Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that 2009 is (almost) over.

I am thankful that 2009 left me and my family only a little bruised instead of done for.

I am thankful that 2010 will bring joy, peace, health, and prosperity.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blind?

So, I saw The Blind Side last weekend. And tonight I watched the 20/20 piece about the back story. It was both moving and eyebrow-raising.

I was glad that the 20/20 story highlighted some key points that the film took liberties with. For instance, the movie basically gave all the credit to the Tuohy family for joining Oher and football; Oher himself was quick to point out the fact that the sport had been part of his life long before the Tuohy family entered. I also thought it was very important that the film chooses to start this story after other people had shown interest and concern for him. Specifically, there was a recreation director (or someone like that) who facilitated his entrance into the prestigious school where he began to flourish. That man took Oher to the school along with his own son. And he was African American.

I point that out for two reasons: 1) I try hard to avoid the Dangerous Minds/Freedom Writers/Losing Isaiah formula that seems to suggest that black people are doomed to their own pathology and tragedy unless able white folk save them; 2) When Debra Roberts asks the Tuohys to comment on the curious coincidence that the large black boy who they take in is steered toward the school where they are former athletes and boosters, it just sort of hangs there. The issue is never fully addressed, although they and Oher dismiss any sordid intentions. They also mostly glide by the issue of race; although they acknowledge the weirdness of a big, homeless black boy living with a wealthy white family in Memphis, their message is that love took over and he just became their son. The daughter's words about being able to count on someone who loves you for no particular reason had a clear ring of sincerity. So my eyebrow raising has less to do with the idea that these people schemed to deliver a football giant to Ole Miss (because it doesn't seem that they were scheming) than it does with the incomplete discussion of these issues.

I think it's also important to note that the Touhys suggest that Oher would have made something of his life anyway. He is a central player in, well, his own story.

I'm just wondering what falls out if we shake this tree a bit. So, what's the story of all of those children who aren't great at sports or who don't stumble upon the right rich family? While these stories make us feel good, doesn't every child deserve a school where someone notices that he's homeless? Where he gets some help even if he's a she (why are these movies never about girls, anyway?) Doesn't every child deserve a life that allows her to fulfill her whole potential? How do we make that happen without simply waiting on rich families?

So, while there are heart-tugging, smiley, sweet moments in this film, I'm also saddened by the children I know who didn't get everything they needed to be whole. And by thoughts of the children I don't know who have holes in their lives. It's complicated.

Friday, December 25, 2009

This Christmas

So, everyone was pleased to find (in the words of The Babydoll) that baby Jesus brought the presents for us Christmas morning! She was disappointed, however, that Santa didn't come; she knows because she didn't see him. Baby Boy said that Santa would come tonight. Funny.

Hope your holiday was peaceful and merry!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Excited

I do believe that we've already uncovered the absolute best Christmas present this year: The Babydoll got her Christmas Eve gift--a hula hoop. She's been working on it for about an hour. She's a determined little thing! She's learned to go and go and go for something like 30 seconds at a time. She's so pleased with herself it's crazy. "Everybody, look at me!" she screams and forces every person in the room to applaud. I'm pretty pleased with myself for getting it for her.

Baby Boy likes his police car with the sirens, but he's still pretty enthralled with the Max and Ruby Christmas DVD from weeks ago.

To quote the untouchable Donny Hathaway, "And this Christmas will be a very special Christmas for me." Da da da dah dah, da da da da dah. Shake a hand, shake a hand . . . .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Link

I keep trying to come up with something to say, but I just don't have any words. It's right before Christmas and I'm filled with holiday cheer. But I'm also filled with holiday running around, so I'll just direct all eyes over to Bad Mommy Moments. She's reposted a beautiful and moving Christmas piece that brings tears every time I read it. It's worth revisiting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random

  • Had parent observation day at The Babydoll's dance class and confirmed that, among other things, I will never be a dance instructor. Ten noisy, noisy pairs of tiny tap shoes, ten tiny jumping beans disguised as little girls, and ten pairs of tiny fingers on the floor ready to be stepped on with aforementioned tap shoes--I barely made it through an hour of sitting there and watching my own child.
  • Saw The Princess and the Frog with The Babydoll and her friend. Friend repeatedly asked, "Where's the princess? I want to see the princess!" I actually thought this was a decent princess movie since I try to avoid the whole princess thing in general. Okay, we did wear a tiara and take pictures with the poster, but that was just so she wouldn't be left out if the other girls at the theater wore theirs. Anyway, Tiana is bold and adventurous, caring and smart. She wasn't thinking about any stinking ole prince because she had her own dreams; plus, she and the prince go through some things together and develop a relationship instead of the "he looks at her beauty and falls in love" plot. Anika Noni Rose commented about the film and its merits, considering the history of black people in animation, which I think helps to smooth out some of the problematic elements. I wonder if I could hurry up and write a paper before everyone else does.
  • The Babydoll and Baby Boy both seemed to like the movie. They were literally on the edge of their seats for most of the movie. That pleases me.
  • What the heck is happening to my break?! Who are these annoying students who keep trying to pull me back in, mob-like, to campus matters? Leave me alone! Do you know that I have an entire class to plan and papers to write that have barely been conceived? Do you know that Christmas is a week away? Do you know that I have more than half of my list to buy? Do you know that everyone's getting a gift card because I hate to shop?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Need a Break

Actual "sentence" found in a student's final paper:

The differences are similarities are among equal against each other.

No, I didn't copy it wrong and it will make even less sense the second time you read it.

On one episode of Girlfriends, one of the characters, Maya, is sharing her potential book proposal with another character, William, and he tells her something like, "I recognize the words you're saying as English, but I have no idea what their relationship is to one another." I'm so feeling William right now.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am grateful for abundance.

We've seen the pediatrician twice in as many weeks and took note of a "coats for kids" box that sat, empty, in the corner. After the second visit, I decided to get serious about the value lessons I want to permeate my children's lives. I went home and pulled out all of the coats that were too small for them. I realized that those coats represent just how much we have, whether we deserve it or not. Some of them were purchased by eager family members, but we also received a huge bag of coats from a former co-worker of Hubby's; from the looks of it, they used to live in Antarctica. There were light jackets, windbreakers, heavy lined coats, super-duper coats with hoods--a coat for every level and type of cold or wind you can think of, some in duplicate sizes. All in perfectly good condition. And we got them for free.

When we saw the box, I explained to the children, The Babydoll especially since she's older, that some children don't have everything they need and that God wants us to share. That it's good to give gifts, particularly at Christmas just like the Wise Men in the Christmas book we read. (Later we were talking about the Baby Jesus and she asked how old he was when he's all grown up and in the sun--that seems to be the way she's explained heaven to herself--I didn't know how to enumerate it for someone who can only count to 100) Anyway, they seemed to like the idea of helping, and we prayed over the coats to ask blessings for the children who would receive them. It was good stuff. They have probably already forgotten the whole situation, but it was good stuff for me.

Anyway, I'm thankful today for having way more than I need and for being able to care for my children, and for the opportunity (and the inclination) to help my children be more like the people they are created to be.

AND I'm so, so, so, so, so, so grateful for more good news that The Crisis is moving in the right direction.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sounds of the Season

The Diva and I might have been the only ones reading this blog last Christmas season, so I'll give a quick recap of the relevant story:

My family and I try to attend a Christmas carol concert at a nearby college every year. It's fabulous. The first year we took The Babydoll, she loved, loved, loved it, even though she was only about 18 months old. Last year, however, was a disaster. And when we tried to go again a different night--also a disaster.

This year we did at least make it in the door and to our seats. Baby Boy enjoyed the music, but fell asleep. The Babydoll must have forgotten to take her medication, though, because she couldn't close her mouth if her depended on it. She asked why they were walking down the aisle, who the man was in the booth, why the lady wouldn't play the harp right now. Just on and on and on. Loudly. She was excited, so I was sad when Hubby took her out, but there was really no other choice.

The other difference this year is that I had low expectations. I brought The Babydoll back in for the most exciting, hand-clapping song and then we left early. It was fine with me that she played in the cafe across the street for half the concert. We'll go again next year. Oh well.

