Monday, June 25, 2012

New Backyard and Patio

Hello everyone!  So, today the hubby and I took our dogs to ND to visit grandma for the next two weeks (we are leaving for a church conference later this week) and we finally got to lay our grass seed so I can officially say that the backyard is done.  Check out the before pictures below.  Basically we had to redo the backyard to prevent water from destroying our foundation.  The man in yellow is my hubby and our big dog Luigi hanging out in the backyard.

Now check out the new backyard!  We have already grilled and I added a raised vegetable garden with tomatoes, banana peppers, lettuce, and onions.  We also redid the front steps.  Don't mind my hose in the shots and wood chips everywhere.  Overall we are very pleased with the results.  We hired professionals to do the concrete, but everything else we did on our own.  Let me tell you that moving dirt and 5 cubic yards of mulch is extremely exhausting, but well worth the effort.  Don't mind the bare yard, we're growing our lawn from seed to keep the project on budget.  Until next time...

Rain garden of shrubs and native grasses.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rained on Fro

Hello everyone!  I have been super busy this week with my first week of summer school and my new patio being poured.  The patio looks great, but the hubby and I had a lot of landscaping to do with new gardens and grass needing to be laid.  Well, we had rented a skid steer this Wednesday to move large loads of dirt and since we only had it for four hours we had to work through the rain.  So, I got rained on, but I think my hair still looked good considering I was covered in dirt and feeling like a drowned rat.  When I have all the gardens in I will post pictures of my new back yard.  Until next time...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Collage of the evolution of my fro

Hello everyone!  Before I washed and twisted my hair yesterday for my twist out I decided to pick out my hair to see how big I could get my fro.  I then looked at my big chop picture and I thought "hey, let's put a collage together".  So, I put together this collage and you can really see my growth over my journey so far.
Big Chop, 3, 6, and 10 month fro.
Until next time...

Twist Out Revisit

Hello everyone!  Last night I co-washed my hair because I wanted to do another twist out.  I co-washed with Hello Hydration, my leave in was my Mop Top daily conditioner, I then added some jojoba oil and for hold I used a little Eco Styler Olive Oil on each twist.  I twisted my hair into 17 twists.  I did a side part this time instead of a center part.  I think the side part covers my thinned out spot better then a center part.  After twisting my hair I went to bed with my silk scarf and in the morning I was very disappointed that my hair wasn't dry.  So, here I was at 7am using my hair drier on cool, with a diffuser sitting on my son's bathroom stool thinking "I would rather still be in bed".  After 20 minutes of trying to dry my twists,  I decided that I was done and that if I didn't like the twist out I would simple wash it out and do a wash n go this morning.   I took my twists out and some of them were still damp, oh well.  I let them flop around while I got my son up and breakfast ready.  I didn't start pulling the twists apart until after I dropped my son off at daycare and came home to monitor the workmen in the yard (I'm getting a new patio).

 I'm really surprised at how much I like this twist out!  I really like the curls in the front and had to stop myself from separating my twists more.  I used my hand to fluff the roots to give me more volume without separating my curls more.  The next time I do this (and I will for sure) I think I will have more/smaller twists in the front.  I'm just hoping that the rain, humidity and sleeping will allow me to wear this until wash day.  Until next time...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eco Styler Olive Oil Revisit

Hello everyone!  This past weekend it was very hot and humid and I wanted to keep my curls from frizzing out, so I tried Eco Styler Olive Oil again.  This time I used my Mop Top daily conditioner as my leave in and I found that this time around I had no white gunk in my hair.  Eco Styler and Mop Top work very well together.  I think that I will use the Eco Styler when the humidity is high and I want a firm hold.

