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.  🙂

🙂


Adjust Or Go A Bust

“Remain flexible and teachable so that you can make necessary
adjustments in life.”
Mz Liz

Adjust 

[uhjuhst]

  1. to change (something) so that it fits, corresponds, or conforms; adapt; accommodate
  2. to put in good working order; regulate; bring to a proper state or position

 

Today marks the end of my third week of grad school. Whew!!  Adding reading assignments, papers, and projects to my already busy schedule is a challenge– challenging but not impossible.

This weekend is about adjusting.  I am making the new addition to my routine fit.  I am adapting my weekly routine.  I am accommodating new tasks.  I am deleting some things from routine (less social networking time) and putting others (my son’s tutoring, basketball, etc..) in order.

Accomplishing anything good in life required adjustment.

If you can’t adjust, you will certainly a bust!    -tfc

Sunday is my meal prep but last week did not work too well, so I had to adjust my routine.

I moved the majority of my shopping day on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to Friday evening. The change frees me up for Sunday.

The second major adjustment is my cooking day. To free up more time to read and to write, I moved cooking from Sunday to Saturday afternoon… umm… I just looked at the clock.  The “afternoon?”  I started cooking at around 5:30 p.m…. the current time is 8:33 p.m., but it is done.  In between cleaning up the kitchen, letting the food cool down, and putting items away, I’m snapping pictures.  🙂

What’s cooking?  A hodgepodge of quick dishes for me and my peeps. The only menu items left to cook are veggies and I’m working on those.   I don’t have enough time to write recipes and all, but I wanted to give you an idea of what’s happening in my kitchen.

 

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash… it is quick and easy to prepare.


mexican quinoa

Mexican Quinoa is a hit with hubby, is loaded with protein, so it works.


black rice

This black rice will pair nicely with the black-eyed peas.


black eyed peas

My first attempt ever at meatless black-eyed peas.  I add extra goodies like garlic, jalapenos, and substituted water with vegetable broth, so the peas should have a nice 


sweet potatoes

I can’t go wrong with sweet potatoes.


sausage dish

Mom will love this!  Sweet hot sausage and turkey kielbasa cooked in a fire roasted tomato sauce.  Whoever want to indulge can enjoy it over whatever style of pasta they choose, just don’t touch my black rice.  🙂


crock pot

I would be lost without my crockpots!  The third crockpot is full of steel cut oats in the fridge. 

 

The point of this post is to remind you that when trying something new, you have to be flexible.  What works for me may not work for you.  Also, what worked for me yesterday isn’t working for me today.  So no worries.  Take in a deep breath–slowly release the air and keep it moving.  I have a ton of work to do and must go. See Yah!

Happy day to you!! Smooches!

 

 

 

 


Without Judgment Clarity Exists

There is eternal power and influence in motherhood.

-Julie B. Beck

Seeing the first image of our baby inside of our womb, the excitement of feeling the first kick inside our swollen bellies, the forever waited sound of the first breathe and cry at birth—all produces a plethora of emotions and fairytale like dreams.

Instant tears of joy and feelings of entitlement for our baby boy or baby girl—They will have our best and they will be the best at whatever they set out to do in life. We will always be there for them.

What is missing from the arrival of our bundle of joy is, a book of wisdom. Although you can find just about any book on any topic of how to do anything online and in stores, no single approach to parenting is a guarantee.

Every child and every mother is unique. We become mothers with an abundance of love and only our bag of history, experiences, and knowledge—the good and the bad.

Just as our moms raised us the best they could, we follow pursuit and plan to do the same, but better (or so we think).

It has taken me many years to step away from the idealism of how my mom should have raised me versus how I was raised.

Burying the judging gavel, allows me to see with clarity.

I see myself in her, which took over 25 years to happen.

I am an extension of my mother and I represent book two of Lena.

That little seed of kindness inside of her has blossomed within me and for that I am grateful.

That mighty strength of hers, which moves the heavens and the earth, has not fully matured within in me; I yearn for it, but patiently wait, as the growth is ongoing.

We are fiery women. Like an out of control woods fire, Mom’s flame skips around readily. I have the flame too, but work hard to suppress it. Occasionally the beast escapes. When the fire kindles, I am Lena’s lookalike.

