Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Avri Roel Downey

Blogging Friends.... I am in the process of working on a Blog post {And I really need to "publish" the Halloween dog cookie recipe that I baked for Rose!!} but I awoke this morning to exciting news!! Robert Downey Jr. and his wife welcomed their beautiful baby girl into the world yesterday!! Congrats, congrats, congrats!! I cannot wait to "meet" her!! Love you later.

Check out my Thanksgiving-themed November fictional children's book on Minuscule is good! !! And leave comments!! Molly, I know you already did!! Thank-you!! I live for comments!!

It's just the uncertainty of how nowadays you have all these things where you think you have much more of an understanding of what you're going to get. And then this little soul lets herself be known to you, and it's just like: You don't know anything. It's great! --Robert Downey Jr.

An official announcement on Robert Downey Jr.'s Facebook page!! Written by the proud Daddy himself, of course!!

After 9 months of intensive development, Team Downey is pleased to announce our 2014 fall/winter project.

Principal photography commenced 11-14 and will continue until she says, "Dad! You are embarrassing me...I'm 30, this has gotta stop."

Yep...Avri Roel Downey joined the party @ 3:22 a.m. on November 4th...she's 7lbs even, spans 20 inches, and is accompanied by a variety of Susan's traits that have seemingly overwritten my "junk DNA."

I'll post pics here + there when I'm not too busy staring...

"Junk DNA"?! Ah, come on, Robert Downey Jr.!! Avri could be just like you and {I promise!!} she will still grow up to be a wonderful person!! Just. Like. You....

Monday, October 20, 2014


Blogging Friends.... Behold!! A story about Rose!! For the first time in.... Well.... Forever.... Love you later.

