Stay at home mom , and yes I get tired too!

I am in the middle of this stigma that has been around for many generations. My mother faced it, your mother faced it and so on… My generation is the one that can make it into a catty, tit for tat comparison fest  that has the potential to break up friendships. Being more mature and wise, instead of arguing with my friend, I stated my opinions rose to the occasion with my laptop. I write about many pressing issues that moms face from how we mother’s can save a dollar, to dealing with agitating preteens , to what to wear on a date night. This is one topic that I live with everyday , sparked by a text from a girlfriend this morning that rose my temperature a tad bit. I am a part time stay at home mom. I explained in our text that I was “pooped” and was going to go back to bed . She replied, “You’d be even more drained if you worked 5 days a week.” Really? All I could do is sigh and text her back in my fashion, letting her know half the laundry list of things that I do that get me “drained” (on a daily) . Mind you this is a person I’ve known for 20 years , however when mom’s have ideals or comments on another mom’s “tired scale”, they go in blindly and just say things based on their own personal interpretations at the moment. Maybe she is feeling “drained” because she’s working a nine to five and needed an extra day off after Easter to relax? Maybe , it was just a damn reply… I am a different person now so I don’t get as defensive and try to look at the other person’s side before lashing out or feeling attacked. The debate of stay at home mother’s versus working ones is one that can and will go on and on forever. The typical perception that stay at home moms are lazy, just lay on the sofa watching television eating Bonbons or that they just shop, go to Starbucks and do household chores will yapping on the phone. (not true for all) , and on the flip side there’s the impression that working mother’s are overly absorbed in their careers that they have no time for housework, doing homework with the kids, or no time to attend that recital,doctor’s appointment or important PTA meeting. These are misconceptions, but can also apply to “some” moms.
I have been working since the age of 14 when you had to get a job permit to be employed. I have worked so many jobs , including for a major news network, that I’ve lost count. When I had my daughter, now 5 years old, I decided to cut my hours down to part time. I am still a working mom! It doesn’t matter if its 20 hours, 2 days or one shift a month, I work hard in my position. My biggest insult is when people undermine the fact that I work only a couple of days a week, and highlight that they work 5 days , SO!  What difference does it make? We are both employed outside of the home and are mothers 24 hours a day! We all have duties to perform and laundry lists of things to do that are endless! What happened to support and kudos for the time you spend at your workplace, and high fives for what we do at home? You can not put a pendulum of how much I do in comparison to what you do because it all varies . There is no rest for the weary, I am a multi tasker that takes no prisoners! I am a housecleaner, a taxi driver, a chef, student,gym go-er, freelance writer,school mom volunteer, girlfriend, sister and the list goes on . I can’t name the countless other titles consider myself as. You don’t have to work in a corporate environment, 40 hours a week to become exhausted. I understand that commute and working under those conditions make some moms even more stressed out. Statistics show that mother’s are far more stressed out at work than father’s because we carry our worries with us. There is not a moment that I don’t think about what my kids are doing and how they are after I clock in, and it affects some of us deeply, while some women can just keep it moving. This is an example to show that everyone’s life as a mom is dramatically different. Our paths are wound by different circumstances consisting of different hardships, different challenges, different triumphs, different priorities!

My priorities shifted when I had my second child. That does not make me any less career driven, or work focused  than my sister, girlfriend, anyone else for that matter. According to a survey by the “Working Mother Research Institute ; “At home moms are more likely to be frowned on by society than working ones , while working moms are more likely to say they feel guilty about the cleanliness of their homes and the time spent with their children.” Many full time mother’s do the domestic thing and carve quality time with there kids better than some full time stay at home moms. It’s all subjective and a matter of how you chose to navigate your life. I’ve been there and done that ! It’s a hard pill to swallow for both sides, there is give and take on both ends of the spectrum. You make less when you stay at home, however working moms want to spend more time with their kids and spouses and may miss out on certain events. Part time mother’s such as my self have a more comfortable place in it all and I’m speaking from experience. We are able to be here more with the kids, doing important things around the house and at the kids school, as well as carve in “me” time more. We also have the ability to make some money and be around adults at work.(which is critical for me!) We get some of the pressure of just strictly staying at home day in and day out “OFF.” I love it. Of course, I have those days when I just want to go back to work full time (more money) . I also crave escapes from having the kids all the time (the whining, and back talk) and the dreaded domestic housework , but hey “this is my life”! I wouldn’t trade it in for money! Being at home the majority of the time is vital to my personal wellbeing!

