Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sign Language from a 1 Year Old!!!


When I was pregnant I read about babies doing sign language. It made so much sense to me. Why not help your baby express him/herself as they work on building their vocabulary?

So I started signing when my little one was about 6months old. I wasn’t very patient and after about 2 months I stopped. Between then and now (he’s 1 now) I would sign every now and then but nothing consistent.

WWEEELLLL after seeing a coworker studying American Sign Language (ASL) and a close friend sharing her experience of her 16 month old starting to sign, I was inspired to start again. Boy am I glad I did.

I’ve been signing poop (since we are also practicing elimination communication [EC] more about that to come in another post), eat/food, finished, milk and more. I’ve been a lot more consistent over the past couple of weeks. I was so excited and surprised when I saw him attempt the poop sign while we were eating breakfast Tuesday morning. Then I almost jumped out of my skin when he consistently signed “more” during dinner Tuesday night.

Babies are truly brilliant!! I’m finding that the more he is exposed to the more he picks up. Now I have to work on learning sign language. At least enough to help him express himself and avoid frustration, for both the adults (not knowing what he wants) and for my little one (not being understood).

I guess the more it becomes a part of our day-to-day interaction the better. I want to be careful not to put too much pressure on him, though.

Only 1 year has passed and I’m COMPLETELY in love with this journey.

Have you tried ASL with your little ones? What advice do you have? Share your story with us!

Thanks for being a part of the Learning Life… community😄

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Moving Mommy Monday

With all the fun I’ve had this past week you would think I was about to start school again. This last week has been LOADED!! This is why I love summer!! Being out doors and spending time with family always brings me joy.

Here’s what went down this weekend for me and my crew☺


Hubby and I experienced 2 new spots. We’ve had our eyes on this shop Rasta Tings in Montclair for 3 years, no exaggeration. BUT this weekend we finally got to go in. It’s a great shop and EVERYthing in it is from Ethiopia. They had some beautiful blankets and clothing, incense, jewelry and baskets too. The owner is from Ethiopia and brings tings😉 back. He doesn’t open often because business isn’t that great. This reminded me why we need to support small local businesses. These businesses help keep our communities diverse and we get to learn a bit about what’s REALLY going on in the world and Not just what the media likes to share. We were only in Rasta Tings for about 20mins but were able to get a little history lesson.

We also had dinner at The Blended Beverage and it was very yummy. It’s a meat-free restaurant and the serve some raw food items as well. I had a ginger chkn wrap and my husband had a citrus chkn wrap. We shared a pineapple and mango smoothie. Everything was SLAMMIN! This is another spot that was pretty empty. It’s owned by a Nigerian woman, whom we didn’t get to meet😒 but was yet another reminder to support smaller businesses.


We went to the park for a bit with the little one. And he had a ball. He’s so friendly and even though he says only a few words, you can tell he’s a great communicator.


My crew and I headed over to Brooklyn to meet up with our cousins and aunt for the 2012 AfroPunk Festival. Is was so much fun just hanging out listening to so music and watching people (one oft favorite things to do). There was so much creativity and positive energy in Commodore Barry Park. I’ll be more prepared next year with a few snacks, more water, a blanket and a little cash to support all the local artists and vendors.


Finally this mommy ended the weekend with a little family fitness. We are definitely working on becoming a healthier crew and I love it. I set out to run 11 miles with my running/marathon training buddy. (btw those are my compression sleeves I’ve been sleeping with after long runs, they’ve been very helpful with the recovery process). I was also able to get in a 3 mile run/walk with my mom and little one in New Jersey while my aunt and cousin got in 4 miles in New York. Oh and my other aunt completed her first 5K in Martha’s Vineyard!! WOOPWOOP!! What a great way to make health and fitness a fun, family affair?!?! I’m so proud of my family for getting out and moving.

I’m so grateful for all of these blessings.

Making moves as a mommy…it’s a work in progress😉!

