GIFT GIVING ANXIETY

So, I really thought that I was the only person in the world who has anxiety about giving gifts! At 44 years old, it was time to get to the cause of anxiety. I am so OVER it! Like this is supposed to be a fun experience! Although I do not love shopping honestly, I just rather be doing other things. Holidays are not supposed to bring me stress and anxiety. I am going to enjoy myself this year! No matter what. Then I started trying to rack my brain about the root of the problem as I made my holiday shopping list. It all became perfectly clear. For the first time ever, it made perfect sense to me. I realized it’s only certain people that cause me anxiety…WOMEN! 

I love shopping for children and men. They are super easy, and I always get to buy them really fun, easy things that make them laugh and they treasure! Men tend to be much more appreciative!  Especially with the little things in life, it doesn’t take much to make them happy. Socks, food, a game to play and they are set. The power of new underwear is majorly unrecognized by the masses. Also, if you ask a man what do you want or need, they tend to answer you! Ask a woman the same thing: either you get an unrealistic answer or none at all! I am to the point now that I won’t even bother to ask anymore.

This upcoming holiday season I am saying goodbye to my gift giving anxiety! Ima keep it simple and remove the emotions about making the right choices for someone else! It doesn’t matter what I would love for them to have or what I think would look nice on them. I aint racking my brain to buy them anything. It’s just not worth the unnecessary stress. If Covid has taught me nothing else, it taught me to let go of shit I can’t control.

Yes, a gift card / cash some think are not personal enough, BUT I don’t have to worry about if they like it or NOT, because those difficult people are going to pick it out themselves! Easy peasy for my mental health! Ladies, here go shopping. It’s a win, win for all parties involved! 

IT’S COQUITO TIME!

As I walked through the grocery store, I got excited when I saw eggnog loaded on the shelves. Not to disrespect my beloved “coquito,” but America likes to compare it to eggnog. In my opinion, coquito is the much better tasting cousin! Coquito is a traditional food that all Puerto Ricans hold close to their hearts. Growing up it is associated with Holidays, Love and Family. Coquito translated means “little coconut”. It is best enjoyed super cold. Here is how we make it in my house. If you are serving children or people who don’t drink, simply leave out the rum.

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups (1 15 oz can) cream of coconut

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

**1 1/2 cup white rum (must be white I prefer Bacardi of course)

cinnamon sticks for garnish

I suggest 1 1/2 cups of white rum. If that sounds like too much, start with 1 cup and add more to taste. I like to add just enough rum that it’s prickly on the back of your throat and warms you on the inside. It will be one of the few drinks you’ll have that is cold that warms you up. Just be careful because the flavor of the rum gets stronger the longer the drink “marinates”. LOL. If you have a family like mine, it could be the gift that keeps giving. Abuela once told me that egg yolk came from the white American tradition of eggnog, so some Rican’s have welcomed it into their coquito. I stick to my original roots, so I am part of the NO egg yolk camp! Debate amongst yourself and enjoy.

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL ALZHEIMER’S AWARENESS MONTH

Alzheimer’s is the biggest epidemic in the world. It is something that will directly affect us all. My mom used to work at this great place called Sunrise Senior Living in Westlake Village, CA. She worked on a floor that they refer to as “The Reminiscences”. Many of my friends live on this floor so I am there to visit often. I find it offensive when people feel it is too hard to care for their elderly love ones and seldom come back to visit. I understand it’s hard seeing your mother revert to your daughter or your father revert to your son but often that’s the course life gives. People are afraid of what they don’t understand.  I believe education is the key so let me do my part to spread what I know.

Currently, an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. This figure includes 5.1 million people 65 and older and 200,000 under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

Based on these estimates, approximately 500,000 Americans under age 65 have Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Of these, about 40 percent are estimated to have Alzheimer’s.

One in eight persons 65 and older (13 percent) have Alzheimer’s.

Every 70 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. By mid-century, someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

Women are more likely than men to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Fourteen percent of all people 71 and older have dementia.

Women 71 and older have higher rates than men: 16 percent for women and 11 percent for men.

