Darla Davenport-Powell, dollmaker ~ An Interview (Reprinted with permission from The Dreher Report)

Darla Davenport-Powell, Doll maker
In 1991, Darla Davenport-Powell created a doll and named her Niya in the full awareness of the influence that dolls have on African American children who play with them. Such is the toy’s significance that in the 1940s, African American sociologists Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark chose the doll when they conducted a test to determine the psychological effects of segregation on African American and white children.

Davenport-Powell joins a chorus of enterprising African American doll makers whose models of toy culture renew the spirit of childhood playtime and, more important, child advocacy. In this spirit, Davenport-Powell is a keeper of the doll making tradition as practiced by men and women throughout history: from the crude designs crafted by slave mothers to the papier-mâché dolls with the signature teardrop handmade by 19th century black doll maker Leo Moss.

Niya

When Davenport-Powell designed Niya, a dynamic multi-lingual doll, her creation made a place for her on the continuum of African American artistic expression. The doll maker connects with her contemporary African American doll makers, whose dolls nourish self-esteem, self-pride, and self-acceptance, including the cloth and vinyl creations by Patricia Green; the sophisticated designs of VonZetta Gant and Daisy Carr; the soft-sculptures of Patricia Coleman Cobb; the expressions of Mari Morris; and, the lush extravagant vision of Byron Lars. As are her current toy “siblings,” Niya is a doll that fosters diversity; her make and style attract collectors, parents, and children from across lines of race and ethnicity. As Niya says on her website Niyakids.com, she “spreads the message of love and cultural awareness through music, songs and languages [and] is today’s multi-cultural voice celebrating the magic of children across the globe.”

… all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read, the toys they play with, and on they shows they watch.

The Niya doll generated a robust interest through mail order, specialty shops, and trade shows. This interest led her creator to seek wider distribution. As a result, ABC’s American Inventor chose Davenport-Powell as a contestant during its 2005-2006 season; she was one of the 12 finalists who received $50,000 to advance their product to the next level. Davenport-Powell, however, did not stop at imagining Niya, the doll; in addition, she has written two children’s books, Here Comes Niya! and her latest, entitled We Are Friends, Niya’s community of interracial playmates and produced its audiobook.

I interviewed Davenport-Powell, and spoke with her about the importance of producing African American artistic cultural artifacts that uplift our children during playtime. Of particular note, we talked about her desire to move into the genre of literature and the audiobook to spread Niya’s message of diversity.

Dr. Kenneth Clark

TDR: Why literature?
DDP: Early on I had books that opened up the world to me and allowed me to travel outside of the confines of (my hometown) Columbia, South Carolina. I would daydream about being in different places with different people in different time periods. Books allowed me to go beyond what society expected of a little black girl. I placed myself in the fiction that I read.

TDR: What was the one children’s book that really inspired you to dream and to move beyond communal boundaries?
DDR: The Little Engine That Could was my favorite. I identified with that “Little Engine” because there was something about the power of belief that resonated with me. I was encouraged early on by my parents and the people in my community to believe in myself and to be persistent in achieving my goals. I can remember repeating, “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” when facing many challenges.

TDR: We are familiar with the Dick and Jane books, a line of children’s literature used to teach children how to read from the 1930s through the 1970s. In the 1960s, Richard Wiley included the African American family in the series. How does We Are Friends follow in this tradition of teachable texts?
DDP: The very basic concept is about accepting one’s self (flaws and all) and celebrating the differences in others. We Are Friends teaches children and adults about the beauty of acceptance, diversity and inclusion. The book is dedicated to children who have been bullied, teased or called names. It’s like Dick and Jane in that the structure is short and simple.

Niya and her Friends model healthy self-acceptance and convey to the world the value of diversity–which is about embracing differences and similarities.

dickjane

TDR: So in what ways does the We Are Friends picture book differ?
DDP: The Dick and Jane books that I read as a child did not have friends that looked like myself. I felt left out, and lost interest very quickly. The We Are Friends picture book features a rainbow of characters of different races, ethnicities, learning styles, cultures, gender and special needs. It’s a book where children can see the humanity in characters that don’t look, talk, act, learn or think as they do. It is a lesson for adults as well.

