Getting Back to Normal: The New Normal

We just got our pictures back from her newborn shoot and its making me fall in love with her all over again. She is so gosh darn cute. She loves her binky and will not let that thing go unless she is in a complete slumber.
Sadly, time is flying and I will have to go back to work sooner than later. I have to prepare my mind and heart for getting back to a reasonable routine. Today for the first time since giving birth, I got my nails and eyebrows done. It’s amazing how much I feel more like myself. 
I am still deciding on my actual return to work date, but it breaks my heart just to think about it – so I shall just continue to enjoy home a little while longer. 
One thing that I have enjoyed about post-labor that I have come to find out is that just like labor there are other things in caring for your baby that you can not plan either. I PLANNED to breastfeed my child. Well, not so much – As much as I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, my milk supply has never caught up to the demand of a growing newborn. I was stubborn and determined to suffer through the whole painful process that is breastfeeding but then I realized that my happy baby that I had was slowly becoming extremely fussy and not taking naps as often without being held after feedings. I realized it was because she was still hungry and looking for where the next meal was coming from. It took me a few painful days to realize it – and mostly emotionally painful then physically painful to accept that its ok to formula feed my baby if its giving her nourishment and part time breastfeed my baby to give her the nutrients that I can give her at the least. So I now have 3 breast pumps because I am that determined to find a system that worked. So far so good – I have a system that works and a happy, growing baby. Not to mention, the shrinking waistline and hips are a PLUS! I am so excited that not only did I not have to buy maternity pants my entire pregnancy, but even after buying that same size post baby, they are too big and falling off. Its my hope to be down an additional whole size before going back to work. Fingers crossed. 
It is amazing to me as I look at pictures that we took with Gracia in front of our Christmas tree this year that the grace of God really did allow what I spoke last year to come to pass. Last Christmas we sat in front of the tree, my husband and I, with a few gifts to exchange between the rest of us. I told him then that we may as well soak this all in because by next Christmas, we will have gifts for children under the tree – and sure enough, thats exactly what happened. 
And this is just the beginning. She brings us so much joy that it should not surprise anyone around us (or maybe it will) that we literally started talking about when we will try for her siblings almost as soon as we had her. My husband literally asked me while we were still in the hospital. We both love her and love children and always knew that we wanted some what of a big family. So who knows.. this year can be full of surprises. 
Until then, the new normal – living with a newborn who is growing and changing and discovering that which she likes. Coming back up for air feels great – and FINALLY I can get back to regularly scheduled posts that I have been meaning to write now that my mind is not as clouded with exhaustion and adjustment. 

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Monday Movement

This weekend was a weekend for family and luncheons. 
My mom is a member of The Links, Inc. 
Every year in Baltimore they have a luncheon that supports several scholarship efforts for high school and college students. 
My mother couldn’t come but she made sure that her whole family would be there to represent. 
Myself and Amos, My cousin Qiana (pictured below) and her husband, My Cousin Blair (also pictured below) and my Uncle Carl and his fiance as well as two of my good friends all came to support my mom’s luncheon. 
Although we are really close, we don’t get the chance to see each other often so it was so good to get to see my family. The last time I was able to see Q was at her wedding that I wrote about here. 
By the way, the newlyweds are going to Brazil in two weeks — I can’t wait to see pictures from her trip. 
We definitely didn’t plan to be in the same color but it was funny that we showed up in purple and red alike anyways. 
Here’s my handsome cousin Blair. 
He lives in NYC close to my sister with his wife and children and is thinking about moving back to my area, so I am happy about that. He is definitely more like a big brother than my older cousin. 

So we left that luncheon in Baltimore and immediately drove towards to D.C. to attend yet another luncheon. We literally went from eating to eating just to show our support. 
I am sure Amos would hate this picture but I love it – candid and random and he looks so cute dressed in his suit and sweater for this semi-formal affair. Mind you that dress code was followed very loosely. Unfortunately I kid you not – I saw a person there with a Nautica t-shirt and Adidas jogging pants.

This weekend was filled not only with family but with Church and other gatherings. 
This weekend was my church’s 13th Year Anniversary. 
Our Youth were so excited that they did a Flash Mob in the middle of Pastor’s announcements and did the New Harlem Shake with their mascot and all. 
I only wish that I had a video to show you guys but I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t get my phone out in time to tape it. 
It was too funny and my Pastor had no idea what was going on. 
But it wouldn’t be a weekend in the DMV if crabs weren’t involved. 
This particular weekend, I decided to add Louisiana Crawfish to the mix. 
Boy was it GOOD!
And in other news: 
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week
  • Infertility is the inability to conceive within one year of unprotected sex during childbearing years and six months if you are 35 years or older. 
  • Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the United States, which breaks down to 1 in 8 couples.

