Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some of my favorites...

So this time of the year always makes me reflect on life and all it's dealings. There are a number of quotes from famous people or Bible verses that play in my head often and some friends can tell you, I can spit them out (mostly) verbatim at any given time. They each mean something to me or meant something to me during a time so I'd like to share and hope you enjoy...

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. -Hebrew 11:1
This is possibly my favorite Bible verse. As a high school graduation present, my mother gave me dog tags (really nice ones actual silver and diamond, not the mall version) with this verse and Matthew 17:20 on it...the tags were eventually stolen when someone broke into my apartment in college. I wonder if they know what they got...

"Bitterness is like cancer. It eats away at the host. But anger is like fire, it burns it all clean." -Maya Angelou
On my list you'll see a bunch of Maya quotes...her words have touched me deeply many times. I especially love this quote because in life we are always told that anger is a stupid emotion but this embodies the importance of anger. It also implies that although SOME anger is good, too much anger will burn you down :)

"Herein lies the tragedy of the age: Not that men are poor,- all men know something of poverty. Not that men are wicked,- who is good? Not that men are ignorant, -what is truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men." -W.E.B DuBois, Souls of Black Folk
I've mentioned in my first or maybe second post that DuBois's Souls of Black Folk changed my life and this line definitely stuck out to me. DuBois wrote this in the 19th century about race but I think it still rings true today. In the age of social media we're soooo judgmental of others. I've seen some mentions of Kim Kardashian, they included death threats and death was horrible. No matter how you feel about her or her fame, she's still a person. That's just one example but I'm sure we could all list know so little of men.

"I don't mind living in a man's world as long as I can be a woman in it." -Marilyn Monroe
Enough said. You may be confused on why I included her in the same company of the others...but I really do think she was a rather complex person and more than the character she played. She just got confused on which her was the character lol.

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles." -Audrey Hepburn
Enough said.

"They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God." -Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
I love Zora...I could quote almost this whole book but you should just read it if you haven't already. I love this quote because so often I've found myself in this very position.

"Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all." -Toni Morrison, Beloved
Word, Toni...word.

"I thought I was going to be a bum for the rest of my life." -Jean-Michel Basquiat
I find this extremely ironic...mostly because he was basically a bum in his life. It wasn't until postmortem that he became "thee" Basquiat

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate: only love can do that." -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I would be remiss not to include at least one of his sayings in this list. Although during his struggle I would have taken the more "Malcolm X approach" but nonetheless this is something to remember in daily life because it's absolutely true.

"By any means necessary." - associated with Malcolm X but originally Jean-Paul Sarte
Amen my brotha.

When everything seems to be set
to show me off as a man of intelligence,
the fool I keep concealed on my person
takes over my talk and occupies my mouth.
-Pablo Neruda, "We Are Many"
Haven't we all felt like that? I love this all should read it if you haven't!

"Drink my wine and talk to me." -Calvin J. Clemmons
My granddaddy used to say this all the time! It (obviously) implies having a conversation over wine, which if you ever knew or were invited to my grandparents' home they'd have a beverage and plenty of conversation waiting for you. When he said it, he always had such a huge smile and excitement in his voice! Growing up my grandparents lived in Texas so I can remember coming out from school and him being there to pick me and my cousins up, this was always his greeting. I would love to hear him say it again.

I could go on and on and on and on trust me. But I think it's best to end on this note. I'm realizing with each line how frickin sappy I am!! lol. Hope you like them and share some of yours with me!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

On Scandal

Yes, the (or should I say another) Shonda Rhimes hit TV show and I'm definitely a Gladiator!

In light of Scandal being on a two week hiatus, I shall write about my feelings toward Scandal. I'm not a TV/movie critic so feel free to disagree with what I have to say...and tell me about it! [I know y'all are reading, why don't y'all comment?!] Also, you won't be seeing any character analysis, plot dissertations or any of that other stuff that professional critics do...I'm just talking like you probably do every Thursday or Friday morning with your friends. I hopped on the Scandal train about a year late. When it came around as a mid-season replacement for a cancelled show, I had just given birth to Parker so I was none the wiser. After my little sister threatened to disown me, I binge watched seasons 1 & 2 about 2 weeks before the season 3 premiere and I'm definitely hooked! Who doesn't love a good drama (especially with the gorgeous Kerry Washington as leading lady)?!

