Monday, March 28, 2016

Gender Identity Explained with the Gender Unicorn

This past year as my work as a school, I have worked with several students dealing with issues with gender identity. I have had students who have identified with a gender different from the gender they were born with. I have helped students deal with the opinions of family and friends as they have transitioned in identifying with a different gender. I have had student and parent conferences helping students "come out" to their parents and providing parents with resources on how to best support their child and their family through the process. 

At times, I have also had to help students who have harmed themselves physically because of the hurtful words they have experienced, the lack of support they feel like they deserve, or even the questioning of their own self worth. 

I have had so many LGTBQ students in my counselor caseload over the past year, I felt like I needed some training to best serve my students. I have learned lots from the workshops I have attended and I know there is still so much to learn.

One of the tools I have used with students and parents is the Gender Unicorn from Trans Student Educational Resources. In my experience in working with my students dealing with gender identify issues, the conversation is never black or white. The feelings and expressions of gender are always unique and specific to that particular individual.



That is why the Gender Unicorn has helped me in understanding how these young people feel. The issues with gender identify and expression, as well as who they are attracted to romantically, sexually, and emotionally, are all unique to the individual. The feelings are neither black or white, where on this graphic is explained on a spectrum of feelings. Each individual is unique when placing themselves on these scales of identify and feelings.  Individuals may place themselves on this spectrum in different spaces during different times in their life. 

So, how do you best support family and friends dealing with gender expression and gender identity? GenderSpectrum.com provides wonderful suggestions on how parents can help their children, which is very much applicable for anyone who wishes to be of help:
  • Create a supportive family environment - The ability to make the home a sanctuary of security and support for your child is the single most important factor in promoting lifelong health and well- being for your child. Such an environment creates a buffer for your child from the hardships they may face outside of the home. Creating such a space may not come easily for you, particularly if you are struggling with accepting your child’s gender identity or expression. If so, seek help from an empathetic, knowledgeable friend, family member, support group, therapist or other source of support.
  • Require respect within the family - With immediate and extended family, it is imperative that you require and accept only kindness and respect for your child. While you may not be able to change people’s opinions, you can certainly dictate how you expect others to behave and speak around you and your child. It can be scary to make this demand of family members, yet many parents report that once they’ve taken a stand on their child’s behalf, they feel a great sense of relief and empowerment.
  • Express love and support for your child’s gender expression - What does this look like? It means allowing them to choose, without pressure or unspoken messages, the clothes they wish to wear, how and with whom they play, their favorite toys, the accessories they favor, the manner in which they wear their hair, and the decorations and images with which they surround themselves. It means helping them prepare for any negative reactions they may encounter outside the home by practicing their responses with them and making sure, when appropriate, that there is a safe adult for them to turn to in case they need assistance. It means discussing any negative or conflicting feelings you are struggling with over their gender identity or expression with other adults, not with your child.
  • Allow zero tolerance for disrespect, negative comments or pressure - A concrete way to demonstrate ongoing support and acceptance for your child is to tolerate absolutely no negative comments about your child, from anyone, whether your child is with you or not. This means following up with the people who make such comments in a firm way that makes clear your commitment to your child’s well-being. It may also mean needing to follow up with other parents or the school about the comments made by other parents or children.
  • Maintain open and honest communication with your child - Stay open about this journey, both your child’s, and your own. By demonstrating to them that you are a partner in this process, and showing a genuine sense of interest in how they see themselves, what they think, what they are experiencing, you show that you are there for them. This open level of communication will also help you evaluate your child’s level of stress or distress, and whether they may need additional outside support or intervention.
Many of these suggestions are easier said than done. I have worked with parents who were worried about how extended family would react or even how supporting varied gender roles and identifies goes against cultural norms or religious beliefs. Having these conversations with families is never easy.

As a school counselor, I tell parents that my priority is to ensure my student does well academically and is given the tools to best achieve their post-secondary goals. Providing the students with the support, safety, and love they need in order to do so is my priority. Therefore, I offer myself as a support to provide resources to best support the family to best support their child. 