History, in my own personal experience, can have a way of repeating itself. Like déjà vu all over again. Growing up, I owned this female cat with snow-white fur and an itty bitty "kiss" of black on her head. She was {According to my Mom} "the sweetest cat we've ever had". Just four years old, I was indecisive on what to name my new kitten. Eventually? I named her Sugar. Thank Heavens I did not choose "Whitey", because that was a close runners-up!! I recall Sugar as being loyal--like her half-brother Goldie--she never wandered away or left home. But then one July in 1991, we travelled to Bakersfield, California for a family reunion. Neighbors frequently looked in on Sugar and Goldie--both outdoor/indoor cats--as they gave them some attention while also inspecting their food/water situation. Sadly, we returned home from scorching hot Bakersfield temperatures to only one feline. Sugar was gone. Fast forward. In June of 1997, my Mom was "gifted" with a male cat from her brother and twain nieces. They had previously named this yellow-eyed, white, tan and black striped feline Yoda. Since giving pets to unsuspecting people is not recommended for valid reasons, he was unwanted by my Mom. So I took him!! Unlike Sugar, Yoda was prone to wander. He would frequently disappear on "adventures" but always return home. Always. But then one February day in 1999, Yoda never came home. Like Sugar all those years before, he was gone. History had just repeat itself. As a Lifelong lover of dogs, I then spent some time researching breeds {And their mixes, of course!! I love, love, love mutts!!} that follow their noses "to China" if allowed. Such as Border Collies. {As well as their mixes!!} And.... Beagles. {As well as their mixes!!} I then made a mental note to never--ever--adopt or rescue any mutt with a breed within her D.N.A. that wanders. This was a strict rule. Because my poor thoughts, feelings, emotions, and heart could not deal if history repeated itself again. Fast forward once more. On September 21st, 2010, I broke this rule when I saw Rose. A sign on her kennel read "Beagle X". And, although admittedly, I did have my initial reservations about adopting Rose because of her very apparent D.N.A., it was love at first.... Uh.... Bay!! Yes, she was excited, friendly, and belting out her "happy sound" from day one!! Then, suddenly? My heart melted, and every mental list or rule that I had previously made was virtually erased!! I could feel it. Rose was "the one"!! And I am so very thankful that she is!! One heart pounding, adrenaline-rushed, panic producing dash down the cul-de-sac after my escape artist Rose years ago in November was far more than I could handle!! If our backyard gate is wide open? I watch Rose like a hawk. If our front door is wide open? I watch Rose like a hawk. If our garage doors are wide open? I watch Rose like a hawk. In other words? I leash Rose up!! One very busy Saturday--my oldest brother surprised us by stopping by with his little girls, "Amethyst" and Opal"!!--we had firewood delivered to our house. Although. The weather has been so very unseasonably warm with clear skies and sunshine around here, we have yet to burn any firewood!! As a matter of fact. I sit here at this very flat screened desktop computer wearing shorts!! Where is our "normal" brisk, rainy Autumn weather?! Weird. After my oldest brother left with "Amethyst" and "Opal", the dump truck dropped our firewood off!! I love watching him maneuver his vehicle!! I was a bit bummed that either "Amethyst", "Opal", or Rose distracted me from seeing how the dump truck works!! Oh well. I then emptied/refilled our dishwasher, ate lunch, wolfed down a homemade frozen s'mores cupcake, picked up kid toys, then stepped outside to help fill the wheelbarrow with firewood!! Whew!! Our gate was wide open, as we needed to haul that firewood around back from the driveway. Before stepping outside, I nervously asked my sister {Who stayed in her bedroom} "Can you just.... Make sure that Rose doesn't go outside? The gate's open. I'm gonna go help bring wood around." Our next door neighbor had graciously volunteered to help us. So this task moved along surprisingly quickly!! Despite my Dad getting called into work, and therefore losing twain strong arms!! I piled firewood into the wheelbarrow. As did my youngest brother, Michael. And our next door neighbor. He insisted on pushing the heavy wheelbarrow every single time!! I offered repeatedly. But he insisted!! At one point, I emptied my rubber Crocks {Definitely not good shoes for this job!!} of sawdust chippings. I sat on our wooden sun-stained yellow front porch bench to empty them. When--from the living room window--I could hear Rose desperately baying for me!! Oh, I who can resist?! I then allowed myself a short break, and stepped inside to stroke Rose's velvet-soft fur!! I spoke sweetly to her. I calmed down Rose's hyperactive energy. Then I stepped back outside and returned to work. Shortly thereafter, Michael surprised me with a bottle of water. Which was just what I needed!! And--cosmic oops--apparently Michael did not close our white magnetic bedroom door {Which leads to the backyard!!} very well. It happened so very fast. Seemingly one second. I turned around and saw her. Rose!! Loose, leash-less and unprotected!! Her tail was wagging as she felt so very happy to see me!! But what occurred after that? It was a complete blur. Did my heart momentarily stop? I do not know. Did I mentally panic? I do not know. Did I wonder "How on earth could she have escaped?" ? I do not know. However. I do know this much. I gasped. I said "Whoa!!" Strangely, I did not overreact. And then I gave Rose an unconventional command that I've made up. "Drop." I believe I coined it one day when Rose was hyperactive, and I needed to link her red leash in a timely fashion. I point downward. I firmly yet patiently command "drop". And she does just that. Rose drops down on her back, as though awaiting a belly rub. Which--for the most part--she is given!! Truth be told? Rose--who has never been very obedient--listens to this unconventional made-up command even better than the more traditional "sit", "come", or "stay"!! Go figure!! "Drop," I calmly commanded her on our driveway that Saturday afternoon. Which she immediately did!! I quickly grabbed a hold of Rose's red collar, pulled her up, and--while bending over--I walked my little girl back inside. Where she could be safe!! "You just wanted to see me," I recall sweetly telling her, "You just wanted to see Mama so bad!!" Back inside, I decided that I was finished hauling firewood. For I could not possibly go back outside!! I now felt as though I needed to stay in and protect my baby girl. The pile of firewood had nearly all been hauled around, anyway. I sat on my bedroom bed next to Rose, exhausted and physically achy from such a busy Saturday. Then I "went there", as I always do after the rare occasions when she escapes. I let my mind race toward the depressing scenario of if something bad were to suddenly occur. Rose gets killed by a car? Ingests something poisonous? Escapes from our home and disappears.... Forever? Then I always think this. I'm not ready to lose Rose!! Not now. Not this way!! I have far too many memories to make!! I have far too many Gotcha Days to celebrate!! I have far too many stories to write about her!! I have far too many pictures to take of her!! I have far too many Christmases to celebrate!! I have far too many dog biscuits to bake for her!! I have far too many hikes to take her on!! I have far too many Life adventures to share with her.... Then once my mind stopped spinning like the rotator blades of a helicopter that Saturday? I silently thanked God.... For such a thing as an unconventional made-up command like "drop".


Monday, October 13, 2014

The "Breakdown"

Blogging Friends.... Remember when I wrote that I had experienced a minor mood swing-infused pity party and I'll write about it later, because I'm still processing everything? Well. It is later!! And I am definitely finished processing complex thoughts/feelings/emotions now.... This is me being real. Love you later.

Look for my October fictional children's book on Minuscule is good! as it strangely has yet to have any comments or pageview counts!!

