11/1: Parental Thanks

Thankful for parents that continue to parent. I will always be L & R’s daughter and am blessed to be born from their love. Trying to raise a child and helping them to develop their own personality while providing structure, guidance and discipline can be challenging to put it lightly. But they have and continue to give me enough freedom to chart my own course while remaining close enough to give me needed flight advice from the control tower when there may be turbulence on the horizon. #My mama’s on my right side, daddy’s on my left….I’M SO BLESSED!!!!

Season Of Thanksgiving

This month, many people are on Facebook sharing what they are thankful for on a daily basis and I have decided to do the same thing. It just dawned on me, what better way to get back into blogging than to share those same words here and get back in the habit.

November is the month of the year where people focus on giving thanks and sadly it is something we should be doing year round. Some people have daily gratitude journals in which they capture the little and big things for which they are thankful for on a daily basis. In some households just before dinner, each member of the family goes around the table giving thanks for specific things that happened earlier that day. That is a great ritual, especially for children.

Life isn’t always sweet, it isn’t always kind and we don’t always get what we want; but there are so many things that we take for granted everyday for which we should be giving thanks. What has life given you today that deserves a thank you?

“Giving thanks is a way to show life that it is appreciated” ~ Eboni Wallace Lewis

Tuesday Night At The Mint Museum

This evening I decided to take advantage of a little known secret here in Charlotte… free admission on Tuesday evenings from 5pm-9pm at both of the Mint Museum’s locations!  Last week my son went with me to a meeting I had at the Mint Uptown and wanted to spend time in the Lewis Family Gallery.  The gallery is a hands on gallery where children are able to enjoy various activities.  Because my meeting ran late and it was a school night, I told him we would come back and do it another night, tonight was that night.

While heading up to the museum from the parking deck, and not paying attention to the direction of the arrow, we walked onto an elevator that was occupied.  I immediately recognized that it was the museum’s President and CEO, Kathleen Jameson.  We told her that we were headed to visit the museum’s family gallery, I introduced myself and told her that I photographed some of the museum’s grand opening events.  She seemed very excited to see us there and thanked us for visiting.  Upon entering the museum one of the ladies at the welcome desk asked if I was there to see the museum’s Director of Community Relations, Rubie Britt-Height.  I have volunteered for some of the events Rubie has organized and when appropriate, she has allowed me to bring my son to help as well.  And if you know anything about small children, they love having responsibilities and being special helpers.  We told her we were there as visitors this evening.  And then she told us that if we hurried, we could go into the museum’s auditorium because tonight was the first of the Movie and a Mint series.  Tonight’s film was Harlem Renaissance: Music and Rhythms that Started a Cultural Revolution.  It was a great forty minute piece on the impact of the Harlem Renaissance.  We both enjoyed seeing greats like Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Count Basie and other prominent figures during that time.  Oh, and let me not forget to mention that there was no additional charge to view the movie.  The series is a collaboration with the museum and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.

After the movie we moved into the Lewis Family Gallery where both of us enjoyed the rooms’ various areas and stations.  My son moved around to a few areas while I spent all of my time in the Imagination Station.  I enjoyed using colored pencils, crayons, stencils and rubbing templates to create a few different random pictures.  One of which I plan to put in a frame to place on my desk at work.  The difficult part of the evening….was getting my son out of the gallery.  Of course I had to promise another visit very soon since there were a few things he wasn’t able to do tonight.  One of the things we’ll be doing on our next visit is taking advantage of the museum’s Art Packs.  They are backpacks filled with museum specific activities that guide them through the museum, similar to a scavenger hunt.  Both of the Mint’s locations have regular events and activities for children and families(http://www.mintmuseum.org/families-and-kids.html).  I’m sure there will be times when deciding which location to visit on a Tuesday will be difficult because of the planned activities.  Ironically tonight’s event at the other location, Mint Museum Randolph was ArtFusion and featured Japanese Art.  It was some of the same activities that I shared in my post, If Your Pearls Are Cultured Shouldn’t You Be? http://wp.me/p11ALE-26 , which talked about our attending that location’s opening weekend around a new piece by a Japanese artist.

Tonight’s date night activity was a nice change from our regular after school/work weeknight routine.  This blog was started on the premise of spending time daily doing something just for yourself with the 86,400 seconds that we get each day.  Tonight our date at the museum was 5,400 seconds of time together, learning something new and having fun.  I’m going to enjoy the moments tomorrow when I remember some of his facial expressions during the movie, the always warm and welcoming smile on Rubie’s face when she saw us tonight and of me enjoying my own art project in the family gallery.

