Parenting

Toddler Tidbits: Part 1

Wouldn’t it be magical if vegetables were as sweet as fruit?!? Feeding toddlers is not an easy task. They are still trying to distinguish different taste and get accustomed to textures. Imagine the transition – liquids –>mush—>regular foods. But all tiny tots are not the same. Some are excited about the textures – the crunchy, the crispy, the lumpy. Some gag on the softest foods for months. Regardless of your child, just go with the flow.

But parents, do not be afraid to introduce any and all foods to your children. It is so easy to feed your little ones solely the food you have grown accustomed to eating. For example, I LOVE blueberries, but this did not become fact until about 2 years ago. I asked my mom about it, and she said it was not a fruit she grew up eating so she never thought to offer to me. Blueberries are always on sale; they are small and as convenient as grapes! I am not suggesting waste money on expanding your child’s palate but do try to introduce a new food every few weeks. There maybe a vegetable, grain or fruit that the whole family will be able to enjoy.

What is the solution if your kids are stuck on pop tarts? There is hope! Sneak those healthy, bone-building foods into dishes that are enjoyed by all.

  • Smoothies: using greens allow the mixture to have a green color, but berries always win. Search the net for a fruity recipe and just add a few greens or carrots. (I love www.simplegreensmoothies.com)
  • Pizza: a cauliflower crust is an easy substitution; make your pizzas with only healthy toppings (i.e. shredded carrots, olives, lean meats, pineapples, spinach, broccoli)
  • Soup: use a vegetable broth, double the vegetables to beef stew, add carrots and peas to chicken noodle soup
  • Batter up: using panko or bread crumbs, oven fry zucchini, asparagus, string beans, or even broccoli; include a fun dipping sauce
  • Pasta: get that spiralizer and make your own version of spaghetti or fettuccine alfredo using spaghetti squash or zucchini as an alternative
  • Salad: load up on the veggies and fruits such as apples, grapes, and mandarin oranges and allow your kitchen helper to add his dressing

The best advice I can offer is: be your child’s best example. If your shadow sees you making healthy choices, then they will follow. We all want to grow up before time so if their plate mirrors yours, then their habits will also. Do not get frustrated. Pay attention to what foods they consume without being told and keep it handy. Do not stress; they will eat when they are hungry. If your child is “always hungry” then feed in moderation; however, make sure she is full at meal times.

With various food allergies and fears of creating obese children, it can be difficult to navigate the “best” way to feed your offspring.Do what is best for your and your baby but make sure real food is always on hand. (www.100daysofrealfood.com)

Give love. Get love.

 

 

 

Self Love

Ode to Blueberry Pancakes

I could probably eat blueberry pancakes every single day. I usually reserve them as a Saturday morning breakfast/brunch treat or any day of the week that I have time treat. Yesterday was rough. I was dejected and spiralled into a bout of depression. My life feels like everything is up in the air and definitely not how I would have planned it. This morning I woke up purposed to not stay down. I went to the kitchen for just a cup of coffee and decided that I had time for my blueberry pancakes! I have been full all day!!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I have a friend who is a mental health professional. I reached out to him a few months ago when I felt that I was at the end of my rope. He recommended a few psychologists. Once I finally found the nerve to call, the one I selected was no longer in practice. I moved to the next name on the list and still have not called. I have communicated with her and she is very understanding and realizes it is a big step to ask for this type of help. The one thing that she said that helps me inch towards finally talking to her was, “Just look at it as helping you  to put skills in a toolbox to help deal with whatever is making you consider therapy in the 1st place…definitely no pressure.” Yet I still have not called. Seeking therapy does carry an unfair stigma. Definitely does not mean that I am crazy, just that help is needed. In the Black community, speaking with a psychologist or a psychiatrist is not an acceptable form of help. In the Christian community, this type of help seems to oppose the power of prayer. I think my hesitation lies in the thought that I can work it out. Things will get better. After yesterday or even during my “crisis” I should I have ran to this stranger. Yet I chose to sleep and wake up this morning to eat blueberry pancakes.

I definitely cannot eat my way to peace. I am already struggling with my weight! Talking is cheap, healthy, and safe. Prayer still works but I do need time to discuss me.

Thanks for reading. I hope to update this post with revelations after my talk with the therapist.

Give Love. Get Love.

Parenting

Keep the Faith…Hold On…Be Strong


You’ve prayed. You’ve cried. You’ve done all you can do. For a year you’ve taken it all to God first and trusted Him to make a way. You’ve prayed EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. You’ve attended church every week sometimes multiple times a week. You serve in ministry. You give your tithes faithfully without question. You stopped pre-marital sex. You stopped clubbing and drinking.

