Friday, March 25, 2011

New Virtual Petz Fantasy "Go To" Game This Spring Break

Spring Break starts today and besides crafting, trampolining and a few baking adventures, GAMING will be high on the Barreto Kids list  of activities this staycation.

In anticipation of this, we have been trying out and renting DS, Wii and Sony PS3 games.  With a 9 year old girl and 5 year old boy, it is rare that we find games that entertain both children.

We got the Petz Fantasy - Moonlight Magic game and it was a hit with the younger of the two Barreto kids. The first weekend we had it - Evan played it non-stop at a wedding.

My kids love the Petz series because we are no pet family and any games that allow you to 'care' for pets is a hit with my kids.

Three weeks later, it is still Evan's go to game.

Here is his point of view on the Petz Fantasy Nintendo DS...

"First of all, the game is kind of hard to learn but when you learn it, it's better.  I like all of the animals that you can unlock as you play.  You feed them, help them play and wash them  - kind of like of real pets only they are not dogs and stuff but mythical creatures. My favorite part is my first dragon, even when his bars are  not filled up he can go to magic world"

Essentially the game is simple. When you start, you play with a pet and you have a limited time to get the pet fed, washed and play a game in order to earn a trip to "magic world" where you can earn lots of points and unique adventures.

Additionally, there are codes for online play that we have yet to take advantage of but it appears to be randomly given and then if you don't use them at the time they are given, we have yet to find them again when starting a new game.

We recommend this game for the younger set of DS gamers and you can get it here at

While Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. UbisoftClever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Connecting Through The Power Of A Song

Lately, my nine year old daughter Emma has been playing the 1967 Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" at least once every time we are together playing music which is at least 3 times per week.  Like many around the world, I love this song but possibly for different reasons.

This song and many others from that era of music when Motown rocked America's airways is particularly special to me because it connects me to my mom, Betty Jean Jackson,  who passed away in 1976 at the age of 24. 

You see, because I didn't know my mom - I have been piecing together her life over the last 20 years from chats with her sister, the few pictures that I have been able to gather and most notably, through music.

Music paints a picture and adds a soundtrack to life.

Think about it. We all do it.

A song plays on the radio and we think about where we were at the time when that song was always being played the first time. We think of people who were part of our lives, conversations that took place with that song playing in the background. No matter where you are when ____________________ by ______________ comes on you are whisked back to that moment in time.

I do that with music from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The Supremes. The Jackson Five and especially with the song in the video above.

Picture it - 1967. My mom was in high school probably her 2nd or 3rd year as I have no real records to confirm. This song most likely was her dream for love. For the man who would whisk her away and love her like no other. Like all teenage girls in that day. 

Ironically, Tammi Terrell was very close in age to my mom. Six years between them. In fact, little did my mom know (at that time)  they would both share the same fate of death at age 24 shortly before their 25th birthdays. Perhaps that's the other reason the song carries deeper meaning for me.

Not only does this song speak to me about my mom's life at that time - her dreams, her wants, who she was but it carries a "secret" message to me.  Those lyrics say, "If you need me, call me - no matter where you are, no matter how far..."

Through this song my mom tells me to reach out for her when I miss her.

Mourn her when I need to... talk to her when I have no one else.

Because she cares and would have done anything to be here with me.

Even now just hearing the start of the song brings tears. I always struggled to explain the emotion to my daughter until I stopped to think about it for this post.

Some music carries messages to us from dear love ones that is hard to articulate but we feel it deeply. I embrace this song and many others from that era as they hold the answers to questions my soul longs to hear directly from my mom. And until we meet again...

Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye's recorded hits serve as her mouthpiece to my heart.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rivalries, Basketball and the Black Family: Why Grant Hill's Commentary Was About MUCH More Than Defending His Alma Mater

Twitter is LIT Up with talk about The Fab Four Documentary and Former Duke Star Grant Hill's reply posted in the New York Times today.

University of Michigan.



Duke University.


The State of the Black Family.

The Black Family?  - How in the world did I get that from the reading that article?

While the gist of the article is Grant Hill's reply to Jalen Rose's accusations about Duke only recruiting "Uncle Toms" or blacks from two-parent, middle income families. There are lots of basketball related chatter and but this is the quote that jumps out at me...

"To hint that those who grew up in a household with a mother and father are somehow less black than those who did not is beyond ridiculous. "

Wow. Love it. Couldn't wait to tweet the article.

Then I jumped on Twitter to see what was being said and that's when I got mad.

Attack after attack on Grant Hill for responding. Further - there were side conversations about Duke's recruiting record but universally many think Grant missed the point of the Rose's commentary.

NEWSFLASH - He did not.

He, like me and many others, are sick and tired of the majority dominating the conversation on what's "black" as it relates to family and relationships. We are tired of people minimizing the importance of family in our community and Grant not standing up for it would have been a miss. It is not about Grant Hill or his family.