Gasoline. Exhaust. Oil. I grew up as a girl frequently inhaling all of these smells and then some because my Dad was an amateur mechanic. As odd as this may sound? Today, I love these "car smells"!! See. My Dad would purchase various rusty old cars. Pop open their hoods. Take tools to engines and such. And then he would fix these rusty old cars' mechanical issues!! I recall my Dad pulling out entire engines and setting them on our backyard patio. Then? He would put them back in completely repaired!! And I have some fond childhood memories of my Dad's cars!! Many, I'm afraid, I do not recall!! But there was a baby blue Ford pickup truck. If memory serves me? My Dad used to take me for drives in that old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck!! Just him and I!! There was a green Datsun 510 wagon with an orange door. If memory serves me? That Datsun 510 wagon broke down on my Mom in a Safeway parking lot once!! Whoops. Then, like an apologetic knight in shining armor, my Dad rescued us, alongside a tow truck driver!! He later repaired its issues at home!! My Dad was also a mechanic by necessity. See. Our family vehicle was an old yellow and white Chevrolet suburban. Talk about years of memories we have with that car!! Its breaks went out on our way home from a park. That was an incredibly terrifying experience!! Yikes!! Our nerves were the only things that became wrecked, as Mom somehow managed to safely park it a few short blocks from home and we all walked back!! No injuries or collisions!! Thanks be to God!! Speaking of injuries. I slammed my right hand thumb in this Chevy suburban's middle seat door. Ouch!! Because I'm insane or stupid or both, I yanked my thumb out of that door, which was not closed tight. Blood freely gushed through its nail. So I sucked on my thumb like a sleepy toddler!! Yum? I actually like the taste of my own blood!! I never fractured the thumb, though!! However. My thumb nail did turn various hues of blue, purple and yellow before about 1/3 of it fell off. Which greatly fascinated me, because I am an oddball!! I also fell out of this old Chevy suburban while on roller skates. Ouch!! See, its spare seat folded down which caused a smooth surface. As resulted, I hit the back of my freakishly hard skull and sustained a head injury, while blood freely gushed out!! Is that why I am so crazy?! This yellow and white Chevy suburban also broke down on our way to camping one August day. We slept in a hotel overnight so that my Dad could fix its mechanical issues. Yes, old cars are prone to breakdown. Even if they have a good mechanic who performs routine maintenance work on them, and an incredibly reliable engine underneath the hood. Breakdown happens. Metaphorically speaking? Throughout my journey with folliculitis decalvans, I am an old car. Can I be a baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck?! Wait. Then I am not a car after all.... But this old truck can carry around "loads" such as her nieces, "Amethyst" and "Opal"!! I'm alright with that!! So metaphorically speaking, I am an old truck!! I'm "rusty" in some areas--I do have occasionally visible bald spots--but "underneath the hood"? My "engine"--sanity, mind, heart and soul--have been running strong!! For the most part. With seemingly a lot of routine maintenance work done--sorting through negative thoughts/feelings/emotions regarding having folliculitis decalvans--there were no "breakdowns"!! Not yet. But rusty old trucks are still prone to "breakdown". Right? And precisely one month ago yesterday, on September 12th, 2014? This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--"broke down". Hello, minor mood swing-infused pity party!! On September 12th, 2014? I was scheduled for a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist, Dr. E.   Which had been changed twice!! Ugh. For reasons beyond my comprehension? I was nervous during our appointment. Despite the fact that Dr. E. feels more like an amazing friend than a dermatologist!! Was it perhaps because I had been awake since 5AM? Yes, I felt tired. Yet, I had been running on adrenaline during this entire appointment!! Was it perhaps because I'd already felt uncharacteristically tearful for twain days? I do not know. But I was nervous. Dr. E. and I talked while I showed off Baldy's next door neighbor. I asked her some prepared questions about folliculitis decalvans, as I had Google-searched it. She answered them to the best of her knowledge, since there truly is very little information available on this rare disease. Dr. Erin examined my scalp, then administered several steroid injections. Which do not even hurt!! Because I possess a freakishly hard head.... Remember?! I expressed my thoughts/feelings/emotions about swallowing ineffective medication to Dr. E., as "Plan C" {Our third prescribed antibiotic that I cannot remember the name of!!} was obviously ineffective. "It wreaks havoc on my emotions," I told her, "To take something that's supposed to be working.... But still lose my hair." I drove this point home. Yes, I repeated myself, because I'm obsessive compulsive like that!! But ultimately? Dr. E. gave me several sample bottles of "Plan B", which, we had barely tried before quitting it's prescription for non-side effects reasons!! Well. Technically, since Plan B is a contraception, I should not call it that!! So how about this? It is "Experiment B"!! Dr. Erin also gave me several sample bottles of a topical steroid spray.... Because my form of folliculitis decalvans is now considered "severe". Wait. What?! This was not how I planned my appointment with Dr. E. would go!! Uh-uh. I was planning to let it go!! Is the song from "Frozen" in your heads yet?! Good!! I was planning to finally accept folliculitis decalvans' fate and lose my beautiful, straight, brunette hair. That's right. I was planning on saying goodbye to Dr. E. .... Forever. Yes, I was planning for this to be my last follow-up appointment with Dr. E.   