If you've never seen the show: it comes on at 10 pm on Thursdays, right after Rhimes' other hit, Grey's Anatomy. The VERY basic premise is that the POTUS is having an affair with a famous DC area "fixer", Olivia Pope. Believe me though, that's the LEAST of the scandals of the show. You should definitely check it out. And if you plan's the time since the season 3 finale starts Dec. 5th!

So on Thursday nights, I get on my mainly forgotten twitter account and see what everyone is tweeting about during the show. Here's some of the main things I see and some thoughts I have...that need more than 140 characters:

  • "I hate cheaters!" All I have to say about that one is...this ain't bout you! We're all against adulterers, it's a sin....vows are sacred...yada yada yada. It's not right, but on this's ok! Fitz and Mellie basically had/have an arranged marriage, she was picked as a pawn in his trail to the White House. They didn't marry for love, they married for power. (Albeit, we did see recently that at some point they had what appeared to be a normal loving relationship). Mellie knew what the deal was. She got where she wanted and if she wants a political career of her own, she needs to keep her eye on the prize and stop being in love with her husband lol! It seems outrageous to say but the major difference between Mellie and you or me is that we probably will/did marry for LOVE. So yes, it's appalling when your husband cheats on you but on Scandal I'm definitely Team Liv&Fitz!!
  • "Liv is stupid for going back to Fitz!" He's the President of the United States of Shondaland. Some of us have been stupid for less...much less! I've done some stupid stuff for like at least Fitz and Liv are in love. So just let Liv live, dang lol. Besides, I don't think she's being that stupid but maybe that's just me lol.
  • "Quinn needs to die." I absolutely agree. I jumped with joy last week when I saw Huck's toolbox. I hope he tortures the hell outta her, then kills her lol. But I know Shonda ain't gone let it go down like that, Charlie will probably pop up somewhere but really I hope Huck gets them both at the same time haha! Quinn is just too stupid for words. Did she really think she was down with B-613 and she's never had a lick of training? She can't do what Huck and Charlie can do as far as making things look like an accident, or being unseen or...anything! The sad part about her story is that even if Huck does kill her, Eli won't care because she's not his investment, he even told Charlie to get rid of her if he had to. I cannot wait to see what Huck does to her during the Finale. I just hope Shonda doesn't get our hopes up and he doesn't even go through with the torturing...this isn't the time for Huck to find Jesus Shonda!! Don't do it to us!!!
  • "I love Jake." or "I hope Jake and Liv get together." I could not disagree more. I actually hate Jake and hope he goes the way of Quinn lol. Seriously, he's just complicating things and he's corny as hell. "Your face got me through" when discussing his experience in the hole...BOOOOOOO!! I wish he would have stayed in the hole and I can't wait until Eli gets hold to him again lol. I don't think him and Liv make a cute couple, and I think he needs to realize he was Liv's rebound that one time! I wonder what Shonda has up her sleeves for Jake though, because he can't stay around forever right? We shall see..
  • "Eli Pope is a boss." I can do nothing else but agree...because I'm afraid of him. Next!

Now onto Liv's mama and my speculations for the finale. Basically I think Liv's mom is some type of enemy of the state and having the plane shot down was to kill her but Eli kept her alive because she's his wife...or more importantly because she's his daughter's mother. The mom alluded to an agreement they had that she would live in hiding and he would take care of Liv, Eli also mentioned how it was her fault. So I think she disobeyed some B-613 orders for something BIG.  I also think Liv is barking up the wrong tree trying to protect her...I mean I get it, that's yo mama but she's obviously not the "white hat" type of person. I think once Liv finds out whatever she did, she'll be disappointed and feel indifferent towards her mother as she does toward Eli. She'll never forgive Eli if he kills her but I think as long as Eli puts her back in prison (can I even call it prison?) then she'll be ok and possibly feel better about her dad and what he does. I also hope along the way...Jake and Quinn get killed lol. But that would just be the cherry on top of my Scandal sundae!

