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Bloganuary Day 31: Best place near me to watch the sunset?

I’m going to pick South Padre Island, Texas as the best place to watch the sunset even though I didn’t get any pictures of the actual sunset when I was there AND it’s not near me. I love this post because this gem of a place was the first that came to mind when I read the prompt. Twenty-five years in Texas, and we made our first trip to South Padre Island in July 2022.

Me, one evening on the beach, as the sun was beginning to set.

We went on a whim. I had a stressful year up until that point. We also wanted to spend some family time together to end the 2022 summer. My husband, Bryan, and I agreed to make the almost 6 hour drive. Unfortunately, my son, Caleb, couldn’t get off work in time. Bryan, our daughter, Elise, and I spent 4 days and 3 nights in a hotel right off the beach. It was a splendid experience.

We spent every evening at the beach. We did other things too, but we were clear on the assignment – BEACH TIME. Enjoy the photos.

Trail from hotel to beach
Hubby enjoying himself.
Elise ahead looking for a spot. Smooth sands.
We loved this place.
We learned about different birds from the region….and also alligators!
We took a photo from the top and also on the trail looking for birds.
Gators!!!
More gators and visitors! Also trails for bird watching.
Me and Bryan at the top of the tower
Amazing sand sculpture
Another amazing sand sculpture
A walk on the main strip
Soaking up the sun rays before sunset
A lovely moment with my daughter
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What language do you wish you could speak?

Creole, French, Spanish…It’s no fun knowing a little bit of several languages, but not knowing how to speak either of them fluently. My parents and siblings were all born in Port Au Prince, Haiti 🇭🇹 so they spoke fluent Haitian Creole and French. I was the youngest and born in the United States.

Although I was exposed to these languages, we mostly spoke English in our home. My mom and siblings spoke English to me. However, I do recall my mom telling me there was a time when I solely spoke Creole. It had to be before I started school.

To complicate matters further, in high school, I was in a program where I had to take Spanish. I thought this would be my time to finally learn the language, but NOOOOO! I really wanted to be in this program because it would put me on a path for college. So I learned Spanish for 3 years and was even quite good at it. I earned a college scholarship from my Spanish class.

I decided that college was my time to finally learn French. I took French classes for two years, enjoyed them, and learned a lot. Now, I have these 3 languages swimming in my head and understand each of them in different capacities.

When my son and I visited the Dominican Republic for a mission trip with our church in 2019, I met Haitians who spoke all 3 languages – Haitian Creole, French, and Spanish. They were our interpreters. I was fascinated.

I loved our time with them because they are kind, professional, and Godly people. They shared their experience and thoughts about Haiti with me, and I loved making new friends with other Haitians. We still keep in contact. I blogged about our trip in the posts: DR Chronicles 2019: Lost in translation, Dominican Republic (DR) Chronicles 2019: Comfort Zone, and Dominican Republic (DR) Chronicles 2019: Food.

I want to learn to speak French and Haitian Creole fluently. I haven’t set a time frame yet, but it will happen.

Bloganuary Day 26 prompt!

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How do I show love?

I love to ‘love on’ the people I love and who ‘love on’ me. For my husband, Bryan, and our kids, they get the full extension of my love. I love cooking them delicious meals. To me, feeding someone with a delicious and nutritious meal is the ultimate way to show love because I’m using my time to create nourishment and enjoyment. It’s a personal gift.

While on a grocery run, I’ll pick up my family’s favorite foods to eat, including treats and drinks. I generally like to do things that make their life a little easier, like picking up after them. I will initiate a big hug with Bryan even though he isn’t the ‘huggie’ type, and neither are our kids, but I’ll make them hug me on occasion.🤗

I also spend time with the person I love ❤️. I spend lots of time with Bryan, especially since the pandemic. My kids are at the stage where they spend a lot of time with their friends, but we still have family time and it usually involves eating.

Although living in different states, my siblings and I check in with each other often…even more often since our mom passed away. We group text all the time. I also make time to check in on my nephew, nieces, and cousins.

The pandemic has changed lots of things so we haven’t had too many visits to our house since then, but I generally show friends and family I love them by inviting them to our home, making them comfortable, and cooking for them. Even while on visits to Chicago in 2021 and 2022, I cooked several times.

I also enjoy capturing memories in photos and love sending them as gifts to the people I love.

Life is short, and as I get older, it’s more important to me than ever to make sure I’m showing love to the people who love me.❤️

Bloganuary Day 24 prompt!

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My favorite author

I don’t know how I missed blogging about Maya Angelou on Day 10’s prompt: Bloganuary Day 10: Has a book changed your life? Maya Angelou is the honorary grandmother I needed in my life. Her words have stuck with me through my adulthood.

