July 26, 2016

Florida + Family

The kids and I took our first family vacation of 2016 in Florida.

Since we were heading to a busy park, I had t-shirts made at Spreadshirt.com.

No one in my family is foreign to Disney.  I remember coming here almost every years since I was 6 years old.  Now my kids make frequent trips.  But, let me tell you (for those who do not know) Disney is NOT cheap!  The prices go up every year.  It was about $350 for one day entrance for 3 people.  The prices also differ with age and day of the week.  And of course you should be prepared to spend a pretty penny when you are in the parks.  Make sure your bank account is full and your credit cards are paid down before heading here!

For a few years now, Disney has offered these "Magic" wristbands that link with your ticket, Disney hotel keys, FastPasses, and credit cards.  Instead of pulling out your ticket, key card, or credit card, you just place your wristband on a connected censored device and you are good to go!  There is also an app to track wait times, FastPass alerts, and has a map of the park to better navigate your day.  Another interesting tool with the app and the wristbands, is that if you link your wristbands to the app, it can notify features on certain rides that highlight your name such as the picture below.

We were on "It's a Small World" and at the end the screen popped up with my son's name.

Disney was great and the kids enjoyed themselves (my bank hates me though.)

One of the nights, the kids and I headed to Downtown Disney in Disney Springs which has a boardwalk of restaurants, shops, clubs, and family entertainment.  The kids found the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM.

Next stop was Daytona Beach.

I have never been to this beach before and did not know what to expect other than it being crowded.  Yet, to my surprise the beach had plenty of open space.  You are able to drive on to the sand and park your car right on the beach.  You have the option of renting umbrellas and lounge chairs if you wish, or if you brought your own, that's even better!  There is also food stands and an ice cream truck that comes around with refreshments. How great is that?!

My "cover up" is really a dress that was thin enough to be a cover up.  I have worn this dress out but, had to wear a slip underneath for obvious reasons.  I got it on Ebay.

My bathing suit was an Amazon purchase. It took about 2 weeks to deliver but, for $15, how can I complain?
The AirBNB resort home we stayed in had a great club house with a gym.  It was only a 15 minute walk to and from the club house and I managed to do 20 minutes on the cycling machine for a least 2 days.  T-Shirt is from MsIndependent.com 

And of course on the last leg of the trip, I ran through the Orlando Premium Outlets! 

I made sure to hit all my favorites, Calvin Klein, Donna Karen, and Ralph Lauren.

We also stopped a my favorite convenient store ever! WAWA!
Wawa is only available in some of the northeast states and certain areas in Florida.  It is open 24hrs, days a week.  You can get gas, coffee, snacks, fresh bread, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  And it's not one of those hole in the wall places with nasty 2 day old gas station food.  The food is prepared in front of you like a deli counter.  It is a very respectable establishment that I wish we has in Texas.

Then it was time to be HOME! 
At least for 3 weeks before we head on our cruise!

July 11, 2016

The Heat + Never Too Strong

Can Houston's heat index be any worse???!!!! 
Lawd, the heat out here is insane!  To keep from cutting off all my hair, I had to learn to wrap my hair anytime I am going to be outside for more than 2 seconds.

**I just need to be careful with where I wear this particular headdress...I mean, I AM in Texas....just kidding...maybe I'm not.

Dress: Upscale Boutique (The Woodlands, TX)
Scarf & Earrings: Sam Moon

Never Too Strong

No woman, or man for that matter, is too strong to not want or yearn for someone to comfort them, give them affection, and make them feel most loved.

I have not gotten to this point in my life yet but, I can empathize with the thought.  As structured as I am making my life to be, there is still a missing piece that will not necessarily complete my composition but, could have me feeling more "appreciated and valued."

.....and then there's a show called "WAGS"

Why....WHY! did I fall victim to an episode of this nonsense?

In summary, just image the Kardashian/Jenner clan times Real Housewives of Whatever....yes, I feel horrible about it....The only thing I could make of the one episode is that the show is about women who are married, wanting to be married, or attempting to date athletes.  

One young lady (whom I first seen on Instagram a few months back; she was wearing a dress sold by one of the shops where I've ordered a few items), stated she was on a break with her athlete.  At one point in the episode she claimed she misses him and there was a clip of her telling him about not being sure what she wanted when he talked about moving in together and getting married. Then you see a clip of a future episode of her crying in the bathroom talking on the phone with the athlete telling him that his behavior is making it seem he doesn't love or care for her...oh honey, we've all been there, men always have their own plans separate from us.  Sometimes it will come together for us, other times you just get left in the dark and finally make the decision to move on.

Another young lady just began dating another athlete and was grilled by his mom at a charity function.  Right now, the couple seems smitten.  A third woman is living with her boyfriend who has not popped the question and yet, she caters to him hand and foot; she even went bridal gown shopping with an engaged friend and tried on dresses herself...I'll let you have your own thoughts about that...

And the friend who is getting married is making the wedding more than what her fiance expected. (Hey, future husband, I'm okay with just getting an ordained minister and getting married while on a weekend getaway, just make the proposal something amazing.)  Then there is the last woman who is not dating anyone but, she keeps flirting with the boyfriend of the girl who was grilled by his mother.  So, there is plenty of unnecessary "look-at-me" disputes mixed in between the ladies...Confused yet?...Good, because I am sure the confusion grows in the future episodes...I tried, no thank you, I'd rather stick with Sheldon and Detective Benson.

