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Guess Who

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Guess Who

The Cuban Revolution Restaurant & Bar

So guess who had a great time last weekend at The Cuban Revolution Restaurant while knocking  one item off her bucket list?  Why me of course you silly, why else would I be posting about it 😉

This casual space boasts a relaxed atmosphere with hints of 1950’s Cuba.  What I loved the most about this place was the live jazz; I am a sucker for live music, but when it comes to live jazz I drool.  They also played some Son, which is a native Cuban rhythm with some similarity to Salsa. You can almost taste the flavors of the Caribbean countryside through the beat of Son (click on it to sample a classic of this contagious rhythm.) 

My friend Vanessa tagged along; she is usually the one to come with whenever I want to have som fun.  Needles to say she had to be there to watch me check off item #42 on my list, Having a Mojito.  Unlike my experience with the Martini, I absolutely loved this mixed drink.  Rum + Fresh Mint + Club Soda + Lime + Sugar  =  Give me another one pleaaase!  That night I had 2 Mojitos, lots of fun, and good company.  Vanessa and I got out past midnight, after which she headed home to her hubby, while I… Well, that’s another story on its own.  Peek in soon; I promise I will keep you posted (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.)

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Special Date: Friday Night Live

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Special Date: Friday Night Live

Friday Night Live Crew

It is not in vain that Providence is called The Creative Capital; we have a good concoction of cultures, flavors, and rhythms, as well as many artists injecting life and energy into the city.  I enjoy this mix and often drag my kids to cultural events, may they too develop an appreciation of varied forms of art.  For our latest special date, Aleck and I attended Friday Night Live,  a weekly family friendly Improv show where a group of talented performers make it up as they go.

We had lots of laughs during this interactive show where the actors often ask the 

Aleck and I at the show

audience to provide random words as inspiration for their improv skits.  Part of the show is an acoustic guitarist that gives the performance an extra kick.  They also have an Open
Stage Night once a month where members of the audience get their 5 minutes of fame to perform a skit of their own. This clean comedic performance, which was named Best of Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly,  is family and wallet friendly at $5 per person.  Aleck and I absolutely enjoyed it.  He was happy I brought him to the show as our special date, and took many pictures of the skits.  I was glad to have such a handsome companion (not that I am biased ;))at this event.

Friday Night Live is part of the Everett company, “a cross-cultural, cross-generational group of artists that creates original evening-length dance theater performances, produces film and video, carries out a wide range of educational programs, and mentors new generations of young artists” as stated on their website  “Everett, through its Company, Stage and School, brings live art to diverse audiences. With a 25-year history, a Company that tours nationally; a vibrant Stage of monthly programming; and a School that offers free classes to low-income youth in everything from ballet to improvisation, Everett is at the forefront of integrating art and community…  No one is turned away for lack of funds and 95% of students attend classes for free.”

At the end of the performance Bianca, one of the talented young actors, asked us to watch a short promo video for a film she’s hoping to produce as part of her final thesis at Emerson College.  In her own words 
Got You tells the story of an 8 year old girl’s discovery of her mother’s suicidal thoughts. This film aims to raise awareness for depression and suicide and how it impacts the relationships we have with our loved ones. I would be so eternally grateful if you could help make this film a reality. Every dollar toward a donation counts, but even if you can’t help out financially, please spread the word! We NEED to raise $5000 by December 3rd!” 
I strongly encourage you to help.  Donations start as low as $1.  As someone who has dealt with postpartum depression, and still deal with clinical depression and SAD, I know how painful and alienating this condition can be, and the profound effect it has on one’s relationships.

Here is the link to the “Kickstarter” page where you can learn more information and also donate: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gotyou/got-you-an-emerson-college-bfa-short-film

Is Not Only for the Perks – I Promise

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Is Not Only for the Perks – I Promise
 

Being that Thanksgiving is so close, I am taking the opportunity to be thankful for what I consider to be a privilege in my life: my job.   Unfortunately, in the United States too many are suffering the absence or loss of a job , or the uncertainty of maintaining their current jobs in the near future. I was searching for current information on the state of national unemployment and I stumbled upon this data on the site for The National Conference of State Legislation: 

The unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, to 9.0%, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on November 4, 2011. Unemployment has hovered between 9.0 and 9.2 percent since April 2011. 

