Do You Mind?


Earlier in the week, I woke up with an overwhelming and unusual feeling of sadness. I sort of knew why I was sad but not why on that particular day.  As I sat emptying my bladder, my arms were dampened by moisture. Teardrops.  A steady stream of quiet and uncontrollable tears. It just happened, and I couldn’t stop the flow. I didn’t make a decision to make it a “get it all out” moment. It just naturally came about.

The root of the lingering blahs and heavy heart stem from the death of my beloved Aunt Annie. Her unexpected and sudden departure occurred four months ago. Thanksgiving and Christmas are near. I know from experience that the holiday season is a difficult time for those grieving the loss of loved ones. Her infectious enthusiasm and spark for life were everything!! Growing up, she and her sisters hosted the mini-army sized family dinners. The spread was incredible. Friends could not believe how much food was prepared.  100 biscuits, a dozen pies, half-dozen cakes, several oversized pans of her original home-made baked beans, baked macaroni & cheese, and more.

 

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Always smiling!!  :)

Still, at nearly 80 years old,  Annie called to affectionally ask, “What do you want for Christmas?” Last year, my response was the same as the previous years, “Thank you, auntie!! I don’t want anything; I just want to enjoy the time with my family.” Auntie loved Christmas. As far back as I can remember, I recall her Christmas shopping with my mother and a few other sisters. Like on Oprah’s talk show, everybody gets a gift!! You get one!! You get one! And you get one!!  Lol!!

Like overgrown roots bulging from underground, the colorful and beautifully wrapped presents spread out under the bright Christmas tree and beyond. Her son (Curtis) and I would sneak glances at the gifts to figure out The Who’s and what’s. We knew not to touch.

For the past 20 years, I took the torch and hosted the holiday dinners at my house, but today our family is much smaller. I was considering halting the tradition, making reservations at a local restaurant and taking care of dinner for everyone. However, I realize doing this would be selfish. Auntie would not approve of this, so with mixed emotions, and Thanksgiving being 12 days away, I’ve begun to prepare for the festivities.

I was at Auntie’s home early this morning and felt a profound sense of peace. In July, she took her last breath at home and in her bed. Her spirit is alive in the house. Going to her bedroom and saying a quick hello has become a ritual.  :)  The house is known as The Mission, historically provided meals, clothes, shelter, nurturing, counseling, entertainment, love, and lots of tender loving care to anyone who visited. As I write this, I just realized that unconsciously  I’ve tried to replicate the same with our home. She taught me so much, and for that I am grateful.

I took the beautiful pictures below this morning from auntie’s yard.  I wanted to lay down on the leaves and roll around… I know, I should have.   The yard is the same yard that I played tag, hide and seek, and football in when I was a kid.  Oh, the wonderful memories- they keep me smiling.

 


The freshness of the mornings’ cold air in her yard added perspective. The sound of the crunching leaves beneath my feet, and the deer leaping through the woods gave clarity.

If she were here today, I am sure she would be raking and bagging leaves.   I would offer help and tell her to take it easy and not to do it over..  She’d probably say,  I might be old, but I have to keep moving.  I can’t let these old bones of mine stiffen up!  Lol!!

I hope you don’t mind…

I just needed to clear my mind. Today is a great day!

Thanks for stopping by and make it a fabulous day! Smooches!!  :)

The Joy Of Vacationing With Kids

On a recent family vacation to the beautiful island Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, I observed something, and it’s not the first time.  I see families from many cultures and from all over the world traveling on vacation with their children, including infants, but not as many black families traveling with their children.   Don’t get me wrong; I see them, but not as often.

Nope, I’m not judging anyone, I am only commenting on my observations, wondering why we don’t travel more with our children and am writing to encourage more to do so.

As a child, I was not privileged to family vacations.  My parents and other relatives went, but the kids stayed home.  For my parents, I believe the choice was mostly economic but also cultural in that kids don’t belong in grown folk affairs and vacations were considered grown folk affairs. They worked hard and earned the right to getaway to chill.

Remembering the longing to board an airplane and fly away with my parents greatly influenced my decision to travel with my children.

At age three, our 27-year-old daughter’s first flight was to San Diego, California.  Our 13-year-old has been flying since the age of five.

Traveling with children is a wonderful experience.  Watching their curious eyes light up in amazement and disbelief when they see an aged and dilapidated building that is a school in another country or the joy of meeting and playing with other children who do not speak the same language, but understands volleyball or a game of catch in the pool.

