Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's a family affair

Volunteering has always been my "thing". I got my first taste when I was a senior in high school. A few classmates and myself volunteered with feeding the homeless for Thanksgiving. Throughout the years, I've tried to keep it going, projects like cleaning parks, Habitat for Humanity to name a few. I may not have a ton of money to donate to help different causes but I do have time. Volunteering gives me a feeling of helping, reaching out, giving to others. I have also tried to instill this in my kids. Yogli and I have done a couple of projects together. Usually, Hummingbird is too young to participate. Yesterday was her first taste of helping out.

Our church, Trinity Chapel, holds an annual community Easter Egg Hunt. Yogli thought it would be a good idea for us all to volunteer as a family.What a great way to celebrate and show our gratitude of having a risen King. We all agreed and signed up for the set-up crew. The set-up crew. Arrival time 7 am on a Saturday morning. Hey, we're on vacation, so we were game for anything. Surprisingly, I didn't have to wake up Hummingbird. She was so excited. 

7 am Saturday morning, still dark outside, we arrived at the church. Hummingbird was the only kid there. She jumped right in by carrying boxes of Sunny Delight to the foyer area. MonkeyMan and Yogli headed out to set-up the inflatables. Hummingbird and I stayed inside and helped stuff goody bags.What a great feeling being able to share this experience with her. She was so eager to help out. All of the other adults commented on how helpful and well behaved she was. 

She even got an extra wooden nickel (the incentive TC kids receive in church) for being there bright and early helping out. 

Soon, the sun started coming up and more people started showing up. We all sat and ate breakfast and put our volunteer t-shirts on. I loved the camaraderie that was going on. Age, color, male or female, it didn't matter. We all had one single goal: to show the community God, through our actions. We would soon be serving folks who may have never stepped foot inside a church or maybe never heard of Jesus. Our goal was not to beat them over the head with the bible, but to show them love. Yes, it's that simple. What a great feeling to share this with my family. Soon, the walkway was flooded with people. Walking up, kids in tow, baskets, buckets. It was a chilly morning but we had a goal. That goal was accomplished through many smiles, many laughs, new friendships, stronger relationships. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

No wonder Monday was so good

**Disclaimer: this post consists of lots of venting (could come across as whiny). Nevertheless proceed with

Not sure where to begin! I already knew Thursday would be very "involved". So, I had already braced myself for it. Spring break for the kids is next week, so MonkeyMan and I have booked a cottage at Callaway Gardens for 3 nights. From there, we will spending the rest of the week with MonkeyMan's parents in Pensacola, Florida. It's only natural that things would fall off the tracks before vacay. My work day consisted of 2 meetings. I had already prepped for those on yesterday. I made sure my outfit was right, hair was right. I was ready to take down this workday Thursday. Dropped Hummingbird off at school, did my morning confessions, jumped on the downtown connector. Ok, looking good so far.

And then...

...a text message from Yogli...did I read that correctly? He's not feeling good. Sore throat, coughing. Says he should go home. I immediately send a text back saying go see the school nurse. I don't like it when my kids miss school. Especially with Yogli being a Junior this year.

Alright, so I get out of the car, walk to my desk. **ding, ding (the sound my phone makes when a text message comes through). It's him again. "Nurse says I shouldn't be here if I am sick". Sure she said that. You know why? Ummm...cause it's spring break next week and she does not want to get sick.   Ok, so I can still salvage my morning before my first meeting at 9 am. Now, I have to call MonkeyMan to go pick Yogli up. The same MonkeyMan that's been sick all week. The same MonkeyMan who's shift starts at 2 pm and ends at 1 am. I call, he goes, Yogli is at home propped up. I will add that having a stuffy nose and cough has not suppressed his 16 year old appetite.

Fast forward to about 3 pm. This is when everybody starts to have problems that need my intervention. Add in the fact that my boss hands me the departmental goals for the year and says mine must be entered into the system TODAY.

Fast forward to 5:30 pm. This was the time I left the office. Leaving the office at 5:30 pm means this:

And that means there would be no way for me to pickup Hummingbird from karate. Again, MonkeyMan to the rescue! I got home at 7:15 pm. No need to elaborate on that.

