Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thunder, Lightning and Indian Fry Bread


Thunder, Lightning and Indian Fry Bread
How attending the Morongo Thunder and Lightening Pow-Wow scared me into giving up fried foods for the rest of my life.

My goal in attending the Morongo Thunder and Lightening Intertribal Pow-Wow was simple. I planned to take my curious three year old daughter in an attempt to help her explore cultural celebration and ritual. I’ve always been intrigued by different cultures and that curiosity is something I’d hoped would be passed down to my children. What I observed was not just the majestic beauty of the culture but instead, the dire need for a complete health makeover for these amazing people.

When we arrived at Morongo, parking was free and easily accessible. Morongo had four of its very large reservation police men directing traffic. It was my first glance at the promising experience and observations that lay ahead.

Upon entering the event, which meant walking into a headwind of about 40 mph, we were greeted with the not so glorious smell of reused cooking oil and the melodic sounds of small costume bells as some of the dancers gated by in full dress. The costumes themes ranged from basic and bright to remarkable and ornate. Booths were still setting up as it was 11am and very windy. I assumed that the late start was because the crowds weren’t expected until afternoon into evening when the dance contests were planned. People were barely floating around when we passed the makeshift eating and that is where I got my first glimpse of a young native man indulging on Indian fry bread. He was no more than 15 years old and he had to have weighed somewhere between 270-300 lbs. I was stricken first with shock and then concern. As I looked around I began to notice that there were more, many, many more, just like him; young and old, very unhealthy, tossing back coca cola, eating the Indian fry bread like a taco as the sweet and savory fillings oozed out onto their ribbed paper plates. My stomach began to turn and my heart literally began to sink.

How can such beautiful people become so unhealthy? Why are these amazing people suffering so? What’s influencing them? Are they dying young? I had so many questions.

These questions flooded my mind and as we filtered into the bleachers to watch the entrance of the Coat of Arms I had a hard time refocusing onto the beauty of the ceremony itself. Over the next hour as I watched large, larger and extra larger people enter into the dance event area, my mind grew painfully distraught. My thoughts only subsided as we sat, in awe, enjoying the entrance of all the dancers at the opening ceremonies. The exquisite feather bustles grabbed our eyes like archery targets and the deep thud of the ceremony drums lulled us into vibrating trances.

Around 2:30pm, we ventured out to explore the vendor booths in an attempt to find a keepsake for my daughter. As we walked around the event grounds my mind drifted again to the health and diet influences of this self governing nation. Unhealthy people were everywhere. Overweight children were suffering to walk around in full costume dress. Sweat was dripping down their innocent little chubby faces and they had coca colas in their hands to ease the discomfort. All around us were Indian fry bread stands toting their Indian fry bread tacos, Indian fry bread deserts, fried tacos, greasy ground beef and extra large, sugar filled, fruit punch ice cooler drinks. I was flabbergasted once again.

In an effort to refocus, I took my daughter to a booth where there were a lot of small feathered toys, trinkets and the standard “Navajo” jewelry I’d seen many times on roadside stands along Arizona highways. The woman running the booth told me she made the goods by hand cutting the tanned dear skin. I’m a consumer of handmade goods so I bought into her sales pitch. I bought my daughter and I two natural colored friendship feather clips for our hair and a small flute with purple feathers tied onto the end. Buying these small enjoyable keepsakes was much needed after the morning experiences.

It’s no surprise that this culture has become so Americanized; so overweight. Native peoples had everything, including their lifestyles and eating habits taken from them hundreds of years ago when they were forced to restructure themselves to survive in the New World. Genes mutate, people grow larger and processed, fried foods help them stay that way. The Native history of waning health is nothing new but it seems that it’s only getting worse in this case.