What have you done for yourelf today with your 86,400?

One of my creations! ;-D

Lucky Number Seven…The Joys Of Winning As A Mommy

“Damn it, my child is 7!!!” is a thought, one of many, that ran through my mind at some point today. It wasn’t tied to feelings of sadness or thoughts of I’m getting old, I meant it with excitement. It’s amazing to think about how much he has grown from the day he was born and how I would have never been able to imagine just how freakin wonderful he is and how enriched my life is because of him. When he was born he was tiny, 3lbs 8 oz of tiny to be exact, which pales in comparison to how huge his heart and personality are today. He is the epitome of ‘big things come in small packages’, and although I’m biased because I’m his mother, many people that know him express similar thoughts and feelings. Two days ago a friend of mine posted this on my FB wall:

“While I am at it let me say that great things come in small packages! Your baby is meant for great things in this life and God knew who to send him through to ensure this. He’s a great little boy who brings light to everyone around him. So happy birthday to mighty man Tyler as well. Send a smile in his lunchbox for Ms ________ and _________!”

I’ve spent most of the day reflecting on the last seven years of his life and of course flashed back to the day of his birth and all of the events that surrounded his emergent arrival. There are three very distinctive moments that touched me today. The first was during lunch. I sat across from him in the school cafeteria with cupcakes in tow for him and his class. I got chills as I looked at him seated in between my parents who were also there to have lunch with him. There were the two people that gave me life and have loved me unconditionally from the moment they knew of my existence. These are the people that I strive to imitate when it comes to trying to be a good example for my child. And in between those two people was the person who I love more than I love myself.

The second was after school when I picked him up and we were walking hand in hand, he very nonchalantly said, ‘This is what I love and makes me happy”. I asked him what he was talking about and he looked at me and said, “This (raising our hands up), us walking, lunch and tonight (he knew we were going to the basketball game). I love this stuff, it makes me happy.” And of course my heart melted. As a parent, my hope has always been that my son is more impacted by moments and memories than materialistic things and in that moment, I felt like he got it. As I mentioned in my post about his birthday last year (https://86400andcounting.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/on-the-day-you-were-born/), the things that stick out in my mind weren’t the gifts but the overwhelming showering of love I received from family and friends. As parents, we try to make the most out of what we have in terms of giving to our children. Our children don’t know or aren’t able to understand the types of sacrifices we sometimes make for them. Honestly I don’t think children are fully able to understand until they become parents themselves and are doing the same for their children. But in making those sacrifices our only true desire is that our child knows how much we love them and how much we are willing to do for them. My wish isn’t that he know of the sacrifices, but that he values the gift of love that is expressed and given to him.

The third memory was right before I kissed and hugged him for the final time. I had read the book, On The Day You Were Born; we sung our song to each other, You Are My Sunshine and said our favorite saying, “I love you to infinity and beyond, and then some…and then a lotta some.” He looked at me and asked was I going to cry again and at that point I was already teary eyed. I told him maybe and that I had cried several times today because I was happy and thinking about his birth. He said, “I know you are happy, but you don’t need to cry, I’m already born and I’m here.” I told him that that was my very reason for crying. I cry because I’m happy and wonderfully blessed to have been given such a bright, funny, handsome, intelligent, strong and caring son. And he said, “and I’m a humanitarian” (a few months ago I told him what humanitarian meant because of a gesture he wanted to do for a classmate). I laughed and said yes you are and those are all the reasons why I cry, I cry because I’m so lucky to have you. He flashed a snaggle toothed smile, gave me another hug and kiss, rolled over and said good night.

Seven is said to be the number associated with luck. I definitely know that I am the luckiest parent in the world because I was dealt a winning hand when he came into my life.

Saturday Morning At The Farm(er’s Market)

You know how this starts off, ‘it’s been so long since I’ve blogged.blah, blah, blah……’.  It has been, I have no excuse and although I missed doing it, I haven’t taken the time to do so, which clearly contradicts the whole purpose of this blog. But enough of the pity party, on to the good stuff.

So Saturday was the last day of the best month of the year, March!  And I spent it by having the most wonderfully enjoyable day.  It started with me waking up and laying in the bed for almost 2 hours just listening to the rain.  It was nice to have the luxury of not having to be anywhere at a certain time first thing in the morning; and that is a luxury that is only granted a few times a year.