TDR: So some children’s literature you found lacking. Were there any images on television that did not fit the bill?
DDP: Yes, absolutely. I remember the excitement of waking up early Saturday morning to watch my favorite cartoons and kid shows—Captain Kangaroo, Kukla, Fran & Ollie, Mr. Rodgers, Shari Lewis & Lamb Chop, the Mickey Mouse Club, Romper Room and others. At the end of Romper Room, for instance, I became very sad. Miss Nancy would look through her magic mirror and never call my name. Each Saturday I would sit in front of the television hoping to hear my name. I felt invisible. That made an imprint on my life, and I vowed to change the game when I became an adult. That’s why on the last page of the We Are Friends book, Niya stretches out her hand with a mirror attended by the words “and the only friend missing is you!”

TDR: As a community, what exactly does Niya and her Friends convey to the listeners, readers, and children who play with the dolls?
DDP: Niya and her Friends model healthy self-acceptance and convey to the world the value of diversity—which is about embracing differences and similarities. The book, We Are Friends encourages children to learn, to grow, and to live together. It teaches them to accept their unique individuality and to be comfortable in the skin that they are in, flaws and all. It’s a challenge because we live in a society that generally does not tolerate those who do not fit its created “norm.” Niya and her friends are tools to help children to be proud of who they are and to understand, that which makes them different, makes them special.

we are friends
TDR: Can children do this by themselves?
DDP: No! Dr. Dorothy Law Nolte, says it best in her poem, “Children Learn What They Live”: If children live with hostility, they learn to fight / If children live with acceptance, they learn to love / If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves”. Adults are conduits for teaching children respect, love, acceptance and everything else they learn—positive and negative.

TDR: You dedicate We Are Friends to “every child who has been bullied, teased or called names” yet, there are no instances of bullying in the text. In what ways would Niya and her friends handle bullying?
DDP: Bullying is not present in the storyline because my main focus is on the positive interaction between children. I so believe in that. The book, the characters, the audiobook project present a world that showcases collaboration in the production of positive and joyful outcomes. It says to the child who bullies, “I don’t have to do that because just like my classmates, I have my differences too and I want people to accept me for who I am.” So there are visuals that this particular kid notices, and he or she can figure out that Niya and her friends are not threatened by each other. They communicate, play together, work together, and have fun. The story is well illustrated.

We Are Friends encourages children to … accept their unique individuality and to be comfortable in the skin that they are in, flaws and all.

TDR: Talk about the illustrator. Every child is drawn as happy and vibrant beings.
DDP: The illustrations were done by Dynamic Designworks, Inc., the same company that designed the Niya and Friend prototypes that were on the ABC American Inventor show. The team created the illustrations from the dolls. Niya and her friends are our children, literally. It was shared midway through the project that the artist who did a great deal of work on our special needs character ‘Jake’ infused her own experience into the illustration. Her son Jake has a disability and lives life in a wheelchair. These characters are real!

TDR: I noticed while reading the book that there are no Native American nor Jewish children in Niya’s community of friends—just Asian, Caucasian, Latino, and African.
DDP: Stay tuned! We Are Friends is the first offering in the series. New friends will be introduced in the books to come. Our Native American character, Alopay will move into the neighborhood along with others. As Niya travels, she will meet new pals all around the world and her family of friends will expand. This is just the beginning.

niya1
TDR: What are some of your final thoughts?
DDR: First of all, thank you for the opportunity to share my passion and life’s work with your audience. I wish to leave readers with my belief that all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read, the toys they play with, and on they shows they watch. I want children to know that they matter and have value, and that their power is in being an ‘original’ and not a ‘carbon copy’. I want children to become voracious readers and to dream beyond boundaries—knowing that the sky has no limit.

