12/26/2008

BOXING DAY

While we dont celebrate Bxng Day in the states, we celebrated it today first by visiting Aunt Boo and Aunt Pop...walking to the beach for a dip in not so calm seas (P.S. they surf in Barbados...I saw why today)... then going to Auntie Claudette's house for the Annual Boxing Day feast (as Zenze would say). We had a great time! More GREAT food and GREAT company! The children are tuckered out yet again!

A Caribbean Christmas

There was a slight nagging sensation on the days preceding Christmas Eve, but I couldnt quite figure out what was going on...I just assumed that I was still trying to settle in and get organized before Christmas, but by the morning of December 24th I has gone into a full fledged panic...for the past eight years every Christmas had been spent in Port Saint Lucie, Florida at my mother and stepfather's house. My motherhas painstakingly decorated the Christmas tree and gone to the trouble of buying candy canes and pies and hot chocolate to make the season resemble the Christmas of TV Land lore (i.e. warm as if we were in someplace where snow was possible.). This Christmas would obviousl be different, but how different. The panic set in, which isn't unusual since I am usually panicked about one thing or another, usually its about the presents and whether the children would feel the Christmas spirit being so far from home!
I decided to calm down and let it unravel on its own...Luckily my sister-in-law, Katharine, had the brilliant idea to invite the kids over to her house to create decorate her Chrismas tree...instead of a traditional Christmas tree, we continued her and her roomate Angie's "tradition" and spray painted a series of tree branches metallic silver...added lights and decorations....voila! a Christmas tree...the giirls were mighty proud...Lion had been shipped off with his father so that I was able to fully concentrate on tghe matter at hand without interruption and worry of him impaling, blugeoning, or nearly killing himself or someone else (we mothers alwaya have to cover all the bases) I hear tell that he ended up at a beach side cafe with his father and thereby his cousin Alex, who fell in love with him immediately!
Katharine and I eventually escaped to her room to wrap presents while Angie engaged the girls in preparing pick-up saltfish for the next day's brunch. We eventually made it home for a dinner of curry chicken and jasmine rice prepared by Simon (so you know that it was GREAT) and once the youngsters were in bed Zenze and I skyped the Fullers and wrapped presents while we filled them in on our vacation thus far, prior to this Zen had confided that this didnt really feel like Christmas...but after we wrapped her aunt and uncles gifts...she went to bed peacefully.
The next day the kids slept in for the first time ever on Christmas and I awoke to an eerie silence...in my mind I had imaged people partying in the street, music blaring, noise and laughter...a Caribbean Christmas as I had known it in my youth, alas I remembered that Bajans tend to be a bit more reserved and thus my imagination had somehow conglomerated the carnival stylecelebrations of Trinidadians and Brazilians with a touch of V.I. ready-to- party-ness. The children eventually woke up, opened some presents, and prepared to go to breakfast at their aunt's house...
ALL IN ALL the day turned out to be so good! We had a great breakfast, we got to see Simon's friend Andrew Pilgrim ( BTW-I love his parents, especially his mother "Auntie Grace") and his wife, Bertha (who I had not met). Hang out with Matthew (always fun), give out presents, meet Angies family, her brother and his wife and children who were visiting from CA. Her parents who were very nice, spend time with Kathatrine (always a joy)...taste Adam's ham (yum yum)...all before driving over to Simon's cousin Peggy's house for lunch!
This morning Simon said it best when he said..."We ate some good food yesterday!", no lie, we did indeed, because tghe spread at Peggy's house was amazing and delicious...two of my favorite dishes...macaroni pie and West Indian potato salad...OMG...add to that flying fish, green slad and my new fave simply called "jug" and dont forget the sorrell...too good. But, beyond all of the eating (which you know is a big deal, obviously) was the opportunity to spend time with Simon's family and friends, his cousin Peggy, her husband Barton, and their children Ayja, Rhea and joshua were all very nice and welcoming. I got to see Alex and Claire (whose newborn son Noah was too sweet and reminded us how quickly the children grow up), their parents Oscar and Marsha and meet their brother Julian, his wife, Nicole, and sons Dominic and Marcus. I got to see Hope and Natalie, took photos of the children with Simon's uncle Lancie...the list could go on and on...We also participated in a family tradtion that I think will crystallize this Christmas in the girls mind forever, the singing of "DRINK A RUM" as modified by the family to highlight events of the past year, including our visit to Barbados...it was great! I think Lion will also remember this Christmas a s the day he was allowed to run wild with his cousins, slither through dirt, and terrorize the famiy's seven cats to the point of exhaustion (the cats' not his)...his clothes are the true testimony of the fun he had.
So while this Christmas had a different vibe...it turned out to be another version of Christmas that was equally as enjoyable for a variety of reasons, but mostly because my children learned that Christmas is more than getting presents and Santa Claus...it about time well spent hugging and kissing and being hugged and kissed by relatives who had longed to do so for years, for giving vs. getting presents and for enjoying the beauty of the world outside of 33069>34952>FL>USA! I think we are ready to take this Christmas show on the road...lets start planning for next year!

