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Tag Archives: Single Parenting

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

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.

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.
 
 

‘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?

In the Hospital, in Jail, and at a Dark Parking Lot…

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There’s a Spanish saying that goes something like “Only in a hospital bed, and in a jail cell, will you know who your true friends are.” Would you not agree?   I would add one more: at a dark parking lot with a dead car battery. 

The other night, around 9:30pm, as I returned to my car after a full day of work, followed by the first day of my fall semester night class, my car greeted me with some bad news.  It would not start. Yes, I had left the headlights on the whole day.  Now, we do have a very friendly and helpful DPS department on campus; the only problem is that the charge box they use to jump cars never works on my van (that’s right this was not the first time I’ve done this).   Luckily, the friend that rescued me last time, gifted me a set of jumper cables.  Now I just needed to find a willing soul.  However, at that time of night on a weekday there is not much traffic on campus, and administrative offices are closed for the day.

After waiting several minutes, a guy who was parked diagonally across from me came by.  I asked for help and he graciously agreed.  Chris, that was his name, was so helpful he even pushed my van forward so the jumper cables would reach his car.  Now, he had no experience doing this, and guess what: neither did I.  Contrary to common sense, all the previous times my van needed a jump, it didn’t occurred to me that I should be watching in order to learn how to do this! Turns out Chris hooked the cables the wrong way and…. the cables got fried.  He was mortified and I felt so bad for him.  He promised to notify DPS of my distress on his way out of campus.

Back to the waiting game, about 20 minutes passed and nothing.  That was strange since we are a small campus and DPS is very prompt to respond.  I started to get nervous to be alone out in the dark, already my cellphone had given me a low battery warning, plus I had a babysitter watching my kids at home, who I was paying by the hour.  I called the DPS office but nobody answered.  I was hesitant to call on my friends since it was passed 10pm and most of them have kids to tend to, plus is a bit of a hike to the university.  Did not want to bother the guy friend who helped me last time either since he is married and I am sure his wife would not appreciate a female friend calling him at night. 

Fortunately, a new coworker of mine who happened to be working late that night, walked my way.  He parked his car as close to mine as he could but his cables were shorter than mine (which were fried.)  As Matt, my coworker,  was reassuring me saying we will find a solution, a DPS officer came to the rescue.  He tried charging my car with the charge box, which of course did not work.  Although, they are not supposed to use jumper cables since it might turn into a liability issue, he offered to do it.  Now both the officer and Matt pushed my car backwards in order to get it to a parking spot that would allow Matt’s cables to reach the officer’s car.  Whoever said that chivalry was dead?  The bad news is that my batteries did not charge, even after several minutes.  At this point I thanked both of them and told Matt it was ok for him to leave; he needed to get home.  The officer asked if there was someone I could call to come help me and I said yes; he then went back to his booth, not without advising me to invest on a AAA membership.

It was close to 11pm now and I began to feel hopeless again.  Wait a minute, there was this single male friend who could probably help!  Too bad he did not answer my call.  Now what? I was so drained and discouraged by this time that I started to cry like a little girl; which I rarely do.  Then I proceeded to wake up the only man who never says no to me; my dad, who promptly came to the rescue; and yes he was able to jump-start my car with his cables and his car.  Dads always know best.  He didn’t even complain, or remind me that he had performed this services for me recently, he didn’t even ask me to be more diligent about shutting off my headlights.  He just gave me a big hug and a kiss.  Thank God for good dads.

How about you; do you know how to jump-start a car?

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.