Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

- Author unknown

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Celebrate Halloween, Go to Hell

I'll admit. This post is long. But I threw in lots of pictures
in hopes that you'll read it!

Meet the Wicked Witch of the West:

Actually, it's just a card I created in preparation for
an October mommy-and-me craft with Sadia!

I love scrapbooking, and, by extension, I also enjoy creating cards. This is a 4x4 card, and it is really easy to make. Here is a list of materials used for the basic layout:

(1. dimensional Halloween stickers by K&Company)

(2. embossed stickers by K&Company)

(3. 12 X 12 focal pattern paper by Making Memories)

(4. 12 X 12 black scrapbook paper cut to 8 X 4 card base)

(and 3 essential scrapbook tools: paper cutter, adhesive 3D dots, and tape runner)

All of these materials can be found at your local Michaels Arts and Crafts store.

I plan to embark on this card-making project with Sadia as a way to bond with her. The goal is to cultivate a shared interest in card making through designing various Halloween-themed cards for her kindergarden class. Planning and prepping for this activity has really challenged me to take a position on a longstanding taboo in my family.

As my children get older, I'm having to make decisions that I didn't have to make before. The deliberation that I'm currently sitting on the fence about is: to Halloween or not to Halloween.

As a Christian, there always seemed to be a clear winner in this debate. Of course my verdict had been reached BC (that is, before kids). Actually, my choice was forged into the fiber of my faith from decades of entrenched Christian rhetoric. Now, admittedly, the "winning" argument is not so clear-cut, and I find myself deciding whether or not I should observe Halloween. Frankly, I'm undecided on the issue. What about you? Are you letting your kids celebrate Halloween?

Ellie Lofarao, who authors a blog called, Kiyria: A Women Chosen in Christ; Called to Influence affirms that in Christian cirlces, the answer to this question isn't so black and white. As a Christian, she always felt that her decision to avoid the holiday was just the right thing to do... that is of course until a turning point, when confronted by her children with an all too familiar rationale. She presents their case:

"Please let us go trick-or-treating next year. We always play dress up and we have so many hats and costumes and wigs, so you don't have to buy any and we only want to get some candy and have fun with our friends! We know Satan is bad and we love Jesus, and I'm sure he'd walk around with us and get candy if he was here. "

Ellie's post pin points the true nature of this argument for Christian parents. What about the kids? They'll miss out!

As parents, should we be allowing anything--even a rational argument from our innocent little ones-- deter us away from the convictions of our hearts?

She goes on to grapple with the fact that her children's assertions began to blur the boundaries of her own resolve. For the remainder of her post, she probes the issue further and concludes with this final notion:

"..there are no evil spirits in our pumpkins, nor do they roam in my neighbor's black cat. As for witches and black magic, the Bible is clear. All Hallows Eve ought to be a social, wholesome, and yes, even joyful time. For our family, it is."

When I read her closing thoughts, part of me wanted to applaud her for stepping out of the rigid box of legalism we Christians sometimes put ourselves into. However, another part of me grew troubled. As a believer, I maintain that there are absolutes in life, but I wondered whether this issue was as black and white as I had originally thought.

Angelo Stagnero, a Christian blogger who writes for the U.S Catholic blog approaches the matter quite pragmatically. He places the evolution of Halloween into a historic context. He believes adamantly that Christians should embrace the day. He writes:

"Halloween is steeped in Catholic theology and piety, and besides, it's just so much damn fun. We couldn't have arranged a more perfect synthesis of devotion and festivity had we tried. When you get to the core of what the holiday is, you find an overwhelmingly Catholic Christian holiday. It should be recognized and celebrated as such-warts, spider webs, and all.

On the Christian calendar November 1 is All Saints Day, or "All Hallows' Day." The word "Halloween" is simply the abbreviated form of "All Hallows' Eve," the vigil celebration in anticipation of the feast day."

He argues that Halloween should not be cloaked in cult folklore, but rather it should be viewed from the historical perspective from which it sprang. For Angelo the answer is clear. He frames his case for Halloween in no uncertain terms:

"Halloween is a great time to get your scare on. If not now, when? Let's indulge in the sticky, the creepy, and in things that go bump in the night on Halloween. This is our night to bump back. You can dress as a devil as long as you don't succumb to the diabolical. If you dress as a demon, you are no more worshiping a demon than you are worshiping an angel if you dressed as your favorite cherub."