12/22/2008

TRUELY A VACATION!

Waking up and going to sleep on Barbados have both been a pleasure. Perhaps it is the firmness of my brother-in-laws mattress or the fact that I have been staying awake so late at night, or better yet perhaps it is the fact that I have left all worries behind in FLORIDA...that has allowed me to catch up on som much needed rest! We have been here for four days, we've gone to the beach twice, we have seen all of my husbands beauiful siblings with the exception of his youngest sister Rachel, who was at the beach while the kids and I stopped by her mom's house and ate up all of their food!
We have visited Simon's 94 year old great aunt "Aunt Boo" (truely a genuine spirit) and his "Aunt Pop" whose Alzheimers has relegated her to bed, unlike my first visit years ago when she was up and about, obviously suffering from confusion but cheerful nonetheless!
We've visited Aunt Yo at her beautiful-just- my-style-home with her "Caribbean Christmas tree"- a palm tree elegantly decorated with silver and white ornaments...and Simon's Auntie Claudette who we will see again on Boxing Day - I hear that the food is top notch!
Today Zen and Tafi helped Angie train her exuberant 8 month old Rottweiler puppy "Wolf" and I hear that they were quite the assistants!
Zen lost a tooth today and wonders about the tooth fairy finding the tooth...
Lion waas found guilty of coloring with marker on Uncle Adam's seafoam green microfiber couch...Tafara was an accessory but was released on her own recognances after lots of tears and tesimony by her older sister who suggested that while Tafara had been careless with the markers, she would never intentionally color on the couch, while it was competely on Lion's character (and age group) to do so....
Tomorrow, we hope to get up and out early for an early morning drive to Morgan Lewis and we also will create a Chistmas tree for Auntie Katharine and Angie's house!
TIL NEXT TIME

12/19/2008

WE PULLED IT OFF Y'ALL!

I write to you today with a certain sense of accomplishment! At approximately 11:45 PM last night my husband and I with our three bambinos en tow arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados! It took some doing but we made it without any major incidents (a few threats here and there, a couple of forgotten items...really important things...but we are here and that is all that matters!)
So some of you may be thinking..."Its great that you made it safe but whats all this accomplishment talk about?" Well, let me tell you! Until you have packed for a 16 day international trip for five people (with limited baggage in your possession), completed shopping lists, baked and delivered a few dozen cookies for teachers/teachers assistants, attempted something like cleaning but failed to actually clean the house before leaving on vacation, forgot to pack swim diapers and your ATM card among other things certain to reveal themselves at a later time...ALL OF THIS, yet you still manage to find yourself still exceedingly happy to be among family and friends...I'd say that is indeed quite an accomplishment!
Everything was worth it to see my husband with his siblings and to see my children excited to be with their uncles and aunts...watching Lion was particularly rewarding, especially as he was scooped up into his Uncle Archie's lap and kissed and hugged and how natural this seemed...no hesitation or apprehension, he exuded pure joy, like he had known him his whole life and had been looking for him! It was beautiful! I AM SURE THAT WE WILL REMEMBER THIS TRIP FOREVER!!!

Stay tuned...photos and updates to come!

11/27/2008

BEEN SO LONG!

Boy does time fly!!! Its been well over a month since I've blogged...I've longed to do so, but between the struggle to remain upbeat in a tanking economy, maintain a thriving relationship with my hubby, keep my kids moving forward, prepare for upcoming travels and pursue love (of many things), I havent made the time to sit and sort my thoughts into coherant, tangible, and dare I say entertaining commentary...we've been living, things have been happening, and we are THANKFUL for all that we've come through and grow through!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING...I wont be a stranger!

10/18/2008

NPR's This American Life: The Harlem Children's Zone

Re-thinking Urban Poverty...Proving it Takes A Village!!!
NPR's This American Life

This 30-minute segment focuses on the beginning of HCZ's "pipeline" of services: The Baby College. It is an intimate look at how HCZ's work is transforming the lives of families and helping to break the cycle of generational poverty.

9/30/2008

HARD WORK PAYS OFF...IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Few things are more important to me than making sure that the kids are equipped with a strong academic foundation and the knowledge that they will be rewarded for hard work! This summer we worked on reading and writing and it shows...the girls both won their school's Golden Pencil Award this week!! This award is given for good penmanship and story writing...proof that whatever you put into the kids you get out of them...GOTTA GET CRACKIN ON THAT MATH!!!