Darla Davenport-Powell is a native of Columbia, S.C. where she and her husband currently reside. She is the founder of the I AM ENUF Foundation, a non-profit mentoring organization that equips youth with leadership skills and tools that foster positive identity development. She is presently developing a Niya and Friends animated cartoon and will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to manufacture the Niya dolls. For more information on the Niya project, visit niyakids.com or contact Darla Davenport-Powell at Greaterworksllc@gmail.com.’Like’ Niya on facebook.com/niyakids or tweet us @niyakids.com.

Notes:
For full article of Darla Davenport-Powell and American Inventor go to: tinyurl.com/86fp9d8.
For more Information on The Clarks and their Dolls Test go to: Interview with Dr. Kenneth Clark, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 4, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection. These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of Eyes on the Prize.

A Picture Perfect Present

4-year-old Wendelaya hugs her new "We Are Friends" book (Photo by Monica Anthony)

3-year-old Wendelaya hugs her new “We Are Friends” book (Photo by Monica G. Anthony)

On her Dad’s birthday, I handed her Mom a copy of “We Are Friends” my latest children’s book and she placed it on a table. Seconds later, Wendelaya picked up the book and her Mom snapped a picture.  The next day she sent it to me and I was in tears. It was a picture perfect present, not only for Wendelaya but for me. On top of that, she told her Mom, “I love this story.” As a children’s author, it doesn’t get any better than that. Out of the mouth of babes.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Viola Davis brought me to tears too, as she stood on the stage and accepted her SAG Award for Female Actor in a Drama series.  She said:  “When I tell my daughter stories at night, invariably a few things happen. Number one, I use my imagination. I always start with life and I build from there,” she said. “And then the other thing that happens…she always says, ‘Mommy can you put me in the story?”

Mirrors or maps?

Christopher Myers, children’s author and illustrator said the children he knows “see books less as mirrors and more as maps. They are indeed searching for their place in the world, but they are also deciding where they want to go. They create, through the stories they’re given, an atlas of their world, of their relationships to others, of their possible destinations,”

We all play a part.

As authors and illustrators, we create mirrors and maps for children like Wendelaya to see themselves in the story and dream beyond boundaries. That’s our part. In the words of Christopher Myers, “The rest of the work lies in the imagination of everyone else along the way, the publishers, librarians, teachers, parents, and all of us, to put that book in her hands.”

A picture is worth a thousand words.

A hug to remember: 11-year-old Niya Powell meets Mandela

Niya with Nelson Mandela

I remember the day that we got the call from the White House. It was a call that was prompted by a letter that our 11-year-old daughter Niya had written to former President Bill Clinton. Niya was doing a report on South Africa and Nelson Mandela was soon to arrive in the United States after being elected President. What better way to capture the spirit of a country than to speak to its leader, I thought …so the suggestion was made and the invite was granted–some call it power of the pen, I call it favor!

The ceremony took place on the White House lawn. We were surrounded by dignitaries and world leaders from near and far. The media had followed us there to tell the story from an 11-year-old’s point of view. For me, Mandela’s presence spoke louder than his words. Who was this man who dared to love those who left him for dead; those who snuffed 27 years from his life with a wicked apartheid system that tried to bury him and his people? We witnessed history in the making at the inaugural ceremony and would become a part of it the next day.

Lunch with Nelson Mandela

The media reported that the little girl (Niya) didn’t get her chance to meet Mandela at the White House and was disappointed to say the least. On that same day we received another call…this time it was from the President of the National Press Club inviting Niya to a private luncheon with President Mandela; we would meet his daughter Zinzi, as well.

I can’t recall what was served for lunch but will never forget that moment when Niya gave the Honorable Nelson Mandela a “Niya” doll and a note that said: “To the children of South Africa, keep believing!”

He reached out with a hug and spoke to her like she was his granddaughter. That was 19 years ago. I asked Niya, who is now 30 years old,how did she feel then and how does she feel now having met Nelson Mandela? She said:

“I didn’t fully understand what was going on and didn’t know all of what he (Mandela) had done but I did feel the weight of how important his presence was at the White House…I am grateful that I had that moment to be able to hug a man who changed the world…incredible!”

