some thoughts on 2010

Do you ever FEEL yourself changing? Thoughts that used to excite me at the beginning of 2010 don't seem as important (or nearly as enticing) as I look towards 2011. Things that seemed irreparable at some point during the year, now feel whole. And the flip side to that is true as well. Even without writing as often as I used to, I have learned a few things about myself. I certainly believe that I have grown in some areas. And those others...well, obviously I'm not ready yet and it's not pressing enough for me to work on.

Being protective of my spirit is the #1 thing that has served me well in 2010.

1. The best thing that I did this year was to stop talking to my dad. Now, that sounds horrible. But he knew that I meant business. He doesn't support me financially, we don't live in the same city, and we never had that Hallma.rk card relationship. Realizing that I have separated myself from him before and that it would cost me nothing to do it again, he has been courting my affection. There hasn't been one cross word between us since that letter and our relationship seems to be on the incline.

2. I also had issues with a negative coworker. I noticed that she would constantly complain about ANOTHER coworker but would never confront them. I realized that this person does this because I make myself available and that had to cease with her and anyone else wanting to use me as their dumping ground.

3. Manipulative people. There's only so much blame that I'm going to take for a sour situation. I no longer accept being the reason why someone else feels bad. A person can do or say something that you don't like, but you have a choice as to how you react. If I have SINCERELY apologized, in my head, it's done. But if it's still going on in someone else's head, I probably have pulled the disappearing act by now. The funny thing about this is that I think that God puts me on the other side of the situation to show me how foolish I was in the past.

4. Church. Although it's only a portion of the spiritual nourishment that I need. I always felt refreshed while exiting the church doors.

It's only the 30th, but I've already begun to "clean house". Yes, I know that there are some people out there that don't believe in resolutions or that it makes no sense to hinge spiritual and emotional shifts on the first of the year. To that, I say, some of us need a starting point. Whether that's Monday, the 1st of the month, the day after Thanksgiving, or the New Year, motivation has to come from somewhere. I like to take this time to reflect and make modifications where necessary. Get in how you fit in. And that's what I'm doing.

It's been a great year. It can only get better.

fame - I'm gonna live forever

I'm so bad at reporting stale news...


Anyway, if you have followed me for a length of time, then you may have taken note that interior design is a passion of mine. In another life, that might be my path. In THIS life, I enjoy making my home a warm and comfortable haven for me and the kid. With this said, it has been my DREAM to be on HGTV.

Last weekend, I got the chance. Not necessarily how I envisioned it, but once it airs and I bask in my 50 seconds of fame, it'll feel just the same.

A friend of mine (and her man) sent in an audition tape for "Hou.se Hun.ters" and was selected to be on the show. She bought a townhouse no more than 5 minutes away from me. She moved from a nice apartment near my other friend in a county clear across town. The apartment complex; however, would not sign off on the release form to be filmed. Filming your current location is a necessary segment of the program...without it, it's a no-go. After asking a few people (who either lived in an apartment themselves or had Homeowner's Associations that were against the idea as well), she finally found a kind-hearted soul that wanted nothing more than to help her fulfill her dream.

Well, not quite...

She found me, someone who has an HGTV agenda too! Of course, there was some discussion as I did have concerns, but those were soon ironed out. Last weekend, we filmed the first few scenes for, dare I say, MY future episode, lol.

I wore my special flower so that the cameramen had a visual tool to help them remember my "good side". I was ready to do some bargaining...more like, begging. I tried everything. Pitched an idea for a new show, "Design Without a Damn Thing". I even suggested that Canda.ce Ols.en have a shorter, more tan cohost to liven up Di.vine Des.ign. I also offered to film a sweet message for that hot guy with a hammer, Car.ter Oos.terhouse. Can you believe that the producer was not receptive to my award winning (minus the heart winning) ideas?

She wasn't receptive, but she was surely impressed with my humble abode. I think that I have said this before: my house is much like me - small but full of personality. She walked around every room with a smile. I just knew that I was a shoe-in for something. Nope, nada. The cameraman did complement me on my hair...and told me that I didn't have a bad side. Flatterer. He must've known that I was still hot over his boy tracking sh*t on my carpet...the same light shade of carpet that I am particularly anal about keeping clean.

Anyway, I filmed 2 scenes. One of me, my girlfriend, her man, and J standing around my table making snacks and talking "must haves" about house hunting. J even got into the act. He was prompted to say a few lines, but I think that he missed the part where he was supposed to PRETEND to eat the sandwich...not inhale it. I didn't realize just how much "acting" is required for these reality shows, but after my experience, I am certain that the Real Hous.ewives of Any.thing is 60 minutes of falsehood.

The other scene that I was in took place in my neighborhood. I was jogging with my girlfriend. It looked a little weird for us to be following behind a truck with a cameraman hanging out of it, but that wasn't the worst of it. Somehow, I forgot that I am not a jogger. I know that the guy monitoring the mics was catching hell with my ashmatic breathing only after a few minutes in motion. These hills are no joke. As soon as the truck turned around, I collapsed on the ground. Hopefully, that ends up on the cutting room floor. :)

We still have to shoot the final scene sometime...as sort of a housewarming party. I won't get excited about actually being on HGTV until I verify that I don't look crazy, J doesn't look crazy, and my house doesn't look crazy. So, I will have to view the first airing before I give anyone the heads up that my 50 seconds is about to start.

J, on the other hand, told EVERYBODY that he was on TV. One girl wanted his autograph. His other friends were excited for him and 2 even said that they already saw him. Kids.

Anyway, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday. Crossing fingers that this could be the start of something new. HA! I'm gonna be a STAR-UH!

go go gadget hair

I have been natural for 16 months...I think. I would have to say that one of the more interesting things about being natural is how I can change my length from day to day without cutting or adding extensions. A coworker commented on my hair today, noticing that it looked longer than normal.

My favoite styles are these...