I am still a bit undecided on the whole issue, but as a Christian, I think I'll throw myself into the mystery of my faith at this critical juncture.

So for now, we will continue to observe our own hodge-podge-of-a-tradition:

Will we buy costumes? Yes

Will we buy Halloween candy? Yes

Will my kids collect and eat candy? Yes

Basically, we will dress our girls in some kind of Halloween neutral costume, and head to the church, where the Children's Ministry organizes a "Harvest Carnival". While my children will dress in costume, we will avoid the traditional stuff, and focus instead on costumes that center around careers and things of that nature.

What about you? Will your kids be getting their creep on?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 8

Blame public schools for our children's loss of innocence.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blog Swap!

Rewind back to 1989!

So why 1989?

Don't know just had this idea and went with it. I thought it would be kind to rewind.

I started by going to google and searching for movies that released that year. That year I would have been around eleven which is a good age, right before you hit that awkward stage and become too cool to watch kids movies. Now, twenty years later and I'm finding that movies from this year were actually very influential part of my life.

See if you can guess this movie quote from 1989.

"Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? / Wouldn't ya think my collection's complete / Wouldn't you think I'm the girl / Girl who has everything / Look at this trove, treasures untold / How many wonders can one cavern hold? / Looking around you'd think / Sure, she's got everything / I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty / I have whoozits and whatzis galore / You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty / But who cares? No big deal / I want more."

Do we actually learn from our parents or do we learn from the things we watch on TV? I guess it depends on the household but when I grew up I loved watching movies and my parents didn't mind.

Thinking back to eleven was a great age. I could rent those rectangle shaped things that had a long tape in it that sometimes bunched up in your VCR, what were those things called........

Oh right VHS Tapes.....What an invention!

Not too long ago I went to Half Price books and outside they have all the books on clearance. I love clearance especially when I find a good deal. Half Price books also sells old VHS movies and that day they happen to have a ton of the classic kids movies like that I used to watch when I was younger.

I just knew my daughter would love them too!

What a bargain. Some really good titles were just a buck! I bought about 8 or 10 different movies for a variety. One of them being All Dogs Go to Heaven.

Such a cute movie!

I bring them home and I'm really excited to have my daughter watch the same things I watched when I was younger. It brings back memories and helps me remember things that I had forgotten such a long time ago. I stood there with a glow on my face for finding such a great bargain.

Ten minutes later.........The movie is OVER!

Hey wait why was it over so soon? I guess the inventor didn't think that far ahead and neither did I. It takes 5 minutes to rewind a whole movie. My daughter thinks 5 minutes is too long. By the time its done she totally forgot about the movie

My golden glow is gone.....I thought "what a terrible invention".

I could kiss the inventor of the know the kind of kiss you would give a chef for making a great meal. I have no idea what I would have done back before these gadgets and gizmos were invented. All I know is I want more thingamabobs that make a mom's life easier.
** About the Blog Swap: I signed up for a Blog Swap, where I was paired with Brandy, who authors a blog called Best Children's Movies. You can read more from Brandy here. She sent me this post to publish on my blog!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sadia's Punch-Out!!

I think this would be the point in the popular 80's video game
where the announcer comes out and says, "Come on stand up and fight."**

**It's interesting to see how cultural stereotypes are so deeply embedded even in the video gaming culture:

(1) Doc Louis, Little Mac's trainer in "blackface";

(2) Glass Joe, the weakest most defenseless looking opponent from France;

(3) Piston Honda, who wears a head band much like Daniel from The Karate Kid;

(4) Don Flamenco, the effeminate boxer from Spain;

(5) Great Tiger, an Indian turban-wearing Sikh, who brings a tiger with him to the ring; and

(6) Soda Popinski, the Russian boxer, who always took a swig of "pop" from a jug of soda that bore an unmistakable resemblance to a liquor bottle, and who uttered phrases like, "I can't drive, so I'm gonna walk all over you."