According to the CDC statistics of overweight and obese Native Americans, 78.1 percent of men and 65.1 percent of women in this minority were considered obese in 2012. (Health Behaviors of Adults: United states, 2008-2010. Table 6.1.) Is this because these people don’t have the educational resources readily available or is it that they don’t have access to healthy foods? I don’t know, but I sure hope someone is working for change so that these people can continue to flourish and share their cultures abundant beauty with more three year olds.

By the way, that flute I bought; it only played one note but my kid sure didn’t mind. She played that one note the entire 45 minute ride home while complaining about having something (the feather clip) stuck in her hair.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I want to drool too...

When Darren gets home at night from work he showers and then lays down in bed.  It takes him a whole 3 minutes to pass out asleep.  What the frick is he doing right?!  Why are men able to just sit down and detach within minutes?!  Most nights it takes my brain 45+ minutes to circulate my thoughts and fall asleep.

Here is a typical nightly thought cycle for me once my head hits the pillow:

Did you remember to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer?  You didn't?  Oh S*HT...everything is going to smell.  Did you remember to feed the cats?  They will be pushing those damn bell balls all over the house all night if you didn't feed them.  Who's idea was to take out the carpet, the wood floors are sooo flippin loud!  Maybe you should get up and check.  While your up why don't you put away Lilly's toys she left out.  Wait, you should try to sleep. Nah, get up.  CRAP we're still out of Greek yogurt, Lilly asked for yogurt for breakfast.  Don't forget to go to Trader Joe's tomorrow.  I should really re-paint this room, I bought the paint and it's just sitting in the dining room, CRAP I have to pee now, if I would have fallen asleep 10 minutes ago I wouldn't have the urge to pee, why did I drink all that water?  Darn it self be quiet and go to sleep.

Closes eyes and tries to clear mind...

Jingle jingle...damn it the cats, I have to get up.  Maybe I'll do the dishes in the sink before bed so I don't have to do it in the morning.  Dang now I'm thirsty.  You know, you should really paint this room.

Get it?

Mind you, this thought process isn't limited to bed time.  I literally wake up at two and three am and do the same thing.  I wonder what type of things Darren's brain thinks about before bed.  Why doesn't he think about the laundry or washing his car or the cable bill?  Why does he get to sleep?!  I hate it and I'm jealous.  Very Jealous.  Sometimes I stare at him and envision myself jumping on the bed to wake him up but I cant because he's so cute!

(Disclaimer: photo above is not Darren)

Try meditation, you say.  Look, meditation doesn't work for me smarty.  I've tried it.  I just end up thinking about the same crap and then some hair crawls up my back and I have an itch.  Then I start envision creepy night bugs crawling on me and I'm itchy all over.  Then back to "I need to clean out my car tomorrow" or "I wonder if there really are aliens." 

How about calming techniques? Nope. When I finally imagine my body feeling heavy and relaxed that's usually about the time Lilly kicks me in the boob with her left foot during one of her night time acrobatic routines. Lets face it, I'm cursed.

All of us women are cursed and if you're a mom, your double cursed. Sorry ladies...

Monday, September 2, 2013

This is kind of might want to get a divers certification before going in.

Wow it's been a while since I posted last. And I promised you I would post often. Man I suck. Typical Gemini, so many interests, so little time.