So Gladiators...we'll have to wait until Dec. 5th to find out but let me know what you think is going to happen!

Friday, November 22, 2013

"30 Days of Thankfulness"

I was approached by a fellow blogger that received some life changing news at the age of 36...cancer. Not only was she diagnosed with mesothelioma but she was also given 15 months to live only 3 months after giving birth to her first child. That was 8 years ago, and today Heather is cancer free! You can read more about her amazing story here. Heather was diagnosed in November so instead of being sad all month, she's decided to have "30 Day of Thankfulness" which she is spreading around the blogsphere. She asked me to participate and I am happy to oblige. I hope you enjoy Heather and everyone else!

When tasked with posting about something I'm thankful for, I was truly at a lost. Not because I'm ungrateful but because I know I have so much to be thankful for! I believe in God and must say, I am definitely blessed!! When thinking about my blessings, it became clear what I needed to post about. I'm taking it back to the beginnings. On this day in this month (and everyday of every month) I am thankful for my mother, Crystal or Big Crystal.

In the Spring of 1989, I was born to a single black female on the east side of Detroit. Sounds like the first line of a novel that goes on to talk about struggle and triumph and revenge and reward right? I'm guessing somewhere about 9ish months before this spring day she decided to be the best mommie in the world...or maybe she was thinking "oh shit!" while looking at whatever home pregnancy test but I get to tell the story the way I want ;) Anyway, whether she decided it then or it just happened along the way that's exactly what she accomplished. She's my personal hero and the best mommie ever.

Me and my mom began our life together much as you'd expect from a single mom in the inner city. We moved in with her parents so she could finish school. During this time, she taught me the importance of education. I remember going to class with her sometimes and "taking notes" or supposedly doing my homework while she did hers. Now, having gone through school I think back about how I used to write on her papers or ask her to tell me a story while she studied and how annoying that must have been to her haha. I valued that time...and I still do now.

In the Fall of 1997 me and my mommie experienced heartbreak and immeasurable joy together. When her and her then fiancee broke up, we felt it together and together we welcomed my little sister. So our two woman wolf pack grew to a three woman wolf pack. Looking back, I never saw my mom's strength waiver during this time. I know now it had to be tough on her but then I could never tell. It taught me, that no matter what...the world keeps spinning. Life moves on no matter what you have going on so dropping the ball (especially on what's important) isn't an option. Definitely, one of the most important lessons I needed to learn. It played over and over in my head when I became pregnant while still pursuing my engineering degree, only 4 months after losing my grandfather. I had the foundation in place to be able to deal, and for that I definitely owe her.

Through middle and high school, we had a relationship much like all mom's with hormonal teenage girls...up and down lol. We had a very mother-daughter relationship. She was definitely the boss and I was definitely the child. I suppose it's annoying then but I appreciate that now. She taught boundaries and not always getting your way but most importantly she taught me the difference between needs and wants. I think a lot of us don't know the difference sometimes and it probably stemmed from our adolescent/teenage years. Self control was instilled in me around this time and I'm definitely the better for it today.

College for me was a turning point in our relationship. I went about 700 miles away for school and it was the first time in EVER me and my mommie had a long distance relationship. During that time I learned thee single most important thing I would learn in becoming a woman and definitely becoming a mother. I learned that my mommie and hero was "just" a person. And I don't mean this is a negative way, I think learning that especially at that time was important because I felt like I could just be a person too. People make mistakes, and have problems and insecurities and flaws. Children's parent's are their heroes and with it we tend to think that makes them some superhuman thing. Our parents' aren't things, they are mortal human beings like the rest of us. My mom's and my relationship grew to another level once I discovered that, maybe she felt like I was old enough to know then lol. We exchanged stories of love and pain and defeat and overcoming. I understood that she was an amazing person rather than a superhero. Being like her was attainable because I didn't have to become immortal. I felt more at ease to know that even when I failed, I was ok because she did (at some point) too. One day I hope to be an amazing person like her and it's not too late for me yet :)

