Are You Color Blind?

Are You Color Blind?

I’ve been thinking of conversations with people in my life about “living while black,” and to be honest, if another person tells me they don’t see me as black… That they don’t see my “color…” That I’m “not like other black people…” Or my favorite (insert eye roll) “you’re only half,” as if I am supposed to just ignore half of my being. Let’s try and pretend the “one drop rule” doesn’t exist. Even though my kids are a quarter black, they’re black. They will always be black, and we choose to teach them to embrace it. So, I just can’t. Not today. Not ever again. I’m doing my best to remain open, love all, and expand myself. But when it comes to this, I will no longer accept or tolerate ignorance. You are not ignorant when you make those comments and dismiss me when I explain how that makes me feel. At that point, you CHOOSE not to see ME.

On a brighter note, I often have shared how accepted and loved I was by my late Dad, Steve, and while most people probably assume my comments of him accepting me for who I am is simply because I am his daughter in law, it’s not – I am referring to him loving me regardless of my skin color. Caring for him in his final weeks of life, I was only reassured of that love and my heart is filled with gratitude to have those moments. Dad was anything but ignorant. Even in his final days, he was learning and growing.

How did I get so lucky to have two amazing Dads? Both so different in looks, but both so full of love for their children and other people’s children – regardless of what they look like. My Dad Steve loved me, for ME. I never for a second doubted that. I’m heartbroken that I have lost such an amazing man, white ally, friend and father who truly accepted me regardless of what I looked like. He saw me… as his beautiful, free-spirited, biracial daughter, but never made me feel any less because of it. Like my blood Daddy, he encouraged me to think I could do great things, that nothing was impossible. Yet, he was aware of my reality and that I would have to work harder than someone with less melanin, that his grandkids would also share that reality. He never tried to act like he understood my feelings on issues of race but always listened attentively, never made me feel like I was overreacting, never dismissed me or my emotions, and always reassured me of the love he had for me and his multiracial grandchildren. He always wanted to learn more, grow more, to know how he could be a voice and how he could make things even just a little better.

This post is more than just a memoir of who my Dad was in this life, but a call to action in hopes that maybe it will inspire you to stand up and speak out, to love others more – like he did. Start within your own families and circles. Commit to learning and growing, being better for yourself, your children, and others.

White friends & family, I beg you, please don’t be color-blind. And if you have been and want to open your eyes, ask questions, read, and put in the work. Mamademics has amazing resources and articles on advocacy and being part of the change. The answers are there if you really want to find them. With the current state of our nation, and the fact that some people are just now coming to grips that racism is still rampant, baffles me. Why? Because a large majority of our nation is color-blind. They might not be out marching with torches or wearing a hood, but they are everywhere. They’re teaching our children in our schools, “serving and protecting” on our forces, and the sad reality, for some – share a family name.

We need help.

“White supremacy never left because you pretend that you’re color-blind in order to absolve yourself…” Danielle, Mamademics

White people hold the ball in their courts, they always have, from the very beginning of our nation. The intent from the beginning was domination and supremacy. We know that justice for all did not include anyone other than the white male. Today, we take the stand and fight for rights and equality, but our nation was built on the backs and blood of people of color.

We want peace. We want to live, we want to be who we are without fear for our lives. You know, sometimes kids are taught that they are not to start a fight, but they sure as hell can finish it. Well, we can try and defend ourselves, but even then it comes with a price – usually our lives. Now what? We definitely didn’t start this fight and we are tired. We defend and fight back daily in our minds (which most of the time is a battle ignored in and of itself), our homes, in the streets with our black and brown brothers and sisters, in our offices, in our paychecks – or lack there of. We can’t end this alone, it’s always been in your hands.

As my family member, friend, reader, acquaintance, fellow human being, I’m asking you this:

Will you be part of the solution to finish this fight once and for all?

I know many of you might be thinking it’s taking on the world and the thought might even overwhelm you (it should cause there is A LOT), perhaps because you think you don’t know those brown and black bodies in the news, and don’t see how this all affects you. Your privilege is showing.