That means more than likely one of your married couple friends, or friends who are trying to conceive are unable to do so without the help of fertility treatment. (and may not know it). 

If you don’t already know, I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility in April of 2012. Unexplained infertility means that despite several tests, dye shoved through my uterus and fallopian tubes, my husband taking tests that proved that there was nothing wrong with him, my doctor stamped my chart as “unexplained” – he can’t figure out why at this point we are not able to conceive. Its something that we have not been able to do in 2 1/2 years.

I had no idea that I would have a hard time conceiving children until we tried to conceive children.
Then as I started talking to my friends, found out that they too hard trouble conceiving children. 
It was not as easy as we had been told all our lives. You know those constant threats of “it just takes one time!” did not prove to be true at all. I kid you not, MOST of my friends are having hard time conceiving due to common issues with women like : Endometriosis, Fibroids (in African American women), irregular cycles and God knows what the effects of the hormones in non-organic foods and other contributing factors. And quite honestly, some men are just shooting blanks and don’t know it.
  • A couple ages 29-33 with normal reproductive systems only have a 20%-25% chance of conceiving each month. 
  • After 6 months, only 60% of couples would have conceived, the other 40% would be considered infertile if they have not conceived within another 6 months following depending on age.
  • 85% to 90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy and surgical procedures. Less than 3% need more advanced surgical procedures like IVF. 

Fertility treatments are not always covered by insurance companies and can cost at minimum $1000 to $10,000-$20,000 depending on how much monitoring and subsequent medications are also not covered. So drug therapy is a considerable investment and neither is guaranteed to actually work.

And only Fifteen states have passed laws requiring that insurance policies cover some level of infertility treatment: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia.
One of my favorite bloggers on the subject, Keiko Zoll who blogs at The Infertility Voice, created this video that kind of explains the whole emotional aspect and impact that it can have on a family when you realize in your twenties that this may be your fate for life.

Also know, Infertility can just be a temporary diagnosis. After for struggling for several years with infertility, Keiko Zoll and her husband are actually expecting their first child due this summer. She is blogging about that experience here.

It depends on the circumstances that surround why you are not pregnant: timing, other diagnosis that affects infertility, etc. 

The cure is pregnancy at times and often times people are diagnosed with secondary infertility, which is not being able to conceive easily after you have already had a child. 
Just wanted to make sure that people are more aware of where we really are a nation with infertility. If more insurance companies would cover it, it would definitely cut back on a lot financial restraints and concerns of a family who just wants to expand or start a family. 
To be in situations where you have to chose between a fertility treatment and major bills because they can cost as much as a mortgage is wrong when it effects 1 in 8 couples in our country. 
My prayer has ALWAYS been, when I realized that infertility had affected our house as well, was that God would give me the strength to kick unexplained infertility’s butt! I’ll never give up because I believe all things happen in his timing. So whether it be with treatments or natural, unexplained infertility will not be our status for life: I have faith. 
Share your personal experiences this week or maybe of someone you know – 
know that you are not alone 
and Join the Movement!

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Weekend with Family

This weekend was an awesome, relaxing weekend with my family. 
My in laws came in town for a job fair that was going on in the DMV – 
I always love when they are in town. Its straight laughter and just relaxation most of the time. 
Apparently they needed to get away because this was the most sleep she was able to get. 
We made a bunch of Green Smoothies, like these: 
and we tried new flavors- 
I made a banana and peanut butter one, one with spinach, mango, peaches, oranges and bananas – it was so good!
Then it was time to go on a walk!
If I haven’t said before, we live on a Golf Course. 

Its a new development so the paths for walking aren’t complete so we cut through the Golf Course which is literally in the back yard at times. 
We were headed to the clubhouse because it just opened and we wanted to check out the new gym facility and the pool. 
Cutting through the Golf Course was a short cut. 
We thought that taking the paths that the golf carts use, we would be ok.. 
We started out pretty good – 
There were so many people playing Golf that day. 
This group in the photo below were so cool. 
We talked with them as they headed down the fairway. 
Sadly, one of them couldn’t play to save his life.
We stopped so he could hit the ball across the water – He hits the ball six inches to the left. 
On the next stroke he hit the ball straight into the water. 
I felt so bad for him that I couldn’t even laugh – we just kept walking.