We ended the night, as is our tradition, with a trip to Krispy Kreme. And to all a good night. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Four words:

Last. Day. Of. Class. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Day at the Library with Daddy

So, my husband has decided to take the children to the library once a week for an educational daddy activity. They went yesterday and, for some reason, there was a display about abolition and the women's suffrage movement. (This isn't women's history month or black history month, so I'm a little lost about that--anybody know?) My daughter wanted to get the books from the display to read. There was one about Harriet Tubman and one about Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They start to read the book and on one page there is picture of a man grabbing a black woman and a white woman by the arms and he's holding keys. The Babydoll asks why the man is holding the women and why he's holding keys. Hubby tells her that a long time ago women weren't allowed to hold keys, so they were in trouble because they tried to get the keys and now he was taking them away.

First of all, I'm going to have to go to the library to figure out what this display is all about. Secondly, I'm also going to have to get a hold of this book to find out what in the world is going on in this picture. He never sufficiently explained just what the deal is with these keys. His explanation to The Babydoll made very little sense to me. He didn't even know who Stanton was before this book (I'm loathe to admit that, but he's a math man and a little bit clueless about anything humanities related). There is a sort of accidental metaphor in there, but I'm not sure either of them is aware of it.

Anyway, the point of the story is that The Babydoll had this horrified look on her face for the rest of the book. On each page, she kept asking if the man would let them hold the keys now. It's not fair, she said.

I felt so sad for her and this moment when she had to connect herself with injustice. I know that she's four years old and can't possibly fully contextualize either slavery (which Hubby skirted past because he really didn't have a way to explain that) or sexism, but she knew that something was wrong. The horror on her face was merited. And I know that the depth of that horror will grow as she grasps just what all that this unfairness means. But I hope that she never loses that sense of horror; it will help her save herself from, as Audre Lorde wrote, being crunched by other people's fantasies of her.

I also hope that she doesn't develop some irrational fear of keys.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crossing the Line

So, this weekend I crossed the line. First, I am now at the point at which I said that I would be finished with baby making. I've been thinking about that all year, but now it's official. I also just realized that I am closer to 50 than I am to 20. Yikes!

I said that I wanted to get my sexy back in my 30s. Or maybe get it for the first time. I'm not sure how that's going, but I do feel like I'm becoming more of myself. I just want to be sure that "myself" is not an old lady. (Although my mother-in-law brought me some wrinkle cream from a trip she took and I think I'll start using it in earnest now). Anyway, I don't have deep revelations about my life, but I do think that life is rolling on. In the right direction.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday--early Thanksgiving

Since I have no idea if Thursday will present an opportunity to post, I will offer my thankful post today. I have to say that every year seems to bring a greater awareness of how undeservedly good my life is, and how much better it can get, even in a year like this one, when bunches of unexpected trauma and pain present themselves. I'm grateful that God pulls me through it, and that I can still be happy when sadness spills all around me. That I can cast off despair and feel hopeful when the situation looks hopeless. This year has shown me that we don't always get what we want in the way that we want it, but grace and mercy hold me up. It could always be worse, which seems like suck thing to be thankful for, but seriously, I am grateful that every difficult circumstance was not as bad as it could have been. That the outlook is still pretty sunny behind the clouds.

So, please be safe and blessed and don't forget to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

End of Semester Rant

Beloved students,

I've been having a fabulous time prying your brains open and pouring in my brilliant professorly thoughts. However.

I'm tired and ready for the holidays and I don't need a bunch of bull stinky, okay? So along with the list of what you should submit in these last few classes, here is a list of what you should not bring to class with you:
  • A snotty, know-it-all attitude. Yes, you must do the peer review. Because I said so. Because you need someone to tell you that your citations are completely wrong before I see them and give your paper to my coughing, runny-nose child to play with because I'm so annoyed. Because maybe if you learn to edit someone else's paper you'll accidentally learn to edit your own. Because you are supposed to be contributing to the community of learners, even if your own is perfect, which it isn't. And because I said so. And I'm the one with three degrees. You're the one with no degrees and some credit hours. No, wait--you don't even have credit hours until the end of the semester.
  • A request to let you--and you only--resubmit an assignment or take another crack at something that you already had two chances to do. There is a built-in system for that. It's called revision and it's outlined in the syllabus. Sorry you forgot. I'm very busy, too. So I'm going to forget that you made this request.
  • An annoying question that doesn't deserve an answer. Do you have to turn that in? Yes. Why do I want to see it? To be sure that you did it. Actually, I'm marking your progress, but you don't deserve that answer. What am I going to do with it? Well, I'll be throwing yours in the trash. Ha, ha. Sorry, was that audible sigh also a question?
  • An assignment in which you say that all of your classes are pointless and useless in helping you prepare for a career. Did you look up the definition of a liberal arts education before you arrived, deary? Do you know we're doing here? I don't care enough to explain that to you, but you really should find out. And you should do it before, as some time-worn Southern women have been known to say, someone sees you rolling your eyes and snatches you bald headed.
  • Your relative. Actually, going to my sister's teacher to ask about her progress and what she needs to do to pass the class is actually something I would do. But it's inappropriate. Loving, but waaaaay inappropriate.

Can't wait to see you all next week!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful that
  • my husband will pick up my children from school today so that I don't have to
  • the warm, fuzzy--okay, sappy--holiday commercials are starting
  • despite the horrible economy, I was able to pick up a birthday gift for my daughter's friend's party and started gathering little Christmas presents for both my children; I'm so glad that they are small and that inexpensive gifts satiate them (except for the power wheels, which costs hundreds of dollars and which will not be under the tree)
  • guests have responded to my evite for a Christmas cookie baking party--yay for having a party that people actually come to!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me, or are my students really, really interested in sex?

We are working on research papers and the number of topics having to do with sex is pretty high. In particular, I have about a thousand papers on sex education. Clearly, these people want to know what the deal is, and they wanted to know by middle school. It's intriguing to me. They have such a plethora of easily accessible information, but they feel locked out and kept in the dark. Maybe they need an informed way to interpret the media onslaught so prevalent in their lives. I'm also intrigued by the number of topics on teenage pregnancy, especially the fact that many of them report bunches and bunches of examples from their high schools, and they have been disappointed with the way those cases were handled, both by the students and by the adults. There are also a fair number of papers on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, which technically doesn't have to do with sex, but I'm getting the idea that most of them are so over this debate; for better or for worse, they just think everyone should get over themselves and let folks get married.

I realize that the early adult years (or late teenage ones, perhaps) present a biological imperative to have as much sex as possible--or as The Diva noted after her biology class, "Your body is always trying to get you pregnant!"--so maybe that explains it. Or maybe I'm old and more interested in sleep. If they knew what I know, they'd be stocking up on it now, too, because it seems to me that opportunities for both sex and sleep go downhill the older you get. Is that just me, too?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful to have health insurance. I've been having a minor pain when I chew so I'm going to the dentist today. And although I need to spend the day grading (and doing positively nothing else--so much grading!), I'm going to have it looked at. I'm glad that I didn't have to wait until I could save up some money or ignore it until it the pain was unbearable. I don't know what's going to happen with health care in this country, but the process should be just this simple for everyone, all the time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Perplexed


This morning on CNN, I heard Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra say that he believes the attack on Fort Hood is a terrorist attack, but not in the vein of Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing. I'm perplexed as to why not, but that's not the issue that I want to deal with here.

First, I believe this shooting was horrible and inexcusable and my heart goes out to the families that were touched by it.

Although I know there are more complex factors involved in Nidal Hasan's attack, what I want to address here is the issue of bullying. Reports have stated that Hasan had been harassed by his fellow officers and he'd complained about it prior to the shooting. This man is a grown man and should more effectively deal with harassment, but this situation highlights the problem bullying has become.

It seems to me that victims of bullying are no longer accepting it. They are not having a Revenge of the Nerds reaction in which they come up with a rousing "We are one" speech to win over their enemies. Instead, they are all Carrie. So, I am perplexed as to why (1) people keep bullying others and (2) they are coming up with meaner, yet more sophisticated methods by which to do it (e. g. cyberbullying).

