From Private to Public

The girls will be making a huge transition from the inimate setting of their former private nursery school to "big" public school. I have so much angst concerning this move. One, it's public school. Well let me further clarify this statement, it's public school in a predominantly black community with a high level of poverty. As an educator who understands the ins and outs of how school districts with these characteristics are often slighted, I'm worried. I'm praying for superb administrators, a decided teaching staff, and a safe environment. Unlike in the suburbs where I would have to worry about their psychological safety more, I'm vexed about the quality of instruction and the behavior of the students.

 

Two, the class size has me worried, particularly for CC. The student-teacher ratio they have been used to was 10:2, now it will be two-and-a-half times greater (25:2). I'm crossing my fingers this school meets our expectations. I already have the days in September and October when I will be volunteering in their classrooms. I don't want to have any "I'm goin' up the school" moments, so they will know Mrs. Cruz. D and I decided not to inform them of our professions, and see how everything falls into place.

 

Three, I know the socialization aspect will be a culture shock for the girls because they are coming from a largely Latino environment. With their Crunchy mama, organic lunches in $60 stainless steel bento boxes, and L.L. Bean monogrammed bookbags I hope they fare well. In jest, I tell D he has to learn to do a better job of styling their hair in the morning because little sistahs will talk about their curly, Afros. I don't want them to have a complex. 

 

We are on a fourteen month time table for our dream home. I just hope EO public schools treat us well until we move on over to the country.

 PreK3 and PreK5 Portraits

PreK3 and PreK5 Portraits

 With their school's uniform

With their school's uniform

 Our little "Graduate" 

Our little "Graduate" 

Catching Up in 2015

It's been almost nine months since I've blogged and I have so much to share. I am going to definitely use this as a platform to share my daily journey through life with two little ones and a hubby, but I will add the bonus element of sharing my views on the current state of the world. So much heartache and strife is rapid and I just need to let go, release, and put my opinions in the mix. Get ready because I plan to be candid, to the point, and I'm sure offensive to someone out there. 

Here are some pics of the family from the last nine months.

SJ's recital where they said a prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Shelby's bday party

 

 


Mommy's 34th BDay weekend

Mother's Day


Mommy's LEAP Graduation


Our 6th Anniversary

Today D and I celebrate the covenant we made to each other, our families, and future children on January 18, 2009.

Loving him has been the challenge of a lifetime. I think there is something to be said about the relationship dynamics of mates who are both oldest children. According to Women's Day:

The ultimate political power couple, two firstborns, is a classic combination of control, dominance and striving. Two firstborns often butt heads, says Cane, because both want to be in control of every situation. “They may fight over what movie to see, how to raise the children, where to live.” All relationships have these issues, of course, but these two strong personalities, used to getting their own way, may feel them more intensely. Source

COMPROMISE has been the key to getting over many hurdles in our relationship. This past year has been the most chaotic and turbulent for us as a couple. It's been a true testament to UNCONDITIONAL love and compromise, and just understanding that our end goals are the same. Like I always say, you have to go through some heavy shit (my last curse, because my sister says I cuss too much) in order to truly experience life and love to its maximum capabilities. Many will disagree with this sentiment, but the proof is in the pudding. As long as you keep it on the Wheel of Equality and maintain a healthy nonviolent relationship things will be productive (the reference is to a workshop on Healthy Teen Relationships I just had with my students). The key is shared responsibilty, negotiation and fairness, RESPECT, trust and support, non-threatening behavior, ECONOMIC partnership, HONESTY and accountability, and RESPONSIBLE parenting.  

 

 

As a math teacher and lover of science I'll relate our sixth year of marriage to Newton's three laws of motion.
 

Law one states an object will continue to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force. The eighteen month process of selling our house came to a head towards the middle of the year. It required us to pack nine years of our life in a sixteen foot  POD in two weeks and vacate our home. All while finishing our school year, launching my new company, and managing two little ones. Oh I forgot to mention we moved into a one bedroom apartement. YES hunty! Close to 3,000 square feet to 600! Before deciding on the apartment we wrote down S.M.A.R.T goals for the next 36 months. S.M.A.R.T goals are definited as goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound. These goals have kept us focused and moving with a constant speed in the direction of house number two, in spite of any bumps and hurdles.

 

Law two states that the more force acting on an object, the more the object will accelerate. Our driving force for 2014 was to sell our house and begin the process of acquiring our "dream house". We pushed the limits of our comfort zones by moving into a one bedroom, but it was a sacrifice that was vital to ensuring our goal of a second house. Thankfully our children as small and don't require their own personal space, so it works. With cheap rent and no more house related expenses we are accelerating to reaching new heights.

 

Law three states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Oh how we've learned this one! The months before our big move we contemplated taking the easy route and just stop paying the mortgage and let the bank dictate what was to become of us. After researching the many outcomes of such an action we chose to start the process of a short sale. We kept in mind that our mortgage was underwater and our hands were tied. We knew without a doubt that we did not want our children to grow up in our current "neighborhood", primarily due to the ever increasing taxes and poor schools. The action was an upsetting move, the reaction was a great burden being lifted from our shoulders in the way of true financial freedom. 

 

We welcomed 2015 with open hearts and ready to face the challenges of a new year. I truly feel privileged and favored to have such a loyal, supportive guy by my side. Birth order and all. Cheers to another year of marriage!

