He Won’t Be Re-elected

The best thing about our nighttime routine is the private, last minute conversations I have with my soon-to-be 7-year-old Princess. I know, I know, part of it is her stalling and trying to delay the inevitable. But I must admit, as long as I continue to get the skinny on all that happened that day in class, at recess and all points in between…. I’ll take it.

My other truth is that, sometimes, I envy my husband’s quick retreat to his recliner downstairs. You see he puts our 4-year-old pint size super hero son to bed and I usually hear him exit about 5 minutes after lights out. In five minutes our daughter hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface on her day.

But here’s the thing, our conversations…I mean her conversations are priceless. Don’t believe me? Read for yourself:

ME: “Mommy is it true that teachers don’t make much money?”

“Yes, ME it’s true. I hope that will change one day. They deserve much more.”

ME: “Well when I get big, I’m going to change that.”

“Awesome. ME I think that’s a great goal.”

ME: “I changed my mind, I want to change it now. What can I do?”

“I don’t know ME, maybe you can write the Governor(NC) a letter about how you feel.”

ME: “Governor, who’s the Governor?”

“His name is Pat McCory.”

ME: “Pat who?”

“Pat McCory.”

ME: “He sounds mean.”

“Well some people think so.”

ME: “He sounds like he’s related to Dumb Donald (Trump that is. By the way, I do not approve of the nickname she’s given him).” She then pauses for a moment.

“In that case momma, I’m gonna write him two letters. One for more money for teachers and one to tell him he won’t be re-elected. He don’t need to be Governor if a kid has to tell him to give teachers more money.”

At this point I choose not to respond, which is how we end just about every night; with her having the last word. I silently chuckle and I think to myself, Ummm, ME, can you send the letter about giving the teachers a raise first? I’m Just Saying. Plus technically I’m sure he considers their additional $750 a year a grand gesture. It’s simply not enough Governor McCory, just ask my second grader. #watchoutPat #MEforGovernor

Fact check: Examining raises for North Carolina teachers

 

MeandMinime

KidsVote

 

Vanilla or Chocolate: Not Bad, Not Better; Just Different

When I was a child my birthday parties always ended with a cake and a clear gallon bucket of ice cream. The bucket always had three flavors in it, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. The premise was that you could enjoy whichever flavor you preferred. The ice cream always started out nice and neat, but you could never have a whole scoop of one without remnants of the other flavors on it and by the end it seemed like all three flavors were completely mixed up.

It’s amazing what you can learn from a bucket of ice cream.

My 6-year-old daughter Morgan recently co-authored a book that educates and excites young people with her dad and my husband. Daddy’s Little Princess is a one of kind book that introduces real Princesses and Queens of color from around the world on an elementary level. If you ask Morgan as one reporter did, why she wrote the book she will say “My daddy always calls me Princess, but I didn’t think I could be a Princess because I didn’t see any that looked like me. I thought only “vanilla” or white people could be Princesses. When I found out that anyone could be a Princess, I wanted to let other little girls know that too.”

Awe, sounds sweet to many, but clearly a few were bothered by her “Vanilla” label and took to the comment section of her news story to say so. Which brings me to the reason for this blog post. One comment in particular said that the label “vanilla” or white people is early indoctrination. I’m guessing he meant it to be a disparaging comment, but I actually completely agree. You see the Latin word for “teach”, doctrina is the root of indoctrinate. As parents it’s our responsibility to indoctrinate or teach.

I’ve had this blog since my daughter was an infant and rarely do I give parenting advice. I wholeheartedly believe that parenting is the toughest job you can NEVER prepare for. You can read books, you can read journals, you can ask other parents what to do, but in the end we are all just trying to do the best we can. However, there are a few things we just should not and cannot do and one of those is to shy away or ignore important questions from our children.

As a Communication professional (I have a few degrees that say so) let me just say there will never be a colorblind society. If you have the gift of sight, you see color. That’s why toddlers touch each others skin and hair. Our goal should not be to be colorblind. Our goal should be to treat each other the SAME regardless of our differences. Acknowledging differences is not the problem. The problem is treating people different because of them. Yes, our skin is different, not bad, not better; just different. Yes, our hair is different, not bad, not better; just different. Yes, some children are handi-capable, not bad, not better; just different.

So when our very bright 2-year-old was in pre-k and really began to notice these differences we did what parents should do; we talked about them and since words like African American, Caucasian and Asian were a little difficult for her to grasp, words like vanilla and chocolate were easier for her to understand. The concept that vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream were different, but both delicious was easier for her to understand. It’s like that gallon of ice cream. But when we as adults shy away from having conversations with our children because it makes US feel uncomfortable, we are leaving our children to figure out something extremely complex on their own. That’s not fair and that’s not good parenting and when they don’t get it right we have civil discourse and racial prejudice.