WARNING: This post has been a long time coming. It's about self realization and coming to terms with being a mom. It also reflects some of my so called "radical" views on holistic child rearing so if your rolling your eyes my guest and take a hike. 
No harm, No foul. :)
My girl is two. 2, two, matter how you say it, it just floats over my head just as fast as the years did seem to have flown. I look at my sweet little girl and I really do wonder where the time has gone. Upon my reflection I see two years of laughter and enjoyment, I see two years of memories and appreciation for a life I never knew could be. But most of all I see two years of complete transformation and growth for myself as an individual and a mother.
"Before children." Its a sentence in itself, a chapter, a movement, a complete and utter difference from life, "After Children." To compare the two would be absurd, yet as mothers, we do it all the time in order to self pity ourselves about the lives we "used" to have.
"Life After Children" should be printed on the back of condom boxes with some or all of the following statements and run on sentences; Its such a shock to the system, a shift in routine, a change in freedom, a wake up call, an alteration, a detour and often a departure from an old place to a new.
There are different ways one could read into those descriptions. These days with lack of sleep, 2 year old tantrums and a shortage of stay at home mommy money and personal space I tend to paint them in a negative light when I speak to my friends but the reality is...I am thankful. I am thankful for my Lilly. I am thankful for the departure from my old life into my beautiful new one.
I am indebted to her, my love, for opening my eyes, for inspiring me to be better, to live better, to live healthier and to be the best person I can be and to teach others how to be as well. I am now an eternal teacher and I have no plans to shut my mouth.
These mornings where I wake up with bloodshot red eyes and sore nipples (from nursing of course) have taught me perspective. You see, some moms don't have the chance to experience the beauty of nursing a baby or (gasp!) a toddler, nor do they know the closeness that comes with it, the connection. Its a feeling that doesn't always have words for explanation. 
I am lucky.
The days (which are many) where I complain that I have not one hot ass minute to myself have taught me gratitude. This gratitude is for the few short months that I had to enjoy her as a bouncing baby or next few very short years that I have to savor her as a willful toddler, to experience her amazing developing personality, to be in awe at her abilities and to be the teacher that guides her into a happy, healthy life.
The times when she hits me or tells me "No Mommy" are the times where I still struggle. I struggle to control my anger, my frustration and my short Gemini temper. I must take a step back and see that these times, these tough times; are the teachings of patience, not to mention a bit of a brush up on my communication skills. As long as I don't start shouting "NO!" to adult friends, I'll be alright.
Most recently I've discovered, to my own surprise, that I am not the perfect mother (what the what?) I make mistakes daily. I've smacked my darling on the bum during misbehavior and then have cried with guilt. I have yelled at her and then apologized. I have told her not to "be bratty" only to realize I was the one being the brat. Self reflection is never easy.
"After Children" is here, its real. I'm living it, I'm learning it and I'm embracing it with everything I have. I'm not perfect, I'm not a "know it all" and I am not always right. I am an eternal student and an eternal teacher.
One thing has become very apparent over the last few weeks: I chose this path with uncertainty yes, but I am freaking owning it!
I'm not just a mom, I'm Lilly's mom. That title is reserved for me and I'm damn proud.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Easy Peasy DIY Aromatic Heating Pad Tutorial

Note* I wrote this post before Christmas, but never published it. What the heck! I was thinking that it might be a good tutorial for Valentines Day so I have decided to go ahead and post it now. Hey, sometimes me being a procrastinator works in your favor!

Lets face it, I'm not the best at this whole planning ahead for gifts thing some people have goin on. Especially when it comes to Christmas shopping. I'm usually the smuck who is digging around Target for the last package of Size Large Hanes skivies for the Hubbub. Not this year! I decided to plan ahead. Instead of buying a bunch of crap nobody needs I somehow became ambitious and decided to sew stuff.

I searched Pinterest for heating pad tutorials but they were all for 6 sectioned types which required a lot of repetitive pinning and sewing which means a lot of pricked fingers for me. Plus, I have a busy one year old who can't focus on one toy for more than 30 seconds so I needed something quick and easy. I decided to make my own version and now I am going to share it with you!

