Happy Monday – Trying to Keep the Ship Afloat!

Hello, everyone! How are you all doing? I apologize for my absence but this past week was a whirlwind.  Last Sunday, my team won the Superbowl and I was so excited and ready to celebrate. I had so many deadlines and things to do last week and bam – a major snow storm hit simultaneously with my oldest son, getting sick and then it’s been downhill since then. The photo above was taken during our first storm and we have had a lot of snow since. We have had three snow days (including today) which I secretly love. But then Leao got sick on Friday and now I am pretty sure my hands will fall off because of all the washing I have been doing to avoid going down with the ship.  You know moms can’t get sick so I am doing my best to stay ahead of this stuff.


Despite the sickness, we have been having fun. We read African American poetry, watched a great movie called “The Watson’s Go to Birmingham” which is based on a best-selling book of the same name that touched on race relations in this country and we watched the NAACP image awards on television together. So despite the occasional cabin fever, we have been able to celebrate Black History Month together.

I will cut this short because I have to get to work but I wanted to connect and wish you a blessed day!

Belinda

Kicking off Black History Month with a Little Poetry

Hello, everyone! How are you today? I am well rested and ready for a month of celebrations and inquiry. Happy Black History Month!!

As most of you know I love books and reading is one of my favorite things to do. On Monday, I went to my local library and picked up some books to read with Apollo during Black History Month. One thing you may not know about me is that I am not so versed in poetry. My mother loved poetry and had even memorized some of her favorites. For some reason,  I have shied away from it often out of fear of lack of understanding. So I thought what better way to kick of BHM with my boys than to celebrate some poetry written by African Americans. I chose these books because they seemed like a nice entryway into poetry.  So here are the four books I plan on experiencing with my boys throughout this month:

The first is I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes (this book even one a Coretta Scott King award) -“Caldecott Honor artist Bryan Collier interprets one of Hughes’s most powerful poems, using his breathtaking and compelling illustrations to show how far we have come as a people in realizing a vision of equality that Hughes once dreamed of.”

Ashley Bryan’s ABC of African-American Poetry – “An A to Z look at twenty-five poems and one African spiritual from a wide range of African American poets.”

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes – “Poems that reminds us how wonderful it is to feel thankful and how powerful a simple thank you can be.”

Poetry for Young People: African American Poetry – This book includes poetry from African American poets over the last 200 years. What I like is that each poem has brief contextual notes that accompany each one to create a better understanding.

I look forward to getting into these books with the boys over the course of this month. Feel free to share with me what kind of activities are you doing for Black History Month. I would love to hear them!

Belinda

My 2016 Netflix Binge Craze

In reflecting on 2016, I have thought about a lot of things but one thing that I thought would be fun to share with you was my binge watching shows on Netflix. First, you need to know that I don’t watch television during primetime (with the exception of football). I have a few shows that I watch on-demand typically on my lunch break.  Part of the reason is I don’t watch much TV is I don’t have time.  I also don’t watch television before bed anymore and opt for reading my fantastic collection of books.  Frankly, I don’t care for much of the shows I see on television.

We’ve had Netflix for what seems like forever. When we first got our membership we really took advantage of getting the DVDs sent home and the kids even picked selections for our movie nights.  Somewhere along the way, we stopped selecting DVD options and I began to really love watching the streaming shows.  I haven’t rented a DVD in I don’t know how long.  I often watch on my Kindle during my lunch break. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from 2016 that can’t be coming back or kept me pushing ‘next episode’.

The first would be Mozart in the Jungle: I heard about that show on one of my NPR podcasts that I subscribe to and went and checked it out and never looked back. The show focuses on a New York symphony orchestra and the soundtrack is beyond amazing. I could Watch the show simply just to listen to the soundtrack but the story itself is really interesting. It follows this a handful of orchestra members and their maestro. But it gives you a cool inside look at the life of a person that’s a member of the symphony, the inside politics and gives you a deeper appreciation for not only their talent and perseverance and their ability to show up even when times are sometimes unpleasant and unsure. You get to watch the characters lives unfold while experiencing the most amazing music.

The next one is called Grace and Frankie. I can’t remember where I heard about this one I think it might’ve just been a notice from Netflix of new shows. This show features the talented Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Need I say more? The show is about how they deal with the sudden announcement that their husbands fall in love with each other and want to divorce them. But it’s a lot more than that and the casting is brilliant. They do a great job of balancing serious scenes and injecting loads of humor. It will have you laughing at times but it will also make you think. I never watch just one episode at a time that’s how good it was. There are two seasons of it and I’m hoping that they’ll renew for a third season.