The 2008 estimate is that 2.4 million women and one million men 71 and older have dementia.

The number of Americans surviving into their 80s and 90s and beyond is expected to grow because of advances in medicine and medical technology, as well as social and environmental conditions.

Since the incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias increase with age, the number of people with these conditions will also grow rapidly.

What is Alzheimer’s? 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — the loss of intellectual and social abilities severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. In Alzheimer’s disease, healthy brain tissue degenerates, causing a steady decline in memory and mental abilities. Although there’s no cure, treatments may improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Those with Alzheimer’s — as well as those who care for them — need support and affection from friends and family to cope.

Alzheimer’s disease may start with slight memory loss and confusion, but it eventually leads to irreversible mental impairment that destroys a person’s ability to remember, reason, learn and imagine.

Memory loss

Everyone has occasional lapses in memory. It’s normal to forget where you put your car keys or to blank on the names of people whom you rarely see. But the memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease persist and worsen. People with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Repeat things
  • Often forget conversations or appointments
  • Routinely misplace things, often putting them in illogical locations
  • Eventually forget the names of family members and everyday objects

Problems with abstract thinking 

People with Alzheimer’s may initially have trouble balancing their checkbook, a problem that progresses to trouble recognizing and dealing with numbers.

Difficulty finding the right word

It may be a challenge for those with Alzheimer’s to find the right words to express thoughts or even follow conversations. Eventually, reading and writing also are affected.

Disorientation 

People with Alzheimer’s disease often lose their sense of time and dates and may find themselves lost in familiar surroundings.

Loss of judgment 

Solving everyday problems, such as knowing what to do if food on the stove is burning, becomes increasingly difficult, eventually impossible. Alzheimer’s is characterized by greater difficulty in doing things that require planning, decision-making and judgment.

Difficulties performing familiar tasks 

Once-routine tasks that require sequential steps, such as cooking, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer’s may forget how to do even the most basic things.

Personality changes People with Alzheimer’s may exhibit:

  • Mood swings
  • Distrust in others
  • Increased stubbornness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness

Alzheimer’s Disease typically develops slowly and causes a gradual decline in cognitive abilities, usually over a span of seven to 10 years. It eventually affects nearly all brain functions, including memory, movement, language, behavior, judgment and abstract reasoning.

Dividing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease into stages can help you plan for the future but remember that not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate. While each individual is different, the progression of his or her disease can be roughly divided into three stages — mild, moderate and severe.

grayscale photography of patient and relative holding hands
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Mild Alzheimer’s disease

People in the early stage of Alzheimer’s may experience memory loss, lapses of judgment and subtle changes in personality. They often have decreased attention span and less motivation to complete tasks. In addition, they may resist change and new challenges, and get lost even in familiar places.

While everyone occasionally forgets words or names during conversations, this problem occurs with increasing frequency in people with mild Alzheimer’s. They may substitute or make up words that sound like or mean something like the forgotten word. They sometimes even avoid talking to keep from making mistakes and appear subdued or withdrawn — especially in socially or mentally challenging situations.

They may also put things in very odd places. For example, a wallet may end up in the freezer, or clothes may go into the dishwasher. They may ask repetitive questions or hoard things of no value. When frustrated or tired, they may become uncharacteristically angry.

Moderate Alzheimer’s disease

In the middle stage of Alzheimer’s, people can’t organize thoughts or follow logical explanations. They lose the ability to follow written instructions and often need help choosing proper clothing for the season or occasion. Eventually, they’ll require help getting dressed because their confusion may cause them to put their pajamas on over their daytime clothes or their shoes on the wrong feet. They may also have episodes of urinary or fecal incontinence.

It’s usually during this stage that people start having problems recognizing family members and friends. They may mix up identities — thinking a son is a brother or that a spouse is a stranger. They may become confused about where they are and what day, season or year it is. They become unable to recall their address or phone number.

Because they lack judgment and tend to wander, people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease aren’t safe on their own. They may exhibit restless, repetitive movements in late afternoon, or continually repeat certain stories, words or motions, such as tearing tissues.

