New Year’s Eve, Adventures in the Asian District, and Ziggy Tales

It’s New Year’s Eve!  Almost time to start putting away the Christmas decorations until next year.  I wish I didn’t have to say good-bye to my collection of nutcrackers though.  Today’s the last day of 2014 and all in all it’s been a pretty great year!  It was my last year of elementary school.  My family went on vacation to New Orleans and Disney World.  So awesome!  I started the dreaded middle school and it hasn’t been that bad.  I turned twelve.  I changed dance schools and I got a part in the ballet company’s production of The Nutcracker.  I am excited about 2015 and all the good things to come.

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Well, ever since we went to Epcot at Disney World this summer, I have been interested in Asian snacks, mostly Japanese snacks.  I asked for a lot of different Japanese candies that I saw on Amazon for Christmas and my sister, Ashley, bought me a bunch of it for my present.  Some of it was good, like the green tea Kit Kats.  They taste just like the green tea lattes that my mom gets from Starbucks.  Yum!  Some of it was meh.  But, it just made me want to try more of it. Have you ever had dried seaweed or shrimp crackers?  What about dried squid?  So, ever since last week, I’ve been begging my parents to take me to a couple of grocery stores in the Asian District of the city where we live.  Today, my mom worked half a day and when she got home, my mom and dad took my brother and me to get some candy.  We didn’t spend very much money at all, but we got a lot of stuff, and I found more Kit Kats. I also realized that I could read the ingredient and nutrition labels because they are in English!

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Finally, I wanted to tell you about Ziggy.  He’s been quite a good dog since I’ve been sick.  He’s even taken to sleeping at the foot of my bed.  I think he was being extra nice to me because he knew I had the flu.  Well, the other morning when I was still out of it from being sick, I went to feed him his breakfast.  He eats Cesar dog food.  I took it out of the can, plopped it in his bowl, and went back to bed.  Pretty soon, I heard dad calling me.  He sounded mad.  Oops!  I forgot to break up Ziggy’s food.  So, he picked up the entire square shaped, wet dog food, put it in his mouth like a sandwich, and proceeded to take it over to the carpet to chew pieces off of it.  Dad was mad about the dog food grease that Ziggy got on the carpet.  So there goes another one of Ziggy’s Tales.  The moral of the story is:  remember to break up the dog’s food or he’ll think it’s a burrito and carry it away from his bowl.

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Happy New Year everybody!

100 Happy Days

Gandhi Happiness Quote

Fourteen weeks ago I started the 100 Happy Days Challenge.  Yesterday, I finished it.  The goal was to record something that makes you happy each and every day for 100 days in a row.  I did the challenge on my Instagram account and I am happy to say that I never missed a single day.  The point of the Challenge is to show people how to enjoy the little things in life, because in the world we live in, most people forget to do that.  I took pictures of everything from an origami swan that I made to new shoes to food that I ate to my dog, Ziggy.  I shared pictures of me with characters from our trip to Disney World, the audition flyer for the Nutcracker, and a picture of me on the first day of school.  It made me appreciate my life and to be grateful for all the little things that make me happy.  If you haven’t heard of the 100 Happy Days Challenge, you can read about it right here http://100happydays.com/.  Try it, you’ll feel much happier.

Two Judy Blume Book Summaries – Fudge-a-mania and Double Fudge

Hi everybody.  I know, I know.  Summer is almost over!  School starts for me a week from tomorrow and I bet you thought I forgot all about my Judy Blume Summer Reading Challenge.  Well, I didn’t.  Between all those dance rehearsals for Disney World, going on vacation for over a week, and getting back and trying to catch up on everything, I admit that I’ve neglected my book summaries.  But, I haven’t neglected my reading.  I actually read each and every book like I said I would.  All I have to do is share what I’ve read with all of you.  So, here goes.

Fudge-a-ManiaBook Title:  Fudge-a-mania
Author:  Judy Blume
Illustrator:  None

This story is told from the perspective of Peter Hatcher again. Peter’s mother told Peter that the whole family, including Grandma Muriel, would be renting a vacation house in Maine next door to the Tubman’s.  Peter hated Shelia Tubman!  She was his sworn enemy.  Things get even worse when Peter’s five year old brother Fudge said he wanted to marry Shelia.  On the bright side, Peter’s parents said he could bring one friend with him to Maine.  Peter picked his best friend Jimmy Fargo. Jimmy’s dad said he’d drive him up there himself and campout in the area.  Peter was thrilled.  He wasn’t very happy about the drive to Maine, though.  It took ten hours. Ten hours in a car with Turtle, Fudge, Uncle Feather, Tootsie, and his parents.  Grandma Muriel flew in on an airplane.  When the Hatcher’s got to the house Peter realized that the two houses were connected.  He met Buzz Tubman’s father Buzzy Senior and the Tubman’s puppy Jake.  Peter had to share a small bedroom with Fudge who talked in his sleep.  Fudge, on the other hand, was still convinced that Shelia would marry him.  The next morning Uncle Feather was missing from his cage.  Fudge had let him out of his cage!  Shelia didn’t know he was out of his cage and she had opened all of the windows.

