Black Girl Magical Excellence

Have you ever witnessed something that set your spirit on fire and motivated you to get out and do something great? And you wanted to share it with everyone you know?

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The official Hidden Figures Poster from foxmovies.com

That’s what “Hidden Figures” did for me. This movie was two hours and seven minutes of pure black girl magical excellence. In case you’re not familiar with it, the official description says it “is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.”

But it’s so much more than incredible. It’s the story that so many young girls need to know. And I can’t help but wonder why I was never told this story as a little girl. (I mean I know why. You can’t be told what those around you don’t know, but I still wish they did know. So that I could have known.) But now that I do know, I want my daughters to know. And all the little girls and the women that I know. I want them to know too. And not just them, but the boys and the men in our lives as well. I want them to know the greatness that surrounds them, and how important it is that they don’t ever try to dim that greatness.

From the moment I saw the “Hidden Figures” trailer, I knew that I wanted to see it. The more I saw commercials for it, I decided that this was a good story for the girls to know, but I was on the fence about taking them to the movies to see it. A movie about overcoming racial and gender oppression is sure to have some, ahem, “inappropriate” moments, right? In a bit of a spontaneous decision, I decided to preview the movie, and I wasn’t disappointed. I was in awe. I don’t think the TDs are ready to see the movie (maybe when they’re a few years older), but they are definitely ready to hear the story.

The entire time I watched the movie, I kept thinking this could be my girls. Do they know this could be them? I have to tell them. I have to tell them this story. Because they’ll never know what they could be if they don’t know their history. And their history is full of amazing people – like these three black women, who broke down barriers to make history. They did what no one else in the room could do at a time when they were considered the bottom of the bottom of the barrel. The epitome of black girl magical excellence.

Now, my goal moving forward is to share their awesome stories with the TDs and find more hidden gems from our history to share. Because as TD1 told me the other day, “I want to be everything when I grow up.” So, it’s my job to show her what everything looks like.

Reach for the stars and land on the moon, Baby Girl.

Home for the Holidays

*cue up *NSYNC*

As I write this, I am currently enjoying watching the TDs veg out with toys, books, puzzles and Netflix. Despite currently fighting allergy/sinus issues, I am thoroughly enjoying being home with them on their winter break. It’s been mostly relaxing, entertaining and full throttle (because apparently kids go on break, but they don’t break….go figure!)

But I have to be honest, I was a bit of a scrooge leading up to the holidays. I dreaded Christmas and wanted to just skip it. I may have even complained about it to a few dozen people. There was very little Christmas music (which I’m sure pleased T-Daddy). I didn’t change my ringtone this year (though I really need to change it, period). We were kinda late decorating the tree and getting Princess (formerly known as Strawberry better known as Elf on the Shelf) here from the North Pole.

Then it was time for the girls’ holiday program. Almost everyone in the family came, which made the girls really happy. And that made me happy. It worked out that both their uncle and their grandparents were in town that day and we were able to arrange for them to be there. Then their uncle spent many days of his trip here with them. TD1 was so excited to be the one to show him how to make root beer floats and give him his first one (not really, but somehow she came to that conclusion).

As a family, we ate all kinds of “bad” food and laughed and joked. We watched movies and played games. We put together puzzles and played with their new toys. We attended church for the first time on both Christmas Eve and Christmas. And we got to see both sides of the family on Christmas day without tons of driving, family politics, tension and stress. Everything, everyone has just been easy peasy this holiday season.

It’s been as if the universe knew exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. It’s been so nice to relax and enjoy my girls in their elements. To not have to yell at them to hurry up because we’re behind schedule. To just take a break. Soon, we’ll be back to the grind of things, but for now, I’m enjoying being home with them on their break. After all, it’s the first time since TD1 was a baby.

Back on the Meal Plan Wagon

When I quit my job, I kinda expected everything to magically fall in place and the chaos to disappear. (More on that in another post.) But, it didn’t and now that the girls are back in school, it’s become even more obvious that I needed some kind of magical “Chaos Be Gone.” Since that’s not available in my neighborhood Costco, I decided to go back to the drawing board for solutions to help give us smoother mornings and evenings. At the same time, a mom from my mom’s bible study shared a free cookbook with recipes for cheap meals. (The premise is that, on average, every meal in the book will cost about $4 per person.) At that moment a lightbulb went off and I decided to jump back on the meal planning wagon.

Meal planning takes the stress out of trying to figure out dinner each day. It also helps because I’ll know ahead of time if I need to defrost some meat or soak some beans. Once I’m done planning meals for the week, then I start cutting up and packing veggies and fruits for snacks for the week. Every Sunday, I sit down with my laptop and phone and plan a meal for each day.

About a year ago, my friend told me about an app AnyList, which is like the app of all apps. It’s a recipe app and shopping list in one. I do pay the $11.99/year for the premium version which allows me to meal plan, import recipes, access AnyList from any web browser and share my meal plan, recipes and grocery lists with T-Daddy. Once recipes are imported into AnyList, I can then add the ingredients from the recipe straight to my grocery list. I can also pick a recipe and assign it to a meal (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack) for any day. I use the AnyList for Mac app to import recipes from Pinterest and to copy and paste the recipes from the cookbook I found. For me personally, I like using the iOS app when I’m cooking versus trying to find recipe on Pinterest or a website (mainly because the app stops my phone from falling asleep and I don’t have to unlock it with food on my hands). So I’m spending a little time each Sunday, building up my recipe list. If you can’t tell, I’m in love and highly recommend the app.

