Being a parent is tough. Hardest job I have ever done. And my day job is to make people happy who have wrecked cars. Being a momma – much harder.

I am an emotional person. I can be all over the place. Ask those who know me the best. What I consider my worst trait, is my capability to go zero to 100, in a matter of seconds. I am a perfectionist, who likes things done a certain way. I am Southern, so I was raised with manners. And being defiant, makes me wanna lose my mind. You want to know how I have handled lack of any of the above in my kids? I have yelled and grounded – normally in that order.

Now, luckily – my kids are pretty good. I have had no major issues (knock on wood). But one day, a year or so ago, a friend of mine heard my correcting my little guy. He said, “Relax. You are louder than he is, and you are telling him to stop being loud. He probably doesn’t even know what you are saying.” If we are being honest here, I was mad. One, opinion wasn’t asked for. Two, my kids are good and this is why. That being said, I couldn’t ‘unhear’ what he said.

Then it hit me. My heart got broken, long story – so we won’t get into it. But anyway, there I was, broken hearted. It was the type of broken heart, where I couldn’t even cry correctly. Snotty nose, crying hiccups, and really – wailing out loud. I was trying to will myself to shut up. I wanted to pull it together. I couldn’t. And guess what? The next time my little guy started screaming and crying, I remembered what it felt like to be out of control in sadness. And for the first time, I didn’t raise my voice in response.

One of my favorite pics of me and my little guy! He’s the “spirited one” that makes me practice what I am preaching! LOL!

I calmly told him he can cry, I hugged him, and when he pulled it together – we talked. I asked him why he was freaking out. He said because he knew he would be grounded, because he disobeyed. And he was sad. Well, I told him he was right. He would be grounded – because he had to listen. He teared up again, and I told him he could cry if he needed , too. The best way to stop, though? Just obey the rules. He sniffled some. Then he hugged me, and we moved on. I didn’t feel like I was about to have a heart attack, and he seemed a little more understanding.

I practice it a lot more. Sometimes I have to step away before I speak, because I still can get to 100 pretty quick. That hasn’t changed. It’s just the speed that opening my mouth that has. I mean, I love them and want the best for them – so I gotta keep myself in check.

I think it’s hard to remember, that just because they are little – doesn’t mean their emotions aren’t big. You and I might know that what they are going through will pass. They don’t know that yet. And newsflash – it means nothing when we tell them it will. So whether it’s sadness, fear, disobedience, whichever. Let’s work on taking care of these little people’s emotions. Cause this word is hard sometimes – and it doesn’t care about your size.

Love fully. Live fully. Sat nam.

August 5, 2019 we lost an amazing writer. Toni Morrison passed away at the age of 88. And to be honest – he words changed me in a lot of ways. Her words encouraged me to write

The first time I ever heard of Toni Morrison, was back in my college days. I took a class called “The Nobel Laureates of the NorthWest”. Well, my mind figured it would be about the winners in the Northwest United States. Nope, not exactly. Northwestern Hemisphere. Just a smidge larger.

Anyway, in this class, we were assigned to read 5 books from 5 Nobel Laureates. One of the books I chose, was Beloved by Toni Morrison. And I was hooked. (Fun Fact, that novel also won a Pulitzer Prize.) But the story, was just – entrancing. I couldn’t put it down. Sethe, the protagonist of the novel, will break your heart while standing in awe at her resilience. That’s all I will say so I don’t ruin it. Fast forward to yesterday.

I had a blog post written, and I pulled it down. Because I knew I wanted to write about Toni Morrison, and I wouldn’t have time to do it justice until late tonight. So, you are getting it a day late. Sorry about that. But today, I got a blog notification from Brene Brown, and she was talking about Toni Morrison. (If you aren’t aware, this is just further proof that Brene Brown and I are supposed to BFFs… LOL!) Well, she was talking about how much she loved her also, and she brought up an Oprah interview. Of course, I google it – and I watch it. Below is from Brene’s blog, quoting Toni Morrison. I just can’t word it any clearer.

She asked, “Does your face light up?”
She explained, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?”
Her advice was simple, but paradigm-shifting for me. She said:
“Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”

Boom. Wow. Quake. Think about that. And I thought about all the times that I have pulled into the garage, and little feet come running out the door excited to see me – and what do I say? “GET IN THE HOUSE! WHAT IF I HADN’T SEEN YOU AND HAD HIT YOU!?” Little feet scurry back inside. Ugh. I would give anything to turn back time to those moments and change it. All I can do, is apologize now – explain why – and try to change it. They are my whole heart. I never want them to think for a second that I don’t want to see them. I can’t let fear, bad moods, sickness or anything else – come between them knowing that they have a strong and powerful purpose.

Take it one step farther. Your boyfriend or girlfriend. Husband or wife. Parents. Does your face light up when you see them? If you hadn’t seen them for a month, would it be any different? A year? If you thought you would never see them again, but you got another chance? Listen. I ain’t judging, cause I am going to tell you the truth. For YEARS of my life, my modus operandi was this – If I liked a boy, I played it cool. If I was excited to see him, I played it cool. Don’t show that you are happy or excited. That will make you weak. Then they have the upper hand. And apparently everything in my life was some type of crazy display of power.