[Glossing over my personal shortcomings...]...On March 5, 2012 my mother entered a new role...Grandma. She says this one is better than the other one haha. I would imagine if I asked God for the best grandma for my little girl, He would have sent my mom anyway. I love to see my daughter look at her because she knows that big Crystal is something special too. Becoming a mother made me aware of how my mother had been feeling me and my sisters' whole lives. As a result of this, you can imagine our relationship has once again moved to a new level of closeness. I strive to gain her respect as a mother because she taught me what I know...and I think she does, sometimes ;)

People often say that naming a child after someone gives them a lot to live up to or places unrealistic expectations. I've never thought about it that way, having grown up sharing a name with my mom but maybe there's something to it. I guess I'm actually thankful that on that spring day in '89, she decided to give me that piece of her. Even though I will never be Big Crystal, maybe one day I will be amazing too. I hear people say they married their best friend, or had children by their best friend...I am blessed to say, I was born to mine.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On Beyonce

"You know girls love Beyonce"...I mean really what's not to love about Queen Bey? She's beautiful, talented, puts on a hell of a performance, seems personable, and she's a successful female. For most intents and purposes, she's Superwoman. I am a fan...however, I have a very love-hate relationship with how she shaped (or at least aided in shaping) my generation's mind. I love/hate Beyonce.

"Girls love to eff with your conscience"...circa 2000, Destiny's Child dropped "Independent Women" on the soundtrack of the new adaptation of "Charlie's Angels".  Then, the world went to hell. Ok, not really but it was the beginning of the end. Maybe it just happened to be fortuitous timing, or maybe it was some evil culture shaper's plan but nonetheless "independent women" started popping up everywhere. Even people that weren't yet women, and damn sure not my friends. We were in like 6th grade! We were impressionable and so the seed was planted that we should be independent. And this seed has proven strong, it doesn't help that Queen Bey has continued to release song after song attempting to "empower" women but falling short (i.e. Single Ladies). [I'm probably losing readers left and right lol..."don't talk bad about Beyonce!"]

"And shawty you ain't no different" layman, independent means "by yo' damn self"...why the hell would I wanna be by myself (I knew back in 6th grade that shit didn't sound right)?? Now that we are actually women, why would I WANT to do everything myself, or navigate all the twists and turns life has by myself? It just doesn't make sense. I've been in several debates in college about "being independent" and I still think women (and now men) have taken it to the extreme. Can I pay my own bills? Yes, but I sureeeee as hell love not having to! Can I be strong when I need to? Yes, but I definitely love having another set of legs to stand on sometimes. Can women please themselves? With the help of technology, I've heard great things but those things don't cuddle with you afterwards. So what part of being independent sounds appealing?? Not to mention the pressure that comes from carrying life's burdens alone, don't you want to be able to share that be it financially, mentally and emotionally?

"That's why I'm in this position"...This is not to say that I think women shouldn't work outside the home, or have their own cars and bank accounts.  Perhaps, the song should have been "Self-Sufficient Women" and I wouldn't have so many qualms with it...but I get it, that's not as catchy ;)

"No new friends, no no no"...women have taken this independence so far that (I've heard it said) they've run good men away. I believe it to an extent. Firstly, men are traditionally the head of the household. We've all heard the Bible verses that support this saying. Rather you believe in the Bible or not, gender roles in society have supported this notion. I don't have a man's ego but I can imagine how a woman continuously telling him she's "independent" could harm that...or just be damn annoying! Secondly, women have taken financial independence to mean much more than it does. Having your own money is great, and it is something that differs a lot than our grandparent's generation when the husband brought home the bacon. Money, however, isn't everything in life or in a relationship. If you aren't more than money, you aren't much anyway.  On the other hand, I've heard it said that men have let it go to their heads and are now looking for "suga mamas" within all these "independent women". Hahaha...that just made me laugh. I have no clue if there's truth in that...I'll let y'all sort that one out.