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and My Classroom

Our school year is coming to a close and the summer break is finally on the horizon. As I reflect on my "teaching" year all I can do is shake my head. I'm shaking my head to rid myself of the negative thoughts and feelings about my effectiveness as a teacher in my current assignment. This was a challenging year. I have reached my tolerance level for the classroom. What I mean is I no longer feel I can do my job effectively without loosing a part of myself. My job is no longer psychologically safe for me. The students I "teach" are so in need of so many things . . . loving parents, educational advocates, a warm bed, therapist, and psychologist. As I think about the behaviors that many of them exhibit I reflect on Dr. DeGruy research. My work in my school always leads me to think about this research. Dr. DeGruy. She developed a term called Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. 

WHAT IS P.T.S.S.?
P.T.S.S. is a theory that explains the etiology of many of the adaptive survival behaviors in African American communities throughout the United States and the Diaspora. It is a condition that exists as a consequence of multigenerational oppression of Africans and their descendants resulting from centuries of chattel slavery. A form of slavery which was predicated on the belief that African Americans were inherently/genetically inferior to whites. This was then followed by institutionalized racism which continues to perpetuate injury.

Thus, resulting in M.A.P.:

  • M: Multigenerational trauma together with continued oppression;
  • A: Absence of opportunity to heal or access the benefits available in the society; leads to
  • P: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. {Source}

Under such circumstances these are some of the predictable patterns of behavior that tend to occur {all of which I see in my students on a daily basis}:

KEY PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR REFLECTIVE OF P.T.S.S.

 Vacant Esteem

 

 Insufficient development of what Dr. DeGruy refers to as primary esteem, along with feelings of hopelessness, depression and a general self destructive outlook.


Marked Propensity for Anger and Violence
Extreme feelings of suspicion perceived negative motivations of others. Violence against self, property and others, including the members of one’s own group, i.e. friends, relatives, or acquaintances.


Racist Socialization and (internalized racism)
Learned Helplessness, literacy deprivation, distorted self-concept, antipathy or aversion for the following:

  • The members of ones own identified cultural/ethnic group,
  • The mores and customs associated ones own identified cultural/ethnic heritage,
  • The physical characteristics of ones own identified cultural/ethnic group.

 

Below is a video of a lecture in which Dr. DeGruy discusses her research:

Happy Birthday 2 Me!

Today I opened my eyes (at 4:09 am) and my first thought was to thank the Creator for my life. A life I have purposely structured (as an adult), guided by hard work, optimism, and love. In my 33 years of life the hardest lessons for me to learn centered around me accepting myself as simply, Onida LM Haskett-Cruz.

 

Let me explain, I've never had low self-esteem or confidence issues, I am referring to my acceptance of  the fact that I am more than a lot of people are used to. Not to be conceited or narcissistic in anyway, but it's the truth. No longer do I try to "fit" in or stifle myself to be more like everyone else. How I see it most people are just complacent with being average, so they do average shit then throw shade at you for doing more. You feel me?! I will always be that person that is "Doing To Much" or "Overly Ambitious" or "Busy". Why because when my last day is on the horizon I want my loved ones to know and see that I was never afraid of change and I always did exactly what I dreamed of doing. Mama got dreams to fulfill and a mission to accomplish.  

 

This birthday commemorates my fifteenth year as an adult. I looked back at my journal from 1999 and read the goals I had for myself. As is my nature, I accomplished most of them with the exception of being a millionaire by age 35 and learning to speak fluent Spanish and Japanese {working on Spanish goal}. Birthdays always make me feel nostalgic and hypersensitive, mainly because my loved ones make each one very special for me. In this life of  constant struggle and strife I have been blessed. Blessed to have the support of an amazing family. Blessed to have the love and loyalty of an amazing husband who make me feel "so God damn fine". And blessed with my greatest accomplishments to date, my precious baby girls. Happiness is truly a journey and I am walking on the road. Life is truly what you make it and I'm making mine as outstanding as I can. My anthem for the last couple of months has been "Flawless" by Beyonce. In the world of one of my students, this song "Gives Me Life".

 

33 is a grand old age. It is considered Christ's number because he died at this age. According to numerology, it is often thought to be a powerful and mystical number. The life path of 33:

People with the life path of 33 are born to lead others in an influential manner. Their view of the world is what others will aspire to. The life path of 33 can influence a person toward being a teacher, pastor, an author or some other form of educator. Some people will look at those with a 33 life path as a messiah to their life. The number is most powerful in the manner that it can uplift others. Some refer to the number as the "sunshine on a rainy day" or the "silver lining in a cloud". The life path brings wisdom beyond age and a devotion to inspiring others. Source

 

Be blessed and Happy Birthday to Me! I'll sip a strawberry mojito and eat a box of Trader Joe's macaroons in honor of being 33.

turning 24

Turning 25

Turning 27

Turning 28Turning 29

Turning 30Turning 31Turning 32

Happy 5th Anniversary to Us!

D and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary over the MLK holiday weekend. My original plan was a host an intimate dinner for our closest friends and family, but I got sidetracked by life {smiles} and never planned anything. Instead we dressed up, sent the kids to Bisabuela's house, and went to a fancy restaurant on the Hudson River. 

