MOTHERS DAY WITH MEANING

I bought myself an early Mothers Day gift the second I read about Novica.com last week. Novica is known as “the artisans marketplace” because they feature incredible handmade pieces from all around the world. To date they’ve sent over $110.3 million to artisans who are paid fairly and directly for performing their trade and crafting these pieces. I found that to be impressive, but what was equally impressive was the quality of the product I ordered when it arrived. I figured in terms of shipping I’d be waiting at least several weeks, but it was at my doorstep, beautifully packaged in under one week. It’s handmade utilizing fallen tree branches by villagers in Bali. No two pieces are ever identical and this thing is STUNNING. Check out my first ever unboxing with E 👇🏻😊

In fact, after searching for an appropriate place to hang it outside I decided I’m not taking any risks with this South Florida weather and hung it in our bedroom where it is PERFECTION.

I’ve since been in touch with the team at Novica and am psyched to announce that I’ll be hosting a giveaway on Instagram next week so you can treat yourself to your own beautiful goodies. If you’re not already following me there’s a direct link here on my homepage to do so.

You can support the cause in honor of #WorldArtisansDay​ or #NationalHandmadeDay​ by shopping novica.com

Let me know what your favorite artisan piece is in the comments below!

xoxo -Deena

LOST CONTROL? TRY THIS…

It takes some time to admit you can’t control everything, but it’s pretty freeing once you do. Pandemic has taught me that I may THINK “I got this”, but ultimately I DON’T GOT THIS.

With a Type A personality that’s a problem. What do I do to balance out the fact that I can’t control much? I talk to my plants. I also decorate and redecorate my home. I wanted to write about this because if you’re like me and you’re desperately in need of SOMETHING you can feel good about tackling on your own, within your own timeframe that you can sit back (if sitting back is something your kids allow you to do) and enjoy- this is a solid option.

You’re probably all “must be nice to have an unlimited budget, bitch”. I don’t. When I recognize I need to take on a new project there are a few things I do before I start:

1- Identify what’s going OUT before new things come IN. Selling apps like OfferUp (not an ad, but it should be) are my best friend. I clean items up, list them with detailed accurate descriptions, well lit photos and at reasonable prices. The pricing part is KEY. Just because you feel like your Great Aunt Linda’s vase SHOULD sell for $200 doesn’t mean it’s going to. Nobody else cares that it belonged to Great Aunt Linda. They just want the damn vase. If you want the free space, price appropriately and get rid of the thing.

2- Begin researching products and ideas that I’ll need to bring my concept to life. I change my decor as frequently as I change my underwear, so buying versatile pieces that are easily transferrable from room to room is key. I set alerts on my favorite sites, on buying apps and I browse when I have free time until I find something I LOVE. If it happens to be outside of my price range, I figure out how to DIY it or I stalk it until it either goes on sale or I can find it gently used.

It took me way too long to realize that if I just keep buying and gathering I’m gonna end up drowning in STUFF and also most likely broke. The biggest lesson I needed to learn was this: IF YOU DON’T LOVE IT, IT NEEDS TO GO. If an item is purely decorative and has no emotional or historical tie to you, it’s simply taking up space. When you start viewing everything you own through that lens it’s crazy how easy it becomes to whittle down your belongings and learn to highlight things you truly care about.

Also, paint. Paint is your best friend. It solves so many problems if you take the time and do it right. And these days there’s a paint to tackle literally EVERY surface. Wanna paint your fridge red? Wanna resurface your countertops? Backsplash? Furniture? Hell, I just bought patio furniture CUSHION paint. Who knew?!

So this is my biggest piece of advice… When you feel out of control, control the look and vibe of your enviroment or start educating yourself about how to do so. Pinterest and message boards can be your best friends. Have fun with it. Shit… shift a few things around from room to room just to mix it up a bit. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes.

