I felt compelled to write this blog post after an unwanted conversation that stemmed from a comment about getting rest when children are home. This is no exaggeration but if I want to unwind and treat me, I take a day off when the kids are in school. A “treat me” day is quickly approaching. I need to schedule a wonderful massage, pedicure, manicure and treat myself to lunch. The next comment was “well these are your children blah, blah, blah” and my comment “I know this every day I wake up” and “who can rest when kids are home?” This swirled into “well you parents buy all this stuff for your kids”.
If you are parenting in the 21st century it is beyond a challenging task. For anyone who has not had to parent in forty plus years, please refrain from judging how and why parents today do what we do. Let those words sink in if you plan to have a discussion with me on raising my kids. I am now a single parent raising two children and I am in no way looking for a pity party. Single parenthood makes you stronger by the day and definitely puts your butt in gear for the next round. There are days when you feel defeated but when you set goals to be better and do better you move! My issue with all of this banter is the fact that I put in a lot of time and effort with my kids. Parenting is not about the material things you buy but the memories you create with them and the time you give them. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day so I bought gift bags with chocolates and mailed their cards. We had a dinner at one of our favorite family restaurants, Ruby’s Diner. On their birthdays there is always a dinner planned at their favorite restaurant and Christmas I call myself “Christmas Crazy”. I feel it is important to always celebrate their milestones.
I have a vested interest in my children’s success. In school I will always be my children’s advocate. It is not acceptable for me to drop my kids off and have no interest in what they are receiving each day. Their teachers will know me before the end of the year. Case in point, first grade has been a nerve wrenching experience for me and my little one. It has required utilizing outside resources and trying to hold the teacher accountable for her actions in the classroom. My search for a place to live has me doing all kinds of internet research on specific areas. I say all of this to say that my other full-time job of parenting is not for the faint of heart. There are a million things to juggle while trying to keep my sanity.
As far as “parents buying things” my feeling on that statement is simply, it is every parent’s prerogative to spend their money on whatever they please. I have to manage my own money therefore I have no time to worry about other people’s spending. Parents today spend more time with their children and personally I feel mothers are stretched to the limit when it comes to the time they are putting in on a daily basis. One thing I can guarantee is that what I do for my kids was a far exceeds what was required forty plus years ago. This is not to say it was easier but I am a firm believer the next generation(s) should get wiser. I do not believe in giving kids exactly what you had and beyond if the situation warrants itself. How can you expect your child(ren) to grow if they are not exposed to experiences beyond your upbringing?
I make no apologies about how I parent and what I do for my kids. This is a more challenging job than my real 9 to 5 and the ultimate return is PRICELESS! Parenting provides no instruction manual for and definitely no room for critiques or judgement.
In light of the multiple snow storms in our city this winter, I had to pull out one of my favorite hot cocoa recipes. If you bake with Hershey’s cocoa you will know this recipe is on the back of the can.
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups (1 qt.) milk
- 1/3 cup hot water
- Dash salt
- 1/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
- Miniature marshmallows or sweetened whipped cream (optional)
- 1/2 cup sugar
1. Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to serving temperature. Do Not Boil.
2. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired. Five 8-oz. servings.
VARIATIONS: Add one of the following with the vanilla extract:
SPICED COCOA: 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Serve with cinnamon stick, if desired.
MINT COCOA: 1/2 teaspoon mint extract OR 3 tablespoons crushed hard peppermint candy OR 2 to 3 tablespoons white creme de menthe. Serve with peppermint candy stick, if desired.
CITRUS COCOA: 1/2 teaspoon orange extract OR 2 to 3 tablespoons orange liqueur.
SWISS MOCHA: 2 to 2-1/2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee.
COCOA AU LAIT: Omit marshmallows or whipped cream. Spoon 2 tablespoons softened vanilla ice cream on top of each cup of cocoa at serving time.
SLIM-TRIM COCOA: Omit sugar. Combine cocoa, salt and water; substitute nonfat milk. Proceed as above. With vanilla, stir in sugar substitute with sweetening equivalence of 1/2 cup sugar.
CANADIAN COCOA: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract.
MICROWAVE SINGLE SERVING: Combine 1 heaping teaspoon HERSHEY’S Cocoa, 2 heaping teaspoons sugar and dash salt in microwave-safe cup or mug. Add 2 teaspoons cold milk; stir until smooth. Fill cup with milk. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until hot. Stir to blend; serve.