IT TAKES A VILLAGE by Darla Davenport-Powell 3/25/13

Image

It takes a village to raise a child; and a village to restore one who has gone astray. However the “village” principle is not limited to children but applies to adults as well; those who have lost their way. I witnessed an amazing graduation on Sunday that brought tears to my eyes. As I sat and waited for service to start at the Potter’s House, I knew something extraordinary was about to take place.

As the lights dimmed, three simple words captured my attention on the Jumbotron; three simple words: “I Am More!” As the 75-plus graduates from the T.O.R.I Program (Texas Offender’s Re-entry Initiative) made their way down the aisles, with each step I could imagine them saying, “I am more than my past; more than my mistake; and more than the transgression that cost me my dignity.”

I am more

The T.O.R.I Program is a model for the world. Its founder, Bishop T.D.Jakes has masterfully assembled a cadre of trained professionals, volunteers, mentors and facilitators whose sole mission is to empower and equip ex-offenders with the tools that they need for a productive life.

All it takes is one wrong turn

Award-winning Actor/Director Charles S. Dutton (Roc) knows about wrong turns. At age 12, ‘Roc’ dropped out of middle school for what he called “foolishness.” In his “Jail to Yale” keynote speech to the graduates, he told a story about remembering his “16th” birthday; for that was the only year that he did not go to reform school. A year later he was sent to prison for killing a man who stabbed him eight times. After serving a few months shy of two years, ‘Roc’ went back to the penitentiary for possessing deadly weapons. The day of his release, he was told that he would be staying eight more years for a prior assault on a prison guard.

It takes two dollars to educate and sixty to incarcerate

A funny thing happened to ‘Roc’ on his way to solitary confinement. He accidentally picked up a book on short plays by African American playwrights that changed his life. It was the “Day of Absence” by Douglas Turner Ward that ignited his soul and set him on a path that unlocked his purpose. He was allowed to stage the play in prison under the condition of completing his GED.

‘Roc’ was on a roll. He successfully earned his GED, was allowed to take courses from a community college in prison and received his Associates of Arts degree after parole. He continued his studies at Towson State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater. He was admitted and received his master’s degree from the Yale Drama School, where he met August Wilson, the late Pulitzer Prize playwright, who launched his Broadway career.

A new beginning

One by one, as their names were called, the graduates marched across the stage before a sea of witnesses. Family, friends, program volunteers, judges, state elected officials, county representatives, and the congregation were all there to applaud the end of their 12-month intensive program and the beginning of a new chapter. In addition to being reunited with their families, many of the students received their own home and a job; while others enrolled in college.

Tina Naidoo, a licensed social worker and executive director of the T.O.R.I program says, “The City of Dallas housing authority is the only one in the country that provides section 8 vouchers for my clients and their families. How can they get their kids back if they don’t have a home?This takes away the element of being ‘illegal’ and gives them responsibilities…something they can have in their name.”

Texas will release more than 70,000 prisoners this year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The report states that more than 35,000 of those released will return to prison within three years. The T.O.R.I program has a low recidivism rate. Naidoo states that “the demand for our services is greater than our current resources. The best way to get ahead of the demand is for individuals, corporations, and foundations to rally around T.O.R.I.’s mission and support it so we can expand our services, serve more people and end the cycle of incarceration indefinitely.”

To make a donation to the T.O.R.I program and for more information, visit: http://www.medc-tori. IT TAKES A VILLAGE!

What was on their minds? — Darla Davenport-Powell, Gamma Iota Chapter ’77

delta founders

I remember the day that my parents drove me to Hampton Institute, my new “home by the sea!” There was excitement in the air. Student leaders greeted us with open arms. Fraternity members assisted us with our luggage and heavy trunks. There was much to do before gathering at Ogden Hall for our orientation.

I was the first person in my family to attend college; a lot was riding on my success. Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind. Would I be as successful in college as I was in high school? Would I continue to hold fast to Christian principles with this new found freedom? Could I balance work study, extracurricular activities, and academics with my entrepreneurial endeavors? Moreover, what year would I pledge Delta?