Which may have been why I felt so freakin' nervous that day!! Hmmm.... I was even planning to voluntarily go hat shopping!! Yes, I was planning.... Perhaps I should have been more assertive with Dr. E., as I'm now beginning to feel like a human medical experiment. I mean, come on. This drug is proving itself ineffective? Alright. Try this one, instead. I even wrote a fictional children's book in August expressing how I was planning this appointment with Dr. Erin. Guess what? My character, Victorya, was not nervous. Quite the contrary!! Victorya was definitely assertive!! And she even donated her hair to Locks of Love!! Remember?! Writing this story was both emotionally difficult and therapeutic for me at once!! I even wrote Dr. E. a goodbye letter. Which I was never planning on giving her!! Doing so simply proved itself touching, emotional and therapeutic. As my nurse {Not Dr. E.'s usual "sidekick". I'm afraid I do not recall this nurse's name!!} looked through my thick medical file, and discussed "Experiment B"? I could sense that something was "mechanically" wrong "under the hood". And sure enough. This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--"broke down". Enter my first--and most likely not the last!!--folliculitis decalvans-related minor mood swing-infused pity party!! I wept uncontrollably all day. Afternoon. Evening. And night. I could not even hold back my tears in a darkened, deserted movie theater while watching "Dolphin Tale 2"!! Which, I felt terrible about!! This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--was seemingly not showing any signs none whatsoever of starting its "engine"--sanity, mind, heart and soul--again. As per usual? I did not expect this "breakdown". No, I never saw it coming. Because my "engine" had truly been running strong throughout this entire folliculitis decalvans journey {With humor, gratitude and perspective gained along the way!!} I have never even allowed myself to cry over having folliculitis decalvans or hair loss issues. However. I do invite negative thoughts/feelings/emotions in. Because they are perfectly "normal" and always fleeting. I have been putting on a continual "brave act". This rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--was bound to "break down" at some point!! I then journeyed through a period of confusion. I was bombarded with queries. What on earth has God been teaching me all this time?! I thought.... That He had been teaching me lessons against vanity. I thought.... That He had been teaching me the truth in--to quote our dear, dear, dear friend and breast cancer survivor--"Hair is highly overrated". I thought.... That He had been finally teaching me a profound sense of gratitude for my twain Frankenstein-like surgically-created craniosynostosis scars. I thought.... that He had been teaching me self-acceptance. I thought.... That He had been teaching me how bald is beautiful and physical differences are indeed alright. I thought.... That He had been teaching me the strong, unmistakable, impossible-to-ignore message of letting go. What on earth has God been teaching me all this time?! Honestly? I did not have any answers during my "breakdown". Is God teaching me.... To trust His Plans--whether or not I lose my beautiful hair while swallowing "Experiment B"--throughout this entire folliculitis decalvans journey? Is God teaching me.... Gratitude for how Dr. E. has so very graciously leapt through hoops to help save my hair from the progression of folliculitis decalvans? I suppose I should have been thrilled, excited, relieved and jumping for joy after my appointment on September 12th. But I was not. Instead, I felt so very lost, like a hiker in unfamiliar woods sans her compass. Do I want to lose my beautiful hair and go bald? Of course not!! Who would?! But the difference in my thoughts/feelings/emotions now as opposed to one year ago? I am no longer Drama Queen desperate about embarrassing hair loss issues!! Because I don't give a damn!! But truth be told? I would never wish folliculitis decalvans on an enemy. Ever. Perhaps my plans did not unfold quite like I had imagined they would that September day. But God's did!! Because, perhaps this rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck--me!!--"broke down". But God? He is my "Mechanic", if you will, Who took His "tools" then fixed this "engine"--sanity, mind, heart and soul--so that I can run strong once more!! Because, ever since I "broke down" last month? God has reminded me that we are all students during our Lifetimes. What on earth did I think....? That He was finished teaching me folliculitis decalvans-related lessons?! Quite the contrary!! Because aside from God teaching me lessons against vanity? Aside from Him whispering that hair is highly overrated? Aside from God instilling in me a profound sense of gratitude for my twain Frankenstein-like surgically-created craniosynostosis scars? {Because, after all. Without them, I would be dead!!} Aside from God gradually working in me self-acceptance issues? Aside from Him whispering that bald is beautiful? Aside from God broadening my perspective about visible physical differences being absolutely alright? Aside from God encouraging me to trust His Plans {Whether or not I lose my hair and go bald despite swallowing "Experiment B"} throughout this entire folliculitis decalvans journey? Aside from Him teaching me humble gratitude toward Dr. E. for so very graciously leaping through hoops to save my hair? Aside from God's strong, unmistakable, message of letting go? God is also teaching me.... That Hollywood actor Vin Diesel can turn me on with his boyish smile and charm alone--despite being bald-headed!!--so I do not even need to notice guys with long, flowing hair anymore!! God is also teaching me.... To never, ever, ever lose hope.... And that I must place it in Him, not medications or treatment. God is also teaching me.... That this folliculitis decalvans journey is an adventure.... Not a trial and tribulation. God continues to teach me.... So metaphorically speaking, I am an old baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck. And now? Whenever I see my "rusty" areas--bald spots--in a mirror? I smile. Because they are reminders of all the ways that my "Mechanic"--God--is working on me. They are reminders of all the ways that He is growing, evolving, and maturing me!! But sometimes? Rusty old baby blue-painted Ford pickup trucks "break down".                     