So yes, both my daughter and my 4-year-old son have been “indoctrinated.” We acknowledge differences, we share information and treat everyone the same. One of my favorite parts of my daughter’s Barnes and Noble book signing was seeing all her friends, vanilla, chocolate or butter pecan all come out to support her and to learn about Princesses they had not heard of before. She was genuinely happy to see them and they were genuinely happy to support her. So, it may be easier to get caught up on the label than to deal with the reality that yes we have differences and they are not bad, not better; just different.

Visit http://www.taylormadenc.com to learn more about her book Daddy’s Little Princess

 

Testicles and Boobies

My children are growing up and at ages 6 and 4 there’s a little bit of independence that comes with that. Although, I still wash them in the bathtub just to make sure all bases have been covered, they do bathe separately and dress themselves when they get out.

Having a boy and a girl has created balance for me. My daughter, Morgan is all things girly girl including scented lotion and pink pajamas. My son Garrett, who we refer to as Lil G, is a ladies man. I’m not just saying that, but he really knows JUST what to say. For example, today Morgan decided to tell me that Lil G has SEVERAL girlfriends. When I questioned him about it he said “no momma, just one and it’s you.” He’s smooth, so smooth in fact that between his lines and his complexion I’ve nicknamed him Hershey Kiss.

Well not only do these kids have quite the personality, they also happen to be quite funny. Tonight when Lil G got out the bathtub he runs to his room and grabs the men’s lotion he took from my husband’s side of the bed and begins to moisturize. He slows down almost to a crawl when he gets below his waist and pays more attention to his genitalia. And the rest is straight comedy:

Lil G – “What’s this ball thing below my penis?”

Me – “Go ask your daddy”

Morgan – “It’s your scrotum and it holds pee.”

Me – “Morgan you don’t have a penis and you’re wrong so please let him go ask daddy.”

Daddy – “They’re testicles son.”

Morgan – “What are testicles?”

Daddy – (trying not to laugh) “They’re something cool that hang from our bodies.”

Morgan – “That’s not fair, we don’t have anything cool hanging from our bodies.”

Daddy – “When you get you older you will.”

Pause….

Morgan – “Are you talking about boobies.”

Me: (laughing hysterically)

15 minutes later just when I thought we were done…

Morgan – “What if mine don’t grow when I get older.”

Daddy – (laughing) “Then you can go to the boobie store.”

Lil G – (serious) “There’s no such thing as a boobie store.”

Morgan – “How do you know, you have a penis.” (rolling her neck)

Lil G – Now smiling “because I just do.”

Morgan – “Well what if they run out of boobies by the time I need some?”

Me – “Okay Lights OUT. It’s Definitely Time for Bed.”

So now I know exactly what Bill Cosby meant “Kids say the darndest things. Oh, the joys of parenting.

Them

Should’ve, Could’ve, Would’ve

Parasailing

I’ve always been a glass half full kind of girl. You know the type that always finds the good in any situation, the kind that believes in laughing to keep from crying. So it’s no surprise that for years my mantra was “living my life like it’s golden.” The minute I heard Jill Scott melodically bellow it out, I knew it was for me. That was until a year ago when my dad died and all of a sudden, golden just didn’t seem good enough.

Staring 40 in the face and determined to live each day as if it were my last, I vowed to live my life like it’s PLATINUM. What I meant was to hell with a bucket list, if I think it or want it, I will plan it and do it. No more thoughts about what I wish to do upon retirement age or where I plan to go. Life is not guaranteed and each day is truly a gift.

So I made a list, a list of things I’ve always wanted to do. Most of them, were things that at some point in my life I feared. Fear, is the biggest and most common self-inflicted wound. Some times we are forced to rid ourselves of it. For example, while crossing a bridge the other week, I laughed to myself remembering a time when I would have turned down the radio, put both hands on the wheel, slowed down to a snail’s pace just to cross a bridge. I’m not sure why I feared bridges, and I am not sure of the exact moment I rid myself of the unnecessary anxiety. I think it was the summer I interned at the Virginian-Pilot and was literally surrounded by water several times a day.

Remembering a much younger me, my best guess would be that I was forced to get over it. At this point in my life, I don’t want to be forced, I want to live fearlessly…intentionally. A few years ago I prayed, fasted and meditated for months to rid myself of fear. My new found freedom continues to reap immeasurable joy, but left a laundry list of should’ve, could’ve, would haves.

