We've been indulging on leftovers for the past 48 hours. I've been way too busy eating to blog about my eating :)
Thanksgiving was perfect this year. My mom cooked the entire meal the same way she and my Aunt Nor cooked it for my entire childhood. The same familiar marshmallowy sweet potatoes. The same perfectly spiced stuffing. And the same amount of love went into it.
She even roped the girls into helping her, much like the way me and my siblings helped assist my Aunt Nor all those years.
Tradition can be a beautiful thing.
I was hoping that the 5 hour cook time at 325 degrees was enough to kill off any grimy germs that may have come with my daughters as they slathered that turkey silly.
About an hour into the cooking process, Eugene and I snuck out and treated the girls to the new Disney movie, Tangled.
These girls were so excited. They ran into the theatre. And I mean, RAN!
Both girls polished off their popcorn before the movie even started. Which I knew would throw a huge dent in their turkey plans--but how could I not?
And the movie turned out to be really cute. Except of course for the villian, which scared the cheesus outta Bella. God forbid Disney put out a movie without one. It's like a prerequisite or something.
We arrived home with 30 minutes to spare before the turkey was done. Which, btw? Was awesome! The perfect turkey! Don't you just want to toss it a top hat and watch those legs step-kick to the tune of NY NY? No? Not at all? Not even a teeny bit?
It was as delicious as it looks. Ahhhh, the sippy cups add a touch of glamour to our table, huh?
Thank you Mom for cooking a perfect dinner that reminded us all just how much love we grew up with! Until next year.....
Following the humble instructions from my friend not to purchase a birthday present for her but rather make a donation on her behalf, I obliged. Cuz' that's what friends do. She mentioned something about a website called Kiva and so I checked it out. I'll never forget that night in 2008, for it has changed me ever since.
Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. Microfinance at it's finest. According to their website, Kiva was born of the following beliefs:
--People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way. --The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity. --By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.
IT'S A BRILLIANT CONCEPT PEOPLE.
I was hooked from the moment I landed on the website. I planned to donate $50 and got to chose from THOUSANDS of "entrepreneurs" all over the world. I began my search and was haunted and moved and saddened by each and every story. But as a mom, my heart broke open when I clicked on Margaret's story.
"Margaret Essiam is a 34 year old mother of three children who lives in Tema, Ghana. Two of her children are in school. Margaret has been selling items like diapers, bedspreads, and baby dresses for the past seven years. She wants to use her new loan to buy more diapers, napkins, bedspreads and to buy containers to secure her products from theft and weather as she peddles them from place to place."
I stared at the picture for a long time. And couldn't help but notice the dusty roads, and the basket of diapers that must be so heavy to carry atop her head, and that sweet little girl she's holding, tugging on her clothes--a feeling I know all too well. She looks like a good mom, doesn't she? I felt a connection with her. I wondered if her daughter sometimes resisted bedtime the way mine did? I wondered if Margaret, like me, couldn't wait for the diaper phase to be over? I wondered if she's a mom who sings to her kids or overly kisses them, like I do mine? Suddenly, miles and culture and financial status disappeared and there we were, simply 2 moms wanting the best for our children.
Instantly, the thought of someone stealing her basket of diapers or rain ruining her inventory was enough motivation for me and I proudly lent Margaret my $50. I often thought about Margaret and prayed that more people would be moved to help her. And you know what? 28 other people felt the same way I did and put their faith in her. I'm happy to report that a mere 9 months later, Margaret fully paid back her $900 loan. Which is so great, especially since the average annual income in Ghana is $2,643! Apparently, with her loan, she was able to take her business to another level. She bought an increased stock of diapers, bed spreads, baby dresses and best of all, she had secured a place in the market to sell her goods.
No more walking. No more carrying. No more door-to-door.
Look at her proud smile. She's so pretty, huh? I'm so thrilled for her and her children and I'm happy to hear that her little girl is now in school. Isn't this concept so amazing? There are so many other stories like hers. And they all have happy endings. In fact, the entrepreneurs have a 98% repayment rate. It's so astonishing that I'm going to type it again. In caps.
98.95% OF THE LOANS HAVE BEEN FULLY REPAID.
Now that restores my faith in humanity.
Also, 81% of the loans are to women entrepreneurs. Right on! The best part of all is that my original $50 keeps getting lent out. Once the loan is repaid, I could either cash it out or lend it to someone else. In the past two years, I have made 5 different loans---all of which have been paid back. And tonight, I plan to lend even more.
It feels good.
It feels right.
I encourage you to lend to someone. All it takes is 5 minutes for your perspective to be forever changed. Poverty is so unfortunate and so crippling that EVERY LITTLE BIT helps, as proven by amazing organizations like Kiva. Go there. Look at the pictures. Read their stories. Make a difference.
I wonder how many times a day I bend over to pick up a toy or a trinket or some ridiculous little knick-knack that SOMEHOW made its way into our house, onto the floor or stuck in between a couch cushion. In fact, I'm often found cursing profanities under my breath as I make the daily rounds putting away the tea cup or the toy spatula or the godforsaken fairy figurines.
But as much as I complain about the 25 cent yo-yo, they'll play with it. And have fun with it. And make memories with it.
Like this particular morning, when Bella spent 15 minutes at the kitchen table, intensely focused on creating a masterpiece using every little knick-knack within arms reach. When I walked past her, I did a double take and grabbed my phone.
Her imagination makes me smile. I see her do these things every single day but sadly, I don't pay enough attention to them. I let my schedule and my routine take precedence. I should stop and listen more before it's too late, before tea parties and doll houses are "soooooo uncoooool mommmmmmm!"
I think it was some time in June when we walked out of the movie theatre after seeing Toy Story 3
and Bella informed me that she would like to be Jessie for Halloween. She's hard core like that. Moments later, Mia too started jumping up and down and began howling something inaudible. About 5 minutes later we figured out that Mia was making it clear that she wanted to be Woody. After all, they've had their Woody and Jessie dolls attached to their hip since that day in June. And believe me, these dolls have gone EVERYWHERE with them. Their dolls have made perfect
and dance partners
They can be seen in almost every picture
at every event we've attended since June.
Clearly, we've taken our adoration of Toy Story to the extreme.
Which is why when Halloween came around, it was crystal clear what needed to be done. Introducing the Sergeant, Mrs. Potatoe Head, Alien, Woody and Jessie.
Oh but wait. There's more. Here's Barbie
And did it stop there? Heck no! We drove to my brother's house to meet up with Buzz Sr., Buzz Jr. and Ken!
It was one of the most memorable Halloween's I've had. There was a collective giddyness among us. We laughed at eachother all night. My sister's boyfriend gets the kudos though, since his Ken outift was AWESOME! All day Mia insisted on being called Woody. Even when she was getting yelled at. Bella negotiated different candy choices and even performed a return/exchange at one unlucky house.