It’s been almost 7 years since we adopted …

Time really flies …

Yesterday we were sitting on the couch talking about how he was carried by his mom, how she gave birth to him, and how he ended up with us. He’s old enough to talk about all of that but I’m not really sure if he knows what it all means.

As they get older it becomes easier … and harder … to remember that though they are “our” children .. they aren’t. I hope one day they are able to connect with their families. I hope they are able to hear the hard parts of their histories without it hurting them too much. I hope they enjoy experiencing life with us.

Can you believe it’s been almost seven years since we adopted?

Scary Bear Nightmares


We visited some relatives and while we were there, an older cousin showed our oldest a video of a bear screaming in a video game. We don’t know if he did it on purpose (thinking it would be funny) or on accident (didn’t realize it would freak out a four year old). Either way, it scared him so badly that he ran into my partner’s arms, tears streaming down his face.

He wanted to get away from the cousin, so he asked my partner to put him on the top bunk bed in the kid’s room. He wouldn’t come down for a long while. When he did, he told us how afraid he was and how he wanted the cousin to apologize.

It’s been a few days since the incident and he’s still talking about scary bears. He’s had nightmares. He mentions scary bears each time he sees a bear.

As kids, both my partner and I had older people scare us. It affected us for years afterwards (ask my partner about how afraid of the dark I was in my MID-twenties) and I had hoped to spare my kids this pain.  *sigh*

Now that it’s happened, I’m not sure what to do.


Tracking Tina Turner Through Brownsville, TN

2018 TN Brownsville Tina Turner Hwy Shay

When I heard about the Tina Turner Museum in Brownsville, TN I knew I’d make it out here.

We booked a hotel in Bells, TN that had nothing around it. I didn’t know that when i booked it, but the only thing here is the hotel and a little gas station/convenience store next door. The owner/,manager has TERRIBLE customer service skills but the rooms are cheap and clean, the flat screen tv and cable work well, the internet is sufficient, and there is a minifridge and microwave in the room. What more could you want for $50 per night?

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - Tina Turner Museum

The next morning we got up and headed out to the Delta Heritage Center. I really only cared about the one room schoolhouse that had been moved to the center and turned into the Tina Turner Museum. I was surprised to find that the Delta Heritage Center had lots more to offer. There are several mini museums in the building including the small aquariums with fish and an animatronic fisher with hip boots on that tells you stories about the local wetlands. Outside, next to the Tina Turner Museum is a small house that used to belong to Sleepy Joe Estes (outhouse and all). The kids really enjoyed the center. The only downside was in the cotton museum there was a “plantation bell” as part of the exhibit with no mention of those that were enslaved or those that enslaved them. Once again, it seemed that Black folks were enslaved but no one enslaved them. *side eye*

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center Cotton Museum weigh bale of cotton

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center Cotton Museum plantation bell

After that, we visited the Dunbar carver Museum. It’s a small museum that commemorates the local, Black history of Brownsville. The museum talked about picking cotton, how the community came together to build a school for the Black kids, how it was closed once integration happened, local folks that were killed and had their homes bombed for trying to get people to vote, and the amazing staff and students that made the community great. Tina Turner attended that high school for a while. The lady docent told me folks thought she was fast. It seemed like she just knew she didn’t wanna stay in that little town all her life and went after what she wanted.

2018 TN Brownsville Dunbar Carver Museum Tina Turner wall

After that, we drove over to Nutbush, TN. It’s not even a town …  there are tons of fields and only three buildings in the center. We drove passed it and had to turn around when we realized we’d driven through it! Lol

It was a cool little free day.


2018 TN Memphis Soulville sign

You’ll see this mural on the way to the Stax Museum in Memphis, TN.

We finally made it to Memphis, Tennessee. We booked a room on the Black side of town (a little south of the river) on accident but it was perfect. We were less than 8 minutes away from the Stax Museum, the Lorraine Motel (nee the Civil Rights Museum), Central BBQ, and lots of cool murals.

