About Me

Some of you know me from my old blog "Moving to Morocco" where I wrote about meeting my husband and, you guessed it, moving to Morocco. Well, we're back now, and I want to write about other things (but yes, we're still happily married). There's no real subject to this blog. I just want to write. If you have a subject you'd like my opinion on, just let me know. I also plan on doing advice posts. If you have something you'd like an outside opinion on, e-mail me anonymously at nicegirlatl@hotmail.com! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself

I don't have a recent picture right this moment, so I will just post 15 facts. Whether or not they're interesting is up to you, but they're facts nonetheless....

1. I've been skydiving.

2. I've been bungee jumping.

3. I've been inside a race car going 200 miles per hour around Atlanta Motor Speedway.

4. I've played with wild monkeys...in the wild

5. I've lived outside of the country

6. Both of my children prefer their dad to me, and I'm ok with that. It actually makes me extremely happy that my children have a strong man in their lives that they can look up to, and hope to be like one day.

7. I'm very sad my son can never ride a roller coaster because it is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

8. I used to love to read anything I could get my hands on. Now I cannot stand to even spend the time trying to find a book that'll interest me.

9. I hate debating. Mostly because if I choose to argue with you, it's because I KNOW I am right. So the constant back and forth will just annoy me, and nothing will be accomplished.

10. I don't feel less Christian because I don't ever attend church. I am not less Christian than you because you do.

11. I can hold grudges for a lifetime. Just because we are forgiven by God, doesn't mean we have to, or are even capable of,  forgiving everyone whose done us wrong. Sometimes there is just no room in your life for toxic people.

12. I feel closer to some people I've never even met in person than I do some people I've been friends with for close to 20 years.

13. I hate all movies and TV shows (fact or fiction) about winning the lottery. I cannot bring myself to watch them. I would like to watch them, I just can't. It's weird.

14. I think my greatest achievement in life will be my kids. I won't probably be rich. I won't probably ever win the Nobel prize, I won't probably ever be famous, but I'm cool with that. Having 2 boys that grow up to be happy and successful men...that's enough for me.

15. When I was growing up my dream job was a lawyer or a journalist. Both would still be great options for me, but I really just wish I had Samantha Brown's job. She must be the luckiest girl in the world (career wise).

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge

Thanks Jessica Evans for letting me steal this from your blog 
 
I doubt I will actually do every single one of these, but I will try to do most!!
 
Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself
Day 02- The meaning behind your Blog name
Day 03- A picture of you and your friends
Day 04- A habit that you wish you didn’t have
Day 05- A picture of somewhere you’ve been to
Day 06- Favorite super hero and why
Day 07- A picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you
Day 08- Short term goals for this month and why
Day 09- Something you’re proud of in the past few days
Day 10- Songs you listen to when you are Happy, Sad, Bored, Hyped, Mad
Day 11- Another picture of you and your friends
Day 12- How you found out about Blogger and why you made one
Day 13- A letter to someone who has hurt you recently
Day 14- A picture of you and your family
Day 15- Put your iPod on shuffle: First 10 songs that play
Day 16- Another picture of yourself
Day 17- Someone you would want to switch lives with for one day and why
Day 18- Plans/dreams/goals you have
Day 19- Nicknames you have; why do you have them
Day 20- Someone you see yourself marrying/being with in the future
Day 21- A picture of something that makes you happy
Day 22- What makes you different from everyone else
Day 23- Something you crave for a lot
Day 24- A letter to your parents
Day 25- What I would find in your bag
Day 26- What you think about your friends
Day 27- Why are you doing this 30 day challenge 
Day 28- A picture of you last year and now, how have you changed since then?
Day 29- In this past month, what have you learned
Day 30- Your favorite song.

Monday, November 22, 2010

9 Years I am so grateful for.

Wednesday, November 24, my son will turn 9. Nine birthdays, nine years ago I wasn't sure I'd see. Every time people sing Happy Birthday to Cain, I get a lump in my throat. That lump that tells you the tears are coming. The emotion is not just because my baby is getting older and I can't believe it. Well, it is that, but so much more. It's because I am so thankful that I've been blessed yet another year with a child that I was told more than likely wouldn't make it past January 9, 2002, just a little over 6 weeks from the time he was born.