So could you at least muster up enough f*cks to give for me? Still not sure? How about for my kids?

If you can’t answer that with a yes, save me the time of weeding out those who are silent in my networks and hit “unfriend.” Seriously. Open your eyes. Don’t be silent. Teach your kids to love AND teach them about the realities of life for so many other people that don’t look like them. Love is great, it’s a starting point, but action is needed. People of color are not just being broken down, we are being destroyed – one by one – and it started many years ago, and continues in full force today.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s time to wake up.

Spring Break at Dillon Beach, CA

Spring Break at Dillon Beach, CA

Spring break has come and gone.

We spent our family vacation in Dillon Beach on Bodega Bay, CA with my husband’s family. Every year, they rent a home that sits midway up the mountain of Oceana Drive. IT IS GORGEOUS.

This quaint little beach town is about 30 minutes west of Petaluma, CA but approximately two hours from us (Lodi). As a SoCal girl, the first thing I will tell you is that this is a cold beach. I usually pitch a fuss about having to wear a jacket on the shore. I know, such a baby. However, our kids love it though and somehow manage to still dip their toes (or depending on which kid) or whole body into the freezing water.

Some of the fun things they enjoy include digging holes, hiking up the mountain, and rolling down the massive sand dune.

If you plan a trip to Dillon Beach you should know a few things:

It was amazing time spent just revelling in the beauty of the coast and closeness of our loved ones. We are forever grateful for the memories we get to make with our babies, and that they get to grow up appreciating these moments of family, creation and fun.

Pictures say a thousand words, so I will leave you with Jeff’s amazing visuals.

Other sights & experiences in the area:

What are some of your favorite spring break excursions?

It’s the Climb

It’s the Climb

Family day trips are great, especially when you get to be out in the open, consumed by nature. Okay, that totally does not sound like me. I am not a hiker. I do not enjoy lounging in the forest. I appreciate it all from a distance, but it isn’t my “go-to” idea of F U N.

 

 

However, I have an active family, and they L O V E nature trails, hikes, forests and oceans and I love them to pieces for it. So, I go. I’m mostly afraid of being eaten by a wild animal, being taken by the ocean, or one of my children falling off the edge of a trail. I will tell you that the more I participate, it is slowly growing on me. Don’t let me see signs about bears or other wildlife because I will turn right around and go back to my car.

Our most recent adventure was to the East Bay at Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area. We met up with one of our favorite people, Jeff’s cousin, Melissa, who happens to be one of my dearest friends since I was 18. She is always good to hang out with our crazy fun family; always ready for an adventure with the Kimble-Walls! 🙂 

 

 

I learn a lot about myself on trips like this, like how strong I really am – even when I think I am going to keel over or am scared of some random sound in the bushes. I also realize how important moments spent as an entire family unit are to my kids. I am making a more conscious effort to reserve off days for doing things that they enjoy. I treasure the memories that I have with my parents and brother as we traveled, whether it be camping, hanging at the beach, or exploring new cities and states together. Being such a large family is not the easiest thing when you want to see the world, but we are committing to explore as much as we can together. That’s the beauty of it, we get to do it together. Before long, our eldest will be in college (yikes, just 2 more years), and our youngest a high schooler. Time is going by so quickly, and I don’t want to miss out on an experience with them.

 

  

Having kids sometimes feels like an uphill battle, but just like on our hiking trip, in life there are a lot of sweet, precious moments and at the end, when you look down and back, you see how far you got and feel pretty proud that no one fell off; even though we might have bickered on the way up and/or some of us complained – we made it. Together. You see, getting to the top is just part of it. It’s the climb that makes us stronger, brings us together, and shows us new things. This truth is something we try to show our kids, not just tell them. Giving them hands on experience to relate to life will help them grow as teens and adults. Getting to where you want to go isn’t easy work. It’s uphill, it can be a battle, it can be exhausting, but it is so satisfying. Enjoy these moments while you can.

Magic Moments: Travel Planning Fun with Get Away Today!