Tradition tells us for the fifth wedding anniversary a gift of wood should be given. "The strength of your marriage bond is represented by the traditional gift of wood for your 5th anniversary. Wood is strong and long-lasting" {Source}. 

As I mentioned, we dropped off the girls off to their bisabuela's apartment and headed to West New York to Son Cubano's for dinner. The atmosphere was amorous with the skyline of Manhattan as a backdrop, I just wish the food was more flavorful. We won't be going there again because we expect more from Cuban cuisine. The chef has definitely watered down their menu to appeal to people with a less sophisticated palate. In spite of the bland food, dessert was great as well as the mojitos. 


I purchased D a gift card for MySuit, a made-to-measure mensware store in NYC. He purchased me a new car, an BMW X3. Yeah I know a huge difference in price. What can I say he likes to go big! I have to get used to driving a SUV.

 

 Besides celebrating our anniversary I hosted my goddaughter's Sweet 16 Slumber Party. We spent the day in NYC, then headed to Secaucus to the Embassy Suites Hotel. It was fun hanging with teenagers who truly act their ages and have been sheltered from the harsh realities of life (i.e., the students I teach).


My Modified Paleo-Raw Diet

During my first pregnancy I gained only 20 pounds. Less then two months after I ballooned to 175 pounds, fifteen pounds more than when I was 9 months pregnant. During the first nine months of being a parent I was bombarded with so much I ate all the wrong things and it resulted in a massive weight gain. I was the heaviest I have been in my life and it was not pleasant. The added weight had a trememdous psychological effect on me. I stopped buying clothes, shoes, and focused my effects on SJ. I was wearing a size 12 and it was too much for me to handle. I didn't like how my body looked and the added weight was making me lethargic and depressed. It took me a year to get out of my funk and take the fitness training serious, especially because we decided to have baby number two.

 

As a result of this I was super cautious during my pregnancy and post partum period with CC. The biggest change was cooking. Instead of spending money eating out 4-5 times a week I started to cook. This was the single most influential factor in me losing the weight. We have always eaten organic, wholesome foods, but I added the elements of raw foods and juicing into my diet. I decided that eating 50-60% raw foods in each meal would be the best way for me to slim down without excercise. Using Pinterest I select recipes that made things simple and fast. My daily mantra was I have to get my body back in less then 9 months. I accomplished it in 6 months and I couldn't be happier. Now I need to buy some clothes. 

 

 

Check out my Pinterest Boards for Recipes:

Raw Diet 101

Smoothie + Juicing

Chow + Libation

I'm Organic 4 Life

Sauces + Marinates

 

In a nutshell what I did was:

 

  1. BREASTFEED (exclusively)
  2. Eat lean protein (Chicken + Turkey)-- As much as you can stand , cuts the hunger 
  3. Lots of raw veggies + fruit
  4. High activity level -- with two kids less than 3 this is easy
  5. At least 70 oz of water or organic veggie juice a day

 

 

As you can see it was a slow process. I really didn't notice a change in my size. It wasn't until D told me I was losing too much weight that I got on a scale.

The List: All About Me

Last week I read a blog post on my Google feed and the author created a post focused about "The List". This list offered 24 writing prompts that allowed her reader to get to know her better. I decided to copy and the list and do it myself, so here goes. 

THE LIST:


1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.

3. What are 5 passions you have?
4. Describe your most embarrassing moment.

5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. Describe your relationship with your spouse.

7. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
8. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.


9. Describe a typical day in your current life.
10. Describe 5 weaknesses you have. Describe 5 strengths you have

11. Describe when you knew your spouse was the one.
12. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?


13. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
14. What do you think your spouse loves most about you?

15. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

16. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.

17. How did you feel the moment you became a parent?
18. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
19. Describe your relationship with your parents.


20.  What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about parenthood?
21. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?


22. What’s your favorite quality in your spouse?
23. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
24. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

What are 5 passions you have?

Very much like my Scorpio husband, I am passionate about things that bring social change to this world, hence the reason I'm an educator. I wouldn't call myself a zealous supporter of any one cause, I am too much of a loner for that, but there are things I will get uptight and augmentative about.  These things are my five passions (a) My Husband + Marriage, (b)My Children, (c) My Family, (d) Education for Black and Brown Students, and (e) Multicultural Awareness.

In an ideal world my family and I (immediate and extended) would live on a compound of 1,000 acres in the hills of Georgia Maryland, together as a strong unit. I was raised to have an unwavering faith in the strength of my immediate family. I believe when the world has forsaken you, your family will always be there to help you pick up the pieces. This may attribute to the small number of friends I have, because my family is enough. 

 

Thirteen years ago my husband and I made a commitment to one another. We committed to be each other's biggest supporters, honest, and faithful to each other. Throw into the mix a four year marriage and 2 children, we are still going strong. Many attribute their successful relationships to God and having faith in the Lord. Well I can't do that because my husband is a non-believer and I don't rely to heavily on the power of supreme beings. The key to our success has been an unwavering dedication to each other and in the words of many . . . "keepin' it real!" with one another. We are definitely hyper-critical of each other and never hold our tongues when there is something that worries us. Our motto is plastered in the foyer of our home. It reads: "In this house we do real, we do mistakes, we do I'm sorry, we do second chances, we do fun, we do hugs, we do forgiveness, we do really loud, we do family, we do love."  The foundation of our relationship has always and will be LOVE.

