Cash Rulez Every.thing Aro.und Me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dolla dolla bill ya'll...

**LB raising fists to the sky**


Sorry, I guess that I got a bit crunk and carried away...I loved me some Wu Tang...well Meth, actually. And how could you not? After all, he came to bring the pain, hard.core to the brain...and we went inside his as.tral plane. Aiight, I think that I got that out of my system.

I'm really trying NOT to write only once a week, but I had some thangs going on and well, I hadn't been bitten with the blogging bug like before. But I was sitting here...about to complete this tag by the infamous Leezarus and as I was thinking about 3 things that I like to do aside from blogging, in my peripheral vision, I saw this paper tacked up on the board above my desk. I know, I know...attention deficit and whatnot. Funny thing is...on this board, I have pictures of my baby, random business cards, a blue school calendar, a yellow class schedule for JJ, and a green school booklet. But what stuck out was this stark white paper that I had printed out over a year ago...the day after my bday in 2006, to be exact. It's a "Declar.ation of Fin.ancial Empower.ment" that I retrieved from the Black Enterprise website. Honestly, I look up at it probably once a month and examine it only once a quarter. But I decided to take it down and review my year-old pledge and track my progress. Thought I'd share...like to hear it, here it go:

I, LB, from this day forward, declare my vigilant and life-long commitment to financial empowerment. I pledge the following:

1. To use homeownership to build wealth.
Well, I'm proud to say that I bought my house and moved in 2 weeks before my bday this year. Certainly a challenging process, but one of the more rewarding ones. While visiting for the first time the other day, Choir Boy said, "Mayne, do you ever just look at your skylights and feel accomplished?!" I never thought of it that way, but I guess so. Shortly after he left, I started digging through my huge plastic container full of photo albums and stacks of memories. I came across the pictures that me and Old Dude took of my house in the N.O. after the storm. I remember standing in the midst of all of that and wondering, "Where in the hell do I go from here?" My answer NOW: With the grace and favor of God, I can go anywhere.

2. To save and invest 10% to 15% of my after-tax income.
THIS.IS.HARD!!! I created a budget sheet in Excel that accounts for this, but my level of comfort hasn't reached that yet. I've heard several times from financial professionals and preachers alike that the key to financial prosperity is to tithe 10% and save 10%, at minimum. Strangely, I find it easier to tithe (which is at the absolute TOP of my budget sheet). I HAVE to have my savings debited from my checking account or else it'll be burned up at Son.ic or a Pop.eye's (if I can ever find one of these gold mines 'round these parts, I might have to be hospitalized...I swear the last time that I saw a spicy white breast was on a Gi.rls Go.ne Wi.ld commercial), lol. But I digress...so as of today, I invest:

$50/month to my Mon.ey Mar.ket Acc.ount (my money NOW fund)
$50/month to a Mutual Fund (JJ's education fund...on a slow build)
$50/month to a Mutual Fund (have no idea fund...on a slow build)

3. To commit to a program of retirement planning and investing.
Recently, I became eligible to invest in my 401K at my not-so-new-anymore J.O.B. So, as soon as open enrollment was announced, a sista was on the phone with a financial advisor trying to get some hot tips, right? LOL. The hottest tip I got...max out your percentage, if you can. Well, that ain't happenin' b/c you can transfer your whole daggone check to your retirement plan. Once I found out that the company will match half of your investment up to 4%, I decided to fold at a cool 8%. It's been a little rough, but I figure that if I adjust my living to it now, then once I get my annual increases, I'll be an old pro and won't even feel my tummy tickled.

4. To engage in sound budget, credit, and tax managment practices.
So, I DO have this nifty Excel spreadsheet, but I can't lie...I deviate from it...especially when it comes to eating. I NEED to brown bag it and put my acquired Rach.ael Ray knowledge to use but I gets lazy, lol. I have everything in this spreadsheet including JJ's monthly haircut expense, his kar.ate classes, and even my tolls...but that dayum food budget gets busted everytime.

On a grander note, my credit is looking much better. When I think of where it was 2 years ago...heck, LAST YEAR, I shudder. But I patiently watch it climb and have decided that when I enter into my desired range, I might have to have a backyard BBQ.

As far as tax management is concerned...I can't wait to manage my tax returns next year, b/c I KNOW that they will be a beast, lol.

5. To measure my personal wealth by net worth, not income.
Assets and liabilities...

I think that this ia a part of the reason why I don't save as much as I should...I'm so busy trying to pay down debt. As it stands, I have no credit card balances but I have some student loans that threaten to NOT disappear until 2018. I JUST worked out a 4-year plan to make those monsters vanish. After that, I can increase my investments and become the neighborhood 50-Ce.nt. Net worth = a helluva lot more than 50 cents!

