KB P.O.W.E.R Mentoring Camp: Recap

Around this time last year we saw video of a great local camp KB P.O.W.E.R Mentoring Camp for young men ages 11-13. They were participating in a number of activities and mentored by a great group of men. The activities included but weren’t limited to educational, outdoor, sports and recreation, team building and life lessons. We knew immediately that when our son Bryce was of age he would attend. Fast forward a year and he has just returned from the 4-day camp and here is his recap:

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Bryce age 11

Bryce’s Recap

When my parents told me I was going to KB camp I was exited about of all the things we would learn and do but I was worried because I have not been to a camp where I stayed over night. After my parents told me about all the stuff the campers did last year I thought they would be doing the same things. Some of the things that came to mind were fishing, canoeing, sports and since it was called mentoring camp I thought team building games.

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DAY 1
On day one we were on the bus half the day and I was asleep the whole ride. When we got to the campsite [Camp Fowler] we had lunch which was turkey and cheese sandwiches, they were good. The first activity we did was learning CPR, I had never done CPR before but I’ve seen it in movies. We practiced on a CPR mannequin, no breaths just chest compressions and there were two lights on the mannequin that let you know if you are doing them correctly. I thought that was a very helpful intro to CPR. After that station we did yoga outdoors for an hour, it seemed easy at first but after a while it made my legs and arms burn–started off relaxing then turned into a workout. When yoga was over we all jumped in the pool. Then I rode bikes around the campsite by myself. After a while I had trouble breathing and called my parents to bring my inhaler, once they arrived I was feeling much better. At the end of the day I missed my family but was looking forward to the rest of the days.
DAY 2

Around 7am, KB came in and woke up one person in our cabin and they had to wake the rest of us. After we ate breakfast, a mechanic came to teach us how to change brakes and rotors. img-20180803-wa00115026821199200228838.jpgI was excited and interested in learning to work on a car. Thought that once I learned I could ask my parents to change their brakes. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be but there is a lot of screwing/unscrewing. I need a little more practice but I think once I do a couple I will be a pro–hopefully I can help my dad the next time he works on our cars. There was another station where we did team building activities. A highlight of the day was Mr. Vinny from Gangster Vegan restaurant took us in the kitchen and taught us to make a healthy vegan meal. In the kitchen I cut up the tomatoes and avocados. The meal we prepared was delicious. I also learned to make guacamole, can’t wait to make it for my family. At the end of the day I was tired, it was a good day.

DAY 3
Again around 7am, KB came in our cabin playing music and telling everyone to wake up. We got up ate a healthy breakfast and started our first activity which was archery. I’ve done archery before at another camp so it wasn’t new I still struggled with aiming but knew how to shot a bow and arrow. We also had swim lessons img-20180804-wa00059032406575181853707.jpgwhich the instructor put me in the non-advanced swimmers group, but I think I should have been the level up. But there was a lightening strike so we had to get out of the pool. We also designed and created our own t-shirt, now I can work a heat press. Then we went to self-defense lessons. We learned what do when some grabs you from behind or tries to punch you, thanks to the lessons I think I can defend myself if anyone attacks me. After lessons we headed into a meeting with 2 men from TD Bank to talk about money management and saving accounts. I learned how I can make money from leaving money in a bank just because of interest. So I guess for me it’s better to save money instead of spending it. Then a man came to talk STEM- about rockets and satellites .We made bottle rockets using an empty water bottle, yeast, peroxide and warm water, seal the lid let the pressure build up and quickly twist off the cap– woosh. At the end of the day we played 3vs3 basketball kids vs counselors, it was fun but hard the counselors are really good.
DAY 4 – LAST DAY
As on the days before KB woke us up playing Circle of Life from the Lion King soundtrack. I was bummed it was the last day and wished it was a full day, but I was excited to go home to my family. We had someone from the animal preservation img-20180805-wa00031873490032289859965.jpgfacility visit and we talked about different animals in the area of the campsite. We also went to the fire pit to help make vegan chilli, adding onions, spices while the woman from animal preserve stirred. We also took a tour around the river to see what we could find and we found frogs, slugs, snails, but no snakes.
Overall sleeping in cabins was different but kinda the same as home. I have not slept with so many kids my age and it was scary with all the spiders that hung above me but I felt at home with the bunk beds. I would love to go back to KB mentoring camp.
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Kirk Berry, Mentoring Camp organizer, has written a book worth a read for those looking for ways to motivate youth. (click here for link)

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Ricketts on the Go: Road tripping to the Midwest

We are just weeks away from our first official family road trip *queue confetti* we are really excited (except the 1-year-old but he just rolls with it). I have discovered that with this family of 5 it’s very easy to forget things {just leaving the house for a moment} so we want to make sure we are prepared.

