autopilot. I called the only hospital I was familiar with in that city, finding out that she wasn't there. I got a hold of a nurse at the next hospital who was tending to her, only to be told that she could not give me any information due to confidentiality, and then the call dropped. I could feel the worry starting to build in that moment. I had no idea what my grandmother's condition was, I had literally just found out that she'd been in a hospital half the day, and now I'd have to call back, and try to get reconnected with the person that couldn't tell me anything.

I called one of my aunts. She was at the hospital. Without gaining much information, I got dressed and took Emma to a friend's house. About a mile from the hospital, I was stopped by the passenger side of an SUV when the driver made a left hand turn out of bad judgment. So, there I was, still on autopilot, comforting a shaken boy who looked like he couldn't have been older than 21 as he called his dad to tell him what had happened. Having to have a family member come pick me up from my car, I finally made it to the hospital, where my grandmother was in an emergency room, hooked up to blood pressure, heart monitoring, and IV machines. Her speech was evident that she had had a stroke, but I was glad to see that she was awake and still had a sense of humor.

It was the run down of the events surrounding the stroke, which has brought me into this state of internal panic. Myself, two aunts, a cousin and my grandfather filled the emergency room with a collective of my grandmother's medical and family history. We went over living wills and DNRs and everything that must be known, "just in case". When it came to the first signs of stroke, my grandfather took the lead in informing the doctor of my grandmother's behaviors. I never, ever expected to hear him say that the signs were evident two days before, on Saturday evening. The needle may as well have scratched the record. We all, including the doctor, stood, mouths and minds agape, trying desperately to understand and comprehend what we'd just all learned. Apparently, my grandmother had slurred speech and was showing signs of weakness on her right side on Saturday afternoon. My grandfather stated, since he's had 4 strokes, he recognized what was happening and asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital, and her reply was no. So, he didn't take her. "I watched her", he said. I could have died right then and there. I could not believe what I was hearing. My grandfather finally brought my grandmother into the hospital because "it was getting worse". She says that everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.

The kicker?

I was with her the night before (Sunday) and didn't notice anything that sent alarm. She nor he mentioned anything about difficulties speaking or walking. She had seemed to be moving around the house a little slower than usual, but since she told me that she had not gotten much rest the night before, I didn't find her being tired to be out of place. I now know that she hadn't gotten much sleep the night before because she was suffering from a bad headache, pain in one of her arms, and such. We had dinner, watched a movie - she revealed that she in fact was still having trouble with her words, but that it wouldn't have been evident to me at that time because we weren't talking, we were watching a movie. I'm still in disbelieve, and having a really, really hard time with these facts. Its unbelievable to me that someone who has had 4 strokes, and admitted to knowing what was happening at the first signs, would also admit that he did nothing until the situation got worse. When it comes to a condition affecting the brain, time matters. You have to act in the moment to save a life. You don't wait and watch for the person to fall dead! And you sure as hell don't sit around with your hand in your ass as parts of the person's brain is subjected to damage!

She's home now and I'm afraid. She'll be going through physical therapy to retrain the parts of her brain that have been affected, and to regain strength on her right side. Its hard to watch her working vigorously to open things. Its hard to hear her speak. Its hard to know that she could have died, not just because she was stricken, but because the person around her didn't move his ass and get help right away, even though he was very sure of what was happening. I'm afraid that he will act in the same way if something else happens. What if she has another stroke that isn't a mild one? What if he doesn't get help in time? Why did the both of them treat this thing like it was just another day of not feeling the best? I still don't understand, especially because we've all been here before.

As I listened to what my grandfather was saying, and saw my grandmother struggling to perform the tasks the doctor was asking her to perform, all I could think about was my mother. She died at the age of 37 because she had a stroke and didn't get medical attention in time. She'd had a stroke in bed. When a "friend" came over, she thought that my mother's slurred speech was drunkenness. So, she left my mother alone, in her bed, as her brain started to die. My great-grandmother and I found her the next day when my great-grandmother had trouble getting in touch with her. She was taken to the hospital where she went into a coma, had to be placed on life support, and died. Having experienced this once, I can't believe I could have had to experience that again... I guess, I did experience this again, I've been reliving it, unable to speak with my grandparents about the danger that their silence caused, unable to express just how much I've been affected, how much her children have been affected by this. Its truly an overwhelming occurrence.