9/18/2008

YOU KNOW YOUR KID IS AN ARTIST WHEN

Beside the obvious clues...YOU KNOW YOUR KID IS AN ARTIST WHEN they live to CREATE...the only thing that calms them down is the opportunity to dance, sing, write, draw, color or paint....or when the thought of not doing any of the above (...on account of a flipped card...kindergarten-speak for a reprimand) sends them into a state of shock...so much so that they go to bed without a fight!
video

8/30/2008

YEARS GONE BY...


I remember the day Zen was born as if it were yesterday...but it wasn't yesterday...it was eight years ago this past Tuesday!!!! I can't believe it. I remember how I couldn't believe it when we celebrated her first birthday or her fifth and now she's eight! All mothers feel this and I dont know why I feel so surprised to feel the same mix of emotions. I'm happy because she is healthy, smart, funny, beautiful, talented, and the list goes on ...but I also a little twinge of terror mixed in with a touch of sadness. Horror because I know that things will probably only get more attitudinal from this point on and sad because she's not a baby anymore and I cant take her opinion for granted the way I did when she was two and I dressed her up the way I saw fit. I'm also proud that she tends to be more of a leader than a follower...this is very important to me, case in point, she wanted an MP3 player for her birthday, so we got it for her...we all wondered what she would want to load on it...my mom suggested Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, Chris Brown, Jordin Sparks...the popular bubble gum cast of this era. While I knew she was interested in them, I wasnt sure whether she was interested enough to include them on her list...when I finally asked her she said, "Mommy, no, I'm not all into them like that...that's not real music, its ok to watch but, who wants to listen to that all day?" No offense to anyone who's "all into them like that" but she really made me proud! When I continued the inquiry she requested: Sergio Mendes, India Aire, Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend, Queen, ABBA, Norah Jones and Carole King!!! BOOM BABY! That's what I'm talkin' about! Its amazing how much influence you can have in eight years! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ZENZELE!




8/23/2008

BACK TO SCHOOL BLUES...Its not what you think!

If you live in South Florida, then chances are your child's first day of school was delayed by the arrival of Tropical Storm Fay. While scores of teachers, students and even some parents welcomed this the summer's "stay of execution" others moaned terrible moans, gnashed their terrible teeth and even rolled their terrible eyes a la Maurice Sendak's wild things.

The Clarke girls learned of this terrible injustice after returning home from their back to school beauty makeover and were quite dismayed that they would likely not be as glamorous as they were on Sunday when school finally opened. Zen tried to put on a brave face but she was obviously shaken by the travesty, she finally uttered "Of all the days why did she have to come on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! I can't take it. Tafara on the other hand wanted to know whether there would be a flood...this is her standard inquiry during thunderstorms, she also added, I'd rather go to Kindergarten than be in a flood.

So Fay came and went without any damage to our neck of the woods although some areas experienced a loss of power, flooding and excessive wind. School statred two days later.
Simon was happy because he got his wish...two days off of work, rain and wind...no damage.

My emotions were mixed, I love the first day of school, but I appreciated the time off from work to focus on getting everything finalized for the BIG DAY (I get sooo excited!!!).

Though I'm sorry that the summer has come to an end (THIS WAS MY BEST SUMMER EVER THANKS TO THE APPROVAL OF MY MODIFIED SCHEDULE -- Shout out to Jim, Jody and Mary :) ), the first day of school is the beginning of another adventure - Tafara is in BIG GIRL SCHOOL aka Kindergarten and Zen is in 3rd grade which is a big deal since they are the oldest kids on the east portion of the campus, their classrooms are upstairs and now they'll be taking the FCAT...everybody say "oooh" :).

All in all...I'm glad that they were disappointed about the first day being delayed...especially since all the other smart kids I know felt the same way!!!

8/08/2008

I DONT DO SHOUT OUTS...BUT IF I DID

There is a segment on the Tom Joyner Morning Show where he says I DON'T DO SHOUT OUTS...BUT IF I DID and he would proceed to “SHOUT OUT” friends and family members etc.

Taking that lead...

Even though my blog is not necessarily dedicated to giving shout outs….I must give PROPS to my niece Hadiya who is a Freshman at Spelman and who just called to say that her tuition is PAID for the next four years…as she is a Dean’s Scholar!!!! I AM MIGHTY PROUD!!! YOU GO GIRL!!!

7/25/2008

REMEMBERING THE LAST LECTURE

Like most of you who have seen, heard or read Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, I was inspired to try to make the most of every moment and to leave a legacy for my children who will hopefully outlive me. My decision to finally start writing this blog was inspired in part by his lecture, which shifted my focus from the fear of dying (that's a whole other entry)to the business of living. We lost Mr. Pausch today but we are sure to remember him forever for his unfathomable display of bravery and grace even in the face of his impending death.