Approximately 13.9 million workers are unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed, those without a job for 27 weeks or more, dropped slightly to 5.9 million workers.

I have been working at my present job for 6 years now, and I have much to be thankful for in this respect:

  • The coolest supervisor ever
  • Some flexibility in my hours
  • Summers off
  • A decent benefit package
  • A beautiful and pleasant environment
  • Nice co-workers
  • And the best, I get to take classes towards my Bachelors degree for free, yes FREE

An added perk is all the great speakers and performers that come to campus every year; in addition to some very cool, fun, and family friendly events that I can bring my kids to.  Here are some of the speakers, performers, and events I have been so fortunate to witness:
President Clinton, Harvard Professor Tim McCarthy, Money Guru Jean Chatzky, Musician and Performer Freddy Cole (Nat’s brother), Annual Easter Egg Hunt as well as Annual Kids Field Day, Actress Mary McDonnell, Journalist Joan Lunden,  among many others.  Why,  just this week I ran into…

How cool is to pet a baby Kangaroo right at work? Courtesy of Southwick's Zoo

 
 
A blood drive right at work – how convenient! Free pizza for all donors included.

International sensation Svet, Mr. Hip-Hop Violinist casually performing for students and staff right at the student center

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

Svet Promo Video , Svet Bio

Thank you Dear Lord for my wonderful job!

What are you thankful for?

 
 
 
 

What Was I Thinking???

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What Was I Thinking???

 I am Sorry, sorry, sorry; I truly apologize to those of you who have been wondering where I was.  Thanks for letting me know that you missed my posts; I’ve missed you too.  Unfortunately, my internet connection has been acting funny, and most importantly, at home we are going through round #3 of a seriously annoying cold virus.  Ohh, the joys of fall season…

Which brings me to the title question: What was I thinking????  Seriously, what was I thinking when I set my goals for the fall? obviously I was not thinking about all the added responsibilities/demands of this season, just to name some:

  • The kids go back to school
  • They need help with their homework
  • I go back to work
  • I go back to school
  • I have to complete many readings and compose papers for class
  • The kids gather many viruses at school and bring them home
  • We all get sick, very sick; many times
  • Karla’s asthma and allergies kick in
  • There’s tons of doctor appointments to keep
  • There’s also after school classes, practices, games, plays and presentations to attend
  • Both of my kid’s birthdays fall in the fall 🙂
  • After the time change, days get shorter and nights get longer, which pretty much dwindles my motivation to be out and about – winter blues kind of thing I gotta deal with every year.
  • You get the point I’m sure.

Here’s a link to the original list of fall goals I had committed to.  Apparently I was high on summer, and motivated by other life-listers’ achievements, when I created this list.  I’m sure for some fellow life-listers this list would be a breeze to complete.  Thing is I have to be realistic about how much I can do with my time, demands, and resources.  So here’s my updated, Carola-friendly, list of goals for this season.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

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Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

This Year We finally made it to the Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular; another item knocked out of my Places to Visit in RI list.  I’ve been wanting to attend this event for about 10 years now.  Tried it back in 2004 but the line was soooooooo long that after waiting for about 45 minutes, with two toddlers in tow, and no other adult to help; I quit and turned around when an announcement was made letting everyone know that strollers were not allowed once inside the trail. Strollers ARE allowed nowadays, of course, my kids no longer require them. 

This event is attended by thousands of visitors each year, and it runs throughout the month of October.  On weekend nights the lines are so long that wait time could be up to 2 hours.  This year we went on a Monday night and we were able to purchase our tickets without waiting in line; once inside the zoo there was a bit of a line before getting to the actual Jack-O-Lantern trail, but it wasn’t bad, and they had fun signs with info about the event and trivia questions to keep us entertained. 

The actual display was truly spectacular, displaying about 5,000 carved and lit pumpkins.  This year’s theme was Journey Around the World, and stations included Italy, England, Asia, Mexico, Cuba, India, and the North Pole, among others.  My favorite were India and Asia.  Each station had background music to go along with the theme, such as The Beatles for England. There were carvings of The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Mariachis, a Geisha, and even an “In Memory Of” section, which included a carving of Steve Jobs.  I totally recommend this as a fun fall family outing.