Problems with communication worsen during the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s. This can lead to a variety of challenging behaviors, including:

Paranoia that sometimes provokes accusations of infidelity or stealing

Agitation, frustration or anger that can lead to cursing, kicking, hitting, biting, screaming or grabbing

Severe Alzheimer’s disease

People in the last stage of Alzheimer’s require help with all their daily needs. They lose the ability to walk without assistance and then the ability to sit up without support. They are usually incontinent and may no longer speak coherently. They rarely recognize family members. Swallowing difficulties can cause choking, and they may refuse to eat.

How long?

The rate of progression varies widely among individuals. For some, severe dementia occurs within five years of diagnosis. For others, it can take more than a decade. On average, people with Alzheimer’s live for eight to ten years after diagnosis. Some live as long as 20 years. Most people with Alzheimer’s don’t die of the disease itself, but of pneumonia, a urinary tract infection or complications from a fall.

If you are someone caring for a love one living with Alzheimer’s PLEASE:

Remind yourself frequently that dementia or Alzheimer’s is not their nor your fault. They did not ask for this to happen to their mind. But also help yourself come to the realization that their “old life” no longer exists and changes in personality are to be expected.

Write in your journal every day the memories you have with this individual when their life was good. These will help you to keep them alive in your mind while you begin to grieve them.

If you find yourself getting frustrated, in which you will, take frequent short breaks to alleviate the constant building of irritation in your mind. Keep in mind, you cannot care for a loved one with a mental disease by yourself. You need to be able to ask for help to allow yourself some time to take a break.

Remind yourself your loved one has come to depend on you for care. Whether they realize it or remember it, they are depending on you. The have essentially become a child and you are their parent.

They may repeatedly have the same conversation with you. That is okay. Your reaction will control the situation. Pick your battles. Most are not worth beginning. It will only cause frustration and anger for both of you.

Talk to others about your situation on a daily basis. Other people that are not involved will help you to find humor in your particular situation.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

IMA WOMAN, THEREFORE I’M PRO WOMAN!

When you hear a feminist fighting for gender equality, this right here is what it’s all about! It’s hard for me to understand why any rational adult doesn’t see this as an issue! 

It’s not the 50’s where men make a sufficient amount of money of take care of their families anymore! Or even try to take care of their families anymore!

Back in the day, women made less because they had side jobs and were NOT expected to be the bread winners! But in this day and age where men have the option to take care of their children or NOT to take care of their children, women are literally told if you have a baby be ready for it to be your sole responsibility… Pay scales should be equal. Clear across the board! No exceptions! If this doesn’t fire you up and piss you off, we can’t be friends at all! 

You can label me as a feminist any day because this right here is DEAD WRONG and I can NOT, NOT speak up about it! 

HOT CHOCOLATE WITH MARSHMALLOWS

Mexico 500 BC, the Mayans were drinking chocolate made from ground up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, chili peppers as well as other ingredients. A lot different than the hot chocolate we know today. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medically to treat ailments such as liver and stomach disease. Mexico introduced Europeans to hot chocolate in the New World. 

It’s always awesome for kids to know little fun facts about the world around them. As a homeschool mom, every moment is a teachable moment, even the fun ones. As the weather changes, my daughter loves to drink hot chocolate, sit in front of the fireplace and read books.

Cherie’s Crockpot Hot Chocolate 

Ingredients 

One and a half cups of heavy whipping cream 

One 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

6 cups of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups of chocolate chips

* For large parties double the ingredients* 

Instructions 

1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla and chocolate chips in your crockpot.

2. Cover and cook on low for about two hours stir occasionally with a whisk until the mixture is hot and the chocolate chips are all melted.

3. Once it’s heated all the way through and the chocolate is fully melted turn the crockpot on the warm setting and stir occasionally before serving.

4. This is my daughter’s favorite part: when you serve them, garnish every individual cup with whip cream or marshmallows maybe even both.

