Monday, September 26, 2011

STUFF

I remember when I moved into my first apartment and I didn't have hardly anything. I was 17 and pregnant. I had my bedroom set from my tween years, a super uncomfortable waiting room couch that my mom bought at an auction at her job, and a 13" TV and VCR that sat on top of a box in my living room. A couple months later my daughter's nursery was furnished with all the gifts that my friends and family provided at my baby shower. Anyway, I remember not having any problems finding anything I was looking for, never bumping into stuff that had no home. Nothing was ever out of place. There was a sense of order in my sparse apartment...but it didn't feel furnished. I had no decor, I barely had anything to put in my sea of cabinets (which in hindsight wasn't really that many), my fridge and freezer were organized because they weren't overflowing with groceries, my bedroom was always clean.

I liked my new sense of responsibility and freedom, but my home felt unfinished. However, I didn't have the funds to make it look the way I wanted. Two and a half years later, I moved to my second apartment and I was making more money and collecting more stuff. I had a little more space in apartment #2 and so I obviously HAD to get more stuff. I had no sense of "less is more".  My goal was to cram as many paintings and pictures on to my walls and knick-knacks in every nook and cranny. Some how I felt that knocking over a bunch of crap on my window sills every time I opened my blinds made the house feel lived in.

Now fast forward 13 years and 3 more apartments. I have finally seen the folly of my ways and now know that STUFF does not make a home. I have been working hard over the past 2 years to minimize my belongings. Donating and tossing as much as possible and it has definitely made a vast improvement. Not only in the way my home looks but in the way my family and I feel and interact with one another. Everyone just seems happier and the mood is lighter.

There simply is a lot less stress when there is a lot less stuff.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

GET 'ER DONE

Sometimes there are things that need to be done but you just don't do them.  This could be for a number of reasons:

  • lazy
  • tired
  • overwhelmed
  • procrastination
  • lack of organization
  • poor time management
Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that the chores, errands, exercise, etc are not getting done while you make excuses.  We all fall into a rut now and again, and it is very easy for things to get out of hand when we do.  There will always be an excuse NOT to do something that requires work and effort.  I'm not talking about when you are sick and depleted of energy or when an emergency arises.  These things are unavoidable.  

I'm talking about just turning a blind eye to the clutter that surrounds you because you just don't feel like sorting and removing it.  Putting off chores that need to be done because you are being lazy.  Not exercising and eating right because maybe you are not organizing your time efficiently.  Perhaps when you consciously or subconsciously made the decision to put off the task(s) at hand, you felt it was the "right" thing to do.  But you must realize that when you do that for one day, you have doubled your work for tomorrow.  Two days, you have tripled it.  Three days, quadrupled.  Shall I go on??  

Maybe you ditched last night housework or Self work to go out with friends.  Of course going out with your friends and having a few drinks and delicious food is more appetizing than doing chores or working out.  But if you are constantly making excuses you will never get the prize; whatever that may be... a clean organized home? A slimmer healthier you?  A house that is company ready at any time?  It doesn't matter what your goals are, you will NOT reach them if you do not actively work to obtain them.  

I am definitely not saying to throw your social life away.  I'm telling you that you can go have fun after you have finished your task(s) at hand.  If you organize your time more efficiently, you can get everything done and still have time to party.   For example, if your goal is home related, then you MUST work at it daily.  If you are trying to declutter, you MUST remove items daily so set aside 15 minutes everyday for weeding through your stuff.  Tackle one area...NOT A WHOLE ROOM.  Work on clearing off that table or this corner.  And that is it.  Even if you aren't able to finish in the time you have available, you have made progress.  Tomorrow you do some more.  If everyday you are chipping away at your clutter, soon you will be clutter free.   

No matter your goal(s), you MUST organize your time otherwise you are just setting yourself up for failure.  

Perhaps your lack of motivation comes from being overwhelmed.  Maybe you see yourself as so far away from achieving your goals and are overwhelmed and have just given up because of the amount remaining on your plate.  This is when we need to snap out of it and get our heads back in the game.  

I definitely have those days when I don't feel like doing anything.  I am tired from being at work all day and the commute.  I come home and know I have dinner to cook and dishes to wash and whatever other chores are on my schedule for the day.  If I haven't worked out yet in the day, I should be squeezing some exercise in before the night is over.  I need to prepare my breakfast, snacks and lunch for the next day.  And semi-prep tomorrow's dinner.  Oh yeah, I have that family that I want and need to spend time with.  I am sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of time and energy that is required of me to keep myself and my family happy, SANE and provided for!  And in order to do so I know that I must finish what I have put on my plate.  Not food!  Just everything I have laid out for my day.  Putting it off does not make it disappear.  No helpful fairies or gnomes come in to take care of it for me.  I have learned the hard way that if I don't do it today, I will just have to do it the next day, which makes tomorrow doubly busy with housework.  I end up exhausted, cranky and depriving myself of family time and any "ME" time I might have had available.  I no longer push my daily chores off, I just get 'em done.  Then I have more time for my family and myself.

Weight-wise for me, I sometimes feel very overwhelmed.  3 weeks ago I had 86 pounds to lose to reach my goal weight.  EIGHTY SIX!  That sounds totally overwhelming and unattainable.  That sounds like YEARS of dieting and exercising and TORTURE!  But instead of dwelling on that large number and trying to calculate how long it might take me to reach my goal.  I have decided to just take it one day at a time.  I will reach my goal whenever I reach it.  Getting healthier everyday in the process.  I have set mini goals of 5lb increments for myself.  This is most definitely helping to keep me focused on the prize.   In 3 weeks I have reached my first mini goal!  And those weeks flew by.  I know I have a long road ahead of me to my ultimate goal, but I don't feel overwhelmed anymore.  

I firmly believe that making a list of what needs to be done, goals you want to reach, and a wish list is helpful in whatever you are working towards.  See examples below.

WEIGHT LOSS

Be healthier
decrease my chances of heart disease and cancer
live longer to enjoy life with my family
look better
better wardrobe
easier clothing shopping
more energy
healthier skin

I set my household stuff up on a few lists.  I have a TO DO LIST which is a list of projects I want accomplished around the house, more of a wish list...not chores.  I have my DAILY CHORE SCHEDULE, which lists all of my cleaning spread out over the week. 
 
TO DO LIST

Hang wainscoating in bathroom
Remove and replace bathroom tiles
New area rug for living room
Declutter loft/exercise room
Finish kitchen floor
Mend the baby's ripped Capt. America costume

DAILY CHORE SCHEDULE

EVERYDAY - make bed, wash dishes, load of laundry (washed, dried, put away), swish & swipe bathroom, prepare tomorrow's breakfast, snacks and lunch and semi prep tomorrow's dinner, 2 minute hotspots (cleaning up of those areas that are dumping grounds, ie. kitchen counter, table, nightstand, etc)

Mon - clean microwave, Dust kitchen ceiling fan, sweep/mop kitchen, sweep back stairs and back hall.

Tues (day before trash day) - Clean out fridge (all spoiled food in trash), all trash emptied and barrels disinfected, purge all mags/junk mail/circulars, dust and vacuum living room

Wed - Wash and condition leather sofa, wash highchair, change baby's sheets and changing pad cover, dust his ceiling fan and vacuum, spray dog's with deodorizer

Thrs - Pick up baby's room, wash side table in living room, wash glass on TV table and fireplace, clean out underneath the couch (recently added as I followed my nose Saturday to a sippy cup filled with rotten milk of an unknown own age.)

Fri - Clean out purse, clean out car, wash bathroom rug, sweep/mop bathroom, wash dog's feeding stations

Sat - Dust bedroom ceiling fan and furniture, change sheets, sweep/mop bedroom, wash dog's bed

Sun - Sweep front hall and stairs, tidy up front hall, plan week's dinner menu, spray dog's (again), prepare clothes for work week

MONTHLY

wash dogs
vacuum out fireplace
wash windows
wash inside of fridge and freezer
get rid of baby's outgrown clothes and toys
tidy tupperware cabinet
tidy linen baskets

Those are my tips for sticking with your plans, seeing results and continuing until you achieve your goals.  This has helped me and I hope that this will help anyone who might be lacking the motivation right now or possibly even the know how.  Baby steps to success!  Now GET 'ER DONE!



 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Feeling good!

Just want to start off by saying how proud I am of myself!  WHOOT!  I have been eating healthy for the last 3 weeks.  I have lost a little over 6 pounds and I feel great.  I do need to get some more exercise in, as my plan to wake up early and work out on the Total Gym just is not happening.  I am simply NOT a morning person.  I need to dedicate at least 20 minutes five days a week to the Total Gym.  I just need to prioritize my time after work better to do so.

In spite of my lack luster and often non existent exercising, my pants are fitting looser and I have lost those 6+ pounds I mentioned earlier.