My greatest accomplishment and motivation has been my children. I've always been a self-motivated, over-achiever but I've definitely taken it up a notch since becoming a mother. Being a planner, planning my life 5 years at a time (yeah I know a bit much but that's Onida). Now it's a 20 year plan broken into three year increments. I'm a beast when it comes to this, but I feel without a plan failure is too easily on the horizon. 

 

I've been a New York City math teacher for close to ten years. Its been my way of giving back to a disenfranchised community. For me education should be purposeful and insightful. Education should be personal.  Education should be interdependent and fun. Education should be progressive. Education should be empowering. I feel I have a commitment to help improve and be the voice for under-privilege students that would otherwise have no voice. I am in the business to improve the life of the next generation so when my kids grow up a more positive environment will surround them. It’s all about creating a continuous cycle of positivity and instilling in students that education is the foundation for their future and that there is strength in education. I am trying to improve the quality of existence for minorities in this country, one student at a time. This has been my mission.

 

My husband says I talk about race tOo much and that I am hyper sensitive to issues of racism and prejudice. Well I can't help it, its how my parents raised me. I don't think I am super sensitive, just that most people are in denial about issues of race. D and I have arousing discussions about raising children that are of mixed ethnicities. To yank his chain I always say to him, "Latino is not a race". I want to raise our girls to be aware of their racial identities and be conscious of race matters. D feels we shouldn't emphasize race and just let them be. We've agreed to disagree for the moment. To not be overt in my efforts to educate our girls, we agreed on making them world travelers and avid readers to ensure they have multicultural awareness.


Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day!! I've been a mother of two for one month and its been a journey.I'll give you a quick recap. I've been to the ER twice, I go days without combing my hair or brushing my teeth, and I truly realize I would rather be at work than be a stay at home mother. 

Unlike her big sister, CC is a crier and demands to be carried around constantly. She has facilitated my need to adhere to the tenets of attachment parenting . . . you know baby wearing, co-sleeping, nursing on demand, no "cry it out" for her. It indeed is draining especially with Lil D wanting just as much attention. Initially I was planning to keep Lil D home with me during my maternity leave, but experience has taught me that this was not a good idea. Depending on the week I've been sending her to her Abuela to get "me time". She needs just as much attention as CC and at grandma's she is able to get it. 

D is not a big fan of Mother's Day, or any holiday for that matter, he calls it another consumer's holiday and he always says he wished he owned a store to sell to everyone scrambling to get gifts. 

Rixa, blogger of one of my favorite blogs, Stand and Deliver shares her sentiment about Mother's Day:

I'm just not feeling the love. If we really valued mothers--speaking both individually and culturally--we wouldn't have one day of lip service, followed by a year of neglect. Give us a year's paid maternity and paternity leave. Give us Mother-Friendly care in all hospitals and birth centers. Give us a culture that really, truly values mothers and children and finds ways to keep them together even when the mother needs to earn a living, like flextime, on-site childcare, or babies-at-work programs. Give us a month of daily home visits from postpartum helpers who can cook, clean, do laundry, and help with the other kids so we can snuggle and nurse our newborns. Give us generous social and emotional support for the tremendous work of mothering. But please don't give us flowers and a sappy tribute to 1950's gender roles and think that will suffice until the next Mother's Day. To read more click here.

 

What you think about Rixa's thoughts? This will be my third Mother's Day and I don't really get hyped about it particularly because my birthday is always within 5 days of the holiday. D surprised me and took us out to McLoone's Boathouse in West Orange for an amazing brunch. The menu was extensive. There were assorted fruit, juices, bread and cheeses, a raw bar, omelet and waffle station, crab cake station (all crabmeat no filler), carving station, and 10 different hot entrees to name a few. ;-) I even took two sips of a mimosa. It will probably be the last taste of alcohol I'll have for a long while. 

 

 

 

S/N: We gave CC her first bottle of expressed milk yesterday. I purchased the new Medela Calma bottles and this is what she drank from. "Calma is the only scientific based feeding device that helps to support the similar sucking behaviour of the baby at the breast." Indeed this is true, we had no issues with her feeding. We tried the pacifier but she didn't take it, she gagged instead of sucked it. Oh well we'll try again. 


Maternity Pics

Two years ago at my 38 week "routine" doctor's visit I was pressured into beginning the process of inducing my labor. Oh what two years, a vast increase in knowledge, and a new practitioner makes.

 

Let me recap. When I was pregnant with Lil D, at 38 weeks I was given an unnecessary ultrasound and told my baby's head was measuring small and my amniotic fluid was low. {S/N: Lil D was not in distress and up until that point I was having a "normal" pregnancy}. So I went from normal to high risk in an instant. I was experiencing the full blown techno-cratic birth model most OBs follow. Yesterday I went had my 38 week appointment for BC2. Let's just say it was totally different - no stripping membranes, no indepth ultrasound, no half-truths, and coercion. My midwife asked me if I was experiencing anything out of the ordinary, she measured my fundal height, felt to see if baby was in correct position, and ask me the most vital question of them all, "Are you ready to have an amazing labor?" 

 

If you are in Northern New Jersey and need a makeup artist please check out Vanessa of Makeup by Nessa. She was on hand to do my makeup for the baby shower and my maternity shoot.