Have an awesome weekend, my frands! Let me know if there are any recent home projects you’ve tackled or whether there’s something you’re about to take on that you’re psyched about in the comments!

xoxo – Deena

ALMOST 5 YEARS IN THE MAKING

“The State of Florida will not budge on this unless you can prove something absolutely awful is happening… Like his father is shooting heroin between his toes on a regular basis.” That was one of the first pieces of feedback I received from one of the many attorneys I’ve consulted with over the years regarding my fight to have my son’s last name legally changed to mine. I also heard “the State of Florida would prefer he have an absentee father than no father at all.” Oh wow! THAT’S not a psychological recipe for disaster AT ALL, is it? I am not a victim. I chose his father. This isn’t a pity party. This is a story about a mom’s attempt to right a wrong.

My journey to have my son’s name changed began when he had just turned 4. His bio dad made it crystal clear that he was not going to be a reliable presence in his life and that’s when I realized I had to make it happen for this little boy. I had to make sure he and I had the same last name by the time he started school. I knew kids were unintentionally (sometimes intentionally) cruel and they’d be asking why he and his mommy didn’t have the same last name. I knew each time it would be a piercing reminder that he’d been abandoned and those were feelings I was laser focused on avoiding for him. Entering a school environment is life-altering enough, I didn’t want to ice the shit-filled cake.

And around every corner I was met with resistance. What the attorney’s said very quickly proved to be true. What concern is it of the state that my child is the only human being he knows with his last name? Why should they care that any time I took him anywhere that paperwork was required I’d be forced to explain (almost always in front of him) why we have different last names? COUNTLESS times I’ve picked this little boy up from school and he’s repeated stories to me that have straight up BROKEN my heart. Of kids telling (not asking) him he must be adopted and he can’t possibly be his mommies REAL child. Him questioning the truth. So many tears have flowed from both of us.

I obviously never accomplished my goal of changing his name before grade school. His bio father refused to allow it. At that point I had already met and fell in love with my now husband and every attorney told us there would be no hope of a name change until we were married and my child would be ASSURED a father. GTFOH with that garbage. But facts are facts. We didn’t rush our wedding by any means, but it has taken a painfully long time to make this happen.

Today it was finazlied, you guys. Today my son became OUR son. It’s never taken me so long to achieve a goal, but we finally have the same last name for this first time in his entire life. He’s been through SO MUCH in his short time here and I can’t stop crying because he’s wanted this for so long. To live life as an adult not feeling like you belong is gut-wrenching and this is what he’s been experiencing all his life.

I’ve never been able to breathe or sleep easy with this weighing on my mind… The pain this boy has felt.

Tonight I will.

So happy

xoxo

CHECKED OUT

This will NOT be an uplifting piece of writing. Just laying that out clearly right now. I’m treating this blog like a public diary of sorts and this is what’s on my mind today.

Not sure whether it’s pandemic life, age, stress levels, physical pain or any of a number of other reasons but my son told me this weekend that lately I remind him of the TV commercials for meds that feature “moms who are not really paying attention to what’s going on around them because their brains are too busy”. Wow! GUT PUNCH! But he’s not wrong. And now when those commercials come on (almost always on Bravo cause they know PRECISELY where to find their demo) it makes me nauseous.

If I’m being honest with myself I am always in some way “checked out” now and I don’t know what to attribute it to. I was taking meds for depression and anxiety when COVID hit and have since whittled it down to a new RX that was suggested by one of my new physicians specifcially targeting anxiety. I’m in constant pain due to TMJ and arthritis in my jaw. I’ve talked with my husband and some family and friends and honestly… the world is so fucking bonkers right now that it’s hard to tell whether it’s LIFE or it’s ME feeling the way I do.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? And is there a pill for “covid is fucking with my head 24/7”? If so, does insurance cover it? Do I have to go to a pill mill to get it?

And that’s a whole different issue. Is this a national thing? It can’t just be a Florida thing. All the “good” doctors no longer accept insurance and insurance suggests every pill mill in town as reputable physicians, but based upon personal experience… NO. When I go to someone who my insurance company has advised is a “therapist” and the first question out of their mouth is “what meds do you want?” It’s shameful.

Remember how I told you in the beginning of this entry that this wasn’t going to be uplifting? I’m a lot of things, but a liar isn’t one of them 😂

So I guess that’s my question to you… Do you feel any of this? A portion of this? I know I’m not alone, I just don’t know HOW much company I have.