As a kid the preponderance of such racially charged caricatures completely escaped me-- or did they?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sadia Says the Darndest Things: Volume 2

I noticed Sadia limping downstairs on her way to the dining room table for breakfast this morning. Curious to learn the cause of this new development, I asked her to explain her feeble gait. Here was her diagnosis:

That's right blog readers, you no longer have to wonder about the elusive precursor to a pesky limp. Who knew that a foot headache could be the root cause for agony of de-feet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 7

I usually sing Simone a song right after her bath during her bedtime routine. One oldy-but-goody that she doesn't seem to mind singing over and over again is the Itsy Bitsy Spider song. Well, tonight after her bath, she decided she wanted no part of my version of the song. Instead, she sang her own rendition of the popular nursery rhyme. Here is her mashup:

The itsy bitsy diaper
crawled up the water spout
down came the rain and
washed the diaper out
out came the sun and
dried up all the rain and
the itsy bitsy diaper
crawled up the spout again.

Certainly, her "mondegreens" was completely incidental, but may have been warranted. The word diaper does sort-of rhyme with spider, and I did ask her to bring me a diaper just before we sang the song. But, I am sure you can see how her version of the song may have had an immediate relevance at the time.

Stuff Mommies Do Volume 7:
Use context clues to deduce when to change the baby's diaper.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I *Don't Heart* Begging Fundraising

I need to vent...

I hate school fundraisers!

A bit hypocritical, I know. I am, after all, a teacher. I guess you could say I represent the very institutions that endorse this kind of exploitation, which underpins much of public schools' enrichment programs. I realize that the budget is lean and that earnings from fundraisers directly prop-up underfunded arts programs. Parents' pocket books are perhaps a direct lifeline to most of the enrichment that takes place in public education today. Nevertheless, my scorn towards fundsponging simmers and I'm sure it will be at full boil come fundraiser's end.

My kindergartner has been in school for all of 14 days and already her school is sending home the dreaded beggar's dossiers. I oppose this kind of manipulation: fundraising that basically amounts to pimping out children to mega corporations in the name of subsidizing public school enrichment programs. But truth be told, our children are not really the ones being pimped, are they?

Let's face facts: I am the one that's really on the hoe stroll here. Since Sadia is only 4 years old, I am the one literally wading through tupperware/ portrait/ wrapping paper/ pizza stick/ calendar/ magazine/ candy sale booklets. I am the one who will put friends/ neighbors/ family members/ co-workers in the awkward position of having to dodge the sales pitch. I am the one who has to study the catalogues, do all of the accounting, reconcile each line item, promote the consumption of ridiculously overpriced products, and pound the pavement. I am the one who has to get on the phone and "remind" gracious donors who neglect to pony up. Then, I am the one who has to drag out my purse when it comes time to underwrite that big fat conciliatory check to balance lopsided calculations. And if I am the one that has to do all of the work, then what the heck is the point?

You know that circus performer who balances spinning plates on sticks, and juggles pins all while he balances on a unicycle? That's how my child's school fundraiser makes me feel.

I am frustrated by those bogus incentive schemes that lean on mother daughter relationships. Cheap, brightly-colored, plastic toys in no way justify what children across the nation are being asked to do: panhandle. How do I explain things like "overhead" and "profit margins" to a 4 year-old-- who values nickels over dollars because nickels are "shinnier"?

I can't win pitted against the guilt laiden rants that result when kids don't get to ride in the limo because they didn't meet a sales quota. I simply won't compete with the brainwashing that promotes toys like the Shake Wobbler Noise Pen, that can only be redeemed if children sell $199.99 worth of junk.

I don't mind giving money to my child's school. At the start of the year, I bought school supplies to help off set Sadia's teacher's out of pocket costs. What's great about this kind of giving is I know 100% of my money goes directly to the school, whereas with fundraisers only a fraction of the proceeds go to schools.

What about you? Where do you stand on the issue of children fundraising for schools? Are you buying in to it?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 6

Belabor the point as evidence by excessive utterances of dreaded phrases like:

  • What do I always say..?

  • How many times do I have to tell you...?

  • Do I have to repeat myself?

  • Didn't I already tell you...?

    and my personal favorite

  • If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times...

