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Special Date: Providence Place

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In our home, I like to make birthdays very special for each person.  Usually this means spreading a few activities throughout the week of the person’s birthday, in order to keep the celebration going a bit longer.  The most recent one to enjoy this special treatment was Karla.  On the day of her birthday she had birthday cookies to bring to school, cupcakes to share at daycare,  and a birthday dinner with her dad and brother at a restaurant of her choosing.  The birthday gifts, cards, and calls from family and friends spanned for a few days.  During the weekend she had a costume party at home, with guests mostly consisting of school mates.  I thought an appropriate way to top off the celebration was taking her out on one of our special one-on-one outings we call Special Dates

She wanted to watch the new Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill.  I usually wait until movies are showing at the discount movie theater to bring my kids – movie tickets are ridiculously expensive nowadays, but seeing this was a special occasion we headed to the matinée at the  Providence Place Mall cinema. 

Providence Place Mall is right at the heart of Downtown Providence.  It’s establishment was part of the renaissance period the city went through beginning in the early to mid 90’s.  Another icon of this period, Waterfire, is right across from Providence Place.  The Mall is considered upscale, and it is home to about 180 stores, including several restaurants.  Some of the companies showcased include Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Coach, The Apple Store, The Cheesecake Factory, Sephora, J. Jill, Ross-Simons, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Dave & Buster’s among others. 

After having a good laugh at the movies, we had lunch at the food court.  The agreed upon restaurant: Johny Rockets!  Here we ordered a couple of burgers and fries and we shared a delish strawberry milkshake. 

Since a trip to the mall is not complete without some retail therapy, I took her to Claire’s, a somewhat affordable accessories store with a juvenile theme.  She picked out some gloves and hair accessories and we were good to go.

I am always glad to spend my time giving individualized attention to my kids.  It builds our relationship and their trust in me.

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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.)

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

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.

‘Tis the Season to be… Productive?

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Fall 2011:

 After reading some of Paul’s posts on  his blog, 101 things in 1001 days, I’ve come to realize it would be useful to slap some timelines on some of my goals.  Paul’s approach was to give himself 1001 days to conquer all of the items on his list, and he has a countdown to day zero in order to keep him on track.  I must say he’s accomplished some neat things, such as Bungee Jumping, Reading all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Stories, Scubadiving, and Skinny Dipping in the Ocean.  This got me to thinking…. How could I make this timeline thing work in my favor?

I got it.  My timelines will be seasonal, meaning I will pick a handful of items on my list to tackle every season. So here you have it people, my bucket list items to tackle this fall:

#2 Taking Salsa Lessons – I have put the word out looking for suggestions on a good instructor. I will also look into local clubs that offer free lessons earlier in the night before their regular programming starts.

  • I would like to take lessons once a week
  • By the end of the season I would love to be confident enough to dance in public without loosing the rhythm 

#4 Raising Happy, Healthy, Confident, Cooperative, Responsible, and Faithful children – Of course this is one of my ongoing goals, and one in which I am involved every single day.  This season, I will concentrate my efforts towards this goal as follows:

  • By keeping up with our Special Dates
  • By working with each of my children to develop their own life lists
  • By providing more structure for them (see goal #23)

 # 5 Growing in Faith  – Another ongoing goal, my plan is to seek a deeper level of connection with God during my prayers.

  • I want to engage in a deep prayer and meditation session at least once per week

  #11 Completing my Bachelor’s Degree – Happy to report that my fall class has already begun, and it is very interesting; which is a great thing since this is a night class. 

  • By the end of December I should be 3 credits closer to getting that degree.
  • And enrolled for at lest 3 more credits for the Spring semester

 #14  Mastering a Few Signature Dishes  – So far I have mastered 1 dish: Chofán.  During the summer I cooked much more than my usual, and most of it was pretty good, but not as good as I would like it to be.  So I will be cooking some more, repeating dishes I cooked this summer until I have them down pat. 

  • The goal is to completely master 3 dishes during this fall.

 #20 Becoming an Accomplished Writer  –  This will be a long process that I plan to enjoy every step of the way, so no rush here. These steps are next:

  • Translating my first short story, Lo Mal Hecho (Bad Deeds), into English
  • Making improvements to my Blog

# 23 Leading an Organized Life  – You might recall me posting about how this is the goal I feel would make the biggest impact on the rest of my list, and my life.  Now, this is much more time and energy consuming than one might think, at least for me.  So far there’s been some progress in terms of decluttering certain areas of my apartment, and creating routines to help my kids, and myself, get through the day with a bit more ease.  Here’s what I want to do next:

  • Completely implement our household routines and tweak as necessary 
  • Create and start to follow a Budget

# 24 Exploring RI from A to Z – I made some progress on this one this Summer, and I plan to keep on discovering the nooks and crannies of my cozy state this season. 

  • I want to cross of 3 RI cities/towns from my Little Rhody list

 #34 Volunteering/Donating –  This one is a fairly recent addition to my list.  My efforts in this area will be concentrated on:

  • Making one blood donation
  • Finding a one time volunteering opportunity that I both care about and can fit into my schedule (easier typed than done)

 #35 Reading More  – Another fairly recent addition to the list.  I have committed to reading 10 books per year.

  • Will read 5 books in order to complete this year’s quota. 

How about you, care to share your upcoming plans?

Special Date: Brunch and Flowers

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I have come up with a very fun way to help me accomplish goal #4 on my bucket list, by scheduling one-on-one time with each of my kids; when we go out for  fun, talk about them and whatever wonderful things are occupying their minds at the moment.  We call these outings Special Dates.  I document some of those dates here, hoping as time goes by, that the memories will be “officially” preserved.  On this occasion, thanks to a Groupon I snatched a couple of months ago, my daughter and I were delighted to indulge our love for breakfast foods, by visiting The Breakfast Place in nearby Attleboro, MA.  Sunday brunch, that’s gotta be my favorite meal ever; and in such good company it just fills me with joy.  This cute little breakfast joint has a 60s air to it, and they play the oldies, which I believe Karla enjoyed.  Their service is great; it seems to be family operated and they really give you the special touch treatment; making you feel very welcomed.  The little lady and I spoke about the new school year and reuniting with friends, over a veggie omelette, with wheat toast for me, and scrambled eggs with a chocolate chip pancake for her.  We also shared an order of french toasts, which by the way, were the best I’ve had in a long time.  The servings were generous and we could not finish our meals so we took our leftovers to go.  Karla liked it so much she plans to ask her dad to bring her back soon. 

We then headed towards Roger Williams Park in Providence in order to cross off the last spot on my list of places to visit within the park, The Botanical Center.  I must say this is a beautiful and serene garden; I think it will be my new favorite spot to sit and relax while reading a book.  My princess also commented on how pretty and peaceful it was; she also enjoyed snapping pictures of the flowers and mom, among other things.

Vote for Me Pretty Please!

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Hilton Garden Inn is giving away 10 grand prizes consisting of:

 3-day/2-night trip, which
includes roundtrip airfare to the destination
of your choice for you and a guest, hotel
accommodations and cash to spend on
your ultimate to-do list activity.

I’ve entered the contest for the chance to win a trip to the Florida Keys and go parasailing there.  And I need your vote!

In order to vote, you will need to “like” their Facebook page and hit vote, then  find my entry by doing a search by destination and selecting Southeast USA.  My entry # is 251 and it’s titled Parasailing in Key West.

Make your own entry as well and let me know so I can vote for your adventure too 🙂