Today, January 13, 2013 Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. turns 100 years old. As I think about what was on my mind as an undergrad with dreams, goals and drive; I can’t help but reflect on those 22 young women at Howard University who founded our esteemed sorority. What was on their minds?

Didn’t they know that society had low expectations for them to succeed let alone lead and achieve? Did they know that their collective vision would empower 200,000 women domestically and globally to take up the same banner of revolutionary leadership? What was on their minds when they decided to participate in the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington, D.C., when African-Americans were still viewed as 3/5ths of a person and white women didn’t take too kindly to them joining “their movement?”

If Winona Cargile Alexander, Madree Penn White, Wertie Blackwell Weaver, Vashti Turley Murphy, Ethel Cuff Black, Frederica Chase Dodd, Osceola Macarthy Adams, Pauline Oberdorfer Minor, Edna Brown Coleman, Edith Mott Young, Marguerite Young Alexander, Naomi Sewell Richardson, Eliza P. Shippen, Zephyr Chisom Carter, Myra Davis Hemmings, Mamie Reddy Rose, Bertha Pitts Campbell, Florence Letcher Toms, Olive Jones, Jessie McGuire Dent, Jimmie Bugg Middleton, and Ethel Carr Watson were here today, I would ask them what was on their minds?

I can imagine them saying: “You were on our minds—bold, brilliant, beautiful women of promise. We started this organization of service as a platform to build a better world and a brighter tomorrow. Keep on keeping on!”

Happy Centennial Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated!

Exciting News from Niya Kids!!!!!

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INVENTING DARLA / MY DOUBLE LIFE

A 20-year journey as the Niya Doll

By Niya A. Cotton 10/27/11

There is a saying that goes: “You only live once.” Well, in my case, I’ve lived twice.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve had two lives.  By day I went to school, dance classes, choir rehearsals  and acted in plays. By night, I shrunk several feet, spoke three languages and became a best friend  to thousands of young girls all across the world. I became…THE NIYA DOLL!

This 20 year journey of The Niya Doll project has had many ups and many downs.  It’s not easy walking a path that hasn’t been paved. It’s not easy getting people  to believe in your vision. It’s not easy to be a light in total darkness.  But has that stopped my mom, Darla Davenport-Powell, the creator of the Niya Doll?  NOT A CHANCE!  I have never seen someone so adamant and ferociously tenacious about something  that they believe in wholeheartedly. My mom created a doll that looked and sounded like me.  She couldn’t find any toys that represented our experience, so she did what she knew to do…  she created one!

At one point, I remember that there were hundreds of “me” in our basement!!!  My mom has driven this NIya Doll project to schools, churches, conferences, seminars, radio shows and even to the ABC hit television show, American Inventor.  She showed America how desperately  important it is for our children to be affirmed through products and images that look  like themselves. It’s my belief that everyone just wants to belong somewhere and if our children don’t get a positive push toward their purpose…they will take it upon themselves to find a place to belong. Some would think that after becoming a finalist on American Inventor, everything would fall into place.
Companies and manufacturers would call incessantly to be the first to catapult this dream to the next level.  Million of dollars would be offered because distributors would see how financially beneficial this idea  would become…NOPE! It’s not easy getting people to believe in your vision.  It’s not easy to be a light  in total darkness. This has been a slow and steady taxiing of yes’s and no’s but I believe with all my heart that lift off is up ahead!   The Niya project is just getting started! I have a dream that one day young school children will be able to join Niya’s paper doll collection (oh yes, there are paper dolls now) and create their own paper doll  that looks like them!

I have a dream that one day Niya and her amazing friends (oh yes, she has friends now)  will take their wonderful world of imagination to the small and eventually BIG screen! I have a dream  that the innocence of children all over the world will be restored and celebrated. And my last dream  is that all of my mom’s dreams will finally come true!  I’ve lived once, I’ve lived twice, but this third time…is the charm!

Happy Anniversary NIYA!