We have got to teach our kids to stop being so mean to others because with these mass shootings, it is not only dangerous to them, it is dangerous to everyone.
I mean, really, what's going on here?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful that, contrary to my expectation, my hair appointment did not the require the more expensive service. Thus, I skipped the fast food lunch and treated myself to Panera Bread. (It's a little thing, but a big thing, ya know?) On the way out, the fall wind was crisp but not cold, and I had a brand new appreciation for the way autumn leaves dance across the ground like brightly colored potato chips.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Day After Halloween

Had a wonderful Halloween. We spent the day at one of those jumping places, then trick-or-treating in the evening. The Babydoll doesn't like chocolate (I think we're going to see the doctor about that) so she brought all of her chocolate straight to me. I'll be eating bite size candy for days. And Baby Boy could say "Twick o' Tweet" (fairly) clearly for the first time. Yipppee! It was a fabulous day indeed!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Given the state of things in the world (my own little world and the world at large), I've decided to start posting a "Thankful" message each week. Too often lately, I've felt the need to keep myself from spinning downward. I would love to hear what you are thankful for, too, big and small. So here goes:

Today I am thankful for the promise of a quiet day to do work that is meaningful to me. And I'm delighted that part of that includes watching a video on blaxploitation films that make me want to put on a bright tangerine minidress and dance to the theme song from Shaft. Yay for today!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I've got Mommy Guilt, and it ain't like the flu

I had my first case of Mommy Guilt recently. Normally, I roll my eyes at the idea that I should feel guilty about most things Mommy-related. I do the best I can; beyond that, just get off my back, people! But last week my daughter's class had a field trip and she wanted me to go. Badly. Deeply. Seriously. She gets so excited about riding the bus and she wanted me to sit beside her. It's not lost on me that the moment is quickly approaching when she wouldn't want me within 100 miles of her friends, much less sitting beside her on a school bus. But she demanded that we buy her sack lunch immediately and she dutifully packed it about 900 days in advance. (Luckily she was willing to put it in the fridge until trip day--otherwise we'd have a Rudy Huxtable situation--anybody remember that episode?). Her teacher told her that mommies and daddies could go with them, so she came home and told me that I had to go. I told her that I had to go to work, that I had students who needed their teacher just like she needs her teacher (I'm sure my students would disagree, but that's not the point). The Babydoll wasn't buying it. She wanted me to go and no other answer would do. I felt awful. She felt awful. Her desire was so sincere. I apologized about a million times. I started to think that maybe I should just cancel two of my classes and get on the stupid bus. My husband thought that was a ridiculous idea; I guess he should be an expert on the matter since he was taking his happy behind to work that day without a thought about this field trip--not an ounce of guilt there.

Trip day came and she didn't mention my impending absence. I put a note in her lunch wishing her a fun trip. She was thrilled at receiving "mail" along with her lunch. When I picked her up she showed me her pumpkin. She told me how another child's mother helped her with her lunch (I'd asked the mom to coddle her a little). She reenacted the dancing chicken they saw (don't know why a dancing chicken was at the pumpkin patch, but okay). She had a wonderful report of a fabulous field trip. But then she asked again why I didn't go. She expressed--again--that she really wanted me to go "because I love you Mommy!"

Now how was I supposed to respond to that? I turned away to fiddle with papers and hide the tears that were threatening to spill down my face.

I have to work. Well, I don't HAVE to, if I adhere to the "stay-home-at-all-costs-because-it's-the-only-way-to-be-a-loving-mother" philosophy. Of course, I would expect the student loan police to show up at every turn. And we'd never get ourselves into a decent school district on one paycheck. And I'd be annoyed and lonely and unfulfilled because I really do feel like I was meant to do the work I'm doing. Have to or not, the fact is that I have a job and I'm going to keep on having a job. Ninety-five percent of the time, I feel no guilt for working. In fact, I feel so blessed that the work I love often comes with the possibility of two days a week at home, summers off if I choose, and a flexible schedule. But when it collides with mommyhood, I do feel like I'm abandoning my children.

What will I do to remedy this feeling? I don't know, but I'll have another chance next week: I have class during my son's harvest party. Any chance the flu shot will vaccinate against this, too?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

The Babydoll: Daddy, who's that?

Hubby: Oh, that's a policeman.

The Babydoll: Why is he standing there?

Hubby: He goes around and gets people who do bad behavior. He takes them to jail.

The Babydoll: Bad behavior?

Hubby: Yeah.

The Babydoll: Oh. I'm gonna go tell him that Brother hit me. That was bad behavior.

All children seem to have this thought, but I still laughed my head off! Hilarious!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thoughts inspired by Chris Rock's Good Hair

1) Nia Long should sooo play me in the movie of my life.

2) I had the culture of hair on my short list of dissertation topics in the beginning stages. If I had stayed with that, maybe I'd have been in Chris Rock's film.

3) What was Barbara Walter's issue on "The View" this morning? She asked a question about black women's hair that Whoopie answered about 5 times. Then she immediately asked Chris Rock, who gave her the same answer.

An addendum: Thoughts about my crappy day that should shock teenage girls into using birth control every single time:

1) I've actually had poop in my hands today. Twice.

2) Yesterday my son sat on the toilet and peed a straight line. Onto me.


*And happy, happy birthday to The Diva!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Done and done.

I spent part of the weekend purging. No, not upchucking the hot fudge sundae that I had, quite appropriately, on Sunday. I was going through boxes of baby clothes and toys, preparing to give them away to The Diva and her little Popcorn. It was hard. I think I may be a potential hoarder, but I also get really excited about organizing, so it's hard to do both. More than that, though, I realized that my time of mothering infants is basically gone. It makes me sad.

I held up each outfit, remembering a picture we snapped or an outing we took. I remembered dressing my babies, putting their tiny feet into the one-piece jumper, and receiving to-die-for dresses from loving relatives. I could not imagine at the time that my itty-bitty bundles would ever be big enough to fill out a large size. All the while, they were laughing and playing with the toys they have already outgrown. When people say that it all goes by too fast, man, they are not kidding. I felt like I was pregnant for more than two years continuously, and now I don't have any babies. Even my two year old is stretching out, his legs gaining some length and his chubby tummy slimming down.

I read an article not long ago that asked how we know when we're really done having babies. The answer was that mothers who are really done, say so immediately and without reservation. I can't do that, but I think our family probably can't comfortably handle another child. I watched Lynnette on "Desperate Housewives" deal with her serious lack of commitment to the twins she's unexpectedly carrying and wonder if I might feel that way with another baby. Then, of course, there are ck's heart-wrenching posts about her surprise third pregnancy, and the loss of it. They remind me of how complicated my emotions are around this issue. I kind of thought that this year would be the year of an "accidental/on purpose" baby because I promised myself that I would be done by my 35th birthday; that will happen next month. I don't think we're going to be having a surprise, on purpose or not. Hubby is talking about getting snipped, and he was nearly dancing with glee at the empty space created by the absence of those boxes. "Having all that stuff will not force them to be your babies again," he said.

So that's just it. I had a great time mothering infants, having them snuggle next to me, need me, love me. They changed my life (and my body) and then just went on with their lives, on the road to being big kids.

Of course, after all the stuff was given away, they showed up again, whining about this and fighting about that. Talk about a buzz kill. That's when I suggested that ice cream was in order.

Can you imagine me at high school graduation? Have mercy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Checking In


I have really been M.I.A. lately. I'm still here. Popcorn has been sick and I have been trying to take care of her while making frequent trips to see doctors. Because she was born so early and was on a ventilator for so long, she has chronic lung disease. These factors make her more susceptible to illnesses such as the flu and the common cold. Well, she doesn't have the flu--thank God--but we're not sure if she has a cold, RSV, or a flare up of the lung disease. In any case, she is quite congested and has a truckload of medicines to take. I am grateful, however, that she doesn't seem to feel bad. She has been playing and kicking and "talking" up a storm.


So, I'll be back when I can get a longer moment to write. I wanted to comment on Kanye West's behavior and Patrick Swayze's death when they happened. I still might do so later.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thanks for the time of my life


Oh my. Just watched the Patrick Swayze tribute on "Dancing with the Stars" and I'm so moved by so much beautiful artistry and creativity. They recreated the fabulous last seen from "Dirty Dancing" and--oh my. Sad and joyful and full of life, all at the same time. Boy, I wish I could dance.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Stay Outta Grown Folks' Business

I question myself as a mother. A lot. Did we pick the right pre-school? Is her outfit cute enough? Am I giving them enough spiritual guidance? Am I giving them too much ice cream? Right about now, though, I'm feeling pretty good about one particular parenting choice.


I almost named my son Kanye.


But I didn't.


Thank God.


We originally wanted a K name, and Kanye had a nice ethnic, original sound and meaning without being weird. Ultimately, we figured that it was just too dangerous to choose a rapper's name. I didn't want to explain for the rest of his life that, no, he was not named after West. After Kanye's ridiculous outburst at the VMAs, he can have that name all to himself.