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Cancer Fact Friday


This week I’m sharing another opportunity for you to join the fight against pancreatic cancer. I don’t usually write to congress but I did this time. Help me and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network get the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/H.R.733) passed. I’ve always been told that as a community (however you want to define it) we must let our voices be heard. So I sent a letter to the editors of a few of the papers and magazines of my choice and you can too. It very easy, the letter is already written for you AND you have an opportunity to add a few words of you own (if you choose to). Here’s the letter:

Dear Editor,Imagine being diagnosed with a disease that would likely take your life in a year or less. Unfortunately, this is the reality for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as 74 percent of patients die within one year of diagnosis. Sadly, the disease has a five-year survival rate in the single digits of just six percent, the lowest among major cancers.What is worse is that there has been little progress in detecting and treating pancreatic cancer. Since the passage of the National Cancer Act over forty years ago, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has only improved from two to six percent. By comparison, the five-year survival rate for all cancers currently stands at an impressive 67 percent.

Pancreatic cancer is unique and requires specific action. The disease is so deadly because there are no early detection methods to diagnose the disease in its early stages and there are no effective treatment options to treat the disease once it’s been diagnosed.

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Fortunately, there is hope. Congress is currently debating the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/H.R.733), which would require the National Cancer Institute to create a long-term and comprehensive strategic plan to address pancreatic cancer with the goal of improving early detection methods and developing new treatment options. If Congress gets behind this bill, pancreatic cancer patients will finally have more options, and ultimately more hope.

So please, please, please visit and get out the word about the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S.362/H.R.733). Oh and don’t forget you can also join the fight by helping me reach my fundraising goal of $3200 by donating as I prepare to run the ING NYC Marathon.

Know the facts and pass it on😉!

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We get to celebrate a bunch of birthdays in August (hubby, baby, aunt and close friend). Birthday celebrations are my FAVORITE! It’s YOUR personal new year. You get to thank God for so many blessings, reflect on the last year, and make plans for your next year of life.

This month is extra special for us because we get to celebrate out little one’s very first birthday. WOOHOO!! I always hear people say time flies but my goodness! This past year has been full of excitement and joy as we all watched baby boy reach milestones along the way.

As we prepare for 2013 my hubby and I have been working on saving and making changes to be able to accomplish some BIG goals in the new year. So we decided not to have a huge party for the first one. We chose to have a small celebration and a whole lot of fun!!

I made a crown for baby boy and since I’m such a great planner, ahem, I got started with the crown at 9:30pm the night before his birthday. Now I’m not a crafty person. I’ve done my fair share of collages over the years, I’ve tried to make a dress sewing by hand, a have done a few small projects when I was younger but that’s about it. For the crown, I tried to use a sewing machine my mom’s friend gave me about 2 years ago. OH MY GOODNESS… it took so long (about 1hr) for me to figure out how to thread the machine only for it to keep jamming while I was sewing. UGH😁!! I was determined to make a crown for my boy so I ha to sew it by hand. It came out pretty good AND he actually wore it (of course after taking it off a few times first).

With the help of my sistercousin (she’s technically my cousin but feels more like a sister), I also made vegan, sugar free carrot cake mini muffins and vegan banana ice cream. The ice cream was delicious and the muffins were ok. They could have used a little sugar but baby boy loved them and I had some to take for breakfast. The rest of our guests were nice enough to try them and liked the ice cream but not the muffins so much. LOL I’m glad they’re so supportive as we work towards switching to a plant based diet.

Over all the celebration was great, very inexpensive, and baby boy had a BLAST. YES!!

Crown making process. Check out juicy bits for instructions.

He enjoyed his vegan, sugar free carrot cake muffins (recipe from Wild + Wee) and homemade vegan banana ice cream (recipe from the Forks Over Knives companion book)

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Moving Mommy Monday


This week is going to be a great week. My hubby’s birthday is Monday and my little one turns 1 on Wednesday. I can’t believe it!! No big parties planned but we are planning to celebrate both days in a memorable way. Family gathers big or small are always fun for us. All we need is a little food, music and each other and we are ready to have a GGGOOOOODDD time.

We had one celebration for my hubby already with dinner at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant in our area, Mesob, followed by a free Luciano concert at the New Jersey Performing Art Center’s free covert series. we’ll probably have dinner on his birthday and of course sing over some cake. Yummy!!