THANK YOU MR. PAUSCH YOUR FAMILY AND NOW MY FAMILY WAS BLESSED TO HAVE HAD YOU IN THE WORLD!

7/18/2008

PEACE BEGINS WITH US


My friend Keachia's email signature says Peace begins with me, simple enough right?! Such a simple sentiment has really resonated with me this summer. Before the summer began Pakistan was just a place that the kids heard mention of on NPR and Mas que nada was just the title of a Sergio Mendes song. Since the beginning of the summer my children and I have met so many families from Brazil, the Middle East, Haiti, other parts of the US, the Caribbean and a number of families from Spanish speaking countries, that so many more things have been given a new meaning.

Living in SoFl, it is not so strange to have intercultural experiences after all my neighbors downstairs are Brazilian, Peruvian and Puerto Rican! My children have always gone to very culturally diverse schools, but this summer I found myself going out of my way to make contact through meaningful conversation and it ultimately struck me...If we all took the time and made deliberate effort to connect with people from around the world we could start a chain reaction and possibly eradicate the ease with whichwe engage in warfare. If people in Washington knew Ali and his family personally, they probably would be less likely to drop bombs in his grandmother's backyard...and maybe the international community wouldnt have such a negative perception of Americans...hmmm, thats a thought!
I recognize that not only does Peace BEGIN with me it is my RESPONSIBILITY to plant the seed and nurture it so that future generations reap the benefits.

7/16/2008

COULD SOMEBODY PUH-LEASE GIVE ME A CLUE...

I assume that like most Americans I grew up not really knowing or being taught much about financial matters. For the most part, I never really thought about money and nobody really brought it up. If I wanted something, I asked…sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn’t. I attended private school, lived in a house with air conditioning (BIG DEAL in the Virgin Islands, even though it wasn’t Central Air), wore nice enough clothes (both my mother and grandmother are VERY fashionable), etc.
But there was no really detailed discussion about where the money came from or how you kept it. I mean, I saw my grandparents and parents go to work everyday and I knew that they got paid but like most kids my money was my money to do as I pleased (It wasn’t a whole lot of money, but it was money none the less).

Even when my father didn’t pay my tuition on time, it never occurred to me that maybe he didn’t have the money, I always assumed that he forgot to pay (I still believe that it was because he was too busy to remember when it was due). My introduction to money management came after he became ill and could no longer work I began to receive social security payments, which looking back, could have been put to better use if I had some solid financial advice. I spent the money on things that seemed to be prorities at the time and saved a little to but a computer when I went to college. I guess looking back I had given more thought to real estate and stocks and more long term things vs. that size 2 designer dress that was oh so cute in 1995 but couldn't even fit my big toe now in 2008!

I am indeed still baffled by financial matters. Last week one of my friends said, “I had more money at 21 than I do now at 31”. I’m afraid that I am in the same boat. By 23, I was already a college graduate and a homeowner…I was also already a wife and mother (great accomplishments, but also expensive accomplishments). Though we were struggling financially, I just expected things to get better with time, and they have, but we are still struggling to rise above the weekly financial shuffle. I find myself spending a lot of time dreaming up ways to make, grow and keep money…but in addition to everything else that I have to do, it gets SO exhausting!!!

Sometimes I look around at other people (sometimes in envy, most times in disgust) and I wonder how in this current economy they are still able to drive HUMMERS and live in palacial homes, stay at home with their babies and shop at WHOLE FOODS MARKET, etc. I don’t get it…My conclusion, I must be doing something(s) wrong!

While I have no desire to drive a HUMMER, I would like to be able to pay my bills (on time) and save some money. I would like to be able to fix up my condo before it falls even further into disrepair and to visit my family in the Caribbean more often. I guess what I’m saying is I’d like to achieve some semblance of financial freedom, so that I could enjoy life and pass the message and benefits on to my children. Currently, we spend most of our time working so that we can pay bills and in the process make more bills...I DONT GET IT! ANY TIPS?

7/09/2008

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES...

I have a fairly open approach to parenting and the requisite despensation of information. This approach stems from my belief and complete acceptance of the mantra KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Because I believe so deeply, I try to answer all inquiries as truthfully as I can...when I can. Because of this belief I occassionally let the kids watch movies intended for more mature audiences (PG13, remember, I have little kids...most audience are theoretically more mature). Most times things go right over their heads, but then there are times when something catches their curiosity and well...then I get, THE QUESTION(S).

Case in point...While watching the Tyler Perry film Why Did I Get Married?

Zen: What does it mean to "have your tubes tied"?