  • Previous Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 5

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 5

    Neglect meaningful relationships with their pedicurists.
    (Photo by Teddy Sincire)

    Previous Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 4

    Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 4

    Believe unequivocally that the world revolves around their children, because their Facebook status updates certainly do.

    Previous Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 3
    Next Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 5

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 3

    Painstakingly coach their children in church not to out mommy and daddy's arguments via prayer request, during Sunday School.
    Next Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 4

    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 2

    Unwittingly disregard the "Press and Lock" feature on the box of Reynolds Wrap.

    Previous Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 1
    Next Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 3

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 1

    Accidentally leave ornery children in the naughty corner 
    long enough for comatosity to set in...

    Previous Post: Simone's First Day of Pre-School
    Next Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 2

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Simone's First Day of Pre-School

    Simone looking smart in her First-Day-of-Pre-School outfit.

    *DISCLAIMER:  If the sight of small children crying rips your heart out, 
    then you should probably stop watching the clip at the 3:15 mark.

    Previous Post: My Baby Starts Kindergarten!
    Next Post: Stuff Mommies Do: Volume 1

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    My Baby Starts Kindergarten!

    I've changed her dirty diapers, tolerated her temper tantrums, and showed her how to dress herself.  Now, another milestone is upon us:  tomorrow, my baby will embark on her first day of kindergarten. We're nervous, excited, and we have no clue of what to expect.

    I'm very anxious about preparing her for this new phase of life. Since registering her in June, not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about ways to ease the stress of first day jitters. There has been pre-packing of backpacks, triple checking her big debut ensemble, pencil sharpening and re-sharpening.   And that's just what I've been busying myself with.  

    So, what is my baby worried about on the eve of her big day?

    If you're playing along at home, and you guessed the absence of a nap-time routine, then you get the gold star for the day. Ironically, neither does Sadia take naps at home, nor does her new school endorse a nap-time policy, so this will be the least of her worries.

    We were excited to learn that Sadia's new school arranged a "Meet and Greet" for today. Parents and students were encouraged to attend the event as a way to minimize some first-day stress .

    Here is a picture of the family anxiously awaiting Principal Roach's (real name) address incoming Kindergartners and their families.

    Sadia introduced herself to Mrs. Smith, her teacher. Meeting her teacher in advance helped to take away some of the mystery of the unexpected.

    Sadia was tasked with finding the desk housing a packet, that displayed her name.

    After carefully inspecting the names on a few of the packets,
    she excitedly found her desk.

    This activity helped relax her fears about inclusion, calmed her nerves about 
    knowing where to sit, and gave her some independence 
    in finding her way around the classroom.

    There is something about seeing your name proudly displayed throughout 
    the room that gives you the sense of ownership and of belonging.  
    Here is Sadia's section of the writing wall.

    Immediately, I began to see the calming effect that this function had on Sadia
    as she bravely explored other parts of the classroom.

    Indeed, she is growing right before our eyes, and the growth is significant.

    Dad even helped her read the subtly displayed "Rules Chart".  
    Knowing how Mrs. Smith governs her class, helped set behavioral expectations.  My baby found no surprises here, since the experience reinforced the qualities she learns at home.

    Even though tomorrow will be filled with lots of excitement and new adventures for my baby, I am confident that she will be ready, because we've done a lot to help her enjoy her first day.


     .... if only there were some type of orientation to help THIS  big baby accept Sadia's new milestone.

    Previous Post: Health Care Reform: It's Ugly, Scary, and Completely Harmless

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Health Care Reform: It's Ugly, Scary, and Completely Harmless

    I have been completely taken aback by the recent surge of emotional instability exhibited by some objectors to health care reform over the past few weeks. The sheer number of people going off the deep end has really baffled me, and the extent to which some have plunged is alarming.  Dissenters are reaching new lows in this country by the minute.  The last time I saw someone fly off the handle in this vein, was when my four-year old became completely unglued the other day because of something ugly, scary and completely harmless.

    I was putting the girls down for a nap yesterday afternoon, when Sadia's routine was broken up by a visit from a June-bug hovering just outside the window beside her bed.   It scared the bejesus out of her, to the extent that she refused to get into bed. 


