Ideas For Honoring Martin Luther King This Week and Next

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For as long as I can remember, Martin Luther King Day has been celebrated as a day on, not a day off. As a young child, my parents would take the opportunity to teach me historical information that I may not have learned in school. In high school, classmates and I honored the day by having open and meaningful discussions about race relations in America. Since I became a mom, I’ve done a bit of both, and included travelling to the 2012 Presidential Inauguration and delivering for Meals on Wheels with my family.  Continue reading

You Did WHAT to Prince’s Music?

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The news of Prince’s recent death was a shock. At 57 years old, an iconic music legend was gone. There was no long illness, no cause of death given, just a confirmation from the proper authorities that he was no longer among the living.

By the time I picked my kids up from school the day his purple greatness died, they had already heard the news. I paused for a moment in the carpool line trying to figure out: 1. How to tell them, and 2. How it stacked up against the other dramas of a typical middle and high school day. As my son (the high schooler) was sharing his classmates’ reactions to the announcement, he mentioned that a 9th grade girl started crying and exclaimed, “My parents made me to Prince!”

Here we go.

Upon her declaration the rest of the class broke into roaring laughter, and as my 9th grader recounted the story, I started remembering some of my own personal encounters with Prince’s music. Thank goodness I thought before I spoke.

What I really wanted to say was, “That’s sounds about right. You were too.”  Continue reading

October is Fair Trade Month!

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Today is October 18. Reaaallllllyyyyy? The month is more than half over!

I recently teamed up with Fair Trade USA to increase awareness about the fair trade movement. Once I discovered just how fair trade benefits people all over the world, following the movement was a no-brainer.

What is Fair Trade?

Simply put, purchasing items that are fair trade certified help families in 70 countries improve the quality of their lives. With Fair Trade, farmers are able to earn fair wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and keep their kids in school. If a product is Fair Trade Certified, that means that the company works directly with farmers and producers, pays them what they are worth, and treats their employees humanely. In addition to fair monetary wages, farmers and workers are able to protect the environment through the production of organic crops and using sustainable farming practices.

As consumers, we have the power to spend our dollars with companies who practice fair trade. 

There is such a large variety of fair trade certified products that we use daily. Here are some:

Apparel, Body Care, Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee, Flowers, Fruits, Herbs & Spices, Home Goods, Honey & Agave, Quinoa & Rice, Sugar, Tea, Vegetables, Wine, and Spirits.

I was even pleasantly surprised to learn that my favorite hair and skin products are even fair trade products!

Would you like s list of specific brands and products that are fair trade certified? Keep reading.

Fair trade month allows us as consumers to celebrate the many farmers and workers who produce the products we enjoy every day. After becoming more aware of the fair trade movement and committing my dollars to #befair, I have constructed my own Box Full of Hope with great products to give away.

I’m really excited about this giveaway because I know I am helping families around the world. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is enter your email address here. Once you do that, I will send you two free gifts for entering: 1. a list of common products that are fair trade certified and 2. a really good recipe for baked cinnamon apples that Jada and I made using fair trade ingredients.

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Now that fall is officially here, the baked apples were exactly what we needed yesterday afternoon. They were so gooooooood (and healthy!)

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Don’t those make your mouth water? Remember, when we buy fair trade, everyone benefits.

Enjoy the rest of your Monday, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Disclaimer: I was given free products as an influencer to learn about the fair trade movement. All thoughts written in this post are my own, and I am under no obligation to talk about the company or facilitate the contest. 

In other words, this movement is just that good!

How Did I Do It? I Shut it Down!

One mom takes a hint from life and shuts it down.

“How did you do it?” is probably the one question I get asked a lot. I will be the first to admit that my life can be going along smoothly and boom..crap happens. When the crap happens calendars have to change, events have to occur without us, and friends will sometimes be disappointed.

As a multi-tasker, I get a little thrill when I have to run here, run there, do this project, visit that place. For the most part, that works for me. But sometimes, it gets to be too much. And even I need a reminder to slow down.

I have a running joke that it is unusual for for me to go one week without hearing from the school nurse. And it is really true. At least once month, something comes up and one of the kids needs to go to the doctor. But, here’s the deal…I have three kids. And each of them has their own medical issues. Let’s do the math, shall we? If each child needs to go to the doctor at least once each month that equals doctors visits for me once every 10 days or so.

Not to mention the sports injuries and the communicable diseases.

Ok…so I couldn’t help but crack up laughing when I re-read the sentence above. Because my children don’t play sports. But they tend to get sports-like injuries.

But sometimes y’all, all that knowledge of prevention and vitamins doesn’t stop the crap from happening.

Last week, the 6th grader injured herself while stretching in P.E. class. And it was something. The first day, I told her she’d be ok as long as she elevated it. She went to school the next day and bam! It swelled and she couldn’t walk. We went to the doctor to get it checked out on a Thursday. His advice was simple, rest, ice, elevate…take pain meds and stay off of it.

She’s one person in our family of four. But she was immobile. And because of that, we shut it down.

My focus was on getting her well enough for school on Monday, and unfortunately for the other two that meant staying home all weekend.

But was it really unfortunate?

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Jada made cookies one day, brownies the next, and a cake on Sunday. What started out as get well dessert for her sister turned into a love of baking…all in one weekend. I was there to help and guide, but she did all the work.

And the boy played board games, listened to music, worked on some art projects, and wait for it…read books. And the kids talked to their Dad, who was also a bit under the weather. And they felt bad for him and wished they could help. And that brought up some emotional issues none of us were ready for. So we prayed.

The few things we scheduled in advance had to wait. They had to be postponed. We just couldn’t attend.

Because I shut it down.

I am one mom, who lives with three kids. Rarely do I get a break. They don’t go away every other weekend or alternating holidays.  My parents live in Chicago, so there are no local grandparents. I had to learn early on in this lifestyle, that I need to protect myself from burnout. And burnout occurs when I’ve stretched myself too thin.

Sometimes friends, in order to maintain, you must be willing to shut it down. No matter how badly you want to ________________. I thought you should fill in the blank there. 🙂

And when the universe gives you the hint that you need to shut it down, take it.

Even if you don’t want to.

A regular check-up for the teenager recently turned into a day of respiratory distress. After the initial detection that something was going on, the doctor ordered breathing tests. All of which he failed. The oxygen was just not circulating in his respiratory tract. So the breathing treatments, inhalers, and medicine began. Instantly. All at once.

After two hours with the doctors, medicine pick up, school pick up for the girls, and work (Tita helped me out so I could work  a little that day), I recognized the hint. Shut. it. down.

And the community meeting I was planning to attend that night had to go on without me.  And the twitter party had to happen without my tweets and hashtags. And Facebook had to wait until the next day.

Because we needed to shut it down. Even it we had just shut it down 2 days before. We still needed time, and I had to accept that.

And I did.

How do you handle it when there’s a lot going on in your life?