What you'll need for sewing the flannel fabric pouches:

1/2 yard of flannel fabric (pretty prints always make a nicer gift)
a ruler (any kind, I just happened to have an engineering ruler from my past career. These rulers are and easy to hold while marking and cutting.)
good fabric scissors or rotary wheel and self healing cutting board with stamped on grid
a sewing machine
a sewing needle
6-7 sewing straight pins
a chalk wheel, fabric pencil or a washable fabric marker

What you'll need for the aromatic filling:

Dried Lentils (I purchased them in bulk from Smart & Final)
Dried Lavendar (from your own garden, or you can steal from a neighbor, I did that too)
Lavendar Essential Oil ( I wouldn't suggest that you steal this)
Eucalyptus  Essential Oil (this either, you can't sew in jail)
a large plastic or glass bowl for the lentil mixture
1/3 measuring cup for scooping and whaddayaknow measuring 

Making the smelly filling

Take a large bowl, add your Lentils (I poured in a whole bag at a time). Add 5-10 drops of essential oil, about 1-2 cups of dried Lavender. Mix with a wooden spoon and set aside until your done sewing all your fabric bags.

Sewing Instructions 

1. Fold your half yard of fabric pretty side in, cut in half. You now have enough fabric for two pouches. Don't cut the folded edge, you can use that as one of your pouch sides (less sewing).

2. Cut your fabric edges so that the pouch will be to the desired size. I trimmed my rectangles down with the rotary tool so that the fabric was about 20 inches long by 10 inches wide that way I could make three (3) sections that were 6 inches long with a little fabric left over for folding and hand-sewing at the edge.

3. Mark a line with the chalk tool about 1/2 inch away from each raw edge so that you have a straight line to follow and use the sewing machine. Sew around all raw edges of your fabric and be sure to stop and lift your pressure foot at corners, turn the fabric and keep going. Continue sewing all the way around leaving one short edge open for filling the pouch. If you have a folded edge as one of your sides Yippie for you, then you only have to sew two long sides!

4. Using sissors, cut the corners at a diagonal, above your stitching line (this makes for better turned out corners) then flip the fabric right side out, poking out the corners; you now have an open pouch.

5. Flatten out your pouch on the self healing cutting board grid and using your ruler as a guide, mark lines along your fabric every 6 inches. You should have three lines: one at 6, 12 and then 18 inches. There should be 2-3 inches of fabric left after the 18 inch chalk marker line.

6. After you've marked your lines you are ready to start filling the first section.

A. Scoop in 4 scoops of the lentil filling into the first section of the bag. Tap the bag on the table a few times to move all the lentils down toward the seam.

B. Using your pins, pin a line as close to the lentils as you can creating a flat space where your chalk line is. This will make sewing on your chalk line a heck of a lot easier and will keep your lentils far away from the sewn line so that they are not squirming about while you move the fabric through your machine.

Repeat steps A & B until you have filled three sections and have sewn down your last chalk line. 

7. Now the fun part; hand sewing. It really only takes about two minutes to close this puppy up so grab your needle & thread. Fold in the remaining 2-3 inches of fabric in on itself so that you have a nice folded and finished edge. Sew those two pieces together with a quick loop stitch. Knot the end, cut all excess strings from all sewing lines and edges and you are done!

I made the 6 sectioned one first but because it was so much work and becasue at some point I needed to feed my family, I decided to change the pattern to a larger, 3 sectioned heating pad instead which was much quicker. I really like the larger panels and it folds up much nicer. 

For gifting purposes, I added an excerpt from The Red Tent about welcoming an appreciating menstruation. The women in my life seemed to enjoy it. Or, they simply thought I was nuts, that's ok too, I am.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Whole30 Day 1

Well, it’s officially 15 hours into my first day on Whole30 and surprisingly I feel pretty good. I worked out with a friend this morning also, wow I’m really doing great! 

Only 29 days to go without grains!  OMG what did I commit to?

I didn’t weigh myself this morning, I forgot. But I do know how my clothes fit, I know how I feel about my body and how I feel when I eat certain foods. I am attempting to reset my digestive system, to be healthier and maybe lose some weight in the process. I am going to weigh in tomorrow at work and use that as a guide. After the first weigh in, the program forbids you from weighing yourself until the end of the month. I don't own a scale so that should be easy.