Trans Student Educational Resources provides a list of resources to help parents, students, and school personnel to support LQTBQ students: http://www.transstudent.org/sites

If you are a parent with questions on how to help your child, call your school counselor for resources. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Savor Spring at Seasons 52

A mommy night out every once awhile is the perfect day to decompress, de-stress, and recharge. My good friend Joyce is always there to take me away from the mommy grind.
A few nights ago we spent the evening sampling the new Spring menu at Seasons 52 in San Diego. Seven courses highlighting the flavors of Spring paired with wines from all over the world, what else could a mommy ask for? I definitely forgot the piles of laundry, the bills to be paid, and the homework to be done, for a few hours at least!

The evening began with a STRAWBERRY BASIL INFUSION which was divine. Joyce and I chatted with Chef Mo, as well as a few of the other staff while we sipped on this delicious cocktail. The strawberry-infused prairie organic vodka, agave nectar and fresh basil had just a touch of sweet and was overall refreshing. I could've drank this all night, it was so good. I did have a few!


Once we were seated, we were treated to the Chef's SPRING AMUSE BOUCHE. Creme fraiche and crostini, along with sweet and savory, was a nice introduction to the flavors we were to experience that evening.

Next came the flatbreads...
CRISPY PROSCIUTTO and ASPARAGUS flatbread (Camembert cheese and chervil)
 and
LOBSTER and FRESH MOZZARELLA (roasted sweet peppers, slivered scallions, lobster sour cream).


I love prosciutto, but I also love lobster so I couldn't choose a favorite between the two. The champagne paired with these flatbreads made my taste buds do a happy dance.

The SPINACH SALAD came next with featured spring strawberries, pea tendrils, toasted pine nuts, gorgonzola, and a balsamic drizzle. I really enjoy Spring salads with fruit and cheese, along with the crunch of nuts. This was very delicious. Yes, the salad was paired with wine as well. The Sauvignon Blanc was a wonderful compliment.


The CARMELIZED GRILLED SEA SCALLOPS with LEMON RISOTTO was my favorite of the night. If you follow my foodie posts, I go ga-ga over risotto. The creamy lemon risotto, sweet English peas, and perfectly roasted asparagus underneath the roasted scallops were super delish!


At this point, I had to take a deep breath from all the yummy food and finish off the latest glass of wine. We were half way through our dinner and I was enjoying every bite!

Our next course was the MEYER LEMON RICOTTA RAVIOLI with brown butter, roasted peppers, and English peas. The creamy, lemony flavors in this dish were so good. Biting into the ravioli, my mouth met the cheesy, lemony center of the ravioli and I just said "mmmmm", so delicious!


Thank goodness the next two dishes were for Joyce and I to share because I was getting close to being full but still wanted to try the last few dishes. 

Next we shared...
ASIAN-GLAZED CHILEAN SEA BASS on top of organic black rice, snow peas, and shitake mushrooms...

and
WOOD-GRILLED RACK OF LAMB with Spring vegetables, Yukon Gold mash, and shallots. 


Of these two, the sea bass was my favorite. The nicely fatty piece of sea bass was perfectly cooked and the compliments of the black rice and vegetables were perfect. 

Of course, the night ended with one of Seasons 52 MINI INDULGENCE DESSERTS. Here is the amaretto dessert we had. Yum!

Each of our dishes were paired with a wine of whom our waiter, Chris, was very knowledgeable. I wish I knew more about wine. All I know is if it's paired well, the wine and the food are exponentially more yum! And I have to say, all the pairings this evening were perfect!

Be sure to visit Seasons 52 to savor the flavors of Spring. Everything we tried was very delicious and keeps us coming back for more!

Call ahead if you really want to try the STRAWBERRY INFUSION. They say it's made in small batches and runs out quickly!

Thank you Seasons 52 for a wonderful evening. This mommy is very happy!


Disclaimer: Joyce and I received complimentary dinner experience at Seasons 52 in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine. 

Seasons 52 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sushi Smackdown in San Diego

Hubby and I spent last Valentine's Day doing something we love: eating sushi!

Yet, this was not your usual sushi outing, we went to the Sushi Smackdown at Iron Fist Brewery in the Barrio Logan community of San Diego.



Sushi Smackdown is all about a battle including local chefs who make a dishes in 4 different categories. Guests at the event get to judge and vote for their favorite chef. 
Hubby and I enjoyed the beautiful view of the Coronado bridge and the cool ocean breeze as we waited for the Sushi Smackdown to start. 