In celebration of Niya’s 20th anniversary, I am inviting you to blog about your experiences with the Niya Doll. Here’s one from Debbie Garrett, a doll collector, with her personal Niya story.

http://blackdollcollecting.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-on-here-comes-niya-and-niya-kids.html

INVENTING DARLA/”A Letter from Susan”

“A Letter from Susan”

Expressed through Darla Davenport-Powell—A Tribute

September 14, 2011

I can imagine Susan Lynne Majette writing this letter:

Hi Everybody!

I made it! I’m breathing on the other side, and I don’t need an oxygen tank. You can’t imagine the celebration that’s going on over here. There are no words to describe how awesome it is to wake up in the arms of God.

It’s better than Hampton’s Homecoming! The “welcome home” sign just blew me away. My Mom, Dad, Clarence Little, Felecia Kurtz-Gillis, Collins, Rodney, Van and so many others just surrounded me with the biggest group hug this side of heaven. They all asked about you and can’t wait to see you again. You know how much I loved Christ as my Lord and Savior. Well, for those of you who don’t know Him, get to know Him, ’cause you haven’t seen life, like life eternal. Don’t know how people live without Him; for it was only God who gave me the strength to live life victoriously on Earth…through all kinds of surgeries, financial challenges, disappointments, heartaches, trials and tribulations; it was His keeping power that gave me peace in the midst of the storm and joy in the midst of sorrow.

You know from Birth to Death, there is a dash. You write your own eulogy by the life you live. I’ve fought a good fight, I’ve finished my course and my question to you is: “How you living your dash?” There is no strife over here, no hatred, no jealousy and no bitterness. Just joy unspeakable! If you’re holding a grudge, or have something in your heart… anger, resentment towards anybody, FORGIVE; and do it today, while the blood is still running warm through your veins. You know it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have any instructions to leave; some call it a legacy…

To my Aunt Shirley, my Aunt Evelyn and cousin Helema: I leave you ever abiding love and hearts filled with peace. I know at times I was a handful, very picky, stubborn, bossy and set in my ways, but God gave me a family that loved me unconditionally. Lupus could not even beat our team! Hold onto the memories, the laughter and the love; and keep taking good care of each other like you took care of me.

To Angie, my Prayer Partner, Sister/Friend and Confidant: I leave you confidence in knowing that our friendship and spiritual connection will never end. There were many nights that I thought I wouldn’t make it to see the next day and you would call and we would pray, and it gave me what I needed to hold on a little while longer. We had some good times too! I am still laughing at some of the stuff that we’ve been through…you get a medal for patience. Your “calling” is clear, don’t run from it…

To my Pastor and Mentor Jan: I leave you with the blessed assurance that your work was not in vain. The respect that Ruth had for Naomi and Timothy for Paul, I had for you. Thank you for your example, for taking me under your wings as a Minister of the Gospel; for living the principles that you preach and for embracing and accepting me as one of your spiritual daughters.

To my Sorors: I leave you each other. Our sisterhood is a gift! Cherish it! Make time to fellowship more . . . there is something special that happens when we get together. Take those trips we talked about; there is no perfect time, so just do it. Charlma and I had planned a trip to Niagara Falls this fall. I didn’t get a chance to go, but you can; and if not there, somewhere.  Every opportunity you get, love and nurture each other.

To my Family, my Friends, to my Church, and my Community: I leave you a spot to fill. We serve God by serving others — for the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Find a cause greater than yourself and make the world better.

And finally, I leave my Doctors, Nurses, Caregivers, and Friends at the dialysis center, my thanks and appreciation for the good times and the challenging times we had, for I know that in the end, it all worked together for good. I leave my chair for the next person who comes in; remember to treat them with kindness, for that may be the only time in their day that they don’t feel alone.

Well, it’s time for me to go now. I know you are going to miss me telling you what to do . . . Well one last thing: Reality shines when we accept the things we cannot change, change those things we can, and in spite of everything we may go through, give God thanks for the journey.

Love you all,

Susan

 

 

INVENTING DARLA/Rocco is here!