Towards the top of my list of want to’s was zip lining. I have no idea what sparked the zip-lining bug, but I was bit and I wanted to try it. For Mother’s Day/Birthday my husband arranged a quick trip to Myrtle Beach. While there, I couldn’t resist zip-lining option and was elated at my husband’s enthusiasm to join in on the fun. Now that was living my life like it was platinum. I gladly strapped in to the harnesses, gallantly walked up the thousands of steps and yes I seriously needed to catch my breath at the top and pat the sweat from my brow. I stepped onto the platform and for the first time, heard my heart pounding out of my chest and thought about changing my mind, but it was too late. I blinked and my legs were in the air, I screamed the entire time, couldn’t see a thing below me, my eyes were filled with water and I probably swallowed a bug or two while laughing at myself. I could see the ocean, I felt completely free and I was so happy about our chosen activity. In fact, so was my husband which is why, we then did it again.

My next “want to” was parasailing. I always thought it looked cool. The parachute above the water seemed exciting so imagine my elation when my bonus sister invited me to join her on a parasailing excursion while on a family Disney vacation. As we prepared to sign our lives away we were asked if we wanted to parasail at 450 feet or 600 feet or some higher number that I couldn’t easily compute. We decided to go for the 600 feet and encouraged my niece and bonus mom (mother-in-law) to join us. Not to be outdone, they agreed.

Because we were the first on the boat, we were also the first in harnesses. Again, I was good until it was time to actually ascend, but it was too late. As we went up, we couldn’t help but admire the view in Orlando. It was beautiful and we chit chatted about how soothing it was and what a beautiful and calm day. Before long, it was time to descend and it wasn’t until then that we realized that neither of us had been given instructions on landing. Would we land in the water? Would we land on the boat? Would they catch us? Well, as we continued to ponder, we also continue to come down and fast. In fact, we saw the cameras and heard them ask us to pose and next thing I know my hind parts were skidding to a halt on the exact same spot my adventure began.

Our co-captain/photographer asked if we were okay and I resoundingly said yes. Then I heard my sister say very calmly “I am not okay.” When I followed her eyes to her shin, we found a puncture wound that immediately called for stitches. She had a matching one on the other leg.

They escorted me off the boat and carried her to a stretcher. She and my bonus mom went to the hospital where she received a total of eight stitches. OUCH. She finished our vacation in a wheelchair, but with a smile. Although we wished our adventure ended differently than it started, neither of us regretted the experience.

I guess that’s how living fearless will be. Sometimes, it will be better than I expected and sometimes it will be totally different than I imagined. But something tells me I will never regret my decision to live my life like it’s PLATINUM. I suggest you do the absolute same.Lady Di Zip LIningG.Todd Ziplining

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Last year was tough for me. I was full of anxiety just thinking about transitioning our then 5-year-old daughter from a small close-knit private pre-school to public school. I researched every school, the district policy, interviewed teachers and administrator friends for advice. We teetered with the idea of homeschooling, bought curriculums and even made our spare bedroom a sudo-classroom. And I definitely prayed a lot. We finally decided to give public school a try. I figured, what’s the worse that can happen? We could be unhappy, pull her out and try something different.

After her initial assessment and being in Kindergarten for two days, the group consensus was to move her up to First Grade. With this change came even more apprehension. She was transitioning to public school, larger classes and she’s small in stature. Was this the right decision? Was she mature enough to handle it and if she wasn’t would her self-esteem survive putting her back? So back in my prayer closet I went.

We were assured by her school’s administration that she’d be fine and had a great First Grade teacher and we would very soon agree. Her teacher wasn’t much taller than my daughter, she was petite, smiled a lot and kept in constant contact with me about Morgan’s progress. She was young, full of energy and seemed to be a real go getter; you know the type that looks forward to challenges. In fact, she was a marathon runner and to me that spoke volumes about her personality. Marathon runners are in for the long haul, run through cramps, rain, extreme temperatures etc… She was just what the doctor ordered, in this case what we needed.

Morgan didn’t just exist in First Grade, she excelled both academically and socially. She also fell in love with her teacher and truthfully so did I. Right before Christmas break I told her, I really think she should consider teaching Second Grade. I know, I know totally selfish move. Of course she laughed and said it was a little early to sweat Second Grade, plus she said “Morgan will be fine.” Yes, Morgan will be fine, but what about me? I guess, back to the prayer closet I go.

As the end of the school year fast approaches, Morgan has talked about leaving her teacher every day. Today, my baby cried because it was her favorite teacher’s last day in the classroom. She’s transitioning to another career. I am happy for her, I really am, as I believe whole heartedly in re-inventing yourself. The reality is sometimes you really don’t know how much a person that you may not even know that well means to you until it’s time to say goodbye.

Morgan wasn’t the only one sad today. I understand the Blessing in having a God-fearing, talented teacher dedicated to giving her all. I am eternally grateful for the memories she’s created for my daughter and the foundation she has helped to build. So before I go back in prayer closet for an equally awesome Second Grade teacher, I say thank you, thank you , thank you Kate Faulkner and may you continue to leap into your greatness.MEandMs.F

He Got This

I read an article today on one of my favorite blogs Black and Married with Kids. It was titled 4 Things Your Husband is Trying to Protect you From. Since I’d rather you read it for yourself I will just say that the premise was that what women can misconstrue as controlling or nosey might actually be your spouse trying to look out for you. Now for the record, I have never thought my husband to be controlling or nosey or we wouldn’t have married, but I am sure I shortchange his effort to protect me.