    She flipped.  The thought of that huge bug remotely near her was paralyzing.  The beastly sound of its wings flapping feverishly in the air gave her the willies.  She's not used to an insect producing such a hideous racket.

    I often wonder why people get so frightened by  these beetles.  Perhaps their characteristically clumsy flying makes them appear aggressive, but they're actually very gentle creatures.  Still people often react disproportionately to the beetle's presence.   

    Sure, beetles are ugly and scary looking, but the bottom line is they are completely harmless. Sadia's reaction seemed erratic.  She jumped, she screamed, she flailed her arms in hysteria. She went berserk.., over a bug.., on the outside of the window.  Her reaction was excessive, but I hesitate to become too critical.  Her experience awaken my own traumatizing childhood encounter with an insect.

    I was thirteen or fourteen-years old.  One night while bathing, I got an unexpected visit from a spider.  I was completely caught off guard after I looked up to find the pest dangling from the ceiling just above my head.  The thing looked hideous and I was afraid of it.  To this day, I still get a good start when I see the hairy creatures.  (If you need additional proof,  just check out my reaction to this guy.)  

    My imagination got the best of me.  I entertained notions that the small spider would jump at me and attack me.  Steven Spielberg's 1990's horror movie, "Arachnophobia" contributed to my irrational fear, and as a result seeing this hairy menace gave me visions of spiders overtaking the neighborhood.  Without a second thought, I yelled at the top of my lungs:  

    "AAAAAHHHH!  HE'S GOING TO GET ME!  DAD, HELP!  HELP!  SOMEBODY HELP ME!  I bellowed while fighting back a fit of  hyperventilation.

    It wasn't long afterwards that my father arrived beating on the door, struck by fear that my life was in mortal danger. And who would blame him; fear only produces more fear.  He turned the door knob eratically.  I locked it earlier to ward off my pesky little sister, who was at that awkward invasion of privacy stage of adolescence.  

    "Unlock the door!" came his troubled voice as he frantically pulled on the knob.

    "I CAN'T OPEN IT!"  I freaked.  I was so frozen with anxiety that I couldn't move a muscle.

    My father stood on the other side of the door faced with a worst case scenario.  His daughter was trapped in a locked room screaming bloody murder, and he was gripped with terror of the unknown.   A  visceral reaction to the madness incited my dad to bust the door off its  hinges, knocking it completely off the wall and onto the bathroom floor.  And in his mind at that moment, the ends justified the means.

    As the dust and the crackling and snapping of the door's exposed interior settled, two things had occurred to me: 1) Perhaps I should have specified that the spider was the object of my fear; 2) I had no idea that my reckless actions could lead to such brute force.   

    Sadia's knee-jerk reaction to the June-bug this afternoon was immobilizing.  My overdramatic response to the spider over twenty years ago was at best excesive, and dangerous at worst. We behaved in a way that most people would expect of fool-hearty youth.  

    In hindsight, our overblown reactions to the bugs, were probably fueled by the illusion of danger rather than the insects themselves. We had been sucked into the drama of it all. My fear was elevated thanks to the magic of Hollywood, and Sadia's fear had been intensified by fantasy born out of youthful imagination.  But whether the threat that both Sadia and I faced was real or imagined, our reactions aren't unique. 
    Have you ever been afraid of something that you didn't fully understand? What fueled that fear? Lately, our country has been tinged with anxiety surrounding the health care debate.   Fear has reared its ugly head and people have gotten unglued.

    I'll use the case of William Kostric as an example.  He brought a loaded handgun to protest a town hall meeting on health care reform.  A bit extravagant, no?  Not convinced, huh? Well, the gun touting protestor also showed off a sign that read, "It is time to water the tree of liberty,"  which is actually a reference to a Thomas Jefferson quote that reads in full: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots."

    Loaded guns and handmade signs alluding to violent rebellion is over-the-top and reckless.  Suppose someone else who opposed his views had shown up with a loaded gun as well?  It's not completely implausible, after all carrying a holstered loaded weapon is legal in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Suppose all of the protestors had arrived bearing arms to demonstrate their disapproval.  Since guns are used primarily to kill, it is safe to assume that the result would have been violent.  Or perhaps that was the intent.  You can read more about his story here.   

