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Looking Fly on a Dime–Thrifty Threads 365 Challenge (ahem…amateur version!!)

October 10, 2011

Good afternoon, my name is Dee and I AM A SHOPAHOLIC!!

I know I have a problem that needs curing (dont judge me)!!!  However, I refuse to give up my “habit” cold turkey; but I am willing to attempt to turn it into a “sport”!  With that in mind, I have pledged to participate in my sister-in-blogdom’s cool shopping challenge called the  “THRIFTY THREADS 365 CHALLENGE“.

The author of the blog “Looking Fly on a Dime”, Patrice J. Williams, has started part II of this challenge (she successfully completed part I last year and documented it on her website!) and I found it fascinating, creative, and most of all a cheap way to feed my habit…ahem…I mean new sport!

The rules are simple: pledge to shop only thrift stores for your clothing needs (you can only receive new clothing as a gift and you can buy new undies!) FOR 365 DAYS (yep…that is a year)!!!

Now I LOVE the thrift shopping game, but I also LOVE the shopping new game, so here is what I have pledged to do: I will participate in the challenge for 6 months beginning November 1st and I too will document my finds on this site (& also share with Patrice–cuz ya gotta give the guru her props!)

Now, a small caveat; while I enjoy shopping, I am somewhat fashion challenged.  So I am using this challenge to discipline myself to not spend so much on my…uh…sport AND to force myself to be more creative and outgoing in my style of dress.  So while you are checking out my finds, feel free to give some suggestions on how to wear some of the items, give the items your thumbs up or down, and just any comments that you think might help an old hen trying to learn a new trick!

Mall Shopping

VS

Thrift Shopping

In these harsh economic times, are you willing to scale down your shopping for the greater good?   Holla below!

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Natural Hair Expo

October 8, 2011

Nappiology, Inc. cordially invites you to attend

They are celebrating their 4th year as a natural hair social networking group. Expo will include:

  • A Guest Speaker
  • Several Vendors (catering to those embracing their napptural beauty and style)

General admission: $10 per person

For more information on:        www.nappiology.net

I will be shooting pics & videos of all the fam in attendance at this event to post to my blog.. will you be there?

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The Non-Traditional Parent (A Journey in Step-Parenting)

October 7, 2011

I have been told that “being a parent is more than just a notion”. That statement has been so true in parenting my biological child (theGirl). Since becoming engaged to a man who is the father of 3 (theBabyBoy, theMiddleChild, and theTeenager); I have amended that statement in the following manner:

“Being a parent is more than just a notion; being a step-parent is all about devotion”

So, I know you are scratching your head (what the heck does that mean???). Well here it is:

Parenting your biological child offers you a lot of room for experimentation and failure. Experimentation; because your child is a blank slate onto which you inscribe the morals, values, and other necessary life information (i.e. no instruction manual included!). Failures; because the only other person you may have to answer to is the father. When parenting a step-child experimentation and failure room is extremely limited. This child comes to you already instilled with these characteristics and philosophies (some of which you may or may not agree with!) AND you are accountable for your actions to both their father and their mother (the instruction manual comes with this child!).

So how do you parent a child, who comes into your life bringing a bag full of “we don’t do it this way at my mama’s house” and a side of “you ain’t my mama”? Through a firm devotion to patience (for the child and the mother) and consistency (with the child). We would all wish that step-parenting was as easy as Jada, Will and Sheree (Wife, Husband and Ex/Mother) make it look but the reality of the matter is, that MOST of us deal with the exact opposite situation (Wife, Husband and Ex/Baby Mama) And there is a difference between a “Mother” and “Baby Mama” (that is a whole other article!!!)

Over the past 2.5 years that I have been in the lives of my SO’s sons, my step parenting went something like this:

OK (initial meeting) to…

GOOD (honeymoon period; everybody getting to know each other) to…

BAD (the kids began testing their boundaries with me and me not wanting to discipline because I didn’t want to seem like a b#tch—Ex interjects personal issues into the parenting equation) to…

HORRIBLE (me and the kids are now consistently battling with the SO in the middle to choose sides—constant tension in the household) to…

WORST (me and SO debating whether this relationship will work because of the strained relationship with the boys—personal issues have now come to a head with myself, the SO and the Ex) to…

BETTER (me realizing that I need to stop trying to change/erase what they have already learned and had instilled in them; and instead start ADDING to that knowledge base) to…

CONTINUALLY IMPROVING (the tension between myself and the boys is pretty much non-existent and I make it my business to spend more time learning about THEM; I have completely disengaged myself from the Ex as I realize that any engagement with her will always be about personal issues and not the kids and I am about the KIDS)

I had to realize that:

  • I cannot expect my step-children to instantly adapt to me, my morals and values, and my expectations because they have not been with me since birth.
  • I should not judge or try to change the way they were raised—just appreciate that it is different from my parenting.
  • I cannot FORCE myself and my way of life on them (although I think my way is 99.99% the right way!!!). Although they are little and still developing, they have definite opinions about certain things and you must respect that if you want them to respect you and your opinions.