I'm calling this my bootleg maternity shoot, because of the drama leading up to the actual taking of pictures. First the photog I hired to take pictures in my home cancelled 30 minutes before our appointment, with a bullshit excuse. Second, Lil D refused to be cooperative and take pictures like a nice little girl. Third, I hate portrait studio pictures taken by people who are not truly photographers. Oh well, it is what it is. Once my blood pressure elevated, I did a couple "woo sahs", and accepted that BC2's maternity shoot would not be as nice as Lil D's I was about to get over the disappointment (a little bit).

I'm looking at these pictures thinking how ridiculous I look with the tulle wrapped around my waist. :-\

Time Management 101

In less then 5 weeks I will be the Mommy of a two-year old and a newborn. All I keep thinking about is the lack of sleep I will be getting until my children begin school. I remember always commenting on women I would see with "stair-step" kids, you know two toddlers and an infant, and here I am following in their foot steps {a little}. I say a little because I met a woman in Target last night that is 6 months pregnant and has a 9 month old at home {sheesh}.

The idea of having children so close in age doesn't seem beneficial while you are living through the tantrums,  potty training, nursing, and everything else, but I found a short list of benefits that I listed below.

  1. Friendship/Companionship: If you look at siblings who are 1-2 years apart in age, you notice that many share the same friends, the same interests, and often look out for one another in social settings.
  2. Costs:With two children in the same age range, consider that they can share toys, lessening your costs. They can also share clothing, in most cases. You may be at a true advantage, especially, if your children are of the same gender.
  3. You only have to go through it once!!
  4. Career: If you decide to be a stay at home mom, you are able to get back in the work force sooner, if you decide to have children back to back. 
  5. Future Families/Cycle: Oddly enough, especially with multiples, children in the same age bracket often plan their lives around one another due to their closeness and friendship. They may get married around the same time, and in a lot of cases plan on having children around the same times so that there will be a continued bond with their children. Source

Time Management 101

Back in December I had the pleasure of attending a workshop sponsored by my girl, Natasha of the Flair Factor. The Sunday social was about how to effectively manage time, especially as mothers. The discussion began with the idea of 168 hours in a week, a concept written about by Laura Vanderkam.

This was broken into the following:

  • 50 hours in an average work week
  • 56 hours of sleep 
  • 62 hours remain (5 hours of which need to be spent strategizing + planning) {According to the CDC at least 2.5 hours per week to exercise -- 30 minutes a day}

The portion of the workshop I enjoyed the most was the idea of creating and maintaining a "time log". A time log is basically an agenda that sections your day into hours, most smart phones have this capability. I am still old school and keep a planner book. I find myself forgetting to input data into my cell phone agenda, but always writing it done in my planner. Old habits are hard to break. I do plan my days by the hour because it gives me a sense of balance in my very hectic life. Sometimes I wish I worked and lived in the same state because some of the chaos would be controlled. It's a bitch working late in NYC and having to come Jersey to run errands and such. I like to make my week days as jammed packed with activities as possible because on the weekend I hate to be like every other drone and in the mall, supermarket, or post office. My weekends are for sleep, peace, and relaxation.

Back to the workshop . . . The take-home messages of the workshop were:

  • Think about it as 168 hours and not a 24 hour day
  • Be on the offense, not defense
  • Use your mornings
  • Ignore, Minimize, + Outsource
  • Bits of time, for bits of joy
  • Time logs + Agendas + Planners are vital to planning a successful 168 hours
  • If it's not made a priority it won't happen

 

 

 

Printable Weekly Planners here and here

 

Book Review: Free-Range kids

I've been out of commission for three days. On Friday, we celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary and my seventh month of pregnancy. We made the journey over to Warren, NJ to the Stone House Restauant at Sterling Ridge for dinner. Soon after returning home I began to feel queasy. This queasiness turned into a hacking cough, noise bleeding, abdominal aching, five pound weight loss, bedroom quarantined extended vacation. I'm at about 50% now, ready for work tomorrow. Thank goodness there will be no students at school this week for me, so I can be sick in peace. I went to the dollar store and purchased disposable face mask I plan to wear until I beat this cough. I know I'll be getting some strange looks, but who cares. When I had to go to Trader Joe's on Sunday, I wore one and people look at me like I had leprosy. Can't wait for my morning commute :-|.  Also on Thursday I go for the glucose screening, with a five pound weight loss I know I'm going to get a lecture from my midwife -- I CAN'T WIN!

 

Back in June I began to construct this post and never completed it, so here is the finish product.

As a part of my "Mommy's Book List" here, I read Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. It was an excellent, quick read. I highlighted almost every other sentence in the book, I was so engaged. The book is divided into two parts: (a) The Fourteen Free-Range Commandments and (b) the Free Range Guide to Life. In part two of the book an A-Z review of everything a parent might be worried about is provided with statistically data to support how unnecessary some of the worry is. At the end of each chapter Skenazy offers advice on three levels: Free-Range Baby Step, Free-Range Brave Step, and One Giant Leap for Free-Range Kind. In this post I will highlight a few of the more interesting facts I learned from part one of the book. 

Topics for Further Research

  • The Science of Fear, Daniel Gardner 
  • The Myth of the First Three Years, John Bruer
  • A Nation of Wimps, Hara Estroff Marano
  • Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids, Grolnick



P 54

"The problem is, if you picture the very worst outcome of every very safe endeavor, there is no way you can enjoy life. All you can do is smother it."