It’s Impossible to Get a Magic Wand These Days

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It’s Impossible to Get a Magic Wand These Days

Progress Report:

 On # 23 Leading and Organized Life
It is no secret that I am organizationally challenged (That is the politically correct way of saying I am messy, unorganized, and pretty much a space cadet.)  As I have posted before, I know this is the number one obstacle that keeps me from obtaining many other goals, thus I put it on my list and I have been giving it special attention for the past few months.

The absence of organization effects and extends to many areas of my life:

  • Lack of an established household routine – We have been working on, and improving, this one
  • No financial spending plan or budget – Have given a couple of baby steps towards this
  • Punctuality is definitely not one of my strengths – Making progress in this are as well
  • Clutter, clutter, and more clutter – This one particularly overwhelms me and robs me of a much desired peaceful and balanced home environment

We are usually a messy bunch, and the past few weeks we had been extra messy since all of us were sick and in low spirits.  Let me tell you, our apartment was not a happy sight. Since there was no magic wand in sight to make it all go away, this past weekend I dedicated the better part of Saturday and Sunday to decluttering our home.

     Pretty much all over the apartment was a disaster zone.  The worst of it all was the Play Room / TV Room; it was overflowing with toys, tapes, DVDs, and things that did not belong in that room such as kitchen utensils.  Also, the closet inside that room serves as depository for our family’s dirty laundry; opening that closet was literally like a scene taken out of a sitcom, where piles of clothes and stuff just come tumbling down…

Giveaways

Happily, I had a few wonderful friends and family members come to the rescue during both days.  Saturday my stepmom and stepbrother helped me clean – a lot!  Since my daughter is highly allergic to dust and cannot be present during the cleaning; my mom took the kids to her place for the day.  On Sunday my adult nephews and nieces took the kids for a hay ride, and pumpkin picking. My good friend Vanessa came over and helped me wipe clean every single toy in order to put it back in its place.  She also helped me sort out things that we don’t need any longer, in order to give them out; there were also several bags of trash to take out.    After two days of hard work; everyone was pleased with the results. 

Play Room/TV Room

Play Room / TV Room

Closet
 
It was a long cleaning session, but it was also therapeutic, and so worth it.  Sunday night, my kids’ paternal grandma stayed overnight and I  step foot outside,  for the first time in two days, to go have some fun.  Thank God for friends and family.
 
 

Happiness in a Bowl: Meet Fred

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It appears to be an unwritten rule at our home that every fall, as my kids return to school,  they graciously pick up every germ and virus they can gather in order to kindly bring it back home and share with their mother.  Thus, the past few weeks at our home have been full of coughs, sneezes, sore throats, and generalized body aches; courtesy of which I got to spend a couple of days out of work, lounging in my pjs and sorting loads of laundry.  This is also the reason why I had neglected my bucket, as well as following my favorite fellow bloggers.

We are slowly getting back into our normal usual routine.  I must admit, I did find an unexpected source of joy during my “sick as a dog” days.  See, my kids have been begging for a pet since forever. My daughter is allergic to furry animals, which limits the kind of pet we can get.  I personally do not like having caged birds,  lizards and snakes creep me out, frogs may leap onto me – no way; we looked into buying a couple of turtles but they require more upkeep than I am ready to handle, thought of getting a tortoise instead, and planned to save up to buy it, and all the trinkets it requires.

Meet Fred

I’ve always dismissed fish as pets because they just seemed so “cold” and indifferent.  What kind of interaction could the kids and I get from a fish really?  They just swim around minding their own, and oblivious to us humans, unless you attempt to scoop them up; then they just try to avoid you at all costs.  Well, someone recently gave my son a Betta fish as a belated birthday gift.  You must know I was not happy at first, not really.  Then I came to realize this was just darn perfect.  The kids have an animal of their own now; no more hearing them beg for a pet.  This wonderful bluish Betta requires minimal upkeep and very little investment on my part, my kind of pet indeed! 

Fred Coming up to Look at Me

And guess what, I found myself delighting in observing him, I’ve even started to make all sorts of foolish sounds at him every time I pass by his bowl. Don’t tell anyone but I even call out his name the way one might call out a baby’s name; yes I talk baby to the fish.  It makes me very happy when Fred responds to my voice by swimming up close and making a display of his moves.  Now, I realize that this might just be his way of letting me know to back off, perhaps mistaking my reflection for another Betta, as they are very confrontational towards each other.  However, I prefer to take it as a sign that Fred is happy to see me 🙂  You see, sometimes what you don’t want is exactly what you need.