Until the day I decided that I just don’t care. If I am happy to see you – I am going to hug you and show it. Simple as that.

So today, take a second, and look lovingly at your kids. Really, do it to anyone you love. But hey, they are little. Start there. And read a book. Or get on Audible.

Love Fully. Live Fully. Sat Nam.

Let’s be honest – being a single parent/married parent – or just an aunt trying to have fun with some kids – can be EXPENSIVE! My budget is so tight this year, you can almost hear the seams ripping in the process. That being said – I still want to give my kids a summer to remember, so here are a few of my plans that won’t cost you a penny!

Winter Garden, FL

1. SPLASH PAD!– I live in Winter Garden, Florida. In our downtown area – there is a splash pad. Pack a few sandwiches, throw them in a backpack, and go down there. I don’t get in a splash pad myself – but I have seen parents wear their swimsuits and walk through it. It’s great fun for the kids, and you can get some serious reading done if you want! DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!

2. SCAVENGER HUNT! – A scavenger hunt is a little bit of work with a whole lot of payoff. Now, my kids are 20(almost), 16, and 9. My suggestion is this. Tailor it to the kids level. There are a ton of ideas that you can do! I live in a neighborhood, and I am fan of the photo scavenger hunts. That’s where you have to take picture of something with the clue. Use your cell phone! And for my youngest, I can let him borrow an ipod, have one of the bigger ones go with him, or actually have him gather. What’s fun? If it’s way too hot…. you can do this in a mall! And have all the kids work together! Some examples could be, 1.Film your sister doing 10 jumping jacks in front of the fountain! 2. Ask an employee at H&M their middle name. 3. Find the letters “ch” together in the name of the store. And that’s just a few! You can get on Pinterest and find a ton of list ideas ! I take a few of those and make them my own! Just type it up in word/notes on your phone/ and text or print it out! (This can also make a fun date night, just sayin’.)

3. OUTDOOR/INDOOR MOVIES – This is gonna sound basic, but it’s fun. Put your TV in the garage. Get on Netflix. And watch a movie. If you don’t have a garage, put it in a window. Live in an apartment? Put it on the balcony. Now take blankets, air mattresses, whatever you got, pile em up. And lay down and watch a movie. Why? One , you get fresh air. Two, it’s a change of scenery. Three, It’s the intention. Of course you could watch TV on the couch. Or a movie. But it’s the whole plan of making everyone be together, and setting the intention of having fun. And trust me – they will remember. And if you have TV’s outside already? Change the seating – the key here is intention.

4. FAMILY GAME NIGHT/NEW LOCATION – Ok, I love the idea of family game night. I don’t do it – but I love the idea of it. I am going to try to make a part of my life this upcoming school year, but we will see. I love this because it’s intentional, again. Here’s how I do it. Cook dinner (or make a sandwich- judgement free zone, here.) And head to the closest park with a picnic table. I recommend doing this around 7 or 8. Take a card game, or a time managing board game. (We aren’t talking about monopoly or something that can be hours – cause guys, it will get dark.) But it’s a fun time, and it’s alot better to be in a new spot. It really seems to make the kids talk more, especially the older ones.

5. BIKE RIDES/HIKE ON THE TRAIL OR BECOME A LOCAL HISTORIAN– As we already established, I live in Florida. And lucky for me, I am surrounded by nature trails. This is easy – just go. Walk, ride, whichever. But notice things along the way. If you do this all the time? Go a different way. Start at a new location. Now, here is another fun part – become a local historian! You and your kids research your city. A specific fact or location. Read about it. Now, trek over to the spot. And you (or whichever kid) becomes the teacher! This is fun, and I like to try to find the most obscure and random facts!

6. CHALK PAINT/BOMBS/ART – So much fun. And you can do this in a driveway, parking spot, anywhere there is asphalt. (If you live in an area without a driveway, check with your complex, chalk comes off, and they might just ask you to clean after play – and you just need a bucket of water. Also, check in the downtown area. Many places close at 5 or may not open until 10. Ask if your kids could do some chalk art in their lot! ) Now, if you want to buy chalk – hit up the dollar tree. They have it. Saw it this past weekend. If you don’t have the dollar tree, or want to make your own, here’s how ya do it.

A little chalk photo shoot!
  • You will need a muffin tin, cornstarch, food coloring, and paper towels. I recommend that you do this outside!
  • I fill up the muffin tin about halfway up with the cornstarch.
  • Then, add a few drops of food coloring at a time, mixing in between.
  • Next, water. I also do this a little at a time, until I get my desired texture. and Voila! Chalk paint hack.
  • If you want to do the bombs, which are hilariously fun – make the mixture super thin. Then pour it into a pump bottle. Pump the mixture into balloons. There you go!

I also recommend doing a photo shoot. We have done this – actually as a gift for my parents. And it is so adorable. Think it out, and let them get creative! These pictures can have some great memories, and also – might be making some gifts in the future to save you some more money come Holiday time! Nothing like planning your Christmas gifts in JULY!