Taking them to different cities, states, and countries open their eyes to the world outside of their own.  We want our children to grow up and become adults who are open-minded and learn to appreciate and to respect what is different from their experience.

So much of the hatred in this world stems from ignorance, a lack of tolerance and understanding for others who look and sound different.

Over the past week, I watched my son go from clinging comfortably to my husband and me to shooting hoops, playing volleyball with kids from other countries and hanging out in the teen arcade. I love it!!
Playing catch with a kid from California.

Below he is enjoying a moon rocker ride with his dad.  Later he gets to drive it.  :)


Quick family pic before heading to the pool.

Earlier in the week, we drank fresh coconut water directly from a coconut.  S0 after a morning horseback ride, my son decided to pluck his coconut from a tree.  My friend and I watched him diligently work at getting the coconut; refusing to ask for help, he was determined to get one.   He has always been independent and always wants to do things himself, so I knew he was not going to ask the guides for help.


Well…. It took him about 15 minutes to get his coconut!  Failure was not an option. The theme of all things is possible continues.  :)

Our son has wanted to go horseback riding for awhile.  What better place to try it than on a beach in Punta Cana!

In the picture below, he is getting instructions on how to direct the horse.


A rare occasion where hubby is 100% relaxed… All it took was a trip to Punta Cana and a horseback ride on the beach!

Posing with a fellow loc wearing resort employee


Here he confidently serves the ball in a game of volleyball with fellow vacationers; most speak very little English, but they all are having fun and are enjoying the game.

Other fun activities that Tailor enjoyed including taking photos with exotic pets. I love these pictures!

tailor holding snakeTailor holding monkey2

Monkey on tailor headIguana on Tailor forearm


Posing for the camera at the end of ride…  :)


After the ride, my son was ecstatic!


Driving the moon rocker (dune buggy) with his dad was one of the highlights of his trip.  I drove too, but in a separate vehicle.


After spending the day at the pool, we headed out for dinner.

Check him out below. Action shot jumping to catch a football.


Deep in thought. Love his locs!

Throughout the year, we are busy as heck.  School, football, basketball, track, tutoring, and more.  Like any family, we experience stress and work each other’s nerves.  Rushing from one activity to another, squeezing in doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences, school projects, working overtime, birthdays, holidays, graduations and then some are enough to wear down the most upbeat and energized family.

Decompressing as a family is a perfect remedy.  Everyone can relax. Our vacations involve very little “scheduled” time.  We pretty much wing it and take it one day at a time.  We all needed this trip.  While taking a break from the moon rocker excursion, we rested at the shore of an empty beach.

beach

I took my son by the hand, walked him to the edge of the water where warm turquoise colored water splashed our bare feet.  I instructed him to clear his head, listen to the ocean, and to look out as far as he could see.

I explained that we are a blessed family and should give thanks for all that we have and for our amazing experiences.  I went on to tell him that some children and adults will never see the natural beauty we were witnessing, and he should savor the moment.  I also told him to use the vacation as motivation to continue to do his best in school and in all that he does.

“When you get tired and and feel like you can’t go on, think about our wonderful vacation and work harder so that you can continue to reap the benefits of hard work.”

I explained how the process works for me, and it is just another way to stay motivated.  I asked him if he understood what I was saying and he did.

We’re back home and feeling very relaxed.  In two weeks, I will be back to work, and he starts 8th grade.  Our entire family is already talking about next year’s trip.  We’ll print his favorite pictures from the trip in poster size and hang on his wall; they will serve as great reminders for all of us to continue to work hard throughout the year.  :)

🙂

Alternative Chips Worth A Try

Your daily diet is rock solid.  You eat fresh fruits, steamed and sauteed vegetables, lean protein sources, drink lots of water, and your fitness regimen is on point.  However, occasionally, the desire for a crunchy chip slams you hard.

Here’s an option!  I cannot remember where I purchased them from, but I checked online and they are available at Vitacost (a favorite online shop), Walmart (they cost more here), and a few other sites.  You can find the chips locally at Target, Shoprite, Bonterra, and Casel’s Supermarket.

sprouts package

It’s not what you think.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  I’m just sayin’🙂

sprouts GMO

You can see why it got my attention… NON-GMO, Gluten free, whole grains, and more!

sprouts ingredients

The ingredient list is good, and I love that sea salt is the last ingredient, which means it has the least amount of all of the ingredients.  :)

sprouts nutritional label

Always read the label on any packaged product.  Although clean eating means avoiding processed foods, a cheat here and there means that we are human and not robots.  Note that above the nutritional label; a statement reads “Made in a facility that uses milk and soy,” so if you have allergies or avoid milk and soy, the manufacturer has put you on notice.