Harmless enough...

Me: When a woman dosen't want to have any more babies, she can have her doctor perform a surgical procedure to tie her fallopian tubes (previously explained) in order to prevent future preganancies ...

Zen: Oh

Of course the thing about being "open" is that you have to be prepared for it when your explaination is then re-explained to someone else.

Case in point...

During our 4th of July get together my mother and sister-in-law were having a playful conversation regarding having babies and quantity, etc.

When Zen suggested to my sister in law, at the appropriate juncture in the conversation I might add, "When you're done having babies, you could just get your tubes tied.

My mother: And there you have it!

This was the end of the conversation as the group quickly disbanded...probably fearful of any additional information that may come out of Zen's mouth.


Of course later I had to field a few questions about the origin of such advice...but at least I know that Zen understood my explanation and accurately passed it on!

7/08/2008

UPDATE

The first session of swimming class has come to an end so… I signed them up for another two weeks!

I am so proud of myself for even following through on the plan to have them take lessons this summer!!!! (And for having not missed a class, not even through my illness--this is where I teach them to follow through on things and be consistant, yada...yada)

Zen is almost 8 years old and every year since she was born I told myself… “Self, don’t condemn this child to a life of aquaphobia (like her mother)…get her some swimming lessons…professional ones (don’t be cheap)!”

It took almost eight years but by george we got it and now she has been promoted to Level II swimming!!! (Insert Cabbage Patch (dance) Here)

Additionally noteworthy…my true aquaphobe (Tafi) has been CURED!

That’s right! Her majesty is over the antics and is now committed to learning how to hold her breath so that she can stay “under the water for a long time” (she means longer than a ½ a second…I AINT COMPLAININ’, I’M JUST SAYIN’).

Honestly, I am SOOOO proud of the girls! They were HAPPY and EXCITED to KEEP ON SWIMMING!

An added bonus ...we have made friends with a Brazilian woman (Olga) who brings her neice (Brianna) and so now they have people to practice their Portugese (free classes on Wednesdays) with! I LOVE IT WHEN THE UNIVERSE ALIGNS IN SUPPORT OF MY PLOT TO ENGINEER GENIUSES!!! WOOHOOHAHAHA!!!

7/01/2008

I HATE BEING SICK!!!

Out of nowhere it came
and hit me like a ton of bricks
It laughed and sputtered
At my usual bag of tricks
weakened and dazed
hot , cold, shivering, boiling
Nose dripping and stuffy
Sinuses pounding in rythym with my racing heartbeat.
Throat stratchin' and head pounding
In rythym with my racing heartbeat
Through the haze, I heard the words..."If you don't sit down,
He'll sit you down..."
Ok God, I hear you...I'm sitting down now.

6/24/2008

SINK OR SWIM

The theme for this week friends is SINK or SWIM…both literally and figuratively… Written in tandem with remnants of notions conjured by an interview on npr (Monday) in remembrance of Comedian George Carlin who died on Sunday, June 22, 2008

SWIM CLASS has started! Yesterday was the first day for Tafi and Zen to take actual swimming classes! I had enrolled Zen once before when she was about two and SHE HATED IT! Her dad took her to one class and she never went back. Things have definitely changed…now she’s practically a mermaid…one that needs to brush up on technique…but a mermaid nonetheless, especially when compared to her majesty Lady Tafara who on the first day made it clear to her instructor that there was to be no face wetting involved in her lesson…At any rate, we made it through yesterday swimmingly! The swim instructor however, warned that hey both needed to work on getting deeper into the water and that today she was being nice, but that things would get serious tomorrow and that I might want to invest in goggles for Tafara if water in her eyes was her issue. So of course, like a good mother I sojourned to WALMART at 11:30PM after working MY NEW AND IMPROVED MODIFIED (THOUGH TEMPORARY) SCHEDULE and visiting a dear friend in the hospital; to get the GOGGLES!!!

After our usual morning hustle (too painful for details) we get to the pool, Tafi gets her goggles, enters the pool, begins her lesson, even gets dunked by the teacher…recovers gracefully…things are going so well that I take my eyes off of her for one minute to begin applying my sunblock… next thing I know my daughter, is dripping (not sure if tears or chlorine) all over me, crying “she told me to get out of the pool…sob…sob...and go home”… sob …sob…

IM THINKIN’ : Oh boy, here we go…GLUB, GLUB, GLUB…I’m sinking…

Needless to say I spent the next 15 min engaged in warfare! Trying to convince the QUEEN of the-most-stubborn-children-in-AMERICA: 1.That she needed to get back into the pool & 2.That there was nothing to be afraid of…I lost the first part of the battle and after the slight mention of a potential bribe…I won’t know about the latter until tomorrow (I’ll keep ya posted).