Does this sound like you?

Are you STILL not seeing the fruits of your prayers, sacrifice and tears? You’re still living check to check. Your spouse and/or kids are still driving you crazy? You’re still being overlooked for that promotion you know you deserve at your job?

faith

WHAT DO YOU DO?

You keep praying. You keep fighting for YOU! You keep pushing until you see every single prayer manifested in your life. There’s a saying that goes a little something like, “anything worth having is worth fighting for.”…

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Self Love

May is Marvelous

It is May!!! 5 months in 2017! That is just a crazy realization. Five is the number of grace. I will gladly walk in that all month long! Today I woke full of hope. I feel the freshness of this day. It is tangible. It is a great day to get stimulated and inspired!!

This weekend I was able to receive so much motivation! I watched this video on YouTube by one of my favorite comedians right now, Kevonstage, entitled, “Doboy’s testimony is my testimony.” 

This video was not a laughing matter at all but a push to just believe in yourself and the talent God gave you and keep working. Despite setbacks and rejection, keep striving. It made my heart so full. I think Kevonstage is so humble so to take the time to share an experience that was not about him just made me so incredibly full. Then I went to church! Saturday was women’s prayer. I almost missed it! Even though I was late, I was on time for what I needed to hear – God is concerned about me! We gathered to pray for loved ones and those souls who would give their hearts to Christ. At the end, we were instructed to them pray for ourselves and “ask lavishly” of God. As much as I have prayed and cried and written in my journal and whined to my friends over the past several months, during that moment in prayer in a sanctuary full of hopeful women, I felt my release. Then yesterday at church I was able to witness so many get baptized including my godson! I needed all of that the final weekend in April to set me up for the magnificence of May.

May means:

  • Lupus Awareness month. Put your purple in support! This disease does not play fair but the wolf won’t win! I’m a survivor.
  • It is Teacher Appreciation week! Being an educator is tiring and selfless but I love being in the classroom. Teachers need all the support and encouragement possible! Thank your child’s teacher.
  • Graduation season! I love graduations!!!!! That euphoric feeling of completion, realizing that you can finish something, feeling empowered to begin again and conquer new territory. . . .
  • Mother’s day! Mom’s are the best and just never get enough credit.

Now after writing that list, I understand why these events take place in May – it’s because each requires its own level or measure of grace (simple elegance, courteous goodwill, the free and unmerited favor of God).

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Ephesians 4:7Amplified Bible (AMP)
Yet grace [God’s undeserved favor] was given to each one of us [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and abundant] gift.

 

Self Love

The Little Things and the Joy they bring

Self care is simply the opportunity to be selfish. For me that is not always an easy task. I am selfish with some of my things that others but I do not truly take the time to take care of myself as I should. Having lupus has reminded me of the importance of listening to my body, taking care of my heart and allowing my mind to rest. Having my body to shut down, one more than one occasion, has been a hard lesson to learn but as the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It is impossible to keep loving others without 1st loving yourself.

For me, I do occupy my time doing simple things:

  • eating a nice helping of my favorite ice cream or dessert (I have a big sweet tooth)
  • watching my favorite movies (I have a pretty extensive collection)
  • perusing the aisle of a bookstore (SWOONS!)
  • taking a nap or just lying in my bed listening to music (hopefully not scrolling through my phone, unless it’s Pinterest or reading a blog)
  • depending on how I feel, exercise (I hope to start yoga soon)
  • partaking in a craft (I hope to learn how to knit one day)
  • watching cartoons with my niece while we play a game
  • depending on how stressed I am, I clean
  • enjoying a simple cup of tea (just add lemon)
  • being silly with my sister or a friend (laughter is the BEST medicine)

All of the above, are free or of low cost to me. One day I will be able to just jump on a plane and spend a day walking on the beach or engage in a shopping spree. Until then, I consciously take time to do things I love. It is so easy to get caught up in work, school, family obligations, church volunteer work, or just life. Those stressors can and will sneak up and that overwhelming feeling can swallow you whole but it can be defeated. Loving yourself is a way of showing God how much you love Him. He created you in His image and gave of Himself because of the magnitude of His love. Therefore, when you love yourself, you become more equipped to love others. This all equates to the love of God because God is Love.

Breathe deeply. Take a break. Find peace.

Give Love. Get Love.

Romans 13:8-10 The Message (MSG)
8-10 Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.