6. To be proactive and knowledgeable about investing, money management, and consumer issues.
I have about 5-6 finance books, including a thick hardback about the stock market. The latter may collect more dust than my blinds, but the others have certainly planted some seeds. I think that the most helpful book that I own is prolly Dav.id Bach's, "Sma.rt Women Fin.ish Rich."

7. To provide access to programs that will educate my children about business and finance.
I eventually want to get into the allowance stage, but J AND I are not there yet. As it stands, he always does odd jobs around my father's church when he goes back home...and he seems to make good ends there! Plus, my dad's friends just peel off 10-dollar bills just b/c J is in the room! So, he needs to learn good, solid money management practices NOW! Especially since the "regional tooth fairy" in the N.O. likes to drop off $5 per tooth. I remember when I gave this boy one dollar for a tooth, he said, "Here you go, mommy. You can have it." Mayne, I was ready to tear up...until he said, "...keep it with your money b/c I have some games that I want to get." He's been on a tight money program ever since!

8. To support the creation and growth of profitable, competitive black-owned enterprises.
My church is actually starting this magazine that offers free advertisements (temporarily, of course) for members that are business owners. If I'm ever in need, I may do some more research on those companies. Until then, I'll keep giving Brutha Master G, J's karate teacher, my monthly payments, lol.

9. To use a portion of my wealth to strengthen my community.
I'm in the planning stages on this one. There are things that I would like to become involved with back home, but I'm trying to develop a solid foundation while up here. I keep bouncing this idea around with regard to hooking up young women with successful sista mentors of various professional backgrounds, but then I draw a blank. One day...

10. To ensure that my wealth is passed on to future generations.
Slacker, I am. I keep visiting Legal Zoom from time to time and I even invested in computer software that creates thousands of legal documents, but I just haven't taken the leap towards a will. I don't know what's up with my lead foot on this matter, b/c after the legal mumbo jumbo that I had to go through with my dad after my mom passed, I should be eager to set matters right. I have my insurance policies in place, but there's nothing like a directive that can ensure that my JJ benefits, if something happens. I DO have specific instructions on some matters, so I may just bite the bullet and consult an attorney, in the flesh...prayerfully, before this time next year.

And there it is...my financial assessment, folks...

**LB throws arms in the air in a hard and swift knife-like motion**


I encourage anyone that may happen upon this blog to print this (yep, it's a link), sign and date it. MAKE IT VISIBLE and take control of your financial destiny.

wanna hug it out?

Today's perplexity is brought to you by the letter H. Hugging. In general, I have no issue with showing affection towards fam and close friends. I ALWAYS hugged my mom. Video games and wrestling moves used to be the way that my daddy and I expressed our love as a little girl. He might've even preferred a warm embrace, as opposed to, a swift kick to the groin during our Saturday morning matches. My mom thought that ballet would put an end to all that boyish rough-housing...I just began to kick my dad with a more pointed toe, lol. My mom always kissed me in public and took to dancing with me in grocery store aisles. My dad said "I love you" with "Aiight nah." Polar opposites, they were. Perhaps I needed that balance, but as a result, I would always go to my mom's women friends if they called me towards them. My dad's male friends got the hard 5-second stare down (LadyLee, 2007) and dismissal.

I find now that I have turned into my mother. I hug all on my baby...in fact, if we make it to his before school care, he doesn't walk off to join his friends until he hugs my waist and puckers his lips. I randomly tell him that I love him several times a day and the last time that I was at the local Wal.greens, I found myself slinging my moves to "Need You To.night" (IN.XS), blasting from the store's speakers. And since I'm all that J's got, for the most part, I probably overthink and attempt to exhibit the qualities that I'd like him to have as a young man. I do my best, but I also make sure that even if he doesn't have his dad around, he has enough positive male role models that can show him how to be a man better than I can...which is one reason why I send him back home to stay with his PawPaw for the summers. I want him to be affectionate. My biggest concern is that he'll grow up to be effeminate. And in the short term, get his butt pummeled or teased on the playground for extending his arms towards another boy.