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Is Adopt A Dog Month!!

Blogging Friends.... Radio silence. That seems to be how I am rolling these days regarding posting on Beautifully Unique!! Sigh.... Truth be told? I have a particular Blog post in the works, but set it aside for about five days to write my October fictional children's book!! Yep. Because some priorities take precedence!! But cheers to October {Although we will become happily preoccupied with watching my nieces, "Amethyst" and "Opal" three days a week soon!!} here's to resurrecting Beautifully Unique!! I do mean that. Love you later.

Look for my October fictional children's book to be posted on Minuscule is good! {Lord willing!!} tomorrow!!

October. I love, love, love this month!! Trees' leaves gradually transform into bright, cheery hues. Pumpkin patches reopen. The mornings become crisp, our days get shorter. Constant rainfall is inevitable, as we go about life silently awaiting its downpour. Mmmm....Well, October also happens to be Adopt A Dog Month!! That's right. Adopt A Dog Month!! Rose is--thus far!!--the first canine that I rescued from our local shelter. Allow me to express something. I hope that every canine who enters my existence from here on is adopted!! Because. Doing so has profoundly changed my life!! I hope to always either adopt from some shelter, or a rescue organization. See. Adopting Rose, our then-three-year old "second chance" mutt, has been, personally, one of my life's most rewarding experiences!! How so? Because I provided a loving home for this Beautifully Unique four-legged creature!! She was once kenneled in our local shelter like some convicted criminal. Homeless and desolate. Now, she is mine!! I am so very, very, very blessed to own Rose!! I'm also feeling inspired now. With this being Adopt A Dog Month, I want every future canine who enters my existence to be rescued throughout October!! Why not? There are seemingly endless canines available for adoption year-round. Plus 31 days in October!! 31 freakin' days!! This may sound like some oddball, far-out notion. But to me? It's really quite logical!!

This is taken from a HealthyPets e-mail. I received it in 2011, but the information should still be up-to-date!!

--Adopt A Dog Month--

If you feel like there's a void in your life, you can make a difference in two lives as October is Adopt A Dog Month. The ASPCA started Adopt A Dog Month to promote and raise awareness of the millions of dogs that live in shelters, places not fit to be called a home. Shelter dogs don't nearly have the amount of space or the amount of love they deserve. Also keep in mind that thousands of pets that do not get adopted are euthanized due to lack of shelter space. You can do your part in many ways; here are a few helpful ideas to get the gears going.

Adoption: The best way to help a shelter dog is to bring one into the comfort of your home. Visit local shelters and share that love connection that will keep you and your new pooch's relationship going on for years. For those who absolutely prefer purebred varieties, an estimated 25% of purebreds are found in shelters. {And, where does that leave mutts? In the 75 percentile!! So, do not exclude mixed breeds from this!! Adopt a mutt!!} Some shelters offer discounts or waive adoption fees. Contact local shelters to find out what they offer.