Now for our little duda we’ve decided not to go all out with a party but do something small that will include a first for him. So I’m attempting to make Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins with a coconut milk whipped cream icing. I came across this recipe on the Wild + Wee blog. I’m excited to try a new recipe and see his face as he dives in. He gets excited about most meals but this will be a bit different from what he’s used to.

In addition to the birthday planning we had an exciting visit from my dad and Phyllis. They are such happy grandparents. I think my dad has gone back to the years when he was a kid. He literally gets note floor and rolls around with the little one. And they communicate with each other as of they are peers. It’s pretty funny.

The little one took a few steps or almost steps this weekend too. I think we get too excited and throw him off a bit but it’s just SOOO exciting. He also had his first trip to the library AND he’s been entered in a summer reading challenge. We have to read 30 books by Sept 7. As much as he likes books we could be able to accomplish that.

I got most of my cooking for the week done and even tried a new recipe, vegan eggplant parmasean. I haven’t tasted it yet but it looks good. The house is a pretty much straightened. (I think we need to get rid of some things to eliminate some of the clutter.)

Oh and did I mention I ran 15 miles!! WOOPWOOP! This was my longest run ever and unfortunately I mapped a route with a bunch of hills but I felt a lot better than I thought I would at the end. I keep missing workouts on my marathon training schedule but I make sure I get the long runs in. Running for a cause definitely keeps me motivated. You can help me fight pancreatic cancer by donating to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

I have a few goals for this week that may help me get a little more rest and be in line with my fitness schedule.
1) be in bed by 11 at least 3 nights this week

2) complete ALL workouts on my training schedule which includes 3, 5 mile runs, 2 days of Pilates and at least 1 day of P90X abs

3)eat dinner at the table as a family at least 4 nights this week

Maybe having these weekly goals written down will keep me more driven to make sure they are accomplished.

Making moves as a mommy…it’s a work in progress😉




Hubby and I


Books from the library

20120820-002550.jpgVegan eggplant parm

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Cancer Fact Friday


Here’s a prevention fact from Dr. Oz:

Sweet Potatoes = Cancer Prevention
According to the experts, eating 1 cup of sweet potatoes a week could reduce your risk of lung, skin and prostrate cancers. Sweet potatoes contain lutein and carotenoids, molecules shown to starve cancer cells. Sweet potatoes are also loaded with alpha carotene. In studies, people with the highest levels of alpha carotene had almost a 40% decrease in risk of death. To achieve maximum health results, eat 1 cup of sweet potatoes a day.

I LOVE sweet potatoes. You can make them baked, boiled roasted you name it. I would have to say sweet potato fries are my favorite, baked with a little olive, rosemary, salt and pepper. Quick prep, quick clean up, awesome taste and they’re pretty too. Mmm mmmm good!!

What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?


Know the facts and pass it on☺

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Moving Mommy Monday


I’ve been meaning to post this for quite some time now but never got a chance to really finish it. Over the past few years I’ve been paying a lot more attention to health and fitness. So when I got pregnant breastfeeding was the only thing I could think about to get my little one on a healthy path from day 1.

As I searched for daycare centers for my almost 1 year old, I realized there are even fewer moms breastfeeding than I thought. Now I knew the number was low but of the 6 places I visited in the last couple of months only about 5 moms were providing breastmilk for their babies. AAWWW MAN! This just makes me wonder why. Are moms no longer breastfeeding at all? Do moms feel like there isn’t enough time to breastfeed/pump? Is there not enough support out there? Are moms embarrassed? Is the media too influential? Are hospitals not promoting breastfeeding? What is it?

Now these questions are not coming from a judgmental place as I am aware of the challenges they come with breast feeding, I just really want to understand why it’s no longer the norm.

My breastfeeding journey started before giving birth. I looked online for resources, read about La Leche League and purchased The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding in addition to talking to friends and family including my husband about their thoughts and experiences. My family was very supportive and full of stories. BUT my coworkers (mostly women) were not as supportive AT ALL. Making comments like “you won’t do that for long” or “that’s a lot of work”. And then there were my peers. Now I wouldn’t say they were discouraging or encouraging, rather there were so many questions. A couple of my friends said the wished they would have breastfed a little longer.