What are you doing about it? Going through the motions? Telling yourself things will be different soon?

Let’s talk about it

xoxo Deena

“I HADN’T NOTICED”

If you follow me on social media you know by now that I’m on day 14 of “chemo cream”. It’s a journey I’ve taken you along with and it’s taught me so much in a short couple of weeks.

Firstly, I had no idea how contingent my relationship was with some followers. I learned that if I get serious for even a second they get piiiiiiiissed. It’s a “I don’t want to hear about your life, clown. Get back to work making me laugh” kinda vibe. It’s cool though. Don’t let the door hit ya.

Second, I learned how ride or die others are. People I’ve never even met in real life messaging to share their personal stories and check in on me. It’s really a beautiful thing.

I also learned a valuable lesson about the importance of sharing both the good times (all filtered with stars and rainbows) and the bad times. I learned that I, an unemployed radio host turned stay at home mom can make a difference. That ANYONE can make a difference. I’ve received messages from all over the globe from people telling me watching my experience play out has given them the kick in the ass they needed to make (and keep) that dermatologist appointment. People have been sending me photos of their skin issues and asking my opinion. Don’t worry, my opinion is ALWAYS “show it to your derm”. People have asked for sunscreen recommendations and told me about relatives they lost, limbs that had to be amputated, I convinced a scared pregnant soon-to-be mom to finally seek professional help after 3 years of self diagnosing. This isn’t me bragging. This is me saying that if you’re on the fence about sharing a personal issue, I get it. Trust me. I come from a VERY private family who is less than thrilled about my constant oversharing. But your story could be what saves a life. Tell it. I type that with a caveat. Tell it if it’s YOUR story that is specific to you. Your children and family and friends can tell their own if/when the time comes and they feel inspired.

Last, DO NOT put off treatment for a medical issue out of fear of what your kids, your family or the public will think. Prior to beginning this treatment I did my research. I knew what the outcome could look like. I didn’t show my husband or my son the “after” pics that I found online in advance. I told them the treated areas would get red and that it wouldn’t be pretty and they shrugged it off. My husband has nursed me back to health after surgeries and literally removed tubes from my body. He loves horror movies. He doesn’t get stuck in a moment. He’s fine. I worried about my son. With virtual school would I embarrass him if his friends saw me on camera? How upset is he going to be that I can’t go outside and play catch or go for long walks with him for weeks on end? Will he embrace the idea of “stepping up and helping out more” with our new puppy since he’ll have to take her out for during daylight hours or will be bitch and moan through it all?

I’m pleased to say there’s been minimal bitching. ALL of it has been related to not wanting to put his iPad down and walk the dog… but regarding my actual face: NOTHING but acceptance. Once the redness and erosion really started to kick in I asked him if I was hard to look at. He straight faced said “mommy, I honestly hadn’t noticed”. Last night he cracked a joke comparing my face to the chicken wings we were eating that was actually HILARIOUS, but that’s it.

If you take anything away from what you just read I hope it’s that the time to take care of yourself is NOW. Please stop making excuses, pushing off appointments, waiting for the moment that you’re in “direct” or “hot” sun to apply sunscreen. Add sunscreen to your daily routine the way you apply lotion. Every morning for you AND your kids. Help them develop the habit now.

I heard from a man in Hawaii who said he petitioned his child’s school to make sunscreen mandatory for children… To teach them to apply it routinely the same way he watched his kids learn proper tooth brushing technique in school. They laughed at him.

I understand I’m stuck in a moment as I’m going through this treatment and my sense of urgency to bathe in SPF is heightened, but why not strike while the iron’s hot? Why not make these changes now?

What are your thoughts on the subject and how do you care for your skin on a regular basis?

Thanks for following along, my friend. I’d love it if you’d subscribe

xoxo- Deena

“MOMMY, I DON’T REMEMBER YOUR COOKING”

When my son was two it was just us. I was a single mom on a strict budget and the only hobby I had time for was figuring out how to stretch a dollar to make food that was healthy and tasty enough for him not to complain about.

