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.  🙂

🙂

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.

Taking It All In Stride

Life is a song-sing it.  Life is a game–play it.

Life is a challenge–meeet it.  Life is dream–realize it.  

Life is a sacrifice–offer it.  Life is love–enjoy it. 

                                                          — Sai Baba

                                                                  

According to our plans, we should have been out of New Jersey five hours ago. Instead as I’m writing this, we’re about 5 miles from the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  

4:30 yesterday afternoon, we went to pick up the rental car.

…it didn’t happen.

“We are expecting your car around 8 p.m., we’ll call you when it arrives.” 

Seven-thirty the phone rings.  Yay!! The car is ready!!  :0) 

WRONG!!

“Your car won’t be availalbe until tomorrow at noon.  The person who rented it was suppose to return the car today, but they did not bring it back.”

At 8 p.m., we start a new search for a similar vehicle but with a different company.  

….found one in Philadelphia.  We’re set! 

We leave the house close to 4 a.m., pick up my cuz and head an hour away to philly.

Around 6 a.m., we arrive at car rental agency.

“I’m sorry, the vehicle you requested is no longer available.” :o(

They  show us another vehicle, which is the same size of what we drove up in.  Well that ain’t gonna work.

….get back in the car and drive about 45 minutes away to Vineland, NJ.  We’re back tracking now.  Lol!!

…pull up at rental car agency at 7 a.m., but they don’t open until 8 a.m., but we spot a handful of cars and only ONE shiny and new SUV (Tahoe)  in the parking lot.  Finally!  Light at the end of the tunnel.

An agent from the original company (who screwed up our reservation)  supposedly called, faxed, and reserved a a large SUV that we requested.

To kill time, we drive to Walmart.

…7:45 a.m., we greet the regional manager, store manager, and two other workers.

“I’m sorry, ALL of the vehicles in the parking lot are already reserved.”

WTH!!!  Is this some kind of joke?  Are we on some kind of hidden camera show?  

Sigh!

Once again, we explain the culminating mishaps…

He has a minivan available.  We’re all looking like, we don’t want no damn minivan!

We walk out to the van.  It has two rows of seats–but there are 5 of us. One look at the small rear comparment confirmed it was too small and would never fit our luggage.  Ugh!  

I instruct the manger to follow me to our vehicle and I pop the trunk.  Lol!!  He looks at our bags, eyes widen, and he realizes we need a larger vehicle and promises to figure something out.

We’re pissed off, disappointed (again), exasperated, tired of looking for a vehicle and just want to get on the road.

Back inside the office, the manager quietly speaks to the regional manager… we anticipation, we helplessly wait.

“We have a 2015 Expedition that a representative is driving over.  We just have to clean it up and it should be ready for you in 15 minutes.”

Finally!!!!  :0)   

 Because of our situatiton, the manager (Tom) decided to honor the rate of the original agency. Tom also waived the fee for filling the vehicle.  His nickname is “Terrific Tom.”

So last night, initially I was angry with the agency and wanted to give them a down home cussin out.. because this is the second time they messed up our reservations.

But after blowing off my frustration, I felt like it wasn’t meant for us to be on the road as we planned.

After this morning’s circus, I’m CONVINCED that God had a plan to delay our road trip.  No matter what we tried to do to leave early, the road blocks kept coming–one after another.

I couldn’t even get mad.  I only knew that it was time to go with the flow.

God and the universe’s energy guides us.  Sometimes we listen; other times we don’t.  

We secured a car at the time it was okay for us go.  We just cleared the Harbor Tunnell with 653 miles to go.  We’re all in a good place, no tension, relaxed, talking, laughing, and enjoying an easy breezy ride.  🙂 There is no way we would allow a series of hiccups to destroy the blessing and joy of our family trip.

This morning, we sang the song, met the challenge, played the game, made the sacrafice, and we’re still loving life.

   
   

Regardless of the challenges we face in life, it is important to remember that life is a journey. The highs lows, the peaks and  the valleys are part of the journey, and can make us stronger and wiser.   The choice is ours; which do you choose?

Life is good.  Stay fit, be blessed, and enjoy every day.  

  
Make it a good one!

Happily Hitched For 27 Years!

Twenty-seven years ago, the statistics were stacked against our marital endeavors.  In fact, according to a 1988 report, the year we married,

43% of marriages [will] end in divorce.