He is here. He is huge!!! Those words were music to our ears. After 22 hours of labor, and 2 hours of pushing, Roy Cotton III made his entrance into the world. Like my Dad and his great grandfather William Earl Davenport, who didn’t get a chance to see him, he took his time getting here. My daughter’s due date was July 31st, but I knew all along that Rocco would come in August. What I didn’t know was that my grandson would be born on the same day as my Dad’s home going celebration; one soldier left and another soldier entered. God’s timing is impeccable.

My six-week visit with my daughter and son-in-love was heaven on earth. I enjoyed every minute. I was there for the 3rd baby shower, Niya’s doctor/dental appointments, Sunday services at St. John (Grand Prairie and Southlake), Wal-Mart and Target visits, evening strolls, Cotton/Powell fellowship dinners, and much, much more. I was there…

 I was there for Niya’s 37th week pre-natal checkup when the nurse said, “This baby is already 7 pounds, 1 ounce and 19 inches long;” I was there when she lost her mucus plug, had a bloody show, took long walks in the Mall, insisted on acupressure as an alternative to what was presented. I was there when Niya had gone well past her due date and was faced with the dilemma of going in after 40 weeks to be medically induced.

That evening, she said something didn’t feel quite right. The family prayed, and with her husband’s full support, she decided to wait. Rocco was probably 8.5 pounds then and wondering, ‘How do I get out?’ On the other hand, I can imagine him saying “What’s the rush? I’m eating all of this good food at Genghis Grill, Pappadeaux Seafoord Kitchen, Furr’s Family Dining, Sweet Tomatoes Buffet, Bordeaux’s Cajun Restaurant and Nana “Ds” healthy cuisine. I may as well hang out here until they evict me.”

I was there when they evicted Rocco on August 11, 2011 at 12:06 a.m. His Mom pushed him out naturally, and he weighed in at 9 pounds and 11 ounces. One thing is for sure, they do it Big in Texas.

Another thing for sure, Texas has its fill with churches and restaurants; I had my fill with both. I applaud my daughter and her husband for their dutifulness. Is that a word? They did more with one working car than some folks do with a whole fleet. To see this pregnant child of mine  – get up early to take her husband to St. John in Grand Prairie, and then travel to St. John in Southlake where she ministers, go back to pick him up and sometimes sing for that service if it was in overtime, and then drive all the way back home on the other side of Texas – was remarkable. The experience was exhausting. I was so glad to be there when God blessed them with two new cars.

God is reigning down blessings in the Cotton household. First a new house, then two new cars and now a brand new baby. Look out world, Rocco is here!

INVENTING DARLA/I Need Your Vote!

I Need Your Vote!

It’s official! I am now a Jamba Juice Ambassador.  Here is what the letter said:

Dear Darla,

Congratulations! You’ve been selected as one of the 25 Local Ambassadors for Period 4 in our Ambassador of WOW Contest and you could become the next Jamba Juice National Ambassador of WOW.

Public voting for Period 4 runs from August 3, 2011 to August 16, 2011, so be sure to give yourself a vote and don’t forget to encourage your friends to vote for you as well by going to http://www.jambajuiceambassadorcontest.com/vote.

What did I have to do to land this laudable position? I wrote the following:

I sincerely love Jamba Juice. I recommend different menu items to my friends and associates, without prompting. I am a dream machine with extra bananas connoisseur. I have called the Jamba headquarters numerous times to give kudos to the staff and manager of the Fairfield Jamba Juice store. The entire Jamba team at my neighborhood Jamba store knows me by name. I have a morning routine that involves an early Jamba stop to get my oatmeal with bananas, crumbled sugar and glazed pecans; plus my spice chai tea with soy. Then after my gym routine, I double back and get my orange dream machine with extra bananas smoothie. I’ve also tried the new pineapple coconut splash.

 As a local Ambassador, Jamba Juice is sending me a $100 gift card to jumpstart my day with what my mother used to give me each morning before I left for school—a big bowl of oatmeal, a glass of orange juice, and a banana.  Jamba

Juice gets my vote; I hope I get yours—Vote Darla D.

 

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