Fast forward to 8 pm (I care not to document what I ate for dinner while sitting in that stuff in the pic above, kids had leftovers once I got home). There I am, signing off on Hummingbird's homework packet. Wait a second, no freakin' way! Thank goodness it was on bright yellow paper. A project. due. on. tomorrow. A measurement project that got buried in a stack of papers. At this point, I was ready for anything. I sprung into action! "We need scissors, glue, poster board". Hummingbird is dragging at this point. Thursdays are busy for her because she spars in karate every Thursday. At this point, she ain't hearing it! Well, she didn't have a choice, that thing is due tomorrow. She cuts, she glues, she whines, she types, she gets it done.

Fast forward to 9:45 pm. I am sitting here, typing, laughing, drinking CranApple, only 15 minutes til Scandal. On days like today, gladiator mode is necessary. On days like today (or any other day for that matter), you truly have to put on the full armor of God. On days where everything goes perfectly (not sure if that happens and if so, to who), putting on that armor (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit) prepares you for when things fly completely off the tracks!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Who just got nominated for the Liebster Award? This Gladiator Girl...

I've been nominated for the Liebster Award by Jessica over at 
The Wondering Brain.

  • When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!)
  • You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog!
  • You paste the award picture into your blog.

You want random, I got random:
1.             I was a single mom for 4 years before getting married last spring
2.             My 2 kids are 10 years apart
3.             I've been with the same company for 12 years
4.             I learned how to swim 2 years ago
5.             I am the oldest of 3 children
6.             I flew on a plane for the first time 3 years ago
7.             My husband is a better cook than I am!
8.             I have 4 different nicknames given to me by family members
9.             Spring is my favorite season
10.          I am jammin’ to the new Justin Timberlake album
11.          The origin of my last name is Czech (courtesey of my husband)

Here's what Jessica asked me:

What is your favorite day of the week?
Wednesday because I work from home and it's the middle of the week 

Are you a morning, afternoon, or evening person?
I like to think that am a morning person but have been told otherwise. I do my best thinking in the mornings but can’t stand when others interrupt me. Still didn’t answer the question, huh?

What's your dream car?
One that has a chauffeur to drive me wherever I need to go!

What movie would you describe your life? Why?
X-Men, sometimes I feel like I have super powers to be able to commute daily, provide taxi service to 2 kids, burning it up in the kitchen and being ready to "go" with the husband! Hmmmm....who should I be Storm or Professor X?

Beach, country, or city person?
Although born in the country, I have lived in the city for most of my life. So, guess I am picking city.

If you had an extra hour in a day, what would you do with it?
Would love to get back to volunteering.

What's the meaning behind your blog name?
I absolutely love the show Scandal. One of the characters on the show defined his boss as a “Gladiator in a skirt”. She is tough, has a soft side, gets the job done. I wanted a name that reflected how I feel sometimes having to blend my life with work.

If you knew you wouldn't fail, what would you do?
Start some sort of business.

You've inherited a million bucks and you can't spend it on yourself, what would you do with it?
Would love to build a few Habitat for Humanity homes.

Who inspires you? Why?
My strength comes from God, he wakes me up every day to go out and make a difference, not matter how big or small. 

If you could trade places with someone for the day, who would it be? 
Frankly, I like being me. It has taken me a while to come to that conclusion, but the journey was worthwhile.

Again, thanks Jessica, for including me in on the fun! Here are my nominees:

And here's what I would like to know:

  1. If you could be a superhero which one would you be and why?
  2. What would you eat for your last meal on earth?
  3. If I gave you a $100 right now what would you spend it on?
  4. When was the last time you cried and why?
  5. Whats the last nice thing you did for someone else?
  6. What product/item do you swear by?
  7. If you could go back in time which year would you choose?
  8. If  I gave you a free plane ticket where would you go?
  9. If your room were to be on fire and you had 2mins to round up anything, what would you grab?
  10. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  11. How would you spend your last day on earth?

Monday, March 25, 2013

ReShape Mondays

Whew, I did that! And it felt good! Yep,

The key for me having a great Monday was due to my pre-planning. See, I iron all of Hummingbird's clothes for the week on Sunday evenings. Yesterday, I found myself with a few free extra moments. I took that time to go ahead and get the ironing out of the way. Dinner was an easy fix. I even had time to do some of my cleaning designated for Monday. 

