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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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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

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.

‘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.

Read This if You Have a Daughter OR if You Like to Run Around the House Naked

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Public Service Announcement:

…On Nakedness
I don’t know about you but I just love taking off my clothes; not in a “sexy stripper” way but in a “liberating my body” kind of way.   After a long day of work, parenting, running errands, and such, one of my favorite things to do is getting home, shutting the door and taking all the layers off – packages, accessories, clothing, shoes, undies, everything! Ahhhh what a sensational feeling of relief. 

Click on this Picture to go to Dove's Self-Esteem Page

 Yes, I love being naked within the privacy and comfort of my home.  Going about my chores and to-do’s without the extra weight and restrain has become part of my daily routine.  As my elementary school age kids grow, their approach to my bare body changes.  Of course, from infancy to their early pre-school years it didn’t even face them. As they grew a little older and became more aware of their own bodies, and of society’s views on nudity, they seemed a bit rattled by my running naked around the house, so for a long while I restricted my being completely bare for when I was home alone, and would wear undies and a tank when they were present.

Recently, I have retaken to wearing my Eve custom while my kids are around.  Why? Karla is much more preoccupied with her physical appearance and the shape of her body.  I’ve always shot for physical appearance not to play a significant role within our family conversations.  Knowing that my children (especially my daughter) would sooner rather than later get bombarded with the narrow views of beauty that our society upholds, I wanted home to be a safe heaven in that sense.  Unfortunately, media, and the opinions of family and friends force our children, girls specially, to second guess their opinion of themselves at every moment.  At her young 8 years my little princess is worried that her belly is not flat enough; that just breaks my heart.  So, as the most important female figure in her life, I’ve decided to model a positive personal image of myself.  My goal is for her to know that although my body does not fit media’s rigid mold of “beautiful” , I think of myself as a Hot Mama, curves & love handles included.  At first my kids did not know what to make of my walking around naked again; so I would just start dancing around happily, or shout out little phrases like “Beautiful Naked Mama Coming Through”; they would laugh and giggle.  Now, little miss Karla walks naked around our home sometimes too, which puts a big smile on my face, seeing that she is more comfortable with her own beautiful body. 

I am including a link to a heartwarming video, which is part of the  Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty.  It’s a shame our young girls do not get more messages like this both on the media and through us, the adults in their lives. 

If you have a young daughter, niece or sister, please model a positive view of female beauty by not stressing topics such as being thin, and dieting while you are around her.  You will do her a huge favor and possibly prevent her from dealing with low self-esteem issues and eating disorders in the future.

Here’s a link to the National Eating Disorders Association’s website: NEDA

Special Date: Carousel Village

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For our last special date Karla chose to use her Feinstein Jr. Scholar Card at Roger Williams Park Carousel Village.  This card grants her a free ride on the carousel, free pop-corn, and a free face painting.  As I love Roger Williams Park, I was happy to please her.  We got on the carousel and went round and round giggling away.  Afterwards we stumbled upon a nice gentleman who was showing his parrots and letting people take pictures with the birds.  Karla was cautious about the parrot and did not want a picture with it; but of course, I couldn’t miss this opportunity.  The bird climbed on my arm, and even pecked at my sunglasses, which were resting on top of my head, while my daughter snapped a few shots. 

Karla went on to the bouncy house.  I would have loved to go in as well but the one that supports grownup use was out-of-order that day, so I just watched her have fun.  As she was the only one in the bouncy house at the moment, Karla quickly got tired and wanted to go on to the next station.  A jumping thingamajig; she patiently waited in line until it was her turn.  Then she was strapped, lifted, and given the instruction to start jumping.  She did, and then her giggles got the best of her making her knees weak and unable to jump as hard as she is capable of.  Still she seemed to be enjoying herself.  Lastly, we went for her pop-corn, and got some Del’s Lemonade.  We walked around the Japanese garden a bit before heading off to pickup Aleck.  I am really enjoying these special dates with both of my kids.  Not only will we cherish those moments for years to come, but it also lets them know how special they are to me, which is a great piece of goal #4 on my list.