Well guess what baby? We. Are. Still. Married.   Barring any dumb ass mid-life crises on either of our parts and God’s will and grace, we are on track to celebrate the BIG 30! I guess we blew the statisticians’ numbers out the window. :0) Heeeeey!

I feel like someone held down the fast forward button in our life as the years have passed seemingly quickly.

Although both of our parents had “successful” marriages that lived up to the vow of “..till death do us part; however, my parents’ marriage was far from what any marriage counselor would identify as functional.  I have no doubts they loved each other dearly, but damn it, they had a funky way of showing it. Oh, the memories! Lol!

After five years of good friendship, we married. In total we’ve been buddies for 32 years and still do mostly everything together.

At 23 years old, I tenderly recited traditional wedding vows, excluding the “obey” part, but I had no idea of what it meant.

Tanya, will you have this man to be your lawful wedded husband, to live together after God s ordinance in the Holy Estate of Matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others keep you only unto him as long as you both shall live?
I Tanya take thee, James to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish forever, according to God s Holy Ordinance, and thereto I give thee my pledge.

Two kids later, the death of parents, several careers for me, selling and buying homes, few lows and many highs, I understand the full scope of our vows.

If you’re lucky, with age comes wisdom and I’ve learned many lessons. The last two anniversaries, I shared 25 & 26 lessons I learned from marriage. They’re well worth the read, check them out below:

Celebrating 26 Years of Marital Lessons


25 Years Going Strong

Like any relationship, marriage has its ups and downs. Thank God we’ve shared more ups than downs.

Does he get on my damn nerves sometimes? Yup! Do I get oh his nerves sometimes? Heck yeah!

When you get down to the nitty-gritty, it is the basic principles that make a marriage work.

We fight (though rarely) clean… NEVER do we engage in name calling… always in private… never in front of anyone, including our children.  Respect is at the top of the list… we give it so we can receive it.

Would I marry Big Daddy again?  Absolutely!!! Lol! :0)  Here are 27 reasons why I’d marry hubby again:

  1. He loves me for who I am
  2. He is kind
  3. He gets along well with my mom (better than me)
  4. He doesn’t anger easily
  5. His sense of humor
  6. He dances with me, even when he doesn’t feel like it :0)
  7. He dances with me but HATES dancing
  8. He smiles a lot (like me)
  9. He is a great father
  10. He spoils our kids
  11. He spoils me
  12. He LOVES his career
  13. Makes a good bed
  14. He cleans a house well
  15. He supported me through school
  16. He encourages me
  17. He respects me
  18. He respects women
  19. He is ALWAYS there for me
  20. I can ALWAYS count on him
  21. He is consistent
  22. He treated his mother VERY well
  23. He was a good son (to both parents)
  24. He provides WELL for his family
  25. He is selfless
  26. He embraced my crazy (handful) of friends
  27. He is forgiving

Happy 27th Anniversary Sweets!! 

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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 

The Morning After

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Exhale…

Happy Friday! It is the day after and the hype of the Christmas holiday is over.

I’m chillin big time this morning and I am also feeling unusually sluggish. Ugh!  Yesterday I indulged in crap that I don’t normally eat (mac & cheese, apple pie, and cookies) and… I sipped on two drinks (vodka with a splash of mango grapefruit juice).

My body is not used to the sugar, white flour, cheese, and stuff, so I am not feeling my normal energized bunny rabbit self. 😦

Between the diet and all the running around, I decided to rest this morning. I don’t think a gym workout would have been best.

This morning my heart is full of joyous memories from spending the day with my family and friends. The joy and the love I feel on Christmas is priceless and has nothing to do with receiving gifts.

Quality time with my family and friends, laughing, playing games, watching movies, and getting up-to-speed on everyone’s’ life is heart warming. Images of genuine smiles and twinkling eyes are priceless!

My favorite moment was the look on my mom and my aunts faces when they each received a copy of their own photo book. The photo book was 21 pages of unseen photos of the grands, great grands, nieces, and nephews.

The remaining aunts ( 6 of 9) are well over age 70 and are not on any of the social networks.  The younger generations often share photos and events online, but the elders don’t get to see them, so we put them together in a book.  Their ooh’s and ah’s were the highlight of my day. Absolutely priceless!

The past few weeks were hectic but worthwhile, so I thought I’d share some of those moments with you. 🙂

What’s next?  Something I rarely get to do.. a midday nap!

Enjoy the day! 🙂