Saturday, November 26, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Amelia Island

One day, we'll take a couples-only vacation that doesn't revolve around a business trip of mine.... but that day is not today. And given that this trip "required" that we stay at the Ritz Carlton and that Venesa venture out to find a place to eat for every meal, I don't think I'm getting any objections on this one.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


One nice thing about not celebrating Halloween is that our kids never need a reason to put on a costume. Imagination is in full swing year-round at our house, which means that on any given day there's a decent probably that I'll be greeted at the door by Spider-man, Woody, a waitress, ninja, or some completely odd combination of these or other characters. I love their imagination, and so every year I put it on my to-do list to go to Wal-mart after Halloween to score a few more costumes on clearance... and every year I forget to do it. The window of opportunity is small. I think Wal-mart waits a day or two before they mark the costumes down. Then, it's only a handful of days before those clearance racks are either pilfered to a point of uselessness (ripped parts, missing components, etc.) or boxed-up and sent off to make room for Christmas stuff.

Well, for a change, I caught the window... woo hoo! score! 75% off and only partially pilfered. Thus, we've expanded our custom bin to include the Hulk, a ninja turtle, a golden power ranger.... and Justin's choice... a banana (nope... we still don't understand the mind of our fabulous boy... but we've learned to just go with it. If it's a banana outfit he wants... it's a banana he gets).

Jasmine is out of character in the photo because her Power Ranger costume was missing some parts and we intended to take it back... But of course, I'm a pushover dad... and so, unbeknownst to her, I've already found the missing parts and plan to order them from Amazon. So she'll be in down with the super hero / banana posse before she knows it. It'll cut into my wonderful discount but hey... a pushover dad has gotta do what he's gotta do.  Besides, it won't be long before they find no joy in the simple pleasures that a $4 discount rack costume can bring. So for now, like I mentioned just a few posts ago... we've gotta milk these cheap childhood thrills for all they're worth. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Revolutionary War

When I think of most parts of American history... particularly some of the major events we study in school like the Civil War and the Revolutionary War... my first thought is always, "not a good time for black folks." From that perspective, those are not eras that you'll see me getting in line to recount or relive. So, when Venesa mentioned the prospect of going to a reenactment as part of our homeschool experience, I was (let's say) less than enthusiastic. But it was school, and so I was down to do for the sake of education.  And we did it... and a funny thing happened: I actually enjoyed it (oh snap!).

Sometimes it only takes one person to make or break an experience, and with this one we got lucky. We ran into a reenactment actor that simply took the time. He chatted with us, took us around, explained things at the appropriate level, brought the experience to life for the kids with a dress-up and gun-toting opportunity... and most of all, greeted us warmly and took an interest in our education and experience. I guess I'll never know if our interaction with him was serendipitous or par for the course (e.g., perhaps they're all trained and willing to make themselves that available)... but I can say with certainty that it made all the difference in the world for us. Combining the trip with time with friends (another home school family) didn't hurt either. It gave the kids the companionship and occasional distraction they needed to stay engaged. In all, it was a good time. I don't exactly feel the need to go to another reenactment anytime soon... but I'm glad we went. Good job, mommy.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Get Along

10-second mark.

1 minute.

Six minutes: Rock-Paper-Scissors... shoot.

Mission complete.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Simple Pleasures

"Daddy, can I sleep on the floor?"

For weeks I'd get that question every night, and every night I'd give the same answer of no. When I look back, I'm not exactly sure why the answer was always no. It could've been as simple as how absurd the notion seemed to me. I mean, we have more beds than people in our house (by a nice margin at that)... and so I just couldn't understand the need or fascination with sleeping on the floor. Or perhaps I said no because I knew they'd likely stay up longer rolling around on the floor than they would in the bed... and by 8pm every night I only had one final mandate for the day: get the kids to sleep.

And so, my answer was, "No... not tonight, love."... and they'd respectfully say okay. And the next night, we'd rehearse the same script again. And again. And again. Relentless little buggers. Well, I guess their resilience paid off because eventually... even though they never questioned my answer  (such good kids... sometimes I lose scope)... I finally took the extra half a second to ask myself... well, why not?

And when no good reason came to mind, I finally said it: Sure! Why not! Sleep on the floor! And Naomi's face lit up like we were going to Disney World. And Jasmine joined her. And they both just laid there grinning. And I grinned back at them; somewhat feeling bad that I didn't say yes earlier... but also glad that I didn't miss the opportunity to let them indulge in such a simple pleasure. It won't be long before I am wishing they were kids again and still able to joy those little gems of happiness that money can't buy. I've gotta keep these priceless moments at the forefront of my mind as a reminder to let 'em have it. Because life is short. And our time with them is even shorter. Hooray for simple pleasures. May they hold on to them forever.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

10 feet

Venesa found a surefire way to get me off the couch: Threaten to pay for something that I think I can do myself.  That's exactly what happened with swimming lessons this summer.  At a recent pool party, we watched every other kid fearlessly jump in the deep end of the pool, splash, play and carry on... while ours were stuck in the shallow end like quarantined ebola patients. After a conversation with another mom, she asked if she could sign the kids up for lessons.