I was expecting chefs to be ready for battle, just like Iron Chef on the Food Network. after all, the pictures of the chefs on the Sushi Smackdown website looked like this:

Yet, these were the 4 chefs at our Sushi Smackdown:

I wasn't about to judge a book by its cover. I was going to set the sushi speak to decide which chef reigns supreme!
The Sushi Smackdown allowed us to try over 20 bites of sushi, sashimi, poke, and desserts. The sake and beer and beer made the event all the more enjoyable!
Our score card to keep points on the bites we enjoyed the most


The sushi was delicious, maybe extra delicious because I was really hungry. The flavors and presentation was good, nothing extraordinary. The servings were not consistent. The event took over 4 hours. With a crowd over 100 in attendance and only two servers, the food was slow to come out. Each chef also worked independently, preparing their dishes without assistance. The amount of food was not what I had expected.

Before each sushi platter was served, the entire event had to be quiet for the host Gino and camera crew to interview the chef to give details about the dish to be served. Keeping a crowd of over a 100 quiet in a brewery, most of who have already consumed their 2 beers and 2 sakes, was a frustrating task for Gino. His "ssssh"-ing the crowd was a buzz kill for all having a good time.


20 displays like this one came around during the 4 hour event. Each guest was given one piece.
Our egg roll appetizers- this is my "hangry face"

After each round of sushi, host Gino would take hand votes on which bites of sushi the crowd liked the most. Here you see host Gino with the four chefs at the end of the event to announce the winning chef. Honestly, I can't remember who won. Halfway through the event, the sushi was being served without announcing which chef prepared it so I gave up on the score card and just patiently waited for the next sushi bite to be served.

I was hoping Sushi Smackdown was going to be more of a show of chef talents with sushi chef coats, glimmering sharp knives, sights for the eyes, and a treat for my palette - all things a chef battle should have. I'm sad to say Sushi Smackdown was a let down. 



Disclaimer: My husband and I received complimentary entry to the Sushi Smackdown in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Are you Cute, Gorgeous, or Sexy? Find out at Amazing Lash Studio

I have always admired ladies who are all put together, all day, everyday. Hair is done in pretty curls, flawless face with perfect eyebrow arches and rosy cheeks, they smell of roses and sweet cotton candy, and their skin is glowing and flawless. Then there is me who slaps on some foundation, two quick sweeps of blush, and a simple application of black eyeliner, and I'm out the door. My hair air dries and I spray myself with perfume during my morning commute.

It was such a treat to experience eyelash extensions with Amazing Lash Studio to help me look a little bit more put together each morning without added effort. It's amazing how a set of eye lashes can make one look so much more fabulous!

When I arrived at the Amazing Lash Studio after a long day at work, it was nice to be greeted with a glass of champagne, calming music, and a nice comfy seat to relax in the reception area as my best buddy Michelle and I waited for our session to begin.



Before the process began, my "lash stylist" explained the process and had me choose my style of lashes. The styles of lashes include:
  • GORGEOUS: This style features longer and thicker eyelash extensions along the entire lash line. With longer, fuller lashes all over, you will always be red-carpet ready.
  • NATURAL: Longer eyelash extensions tapered to follow your existing lash line enhance the natural shape of your eyes.
  • SEXY: This style features eyelash extensions that are longer on the outside edge of the eyes. Longer lashes on the outside corner of your eye will make every wink count.
  • CUTE: This style uses longer eyelash extensions at the center of your lash line to make your eyes appear longer.
I chose to go with the cute lashes and they turned out super cute!

I was a bit worried about getting eyelash extensions because my eyes are pretty sensitive, but the entire process was completely opposite of what I expected. The application process of the lashes was very comfortable. Nothing actually touches your skin. The lash extension is actually placed a millimeter from the eyelash line and placed on your real lashes. My lash stylist was very gentle with her hands which made the entire process very enjoyable, along with the soft lighting and relaxing music. The before and after pictures are amazing!

Left eye WITH lash extensions, Right eye WITHOUT lash extensions
I've worn false eyelashes before and they are very uncomfortable. They feel heavy and feel completely false on my eyelids. By the end of the day with false lashes, my eyes feel goopy and gross. My experience with my eyelash extensions is totally the opposite. They feel light and I barely notice they are on. They feel natural. I've had them on for 24 hours now and my eyes are not irritated or goopy. They look great!