After finally getting up I decided to go to the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market, http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/charlotte/ and leisurely browse all of the local offerings.  The stands were full of fresh, colorful and aromatic herbs, vegetables and fruits.  Most of the vendors had samples and because most of them are of fruits and vegetables, you can indulge guilt free.  I sampled two types of apples I hadn’t previously heard of and bought one of each.  One of my Pinterest boards is full of recipes that I want to try, so I purchased a few ingredients to make a Tri-Color Slaw with Lime Dressing and I also decided to venture out and try my hand at making bok choy (both of which were on my dinner plate tonight and quite tasty if I say so myself).

I then walked over to the Craft Barn to see what handmade treats I could find.  The Craft Barn was seven times less crowded than the produce barn which made it easier to casually glance at the various products from a distance.  One table drew me in to look closer at the homemade treats of soaps, creams, bath salts and bath bombs.  I was overdue for some pampering and a little self indulgence and this table hit the spot.  I immediately reached to try the samples of creams that were on display; Lavender, Lemongrass and Olive Oil.  Lavender was the first one I tried and I was instantly sold on the subtly soothing scent.  Unfortunately, she was already sold out of the lavender (which is why it is best to get there first thing in the morning).  I then tried the olive oil and as I rubbed the silky concoction into my hands, she told me that this one is very nourishing for thicker skin and feet.  This was music to my ears, really my feet, as I have been looking for a cream to soften my runner’s feet that recently got me through my first half marathon (Yaaaay meeee!!! :-D).  After just one day of usage, I have a new favorite thing, Meshii Organic Olive Oil Cream!!  This cream has kept my skin soft and well moisturized and I haven’t had to layer multiple products as I normally do to keep my skin from drying out.  I look forward to trying some of her other products very soon!  Of course I got her email address in the event I’m not able to come visit her at the Farmer’s Market and need to try to make a special arrangement, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me sharing her info (meshiimeshee@gmail.com).

My last stop was The Greenery Shed.  I’m not a gardner, don’t have a green thumb and honestly am not much of an outdoor person.  But I do love the colors, textures and scents of some plants and flowers.  One of the fun things about The Greenery Shed is visiting with the herb growers and smelling the different herbs from basil to rosemary to dill to mint.  I did see one of my favorite flowers, the hydrangea, in its full bloom and beautiful colors.

If you haven’t been to the Farmer’s Market I strongly suggest you do so, espeically if you have children.  During the summer my son enjoys going because he gets $5-$10 and is able to choose and purchase his own produce.  He loves strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes.  These items are usually closest to the main aisle and within his eyesight and reach on most vendor tables.  I’m a pescatarian so I didn’t stop by any of the tables that sold meat but there were quite a few vendors selling a variety of meats from beef to pork to goat to ostrich.  I do know that many of them sell out of their products very quickly.

With the Farm to Fork ‘movement’ growing (which honestly is nothing more than getting back to eating healthier, less processed foods as our parents and grandparents did), the Farmer’s Market continues to grow in popularity as the place to buy fresher and most times less expensive food for ourselves and our families.  Not only are you doing your body good by stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables, you’re also helping to support small business owners….farmers.

What I enjoyed most about my visit was that I took my time and slowly walked up and down the barns several times, looking for things I might have missed my first or second time browsing the tables.  I’m usually rushing from task to task and place to place and this was much needed time for me to slow down and literally smell the roses.

Running The Race Against Myself

On Thanksgiving morning I silenced my biggest critic by doing something I was told that I could/would never do; and who doesn’t love a good ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ moment?!? Unfortunately this accomplishment was bittersweet. The accomplishment: running in cold weather and running long distances straight. Why was this a bittersweet moment? The critic…… was me. For years I have held myself back by saying that I’m not a runner, that I could never run in cold weather, that I could never run long distances, etc. I came up with all kinds of reasons why I wasn’t a runner.

In May 2010 I signed up for a beginners running program and as a result, ran my first 5K that October. I ran the entire 3.2 miles thanks to the help and support of my running partner Allyson. Allyson was the person that motivated me to join the same program that she had previously completed. It was Allyson that offered to run with me during the race and it was Allyson that ran by my side the entire time making sure I was ok, pushing me when I wanted to stop. I have a picture of the two of us crossing the finish line with her hand on my shoulder, it was definitely a picture perfect finish.