I twisted my hair but released them while my hair was very damp. In fact, I don't think that my hair completely dried until around noon.




Another twist set that wasn't allowed to dry. I prefer these b/c my hair looks fuller.





And again...get the picture?





But THIS (twists allowed to actually dry...go figure) will get more compliments than...





...THIS. I guess that I prefer my frizzy moments and shrinkage. I think the other set is so...droopy.


Lately, I haven't had the desire to wear twists for any longer than half a day it seems, but I found an updo/compromise that I like.











I have been keeping this style in for at least 2 days, so I'm getting better. I felt like having longer hair this week.





And this has been how I have been wearing my hair for the past couple of months. I haven't tried any new products and my regimen has been "get in where I fit in". I refuse to allow styling to take over my life, lol. So, nothing exciting and new to report. I have been rather uninspired lately. I guess the honeymoon phase is over for me.

update

So, from the pics of the baptism, it is obvious that I HAD to speak to my dad again sometime, right?

Thanks to everyone that read and commented on the "dear daddy" post. I go through these phases while blogging. If I write something random, funny, or shallow, I don't think twice about it. But when I write about something that's close to my heart or close to my hurt, I feel too exposed. Oftentimes, I don't come near my blog. I take a mini-break to regroup and write something surficial to balance out the blog vibes and to keep me from deleting the post.

But back on topic, I didn't stay in the N.O. long. The first day, I didn't say much to my dad at all. So you can imagine how awkward that is when he was the one that picked me up from the airport. I kept my attention on J, which was easy b/c he was trying to condense his whole summer into a 30 minute conversation. Aside from the car ride, I kept my distance and I could sense that he was keeping his. I got the impression that he didn't know what to say to me. My greatest concern was that my stepmother would approach me and want to discuss the letter. She tends to play the peacemaker role.

The day of J's baptism; however, we broke silence. When he spoke to me, he talked slow and chose his words carefully. I guess that's what I wanted even if it looked as if he struggled. When he dropped J and I off at the airport, he unloaded our bags out of the truck and bent down to kiss me. I turned my cheek towards him.

Since then, he randomly texts me during the day to tell me that he loves me. That should probably make me feel good; but honestly, it makes me uncomfortable. The first time that he did it, I texted a girlfriend to ask if it were possible to tell when someone is sending a text to multiple numbers. It's sad to think that it's so foreign for my own father to tell me that he loves me that I have to investigate why he's telling me that. It's hard. When you don't hear those words spoken growing up, the response "I love you too" doesn't exactly roll off my tongue with ease. Especially when someone's words doesn't match up with their actions, it lacks authenticity. My girlfriend kept telling me to give my father the benefit of the doubt. I did, but I didn't tell him that I loved him back.

The texts became more frequent. And then there was one about him valuing me as his daughter. That one threw me for a loop. I honestly thought that my stepmother was either telling him what to say or even typing it for him.

My heart is so hardened that I don't know what to do. We can talk about football, J, the weather, the price of gas, but verbally expressing affection makes me physically feel some kind of way. I see he's making an effort, at least. And I'm sure that this is what I wanted, but why do I need more time? I guess that I'm waiting on him to turn back to the regularly scheduled program.

making it do what it do

I've had J back for a week now, and just like that, life has returned to normal. I had my fun participating in Happy Hours in the middle of the week (unheard of), doing some salsa, and last-minute trips. But having my baby back really keeps me sane. He will turn 9 y/o on Tuesday, the first day of school, so I took him to Laser Tag to celebrate last night and we had a ball! My thighs still hurt from running up and down those ramps. While there, a friend of mine commented on my hair, saying that she was shocked that it was so curly and she was trying to figure out how I got it to do what it does.



Had I worn a wash n' go, the answer would've been simple...I wash, shake, and go. But lately, I have been going hard on these Sh.ea Mois.ture products, trying to perfect my twistouts. I'm in a phase, now, where I refuse to wear my twists in public. I was fine with doing that all winter last year, but for some reason, I just do not like the way that I look with them. And secondly, I just do not want to devote the time to doing mini-twists anymore. As I've said before, I've spent a great deal of this summer doing wash n' gos. But lately, I have been opting for 10-12 big twists, left to dry overnight. I then take them down and fluff.



When I went back home, I don't think that I relaxed for 5 minutes before my stepmother started bombarding me with natural hair questions. She has been natural for at least 10 years, but her style has ranged from baby locks to a fade, with a texturizer in between. She is currently growing out a faded up texturizer. And since she is my FB friend and commonly sees me post pics of my hair every now and again, she also wanted to know how I get my hair to do what it does. And honestly, I have no clue. I'm trying to figure out what's happening.



I love this Cur.l Enh.ancing smoothie so much that I have been putting in time trying to figure out the best technique for achieving predictable, fabulous hair days. What sealed the deal for this being a staple product is that the above pic was taken back home, while sitting on the porch for hours as it rained. While my stepmother wanted to talk products, I decided to do an experiment in between. In my mind, if my hair can survive N.O. humidity, then there is nothing in this world that we can't conquer together. My roots puffed up, but you had to put your fingers in it to feel (I had my "friend" do that for me ;-D)


But here's the thing...those 10-12 big twists never dry in time for me to get ready for work. I've tried it on dry hair with aloe vera gel and even after 10 hours or so, my hair is still damp. Yet, I take the twists out...b/c I have to. At that point, I have some definition, but my hair is mostly droopy and limp. An hour or so after that, my hair dries completely (I guess b/c it's out and the twists tend to retain moisture). When it dries, my hair is way more defined and moisturized. To me, it doesn't look much different from my wash n gos though...aside from it having more body and shine. It is more voluminous than my normal twistouts, which I had begun to dislike. I was beginning to wonder if my natural curl pattern is fighting whatever stretched look I'm attempting to achieve. My hair stays moisturized for days. I haven't had to do my oil spritz at night in a while. It seems as if I have reached some happy hair medium, but I can't figure out if keeping my hair damp when I twist out is what's achieving these results.