Magic Moments: Travel Planning Fun with Get Away Today!

I’m extremely excited to announce that I am a partner with Get Away Today travel! When Jeff and I only had 2 girls, we booked vacations through Get Away Today, and as our family grew, family travel took the back burner. It is unfortunate, as traveling is really fun, especially with kids! Thankfully we’ve hit the road quite a few times since, and are looking to expand our travel borders in the near future.

I used to want to be a travel agent, my mom worked for a travel agency when I was younger, and it was always fun to go visit her at her office and see all the images of tropical locations and scenery on the walls. I never really paid attention to what she actually did, it was just fun to visit and dream of being in one of those exotic places as I waited for her to get off work.

Fast forward to today, Jeff and I have five kids of our own and we are learning that “organized travel” is extremely important. When I say “organized” I mean, planned, and plotted, making sure we stretch every dollar and get bang for our bucks. We used to lean towards spontaneous, as in “let’s go next month” type of travel, and that can get expensive and is somewhat stressful. As our income has always fluctuated, it has been challenging to really save for anything, let alone a full blown family trip with bells and whistles! When doing spontaneous travel, a family vacation was never long enough, lasting only 2 -3 days in southern CA with the kids to visit family and sometimes Disneyland (our happy place). 

About Get Away Today

Get Away Today takes the guesswork out of booking a full vacation package. They have awesome benefits, like a layaway plan and Peace of Mind travel insurance, which is a plus when you’re really saving towards a family vacation. The downpayment for travel is $125, which includes a nonrefundable $50 layaway fee. The trip needs to be paid in full within two weeks of travel (many other sites require it from 30-45 days prior). 

When I became a partner with Get Away Today, I was so excited to finally get back to booking and saving. Our family will get to experience more travel in the near future, especially as I am have embarked on a new journey in my career, so saving is a little easier. Work hard, play hard, right?!

Hurry, this offer ends 6/26/16 for travel through December 31, 2016.

Hurry, this offer ends 6/26/16 for travel through December 31, 2016.

Book with Get Away Today

So what does this mean for you, my readers, family and friends? Well, if you choose to book through Get Away Today Vacations, you will receive a $10 credit towards any 2 night stay (use code “SPARKS” when booking) and I will earn a small commission for referring you. Stay tuned for special offers throughout the year, like Adults pay Kids Price at Disneyland, which is going on until June 26, 2016. I’ll keep you updated and look forward to hearing your travel stories, too!

We just booked our Fall vacation and cannot wait to share our experience with you!

Magic Moments: Games and Learning with Kids – Scrabble x Disney

Magic Moments: Games and Learning with Kids – Scrabble x Disney


Naturally, we love Disney games at our house. I purchased the Scrabble “Disney Theme Park Edition” game last year, but I never made the time to sit and play with the kids. I know, that’s terrible, but that’s the facts. My intention is to change the fact that moments with the kids are few, at least when it comes to organized games or activities. Half the time I’m lucky my dinner table is cleared of “life” so we can sit down and enjoy dinner together, let alone a board game!

One of the kids’ favorite games to play with my parents is Scrabble. When I saw that Disney had their own version (of course), I had to pick it up. The game is just as magical as you would think it to be, with a twist of pixie dust added. You get extra points for using Disney words and/or phrases, which is perfect for us Disney-loving people.

Playing board games can be a fun treat at home, or on-the-go! Consider packing one or two for your next road trip or family vacation. You’ll be making memories on vacation, even in your “down time.”

Learning: Scrabble is a fun word game that really is perfect for kids, regardless of age! When we first started playing with my parents a few years ago, the kids usually teamed up with an adult. Today, they play on their own and they’re increasing their vocabulary as we have them look up words in the dictionary and thesaurus. Granted, when playing with younger kids, each turn takes a little longer than if we played with all adults, but it really is a fun game to play together as a family. The kids learn to be resourceful with a dictionary, and we all have a fun time learning new words and realizing how big our imaginations can be when we accidentally create words. The game gives us all practice in patience, teamwork, comprehension, and exercising our creative brain muscles.