Donations: Not everyone has the time or money to invest in a new pet - you can still do your part by donating supplies, money or your time. Local animal shelters depend on the kindness of strangers' help aside from what little government funds they receive to keep the shelter going. You can do your part by volunteering to help walk dogs, clean cages or whatever tasks that may be needed.

Events: Attending and volunteering in pet-related events is a fun way to participate in pet awareness. Attending shelter fundraisers and pet fairs are ways to help people understand how important pet adoptions can be. Even if you are unable to adopt a pet, you can help bring awareness to those who can devote their time to a new family member.

Other Ways: Information is key to preventing the growth of pets being admitted into animal shelters. Pet behavior trouble is one of biggest reasons why owners turn dogs into shelters. You can do your part by informing new pet owners what struggles they may face in the early stages of owning a pet.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chicken/Chicken Garlic Treats

Blogging Friends.... Boy, have I become the world's worst Blogger lately!! And truth be told? I miss Blogging twice a week!! Here's the thing. I planned to post on Saturday, September 13th {I really did!!} but then my plans were thwarted by a minor mood swing-infused pity party the day before!! Ugh. More shall be revealed. For I am still processing everything nine days later!! {Do not worry!! I am completely recovered!!} Love you later.

Today is September 21st!! And that can only mean one thing. It is Rose's fourth Gotcha Day!! Wow. Just. Wow!! Four years?! Where does time escape to.... Outer space?! I think it does!! I decided years ago with Shadow that I would not count the passing of time with how old my dog is. But rather. I would count the passing of time with how many Gotcha Day anniversaries we have been blessed with!! It feels far less depressing, as I cannot evade Rose's inevitable death. That being mentioned. I've completely lost track of how old Rose is!! Whenever people ask, I literally count on my fingers to determine it!! Is that bad?! And honestly? Rose's age--like her mix--is anybody's guess, anyway!! Why? Because the shelter where I adopted her guessed that she was four years old. Then we drove Rose to our veterinarian. He guessed two and a half or three years old!! So!! We rounded Rose's age down to three years old!! Which means. Rose turns seven years old today!! There, I wrote it!! Rose turns seven years old today!! I think!! Four Gotcha Days. Seven years old. Either way, in honor of Rose's big day, I, of course, baked a batch of dog cookies!! Although, I must mention. This recipe was originally planned for Independence Day!! But what with switching up bedrooms and writing a fictional children's book? I did not have the time!! Better late than never?! As per usual, I gave Rose tastes of the ingredients as I mixed everything together. Most of which she loved!! Except for garlic powder. Because like with honey and maple syrup, Rose could not even get past its strong smell!! Go figure!!

Rose would rate this recipe four 'paws' way, way up!! {Yes, she got a pre-Gotcha Day sample!! Two, actually!!}

Chicken Performance Cookies

This protein- and fat-rich biscuit {They are more like cookies!!} would be a good one to bring along on an excursion with your dog (like a hike). If you'd like, you can substitute 3/4 cup of Simple Liver Puree for the baby food.

2 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1/2 cup safflower oil {We do not have that ingredient. So I, being a rebel, used vegetable oil!! It worked!!}
2 tablespoons chicken broth {Rose loves this ingredient!!}
2 (2.5-ounce) jars of chicken baby food {What did I use? Gerber chicken and chicken gravy!! Rose love, love, loved her taste of that ingredient!!}
For the egg wash:
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the flours, baking powder, and garlic powder in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, beat one egg. {I just whisked it!!} Add, oil, broth, and baby food to the egg and blend together. {I just stirred it!!} Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon, then knead to incorporate all the dry ingredients. The dough will be soft a somewhat oily. {It was crumbly!! The dough kept peeling like a terrible sunburn!! And it seemingly dried very fast!! I added a little water to my dough!!} Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. {I always just eyeball it!!} Cut into shapes with cookie cutters {I used twain bones. One heart. Twain dogs. And one paw print!!} and place on a baking sheet covered with greased or non-stick foil. {I sprayed my pan!! But some of the cookies still stuck to it!!} Beat the other egg {Again, I just whisked it!!} and add a pinch of salt. Brush a little of the egg-and-salt mixture on top of each cookie, to make an attractive glaze. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes {All ovens are different. But I baked two separate batches for 20 minutes!!} or until the tops {are} brown. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. {I baked 21 cookies!! Therefore, I needed twain airtight containers!! But I will freeze some in a plastic bag to prevent them from developing mold!!}

Happy, happy, happy fourth Gotcha Day, Rose!! Here's to many, many, many more!!          


