Friday, September 18, 2009

Amy the Black’s 5 Fall Fashion Tips

For some odd reason, I’ve been a little more in-tune with the fashion trends lately. Perhaps it’s because I am a “non-traditional student” (aka old person going back to school, which they should have done along time ago) and see a lot of the styles that young adults are wearing, and that if I want to camouflage myself in the student body, I have to be more aware. I could also be that I really like the styles that are popular these days. So when I saw a blogging contest through, it thought it wouldn’t be difficult for me to participate!
So, here are my 5 Must-Haves, and Fashion Tips. If, for some strange reason, you would like to buy something for me, I will be more than happy to provide you with my full Amazon gift list. Unfortunately, a new clothes dryer is not on the list—but if you want to buy me one, we can arrange it!

1. The most important thing to remember this Fall/Winter is that plaid is back! I like plaid! But I don’t like to see entire outfits, full dresses, etc. covered in the stuff. What I do like is highlights, accessories, and small hints of plaid. I especially like the combination of the shirred jacket with plaid (on top right-hand side of photo).

2. Scarves. And not just the kind to keep your neck warm during winter, I’m talking about long, decorative scarves that one could even wear during the summer. I bet my European friends are snickering right now, because they’ve known about the importance of scarves for a while. I’m glad that Americans are finally catching on.

3. For me, Black is always going to be The New Black. What doesn’t go with black? Nothing. But I’m glad that black is still a very popular color for your wardrobe. It helps tame brighter colors, can help you go from office to party in no time, and is practically timeless. If you wear a relatively nice black outfit, you look more professional. People will take you more seriously.

4. One tip that I love: Multiple lengths of necklaces worn at the same time! Whew, what a relief to not have to decide what necklace to wear. Just put them all on! Within reason, of course. Or you could purchase one necklace that satisfies the inner 1980s Madonna in all of us women. Actually, the trend is more of a long, cascading chains.

5. Messenger Bags for both men and women. Now we can all share in a utilitarian object to help us all carry those items around with us all the time. Now I don’t feel so bad asking a rather fashionable guy, “Where did you get that fabulous bag?” and for him to tell me without feeling embarrassed. But now I have to fight over messenger bags with my husband.

I hope this gives you some ideas of what to buy me. And if you need more ideas, check out

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Monday, September 07, 2009

9/11 Remembrance: Keithroy Maynard and Amazing Grace

I have learned recently that the hymn, “Amazing Grace” was written around 1770 by John Newton, a former slave ship captain, who, after being converted to Christianity, reflected upon his former occupation and felt sorrow for what he had done.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

John Newton, an American working as an English slave ship captain, was a wretch. He worked in an industry that brought millions of captured Africans to the New World so that plantation owners and merchants could make fortunes and claim that they alone built America. But it was really those slaves—packed nearly 600 in each ship, sold to masters, and forced to work for those masters—that actually did the hard work.

John Newton didn’t convert to Christianity and immediately forgo working in the slave industry. He didn’t convert because of an overwhelming guilt for buying and selling humans into slavery. He converted because he was glad that God spared his life after a scary storm at sea.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved.

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed.

Millions of slaves were brought to the New World. A million died en-route. John Newton made several trips from the Americas to England to Africa and back—a worker in the triangle of the buying of and selling of Africans and slave-made products sold to Europeans. Many of those slaves were brought to the United States to work in tobacco fields, but even more were brought to the Caribbean to work in sugar cane fields.

It was “Amazing Grace” that played at Keithroy Marcellus Maynard’s firefighters funeral on June 11, 2005, four years after his death on September 11, 2001. Keithroy was one of the many firefighters that responded to the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers. Most importantly, he was one of 12 black firefighters who lost their life that day.

Keithroy’s journey, which was cut short as he tried to save people from the disaster on that beautiful Tuesday morning, started and ended in Montserrat—a small island in the Caribbean. An island named by Christopher Columbus, settled by English plantation owners, and an island that has recently been devastated by an active volcano.

Keithroy was born in 1971 and grew up on that island until 1986, when his family, including his Mother, older brother Vernon, and twin brother, Kevin, immigrated to the United States. Keithroy became a naturalized citizen of the United States and became a New York City firefighter in 1999.

Engine Company 33, Keithroy’s unit, was one of the first called to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and Keithroy was with them. He never returned.

It wasn’t until four years later that Keithroy’s remains were identified by DNA and his family could finally bury him in his home country, Montserrat.

It’s been a long journey for Keithroy and his African ancesters—from captives, to cargo, to slaves, to freedom, to citizens, to firefighters who could, themselves, save poor wretches.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come.

'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

There is still time if you would like to participate in Project 2,996.

Previous 9/11 Remembrance

Monday, July 20, 2009

Amy the Black’s Momfinitions

I couldn’t resist want to let everyone know about my Funniest Five Momfinitions, as inspired by the post at Parents Connect. These definitions are not in any (respectable) dictionary, but are words that, when used in context, are recognizable to any parent.

Wigglebotomy – In the old days of frontier psychology, some doctors would cut into the skulls of mental patients, removing a part of the brain, with the hope of making the patient more docile. Now, mentally disturbed parents of toddlers can obtain the same level of brain dysfunction with the simple task of watching The Wiggles.
“Would you please turn off The Wiggles DVD and wipe the slobber off of
Mom’s chin? It looks like she got a Wigglebotomy this afternoon.”