For the past few weeks I have been suffering from quite a few migraines. While they are not new to me, it’s been years since they have plagued my daily routine. My normal remedies failed. On our way to a business meeting with my husband I was in bad shape. I was nauseous, my vision was blurry, and I felt inebriated. My husband said, “I think you are too stressed and it sounds like your blood pressure is up.“ I chuckled at his diagnosis because I have never, I repeat, never had an issue with my blood pressure and to be sure I was stressed, such is life. As the day went on, I started to feel a little better, my migraine downgraded to a headache and my vision was better, but he insisted that we stop at a CVS and check my “pressure” on the way home.

Reluctantly I put my arm in the thingy, pressed the button and watched the numbers jump all around until it landed on one higher than I’d ever seen. In fact, it read pre-hypertension. I was stunned and he didn’t gloat at being right or relish in his victory. In fact, he looked quite concerned, but said nothing. A few days later he insisted I cancel weekend plans and pack the kids and me a bag for a weekend at the beach. Now while the idea seemed sweet and I was sure the children would love it, I just kept thinking about how much work it is to watch two babies who love water and no not how to swim at the beach.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I got this. Just pack the bags and when we get there, I’ll take care of the kids and you just relax.” I have to give you one last tidbit. I love water; it calms me, soothes me and helps me clear my mind. In fact, we were married on a beach. With no fight left in me, I did as I was told. I sent cancelation messages to those I’d committed and packed. For the first time I realized it was actually Mother’s Day weekend.

When we arrived I took the children to the resort pool while he went shopping for last minute supplies and dinner. The next morning we went to the beach and for the first time in God knows how long I got to relax. It was just what I needed and my helpmate knew it and although I don’t have too many Mother’s Days under my belt, I am sure this one will go down in the history books as one of my favorites.

When you are confident you’ve made a good choice in a mate ladies, let him protect you in every way. It’s a wonderful feeling when Wonder Woman gets to take off her bangles and know that her Super Man “got this.” Now if, I can just get him to do the dishes.

http://blackandmarriedwithkids.com/category/relationships/

Beach Pic

Winning

Winning

 

 

I’ve always been pretty competitive. I mean who doesn’t like to win. The older I’ve gotten or I guess I should say the more mature; winning has taken a back seat and most times I just want to finish what I’ve started. I wouldn’t say this out loud, but my 5 year-old daughter is a lot like me. She likes to win. I mean she really likes to win, if you want her to do something, make it a competition and she’s guaranteed to put forth an effort. Problem is, she can’t stand to lose. I mean she despises it. So we work hard with her on explaining sportsmanship and the idea that winning isn’t necessarily everything.

And for the record, no I’m not the parent who loses all the time to make her feel better. If she wants to beat me, she better be prepared to “earn” it. The reality is the world does not guarantee you a win, it says you can play, but to win you’ve got to put in some hard work and dedication. But when my daughter loses she pouts, she repeatedly says “I didn’t win.” Losing creates the feeling of disappointment and no one wants to feel disappointed. But what if we always thought we won? What if, even as adults we always thought we won, even if we didn’t?

My 2-year-old son is amazing. Every morning when I free him from his car seat to go into daycare, he challenges me to a race to the door. I must admit I started this competition out of desperation. He was moving entirely too slow one day, but I didn’t know it would become a part of our daily routine. Now he always lines up at the same crack in the sidewalk and looks at me and proudly announces “on the mark, get set, go.” Then he jogs, a little quicker than a walk but definitely not a full on run. He never leaves me behind when I’m in heels and a short skirt. He never falls. He never rushes when I pass him. He finds his own pace and he jogs. And when he arrives at the door, he always says the exact same thing “I win.”

Usually I can’t help but laugh because he does this in every competition, especially with his sister. She’ll challenge him to something and she’ll try her best and no matter what place he comes in he always says the same thing “ I win.” The other night my husband challenged them both to a race to the top of the stairs to get ready for bath time.

“On the mark, get set, go,” he announced. They were off to the races and running up one step at a time. When my daughter arrived first, she jumped up and down and shouted, “I won, I won. Brother you lose, I won.” By this point he was climbing the last step and grinning from ear to ear and guess what he said? You guessed it “I didn’t lose sissy, I win. I always win.”

Wow, I couldn’t help but smile. His confidence wasn’t broken, he wasn’t sad. He wasn’t crying and he definitely was not disappointed. In his mind he’s always a winner and God Bless him, because as long as he thinks it….it is so.

 

Winning 2