I hope you can use one or all these ideas, and have some fun with them! I would love to hear what are some of your cost effective summer ideas to do with the kids! Please comment below or send me a message… and sidebar, all of these would be fun date ideas, also!

Live Fully. Live Fully. Shine On.

Sat Nam.

I mean, honestly. Boulders and clubs might . But sticks and stones? Nah.

Tonight while surfing the web, I got a great idea for a blog.  One that has affected me my whole life.  And something that I haven’t conquered – but is a work in progress.  You know the old saying, “Sticks and stones can break by bones but words will never hurt me?”  Well, that’s a big fat lie. First, I am gonna self admit – I have done a whole lot more damage with my words than ever with my fists.  I have had my fair share of run ins with sticks and stones… from falling down hills, playing sports, you name it.  But, I can honestly say – that not one single stick or stone has broken a bone. Ever.  Maybe made a bruise, but nothing that I can even really remember.  I am just sure in the course of my life so far – it has had to happen.  

Words on the other hand, can break your heart.  Words are something that can only be forgiven – no guarantee forgotten.  You know, looking back on old photos and videos – I can remember a lot of conversations – funny little things that I had previously forgotten.  But I remember those words.  Now, in the age of social media – it seems so much more prevalent. People will trash talk their spouses. Make fun of other people. Critique someone’s clothes, makeup, or even a birth mark.  People can say anything they want to someone, because they don’t have to look them in the eye.  My term for them, are internet gangsters. Here is a rule of thumb — if I wouldn’t say it if they are sitting in front of me – I will never type it.  And that goes in all areas  —  I’ve been hurt enough by words – I am sure we all have — so I don’t ever want to do that to anyone else.  

This week- THIS FREAKING WEEK – I was upset, and I said something I didn’t mean. I wasn’t even mad at the person I was talking to, I was just all up in my own feels. When they told me that they were hurt – It broke my heart. My mouth did it again. I couldn’t do anything but apologize. And this person, is super gracious, said that they understood, and accepted my apology. Now, I need to work a hundred times harder – to show that person that I meant it.  

I have even made the mistake my kids.  When you say, “You are grounded until you are 100!” — well, we know that’s not gonna happen.  I mean, I don’t normally say 100 . I do though, make more dramatic statements of punishment, than what would actually fit the crime. So then, when I calm down, I have to explain that I was angry, that was dramatic, and here is the actual punishment. I have had to do this more than once.  You get what I am sayin’, I’m sure. 

Let me tell you something, the word “whatever”, “nothing”, ‘I’m fine”….  I used to say it all the time. I know its a joke that when a woman says, “Nothing is wrong..” – that means something is.  Honestly, isn’t it sometimes so much easier to say those responses?  Like, it’s easier to say that you don’t care – than to explain all the reasons that you do. And why? Because if you don’t want to be vulnerable and show how you really feel.  And I know I feel that way sometimes.  That being said, if something is wrong. Say it. Don’t scream it. Maybe you know you are being moody – preface it with that. Because let me tell you -everyone has been moody. Everyone. Wouldn’t you rather someone tell you what’s wrong ? I know I do. Then you aren’t guessing. Worrying. Do everyone and yourself a favor.

Here’s my challenge to you. Watch your words. Tell your truth.

Be kind to each other.  Life is too short. 

Love Fully. Live Fully. Shine On. Sat nam.

I love my kids. 

All three.  Equal. 

Every single day, they amaze me.  Their heart, soul, laugh, faces, well – you name it.  Everyday.  Pure amazement.

But last night – took the cake. 

Let me give you a little backstory.  I hate video games.  Abhor.  They make me mad.  I hate to see kids just completely consumed by them.  But there was a time, about 10 years ago – that I too, had an obsession with a video game.  That game was SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE!

I loved that game. Tariq and I would sit for hours, side by side, playing this game.  Until a very tragic day.  They day, that at seven years old, he deleted my game.  The memory card.  I was about to beat the game.  Months of playing, straight down the tubes.  It was so sad.  I never turned it on again.  That was the last video game I ever played.

Through the past 10 years, I have been asked why I don’t like games.  If Tariq is around, I tell them that it’s because, “Your memory card could be deleted, and then it’s heartbreaking.” As I would look at him.  He would always say, “I’M SORRY!”, and we’d both laugh.

But last night, I cried.  Again.  Over a video game.  And here’s why. 

Tariq led me into his room telling me he had a surprise for my birthday.  He had created an emulation of Super Mario Sunshine on his computer – and had the game back at the spot I was at – when the game was deleted.  I was floored.  Overwhelmed.

The amount of work, the amount of time, the amount of dedication that it took on his part to make sure he knew how special I was to him – overwhelmed me.  That he remembered.  He worked.  And he surprised me.  I just can’t even believe it. 

I really am the luckiest mom alive.  The luckiest woman alive.  I have never felt more cherished and loved in my life.  God has blessed me in ways I don’t deserve – and I am forever grateful.