P 55                                                                           "Constant supervision" "Issue of control" 

"Cell phone umbilical cords" p 57

P 79                                                                           Help your child, age nine or up, find an 'apprenticeship'. 

 

P 85                                                                                Unsupervised playgrounds seem to be the norm in most countries, freeing up parents to do other things if they choose. 

P 86                                                                                                                                                             Parents in other countries just seem to trust their children and their fellow citizens more. Or at least, parents in non-English-speaking countries seem to. 

p 87
Cultural fear

P92 
Control is a figment of our imagination. Seeking it only makes us more anxious. It certainly isn't required for good child rearing. And to the extent that we do manage to solve all our children's problems- or keep those problems from ever even popping up- we are doing them a disservice. Not a fatal one that will stunt our children forever. But still, we are steering them away from the real source of confidence and independence, which comes from navigating the world and its surprises. Especially the unpleasant ones.

P 94
The idea is that if you're worrying, then you're doing the right thing - Lawrence Balter, editor of the encyclopedia Parenthood in America. Worrying "is like a demonstration to yourself that you're being responsible" it has become our national pastime.

P 96
The assumption behind constant availability is that there are problems facing your child that must be solved, immediately, by you. The assumption behind that assumption is that you, the parent, are capable of solving all problems. And the secret assumption behind the assumption behind the ... Whatever, is that your child is helpless without you. So if you don't solve each and every problem, he's sunk, and you haven't done your job.

P 99
In terms of parenting, the way to gradually desensitize ourselves to the fear of letting our kids go is to - you guessed it- gradually start letting them go.
                                                                                                                                                              Peter Stearns, the Anxious Parents author, recommends letting kids walk to school without you starting in first grade. 


If you can just put the risk in perspective, the fear gets put in perspective too. 

"Don't go off with strangers" versus "don't talk to strangers"

P 104
... We are not just the results of how our parents raised us 

 
Bottomline: Life = Risk (from www.wimp.com)

Friendships . . .

Life has taught me to be very jaded and cautious when dealing with people. This has manifested itself in me having a very limited numbers of friends. I've been fortunate to have two ready-made best friends in my sisters, and a husband I call friend. I spent the first 18 years of my life searching for the BFF or the all-girls clique that I read about in my Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High books. It wasn't meant to be. At age 11, I had the pleasure of meeting my brother from another mother, my bestest guy BFF, Richie B.

I don't acknowledge his role in my life often, but he was my confidente and closest friend for a very long time. We talk about twice a month now-- you know how it is when you get older and someone moves away or begins to have kids. He knows ALL of my secrets-- LOL {even read one my diaries {yes I still keep a journal, 2 acutally}}. He wasn't what I wish for, but he is perfect.

Our High School Senior Portraits

My Wedding Day

My mother sent me this email and it is the catalyst for this post. I know it is a common saying that people come into your life for a reason and this poem speaks to this. Don't have the source.

 

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. 


When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that
Person.. 


When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need
You have expressed. 


They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with
Guidance and support, 


To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. 


They may seem like a godsend and they are. 


They are there for the reason you need them to be. 


Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, 


This person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an
End. 


Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. 


Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. 


What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire
Fulfilled, their work is done. 


The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on. 
Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has
Come to share, grow or learn. 


They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. 


They may teach you something you have never done. 


They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.. 


Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.


LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, 


Things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional
Foundation.. 


Your job is to accept the lesson, 


Love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other
Relationships and areas of your life. 


It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. 


Thank you for being a part of my life, 


Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.  


 I pray Daniella finds that someone who she can call friend outside of her family. A relationship that allows her to just be. To just be free of envy, jealously, and contempt. As an African-American woman I know how hard this is to foster a relationship like this. And I know that my Lil D will have a harder time of it because of her lighter skin, and straight hair. I just hope and pray she will have enough of her father's personality to be a true alpha female and not be boogled down by the bullshit that often comes from trying to "fit" in a group.

Baby #2 Preggo Weight Gain

When I became pregnant with Lil D I began my pregnancy journey at about 147 pounds. I gained about 25 pounds during my 38 week pregnancy (See my weight gain numbers below). I kept the weight on even with breastfeeding because my ass ate like a beast the 12 weeks I was home on maternity leave, won't do this again. The main reason why weight is on my mind now is because at my last prenatal visit my midwife was disturbed that I only gained 2 pounds since the beginning of this pregnancy. 

 

I visited the Baby Corner's website to input my numbers into their Pregnancy Weight Gain Caldendar and here is the report I got back.

This week you should weigh between: 166 and 171 lbs

You are 6 pounds under the lower end of of your target weight range. During your first trimester, you should gain between 2 and 4 lbs. Thereafter, you should be gaining between 0.5 and 0.77 lbs. per week until the end of your pregnancy.

At full term (40 weeks pregnant) you should weigh between: 173 and 183 lbs 

Total Target Weight Gain: 15 to 25 lbs.