For those who didn't watch because they don't care (like me), West appeared out of nowhere on stage when Taylor Swift was receiving her award for Best Female Video, snatched the microphone, and basically said that Beyonce should have won. Now I'm no big Beyonce fan either, but I'll give it to her; when she accepted another award later, she yielded her time to Swift so that she could have her moment. That was classy and compassionate. There was no reason for West to steal Swift's shine. Remember that line about opening your mouth and removing all doubt that you're a fool? Nobody asked for his opinion. He didn't need to defend Beyonce's honor. I assume that he didn't have anything specific against Taylor Swift. He's just a buttwipe and everybody seems to agree. Plus, I like that song.


It's a little disappointing to me that he's so unlikeable because his music is interesting. And, truthfully, I just wanted to like him because his mother was an English professor.


Alas, that dream is over. He's a buttwipe. Good luck with that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Time for Everything

There's a first time for everything, right? Today marked:

  • the first time my daughter spontaneously told me she loves me. I nearly had a sobbing fit. She has said "I love you" to her father and her brother without prompting, but never to me. I spent Sunday and Monday near death and face down in the pillow with migraines, but she came to rub my back; today she kissed my forehead and asked me if I was okay now. I asked why she kissed me, and she said, "Because I love you." I'm crying right now . . . .
  • the first time I had a student throw up in class. It was lovely. It was the last class of the day and I was a hand sanitizing fool all morning, directing coughing and suspiciously nasal looking students to sit on the other side of the room. I was inclined to comfort this regurgitating girl from across the room; instead I threw caution to the wind and rubbed her back and felt her head for fever. But I sent a student with her to the infirmary. After all, I'm not actually your mother.
Maybe both have something to with today as the first 09/09/09? Oh, wait--it's not the first, huh?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

So Excited

Just bought baby boy three brand spanking new pairs of big boy underwear. Two were soaking wet inside of an hour. Plus two additional wet spots on the floor. Potty training is soooo much fun . . . .

Friday, August 21, 2009

Queen Bee at Three


So, after my bursting pride about how compassionate and kind my daughter is, I was horrified this morning. My husband called from pre-school to say that she said she didn't want to sit next a girl because she was "ugly." Hubby tells her that this is not a nice thing to say and that she shouldn't say that. The Babydoll (I think I referred to my daughter this way at some point, so let's go with this moniker) is upset by his reprimand and puts her head down. After he takes my son to his class, Hubby comes back to check on her and now she's sobbing. But she explains that another girl, one who The Babydoll adores but who sometimes says bad words, declared this girl "nasty"; what in the world?!

Hubby finally gets The Babydoll to stop crying and I explain over the phone that in our family, we are nice to everyone and we don't call anyone names. I tell her that even though this other girl said this mean thing, it's still okay for her to play with and be nice to the "nasty" girl. She says okay, but I get the feeling that she'd really rather gain the favor of the queen bee. In recent weeks, we've already had a conversation about not following when other children display bad behavior. I told her then that no matter what any other child is doing, I expect her to follow our family's rules. I was not prepared for this. Not now. I thought that I had a few years to cultivate a kind spirit before I had to be concerned about cliques. And, truthfully, my real concern was that someone would bully The Babydoll, not the other way around. She's small and not always aggressive enough. I already had the speech in my head for my son about how to treat girls--"I will not raise a son who calls girls names or objectifies them in any way. You cannot live in my house and disrespect any woman, no matter how your friends behave." Who knew I'd have to use that speech on my daughter first? At age 3.

I'm concerned, but at least we have time to work on this. Maybe we can find a book that will help explain why this kind of behavior is not okay. One thing is for sure, though--don't spit up in the air; it comes down in your face. The Babydoll doesn't know it yet, but she could just as easily be the designated nasty girl. All it takes is the wrong pair of shoes or an unfortunate hairstyle choice or some embarrassing encounter with a boy; mean girls watch what you do and turn your normal, meaningless moments into social hurricanes. Much better to put the good vibes into the universe.

I think it's time for a playdate with a girl of my choosing . . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You're Gonna Miss This (Think Trace Adkins)


I go back to work tomorrow. I am so glad I have a job and I like my work, but I hate for this time to end.

I don't think that I ever mentioned that we brought Popcorn home (she came home in June), but all summer I've been a stay-at-home mom. It's been wonderful!

At first, despite what the nurses said in the NICU, she did not eat and fall asleep immediately. When we would wake up in the middle of the night, she stayed awake for the rest of the night. Either me or Diva's Husband would be fighting sleep while rocking the baby who would be just looking at us with eyes wide open. So, having the chance to stay home all day was beneficial. Now, she is sleeping through the night (yea!), but I just like being home with her. We play and read and sing and sleep and just be cuddly together.

Tomorrow I have to take her to the babysitter. Initially I was extremely sad about the idea that being with the babysitter would be the first time since she came home that she would be without either me or her father, but then I remembered that there have been a few times when her grandmothers came to visit that I ran to the store while DH was at work. That made me feel better. But only a little.

Before I had her, I always thought I would welcome the opportunity to go away and have time and space to myself. Now, although the prospect of getting back to the world of academics and intellectual pursuit is mildly exciting, that opportunity is not looking quite as appealing.
My mom and aunt say I will get over this feeling by the second day. I'm doubtful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And it's only Tuesday . . .

Went on campus to get "oriented" to my new gig. Let me tell you: This is going to be great!

Two years ago I was in labor. Birthdays are MUCH more fun! Baby boy loves his gifts, too! (He thinks the bowling set is a soccer ball, but still.)

And that "Crisis"? Well, we are beating down this evil thing! I'm claiming it now (to quote my daughter): We win! You lose!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The American Teenager


I know that I complain a lot about television on this blog and I hate that, but I have to do it again. Before I do, however, I would like to say that there are many things I love about TV such as how it's always available; at times there are some incredible programs presented and stories told such as those on Heroes, House, and True Blood; and it provides good lessons if you are open to seeing them. Sometimes, however, those lessons are not good and that's what I want to complain about now.

I have watched several episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family. I must applaud the network for actually creating a series with actors and writers and plot lines rather than just phoning it in with a reality show. The problem that I have with the show is that these characters are so self-important. I know they are teenagers and maybe I haven't been around many teenagers since I was one, but are they really like this or does the series exaggerate the truth for drama? (Please tell me it's the latter.)

There's this one character, Grace, who is a Christian. She decides to break her commitment to abstinence one night after fighting with her father. To prove (to him) that she's an adult, she has sex with her boyfriend (a sure sign that she is not an adult if you ask me). Then her father dies in a plane crash and she declares that she is responsible because she had sex. Really? I know she is grieving and grief makes you think unclearly at times, but I was so irritated by her. Fifty people come in to tell her that she is not responsible yet she keeps insisting she is. If she didn't feel the world revolved around her she would realize that even if God were punishing her, God probably wouldn't punish everyone else with her father's death.

That's just one example. Both of the teen aged parents on the show keep harping about how they are grown now that they have a baby. No, you're just children who have a baby. When Amy, the teen mother, goes into labor, she fusses about how she is in pain and she should be given special consideration because she is 15. It seems that she feels that her early pregnancy and motherhood somehow sets her apart in a special way.

Maybe the show is trying to criticize this kind of self-centeredness by making it so pervasive and annoying that no one can take them seriously.

My biggest problem with this show, however, is the way the adults indulge the self-important teenagers. They talk to these kids about their sex lives and their romantic entanglements like the teenagers are their best friends. Not only is it odd that people of such varying ages should be able to identify with one another, but also it is irresponsible and unrealistic that parents would burden their children and children's friends with their own personal problems. Amy's dad, for instance, fails to get a vasectomy and confides this info to Grace along with the worry that his ex-wife's pregnancy is indeed his doing. What? This bizarre relationship between adults and teenagers is doubly disturbing because it lends itself to the teenagers getting the parents told! They consistently put the parents in check and act as if they have the right to do so. What kind of message is that to send? Not to sound like an old codger, but back in my day, kids were lectured by the parents, not the other way around. And the world was better for it.

This show does periodically punctuate its scenes with psa's about teen sex and the need for more communication about it between parent and child, but the good message it tries to send is obscured, to me, by the more prominent message of encouraged teen self-importance.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oh No You Didn't!

This is an interesting analysis from racialicious.com of those kgb commercials. I had a problem with the portrayal of the black women in the "Weave" commercial mainly because of the neck-rolling, "Oh-no-you-didn't!" attitude coming from the woman. Plus, I saw it after watching that anti-drug commercial in which the boy's guardian (black) angel had a neck-rolling, "Oh-no-you-didn't!" attitude. My goodness, do all black women go through life with attitudes?

