Monday, April 30, 2007

Your Money and Your Life

Handpicked Company:
Mocha Manual -
The idea for this blog topic came to me long before the $350 spend at Target on Spring clothes for myself and the growing children or getting paid and focusing on my spending this weekend. I won't itemize the purchases, services and bill payments to the letter. But just let me tell you, not much of it was outside of necessities - shoes for those same growing children, car wash supplies for my nephew to wash my car; payment to have the grass cut (becasue my husband is too busy to do it, which is a digression I wont't even start on. but, I will another day); the hair care supplies for my and my daughter's hair (I won't be able to afford the products and a visit to the hairdresser I've been wanting to make for more than 2 years now because I have always chosen self-maintenace or Mama's professional background - she owned a hair care salon some years ago - to maintain my relaxer and cuts as well as my daughter's thick yet beautiful mass of spiral curls and waves, some combination of her father's Bahamian-Haitian heritage with my Irish and African heritage; the cell phone bill, holiday gifts, groceries, gas and more more gas for all of the driving I do.

Sometimes I wonder where the money goes. But when I sit down and retrace my steps, I see it all so clear. So much so that I don't even get to all of the other things, like the curtains for every room in my house - they've been bare for some years now (I rationalize that I like the open feel it gives the house; or, whatever I need to to feel better about the fact that there are none); or the rugs needed for the hardwood floors; or the paint the house needs so desparately, the new bed for my son, who at 3 won't sleep in the crib that's in his room anymore. Or, the bedding for my daughter's and my rooms. The carpet in our lower level of the house that needs to be cleaned. All the many things our 50-something year old house needs to make it into this millenium. All the needs after the school tuition and cable bill that I pay and all the other bills that my husband pays. All of the needs that come before saving for the luxury of renovation, new electronics, the piano lessons and singng lessons I want for my daughter. Or the laptop, stereo system and laptop, personal stylist makeover and photo session I think every Mommi deserves in this job where we forget our beauty.

I am not sure how in line my spending is with the latest 'Buying Power Report' which reports that Black Consumers are increase spending on lifestyle "necessities" according to Target Market News ( Or, the BSM Media statisics regarding the spending habits of the "trillion dollar moms" market ( But, I do know that I spend a lot. And, I know that it is important to weild the power of that spending as much as I can to:

  1. Support Black moms and dads and their businesses - buy from companies featured on Being Family Magazine's "Handpicked" list - Mocha Manual -

  2. Spend consciously, understanding the companies you spend with. Make sure they are supporting something you believein with the billions we are putting in their pockets.

  3. Let companies know when products or services are not up to par.

  4. Find the best value and don't always assume quality is associted with price.

  5. Spend wisely, forego another pair of shoes or another outfit fo your child to save toward bigger dreams - like that international family trip for the to Africa, Spain or wherever you somewhere else outside of this country.

  6. Invest in your home when you can.

  7. Become philanthropic. This doesn't take big money. Give $50 to an organization. Donate your nearly new stuff to a women's shelter or consign and assign that money to charity.

I challenge you to do the same. Evaluate what you are spending your money on? Change a few bad habits. You won't believe how a few small changes can impact the quality of your life. You'll feel better about spending. You'll be giving. You'll be getting the best value for your money; and ultimately, you'll have money to save!

Can I get a witness?

Friday, April 20, 2007

My Life. My Life. My Life. My Life......(C'mon, You Know the Rest)

In the words of Mary J. Blige, "if you look in my life, you'll see what I see."

This week in my life is the perfect example of why Being Family Magazine exists. It's no coincidence that the tagline is Being You. Being Me. Being Us. Being We.
Does this week resemble anything in your week? I'm sure it does.

Being You.
My husband makes an announcement about some future plans that makes me keenly aware of my status as a "part time" account manager on contract for a local marketing agency. "Part time" is in quotations because I work a full time schedule getting my children to and fro; then making the 45 minute drive each way to work the 20 hour week that ends up being 35 hours some weeks.