    While others may seem less demonstrative, their words are no less reckless.  With accusations like murderer  flying around, there's no wonder people are responding with paranoia.  You don't yell "FIRE" in a crowded theatre, because fear motivates people to freak out.  The hysteria results in panic, and panic can be dangerous.

    Some have even gone so far as to compare the health insurance reform bill the Hitler's health care plan of the 1930s.  I guess anyone with a Crayola marker and the ability to scribble a Hitler mustache can make this divisive statement. What is supposed to be a strategy meant to show strong conviction, really boils down to just an immature attempt at getting an emotional response.  Lessons learned from genocide should be held in high regard and not trivialized when adapted to health care reform by indiscriminate protestors.

    It just doesn't seem like all people are doing is protesting the bill.  There isn't that civil exchange of ideas that America and its citizens are always flaunting in front of  the world.  Agitators have blown this issue way out of proportion, and in so doing have lost credibility. People are shouting, "HE WANTS TO KILL ME! OBAMA WANTS TO KILL ME!" and seemingly without regard for the resulting collateral damage.  

    For the most part, some fear is healthy.   It is our most instinctive and primal aversion to things that are new, things that are ugly,  and things that are scary.  To ideas.  But it sometimes gets an unnatural hold on us, darkening and narrowing our perspective. 

    In Sadia's case, the June-bug was not the enemy.  In my case, the spider wasn't the obstacle. In the case of Mr. Kostric, the threat of change was palpable.  Fear is the real monster and the path to overcoming fear is sober thinking and understanding.

    Previous Post: Stop Trying and Move Maggot
    Next Post: My Baby Starts Kindergarten!

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Stop Trying and Move Maggot

    (Photo found at

    The poem...
    The Sergeant 
    drills off-beat maggots on the cadence
    yelling, You have fallen off the Pine!
    Grab your crutch, lean, and toe the line!
    With my kids
    I step back, look straight ahead, and try
    not to move a muscle.

    The change....

    I've had a change in perspective over the last few days.  It's been a gradual change; like tick, tick, tick, a-ha!  I've thought a lot about being a mom. Confession. Reflection. Rehashing.  Feeling insecure all over again.  But it ran it's course, so I was "over it".  Then it became clear, like your vision the first moments after you wake. The view comes into sharper focus after you wipe the haze from your eyes.

    The process....

    As a mother, I get so much unsolicited parenting advice from well-intentioned people. It's as if there's a sign taped to my back that reads: HELP! I'm a Newbie, and I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing wrong.

    Maybe the fact that I am constantly second-guessing my own decisions makes it seem that other people are more critical of me than they actually are.  But despite the fact that I'm doing my best sometimes I get the sense that I am being nitpicked, and that some people are just being downright nasty. 

    Sometimes I feel like I'm in mommy boot camp, and that my insecurities signal that I need a refresher course in basic training.  My naiveté becomes a welcome matt on which nit-pickers perch and bark orders.

    The new direction....

    In these moments the criticism is debilitating, and all I want is the strength to stand up for myself and say, "Thanks, but no thanks," then set my sights ahead, and begin moving my feet in a more positive direction; down a path that does not involve getting beat-up over imperfection.  From this stand point, I am fearless.  I can tackle any parenting obstacle that comes my way and do it with reassurance that God is able, my best is enough, and I am enough.


    Previous Post: Sadia Says the Darndest Things: Volume 1
    Next Post: Health Care Reform: It's Ugly, Scary, and Completely Harmless

    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    Sadia Says the Darndest Things: Volume 1

    Sadia had a doctor's appointment a few months back, and the trip involved a updating immunizations. There was no way to mentally prepare Sadia for the 5 shots she would receive. I resorted to bribes: the promise of stickers and candy if she didn't make a big scene in the exam room.

    However, I couldn't compete against the five huge needles the nurses had lined up on the examination table, the two nurses that were sent in to hold her down in case she got jumpy, and the less than personable nurse who administered the shots in succession instead of combining some of the inoculations in one needle (which is a common practice). It was as if they were inviting her to have a huge meltdown. I wasn't particularly satisfied with the level of care we had received.