At the time I was working in morning radio which meant getting up and out of the house by 3:30am and returning somewhere in the early afternoon completely exhausted. Thing is, toddlers don’t give a fuck if you’re exhausted. So, I would leave work, drive to a farmers market near my house and load up on fresh produce. Once a month I would hit up $2.99 Tuesday at Fresh Market (not an ad) to stock up on chicken breasts, ground chicken and ground beef. That deal is seriously killer and I still take advantage of it to this day.

It was a nice distraction from the world around me to tinker with flavors and figure out what I could get my kid to eat and which textures he enjoyed. If I’m being honest, it was my only pleasure. So that’s what I did… Just the two of us pigging out on stuffed meatballs and baked salmon and bacon roasted sprouts and butternut squash soup and we were good. Then down the road I met Phil…

Phil can cook. Like, fucking COOK. He could win Cutthroat Kitchen. He’s calm and relaxed in the kitchen in a way I’ve never been. You can hand him a box of random shit and he’ll make something delicious, plated beautifully and served at the perfect temperature. I was so intimidated. I may have cooked two dinners for him before developing a complex that resulted in my unconscious decision to leave dinner to him and stick to breakfasts and quick lunches. I didn’t want to cook for him and it had nothing to do with anything he had indicated or done when I’d cooked in the past. I just felt inferior and I put that on myself.

So I baked. I stuck to baking, but not with much passion because I quickly realized that Phil speaks cooking SO WELL that if he decided to put just an ounce of effort in, he’d be a better baker than me in no time. And the frequency of my baking started to dwindle. Phil had no issue with it cause AGAIN, cooking is a breeze to him and it’s completely effortless. And that was our routine… I’d make sure all the clothes were clean and the house was in order and he’d cook all the foods. Then last week…

We were eating dinner and once again raving about one of Phil’s creations when it got quiet for a second and E said “Mommy, I don’t remember your cooking. I remember when I was a baby feeling like I really enjoyed it.” and I died. I was shocked. Did it really matter who cooked his meals? I guess it did. So I promised to make a few dinners this week. Then he proceeded to Facetime his grandma (Gaga) to scream in excitement about the fact that “mommy is gonna cook again!” WTF have I done robbing him of the experience all these years?

I beat myself up over it for an hour and then I got to work… Pinned a bunch of yummy looking Crock Pot dishes cause I figured there’s no better way to ease back into cooking. I cooked two dinners this week. They didn’t turn out like the Pinterest pics, but I tried and my kid put on a whole encouragement show in response. Clapped and smacked his lips and all.

So now I’m determined to cook, but I’m still cooking with fear for now. I don’t even know why. It didn’t used to be like this. Technology has changed since I last cooked regularly… Instant Pot? I can’t. I’m not ready for that thing yet. I AM ready for all the Crock Pot meals and one pot dishes. That’s the speed I’m driving at right now. Here are the meals I made earlier this week that were delicious. Please link me to some of your beginner level favorites as well! Click the name of the recipe for the lowdown.

I can’t imagine any other adult humans feeling the way I do, but if you exist, please let me know. Why are we like this?

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili via eatwell 101

Face OFF

Last year a dermatologist found pre-cancerous cells on my nose and promptly froze those suckers. As a Florida native and child of the 90’s I suppose it was only a matter of time. Truth be told, I never religiously applied sunblock or even used the right kind. Had no clue there were different types and didn’t bother to do the research. So I guess you could say I’m paying the price for my decades of skin neglect now, much like so many people end up doing later on in life. It’s just weird when you feel like you’re 20 and “later on in life” is now (insert vomit emoji).

So, it was recommended by my derm that I undergo a round of Efudex treatment. Chemo cream. I have to apply it to my face twice a day for three weeks or until my face bleeds. No sun exposure, obviously.

My mom underwent this treatment about a year and a half ago and it was pretty brutal, so I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but it’s what I need to do. I’m mostly spooked by the idea of how I’ll navigate everyday life without coming into contact with the sun, but what really surprised me when I picked this stuff up from the pharmacy was that the pharmacist mentioned how many people use Efudex (Fluorouracil) for vanity purposes… To remove unwanted freckles or light wrinkle lines. The idea of coating your face in chemo for that… I just… I try not to judge, but COME ON.