Today I didn't wear any eye makeup. My amazing lashes were enough. They look fab! I received lots of compliments and questions about my new lashes:

Where did you get them?
I got them at Amazing Lash Studio in Mission Valley, near Ikea. There is another location in Carmel Valley.

How long do they last?
They last about 4-8 weeks if you take good care of them by avoiding rubbing your eyes and excessive exposure to moisture. 

How much do they cost?
All first time guests of Amazing Lash Studio can get their First Set of Lashes Only $79.99 (Regular price $250). Tell them I sent you. They'll be delighted you are there!

I love my lashes so much, I've gotten a little carried away on social media!


Treat yourself to a cute, gorgeous, or sexy set of lashes. I know you'll love them!



Twitter - @AmazingLash
Hashtag - #AmazingLashSD

Disclosure: My BFF and I were given complimentary service in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine.

Friday, March 4, 2016

#FoodieFriday: Fill Your Tummy at E and Drink

It's been chilly in San Diego this winter. Yes, chilly for us San Diegans. And yes, we're so spoiled. On our "cold" days, I crave something warm to fill my belly. E and Drink has been one of my Yelp bookmarks for quite awhile now so I loaded up the family in the van and we headed over for some yummy eats. 


E and Drink is inside the food court at Ranch 99 Market. Parking here will test your patience, so put your patience hat on and take a deep breath  as you pull into the parking lot. The yummy eats at E and Drink are worth it!

We came here on a Sunday for lunch. It wasn't busy at all and we were seated right away. 

We started with a Scallion Pancake which was crispy and savory. The spicy dip it came with was not too spicy. It added a nice kick to the pancake flavors.  

My sons are fans of fried chicken so they shared the Basil Popcorn Chicken. The bite size chicken plate was more that enough for my boys to share. They each had a bowl of rice to enjoy as well!



Hubby and I loved our hot pots. We each got the Spicy Beef Hot Pot. In the hot pot were slices of beef, veggies, tofu, noodles, and fish balls all in a simmering broth. Of course it's served with a steaming bowl of rice. Yummo!




 You can't come to E and Drink without having dessert! We shared an order of the egg waffles which we fought over. Between the four of us, two orders of the egg waffles would've been better than just one.


Hubby and our boys shared an order of shaved snow stopped with strawberry preserves and mochi balls.


We enjoyed a wonderful meal at E and Drink. Our family of four gives four thumbs up for your happy, fully tummies!



E and Drink Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dancing DJ Garcia and Projekt FX

Mommy brag time!

My 5 year old DJ has just performed in his 2nd Projekt FX show with Studio FX of San Diego. Projekt FX is in its 5th year of bringing local choreographers and dancers together in an awesome dance showcase.



When he was three, I noticed DJ's love of dance while he danced along with Just Dance videos on YouTube. I enrolled him in the kids beginning hip hop class at Studio FX and since then he's loved dance!

With Studio FX, DJ has been able to perform at Padres games during the summer. He's been so brave performing in front of thousands of people!



This year for Projekt FX, DJ was able to work with choreographer Ramon Ivey. Mr. Ivey has worked with multitudes of artists, creators, and professionals such as CeCe Winans, L.L. Cool J, Kirk Franklin, Jeremiah, and The-Dream to name a few. He has also performed on the 2001 Emmy Awards Show, and the Christian Music Awards in 2009.

Mr. Ivey's concept for the Tiny Tots performance at Projekt FX was "Minions".

DJ is the one of the far left

Check DJ and his fellow Minions out at 4:15 in the clip below! DJ is the Minion on the far left, then the one in the center with the break dance solo. 


To view more of the Projekt FX performances, >>> click here <<<.

DJ has been with Studio FX for almost two years now. The studio has definitely fostered his love of dance. The teachers are so supportive and encouraging, especially for him since he's been the youngest in many of the classes he's taken. The older, more experienced kids have been great mentors to my son as well. They guide him during class which helps with his comfort and confidence. 

Here is a compilation of DJ's dance rehearsals and performances:



I highly recommend Studio FX for any kids who love hip hop dance! 



Check out http://www.studiofxlive.com/ for their complete schedule of classes! 
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