Everyone knows I work in Manhattan. I walk to work every morning (20 blocks -- a little over a mile) rain, snow, and/or cold. I also have a very active 22 month old I spend a lot of time chasing. Imagine me at 5' 5" weighing 180 damn pounds. Hell to the NO! This would not even fit my lifestyle. As I told my midwife, I am way too active to be on target with the "recommended" pregnancy weight gain. Who the hell has time to lose 30 to 40 pounds post- pregnancy with a 2 year old and a newborn.  In the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" I'm not starving myself. I'm just eating clean and organic foods -- no refined sugars or processed foods so my weight gain is slow, but steady. On this same topic my sister sent me a wonderful acticle, Why Aren't Docs Giving Obese Pregnant Women Accurate Advice? It's a quick read and quite informative check it out.

Lil D's Pregnancy Weight Gain

149 lbs. ---> 18 Weeks 

152 lbs. ---> 22 Weeks 

158 lbs. ---> 26 Weeks 

158 lbs. ---> 28 Weeks 

160 lbs. ---> 30 Weeks 6 Days

166 lbs. ---> 34 Weeks 5 Days

168 lbs. ---> 36 Weeks 5 Day

168 lbs. ---> 38 Weeks 1 Day  {Lil D's birth weight 6 lbs 2 oz}

 

 The take home message from this post is simply this: I will have a natural birth in a birthing center with the aid of my husband, midwife, and doula. "Eating for Two" would severely impede my ability to have a successful intervention free birth experience.

The Perils of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in public, pumping at work, sore nipples, engorgement, stringent diet, thrush, constant thirst, raging appetite, extra twenty pounds {post pregnancy}, constant nightly feedings, bite nipples, lopsided breast, resentful feeling towards husband {he can sleep when I can't}, no alcohol {the worst}--- AHHH!! The perils of breastfeeding. In spite of all this I constantly remind myself that to be mother is to be selfless. Giving my baby the absolute best will always be my priority. Every women who makes the decision to breastfeed is making a huge sacrifice, but it's worth it. Shit breastfeeding is by far the hardest task I've ever had to do in life, including birthing little D. Giving birth is a physiological process, my body knew what do do and when to do it, unassisted by anyone. Breastfeeding is a whole nother can of worms. For those women who do it for a week, a month, 6 months, a year, 2 years {God bless you} I commend you. It's a challenge ESPECIALLY if you work full-time.

 

As Lil' D is eating more solids my supply has decreased. In February, I will begin to wean her, well after I find a suitable alternative to cow's milk{explanation in another blog post}. She has begun to show signs of refusal for my breast already, especially during the day. She would rather eat Cheerios or guacamole. At night and as she first wakes in the morning it's different. She is inconsolable if she can't have "Titty Time". I thought long and hard about weaning her at one year. We plan to have another baby, sooner then later, and I need to get my body in shape. I can not have baby fat from baby number one on top of baby fat from number two. NOPE, WRONG ANSWER.  I got from March to September to get it right. 

Weaning information here.

Baby Mama . . . To Be or Not to Be

Several months ago one of my homegirl's email me asking my opinion on a subject that is very prevelent in the Black community, being a baby mama. Her exact question was, "What do you think of planning to have a baby without marriage?".

Ummph . . . I thought about her question for a while, bearing in mind that being a Baby Mama is not the worst thing in the world and stuff happens beyond our control. Also, abortion is not an option many women consider an ethical choice. So here was my response to her:

 

I feel like you are playing catch with a double ended sword. For me, as you know, I always think about the financial ramifications of my decisions before I do things. If my actions will impinge negatively on my finances then its a hell no. As in the case of having a baby without the benefits of being married this is a big NO for me because I don't have access to his money (i.e. Social Security,Medical Insurance, or tax incentives, etc.) without that marriage license. Also having sex with someone you don't see as a possible husband is a gamble. Condoms break, and casual sex is dangerous. Thinking of your man as your future husband versus being your future baby father is a twisted mentality.

 

It's too easy to be a Baby Mama. You want to be a WIFE. PERIOD. Child support is shaky at best and I just would not want my child to be brought into a situation where I can't guarantee a family unit. Sure people get divorced and such, but with a divorce comes alimony and child support. BTW if you are ever in a situation where you have to choose between the two always choose more child support over alimony because the person receiving the alimony has to pay tax on that money, child support you don't. Anyway...bottom line children need the stability that a marriage provides. It’s not enough to say "we in this together" when we both know that at any given time homeboy or homegirl can bounce real easy. It's harder to do if you have that marriage license. It’s almost like a contract that says I am guaranteed some of your shit if you decide to flake out.


Go to the court house, have the baby, then have a big wedding when you lose the baby weight or whenever.

2nd Question: Do you think it's that serious/necessary to get married?

What are the benefits married people enjoy?

Live longer. Have better physical and emotional health. Are happier. Earn more. Enjoy better sex live. Save more so they have fewer money worries.


Five new themes in marriage-related research 

~Even though marriage has lost ground in the minority communities in recent years, marriage has not lost its value in these communities.

 

~An emerging line of research indicates that marriage benefits poor Americans, and Americans from disadvantaged backgrounds, even though these Americans are now less likely to get and stay married.

 ~Marriage seems to be particularly important in civilizing men, turning their attention away from dangerous, antisocial, or self-centered activities and towards the needs of a family.

~Beyond its well-known contributions to adult health, marriage influences the biological functioning of adults and children in ways that can have important social consequences.