Now that I am fully aware of where I am, I can now take the steps of properly working through this.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Everyday Food: Pork and Pineapple

Skillet-Seared Pork Chops w/Pineapple Salsa

You gotta love Martha Stewart, and you gotta love her magazine, Everyday Food. There is never a dull recipe! Not only is the mag full of delicious dishes, tips and tricks, it always features an exclusive week of dinners, complete with a shopping list so you wont have to keep running back and forth to the store throughout the week! I have to thank my friend Angela of This American Locavore for turning me on to Martha's mag.

I spotted a great recipe in an older issue and decided to give it a try. Pork Chops are a regular in our house and this was a great way to add a little something different to our old favorite.

Emma helped me make the Pineapple Salsa by combining all of the ingredients and being the official taste tester!

- 1 cup of pineapple chunks we had a small can on hand so we used those
- 1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced Emma prefers diced so we have a combo of sliced and diced
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper

You can had 1/2 of a chile pepper if you want to kick it up. We did not.

Once the salsa was ready to go, I browned the chops. Martha's recipe calls for flour for browning, but I found that it wasn't needed to achieve beautifully brown chops. I cooked our chops in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), and seasoned them with Season All and Lemon Pepper. You can substitute salt and pepper or any of your favorite pork seasonings. While the chops were cooking I made a side of white rice. I placed the cooked chops on a platter, topped them with our salsa, and added some reserved chopped cilantro and butter to the rice, fluffed with a fork, and dinner was served.

Have you tried any delicious new recipes lately?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

My Mother

Wishing all the wonderful mother's out there a very Happy Mother's Day!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In the Thick

- More photos from Naturals Night Out via Karen of Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog. My 'fro was completely doing its own thing due to some interesting results from some leave in conditioner, but I rocked it anyway. I love seeing everyone's point of view when they post their pictures, and I love when I find myself in them.

Hanging with Fatemeh of Fatemeh's Jewelry and Accessories

- I'm pretty unaffected by the death of Osama Bin Laden, except to say that the shock of some to the reactions of some is very interesting. Facebook was ablaze with status updates of disgust with the fact that we as Americans were not viewing Bin Laden as a human being, who was killed. We were instead celebrating the fact that it was us who killed him. While I agree that we really haven't gained anything to celebrate by Bin Laden's death, the act of standing around with pitch forks is nothing new in this country. I just hope that all who think Bin Laden's death means the "end" of something are not that foolish.

- Speaking of the government, Emma began standardized testing this week. Her thoughts on it:

"There will be questions that we wont know because the questions were created by people in the government who aren't in any schools. They don't know what 2nd graders know. 2nd graders know more about what we know than the government does." *tear*

Obviously her teacher has given the class a little low down on what lies beneath these tests. Nonetheless, she found the first day of testing to come easily.

- A little over a month left until the freedom of summer! Everybody wants to know what Emma will be doing for the summer. They wanna know which high priced camps she'll be attending. Listen, we're both looking forward to lounging and hanging. We miss days at the beach and fun at the water park. This is what we do during the summer time. We enjoy each other! I wont say that a camp is completely out of the question, but I wont be booking her entire summer with them.

- This end of this month marks 1 year post 2nd big chop for me! I still can't believe I'm coming up on a year of growth. With all of the fly low cuts around here, I'm both surprised and proud of myself for resisting the urge to go back to feeling the sun on my scalp. I've had a lot of inspiration though from watching the growth of so many others. I watch them and notice just how much my own hair has grown during this year period. I think I have a good 3 1/2 inches going on. I'm planning a blow out and length check to celebrate!

What's going on with you?