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cranio Girl Power

Blogging Friends.... Did you know....? That September is Craniosynostosis Awareness Month?! Well. It is!! In honor of my birth defect--and everyone who was born with it--here is a Blog post from an adult survivor's ever-evolving perspective!! {Mine, of course!!} Whoops, that sounded so very self-obsessive!! Carrying on. Love you later.

Sorry for not posting on Beautifully Unique since--gasp!!--August 30th. That was purely unintentional. Truth be told? My heart has apparently not been into Blogging lately. Plus this post wasn't yet ready!! But writing? It keeps me sane!! So I have written nearly every single day!! Now. Do not worry about me. I am fine.... I'm not experiencing any minor mood swing-infused pity parties!! I have just simply found myself in a prolonged season of soul searching regarding living with folliculitis decalvans. Life is good!! And I am happy!!

{These facts were taken from my Life Story!! Which, originally? They were taken from--if memory serves me!!--The Jorge Posada Foundation!! He has a son who was born with my birth defect.}

Craniosynostosis is when an infant’s sutures fuse too early and it affects the growth of the brain. Often, the end result is an infant with an abnormally shaped head. An infant’s brain begins to grow before birth and continues to grow throughout the infant’s first three years of life. At birth, an infant has 40% of his/her adult brain volume and this increases to 80% by three years of age, and to 90% by seven years of age. An infant’s skull consists of bones that are separated by soft joints called 'sutures'. The 'soft spot', or fontanel, is where the sutures meet on the top of the forehead. As an infant’s brain continues to grow, the sutures continue to grow. Throughout an infant’s first three years of life, an infant’s sutures will close or 'fuse' in sequence. Craniosynostosis may involve the premature closure of a single suture or multiple sutures in the case of a syndrome. Craniosynostosis, if left untreated, can cause severe and permanent damage. An infant may have increased intracranial pressure, seizures, neurological deficiencies, eye problems, malalignment of the spine, and cognitive and developmental delays.