Being a black woman in America is hard. We’ve been demonized, sexualized, and envied. Maya Angelou has managed to uplift many women across races, and I presume some men also. She’s inspired a nation. She was a prolific writer, poet, and orator. She had the best quotes EVER.

I love today’s prompt because it made me go to my home library and reread 2 of my favorite poems,’Phenomenal Woman’ and ‘Still I Rise’. When I was much younger, I read her autobiography, “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I don’t know what happened to that book and I’m not happy about that.

Race, social justice, poverty, discrimination, family, joy, hope, beauty, self-love…she had a way of writing that illuminated the pages and my mind.

Excerpt from ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou
Excerpt from ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

Bloganuary Day 21: Who is your favorite author and why?

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Bloganuary Day 20: What irritates me about my home?

The answer is nothing…NOT ONE THING. Our home was built from the ground up, and we moved in almost 2 years ago. This is the 2nd time we’ve had a home built, so I feel blessed to have experienced this journey twice in my lifetime.

We love our home because it’s absolutely perfect for us. I’ve blogged previously about our experience in Home stretch of our new construction build and Good bones: The kitchen. I thought I’d blog more about the new build experience, but life got in the way.

I’ve gotten a little lazy and need to take more recent photos of our home. In the meantime. I hope you enjoy these.

Cannoli enjoying the back patio in 2021. All these plants are now overgrown. I’ll blog about my gardening later.
I love our back patio.
Except for the bushes, all of these flowers/plants have been replaced because they died!
Cannoli sunbathing in the living room..
Cannoli loves to watch the birds outside.
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Food favorites

Bloganuary Day 18’s prompt is right up my alley: what’s your favorite food to cook or eat? My blog is about self-care, and cooking healthy, nutritious meals is one of my favorite expressions of self-care. My Haitian mom instilled the love of cooking in me, and I’ve run far and away with it. I don’t cook traditional Haitian meals often, but my Haitian roots and methods allow me to cook a variety of delicious food with a Haitian flare.

I have a wide palate, but as of late, my favorite foods to cook and eat are soups and stews. Yes, it’s the winter season, though here in Texas, the high will be 77 degrees today, but I eat soups year round. I’ve blogged about soups I’ve made in Soups On: Fall Favorites and Bring on the soups. All photos are taken by me.

In this post, I will share some of my most recent delicacies through my photos. I also blog about cooking as self-care to inspire others to prepare healthy meals at home. I’ve gone through periods of being vegan, but now I consider my preferences to be mostly plant-based and dairy free (mostly). To ensure I’m getting the proper protein and iron, I’m back to eating meat, which is OH SO good.

The act of cooking is soothing, allows me to be creative, and gives me something to look forward to because I know what I prepare will do my body good.

In the crock pot…Mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion,, and probably a hot pepper knowing me.
This Turkey and Gnocchi soup is a knock-off of an Olive Garden (restaurant) recipe. I used leftover smoked Christmas turkey, and it was absolutely DELICIOUS!
I rarely eat ramen, but I bought a case of it for my kids. After a busy day, I wanted something quick, so I pulled these together and OH MANNN!
This all veggie ramen hit the spot. I added sauteed peppers & onion, green onions, and finished with a dash of sesame oil. I threw the seasoning packet away.
This beef chili was amazing. I loved the salad too.
Sausage & shrimp gumbo with rice.
Not a soup, but a quick beef stew. I found a bag of frozen pearl onions at the bottom of my freezer so I added.
Beef stew with egg noodles. YUM YUM YUM!!!
I just wanted to share these delicious mushrooms I made as a side dish. 😋😄
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The happiest day of my life

Thankfully, I’ve had many happy days in my life. One in particular popped into my mind immediately upon reading today’s Bloganuary prompt (Day 17) – describe the happiest day of your life. The birth of my first child, my baby boy, was one of the happiest days of my life.

Bryan and I wanted to be sure we were ready before we had kids. On our wedding day, we started our lives together by moving to Texas. He was offered a job out of state and had been living in Texas since the summer while I stayed in Chicago, planning our wedding and getting my affairs in order for the move.

As newlyweds, we enjoyed the time exploring our new city and state and learning to live as a couple. By the time we were ready to have kids, I talked to my doctor about how long it would take for me to get pregnant after I stopped taking birth control. He said it would take about a month.

I don’t know why I didn’t believe him because it certainly did take only a month. While pregnant with my son, I often imagined what he would be like and what I would be like as a mom. I read books, decorated and prepped his room, and immersed myself in all things “baby”.

I had an uncomfortable pregnancy – back pain, sciatica, excessive sleepiness, nausea, and insomnia, but I continued to exercise and ate relatively healthy. I was also in good spirits.

My mom flew down to be with us for 2 weeks to help me with the baby. My delivery was dramatic and life threatening, but when I saw my 12.2 pound little “Sumo Wrestler”, I was overjoyed! I finally got to meet my sweet baby.