It's about stopping this madness of our own people making people feel less apart of black community because of what their particular black experience is. "Uncle Tom" is the way Rose described the types black players that Duke recruited particularly Grant Hill - you know "safe black people." Really?

Why can't we applaud strong black families when we have the opportunity? Why can't we praise them for raising upstanding citizens and passing on that legacy to their kids? Yeah passing it on - Grant Hill is married with children for the last 15+ years to R&B singer Tamia. See what can happen when we start a cycle of healthy relationships in family line?

We get plenty of reminders of the breakdown of our families. Daily. Moment by moment even. How in the world can the family that Grant Hill or other black Duke players had possibly be turned into a negative thing?

Even in the context of the comments - 20 years ago, college rivals, jealousy, etc. etc.  -it is upsetting to me that more was not done to denounce this way of thinking to our kids.

To Jalen Rose's credit - he sent Grant an apology in advance of he documentary's release and has since stated that his comments were fueled by jealousy of Grant's family. Kudos to Jalen for being man enough to say it. But now I'd love for him to use this platform to stand up for the black family.

I'm not asking Jalen to join me in my Relationship Revolution.

But I'd love for Jalen to state that this line of thinking, regardless of when it happens,  is destructive to our community,  our potential and people personally. I'd love for Jalen to say that it is OK to be angry and sad when you don't have the family you want but it is never OK to project that on someone who does.

I'd love for him to give Grant kudos for continuing the legacy his parents gave him by building a healthy, stable family for his kids. It is not guaranteed that everyone in his family will live "happily ever after"but it certainly lays a foundation. Not just for them but for all in their immediate community. I remember vividly that "one" married black couple in my church that exemplified ideal family to me. Their marriage is still strong and they recently celebrated 40 years together. They are still impacting people all these years later. I'm celebrating 10 years with my husband next month.

Don't underestimate the power of a strong black family in a community.

Let's raise our voices and show the world there are many family and relationship dynamics in our community and we are proud of all of them - especially those who can build healthy strong two-parent homes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Just Dance Thru Your Spring Break Staycation

In the midst of  Spring Break season and so many families choosing "Staycations vs. Vacations",  we, once again want to give you some ideas about what we plan to do when our Spring Break hits in a few weeks since we are among the non-traveling families this year.

Besides taking at least one day to chill and do nothing - we are for sure planning an on-going GAMEFEST! Between rocking out on the PS3, baking treats and exploring new apps on the gadgets - we will be spending time on a new acquisition: Just Dance Kids! Wii.

As you can see from the video above - this game appeals to both my kids - at very different ages. Below find verbatim their thoughts on this game:

Evan - 5 years old
"I love to learn all the songs. It is fun and I get really tired after 4 or five songs. The moves are fun and funny. My mom is not very good but she sweats a lot and makes me laugh."

Thanks Evan. 

Emma - 9 years old says:

"I think it is very fun and active and Evan is right- she does sweat a lot! I love that the songs are sung by kids like me and Evan! The songs are songs that almost everyone knows and they are great for dancing to! For the littler ones, the songs are songs that the littler kids see in their TV shows. I recommend this game for kids of all ages- from 2 to even 32! Even grown-ups like my mom can have fun while having quality time with their kids!"  

While it's targeted at kids, (I agree with Emma and) I have to say I enjoyed playing it and found the moves to be fun and simple enough that both kids can win and enjoy themselves. My personal favorite thing about this game is how at the end of each song -there are opportunities for extra credit that can give you a boost for things like "Yeah" moves and "High Energy Movement". Those extras go a long way especially if you are like me and get tired before the end of the song. (Some one needs to give me a fitness game, STAT)

We absolutely recommend adding Just Dance Kids Wii to your gaming collection. You can find it here at ToysRUs.

While Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Health CARE As It Should Be

Recently, I had my yearly check up with my women's health primary care doctor and I noticed something I had not taken time to notice before; she is absolutely amazing.

From the time she walks in the room, you feel her warmth.

She looks you in the eyes for 100% of the conversation. Only pauses briefly to take notes - it is not her primary purpose - the note-taking on the tablet. Her primary purpose is to get caught up on the last year since we last spoke.

There is no rushing. No pregnant pauses. No lectures.

Just plain and simple relationship building. And it is two ways.

How else would I know that she and her boys have the same gaming consoles as we do?

How would I even know she has two boys?

How would I know that her family loves going to Mexico on vacation or that they are headed to the Dominican Republic this year instead?

I don't even know how we transition to The Most Uncomfortable 90 Seconds of My Year (every year) but as smooth as she is at setting the tone - the time flies and we are wrapping up with a few last notes on what to do in the year to come.

This year, I walked out of her office so impressed. So amazed.

Since our last meeting, I have had many more health care encounters than normal with my Arm(maggedon) surgery and recovery. And I can honestly say - all my other interactions were more like transactions than health "care".

The key word in the whole health care industry is "care".

Dr. Cheryl Paradis gets it. And for that I am eternally grateful.

How many Americans can say they have a Doctor that truly "cares" for them?