At Cain's two-week well check, his pediatrician heard something while listening to his heart. She left the room and came back with a doctors name written on a piece of paper, along with directions. She told me I needed to go to see a pediatric cardiologist. I asked her what was wrong and she told me she heard a loud murmur, but they are quite common and just wanted me to have it checked out a little further. I told her I'd call and make and appointment, and she said, "no, go now, they're expecting you".  I felt pretty confused. If it was so common, why did I get an immediate appointment with a specialist? I just said ok, took the information and drove over to the office at Scottish Rite Childrens Hospital.

They ran an EKG and an echo cardiogram (which is an ultrasound of the heart). A few minutes later, the cardiologist came in and told me Cain didn't have just a murmur. He had Severe Aortic Stenosis, which is a thickening of the aortic valve which makes it difficult for the blood to get pumped through it. He also had a tear at the top of the the aortic valve, causing blood to leak out of the valve instead of being pumped through the body. He said they'd go in and do a heart cath and try to open up the valve with a balloon. It was scheduled for a few days later. I remember driving home and crying. Not just tears coming out, but crying. Crying hard and begging God to make sure he'd be ok.

The heart cath seemed to work well. He was sent home a few hours after it was done, and I had instructions to take him to the ER if he got a fever or his lips or fingernails turned blue. A few hours after getting home he had a fever. I called the doctor, they told me to give him some Tylenol and call back in a few hours. His fever went up to over 103. I took him to the ER and they admitted him. After a few tests they realized the cath didn't work. They started him on IV antibiotics and told me they'd watch him really close and set up another heart cath procedure. Before they could set up a heart cath they realized he'd gotten an aneurysm. They scheduled his surgery for the next day. It was December 29, 2001, just 4 weeks after he was born. The surgeon came in to talk to me about the procedure and let me know that realistically, he had a 50/50 chance of making it through it. At that moment I remember stumbling. My legs felt like jelly and my heart felt like it was on the floor. I said my good bye's to him and sent him with the nurses into surgery.

A few hours later it was over and he was in the ICU on life support. My poor baby had his large chest incision and they'd cut 5 holes across his stomach for drainage tubes. He had tubes everywhere. His arms, his face his stomach his legs. I didn't know where to touch him. I stayed by his side and watched him. And prayed for him. All of the medicines he was on gave him a rash that covered his body. His skin felt like sandpaper, and he was still the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. On December 31, 2001 Cain was baptised at the hospital. We didn't know if he'd make it at all, but miraculously he came through and was able to move to a regular room just after the new year.

Cain got a fever and after every test known to man was performed on him they realized he had a staff infection and endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart, the endocardium, and a collapsed lung. He was moved to the ICU, put on strong antibiotics and monitored closely. On January 9, 2002, after a routine echo cardiogram, it was realized that he had another aneurysm. They took him immediately into surgery. The surgeon told me that because he had the staff infection and the endocarditis, he could not give me a percentage of the chance he'd live. He told me, "honestly, without the surgery he WILL die, with the surgery, he will probably die from bleeding to death because infected tissue cannot hold a stitch, but we have to try, and if by a miracle he does make it, he will probably be very weak and sick his entire life."

Six or seven hours later the nurse called the waiting room to tell me I could come see him. It was 8:20. I couldn't go. I remember someone telling me, well they called, we can go see him now. And I couldn't. I needed a few minutes to just collect my thoughts and prepare myself for seeing him. When I was finally able to go in the doctor stopped me to tell me that he was bloated and swollen. Bad. They were unable to close his chest because he was so swollen, but that he did pretty well and he was on Morphine and a ventilator, so prepare myself. All those tubes that were in last time, were in again, but this time he was large and his chest was open, covered with a clear dressing. I could see my child's insides and he was twice his normal size. It was traumatizing. It was heartbreaking. It was terrible. A mothers worse nightmare.

Over the course of the next few weeks Cain got better and stronger. He was able to go home with me. He was on up to 19 medicines at one time. At some points he required medicine every hour on the hour. I'd set an alarm to give him his IV's. I had to have a nurse come to the house everyday. I had to do dressing changes for his chest incision and his pic line. At some point he pulled the pic out and with every breath a gush of blood would spew out. I drove him to the local hospital where he was taken by ambulance to Egleston. He had lost most of his blood, and he had RSV. He was admitted in isolation for a week.

Through all of this I was scared. Strong but scared. I was young and alone and had a sick kid. But scared didn't matter. What I had more than anything was this inexplicable bond. This love that just cannot be conveyed to anyone in words. Cain has been through more than most adults. Cain and I have been through more hard times together than I'd wish on anyone in a lifetime. For the first few years of Cain's life I stayed scared. Scared that he'd die if I let him do too much. When he was three and wanted to play soccer, his cardiologist asked me what my reservations were. I told him that I was scared if he played, he'd die. He told me, "Nicole, Cain needs to live his life, you need to let him. Unfortunately, Cain could die just as easily sitting on the couch as he could on a soccer field" That is exactly what I needed to hear to realize that I didn't want to hold him back because I was scared, and I didn't want him to grow up thinking he should be afraid.