Step-parenting has been and continues to be a journey for me and there is no one way to navigate through it. However, one thing is for sure, if you are devoted to building a positive relationship with those kids; being consistent in your actions and words and being patient in waiting for results are the keys to smoothing out some of those rough patches of the journey!

Are you a step-parent…do you have any tips to share with us “newbies”? Share them in the comments section below!

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Going Natural in Midlife—Now That’s a Crisis!

September 23, 2011

I chose to go natural in July of 2008 in preparation for my move to Dallas, Texas.  At the time I was sporting a cute short haircut with relaxed hair.   At the time, in Cleveland, Ohio; natural hair WAS NOT the move and anyone with natural hair was an oddity!  Additionally, I was becoming disenchanted with the whole “getting your hair done” routine (for a multitude of reasons!) and I decided that when I moved to Texas I was just going to cut my hair off and wear it “short & curly”.  I was “over” the following circumstances that come with getting your hair done:

Summer 2008

    paying the stylist ($75 w/o the tip!!) to allow me to sit in the shop from 8a-5p; while I watch/wait for 7 other people get their hair done

  • paying the stylist to quadruple book the first appointment slot with me and 3 other ladies and for the stylist to arrive 2 hours late
  • having to add-on an extra $20 to my bill for the babysitter I must have in order for me to sit in the shop ALL DAY
  • having 2 inches of hair, yet it takes the stylist 4-5 hours to wash, condition, wrap, and curl my hair

the stylist looking for a tip after all that!

I had decided that I would not search for a new stylist in Texas because I thought it would be a waste of money to get my hair done in the Texas heat; I did not feel like trying to find a reputable, reasonable and professional stylist, and I liked my “short & curly” look. So right before I moved, I went to the Barber Shop and requested that he shave me down to brush waves (CHILL—I was nearly bald-headed already with my short relaxed haircut!) and thus started my natural hair journey (however, at the time I was clueless about the “natural hair community”!!!)

Fall 2008

After moving to Texas, I discovered the natural hair community on YouTube with my initial encounter being meganjerae’s natural hair journey.  Then I saw that soooo many women in the DFW area were natural.  I am talkin’ big-afro-bantu-knotted-twisted-out-‘til-you-shout NATURAL!  That made me buy the farm on continuing on my hair natural hair journey and started my goal of growing long natural hair.

December 2008

All of my female relatives have voiced their desire to “go natural in their older years”, but none of them have made the leap.  When they first saw me with my teeny weeny afro (TWA) their reaction was less than endearing, but as my hair has progressed, they are warming up to beauty of hair in its natural state.  Even my mother, who swears by a relaxer and flat-iron, likes my 2-strand twist (go figure???)

Summer 2009

So I share this story to say that my reasons for going natural where strictly out of laziness, frustration and quite frankly by accident.  I am not a vegan or “save the world” type chick, nor do I confine myself strictly to the usage of “natural” products.  However, I am beginning to understand the importance of using “natural” products for purposes of retaining hair length.  Would I advise women to go natural in Midlife?  ABSOLUTELY!  During this time of your life is when most women will see a decrease or halt in monthly hair growth or may even begin to lose hair.  I believe African-American hair is the healthiest in its natural state.  Hair growth is faster and more consistent; if you take proper care of your hair you will have little to no damage (i.e. no split ends or ends clipping required!); and believe or not; there are a lot of styling options. 

Summer 2011

Taking care of natural hair is time-consuming, but no more time-consuming than the amount of time you spend doing “charity work” (i.e. going to pick up your stylist’s lunch and kids!!!) at the hair salon!!!  At the end of the day hair styling is a personal choice and do what makes YOU happy because I am definitely doing what makes me happy…MY NATURAL HAIR!!!!

Are you a natural Middy?  Share your story and comments here….

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Swing Out Dancing, Hand Dancing & Other Mysteries of Ole’ Skool

September 17, 2011

Every since I was little (in single digits!!!); I have always been fascinated by couples who could “tear it up” on the dance floor hand dancing.  I also promised myself since witnessing their smoothness that I would learn how to dance like that.  As I got into my teen and young adult years, I become less enchanted, but at the periodic weddings and family events I would attend; that spark would always be relit when I would see a couple hand dancing all around the floor.  So I have officially added “learning how to hand dance” to my bucket list!

So you ask—what is hand dancing?  Well is a group of dance that developed concurrently with the swing style of jazz music in the 1920s, ’30s ’40s and ’50s, although the earliest of these dance forms predate swing jazz music. The majority of swing dances began in African American communities as vernacular African American dances.  Today there are swing dance scenes in every part of the United States, though each city prefers various dances in different degrees. Each local swing dance community has a distinct local culture and defines “swing dance” and the “appropriate” music to accompany it in different ways.