If you count out nine chips, you’re looking at 80 mg of sodium and 15 g of carbs.  Except for carrot sticks, celery sticks, freshly baked kale chips or fresh fruit, this isn’t too bad.  Oh, and about the nine chips, the bag is small, ration these treats out.  :)

sprouts

Imagine snacking on the chips with a fresh mango salsa or fresh guacamole dip.  Mmm… yummy!

nutrition quote

If you try the chips, I would love to hear what you think of them.  Thaks for stopping by!  :)

 

 

A Burger That Works For Me

Hi!  Yes.  I’m still here. Life is keeping me busy.  While my heart tells me that my blog is neglected, my mind tells me that grad is more important.

Anyways, look what I found!!

veggie burger

Why didn’t someone tell me about these??  I know all about the “other” Bubba burger, but I stumbled on these in Shoprite.

Now, y’all know that I am not big on processed foods, howeeeeeevvvvvver; in a pinch, the tasty burger works.  It has real identifiable vegetables! I mean, like, you can actually identify some of the contents!!  Imagine that!!

actual burger

The label reads like this:

ingredients

I will admit, that it has way more ingredients than I’d like in a box, but it still beats a big mac.  Eew!

As for the nutritional part…

burger nutrition

Will I eat this every day?  No.  But it’s not bad. I’m not thrilled about the 300 mg of sodium, but the most I would eat in a sitting is two burgers and this gives me 600 mg of sodium. The product is made in the USA.  Halleluja!! It’s gluten-free and the carton is made from 100% recycled paperboard.  They care about the environment, so maybe they care about the rest of us too.  Lol!

For lunch, I placed two “burgers” to a frying pan, added olive oil, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper and slowly browned them on each side. Instead of placing them between two buns, I ate them solo with a sliced apple.

lunch

Two thumbs up for the Veggie Bubba Burger!!  Of course eventually, I will mess around with some of their ingredients and some of my ingredients to create my own.

I hope that you’re enjoying your summer and thanks for stopping by!🙂

Smooches!

 

 

Slow Your Roll


In our busy lives, we often race from one activity to another. I too am guilty of that; however, I make it a habit on my work days to get up early- before sunrise, before anyone is up in my home.  When the house is quite, I have the pleasure of  enjoying the amazing sounds of the birds singing.

Getting up early allows me to move slowly and freely throughout the house but also to take the time to observe the beauty of sunrise, birds flying and singing, and other amazing insects and creatures moving about. 

Earlier this morning, I found this cutie (baby frog) sleeping on the window pane next to the front door.  It’s such an odd place–up off the ground and by the front door handle– I just had to capture him sleeping.🙂


Please slow down and take the time to enjoy the beauty of each day!

Happy Monday!  

Smooches! :) 

Happy 28th Anniversary to Us!

Every love story is beautiful,

but ours is my favorite!

-Unknown

Twenty-eight years ago, June 4, 1988 at 3:10 p.m. I walked down the aisle of Second Baptist Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey to exchange wedding vows with hubby.

I didn’t have a clue about the amount of patience, love, sacrifice, commitment, and dedication needed to sustain 28 years of marriage and 32 years of friendship.

The one thing I knew for sure was that I deeply loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. How that would occur was a mystery that I would later sort through.

My father-in-law performed the ceremony, which made the day even more special. Although Reverend Cain died in 2003, the blessings he bestowed upon our marriage is still present today.

We were young and naïve but very committed to respecting and loving the other. I the extrovert; a crazy out going and out spoken hot-head. The contrast was my laid back introverted husband who internalized and mulled over everything before speaking. Talk about a contrast! I have wondered, “How on earth did it work?” Maturity, time, prayer, more maturity, more time, and more prayer helped immensely. I learned to speak less; he learned to speak more. Somehow we found a solid balance.

While I cannot speak for hubby, the past 28 years has been an enlightening journey for me. A personal journey that included bumps , bruises, detours, and exciting discoveries. Childhood relationships with my parents and between my mom and dad affected my relationship with my husband with great surprise. I saw glimpses of characteristics that I liked and that I disliked. The realization that I, and only I was empowered to make changes about myself that needed to be made was a relief. Cycles… some are meant to be broken.  The fact is that we don’t have to repeat what has been done before us. Some family traditions should end.  I say bury the old and build new traditions.