Cain will have to have more surgery for this problem. For the rest of his life he needs to be aware of his condition, and monitor it closely, but life is short. We shouldn't be scared to live it. I am thankful for every day I am given with him- good or bad. His life is a miracle and I am so grateful that he is a part of my life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holidays Schmolidays

I've never been a "Christmas Person" or a "Thanksgiving Person" or a "Halloween Person". I do like the holidays, but I myself haven't dressed up for Halloween since I was probably in Elementary School. I like Thanksgiving, but usually with everyone having in laws and stuff it just gets complicated and annoys me, and with Christmas, the older Cain gets the more annoyed I become at how commercial has become. I mean I enjoy seeing the kids getting excited about Santa, and decorating the tree, and making sugar cookies, and seeing Christmas lights, but its the gifting that gets me. I've never once went into debt to buy the latest and greatest stuff, and I will never do so.

I love giving gifts. I love to see the faces of the people whom I'm giving gifts to. I used to spend a lot of money (but still not going into debt) on Christmas for Cain before I got married. When I moved to Morocco, the big holiday Eid Al Ahda was right near Christmas, and for Muslims its a huge holiday, like our Christmas, but my husband knew it was important for me and Cain to celebrate "our" holiday. We went out and got a tree and decorated it and bought a few things for Cain. Cain was more interested in the Eid celebration, in which he didn't receive any gifts. I remember he was staying at my in laws because they had the sheep at their house, and after a few days we had to MAKE Cain come home for Christmas! I think that's when I realized we didn't have to buy Cain 36 presents to make him happy. As long as we were together and he had something to open, he'd be fine. This past year, we got him a few things, but nothing that cost much. He loved everything we got. He was appreciative of the things he had and didn't question why we didn't buy him an Xbox, or a trampoline, or an Ipod. We spent the rest of the day playing with his stuff and the baby's stuff as a family. That was enough. So this Christmas I think our plan hasn't changed, buy a few things for the kids and be done with it. Just hang out as a family, eat some good food, and let them know what Christmas is really about.

There is one thing this year that has me excited about Christmas. Since there are a lot of kids in our family, my sisters and I generally don't get anything for one another...just the kids and mom. We'll this year my sister suggested that we make gifts for each other.  It's exactly what Christmas is about! Taking the time to put some effort into something you want to give someone. I spent a lot of time deciding what to make, and I've finally come up with it. Total cost = less than $10. I'll have to share what it is after Xmas though, they read the blog. And for my co-workers...I'm making cookies in a jar. I bought 12 mason jars for $7 and the ingredients will cost me around $10 total, so for $17, I'm going to have a cool present for 12 people. It's not just about money though, it's about the thoughtfulness and effort. That's what I miss about Christmas, that's what I want to teach my kids about Christmas. That its not about how much something cost, its about the intention of the person that gave it to you. It's about being grateful you are even getting a gift.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Food Ideas...nom nom nom

I'm not a chef, but I am a cook. I think being a chef means that you can take whatever ingredients you have and make something awesome. Like those chefs that compete on Chopped on the Food Network. They're given 3 items that they must incorporate into a dish. And they're not just any 3 items, they're 3 weird items - that don't go together, like gummy bears, cheddar cheese, and lamb hearts. Or bean sprouts, chocolate chips, and chicken feet. Yet at the end of every round they always come out with impressive dishes. That, I cannot do, but what I can do is follow a recipe, which results in one of two outcomes. 1.) It's awesome and I totally take credit for it, or 2.) it sucks, and I totally blame it on the sucky recipe.

So when I come upon a good recipe, I like to share it. Last year was the very first Thanksgiving that I was ever able to host. For years I've been contributing side dishes, but being a host means the most important part of the meal is your responsibility - the Turkey. For weeks leading up to my first Thanksgiving I searched for the best Turkey recipe ever. Finally I settled on this recipe from Alton Brown @ The Food Network. I read the rave reviews, and I've tried several of his recipes in the past that have always come out fantastic. This recipe was no joke. It was a lot of ingredients. It was a lot of preparation before actually putting the turkey in, but I assure you..the results were great. What I got was a flavorful, juicy, perfectly browned Turkey that everyone loved. I've done it a few times since that last thanksgiving too, and it turned out perfect every time. If  you're in need of a recipe....definitely try this one. The family will thank you!