I am blessed to be fortunate enough to live comfortably on a one and a half family income! My man is the bread winner! Most people would kill for that scenario! My wish today is for all mother’s including myself with this upcoming “Mother’s Day, is to embrace your life as it is! Take a time out to smell the roses, to de-stress in whatever ways you need, if that means going to a spa, taking a dip in the pool, having wine with your girls, or shopping at your favorite shoe store! Do “YOU”. I know our mother’s and grandmother’s did it as well, but let’s all stop comparing how tired we are and how much you have going on on your plate to one another! From state to state and coast to coast, millions of plates are full honey!! We are all zapped out! And the next time my friend or anyone else infers that I’d be more “drained”, if I worked full time, I’m just going to smile diplomatically and send them a copy of (my) to-do list!
Smooches…on to my laundry, meeting, grocery shopping, taxi-pick ups, dinner preparation…ect ~

Almost murdered by FOOD TRUCK MAFIA …

Image Ladies, can I get a show of hands for those of you who that are working moms who grind on that 9 to 5 and have to come home exhausted and prepare dinner and sometimes dessert, for a husband or mate and a clan of kids? A clan in my eyes is two or more , and I have two. Well girls, I sympathize and am rowing in that same crowded boat in that same stream with ya! 

Man at home who cannot cook a solid meal, or is just too lazy to attempt to.? Check! A man who would much rather wait on you to bring in take out because he can barely handle the kids at the house , let alone order, get in the car and pick up dinner?  Check! 

This was my story yesterday.  The day I was almost murdered by the Food Truck Mafia. I got back to my EastBay suburb from the City close to 7 pm , tired from work and the sardine Bart train commute which I seldom experience, hardly in the mood to cook a full on dinner to say the least! I drove down Davis Street toward my home anxious to kick my shoes off and relax, only to feast my eye on EUPHORIA!  A perfectly squared caravan of deliciousness! The Food Truck Mafia had invaded San Leandro!  Come to find out, this was here every Tuesday evening. I was both surprised and excited to see this set up. Dinner was served! The truck that first caught my eye was “Bouriquen Soul”, Puerto Rican food! I had been yearning to taste the goodness from this restaurant truck from months past when I spotted the ad on GROUPON on from my smartphone. My boyfriend who is half Puerto Rican also wanted to try this delicacy. We were going to make a date night of it! Image I heard that they had a spot in Downtown Oakland, but tonight they were in my town and what better time than the present to try this food, is what I was thinking… Turned out to be the worst idea I had had all month! After I parked my car and approached the truck, the line was a mile long! I thought at first, “it must be really good, everyone is in this line, compared to all the other truck lines.” “Damn, should I stand in it or just go on home?”, “but I’m already here, and I do NOT feel like cooking tonight period!” All these thoughts churning in my little head. Finally, I decide “Oh, forget it, I’ve already stood here, it should go by fast, it’s a food truck right?, it’s not like anyone’s ordering a well done filet mignon?” I stood there and stood there engaging in small talk with other hungry people in line. “Oh my God, this food better be worth all this!” I’m tired, hungry, getting cold, slightly have to pee and more importantly, my family at home is probably starving like Marvin! 