Stax Music

Short story: the museum is amazing!

2018 TN Memphis Stax Museum historical marker

2018 TN Memphis Stax Museum Wattstax concert

Los Angeles history live in Memphis! Wattstax is remembered.

2018 TN Memphis Stax Museum Stax gets political

A social awakening happened after MLK Jr. was murdered.

2018 TN Memphis Stax Museum Soul Connections Mary J Blige Kitchen song

I really liked this thing that would play a current song and point out the connections to old music.

2018 TN Memphis Stax Museum kilimba close up

They even mentioned the west African musical instrument, the kalimba.

There’s too much to say about Isaac Hayes so you just have to go to the Stax Museum yourself. I know the album on the right (of the Black mermaid) isn’t an Isaac album but it all just looked good together. That IS his gold car though.


Amazing Murals

While driving around, I saw some dope street art.

2018 TN Memphis mural I AM FREE

Saw this on the way to Slave Haven (near the pyramid).

2018 TN Memphis mural Ida B Wells

Any mural with Ida B. Wells works for me.

2018 TN Memphis mural grocery

2018 TN Memphis mural I am a man

On Main Street heading towards downtown from the Lorraine Motel. An homage to the sanitation worker’s strike. Economic freedom for ALL!

Things I would have liked to have seen:


Pink Palace Museums.




Brownsville, TN and Tina Turner

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center side

This is what the building looks like from the street.

All the times we’ve been in the area, we’ve never stopped in Memphis. Usually we visit friends in Atlanta and end up going through Nashville. Since no one else in my family likes country music and it doesn’t seem like Nashville plays up the Black history angle, there really doesn’t seem like there’s a reason to stop there.

Memphis on the other hand has tons of Black history, even the outskirts. On the way to Memphis, we spent a few days in Brownsville, TN because that’s where the Tina Turner Museum is. Since we were in town, we also decided to check out the Dunbar Carver Museum and drive out to Nutbush, TN.

Delta Heritage Center

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center entrance

This is the front of the building. Better, no?

It turns out that the Tina Turner Museum is in a small one-room schoolhouse that was moved to the Delta Heritage Center and sits to the side next to the last home of Sleepy Joe Estes. There is a lot more to do at this free center than just the Tina Turner Museum. It also has a few mini-museums in the building. We saw a Cotton Museum that detailed how cotton was grown and sold though they left out any mention of enslaving Black people to do it. The room had lots of artifacts and a diorama. Interestingly enough, it also had a bell from a plantation but no mention of those that enslaved or those that were enslaved. Ahhhh ….   the passive voice.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center Michelle temper tantrum cotton museum - Guillermo wont leave her

My youngest decided she didn’t want to engage with the museum.

The kid’s favorite part was the Hatchie River Museum. There are three small fish tanks with creatures in them, a stuffed (as in taxidermy) turtle, and an animatronic fisherman in long boots that tells stories about growing up along the Hatchie River when you push a button. My oldest wanted to stay in that part all day. In fact, when we went across the hallway to the music part he asked to return to the river part. It’s a small building and there weren’t many people so we allowed it.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - aquarium kids


2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - this robot tells a story

The last mini museum was the West Tennessee Music Museum. We learned about Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son in Law. Lol It was cool to read a bit more about the musical influences that came out of western Tennessee.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - Petie Wheatsraw The Devils Son in Law

After touring the inside of the building, we headed out to the Tina Turner Museum. It’s a small building that houses a few pews, some of Tina’s outfits (her Mad Max one is in there), a video of her talking about her time at the school, and some information about the community she grew up in and how the Black people in the community banded together to create the school.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - Tina Turner Museum

Finally ….    we made it to the Tina Turner Museum in Brownsville, TN.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - Tina Turner Museum schoolhouse history

Benjamin Brown Flagg gave the land that the school was built on.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - Tina Turner Museum Mad Max costume

Tina Turner’s outfit from the movie, Mad Max.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - Tina Turner Museum schoolhouse benches kids

The kids sitting on the benches in the Tina Turner Museum.