Whelp, I’ll begin the treatment next Friday once I bang out errands and other necessary appointments and I’ll document it here. Should be a wild ride. I’ve Googled a bit too much and seen the different stages. The cream in essence brings all of the precancer to the surface and eradicates it… then I’ve gotta wait for fresh skin to grow in. It’s like the old Travolta/Cage classic “Face Off”.

So here’s what I’m asking of you. PLEASE recommend must-read books, stand-up specials (though I’ve probably seen them all) and recent movies and shows for me to binge.

xoxo

BABY STEPS

I’ve promised myself that the theme of 2021 would be “baby steps”, adopted from one of the best (and most relatable) movies of all time, ‘What About Bob?”. No grand plans. No swift movements. Just small steps through each day and hopefully nobody gets hurt.

And then in a fashion that’s VERY true to form for me, I negated that promise immediately while making excuses to myself to override the decision I made…

If I’m being honest, this has been a long planned and thought out process. I started about a year ago. I had my son extensively allergy tested and the one thing he’s 4/5 allergic to is furry animals. Also, the one thing he’s been begging for since we lost our pug Ziggy a few Septembers back: a dog. He’s an only child, a highly anxious child and we had a big decision to make. Of course we started with what most parents hope will resolve the issue… fish. HARD eye roll on that one. Fun fact: if your child requests a furry pet for companionship because they are a lonely only child during a pandemic and you gift them a fish, you’re a friggin’ idiot. I have no idea WHY I thought that would work, but now we have a fish cemetary in our backyard that we have to carefully navigate around while playing catch.

Anyway, our “journey” has been interesting. For over a year I’ve belonged to every adoption group, signed up for every alert. I’ve contemplated a hamster and called the allergist for him to scold me and tell me that would actually be worse than a dog. I’ve read books that have described the delicate nature of a household dynamic and how a new family pet can be a blessing OR create a hostile chaotic situation if it’s not presented and processed properly. And THEN we found her. We had no idea what to expect in terms of sex or looks because our only major requirement was that the puppy needed to be at least 75% standard poodle (taking advice from our allergist) and a few weeks ago the search ended. I guess I always assumed I’d be outnumbered by boys for the rest of my life, but the playing field is leveling out a bit because our new family member is a GIRL. That’s odd for me to wrap my head around, but I’m psyched about it.

We’ve kept this a secret from the kid because he doesn’t do well with anticipation and my husband has to travel to pick the new babe up today. I am SUPER nervous adding another living being to this family and I know we are all going to embrace her and shower her with love. It’s been 15+ years since I’ve welcomed a pet into my home/life and I would love any helpful advice you might have to share with us. Please send ideas, resources, links, whatever ya got! Also, if you know my kid and preemptively spoil this surprise I WILL find you and I WILL… you know the drill.

She doesn’t have a name yet. She IS on Instagram and TikTok (you could’ve smelled that coming from a mile away) and she’d appreciate your friendship as we welcome her into our world. You can follow her life with us @cavapooobsessed and help us name her, train her and smother her with love.

IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME. FOR REAL.

Blogging is something I've known for awhile I SHOULD be doing. As my 8 year old says dozens of times per hour, "no offense", it's for me and my mental health more than it is for you. Pandemic's got me feeling isolated and while I never THOUGHT I was a person who required much human interaction, turns out I was dead wrong. I miss my friends. I miss nonsensical chit-chat with co-workers.  "Buuuuut, social media, you wack-job?!" I know... This blog will hopefully serve as a hub of sorts to keep my VERY scattered brain (I'll have to tell you all about my late in life ADHD diagnosis later) in check. Or at least SOMEWHAT in check. It'll be a mixture of thoughts, life observations, complaints, radio | musician stories and probably brutally honest product reviews since YOU KNOW I have no filter. I'll tell you about our new Emotional Support Threads designs and what's inspired them. Also, since I tend to decorate and redecorate my home more often than my husband would care to admit, I'll toss ideas out for us to discuss as well. Of course there will be serious stuff... anxiety, depression, step-parenting challenges my husband and I have been navigating, fun with meds and more. Anyway, WELCOME to my new home. Don't mind the boxes... We haven't finished unpacking.