Mother’s love for fashion and style (when she was younger) was evident in her old pics– Hmm… I got that from her too!  Lol!

She loves to win…so do I. 🙂

While I may not like or agree with everything about the process of how I have become the woman I am today,

I very much like who I am and give homage, praise and thanks to my mother for creating me.

To all the moms, mother’s-to-be, fill in moms, Nanas, mom-moms and everything else, Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for all that you do!!! 🙂

Motherhood quotes that make me smile: 🙂 

“A mother is a mother from the moment her baby is first placed in her arms until eternity. It didn’t matter if her child were three, thirteen, or thirty.”
Sarah Strohmeyer, Kindred Spirits

“…moms, even good ones, sometimes lose it a little so as not to lose it all.”
Susan Squire

“A mother who would stop at nothing for her child is dangerous woman when crossed.”
Solange nicole

“I cannot admit this out loud. In the first place, we are expected to be supermoms these days, instead of admitting that we have flaws. It is tempting to believe that all mothers wake up feeling fresh every morning, never raise their voices, only cook with organic food, and are equally at ease with the CEO and the PTA.”
Jodi Picoult, House Rules

“Half the time your kids end up hating you for at least 5 of their teenage years[.] And don’t ever expect anything so mundane as a thank you”
Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm 


Y’all Don’t See This!

I share pictures and recipes of healthy meals here, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and a few other sites.

What y’all don’t see is the daily mental tug-of-war and the inner turmoil that I grapple with. Ugh!  Oh Lord, the guilt of feeding my family unhealthy and processed foods. I hate it!

The other day I brought a package of Jennie-O Hardwood Smoked Turkey Kielbasa.  My family likes them and I was struggling with what to cook for dinner, without repeating the same ole same meals.

I feel like I’m chickening them to death!  I also needed to cook something that would last for a couple of days… Umm.. leftovers!  I don’t have time to cook everyday nor do I want to.

I usually prepare the Kielbasa with garlic, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce served over some sort of whole wheat pasta… just the way they like it.  😦

While hubby zoned out on the laptop at the kitchen counter, I read aloud the ingredients. He was not moved, surprised or even batted an eye.  I don’t think– no, I know he was not listening, so I read the ingredients again, but this time a little louder…  Lol!!

“Turkey, manufactured, turkey, water…

Me:        “Hon!!  Did you hear that?”

Him:       “Huh?”  “What?” (looking and sounding a little annoyed)

Me:        “I just read the disgusting ingredients in this turkey I’m cooking for you guys!”

Him:       “Well what else are we supposed to eat?!?”

Me:        (Thinking) “Is he freakin serious?!?!?”

Me:        “Well we could eat more vegan based meals.”

Him:       (seemingly more annoyed) “What’s that?”

Me:        “Ugh!  Really?  Plant based meals.”

OMG!! The look on his face. Like I just called him a pervert or something. LMAO!!

Welcome to my world!

The process entails pureeing or grinding the carcass left after the manual removal of meat from the bones and then forcing the slurry through a sieve under pressure. This puree includes bone, bone marrow, skin, nerves, blood vessels in addition to the scraps of meat remaining on the bones. The resulting product is a blend of muscle (meat) and other tissues not generally considered meat.

HOLD UP!

That’s foul! I’m not buying them anymore.

Manufactured turkey is pretty much the same as “mechanically separated meat.”

Barfing yet?

I just can’t!!

If you care about your health, you should read labels on everything you eat. While I continue to educate myself, I try to share my knowledge with my family. Actually, I will share with anyone, who expresses the slightest of interest.  🙂

Some days my family are not interested in my chatter, but I refuse to stop because I care.  Caring is the frustrating part. As I continue to educate myself about food and nutrition, the need to share is only natural for me. I share with my family, my friends, my followers, and anyone else who cares to listen.  Other than my household, I try not to give unsolicited info, but I have been busted for making faces.  I’m working on this!  Lol!

I don’t want to be the pain in the ass wife and mom; however, I do my best to paint the ugliest, nastiest, and graphic images (in their minds and mine) to drive the message home.  Hahaha!!

Anything that’s good is not going to be easy and will demand more time and diligence from us.