Since we were there, we also checked out the Sleepy John Estes house. It was sad. They had a map with all places he’s played in a room that was so tiny …  the house didn’t even have a bathroom for goodness’ sake.

2018 TN Brownsville Delta Heritage Center - Sleepy Joe Estes house front room

Anyhoo …


Dunbar Carver Museum

2018 TN Brownsville Duncan Carver Museum sign

We headed over to the Dunbar Carver Museum. It’s less than a 10 minute drive from the Heritage Center. I originally thought it was a museum of the Black community. Apparently, it’s more of a museum of the high school. When we pulled up, there was another car parked under the shady tree. When I hopped out, a woman got out of her car and asked if I was the person she was supposed to meet. When I told her that I wasn’t, she asked if I had family that attended the school. When I told her I didn’t, she seemed a bit confused. Most of the museum is photos and information about the school, the students, and the instructors.

2018 TN Brownsville Dunbar Carver Museum history

Once I got her talking, she was willing to talk with me about the community and the history. She grew up picking cotton! Although I wasn’t sure when I arrived, by the end I was glad that I had stopped by. I spent about an hour walking around with her. It turns out that Tina Turner attended Dunbar Carver High School for a minute. They have quotes from her book talking about her experience and photos of the people Tina mentioned in her book. That was a cool surprise.

2018 TN Brownsville Dunbar Carver Museum Tina Turner wall



2018 TN Brownsville Tina Turner Hwy Shay

Since we’d already made it that far we decided to head on out on Tina Turner highway to Nutbush, Tennessee. The woman at the Dunbar Carver Museum told me that it was only about three buildings and if I blinked, I’d miss it. She was not lying! Lol

2018 TN Brownsville Nutbush welcome sign

This was the only thing of note in Nutbush, TN.

We did drive by it! We had to turn around and return to the only three buildings in the area (it’s mostly farmland). There was some kind of mill. There was some kind of store. There was …  this building. I wasn’t sure if we should knock or not and since we were off the beaten track of Tennessee …  we decided that we should take a photo and be on our way. Lol

It was lots of fun and amazingly, every thing we visited today was free. If you’re in the area, I suggest you drop by.


Places I would have liked to have eaten:

Reggie’s BBQ. They make bbq.

Dumplins. They make desserts.


Places I would have liked to have visited:

Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. If you know her music or saw Coal Miner’s Daughter you might be interested in visiting her ranch. There are a couple museums, beautiful land, and sometimes they say you can catch a glimpse of her on the grounds.

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

2018 TN Women Basketball Hall of Fame outside ball.jpg

While searching Groupon for things to do (I LOVE those Tiffany Haddish commercials!) I came across tickets to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, TN. I had no idea there was a basketball Hall of Fame. I bought tickets hoping that we’d be able to stop by on the drive from Pigeon Forge, TN to Brownsville, TN. As luck would have it, the museum is right off of the freeway we need to take.

You can see the huge basketball that sits atop the museum as soon as you round the bend from the exit on the freeway. The parking lot is a little small but there weren’t many cars on the day and time we went. The door was a little hard to find but find it we did. We redeemed our Groupon tickets in the gift shop with a helpful young man that gave us the layout of the museum and encouraged us to start by watching the short film.

2018 TN Women Basketball Hall of Fame Shay and Sena Berenson

Senda and I kickin’ it.

2018 TN Women Basketball Hall of Fame Senda Berenson.jpg

2018 TN Women Basketball Hall of Fame WBL history.jpg

2018 TN Women Basketball Hall of Fame cool wall

I knew the kids wouldn’t sit for a video so we headed on to learn about how women’s basketball got its start. The kids blew past all the reading but I learned a little about the history of the game. By the time I was done reading, I could hear the family enjoying the lower level courts.