I'm going to keep playing around with it. I guess that I'm not comfortable with the idea of accidental good hair days.

Do you have a technique or regimen that works for you everytime?

old dirty bastard

My former employer hired a senior level (over 20 years of experience) designer in my department almost a year and a half after I began working there. I was one of the 2 females in my department (as usual) and also the youngest. Old Dirty Bastard (ODB) was a very knowledgeable guy and soon became my source for answers to any questions that I had. He was the most accessible and ODB was more than happy to serve as a mentor.

He would compliment me often. One day, he liked my dress. The next, my hair. Initially, I dismissed his statements. I foolishly thought that they were innocent since I've been complimented at work before. He would drop by my cube under the guise that he was checking up on me and making sure that I had everything under control. Then one day, I came to work and found a note on my keyboard. It said that he was sorry that he missed my birthday lunch and he wanted to treat me to lunch on that day. I didn't think anything of it and was more than willing to be treated to lunch, 2 days in a row.

We went to a nearby restaurant. He drove. First mistake. For an hour, I listened to him tell tales of his youth, his home life, his teenage kids, and wife. He tried to paint the picture that he was a rebel or a bad boy. I should've been clued in at that moment. During the drive back, he pulled out a Prince CD from his collection. Anybody that knows me, knows that I'm a Prince fan (and it probably tipped him off when I dressed like Prince for the company party). He played a track and then in the middle of it, he says,

"You know, Prince has this song that makes me horny everytime I hear it."

He repeatedly pressed the "search" button, while the other hand remained on the wheel. I couldn't speak. I was in shock. I DID see the office in clear view through the car window and couldn't wait until he parked, so that I could do the Du.kes of Haz.zard roll on the hood and get far enough away from him. It was pretty clear then. Those times when he would ask what I was doing on the weekend had nothing to do with him trying to make sure that I knew of every event going on in Rich.mond. I started mentally counting how many times he would find an excuse to touch my arm. And then I thought of that time when he startled me while I was walking down the hall and felt it necessary to touch my back. And then there was those times, when he would leave random things on my desk.

I struggled with reporting him b/c I thought that my dismissal of every instance that he crossed the line made it my fault. Had I been firm with my disapproval of his compliments, it would have never gotten that far. I should've never said "thank you". I should've never smiled. Working in a male-dominated industry, I have heard and seen a great many things. I've had female coworkers that have reported cases of sexual harrassment and have watched as the female is labeled as uptight (to put it nicely), while the man got a slap on the wrist.

From then on, I decided to avoid him as much as I could. This was VERY difficult since we worked in the same department. The one time that I broke silence, he took full advantage of that. That's when he said,

"Why don't you come and sit on my lap?"

This time, there were other guys around. Some of them snickered. I walked away. I remember being so upset that day. I talked to my friends on the job and told them what happened. One urged me to report him. Two others acknowledged his creepiness. And the other two were in just as much shock as I was to even respond.

For some reason, I didn't report him then. I can't say that it was embarrassment. Then again, maybe it was. I just wanted to disappear. I stopped wearing dresses and anything that I thought would draw attention.

And then one day, we had a department meeting. As I sat there, he blew a kiss at me across the conference room table...in front of my supervisor, no less. Yes, he reached a new level of boldness. My supervisor looked away. ODB said, "I guess that I shouldn't have done that. Very inappropriate, hunh?" And that's when I went from embarrassed and ashamed to outright angry. I had an overwhelming desire to stomp ODB clean in the nuts. How did I get here?

After the meeting, I went back to my desk. Too busy fuming to do any work. Finally, I requested a meeting with my supervisor. I brought up what just happened (since he chose to look away) and told him of the other times that I was made to feel uncomfortable, minus the car incident. At first, he looked as if he didn't know what to say. But then, I read the look in his eye as his not wanting to be involved. He informed me that ODB had come to him. ODB told my supervisor that I didn't see eye to eye with him. He made it seem like I was unwilling to work with him. Well, I couldn't deny that.

He gave me an option. I could either drop it or give him the ok to move forward with reporting it to HR. I asked of the outcome. ODB would have a note in his file. I thought, "What in the f*** is a note going to do???" I though, afterwards, ODB would most likely make my job a living hell...as if it had not gotten to that point anyway. It started to seep into my personal life as he tried to friend request me on FB. After blocking him, he would mention it everytime he saw me. He would say, "I'm just trying to be your friend."

I know that I've mentioned what I've just written before in previous blogs, here and there. I don't think that I went into as much detail. I'm not sure of what's more embarrassing...the fact that it happened and I didn't report it immediately or my detailing what happened for others to view and judge. One of the main reasons that I was bitter after the layoffs was b/c the company kept him and let me go. The same supervisor that I'd confided in was the same one that made that decision. The morning after, ODB started requesting my phone number from my coworker friends, claiming that he just wanted to make sure that I was okay.

Last week, my team leader (a female) came to me and asked me if I knew ODB. My body froze. She explained that he had submitted his resume to the company and it was currently in review. I hesitated, at first, not sure if I should get that deep. But then I thought, "I'll be damned if this asshole gets another chance at making me uncomfortable. Not here." I told her what happened, amongst other things. She understood my feelings, having experienced a similar situation before. I asked that she not tell my director in as much detail. She said that she would just tell him that she didn't get a good recommendation for ODB.

I prayed that this situation would be over. Then, a couple of days ago, my team leader called me into a conference room. She told me that the director was looking to hire ODB b/c our department is in need. She let me know that she shared the other things that I said b/c she wanted to insure that this situation wouldn't happen to me again She didn't want to risk losing me. My director understood and as far as I know, this is a done deal.