Anyway, I hadn't thought this deeply about the commercial, but the writer makes some thought-provoking comments.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

MTV Finally Got It Right



I have gone against my principles and started watching 16 and Pregnant and today I even auto tuned my TV to view "Life after Labor", the reunion show. I'm glad this show exists because it puts a more realistic, less romanticized view of parenthood before teenagers. Maybe it will help prevent unwanted pregnancies before they happen (an effort I don't believe we are realistically actively engaged in as a nation).


Part of the realism is the toll pregnancy and parenthood takes on one's relationship. I remember thinking as a teenager how wonderful it would be to marry my then-boyfriend and have a baby. That was foolish; it would be awful and hard and considering the fact that I didn't marry my then-boyfriend (we actually broke up before dating a year), lonely and heartbreaking. Those issues come out on the show.


In a more trivial, but still real instance, one of the young moms-to-be was trying to decide when to take her senior pictures and her mother told her she would be all puffy after the birth. The girl said she didn't plan to be puffy. Because she didn't know; in the romantic version of pregnancy (even for non-teenagers), you're beautiful and glow-ey as a pregnant woman/new mom. Yeah, but in real life, that ain't true and she was puffy. So, the show is good in revealing some of the truth about pregnancy.


I know you have discussed these issues before, SM, but I was so moved by one of the hard truths demonstrated in the series through the story of Catelynn that I had to write about it as well. Her story broke my heart. She and her boyfriend made the heart wrenching decision to give their baby up for adoption. It was an incredibly mature and--as they said 12,000 times in the reunion show--brave decision to make. I cried as I watched those kids give up their baby. In the abstract you think, this will be a good thing because they can go on with their lives and the baby will be happy and etcetera etcetera. But watching Catelynn go through the birth and her boyfriend sob afterward because he had to hand over his daughter to virtually strangers, you recognize that there are no easy choices in this situation. I was especially moved by this story, in part because I put myself and our Popcorn in their place and it was unbearable. My heart goes out to Catelynn and anyone who makes the difficult choice to give a baby up for adoption.

Having a baby is more than a notion, man. . . .

Friday, July 24, 2009

Loss of an Artist--Again


Writer E. Lynn Harris died today at 54.

Before anybody was talking about the "down low" E. Lynn Harris pulled back the curtains, whether we wanted to see or not. I was not his biggest fan, but I'm saddened at the loss of a brave artist who offered his truth, his stories, his talent. Perhaps he still had more to tell us.

Good

In my endless self-reflection I'm realizing that when things are sliding downhill for me, I just have to let somebody (everybody?) know.

Now, signs are pointing towards heaven again--I guess they always were, huh?--and I'm trying to get better at letting everybody know that, too.

So, today I believe that good stuff will materialize.

Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Henry Louis Gates has a Mug Shot?


Still basking in the happy glow of The Diva's welcome baby shower about a week ago, I received a call from our home security company: the alarm had been tripped. My first thought was that it was an accident. That calming thought only lasted a moment, though. I knew what had happened; someone was in our home. Someone unclean and uncouth. Someone who was, at that very moment, rambling through our clothes and knocking over my children's playthings. Someone who was leaving dirty footprints on our carpets, where there were already chocolate milk stains. We were out of town and there was almost nothing we could do. I was horrified and frightened.

Thankfully, the scenario in my head never fully materialized. The criminals must have been scared off by the alarm and the minor security deterrents we had in place. Although they broke a window, scattering glass all over our family room and our children's toys, they didn't actually enter the house and nothing was taken.

When I saw the reports that well-respected scholar Henry Louis Gates had been arrested

in front of his own home, I thought of the stories of men I knew: "mistaken" identity, ill-placed suspicion, overzealous police officers, assumptions of guilt. My husband, for example, delivered pizzas in college and was put in handcuffs repeatedly because he was driving in "suspicious" neighborhoods with "too much" cash. He was also robbed repeatedly, but I'm not sure that anything ever became of that. Gates' work on the African American experience made him a rock star in his field. Reports that he was yelling, "This is what happens to a black man in America!" seem sad and appropriate.

What strikes close to home for me is that there were several police officers at his home, it seems, in response to his "erratic" behavior. I'm wondering if several officers would show up only in response to his break-in. That certainly was not the case for us. One officer showed up--after 30 minutes and repeated phone calls. He called several days later to ask if anything was missing or if we had any information to offer. It wasn't much, but we appreciated the time and attention. Last year, we had another break-in at one in the afternoon while I was upstairs alone. There were at least four dirty criminals who rammed my door open that day, but when I called 911 it still took more than 20 minutes for an officer to show up. We never got a follow up call and there were never any leads. I was so scared, and stayed locked in the guest room upstairs talking to the 911 operator. I saw the stinking criminals burn rubber out of my driveway, but I had no idea if one of them was left downstairs in my house, waiting to beat me to death while the police moved like molasses. I've also had my car broken into twice and--nothing.
I'm not saying that the police should have gone all CSI because my CDs were stolen while my car was on the side of the expressway. But I do really wish that somebody would get excited about the loss of my sense of safety and the money it costs us to fix the damage. I certainly felt like yelling, and I'm sure I would have if I hadn't been so scared (the officer practically laughed at me when I burst into tears); so Gates' reaction to being arrested--I'm sure that's why they wanted him to step outside in the first place--seems right on the money to me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Birth Control

By now, it must be clear that I love television. Add a compelling real-life story, and I'm hooked. The latest thing that's got me on the line is MTV's "Sixteen and Pregnant." I'm interested in part because I had such wonderful and fascinating birth experiences. I'm also interested because I will have teenagers, and before I know it, according to the older parents I know. I'm learning a lot about how they think. Most of it is less than encouraging. But I'm still enthralled by the drama.

I heard once of a mother who decided that she would not allow her teenage daughter to have pain management drugs during labor; this was her version of birth control. At the time, I thought it was creative and brilliant. Certainly a horribly painful "natural" birth would remind this girl to use a condom next time, right? Now, having had two unmedicated deliveries, I can say that the pain is something of a "blocker" when it comes to making more babies. I loved my birth experiences, but man, it slows me down when I think about having more children. As I was going to the MTV website to look for follow-up info on the families (yes, I realize that this is ridiculous, but it's the summer and I like my fluffy guilty pleasures--let me be!), I started to wonder if teenage viewers would see the couples on the show as celebrities, complete with a sweet-smelling mini-me. Only one of the featured teens has offered her baby for adoption, so perhaps it seems easy to raise a child.

The show does highlight the very difficult issues of teen parenthood. Securing housing and employment, lack of social life, lack of sleep, broken relationships, stunted education, and an altered body are part of the story. But the constant day-to-day of parenthood, especially when you don't have resources, could easily be lost on a viewership not known for looking beyond on the nose on their faces. I'm constantly reminded in my own life that trying to raise a child and be the kind of parent I want to be would really suck if I had only sixteen years of life experience and wasn't even prepared to take care of myself. I hope that being "Sixteen and Pregnant" doesn't make it look like too much fun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Upon watching the "Primetime" show with Joe Jackson:

Add him to the list of people who should sit down somewhere and hush.

Worth

There was an article in Inside Higher Ed about how women, especially in academics, settle far too frequently for less money and perks than they really have coming to them. They don't negotiate and jump at whatever crumbs are offered. I was wondering if I did that today. Of course, the position doesn't have any wiggle room, so perhaps I didn't settle. But if I were offered the next level in rank (is this ever going to actually happen????) I'm not sure I even know what I would ask for. More money? Breaks for research? And if they said no, I'm sure I would just slink away.

All this leads me think about what I'm worth. Since I finished my doctorate, I keep complaining that I don't get paid what I'm worth. I remind my husband as frequently as possible that I have more education than he does. But the reality is that my job searches are severely limited because even if I'm offered my dream job, I could never command a salary that would make it worth moving. His salary is easily double--okay, triple--what I made at my last job. (Just typing that sentence makes me want to cry). Obviously, piling more and more education on your resume doesn't exactly translate into dollars.

I'm not writing this to complain . . . much, but I'm finding it really difficult to wrap my mind around how I should be defining "worth." If I had stopped at the BA and worked throughout my twenties, I would have paid off a big chunk of my undergraduate loans and still be making more money than I do now. But I really do love the wiggle room in my schedule, and working with students (whose parents I'm not even allowed to talk to), the ability to do research on topics I'm truly excited about, and summers that I can use in whatever ways I see fit.

