This Summer in a Nutshell

If there was a theme for this summer, it would be: Growth! I started the summer with some lofty goals. I set out write more, gain an appreciation for the outdoors, and expand my horizons on a spiritual level as well. Some of these aspirations were easier to achieve than others.

At the beginning of the summer, my goal was to write two thousand words a day. I approached this task with the type of enthusiasm that only a novice writer could. By the end of the first week, I found myself staring at a seventeen-thousand-word manuscript with nothing left to say. I perused YouTube content for advice from other authors. Their advice was all the same. “Write through the writer’s block,” they said. And so, I mustered the strength to carry on. Admittedly, after a few more days of writing long, mundane scenes where characters folded laundry and filed taxes, I tossed my laptop in the corner of my bedroom in disgust, where it collected dust for the month of July.

One the plus side, my goal to spend more time outdoors was an easy win. Baby boy, the twins, and I established a routine where after breakfast, we would lace up (and Velcro) our shoes and lather our skin with sunscreen. We spent much of our summer mornings on the playgrounds in our neighborhood, enjoying the sun’s rays before the three-digit temperatures set in. Walking the trails in the morning with my little ones is a divine experience that is embedded in my memory forever.0707180842

Lastly, I hoped to get it touch with my more spiritual side. With the help meditation before bedtime and inspirational podcasts, like Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, I found myself exploring my purpose on a deeper level. I have always poured myself into my family; however, this year I find myself searching for something more. This summer I embraced my neurosis by organizing the square footage of our home in such a way that every nook and cranny served a purpose. In an odd sort of way this helped to free up brain matter as well. I feel like the search for spirituality is a lifetime journey, but I am well on my way.

In short, the results of my summer were nuanced at best. I did not accomplish all my goals in totality, but the time that I spent with my children was both priceless. Spending time outdoors with my children was easy. Finding my own approach to writing was hard. Becoming a more spiritual being was everything between. With schools opening across the country, a season of new beginnings is underway once again. With this new season, comes new goals and aspirations. At the risk of sounding extra cliché, I’ll go ahead and say it. Life is a lasting journey.

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Rainy Day Naps

Am I the only mom who rejoices when the weather is bad? Seriously, today I looked out the window, saw it was raining cats and dogs, and thanked the gloomy heavens, because I knew the naps today were going to be epic. As I type at this moment, my twin two-year-old daughters, along with my infant son, are sound asleep.

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I know there are probably a slew of moms who secretly (or not so secretly) are cursing moms, like me, who have children with successful sleep routines. I have had numerous conversations with multiple different moms whose children do not have regular sleep hours or routines. Honestly, I wish there were some sort of formula that I could relay, but there really are not any guaranteed success tips to getting your children to sleep. Some kids are destined to be night owls who can function on very little sleep. For those children, I would probably ask their pediatrician for help.
There was a time when it seemed my toddlers would be one of those children who would never embrace sleeping in their own cribs. My husband and I tried several routines before we landed on the set of steps that worked for our family. We tried the Johnson Baby Challenge where we bathed our children in lavender scented baby wash and massaged them with lavender scented baby lotion. We, also, took infant massage classes that taught us the correct way to relax our babies and get them ready to slumber. When all else failed, we reverted to the Cry-It-Out method, which was recommended by our children’s pediatrician. Listening to our girls wail at night when we laid them in their cribs was excruciating, but after a week of standing firm, we began to see results. Our pediatrician also recommended putting black out curtains their room so that our toddlers would not have their sleep routines disturbed due to daylight savings time and winter solstice. Today, one year later, our girls have a regular evening bedtime of eight o’clock and they usually wake up around seven o’clock in the morning.
In addition to our evening routine, we have a nap time routine as well. I usually take the kids outside an hour before lunchtime. I try to embrace gloomy weather, because some of the best naps can occur after playing in the snow. When we come in from outside, we have a hearty lunch and I lay the children down to nap. This routine has worked so well for us that I have been able to blog, nap, and listen to my favorite podcasts on a regular basis during their two-hour naps. Of course, every now and then there are hiccups. However, for the most part, this is our daily schedule.

Are you a mom or dad with small children? If so, how do you make sleep a priority in your household? Any comments or tips are greatly appreciated.

How Pusha T Dissed Me, Drake and 1 in 3 American Children

Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have heard that rapper Drake is beefing with a rapper by the name of Pusha T, who is little known outside of those well-versed in the hiphop community. Pusha T’s most known work is a song called “Grinding”, which was released in 2002 when he was in a group called Clipse. Until now, Pusha T was a rapper who stood out because of his lyrical skill. Today, Pusha T is well known because of a diss record that he recently penned to Drake.