Circa 2008...we learned that Beyonce gave up that "independent woman" thing and married Jay. You ladies better learn it too. She still makes the occasional song for you so you don't feel too bad listening to "1 + 1" all day ;) I love that song...gotta love/hate Queen Bey!

Disclaimer: The lyrics that begin every paragraph are from Drake's "Girls Love Beyonce".

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I'm back!!! On Debt & Financial Stability

My sincerest apologies for not being active for almost 2 whole months!! I won't lie to y'all...I've been going through shit. I do appreciate the calls, texts, emails, etc. I've been getting asking me why the hell I haven't been blogging. It's been on my mind but how I've been feeling lately I just didn't know where to start but now...I'm back ;)

So, getting down to of my recent endeavors involved managing my finances and I've began a quest to be debt free by 30! Now, let's talk about a nutshell I have:

  • ~$150K in student loan debt
  • ~$1.5K in credit card debt
  • ~$3K left on my car
  • Grand total: ~$155K
Yes, I know my student loan debt has probably scared you away from this post. Just thinking about it makes me depressed, I almost can't believe I actually wrote it down for everyone to see lol. It has sprung me into loooong thinking sessions about money. I realized I never thought I could overcome debt, I thought it was something I had to live with (as I think most people do). I've always kinda had the thought that I would work, pay my bills, have some money in savings and be fine. Before, I thought that paying my bills on time and having money in the bank was the way to life! Since I've been totally financially independent, I've been searching for a way out of this gerbil wheel. What if...I could live without bills?! I mean of course I'll have a monthly light, water, and gas bill but what if I didn't have a rent, credit cards, or most importantly student loans?!

I had to write this post, not to tell you all about my outrageous amount of student loan debt, or to make you feel bad for me (unless of course you feel bad enough to put $5 on it haha)...but really I want my readers to think about money differently too. Often I see money all over social media. People my age think paying bills, and buying a couple stocks has them set for life. I also notice a good amount of people blowing money...but that's another story. I wonder if people realize the time value of money or instead of trying to make it grow instantly actually just saving it? So I'll share with you all what I've learned so far and how I plan to tackle this enormous amount of debt in 6 years...(and no, I don't have a six-figure income alone).

Firstly, budget. For some reason the word budget has a negative connotation. People think it means to live cheaply or pinch pennies, or whatever. Not the case, by definition a budget is an allocated amount of money. You just have to have a plan for the money, so if partying is a part of your plan...allocate money for it. BAM! You've just budgeted. Now the trick to becoming financially stable is to stick to the budget. In the past, budgetting hasn't worked for me because I'd always go over my budgets. Me at 8pm: "Tonight I'm only going to spend $50." $80 later...Me by 11 pm: "Sure, you can keep the tab open." No bueno...I have to reform myself. My first step was getting's a personal budgetting tool that so far has been really helpful! I'd suggest it :)

Now onto the part you've been waiting I plan to get out this mess before I die? Hello Dave Ramsey! Now I'm not being paid to advertise him and I can't even say I'm well versed on ALL his principles at the moment but right now...I'm loving him! He has what he calls "7 Baby Steps" that I think make a lot of sense. It seems so intuitive, as I was reading them I thought "duh" several times. Why the hell haven't I been doing this anyway?! I guess sometimes it takes someone else to say it to you for you to understand maybe? Idk but since I've read them, I've been sold! I won't go into every step because I trust that you can (and will) click the link and read them but the debt snowball (Baby Step 2) is how I plan to get out this debt relatively quickly. The basic idea is as you pay something off you apply that former payment to new debt (in order from least to greatest). As you pay off larger debts the "snowball" rolls faster. For example: say you have three credit cards with balances of $400, $700 and $2000 with 0% interest rates to keep it simple. The minimum payments are $25, $30 and $45 respectively. Obviously you have to pay the minimum payments each month but you have $5 extra to spare. So you "attack" the $400 one first paying $30/ takes you 13 months to pay it off. Then you take that $30 you were putting on that debt and add it to the $30 (like a snowball) for you $700 card minimum payment. Now you're paying $60 on that $700 debt so you pay it off even quicker, once that's gone you add that $60 to the $45 you're paying on your largest debt and it goes away even faster. Makes sense eh? I eliminated interest rates to keep it simple, it can get more complicated with interest rates because if your $700 credit card had the largest interest rate you might want to pay that one off first, etc. The plan is set up so that you stay motivated by having goals that you continuously meet! Yay!