Today, I got a text from a former coworker. ODB was fired. I don't know why, but I guess that he saw it coming and that's why he was floating resumes. I feel not one ounce of sympathy. I never got a chance to physically stomp him in the nuts, but blackballing him feels just as nice.

the baptism

I went back home to the N.O. last week for a very special day. J decided over the summer (sometime in July) that he wanted to be baptized. I kept asking him if he knew what that meant...asking if anyone coerced him to do it...asking him if he was sure. He was unbreakable. So, on August 29th (yes, the 5 year anniversary of Ka.trina), J was baptized.



He was so excited the whole day.



Baptized by his grandfather, a deacon of the church. I would like to get this photo touched up and sketched (by an artist greater than I). I think that this would make a pretty cool picture to put up in his room.



Right before taking his first communion,



This was the same man that christened him 8 years ago.



Taking the Lord's supper.



Accepting his certificate.



Proud momma!



He smelled this cake in the house the night before.



Bling 1.



Bling 2.



Bling bling.



Kids grow up so fast...his christening (May 19th, 2002).

not quite obsessed, but in "like"

Even though my flat ironing experience was less than stellar, I've at least overcome my fear of adding direct heat to my hair. However, for every humid day that we had last week, I was worried ENTIRELY too much about my hair. It did revert a little, so I'm glad that I twisted it up after I flat ironed it. It served me well to camouflage the poof with ringlets here and there.

So, I haven't really been a fan of my hair lately. I don't hate it. It's just that everytime I think about another detangling session, I get a little annoyed. This used to be fun when I had less hair. Now, it's a chore.

I have been talking to another natural friend of mine, who suggested that I try Miss Je.ssie's. One of my girls gave me a sample of the "curly meringue" last year. I used it and loved it the day that I applied it. The day after, was a whole 'nother horrible story. So I've avoided it. But I happened to be in Targ.et the other day and said that I would just look at another option. I saw a $58 price tag and couldn't swallow. The product may last forever for all I know, but I just couldn't justify that investment right now. So instead, I picked up another She.a Moistur.e product.

Shampoo isn't really a product must-have for me. I have used Giovanni 50:50, which was pretty decent. When I ran out of that, I decided to try the Gio.vanni Tea Tree Tin.gle and I was less of a fan. For that shampoo to not have sulfates, my hair felt stripped to the core. I bought Trader's Joe's Nour.ishing Spa and I felt as if it were the best shampoo that I had tried since transitioning. But then, I picked up Sh.ea Mois.ture's Thicke.ning Sham.poo (as if I need a thickening shampoo when I just complained about my detangling sessions). BUT, I couldn't pass up the ingredients. Goodness, that was THE MOST delightful shampooing session that I've had, lol. I am becoming a huge fan of the product line. Unlike before, I wasn't running to the conditioner immediately to soothe my frazzled hair. My hair loved it. I'm still a Yes to Cu.cumbers/Toma.toes fan, but I went BACK to Tar.get and picked up the Sh.ea Mois.ture Thickening Con.ditioner, the Thicken.ing spray (that I hadn't quite figured out how I plan to use), and more of the Deep Trea.tment Mas.que. If all goes well, I might back away from the Yes to Cu.cumbers line.

Last night, I decided to braid my dry hair. I saturated my strands with aloe vera gel and then added a little more of the Cur.l En.hancing Smoothie to each braid. Once finished, I sprayed my braids with a jojoba oil mixture and went to sleep.



I took the braids out this morning before church. Again, I have bounce and a nice sheen. My hair was even more voluminous than this picture shows. I think that I am FINALLY falling back in love with my hair (although the jury is still out on whether I prefer braidouts to twistouts). I went to another game night on Friday and people kept touching and commenting on my hair. I think that I just might be on to something. I haven't used gel and I haven't pulled my hair back in a puff and I believe that my hair is thanking me for that as well. I think that I will keep using the Sh.ea Moisture products and see where my hair's health stands by Dec.ember.

fried and laid to the side

My hair posts have been few and far between b/c I haven't been doing anything new and exciting with my hair. Constantly taking/showing pics of a wash n' go is not really saying anything other than look at me.

But this weekend, I decided to tackle my fear of flat ironing. Actually, I experimented with a few things this weekend.

First, I washed, conditioned, and set in spiral rollers. However, I didn't roll my hair in a spiral direction. I was trying to see if these rollers would stretch my roots out, so that it would be possible for me to do a roller wrap.

FAIL!

Second, I decided to blow dry my extremely shrunken hair after I came from under the hair dryer. After that (which didn't take more than 10 minutes), I flat ironed using my Pro.claim heat protectant.

FAIL!

Well, it didn't look bad. It was just HUGE! I didn't take pics...have no good reason other than my being disappointed and not interested in trying to hunt down my camera. My hair was certainly longer than I thought it was. But after blow dring and frying, my hair felt like straw. Just plain ole crispy.

So, instead of washing it out, I picked up my trusty She.a Mois.ture Cur.l En.hancing Smoothie and Jo.joba oil (that I forgot I even had). Remember, I have been trying to figure out how to use this smoothie b/c it was so frickin' moisturizing that I didn't want to let it go. I slathered it on my fried hair and twisted it up for church.



I have bounce, shine, and its so ridiculously soft that I can't stop touching it! A little more defined than I wanted but its cool. I think that I realized the error of my ways. My hair already takes forever to dry, so when I do wet twists and add the Shea Moi.sture it prolongs the drying time so when I take them down while I'm getting ready for work, disaster awaits. But I think that it works best for me on dry hair. So I will try this again next week. If it works, then I'm leaving the wash n' gos behind for a while. I won't expect my hair to be as elongated but I look forward to it being soft and poofy.

I'm also on a challenge to give up my Eco Styler gel...but we'll see where that takes me. Puffs are my fave hairstyle.

august showers

Lawd t'day...I can already tell that it's going to be one of THOSE weeks. I was at work until 7:15pm tonight, determined to finish up one project today, so that I can finally start another one tomorrow. And something tells me that I'm gonna spend half of tomorrow putting out fires with other projects. I am just a tad bit overwhelmed at the moment.