That was until some older guy in a golf cart told us we were trespassing and that we would have to walk back the way we came. We were so confused. 
We so close to the street at this point where we were headed that we were like can’t we just keep going? First he said, No and pointed. 
Then he said, It looks like you really didn’t know, so you can keep going. 
Thank you kind sir. 
Whatever. 
Well also over the weekend, 
My mom came to D.C. for the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast
She was honored to be asked by the President to preach for the Prayer Breakfast – 
of course I was beyond proud!

She said that she was nervous but I know that she did a great job!
Also, this weekend I have been preparing to go to The Make Up Show in New York. 
Going from Freelancer to Professional Make Up Artist – with professional discounts and what not.
Way too excited!

I have always done my own hair and have become a “weave-ologist” over the years and more recently on the last production I worked on, I did hair for our celebrity guests. 
Well, the dream is growing because in May, the Make Up show is coming and I had to put a Composite Card of my work together. 
If you or someone you know is in need of a make up artist, whether it be in the D.C. Metropolitan Area or even abroad – feel free to pass my information along. 
Vashti Make Up Artistry – email me at vashtijasmine@gmail.com 

It’s Spring, so break out the brighter colors!
Never take that bright color to your brow. 
Make sure to always blend with a neutral going dark to light up to the brow. 

My hooded eyes always cover up the color so I try to extend it a little beyond my lid and add a fun lash for a little natural drama.
And of course Sunday was my day for all of my Ratchet Reality Shows. 
What cracks me up is the text messages that I get from my mother and my sister. 
I love it because my sister lives in New York, but when we text back and forth while watching the same show, its like she is right here watching it with me.
Here is a conversation that my sister had with me while we watched the premier of The Sheards, this reality show that came out on Sunday: I was dying laughing at her and these GIFs she kept sending me. LOL.
Sister: “Can’t wait to watch this!!!!!! 
Can’t believe they even agreed to do this!”

Me: HAHAHA. Me Too!
S: We shall see about this!!
….
S: Oh She Never Got Married?!!
M: No Ma’am
S:
(I am on the floor dying right about now at how she keeps replying with GIFs)
S: She is 25?! She talks like a baby!
M: Ma’am you are only two years older then her. 
S: I don’t act like a baby!
M: I didn’t say you did. 
S: I’m Grown!

M: I can’t with you!!!
S: LOL!
…..
M: I am going to give you a Blue Lip next time I do your make up.
S: 

M: You are a nut!
S: I have plenty more. 
….
S: I wouldn’t wife her either. Re: Baby moms

M: I agree, her driving off with the door open made her look straight dumb.
And THAT – was my weekend with my family!
How was yours?

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Snowy Palms and Productions

This is my present locale because this: 
is what it looks like outside of my house – Snow on a wonderful Spring Day?! 
And of course my agency is open so I am feverishly making sure that I am keeping up with what I am supposed to be doing. 
In the meantime, this is what I have been doing all weekend-
Easter Production entitled “King of Kings”
Per usual, you can find me in the make up department. 
2013 Make Up Department for Easter Production – having fun after the last show!
Nevermind my Christmas shirt – we had to wear black and that was the only shirt I had that I really didn’t care too much for in case I got stuff on me. 
And per usual, you find me trying on different specks while I play and have some fun behind the scenes. I feel like a school teacher in these — “Let me school you” LOL.
Well much like every production at my husband’s church, there is plenty of rehearsals. I usually come to Tech Week, which is the week leading up to the actual shows so that I can see the flow of the show and know how to pace myself and what looks we will need for the Production with the guidance of the Make Up Director. 
I posted a pic on Instagram of this young dancer, DJ – who by the way is an amazing 19 year old hip hop dancer that gives his all at every rehearsal and does it all while constantly giving credit to God while doing so. Well, last week after the first rehearsal of Tech Week, DJ was going home and got into a really bad car accident. He flipped his car several times and ran into a light post so hard that it split. He said that he blacked out and doesn’t remember the details but remembers that his car was smoking and literally thought that it was going to blow up and he feared he was going to die. But thankfully, someone saw him and helped him escape from his vehicle through his window and sat with him on the side of the road. The very next night – he was there. at rehearsal. alive. with nothing but a scratch on his finger and no aches in his body – still dancing for the Lord. 