    What you'll see in the clip is Sadia's impression after the appointment.  Here is Sadia with her definition for the term doctor's appointment.  Please pay close attention to the way she pronounces the phrase:

    It doesn't matter how often I pronounce the words doctor's appointment-- careful to enunciate each syllable for her-- this is what she hears. Sadly, I fear that her interpretation may well become the first of many phrases in her lexicon of health care disappointments.

    Previous Post: Sadia Says the Darndest Things
    Next Post: Stop Trying and Move Maggot

    Saturday, August 08, 2009

    Sadia Says the Darndest Things

    If you have kids, you know that they speak the God-honest truth, and sometimes to a fault (a painfully embarrassing you-don't-have-to-broadcast-the-fact-that-the cashier-looks-really-really-old fault).  They say the first thing that comes to their minds, without mincing any words; they lay it all out for you in no uncertain terms.   No masking.  No sugar coating.  No editing. No faking the funk!  They tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  If you really don't want to know--you probably shouldn't ask a kid.

    Sadia is constantly surprising us with her colorful sayings.  I find that with every day, I am growing more and more interested, while at the same time fearful to hear what she'll say next. She does in fact say some of the darndest things.  I have posted a few of her candid moments here and here, but I didn't really feel like my anecdotal writing did these scenarios much justice.

    Inspired by an old TV series called Kids Say the Darndest Things, I've decided to record these interactions to give you a glimpse into her insights, her bright young mind, and her innocent heart.  This is an introduction to (hopefully) many more posts, where I attempt to pry into Sadia's beliefs, experiences, and reactions to life.  I treasure these moments because they seem to represent things of little consequence to me, but are close and meaningful to her as she is learning more and more about this big world around her. 

    I will affectionately tag these posts:  Sadia Says the Darndest Things.

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    Friday, August 07, 2009

    An Open Letter to Barack Obama

    Dear Barack,

    Something unusual has happened to me over the past few days. To be frank: you have been the subject of my dreams. That's not unusual, you might be thinking. Women dream about me all the time.

    Yea, well, it's not those kinds of dreams that I'm talking about here. The truth is, I've encountered lots of discrimination this summer and lately the topic of acceptance is always churning in the back of my mind. I went out on a limb and blogged about my deepest insecurities brought on by bigotry here and here, which opened my eyes to a world of self discovery. I love the intentional visibility of your love for Michelle in such a public forum.

    Just recently, my need for public acceptance resurfaced when I saw this intimate portrait of you and your gorgeous wife Michelle here:

    At first glance, someone might wonder what you could possibly be whispering in Michelle's ear. But a closer look revealed what I believe to be at heart of this candid moment:

    As I look at the expression on Michelle's face, immediately something deep inside me was stirred. My first thought was....there is no pretending here. This is the face of a woman that is loved. And desired. And romanticized. And her delight is being broadcast for all to see. Michelle's expression partially resonates with me.  I say partially because while at home I live these emotions daily, but sadly the world lags in embracing black love publicly. 

    My husband is the most sentimental man I know.  He is very romantic and I experience great fulfillment through his expressions of love, which begs the question: If I am so fulfilled at home, why am I dreaming about you? 

    Well, I am an attractive brother? You might be thinking. Nope. You're fine and all, but that ain't it. Then it must be my power and prestige? No, that isn't it either. Your presidency is so deeply personal to me because in my experience, being dark-skinned in America and being desirable in America are two mutually exclusive ideas. Your publicity puts man's desire for black women at center stage and it flies in the face of conventional thinking.

    As a child, I experienced a lot of public ridicule both within the black community, as well as in the mainstream. Even at a tender age, I was always aware that I was black. I don't mean black as in African American. I mean black-black, which is the kind of black that is inexcusable for that grade of desirable folks in America: those who are pretty to a point of pain for young dark-skinned women like me.

    When I was a little girl, being called ugly by my peers was an everyday experience, and for others like me who didn't exactly pass the brown paper bag test. At school (dressed up in my nicest clothes, my braids tightened in neat cornrows) no one ever noticed me. Instead, I was relentlessly taunted and called names like Tar Baby or African Booty-Scratcher by the very people whose acceptance I sought (it's a shame what we put each other through).