EastBayFrugalmama did not like to disappoint , but my cheapskate instincts were not on point yesterday! After all how much would I fork out on food trucks, even without a GROUPON? Should I have just gone home and thrown that chicken I had in the fridge into the oven with a potato and bagged salad and called it a night?  The “euphoria’ had worn off. Why was I swayed by the sheer look off all the yummy trucks in my town seductively pulling on my vulnerability heartstrings? I was fully taken aback when the Puerto Rican man inside the food truck came outside of the truck , and informed all of us that due to the huge rush from earlier, that their was a “limited” amount of food left. Myself and the 15 other patrons that waited in angst were like, “seriously, you have got to be kidding?” We all had our hearts and stomachs set on some “Bouriquen Soul ” for dinner, specifically that # 1 special! ( The grilled garlic chicken with Bouriquen soul sauce, Puerto Rican rice and beans, and fried plantains. After all , why had we been standing there in the cold for what felt like two hours?!

At this point, I am kind of mad but still managed to behave positively after seeing quite a few folks desert the line after the guy gave us the bad news.They went on to other food trucks , yet I remained “faithful” to trying “Bouriquen Soul.” Come on Food Mafia don’t fail me now!

Maybe, just maybe, they will have enough food to plate up my one” #1 special.” I just wanted my honey to be able to taste the flavors of his heritage !  We would share it , because my man is not  a real big eater. It would suffice, right? I’m too tired to care. At this point I would be grateful for a scoop of each item in that special. I had already decided that my kids would be having tacos from the Mexican truck across the way! Now it’s getting dark and colder, when my boyfriend calls to say, our five year old is “really” hungry now . (Ok, can you get her another snack already!, geez be there in a minute…) To top this entire adventure off, “Thank you HUNGER GODS”, the folks right in front of me ordered up the “LAST” three #1 chicken specials!!! The lovely Puerto Rican man in the food truck doesn’t flinch as he tells me , “there is no more chicken , no more anything that comes with the #1special!! I want to cry, this “cannot” be happening!! Please let this be a bad joke and the guy will be like, “haha, just kidding we have one more chicken meal for you miss!”

Unfortunately, not so! So not the outcome that I intended on having after my hopes were lifted up so high, then demolished so swiftly to the Davis Street ground I was standing on. I just twirled my hair and pretended that it wasn’t that big of a deal, I’d just order something else.. That something else , the only edible thing we could eat was chicken wings, and avocado & tomato salad! What! Fricken chicken wings?? I could have gone to fake meat KFC two hours ago if I wanted “chicken wings”!!! I was so agitated I could spit! I felt like I had been shot in the heart with a bow & arrow (whatever that feels like?).How could they do this to me? They were supposed to have just enough for me and my man! After all he is “Puerto Rican!!” How could they betray us?? We were going to support they’re business by buying a GROUPON!, I held my pee for them!! Haha, not that crucial, however that’s what my tired brain was feeling! I just chalked it up and ordered the darn chicken wings and salad to save face, and to not be faced with a hungry 6 foot man! I painfully paid Mr. Bouriquen Soul and walked over to the next truck, not bothering to look at the name and ordered myself two Korean KimChi chicken tacos. Next, the Mexican truck for my kids food. I felt like I was in the (Twilight Zone).

I didn’t even care how any of the food tasted, I just wanted to go home! Still disappointed, I gathered all four boxes of semi-pricey food. I was shot down from my first San Leandro food truck experience. So much for my desire for ethnic soul sauces and pigeon peas. I was tkilled softly, without warning. I may give them another try someday, but for now I will stick to cooking at home or grabbing Chinese takeout from our favorite (cheap) spot! I should have just waited for date night! I’m good on the thrills and “kills “of the FOOd TRUCK MAFIA!

Until next time, smooches! and stay frugal (unlike myself yesterday…) I have yet to recover (smiles anyhow). 