A woman that I work with approached me and asked if I would be interested in having a little friendly "Biggest Loser" style competition with her .  Hell yeah!  We decided that the Biggest Loser would receive a $10.00 gift card from the other.  I'm all for it.  We are doing it for 10 weeks.  Then after those 10 weeks we will start the competition again, and again, until we reach our goals.  Of course we both want to win, but regardless of who the winner is, we will both be WINNING!  We will both be sticking to our plans, encouraging each other, and just being healthier in general.

Even though I haven't really been getting my workout on at home, I have been sneaking a little bit in here and there at work.  I keep a weighted hula hoop at the office and I have been hooping during lunch when I watch my shows.  I also walked around our building one day.  I am going to try and do that everyday.  I am entitled to two 15 minute breaks a day and I am going to start taking them.  WHY NOT!?  I think I just decided that I will take two walks everyday.  If I recall correctly one lap around the building is a 1/4 mile.  I need to double check just so I can log my activity daily.  But regardless, it will be exercise and fresh air. (I rarely leave the building for fear that I won't come back, haha!)  I also have a Pilates Toning Ring in my office.  I do not use it like it is intended, instead I use it like a Thigh Master a'la Suzanne Somers and to work my arms.  Oh, excuse me, I said I use it.  I meant I will dust it off tomorrow and then I will do those things I mentioned.  My job also has a small gym.  There are two treadmills, a Gazelle and some other things in there.  I can walk or "gazelle" in there if the weather is bad or if I just wanted a little change of pace.  I really have no excuse.  Just need to do it.

Below is a quick list of the changes I made to my daily routine:

  • eliminate white sugar
  • drink at least 1.5 quarts of water a day
  • take multi vitamin
  • eat 6 small meals a day
  • eat fresh fruit and/or vegetable with at least 5 out of 6 meals
  • sneak in exercise whenever possible
  • try to eliminate all processed foods
  • only whole grains

I am enjoying eating healthy meals and snacks.  I have always loved fresh fruits and veggies, and I have always eaten a good amount of them.  But I have also mixed in a lot of processed foods and sweets.  I will always have a sweet tooth, but I am learning to appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit again.  I honestly am preferring the sweetness of a juicy clementine or some frozen red seedless grapes over cake or a doughnut.  I have been VERY good during the work day despite the constant influx of baked goods and random junk that my boss continues to bring in.  This past week alone, there were brownies, 3 different containers of cookies, more than half of a 1/4 sheet birthday cake, and a big bowl of miniature candy bars. I have not indulged in one single morsel.  I refuse.  I am letting the sight of the junk piss me off.  I have found that is my best defense.  It may not be the right way, but it is working for me.  What is a little scary though is that it doesn't look like any of the cake has been touched.  That most likely means that in the past I was the main culprit in devouring any baked goods that were brought in.  haha!  Whatever.  I hope that bastard cake rots all over the counter.  I WILL NOT EAT YOU!  

What else??  Oh, I am learning to like water.  I really don't think I will ever LOVE straight up water.  It's just so... blah.  But I am loving water with lemon or lime in it.  Sometimes I add a packet of Truvia to make lemonade or limeade.  Yum!

I have not added any white sugar to anything in about a month.  I have replaced sugar with Truvia in my occasional coffee.  I use honey, Truvia or agave nectar in my smoothies and tea and when needed in cooking.  Sometimes I use brown sugar as well.  But NO white sugar.  It is extra bad and I don't want it in my system.  I also don't want any sugar substitutes that contain saccharin or aspartame.  Truvia has replaced Splenda and Equal for me.  It is all natural, made from Stevia (which is a plant) and calorie free.

I've been getting in more whole grains.  I have always preferred them with the exception of white rice.  I truly do love me some white rice.  But I have not been eating it.  I switched us to brown rice.  I can't say I love brown rice, but it is growing on me.  Quinoa is a favorite of mine as well as steel cut oats.  Frigging yum!  I can't even eat regular oatmeal anymore, haha!  I haven't been eating much bread lately, but when I do it is 100% whole wheat or some other whole grain bread.  I honestly can't remember the last time I had white bread.  I don't think my kids have ever tasted bread that is not brown.  And my oldest is almost 17.

I have been adding 100% organic Coconut oil to my diet daily.  Yes it is a fat, but it is a healthy fat.

The health benefits ococonut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

When I have toast I spread a little on instead of butter.  I add a small amount to my steel cut oats.  I add it to my roasted root vegetables.  It is very good for you and the flavor is delicious!  I bought two jars of it and I keep one in the kitchen and the other in the bathroom.  I have been using only coconut oil as a moisturizer for my skin and it is phenomenal!  I use it my hair a few times a week before bed as well.

I have not been drinking alcohol as much.  I'm not a big drinker, but in the summer I definitely drink more.  Over the past 3 weeks I have cut my alcoholic libations from 3-4 a week to just one.  I think this has had an impact on my weight loss.

I have had ice cream when I wanted it (if I had the calories to spare).  I am just not willing to deprive myself of everything.  I won't last if I restrict everything from my life.  I don't want this new way of eating to be a diet, this is a new way of life for me.  I am not eating like this for a certain period of time, this is how I want to eat for the rest of my life.  Food should nourish your body and give you energy.  Not hold you down and make you sluggish.  I want to continue to look at food simply as nourishment.  Eat to live not live to eat.  Don't get me wrong, I will always love the taste of food.  I don't want that to change, but food should not be the center of my universe.  It should not be the focus of a get together, rather the company of good friends and family should be.

Healthy breakfast, snacks and lunch are all ready for tomorrow and I am prepared to continue down my road to a healthier happier me.  Feeling good!  :)  Now if I could just get my butt in the bed earlier.  UGH!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Check your price tag

"If you're not being treated with love and respect, check your price tag. Perhaps you have marked yourself down. It's YOU who tell people what you're worth by what you accept. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables!"

That was my cousin's Facebook status recently.  Not sure if she wrote that or if she read it someplace else and felt the need to pass it along.  Regardless, I had to steal it.  I firmly believe that if you don't value, respect and love yourself than no one else will either.  

In my younger years I had a couple of loser boyfriends.  Good for nothing, mentally and physically abusive, and heartless.  I remember arguing with both of these "men" and they both used this classic phrase on me often, "YOU THINK YOU'RE BETTER THAN ME."  Sometimes, it was a statement and other times it was a posed as a question.  At that time, I was young and dumb and my self esteem is not what it is today and I would immediately fold and say, "NO, I don't think I am better than anyone."   When these idiots would say that I thought I was better than them, it somehow made me feel like the jerk.  It made me knock myself down a peg.  How ABSURD!  I know!  I definitely had battered woman syndrome during my late teens and very early adulthood.  I really believed inside that it was my fault that these animals treated me the way that they did. 

I definitely never deserved to be abused but I sure did make it easy.  I always forgave and pretended to forget.  I always took the blame and I always allowed one more chance.  I stayed with these men for a couple of reasons.  One reason was I pitied them, I felt that I was the reason they had a place to live.  If I kicked them out they surely would be homeless and I would be responsible, right?  And second.. I simply didn't value MYSELF.

Then one day I literally WOKE UP.   I honestly don't know exactly what flipped the switch in me.  Maybe that last slap in the head did it, who knows.  But I was DONE.  I knew that I didn't deserve to be treated like that.  I knew that there was a man out there for me that would love to "have" me.  To hold me in his arms instead of hurting me.  A man who would love to say kind words to me to make me feel good rather than get some sick twisted thrill from saying degrading nasty things to me and watching me cry.  A man who would do whatever he could to prevent tears from flowing from my eyes than being the cause of those tears.  A man who would love me for me and not try to change me.  A man who understood that I was my own person and I make my own decisions and they would love that about me and would not try to control me.  A man that understood that a good woman compliments a good man and that our love and understanding can only make us both stronger.

After leaving the second guy, I felt that I needed to be alone for a while to re-evaluate my life and understand what it was about me that was attracting such scumbags.  It wasn't long before I realized that the problem was I did not value myself.  I was easy prey.  They were both older than me (not obscenely though), and I was kind of attracted to that.  I felt that them being older would make them more experienced in how to treat a woman, I wouldn't have to teach them like I might have to with a younger man.  I was naive to relationships, in general.  I mean, I had my little Jr. High and High School boyfriends and crap, but I was totally green as to what is expected and acceptable in an adult relationship.  I was a young single mother, I was attractive, and probably gave off the "I'm lonely-have low self esteem-come take advantage of me" vibe.  It's like an irresistible perfume that abusive men just can not resist.  They must approach you and almost immediately move into your home.  It's like wild panther pheromones, hahaha!  But seriously, abusive men have a type.  And I possessed many of the sad qualities that they typically stalk.  I needed to improve how I viewed myself so that others would value me more.  If I continue to portray myself as lonely and weak, then I am just setting myself up for the next lowlife to abuse me.  