Work related, I had already written my to do list for when I arrived at my desk Monday morning. I work for a great healthcare organization and they invest many resources in helping us to be greater. One such resource was a class called "The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity", 5 Choices
The meat of this class says that we find time for what we want to find time for. It's true. I can easily lose myself surfing on the internet. Before I realize it, hours have passed by and I am struggling to make up for lost time. Lost time that affects MonkeyMan, Yogli and Hummingbird. One key piece from that class that I have incorporated into my day is the daily planning time. Sounds involved but it's not. It's only 10 minutes per day to jot down things you need to do. 10 minutes fit me better. So my Monday morning list was done on Friday before my weekend. 

Another thing that helped make Monday great for me was jumping every hurdle to get to the gym. So, for many years, I tried to make myself a morning workout person. Only to start and then stop. About 2 years ago, I started feeling lethargic and had a visit to my doctor. I was advised to work out regularly and get my eating under control. I started working out at home, at night. I had no choice. At that time, I was getting used to being a single mom and knew that I needed to get in control of my health. I also found that working out at night enhanced my sleep. Eventually, I made my way into gym. At my current gym, I enjoy group work outs because we can encourage each other. Don't let people make you believe you should only work out during the day. Work out when it works for you. Doing something is better than doing nothing. 

So, yeah, Monday is going great for me. Only because I did the pre-work. Now, let's hope I can keep this going. Even Gladiators have their moments, just gotta raise that shield a bit higher and stand firm. Hope your Monday was a good one. If not, let it go in the comments section below. Think I'll jot down the hurdle I mentioned above...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I ain`t pickin` that up!

**Disclaimer: I am not an English teacher, never was, no desire to be one. Please pardon my usage of the word "ain't".

I ain't pickin' that up, uh I mean, I am no longer picking that up. Nope, not me, not anymore! I will take the blame for some of this, but not all of it. I designate spots for certain things, I buy the storage bins, I use Pinterest to gather my thoughts and ideas on how things should be. I say things like "Surely that could work in my house". 

See that basket, it runneth over! Do any of you have that problem?

Or anybody have this problem: Kids throwing junk everywhere? Not picking up their stuff? Look closely and you'll see Hummingbird's school project of astronaut Mae Jemison. 

Or maybe it's you. After coming home from a long day, you're too tired to put stuff where it belongs. Yep, that sounds familiar to me. Some days I am motivated, other days, not as much. Every now and again, the creativity bug hits me and I go into wannabe crafter mode. This post is proof that I have been bitten. 

A few weeks ago, I was on one of my weekly trips to Kohls (love this store, I only shop clearance racks and I must have a coupon to use). There were tremendously marked down storage bins, regularly priced at $34.99, marked down to $7.99, even lesser with my coupon. So, I bought a few of those because our master bedroom closet needed some order. MonkeyMan actually started this back in November 2012. For my birthday, he got me shoe storage and a cute lil storage bench for our closet. I figured I would keep the momentum going by finishing my side of the closet but bringing some of my OCD behavior to his side. The only thing I would want to change is having the colors coordinate. But the cheery colors make walking into our closet fun and bright!

My spoils from Kohls
Birthday gift from MonkeyMan - Storage bin 

Gonna take him a little bit of time to catch on, but it's a start. I know, it's seems quite daunting starting an organization project. Especially trying to get everyone on board. I felt overwhelmed, so I  started breaking the projects into mini projects. Doing a few things in one room, then moving on to the next. Getting in the mood for spring, so I started with the mantle. Just a lil something, but it's a start. 

And that's all it takes, a start. I still have a ways to go but I like the direction we are headed. Yes, I said "we". They are getting on board. In the meantime, Gladiators, rise up and beat that clutter down!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Between the Mr. & Mrs.

Dove chocolates not only provide velvety pick-me-up words of wisdom, but can remind you of your honey love. Read this one today (you can see a bit of chocolate smudges on it) and it made me think about the date my husband and I had on Saturday.