I like his plan because by the end of it you should actually be financially stable. Having money in the bank doesn't make you stable if you have bad habits. Actually, having debt doesn't necessarily make you unstable either as long as you have a plan to pay it. Realistically, I don't know if I can actually jump this hurdle in 6 years but I will definitely give it a go. So far I've been doing much better with my finances and I've made headway already! Wish me luck!!

I know I can't tell y'all I've been going through shit and NOT tell you what it is. I've already spoiled you all with sharing my intimate thoughts and feelings...little by little I'll tell what's been going on with me, each posts tells a story. For a second I was cloudy but now I'm back to being Crystal clear ;)

Friday, September 6, 2013

On Feeding Parker

So my baby girl is, as of yesterday, a year and a half! She's getting sooooo big and I can't believe where the time has gone! Just yesterday she was still nursing...well, it was literally almost yesterday but I'll get to that in a few. 

I've never been a super health nut but I've always maintained a balanced diet. It is definitely the doing of my mother who cooked everyday and made sure all the food groups were present...including dessert :). So even as I made my way through the broke college life, I still drank plenty of water and made sure I had something like a vegetable at least every other day. When I found out I was pregnant during my senior year, I knew I needed to adopt a healthier diet (especially since I threw up my prenatal vitamins). I also knew that I didn't want to be the pregnant woman that gains like 80 lbs and have a hard time losing offense mamas! Anyway, this began my journey of feeding who came to be my daughter Parker...

So like I said, I'm not a health nut and I have an extreme sweet tooth so I probably eat more sweets than the average bear. During pregnancy I craved pop which I never drank before, literally I had probably only had pop a handful of times since high school and when I did it was Sprite/Sierra Mist. When I was pregnant I craved the strong stuff...helloooo Coke :). Besides the coke and my Wendy's fully loaded baked potato fetish, I snacked rather healthy. I love oatmeal so I'd eat it multiple times a day (thanks McDs), I also snacked on apple slices. Omg, best food ever! I'd eat a whole family sized bag every day. I also ate lots of green things because those have always been my favorite veggies anyway. It's not that hard to eat good while pregnant, you're hungry all the time anyway just make sure something green goes into the stuff you shove in your mouth. I had Parker at a healthy 6 lbs, 3.4 oz. (Btw I gained 30 lbs during my pregnancy.)

I made one of the most important decisions, what to first feed my baby girl...I chose breast milk. I'm sure you're all aware of the health benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been linked to reduction in allergies, obesity, childhood illnesses, etc etc etc. Now this is not to say I necessarily believe every thing claimed to be a benefit of breastfeeding (*cough* obesity reduction *cough*) but it does help the immune system. Breast milk contains antibodies that fight off disease. Grown people have been exposed to lots of germs so we have lots of immunity to everyday things, babies are new so they don't. Mothers can pass their immunity to their children through breast milk. [Disclaimer: I'm not saying breast milk makes babies immortal, your child can still get sick. Note you also can't pass on immunity to things you aren't immune to.] According to the CDC and WHO, the longer you supply your kid with breast milk the (for lack of a better word) healthier they'll be. So I breastfed Parker for 14 months. (If you're curious, so far Parker has had 1 ear infection and 1 cold, other running noses/fevers were due to teething.)    