  • Washington Hand Dancing originated in the Washington, DC, Area in the mid-1950s D.C.’s own adaption of the Lindy Hop once the music changed and a new generation of dancers started innovating to Soul Music and R&B. From it’s very beginning, DC Hand-dance was referred to and called “DC Hand-Dance/Hand-Dancing”, “DC Swing”, “DC Style” (swing) and “fast dance” (meaning DC Hand-Dance). This is the first time a version of “swing” dance was termed “hand-dance/hand-dancing”. DC Hand-Dance is characterized by very smooth footwork and movements, and close-in and intricate hand-turns, danced to a 6-beat, 6- to 8-count dance rhythm. The more modern footwork consists of smooth and continuous floor contact, sliding and gliding-type steps versus hopping and jumping-type steps of the older style which was stylistically still held elements of its Jitterbug/Lindy Hop roots, and there are no aerials.

(information courtesy of Wikipedia)

For those who still don’t know what I am talking about, check out this YouTube video for a sample:

Is that not the coolest thing EVER…a lost form of dance that is quickly falling to the wayside for our children.  I am currently looking to start my dance classes in March of 2012 (after taking the Bar Exam!!!) and I will update you periodically on my progress. I think it will be fun …just one more thing in the “bringing sexy back” arsenal!

So what is on your bucket list?   List them below (no matter how crazy—we won’t judge YOU!!)

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Taking Care of a Parent with Alzheimer’s

September 16, 2011

Your parents cared for you until adulthood and God willing when your parents become elderly, you will have to return the favor.  Many times elderly parents can maintain their independent living status, however, the leading cause of the elderly having to give up their independence is due to Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association this disease is one of the most serious forms of dementia and accounts for 50%-80% of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to loss of memory, thinking and other brain functions. Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging, but results from a complex pattern of abnormal changes. It usually develops slowly and gradually gets worse as more brain cells wither and die. Ultimately, Alzheimer’s is fatal, and currently, there is no cure.

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.  People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. (Alzheimer’s Association)

Scientists have identified factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s; the most important risk factors being —age, family history and heredity.  Additionally, because Latinos and African-Americans in the United States have higher rates of vascular disease, they also may be at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s. According to a growing body of evidence, risk factors for vascular disease — including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — may also be risk factors for Alzheimer’s and stroke-related dementia. (Alzheimer’s Association)

No one wants to witness this type of deterioration in their parent, but it is increasingly becoming a reality for us.  The first step in handling this type of family crisis is understanding what you are dealing with and formulating a plan of care for your loved one.  Be passionate, respectful and understanding, because going from 100% independence to 100% dependence is a frightening and demoralizing event.  And if that doesn’t motivate you to understand, think about how you want to be cared for in your last days, and apply that same desire for dignity and respect to the needs and wants of your loved one.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, you are not alone. The Alzheimer’s Association is the trusted resource for reliable information, education, referral and support to millions of people affected by the disease.

Call our 24/7 Helpline: 800.272.3900
Locate a chapter in your community

Are you the caregiver of an elderly parent/  share your story, advice and knowledge in the comments section…share any website links you may have on information regarding this topic…KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

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Should I Get Married/Remarried?

September 15, 2011

By the time most women have hit midlife they have experienced one or more of the following relationship status’: single/never married, married, single/divorced, single/widowed, or any form of “single-dom”/dating.  I land in the single/never married/dating.  I am currently engaged to be married.  I am a single parent of 7-year-old girl and he is the divorced father of 11, 13 and 15 boys.  This is my second time being engaged.  I ended the last engagement after seven years of dating of which 3 were spent engaged.  My Significant Other (SO) dated his ex-wife for 7 years and their marriage lasted for 5 years.  As I contemplate marriage for the first time, I am of the mindset that my marriage will not become a divorce statistic (but isn’t that what we would all like to believe—we are SPECIAL!)  However, the reality of it is that more times than not; our marriages are not SPECIAL and WILL become a divorce statistic.  So when making this decision ponder the following:

  • Are you rushing into marriage/remarriage to avoid solitude?
  • Have you discussed your future marriage with your children and really taken their feelings into consideration (in order to alleviate any contempt or resentment from the children or your SO)
  • Are you and your SO on the same page when it comes to dealing with ex’s so as not to create tension or stress in your marriage (more specifically when it comes to child support and visitation)?
  • Have both of you taken time to analyze why your last relationships failed and identified what you need to do in this marriage to make it a success?
  • Are you both committed to being a different/better version of yourself in this marriage for the sake of the marriage?
  • Are you both committed to actively working out marital differences in order to preserve the peace and happiness of the marriage?

There are so many other questions that you should ask yourself, but if you are unsure of these basic ideas in respect to your relationship, maybe you are not ready to make the leap until you are sure you know what you are getting into!  We are in MIDLIFE…this may be your only & last opportunity to marry, so make sure you make a well-informed life decision.  The SO and I have opted to participate in pre-marital counseling with a church minister and it has been the most enlightening and enriching experience for both of us.  It has really forced us to LISTEN to the other person and commit to working on weak areas in our relationship.  At the end of the day, when you all are sitting in your rocking chairs on the porch watching the sunset, you want to do this with someone you not only love but truly LIKE!

SO & Dee on a date night!

If you have been married for 10+ years, what advice would you give us newbies/re-do-bies on marriage and how to make it work….please post your thoughts!