The good thing is, although I end up working up to 7 hours in a day sometimes, I can do some of that from home in my pajamas at 5am in the morning (when I am my best). I also have the flexibility to get my Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" on (my dream job of writer that I am working toward with this magazine) and rework my schedule when necessary to deal with....

my daugther missing two, going on three, days of school this week. Starting with a fever on Wednesday and progressing to "pink eye" last night (Thursday). This means I have had to alter my schedule to get them to my mother (Thank God for Mama!) while at work, Wednesday and Thursday.

Oh, and today I have to make and get to a pediatrician's appointment to get my daugther's pink eye treated.

My 2.11-year old son turns 2.12 or 3-years old this weekend. All I can say is his b-day celebrations are very different than the elaborate shindigs my daughter had in her younger days. Big to-do's with everyone in the family invited has turned to b-day cupcakes at the babysitter.
In my defense, his celebration will carry on over two weekends, including the nuclear family celebration this weekend (another thing for me to plan) and a cake and gifts with our usual family Sunday dinner at Mama's next weekend. So that makes up for the lack of shindig that makes me think he's getting the short end of the stick as the second child.

Being Me.
Daddy's on duty this weekend. He gives me at least one weekend a month , rarely two, when he's on duty and I can plan and do whatever I want. Thank God for that time. Because every other dayof te month with my children is up to me. The "whatever" this month is dinner, drinks and maybe dessert with the Circle of Sisters (Hopefully, it'll be more than me and Brenda since I'm giving the big advance notice of one day). These are supposed to happen monthly. But, we have been lucky to get three to four times a year with scheduling daddy-duty, finding a babysitter and/or finding the funds on budgets that call for everything but a good time sometimes.

But before the fun I have to do an interview with Kimberly Seals Allers (author of the Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy), work toward selling ads for the magazine and plan the '08 events for Black families in 6 cities that Being Family Magazine is hosting (look or more details to come soon).
And, that's my passion turned side gig. Let's not even mention the paying gig stuff I have to do. Then, I have to do or get something done to this head. Get these feet, nails and eyebrows DID. And find something to wear that's just the something to remind myself "this is why I'm hot - every bit of my size 20 body. "

Being Us.
This involves that "yet to be planned event" where we spend together time as a nuclear family - before my 'girls night out, of course. At this point in our lives, my husband and I spend most of our time one at a time with the kids (I reiterate, mostly me and the kids with his one, sometimes two, weekends a month on duty). We don't spend much time altogether with his travel schedule and my "need to be alone" time when I do get a chance. The one exception is soccer practice Mondays and soccer Saturdays (when he's in town or doesn't have something else scheduled). Those are the few times we're together as a family in the same place at the same time. And, I am thankful for that.

Our outing is contingent on our "pink eye" doctor's visit. We may not be able to do soccer or a family outing if Gabbi is quarantined away from children for a few days.

Being We.
This week my mind was also occupied with the big election of '08. Barack Obama visited Atlanta last weekend and had the biggest crowd in Atlanta history to come out to see and hear a politician. He's also raising big amounts of money and saying things that sound good to my ears. But, my decision isn't made just yet - because he's black and saying some good things.

I need to know where he, and the other candidates, for that matter, stand on issues that matter to me as a Black woman, mother, wife, working woman, entrepreneur, daughter of an aging mother whose a widow.

How will his candidacy affect my money - taking care of my family, helping my mother and planning for my children's educational cost, our retirement and our ability to build generational wealth. How will his candidacy affect my family's health and healthcare costs. How will his candidacy affect my children's education. How will his candidacy affect opportunities to help me succeed as a business woman and entrepreneur.

And, while these are issues for me personally, I know that these issues resonate with the 8.9 million African American families in this country. And, I want to use the magazine as the forum to formalize our issues; make these issues known; and be vocalize who we plan to support in this election as a result of their answers to our questions. It's time for us to be seen and be heard regarding our issues in '08. We have so much power together. And, it's time we use it.

Who's with me?

These are all the reasons and daily inspirations that Being Family Magazine is the forum for the African American woman interested in acknowledging every part of herself her family and her community.

Can I get a witness?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Valsaints "Meet the Robinsons" And Love Every Minute of It!

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep
moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps
leading us down new paths.”