Sadly, I closely witnessed the shattering of too many marriages. I have never judged other marriages or thought that my marriage was better than others. I did, however, extract the lessons that I could from the failed marriages around me. So often spouses point the finger of blame, but don’t ask what did they bring to the table. In turn, my reality check is to stare in the mirror and ask, how am I doing? Do I need to make adjustments? Have I fallen off course?

Sometimes there are issues that exist within me, which require me to adjust and make changes. Other times, the pulse of our marriage needs adjusting– I think of it (the pulse) as a heart rate– Neither too fast or too slow is not good. I strongly believe that at least one person in every relationship, should have their finger on the pulse of the relationship at all times. The pulse being, the pace and mode of the relationship. Is it steady? Is it regular? How’s the vibe? Is it positive? Do things feel out of sync?  Am I happy? Is my partner happy? They are just questions that have worked for me.

My point is that marriage is not easy. Point blank, it is hard work and by no means do I claim to be an expert. We’ve been blessed for 28 years and I hope and pray that we are blessed we a good 28 more years. I want to be one of those couples who are married for over 40 years.  :)  While reflecting on the years, I came up with many lessons that I have personally learned. While this list could be longer, I dedicated one lesson for each year of our happy marriage. The original list was posted on our 25th anniversary.  Since then, each year I add an addition lesson to my list.

Lessons I learned from 28 years of marriage:

  1. I learned that speaking my unfiltered opinion, without considering hubby’s feelings was inconsiderate and to think before I speak.
  2. I learned that no matter how “I preferred” he do things, hubby is entitled and will do things the way he chooses to.
  3. I learned that I can only change and improve myself and that’s what I ought to work on.
  4. I learned that when you marry your spouse, you also marry your in-laws.
  5. I learned that just because you create babies together, doesn’t mean you will share beliefs on how to raise them. Your ideas on child rearing will differ. Compromise.
  6. I learned that your spouse will do things behind your back and you will do things behind his back.
  7. I learned that, if you allow it, children can take the sex right out a marriage. Keep it interesting and fun.
  8. I learned that one of the two will always appreciate romance more than the other.
  9. I learned that saying, “I told you so” is unnecessary.
  10. I learned that somebody ought to know how to cook a decent meal.
  11. I learned that you will like some of your spouses friends and you will despise some of your spouses friends. You opinion won’t change his relationship with his friends.
  12. I learned that married family and friends will divorce. Try to stay neutral. Your harsh words may return and bite you in the butt.
  13. I learned not to compare my marriage to another marriage. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and you cannot predict the future (of yours).
  14. I learned that solid marriages are built on friendships. Maintain a friendship with your spouse.
  15. I learned to establish and maintain my identity and my independence.
  16. I learned to become educated, even if you wish to be a stay-at-home.
  17. I learned to expect the unexpected.
  18. I learned to plan for the future, but live everyday in the present.
  19. I learned why older couples like my parents slept in separate beds. Thankfully, we haven’t gotten to that point.
  20. I learned that the affirmation, “A women’s work is never done” is true.
  21. I learned that husbands and wives should have separate clothing closets and bathroom sinks.
  22. I learned that spirituality is important to a marriage.
  23. I learned that spouses who work hard as a team can accomplish amazing feats and can overcome incredible obstacles.
  24. I learned that spouses who hang out together are genuinely happier couples.
  25. I learned that your spouse is not a mind reader.  Don’t assume that your spouse knows what you want.  Tell your spouse what you want.
  26. I learned that if you have an open mind and an open heart, there are still things to learn from your spouse.
  27. I learned the importance of family vacations but even more importantly is to take vacations without the kids.
  28. I learned to be careful about who I allow in to our home.   Not everyone has your relationship’s best interest at heart.

Hubby and I have shared 28 solid good years. Were the years always perfect? No, but we’ve always managed to work through our differences in the most respectful ways and treat the other the way we wish to be treated. I am thankful for the 28 shares we’ve shared and pray for 28 more.

marriage

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June 4, 1988

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Exchanging wedding bands

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Spontaneous trip for our anniversary to Cancun, Mexico (2002 or 2003)

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Hubby forgot to tell me that we had an appointment for a family portrait immediately after leaving spending the day at an outdoor park. OMG! Look at those heads! LOL!

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NYE late 1990’s (I wasn’t natural then… I wish I were)

Do you have questions about marriage and relationships?  Although I’m no certified professional, I am happy to answer any questions.  :)  You can ask here or email me at lexawrites@gmail.com

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the weekend.