In the box: This special Disney edition comes with some fun pixie dust! Aside from the board, 4 wooden tile holder and 100 tiles, you receive a cute little pouch with the castle graphic & fireworks. The bag has a velcro closure, which is great since it lays flat in the box. The tiles are imprinted with the letters and point value in blue. Unlike classic Scrabble, there are also 26 Magic cards that come with it, fully decked out with Disney graphics, and special instructions enhancing game play. I think it’s a pretty awesome game to have in our collection, and one that we will play for years to come. We also have monopoly, but let’s be honest that game takes days to end. This is perfect for a family game night before or after a Disney movie, of course!

Where to buy it: I honestly can’t remember where I purchased my version, but after looking at Amazon, it’s slim pickings. The only ones are available for a minimum of $100 for the Disney Theme Park Edition. If you’re a mega Disney fan, it might be something you’d consider. For me, I know I didn’t pay that much, so I’m thinking in the range of $50 max. You might be able to get it in store at Target or Walmart. Sometimes your local hallmark will have special edition board games.

I’m sure you know by now, that we will try anything that is Disney themed at least once, and I’m happy to report that this game will be one we will be taking on road trips to play in the hotel!

Do you have a favorite Disney themed or classic board game?

 

Realizing Why I Write and How I am Moving Forward

Realizing Why I Write and How I am Moving Forward

I woke up from my sleep in tears. Literally. I had a dream full of emotion, it was bittersweet and I was cut to the core in the midst because, for some reason I was in my dream, KNOWING that I was only dreaming. I was being reunited with some of my dear Disney friends at a celebration of some sorts; we shed tears of happiness, caught up on moments missed and chatted about our different paths in life. I was so overwhelmed this morning as I wiped away what was left of the moments that never really happened.

“My brain runs like a motor that has a broken off switch. ”

I told myself, “Self, you better get up this morning and do some writing.” I’m not sure what writing has to do with my emotional dream, but I do know that writing helps me to process everything that goes on in this crazy-beautiful, ADHD head of mine (wide eyed awake, or asleep). I’ve also noticed that since I’ve been on a writing hiatus, my brain feels like it might explode since I’m not releasing anything mentally.

Hitting “publish” offers a different kind of satisfaction and solace than just having a verbal conversation. I don’t have a huge audience of readers here, so for me, this entire process has been about a release. Believe me, I LOVE to talk. However, I tend to convey my thoughts better through written form. I write about things that are important to me (family, fun, life), and I also have sponsored content that I create for brands. I’m blessed with the opportunities that I do have, but at the end of the day, this space is still for me and anyone else that is seeking to find some magic in their lives.

“My world outside of Sparks of Magic is very R E A L.”

I know that life is not perfect, but I choose to be positive about most of it, which includes my writing and my visual imagery for my blog and social spaces. I like pretty things but I have a messy house more often than not. I can’t stop my kids from loving crappy junk food or wearing mismatch socks. They also tend to be angels in public and I have no idea where I get them from when they are at home. My husband and I are seriously best friends but you also should know that we drive each other crazy (which is where we got our crazy kids).

I live a daily battle with anxiety and depression that I don’t usually talk about outside of my immediate family and close circle of friends. I love people. I love connecting with others. I work full time in human resources and at times find that I take on the emotional stresses of colleagues and students on campus. Sometimes I just can’t help it because I care. I cry in my office with students and new hires that are trying to survive working to support their families, I celebrate with them when they are getting their first job or retiring from years of service. I cry all the time. Happy. Sad. Frustrated. Elated. Mad. Confused. It’s just what happens. If only I shed water weight like I shed tears.

There is this perception that bloggers have a picture perfect life.