Although I was still in the process of mending myself, I reconnected with my (now) hubby.  We have known of each other since Jr. High and I had a crush on him since then.  We bumped into each other at the store.  I will never forget - I had on inside out sweats (for some reason that was cool in the 90's) and my hair was a hot mess.  I had the chicken pox and had red dots all over my face and arms, no makeup.  I had walked to Walgreen's to get Calamine lotion, and tampons (yup, double whammy).  And I am in line behind this man that I have had a crush on for like 10 years.  I put my feminine hygiene products and calamine lotion down on the counter and I approached him with some cheesy line that I do not remember (or shall I say I will not repeat).  We chatted for only a couple minutes and we went our separate ways.  I immediately felt some sort of positive connection with him.  I won't say that I knew at that time that this is the man I would spend the rest of my life with or anything.  But I definitely sensed something different in him than any of the men from my past.  He was definitely worth semi stalking. LOL!  I went home and pulled out my local phone book and searched for him.  I found only two listings with his last name and just chose one, not knowing his address.  I built up the nerve to call him and HE ANSWERED!  I asked him if he had a girlfriend and he told me that he had several.  WHAT?!?!?!  I said, oh ok, I'm all set.  Then he said that he was just joking.  We got to talking and the rest as they say, "Is history".  


The first couple of years that we were together I was still finding my way to loving myself.  And he really did help me.  He always made sure that I knew how beautiful I was and that I did not deserve what I was put through in my past.  He has always been supportive of me and everything that I strive to do.  He has never put me down - EVER!  He is the exact opposite of the morons that I was with in the past.


It took valuing myself to find a man to value me.  I don't compare myself to others in terms of qualities or attributes.  I am ME, not you or them.  I am MYSELF and I love myself.  I am not perfect, nor do I want to be.  My quirks make me who I am.  I know the areas that I feel require improvement, but these improvements will not change WHO I am.. these improvements will make me even happier ME.  


I do not regret the moronic men from my past.  Them putting me through hell has helped me become the woman that I am today.  I learned from them (the hard way) what is not acceptable in a relationship.  I learned what I will not tolerate.  I am thankful that I did not allow my heart to be hardened by their actions and inabilities so that when the opportunity for true love and happiness arose I was able to surrender myself fully to it.  I am glad that I went through the BS when I was much younger so that I was able to find myself and my soulmate when I did.  I would hate to still be in that position at almost 35 and just now starting to really live and love life.


I know that there are thousands of women (and men) out there that have low self value.  That allow their partner to take advantage of their weaknesses and belittle them.  Sadly, there are tons of people on this planet just looking for someone to knock down and take from.  I know that it is sometimes hard to find yourself and raise your self worth when the person you are with constantly puts you down and makes you feel worthless.  But the only way out of that funk and to start LIVING your life is to START OVER.  Find your true self, and love the YOU that you are, not what someone wants you to be!  This has nothing to do with how you look, the hair on your head, the clothes on your body or your weight.  This is all about how you feel.  Begin building your confidence around WHO you are and what qualities you have to offer the world.  Not what you can give them or what some one can physically take from you, but what just being in your mere presence can do for someone.  Once you have your confidence, pride and love for yourself, no one can take that away.   


REBOOT.  REFRESH.  RESTART.  FRESH PAGE.  NEW DAY. 
                                                                              - Erykah Badu

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Embracing my curls

I am the child of a mixed race relationship.  My mother is white (Italian, Scottish and Native American) and my father is black (from Arkansas...sad, that most African Americans don't know much of their heritage).  I was born with a head full of hair.  It was black and straight.  Of course I don't remember these days, but by looking at pics I can see that my hair stayed kind of straight and silky until I was about a year old.  Then it started to curl up, but not really curly, more like bushy.  All through my younger childhood my mom would braid my hair - SUPER TIGHT.  IT HURT!  But my hair always looked neat and it was pretty healthy.  When she would take the braids out I would have these awesome waves and I would wear my hair like that for a couple days.  Sometimes she would put sponge rollers in my hair and it would be nice and smooth with a little bump of curl at the end.  That was usually for school pictures.  Then there was the daughter of the couple that lived upstairs.  When she would visit her parents sometimes she would hook me up with banana curls. Sing it with me now... AWE-SOME!

When I was 7 my hair was pretty long.  After 2nd grade ended, my mom took me to a salon to get my hair trimmed.  I had never been to a salon before.  The woman took one look at my thick, full, frizzy head of hair and said something to the tune of "all of this is dead.  We need to cut most of this off."  I don't think my mom was thrilled with that, but the stylist was the professional, right?  She knew hair.  When she was finished I had this mullet-esqe afro.  IT WAS HORRIBLE!  I was heading into the 3rd grade at a new school.  This was awful!  Not only am I the new kid, I'm chunky and I have an afro mullet.  WTF!

Sometime during the summer, before the school year began, my mom came home with a jar of Classy Curl.  This was not quite a Jheri Curl, but had a similar effect.  It loosened my curls so they had more "hang time" and were more defined.  I watched my hair transform almost right before my eyes.  At the time, I was all over it.  Yes, put more in, Ma!  This 'fro has got to go!  It's amazing how the hair on your head can make or break your confidence.  She bought me some frilly barrettes and I felt cute.  The mullet fro was gone.  I had coily, yet semi greasy curls.  I mean it wasn't dripping or anything, so as long as no one touched it and I didn't lean my head on anyone's upholstery, my greasy secret was safely hidden.  

First day of school came and I was nervous to meet new people and my new teacher and roam the halls of a new school.  To my delight, no one made fun of me...at least not to my face.  Everyone was nice and I quickly made friends and excelled in class.  The year went by quickly and then my mom bought her first home.  Which meant moving again and starting over in a new school back on the other side of the city.  Even though my juicy curls worked out fine for Tracy school, I wasn't so sure that was the right hair move for Harrington.  I started to ween myself off of the Classy Curl and my hair quickly DRIED up.  My bouncy defined curls shriveled up into a tight afro once again.  It had grown so it was extra mullet-y.  Frigging yay!

I wasn't too sure about this 'do, but I felt having a quasi jheri-curl was definitely more detrimental to my reputation, so I went with it.  My 4th grade class was huge and the kids all seemed so grown and mature compared to my last classroom.  Although, I made friends quickly with everyone, I was teased about my hair.  My name was quickly changed from Maleeka to Fluffy.  Lemme hear it....Awwwwww :(  haha!  But it was never in a point and ridicule way, I was just simply referred to as Fluffy.  "Hey, Fluffy, pass those papers back."  "Yo, Fluffy, lemme get a piece of Hubba Bubba."  "Fluffy, you wanna play with us at recess?"  I just went along with it.  The first few times I heard it hurt my feelings.  But then I realized that they actually liked me so I didn't feel so bad.  The worst and (now) funniest thing about this nick name was in 5th grade.  My mom came in for parent teacher night and my favorite teacher of all time, Mr. Leary, says to me in front of my mom.  "I hope that the kids teasing you because of your weight doesn't hurt your feelings."  I said, "they don't tease me about my weight".  He said, "you know... when they call you Fluffy".  Great, my teacher thinks I'm a big fat fatty McFatster!  I said no, that's because of my hair.  It is pretty damn hilarious now, but as a 10 or 11 year old it was mortifying.

I carried that nickname throughout elementary school and then once we moved on to Jr. High, all of us students were pretty much scattered all throughout the school.  I rarely had a class with anyone from Elementary school.   But every now and then, walking through the halls, I'd hear "YO FLUF-FY!"  And I would always turn and wave.  By this time I had learned to "do" my hair (or so I thought, I see pics now and cringe) and the "fluffy" afro mullet was a thing of the past.  The nickname stuck around for a while, but I kind of took it on like a hard earned badge of honor.  It was my claim to fame, haha!

I had a relaxer here and there growing up but never anything that was maintained and touched up on a regular basis until Jr. High.  I no longer had any curl.  I wanted it straight as can be.  Not only for esthetic  reasons but not knowing how to manage my natural hair HURT!  I was always snapping my curls when combing it and hitting snarls that literally felt like I was ripping my hair out.  It was just too much work for me then.  I didn't want my mom doing my hair anymore, I was a pre-teen, haha!  This was the late 80's and high hair and banana clips were the style and I could achieve such ridiculous hair with my relaxed tresses.

Hair styles came and went but my trusty box of home relaxer kit stayed well into my adult years.  I went to the salon often for a press and curl, spending hours among other women getting our kinks and curls pulled and burned out of our hair.  There was a couple years in there when I decided to go without any relaxer.  My stylist would charge me more money since I had curls.  And getting my hair combed while at the salon was pure torture.  They just had no idea how to handle curls.  They always tried to persuade me to (please) get a relaxer.  Almost begging me, trying to tell me all the benefits of a relaxer.  THERE ARE NO BENEFITS TO GETTING A RELAXER.  IT IS CHEMICALS!