Where did that come from? Well, his friend J2 asked J for a hug one day. Silence ensued. We BOTH gave the boy a hard 5-second stare down...and then J caved and walked towards J2 and stood there while J2 embraced him and rocked him side to side. I can't lie...I had a problem with that. When J was 3 or 4 years old, those toddler boys at his daycare did that sort of thing. It didn't really bother me then b/c they were all still babies in my eyes. But 2 6 y/o's? These are big boys and apparently J2 is the only friend of J's that likes to hug and dance with J...often. My ex-roomie-play-therap.ist friend thinks I'm looney. My dad, of course, is on the same page with me. I'm worried that I'm making it a bigger deal than it really is, or even worse, if I'm pushing my issues on J. So, I sat J down last night for a talk. Apparently, he doesn't seem to mind hugging J2...I'm the only one feeling uncomfortable. And my level of discomfort was not eased when I overheard J2 asking his mom for some Bra.tz make.over thingee...and he doesn't have sisters. But anyway, I hipped J to the Big Boys Code.

Mommy: J, how old are you?
J: 6, I'm a Big Boy.
Mommy: Yes, you sure are. And do you know what Big Boys do?
J: What?
Mommy: Well, one thing...when Big Boys and other Big Boys say goodbye, they usually wave, high-five or shake hands. Do you know how to shake hands?
J: Yep.
Mommy: Show me.
**I extend my hand and he shakes it.**
Mommy: Good. You have a nice, firm grip. Now, give me a high-five.
**I hold my hand up and he slaps it...hard.**
Mommy: Cool. So when J2 asks you for a hug, you ought to hip him too. Tell him that you'd rather give him a high-five or shake his hand.
J: OK.
Mommy: Aaight, I'm J2. J, can I have a hug?
J: I don't wanna give you a hug. How about a high-five?
Mommy: OK. Aaight, I'm Ry.an. J, can I have a hug?
J: How about I shake your hand?
Mommy: OK. Good! Aaight, I'm Kayla. J, can I have a hug?
J: OoooooKaaayyyyy.
**J thrusts his body forward and falls in my arms and I bust out laughing**
Mommy: So wait, J, you hug on Kayla?
J: No, but you asked.

Where is an instruction booklet when you need one?

extra hands

It's THAT time of year again. The time when your kids start school...i.e. bring home every germ their little hands can gather. As soon as I realized that J had gotten a hold of something that had him hacking like a 73 year old with a smoking habit just as old, my throat started feeling like I had juggled a handful of thorns and did the neck tilt, throw back, and swallow hard. So, our Saturday picnic with friends was cancelled. We both had to be nursed and QUICK b/c I can't afford to take anymore time off during the next 2 months. I grabbed my black bandana and hit up the local Wal.greens for every sort of relief that they offered in the Ny.quil form. I just KNEW that we'd spend Saturday in our respective corners, drifting in and out of drug-induced comas. I should have known that much like the picnic, things don't always go as planned.

We've been here for almost 4 months now and my Ur.ban Ha.ng Su.ite (my loft and bedroom on the second floor) was still boxed up creating a maze to my computer. Since I had recently gotten the correct pieces to this new computer desk that I had ordered 6 WEEKS AGO, I decided that I should organize my office. Once I broke out my tools, a bell went off and J immediately followed me to see what the hap was.

"Mommy, can I help?"


I was trying to think of what this child could do that wouldn't create double work for me. Bless his heart for wanting to jump in the game, but his little extra hands could only do so much. But I also understand that if I can get him to love chores at this age, I'm golden for the rest of my life. I had become pretty consumed with the glass pieces to my desk...counting rods, screws, washers, and bolts. I sized up each tool as if it were the first time that I'd use them. I've always liked building things as a little girl and, to this day, I still do even if it is not of my design.

"Mommy, can I open this box for you?" broke my concentration as I was giving a screw da bidness.

I look up to see him standing next to a box, almost as tall as he is, with the word "PERISHABLE" written in big red letters on its side. I smiled b/c my dad shipped this box from the N.O. almost a year ago. He had packed up the salvageable items from my house before he had it gutted. These were items that I had missed during my search...well, at the time that old dude and I broke into my former home, we could hardly endure any more of the stench that lingered from the mold and sludge, compliments of Ka.trina. We got what I thought were my most valuable treasures and bounced. I figured that whatever my dad retrieved was probably junk b/c he couldn't have known what I considered important enough to clean and keep. This was my house...and at a time, my mom and I's house...his family and concerns were located down the main street. But anyway, this box has been sitting untampered for almost a year. Even when J and I moved to our new house, I told the bruhs to just put it anywhere...it would be a while before its contents would see the light of day.

"Mommy, can I?"

"OK, but if it has styrofoam in it, please do not get it everywhere."

This was a worthy chore indeed. He'd not only become intrigued by the styrofoam but the bubble wrap was going to send him into a child's euphoria, lol.

"Mommy, look!"

That break didn't last long. I was more interested in my new desk than some old whatchamacallit that he had discovered. J had gotten the scissors and was anxiously slicing away at tape, bubble wrap, and anything that stood between him and his newfound treasures.