Some of my favorite moments from the Production of course involved Amos –
During “Joy Night” there is a fill in for each of the invited Guest Artist so that they can watch the show and see how they are supposed to do it. 
Amos was filling in for Richard Smallwood. He was great!
Kudos from Richard himself.
The set design always amazes me. They literally built a huge boat for the disciples and Jesus to get into and move across the stage – mind you this is the pulpit of their church. 
Fog machines float fog across the floor of the stage so that you will not see the mechanics of the boat’s movement. 
Interestingly enough, this huge boat filled with 12 grown men was actually being pulled on a pulley by one man – one very tall, very big young man. Poor thing had hurting hands after 6 shows. 
Of course, after the last show just means that we can play in the boat like kids!
This is my friend, Tamika – the Make Up Director playing in that big boat. It gives you the scale of how huge that thing was!
Remember last week when I gave you a sneak peak at the practice make up: 
Here is a reminder – 
For the show we added a glitter eye piece and went with a neutral lip. 
It was so that from the stage along with the lighting the light would hit the glitter as these were the special dancers that represented the Angels.
It looked so good on camera and it was so good to see the final product come together.
Another look for this weekend was one that I practiced on myself – a glamourous demonic look. I am thankful that I didn’t have to really wear this mask, but it was definitely cool to try something different.
If we weren’t rushing trying to do cast make up, in down time we were practicing different looks on each other. My girl Vanessa did this leopard spot look on me. 
Grrrrrrrrrrr BABY!
My boo liked it , LOL. This must’ve been between the three shows we had on Saturday because once he starts working, I never get to see him. 
Then the other part of the job, getting called at a minute’s notice to come to a Guest Artists room because they need hair or make up because they came sans glam team. 
Me and Tamika to the rescue!
We were Shirley Ceasar’s Glam Team for the weekend, who by the way is hilariously sweet and we worked with Le’Andria Johnson as well. 
It’s one thing to see your look behind an office door in florescent lights, but its one thing to actually see it on a stage. We ran to the sanctuary to check on our work and we were so pleased! 
It’s a different eye to do stage make up because everything has to be exaggerated. 
I loved her spirit as well and she can SING! 
Of course the benefit of having guests is being able to meet them in person. 
We happened to run into David Mann, who is famous for being “Mr. Brown” in Tyler Perry plays and movies because his wife, Tamela Mann, who plays “Cora” in Tyler Perry Productions was a guest artist who sang her hit, “Take me to the King!”

We were thankful that we had a good run with the Easter Production. We only get a month or so to rest because now ideas are flowing for Christmas Production and auditions begin in July. 
I also got to see my mom on Sunday. 
She happened to come to Howard University, my alma mater to preach on Sunday!
It was so good being able to catch up with her and I loved her robe!

I hope that you had a wonderful Palm Sunday!

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Marches, Make-Up and Movies … OH MY!

 This weekend was a whirlwind of activities and completely non-stop until this moment… my coveted compressed day off from work. It’s always the days that you plan to do absolutely nothing that turns into a jam packed few days and then you look back and think as exhausted as you feel : how and when did all those things get on your schedule?

It started Friday Night with an impromptu Date Night with Amos —
We saw 21 and Over and ended at The Green Turtle for dinner
First, 21 and Over was as hilarious as they say! and this is the look that I get when Amos realizes there is Televisions in the booths and a Miami Heat game is on – 
Hey Boo, I am over here! 
Saturday started with a nail cutting gel manicure. 
I am the type of person that has to decide before I go to the nail shop what colors I want on my nails because once there in the land of nail polishes – I will change my mind in a heart beat and then be sad for two weeks that I didn’t just go with my gut. 
Is it just me?
So this weekend, I decided I wanted baby pink with gold glitter nail – 
These are the colors on my nail, the left is an O.P.I nail polish in “Privacy Please” and the right is a China Glaze in “Blonde Bombshell”
As you can kinda see in this pic, I went from Navy Blue stiletto nails – so this was definitely a change of pace for me. 
From there, I went to a Gender Reveal Party at my neighbor and fellow blogger, Veronica‘s home. 
This was how we cast our vote for what she was having. 
I guessed Little Miss. 
I will wait until she posts herself, before I reveal if I was right or not. 
Sunday Morning started bright and early –
As I spoke about here, this weekend was Delta Sigma Theta’s reenactment of the Women’s Suffrage March of 1913. Now, some may not know what Women’s Suffrage is – and grant it I didn’t really know what Suffrage was until I realized when I was older that this scene was one of my favorite movies : Mary Poppins
So basically the relevance to our sorority and this march is this: On January 13, 1913 Delta Sigma Theta was formed by women who were members of the only African American Sorority at the time, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Upon its forming Delta Sigma Theta began a more social action mission – a mere 3 months after its forming, the founders of the sorority participated in what was the biggest march for Suffrage for Women. These 22 African American college students along with their faculty male escort that they convinced to chaperone them (since women were not allowed without one in that time) decided that they would march in this March at a time where African Americans, let alone African American women were doing anything of the sort. After all, American women at the time were looked down upon for even participating. 
This Sunday marked 100 years since that March for Women’s Rights. 
Delta Sigma Theta invited several women’s rights organizations to join us as we “Retraced the Footsteps of our Founders” in the reenactment of the Women’s Suffrage March. 
Here are a few pics from the March:
We gathered at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, MD to load buses and cars to head to Capitol Hill