- Walt Disney

Parents seem to have a hard time gettng and keeping dates with other gown ups - husbands, boyfriends, girls night out - on their schedules. Well, my almost eight year old has this down to a science. We moms and dads can all take a few pointers on how to make it happen and get something out of it. So take notes and pass it on or feel free to print this and give a copy to any mom in your life that needs some help.

I know what you're thinking, only a mom can multitask and give "how to schedule a date" advice in a movie review. Well, you're right. But, I assure the two are related. Keep reading.

How to Set a Date

I walk into after school to pick her up after a long day of 'account management' and magazine business in between. I am met with "Hi Mommi. Can I go home with Mara? Mommi can we go to the movies with Cassidy this weekend."

All eyes are on me as all of the children, awaiting their parents, look at my face in anticipation of the answer, including the two girls which are previously referred to.

But, I am still quick on my feet. I pull the old "I'll have to talk to their moms. So you need to get their phone numbers." She's quick on the draw. She gets two pieces of scrap paper and has each girl write her number down. In the meantime I am mentally scanning her/my/our busy schedule to see if this is even possible. Is there a party this weekend? What time is the soccer game? I don't know Mara's family that well. Should I let her go without me?

I follow her quick draw with my quick draw, in spite of all these unanswered questions in my head. I call the first number, which she tells me is Mara's number; but, the voice on the machine sounds like Cassidy's mother. I leave a message anyway, telling her that we've been chosen for a movie date to see 'Meet the Robinsons' so we should talk to coordinate the details.

Then, I call Mara's mom to try to work out the Friday details.

Both work out.

Making it to the Date

So there we were on Saturday evening walking into the theater 15 minutes into it. This is after the Friday night play date, which allowed me time to go to Target with just one child and spend $360 on spring clothes ant toiletries. God I need to check the bank balance and justify that spensiture to myself and my husband! (But I digress,) Gabbi, Jonathan, Cassidy, Taylor (I added another child to the mix after a quick arrangement by my girlfriend and I to swap babysitting for two of her children today for a few hours in return for one of mine tomorrow for the Girl Scout meeting I can't make because I am scheduled to be at a Tupperware party. I digress again. But the story of scheduling activities is definitely another story for another day .) and the two moms.

Settling in - after the popcorn, drinks and Sour Patch worms run - to the tune of $19 -and finally catching up to the plot, I find a 'message in the movie' fit for parents and children. We will be buying this one for the movie collection.

Movie Synopsis from -
Based on William Joyce's beautifully illustrated children's book A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON, this lively computer-animated Disney film follows the adventures of Lewis, a young orphaned inventor who is determined to find his birth mother by using a "memory scanner," a device of his own creation. When Lewis meets a boy from the year 2037 named Wilbur Robinson, they begin a charmingly strange time-traveling journey that involves Wilbur’s eccentric family, bowler hats bent on world domination, song-and-dance frogs, and a frustrated Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Lessons To Parents' Lives

  1. Stop spending so much time trying worrying about what you think you should have accomplished by now time in your life. Or where you are supposed to be. You are where you were intended to be at this very moment in your life, according to the purpose of your life - not Oprah, not Jill Scott , not your girlfriend, your neighbor or any other person you compare yourself to.
  2. It confirms that you can't do anything from negative motivation and expect a positive outcome. So learn to forgive yourself an others in your life and move toward goodness, out of goodness.
  3. Make peace with the fact that you don't have answers to all of the"why's" of your past. " Just keep moving," motivated by good and pure intentions and things will work beautifully for you, your children and many others that you didn't expect to impact.
  4. That zany family of yours is the foundation of your and your children's understanding of love, self-confidence success, failure and many other characteristics. So no matter the make-up and personalities, we as Black parents shape the understanding of family and their role in the lives of our little ones, now, and in the future. Shape that understanding carefully and purposefully. Remember you are shaping your children's ideas of thier past, their present and their future.

Lessons To Children's Lives - According To The Children

  1. Never say never or I can't. Those are words that show that you don't believe in yourself.
  2. Keep trying, even if you are afraid you might not succeed.

So, see I did it. Tied it all together and sent a message all in one fell swoop. I'm a bad mama!

If you've seen it tell me what you think. If you haven't tell me what you think about my take-away.