The whole bottom floor in an interactive wonderland! There are three small basketball courts, four wooden skill helpers, a dribbling drill with different options, and 4 cutouts for some photo fun. The kids loved it so much, they cried when we left.

2018 TN Women Basketball Hall of Fame kids enjoying the gym.jpg

2018 TN Women Basketball Hall of Fame Michelle drills.jpg

If we’re in Knoxville again, we’ll definitely return.

Dollywood Attempt #2 or Gatlinburg in the Rain

2018 TN Gatlinburg sign.jpg

We’ve been doing lots of work in the south so this our second attempt at going to Dollywood.  We booked a room, finished up our work in Louisville, KY, and headed on over to Pigeon Forge. By the time we realized that the weather said it would rain the whole time we were there, it was too late to cancel without penalty, so we soldiered on.

The first afternoon it rained so we stocked up on groceries, stopped in a shop that promised live alligators (there was one sleeping in a cage in the back but the crabs surprised us), and hung out in the room. My oldest wanted to swim but it was raining so I wouldn’t let him. How stupid did I feel when we drove out and saw people in the swimming pool …  in the rain ..  Lol

The next morning, we woke up, checked the weather, and realized it was gonna rain all day. In the past, we’d have donned some ponchos and headed out to Dollywood. Since the kids are so young, we thought we’d be responsible and choose an indoor activity. Our solution? The Ripley’s Aquarium.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium kids in the tank.jpg

Its not that big but it was good enough for my two preschoolers to spend about 5 hours there. There are tanks, touch pools, a playground/climbing structure, and shows spread out over the day. There’s also a glass-bottom-boat ride for $10 per person that we didn’t get on.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium glass bottom boat.jpg

It’s a small boat on top of the aquarium you can walk under/through for free.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium Guillermo sting ray tank.jpg

You can feed the stingrays if you’d like or just play with them in the touch pool.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium penguin Shay with the folks

The penguins were fun to hang out with.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium dippin dots Michelle.jpg

The kids loved the Dippin Dots ice cream pouches.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium mermaid show mid spin.jpg

The mermaid show was a hit.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium pregnant seahorse on the ground.jpg

In the seahorse community, the men get pregnant and give birth.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium shark.jpg

Walking under the shark talk was thrilling.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium Guillermo playground with helper.jpg

I hope her parents realize what a wonderful person she is.

While our oldest was playing on the playground something good happened. There was a rope bridge that he wanted to cross and he was half way along when he started looking a little shaky. An older girl started to get on the bridge but saw him and stopped. Normally older kids run past him but this girl saw his hesitancy and helped out. She encouraged him to continue and when he reached her end, she helped him down. I was on the ground and they were up in the air. I mouthed “thank you” and gave her a thumbs up. A bit later, I noticed she was watching out for him. When he went to cross the bridge again, she went over and stopped another older girl from crossing, encouraged him, and asked the other girl to help him get down … and she did. It made my heart smile.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Mountain Mall sign Shay 1978.jpg

2018 TN Gatlinburg Mountain Mall NY Pizza.jpg

The best part about visiting the Ripley’s Aquarium was finding out that the parking behind the building was only $6 for the whole day! Most lots in Gatlingburg are $10 so this was a find. We parked, visited the aquarium, walked over to grab lunch at the NY Pizza spot in the Mountain Mall, and then walked back and visited the aquarium again.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Ripleys Aquarium parking.jpg

It was a fun day. As Black people visiting the hills of Tennessee, we worry. Upon arrival, we were happy and excited to see many other Black families. I hadn’t yet read this article about Black activism in the Appalachian mountains so I was surprised. We did see lots of Confederate flags and a few Trump shirts/hats but people were nice and no one denied us service or yelled at us. We did see a business sign that gave us pause so we didn’t support that business but everything else was fine.

2018 TN Gatlinburg Aunt Mahalias Candies sign.jpg

I still haven’t made it to Dollywood, so I’m sure we’ll be back. I look forward to it.