He held up a picture of my mom.

Somehow she had managed to stuff her huge breasts into this black and gold sequined gown, ready to show stop at the Zu.lu ball that night. She looked so pretty...and proud of her mile-long cleavage. I didn't particularly care for the man that was going to escort her to the ball, but I wanted her to have a good time nonetheless. I don't think that she really cared that much about the man either, b/c she just wanted to be seen. After 3 tummy suck-ins, I was finally able to zip up her gown. Which was right on time, b/c my next trick involved heavy-duty tape, lol. She floated out of the house and I was left to vacuum the trail of sequins that she had left behind. Before I knew it, this smile had crept up on me.

"See, mommy?"

While lost in my thoughts, J had managed to free another picture of me the night of my prom. I wore white...and it was appropriate. I looked so happy back then...senior year was coming to an end and I had a promising future to look forward to. My mom had me pose all around that house, back when we lacked the convenience of digital cameras.

Not very many minutes passed before I fought my ability to resist and started digging, spilling styrofoam onto the floor from both sides. Swimming through the material were my ballet, tap, and gymnastics trophies...all individually wrapped. These activities were my momma's way of counteracting my dad's attempt at turning me into his son. I pulled the plastic just enough to touch my name, etched in black letters, on a plaque that I had long forgotten about. I soon spotted my diploma and my green high school graduation cap. How did I miss these things? I probably didn't. Most likely, I saw them and thought nothing of them. But for some reason, 2 years later, they were my world.

I palmed a deflated football, signed by the entire TU team the year that they went to the Li.berty Bowl. I remember my mom calling me and telling me that she was on campus for some football-related function with a football in hand for her favorite players to sign. She always went with me to the home games...laughing, jumping, and cat calling the fine-r players on the team. Yeah, she created a scene but she only knew how to be the center of attention...anything else was uncivilized, lol.

"What's this, mommy?"

J held up a sealed, paper money pouch from the local N.O. bank. It jingled like change, but there was NO WAY that my dad would take the time to pack up something that doesn't fold like some hidden crisp bills. I grabbed the scissors, cut off the seal, and dumped the contents onto the carpet. Jackpot! Monogrammed rings and gold nameplates, diamond clusters and her precious peridots, tennis bracelets and chains...although not considered the "bling" of today, the mass glistened just as bright. My mom couldn't stand to have naked fingers. Me? I could do without. Some of the rings were still disfigured from when she was in a severe car accident during my sophomore year in high school. She always claimed that she never got around to fixing them...I started to believe that they served to remind her of God's grace. Everyone said that there was no way that she should've been able to walk out of that alive...let alone, walk.

I remember telling her, shortly after, that if she had died, I had no reason to live.

"If I die, YOU have EVERY reason to live," she corrected.

I found myself getting a little teared up as I stared at these items...FAR from being "PERISHABLE." So much has happened since she's been gone. I remember her looking forward to grandkids one day, but she never got a chance to meet my J. I sometimes wonder what she thinks of the woman that I have become, but wonder if I'd made too many mistakes that kept me from being the woman that she wanted me to be.

"Mommy, I saw a picture of you and your mom when you were grad-ju-way-teen. See? That's you and this is her."

"It sure is, J."

"Yeah...I KNOW that she's very proud of you too, mommy."

Whoa. I was officially choked up. I looked towards the heavens...more like my ceiling fan...as if I could find where he pulled that statement from. Nothing. Be that as it may, this was certainly a nice detour from what I thought would be a boring sick day. Bless his heart for wanting to jump in the game, b/c his little extra hands did so much.

my JJ on first grade...


ME: J, did you like your new school?
J: Yeah.
ME: So what did you do today?
J: I had school.
ME: I probably should've guessed that.


ME: J, did you make any new friends?
J: Um, I forgot to make new friends.
ME: How do you forget to make friends?
J: I have my own friends.
J: Wait I DID make a new friend...I think.
ME: Cool...what was his name?
J: Um, I forgot.


ME: Well, are you the only black boy in class?
J: There's another black girl in class...
**secretly cheering since he now understands that we are black**
J: ...but I was the only brown boy.
J: Everyone else had white skin.