After talking to my friend last night, Tafara & the newest Mrs. Fuller today about fear of death, sinking/getting your face wet, and entrepreneurship (respectively)…I have decided to yet again take “the plunge” into entrepreneurship…I’m not quite sure which of my 50 million ventures I plan to pursue just yet, but I am (starting tonight) going to actively pursue SOMETHING…we get one life (at a time) and it is foolish to spend most of it CONSUMED by fear…WE MUST COMMITT TO SINK OR SWIM

6/23/2008

SERVICE...PLEASE?!


So, my sister-in-law came to visit as I mentioned before…and a large part of the time is usually spent shopping for essential items that are difficult, non-existent, or ridiculously expensive back home. Can I just say that I was APPALLED at the lack of customer service received this weekend.


WALMART would have been number one on my list…until I went to Barnes and Noble in Aventura!!!! APALLING!!!!


We have all been somewhere and had the silence broken by a inconsolable child or have seen children "rippin' and runnin'" through a store...PLease note: This mama dont play that! I will leave the store before I'm embarassed by one of my children!!! So imagine my surprise when while juggling an arm full of merchandise and trying to carry Lion, I am approached by a man claiming to be the store manager to be told that other customers were complaining about my son's screaming...hmm...the rage swelled instantaneously...there's nothing like being wrongly accused to send me into a tailspin! I immediately put everything down, instructed my family to do the same and left the store. After I explained the scenario to Simon, got them settled in Burger King, I marched back across the street and demanded to see the manager. A very nice and clearly apologetic cashier explained that "it must have been Walter" because "he's always rude". She quicly called Jason the actual store manager, who clearly had received other complaints about "Walter" (who by the way was really a merchandiser, not the store manager), I promptly requested contact informationn for the corporate office, advised Jason that he had easily lost a sale of $300 (big whoop I'm sure...eventhough I was exaggerating). I also asked him to explain the store/company's policy on crying children...he shook his head in embarassment and said, "WE DONT HAVE ONE, I MEAN WE HAVE A CHILDREN'S SECTION, THIS ISNT A LIBRARY, I WILL DEFINITELY TALK TO HIM".

Did I mention that the store was full of children and while Lion did make three outbursts "Walter, nor anyone else in his area could hear him over the humm of the ambient sound...also clarified by the cashier.

One of my local neighborhood Walmarts also PISSED me off during our shop-a-thon! When my sister-in-law's boyfriend asked an associate in the electronic department to test a flatscreen tv, since it was their last one and the box it was in was clearly damaged, he was made to wait for at least 20 minutes only to be told that they "didnt know if they could do that" AND that he should just "buy the TV and if it dosent work, to bring it back"...HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO RETURN ANYTHING AT WALMART? Yes, they take anything back, but you will wait forever in a line a mile long!!!

Naturally, this was unacceptable to me and so being the Americanized one in the group, I begin to cause a scene and DEMAND service!!! Finally, the tv specialist shows up only to mumble under his breath...I aint got time for that...his colleague, obviously as shocked as I was begged him pardon only to be told "I said I aint got time for that" and if that wasnt bad enough, he added, "you should just buy it and bring it back if something is wrong with it", that's when I lost it..."What?! You dont have time, but I should waste my time taking a possible broken TV home and then bring it back?! I was steamin' Needless to say, I spoke to three managers who made Allen do his job and then we went to another Walmart, and bought the TV there instead...TAKE THAT ALLEN.

Within all of this, there is a tail of redemption, ironically coming from Walmart where the TV was ultimately purchased. I was searching for swim caps for the girls to no avail...I finally gave up and as I was being checked out, I asked the cashier about swim caps...after I explained what they were...he suggested Health and Beauty Aids, doubtfully, I challenged him, instead of brushing me off, he rang for the most helpful assistant manager, who not only came over to help but went and looked in two possible locations, a third associate came over and suggested that I look in sporting goods (DUH). Rob, the cashier, called sporting goods instructed the cashier in that department to find the caps, hold two swim caps for me and cash out my other items there...NOW THAT'S CUSTOMER SERVICE... Thanks Rob, I had almost forgotten what it looked like!



6/17/2008

TIPS FROM MY FRIEND LISA LOPEZ

Time to Really Clean out Your Closets

Closet Rules of Order

What’s behind your closet door? Orderly rows of shoes, stacks of folded t-shirts and hanging clothes arranged by color and season? Or do you have a situation that could be declared a national disaster? If the latter, you might ask the President for federal disaster relief funds—or you could just get organized.

Here are simple steps to find calm in all that chaos. By the way, these same principles for organizing a clothes closet apply to linen or utility closets, too.