National 2nd VP – Chelsea Hayes and myself
Madame President Cynthia Butler-McIntyre and myself
My mom and myself in the car service headed to the Capitol
Happy to also share a ride with Honorary Member Daphne Maxwell-Reid (best known for Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

Sorority Sisters gathered on the lawn in front of the Capitol and were grouped by where we were from – they came from far and wide!
s/o to my Sorors from the Republic of Korea.

Here is my group gathering from the great state of Maryland

This Soror is wearing a jacket made to honor the Founders and has my Great-Grandmothers name 
My mom prayed that morning in front of The Capitol – 
I can not describe how it felt to hear the words of her prayer bounce from The Capitol down the National Mall 

Mom, Bishop McKenzie with Civil Rights Activist and Past National President of Delta Sigma Theta
Frankie Muse Freeman 
Pictured with mom and our Cousin Rachael
We gathered on Pennsylvania Ave in D.C. 
Assembled ourselves by “rank” and State
Then we got our March on!
As we headed down Pennsylvania Avenue, I turned around and could see Sorority Sisters for miles! 
In this pic not only are we a good ways down Pennsylvania Ave but there are still more gathered on the lawn of the Capitol. 
I marched carrying a sign representing our Past National Presidents that are no longer with us. 
I carried the one of the National President that would’ve been President at the 1913 March.
So honored. 

The parade route took a turn to right in front of The White House – who knows if anyone was home but we made sure to make our presence felt!
Mom and I in front of the White House
I think right about here… my phone started acting crazy – 
thought it was dead but now thinking back, because we were standing in front of the White House, I would not be surprised if it was done intentionally
So no more pics from the event. 
Immediately after the March ended – 
I had a production make up session for this upcoming Easter Production 
The refresher for the day was highlighting and contouring – honestly one of my favorite things to do
Its like the face is the canvas and you can accentuate whatever you want all with the beauty of highlighting and contouring. 
Here you can see that I decided to accentuate her nose, her lips, her cheek bones and her brow bone
added a plum lip liner and matte nude lip and the look was complete.
For the production the Make Up Director came up with some inspirations for the looks for the opening scene. We were tasked with translating it into real life with cheaper tricks.
Here was the inspiration – 

Here was my interpretation using lace cut from small doilies

I can not wait to work on this production so that you can see the final product
Then it was off to change clothes and take a quick nap because my Sister in Law was in town and it was her birthday! It was time to go take her out to celebrate!
We took her to our favorite Sushi/Hibachi Spot and then took her across town to one of our favorite movie theaters. 
This AMC theater is one that has every theater equipped with recliner seats!
Its the best way to watch a movie! 

We saw the movie Snitch .. didn’t know what to expect but definitely went because Dwayne Johnson was starring in it – but I was pleasantly surprised! It was a really good movie with a great story line and I think the fact that it was based on true events- 
Honestly Amos chose this movie for us because he knew the only way we would stay up late to see a movie would be if there was some eye candy!
But I was pleasantly surprised that there was a vulnerable side shown on screen by Dwayne.
Its one of my favorite movies thus far.

All in all, I had a great and busy weekend and now I’m off to hang with my mom as she is still in town, so its Girls Day OUT!
Have you followed “our” (family dog presently living with my sister in NYC) dog on Instagram yet?!

As the caption on this pic says, she’s “stuntin’ on them hoes”
LOL 
Hope you had a wonderful weekend as well!

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