When I went to Argentina for my surgery, my hair was relaxer free but flat ironed straight.  After being in the hospital all that time without proper care, my hair was in a sad state.  When I got home, my hair was falling out from all the stress, medications and lack of ANY hair care products while abroad.  I ended up with a decent sized bald spot on the back of my head (which I still sport).  The length was probably a little past my shoulders.  But it was falling out in clumps.  Even using baby shampoo was too harsh for me at this time.  I asked a friend who cuts hair to come over to my house and chop my hair off.  I had her cut it very short.  Like four inches from my scalp short.  This was not a fashion move.  This was simply about getting my hair healthy again.  Then sadly, once my hair was healthy I relaxed my hair again!  Then I had a very nice cropped cut, I loved it, but felt guilty for relaxing again.

I relaxed until about a year and a half ago.  It was not really a calculated decision to stop relaxing.  I just had young toddler and I just didn't have a lot of extra time on my hands or the energy to take care of myself the way that I wanted to.  From relaxing for years, my hair had lost it's natural curl pattern.  It was wavy, not really curly yet.  I couldn't even remember what my curly hair looked like.  I then made a promise to myself to NEVER relax my hair ever again.  I wanted to treat my hair right and I always was curious what my natural hair even looked like.

My hair is now a little past my shoulders when it is wet, about 2 inches above when dry.  My hair is two different textures.  More of a 3B all over and then 3C underneath at the nape of the neck.  And at the very front, it is possibly 3A or even 2C.  This is probably from being pulled back in pony tails for 30 years.  My hair is still changing and curling up more and more with every passing month and I love the changes that my hair made.  It feels good to only use natural products and no chemicals.

I recently had a Deva cut.  If you have read this post all the way through I am assuming that you too, have curly hair.  Whether you are black, white, latin or whatever, if you have curly hair, I highly recommend a Deva Cut.  It is a totally different approach to cutting hair.  First of all it is cut dry.  The reason for this is curly hair takes on a totally different shape when wet and when dry.  If you cut a curl when it is wet, you really have no idea how much you are REALLY chopping.  An inch cut off of wet curly hair will be at least an inch and a half dry due to shrinkage.  Each and every curl on your head is cut individually.  The cut is a more expensive than your average run of the mill cut but definitely worth it.

I have been to Black salons, White salons and Spanish salons.  None of them knew how to handle my hair.  The reason is that none of them had anyone on their staff that knew curls.  The salon that I went to for my Deva Cut is a posh upscale "white" salon and spa.  The woman who cut my hair is white.  This made me nervous.  I went in first to meet her and have a consultation.  I wanted her to see and touch my hair before we made any appointments.  During my consultation, I told her that I think that one of the best qualities in a hair stylist is honesty.  If you cannot do my hair, just be honest.  You aren't hurting my feelings by telling me you don't have experience with ethnic hair.  But I WILL be mad if you tell me that you can cut my hair and you really can't.  I told her about my very first salon experience and cut and she agreed that a good stylist would never have cut my hair if they didn't know how.  She convinced me that she could cut my hair no problem.  And she was right!  My hair now has more shape and style and the frizz layer that was surrounding my curls is now gone.  My curls are now much more defined and I can feel the difference in the health of my hair.  I am also ecstatic that I found a stylist that understands my hair and can do what she says.  I wish I knew who the woman was who hacked my hair when I was a little girl.  She should have told my mother something along the lines of "I really have no experience working with ethnic hair and instead of pretending that I do and chopping off your little girl's hair and having all the kids make fun of her, you should take her to another salon where you might have better luck."

It has taken me almost 35 years to embrace and rock my natural hair.  Taking care of it and styling it is a long learning process but the journey of trials and errors is most definitely worth it.  I hope to see more and more au naturals in the future.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't cry for me Argentina...

(Warning: this is a very long post) -

I have battled with my weight pretty much my whole life.  As a little kid I was skinny, then when I was about 8 I started getting chubby.  I was chunky up until about the end of 8th grade.  Then I started slimming down. I stayed slim until I was about 6.5 months pregnant with my daughter.  I gained about 80 pounds while pregnant with her and it took me about a year and a half to get it off.  I stayed at a healthy weight for the next 3 years and then I fell in love with my soulmate and packed on the pounds.

In 2005, I decided to get gastric bypass.  I went to Argentina to have the surgery.  Why, you ask?  Simply because it was cheaper than having it done in the States.  I was simply fat.  I did not have Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or any other diseases attributed to being obese.  God, I hate the word obese. YUCK!  Anyway, I went to Argentina because I assumed that my doctor would have just told me no. Looking back this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever done in my life, one notch below actually boarding the plane and having surgery abroad.

On November 19th, 2005, I hugged and kissed my hubby and daughter goodbye and boarded my plane.  I landed in FL, where I met my mother and we both boarded the 2nd plane on to Buenos Aires.   A company called Plenitas coordinated everything for us.  They provided a guide, Cecelia, and she met us at the airport and then we took a taxi to the hotel and checked in.  The next afternoon I met a man who had the same surgery with the same doctor and was recovering nicely.  He was from the US as well and he spoke very highly of the doctor.  I spent most of that second day at the medical center, where I met with the doctor and had my blood work and testing done.  I was then all set for surgery the next day.

That last day before surgery, I emailed back and forth with the Hubby and also with a friend that I worked with.  I bid and won an auction on Ebay and had it shipped to my friend for her birthday.  My mother shares the same birthday as her and I filled out her birthday card and had her gift prepared to give to her the next day.  Her birthday was actually after I was scheduled to be released from the hospital but just in case something went wrong and I had to stay longer I wanted to make sure that she had her card and gift.

I was excited and nervous at the same time.

Day 3 in Argentina, Cecelia came to the hotel and picked me up and we went to the hospital.  I signed some documents and soon after I was prepped for surgery.  Anesthesia came and sedated me and I started counting backwards from 100.  I was out...

The next thing I remember I opened my eyes and my wrists were strapped to a hospital bed.  I WAS TERRORFIED!  I knew something was not right, but at that time I didn't know what.  I was calling for my mom.  Then calling for anyone!  Nobody came.

I was able to get one of my wrists out of the restraints and then untied the other.  Then I realized that there was something in my nose.  At first I thought it was just an air tube and went to pull it out.  As I was pulling it, I realized this tube was inside of me.  I could feel it coming up through my throat and out through my nose.  It was a feeding tube.  What the HELL is going on here!?  My imagination started running wild.  I had recently seen the movie Hostel, so I was having really crazy thoughts!  Were they experimenting on me?  Was I being sexually violated?  Why in the world would they have me tied to a bed?

My mother arrived what I guess was a couple hours later (it felt like days).  She looked like hell.  I could tell she had been bawling her eyes out.  I still had no idea at this time what had happened to me.  She told me that there was a problem and that the doctor had hit an artery and he suspended the surgery.  The doctor told her I had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia due to my high blood pressure. (I don't have high blood pressure.)  She explained to me that I had been in a coma for 10 days and had to have dialysis during that time.  She explained that my wrists were tied to the bed because I kept ripping my IV out and pulling at my feeding tube.  And there was also a problem with my leg.  Following the botched surgery I had Compartment Syndrome in my right calf.  I do not recall any of this, but my mom told me that the day after the surgery I was awake and that I told her that my leg was really hurting and that it was hot.  She touched it and she said it was significantly hotter than the left leg.  She told the doctor but he was not concerned.  He was preoccupied with the other issues I had going on.  Knowing what I know now about Compartment Syndrome, the doctor had to respond immediately and make incisions (fasciotomy) in the limb in order to relieve the pressure that was built up.  Failing to act immediately can result in the muscle dying and possible loss of the limb.

It was over 24 hours before a fasciotomy was performed.  It was too late.

My leg felt very very heavy and swollen, but I could not really move much due to being so weak.  I was covered with a blanket so I could not see my leg.  When the doctor came to see me and tend to my leg, what I saw was horrorfying.  I had two gapeing holes in both sides of my right calf.  The first thing that came to my mind was a rack of raw meat.  Disgusting, I know.  I actually could not eat meat for some time afterward because of the sight of my leg.  I cried and sobbed uncontrollably.  I just couldn't wrap my brain around what I was seeing.  The doctor cleaned the wounds and packed them with...wait for it...SUGAR!  Yes, white granulated sugar.  He actually had a 2lb bag of it and poured it into and all around the wounds.  When I asked him what the hell he was doing, he said that this will keep any bacteria from eating my flesh.  Um, ok...I know I was in another country, but what is this the early 1800's or something? There has to be some more modern medicinal way of doing this.  Anyway, this cleaning and sugaring went on for the next 3 weeks.