I was under the impression that breastfeeding was the norm and these responses and reactions showed me something else. WHHHYYYY!!! is all I kept thinking. I asked for help from a lactation consultant while I was in the hospital but when I left it was very difficult to find support in my neighborhood (Newark, NJ). I had to go to a different area for help. Thank goodness I was supported by my family because it would have been a very different experience I wasn’t didn’t.

I am now very comfortable with breastfeeding AND I’ve made it a mission to talk about my experience whenever I can. It’s kind of a big responsibility to take on the task since there are so many questions. I’m not a researcher or anything but as a life learner I read what I can and share what I learn.

So my questions to you all are. Do/did you breastfeed? Why either way? Would you have done anything different? Thanks for visiting Learning Life…

Making moves as a mommy…it’s a work in progress😉

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Cancer Fact Friday

Today I want to share a story of a survivor of Pancreatic Cancer. With such low rates of survival for this form of cancer it is rare to hear survival stories. Today I feature my Aunt Shelly and her story. She’s been an inspiration to me and so many others, I hope you enjoy.


Aunt Shelly in the middle of her youngest daughter Gabrielle and Me after completing her first 5K race ever last weekend!

When were you diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (year/age)? 2005 at 47 years of age

How were you diagnosed? Because I had a screening scan, my generalist discovered “a little something that we should take a closer look at.” I was healthier than ever before – doing boot camp every month, great numbers in terms of cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, etc. We initially saw something on my liver, which ultimately was non-cancerous, but the tumor on the pancreas was…

What made you get tested? After having lost both parents at young ages to aneurisms, my dad’s physician acknowledged aneurisms aren’t hereditary, but suggested all my parents offspring get scanned because it was very unusual to lose both parents to vascular problems. They transitioned nearly 20 years apart but it was still a medical mystery, so along following the advice of my general practitioner, we agreed to do a pelvic scan given I didn’t have any symptoms supporting a cranial scan (no bhp, no headaches, etc). Interesting note – my physician wrote the “order” and I held it for so long, the scan tech wanted me to have her re-write the requisition. One year after Dr. Malone wrote the order I had the scan and as divine order would have it, my timing was just about right. A year earlier would likely not have presented the tumor as it was detected very very early and was small enough to be removed with great margins. I’m not really proud of having waited a year for the scan, but my doc and I agreed there was no urgency since I was very healthy at the time, very fit and wellness was a lifestyle choice I embraced, it seemed the message to me was to wait… thus I did and it worked out well. I consider this my “tap on the shoulder” by my Lord – He didn’t have to stomp on me and roll me back & forth to get my attention, but instead whispered to me – this is your wake up call – what & how will you serve my people…

What treatment options did you have to choose from? Interesting question – because my tumor was in the tail of the pancreas, I was convinced surgery was required. As a believer in holistic approaches to health & healing, I was confident there had to be some course of treatment that wouldn’t result in a scalpel invading my flesh. After tens of conversations with friends, siblings, physicians, surgeons, naturopaths, oncology radiologists, and more, my husband and I agreed we might be looking a gift horse in the mouth if we didn’t operate sooner than later.

Which did you choose and why? Another interesting question. I chose surgery, if that’s what you mean, but after interviewing 3 surgeons, we quickly narrowed it to two, each with very different approaches to my tumor. One would likely leave me insulin-dependent and envisioned an aggressive approach. This was at a teaching hospital, with access to all the latest research and techniques. The down-side here (at least for me) was that the lead surgeon, in fact the one who had the most current-day experience in the country using a procedure called “whipple” would be coaching through the procedure while a resident (albeit very experienced) would perform the actual surgery. The other hospital, while a superior facility with award-winning surgeons, they were most known for delivering superior customer service. As one who believes each of us has the power to heal ourselves, it was important to me to be in an environment where “BELIEF” was a big part of the healing process. Having practitioners who were encouraging, had time to care for their patients and who combined holistic approaches to their cases was vital and I opted for the less-accomplished, more caring team. In fact, the morning after I was able to get a foot massage bedside – I’m sure it helped with my recovery!! Dr. Assad Hassoun was my choice and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the process & outcome. I knew the surgeon was a small part of my health episode. I knew I was in the hands of the most mighty healer and my prayer was for Him to lead me to the right hands to do His work on me…