In my upcoming position, I'm thrilled at the salary, which is higher than my very low expectations. But what does it mean that my expectations are so low? When I told my husband the salary offer, he asked if they got confused and thought that I was starting in one of the science departments. Ha, ha. It's an interesting phenomenon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stuff I'm thinking about

So, I returned from vacation a few days ago and was feeling quite lovely. Vacations are a wonderful, wonderful thing. I played on the beach with the crumbsnatchers and hubby. They loved it. My daughter happily discovered that she could float in the pool "all by myself" with her tube-attached suit. My son sprawled lazily in my lap while we rode the current in the lazy river. I had a massage along with my mommy friends. It was a good time. In fact, lots of things are looking up. Scary things are looking a bit less scary. I'm grateful.

Perhaps that's why so much of the relentless MJ coverage is rolling off my back like water on a duck. Watching the family is heartbreaking. Everyone else should sit down somewhere.

Just before we left for our vacation, I did this crazy thing. My girlfriend got married and her pictures were so incredibly gorgeous that I decided that if I could stuff myself into my wedding dress, I would do a photo session. For a couple of reasons, I never took a full session of portraits in my bridal get-up and always regretted it. I planned to do it on our first anniversary, but we were making a major move. After that, life kept getting in the way. Then I just decided that I would have to do it now if I were ever going to do it, I don't like living with regrets, and it would be a moot point in about five minutes when I couldn't get the dress on anymore. Luckily, I went on the painfully-yank-out-my-teeth-so-I-can-only-eat-soup diet and viola!--the dress zipped right up. It was exciting, if a little embarrassing. I mean, who takes bridal portraits years after they get married? Still, I was reminded how much I love, love, love weddings. So, now I'm fighting the urge to emerge myself in all things wedding again. The information is useless to me, and it kind of makes me feel sucky because it introduces all these great new ideas that I can't use--because I already had my wedding a bunch of years ago. Anyway, I'm obsessively waiting for the proofs. Yay!

And now I love both "Ace of Cakes" and "Cake Boss". My interest probably has something to do with the possibility of seeing wedding cakes, and the lack of summer viewing, but both are suddenly really interesting to me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Small Sacrifices


In the wake of Michael Jackson's death many people say that they are sooo concerned for his children, but it seems to me the kids are just a means by which interviewers can gain ratings and interviewees can have 15 minutes of fame. Why is there now public speculation about the biological father of the two oldest kids? I mean, yes, I always said those two kids were not MJ's, but I didn't go looking for the actual father. Why would they broadcast the information that not only is Michael Jackson not the biological father, but also that the dermatologist is? What if the kids didn't know? And what are they supposed to think about the way they were conceived and transferred (for lack of a better word)? Is there no need for discretion?

It also bothers me that MJ spent so much effort hiding the identity of his children. They wore masks and hats and blankets so that no one would be able to identify them as Michael Jackson's children. Now, immediately after his death, people are plastering their faces all over the news. I know people think that was just a part of MJ's kookiness, but I believe he wanted those kids to have some semblance of a normal life. Something that couldn't be achieved if everybody knows what they look like. The other day Blanket's godfather had pictures and home videos of the kids on The Today Show. What's crazy is he also showed a video of the time he rented out a supermarket so that Mike could shop and fill up a shopping cart like a regular person. It's crazy because he was well aware of the cost of fame for Michael Jackson; this man had never been able to even go grocery shopping like a regular person. Now, however, the godfather was participating in making it difficult for Prince, Paris and Blanket to go shopping like a regular person without being mobbed.
You can disagree, but I really don't think these people are all that concerned about the best interest of the children.
In other news, Mark Sanford doesn't seem to be caring all that much about the best interest of the children. His children. First, dude, create a cover story. If you are going to run away to cheat on your wife and you are the governor of a state, you cannot just disappear. Put your ducks in a row before you leave. Second, and this relates to the kids, SHUT UP! I get that you are in love with your mistress, but for the dignity and emotional health of your children, stop flaunting it all up and through the public. Stop (inadvertently) dogging your wife--your sons' mother--by saying she ain't the one. You may feel this way, but respect the marriage and your sons' view of their mother enough not to say it out loud. My mama always taught me that everybody ain't got to know your business.
The community's public persona gives a lot of lip service to the concern for children, but I think we ought to actually do what's in their best interest rather than just talking about it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Was Just Thinking


It's all Mike all day on TV1. In celebration of the legend, I watched The Jacksons: An American Dream for the 25th time. I don't know if I noticed this before, but Billy Dee Williams is playing Berry Gordy. I respect Gordy and what he has done, but isn't it a stretch to have Billy Dee playing him? That makes as much sense as Blair Underwood playing Russell Simmons. Wait. . . that happened. In Krush Groove.

Jason Weaver is so talented. And cute. Why didn't his career take off?

Jessica (from The Jeffersons) and Terrence Howard are in this movie. Did I know that?

They make Joe Jackson seem like an egomaniacal lunatic. If I were him, I'd be mad.

I love the scene when Katharine discovers Joe cheating and she goes off on him. That Angela Bassett is an excellent actress. She was so robbed at the Academy Awards.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sigh

In the cool light of day (well, it won't be cool here for very long, but . . . ) I'm trying to figure out how the deaths of two people I've never met makes me feel. Farrah Fawcett did have a beautiful smile and seemed to be a zesty sort of lady. Clearly, Ryan O'Neal loved her from his guts. And "The Burning Bed" makes me cry every time. And isn't it awful that after the creepy death watch people have been keeping for months, she's now just fading away under the shadow of MJ?

And now, Michael. Dear Michael. The "tributes" being relentlessly played on television are a sad testimony to the country's relationship to MJ. What occurs to me now is that I didn't know him. And he was weird. My only real relationship to him is his music, in all it's brilliant glory. I remember watching the "Thriller" video at my childhood skating birthday party. It was a mind blowing experience. And my head and hands automatically do the "Thriller" dance as soon as I hear the first note. So, instead of having clueless 20 year olds acknowledge the well-known fact that they all stole from MJ, I'd really rather just hear his music. (My husband asked me not to get second rate statisticians to comment on him if he passes. Ha!) To quote Country Fried Mama, "Spare us the inarticulate commentary and play the man’s videos like you did back in the day." That's all I need.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tearfully, She Hangs Her Head. . .


Mike.

Baby Girl

Top Three Reasons My Daughter Rocks:

3) She almost glows when she talks about her pink toolbox. Isn't that fabulous?! A toolbox for a girl--and it's pink! We went to buy paint and she was soooo exciting about all the tools she could put in her toolbox. My gender anti-conditioning is working!

2) They spilled milk in their bed last night and, while I was fussing about "you kids spill all the time . . . " she pointed out that "Two kids didn't spill Mommy. Only one kid spilled. Brother didn't do it; only me." Isn't that a wonderful display of character? When I said that I was taking away their cups for the night, she said that he should keep his." Please, oh please, oh please stay loyal to each other and committed to ethical behavior--forever!

1) She went to a father-daughter dance on Father's Day and behaved beautifully with her father. And the first, most important detail she wanted to report was riding the elevator over and over in the hotel. And eating chicken and salad.

I get all excited when I imagine the kind of woman she'll turn into. She's just great.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day


I grew up in a two-parent home, and although I knew on some level that everyone didn't live like me, my world was populated by people who did. So, it was a little amazing to me when I married DH and came into contact with so many people who grew up without their father (DH being one of them). There were so many that I began to just assume that men did not stick around (my daddy being the anomaly).


When my friends began getting married and starting families of their own, my faith in men was renewed. So many men were not only sticking around for their families, but they were also excited about them. And at a time when Black families are especially notorious for being without the father, these men stand out even more for their commitment, their involvement, their sense of family. There's my husband, my brother, my cousins, SM's husband, SM's father, my good friend from junior high school, DH's best friend, my father-in-law (who stepped up to the plate and took care of children that weren't his) and countless other friends.


To all of these men, Happy Father's Day. You serve as an example of all that is good and right and we are honored to have you in our lives. And to my own father, I love you. You were the first man who made me feel special and I know I am the woman I am today because of your love and influence.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not guilty, but not quite innocent

In general, I have decided that the whole mommy guilt thing is a bunch of crap and that I will get angry instead of guilty whenever someone tries to make me feel bad for working or wanting time to myself or feeling less-than yippy-skippy about being a mother. I figure, I'm still a human being and I'm doing the best I can. But the thing is, sometimes I'm pretty sure that I'm not doing the best I can. I was reading another starkly insightful post on Bad Mommy Moments and had this pang of guilt. Maybe it was more like sadness.