After a few days of being concious I was moved from critical care.  There was a little more communication upstairs.  No one really spoke any English.  This was traumatizing for me being in the situation I was in.  There was one doctor who was originally from Chicago.  She worked in a totally different unit, but word must've got around about me and she came to visit me every so often, until she was instructed not to.  This would be around the time that my mother hired a lawyer.  The reason for the lawyer was we were being told conflicting stories about what had actually happened in the operating room that day.  The doctor and Plenitas were sticking with their story that hitting the artery was unavoidable due to my "allergic reaction to anesthesia due to high blood pressure".  One nurse, who we assumed was fired after speaking to my mother (because we never saw him ever again), told her that the doctor made a mistake and there was blood every where.  Another nurse who would only speak to me when she knew no one was around, told me that the doctor hit an organ.  I said, no an artery...thinking since she didn't speak much English that she was confusing the word artery and organ.  She said no ORGAN!  Every now and then over the month that I was there, staff would either slip and tell us info or come right out when they knew that they weren't going to be caught. 

I was in severe pain the majority of my stay in this first hospital.  I have issues with body cleanliness (not OCD  level, but I sometimes shower 3 times a day).  I sometime would have to damn near beg to be washed.  There are few things more damaging to your pride then begging someone to please wash you because you can't and you feel dirty.  I was on Morphine my entire hospital stay.  I needed it for my pain, but to be totally honest, I needed it for my mind.  I was a mental and emotional wreck!  All I did was cry and cry.  A therapist came in to speak with me and I'm sure he couldn't even understand a word I was saying.  He spoke English fine,  but I'm sure my constant blubbering and gasping for air through my crying made me impossible to comprehend.  He prescribed me some anti depressant and anxiety pills.  Not sure what they were.  I do know that my mother, the promise of seeing my family again and Morphine saved my life.  I am pretty sure that if my mother wasn't there, that they would have just killed me.  I truly believe this.  I would've just been some person all alone in a foreign country.  No one to follow up on me, no one waiting for me to get out of surgery.  They could've totally got away with not having to fix all the damage that they did to me if no one was there with me.  And just having my mom with me meant so much.  This ordeal brought us closer than we had been before.  It sucks that we had to go through this to bring us closer,  but I'll take it.  I did get to talk to my hubby and daughter on the phone a few times a week.  Even though those conversations were terribly hard for me, I needed to hear their voices.  I mostly cried listening to them but I needed and wanted to savor every minute I could of hearing their voices.  And Morphine.  For those times when I just couldn't deal.  It was on auto dispense but they also gave me a clicker to dispense more if I felt I needed it.  Just not mentally being "there" got me through many days.  I will admit that I was pretty much a junky for the month and some change that I was in that hospital.

Christmas was coming up and I was promised that I would be home in time.  We don't have a whole lot of Christmas tradition but who wants to spend it in the hospital.  I was still in the hospital on Christmas day.  A couple of days before Christmas they had told us that I could leave on on December 27th.  On the 27th, representatives from Plenitas arrived and brought a typed letter with them that they wanted me to sign.  This letter listed everything that had REALLY happened during surgery.  That the doctor made a mistake and hit an artery, that there was NO reaction to anesthesia, that he nicked my colon while trying to correct his error, that I suffered from acute compartment syndrome as a result of his mistake.  Then there was a paragraph at the end of the letter that basically said that I absolve them of any wrong doing and I will not sue.  SCREW YOU!  I honestly was too weak to argue and fight but my mom was NOT having it.  I really thought that my mother and one of the women were going to come to blows.  They finally released me from the hospital.  My mother had already booked us tickets on American Airline, we were leaving that night straight from the hospital.  I needed to keep my leg elevated at all time so Plenitas offered to have an ambulance drive us to the airport so I would be more comfortable.  We accepted. Just a little word of advice here...Don't arrive to the airport in an ambulance.  No sooner did we pull up did someone from American Airlines come out to the ambulance and ask for my Medical Release.  We showed him my release documents from the hospital.  He said no, he needs the Medical Release so I can travel.  We didn't have that.  Never even heard of it.  The people from Plenitas had followed us to the airport and my mom was asking him for the Medical Release.  He told us to sign the letter clearing them of any wrong doing and he will provide us with the Medical Release to travel.  NO!  We sat there bewildered for a little bit and then the man driving the ambulance asked if we wanted him to take us some place else.  We asked for the nearest hotel and he brought us.  We checked in and I laid in the bed for the next 2 days.  I needed a wheelchair and my mom's strength to get to the bathroom.  That was the only time that I even got out of the bed.  I couldn't shower or bathe because I simply didn't have the strength and I also was afraid to get my wounds wet.  I needed my mother to wash my most private areas.  How embarrassing!  I was not eating.  I was running a high fever and I was still an emotional mess.  After the second day, my mother insisted that we go to another hospital.  During the time I was in the first hospital my mother and my aunt back in the States were trying to get help from Red Cross and from the American Embassy.  The Red Cross never even returned one of my mother or aunt's many phone calls or emails.  The American Embassy suggested a British run hospital in Buenos Aires to my mother.  At this point, I just wanted to die in the hotel room.  I did not want to go to another hospital ever again,  I was tired of being stuck over and over with IV needles just to have my veins blow.  I was tired of the loneliness of the hospital, I was tired of laying there 24/7.  I was tired of only having one or two English programs on TV.  I was tired of smelling a hospital.  I just felt I could not bear it one more day.  But my mother persuaded me to go to the British hospital.  We went and they admitted me.  I had sepsis, this is why I was running a fever.  They treated me for my infection.  They were attentive and very nice.  And most of the staff spoke English, score!  After a couple of days they moved me upstairs and began a wound vacuum on my leg and within a couple days you could see the wounds were closing slightly.  No more barbaric sugar treatment.  I was able to speak to the hubby and daughter anytime I wanted since I had a direct phone line in my room.  My mood was definitely improving.  I knew I would be going home and seeing my family soon.  I was finally released from the second hospital on January 12th, 2006.  I arrived in Florida on January 13th.  We figured since I was in a wheelchair that my mom's one level Ranch would be easier than my 2nd floor apartment back in Mass.  The hubby and daughter flew to Florida the day after I got there.  It was so amazing to see them after such a long time, that feeling is indescribable.  We all stayed at my mom's for two weeks, then my mother flew back to Mass with my daughter since she needed to go back to school and the hubby stayed with me in FL.  My Mommy was what I needed to get me through the ordeal in Argentina, but my hubby was what I needed to get me back on my feet.  My mom coddled me and even though I was supposed to be trying my best to use a walker and less wheelchair, she would not push me to because she didn't want to see me in pain or struggling.  In her eyes I had been though enough.  Hubby was all over me. Not in a mean way, but in the way that I needed.  I need to be pushed.  He would put the wheelchair on the other side of the living room so if I really really needed it, I had to use the walker to get to it.  After about 4 days of his help I only used the wheelchair when we went out.  He got me out of the house everyday, I had doctors appointments often but we also went to Target, Walmart, a drive in movie, out for lunch.  Nothing fancy, just out of the house.  He didn't want me sitting around feeling sorry for myself.  We knew life was never going to be the same, but it is what it is and he was going to see me through this and love me no matter what.

We flew back home February 1st.  Even though it was hard work getting up to the second floor, it felt SO good to be what I call "home home".  To lay in my own bed.  The smell of home.  The sounds of home (which I typically despise since I live in a very busy noisy neighborhood).  I knew I had a long road ahead of me to a full recovery and I wasn't really sure what my final prognosis entailed.  I had daily appointments with everyone from the Coumadin Clinic to the Vascular Surgeon.  Plastic Surgeon to Orthopedic Surgeon.  I also had a physical thrown in there.  My GP told me that he had planned a lunch to sit and meet with my whole team, Vascular, Orthopedic and Plastic Surgeons to discuss my case.  At that lunch they came up with a plan to get me on my way to recovery.  First, the vascular surgeon made sure there were no issues with my veins and/or arteries.  He also removed the nasty bed sore that was on my left heel.  Then the plastic surgeon debreided the still open wounds and then surgically closed them.  This was MAJOR for me.  Just to see those huge wide open incisions finally closed made a phenomenal improvement to my state of mind.  The Plastic surgeon also "prettied up" the mess of a frankenstein scar that was left on my abdomen.  He did this out of the kindness of his heart, free of charge.  Then a few weeks later, the Orthopedic surgeon lengthened my Achilles tendon so that my foot would not be dropped any longer.  He set pins in it so that it would not drop again.  He attempted to do a couple tendon transfers while he was there to see if they would take.  Unfortunately, the transfers did not work, since I had so much muscle and tissue damage.  I wore a cast for 6 weeks and was able to walk with crutches.  Then when the cast was removed I had an air cast.  About a week after having the air cast I asked the hubby to stand in front of me because I wanted to see if I could take a couple steps without using the crutches, and I did!  It was awesome!  I am only 5'4 but I felt so tall!  I had been laying in bed, sitting low in a wheel chair or hunched over a walker or crutches for over a year.  I had a custom Orthotic brace made so I could wear a regular sneaker again.  Since my foot was now fused in a flat footed position I would never be able to wear heels again.  This was a bit hard for me to swallow, but at least I had my leg still.  (my GP later told me that during that lunch that he had with all of my surgeons, they all agreed that if their surgical plan did not yield the results that they hoped that they all agreed amputation was the next course of action.)