So, that morning Peter and Fudge set out in the fog to look for the lost bird.  When looking for the bird Peter and Fudge came to a house.  Inside was a lady.  She had them call her Mrs. A.  Fudge told her about Uncle Feather and told Peter not to talk while he helped himself to hot coco and cinnamon buns.  Mrs. A. even told Fudge about Mitzi who is her five year old granddaughter.  Once they left Mrs. A’s house Peter told Fudge that he had forgotten about his bird that they had been looking for.  Fudge just started to cry.  A few minutes after Peter and Fudge returned home, Uncle Feather flew through the house chasing Libby (Shelia’s older sister).  Everyone realized it was Uncle Feather who was chasing her!  The next day, Shelia gave Mrs. Hatcher the idea of babysitting Fudge and getting paid.  Mrs. Hatcher settled on seven dollars a day.  Peter, Fudge, and Shelia all went to the beach then they went to Mrs. A’s house where they met Mitzi.  Even though Mitzi was a girl she and Fudge became very good friends.  Peter even ended up finding out that Mitzi’s grandfather, Big Apfel, was a famous baseball player.  Mitzi revealed that there was going to be a big game on Sunday that her grandfather was going to play in.  She said that Peter could come and he was thrilled.  Once Jimmy got to Maine his father ended up staying at the Hatcher’s/Tubman’s house.  Peter took Jimmy with him to the baseball game and was unhappy that Big Apfel said that Jimmy had a lot of talent.  Jimmy didn’t even know who Big Apfel was without Peter!  Peter also swallowed a fly while on his way to the library.  He did have some fun times in Maine though.  Frank Fargo made a painting and Tootsie walked all over it.  Frank thought it was a masterpiece and he decided to start a whole line of paintings called Baby Feet.  Peter even had a good time when he went with everyone on a boat trip around the beach even though the boat almost sank.  Buzzy Senior and Grandma Muriel even got married!  All in all it was the best vacation ever!

Double FudgeBook Title:  Double Fudge
Author:  Judy Blume
Illustrator:  None

Peter Hatcher is back in the last book of the Fudge Series.  Twelve year old Peter Hatcher’s five year old brother Farley (Fudge) is now obsessed with money.  He wants to buy out the entire Toys R Us or even New York City.  He makes his own money called Fudge Bucks.  Fudge’s new obsession is driving Peter crazy!   “It’s just a stage,” his mother says.  Money is all Fudge will talk about.  He even has a song that he made up about money!  In the shoe store Fudge wanted many pairs of shoes.  He got mad when his mother wouldn’t let him.  He didn’t understand why he couldn’t get what he wanted and why he couldn’t pay in Fudge Bucks.  He then threw a fit right in the middle of the shoe store.  When they got back to the apartment building Peter ran into his best friend Jimmy Fargo.  Jimmy told Peter that he wouldn’t be living in New York City anymore.  Jimmy’s parents are divorced and he lived with his dad.  His dad was a painter and was expanding, so he needed a bigger studio instead of their small apartment.  That’s why Jimmy was moving to SoHo.

Peter was stunned.  How could this happen, he thought?  Jimmy was still going to go to school with Peter.  He just couldn’t walk with him every day.  Jimmy was going to be taking the subway instead.  Once Jimmy moves out a girl Fudge’s age named Melissa moves in.  They instantly become friends and find out they are in the same Mixed Group which meant they were ready to read and write, but they were too young for First Grade.  Peter was stunned, again.  Fudge even made another friend who was rich.  That’s mostly why Fudge liked him, because he was rich. Peter got the chance to go to Jimmy Fargo’s new loft in SoHo.  His dad had to take him because his mom was working and so Fudge and Tootsie had to go too.  Fudge lost his shoe on the subway and got a cheap one (that was a totally different shoe).  Peter did have fun at the Fargo’s though.  The next day another pair of shoes was bought for Fudge.  Fudge’s money obsession was getting worse and the school counselor even called Fudge’s parents to a meeting to discuss if they had financial problems.  How embarrassing!  It was Grandma Muriel who said it would be a great idea to take Fudge to Washington D.C. to see how money was made.  So off they went.  Grandma Muriel stayed behind and watched Tootsie.  They rode the subway there.  Fudge loved the tour and the gift shop.  In the gift shop the Hatcher’s discovered some relatives from Hawaii.  They were from Peter’s dad’s side.  One of the kid’s was even named Farley and they called him Fudge too.  Fudge hated that he had a cousin with the same name as him.  Cousins Fauna and Flora were Peter’s age and they were twin sisters.  They sang in the gift shop and made a huge scene.  Everyone loved them.  They were well known in Hawaii, apparently.  Cousin Howie was the father and Cousin Eudora was the mother.  Both families went out for ice cream after.  They all went back to the Hatcher’s apartment back in New York City and they stayed there.  It was Cousin Howie’s idea, of course.  The entire family hogged the TV because they didn’t have one back in Hawaii.  They were driving Peter crazy.  Fauna and Flora had to go to Peter’s school.  They embarrassed him by singing all over school.  They were very popular and Shelia Tubman, Peter’s sworn enemy, was best friends with them.  Uncle Feather (Fudge’s pet bird) broke his wing.  Finally, the Hatcher’s of Hawaii moved out.  But they moved in next door and decided to stay there until the people they were renting from came back from vacation.  On Halloween both of the Fudge’s dressed as Miser’s.  Melissa was Hermione from Harry Potter.  Fudge’s friend, Melissa, lost her cat and both Fudges’ got stuck on the apartment elevator with an old neighbor, Olivia Osterman.  They finally got out!  After Halloween the weather turned very cold.  There was a big dinner held at the Hatcher’s.  The Cousins came and so did Mrs. Osterman.  Fudge finally lost his tooth and the other Fudge ate it.  Peter told Fudge how he ate his turtle back when he was in fourth grade.  Fudge already knew the story but he still nodded and ended up writing a letter to the tooth fairy explaining the situation.  He found Peter’s old teeth in his parent’s room.  That night Peter tucked them under his pillow.