Solid food has been the hardest part of deciding what to feed my baby. At 6 months, I started giving her baby food...the normal stuff: sweet potatoes, bananas, oatmeal, apples (which she's allergic to), green beans, etc. She enjoyed most of it except squash and peas...I don't blame her. On her first Thanksgiving, she was 9 months so we gave her table food and she never turned back. This is where I have spent the most time monitoring what she eats. My family thinks it's because I don't want her to be fat, which is true but I'm less worried about obesity at this age (not that it can't happen). I'm more concerned about if what goes into her body is going to sustain an active toddler's lifestyle. I don't avoid fat, she needs fat for her brain growth...I just avoid unnecessary, unhealthy fats. I'll list some of the things she's never had and some of her favorite snacks.

She's never had: pop, juice (maybe 4 times watered down), candy, sugary cereal or Cheetos. She occasionally has cake (mainly on birthdays), ice cream (see aforementioned), chips (my mom and Parker's dad are serious chip eaters, they've given her some to my chagrin) and popsicles.

I've traded some of the yucky snacks for healthier options: 

- Frozen yogurt instead of ice cream (still occasional). 
- Fruit! My daughter LOVES fruit. Her dad will go to the store and buy a bunch of fruit, he'll make a big fruit salad and it'll be our snack for the week. I don't limit how much fruit she eats...except close to dinner time or the really acidic ones (tooth health). He makes sure to cut everything into baby friendly pieces.
- Frozen blueberries. I buy fresh blueberries, wash them and put them in the makes for a healthy snack and some relief for swollen teething gums. Keep this one in the arsenal mamas, Parker goes crazy for them!
- Yogurt. She looovesss yogurt. She could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let her. I make sure to buy whole milk yogurt, not the fat free stuff again she needs the fat for brain growth and development. She eats fruit and/or granola in her yogurt. Watch out for the sugars though...some have more sugar than candy bars!
- Granola. Get the raw stuff not the sugar covered stuff.
- Peanut butter crackers. Ok, these aren't the healthiest but there are worse snacks. Really the bad thing is the salt covered crackers, not the peanut butter but you have to take some bad with the good right?
- Fruit thins instead of crackers. If you haven't heard of them they're new. They're basically whole wheat crackers with dried fruit bits in them! The blueberry ones are great!
- Yogurt filled crackers. These are new too...exactly what they sound like. Yogurt sandwiched between graham crackers. We don't do these often either because of the sugar content but it's an option.
- Babybel cheese. Good source of good fat and dairy. Parker gave up drinking milk when it stopped coming from the tap (lol) so I have to find other ways to get dairy in her. They're just the right size for little toddler hands too!
- And the biggest one: WATER! That's all Parker drinks since she gave up milk. Babies don't NEED juice. My family has the hardest time accepting this, I'm not sure why people think of juice as a kid food...? I've heard of so many grown people who don't like water, you know why? Because you know there are other options out there, Parker doesn't. I believe strongly in education but the longer I keep her in the dark about juice and pop the longer she'll love her sippy cup of water ;)    

These are just the snacks, obviously meals are also monitored. Mainly in how you prepare your foods, swap out your Cisco for some olive oil and your white rice for brown tastes the same. Pan grill instead of frying, try white wine sauces instead of gravies. Parents or parents to be I urge you when you have your children to ask yourself this question "Does a baby/toddler/child/person need that?". If the only answer you can come up with is "it tastes good" you should probably rethink the decision because once you start, it's hard to go back. Also, you don't have to eat all organic things to be healthy. Healthy kids are good kids :) 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Piece of paper"

We've all heard people say this in regards to two things really: degrees and marriage. Some of you have said it yourself. I'm going to tell you why these words piss me the hell off.

"Piece of paper": Degree.