Here is a quick timeline for my day with meals included:

6:30am – woke up (it’s my day off mind you) read my email, washed my face so I didn't have drool on my face and got dressed for stroller/walking/pushing/huffing and puffing cardio.

7:30am – Cynthia arrived and off we went

9:00am – stopped at Olive market to enjoy a Metromint water and a chat with my friend

9:15am – Back home, unloaded the baby from her torture stroller device (at least that what she thinks it is). Chatted with my neighbor (my sister) and then told her to beat it! so I could make breakfast before I became a ravage animal who proceeds to stuff every single cracker in my mouth that I could find in my pantry.

9:20am – Made  4 scrambled eggs (only two egg whites) and sliced avocado. I added fresh tomato brushetta on top of eggs because I'm fancy like that. Lilly and I shared this meal along with a side of frozen whole blueberries so I probably ended up eating a little over two eggs. Eggs are freaking delicious!

10:30am – laid down with Lilly to get her napping

12pm – 1 hour later, after giggling, jumping on the bed and repeating the word “Chee-Chee” fifty times she is finally asleep – hopped in the shower, got dressed then walked into the kitchen and felt a shaky feeling. My hands and arms trembled a bit. Could be from the exercise, it’s been a while since I’ve pushed myself and I remember that weakened muscle feeling.

12:30 – Juiced some fresh carrots and greens, sat down and drank it while munching on a handful of pecans and cranberries and a few slices of pan fried sweet potatoes from last night’s dinner. Oops, my first goof; dried cranberries!  It’s ok I guess, since they are on the “limit it” list but dang it this is hard.

1:30pm- yea, I’m still hungry. Made a salad with fresh cooked chicken chunks, arugula, chopped, cooked sweet potatoes and pomegranate seeds. Topped it with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper. The potato and pomegranate gave it a nice sweet taste while the arugula gave it a spicy bite! Aye Aye Aye!

12:50pm- off to do some house chores, laundry and to fill my gas tank for the remainder of the week…yeaay

5:45pm- Dinner time finally! Are you kidding me!? I have been waiting for this moment for over five hours! I made a steak that I had marinated this morning in my handy dandy cast iron skillet which smoked and smelled up the entire house with the left over burnt carnage. Also, I steamed a crap load of broccoli and dumped some Trader Joe's marinara on top. Sometimes (well, let’s face it, at all times) vegetables taste better soaked in sauce or cheese!

10pm – Lilly is asleep and as I am typing I am feeling a little hungry. "Drink water Morgan" (says my grain loving conscience).

Well that’s it, I made it! It really wasn’t entirely horrible. I am so used to snacking all day so eliminating that part of my routine was kind of difficult. Many times I opened the pantry and stared into the abyss of yummy, starchy snacks but in the end I was strong enough to close those evil doors and stay motivated.

Good night to you folks and good night to you, lovely loaf of Gluten Free bread that is nestled so sweetly on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator…I miss you already.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Prostitute Called Consumerism

I just received my Winter Anthropologie catalog in the mail! Can you sense my excitement? You’re thinking...what’s this lunatic talking about...Anthropologie: its spelled Anthropology, with a Y. Gosh, get a dictionary

 All product photos from Anthropologie

No, Anthropologie people. The store all us fashion minded gals (and flamboyant metrosexuals) swoon over every time we head to Victoria Gardens. You know, the store that cleans out your pocket book with one trip. The store where I can literally afford one single item and it's usually a printed scarf, a stringy tank top or pair of ridiculously lacy panties from the clearance section that I’ll never wear, a glass mosaic tea cup or some sort of eclectic painted bamboo spoon from Peru that I will never ever use! But I might need it!

This store is like a money sucking prostitute who leaves his burnt out cigarette butt on your pillow. You’re so pissed that it burned your satin sheets but ohhhh the night before (or purchase before) felt so good! No folks, I've never purchased a male prostitute, nor do I recommend renting one (how the hell did I get on this subject again?) but I have purchased items from Anthropolige on impulse that I've regretted in the morning and have often returned a few days later when I got my head on straight.