The next one is called Stranger Things. I think I heard about this one on a podcast and it sounded like a throw-back show similar to the movie Goonies or E.T. the type of show with a bunch of young boys that ride bikes, play games similar to Dungeons and Dragons (this will definitely date me if mentioning Goonies wasn’t enough). The filming it’s so cool because it actually looks like it shot in the 80s. The clothes the kids wear and even how they talk is so eighties. The story is about how one of the boys goes missing and we find out that it’s some type of being or some type of experiments that some secret agency may have created that have caused the disappearance. The focus is to find out what happened to him. I can’t say more for fear of spoiling it. It’s a bizarre show in many ways but it works. Winona Ryder plays the mother of the missing boy and she’s brilliant. I couldn’t stop watching and I’m really excited to know that they have renewed it for another season.

The next show that I watch was Luke Cage (by Marvel). I heard about this show from my oldest son who doesn’t watch it because it is a bit more mature for him but he’s read the comic books with this character. There are not many black superhero characters in Marvel so I thought I would give it a shot. First, I really enjoyed the soundtrack for this show – it’s funky old school R&B with jazz undertones. All I know it always has me bopping my head every time it came on. However I think because I’m a big Game of Thrones fan and I watch a lot of Roman Empire inspired movies, I am a bit more desensitized to some of the violence.  But if you can get past that, it’s a really good superhero show.  Season one has been completed and I believe there is a season two to be aired soon.

My final show I would like to share with you is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. This was one of my absolute favorite shows that I enjoyed binge watching. It’s an Australian production. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries revolves around the personal and professional life of Phryne Fisher, a glamorous private detective in the 1920s. It is based on the novels by Kerry Greenwood. I have not read them but will be picking up some this year to see how close they stayed to the character. Phyrne is a real bad-ass heroine. But she does it with so much style and grace. There is so much to love about this show. Just watch and you will see. You won’t be able to watch just one episode per viewing and the cast is brilliant.

So those are a few of my binge-worthy shows I watched last year that I feel are worth a peek. Did you binge watch any shows on Netflix or Amazon? If so I love recommendations.

Did you binge watch any shows on Netflix or Amazon? If so I love recommendations. Have a wonderful weekend!

Belinda

President Obama’s Farewell Speech – My Thoughts

farewell

Did you watch President Obama’s farewell speech? I don’t know about you but I recorded and watched President Obama’s farewell speech on Tuesday night. I feel so proud and blessed to have bared witness to his presidency for these last eight years.  For both of my boys, he is the only president that they have ever known. That’s an experience that I as an African-American living in the United States have never experienced until his election. It’s something I never thought I would experience. But for my children, it has been so wonderful for them to see a president who looks likes them. They don’t have to fantasize in their minds like my generation has done, it was a reality for not just one but two terms.

In some ways, what my boys have experienced is what every white American has experienced since the beginning in this country. To some that may not be a big deal but to me it’s profound. I admit cynicism seeped into my thoughts prior to these eight years and allowed me to believe it would never happen in my lifetime. Then once he was elected I began to fear for his life. Some of my friends dismissed that saying oh no it wouldn’t happen here not now. But I knew it was a very big risk for him and now everybody knows because in recent years we’ve all had to bear witness to the news coverage of blacks getting killed on a daily basis by police officers and fanatics So it no longer can be brushed under the rug the on-going plight black Americans face on a daily basis particular black males.

I am so proud to have Barack Obama as the man that became our 44th President and to have my two black boys witness that this possibility exists and can happen. He served our country with grace under the on-going scrutiny and reached for the many of the aspirations he had since campaign days.

I watched him and listen to everything he said on Tuesday night and let his words soaked in for a little bit. His reflection on his achievements over the past eight years are amazing and I wish that more people were aware and acknowledged them.

After the results of this last election, I knew that I had to change the way I was living. That I would have to do something as a citizen of this country to make sure that we continue to move forward not backward. President Obama’s call to action by every citizen has left a big impression on me.

Immediately after the election results, I started to think about ways that I could take steps and become an active citizen that participates in the advancement of this country. The holidays came and I lost sight of that aspiration. Then Tuesday, during President Obama’s speech, I was reminded of my quest. His speech meant something more to me than just a farewell it was a reminder that people (including my own Mother and Father) came before me and fought for so many of the liberties that I have today while that I can’t sit back and allow life to happen to me.  I have to become an active participant to continue to make a better world for us all and especially our children.

I will forever feel blessed to have had the opportunity to experience president Obama’s presidency in my lifetime and I will move forward with integrity and grace, inspired by his presidency and begin to educate myself on ways to honor his request.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Belinda

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