You'll get no disagreement out of me that the J's are getting too big to be showing up to pool parties with inflatable arm rings and flotation devices.  Mind you, getting them to swim was actually a priority for us at some point (they both took lessons around two years ago)... but sometimes even the best intentions have no shot against the busyness of life. Yet and still, when Venesa said lessons... all I heard was a loud ca-ching in the background.. and so I asked her to give me a week or two before we discussed it again. Two trips to the Y and one backyard pool trip later, the J's are officially drown-proof. Free of charge.

2 Wheelin'

Justin ditched his training wheels a couple of months after turning six. Not to be outdone, Jasmine turned to two wheels at five and a half.  At four years and 11 months, Naomi Janelle has them both beat by a nice margin. You go, baby girl! Great job. You'll get your new wheels in no time. For now, let's raise the seat and keep on riding.

Friday, June 24, 2016

ERT16 Home Again

For the first couple of days, it was pretty weird being back home. For 30+ days, it became normal for us to be on the move; so when it was time to be at home, sitting in one place with no where to go... it didn't feel right. We were walking around looking lost and not quite settled in. It's almost like we were all waiting for someone to say, pack it up, it's time to move! In which case, the kids would've probably been in the van in the blink of an eye. Kinda funny.

As for settling in, I guess the main priority was rest and recovery; and we did lot's of it. In fact, we rode around town with our luggage still on the roof of our car for two days. LOL. On the 3rd day (today) we finally mustered up enough motivation to unpack and get some laundry done. And I think that's when it started to feel like home again. Oh! And today is Justin's 9th birthday! Wow! I can't believe it. Tomorrow our extended family will be here to help us celebrate. Which gives us 18 hours and 21 more minutes to bask in the afterglow of our trip.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

ERT16 Day 32

We ended up not staying overnight in Savannah. Our host came down with a stomach bug over the weekend, so we settled for a drive-by, as to night impose too terribly. We got there around 5pm and stayed until 10. The kids played well together (they have two boys) while Jerome and I enjoyed catching up with friends that we don't get to see very often. Eventually we hit the road and were home by 1am on Tuesday, June 21. Our monthlong adventure has finally come to an end. Thank God for the opportunity. Hopefully, we'll be able to do this again soon!!!!

Monday, June 20, 2016

ERT16 Day 31

Our Tallahassee stop was brief, as the main goal was just to break up the trip to Savannah. We're going to spend the night with one of my BFF's and her family before we head home tomorrow. Bitter Sweet! I can't believe this amazing trip is coming to an end. When we asked them, the kids were on the fence about whether they were ready to go home or continue for a few more weeks on our adventure... and we couldn't agree more! It's been such an awesome trip and we really could keep going. The kids have been wonderful - no, not perfect, of course... but considering they've been away from home and out of routine for so long, they have done extremely well. Praise the Lord!

The weather has been great, the natural and man-made places we've been able to explore have been so amazing and fun. We've stayed in very nice hotels and campgrounds and have eaten at a good handful of delicious restaurants. Jasmine only had one bad reaction to food (she got a rash from a GF bread that happened to also have soy in it). That's a miracle all by itself.

It's hard to ask for more. And so we head home a bit reluctantly, but also knowing that we probably shouldn't push our luck. We've had an awesome time on this brilliant adventure.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

ERT16 Day 30

Lucky for us, it cooled down overnight and we were able to pack up our camp in cool, breezy weather. We were done by 8:45, and so we headed to the pier for one last stroll (which somehow turned into an 90 minute outing), and then hit the road towards Florida. We got to Tallahassee and check in to our hotel around 4pm. While daddy napped, Naomi and I went to pick up two of daddy's favorites (chicken wings and jelly beans... not necessarily together) to commemorate Father's Day, and then we all settled into the hotel lobby to watch game 7 of the NBA finals on the big screen. Great game. Cavs won. And we inched closer to home.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

ERT16 Day 29

Pool Day!

Except for an hour lunch break, we stayed in the pool from 9am to 5pm! Daddy & the kids spent the first 90 minutes without me while I did laundry, then we broke for lunch and a Wal-mart run to buy pool toys. Daddy went over the top with the toy purchase (everything from rockets to floats to rings to balls and snorkel kits), which was a good move because the kids were getting bored in the pool, but it was like we suddenly hit the reset button after lunch. I got in the water too. We had a blast!

After the pool, we drove 30 minutes to a seafood restaurant in Fort Morgan. It was delicious and fun! Worth the drive, even after being so exhausted from a full day in the pool.  Best lobster bisque ever. Even Jerome, who is not a foodie, loved his food (grilled grouper in some kind of thai sauce with scalloped potatoes).

Another awesome day!

Well... except for those five minutes when we realized we ran over the GoPro with the minivan. But even in that we couldn't complain because the case was shattered... but the camera still worked!!! Incredible.