*added creamy whipped cream
My first cell phone was with Verizon’s predecessor and that was back in 1996. It was amazing to me that each year I had to negotiate for a better plan. I think the only time I really enjoyed my account was when I used the phone for business purposes. My bill was a business expense and not a personal expense. After I left my company I still continued my service with Verizon.
I held on to the non negotiable contract every 2 years. No upgrades until the company dictates the 2 year date to upgrade. In the big scheme of things, what kind of customer service is this? By giving a consumer no choices or options a company is basically pushing the consumer out the door! I think the final straw for me was the fact that a CUSTOMER CARE rep gave me three options for upgrading my phone: 1) wait until my contract ends in April 2014(my call was in December) 2)upgrade through the EDGE program which allows you to purchase a phone at retail value(over $600 for Samsung Galaxy S4) for a mere fee per month added to my bill and only when you have paid at least 50% of the value can you upgrade, what in the world? 3)I could leave Verizon and pay the early termination fee and a new company’s fees by leaving I ask again what kind of customer care is this?
If you open the door for me, instinct should say walk and never look back, right? Well of course not I gave Verizon one more chance and from my next call with a CUSTOMER CARE rep she was able based on my warranty to send me a replacement phone. Interesting because the previous rep never offered this as a possibility. Did the replacement meet my requirements? Well temporarily because I had a refurbished replacement phone without battery charging issues. The replacement was the exact same device as my original phone. When I again experienced the delay in dialing out and sending texts the writing was on the wall for my next move. I called Verizon and demanded an upgrade in light of the fact April was only a mere 3 months away. Well as usual there was nothing for them to do but transfer me to technical support. I adamantly asked the CUSTOMER CARE rep (play on words for me) not to transfer me to tech support.
When Mr. Tech Support comes on the line I prefaced the beginning of the conversation with “there is nothing you can do for me except upgrade my phone”. I politely told him the phone was beyond repair and flat out called it garbage and the replacement was a refurbished phone. In order to end the call I told him without an upgrade I would be a TMobile customer by Monday. I told him it is a shame his time was wasted when I clearly asked not to be transferred. After that statement I disconnected the call.
This was on Friday evening, now a great company truly focused on “CUSTOMER CARE” would have tried to contact me since I hung up unsatisfied. It is apparent that the arrogance of Verizon prevents any real customer service and satisfaction.
Guess what, on Saturday evening I pleasantly walked into a TMobile store and took advantage of their deal. They were running a promotion where they pay Early Termination Fee(ETF) from competitors. Now the caveat is you must give up your existing phone, if the phone has value it will be applied to your new phone. As you recall my phone was a replacement phone of a 2 year old model. Well you know the rest, my phone had no value so I had to pay for the taxes on my new Samsung Galaxy S4. Interesting enough while in the TMobile store, the associate told me she handled about 25 Verizon customers who switched service.
I know I am a small fry in their pool of customers but 17 years of loyalty should stand for something. I cannot be happier that I have one bill remaining with Verizon and TMobile to cover my ETF. My new 4G phone offers the speed and features that exceed my previous phone. On top of the features of the phone I am saving $50 per month with my new plan(unlimited data, texts, calls) there are no contracts and after 6 months I can JUMP to another phone model.
It cannot get any better than that for real CUSTOMER CARE! The moral of this story is never remain loyal to a company that does not reciprocate any perks for being a loyal customer.
If you know anything about me, you know my new fave show is “Being MaryJane” starring Gabrielle Union. One of the absolute best additions to the show is the music soundtrack. This was one of the artist’s songs featured on Episode 3 that aired on Tuesday, January 21st. Laura Mvula, Is There Anybody Out There? I love the jazzy flow of this song, I hope you enjoy as well.
Tune in on Tuesday, January 28th to “beingMaryJane” on BET!
The only tweak I made was leaving out the basil, because I forgot it on my grocery list. This was a great make ahead dish. I prepared it on Saturday and baked on Sunday. Although my kids continued to ask what is this green stuff I insisted they eat!
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded, finely chopped
- 1 small yellow squash, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups (32 oz.) spaghetti sauce
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
- 2 cups ricotta
- 12 ounces shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, about 10 minutes.
- 2. In a large skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add bell pepper, squash, zucchini and garlic; sauté for 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- 3. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add spaghetti sauce, vegetable mixture and basil; stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- 4. Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of pasta mixture in dish; drop spoonfuls of ricotta mixture over pasta. Cover with remaining pasta. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until bubbling, about 35 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.