I want to thank blogger The Art of Being Fabulous for the Make your trip smoother by doing these things before you go, (the post was geared towards traveling abroad by air but much of the things can be applied to our travel). Here is my checklist for our upcoming travel.

Ready

What’s the weather? ever since friends of ours took their family on a road trip and said it rained most of their long drive, my husband(Doc) has been worried about driving in torrential downpours the whole way {that would sSUCK} but what can we do… the dates are set but this checklist is about preparation, at least we will know what to prepare for.

Documents good to go? its domestic travel so we don’t need passports but there are a few things we can’t leave home without like Drivers license (can’t drive across 5 states without it), up to date insurance card and registration (just in case my lead foot causes that awkward conversation “do you know why I pulled you over”), {must get}AAA membership, as well as, health insurance cards for all.

Performed a thorough vehicle safety check? {super} important, probably more important than did I pack toothbrushes for everyone. This is the hubs department and he takes extra care in it. Making sure oil is changed and fluids topped off, new wiper blades, brakes are checked, and that there is a full size spare [ no donut in the car unless edible]…oh and how could I forget E-Zpass {greatest travel item since TomTom}.(not a paid spokesperson for TomTom or any GPS device, though we love Waze)

Set

Checked accounts? well, I mean definitely have to make sure there is plenty of money in there for travel but I mean calling the bank and letting them know we will be traveling across several states. There is nothing worst{embarrassing} than having money and your card is declined — because the back flagged it as fraudulent activity. While we appreciate the bank’s due diligence to prevent a disaster can’t have us stalled; no seriously can’t be at the gas station unable to get gas{gasp}.

Laws? some states have different laws but one stands across most ‘Click it or Ticket’ but there are some that are unfamiliar to other’s like noise violations (playing music too loud), obstruction of view (i.e. in Illinois its illegal to have any obstruction hanging from your rear view mirror), headlights on when wipers are on, headlights on in construction zone, change lanes when a cop is pulled over on the shoulder of the road, etc.

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Best way to travel over 22 hours is to break it up with stops.

Itinerary? have to have a plan and a bit of a schedule, yes, it’s family vacation but aside from heading west we have to have direction. Even if we don’t stick to it we can use it as a guideline and help with time management. Especially when trying to get to a certain state, city, or destination.

Where to stay? we are blessed to have family that we will be staying with majority of our trip but there may be a couples nights we will crash in Chicago so we will need to find a crash pad –be it couch surfing with friends, Airbnb, or a hotel [Lifestyle Blogger/Travelista Simply Sheena suggests Priceline – express deals or an app called Hotel Tonight to find great deals on hotel stays.]

Go!

Once we have the itinerary up and running we will share. Please feel free to share places or spaces we should visit on our trip from Eastern, PA to Kansas City, MO.

Vacay Mode

It was around 12:30am on Wednesday and I was desperately missing my husband that was over 190 miles away–you see, I was supposed to return home earlier that evening but everything in me said if you can – stay.

Volume 19 No.7

July 2018 edition

I was up reading my O[prah] magazine when this highlighted passage stood out.

“If I flew you to the beach right now, you’d still be anxious because you’d be yelling at yourself to get busy. Instead of that voice of fear, try letting in the voice of truth-the voice of God. imagine you are sitting on the beach and you start thinking I’m so lazy. What does God say?…think of that verse from the book of Matthew…”

(which [random] happens to be my youngest brother’s name)

“consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not,neither do they spin. But God takes care of them anyway. How, then, will he not care for you? You’ve been listening to that fearful voice screaming that you have to do more, more, more, because you’re never enough. But another part of you is sending hearts and trying to tell you there’s a different way of being.”

I am nonstop — working from home, tending to kids, striving always to be a great wife, mom, daughter, sibling, soror, and friend and it’s taking a toll on me.

My 2018 vision board, I decided to live more deliberately and more importantly add more of my happy. Vacation makes me happy…not focusing on work and just enjoying life with my family. Last week was my [Thomas]family’s annual whole family vacay, which I love,0 but next month is our Rickettedly Awesome road trip so I was rationing out my work PTO(paid time off) and was only going to do 4 days(weekend and 2 days off work) but then I decided I could do 5 days off; I reached out to my boss and requested the rest of the week. Everything in me wanted to be there relaxing and enjoying but that{damn}little voice in my head was thinking what about my husband, will work think I’m a flake, but as I lounged poolside with the kids having a blast with their grandparents, aunts and uncles all while I got to just lay back for a bit I knew this was where I needed to be. Work will always be there, we have bills so work is a must but I won’t short change myself at the expense of my time to unwind. My husband can enjoy our time away no kids just him and the animals and work will be there when I return but self-care and doing what I love needs to be at the forefront and I need to follow my intentions and live more deliberately.