I also always do a sweet potato souffle, cause, well why else? It's YUMMY! And easy, but most of all, yummy. If you're doing the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top - stop it. That's just not the way to go...it has to have the pecan crunchy goodness on top. Try this recipe .

Broccoli and Cheese casserole is usually a big hit too, but I'm sorry, the recipe I use is from an old cookbook page I ripped out of some cookbook along the way, dirtied up with splatters of food and oil and crumpled in a junk drawer along with the 3,476 other recipes I jotted down or printed out. The point is, its not with me right now. And I've never been able to find the exact recipe online either, but I can tell you the result is awesome. It uses broccoli, cheddar cheese, mayo, cream of mushroom soup, some other stuff, and ritz cracker crust. If you can find one kind of close to this...attempt it. You'll love it!

My sister made corn pudding a few years back and its so good. I've made it a few times and it cannot get much easier than this recipe. If you've never tried it, try it. You won't be disappointed!

And for the all important appetizers, deviled eggs. I'm going to tell you the easy way. Boil some eggs. Cool them, crack and peel them. Cut them in half lengthwise,  take out the yolks. Mix mayo, spicy mustard, and salt and just keep tasting it till its awesome. Spoon or pipe it into the whites. Done. No need to go all fancy on these. Don't add pickles, don't add olives, don't add tuna (yes people do it, and yes, it's as gross as it sounds). If you feel the need to do something a little fancier than what I explained, put a little paprika on top. A little. Second appetizer is Spinach Balls , even if you're not a spinach lover, these are worth making. They always get finished at my house, and even the kids love them. Sometimes I serve them with Alouette cheese on the side to spread on them, but even with nothing they're good, and you can make them ahead of time and freeze them!

OK well that's about it...I just wanted to share some fool proof recipes with you guys! If you try any of them, let me know!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Whats for dinner?? I have an answer!!!!!

I know this is a question I ask a lot, and my friends are usually quick to give some recipe suggestions. Today I am suggesting one. It's one of my family's favorites, and my husbands absolute favorite. Plus you can brag to your friends that you made a Moroccan Tajine. It's very simple to make, and very delicious! As a side to go with the chicken, make french fries. Moroccans usually put them on top of the completed chicken and sauce, but you can serve them on the side. Also for a true Moroccan experience try eating with bread as opposed to utensils. Sandwich bread won't work, so try to get some french bread or something like it from the bakery.


For the chicken you will need:
  •  1 whole chicken, or one whole chicken already cut, or about 4-5 chicken breasts (bone in)

  •  2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

  •  1 teaspoon of ginger powder

  •  1 teaspoons of salt

  •  1/2 teaspoon of pepper

  •  a large pinch of saffron


  • For the Tajine (or large pot)
  •  1 large onion, grated

  • a small bunch of cilantro

  •  1/2 - 1 cup of water

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

  •  1/4 teaspoon of pepper

  • a cinnamon stick (or a little ground cinnamon)


  • Marinating the Chicken:
    1- Mix all the spices with the vegetable oil and lemon juice.
    2- Rub the chicken with the spice mix.
    3- Cover the bowl containing the chicken with a plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge while you're chopping the onion and cilantro and getting the tajine ingredients ready.

    Cooking the Chicken - Tajine Style:
    1- On medium heat, add the onion, cilantro, all spices and chicken to your pot. Cover your pan and let them cook for 10 minutes.
    2- After 10 minutes,  add 1 cup of water. Cover your pan and let the chicken cook.
    3- While the chicken is cooking, stir it from time to time, also flip the chicken on different sides to ensure uniform cooking, and check out the level of water and add as necessary. Keep doing this until the chicken is fully cooked (it would take around 45 minutes to an hour).

    Broil the Chicken and Serve:
    1- Once the chicken is cooked, remove  from the cooking pan and place them on a baking dish.
    2- Broil the chicken in the oven for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned.
    3- Increase the heat on the sauce where the chicken cooked, and let it cook for few minutes so that it thickens.
    4- To serve the chicken, place it in a dish,  and cover it with the sauce
    5- Serve with french fries and bread...Enjoy!!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Regrets...