    As a young woman in college, I dated a few black guys. In these relationships I found myself conforming to something that was not quite me: I began straightening my hair; adding long silky extensions to it. But pretending to be that girl wasn't really my thing, and most brothers weren't ready to accept me for who I was, so I shrank from the world and for years went unnoticed.

    That is until I met my husband. Teddy loves the black out of me. Through his love, I feel secure in embracing my blackness--bushy hair and all.

    He relishes me. I am awakened by his love. And there is nothing more sexy than my man, who romanticizes over wholly me.

    So, why have you been the subject of my dreams for the past few days? Because you have displayed before the world what I have experienced in a private context. Your affectionate candor for your lovely wife, somehow quenches my own personal thirst for public acceptance. There is no mistaken; you are completely in love with Michelle--a black woman-- and I have a great appreciation for a man who desires dark-skinned women.

    Barack, you are a tall glass of water.

    Dionne Sincire

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    Thursday, August 06, 2009

    Low Supply Draws Suspicion

    "Mom, are you wearing one of MY Pull-Ups?" 

    Previous Post: Tracking Life: Where I Stand
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    Tuesday, August 04, 2009

    Tracking Life: Where I stand

    Teddy and I watched this incredibly corny movie last night called "The Wedding Weekend". Perhaps its one redeeming quality is the fact that Molly Shannon adds some much needed comedic relief from beginning to end. Also, I was introduced to this little nugget. I wanted to share this neat little chart from the movie in the spirit of accentuating the positive.

    David, played by actor David Harbour, introduces this graph after reuniting with his college buddies. The chart plays a significant role in illustrating some much needed perspective on how their lives have progressed (or in some instances regressed) since their college heyday. For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I am a visual person, so I tweeked the chart a bit.

    David's chart is based on and 80 year lifespan, which is accurate. In the recent census, the US Census Bureau estimated the average lifespan for Americans to be about 78.1 years. Whereas my chart is based on an 84 year lifespan (I needed a number that was divisible by 12 to make adding the other reference points quick and easy). Also, I added a watermark.

    To read the chart, you simply plot your age on the life line, then draw a vertical line down from that reference point. In doing so, three other reference points are created to measure against the 84 years of your life: one year; one hour; and one minute. So, if you're 42 years old, you'd be approaching the summer or midday of your life.

    I liked this exercise for two reasons.  One, it provided three unique lenses through which life can be viewed, which raised some interesting questions for me. At this stage in my life, I'm looking at the woman I've become and wondering if I am journeying in the direction that I really want to go. I am questioning whether some of the tentative decisions I've made are becoming permanent before I really want them to.

    Two, it made me recognize how grateful I am for God's presence in my life, because the closer I get to God the more obvious the answers to these questions become. The more I learn about God's character, the more I understand my need for His divine guidance. Through this lens of relationship with God, a more important question emerges: Am I willing to entrust my life in the hands of Almighty God, so that I can enjoy the maximum possibilities of my life?

    Previous Post: You get on my nerves!
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    Sunday, August 02, 2009

    You get on my nerves!

    We've read from Rebecca's blog about laughter as a stress reliever, but what if relief were as simple as exercising a little sass?  Maybe a little backtalk can alleviate a real pain in the neck caused by an irritating person.

    This evening, Sadia embarked on a scientific study to show whether a smart mouth may serve an important function in relieving pain.  In a modest experiment, she monitored her pain-in-the-butt tolerance while being insolent toward her father.  

    Even after her dad repeatedly asked her not to touch anything on the shelves at Blockbuster, Sadia continued to take candy from the rack.  She even put a wrapped Snicker bar in her mouth.  Teddy directed Sadia to stand in front of him with her hands to her side.  

    "You get on my nerves," she said aloud in line.  Teddy, infuriated by her temporary insanity, asked her to repeat herself, to which she replied, "I said, you get on my nerves!"  Only this time she added emphasis to the words "said", "get", and "nerves".  Early results from her study seemed favorable; Sadia reported an instant release after mouthing off to her father.

    In a related study conducted by her father, results confirm that smart-mouthed children are twice as likely to experience more actual pain in the butt than their well-mannered counterparts.

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