I will never attest to that, and the bloggers that I know will be the first to tell you that is not true. Perhaps you’re reading the wrong blogs if that is the expectation. We tend to joke about being “Martha Stewart” in the kitchen as the epitome of the perfectly marketed domestic lifestyle. No. That is her BRAND. Real Life is meant to be lived. Life is messy. Life is hard and most of us work our asses off to get where we are. I might not have buckets of money pouring in from my sporadic content, but do you know what I do have? Enough. The universe takes care of me and my family, and things come along when they do, WHEN they are meant to happen.

There is A LOT of hard work to put into having a successful blog, and I give MAD PROPS to my peeps that are doing it SO WELL. (I am going to need to compile a list of some of the diamonds in the blogging game, people that are raw, real, and some of the best). I just don’t have the same desire or time to put into growing my blog; I had to come to that realization and not beat myself up over it. Over the course of past the year, and during my hiatus I really wanted to understand myself, set some goals for my life, and figure out why I couldn’t seem to stick to the consistency needed to build my Sparks brand the way that I can totally envision. Then, it hit me.

B E I N G a “full-time blogger” is not my calling, and I am realizing it is not my desire.

Let it be known, if you don’t know me already, my career passion lies in working for a brand that has existed for decades. If you remember the early stages of Sparks of Magic, it began as a Disney-focused blog. It was a means to an end. It gave me comfort to write about the magic I experienced, and long to have back, when I worked for The Walt Disney Company. I truly believe that Disney is my destiny. I put it out in the universe years ago, and my journey keeps moving in that direction. No matter where I am job-wise, since leaving Disney, it has always been my goal/dream/destiny to go back. I worked hard to finish my Bachelors Degree last year and am studying for my GMAT to apply for my MBA program. There have been times that I’ve wanted to give up, mainly because a career with Disney includes a 300 mile relocation for my family of seven, not to mention a much higher cost of living; then, I look at my kids.

“Kids don’t do as we say, they do as we do.”

I’ve grown up with a passion and drive to follow my heart. I work 24-7 for myself and my family and I don’t ever want to be in a place where I am settling. I pursue my goals and take necessary steps towards achieving them for myself, but also for my kids. What better role model would they have than one that birthed them, loves and cares for them, and will always be here to support them?  My husband and I parent in a very transparent way, our kids might “know too much” for a lot of people’s standards and opinions, but we are gearing them up to live a very real life for themselves. We can’t keep them bubbled up and they need to know that you succeed when you give it your all, and then some. They also need to understand that success is different for everyone. They also need to understand that mistakes and failure are part of the journey. Determination and working through failures and mistakes towards our goals gives us learning experiences that we wouldn’t have any other way.

All that to say?

I guess I no longer feel like I need to be something that I am not meant to be.

Granted, in just 2 years time, I have been able to do some really awesome things with Sparks of Magic. If I compare my success to another blogger’s or my journey to another person’s, it is easy to say I haven’t achieved much. Sometimes I forget how far I have come in a short amount of time. I can’t forget that, and I am encouraging each of you to remember where you started, where you are and where you are heading.

Today, I am working on propelling myself to where I know I belong. My blog will continue to serve a purpose, and it might not fully support us financially, but it does help. It might not be the top blog in any specific category, I may never win any awards, but you know what? That’s okay. I am choosing to move forward and focus on what my blog IS: It is a place that spreads magic, big and small, to anyone that stops by. Sometimes I feel it helps me more, but I love to inspire, and sometimes we CAN inspire ourselves. I will continue to write here and share the awesome and not so awesome things that I face, like sassy teenagers, fun-filled family trips, thoughts on real-life situations, dreams and aspirations, and obviously a whole lot of pixie dust. I also will continue to write for brands that have values that align with mine.

For whatever reason, I am now realizing that I just have a different mindset. I guess that’s what it comes down to, my perspective. I feel like I needed to express the justification for not being as consistent as I would like. I still can’t pinpoint what my dream has to do with this, aside from being inspired as my friends continue to inspire me hundreds of miles away, to just keep writing. Kinda like Dory. So, I think you’ll be seeing “me” more with this new mindset. Hey now, two blog posts in a week. See, progress already. 🙂 Thanks for hearing my heart.

Spread Magic