P.R.F.I. – An acronym for Poop Related Fart Incident. This phrase was inspired by George Carlin’s PRBI (Puke-Related Burp Incident), but takes on a different (and messier) meaning. This is what happens when you, or a child, misinterpret the body’s signal to go number 2 as just a release of gas, and instead, a surprise happens.
“Sweetie, can you get your son a fresh pair of underwear? He just had a

Happy-Happy-Fun-Place – This is what used to be referred to as Baby Jail until we decided to give it a more politically-correct name. This phrase refers to an enclosed place set aside in the home or yard where a young child can safely and securely play, sleep, or scream.

“Please put my little darling in the Happy-Happy-Fun-Place before she sticks a
fork in the socket.”

Poop Taco – This term is what we lovingly call a dirty butt wipe after it has been used and folded to resemble a Mexican food item. Unlike the food item, this is not something you want to go through a drive-thru to obtain.

“Oh look, that diaper mess created at least 3 Poop Tacos before it was completely

Magic Saave – This term is a catch-all for all the different diaper ointments, oils, and gels used on the behinds of children (and sometimes even adults). It’s a much more pleasant way of referring to those types of treatments and seems to have a positive subliminal effect when used on the child.

“Don’t worry sweetie. I’ll put Magic Saave on your red bottom and I’ll feel
better in no time.”

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why, it's Whyville!

What can your kids do when they're at home on a snow day? Well, there are a lot of things really. But one that my family has discovered is

Whyville is a kid-friendly online community where kids can explore, play educational games, chat with other citizens, and just have a lot of fun.

It's free! Of course, if you want to spend real money, you can buy "Pearls," a currency in Whyville which will allow you to purchase many things. But if you want to go a more economical way, you can learn how to earn "Clams." There are many ways to earn Clams and increase your salary.

Kids have a great time changing the way they look in Whyville. You can purchase a new hairdo, a hat, a funny nose, or even a t-shirt. The possibilities are endless! My son has discovered a way to make himself look like a cat.

Is it really safe? Yes! First of all, before anyone in Whyville can chat, they have to have a signed permission slip sent to Whyville. Once the permission slip is received, a short test is necessary which helps teach what forms of activities are not permitted in Whyville. Lastly, there is a reporting rule breakers quickly and easily. I should also mention that there are monitors that check around to see what's going on.

I say that it's fun for children, but I've had a lot of fun too! And I've learned a few things along the way.

Try it out yourself and see. If you think it's good for your child, introduce it to them. It's available at My username is AmyBlack. See if you can find me!

Facts About Whyville
  • Whyville is a virtual world where you can travel to different places, talk to numerous people, and learn valuable information.
  • Whyville is based in Pasadena, California, but we have citizens who are from all over the world.
  • Whyville was started in 1999, and already has over 4 million members! Each day around 1,000 more join!
  • Our citizens are usually age 8-15.
  • Whyville generates between 40 and 50 million page views a month. Wow!
  • And last but not least, all of this is free! Anyone can join Whyville for the low price of $0!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Photos of the 2009 Ice Storm

We're finally melting! But here are photos that I finally had time (and electric) to upload them.

^My nemesis tree, a Black Walnut, dropped another branch on my car. This time, it didn't do any damage. But it's getting closer to becoming a stump unless it stops throwing branches and walnuts at me.

^ As you can see, everything was covered with white snow and encased in ice. Sure it was beautiful, but dangerous too. Branches and big chunks of ice were falling everywhere. Every so often, you could hear something that sounded like a chandelier crashing to the floor or a gunshot going off as a tree finally broke in half and fell.

It was very dark at night.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Happy Place

As many of you know, I have a very unusual Happy Place. You know what I’m talking about: when you’re just about to get a shot, you’re in labor, or you’re trying not to think about something unpleasant—you try to get your mind into another place, preferably a pleasant place, so that you don’t feel so bad.
When I was considering natural childbirth, I had to come up with a Happy Place. I considered many different spots—the playground of my youth, a beautiful overlook, an imaginary place—but those didn’t really hold my attention more than Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is where I got married. We had a great time. I’ve visited there a couple of times and each time I enjoy it more. I love the lights and the sounds and the betting and the winning (not the losing so much, but I keep it reasonable.) So, that’s my happy place—in a casino.

There are a few times when I need a reminder of the fun I had in Vegas. There’s not much around here in Ohio, since casino gambling is not legal. I’ve gone to Indiana’s silly “riverboat” gambling, where they actually built a lake to float the casino on so that they can be legal. It helps to go.

But way out here, in Creekistan, I sometimes rely on online places. Don’t get me wrong, I do not by any means have a gambling problem. I have yet to actually spend money online. But there are some places that satisfy my itch. is one, as well as Facebook's poker application. I’ve heard of others, like Betfair where you can play poker, but I’m not sure I can sign up for that.

Short of actually flying to Las Vegas, I guess I have to keep visiting my Happy Place in my mind or virtually, especially during these long, cold months.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Strangers on my Porch

The chickens woke me up this morning. No, not the rooster, the hens! They were carrying on. Last time I heard them like that, two dogs were trying to get into their pen and succeeded, killing two hens: Shanigha and Oprah. This morning, I didn't hesitate to check. Since the dog has been in the house at night, sleeping in the warm, he followed me out. I was only in my jammies.

Two smaller dogs were waiting for me. One was on my porch, a beagle, trying to eat Bandit's food. The other, a black shepherd mix, was running around, upsetting the chickens.

The flock was okay, my extra security held. But now Bandit is outside, playing with the dogs. He's too friendly to keep them away! When I go out to see if there are any eggs and give the chickens non-frozen water, we'll see if the dogs are still around.