Last week, here in the UK, was one of the yearly telethons that are held to raise money for those in need.  A huge portion of the donations go towards children here and in Africa and we always donate something.  Even if it is little.  The generosity of Brits continues to amaze me.  After Friday night, the total raised for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day was at £75 million +.    Later in the year we’ll have Children in Need and without a doubt over £100 million will be raised once again. It’s amazing.  And it’s not just from phone calls or throwing money into a bucket.  The people here really get into it.  A lot of the kids at Noah’s Mini-Strikers class showed up with their red noses on (our were in the car or at home torn in half from The Category 5 Hurricane Amy), people have bake sales, wear silly clothes, do crazy stunts.. anything they can think of that will raise money for the cause.   We’re sort of lazy here, so we just bought the merchandise and did the texting thing.


Comical Relief

With Twitter and Facebook on the scene now,  I saw a lot of comments over the weekend with people mentioning that they wished they knew exactly where their money was going or that they could donate to specific groups or families.  I totally get how they feel.  It feels a lot better to know that your £2, £5, £50, etc. has reached someone and actually made a difference to the intended people and didn’t just get put towards running costs of the charity itself.

In fact, earlier in the week I had contacted someone who is currently volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania.  She took 6 months out of her life in the States to go across the world to help make a difference in the lives of a bunch of totally deserving little children.  I had been following her blog Living Lukundane ever since Jenny – The Bloggess – mentioned it to all her followers on Twitter. Wanting to help, but not being in a position to fork over enough to buy any of the supplies that they needed at the time or to make a cash donation that was worth more than the postage, I felt a bit guilty. Here were these children who have nothing; no material possessions of their own, no parents. Meanwhile, at home I’ve got these two children who have buckets of toys over flowing, drawers packed full of clothes, people all around them who love them and can afford to get them to a doctor at the first sign of something amiss.

Amy and Noah often read the blog with me. They love the pictures of the children.. and the animals … and just generally seeing what they are up to. In a few of the posts you can see a very basic and scary playground that Noah asks to go to constantly. It has a slide, so in his world it is PERFECT! I know that they are too young to understand, but I want them to grow up to be givers.

Perhaps not as giving as their mother. You know, I won’t be all that disappointed if Amy doesn’t tell me that she met someone from Switzerland at a bus stop and found out that they’d been stood up on their first night in a strange country by a guy they met on the internet and proceeded to offer said Swiss Stranger a place to crash for a couple of days. And if Noah happens to meet a woman in the street claiming that her car had run out of gas, I hope he’d actually look around for a car before handing over $20 in good faith.

But I do want them to be aware that they have, and others do not. That sometimes getting a gift for someone else feels just as good as getting a present for yourself. Luckily, we were reading Bekka’s blog and noticed within the post that the children at the orphanage love Bob the Builder and that they only had one DVD which was stuck in French. Perfect! Not that the DVD was stuck in French, but finally something we could help with. So we wrote the children a letter and got some Bob the Builder DVDs and once the final DVD arrives we’ll be posting them off to the children.

I have shown them the DVDs and explained that they are not for Noah and Amy, but for the children in the photos and videos. They are surprisingly cool with the idea and Noah keeps asking about going to ‘post Bob Builder for boys and gyals’. This makes me a happy bunny. Especially with Noah’s meltdown last week when it was explained to him that it was no longer his birthday, so the flow of presents has ended. It’s time for him to give to other people and who better to be receiving than the children at Nkoaranga Orphanage.
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P.S: Bekka has set up a little Amazon Wish List of things that would be helpful Nkoaranga Orphanage and Hospital Wishlist


food for thought

A lot of memories I have of my childhood seem to have food involved.  Whether it was my mother having her family or my dad’s family over for meals, sitting the the backyard by the pool eating cherries we picked off of our tree or going to my grandmom’s house every Sunday for lunch (or dinner by the time we got there) when we lived in the Caribbean.  Even when I think about the times I spent with my friends, I always remember the food that we had.

In my earlier years I couldn’t decide to made better food; my grandmom, her maid Martha or my momma.  To be fair, I only really remember Martha’s chicken, but that stuff was so damn tasty that she could have made it every day of my life and I still would have thought she was one of the greatest cooks on earth.  My grandmom made traditional Lebanese and West Indian foods and honestly,  I used to wish that Sunday came more than once a week.    My momma, on the other hand, could make almost anything.  Almost anything that wasn’t Lebanese or West Indian.  Rice and peas with garden peas, anyone?