He was the biggest baby in the nursery, and nurses would randomly stop by my room to see the lady (me) who delivered this little giant. They had the nerve to lay him next to a couple of preemies. I didn’t live up to what they imagined because of my size. It was not typical for women my size to have large babies like that, but there I was breaking records in the hospital.😄

Caleb was the sweetest baby, though in his first year, he didn’t like for others besides me and his dad to pick him up. He was a great nurser (unlike my daughter, Elise – each child is different).

I’ve been sorting through old photos lately, and Elise pointed out that we barely have pictures with just her. It’s true. We have so many pictures of, and with, Caleb. He was the first and I had more time for “all the things”. By the time we had Elise 4.5 years later, I was definitely more tired. The “woahs” of the second child…

I learned so much about myself and what I could do by being Caleb’s mom. Happy day and time indeed.

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My early memory linked to smell

Growing up in Chicago, public transportation was the mode of commute for my family for many years. As I understood it, we used to live on the west side of Chicago before we moved to the south side. I will confirm this with my siblings later.

We lived on the West side until I was about 5. I don’t remember our street name or anything, but I do remember sometimes catching the train with my mom. My favorite part about the train station was the different stores with treats. The aromas were so enticing. I don’t remember exactly what the products were (imagine bakeries, candy carts/shops, and food carts, etc.) The train station was so full of life with people scurrying around.

Years later, probably my late teens to early twenties, I found myself in the vicinity of that train station again. I think I was meeting a friend. That’s the only reason I could think to be there. I was greeted with the same enticing aromas, of which I hadn’t smelled in years. Deja vu hit the pit of my stomach like a bomb. The smells conjured up so many cloudy memories and emotions.

It was smaller than I remembered. The shops and general area were older and worn. I had mixed emotions because this was a part of my history, yet I barely remembered it visually. That train station had seen thousands of people pass through, no doubt, including my mom and me. And life passes by so quickly. I wish to smell that place again someday.

Bloganuary: Day 16 prompt

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What fear have I conquered?

I’ve proudly conquered many fears in my life. One fear that comes to mind is the fear of talking to people. When I was younger, I was so crippled with anxiety and fear of what other people thought of me. It mostly had to do with my upbringing and people not understanding my introversion. I was so frustrated with life that there was a period in my preteen years where I became withdrawn.

While dating Bryan in my early twenties, he took me out dancing one night and commented that I was afraid of people. He was so right. I didn’t think I was worthy and cared too much of what other people thought of me. But I vowed to conquer this fear because I wanted more for myself, and I didn’t want that to dampen our relationship.

From that point, my daily life became an experiment where I would practice not being afraid. I spoke up more openly and expressed my opinions. If I recognized someone in a store or wherever, I would approach them first. In Chicago, I commuted mostly by walking and public transportation. I decided to walk with my head up and give eye contact (but not too much). None of this was comfortable at first, but I carried through with my decision.

With time, I became less afraid to talk to people, and I didn’t let any fears of what they might think of me affect what I did with my life or what I thought about myself.

Now, at my age, it’s true you don’t care too much about what other people think. I do care about what the people who mean the most to me think, but that’s only for certain things. I’m not afraid of people anymore and have learned we all have our own stuff we’re working through. It’s best not to take things personally. Most people are not thinking that hard about you.

I’ve blossomed into a self-assured, confident woman whom I am proud of.

Bloganuary: Day 15 prompt

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My preferred mode of travel

By far, traveling by car is my preferred mode of travel. Road trips nowadays are a totally different experience than road trips growing up. Back then, wearing a seat belt was not the law, and I remember being packed in a car, even sitting on someone’s lap or on the floor. There weren’t a ridiculous amount of McDonald’s or other restaurants to choose for food or if you had to use the restroom. We packed sandwiches and peed on the side of the road if we couldn’t wait to get to a proper place.

By the time we were traveling with our kids, I took advantage quite a bit and traveling became more fun. On one trip to Chicago with our kids when they were little, all restroom breaks were at hotels because I knew all hotels had restrooms in the lobby, and they were always clean. We stopped a lot along the ride. It was brilliant!

In 2021 and 2022, we were fortunate enough to drive to Chicago to see our families. It’s approximately 16 hours from Austin to Chicago. I enjoyed not having to deal with the airport and all it entails. And our comfortable vehicle made all the difference. We (mostly Bryan) paced ourselves and drove 8 hours during the day, stayed overnight at a hotel, and left out from the hotel early to complete the drive. We did that going and returning home. The road trips forced me to slow down and enjoy the ride….BLISSFUL indeed.

The cover photo is a picture I took with my phone in our car in Chicago. We miss our families, but don’t miss that cold.

Bloganuary: Day 14 prompt