J: Mommy, someone taught me that 100 plus 100 equals 200.
ME: Your teacher?
J: No, a girl.
**oh lawd, here we go...**
ME: What girl?
J: Kayla. I saw her at lunch but she sat far, far away. She came over and said "hi" and I said "hi" back.
ME: And that's when she started teaching you math?
J: Noooooooooooooooo
ME: OK, is she in your class?
J: No, but she goes to my daycare too.
ME: Is that when she taught you some math?
J: Yeah.
ME: How old is Kayla?
J: Oh, I think she's about 7.
ME: 7? She's a little old.
J: Yeah, and she's a brown girl.
ME: Do you like her?
J: Yeah.
ME: Knowing math never pulled a man for me back in my day.
J: What?
ME: Nuthin.'

the intro

I'm not new to this...and not entirely true to this.

Does that exempt me from having to make some grand introduction? Prolly not.


Well, I have had several blog identities and pages, but for the sake of starting this one on the good foot, I'll stick to LB.

Personally, I think that Diggs was funnier, but if I were to dredge up some of those old posts, I'd cringe at how often I cussed. I still slip, but I guess that my spirit can only take so much nowadays...which is a great thing.

The problem with Diggs was...she never realized her worth. Diggs was limited. Diggs pi$$ed people off both intentionally and unintentionally. Diggs was hurting, but masked it with a smile...and a swift verbal smackdown if beckoned. Diggs attracted the wrong people. Diggs invited drama but wondered why it kept following her. Don't get me wrong, she was mad cool and fun-loving...but not at all free.

LB? LB went hard on the spiritual tip in the beginning. She was one of those people that you didn't want to cross with some nonsense, b/c she had this spiritual awakening and felt it her responsibility to smack you so hard with "The Good Book" that the mirror-image of the word "Bible" would be permanently imprinted on your forehead. LB was about healing. LB was about redemption. LB had had enough and although she embarked on this intense spiritual journey, she was the queen of some bitter, angry, "Wait.ing to Ex.hale" blogs. Be that as it may, LB is one bad broad, flaws and all! She made no apologies and better yet, no excuses for the ones that wronged her. She made it through the dissolution of her romantic fantasy, a hurricane, and strained familial relationships...all at the price of her soul.

When she had no one or nothing else...she had God. And although she struggled through forgiveness and acceptance of reality, she's prolly 90% there, 100% at peace. Overall, both ladies exhibit qualities that tickle me and annoy me at present, but I respect LB's gangsta. I'm continuing on as LB b/c she made lifelong blog sista-friends and is the most pleasant to be around...but I guess that that depends on who you're talking to. Some would say that LB lacked swagger. I say...I could give a dayum of what those "some" would say. People change. LB knew when to make an exit and bowed out of the blog world gracefully to handle her personal bidness.


In the voice of Bruh-man from the fif flo', "Nuthin'....just chillin'."

OK, really...I'm still in VA (Veeayyy, Veeayyy, Woooo) and recently, I bought a house. That's prolly my biggest accomplishment this year. Come on in...

Take off your shoes or scrub the floor, lol. Just kidding...um, somewhat. Have a seat. This IS a house with some cranberry juice. I know...my livingroom looks kinda naked without a coffee table, but I just can't seem to find one fabulous enough to grace my carpet. That doesn't even bother me as much as my armoire being as off-centered as it is. And since my last attempt at moving it involved my Ti Val and me almost tipping my television onto the floor, I decided to leave it as is. LB is also a little helpless and is waiting for her daddy's holiday visit before she corrects the situation.

**Takes breath** And...

I just got my son back after spending the summer in New Or.leans.

I couldn't be peach-ier. When I am without him, I am lost...a borderline basketcase. My baby J will be a first-grader starting tomorrow and 6 y/o on Friday. It will be interesting to see his adjustment at the new school. I'm pretty pleased with the Afr.ican Am.erican percentage at this school, especially since I felt that he was often singled out last year (as the only black boy in class). It was unfortunate how "black" became synonymous with "atten.tion defi.cit dis.order" in kindergarten. Hmph. I'm hoping that I don't have to turn into Diggs with his teacher...again...but I believe that there should be no problems.

**Takes breath** And...

I changed jobs. Still designing thangs, but on a different tip.

**Takes breath** And...

I'M NOT DATING! **Whew** For some reason, I felt the need to state that in all caps. With that said, this is a good time to start a blog up again b/c there is no reason for ANYBODY to be checking for me and vice versa. And to my knowledge, I'm not interested in anyone, but I have had 2 "inappropriate" dreams about a coworker that is making me believe that I have an affinity for yt frat boys that say lines like, "I'm of.f like a pair of pants." Please, let that not be so but I find myself gazing at his deep dimples in mid-eye roll. I wonder if he has dimples anywhere else??? Any-who...

It is what it is...my life, that is. My major concern? Lack of commitment. Hopefully, this blog will not die a slow and painful death from neglect. Until then...

It's Whateva, Mayne.