Here are the meal plans I made for last week and this week. I normally just do dinner because breakfast is pretty standard and lunch is usually leftovers from the night before. I also included links to the sites for the recipes I used, unless they came from the cookbook (noted) or it’s something I don’t use a recipe for. I usually don’t meal plan for the weekends because we usually have things going on which will involve food:
Week of September 18:
September 18: Thai Pineapple Fried Rice and Baked Chicken
September 19: Pineapple Cucumber Lime Salad and Greek Marinated Chicken
September 20: Corn Soup (from cookbook)
September 21: BBQ Chicken Cornbread Skillet
September 22: Nachos
September 23: Pizza and Salad

Week of September 25:
September 25: Sautéed Spinach, Baked Chicken, Rice
September 26: Cold Asian Noodles (from cookbook) and Roasted Chicken
September 27: Dal (from cookbook) with rice or noodles
September 28: Chickpea Stew
September 29: Chimichangas
September 30: Leftovers

Meal planning really has helped relieve a lot of my stress surrounding dinner time and feeding the girls. Since I’ve been prepping their snacks when I meal plan that has also helped my mornings run a lot smoother. It’s one less thing I have to do in the mornings to get us out the door. And it’s amazing to me how this one little thing has already made such a difference.

BONUS: When I wrote about TD1’s birthday, I briefly mentioned that she and I made some treats for her classmates. She wanted to use the cookie cutter to give them fun shapes which meant we had to make a lot…and we had a lot left over. So I did the right thing, and I shared graciously. I hadn’t expected it to be such a hit. So for everyone that asked, here’s the recipe: Jam-Filled Granola Bars. I found this recipe looking for a variation of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars I made from the cookbook.

You and You and You and Us

One day over the summer, I went to my regularly scheduled therapy session and we had a very good session. One of those sessions that reaffirms why I continue to give up an hour, plus travel time, every other week. Then, I was hit with the bombshell: “I’m letting all of my patients know that I’ll be leaving the practice in a few weeks.” I tried my best not to fall apart right there in the office, but inside I felt like Damon was on another one of his mean streaks and had his hand on my heart ready to rip it out just to show me he could if he wanted to. (That’s a Vampire Diaries reference if you don’t get it.)

This is my second therapist at this practice – my first one left shortly after I finished testing and was diagnosed with anxiety. She was leaving to finish her dissertation overseas. I cried. She recommended this therapist because he specialized in some of the areas that were triggering my anxiety. We got along great and I had been seeing him pretty much from diagnosis up until now – for more than a year. Together, he and I have made a lot of headway in managing my anxiety. And now, because of family reasons, he had to move back home and I had to start all over with someone else. I did not take this news well. I wasn’t sure I wanted to start over with a new person. What if we didn’t get along as well? What if having to rehash my history and certain situations/events caused me to regress and relapse?

I used the metaphor of burn wounds versus regular wounds to express how I was feeling to my therapist. I’m nowhere near a medical expert, but on Grey’s Anatomy, sometimes the burn patients have to endure these long treatments of pulling off the burnt skin so that the new skin can grow and they can heal properly. Judging from their screams, tears and cries, it’s soul-wrenching. On the other end, if you keep picking at a wound and don’t allow it to properly heal, infection can set in. So which one was I in this new instance – burn wound or infected scab picker? Only time would tell.

Just as I was starting to come around to the idea of having a new therapist (I decided not to quit therapy after a meet and greet with the new therapist – I liked her vibe), I received a phone call from the TDs’ pediatric clinic. Their doctor was leaving the practice and we would be seeing a new person for their upcoming doctor’s appointment. I tried to tell them I didn’t want to schedule an appointment with someone new without first talking to their doctor, but they weren’t trying to hear me. They told me a letter would be coming in the mail next week that explained everything and if I had more questions, I could call back. (It took more like a month and a half for that letter to arrive. It was a generic letter and didn’t explain much of anything.) I got off the phone and swallowed my tears.

I love the girls’ doctor. T-Daddy and I picked her out when we were pregnant with TD1, which means she has been in our life for five years, as a partner raising our daughters. We haven’t always been able to see her for impromptu visits, but every scheduled appointment has been with her. And when the girls were seeing someone else, she always made it a point to stop in and check on them. She answered every question we had as first- and second-time parents. She never forced a vaccine or procedure on us that we were uncomfortable with. She never judged our parenting methods (co-sleeping anyone??). She judged TD1 and TD2 by their own development curve and not some standard one-size-fits-no-one model. She trusted us and we trusted her. Our girls adore her. They look forward to seeing her every 6-12 months. That type of relationship isn’t built overnight.

img_6764One week – two relationships ended. Just like that. It became so clear to me very quickly how the relationships we form with our doctors can be just as real and impactful as those we form with friends and coworkers. We see them regularly. We entrust them with vulnerable parts of our lives and before we know it, a connection, a bond has been formed. And it hurts when that bond is broken.

My new therapist and I are getting along great. I trusted my old therapist when he recommended her and I think she’s in a position to offer me a unique and valuable perspective as  I continue to manage my anxiety. The verdict is still out on the TDs’ new pediatrician. They have an appointment with her scheduled for this Friday, which we plan to use as our meet and greet since she was too booked to do it beforehand. But, T-Daddy and I are already exploring the option of finding a new clinic/office/hospital. We don’t particularly care for the hospital that their pediatrician worked out of, but we loved her so we stayed. Now that she’s no longer seeing them, we’re free agents, ready and willing to explore our options. It feels like we’re dating again – looking for the perfect doctor to be our partner in parentdom.

Just searching for my not-so-secret treasure