    I know its best to say you shouldn't live with regrets, because everything happens for a reason. I do believe everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff, but it's impossible to live without wondering what if. There is a movie called sliding doors with Gweneth Paltrow and I really like it. Basically one little event, getting on the subway or missing it, changed the course of her life dramatically. The movie shows what would have happened had she missed the subway and what would have happened had she gotten on. I haven't seen this movie in years, but it is so true how one tiny little thing can change the course of your life.

    I have some regrets, not a ton of them, but some nonetheless. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't get a college degree. I did go to college, but quit when I realized I was going for something I wasn't passionate about. I could have gone into something else, but I didn't, I just gave up. Now that I'm almost 30 I think about that all the time. What if I'd just gone ahead and finished. I could really kick myself for that sometimes, and the more time that passes and the older I get, the more I regret it.

    Another one that pops out at me is a job I turned down. When I was 18 or 19 I applied for a job with a company that leased high end apartments around the country. I had to go through 13 interviews for this job. There was a lot of competition for this job as the salary and the perks were amazing. After the 13th interview I was hired. I would have traveled to different cities like New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Austin, etc. all first class accommodations and as a bonus they'd fly you internationally for free once a year to a destination of your choice for an all expenses paid vacation. The schedule was 4 weeks on everyday and two weeks off. It was an amazing opportunity and I jumped through hoops trying to get it. Once I finally did, I backed out. Too scared to travel around the country alone, too scared to be away from my friends and family for four weeks at a time. I still wonder today how many cities I would have seen, how many friends I would have made, how much money I walked away from.

    I also regret ever starting smoking, gaining 40 pounds AFTER I had my second child, & getting tattoos. These three things I can fix, and I do plan on doing so, but its still something I wish I wouldn't have done.

     Obviously my life now is good. I don't have room to complain, and I don't wonder "what if" to replace what I have now, I just wonder what type of person I'd have ended up as...smarter, funnier, nicer, more interesting? Of course I will never know, and I probably shouldn't even bother myself with these thoughts, but I think its just human nature.

    What are some of your regrets?

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Halloween is not code for "dress like a skank"

    Let me preface this post by saying that I try to be positive and see the good in people and try not to judge. Really I do. Really....I promise. Having said that, I am not perfect, and I do judge sometimes (even though I shouldn't).

    Why is it that every Halloween women use this holiday as a free pass to wear stripper clothes? Why do you have to be a "sexy nurse" instead of just a nurse, or a "sexy police officer" or a "sexy zombie" or a "sexy fairy", or a "sexy clown". Why is it that Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter are filled with pictures of girls bent over, ass facing the camera, one finger in their mouth. Have the Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears crotch shots of the past not taught us girls a lesson? These pics stay forever! Cover that up! The world does not need to see your boobs and your vagina. And if you have kids, even more reason to not allow people to take pics of you bent over with a man behind you acting as if he's humping you.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with going out, celebrating, and having fun. I don't drink, but if you choose to - whatever. But I can't imagine why it becomes ok one day of the year to dress up like a street walker. What are your daughters going to think if they see these pics. Aren't you going to be embarrassed if your son comes upon a pic of his mom spread eagle in a g-string at a party? Gross. I just think the majority of these women I see looking like this are beautiful....and then they dress like this. Why do you want the world to see your junk? And if you choose to celebrate by dressing OVERLY-revealing, why would you want photographic evidence? I guess I'm just becoming more conservative in my old age.

    Just a reminder ladies...you don't have to show it ALL to be sexy!

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Where are YOU from?

    Not geographically. Your background. What made you who you are today? More interestingly, what made the person next to you who they are today.

    Recently I was having a conversation with a friend. A friend whom I've known for a few years. A woman I know as caring, an amazing mother, a sweet all around person. In our conversation she let me in on a little history of her family and where she came from. This conversation was only a few minutes, but in that few minutes I realized I'd never thought of the problems she may have overcome to become this amazing person. I'd just assumed she came from a "normal" background. Her background was not BAD or anything, it was just a little reminder that we should never assume anything about anyone.

    Each one of us has an interesting story. I may be boring at this particular moment in my life, but the events that led me to this moment in time may be extraordinary. Just like the events that happened in your neighbor's life, your co-workers life, your grocery clerk's life. I just wonder how many stories we're missing out on hearing because we're not listening to one another, or just not asking. We take people for who they are today, but forget to inquire where they were yesterday, where they came from, and how they got to be who they are in this moment.

    I guess the point of this post is just a reminder to ask more questions about the people you're talking to...I'm sure they'd love to share, and you might just learn something new about someone and have a whole new respect for them. So I will leave with this question:

    Where are you from?