My daughter has been having a serious issue with yelling. I make a big deal about the children not yelling at me. I think it's disrespectful for children to yell at adults. In case I haven't mentioned it, I'm from the South and coddling children ain't what we do here. But she keeps telling me that it scares her when I yell and her face . . . . Man, she really seems to be in pain. It's as if I'm changing who she is. And my son just cries, but it's real tears instead of that dry whining he does when he wants something. It's beyond awful.

So, when I think about how hard I'm trying to be the loving, kind, whole, trust-worthy mother that I believe they deserve, I'm so sad that I'm short-tempered and distracted more often that I should be. And, if I'm being honest, I just give myself permission to release the frustration. I'm tired most of the time; I do more than my share of the childcare; I have to get things done; first-time obedience is the rule!; I have my own emotional stuff going on. But I know that these facts probably won't color their memories of their childhood or make them feel less lonely or unattended. It's my job to give them what they need to emerge whole from their upbringing so that they can create happy lives.

Before we started trying to conceive, I prayed for patience because I knew that I couldn't be the kind of mother I wanted to be if I didn't work on myself in that area. Sometimes I'm impressed that God has changed me so much, but when the grits hit the fan, I still resort to less than thoughtful behavior.

It's hard, but I'm going to take a cue from Bad Mommy Moments and step up my mommy game.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Won't Touch This


I don't think it is a secret how I feel about reality tv shows (except Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood--that show is the shiznit!). Even so, I am annoyed anew by A&E's new reality show, Hammertime. I liked Hammer in the 80's, but why in the world do I want to watch a show about him and his family? I liked Hammer in the 80's.

On the preview he's dressed like 90's Hammer with the tank and the bandanna. That manufactured gangsta persona was so cheesy. I wonder why he is recycling it. Or maybe it's just the look since apparently the show is anything but gangsta.

Everybody and his mama don't need a reality show.

Somebody, please, write a decent sitcom already!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Useless bit of info

In case it ever comes up in a trivia game or something:

I just realized that on "A Different World" Colonel Taylor (Glynn Turman) played former professor/mentor to Dwayne's friend Zelmer (Blair Underwood), who was being deployed in the military. Turman then played Underwood's father on "In Treatment" last season. Underwood's character was a fighter pilot.

Thought it was interesting. I love these kinds of connections. (*And this is probably another indication that I watch too much TV, but--whatever).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Holding it together with questionable effectiveness

So, I'm still dealing with the crisis. Not fun. So, part of what I've decided to do to help me stay in my right mind is to crochet. When you can't adequately fix the problems in your own life, help somebody else, right? I've completed a baby blanket and burp cloth (see the picture here--I'll post a picture of the one I actually made as soon as I can) for a local charity that gives handmade items to babies, and a hat for cancer patients.

I can't wait to take the stuff to the charity. I smile when I think of the comfort and loving kindness the recipients will (I hope) feel. It's a good thing. (And so is crochet itself--anybody want to join me? The Diva?)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What The Heck?

I try to avoid most music videos like the plague. And as I'm driving my children home today, politely listening to the benign NPR, what do we hear? A story about "Stanky Leg"! Somehow, my daughter already knows what it is and how to do it. I can only guess some child at school doesn't know how little I care to have my child engaged with hip hop at age 3. And then this "stanky leg" pops up on little ole NPR!


Have mercy!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Maybe I shouldn't be on TV

When I turned 30, I made a list of experiences I wanted to have. One item on the list was to appear on TV. That's probably obvious given my repeated references to being "The View" and my continuous gripes about a certain sub-par 30-something. Anyway, I think I may have strike that off my list. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I am very sad about Jon and Kate (Plus 8). I saw the episode that milked their marriage troubles to death last week and the children pointed out the tabloid photographers lurking as they shopped for party supplies. Days later, I saw those very pictures on the cover of a magazine as I moved through the checkout at the grocery store. I was horrified at the stark reality of this situation. I imagined my daughter or my son seeing themselves on a cover or, when they are older, having them read that their parents were fighting. I wanted to cry.

The fairness of this media attention isn't really important to me. But I liked this family. And I sort of liked to think of myself and my imaginary television persona in a class with them. They are an interesting family trying to enact the life they are building together--or some version of that life--in a conscious way. Clearly, they never expected this kind of attention or the changes it has created in them. I mean, if someone said, "Hey Steel Magnolia, your family's fascinating and your children are cute. Can we make a little cable show about how in the world you do it?" I would have agreed. In fact, hubby and I submitted ourselves for "A Wedding Story" when we got married. Who would imagine, even in the media-soaked world of today, that being on TV would possibly rip your family apart in one season? Well, maybe they should have paid more attention to Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, but still.

I don't know. I just thought that they were a happy family and they were trying to get it right, sometimes failing and sometimes hitting the mark. I'm sad that a family that was functional now may not be anymore. I'm sad because our best intentions sometimes don't compensate for the crap of life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In the margins

Mostly, my mind won't go anywhere except the crisis confronting me and my family, but on the margins are these meaningless thoughts. Since I'm not ready to share (or speak even) that info, here are the meaningless thoughts:


*Tyra Banks should find another way to announce the people "still in the running to be America's Next Top Model." Saying, "The next name I'm going to call is __________ " seriously annoys me; Logically, she should follow that sentence by calling the actual name of the girl. Of course, that would sound weird: "The next name I'm going to call is Teyona. Teyona."



*I really wish someone would tell Sherri Shepard that the words "also" and "too" don't go together. Saying, "I think also too . . ." doesn't make sense.



* I keep trying to figure out what fruit the housewives oh New Jersey could hold. Aren't they the Garden State? It's driving me crazy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hot, Steaming Bowl of Crap

In the interest of not totally falling off the blogosphere, here's a quick post.

The last seven days have dropped an out-of-freaking-nowhere bomb in my life and I'm not sure how long it's going to interrupt what has been a pretty happy life. I'm struggling to "praise God anyhow" (as Baptists like to say), but I'm hopeful. Life has dealt us a big ole bowl of illogical, poopy, crap. But I'm grateful for so much happiness in the middle of a not great situation. And I know that I don't deserve the enormous good I've been given anymore than I deserve the bad. And I know that if God wasn't bigger than this, I wouldn't be a worshipper.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What I'm Watching

My new obsession: "The Millionaire Matchmaker." Oh my goodness! This is riveting! I keep wondering if I would submit myself for this club if I were in my 20s and not married. I don't know. I think that if I were unmarried and in my 30s, I probably would. There's a disturbing gender weirdness a la "The Bachelor," but I just think it's soooo interesting. I will certainly be passing along some of Patti's rules to my daughter--and my son, for that matter.
And I have to add my obligatory grrrrrhh because I'd love to have a cool, unexpected job like this.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Dream a World


Ever since I saw Jet Li's The One, I have enjoyed the idea that there are multiple dimensions out there and multiple versions of me. (How narcissistic is that?!?) When things don't happen the way I think they should, I imagine that they are happening that way for alternate me(s). Of course, if there are multiple versions of me, I suppose this version doesn't get to decide what happens to the others. (That would definitely be narcissistic and a little, ego maniacal.) But, today is my daughter's original due date, so indulge me a little.


I am glad that all is as well as it is with our little Popcorn. She's still on a nasal cannula (oxygen tube), but she's on all bottle feeds and she's gaining weight daily. Her personality comes out bit by bit. Even as young as one month, she was described as "feisty" on more than one occasion. At that time she was adamant about people not bothering her while she slept (really, that's true now; I wonder where she gets that from. . .hmmm) and she would flail her little arms to fight whoever--the nurses, her parents--away. Sometimes she would grab the nurse's hands to try to stop them from touching her. But she's a good baby. She rarely ever cries and she's always moving (hence the name Popcorn) and she's thriving. Like I said, I'm glad all is as well as it is.

But when I look at her little body with all the cords still attached to her and the prongs in her nose; when I hear another baby screaming for 10 or 15 minutes without attention because the nurses are with other babies and imagine that could be Popcorn when we're not there; when I am irritated by the cacophony of all the medical machines beeping at the same time and realize that she has to hear that all the time, in her sleep or her waking hours; when I have to ask the nurses for permission and/or assistance to hold my own child, I really, really, really wish that things could have been different. And I imagine that for Alternate Me, they are.

I imagine that today is a day of rejoicing because a 7 lb. 9 oz. baby girl is born. She's healthy and strong and she really has a good set of lungs on her! Wow, she can scream! I imagine that Alternate Me is tired, but not very because laboring with an epidural is something to thank the gods for repeatedly. I imagine a warm, loving moment in which the baby girl is placed in Alternate Me's arms right after delivery and she feels in that moment that all is right with the world.