Me and my Monkeyman had a Saturday to ourselves. We both work hard all week, his work is a bit more involved than mine and has longer hours. Weekends are truly about us reconnecting. Sometimes this does involve the kids. However, this past Saturday the boy and girl were spending the night with their dad.

Monkeyman works 2nd shift, so working different shifts requires that we become creative in keeping the flame burning. Ladies, I cannot stress how important it is to date your husband. I don't care how long ya'll (that's the Ga peach comin' out of me) been together. Regular dates keep things interesting. And when I say "date", I am not talking anything elaborate. A date could be in your living room, blanket spread out, snacks, movie from the Redbox. There. Simple. Yes, I know you're tired. I know lil Johnny is demanding to watch yet another episode of "Yo Gabba Gabba" or whatever they're into these days. Think about it. Lil Johnny will be gone one day. Guess who's left? Now, I'm not saying that you should neglect your kids but in the same breath I am saying you shouldn't neglect your husband.

Kids flourish when they see mom and dad enjoying each other. It helps shape their future relationships. Trust me, growing up, my parents never showed each other affection. That's something I struggled with for years, the desire to be affectionate towards others was always inside of me, I just could not carry out the action. Not sure if it was fear of rejection or what. Part of the reshaping process after my divorce involved me working with a psychologist to get to the root of some of the issues I had previously experienced. Took a lot of work but I knew that if I wanted to met the man for me, I would need to pluck up any weeds from my past, including my childhood. See, I was working on becoming Mrs. Right instead of just looking for Mr. Right. Again, work (an action word) was/is required. A lot of healing took place during that work, which opened my heart up to receiving my man, my main man. With that said, I still have to work on continuing to be Mrs. Right.

**Ok stepping down from soapbox.

Ahem, so Saturday in the ATL (well, we live on the outskirts of the ATL but anyway...) was beautiful! We took to the waters...well, the closet to water we could get on short notice. Sweetwater Creek. Look close enough and you  can see lil buds on the treess...ahhhh, I smell spring. And I could see it too, our car had a light dusting of pollen on it when we returned to it.

**Stepping back on soapbox. Just thought about something. Check out this site: /
I have it off to the side over there as one of the sites/blogs I love. Stumbled upon it while playing on my Google Nexus. Just some simple things that we, yes, I said we, forget. While I am at it, let me mention this cool class MonkeyMan and I participated in last year at our church. The class was based on the book "Love and Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. If you're ready to get real, read this book. Talks about how men have been called to love their wives, while women are called to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). The two words, love and respect, are interchangeable because they mean the same thing, depending upon who is carrying out the action, the husband or the wife.

Alright, alright, alriiiiight. Back to the Saturday date. We rented a canoe, it was like $10/hour. Had no idea what we we're doing but we did it together. That is part of strengthening our roots together.

Ok, so the wind was blowin' a bit! Nevertheless, I was still posing for the camera. Was so much fun. One minute, he would row, then I would row, then we would row together. Isn't that like a marriage? Some days, you might not be on your A game, then he picks up the slack. Other days, he may need you to pull some extra weight. Plenty of other days, you pick it all up together. Remember, your a Gladiator, pick up that shield!

After "our row row row your boat" hour, we sat, talked and laughed. Packed it up and went on to our next adventure for the day. Didn't take much to make our Saturday enjoyable. Sometimes, it's the simple things in life. Simple things like a Dove's chocolate that could bring up a memory, making love even more sweeter.

Monday, March 18, 2013

ReShape Mondays

You know that feeling...usually hits around Sunday afternoon. The minute you realize that tomorrow is...


I am right there with you. Coming off of a great weekend. Might not have been a great weekend, doesn't matter, fact remains the same, it's coming either way. As gladiators, we've got to take back Mondays in a very skillful manner of fighting. No, I don't want you going around punching folks in the face! Remember, we fight those in the unseen realm (See Ephesians 6:12).