 ~The relationship quality of intimate partners is related to both their marital status and, for married adults, to the degree to which these partners are committed to marriage.

 

BOTTOM LINE: No woman should aspire to be anything like the Laura Govan's of the world (i.e., 4 kids, no husband, living in a one bedroom apartment). Shit at least Shaunie was married when Shaq evicted her ass. She had some recourse.

 

Check out my blog post on You Are Not Ready To Get Married If.


Teach Dem Chirlin'

Five days a week I invest a lot of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual energy into teaching in a Suspension Site. I'm on the front line witnessing the heartbreaking battle that today's poor, young black and Latino children face. It's not a pretty picture. I worry about the state of affairs for black folk in this country. Especially when so many of us are born to single mothers and being institutionalized and labeled as criminals from elementary school. 

I've had students tell me, "What's the point of trying when you know nobody wants you around. Not your mother, not your father, and definitely not the cops". Or "Yeah I take a gun to school because its not safe to walk through my block without one". Or "Smoking everyday gets me right to take on the day". My children (students) are depressed, spiritually barren, and carry to much of the world on their shoulders. People love to place blame . . . on society, parents, teachers, the list is extensive. Bottomline: Everyone must take responsibility for their actions!

Just because you were raised in the PJs doesn't mean you have to be a reflection of your community. Be the change you want to see in the world. 

 

My heart goes out to the McPhail family who lost their son to senseless violence. And to the family of Troy Davis, who last evening lost his life to lethal injection, I pray for your strength. In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, Field Negro, "What a country. Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson are alive, Charles Manson is alive, and Troy Davis is dead.  *shaking head*" It ain't right . . . it ain't right. Today in class I hope to have a conversation about the Troy Davis case with my kids. I want them to realize how dangerous it is being a young Black/Latino male living in the Hood. Scratch that living period. They are locking us up with a quickness. These kids have no fear. They don't seem to care that just by looking and dressing the way they do they "fit the description". 

 

When I thought I was having a boy, I began a journal I titled the "Lessons I will teach my Black son". Yeah it's that serious and ya'll know I'm extra!

My biggest fear in life is to have to raise a son. I didn't live through, slavery or Reconstruction or during Jim Crow but I am definitely going to raise them with some of the sentiments of those times. Many will disagree and say in the twenty-first century how could you think to raise a child to be this way. Listen, shit is real! If you don't have a healthy fear of the cops and the "justice" system and you feel that the system is in place for you, WRONG ANSWER. We don't have "the complexion for the protection" {Paul Mooney}. So back to my journal... I made a lot of notes and read a lot of books on the industralized prison system and the history of law inforcement in this country which lead me to make a list of the survival skills I want my children to live by. Check it out. Oh and if you are reading this please leave me some comments. Woudl love to here your thoughts on the manner.

Here were a few of the "lessons" I want my children to eternalize:

  1. If you are in your bed/home for the night and someone calls you to go out STAY your ass in the house and tell them you'll check them tomorrow. So many things happen to people that once said, "I wasn't even suppose to be here. I was doing something else."
  2. Choose your friends as if your life depended on it. Once people reveal their true essence to you believe it. As my mother always says, people reveal their true nature at the beginning of your relationship with them. Don't ignore red flags. "All youth must be wary of the company they keep. They should be taught that if something doesn't look or feel right, they should leave immediately." (Source)
  3. Being part of the "cool" crowd is over-rated. 
  4. Ignorance is real! Common sense ain't common! 
  5. Being a "snitch" can save a life. Never be afraid to tell when you know something is immoral, criminal, or unjust.
  6. If you hear loud voices or are in a situation where people begin to get loud, LEAVE! Why? Simple, first comes yelling, next comes violence. Don't get caught up in wanting to see a fight or what's going to "pop off" {my NYC lingo}.
  7. "Stay away from guns altogether. Don't own one, and don't hang out with anyone who does. Children have absolutely no reason to possess a gun. If, for some reason, you wind up with a gun in public, NEVER point it at a police officer." Source
  8. " If you're stopped or otherwise find yourself in the presence of an officer, obey every command. Don't talk trash. Don't show attitude. Don't make sudden motions. Never place your hands where they can't be seen. Never give a false name or any other false information. Memorize the officer's name and the vehicle number. Your ultimate goal is to get home alive so you can get a lawyer if you need one." Source
  9. "Never carry contraband of any kind on your person or in your vehicle".Source
  10. "Always carry proper ID on your person and proper documents in your vehicle". Source
  11. "Don't hang out where police regularly cruise. If you do, you're asking for trouble. Police cruise trouble spots".Source
  12. "Don't duck and hide when a police car appears".Source
  13. "If you're being arrested, don't resist and multiply your problems. You can't win by resisting".Source
  14.  "Put the names of your parents, an attorney, your principal, a teacher, a close friend, a role model, a mentor, a bail bondsman and others on speed dial in your cell phone".Source
  15. "Get to know at least one officer by name in the police department".Source
  16. "Stay away from peers who hate the police. These trash-talking friends are nothing but trouble waiting to happen". Source
  17. "Never forget your are a black person in America! Meaning don't wait for your "Nigger Wakeup Call" before you begin to remember how much of the word views you.


A lot of the problems young folks have is simply they are left unsupervised way too much. I used to complain about how overprotective Daddy and Mommy Haskett were, but now I thank them.