I started physical therapy about a month or so after the last surgery.  The first therapist that I had was a little too laid back for me.  About 3 weeks in to therapy, she had to break our appointment and another woman named Roxanne saw me.  I knew from the moment I met her that she was the one for me.  She pushed me!  I typically did all of my therapy with my brace on.  She asked me how much I can do without the brace on.  I told her, I can't do anything without the brace on, I even wear it with my slippers.  She said, "take it off.  I want to see how much you can do, I think a lot of that is mental.  If you are physically uncomfortable you can put it back on."  I took it off and put my sneaker on.  I was scared.  She stood in front of me with her arms out and told me to walk slowly towards her.  I did and that was it.  I never put that sucker on again!  If she hadn't pushed me that day it would've taken me much longer to not be dependent on the brace and to build up my confidence.  I made the rest of my appointments with Roxanne.  I still have a slight limp when I walk.  I tend to favor my left side when I'm just standing around.  I have lower back pain because I am uneven now since my right foot is permanently flat.  I had to learn how to drive a car with my left foot.  I can't run...or maybe I can, but haven't gotten over that mental block yet.  But I am alive.  And I have both of my legs and feet.

So let's recap.  One botched surgery, ten day coma, one fasciotomy, two skin grafts, several debridements, several rounds of dialysis, four blood transfusions, two blood clots, one punctured colon, one dropped foot, one bed sore, two open wounds, three tendon transfers, one surgery to close the wounds, six months of physical therapy, over a year of depression, don't forget the 2 pounds of sugar a day wound care. a year of being almost totally bedridden, enough needle pricks to last a life time and life long disfigurement ....AND I'M STILL FAT!

I lost close to 30 pounds before conceiving my son.  And I really didn't gain any weight during my pregnancy.  But since giving birth and going back to work after maternity leave, I have gained back 10 of those 30 pounds.  I have dieted for the past couple of years since giving birth.  I always have good intentions, but I always go a little over board.  I am ALL or nothing.  I am either drastically cutting out all sugar and all starch or "F" it, I'll eat whatever the hell I want.  There was never any happy medium.  My current approach is much healthier.  Not a diet, but just eating healthier.  It is not practical of me to cut out all sweets.  I would feel too deprived.  I am basically counting calories and exercising.  I believe you can have anything in moderation if you are exercising.  I plan all of my meals and snacks the night before and I add them to my food log, using http://caloriecount.about.com/.  This is what I did when I lost the 30lbs pre-baby.  I know that I can stick with this once I get past the first few weeks and really make a routine of it and start seeing results.  I am about 2 weeks in and I have lost 3.5lbs.  Nothing whopping, but definitely a decrease and that is what I am looking for.  I feel that this blog is helping me to maintain my goals.  I feel that I am holding myself more accountable for my actions.  I can see that people are reading the blog and that makes me not want to give up and have to admit to the "world" that I failed.

I will win the battle of the bulge!!

One of those hoping something will magically appear in my fridge or cabinets days.

I wondered into the kitchen and check the cabinets and fridge so many times today! And ate things that did not satisfy my cravings! I hate days like this. I need to get a system for menu planning, and they need to be meals I can get excited about! So the overeating junk was the bad for today, the good was the cleaning and organizing I did. Still got so long to go but it's a start.
I spent the majority of the day trying to put my closets back together and finding things to toss. I decided to make my room closet just for work uniforms, and a different closet for all other clothes. So I pulled them apart this weekend and managed to put them back together. I also tossed some clothes. I probably could have been a little more ruthless with the tossing items but at least it's a start.
I worked on my goal of getting 900 things to throw away this month. I managed to bag up or toss 90! things today. My dumbest things lying around were VHS tapes. We do have a VCR, but some of these movies hadn't even been opened and had been sitting for years.
I got rid of a bunch of books. I love books, they are my weakness, and I probably have more than 2000 in my house. Realistically I will never read all of them. So I am trying to weed out the ones I really want and dump the rest.
My most embarrassing toss was a ratty old bra. It was nasty and one of the hooks was broken. I know most of us have these in our drawers. Time to chuck them, even if they are comfortable. Same goes for your blooms (underwear). Tomorrow I will go through the lingerie draw and toss all undergarments that are unflattering, uncomfortable, don't fit, ripped, or just old. You know you feel better when you have nice undergarments on, so join me in cleaning out the lingerie draw(s).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Let's not forget what's really important.


In writing this blog our main goal is to hold our selves accountable and keep ourselves motivated. We also would like to share our favorite things and review products, or things we love from time to time. I'd like to share one of my all-time favorite books.
Having a nice, organized, orderly home and life are wonderful things. I completely believe that an unorganized mess can stress you out and maybe cause you to treat your family, friends, or maybe even co-workers not as nice as you should. I also think it's important to find the balance between what is reasonable, what you can do and what you want to do. Sometimes when I forget what really matters, or even when I don't and just accidentally pick it up Suzanne's Diary for Nicolas by James Patterson always motivates me and helps me feel better about things. No this is not a self-help book, more of a romance. Very sappy, tear-jerker for sure, but I love it I've read it so many times and will read it many more I'm sure. No one I've ever recommended it to has ever disliked it or been able to put it down. If you've been looking for a good read, this is it. For you non-readers it has been made into a movie starring Christina Applegate. Enjoy :)

Synopsis:
"Katie Wilkinson has finally found the perfect man - but one day he suddenly disappears, leaving behind only a diary written by a new mother named Suzanne for her baby, Nicholas. In it she intimately reveals the romance between herself and the child's father, her hopes for their marriage, and her unparalleled joy in motherhood. As Katie reads on, she realizes that the man she loves is Suzanne's husband. Now, filled with terror and hope, Katie must struggle to understand what has happened - and find out if her new love has a prayer of surviving."

The "season change" cold

So the summer is pretty much over around here in Massachusetts.  Fine with me.  I am not a fan of the humidity.  I love the smell in the air when Autumn is around the corner.  It's my favorite season.  But it never fails with the change of season, there comes along a cold for me and my family.  I had a sore throat mid week last week and thought it was coming but it went away.  Then around 6pm last night I started sneezing over and over and knew this was it.  Sore throat is back, congestion and a weak achy body.  Yay :(

The hubby woke me up (just for a second) this morning to ask if we had any DayQuil.  I told him where he could find it and I went back to sleep.  Later on, when my son got up, he came out of the bedroom coughing and sneezing.  UGH!  Overnight, the whole family has the common cold.

I ran out to the store quickly this afternoon and bought some chicken wings so I could make up a big pot of chicken soup.  I am not blogging too much today since I feel like crap, but thought I would share my Chicken Soup Recipe.

More blogging when my head is clear...literally.

Thanks for reading!
Maleeka

Chicken Soup Recipe

This is my recipe for chicken soup that I make for my family when they are sick.  I add apple cider vinegar to alot of my recipes because it is so good for you.  And I add hot pepper flakes to my bowl, but not in the pot since my little guy doesn't like it "hot".  I like it spicy to burn the germs out.  Also, if you want it thicker like a stew, just add a bag of Stove Top stuffing.  The flavor is delish and it has a heartier consistency.


12 servings

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
6 medium carrots, chopped
4 large celery stalks, chopped
1 large sweet potato, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed
12 chicken wings
water, enough to cover plus 2 inches
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tea poultry seasoning (like Bell's)
1 tea sea salt
1/2 tea black pepper
1 tea onion powder
1 packet sazon
1 cup brown rice

Add all ingredients except for rice in large stock pot.
Cook over high heat and let boil for about 15 minutes.
Cover and turn down to medium low and let cook for about 35 minutes.
Add rice, cover and cook for about 35 minutes or until the rice is done.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Get the kids involved

There is no reason why a child two years or older can't help with cleaning up. You can't expect too much from them, but they can help with small things. I actually ask my 2.5 year old son to do one of the chores that I dislike the most; dusting. HE LOVES IT! I give him the microfiber duster and he walks around the living room and dusts the TV table and side table, window sills, the fireplace, even the floor... which is not necessary, but it keeps him busy, so have at it!