The picture on the right is my hair wet and the pictures below my hair is dry.  You can see that I have some shrinkage but the Eco Styler is great for hold and definition.  I know that using Eco Styler a lot can dry out my hair, so I will hold off and use it occasionally. I'm also styling my hair with a part to help hide my thinned out spot.  Having my mother visit this past weekend, she pointed out my spot everyday and suggested that I part my hair and basically comb over some hair to hide that spot.  As much as I hate it, she's right so I just might be parting my hair for now on.  Until next time...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

10 month anniversary of big chop

Hello everyone!  Yesterday  was my 10 month anniversary of my big chop.  I measured my hair and I retained another 1/2 inch of growth this month.  I'm starting to figure out my hair cycle and noticing that every couple of months I get regular growth, sometimes more and then some months with very little growth.  With me starting the Viviscal I'm hoping that my hair doesn't slow down in the growth department and my thinned out spot fills in.  Last month my hair was just barely touching my mole above my lip and now it is curling around my lip and touch the seam of my lips.  So, now in front my hair measures 7 inches.
 I did a wash n go this morning and used the Eco Styler Olive Oil as my gel.  The temps and humidity are high today, so I thought what the heck lets do something firmer.  Since reading Curly Girl I have been finger combing my hair more and using my wide tooth comb less.  I like the results, but I won't be giving up my Hello Hydration or my Denman brush any time soon.  So, I take what works for me and I do it.

Wash n Go with Eco Styler Olive Oil.
This entire week I did wash n go's almost everyday.  It's because I've been thinking about doing a twist out, so I would co-wash my hair then lose energy to to twist my hair for a twist out.  Since school is out I have my son full time and running around after a toddler is exhausting.  The hubby is volunteering at a bible camp with my dad and my mom is with me and my son.  We have gone to the zoo, swimming, and shopping and I'm just to tired to twist my hair for a twist out after I'm done co-washing it.  I also feel like I have to wash my hair more when I'm outside a lot.  I've been gardening and walking more and the wind has been blowing dust around so I touch my hair and feel the grit and think "yuck, I'm co-washing".  Yesterday, we were rained on at the zoo.  When you can feel the gel and conditioner being washed out of your hair you got to replace that so your not a frizz ball.  Until next time...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Why I'm always about blessings Part 3 and Final

                                                                                                Part 3
Grandma holding him in the burn unit.
My parents dropped everything and they came down that night.  Our friends put us on the prayer list and one of our Pastor's came down that evening and prayed with us.  Our church put us on the meal list and ladies we didn't even know started to make meals for my family.  My daycare lady came down to see him and she brought her kids.  In fact, she came twice while we were in the hospital.  My husband's best friend and his family came to visit and our old friends who were at the coffee shop came by.  We told them that the cold water prevented the burns from becoming 3rd degree and that his burns were reduced by 20 percent.  Our RN friend cried, but in joy.  She was the perfect person to be with us at the time of the accident.  God had her with us for this reason.  Later I wrote her a letter thanking her for her help and for being a good friend to us.

My daycare lady with her children.
I got into a routine with my son while in the hospital.  Morphine and other pain medications every 2-4 hours.  Nurse rotations and shift changes.  Various doctors rounds from OT and PT specialist to Pediatric rounds.  Nursing sessions.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner brought to me.  I wasn't allowed to use the bathroom in his room to prevent the spread of bacteria.  You see, a burn is basically an open wound and since your skin is gone, anything can get into your body and cause an infection.  Every time I had to use the bathroom I had to walk down several hallways to the closest public bathroom.  It would take me about 10-15 minutes to just use the bathroom.  If I wanted to take a shower I had to go to the pediatrics unit and see if a family room was available.  This was on the other side of the hospital and several floors away.  Lets just say that wearing makeup went out the window and I was basically just brushing my teeth and washing my face.  When I did shower I would rest my head on the side of the stall and weep as the water cascaded over me.  I would cry until I couldn't cry any more.  I remember crying so hard that I would hiccup for an hour afterward.  It was exhausting, but I had to get it out and I didn't want to lash out at my husband again.  Most of my prayers were incoherent, more like begging sessions.  I only left the hospital once during our whole stay and it was my mother who made me go home and take a shower, wash my face, and get some clean clothes. 

My hubby's best friend and family.
The worse part of my routine was the daily wound care and bandage changes.  Thirty minutes before his bandages would be changed he would get a dose of Morphine.  The nurses would then fill up this tank with warm water and wash him from head to toe in the tank.  The nurses and doctors would then assess his burns and determine what kind of treatment he would need.  Then he would be bandaged up again.  This entire process would take anywhere from 20-30 minutes.  Longer if the doctor was called away and my son would scream the entire time.  I got physically ill the first time this happened.  I just couldn't be in the room with him and look at his chest.  My husband got this job and even he past out once during this process.  If you have never had or seen severe burns you are blessed!  This process didn't just happen in the hospital, but the 60 days after getting out of the hospital we went through this process with daily appointments in the burn clinic.