Lest We Forget Museum of Philadelphia

I cannot  to visit this museum! I was looking for things to do in Philly when I came across the Lest We Forget Museum. Look what’s on the website:

Seitz was doing research in the Chew Family Papers, a collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, when he came across a letter written by George Ford, overseer of the Whitehall plantation, to his employer, Benjamin Chew, of Philadelphia, on Aug. 20, 1795.

In the letter Ford writes, “I am very porly at this time and wold wish you to come down as quick as posable you can for I am in danger of my life being taken by the neagros Last thursday evining I was beatin by Clubs till I was blody as a bucher with severll bad wounds so that I am hardly able to go about to see to any thing therefore I hope you will Come down and correct them to give me satisfaction for their abuse.”

“The letter was about the enslaved people on the plantation beating up the overseer, which is not what I had expected to find,” Seitz said. He discovered a whole series of letters regarding the Chew’s Whitehall plantation detailing accounts of previously unknown slave rebellions. The letters give readers an intimate look at the Chew family’s daily dealings with slaves on their plantations. “Through these letters, we could see with more intimacy than I have ever encountered, resistance on the plantation by the enslaved people,” Seitz said. “They revealed a whole series of relationships that are usually hidden because there is no documentation or because people have forgotten or even because people have tried to cover them up.”

OMG! Too often we accept that lie that enslaved Black people just accepted thier lot. There are many ways, both big and small, that enslaved people fought to keep their dignity, to keep their families together, and to keep themselves safe. I’d like to find more history like this.

Lest We Forget Museum, I’ll see you the next time I’m in Philly.


Tastemakers Africa


I found this website about young Black folks that live in Africa and curate events for different cities in different countries in Africa.

I haven’t used them yet but I wish I had known about Tastemakers Africa when I was in Durban. Anyhoo, if you want to get int touch:

Tastemakers Africa
+1 (646) 580-3590



Kentucky Horse Park

2018 KY Lexington Kentucky Horse Park sign

Kentucky Horse Park sign from the street.

Since we had to work in Louisville, we decided to head over to Lexington and visit the Kentucky Horse Park. We found a Groupon that charged us $24 for two adults and since the kids were free …….  to the horse park we went!

It costs $5 to park. After parking in the visitor’s lot, you walk into the park-like atmosphere. You pay inside the Visitor’s Center.

2018 KY Lexington Kentucky Horse Park Visitors Center front

You redeem your Groupon or purchase your ticket here at the Visitor’s Center.

2018 KY Lexington Kentucky Horse Park Guillermo learning how to jump Lol

Learning how to jump over things.

This woman was so nice. She came out of the Kid Barn to help my kids learn how to jump over these horse thingees. They LOVED running around the little obstacle course. It was a good way to get some energy out and they got to practice jumping over things. It’s good for their motor skills, right? Lol

I was surprised to learn that the Kentucky Horse Park has an AMAZING museum that has a surprising exhibit on Black horsemen. It not only talks about the contributions of those that worked, trained, and rode the horses but it also provides historical information and it is very accurate. I was happy to learn so much about those that were enslaved in Kentucky, those that fought during the civil war (and their families), and those that were able to build a life from the skills that they learned.

2018 KY Lexington Kentucky Horse Park Museum of the Horse Arabian horse exhibit cutouts Shay cowgirl

Enjoying the Kid Barn.

2018 KY Lexington Kentucky Horse Park Museum of the Horse Arabian horse exhibit life size models

Arabian horse exhibit.

2018 KY Lexington Kentucky Horse Park Museum of the Horse Arabian horse exhibit Guillermo enjoying the storytelling

Enjoying the storytelling section of the Arabian horse exhibit.

2018 KY Lexington Kentucky Horse Park Museum of the Horse how horses sailed

There are lots of things dangling from the ceiling. Lol This illustrates how horses used to sail.


We really had a fun time.