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Drake

Drake

In his diss record, called ‘The Story of Adidon”, Pusha T insults Drake’s upbringing and family dynamics on multiple levels. First, he insults Drake by pointing out the fact that his father left him and his mother at an early age. “Your father walked away at 5, hell of a dad thing,” he states. At a time when other rappers, such as JayZ and J. Cole, have tossed aside the bravado and admitted to their struggles with fatherhood after growing up fatherless, it is interesting that Pusha T uses the lack of a father as a diss. According to the United States Census Bureau, twenty-four million children, which is one in three, live without their biological father inside the home. In fact, Biggie Smalls, who is one of the two “ghosts” that Pusha T has stated that he looks up too musically (the other is Tupac), often rapped about the hardships of growing up in a single parent household as well.

pusha t

Pusha T

Pusha T

Pusha T goes on to admonish Drake, because his mother was never married. “Marriage is somethin’ that Sandi never had, Drake,” he states. Somehow, according to Pusha T, Drake is less than, because his mother never got married. This “insult” is also interesting, because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly forty percent of all births in the United States were to unmarried women. This statistic can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarried-childbearing.htm.
Also, Pusha T speaks ill of Drake, because he now spends time with his formerly absent father in public. “Monkey-suit Dennis, you parade him/ A Steve Harvey-suit n—a made him,” he states. This touches home for me. As a woman who grew up in a single parent household and did not have the opportunity to meet my own father until the age of twelve, forgiving my father was something that I struggled with as a child and young adult. Hearing Drake speak of his own struggles with accepting and forgiving his father is encouraging to me. It is uncanny that Pusha T hurls Drake’s forgiveness of his father at him as an insult. Forgiveness is often touted as necessary for growth, but once again, in Pusha T’s mind that’s a sign of weakness.
Pusha T states that Drake has produced a baby out of wedlock and encourages him to accept his son stating, “A baby’s involved, it’s deeper than rap/ We talkin’ character, let me keep with the facts”. In the manner that Pusha T says this, he is taunting Drake. Once again, this is baffling to me, because many Americans struggle with this as well. While I hope that Drake is not a dead beat father, I acknowledge that it is hard to be a good father if you have never seen one firsthand.
Conclusively, although Pusha T’s diss record was witty and clever, I can’t feel it. He is dissing Drake for a family dynamic that is largely out of his control. I guess this is what the Bible was referring to when it talks about the sins of the father being visited upon the children. As a fatherless child, one day your nemesis can insult you for not knowing your father well, or at all, and somehow that will become your downfall.

The Poop Chronicles

How come no one told me that as a parent I would be knee deep in poop for at least two to three years?

First off, let me preface this post with a warning. If you are especially squeamish, then please do not read this. If stories of poop make you want to throw up, then I would strongly urge you to reconsider parenting altogether. If you are already a parent, but the smell (and touch) of poop turns your stomach, then you are probably like me. Also, like me, you are probably screwed.

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Since becoming a parent, I have dealt with several types of disasters involving poop, which is also commonly called feces. I have cleaned so much poop, in fact, that I have developed threat levels and methods for being prepared to clean poop at all times. So much so that I am pretty sure I’m qualified to dispose of waste for medical facilities. I mean, I don’t know what their qualifications are, but I’m pretty sure I come close to being able to do the job.

For example, today I experienced a low-level poop disaster. This is where the poop is contained, it’s baby or toddler poop, and we are at home. This way I have all the tools necessary to dispose of the poop. For instance, today one of the twins pooped in the tub. That is easy. Just get the twins out of the tub, remove the poop, clean the tub again, and start the bathing process over.
Moderate-level poop disasters are awful, but they can be manageable if you are prepared. These poop disasters occur when you are not home, but you are still dealing with baby or toddler poop. Through trial and error, I have learned to carry a few additional items in my children’s diaper bag. Everyone knows to carry your standard items in the diaper bag, such as a change of clothes, snacks or bottles, diapers or training pants, and baby wipes. In case of moderate-level poop disasters, you also need to carry gallon-sized zip lock bags, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes. Just in case one of your kids blows a load out of their diaper or training pants, you will be prepared to contain the poopy outfit in the zip lock bag, disinfect any surfaces that the poop touched, and baby wipe and sanitize your, and the afflicted child’s, hands.

High-level poop disasters are the most disastrous of all kinds. This is where you are out of house and the poop that is question is not the baby or toddler’s. For instance, recently I was at an art festival and my teenaged daughter rolled the stroller through a big steaming pile of large animal poop. I am not completely sure if it was horse or large dog poop. I did not thoroughly inspect it. I did, however, accidentally step in it myself. When high-level poop disasters occur I recommend containment and delegation. This is the perfect time to determine how much your significant other really loves you and the children. I’m not saying this is the right method for everyone, but this is what works for me. After rolling and stepping in the mysterious poop, I handed my husband several grocery bags, which I also carry in the children’s diaper bags. He used them to cover the stroller wheels and my affected shoe. We tossed everything into the truck and went on our merry way.