Maybe somewhere in a galaxy far away, things are happening and I am happy for Alternate Me.

But you know, even though it didn't happen as a I would have wanted, every time I get to hold my little Popcorn, I am happy for me, too.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Questions and Answers

A la Inktopia:

What’s your current obsession?
Reading blogs!

What’s you favorite color and why?
Blue. It can be so soft and comforting and pretty.

What are you wearing today?
Jeans. Unless I'm wearing pajamas, I'm pretty much wearing jeans.

Why is today special?
I finally got rid of this migraine.

What would you like to learn to do?
Knit. And quilt. And write songs.

What’s for dinner today?
Black beans and rice.

What’s the last thing you bought?
The latest Emily Giffin novel--yay! (Well, that was the last exciting purchase)

What are you listening to right now?
TV--27 Dresses gets me every single time!

What’s your most challenging goal right now?
Potty training my son. And getting prepared for my new gig.

What do you think about the person who tagged you?
She's funny and writes a cool blog!

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
In the best school district around here.

What would you like to have in your hands right now?
My out-of-town hubby. (Keep it PG, people!)

What would you like to get rid of?
My post-baby tummy and student loans.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
The spa.

What are you doing this summer?
Going to the beach, reading a classic novel, crocheting for charity, eating ice cream.

What’s your favorite piece of clothing in your own closet?
Great Gap jeans I got on consignment.

What’s your dream job?
Co-host on The View

If you had an unexpected $1000, what would you spend it on?
Bills. Or furniture.

What do you find annoying?
Whining, by adults or children.

Describe your personal style.
I'd like to think it's tailored casual, but it's actually more like casual casual.

What fashion show would you want tickets to?
Ummm . . . TJ Maxx?

Whose closet would you want to raid?
Charlotte from Sex and the City

What are you most proud of?
The life I've made.

The beautiful bloggers I'd like to know about are:
You!

→ Now the rules of this tag:
1. Respond and rework: answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

You ain't got to go home, but . . .

I believe in complaint letters. In fact, I just wrote one about the horrible service we just received at a restaurant. The first time I wrote one was to the local newspaper after a night of hanging out with friends and being harrassed by mall cops. I think I'm going to have to write another one soon--also about mall cops.


Hubby and I were shopping at the mall today with the children and noticed that there seemed to be mall cops everywhere. Initally, I thought that they were looking for a particular teenager because they seemed to be stopping the same type of people and directing them to leave the mall. Then I saw that they were also stopping girls. It was like watching hunters seeking out prey. They were relentless, like flies on poop.

Finally, we discovered that there is a new program in place that requires anyone under 18 to be accompanied by an adult after 4pm. My husband thinks this is a fabulous idea, but I uncomfortable with it. As I looked at the boys being escorted out of the mall or pulling out IDs, I imagined my son. It was hard, but I tried to see him even in the ones dressed inappropriately (by my standards) or who seemed less than cooperative. I thought of my daughter when I saw the obvious time put into outfits meant to impress some smooth talking boy. There were officers everywhere, at every entrance, talking on radios about how many kids were coming to the door now. There were making notes in little notebooks and almost chasing the teenagers out of the doors. They seemed to be treating them as if they had done something wrong just by being there. And it was 4 o'clock! Where are these children supposed to go? What else will they find to do and where will they do it?

Remember the "The Cosby Show" when Vanessa hears through the rumor mill that her boyfriend has broken up with her? She finally calls him and he tells her that what he actually said was that he hopes they never break up. "Let's meet at the mall!" She says. Now where would Vanessa go to meet her boyfriend without a safe, public space full of adults where they could walk around innocently holding hands?

Hubby attributes this decision to the recession and the need to fill the mall with shoppers who might appreciate being free of pesky teenagers. I guess it's supposed to make people spend more money. But if I were 16 or 17 years old and wanted to get a bite to eat with friends or buy a cute outfit at Forever 21, I'd be annoyed that I couldn't simply because it was 6 o'clock on a Saturday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Later that same day . . .

1pm No nap today?! What are you? Crazy?

3pm Yay! Baby boy pee-peed in the potty! Mommy is so proud of you!

4pm The sound of your screeching voice is going to make me vomit. Seriously.
5pm Oh! We need to share a potty treat! Celebration!
6pm Hitting your sister is not okay. And where did you get that pot?
6:15pm Screaming girl. Screaming boy. I really don't like you people. Seriously. Could you just go ahead and fight each other? Maybe you'll knock each other out and I can have some peace up in here.

I'm Feeling Good

So, here are the details of the my new job.

I'll be at a nearby college to which I have close ties. I am so fortunate because I've been allowed to choose courses and class times. Essentially, I'll be able to do almost exactly what I was doing before, with a similar schedule and classes that I think I have a good grip on. And I know and hear only good things (well, almost only good things) about these students. I'm so excited. I think this will be good for me and that I'll enjoy it. The summer has a whole new vibe now. I'm going to crochet and read and plan for these classes and run around with my children.

I feel really blessed. What a turnaround, huh? I wanted to be like Paul--content in whatever state I'm in, whether in plenty or in want. Clearly, I didn't do so well with that, but God is patient with me. And merciful (Somehow my husband and I miscommunicated last weekend at a busy state park food court and left my son sleeping in the stroller while I took my daughter to the bathroom and he went to the bathroom himself. We both thought the other was staying with the stroller and turned our backs. We left him. Alone. It's so scary and dangerous I can't even think about it. Too awful. I'm about to cry. Back to feeling good).

Another dismissed colleague secured a wonderfully perfect-for-him position doing exactly what he wanted and being paid much more than before. And friends of ours just bought a house in a great part of the city.

And spring has finally sprung around here. This time of year, the South is exactly where I want to be. It's so beautiful outside and the air is warm without the oppressive heat that I know is coming.

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

She Made Me Laugh


I am saddened to learn that Bea Arthur has died. She was 86 years old and had cancer.
One of my favorite shows in syndication is the Golden Girls. Arthur's character, Dorothy, is hilarious. Apparently, she was good at her job.
She will be missed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Guess School's for Fools


When I was in high school, before I settled on being a scriptwriter, I was going to be an undercover cop a la 21 Jumpstreet. With my quiet, short girl charm, I would blend into the atmosphere of the school and I would never be suspected as a crime-fighting vixen. If only my mother would have allowed me to join the police academy then, while I could take advantage of my youthful good looks. Can you just imagine where I would be now?

Dead.

I was 16, 17 years old in high school! What did I know about being a detective? And even if I went through training in the academy, I did not have the maturity or enough knowledge about the world to keep myself from being killed. It would have been ludicrous for me to plan my life's career and act on it during my junior year of high school. So why does it make sense for Jeremy Tyler to leave high school in his junior year to go play basketball in Europe?

Like you, SM, I am disturbed by the notion that school is not necessary in the pursuit of a better life. While previously college seemed to be an irrelevant journey, now it seems that high school is just as irrelevant. I remember a conversation I once had with an ex-boyfriend about Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway when he left college to go to the NBA. I thought it was wrong of Penny to leave school, but the ex pointed out that Penny's purpose in going to college was to get a good job and now he was being offered the job he wanted; why not leave school. That makes sense on some level, but it still never sat right with me.

College is about more than getting a job. It's about learning who you are and being exposed to new people, new ideas, new ways of being and thinking. It's about learning where you fit within the world and what you can contribute to make it a better place. And less face it, it's about being able to have fun without the stakes (of life) being too high. Skipping out on all of that to go to work cheats the individual.

Skipping out on high school cheats the individual even more. The idea that all Tyler is is a ball player is disturbing to me, but can he be anything more if he doesn't even finish high school? I hear that people say he is good and might make it in the NBA when he's eligible in two years, but how many people who have made it at pro sports are now flat broke and broke down? How many men are now too banged up to continue in their game? And this boy wants to chance that without even a high school diploma?!? It is not good for anyone in this country to be without a high school diploma, but it is especially problematic when black men are without it. Our prisons are filled with them.

Doesn't he want to go to his prom? To participate in "Class Skip Day"? To don cap and gown and walk across the stage at graduation? Senior year is the fun year. Why miss out on that for responsibilities for which he's not even supposed to be ready?

I am appalled that more people are not appalled by this. In any other field, people would think it silly to drop out of high school to start working. Why is this okay?

Actually it's not.