After that race I ran one, maybe two more times but stopped because the weather was considerably colder and I had always had difficulty breathing in ‘cold’ weather (the coldest I had run in was 70 degrees *_*). I ran during lunch for a few weeks in January 2011 while I had a free pass to a YMCA. After that, I didn’t run again until March. That was short lived and I didn’t run again until October when I joined the local chapter of Black Girls Run (www.BlackGirlsRun.com). Since then I have pushed myself (with the strong encouragement and support of the ladies in my group and one of my best friends, Rhadi) to do things I have previously said I could/would never do when it comes to running.

After a 3 week hiatus (and being called out for my absence by one of my BGR sisters, Tonya), I ran with the group and later that night I put a post on Facebook asking my friends who wanted to join me for a run Thanksgiving morning. One of my BGR sisters, Ericka suggested I join the ladies that were planning to run one of the Turkey Trots. So at 10pm that Wednesday night I decided to run my first 8K.

Thanksgiving morning I woke up excited about the challenge of completing an 8K and with the intention of running the entire 5 miles. I got dressed in layers, grabbed my MP3 player, cell phone, chap stick and headed to meet the rest of the crew. When I got out the car it was 40 degrees…. and the self doubt automatically began. In my head I was telling myself that I wasn’t going to be able to run the entire race because my lungs weren’t conditioned to run in that weather.

I met up with the BGR crew that was there for the race, including Marleenee who came just to cheer us on and take pictures, and as a group we made our way to the starting line. As I looked amongst our group and the crowd of people in their coordinated attire with ‘runner’s bodies’, I again began to doubt myself. Clearly I was making assumptions based on appearance but I reminded myself that I’m an inconsistent runner that hadn’t trained for this event, so running the entire race wasn’t physically possible.

The gun sounded, I crossed the starting line, started my stopwatch and began the race against my biggest competition, my mind. My only game plan was to run my race and not worry about the pace of the other thousands of runners around me. I didn’t know the route of the race but had overheard that there were a few hills. 😦 There were a few moments that were tough but I pushed through and quickly overcame the slightly difficult moments, especially those damn hills. At one point I could hear my friend Rhadi’s voice in my head saying “I shouldn’t want this for you more than you want this for yourself.” (Mind you he has never said those words to me, but that is definitely something he would say!!) Go figure the race ended on a hill, but as soon as I saw the word FINISH, tears began to gather in my eyes. They weren’t tears of joy or excitement but tears of saddness and disappointment. Sad because I have been my own bully; disappointed that it took 1:03:24 to discover that I don’t give myself enough credit for my own strength and abilities.

The last 3 words of my Facebook status before heading to the race says it all and will be my reminder:

In 2009 I remember thinking people were crazy for running races Thanksgiving morning. May 2010 I started running. Thanksgiving 2011 I’m crashing a Turkey Trot. Simply put, I AM EVOLUTION!!!!
My next milestone…running a half marathon in March. SEE YOU AT THE FINISH LINE!!!!

‘Twas The Night Before 1st Grade

‘Twas the night before first grade and all through the house,

The school boy was sleeping and quieter than a mouse.

Mommy was exhausted from a long day’s work,

Still annoyed by the rude students at tonight’s presentation that were being jerks.

The bookbag is packed with most of the requested supplies,

By the door awaiting for the morning and its owner to rise.

Ok, if I wasn’t so tired from a long day of work, going to 4 stores in an unsuccessful attempt to find a specific notebook, an event for work this evening, our nightly bedtime ritual, labeling supplies and packing the backpack, pre-loading the lunch box (which included writing my note to him that goes in the lunch box) and laying out the uniform, I would have written the entire post in the above format.  But my brain just won’t allow me to do that right now.

Superceding my exhaustion is my disbelief that summer vacation is over and it is the Eve of The First Day of School!!  I do vividly remember this night last year as I was very emotional about his first day of kindergarten (See: Milestones and Memories- http://tinyurl.com/3m3am43).  I am just as excited and emotional about this milestone in his life.  The journey in watching him grow and continue to develop his very unique and special personality continues to be an indescribable joy!  I am looking forward to hearing all about his big day tomorrow and really excited about his surprise tomorrow evening! 

If you read the post mentioned above and are wondering how I did when it came to singing our song….of course I cried. :’I

“I love you to infinity and beyond…

                                                      and then some……..

                                                                and then a lotta some”

                                                                                    ~Mommy & Son

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