Hubby holding him.
Perked up and playing.
My question every time I saw the doctor was "will he need skin grafts?".  The answer was always the same.  Don't know yet, we need to wait and see.  Well my son never needed skin grafts which is another blessing.  Skin grafts on an infant means that his hair would of been shaved off and the skin on his head would of been used to replace the skin on his chest.  This procedure would happen until enough skin has been harvested from his head to cover his chest, which would of meet several weeks if not months more in the hospital because you can only harvest so much skin at a time.  His head would have to heal to harvest more skin.  Skin grafts are used when your burned so badly that skin won't grow back.  So, you need to transplant new skin to close the open wound.  Dear Father, please heal my son.  Please close the open wound on his chest and allow that skin to grow back.  God is so good, He answered this prayer!

They moved us on day four to a bigger room down the hallway.  It was quieter and more private.  On day six my son really started to perk up.  He slept less and started to want to play more.  His "cage" as I liked to call his crib became a place he didn't want to be and we had to get creative about letting him out.  We had a small sofa in our room that we took the cushions off and turned it against the wall.  Basically we made a play pin for him.  The nurses had a wagon and he was rolled around the unit so he could look at people and suck on his pacifier.  On day seven Dr. Peltier announced that he was well enough to go home the next day and that in his opinion he wouldn't need skin grafts.  Thank you Lord!  On day eight it took forever for us to be discharged.  The night before there had been a house fire and two firefighters were burned.  As I was watching the news I could hear a lot of noise in the hallway and looked out to see several firefighters that were just on the news in the hallway.  It was a little surreal when I saw the hysterical wife of one of the firefighters.  I thought, that was me just a few days ago.  The firefighters recovered from their burns just like my son did.

After we were discharged we spent the rest of the summer caring for our son.  We didn't go to any weddings that weren't within driving distance of our home.  We didn't go to the bible conference my husband's family attends every year.  If you wanted to see us you had to come to us because he had daily bandage and wound care appointments for about two months.  The wound didn't completely close up until about one week before school started for the hubby and I.  That was another blessing.  We as teachers had the summer off and we only had to take two days off from work total!
Spring 2012 healed and healthy.

So, here I am two years later thinking how much my life has changed and stayed the same.  My beautiful son is a healthy, active, won't use the potty toddler now.  I try not to take my family and love ones for granted.  I try to be kinder to strangers now because there is way too much pain in this world and you never know what that person is going through.  Blessings are everywhere!  Forgive quicker and anger slower.  God isn't Superman, he usually doesn't swoop down and save the day.  God gives you exactly what you need to endure and get through.  When you come out on the other side broken and humbled that is a blessing!  Let go and let God control your path.  I hope my story inspires you to always look for the blessings in your life especially when you are going through a hard trial.  Until next time...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why I'm always about blessings Part 2

Part 2
The crisis counselor finally got me settled down enough by telling me how much my son needed me now.  This was so true, once I calmed down my son started to settle down.  The morphine started to kick in and once we gave him his pacifier he stopped crying.  The emergency room doctor insisted that I hold him because they noticed that he was looking around and when he saw me they knew he wanted to be held.  I was afraid I would hurt him more, but after some coaxing and reassurances I climb up on the examination table and held my son.  He looked at me took a deep breath and finally settled into a drug induced sleep.  He wanted his mama and I wanted to hold him.  The peace of that moment allowed everyone to relax and take a breather.

This is the point that I finally was rational enough to ask "how bad?".  I was told that about 12 percent of his body was burned and that they weren't sure how bad the burns were yet because burns are tricky and tend to develop over time.  I was told that we had to be transferred to a burn unit because his burns were too serious to be treated at the hospital we were at.  This is the second blessing that I didn't know about until later.  You see only two hospitals in my area have burn units and only one of these hospitals are covered by my insurance.  One bed opened up at the hospital that my insurance covered.  We didn't know that then, we were told that one bed was available at HCMC and that we would need an ambulance escort to the hospital.  We jumped at the bed and later found out that our insurance would of only have covered an ambulance ride that was ordered.  Double blessings in the matter of minutes and we weren't ever aware of this until later.