When I would spend my hours and days and weeks daydreaming away my childhood and picturing life as a grown up, I always pictured being able to whip up these dishes that would have my family want to come to my home to eat their meals as well.   I thought that I would somehow learn through osmosis I guess, because I really didn’t make anything until I was WAY older.  Aside from a few gourmet creations (that’s right… I’m talking egg salad pirate ships and fruit in a watermelon basket)  in my cooking classes at the Armour Heights Community Centre, right before my gymnastics class.

When my momma made my daddy mussels, I filed that one in my head as a Must Make When I Grow Up.  I did the same with the stuffed chicken leg she came up with for my dad and uncle’s restaurant.   My Aunty Tressy made too many things that I wished I could make, especially her breadfruit souse.  Yeah, I know, why that?  I don’t know if it is because I seriously love it, or if it just reminds me of being at her house.  Actually, I could totally add her to the list of best food makers in my life; macaroni pie, stewed beef, rice and peas, flying fish, conch.

When I became a teenager and wasn’t so intimidated by the off chance the stove would blow up when I tried to turn it on, it appeared that I had inherited my father’s cooking skills.  Eggs.  I could make an omelet, but anything else that came without instructions was way too advanced for me.  I would visit my daddy in St.Kitts for 3, 4 or 5 weeks at a time and whilst I was there he let me do whatever I wanted in his kitchen.  So long as I kept him supplied with mashed sardine, vienna sausage or corned beef sandwiches.   He’d take off to St.Martin for a day and return with whole Goudas and Edams and wheels of Brie.  I would then commit foodie sins with these food by making macaroni and cheese with mass amounts of melted gourmet cheese, noodles and tins of tuna.   Sometimes I would kick it up a notch and add raw chopped onion.  I loved it, my daddy shrugged his shoulders and laughed at it, and sometimes my friend Alex was kind enough to pretend it was edible and share it with me, sitting on the roof.

I have come along quite a ways in my mac’n’cheese skills.  I promise. Please do not feel the need to report me to the food police over those youthful indiscretions.  In fact, I made some last night.  It was great.  In fact, it was so near perfect that I thought it might convince Noah to come over to the Pasta Not In Red Sauce side.  My hopes were soaring.  However, after an initial enthusiastic grab for the bowl, one peep of the contents led him to proclaim “note!”.  We let him think about it.  We let him watch us eat two bowls eat (what, you thought we got these sweet physiques through genetics? HAHAHAH) and still, nothing.  Not one flipping noodle.  Not a nibble, a sniff or a lick.  Instead he wolfed down a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

Mac n Cheesy

Seriously, if I can’t get a 3 year old to eat mac’n’cheese, what chance to I have to recreate these memories in the minds of my own children.  Never mind the fact that the thought of cooking for people outside of this house fills me with dread.  We’re talking stomach cramping, sweat beads on the forehead, seriously faint inducing dread.

People seem to be pickier than I remember growing up.  The whole I don’t eat that and we’re on this diet or I’m allergic to this, that and oh this too but I eat everything else melts my brain.   What happened to showing up, enjoying what was on offer and being grateful for a full belly and a great time with good friends and family.   To try and cover all of the bases, I end up over cooking.  That is, on the rare occasions I actually dare feed anyone my cooking.  How is it that this simple childhood dream went so wrong?!

Thing is, I can cook.  At least I think I can cook.  There are often times when we sit down to dinner and I have to hold myself back from sounding like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.  Not saying that happens every time, and certainly there have been nights where I have choked down my dinner or given up all together.  Though I have never got is so wrong like maybe doing baked salmon in red wine.  Thanks Momma .. via Two Fat Ladies.  I’m not a master at cooking in an oven.  I like to see what I am doing.  Though I have turned out some amazing briskets lately.  I don’t give up though.  There are a lot of things I’ve wanted to accomplish in life and abandoned the dream at the first stumble.   Filling Noah and Amy’s memories with amazing food is not going to be one of them.  And I’m not just talking all you can eat peas and Yorkshire puddings from the Toby Carvery buffet.

So mac’n’cheese may not be what Noah takes with him in his Food Memory Bank, but there will be something.  I’ll make sure of it.   Luckily, at this point in time, Amy thinks I AM the greatest cook on earth, so we’ll hold on to fooling her a little longer.  Until I can convince myself of the same thing!