Step One: Remove everything. This lets you see exactly the space you have to work with. Prepare to be shocked by the pile of stuff that came out of that closet.

Step Two: Now that you can see the light of day, give that closet a good cleaning from top to bottom. Follow with a fresh coat of white paint.

Step Three: Separate the items you removed. Most people hate this step because it means getting rid of everything you do not use or wear. But there’s no way you could get all of this back into the closet, so buck up and let’s get this job done. Label three containers:

Keep: Put only items into this bin that you have worn or used at least twice in the past year. Be brutally harsh. If it doesn’t fit today, it’s not likely to fit any time soon. Get rid of it. If in doubt, do not put it into this bin.

Sell or Donate: Clothes and other items that are not right for you (as evidenced by the fact that you never wear them), but still have a useful life for someone else should go into this bin. What you consider ugly may be perfect to someone else. Take them to a consignment store or arrange soon to hold a yard sale. Consider donating your good used items to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. You may get a tax break, but more than that, you will feel good. Put all of these items in the garage or back of the car.

Throw Away: Clothes and shoes that are worn out, hopelessly stained, broken or in some other state of calamity go into this bin. Work quickly to ease the pain. Empty this bin often to keep the process moving.

Step Four: Divide the “Keep bin” by season, type and use. If possible, store out-of-season items in another place in your home. Next, separate your work or professional clothes from your casual attire. Now divide each pile into common-wear and infrequent-wear, arranging them so the items you wear most often are the handiest.

Step Five: Use closet organizers. At the minimum you need a sturdy shoe rack, good hangers and shelves in addition to your standard hanging rod. Investing in a few good organizational pieces will make organizing your closet—and keeping it organized—a snap!


6/16/2008

PLAYING CATCH UP



On Saturday my sister-in-law Katharine (my husband’s younger sister) flew in from Barbados. I was so excited to see her because we haven’t seen each other in a few years. Since her last visit she has become an entrepreneur, going into private veterinary practice and opening an animal clinic! This was her first time seeing Lion in the flesh and seeing Tafara out of diapers! After hours of delayed and cancelled flight plans she and her boyfriend Kyle arrived in Miami a little after 8pm.


Though they were exhausted we took them over to my brother’s house where they visited w/my family and joined our festivities (yes we were still celebrating Lion’s birthday and Father’s Day) already in progress.


We’ve been having a BALL. I get to spend time with Katharine which is always a FAVE and I get to help her SHOP…yet another FAVE!!!


Things all seemed to come together it just so happened that this week was the first week of me working my new modified schedule, I’m off until 1:00, then I work until 9:00 pm. This way we don’t have to worry about the outrageous cost of enrolling the girls in camp (which I am SO against MOST camps), I get to spend quality time with them in the mornings, do some academic enrichment activities, exercise and still take Lion to day care (at a less frantic pace).


While I have tons of things scheduled for the next seven weeks of leisurely summer mornings, this week was left wide open…the higher power must have known that I would need the time to play catch up with my sister in law!



6/12/2008

BIRTHDAYS (continued)

The cool thing about being the mother of more than one child is the opportunity to refine your parenting practices, whereas if you only have one child some bridges will be crossed only once…so you better “walk good” the first time! But parenting more than one child—“do overs” are not only likely, but they are also inevitable!!!

Like I mentioned before, I LOVE birthdays!!! As is the case with most of my “loves” the tendency to go overboard is inherent. I should also mention at this point that I LOVE event planning and CRAFT MAKING…I’m sure you can see where this is going!

Case in point, Zenzele (my guinea pig) has had more “formal” birthday parties than Tafara and Lion have had and may ever have. Simply because, when the newness of the birthday party thing came up at age 1 (she was asleep before she could even open her presents) and 2 (she wouldn’t even play with her friends/guests) and 5 (I was pregnant and burned myself out throwing her a LUAU!!! BUT she had a great time), I became more enthralled in the planning of the party, the theme, the party favors, the food, etc. etc. but after having BABY #2 and now #3 my focus has since shifted from creating a BANG to getting the most bang for my BUCK (with the least amount of clean up involved)!

I’ve learned to have more fun with the celebration and as the children get older they are more vocal about their likes and desires. Tafara loves animals and was clear in telling us that she wanted to go to LION COUNTRY SAFARI…she didn’t care about anything else as long as animals were involved, so we did that and I threw her a class party complete with gift boxes (with stuffed animals, granola, and gummies in it and each child’s name on it in leopard printed stickers…see what I mean about going “overboard”). This year she wanted a safari party and I did that (with animal print goodie bags and animal themed grab bag gifts and masks…but we didn’t have cake…instead we had donuts…pink ones… with sprinkles)!