I used to enjoy reality tv but, now I find myself so turned away by them.  The plot seems to always be the same and you can expect a cat-fight or a few scandals in most of the episodes because, well....that is what drives ratings.  Hey, I'm sure these women know what they signed up for.  They probably like the attention and publicity and get a nice paycheck for being a part of the show but, WHYYYY must women behave in such manners?

What if I had a reality show? Oh gosh, I don't even want to imagine!  But, if I was dating an athlete and on a reality show about it, I'd be dropping my business venture and/or advertising it in EVERY scene, on every FB post, on each IG caption, and G+ tags!  Because I am not just some basic girl wearing a nice dress with good makeup who can only offer pretty babies!...He'll make his money and I'll make mine; when we are married, we'll make it together.

Want to share your thoughts? Send me an email: xoxo.rayal@gmail.com 

July 6, 2016

When Your Child Asks You About Racism

I cannot recall a time when I faced the shame of being a different race...there was once an incident when a girl in my neighborhood excluded me from playing with her because I was not white.  She even enlisted her little sister and another neighborhood kid to join her fun at my disposal of being the only minority...but that little disgraceful act on her part didn't affect me.  Other racial escapades were that of people making simple childish jokes calling me Chinese and intimating an Asian accent for which I did not have.  The only accent I truly had as a child was an English accent due to the fact that I learned to speak English while living in Brussels, Belgium, but that had digressed by the time I reached late elementary education.

I grew up in a white neighborhood and was raised by a white father, and only him.  My step-father, James Cleary (Irish origin) gained custody of me and my two younger siblings after he and my mother divorced.  The custody "battle" wasn't a struggle.  I told the judge and lawyers I wanted to live with my DAD.  Yes, the man who has been in my life since I was 5 years old.  I was maybe 11 when the divorce was over.

During my adolescence and young adulthood, I made white friends but, I had closer black friends whom were from different types of homes, backgrounds, and demographics.

My father never really spoke of racism with me, maybe he did not know how to or did not think I would face it or thought that if I did face it, than I would know how to compose myself, I cannot be sure the reason of his absent tongue on this topic.  Even now, at 31, I cannot strongly say I was ever the subject to ridicule or injustice due to my race....then again, I am an Asian woman and the race war in American seems to be predominately between White and Black, with the occasional Middle Eastern mixed in. 

My children, Vanessa and Gabriel, are of mixed race...half Asian and half Black.  Since the only Asian link in my family is well...ME...and my sister, my children only know of their white family (my side) and their black family (their father's side and some very close friends on my side.)

My daughter, who is now 11 years old and anticipating middle school in the fall, expressed to me that she does not feel fully accepted by her friends (mostly white) because she is different.  Vanessa sometimes stumbles on expressing her feelings but, she did not say anything that alerted me to cause an uproar against the parents of her friends, no she is just beginning to identify that she is different from them and that she knows she is black and they are not.  She knows her friends are not racist but, she also knows there is such a thing as racism.


I explained to my first born that she will make many friends over the years and she may face some people with harsh tones against her for no particular reason other than the fact she is different.  I let her know not to give anyone courage over her because Being Black is Not a Weakness.  I said to her, "They can hate you for your skin but, don't let them defeat your accomplishments." 

Even though Vanessa knows of racism, she does not yet know the full extent on how it can harm her and the people around her. Her life as a "Black Girl" is still pubescent.  I cannot always protect her from what she may see or experience in the world but, that will not stop me from informing her.  I have asked a few of my black friends about how to address certain race issues with my daughter and one of them brought up something that I did not even think about..."She may face prejudice from her own race."  WHAT?!

My children may come across people of their color not accept them because again, they are different. Vanessa and Gabriel may not be "black enough" for certain people...how do I explain THIS to my babies?

I do not know all the demographics of who reads my posts but, if you are a parent, no matter what race you are, the guidance starts with you.  Don't let your child be afraid to express who they are.  Don't subject your child to lesser means so they have to grow up being the "stereotype" of what may go against them.  Don't let your child escape punishment of what is morally and justifiably wrong.  We may want to protect our children but, let us not protect them so much that they are blinded by only our views or someone else's views of the world.  Raise them to see in all dimensions of love, life, and liberty.

July 4, 2016

July 4th (2016)

My travels could have taken me anywhere after leaving Thailand. My direction lead here. I can decide to live where ever on this 3rd rock from the sun and I have toyed with thoughts of relocating to Europe in my later years but, I am here now. This home is not without its flaws and yet, the stubborn blemishes it holds do not keep me from living with a positive smile. Enjoy today, like you would enjoy any other day.

It has been so HOT! in Houston that I learned to do the "turban" look with a scarf.  I found a tutorial on YouTube that takes only 5 minutes to do the style....the first time I tried it, I was struggling for about 20 minutes!

The kids and I spent the day at the "beach" (Galveston, TX).  We did not get in the water but, we walked along the streets and did a boat tour where we Dolphin watched. 

The kids really enjoyed the area and I was very surprised how much there was to do.  I'll consider doing another day trip.

This sweet young man held up the bottom of my dress so it would not get dirty while walking around. It was precious.....until we walked passed a snack shop and he saw something he wanted, then he let go of my dress very quickly! Oh Gabriel.

Aside from the attractions , I was also impressed with the food.  We ate at Olympia Grill on Pier 21....

1. Ceviche
2. Avocado Hummus
3. Bossa Fillet & Shrimp Etouffee


Dress: Upscale Boutique
All Accessories: Sam Moon
Sandals: Calvin Klein