Thursday, July 2, 2020

Sia is a Grandma via a Great Path

Is it better to have children when you're in your 20s or earlier? Or is it better to have kids when you're in your 30s and older? The answer, my friends, is YES. 

I don't know what it's like to be a young mom, but my sis was 19 when she had her first, so I've had the chance to observe her journey. 

The news is buzzing with Sia becoming a grandma at 44. If you don't remember Sia, she's an Australian pop star and song writer. Here she is

You might recognize her better like this

Sia adopted two 18-year old boys 10 years ago when they were aging out of the foster system after having lived in 18 different homes in 18 years. 

A 48-year old friend of mine just adopted a 2-year old. My dad had a child at 60.

Having kids will turn your life upside down, shifting your schedule, your priorities, and your focus--completely on your little (or bigger) child. Most parents (who are healthy humans) will note that having children is one of --if not the-- best thing they've done in life. 

I wonder if anyone will read this who needs a push to know that if you have the heart to raise children, the place to provide, and the means to support and connect with children, there is a child (or two or three) who needs you! 

Coming from a military family, it seemed seeped in our family culture that once children were 18, it was up to the military to become the family and finish raising them. I find the older I get, the more and more important family becomes--whether it's family or framily. 

There's something about having a place you know you belong that provides a foundation for confidence and strong identity. If you can, why not provide that for children?

AdoptUS is a good place to start for information and a search. I limited my search to four states and found 355 adoptable children.

It's time amp up focus on this in our own house. Honey! :) 

Take Care,

Images from and Entertainment Tonight

Resources consulted:

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

How to Save Your Country After a Conflict

In light of Covid-19 and the conflict resulting from the death of George Floyd by law enforcement, the US is in a -- most say absolutely necessary-- conflict. I'm writing this as a humanities teacher. They say the reason we study history is to inform our current choices, so let's study a little history and see how major historical conflicts resolved . . . or didn't.

How do you deal with conflict? Apparently, there are five approaches to conflict--sorted according to how assertive and/or cooperative you are.

Notre Dame categorizes conflict resolution as a key negotiation skill, one vital to successful business school grads. It's interesting to consider these approaches in light of

 the current conflicts in the world,

 the leaders in our lives, and

 our own brain churning in response to this tumultuous time-- or is that just me?

Avoid it. 

One approach to conflict is to pretend it doesn't exist or to shut down when anything triggers tension.

Give in.

This is the "OK, honey" or "It's fine" approach. You give up your voice for the sake of a nearly immediate return to equilibrium.

Stand your ground.

I picture this approach as a planting of the feet. There is no compromise here, only a winner.


This is best accomplished in tandem--where each party drops small points and agrees to negotiate larger matters.


To collaborate, each party must express his side and work creatively with the team to reach a solution that involves no concessions. This approach takes the most work. I picture the United Nations sessions. 

Havard's Program on Negotiation blog cites South Africa and Ireland as places that have worked through conflict to reach a livable community. They note that in cases where deep values are in conflict, each side should focus more on learning about the other's side than finding a more "traditional" settlement.

How South Africa Addressed the Inequity of Apartheid

In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Beginning in 1996, about 2,000 victims and perpetrators had the chance to share their stories about how apartheid had impacted them. The conversations continued for seven years. There are new laws to reach toward equity, but many social problems exasperated by Apartheid remain. Some say that because the perpetrators suffered no consequences, there was no justice. South Africa saw rounds of anti corruption protests in 2017 as South Africans reached toward the peaceful vision Mandela projected, but today's South Africa remains "the most unequal nation on the planet" (The World Bank). Half of households make less than the equivalent of $90 per month. Unemployment is over 50%. In the AP photo below, the foreground is the mostly black slums while the background high-rises house the rich.

How Ireland Resolved The Troubles

In Ireland, the conflict began in 1919 when some of Ireland (the strongly Catholic southern part) revolted against British rule and became an independent state. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland was supportive of Britain and strongly Protestant. Even though the Catholics and Protestants had often lived in diverse neighborhoods for generations, they generally avoiding mingling socially--no common schools, no intermarrying. When Northern Ireland remained part of the UK, many Irish Catholics felt pushed out of jobs as the Northern Irish--they said--favored the Protestants.

By 1968, what became known as "The Troubles" erupted in riots and Ireland formed the NRA to attempt to reclaim Northern Ireland for The Republic of Ireland. Fiery conflict continued until 1998 when the factions formed a Good Friday pact. Paul Bew, a historian and professor emeritus at Queens University in Belfast compares this compromise to "an agreement between a husband and wife who still can't stand each other but have to find a way to live together." Since 1998, tensions have mellowed so that in 2017, 50% of Irish identified as neither unionist nor nationalist. Some say Brexit is reigniting the need to claim a side because in a recent iteration of the same poll, only 39% of Irish identified as neither unionist nor nationalist.

What Does History Tell Us About Solving Civil Conflicts?