Craniosynostosis. Over thirty years ago, I was born with a head of curly brunette hair. And I had craniosynostosis. Translation? I was born without any soft spots!! 1 out of 2,000 babies are typically effected by craniosynostosis. There are five different forms of this birth defect. Unicoronal. Metopic. Bicoronal. Sagittal. And, the rarest type of craniosynostosis. Lambdoid. It affects 1 in 100,000 births. Since I'm fairly confident that--according to pictures--my form of craniosynostosis was sagittal, I am 1 out of 2,000. You know what? I have grown to really love that statistic!! 1 out of 2,000!! Although. 1 in 100,000 would have been even more awesome!! My skull had been horribly disfigured--Mom said that it protruded from the forehead and back--when Dr. J. entered our Lives. He would perform twain separate reconstructive skull operations. Together, these surgically-created scars form an upside down "T". My "part"? It is twain craniosynostosis scars!! As a matter of fact. Dad even teasingly referred to me as "Frankenbaby" due to these scars. Yes, Frankenbaby!! But it was spoken lovingly, of course!! Ha. And Dad was not kidding. I have seen pictures. I did resemble Frankenbaby!! "Surgery will be just like setting a broken arm," Dr. J. confidently told Mom and Dad. However. If I--an adult "Cranio" survivor--were to describe the operation in three words, it would be this. Invasive. Terrifying. Miraculous. See, Dr. J. removed parts of my skull--and at one point threw some forehead bones away!!--then "rebuilt" it like an intricate, detailed Lego creation!! Not once. But twice!! Dr. J. said that my craniosynostosis was "severe", and he had never seen such a bad case!! Shudder!! I had also been apparently suffering from painful migraines because of skull pressure and I'd stopped sucking Mom's breast milk, unbeknownst to her. See. My mouth had latched onto Mom's breast. But I was not sucking any milk. That figures. Even back then I was putting on "brave acts" during times of suffering!! Was this an inborn trait?! I cannot help but wonder. See, I was a different case of craniosynostosis. Because while this birth defect--best as I can tell from research--is not in any way, shape, or form, fatal, when Dr. J. surgically repaired me, he saved my Life!! Yes, without his hard-earned skills and God's Amazing Grace, I would be dead!! Craniosynostosis, for the most part, only affects male infants. I am, most assuredly, a girl!! Although females can be--and are--born with craniosynostosis. It just is not as likely to occur. Any Google-search of craniosynostosis will--honestly!!--spin in this direction. A concerned mother expressing that her son has just been diagnosed with the neurological birth defect. It is seldom ever daughter. There are even craniosynostosis awareness Websites that manufacture onesies, bibs, and T-shirts which feature the phrase: "Chicks dig scars". Why yes, they do!! This I can personally prove!! So, I am a girl, who was born with craniosynostosis. I broke that medical rule. Thus, as per usual, I am exempt!! Which can only mean one thing. I was born a rebel!! Yes, it is my birthright!! Being a rebel!! I shall call this "Cranio Girl Power"!! You know what? That has a nice ring to it!! "Cranio" Girl Power!! The cause of craniosynostosis is unknown. It is sporadic. It can be present at birth (congenital). It can be hereditary. The hereditary form often occurs with other defects. Uh-oh. I was also born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia and Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome!! Well!! I do have a nephew, "J.", who was born with craniosynostosis!! Not sagittal, though. And they told my oldest sister that it was not hereditary?! Hmmm.... However, most cases of craniosynostosis occur in a family with no history of the condition. See. It is by "chance" that infants are ever born with craniosynostosis. Like the rolling of dice. Or some gambling game. I--among every other individual born with craniosynostosis--am like Heaven's poker game with chips, cards, and money bet. I must have been "chosen". For reasons beyond anybody's--beyond my own--comprehension. But not God's. I didn't know until recently that my craniosynostosis was "severe", or I'd been suffering from painful migraines and stopped sucking Mom's breast milk. However. I have always known this. Mom and Dad accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior because I was born with craniosynostosis!! See, I had been scheduled for operation number three. Dad complained to a co-worker about our problems. "Take your daughter to my church," he boldly suggested, "There she'll be prayed for. She'll be healed!!" Which is exactly what Mom and Dad did!! They drove to his Pentecostal foursquare church {Which, sadly, no longer meets there!!} I was prayed over, and God healed me, for I no longer needed operation number three!! Thanks be to God!! You know what? I believe this was a triple miracle!! Dr. J. reconstructed my skull!! God healed me!! Mom and Dad became Christians!! Yes, I have always been aware of our family's testimony!! But I never looked at that positive. Why? Because, as resulted from being born with craniosynostosis and having my skull reconstructed {Twice!!} I live with unwanted premature short-term memory loss. And that is what--for far too many years!!--I chose to focus on. The negatives. But my premature short-term memory loss {This learning disability} is what I lost through being born with craniosynostosis. Look at everything I have gained in Life despite having been born with craniosynostosis!! Because today? I am thirty-years old!! I have owned twain beautifully unique mutts--first Shadow Sunshine and now Rose Elizabeth!!--since I was nearly sixteen years old!! I just wrote my thirteenth--13th!!--fictional book!! I have twain adorable nieces under the age of three, "Amethyst" and "Opal"!! Wow. None of this--and then some--would have ever occurred sans Dr. J.'s hard-earned skills!! Not to mention God's Amazing Grace!! And now? Over one year ago, I was diagnosed with folliculitis decalvans. I am losing my beautiful hair. Eventually I will be completely bald. In a matter of time, I'll unveil those twain hidden craniosynostosis scars. And lately? I have felt self-conscious--ashamed even--of my craniosynostosis scars!! And during the rare, fleeting occasion when I delve into feel-sorry-for-me thoughts/feelings/emotions? Honestly? I think that somebody such as myself should not have folliculitis decalvans. Somebody such as myself should not be losing her hair. But complex thoughts/feelings/emotions set aside? Until my diagnosis of folliculitis decalvans, I was never grateful for any of the positives that have arisen from being born with craniosynostosis/Dr. J.'s skills. And now? Although, I do continue to feel self-conscious of my craniosynostosis scars. I am actively working on that!! When I think about my Frankenstein-like craniosynostosis scars? I am thankful for them both!! Because I'm so very glad to be alive!! Question. Why did it take a journey with folliculitis decalvans for me to truly become thankful for my craniosynostosis scars?!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Look Fear In The Face

Blogging Friends.... This was the July quotation from my wall calendar. Only they did not print her every word!! Sad!! So here is the quotation in whole!! I like it.... Her words feel somewhat symbolic to my folliculitis decalvans journey!! How so? I'm choosing to "look fear in the face" as I gradually accept Reality that I will eventually lose my beautiful hair, go bald and unveil twain surgically-created craniosynostosis scars!! One step at a time!! Love you later.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do. --Eleanor Roosevelt

Look for my September fictional children's book to be posted on Minuscule is good! {Lord willing!!} on September 1st!! And do not forget to leave a comment!!