My mind must be somewhere else b/c this morning I got up, got dressed, left the house, and stayed productive until 10am before I realized that I forgot to put my bra on. Who does that??? I wore a new blouse and I kept saying to myself that its fitting kinda weird. I mean, I had absolutely no clue until I went to habitually adjust my bra strap, only to discover that there was not one to be found. Talk about embarrassed. Now, my girls may not be big enough to notice, but I felt saggy all day and just kept telling myself to walk light. Still in disbelief over my absent-mindedness.

I spent the weekend showering. I went to a bridal shower and a baby shower on Saturday. I enjoyed the cute little finger foods and the cute little games with the cute little stories and the cute little gifts, but I needed to decompress after all of that cuteness. My girl, Kat, was having a game night (b/c Navy was in town). I was good for a while. We played dominoes and spades, but then came the boardgame of Life. Now, the Life that I played as a child is no where near the version of Life that's out now. Anyway, I kept losing a turn and spinning 1s and 2s. Everyone else was on a whole 'nother side of the board and I was the LAST to get married, the LAST to establish my career, and the LAST to have kids. Excluding the kid part, this game was starting to mimick how I felt about my actual life, lol. But then again, I won in the end. So maybe being slow on my milestones is not so bad.

When I was at the baby shower, the guest of honor kept asking me questions about diet restrictions, high-tech baby gadgets, and even the dos and donts about caring for a newborn. I didn't realize how much has changed in 9 years. I was looking at a baby monitor with all these different bells and whistles, but 9 years ago, my baby monitor was my ear. I might've even been given a baby monitor but I don't recall using it. I really don't recall sleeping through the night during that first year with J. Even when HE started sleeping through the night, I would get up to watch him take at least 2 breaths before I went back to sleep. A few times, I held a mirror up to his nose b/c I was just that paranoid.

My girlfriend said that her doctor gave her an exhaustive list of foods she couldn't have. My doctor told me to ease up on the blue cheese dressing and caffeine in moderation. That's all I really remember. It didn't matter b/c by the end of my pregnancy all I wanted were a jar of olives/pickles and lemonade...and I think that I got real pissed when someone (in an attempt to be nice) didn't bring me the Coun.try Ti.me lemonade. I was even particular about the brand.

I would like a do over, one day. I want to be all overjoyed when I find out that I'm pregnant instead of being slightly disoriented when the stick went from clear to magenta in 30 seconds. I want to buy all the cute maternity clothes and take professional photos, with J rubbing my belly...oh, and I guess a daddy will be in there somewhere. I want the joys of pregnancy, but I don't know how I'll survive that newborn period again.

Anywya, here's one of the cute stories: The mom-to-be didn't want to know the sex of the baby. Dad, on the other hand, did. When they went for the ultrasound, mom requested that the technician write down the sex of the baby and seal it in an envelope. They decided to have a family get-together. The mom-to-be went to a bakery and requested a special cake. She handed them the envelope and instructed them to open it. If the paper says that it's a girl, then they were to put pink filling in the middle of the cake. And if it's a boy, then blue. When the family came over, everyone found out the sex of the baby at the same time once they cut the cake...cheers, applause, a drammatic moment for all, lol.

Now, doesn't that make you just want to run out and get pregnant??? LOL. I'm sure that if my breasts swole up to the size that they were when I was pregnant, there would be no way in hell that I'd forget to wear a bra.

finally

Guess what? The baby (yes, he's still my baby even though he's a month away from being 9 y/o) has been in Flori.da with his father for the past week and a half. And I didn't die, cry, hyperventilate, fall out, or have heart palpitations. He's heading back to his PawPaw in N.ew Orl.eans tomorrow afternoon.

I did get sick last week and can you believe that this child REFUSED to come back and nurse me back to health? I mean, does Mic.key Mou.se feed and clothe him? As far as his even caring, I recall him telling me that I need to turn the A/C off so that I don't catch a cold and he also asked about the flavor of my meds. I chalk it up to his having a lot going on out there and not much time to compose his thoughts.

But I can say one thing...the fact that he was having fun with his father perked me up out of my summer funk.

This was a first and a long time coming.

But let me tell you another reason why I was beaming. MY father was probably sitting in Ha.waii (yes, he went to Ha.waii with his church last week) eating crow and a whole heap of it!

Before, he was talking MUCH sh*t about J's dad. Talking 'bout how he 's not going to come through...talking 'bout how he puts everything else before his son...talking 'bout how he doesn't have an idea of what it means to be a father. He says that last line SO MUCH that it takes the WHOLE armor of God to keep me from spitting, "AND what in da hell do YOU know about being a father? And if that ain't the pot calling the m*****f***in' kettle black!"

Whew! I'm composed...

Don't get me wrong. I often think those things, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I want to sit and listen to him gripe about it. I had been in constant communication with J's dad, explaining to him how much this trip means to J. I put it in no uncertain terms that if he didn't come through...that that was his ass. Period. We had many talks over the course of the month that even went deeper than the trip. He said a lot of things that actually made me question if he finally gets it. If he finally understands the type of commitment that transcends beyond mailing a video game everytime J calls.

No, he doesn't have the best track record, but for some reason, I said "...starting today, we're gonna wipe the slate clean. I will not pre-judge you based on your past. I will give you a chance to prove your word."

MY dad, on the other hand, didn't want to be stressed about it and kept hounding me to tell J that he wasn't going to Flo.rida.

But guess what...he's wrapping that trip up as I type. The baby needs this time. He even got a little bass in his voice over the phone. This trip has me thinking. There will be some changes come next summer and I can tell who will be the first to be unhappy about it.

can it get ANY worse???

Yes, it can.