What was recovery like for you? My recovery was great and again, I credit belief in my recovery, coupled with a nutritionist I saw in advance of surgery to take supplements & vitamins we thought would accelerate healing, including my scar. I was back in boot-camp in 6 weeks (albeit with modified participation) but back out there non-the-less. Kevin Allen at Namaste fitness in Emeryville was a terrific fitness partner & coach, I saw a reiki practitioner, had a massage therapist apply light treatment to my scar so as to minimize scar tissue forming. All in all, it was great. I had a setback on my first night home with my drainage tube and ended up back in the ER – it didn’t last long though.

What helped you get through the recovery process? Mostly described above, but more than what I did, what helped the most was having the love and care of those around me. Because I’ve lived all over the country and come from a family of supporters, I had friends from all walks of life and from all periods of my adult, teen & adolescent lives show up to cook, clean, walk, talk, laugh, drink wine and just be around. It truly was an embarrassment of riches and I know for sure their prayers, notes, attendance, cards & laughter were a big part of my recovery. There truly weren’t any blue days – I never questioned “why me” and along with my husband, daughters and doggie, we just hunkered down to handle this thing like it was any other project that needed attention. In our first Christmas card after surgery I scribed “I would marry him all over again” as I pondered how grateful I was (and still am) for my husband’s participation and attitude. I might add, that at the same time I was diagnosed a dear friend and neighbor was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was visibly ill, deteriorating right before our eyes, so it was tough to wallow in my situation when by all accounts I appeared to be healthy and vital. We ultimately lost our dear friend and it was again a reminder that it simply wasn’t my time to be called home to be with my Lord. My faith was probably the single factor that directed my journey & outcome…

What advice do you have for people who have been diagnosed and the families helping them get through it? BELIEVE you are here for some reason – have faith and believe that it’s not possible for faith and fear to occupy the same space. I really embraced that saying – it carried me.

Would you like to share anything else about your experience or life in general? Just DO YOU – whoever that is – be that, tell that, share that, with enthusiasm and with vigor. BELIEVE that you have work to do here and if we can sit still long enough, we’ll hear what that work is supposed to look like. Thanks for the honor and privilege – my story is just one of so many, I am grateful to be able to write you today. To God be the glory!

A big THANK YOU to my Aunt Shelly for sharing! I hope this story inspires you. Do you have a story to share? Whether you are a survivor, fighter or a supporter we want to hear from you!

Know the facts and pass it on😊

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Moving Mommy Monday


We are on vacation and have been having a BLAST! I don’t even know where to begin. It has been so nice to have our first family vacation as a visit to another family member’s home. We get the best of all worlds; freedom of feeling like we are on vacation and the joys of feeling comfortable at ‘home’, loads of visits to favorite spot, AND of course GREAT FOOD (I LOVE FOOD😃)! Well I’ll give you a full update when the vacay is over but hesnoopme of what’s been done throfood photos.

Delicious Ethiopian food and my little one loved his special plate.

Visited a friend in Lake Tahoe and went for a run in Olympic Vally, CA (home of the 1960 Winter Olympics).

Ran a half marathon while my fam ran 5K and 10K races!! (We all earned our first medals. WOOHOO!!)

And just having a good time with my crew!!

Making moves as a mommy…it’s a work in progress😉

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Cancer Fact Friday

Here’s a little info about treatment. I found this from the National Cancer Institute

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

– Whether or not the tumor can be removed by surgery.
– The stage of the cancer (the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread outside the pancreas to nearby tissues or lymph nodes or to other places in the body).
– The patient’s general health.
– Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).

Pancreatic cancer can be controlled only if it is found before it has spread, when it can be removed by surgery. If the cancer has spread, palliative treatment can improve the patient’s quality of life by controlling the symptoms and complications of this disease.

So as always, GET TO THE DOCTOR!! This info made me think of the food that can help control the spread of cancer. The search is on. I’d like to get some of that info to you within the next couple of weeks or so…so stay tuned. I hope this was helpful.

Know the facts and pass it on😊

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