So, you walk into work, or dropping the kids off at school. Someone greets you with a "Good morning". You grunt back some inaudible word that sounds nothing like "Good morning". Trust me, I am guilty, I am definitely a work in progress. A comment from a friend helped me to reshape my Mondays. I stepped off the elevator one Monday morning and she said "Ewwww, you're not a morning person". I did not like that comment. I've always felt that I do my best work in the mornings. That's when my research began because no way was I gonna be stuck with that label. You realize that the "monday blues" are a figment of our own imaginations, right? It's not real, it's all in our heads. Check out these great tips to eliminate the blues from your Monday:

Of course, if you're having a hard time getting into your Monday groove, you might have deeper issues:

Either way, I want to give you a spot where you can unload whatever is weighing you down on Mondays. See that comment section down there? Yeah, that one. Use it. Go on, type out your Monday frustrations. Each week, I will offer up that comment section for you to release that weight. Once released, you've got a clean slate to start over. As a gladiator, take up that shield of faith to quench those fiery darts. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Where have all the villages gone?

He shaves, he's taller than I am, his voice is deep, he's leaving soon. Who is he? He's Yogli, he's a junior this year, only 1 year left before he is off to college. This got me to thinking. Thinking about him growing up throughout the years and people who were instrumental in helping me raise him. This all lead to the question of "Does it still take a village to raise a child?" 

Case in point, we attended a celebration this past Sunday. The celebration honored the legacy created by the Latchkey/Club Covenant program in Atlanta. After 38 years, this afterschool/summer program closed it's doors. This was the place where Yogli grew up. I still remember driving on Peachtree Road (you know just about every street in Atlanta is named Peachtree), trying to figure out where to turn. The program was housed in a church with a narrow driveway. I remember walking in, meeting Mrs. Walton. Mrs. Walton, a poised and eloquently spoken woman. This woman spoke and Yogli walked right over to her, this meant something. I knew right then and there, this was the place. Mrs. Walton and her crew taught Club Covenant kids how to be respectful, thankful, how to solve problems and gave them all the sense of family. They did all of this through sleepovers, family movie nights, end of the year performances where the kids wrote and acted in their own plays. 

During this time, I was a single parent, working a full-time job. Club Covenant stepped in and became our extended family. I welcomed that. Not sure if many parents in today's world welcome that sort of thing anymore. Where has the sense of community gone? Do parents feel like they don't want anyone else's opinion when it comes to raising their kids?

Yes, today's kids have much more to deal with than when I was a kid. It seems like predators and weirdos are all over the place. We, as parents, want to always protect our kids. Has this contributed to the loss of community? One plus can be social media. With so many parenting blogs and the power of a simple Google search, we can connect with other parents here, there and everywhere. Here's one that I still use today, even though it's thousands of miles away:

Whether you believe it still takes a village to raise a kid or not, we were all designed to commune, not to be an island. Let's join together to bring back the villages. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The case of the missing RSVPs

Anyone know the definition of RSVP? Anyone? Maybe it's changed over the years. Case in point, Hummingbird's birthday is next week. We decided to celebrate on the Saturday before the actual birthday. She's really into arts and crafts, so we booked the Remember This paint studio. Cool concept, bring the kids in to paint pottery, you get the party room and an attendant for 2 hours. The price was simply irresistible. I really got into this, everything associated with this party is paint themed. Party favors are in mini paint cans, cupcakes are in primary colors and arranged on a paint palette. I am excited, Hummingbird is beside herself with excitement. 

TODAY is that day and no RSVPs! As far as I know, the only attendants are her 4 male cousins. No girls. Invited 4 of her girl friends from school, nothing. No response from the parents. 

Let me define RSVP for you: according to Webster (you know, the dictionary people), "to respond to an invitation", French origin "répondez s'il vous plaît", first used in 1953. Ok, so you know that last part got me, 1953! What year are we in? 

I am starting to try and find meaning in things, lessons that I can learn from in certain situations. I have learned that whenever my kids are invited to parties, I will RSVP. 

Fast forward a few hours after I started writing this post. Approximately, 4 hours before the start of the party, we got an RSVP! Somehow everything was right in the world again. Party got underway, kids had an awesome time. They painted, they ate food, tossed balloons, sang Happy Birthday, and laughed. At the end of the day, I think that is what mattered most. Hummingbird was happy, serving her guests and sneakingly (not sure if that's a word) eating potato chips in between. 

Just call me Picasso, gotta enhance my cutting skills!
Your turn: When you or your kids are invited to a party, do you make it a point to RSVP? Is it still relevant to RSVP in today's world?