Tonight, I had dinner with some ladies from 2 jobs ago. Out of the 8 of us that showed up, only 2 of us left that job by choice (me and another lady in my department). The rest were swapping stories about being laid-off, who was still there, and the current financial state of that company. But in the end, all of us were in a better place...even though my lay-off was delayed until my next job. All I recall was sluggishly getting up in the morning, having to drive 45 minutes to a job that I grew to hate. I liked the people, but the work (or lack thereof) was unsatisfactory.

Anyway, I sat next to an older, white lady that I used to shoot the breeze with in the mornings. She would look out for me anytime another department had doughnuts, so I could do some quick ninja-like movements and beat the crowd. I believe that she favored me b/c we often bonded over our fondness for Pri.nce.

I hadn't seen her in 4 years.

Someone made a comment about loving her hair. She responded that she was just so happy that it grew back after her surgery.

This was a case where I wanted to know the backstory, but I didn't want to be intrusive...but I still REALLY wanted to know.

Someone else asked.

Thank God, b/c I was dying inside.

She said that she'd give us the short and sweet story.

A while back, she had a procedure done that essentially tied off the arteries supplying blood to her fibroids. She had a scheduled check-up some weeks later, but while in the parking lot at her doctor's office, she passed out next to her car. A police officer happened to see her and rushed to her aid. It turns out that she had an infection, related to that procedure, which spread into her bloodstream and she had gone into septic shock. She was informed that if she hadn't been under medical care that she probably would've died within 18-24 hours b/c the infection was spreading to her organs.

The doctors refused to perform surgery b/c of her condition, so they pumped her with a high dosage of antibiotics, which treated the infection. However, her veins collapsed in the process and she then developed a blood clot. Once the infection was treated, it was necessary that she have a hysterectomy...but she also needed a blood transfusion.

She cried out to God, "Can it get any worse?"

Surgery successful. She goes back to the doctor's office to get the staples removed. However, her doctor shares more news. Apparently, she had a very aggressive and rare form of cancer and it was speculated that she had 6 months to a year to live.

The doctor explains that he'd still like her to do ch.emo and radia.tion treatments. While processing this, she scrambles to change all of her insurance forms and gets things in order. She comes to accept her prognosis but finds comfort in the fact that she's accomplished everything in life that she wanted to.

Her friends frantically prayed for her. In fact, they were still on their knees from the beginning. She goes back to the doctor and he says...

"I don't know how to tell you this. I've had 4 other doctors look at your records and they can't explain it. There doesn't seem to be any cancer in your body. I've read about this happening in medical school once, but you're the first patient that I've actually witnessed."

She just celebrated her 50th birthday.

I sat there as she spoke, eyes glazed over, mouth ajar. I rubbed her arm. She tilted her head towards mine. I think that she thought that I was consoling her, but actually, I just wanted to touch what I perceived to be a miracle.

I learned a long time ago to never ask if life could get any worse. Damn if this story doesn't put a great many things into perspective...

this weekend

Yesterday, I drove up to northern VA to visit my best friend, who is a mommy now. She wasn't due until early September, but baby Jor.dan decided that he had better things to do than to be curled up in a womb all day. She had been in the hospital for a few weeks with early contractions. I have to admit that I was so worried b/c she had a high risk pregnancy due to her own health issues. Well, she gave birth on Tuesday and everything was great with her and her new baby boy. God is good. Focusing on my girl and her fam has been a nice mental break.

I went to Babi.es R' Us and suffered temporary insanity as I started throwing the whole store in the basket. I don't know why I even bothered to print out her registry. I might've gotten one thing off of it, but there were so many things that I thought the child should have. As for her baby shower that was planned for the first week in August...I don't know. Her husband informed ME of the date, so I guess that meant that either he or someone that she's close to up there is planning it. I'll probably go back in the next couple of weeks anyway. All of my friends tend to be spread out across the country (and tend to move around almost every 3 or so years) so I'm just glad that we live in close proximity during this season of our lives.

We had a guest pastor this morning. It's sad, b/c if had I known that ahead of time, I might've skipped. I still received the Word. There was this tall, nice-smelling, man that walked in and sat next to me while I was praying. When I opened my eyes and peeped him in my peripheral vision, I was trying to figure out how to look at him...without looking at him. Leave it up to a black church to tell you to turn to your neighbor and tell him...something, anything, When I did, I thought that he looked alright. But then I heard him sing along with the praise team, clap furiously, and truly get into the service. Then, when he started speaking in tongues, my curiosity was peaked. But I swear I heard this dude say, "...ma-ma-say-ma-ma-sah-ma-ma-coo-sah, you da MAN!" I started laughing and then I thought that maybe that was God's way of directing my attention back on Him, lol.

Distractions, both a blessing and a curse.

and...hair

So...hair.

When I packed for Chi.cago, I wasn't in the mood to lug around a bunch of products, plus I didn't want to spend a lot of time on my hair during my vacation. I pretty much reasoned that wash n' gos were the way to go. And when I didn't want to wear it all the way out, I was down for my puff. When I returned, I told myself that I should probably do some twists to give my hair a break.

For some reason, I do not like twist outs in my hair right now. I like it when my hair is in twists, but when I take them out...not so much. I'm steadily practicing my flat twists.



Pardon my fo'head...
While on a trip to Tar.get a few weeks ago, I got suckered into buying more than planned...as always. I went there for Dry.el sheets, but came out with Dry.el sheets, junk food, soda, rollers, a diffuser, Yes To Cu.cumbers conditioner, and Shea.Moisture Dee.p Conditioning Mask.

I diffused my hair for the 4th...and I wasn't really a fan. My hair was big(ger), I suppose, but I felt as if I could've achieved the same results if I had just air dried. Most likely, I need more practice in this area.

Last week, I finally decided to try the deep conditioner. Loved It! Shea.Moisture has great ingredients and my hair thrived off of each and every one. So then I said, I'm gonna go BACK to Tar.get and see what else is in their line and maybe I can try something new for my twist-outs.

Tar.get suckered me again! I had to get some head gear.