So often people attempt to belittle degrees as pieces of paper. They throw around names like Bill Gates, who dropped out of college or Mark Z or whoever. There is a major flaw in this are not Bill Gates. I know, it seems almost mundane to mention but I think people need that wake up call. Gates is one of the most brilliant minds in the world, chances are you are not. He also has a great respect for education, hence why he pays for thousands of students to attend university. For those of you who don't know, which if you've ever mentioned him during this "piece of paper" debate you probably don't know...Gates himself mentioned how it was timing that caused him to drop out of school. A huge part of success is your market entry point and he knew to be successful and ride that impending dotcom bubble he had to act at that moment, tis why he left Harvard to start his company. Oh yea, not to mention he was at Harvard to begin with so that says a lot in itself...and his parents were very well off so these are all reasons he differs from the average person and is not good for this argument.

Now that we understand why Bill Gates isn't a good argument for this "piece of paper" debate, let's talk about this piece of paper. My (as is everyone else's) piece of paper is a representation of what's in my brain. Could I have mastered chemical engineering without studying it in school? Maybe, books are available to everyone. The likelihood that someone without a chemical engineering degree (or 100 years of experience) is more versed in chemical engineering than me? Slim to none. That's the point of this "piece of paper". It proves to anyone upon glancing that one knows more in a certain subject than the layman. It's the reason you go to a licensed doctor for surgery instead of yo patna' nem. Because of that piece of paper you trust a (wo)man you've probably never met to cut you open. So yes, I hang my piece of paper in an expensive frame in my dining room because I worked 4.5 long years for the knowledge that that paper represents.

This is not to say a degree is the only way to success or that money is success. However, in this day and age a degree greatly increases your chances of feeding yourself. Our children will have it even worse so don't downplay education for them...what was once considered a luxury will be a necessity for survival for the next generation. I measure success in a lot of, spiritual life, the good you've done for the world, monetarily is last. Statistics even lean toward people with degrees having a higher marriage rate...which makes sense because college is a great place to meet a potential mate. I know dozens of newlyweds or newly engaged classmates. It appears that piece of paper could be helpful in more ways than one in life.

"Piece of paper": Marriage.

I've heard people say they don't need that "piece of paper" or "piece of jewelry" to know they are loved or whatever. I think this is something people say to make themselves feel better. It's usually only women that say it too...well that say it publically, probably because their boyfriends have told them that privately ha! Now, I'm not married so I'm speaking as an outsider but it seems utterly disrespectful to the institute of marriage to reduce it to a piece of paper or a piece of jewelry. If you are religious, or at least believe in a god you know that marriage is more than a piece of paper. It's a uniting before soul, inhabiting two bodies. In most religious dominations it's one of the single most important things you can do...besides having faith. Marriage allows you to reproduce favorably in God's eyes, it allows you to multiple your love and travel through this life sharing God with another person.

If you're not religious, in this country being married offers you a lot of advantages and responsibilities. In the eyes of the law, you literally become one...all your assets merge, even if you don't put the other's name on your bank account if push came to shove they can still access it because they're your spouse. You are giving a person full rights to your estate and your last breath if it comes to it. Not to mention, fiscally marriage makes sense. One rent/mortgage, one insurance, one set of bills, etc. My boyfriend and I live together and it's much more expensive for us both to pay separate health insurance than it would be to have a family plan. There are all types of other little discounts I'm probably unaware of that come with being married, haha.  That piece of paper might save you some paper!

Lastly, for the pure vanity of the situation. Even wild animals like to mark their territory, we have those same urges (minus the piss please). I've heard stories of atheists saying once they were married, it "just felt different" than when they were dating. There's something truly special about confessing before your friends, family and the world that you want to be with another person for the rest of your life. It garners respect kinda in the same way I mentioned having a baby does. I'm a young person in the professional world so no one expects for me to be married (which I'm not), but I know how tones change around people that are. Older people find it pleasantly surprising and a camaraderie is born. There's something vulnerable about a man giving a woman access to his checkbook and monogamy, women like that. Don't fool yourself into thinking it's just a piece of paper because you know it means more.

These two things aren't all life is about, I hope that's not how this post came across. They are however, important parts of life and should not be minimized to just a "piece of paper".