One of our dog's is obsessed with shredding up paper and paper towels. I dread having to pick up all of those little scraps of paper. They are too big for the vacuum cleaner, but the scraps are on the carpet so I can't just sweep it up. My son loves picking up all the little pieces and throwing them in the trash. It may take him a lot longer than it would take me, but in my eyes, SO WHAT!? He is helping Mama clean and he is keeping himself busy. And he is also learning to clean.

Children this age can also be taught to clean up after themselves.  Since my son has been about a year old, I have tried to involve him in cleaning up his toys. Making it fun, singing the "Clean up Song" and dancing around, so he thinks of it as a game. When he is finished with a snack, he throws any wrappers in the trash and bowls or cups in the sink. These small things are VERY helpful.  Him cleaning up after himself, leaves less work for Mama.  Sometimes he loses his mind (haha!) and will throw his trash on the floor, but I kindly remind him to pick it up and ask him where it is supposed to go.  He picks it up with no problem and says "trash" and proceeds to the kitchen trash barrel.  Cleaning up toys is usually pretty stress free.  I've tried to teach him to put one thing away before taking out another.  But that does not always happen.  Toys like legos and puzzles are the worst (clean up wise) and there are times when he asks us to help him clean up and we are totally fine with that. Once we toss a couple pieces in the bin, he usually just takes over and finishes.

In his bedroom, there is no clutter.  We rotate toys on a regular basis, if we see that he is not interested in a particular toy for a period of time we will put it away (out of his room).  Once he has outgrown a toy or clothes/shoes, they are donated.  Why have them taking up space.  I take inventory of his stuff usually once every three months.  He has this organization shelving system from Ikea, and I found pics of his toys online and printed them on sticker labels and put them on the drawers. And he almost immediately grasped the concept of putting the toys back in the drawer with the right picture on it. And he always knows where to look for whatever toy he wants to play with. I hung these baskets on his wall and put all of his crayons in one, markers in another and magnetic letters and numbers in a third. I mounted these little containers on the wall above the baskets. One houses all of his chalk, another has his hair brush and lotion, one I designated for found toy/game pieces.  The next time we play with that toy or game I collect the missing piece(s) and put them back in the box it belongs to.  I also hung some of these hooks around his room at his height so he can hang his towel, robe and hoodies "like a big boy".  I also hung one in the bathroom to hang his potty seat on.  He gets the seat when he has to "go" and he replaces it when he is finished... most of the time.

The idea here is that everything has a place and that the child is learning to be organized. When you put things away where they belong there is no problem finding it when you want or need it later.

Do NOT give children any "chores" that are going to stress you out.  For example, I refuse to let the boy wash dishes right now.  NO WAY!  The two times I have let him play in the sink there has been a tsunami to clean up afterward.  He may have had fun, but making another chore for Mama is not helping me.  And let's be honest, can a small child really clean dishes?  Of course not.  I knew that.  I just thought letting him play "wash the dishes" would give him some practice and honestly, just keep him out of my hair for 20 minutes so I could do some cleaning up.  This will NEVER happen again until he is pushing double digits.

If you don't already have your children involved with helping out around the house, what are you waiting for?

Here are my tips:

  • First, if you have a bad attitude about cleaning, so will your children.  If you walk around hemming and hawing about cleaning then your children will never want to clean either.  If you don't clean, your kids will have no positive example to follow.  If this is you.  CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE.
  • Children should be supervised, I hope that goes without saying.
  • Never give children cleaning products.  Even my now beloved vinegar will burn eyes if it gets in them.  But other cleaners can be fatal if ingested.
  • Never give them a bucket of water, children can drown in the smallest amount of water. 
  • Give them small tasks that are quick and easy so they can stay focused on it for the small amount of time their short attention spans allow.  
  • When they are playing, teach them to put away the toy they are no longer playing with before taking out another.
  • Don't punish children for not cleaning up.  Explain why it is helpful if they do.  Also explain that when they put their items away where they belong it will be easy to find them later.
  • If they ask for help, help them.  I've found that my son will do most of the work if I just squat next to him and chuck a couple toys in the bin every now and then.
  • Eliminate clutter
  • Teach your kids that there are children less fortunate than they are.  Explain that when they donate their toys they are making other little boys and girls happy.  
  • Toss younger kids toys while they are sleeping or away from home.  Trust me, if your child sees you tossing their toys in a trash bag, they will most likely have a fit.  Even if it is a toy they have ignored for 6 months.
  • If your children are older and really resistant to letting go of some toys/games, maybe offer to buy them ONE new toy or game for every five or ten that they part with.  I know some would disagree and say that is bribery.  But if it works and keeps the peace is there anything really so wrong with that?  You will most likely be buying them that toy in the near future anyway.
  • Praise them for their hard work.  Kids love and need to be encouraged with positivity.  When my son sees me cleaning sometimes he will tell me "Goot job, Mama!" or "AWE-TUM" (Awesome) and it always makes me smile. So imagine how good it makes your child feel when you tell them. :)  Not to mention you are boosting their vocabulary.  My 2.5 yo says words like, fantastic, beautiful and amazing.  In his own cute little pre-school pronounciation of course.  But he has learned all of these words from our constant praising of his achievements.
  • Buy them a mini set of cleaning tools, ie. broom, dustpan and dry mop.  Most kids like to emulate what they see their parents do.  So having their own set of tools just like Mom and Dad's will hopefully inspire them to clean like Mom and Dad.
  • Make them believe that cleaning is fun.  Sing the "Clean up" song. 
  • Remember you are the parent, it is your responsibility to do the cleaning.  Do NOT pawn your household chores off on your children.  What you should be aiming for is teaching your children how to clean up after themselves.  If they enjoy doing some other safe chores, ASK them to help you.  When they are older, I'd say 9-10'ish, then you can assign real chores.  Like taking out the trash, sweeping, washing dishes, teaching them to do (supervised) laundry, etc.
These are just my tips.  All children are different and you know your child best, so use or adjust these tips as you see fit to help your child become more organized and learn responsibility.  Good luck!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paper Schmaper

Today it was clear to me, once again, how ridiculous I am sometimes when it comes to cleaning and decluttering certain things.  I have my whole "to do" list but I just can't seem to cross certain things off of it.  Usually these things involve paper.  I don't know why paper is so overwhelming to me, but it is.

Today I stood in our bedroom on my side of the bed and my nightstand was SCREAMING at me.  The top is not a mess.  The drawer is a mess (but it doesn't bother me so much since it is closed and I can't see it).  But the cubby on the bottom of the nightstand is damn EMBARRASSING!  I don't know why today was the day, but I could no longer stand it.  I pulled all of the papers, folders, books and magazines out of the cubby and threw it all on the bed.  I sorted everything into 3 piles.

  1. KEEP
  2. SHRED
  3. TRASH

I am not kidding when I tell you that this task took me all of 5 minutes!  I don't know why I have been putting this off for months.  I tossed most of the stuff in the trash.  I have a 1/2 dozen craft books that I originally thought I would give to Anj... but I decided that is an enablers action and I will not unload my clutter onto someone else who is trying very hard to declutter as well.  I am not an enabler!  Instead I will donate those books to one of those "Got Books?" drop off bins, I pass one on my way to work.  Ready for my most embarrassing discovery in the cubby?... I found 2 super overdue library books.  ARGH!!!!!  I remember taking them out when I was pregnant...in 2008.  OMG!  Those books will be put in my basket that I keep at my launch pad and I WILL bring them back to the library this weekend.  Good thing our library no longer charges late fees.  Can you imagine?  I think instead of going in and facing the librarian I will just drop the books in the return box with an apology note.  How embarrassing, but that's what I get for being a disorganized procrastinator.  I should force myself to go in and out myself, in person, to the librarian.  Maybe getting a good old fashioned scolding will leave a lasting impression on me.  Any time I start slacking off, that scowl and my embarrassment will be my motivation to take care of everything right away.  haha!  Stay tuned for my decision.  Anyway, out of all the stuff that was in the cubby, I only kept five items.  One was a small photo album, one was my old laptop and the last three were documents that I need to file.



My next task is my nightstand, I plan to do that before the night is over.  And then the monster paper project will be the file cabinet.  I am seriously dreading that.  It is only a two drawer cabinet, so it's not SO bad.  I plan to just pull out 10-20 file folders at a time and go through them, discarding where appropriate.  I also have a tendency to just throw papers and crap in the drawer not in the correct folder, just where ever it will be out of sight.  So I will file those items and all future items the right way once it is all organized.  Again, I am NOT looking forward to this chore, but I know it won't take me as nearly as long as I am imagining it will.