While on the subject of impulse buys let’s talk about something very real, consumerism. Yes friends, I know it may be hard to believe but I once was a twenty something year old with bad shopping/spending habits (gasp). I frequented Nordstrom Rack, Ross or Marshalls about 5 times a month. That’s like 1.25 times a week. My closet was cluttered with stylish duds and my house had the latest trendy throw blanket and designer pillow. I loved to tell my friends and family about the “great deals I got”. Also, my roommates and I would host monthly sorting parties where we would trade clothes and pack up last season’s items for Goodwill (shout out to you WK & JC). Wow, think about how much money I would have saved if I’d thought through my purchases a little better.

This is where my serious voice comes in. Why do we need all this stuff? Does it make us smarter? Skinnier? Healthier? Happier? Boy, if I could lose weight as fast as my bank account does monthly I’d be a size 4 in no time! Why don't we just put more thought into what and where we buy? (more on my anti-big corporation stance later).

These days, in my life, there is simply no time for frequent shopping trips and frivolous spending. My hours at home are filled with giggles, poop, kisses, tantrums and fun activities with my one year old. The remaining time is spent enjoying a few short hours with my fiance (whom works and commutes horrible hours), doing housework, playing in my vegetable garden or exploring cooking with whole, healthy foods. I am also lucky to be spending a few hours of my time working in a holistic chiropractic community that provides me amazing friendships, resources and moral support. All of this I proudly would NOT trade to be back in a position where I am lured in by the SALE sign. It’s funny how priorities change as you age.

Lets talk statistics:
  • A study reveals women spend tens of thousands of dollars on clothing in a lifetime. The average amount?  $125,000. Despite all of the money spent on clothes, the study shows that 60-percent of women still struggle to find something to wear on a daily basis.
  • Over the years, women buy roughly 3,000 items including 271 pairs of shoes, 185 dresses and 145 bags.
  • The same study also showed that 10-percent of women have admitted to at least buying one item or clothing or accessory, every week, in the middle of the day just to attend an event straight from work. (
  •  Two-in-five (19%) women confess to having more than 50 pairs of shoes.

50 pairs of shoes? Yeah, I’m guilty but I'm working on it. Think about what you have; about what is packed away in your garage, out of sight. Is it really just Christmas and Halloween decorations, bicycles and sports equipment or are you storing items that you should be enjoying on a daily basis? Do you need to buy more?

Ask yourself these questions:
  1. Are you really going to use that item that you’ve been storing for years?
  2. Do you wear every piece of clothing in your closet, every pair of shoes?
  3. Do you need all that mis-matched Tupperware under your kitchen cabinet? ( I know you have a butt load, don’t try to avoid eye contact!)
I’ll make it easy on you. If you’re not living with an item that you use every week or an item that you get to appreciate daily then it’s time to chuck it. I now try to live by this one simple rule: If I haven’t used it in a year, off to goodwill it goes (or to some lucky soul as a re-gifted item, yea I’m that cheap). And if I am jonsing for something from my favorite store Anthropoligie then first I must ask myself why I really want it. 

By keeping and hoarding stuff we are minimizing our enjoyment of life. How so? Think about it; we Americans spend more time buying, cleaning, organizing (bragging about creative organizing on Pinterest) and storing all our stuff that we don’t have much time left for the things that matter; finger painting with your kids, taking a walk outside or saving money for something fun. We have such a short time here in this life and all the amazing relationships, experiences and people we meet add to the beautiful and colorful kaleidoscope of our souls. 

Hopefully I can lead by example. I'm still cleaning out my clutter on a daily basis. But its ok if you still feel inclined to hire that pillowcase burning prostitute (or buy crap you don’t need), be my guest.  Just make sure he/it  has a good return policy because as you grow older and wiser you might be glad that you saved the receipt. 

Because Less Is More.