I know many of my mom friends struggle with self-care and finding the time. Here are a few small suggestions that anyone can get into:

  1. Go for a walk or run [in my case rollerblading]
  2. Meditate or do deep breathing for 5-10 minutes
  3. Take a break when you need it–doesn’t have to be long
  4. Choose who you spend your time and energy with
  5. Eat healthy
  6. Learn to say ‘NO’
  7. Journal
  8. Listen to music and dance
  9. Read a good book
  10. Have one *uck it moment a week where you are unbothered by dishes in the sink, unanswered texts/emails, no cooking they can figure it out even if that means cereal for dinner.

The{invisible}Boy

Hey all. So much has been going on over here Ricketts household, just busy busy. Today, our oldest is wrapping up his final day as an elementary school student and heading to middle school[eek]. Yesterday was awards day…our son brought home the 1st place ribbon from his Reading Olympics competition at the end of April and a certificate for band but he was extremely upset… those weren’t enough; he wanted the award he was working hard for the entire year – the Technology Award.

Backstory:

Our son wants to be a video game designer so this year he has spent a lot of time in class and during recess working on a video game he created using Scratch. The tech teacher also enlisted his help with testing new STEM gadgets and tech toys. So a few months ago he thought he was a shoo-in for the tech award but it was given to another student (one that worked on the school’s tv program). Bryce had a conversation with the teacher and she explained that she alternates her awards between tech and tv program each month.

Fast Forward:

Yesterday, he was passed up for the end of year tech award, it was given to the school’s TV program group- our son was frustrated, angry, sad and feeling discouraged. I stared at him as tears were streaming down his cheeks, face red, lip quivering, jaw clenched trying not to sob and fists balled up tight, all I could do was get up and hug him. I consoled him and in that moment I realized our son is

The invisible boy.

You are probably thinking “where is she going with this?” or “how did she come to that from their son not getting an award?” I’ll tell you…

When there is a black kid in a prodominantly white school that kid falls into one of three categories. 1. The athlete (all around popular, outgoing, talented kid, lots of friends, teachers, staff and other parents know and like him), 2. The kid with behavioral issues (aggressive, angry, misbehaving, the stereotypical kid that many assume most black boys are, seen and heard and remembered but in a negative light), and 3. The invisible (not especially outgoing, not loud and boisterous, good student, same group of friends, blends in, doesn’t stand out and is easy to forget). Our son is the latter.

No matter how many times he was in his technology teacher’s classroom helping her and working on his coding and no matter that she talked about him with her other classes…when it came time to point out his hard work and dedication by awarding him in front of a crowd of his peers the teacher simply forgot he existed. In that moment he was invisible– nevermind the fact that he’s in the teacher’s room several times a week or that when he hadn’t been selected for the award before, he built up the courage to go to the teacher and have a conversation(big deal for our shy guy), but again that end goal that he worked so hard on was just out of his reach.

It was tough to see him break down, hard to encourage him when he felt like he was deserving and worked so hard. We teach our kids that hard work pays off but in this moment I had to explain to him that sometimes you can put in the hard work only to be overlooked and have someone else receive reward. But we know and his friends/classmates that have played his game know how hard he worked and they enjoyed what he created. Sometimes we have to take solace in knowing that just because we didn’t receive recognition we still worked hard and created something wonderful >> we are so proud of our son!

I will end on this note a black boy in a prodominantly white school has to work 5 times harder to get the same recognition as a white kid who just attends. He has to make sure he is always ON (on-task, on-point, on-time), he is extra polite, non-threatening and always willing to go the extra mile.

We will encourage him to keep pushing, working hard, never give up, and to know that he isn’t INVISIBLE.

B days: Am I too strict??

Hey there, so wanted to bounce wp-image-1046492507something off of you all. What would you consider to be too strict in a home when raising children? Every time I lay down the law in our home by making and enforcing rules I ask myself, am I too strict…

Example:

Once school started back up our son isn’t allowed on his devices during the school week, so no iPod apps, no Nintendo DS, or video game console[for the record I think it sounds pretty fair.] The reason that came about was because he’s so engrossed that nothing gets done or he rushes to get things done (i.e. chores and homework) in order to get to his device of choice. It would drive us nuts his homework was sloppy he didn’t check his work, at times he “missed” assignments, his chores were done half-assed (example of that he was supposed to fold and put away his clothes I found them all shoved under his bed-yup I saw red that day). My point is that in my head I’m doing what I think is best for him to be the best he can be without those distractions so he can stay focused…or that’s what I tell myself.