So, how can US leaders save the country after a conflict? Well, based on how leaders as respected as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and even Tony Blair handled the resolutions, it's not quick. It's not easy. Listening is key to any feelings of resolution.

Books/Authors that came up during my reading:

Articles I read:

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Five Easy Weeknight Dinners

We've all been doing a lot of cooking lately due to Covid-19. For me, it's no real change, but for those who don't cook regularly, this has been one of the hardest parts of living through quarantine. These are some simple fam favorites that I land on when I don't have a plan or motivation to complete a plan.


I have tried so many variations of chili that I've almost lost track: tomato-based chicken chili, white chicken chili, creamy chicken chili, turkey chili, veggie chili, Texas steak chili, and more. On a weeknight, though, there's nothing that beats basic ground beef chili. If I were making this just for me, I'd spice it up and add some roasted red peppers, but to keep it family friendly, the only pizzazz I add to this recipe is using fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. Sometimes, I substitute black beans for the kidney beans. Ree calls for simmering this for an hour before adding the masa harina (corn meal), and I'm sure it's even better that way, but mine usually only simmers for about 20 minutes or so, and it still tastes great. In my family's style, we add cheese, Fritos, and lettuce. Sometimes, I make cornbread. Without the cornbread, Fritos, and cheese, it's a pretty healthy meal. If you get the cornbread in the oven first, dinner is ready in 30.

 Nachos and/or Tacos

Here's another simple meal with plenty of variations. I like to make my own taco seasoning and keep it on hand. This way, you can use as much or as little spice as you like. If you like chicken tacos/nachos, and you know there are several ways you'll use it during the week, it's worth roasting some bone-in chicken breasts and keeping the chicken ready. Then, you can throw some blue tortilla chips on a sheet pan, cover with shredded roasted chicken, freshly grated cheddar, and your choice of toppings, and broil for five minutes. Add salsa. Dinner in five with a little prep.


This just recently jumped onto my rotation list when I was looking for more vegetarian options to add to the menu. If you make enough and don't mind leftovers, you can make a batch of this and have dinner prepped for three days. There are so many variations of minestrone, so if you have a little garden, you can throw in whatever veggies you need to use up. It's so satisfying and relatively healthy. This one takes a little longer to throw together, but it does become more flavorful over a few days, so I would put it together the night ahead and store it in the refrigerator. Tip: Cook the pasta, rinse with cool water, and store in a plastic bag. Add pasta to bowls of hot soup as you warm it up. This will keep your pasta from absorbing too much of your soup broth.


Whole grain toast and an omelet. Simple, delicious, nutritious. Done in 10.

 Special Cereal Night

A friend of mine in college instituted a special cereal night in her house. Though her kids usually ate healthier cereals, on special cereal night, she busted out a few boxes of sugar cereals, and everyone ate choice cereals. Most of the time, her boys chose the healthier cereals anyway! :) Because cereals are fortified, this can be a fun tradition and a relatively healthy option. 

So, if you're burned out on coming up with menus, here's yours for next week:

T-- Chili
R-- Nachos
F--  Special Cereal Night

Weekend--Leftover Minestrone

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Notes to OB-GYNs from a Primagravida - First-Time Pregnancy - Betwain

I'm not sure what I thought when I first picked a medical provider after celebrating a positive pregnancy test.

Maybe I thought it would be like building a house. Make a detailed budget. Make a detailed blueprint. Make a detailed schedule. Meet weekly with your general contractor to get an update on where things are on track, where they're off track, and what decisions need to be made to move forward.

Maybe I thought it would be like a catering project or even making a simple dinner. Make a budget. Make a plan. Consider the time constraints. Check the recipe. Cook and serve.

I have no real way of knowing if my experience so far is typical, but I picked a teaching hospital with a great reputation and felt lucky to go through this pregnancy with them.

My first appointment went well. I left the hospital with an approximate due date, a starting weight and blood pressure as well as a helpful booklet that let me know what I should and shouldn't eat during pregnancy, what symptoms to expect, and more.

The next appointment or the third, the doctor asked me when my due date was because her "PA didn't take great notes." My husband had taken the day off work for the ultrasound, but we learned that we had to schedule the ultrasound separately with a different department, so we would have to do that at the next appointment.

What? Good to know.

At an appointment further down the road, we really needed the baby to wiggle, so they could get a better image. I learned that had I run a few miles that morning, had orange juice, taken the stairs, or even drank more water, the baby would've wiggled more. I guess I should've known they would need an active baby during the ultrasound?

At another appointment, I showed up and learned I would be taking a glucose drink to test my blood sugar and would need to wait at the office for an hour before they could test my blood sugar.

What? Ok.

Ladies, are you having a different experience?

I know there are guides online, and I have looked to see if I could find a "what to expect" at each appointment, but it's not completely consistent per provider. 