I believe that my hat count is up to 6, excluding baseball caps.

I also bought Shea.Moisture's Curl En.hancing Smoothie, in hopes that it would be a great moisturizer for my twist-outs. Well, it IS a great moisturizer...but not an excellent styler, since it has absolutely no hold. I ended up slicking it back into ol' trusty, but my hair was ridiculously soft.



My next thought was to flat twist it, using both the Shea.Moisture and Eco.styler. I gots no love 2 days in a row. I was extremely frustrated. Truth be told, it more than likely failed b/c my hair takes forever and a day to dry but I didn't have that kind of time. And I surely did not plan on wearing the flat twists in public. I was disappointed b/c I really wanted to make that Shea.Moisture smoothie a part of my holy grail.

I called the Stay.Natural hotline and was talked off the ledge. Since I had done battle with my flat twists for 2 nights in a row, my g/f suggested that I break from it and recommended Kink.y Cur.ly for my wash n' gos. My only issue with my wash n' gos now is that I can't get more than 2 good hair days out of them. But that's not really much of a complaint since its the summertime and I don't have a problem with wetting my hair every day of the week, if necessary.

When I first big chopped, I used KCCC and hated it. I then vowed that I'd only use it as a gel. Well, I didn't have anything to lose by trying again.



This was the end of the first day...



And this was at the end of the second (without re-wetting...and with my hair pinned back in the front).

Pros - not a terrible amount of shrinkage, a good deal of movement, a nice sheen, great defintion, firm hold, humidity-friendly, and compliments.

Cons - PRICE (although I've had this jar since this time last year), stickiness (I believe that this is what I disliked the first time, but the stickiness subsides after a while).

Is it worth me trading in my regular routine? Eh - I don't know. I have a feeling that when I finish up this jar that I won't re-purchase. I am determined; however, to make that Shea.Moisture work for something...I believe that I will use it and the Eco.styler gel for my next wash n' go.

I'm trying to see if its possible for me to go a week without putting my hair in a puff. Highly unlikely.

stay the course

Lately, I have been praying in the spirit since I haven't a clue of how to lift this fog that has been hovering above me. While driving home from Bible Study tonight, I was thinking of all the different things that make me feel good. I started to take notice of the things that DO make me feel good, but DON'T exactly honor God. I even know how to string those "feel good" moments together to create the facade of happiness.

And then I thought of my vision and how my wants may take years to come to fruition. I can't wait for everything to align itself before I experience true joy. I just don't have that kind of time to waste.

I know that my blog has been the farthest thing from upbeat. It's easier for me to pray for material things or a new job or a companion. I can see those things. I've been taking "this" day by day, hoping for a revelation or confirmation. I've gotten many. And low and behold, tonight's message was all in my window, greeting me at my front door, and chilling on my couch.

When I was a teenager, my face broke out horribly. I was beyond believing that I could be helped. My mom took me to the dermatologist and I was immediately prescribed some random acne medication. The warning was "it's likely to get worse before it gets better". Some of the blemishes that were beneath the surface would be brought to a head and then the healing process would begin. This most likely lacks the eloquence of one of Jesus' parables, but it'll do.

emotional decorator strikes again

I can't count how many times I've glanced over a copy of Archi.tectural Dig.est or watched an episode of Div.ine Des.ign on HGTV and plotted on how I was going to achieve a similar look for less. I even have pictures of homes pinned up on my wall at work. I seem to be drawn to modern chic and sophisticated looks on paper...but for the life of me, I can't recreate them. "Looking at" and "living in" are 2 different things. My tastes diverge from the original plan once I walk into a store and see something bright or highly textured.

I was going through my "HGTVme" archives and taking note of the little things that I've added here and there. And b/c my mind has been heavy, I've been releasing my stress through home decor retail therapy...again. Unfortunately, my job is 5 minutes away from Pi.er 1, Wo.rld Mar.ket, Hom.egoods, and Tar.get. So my sessions have been more than once a week lately.



I FINALLY found a table for my 2 chairs in my sunroom. I have been having these chairs for maybe 2 years now, but struggled to find an attractive table that was the right height, right width, or the right style to complement them. I'm VERY picky. Once I see something that I like, my strategy is to go home, sleep on it, and then buy it once I'm sure that it's what I want. This takes me weeks sometimes. I can't believe that it took me over 2 years to find a table but that goes to show that I don't impress easily nor will I break my bank. After getting a discount for buying the table off the floor and using gift cards, I spent $50 out of pocket. I've been enjoying it ever since. This table has seen many a cereal bowl since I picked it up on Saturday.


Originally, the coffee table was pushed in the corner with all of those vases (pictured in the windows) displayed on top like a collection. It made such a huge difference to actually use it as a coffee table and to display each vase in a window sill for a gallery look.



I just discovered Worl.d Mark.et and now that store has made a lifelong customer. I spotted this cold mini-chest (that I'm using for small trinkets and buttons) in the discontinued section and had to add it to my collection. However, I thought that the colorful ceramic drawers would stand out better against white wood.



So I brought it home and painted it white.

I've made it a goal to step up my accessory game but I needed better organization than the huge Ziploc bag that I had been using before. My goal is to fill up each slot with new earrings and overflow my t-bars with necklaces. I'm a little slow in this area...so that may take me years.



When I went to Chica.go, I saw a poster that I'd seen back home before in my girlfriend's kitchen. I loved the colors and just had to have it. I asked if it were ok to copy her style, but was ready to proceed no matter the answer, lol.



I ordered it in print size and then got a frame for it from Tar.get. I just ordered another print by the same artist and plan to put it below this one. It complements the MANY colors in my kitchen nicely. I still need to figure out what I'm going to do about a backsplash, since the tile company would not break up boxes for the design that I wanted...so back to the drawing board with that one.


Originally, I had pictures of J and his PawPaw on that wall in the kitchen, but they work much better in his bedroom.