So, here I was holding my son and riding for the first time in the back of an ambulance.  As he is resting, I used those quiet moments to smooth his hair over his head and whisper prayers under my breath.  Heavenly Father, please take the pain away.  Please heal him.  Help us get through this! 

This blanket still brings him comfort.
Once we got to HCMC they took him and demanded that I wait in a waiting room several hallways away.  I told them that was not going to happen!  So they let me wait in a chair at the nurses station.  I could hear him crying again and this tore me apart.  At this point my hubby joined me in the burn unit wearing some scrubs borrowed from the hospital, you see he tried to console me when I was freaking out in the emergency room and all I could see was my son's skin on his shirt.  I kept telling him to take off the shirt and he kept saying, don't worry about it.  I then grabbed his collar, looked him in the eye, and said "Our son's skin is on your shirt and I can't look at that right now".  He got it!  Stood up and asked about getting a clean scrub.

You can see the burns under his chin.

When we were finally allowed to see our son we were anxious for an update from the doctor.  As the doctor told us that he was stable and that with burns they develop and each day he would be assessed and treatment would be adjusted.  His chin, chest, and stomach were burned for a total of about 12 percent of his body.  At the time, I was still nursing my son and the hospital allowed nursing mothers to stay with their child 24/7.  So I moved into the hospital and my son went from nursing twice a day with three solid meals to only nursing about 5-6 times a day.  Our next blessing is that I was able to meet all his nutritional requirements within a day!  Only a mother who nursed really gets this.  You see, when an infant suffers from a burn they tend to regress and lose weight and this is very dangerous.  We had to weigh his diapers after every change.  Anyone who entered the room had to wear gowns and "foam" their hands.  The nurses told me that it is normal to have feeding tubes for infants to make sure that they don't lose weight.  Oh no, I don't think so!  So, I started praying.  Dear Lord, make my body produce enough milk. Make my son nurse with no problems.  Every time my son nursed, I went from producing 3 ounces of milk to 5 ounces of milk and my son ate it all up!

Control?  What is that?  Everything so far happening in our lives is completely out of our hands, but in this mess up situation things are working out.  Why is that?  It's really simple, we have no control.  Only God has the control.  We think that everything we do and all the decisions we make are solely ours, but that's an illusion.  I started to realize that the only way my family was going to come out of this tragic event was to let it all go.  I had to let it go, because it was crushing me.  I stayed with my son and I let my husband handle everything else.  He wanted, no he needed to stay busy and I let him.  He text messaged our family, friends, and church.  He called our principals and made arrangements for the last couple of days of school.  He packed a bag for me and brought my breast pump with bottles to the hospital.  Every time he came to the hospital he would say "what else can I do?".  I let him do what he needed to do and he let me do what I needed to do.  And so started our eight days in the burn unit at HCMC.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Viviscal Hair Challenge Part 1

Hello everyone!  You all know that I have been struggling with thinning hair on my crown.  I have Hypothyroidism and since my last relaxer in March 2012 my hair thinned out and never came back.  I did some research and come across Viviscal.  It's an all natural hair vitamin.  I bought 2 packs from Amazon for $77 including shipping.  I bought a 3 month supply and if this vitamin helps my crown area I will gladly take this vitamin daily.  I created a video about my hair challenge.  Wish me luck!  Until next time...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why I'm always about blessings Part 1

Hello everyone!  This is the first installment of a very emotional event that happened two years ago on June 6, 2010.  This event changed my life and actually brought me closer to God and helped me focus on the really important things.  I hope my story inspires you all to look for the blessings in your life and to let go and let God guide your path.

Part 1
In our mundane lives we tend to focus on the life changing events and forget the little blessings.  Weddings, births, graduations, serious illnesses, first job, new job, layoffs, retirements, moving, funerals and so on.  We very often define ourselves by these events.  Sometimes, we judge ourselves and others by what type of life changing events have happened to them.  If they are predictable events we buy the correct card or gift, smile or console, but do we dissect and look deep within ourselves to extract life lessons.  Some people look at the events in their lives and see life happening to them.  Some people look at the events in their lives and actively try to control the direction of their lives.  And then there are those people who completely hand control over to a higher power and try to simply walk in faith.  I'm trying to be the latter person.  I've basically accepted the fact that control is an illusion.  This is a life lesson that was very painfully brought to my attention when my then 10 month old son was seriously burned and my life was flipped upside down.

