Hiatus is over!

img_2671Hiatus is over!  Time to start writing again!  A lot has happened since my last entry on this blog.  I took a hiatus, because I was in graduate school full-time and working part time on the weekends!  My time that I spent writing on this blog was taken up with class time, work, as well as, writing lots of research papers for my classes.

I have since graduated and started a career in my chosen field of study!  Now, I am free to write again!  Going forward, my goal is to keep my published posts short, interesting and occasionally odd!  It’s all about piquing the curiosity and interest of my readers!

Keep a look out for my published posts and let your curiosity and interest get the best of you, by taking a peek at what this Matt guy is writing on his blog called “Newfangled Native American”?!  Check out my revamped “About” page!

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How do you eat your apple?

My apple eating experience began for me as a third grader.  One day my teacher Mr. Smith sat before my class and said, “I am going to teach you all how to eat an apple today.”  I believe we may have been talking about world hunger, which led to this interesting demonstration.

All eyes were set on Mr. Smith as we watched him take that first crunch out of his big red apple.  He managed to keep our attention as he chomped down his apple section by section.  First, he ate the middle section, chomping all the way around its girth taking generous chunks from the apple down to its core.  Next, he nibbled the ends down in a circular fashion around the stem, then around the other end of the apple in the same manner.  At this point, Mr. Smith was left with only the core of the apple containing the seeds.  We all watched with wide eyes wondering if he was done.  No, he was not done.  He chomped off half of the core, crunched it up and swallowed it!  He then ate the other half of the core finishing his apple!  He ate the whole apple!  I do believe some of my classmates may have been sick or turned off at this point, but Mr. Smith made a very strong indelible impression on my mind this day.  To this day, I eat my apples the way Mr. Smith showed me how to REALLY eat an apple!  My twin daughter, Sophie was asked by her teacher once, “What is an interesting thing that your father does?”  Her response, “My dad eats the whole apple”.  Needless to say, this was brought to my attention by her teacher wanting to know what she meant.

In my time of eating apples, I have managed to get the attention of others. They are either disturbed by the thought of eating the core with the seeds or curious and willing to take on the challenge of eating a whole apple in its entirety.  Mr. Smith…if you knew what an impression you made on me in your third grade class the day you ate your whole apple, you would be proud.  I have inspired and challenged others along the way to eat their apples the same way we both do!

Lanolin & Thick Native American Skin?!

Saaay whaaat?!  I am not talking about “thick skin” in the way of thick skinned in that I can withstand criticism, but thick skin in the way of the actual thickness of my skin!  I was once told that Native Americans have thick skin, therefore, I will eventually have really deep lines when I begin to grow wrinkles!  At that moment, I thought, if this is true, I need to do what I can to slow down this whole aging process!

In a previous job, I had a coworker that had the most beautiful skin!  It was very clear, supple and fresh!  One day at work we got into a discussion about her own skin care.  She mentioned how she doesn’t wash her face with harsh chemicals, but uses coconut oil.  She explained to me how she washed her face.  She puts the coconut oil on, then puts a warm wet wash cloth on her face, allowing her pores to open up and to get moisturized by the coconut oil, then she wiped off any excess coconut oil from her face and patting her face dry, feeling clean and moisturized.

I was so impressed that I began to look into ways to clean my own face, using some sort of oil.  I rationalized it by thinking that if I want to take a crayon mark off the wall, I could use a harsh chemical to do the job, but it will also damage and strip the paint on the wall, as well.  If I took some regular canola oil from the kitchen, I will be matching oil for oil, meaning the canola oil to the oil in the crayon.  The oil will break down the oil in the crayon mark on the wall and voila, the crayon mark is gone and the wall paint is still intact!  I thought my coworker was a genius!  Doing the same concept of matching oil for oil, in my coworker’s case, coconut oil to the oil on her face, with a little warmth to open up the pores and clean her pores out, made a lot of sense to me!  I think most people at this point would think, “Gross!  Putting oil on your skin?  That’s disgusting!  Are you sure that your pores won’t clog up and you start getting acne?!”.  I thought the same thing, but gave my myself time to process it.  This whole approach to cleaning a person’s face began to make sense to me, so I decided to give it a try.