Today…Lion will quietly munch donuts with his classmates, drink a little apple juice and call it a day (but I did stay up last night decorating Cheerios boxes with customized stickers…after all what’s a party without favors?)…until Saturday when is Uncle Myki and Auntie Pamela, throw him a party! The $26.00 spent on today’s party and the piece of mind that accompanies it is a definite sign of my growth and understanding that I can express my love in ways that will not deplete my energy or my limited finances!

Gotta love those Lion-O's!Lion's classroom bday party


Lion's 2nd birthday shirt...yet another tradition ....

6/11/2008

BIRTHDAYS ARE THE BEST!!!

Birthdays are ABSOLUTELY my favorite event of the year... an appreciation which has been exacerbated by motherhood.

The most exhilarating part of the whole thing is the energy of everyone in the house during the days preceding the celebration. Everyone is excited and waiting anxiously for the festivities to begin. Zen is usually the first one to start the countdown...Mommy, there are 12 more days until so and so's birthday,she announces giddy with anticipation. Then Tafara chimes in and eventually the entire household is worked into a birthday induced frenzy!

I’m a proud mama when my children are genuinely excited for each other on those days leading up to their birthday…I feel like I’ve accomplished something major!

I remember growing up my birthdays were always special. We would start the day by opening a present (usually a doll, which suited my just fine even if it was the same one from the year before...you know the ones with the pony tails and open/shut eyes) I would have a party at school with refreshments and presents…

Last year Zenzele and I came up with “birthday eve”, a sort of kick-off to the celebration of one’s birthday…just another excuse to extend the festivities (I celebrate my birthday for whole month). On birthday-eve, you get to do cool things like open one present (usually new pajamas) then you take a bath (to wash off last year’s dirt) and go to bed early (to make the next day come faster).

Then while they're sleeping...mommy runs around like a crazy person, making preparations for the celebration 9no matter how small)....Hey, Lion's 2nd birthday is tomorrow betta get my creative juices flowing!

Zen's 5th birthday luau...complete with picture on the cake...this party was the deal breaker...no more BIG birthday parties at home...too much work and money!

Lion's 1st birthday with Pooh ears in lieu of bday hats!

Tafara's 5th birthday-SAFARI at school...see, I finally figured out the formula!







6/09/2008

ON MY WAY TO WORK: Mo' Bloggin

On my way to work I realized that I can blog from my cell phone! All the teens say (in unison): DUH!

By the way I wasn't as early arriving to work as I had hoped. After a few sit ups (emphasis on few), planning activities for Zen and Tafi and reading a quick morning story to Lion before taking him to school...you get the idea...but having said that, it was such a better way to start the day!

6/08/2008

Oh The Joys of Summer!

Three Cheers!!! Summer is here!
Well, not really for me but for my kids and my husband (who is a high school math teacher, yeah I know he deserves a vacation...).
So tomorrow morning when my alarm clock goes off... I will rise energized by the fact that there will be two less people to get ready...No fighting with my 5 year old to put on her shoes... No waiting for my 7 year old to decide what she's taking for lunch! Instead my almost two year old and I will shower, breakfast, dress, and jump in the car with ease! Leaving daddy and the girls to contend with the "summery" things like reading lists and swimming classes, picnics, summer homework assignments from mommy and whatever other fun things they come up with!!!
True, it may seem as if we are the ones getting a RAW deal, but that is just because you have NO IDEA what school day mornings are like around here!!!
Please note: This state of elation will probably be VERY short-lived!

6/07/2008

At Last!!!


For years I have promised myself and a few of my close friends that I would one day commit to the dauntingly liberating task of creating a blog/newsletter dedicated to the journey that is parenthood.
For just as long, I have mused at the thought of giving advice and providing resources to the millions of mothers (both new and "seasoned") just clammoring for my two cents of advice (uhuh). I've dreamed of coordinating playgroups and making referrals to everything kid-friendly and awesomely enriching! I've even dreamed of responding to the occassional irate email with tactful quips that would ultimately cause the writer to see the error of their ways and join me on the soapbox of the day!
Alas the day has come where I feel like I have a drop more energy than usual and I have become tired of those taunting musings and the nagging curiosity of what one more blog (authored by me) would or could do in the cybersphere.
I foresee this blog serving as not only as my electronic journal but also as an opportunity to hash out those things that continue to perplex me i.e. the lackluster public education system in SoFl., the continuing downward spiral of the economy, the ebb and flow of this election year and of course marriage/parenthood/family life/pop culture, etc, etc.
I hope at minimum that these ramblings will in some way convey that as parents we will never have all of the answers, never have enough time, money or any of the other things we crave...until we begin to act instead of waiting in isolation for something to happen.
I'm getting off my butt...join me!