On June 6, 2010 after church, my family met up with some friends that go to church with us at a local coffee shop.  We had been doing this for years and I had always enjoyed our Sunday chats.  Even though I don't drink coffee, I would catch up with my lady friends and the hubby would talk cars and sports and it was fun.  Some of the people in this group have known me since I was in elementary school.  I had babysat their children, they had been in my wedding, and my parents are their youngest son's Godparents. This was another typical day of pushing chairs around small tables and catching up with each other until the moment my baby boy grabbed an unattended mug of hot water, met to be made into tea.  That moment still defines me now.  I still have nightmares of the blood curdling screams emitted from my son.  Dear Jesus, please no!  Not my baby.

I could tell you that I was calm and helpful, but I would surely burn in hell for that lie.  In the emergency room I was a mess.  My husband on the other hand was wonderful.  He did everything right.  He went into this frame of mind that allowed him to give firm directions and it allowed him to take advice without question.  You see our first blessing during this tragic event was that an old friend with us is a Registered Nurse.  She demanded our son to be submerged into cold water and had my hubby strip our son and dunk him.  Later I would find out that this one thing limited the burn from becoming full 3rd degree burns and reduced the overall burns by about 20 percent. 

The moment that really made we fall apart was when my hubby laid our screaming son on the examination table.  He had our son's burned chest pressed to his chest and when he placed him on the examination table our son's skin was no longer on his chest, but on my husband's shirt.  This was the moment I lost my mind.  This was the moment I realized that this wasn't a minor accident and the realization caused me to become a puddle on the floor.  The hospital had to call a crisis counselor just to deal with me and my hubby had to deal with insurance and all the important questions you need to answer during an emergency.  In my moment of weakness I did blame my husband.  He was with him while I stood in line to get him coffee so in my irrational mind and emotional turmoil I lashed out.  I'm not proud of my actions, but the pain was so overwhelming.  All I wanted to do was hold my baby and take the pain away.  And so, began the first day of our new reality. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Book Revew: Curly Like Me and Curly Girl

Hello everyone! I have been reading a lot of blogs about how people follow certain methods, so after reading several blogs of ladies that follow the Curly Girl Method I decided that I needed to read both books. I had already read Curly Like Me, but to be fair I read it again. So, I read the books and made a video of me talking about the two books and basically how I combine the two methods. Until next time...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Letter to my 16 year old self - Tagged

Hello everyone I was tagged by Funbi to do a letter to myself at age sixteen.  She wanted me to tag 7 others, but I want to open this up to anyone who wants to participate.  Self reflection allows us to learn from our mistakes.

Dear Jen,
First off, I want to let you know that you will heal and things will get better.  The loss of our last remaining grandparent feels so overwhelming crushing right now that you feel like your world has ended.  I won't tell you that every time our birthday comes we won't experience some sadness being that now our birthday is the day our grandmother was buried.  Even now when our birthday comes I have to make sure I plan fun things to keep my mood from a full depressive spiral down.  So, let me give you some advice.  Keep those pretty earrings that grandma gave us when we were 12.  Wear them on our birthday and just focus on her love of us.  Remember her wide smile and warm corn poke.  Remember her fierce hugs and crisp fried chicken.  Remember he lilac perfume, because every spring when the lilacs bloom everywhere you walk you will be reminded of her.  The sweet smell that lingers in the air.  Remember all the happy moments and good times and how we always felt loved around her.  It does get better!  Now, get out of bed and go to school.

Second, I know your focused but you need to lighten up!  Come on, your only sixteen and it's alright to have some fun.  Yes, you will get that scholarship to go to college and yes, you will be the first to graduate with a degree.  So now that you know that, smile more often and don't take everything so seriously!

Thirdly and finally, you are beautiful and your beauty comes from within you.  Remember, no one can  make you feel inferior unless you allow them!  You will never be small and petite so embrace the things you can't change and only focus on the things that you can.  One day you will meet someone who will see your beauty that is deep within you and love you for that beauty.  Just wait!  God has great plans for you and you are special! 
Much love and always blessings,
Yourself in twenty years