Here is my aforementioned to do list.  They are not in an particular order, it's just what needs to be done.
  • clean nightstand drawer (completed 9/8/11)
  • clean nightstand cubby (completed 9/8/11)
  • clean out closet and drawers (completed 9/3/11)
  • pick out cabinet for the bathroom (purchased 9/10/11)
  • install cabinet in bathroom (hubby installed 9/10/11)
  • get rid of platform bed (gave to a friend 9/4/11)
  • organize toy storage behind couch
  • print photos, frame and hang in bedroom
  • organize fabric by material then color (completed 10/1/11)
  • organize food cabinets
  • organize tupperware cabinet (completed 9/10/11)
  • organize file cabinet drawers (completed 9/9/11)
  • bring rocker upstairs (Hubby brought up tonight 9/8/11)
  • Air conditioners down to basement (Hubby brought down 10/1/11)
I will get all of these things done.  I am giving myself until October 15th to complete this entire list.  I will update this post as I make progress.

Thanks for reading :)

Have a good night!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Procrastination!

I am the Queen of procrastination. I put off whatever I can until the last minute. Or if it is something that needs to be done or should be done but doesn't absolutely have to it may never get done. This is one of the things I hate about myself. I have the worst time forcing myself to do something early. Even though I am always stressed about deadlines or missing out on something I should have done. I just go into this I don't care or I'll get it done even if the timeline is utterly ridiculous mode.
Right now I am going to list a few things I've been putting off and force myself to do them. I am publicly holding myself responsible!
  1. Make dentist appointment for cleaning
  2. Make car appointment for recalls (and see about minor (I hope) bodywork)
  3. Dr. Appointment
  4. Get a copy of my credit report and credit score
  5. Make appointment for root canal (have been putting this off due to dread!)
  6. Balance Checkbook
Feel free to comment with your own list of things you need to do :)

Love made me fat

So maybe that title is a stretch.  Of course love itself did not make me fat, nor the man that I am in love with.  But the comfort of love changed my habits which led to my weight gain.

When I first got together with my hubby, I was a single mom coming out of an abusive relationship.  I was thin and physically healthy, but mentally a mess.  On the outside I looked good but on the inside I was a wreck.  I knew nothing about myself or who I was.  I was a daughter, a mom and a girlfriend, but that was it.  I had no idea who I was or what I liked to do.

I worked locally, so I was home from work within 15 minutes of punching out.  Dinner was cooked and served by 5:45.  My daughter and I ate, played and read a couple books and then I got her ready for bed, she would be sleeping by 7:30.  I would wash the dishes and shower and I would be sleeping most nights by 9pm.

Enter the Hubstah... We would stay up late talking ALL night on the phone.  Many nights I would never even go to sleep and would realize what time it was because the sun was coming up.  Then we would hang up and I would shower and get ready for work, feed the girl some breakfast and get her ready for daycare.  I would be EXHAUSTED!  I would stop at the store on my way to work and grab a 16 oz bottle of Jolt hoping that the extra caffeine would do me some justice.  As our relationship grew we obviously started spending more time together.  He worked different hours than I did.  He got out of work around 9:30 and would stop by my house around 10'ish.  My after work routine was still all the same except for my eating and sleeping.  I would eat a small plate of food with my daughter at "first dinner" and then when he got there I would pick at some more food while he ate.  Then we would watch TV for a couple hours while eating ice cream or other snacks.  Then go to bed.  Many nights we would talk and talk into the wee hours of the morning.  (Aaahh, young love!)  I would go to work exhausted and sluggish.  Come home and repeat.  

I remember the seasons changed and I dragged out my fall/winter clothes and tried to put on a pair of pants.  I couldn't get them over my ass.  I thought to myself, these must've shrunk the last time I washed them.  haha!  I tried on another pair.  Same deal.  I jumped on the scale.  OMG!  I had gained 15 pounds over the summer!  Looking back, I should've taken control at THIS very moment!  I should've corrected my newly adopted eating and sleeping habits.  FIFTEEN POUNDS!  That sounds like nothing (to me) compared to what I have to lose now.  It would've been so easy to get back in shape then.  Obviously, I did not.  I continued with my unintentional "get fatter" diet plan.  He never once commented or complained about my growing waist line and thicker thighs.  Ever growing derriere' and developing bat wings.  We were just happy and in love.  I am not complaining that I have a man that loves me for me, regardless of my weight.  Not one bit.  But knowing that it didn't matter to him definitely didn't give me the kick in the fat ass that I needed.

Now that we are getting older and have a young son, we are thinking more about our future.  We both want to get healthier so we can have the energy to keep up with our highly energetic 2.5 year old. Added weight definitely makes you sluggish.  I am basically lugging around a 5th grader 24/7.  And let's be honest, if a 5th grader came up to me and asked me to carry them around all day, I would tell them to go kick rocks!  And as if doing it for ourselves wasn't enough motivation, imagining not seeing my children as successful responsible adults and meeting and being a major part of any possible grandchildren's lives, is motivation and a half.

Before I was with him I may have had a much nicer body but I am definitely more beautiful on the inside now.  Early in our relationship he was very instrumental in my self discovery.  I now know without a doubt who I am.  I know what skills I possess and I love who I am.  I have to thank him for forcing me to "figure it out".  We've been together now almost 14 years and we are still very much in love.  I still have a crush on this man.  Had it since about the 7th grade. :)  When he looks at me I know that he sees me as sexy and gorgeous woman...regardless of what the scale tells me.  I want to see myself as he sees me, which will require much needed change.

I truly believe that being disorganized and cluttered leads to a sloppy body.  And I also believe that if you don't make yourself a priority that you are destined to remain fat and unhealthy.  Having my cleaning schedule in effect and being prepared for everything the day before will be extremely beneficial in helping me reach my goals.  And I have taken steps to making Mama a priority.

Our budding romance may have changed my routines which led to me getting fat, but our unconditional love for each other and our family will be my motivation to make the necessary changes to keep me alive.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Junk food and Enablers in the workplace

Today I get to work and have all of my healthy snacks, healthy lunch and a healthy attitude (regarding my diet and exercise anyway).  My morning ran very smoothly by following my "back to work" plan.  My boss beat me in this morning.  I say good morning and turn to head for my office.  As I pass the reception area outside of his office I see some sort of scrump-tastic pastry ring or something. glistening with sugary white icing just calling me.  "Ma-leeeeeeeeee-ka, I am delicious - eat me"  I silently yelled at the devil pastry, "DAMN YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL, YOU FATTY CALORIE LADEN BIYOTCH!!!"  


My boss is the biggest enabler EVER!  He is always bringing in something yummy and horrible for your health.  His wife is a great cook and often makes baked goods and makes him bring them into work...because she doesn't want them in their house.  Um, thanks?  I suppose if I had some sort of self control I would think that their kindness was just that.  But to me it is straight sabotage.  Not only does my boss bring the stuff in, but he will actually cut a big hunk of the goody and bring it to your desk!  WTF!?  "I thought maybe you were too busy to get yourself a piece, so I brought you some"  Or "I thought you needed an M&M break" and he places a bowl of M&M's on my desk.  GET. OUT.  I love my boss, he is great, but this one thing really does irk me.  When I tell you that I am trying my hardest to eat right why would you come in and damn near force my weaknesses upon me?

So after lunch, I was on the phone with a customer and he comes in with three of my co-workers and drops this Italian Rum cake on my desk with a bunch of paper plates, forks and a knife.  Are you KIDDING!?  It was for another co-worker's birthday.  I am all for celebrating her birthday, but tell me why this delicious looking and smelling cake is being plopped on MY desk.  I did not have any of the cake and I suppose I may appear to have been a party pooper.  I don't care.  I  need to do the right thing and maintain control.  While we were all gathered in my office, I asked him why he brought that Streusel or whatever it was in (I don't know what it actually was because I refused to get close enough to it to find out).  He said he just grabbed it when he was at the store today getting the birthday cake.  WHY?!!  Me and another co-worker told him he was an enabler.  He laughed and said what do you mean!?  I said if we were crackheads would you bring us in crack to smoke everyday?  He just laughed.  So everyone ate cake except me and another woman who are trying to stick to our diets.  Then my boss decided he didn't like the cake and tossed his piece in my trash barrel.  After about an hour of smelling this cake in my trash, I had to swap barrels with the other desk in my office for fear that it would call me again and convince me to go to the fridge and cut myself a piece.

Again, my weakness for the sugary goodness is MY problem.  I'm not saying he should never bring anything junky to work ever again.  Everyone at work should not be "punished".  But the frequency of the treats needs to be seriously decreased.  And he definitely should not be playing dope pusher and coming around, office to office and trying to make us eat the junk.

I have gained most of my weight while working here over the past decade.  There are other factors that have contributed to my weight gain, which I will get into at another time.  Of course this is all a personal problem and I have no one to blame for this but myself, but he sure does not make it easy to get or stay on track.  I have lost 2 pounds over the past week and am determined to stay focused on my goals and not give in to any of his pastry peddling from this day forward.