Why I may stop going to hair salons…after today

Women, let’s face it, we are obsessed with looking good! There is not a morning that we wake up concerned about beauty! How to improve what we already have to make ourselves more beautiful and going to the salon to get our hair done is just one of them. Aside from how our makeup, nails, and bodies look, our hair and how nice it is, is paramount to how we feel about ourselves! A little over two years ago I stopped going to get my hair done and opted for a beautiful braided hairstyle which I loved. I decided to let my chemical relaxer grow out and take a long break from paying over $100 each visit to a professional salon. African American hair care is very expensive! The relaxers, hair weaves, elaborate styles and coloring. I had my hair braided in a salon and even that service was $160! The plus was that I could keep them up for months and save in that manner. FrugalMama will save in any area possible! My peeve with salons and this isn’t a diss to my people or my sisters who own them but it just takes way too long ! The service is an all day thing or it becomes certainly a half a day one. When booking an appointment make sure you have nothing else planned for the entire day and some one to pick your children up from school. It seems like even if I have booked an appointment with a fast stylist , it always takes longer because all of the distractions. Folks coming into the salon, the phone keeps ringing and she has to answer it? Today, it was a relative in the chair ( I could tell) being serviced 10 minutes before my set appointment! I was “early” and still had to wait. I understand that things happen in salons that are out of the stylists control but come on! Flat iron your cousins hair after all your appointments are taken care of ! I may be venting a little because I would prefer to not have to go anywhere and let a stylist come to me on a house call, however a little more time management and consideration for clients please! Don’t get me wrong I love getting all prettied up at a shop and the whole experience of coming out looking like a million bucks but after I spent almost that I want more!the service is turning out good and I am comfortable . Even with that being said , I may stop going to hair salons, well definitely not as often because after all a girl’s hair is still her crowning glory!

Confessions of a GROUPON groupie…

imgres Yes, I am a self professed thrift-o-holic, a coupon clipper champion, and a FrugalMama and Oh, I have one more confession to make…I’m also a GROUPON groupie. It’s something I can’t deny. I get high off of the deals on the little Groupon app on my smartphone. Just as my EastBay folks say, “I hella love Oakland!” “I hella love GROUPON!” Whoever invented this thing is a pure genius! I actually found out who created this awesome , terrific, fantastic company . His name is Andrew Mason, a local guy from Pittsburgh (go figure) . He started GROUPON in 2007, however he is no longer in charge of this perfect machine which now is head by CEO/ Investor Eric Lefkofsky. I don’t really care who is running it now , all I know is that it is great and I’m in “deal heaven.” I have been officially sworn in , by myself of course and maybe a few friends as a “GROUPON groupie” about 6 months ago. I noticed that this app was one that I was frequenting more and more, and purchasing from more and more. I love it! They have definitely reeled me in as an avid customer with the deals that I subscribe to as a thrifty lady! Writer Dave Roos describes GROUPON as “coupons on steroids” and I totally agree! His description is also very cute and true! The discounts start at 50% off and go as high as 90% off!!! You sign up and let them know what category of items or services that you are interested in ranging from food & drink, health & beauty, to home services and an extensive array of goods to choose from. You key in your local area of choice and search until your heart is content. The app will remember all of the areas of interest you pick, including your credit card number which can present a problem if you are security prone. I suggest a password on your application so no one but you can get in and shop. I have found some fantastic deals on my beloved GROUPON to date including carpet cleaning services for 70% off the regular price, quality spa facials for way cheaper than I’ve ever paid ! as well as portrait studio steals for my daughter , and tutoring sessions through a reputable company for my son! I have saved so much money and continue to gather great ideas on things to do in the future for myself and my entire family! I really love the “date” night deals, and have taken my boyfriend out to dinner on quite a few GROUPONS! The scary thing about it is that you can get too excited and just start purchasing all these GROUPONS and forget to use them by there expiration date, or get so busy with life and forget to use the product or service all together! A few of my friends have had that issue and so have I. I once forgot to use a dance class GROUPON because the particular class was held at an odd time for me to realistically make it and I let it expire. I simply called the owners of the dance school and they were okay with still honoring my GROUPON and allowing me or my daughter to take classes to use up the amount that I paid. GROUPON also has a “PROMISE” to their customers; If you don not use a GROUPON voucher before it’s promotional value expires, a trip, or attend an event through GROUPON and are disappointed by your experience, they will work with you to make it right or give you a refund. Even in the case where an event is cancelled, or rescheduled or a business closes permanently. GROUPON, like all institutions is far from perfect but for me, my experience has been great. so great that I recommend my co-workers, friend’s and even “YOU” to log on and try it. Groupon has won awards, and has garnered the ability to offer such large discounts because it guarantees owners a minimum return on their investment. It is also a good possibility of the business becoming an overnight sensation. I was just on the site earlier, looking for a hair stylist to chop off my mane! Never know she could later become the next “Paul Mitchell” of the EastBay area! You can print out your GROUPON redemption code or take your smartphone or tablet to the business to redeem your service. It’s so convenient and fun! As FrugalMama, you know I love to save and I obviously enjoy being a GROUPON groupie! So much i could almost be their spokesperson! Yea, there’s LivingSocial, AmazonLocal,(which I have also patronized), and I’m sure many more companies with similar angles. GROUPON is my first love and I am still smitten! Hooked on the thrills of the much needed steals! Sign up and watch how you will be on my groupie bandwagon. Until next time, Smooches and tell GROUPON I sent ya!