PIZZA PARTY AND SCARY MOVIES

As a child, October was my favorite time of the year. It screamed scary movies and pizza parties. Staying up really late at night and being scared out of my mind. What a better way to spend the weekend, now that my daughter is the tender age of six. Yes, I said Six! My sense of humor is demented and lucky for me, so is my daughter’s. I am looking forward to sharing the experience with her. She already likes Child’s Play 1 and 2.

Instead of being scared, she laughed about the special effects and asked about how the blood splattered. I explained to her what a blood squib is. Then I showed her Uncle Eric’s Facebook page so she could see his special effects makeup he has done for films. It sparked a whole new interest.

Then she watches clips of me getting my neck cut open by Eric Roberts in a film and Uncle Antwon crying over my dead body in another film and all she wanted to know, “Was it hard not to laugh,” she asked me.

So, I am going to see how she feels about this lineup, wish me luck!

ParaNorman (Kids Movie)

I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS

Frankenweenie (Kids Movie)

CANDYMAN

Gremlins (Childhood fav)

OMG HALLOWEEN KILLS, the return of Michael Myers is delayed. Thanks, alot Covid! It’s okay, it gives me a chance to catch my daughter up on the oldies but goodies.

PUMPKIN NICE CREAM

Yes, I am one of those people who looks forward to fall all year long because I like all the seasonal pumpkin treats! While I can see Shawn Harrison (My Wally pop) rolling his eyes at me now out of disgust. He hates pumpkin and I should be ashamed but that fact that he hates it makes me enjoy it just a little more. LOL.

My daughter loves Pumpkin Nice Cream, so I make a big batch and keep extra in the freezer. It only takes like 3 minutes to make, so it’s the perfect last thought dessert.

5-6 frozen bananas

1 15-oz can of organic pumpkin puree (I remove from the can and freeze overnight beforehand)

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp of vanilla extra

6 pitted medjool dates (if you want it sweeter, freeze beforehand)

If you do not freeze ingredients beforehand:

Blend the pumpkin, spices, vanilla extract and dates until smooth.

Transfer to a shallow pan and freeze overnight.

If they are already frozen:

Break apart pumpkin mixture and add to the blender/food processor with frozen bananas. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Eat immediately as soft serve, freeze for 2-3 hours for a scoopable ice cream. You can keep leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 days.

PUMPKIN CARVING PARTY

I’ve got good news homeschoolers: pumpkin carving is definitely a craft so it counts as art class. Pumpkin carving has become a tradition in our house. It all started when my daughter was little, she loved Spookley the Square Pumpkin!

Giving it a name and a face is her favorite thing to do. I cut open plastic bags and literally placed it right down on the kitchen floor. Pumpkin carving is messy, and this is a way for really easy cleanup. I get down on the floor, open up a garbage bag and just throw everything else in it.  I make sure to give her a wooden spoon and a huge bowl so she can scoop out all the goodness and put it in the bowl. She loves getting her hands dirty and acting silly with the pumpkin’s insides.

Pumpkin Carving Party

We put aside the goodness for another activity I’ll write you about next time. Because my daughter is small, I made sure that I bought her those child friendly carving tools and I have her draw the face that she wants on the pumpkin before we actually cut them out. And then I help her carve out the face that she wants. I make sure that she remembers not to rush, to use small, controlled motions and to keep her hands dry so that doesn’t slip on the little carving tools. I make sure to put the top on the pumpkin so that she doesn’t feel compelled to put her hand on the inside of the pumpkin while she’s cutting, that way I don’t have to worry about her cutting herself. Tea light candles from the Dollar Store are the perfect substitute for a real candle. 

And if you feel that your child is too small to actually carve a pumpkin; it doesn’t mean that they need to be left out of the fun. Give them a sharpie and let them go to work, maybe some glue with some googly eyes, some sequins and rhinestones. Let them just have fun and be creative. One year my daughter painted a pumpkin and she loved it. Don’t get caught up in details, just have fun and make great memories.