Yesterday I made an exception because it was his birthday. After he completed his homework I handed him his iPhone (just an old phone that isn’t activated but he can get and play apps-we will save phone convo for another post no time soon) but when I tell you he wouldn’t put it down he barely looked up to give the waitress his order (drives me nuts more than anything), then it died “thank God” I said to myself now he can come up for air and join us at his birthday dinner. As soon as we got to the car he charged it and was glued and when we got home somewhere between I can’t take this anymore and I have go be rigid I told him “alright night’s over you have school tomorrow turn over your device and off to bed.”

Then, I go on my iPad and an app is opened it’s one of the games he’s been begging to use my laptop to play, to play with his friends…I have no clue when it was downloaded and when he’s been sneaking on it but I’m fuming a little bit but then I wonder…is it me?..am I too strict? Are these rules unfair? Am I the Fun Police? I always thought I would be the cool mom and sometimes I am but most times I’m the enforcer. But the rules are put in place to keep him focused and because I tried the laxed approach and it just got me a kid glued to the screen, not paying attention to a damn thing, whose response to everything was “oops, I forgot”

So my readers any suggestions? What works in your home? Should I stay my course and if he doesn’t like it tough shit??? I truly don’t want to create an environment where our kids are sneaking all the time.

Threenage Chronicles: going to school

Our threenager went off to preschool this week…

[The] backstory

After what can only be described as an emotional rollercoaster of a summer with this little one I discussed with my husband putting her in school on a part-time basis. Citing that in order for her to be safe and me to stay from behind bars, it would be for the best. Naturally with these things you are to first unlock your phone, open the app that is most frequented[banking app], login and yup you guessed it check the numbers. After careful consideration (none at all) I started my search for part-time preschool programs in our immediate area. I narrowed it down to 4 and after calling then narrowed it down to 2. We went to take a tour of both, spoke with admin, reached out to our village[grandparents] and decided on a nearby academy within the week. I know what you are thinking sheesh she’s decisive (picture behind the scenes me giving a bag lady on the corner $20 and saying just take her and teach her ABCs) I kid…there is no bag lady in the area that I know of. [What my mouth says] I figured it was time for her to branch out and go into a structured environment to work on the things I don’t have the patience to teach as well as socialize and see what’s behind the four walls she lives in. [My inner voice] most importantly GIVE ME A DAMN BREAK!

{The}Day

Hubs decided to go into work late and that just made my whole morning because that meant I could get straight to work, enjoy not having to scramble around, wake a baby and get out the door– beautiful. Our threenager was up and ready. I took the obligatory first day of school picture and video and just like that she was off to school with her daddy.

No tears, no fight, she was ready!!

Too many times I’ve seen and heard horror stories of parents having to take their kids to daycare/preschool and it being horrible separating usually tears, kicking and screaming from either the parent or the child, but not here, nope. So as Crush said “you never really know, but when they know, you know” and I must say it made for a great, effortless, transition from a child who for over 3 years has never been out of my care to being a part-time Pre-K student out of the house 8 hours a week. One can only hope the whole year will go as smoothly but with these threenage tot we just never know.

Beat the Fidget Spinner 

Most parents these days, like me, scratch their head at the idea of this simple “toy” that fascinates our kids and has them asking for more and that has school banning them from the premises. After our son’s friend at school gave him a spinner at the end of the school year I started scanning the interwebs for ideas to make learning fun over the summer and came across…


Where to purchase a spinner?…they are sold at the dollar tree, 5 and below, walmart and of course, amazon. They range from $1 and can go up to around $15 (we came across specialty ones at a store in the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ)

The math facts worksheet I snagged by googling -addition/subtraction math worksheets- scrolled through images and printed a few of the ones I like best (I sought worksheets that weren’t extremely difficult so they could work almost the same as sight words see and solve quickly.) At first u had him putting pencil to paper and once done erasing but the eraser marks were messy, then I printed several of the same but that was as waste of paper so finally I decided to cover the sheets with contact paper so he can use a dry erase marker on them, wipe clean and use again. (Sometimes I amaze myself!)

Bryce sets the spinner on the table[next to his worksheet], places his index finger in the middle of the spinner to hold in place and with his other hand gives a good spin and starts working the problems… No timer needed the spinner is the timer once it stops pencil[dry erase marker] down. Our son will work the sheet about 4-5 times each time pushing himself to beat the number before. Most times he will set the next number and I will offer encouragement so if he answers 40 math facts I’ll ask “can you get to 50?” Or he will say he is going to 45 this time.
The goal for me was to prevent the summer slide so wanted to make sure learning was happening during the summer months. The plan was to make learning fun and not something he would dread. The results, our son looked forward to using his spinner and competing against himself and we didn’t have to force him or drag him to the table to practice math facts ☆score for the parent team☆