I don’t like the smell of aged coconut oil on the skin, so I wanted to find another oil that would work for me.  Not too long ago, I was reading about lanolin oil and how it is the closest match to the oil of the skin of humans.  Lanolin oil is oil from the wool of sheep.  I also read that lanolin was once used a lot in the past, but was stigmatized for the pesticides that were found in it from the sheep being sprayed or dipped in liquid insecticides, causing people to be allergic to it.  Since then, lanolin has improved extracting techniques to help purify it from any traces of pesticides.  Today, with any skin product, you can find lanolin in it as an ingredient.

Being inspired by my coworker, I decided to do the same in caring for my face with my own adaptations, by limiting any harsh cleaners on my face.  Here is what I do everyday.  In the mornings, I use any regular facial lotion, but I add a drop or two of lanolin oil.  I spread it on my face just like any facial lotion.  With the added lanolin, my face is a little more oily.  I usually take a towel and pat the excess off and I am good to go for the rest of day.  At night, I only use lanolin oil mixed with a few drops of a high grade vitamin E oil and spread it all over my face.  I take the time to basically give myself a facial massage, massaging all of my facial muscles around my eyes, my forehead, above and below my cheeks, around and under my jaw, as well as, my temples on the side of my head past the hairline, then I pat any excess oil off of my face with a towel, then go to bed.  Then I repeat the whole process the next day.  Occasionally, every two weeks or whenever I feel like it at night, I will take a warm to mildly hot wash cloth and place it on my face once the lanolin and vitamin E oil has been applied and massaged and just sit with the warm wash cloth on my face for a minute or two and enjoy it!  Then I pat my face dry, then just apply a regular facial lotion to my face for added moisture at night.

Since, I have started caring for my face using this approach,  I have noticed an amazing difference in how my face feels to it’s appearance in even taking away some of my fine lines that were beginning to show with my age.  I am not one to tan my face or just tan in general.  I do what I can to avoid the sun on my face by wearing a baseball hat and applying a factor 50 lotion of some sort.  I have found that the key to good looking skin is keeping my face hydrated.  I may not be able to stop the natural aging process of my skin or avoid having “thick Native skin”, but I can do what I can to keep it looking healthy, clean and clear!

First Time Building A Fence!

Over spring break my family and I stayed home and built a fence! Our back yard was once a communal backyard with a three foot high chain link fence for all our neighbors to see. The past few summers we had good intentions to build a fence but time was limited. So a decision was made to build it this year during spring break. Our fence design is not your run of the mill vertical fence. We chose to build a horizontal fence. I have a good friend that I worked with named Erik who gets all the credit for this amazing fence design! It was his fence that intrigued me and caught my eyes. This fence design is unique, easy to build, shows depth and contrast, and looks spectacular when complete! One help to me was I hired out to have the fence posts installed. This saved a lot of time and I wanted it done right. Once the posts were installed, the fence went up quickly with a lot of team work by my family! It is very much a custom fence. I hope you enjoy my fence that my family and I built during our spring break! If you have any questions on wood, height, width, etc… Don’t hesitate to ask! Future posts to come on our raised garden beds!!

Our First Disneyland Trip!

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This past year, we talked off and on with some friends that were going to Disneyland this past November. For ourselves, we never really thought about going to Disneyland.  Somewhere along the way we were convinced by our friends and decided to go to Disneyland around the same time in November.  Our friends did it smart and had their trip planned back in January.  We had three months to put something together.  For all you first timers, here is the low down on how we planned our first trip to Disneyland ever in three months!

First of all, if you have any friends that have been to Disneyland, ask them anything and everything there is to know about their experience at Disneyland.  Of course, we researched like crazy all the blogs, websites, etc… to get a glimpse of what to expect.