While I was in the mood for hanging pictures, I started hanging prints that I'd purchased from the Fr.ench Mar.ket sometime last year. I can't seem to get enough of surrounding myself with images that remind me of home. It has worked to ease my homesickness. (To the untrained eye: that's crawfish on the Liv.ing section of the Tim.es Picay.une).

So much for modern...chic...or sophisticated.
But I guess when you're true to your personality, people who visit your home will take notice. Perhaps that's what makes the difference between having a house and having a home. I want it to look comfortable and lived in (and sometimes quirky)...even though people know how anal I am about keeping my carpet clean and instantly take off their shoes before entering without my saying a word.



Speaking of quirky...

Remember when J and I won this? I believe S23 asked where I was going to put it. Well, here's the verdict. I broke out J's crayons and colored it. I actually sat at my desk like a 5 year old, carefully scrutinizing the lines, a few months ago. THEN, it was ok to put it in the hallway.

My next therapeutic purchase will probably be more wall quotes.



I'll try not to overdo it, but I like how they can transform a boring sliver of a wall.



This one is above my bed. It reads, "Mothers of little boys work from son up til son down."

So adding little accents has been both scratching my artistic itch while J is back home and relieving me of my frustrations. I keep trying to talk myself into another painting project but I must not be THAT emotional. Then again, after having a day like I had today, I should be in the mood to paint 2 rooms, re-tile both bathrooms, do some yardwork, and knock down and rebuild my shed.

The Chi 2010

So...I'm gonna try to pack this all in one blog. My synopsis of my trip to The Chi '10: at the right place, at the right time. Before I left...and I mean, right before I pulled out of my driveway...I made the unfortunate mistake of checking the mailbox.

I did not pass the test. (Please refrain from making a comment that has the word "sorry" in it. I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me or feeling sorry that this happened or whatever else you can feel sorry about as it pertains to me).

I simply picked my little feelings up off the ground, packed them away, and headed to the airport. Yes, I suspected it, but there's a difference between suspicion and confirmation. So, I was bummed. There's still a tinge of disappointment as I type. But you know what?

If I only share all of my successes and none of my failures, how real would I be? Why should I be ashamed or feel the need to hide that I'm less than superhuman? The real failure comes when I stay down after getting knocked down. Or feel the need to front before anyone. I've licked my wounds, dusted myself off, and here I stand...ready for another chance at bat.

I booked my trip to Chicago, so that I could experience "The Taste". I actually have 2 girlfriends there that I graduated with from high school: one an MD in Family Medicine and another about to embark on her residency in Pediatric Psych. These ladies are some of the most faith-filled friends that I have. So when I told them what happened, neither one batted an eyelash.

As I glanced around my girlfriend's beautiful condo of modern decor, she shared her failures with me...some stories that I recalled, others that were unfamiliar. Her ascension was not upon a crystal stair, but where is she now? At the top. I just have to do what I have to do. At the end of it all, she prayed with me and the sun came out once again.



As I've mentioned before, all throughout high school, I wanted to be an architect. Knowing this was my passion, my girl was so excited to tour Frank Lloy.d Wr.ight's house with me. Unfortunately, there was a tornado the night that I got to Chicago, so I wasn't able to see the inside of his house b/c of wind damage (I believe). Instead, we did a walking tour of his house and other homes designed by him and his contemporaries.









On Friday, we went to The Taste. Some cajun meatballs, garlic fries, Chica.go style hot dog, deep dish pizza, fried veggies, and watermelon italian ice later...I needed a breather. Sa.lt N' Pe.pa and BBD performed.





There was very little time to relax, but I stole as much time as I could. My girl, who is as prissy as they come, took me to some "fru fru" place to get my eyebrows waxed. Never before have I had to lie down on a warm bed and listen to soothing music just to have this service done. Albeit, I only get my eyebrows done once a year...if that. And that's b/c I have very little hair and some sort of natural cut in my right eyebrow and am afraid that I'll get up with no eyebrows at all and have to pencil them in and look like a scared cat. Anyway...



I mentioned that we were invited to a "purity" dinner. I don't know exactly what I expected. I'm lying...I just knew that everyone would be dressed in all white, except for me. I just knew that I would feel out of place amongst people that were so on fire for the Lord, that they have chosen to abstain from anything that would taint that relationship. That perhaps these people would glide across the room and hover a foot above the floor as they awaited their "pretty wangs" in the buffet line.

To be honest, I don't know if I'm there yet. It's one thing for me to say that I'm down when there's no real temptation, but I have no clue as to how strong I am once it presents itself. However, it did put something on my mind that I would like to explore further.



I did get a lot of compliments on my puff. I kept drawing a blank every time someone asked me how I styled my hair this way. To me, this is my lazy style. I have been all about the wash n' go and trying to perfect that for the summer. After I feel as if I can no longer rock those curls, I slick it back into my go-to style: my puff. I really didn't think that it would garner as much attention as it did, but maaaaaaaan, I loved swapping techniques with these ladies that I'd never met before. My main technique on this trip: change up my flowers. Spending ridiculous amounts of time on my hair was not an option.



I had the good fortune of coming during a time that Xav.ier, my girl's alma mater, was having an alumni mini-cruise. I was excited b/c "home" was represented away from 'home". I have never been on a boat before so the concern was that I may be one of those people that get motion sickness. Well, I am happy to report that I did the Cupi.d Shuff.le/Cha Cha Sli.de in my high heels and did not miss a beat. So it's safe to say that I'm not one of those aforementioned people.

The only thing that was stealing my thunder was some old perv who kept taking pics of me and my girlfriend.





While walking along the Navy Pi.er, we caught a live salsa band. Let me just say that if I did make a vow of purity that salsa would get me through. I am seriously looking up lessons now. I think that I have found my summer activity...details on this later. I'm so excited.

Recap: Ch.icago is alright with me...during the summertime. This was a short trip with long lasting effects. I am recharged and motivated...all thanks to The Chi.