Grocery shopping takes longer.  Why?  Because I am:

  • Scrutinizing food labels
  • Looking for healthier food options
  • Checking prices
  • Buying for two, sometimes three different meal plans
  • Buying from several different stores

I cook two sets of meals, so cooking takes longer, but I’m cool with that.

The troublesome  part for me is, even though I am pretty creative at introducing new food, subbing and swapping out bad ingredients for healthier options, my peeps still want processed foods like those nasty smoked turkey kielbasas.  What am I supposed to do?

For now, I will continue to plug away at it and incorporating healthier meals for them. I do realize I am still helping them, but I just feel like it’s not enough.  This past Sunday, I made baked ziti. I used whole wheat pasta, added zucchini and mushrooms but it still had three cheeses!  They loved it!

 I sucked on one noddle and was perfectly fine with that. 🙂

I’m dead serious.

Anyways, I would have never thought that  in 2015,  hubby would be eating avocados, flax seeds, chia seeds, and zucchini spaghetti, so I guess I am making a little progress. Hallelujah!!

Whatever you do, do not give up on your goals of living a healthier lifestyle; the benefits are endless and worthwhile.

Thanks for stopping by… and please… keep it movin!  🙂

 

 

 


Food For The Soul

It is a chicken soup kind of day! The whole family is off.  It’s cold outside, the wind is gusty and, other than going to the gym, I have no desire to go outside today.

2015/01/img_3908-0.jpgLike clockwork, my helper showed up right on time! B’Dazzle is having fun washing and peeling carrots.

2015/01/img_3910-0.jpgThe beginnings of a home-made and hearty chicken and  quinoa soup. What are the healthy benefits of carrots?

2015/01/img_3909-0.jpgI love the vibrant colors of uncooked veggies!  Read this to learn about the health benefits of celery.

2015/01/img_3912-0.jpgThe seasoned chicken is baking nicely and is almost done.  Mmm..!  Smells good! 2015/01/img_3913-0.jpgGet your kids involved at home!  My son was eager to help cut the veggies. When your children asks to help out, please let them. Although the process might slow you down a bit, the time together is good for both parent and child. Besides, it’s better time spent than video games and TV. While cooking, we talk about everything… girls, school, family, and more!  Goooood stuff!! 🙂

chicken stockChicken stock in the making!  Are you hungry yet? Lol!

I searched the internet to find a recipe that appealed to me.  Can soup is filled with sodium and other processed stuff and is not the same.

Yeah, I cook often but home-made chicken soup is not my speciality.  Divas Can Cook had a recipe that works for me.  I substituted the noodles with quinoa (It is pronounced KEEN-wah).  Quinoa is a grain filled with nutrition.  Noodles are processed foods that I try to avoid.  The plan was to add brown rice, but since I have a decent amount of leftover quinoa, I decided to add it instead of cooking more rice.  I also added a little nutmeg to the broth.  Mmm… there’s something about nutmeg that gives food a homey and warm feeling. home made chicken soup

This is delicious! Just one spoonful brightened my smile even more today! 🙂 Here’s a link to DCC recipe.

Happy Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Slide1🙂


Simplicity In 2015

Simplicity

[sim-plis-i-tee] 
simplify

Image courtesy of threedifferentdirections.com

Keeping life simple in 2015 is my theme for the year.  I cannot be bothered with another New Year’s Resolution that bites the dust by St. Patty’s Day, if not sooner.

It’s a little past 7 O’clock p.m. on New Year’s day and the hoopla of the holidays are over. Already I’m in bed relishing in the warmth of an electric blanket.

Since hubby is not home, B’Dazzle wanted to join me in bed and under the warm blanket. I thought he’d want to play a game or watch a movie, that is not the case.  He wants to simply enjoy the warmth of the blanket next to mom.  🙂  I just had to snatch my phone and get this picture.

Tailor electric blanketInstead of getting all complicated and deep with this post, I am keeping it simple and am sharing a few of my favorite “simplicity” images.

be-simple-quotes-simplicity-quotes-living-simple-quotes

 

apoorve dubey i like simple making the simple secret of happines SIMPLICITY10 there is beauty through simplicity why complicate life

This one is my favorite!  Words to live by.

Happy New Year!! 🙂