Next we began looking at Disneyland vacations packages at various internet sites.  We looked into Southern California City passes, local travel agencies, online travel agents, etc…  The best deal we found at that time was through Costco Travel http://www.costcotravel.com/?gclid=CJ3F9aai0LQCFUdxQgodr18ABQ.  They gave us a four day vacation that included a car rental for one day, hotel for 5 nights, 4 day Disneyland park hopper, shuttle service to the park, early entry into TooneTown, character dining at Goofy’s Kitchen, lanyards, return shuttle from hotel to airport and a $20 gift card.  Our airfare was already paid for by my wife’s frequent flier miles from her business trips to Asia.

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 We stayed in the Marriott Residence Inn in Garden Grove which was a little over a mile away from the Disneyland main entrance.  We enjoyed a free continental breakfast each morning, hopped on the shuttle-Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) http://www.rideart.org/ which came every 20 minutes.  We made our way to Disneyland and stood in line to enter the park!  We spent two days in Disneyland and two days in California Disney.  On the first three days we stayed all day in the park until closing. Our last day in the park we went back to the hotel for a nap then returned until closing.  Our friends did it right in that they stayed in a hotel across the street from the main entrance and were able eat lunch and to take a nap at their hotel and return to the park afterwards. We were able to keep energized and hydrated by having a backpack full of bottled water and protein bars to munch on. Most of the days our kids wanted to keep going without having lunch, this is when the protein bars came in handy.  I suppose you can cut costs by snacking, but it was nice to take a few of the days and eat lunch at some of the food places in the park.  This gave us a chance to take a break for about an hour then we would hit the rides again.  We ended up eating lunch and dinner in the park most of the time.

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In the way of food, there were awesome places to eat!  Here are three good links to eating places in Disneyland http://www.themouseforless.com/tripplanning/menus/dl/Disneyland.shtml, Downtown Disney http://www.themouseforless.com/tripplanning/menus/dl/DTD.shtml, and California Disney http://www.themouseforless.com/tripplanning/menus/dl/DCA.shtml.    Here are some of the places we ate at for lunch and dinner:  Carnation Café, Refreshment Corner, Cozy Cone Motel, Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop, Pacific Wharf (Try the clam chowder in bread bowls…it’s delicious!), Corn Dog Castle, Hot Dog Hut (My son is a hot dog lover!), Tortilla Jo’s, and Goofy’s Kitchen.  I can’t forget the awesome smoked turkey legs!  You have to try them!  Kind of messy but good!  We weren’t planning on eating out so much but, we got sucked in and ate out more than we planned.

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There is so much to see and do at Disneyland and California Adventure that we were not bored at all for first timers.  Favorite rides that were echoed from my family…definitely California Screamin’, Tower of Terror and Radiator Springs!  Other favorites were Soarin’ Over California, Grizzly River Run, Matterhorn, Peter Pan’s Flight, SpaceMountain, and SplashMountain.  My kids are a little older and tall enough to go on all the rides therefore, they liked all the thrill rides more.  When it comes to the rides, one suggestion is to learn how fast passes work.  Thanks to our friends, we had a crash course in fast passes 101.  Fast passes are passes you can get ahead of time and then come back within a certain time period and go basically to the front of the line to ride the ride.  Most of the rides have machines where you insert your park entrance tickets into it and it gives you your fast passes.  One fast pass to definitely get first is Radiator Springs.  As soon as California Adventure opens at the beginning of the day, there is always a mad dash to get fast passes for Radiator Springs because everyone wants them.  For this particular fast pass you have to stand in line to get one rather than go to a fast pass machine.  Once I saw the line for Radiator Springs, I was glad that I stood in line for a fast pass.

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A must see is the World of Color!  It pays to get there early in order to get a good view.  I would suggest having some snacks or something to munch on during the wait before it starts.  My kids were getting tired and hungry as it starts around 9 PM.  Luckily there was a person selling popcorn and soda to tie them over until we got back to the hotel.