Self Love

Why I Write

I was in the 2nd grade when I met the reality of my life as a writer. My memory is a little cloudy concerning the particulars of this day, so please forgive my attempt to recall. I believe we were presented with the opportunity to write a story. I remember illustrating a picture and writing maybe, a one-page story. Out teacher either gave us the option to enter this state-wide competition or I chose to, however, myself and one classmate, who I was also very good friends with at the time, were allowed to go to the state capital, Montgomery, with other writers from our school for a young author’s competition.

I remember sitting nervously on the bus because my mother was not able to chaperone; yet so excited because of the magnitude of such an opportunity. My friend and her mom were in the seats behind me and I turned around to her to discuss our stories and what we might experience that day. I had never visited the state capitol so this was a big deal in my 8-year-old world. I felt so important! Before the bus departed, I pulled out a small military/army green notebook my mom gave me. The word “journal” was written diagonally across the cover in cursive, gold letters. She instructed me to write down all I could from that day. She said I need to start writing down my experiences so I can recall them when I got older. She stood on the sidewalk waving goodbye as the bus pulled off. Other details I remember from that trip were seeing the capitol building, going to a the site of the competition and seeing so many other young writers. I think we got to listen to an author speak and received a signed copy of a his/her Caldecott book. I remember writing a few sentences on the 1st page of my journal because I really did not know what I needed to capture. I have no idea where that book could be and I think that journal is long gone; however, I never stopped writing.

It was not about the competition; although, this post reminds me of the dream I gained that day of writing my own Caldecott-winning book. My writing has always been about me. My mom and that journal is what I draw from today because it sparked something in me that I have not be able to shake in almost 30 years. I have kept a journal off and on since then. I have a few distinct memories of writing while in undergrad. My sophomore year of college: my roommate journalled almost every day. We shared the inconsistency of our writing habits. Yet, seeing her write each night inspired me to fill the pages of my journal. My senior year: I had excitedly had to complete a 20-page research paper. I lost sleep and almost lost my paper but I loved the research and the stress of writing the most I had ever written.

I did not gain confidence I needed until last year when I earned my 2nd bachelor’s degree in English. I actually graduated Cum Laude – unbelievable! One of my professors praised my writing on a paper that I felt like I just could not bring together. I think I may have cried but I know I took a picture of that comment and sent it to my mentor. At that point, I was starting to break and question this decision but it was then I felt validated. Completing this degree pushed me aggressively pursue a childhood dream, even though I went from desiring to be a model, teacher, doctor and lawyer. I remember writing each of these professions in a journal around 4th or 5th grade. I thought I could be all 4 at some point in my life. But writing is something that I have never been able to stop doing. My mom told me that I read and write more than anything so it did not surprise her (I need to beef up on my reading, recommendations are welcome) that I made this choice. That was a surreal yet substantial moment because I did not think my mom knew or paid attention to how much I wrote but I guess a mother truly does always know!

Since becoming an adult, I write to pray; to release frustrations; to express joys; to plan for the future; to share my love; to seek interpretation for my dreams; or to seal in words heard while in church. I read this quote today by George Orwell, “[You write out of the] desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, etc., etc., etc., It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive and a strong one.” I can admit that I want to be remembered for the words I pen and not so much for the ones I speak. My friends know that when I care enough to send the very best, it will always be in a card, email or letter. One of my most beloved and oldest friends became spoiled by my words. Imagine that! From our 24th or 25th birthday until our 34th birthday, I think, I would pen a letter to her. My birthday in July and hers in November so whatever pearls of wisdom I gained in those 4 months, I would share with her. What was cathartic for me, motivated her.

Anything that I cannot verbally or physically express comes through the words I write. Words have power and create permanence. I write because I can.

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Psalm 45:1 NIV  Beautiful words stir my heart.
    I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
    for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet. 

Self Love

1000 words

Last year, my sister and I took pictures in our Easter outfits after church and this year was no different. I boldly posted last year’s picture on Instagram. As soon as I saw it in my feed, I scrutinized it from top to bottom. I felt confident in my rose lace dress, nude pumps, and tightly curled coif. But with every notification of a “like,” I found a reason as to why I should take the pic down. I had been working out and thought my arms would have been more toned and felt shapely but that picture did not display the smaller waist I felt I had earned. I decided to try a new hairstyle. I felt really good about my curls but that picture showed that I should have picked it out or saved that style for another day.