PUMPKIN PATCH

It’s that time of the year again! PUMPKIN PATCH TIME! I feel blessed to live in a great place that has many awesome patches nearby. It all started when my daughter was little, she loved Spookley the Square Pumpkin! So, the first year, after we went on a hay barrel ride, drank hot chocolate, rode a pony and visited the little petting zoo they had, she took me on a mission. She had me walking down row, after row looking for a square pumpkin… which of course she did not find. But after a while, she forgot she was looking for a specific shape because she found the perfect one for her. She said it was asking her to please bring it home.

I was relieved we could finally leave LOL. She took pictures and waved bye to the people that helped us, but most of all, she got the perfect pumpkin for her. Allowing her to choose for herself not only makes her feel like a big girl but also brings her so much joy since it will become her friend for the season. She always puts a seatbelt on it and talks to it on the way home.

I know I will miss these sweet moments one day. I hope she enjoys the pumpkin patch for many years to come because I truly enjoy watching her search for the perfect pumpkin. Stay tuned to Fridays post when I will write about carving out this Jack O Lantern.

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS

So, I wanted to do a piece about Breast Cancer Awareness but I think it’s best for you to read the journey of my BADASS SISTA (20 years strong we been riding).

 Shawand Marquez, who kicked breast cancers ass! Shawand is an Actress, Dancer and AWESOME MOTHER! Now I am going to stop bugging her up and let you read her words yourself so you can understand yourself why I am a huge fan of hers……

GOOD AFTERNOON… TODAY IS OCTOBER 9TH… AND EVERYTIME THE 9TH ROLLS AROUND MY MIND STARTS GOING. 

IT HAS BEEN EXACTLY 2 YEARS & 4 MONTHS TO THE DAY WHEN I WAS AWOKEN UP FROM #DoubleMastectomy & WAS OFFICIALLY CANCER FREE AND BREASTLESS. 

IT HAS BEEN A CRAZY EMOTIONAL JOURNEY…THERE ARE ALOT OF SCARS I HAVE EMOTIONALLY BUT THESE ARE THE ONES YOU GUYS CAN SEE… I AM GRATEFUL TO BE ABLE TO HAVE #LifeAfterBreastCancer WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY NEXT THING…

IN A COUPLE WEEKS IT WILL BE ALL ABOUT MY LIL SIDE KICK… BUT I WANTED TO DO THIS FOR MYSELF & OTHER WOMEN WHO MAY HAVE HAD SURGERIES & C-SECTIONS LIKE MYSELF AND MAY HAVE STRUGGLED WITH THEIR BODY IMAGE…

THIS IS ME AFTER ALL THE THINGS I HAVE BEEN THROUGH. THIS IS ME … YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU BEEN THROUGH… I AM STILL FUN, BUBBLING, SEXY, BEAUTIFUL WHILE WORKING ON WEIGHT LOSS & RAISING 3 KIDS & TRYING TO BE THE BEST WIFE & MOM / STEPMOM EVER …. YEAH I HAVE MY DEPRESSION & CRAZY ANXIETY ISSUES & MOMENTS BUT I‘M GETTING BETTER EACH DAY… 

SO LET ME REINTRODUCE MYSELF… ( AGAIN) LOL

I AM Shawand ShaLove Marquez & I have 2 step kids and my first born is about to be a year old… I have gotten surgery up top (Double Mastectomy & surgery down low (C- section) …I have been through mental, physical & emotional abuse …I Love Love lol.. I Love to Laugh & Dance & I have done some acting  & I love to be around people with awesome positive vibes ….Yuuuppp Posting this scares me but if it can uplift someone and inspire someone then it is always worth it … ANY QUESTIONS???

BTW YUP THOSE ARE #WonderWoman Underwear for Obvious reasons lol … Yes, I was genuinely laughing because the Photographer is super awesome and funny lol … I had to shoot this a few days after I injured my leg… and still found a reason to laugh so I hope everyone found a reason to smile today annnnnnndddd I hope you guys are checking your Breast with Self Examinations …#EarlyDetection is Key

PEACE LOVE HAPPINESS & NO BODY SHAMING & DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING… XOXOXOXOXOXO

Photo Credit: Nomi Ellenson at Boudoir by Nomi Photography