In my dreams, there would be an intake appointment where a clinic staff person would go over paperwork, insurance, and scheduling--maybe even for the duration. If the doctors, medical support staff, patients, and office support all had a checklist, there would rarely be a need to wonder---did anyone speak to this patient about birth plans yet? The record would show that having been completed during appointment 12.

I guess in reality, we have a revolving door of support staff, patients who don't always attend appointments on the recommended timeline, and even pregnancies that don't make it to full term, so it's tricky to create a protocol. However, it's crazy to me how professionals so studied in surgical procedures and pathology are even comfortable functioning in such a chaotic system. There are challenges that arise during surgery, too, but that doesn't mean there isn't an ideal procedure to follow.

So, the third trimester has begun with a helpful packet of information that includes specifics about policies that will impact the birth. We're headed to a birthing class, and we've connected with a doula. As much reading as there is concerning pregnancy, maybe there's no way to navigate it without feeling completely lost. I wish we had scheduled the class and the doula even earlier.

If I had known better when I started this, I would have made a chart like the below for myself and asked enough questions at the onset to fill it in for myself, regardless of the practice's practices. I would've tried to schedule out all of my appointments as early as possible as well.

Maybe there will be a "next time" to try it. This is completely based on my own limited experience and is not medical advice for anyone but myself.

Appointment                               Date                  Doctor                What to Expect           Preparation    1-Four Weeks   
2- Eight Weeks
3- Twelve Weeks                                                                             Ultrasound/Genetic Test Talks
4- Sixteen Weeks
5- Twenty Weeks
6- Twenty-Four Weeks                                                                    Blood Glucose

THIRD TRIMESTER (twice per month)
Appointment                               Date                  Doctor                What to Expect           Preparation 
7- Twenty-Eight Weeks
8- Thirty Weeks
9- Thirty-Two Weeks
10- Thirty-Four Weeks
11- Thirty-Six Weeks

LAST MONTH (weekly)
Appointment                               Date                  Doctor                What to Expect           Preparation
12- 37 Weeks
13- 38 Weeks
14- 39 Weeks
15- 40 Weeks


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Great Mexican Food in Atlanta | Sotolero

We used to frequent the local mom-and-pop "combination lunch" Mexican restaurant. Then one eve, a Groupon led us to Sotolero.

I had the tamales, and Jason had the carnitas. Y.U.M.

This place hits all the marks. The service is excellent. It's clean and creative. The salsa is the best I've had in a long time. The food is wonderful, and the drink menu has enough variety to keep it interesting.

We feel like we've found one of the best kept secrets in town because all of this and a side of queso for less than it would cost you to take a date to the Olive Garden.

C'mon??  If you're in the Atlanta area, you're going to try it, and you're going to put it on the rotation.

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best Peanut Butter Cake Ever

I'm constantly on watch for peanut butter sweets because my husband loves them. This looks like a mess, and I had to make a different chocolate frosting because I didn't have heavy whipping cream on hand for ganache, but this cake was incredible. The cake was moist, the peanut butter frosting was not cloyingly sweet, and the chocolate frosting is perfect on top. I made this one totally spur of the moment, so we didn't have peanut butter cups on hand either. Again--not so pretty, but so, so good.

Thanks, Brown Eyed Baker! Here's the best peanut butter cake ever.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Mom's 60th Birthday in Hilton Head

When Mom's 60th birthday was approaching, I ran into some research about a Japanese tradition called kanreki. Many east Asian cultures embrace a version of kanreki, which is meant to be a celebration of achievements and a time of rebirth.

My dad, who turns 60 this year, celebrated his kanreki by finding a new love younger than his children and having a beautiful baby boy--truly leaving his wife and old family behind completely and starting over in an attempt to finally be happy. He seized his own "rebirth" for himself.

My mom, on the other hand, needed some celebrating. Of nine different choices, she chose a road trip to Hilton Head Island! The trip turned out to be quick and fun. One of our favorite parts was stopping at a pecan orchard outside of Macon on the way down. There's a huge commercial farm called Lane closer to the interstate, but we read some good reviews for Dickeys and headed to Musella. It was off season for peaches and pecans, but the shopkeepers were so nice, and we bought a few bags for the road. These pecans are nothing like the variety you generally find in stores. They're fatter and sweeter. They really taste like candy.

I like to have a plan on trips--even if we don't end up following most of it. :)

One of the best parts of the trip was the sunset tour of the Sound. It was gorgeous, and our tour guide was so knowledgeable and energetic.

Of course, if we could, we'd zoom to Tuscany for a month, but taking a pause to make a birthday memory was a good time.


Stop in Macon
Arrive and check in
Dinner in Harbor Town OR sandwiches and cupcakes at Signes’
Walk to the beach for sunset


Breakfast in the condo
Walk to the beach
Black Market Minerals & Coffee break at Caretta Coffee Company
5:15 PM to 7:15 PM: Sunset cruise tour of the Colibogue Sound
Dinner at the Salty Dog Cafe


Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café
Drive Home