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This year, I purposed not to buy a new dress or get my hair done. I was not going to fall into the stereotypical fashion show that takes place in churches all over the country. BUT I bought some really cute pants from Target that I would have bought anyway (right?)… Another “difference” from last year is that I fasted for Lent and I gave up sweets, coffee, and tea. I knew that after 40 days, I would lose significant weight. But a picture is worth 1000 words. One word I had, in comparison to last year, was “Better.” But of course, being super critical is something I may have perfected.

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I reviewed the pictures of my photoshoot but what I saw was that I “better” start exercising! I see 1000 words but nothing really positive. Crazy thing is I felt good about my entire outfit all day long, until I saw this picture. It really is not fair for me to be hyper-critical but I have chosen to use it as motivation to get the body I am most comfortable in. It did not help that when I was out looking for my Easter ‘fit, I tried on clothes and was so disappointed when I could not participate in the fabulous sale that was taking place at The Gap. So many cute, affordable clothes that I could not purchase. I truly dislike trying on clothes so seeing myself, in a full-length mirror, in my clothes, then down to my underwear, and then in clothes that did not fit they way I had hoped really bummed me out.

I am taking all of those feelings to the gym, at least that is goal. I am purposing to change my narrative. I will find 1000 words that will build and not break. I have done this before. I have consistently worked out, changed my eating habits, fit into my “goal clothes” and despite not reaching my goal weight, I was beginning to truly love the weight I was carrying. I will get there. This is not a lofty goal and I have successfully done this before. I will find my groove, my mojo and work it out!

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

I Love God

Good Friday

It is Holy Week 2017. This is a week of reverence and remembrance in the Christian community of faith. This week symbolizes a foundational truth of our faith – the life, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Today, Good Friday, is the day Jesus fulfilled prophecy. His people, the Jews strongly urged the high priest to crucify, the King. They chose to spare the life of a radical revolutionary who committed murder during protests for the life of a radical revolutionary who performed miracles while enduring protests.

This year, I wondered why this Friday was labeled as “Good.” The easy answer is that it was good that He was crucified for a sinner, such as I. His death for my life. But reading the description of the events of that day do not depict anything good. He was taken to court with no lawyer, subpoena, or jury of His peers. His accusers had no just cause for their rage other than a fulfillment of scripture. He was classified as the King of the Jews. After his sentencing of capital punishment, He was bound, hand and foot. Then he was beaten. The whip as described by Robert Gidley (2000):

The whip had iron balls tied a few inches from the end of each leather thong on the whip. Sometimes, sharp sheep bones would be tied near the ends. The iron balls would cause deep bruising, while the leather thongs cut deep into the skin. The sheep bones would hasten the process of cutting into the skin. After a few lashes the skin would be cut through, and the muscle would begin to be cut. Blood loss was considerable, and the pain would probably put the victim in a state of shock. (para. 7)

Then the soldiers, to mock Him,  placed a purple (color of royalty, dignity) robe upon his shoulders, placed a sceptre (a reed) in His hand, and a crown of thorns upon his head. They repeatedly cried, “Hail, the King of the Jews.” Once they had their fun, He was stripped of His robe and then He was then forced to carry His cross which weighed about 100 lbs. But after being beaten so, he was too weak to carry Himself much less the cross to Golgotha (place of a Skull) where the crucifixion would take place so the soldiers found a man to carry the cross for Him.

Once they arrived, the cross was laid down and His body was placed and then nailed. They drove spikes into his wrists, not His hands,  so they could carry the weight of His body. One leg was placed atop the other and the spikes were driven into his feet. A sign reading, “This is Jesus The King of the Jews” was nailed a the top of the cross, written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Then the cross was raised and placed on the hill, Calvary. His body gave into gravity. He hung there for 6 hours: placed on the cross around 9 am; at noon, darkness set upon the earth; and it was 3 pm when He cried to God and His humanity was released. He felt forsaken. But he then released His last breath and died.

How is it that something so horrific and disturbing could be declared good? But that is how God works. He takes what is deemed evil and declares it good. We reflect on this time and are reminded of the pain endured from head to toe: a crown of thorns forced into His head until blood ran down, stripes placed on His back until His flesh was exposed, spikes several inches long hammered into His bones. The thought of that level of sacrifice pierces my emotions. I am humbled by the notion that despite the pain and the shame, He thought of me. He had my birth, my joys, my bruises, my disappointments, my triumphs, my hurt, my aches, my achievements, my sins, and my grace on His mind. This is the God I have chosen to serve and that I respectfully honor today and all weekend long.

It is a good Friday, God’s Friday and I am grateful.

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Gidley, R. (2000). The facts of the crucifixion. The Cross Reading. Retrieved from http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/the-facts-of-crucifixion.html