My life remains an open book…

                                                                    Image My desire to want to be a writer came early. I was about five or six years old when I knew my future destiny. I was immediately drawn to books and stories after many visits to the library. Every time my mother or teachers would take me to the library my imagination was ignited and my spirit felt free when I touched the pages and climbed into other realms inside them. I was alive for reading and felt that I could create stories just as those writers had done for me! I began to feel one with a paper and pen. More than thirty years later, I feel the exact same euphoria when I read, write, or create imagery in my mind fit to be published or shared. I am a creative creature by nature. Singing, dancing, scrapbooking, clipping coupons and being FrugalMama extraordinaire is a real part of who I am and I love it!  I’ve recently fell back in love with an old friend of mine. (My book ). My book “College Life” was originally written by me, by hand in 1989. I was in the 9th grade on my way to high school. I am a Facebooker, with over 500 friends, many of them former classmates of mine from middle school onto college. Many of those folks were people who were privy to reading my book way back then and have to my delight loved it. Those friends, or classmates were highly engulfed in my story,partially because it was based loosely on my life . They could also identify with the characters! They were  young, hip , and everything “teen” at that time. I have always appreciated the praise that came with that book being passed around. That heightened my confidence and has boosted my love for the written word ever since! 

                                                           We were using typewriters back then, my mom bought me a Brother name brand one and I thought this is it! I will be a writer, or journalist of some sort. I was never big on technology , even later with computers and still prefer writing free hand. I feel that my thoughts come out more fluidly, and  more in synch with each page. My deepest passion is to be published someday! I want Image my work in a major magazine, blog, and to have a book published. I love to write and I know I have a lot to learn about the craft, however I feel that everyone deserves to live the dreams that they have held since childhood. Don’t get me wrong I am loving being a mom, and blogging, and learning new techniques every single day but having a book published will be a huge accomplishment! I have had articles, and reviews published in my college newspaper, and newsmagazines and am still gaining momentum on having other pieces published . I am practicing my craft right now with you lovely folks, its just a matter of time where all things unfold. I unfold my feelings in my stories. In my book “College Life” which I revised in 1991 unleashed many emotions that I was personally feeling at the time. The main female character had a crush on former- University of Michigan player Sean Higgins. He was my real life “crush” at that time, which I ended up meeting in real life in my early 20’s. He actually asked me out in “real” life, so there! You never know how true those words on paper can mirror actual life! I deeply believe in the power of words and in my passion and have not let go of it! I recently posted a photo of my binder which held the contents of  the 182 paged “College Life” novel that I wrote and I had over 15 comments, many questioning “Are you going to re-write it?, or publish it?”, and many comments on how they “remembered it, or loved it!”. I am extremely proud and flattered as I was back in 1991. Who knows what will happen with it ? I don’t, but I do know that my life , meaning (my words) in prose are still an open book. As my book remains to be in the Creator’s hands and publishing awaits I still hone my craft and keep being that same curious little girl who fell in love with story books. In the words of “Terry Brooks”, “This is for writer’s yet to be published who think the uphill climb will never end, keep believing. This is also for published writer’s grown jaded by the process, remember how lucky you are.”   Indeed.  Until next time, Smooches ~