Friday, December 26, 2008

So you think you can dance ...

Playing games during our family holiday gatherings is nothing new. In fact, when I was younger, we always brought the games that Santa brought us to play with our cousins. Back in the day it was board games. Monopoly, Trouble, Life, Sorry and UNO occupied our time while the finishing touches on dinner were under way.

As we got older there were more adult games like Scattegories, Guesstures and Taboo. I can still remember the funniest clue ever given when we let our aunts play Taboo with us ... a funky squirrel. Well, I'm sure if her team had thought about it they would have gotten the answer, but instead everyone fell out in laughter and nobody said skunk. It was the first and last time Aunt Peggy played.

These days the games are a little different. There were more Nintendo DSs in the house than should be allowed, especially since I didn't get the blinged out version like America Ferrera that I asked Santa for. But I'm not bitter. I'm sure there was a child out there that needed it more than me. Right, Santa?

And for the second time this year, the dance mats were broken out. Actually, before we ate dinner, my cousin brought out the dry erase board for people to sign up. Can you tell we're a tad big competitive?

So, after dinner the dance mats were brought out and the competition began. First the little ones got to play. Even Preston took a turn (and of course I got a picture.) They were too cute, bouncing around. But the adults grew antsy and the little ones were quickly told their turns were over. Not that they cared, they had more toys to play with.

Then the "adults" started. We only got one of my aunts to play. And she actually won a round against one Antwan. We were all playing the "beginner" level until two little Byrds decided they were going to crank it up a notch.

They were hilarious and have earned the first video every posted to my blog. If you need a good laugh, check it out! It's especially funny because without a mat and in another setting, these two can dance like they're in a music video! Apparently, arrows change everything.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My favorite things ...

Riding into work this morning, Luther Vandross' rendition of "My Favorite Things" was playing on the radio. It's one of my favorite versions of the song. It's Luther. As comedians often say ... he could sing the phone book and I'd listen. But it got me to thinking about things that make me smile -- my favorite things. By the time I got to work, I was in a great mood! Why? Because of my favorite things ...
  • Preston's laugh
  • Mark's singing voice
  • Hershey's Kisses
  • Aunt Peggy's mac and cheese
  • Aunt Betty's turkey and dressing
  • A gospel choir that "sangs"!
  • Ladybugs
  • A good book (the kind that makes you feel like you've lost a good friend when you're done reading)
  • Autumn leaves
  • Clear Christmas lights
  • Hot cocoa on a cold morning or evening
  • Hot McDonald's french fries
  • Black leather boots (with at least a 3-inch heel, of course)
  • The Color Purple (book and movie)
  • Prince singing Adore live (I've been lucky enough to see that twice)
  • People magazine

Now that you know some of my favorite things, I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with your favorite things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 -- The best of times ... the worst of times

Friday, when I took my two weekly magazines from my mailbox, there was a common theme. Both magazines focused on the Best and Worst of 2008. Some of their choices I agreed with. For example, I thought Tropic Thunder and Iron Man were great and that Robert Downey, Jr. made one hell of a comeback this year. I also agreed that network television programming has really sucked this year (Grey's Anatomy is a perfect example!), while cable television programming has just been a delight (True Blood, The Wire and Weeds were among my favorites).

So, after reading both magazines, I started to think about the best and worst times of my life this year. There were some definite highs and lows. And while the good definitely outweighed the bad, the bad was and continues to be heartbreaking.

The best of times ...

  • In one word ... Preston. Without a doubt, watching him grow and develop these last 12 months has been my biggest joy and greatest challenge. He's a typical toddler, and at times I was ready to put him up for adoption, but I honestly can't imagine life without that big smile, those wet kisses or bear hugs.

  • Reading. I got back to reading. In 2007, I was just trying to get used to having a baby. I can count on one hand the books I read. This year, I discovered along with millions of others, The Twilight Saga. I read E. Lynn Harris' latest, which was a real treat because it focused on the relationship between a mother and son. I got caught up on the Alex Cross series, including the latest one, Cross Country, that I hope to get to while on Christmas break.

  • Facebook. I was late to the game, but I have become a power player! LOL. I cannot go more than a few hours without checking to see what my "friends" are saying or doing. I've reconnected with people from grade school to college. It's been fun.

The worst of times ...

Rest in peace, Mother. I always thought my grandmother would live forever. In fact, I used to tell her that all the time. And she'd call me crazy or start quoting scripture. As a child, I had to deal with death. My father died of pancreatic cancer when I was 6. And just after my tenth birthday, my mother died of a brain aneurysm at the very young age of 35. Dealing with it wasn't that hard because I had my grandmother and lots of other family members who made sure that my sister and I felt loved. She was always there.