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Another show we saw was the Aladdin Show as well as different parades.  My family liked the Aladdin show that we went back a second time on another day.  We also saw the Pixar Parade and the firework show and the whole castle lit up with Christmas lights.

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One more thing I can not forget are the Disney pins.  There are lanyards that you can get to put Disney pins on.  Costco Travel included lanyards in our vacation package but you can buy them in the park.  They are a little pricey in the park.  Basically, you can trade your Disney pins with any employee at Disneyland that has pins on them.  My kids loved this and began collecting the sets.  We purchased 100 pins on eBay and had them sent to our hotel about two weeks before we arrived.  When we arrived at the hotel our pins were waiting for us.  We decided to purchase pins two weeks before our trip therefore, we had them sent to our hotel rather than our home.

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Overall, our first trip to Disneyland was a success and our family thoroughly enjoyed it!  It was quick planning on our part but we pulled it off in three months.  If I had to do it over again, I would definitely do as our friends did and make the decision to go in January then you have all year to plan for it.  Or plan it a year ahead from the time that you are planning to go, then you get your pick of hotels, airfare may be cheaper, and if you have to save up for it…you can.

“I’m so ticked off I’m starting school today…I can’t wait!”

“I’m so ticked off, I’m starting school today…I can’t wait!”  This was an expression that my seven year old twin daughter Sophie expressed the day she was going back to school after Christmas break.  I asked, “What are you ticked off about?”   She responded, “I am ticked off because I am just so excited!”  I quickly realized that she didn’t understand what ticked off meant.  I asked, “Do you know what ticked off means?”  She said, “Excited?”  I responded, “Ticked off means you are mad at something.”  She quickly corrected herself, “No, I am not mad at going to school!  I am excited!”  We had our laughs afterwards.

Today, I start my first day back to graduate school after my month long break after the holiday.  I really enjoyed my first term of graduate school Fall term!  I believe I have found my niche studying Social Work!  My goal is to become a licensed clinical therapist.  The opportunity to learn and gain knowledge is always good!  It makes a huge difference when the subject at hand is interesting.  So, to my classes of  Foundations of Social Work Research and Human Behavior Social Environment: Micro Theory here I come!  In the words of my seven year old daughter, Sophie…I too am so ticked off I am starting school today…I can’t wait!

Book Review: Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance

            In my Social Work Policy class, I had to read an autobiography of a person that has influenced social work policy in the United States. 

            I chose to read, Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance, by Leonard Peltier.  I wanted to read a book that reflected a significant event in modern day Native American history.  I am Navajo Indian and have a passion for learning Native American history and felt that this book would give me a modern day perspective of Native Americans fighting for their civil rights.

            Among the Native American community, Leonard Peltier is considered a civil rights leader, much like Martin Luther King for the African Americans.  He is noted as an activist for Native Americans and his association with the American Indian Movement (AIM).  Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance, is basically as the title states, Leonard Peltier’s writings from Leavenworth Prison inLeavenworth,Kansas.  It’s his personal testimony and perspective of all the events from the time ofWounded Knee in 1973 to his imprisonment in Leavenworth Prison.  He argues his case that he is innocent to this day regarding the deaths of two FBI agents in a shootout at Oglala in June 1975 on the Pine Ridge Reservation inSouth Dakota.

               Leonard Peltier fought for civil rights of Native Americans as a free man.  From his cell, he is still fighting for civil rights of Native Americans.  His incarceration has sparked modern day awareness in how Indian policy has been created to benefit the United States Government from the moment they began colonizing the Native Americans on reservations to this present day.  It also has given awareness to all the treaties that have been broken between the Native Americans and the United States Government, time and time again.  His incarceration has sparked an international outcry from foreign governments calling for clemency and investigations into human rights abuses in theUnited States.

             I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning the personal experience and knowledge of a modern day Native American civil rights activist.