My “Mane” Attraction!

Hi everybody.  Today I want to talk about hair, or what my irritating brother calls my lion’s mane.  It seems like my hair is always such a big deal.  Doing my hair takes up a lot of my time, but only because it is connected to MY head.  What I should really say is that doing my hair takes up a lot of my mom’s time.  Part of the reason is because I have A LOT of it and the other part is because it just so happens (if you haven’t noticed by now) I’m a black girl.  And us black girls spend a lot of time on our hair!  And with a black girl’s hair comes a lot of issues!  My mom says that African-American/black women worry about their hair and white women worry about their weight.  All I know is that my hair always seems to take center stage and somehow becomes the “mane” attraction!  For example, in the pictures below, I had just come back from the salon the day before we left for our Disney World vacation.  We were trying a new stylist and it took her over three hours to wash, condition, blow dry, and flat iron my hair!  Yes, I sat there for over three hours getting my hair done.  And actually, that’s about normal since I started going to the salon about a year and a half ago.  And my mom says that finding a stylist who can do a black woman’s hair is like finding a hundred dollar bill under my pillow left by the tooth fairy!  At least where we live, there aren’t that many stylists who really know how to do hair like ours and as for the tooth fairy leaving me a hundred dollars……….NOT at my house!  Anyway, if I have something to do requiring me to fix up my hair, I had better plan ahead of time.  My mom wanted my hair to look good to perform at Disney, but getting it done a week ahead of the performance required that I be careful all week long to try to preserve the flat ironing.  We can flat iron at home, but the tools that they have at the salon allow the style to last a lot longer.

Unless, you are going to Florida where it is not only hot but HUMID with a capital H!!  But before you go to Florida, you spend a couple of days in New Orleans walking around the French Quarter sweating and watching your hair grow into a frizz ball!  Oh, and then when you get to Disney World it rains like crazy the first day and you think you are gonna need Noah’s Ark to get you out of there and back to the hotel!  All of this happened to me on my way to dancing at Disney.  Oh, and then all of your friends want you to come swim in the hotel pool or go to one of the water parks during the week leading up to the performance.  And I was like, “Awww, heck naw!  I can’t get my hair all wet in a swimming pool before I dance!”  And they are all like, “Why?”  And I’m all like, “Girl, I’m black!  I gotta protect my lion’s mane!”  That’s how the conversation goes every single time and I have A LOT of those conversations, but it’s okay.  It gets pretty funny and I am used to it.  By the time dance day came, my hair had held up pretty well and it was looking good for my performance!  We danced on a Friday evening and once I found the time to go swimming on Sunday, I spent the evening in the hotel pool!  So, it all worked out.  Such is the life of a little black girl trying to tame her lion’s mane!

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Confidence!

When I was in the gift shop in Japan at Epcot in Disney World, I bought a doll named Tsukiko.  She is a Japanese Confidence Doll made by Kimmidoll.  They had a lot of dolls that represented different emotions and feelings, like Happy, Love, Brave, Gratitude, Creative, Adventurous, Kindness, Laughter, Joy, Wisdom, and a bunch of others.  I chose Confidence because it is something that I have struggled with from time to time.  Today was a big day for me.  It was my last day at the studio that I’ve been dancing at for the last five years.  I was sad to be leaving all the other girls and my teachers, but I am excited at the same time.  I want to spend more time working on ballet and perfecting my technique and to take some time off from doing competitions, at least for a while.  It’s scary to be going to a new studio, so when I saw the Confidence doll, I knew I had to have her.  Whenever I am feeling discouraged, I will remember my doll.  Whenever I feel like there is something that I can’t do, I’ll remember my doll.  Whenever I feel like I want to quit, I’ll remember my doll.  Whenever the mean girls start talking, I’ll remember my doll.  Whenever, I need to stand up for myself or for somebody else or for something that I believe in, I’ll remember my doll.  She came with a note and it says:

My spirit is bold and courageous.

By believing in yourself and staying true to your convictions,

you show my courageous spirit.

May your self-assurance boldly lead you,

so you may do everything with calm confidence.

 For all the girls who sometimes feel like I do – BE BOLD.  BE COURAGEOUS.  BE CONFIDENT!

Tsukiko, Japanese Confidence Doll