So, this summer when she passed away about a month after having a major stroke and heart attack, my life changed forever. I was saddened because my rock wasn't here any more. I also felt bad for Preston because he would never get to know her or get to do all the fun things that we got to do with her as children.

I'm grateful that God gave her to us for 92 years. I'm also glad that she got to meet Preston, whom she adored like he was her first grandchild (she had more than 27 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren by the time he got here.) Not a day goes by without me thinking of her. And I know that will continue for years to come. But they are comforting memories of some of the best times of my life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ..."

Here's something you may not know about me. I LOVE Christmas music! Each year, I usually buy a new CD to add to the collection I've been acquiring for some years now. Last year, I couldn't have been happier when the iTunes Store started giving away a new holiday song each Tuesday – it gave me the opportunity to listen to Christmas songs from artists I probably wouldn’t have listened to on my own. So far this year, I’ve got a song from Melissa Etheridge, Faith Hill and Tony Bennett … not too shabby!

So, in honor of my love for Christmas music and the fact that it has been ignored by the Grammys, Billboard and American Music Awards, I’ve decided to hold the First and Last Annual Keela Christmas Music Awards, awarding “Keela” awards in various categories. And the “Keela” goes to … (I’m sure the winners are going to be so excited to hear about this honor!)

Keela Christmas Music Award Winners

Favorite Soundtrack – A Charlie Brown Christmas (Vince Guaraldi Trio)
Favorite Solo Album – Star Bright (Vanessa Williams)
Favorite Group Album – Christmas Interpretations (Boyz II Men)
Favorite Gospel Album – We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Take 6)
Best Song by Group – Silent Night (The Temptations)
Best Solo – The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole)
Best Christmas Song Used in a Movie – White Christmas (The Drifters in Home Alone)
Favorite Song to Hear Riding in the Car – This Christmas (Donny Hathaway)
Favorite Hymn – O, Holy Night (Yolanda Adams)
Favorite Original Song – Let it Snow (Boyz II Men and Brian McKnight)
Favorite Instrumental Song – Christmas Is Coming (Vince Guaraldi Trio)
Best Song Recorded by Keela – Santa Baby (It’s a classic! I’ve got to find a way to put it online)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The magazine fiend that is me

Entertainment Weekly.
“O” Magazine.
Reader’s Digest.

So, what do all these magazines have in common? Besides being fabulous periodicals, they also happen to be all the magazines I find in my mailbox on a weekly or monthly basis. And yes, I know that I have a problem!

But in my defense, one subscription was a gift from a really good friend when Preston was born. (Parenting – Thanks, Nicole! I learn something new from every issue.) Two of them helped my coworker’s granddaughter’s school buy some really nice things. (Entertainment Weekly and Reader's Digest) One was a steal using the annual Time Friends and Family Discount (Essence ... $11 for a year). I got a pretty good deal on O, too. And who doesn't love Oprah?

I bought Fitness from the HSN when Preston was about 4 weeks old and sleeping for 15 minutes at a time. It was an impulse purchase brought on by sleep deprivation and the promise to myself to get back in shape. (And we all see how that's been going.) I have no justification for People. It's my guilty pleasure. My annual Christmas present to myself. I look forward to unwinding every Friday night with it.

It seems like I've always had magazines around me. I love reading the articles, looking at the ads -- it's a great escape. I can remember getting my Weekly Reader in elementary school. My sister and I had subscriptions to Highlights as children. And it's just grown from there. My mother was the same way. I can remember her having subscriptions to Ebony, Psychology Today and Reader's Digest, as well as educational magazines from her professional organizations.

In the past I've had subscriptions to Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Time, Ebony, Jet and others that I can't recall right now.

I actually thought I had a handle on it, until last week when I received three of them in the mail at once. But I'm not worried. I think the Parenting and Fitness mags expire early 2009, so the coffee table will find some relief. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I have a hard time recycling them, even after reading them from cover to cover. And I do read them all every week or month -- from the first page to the last.

There's one more. I don't have a subscription because they don't offer them, but I look forward to the first of each month so I can pick up a copy of the latest skirt! magazine. It's free and full of great articles for and by women. I like this one so much that I've gone to their website to look at their contributor guidelines because I've always wanted to be published. I am a writer, you know! And with the family, friends and coworkers I have ... I've got lots of material. Maybe next year, because for now, I'm just going to enjoy reading.