In the past, these poop disasters used to cause major meltdowns, arguments, and even tears. Today, with proper poop management, I think I’m just about ready for anything. Knock on wood.

Story Time: What’s a Super-Mom Anyway?

 A mom, a baby and two toddlers walk into a library…

Trust me. You do not want to hear the punchline to that joke. Or better yet, the joke was on me. In my head, things would go swimmingly. I would stroll in the library during story time with my three-month-old strapped snug against my chest and the leashes to my twin daughters’ backpacks gripped firmly. In my mind, my daughters would sit quietly and listen to the librarian as she read a lovely children’s book that we would later discuss in detail.

However, my mind is often filled with idealistic ramblings. Realistically, I was dealing with toddlers, two-year-old twins to be exact. Even though I was armed with an arsenal of snacks and toys, the first meltdown ensued before we even left the house. No worries, I thought. For I’d read several parenting articles on outings with toddlers, which offered advice on how to handle everything from temper tantrums to boredom in toddlers. Unfortunately, nothing had prepared me for the real thing.

Anyhow, so here I was, coaxing my easily distracted toddlers to the door of the children’s section as my three-month-old began to stir in his baby carrier, alerting me that he was hungry. Sidebar, did you know that babies tend to get hungry when entering new environments? I do now. I guess suckling or nursing helps them to feel at ease.

So, we enter the children’s room and we are greeted by the most kind, helpful librarian. As she greeted us and led us to the alphabet adorned rug to have a seat in Indian style, her tone was laced with a mixture of admiration and pity. She mentioned something about me being a “supermom”. That should have been my cue to leave, for I am squarely a mediocre mom at best. Yes, I wipe up spilled milk and clean poopy diapers, but I also drink wine and dream of penthouses and music festivals. I’m just saying.

As we waited for the shenanigans (I love that word.) to start, I tried embracing my newfound title of “supermom” and attempted to mingle with the other early moms. The baby was easy. I managed to slide his carrier to the side and give him a bottle while carrying on the usual “it’s rude if we don’t speak” conversation with this other toddler moms.

While carrying on this charade of a conversation, I am watching my twins wrestle a toy from a well-manner and impressive three-year-old’s hands. Great! Now she is going to know that I am not a “supermom” after all. I apologized profusely for my children’s behavior. And that became the theme of this story time endeavor. And while the other mom’s mouth said, “It’s fine.” Her eyes told a different story.

And, with that, in walks another librarian, armed with children’s book on dandelions. My twin daughters immediately became disinterested. Leighanna (the oldest twin by thirty-three minutes) decided she would find a better book and “read” it to the group. Audrianna, on the other hand) found a crayon from somewhere and began to color in the white tiles on the floor. And, I continued to feed my restless baby, who had just taken a dump in his diaper. I made mom faces and hush noises at the toddlers to no avail. My children were ruthless, and the librarian was reading the longest children’s book ever. How much could this author say about dandelions? Good grief!

Then, it was over, but not really. For, after story time, its craft time. Not to be contained, my toddlers, who had now pooped their diapers as well, began to run rampant around the children’s room. I lumbered slowly behind with my poopy baby strapped to my chest. With the help of the sympathetic librarian, I rounded up the twins and we somehow managed to get them to glue Q-tips (Don’t ask.) to pieces of construction paper for another fifteen minutes.

Then, it was over, for real this time. I had managed to get my kids through story time meltdown free. However, getting them back to the car was another endeavor altogether. I wish that I had sage advice to give, but I just bribed them with cookies.

In conclusion, story time was a tempered success, depending on your definition of success. Taking my three smaller children to story time at a library was a noble endeavor. For now, we might just stick to the playgrounds and the parks that we are used to. I mean, what the heck is a “super-mom” anyway?

Working Fitness into Your Daily Routine

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Want to become more fit this year? Of course, you do! At least, that was my goal for this year. However, as a working mother of three, it feels difficult to almost impossible to work fitness into my already busy schedule. How does one accomplish this seemingly impossible feat?

First, I formed a network of support. My support group consists of a few of my likeminded coworkers. We share healthy eating tips, work out together and encourage each other as well. Having a stable support group is a major asset in helping me to stay on track with my fitness goals.

Second, I recognized my reason for staying in shape. Diabetes runs in my family. In order to prevent myself from getting diabetes and increase my chances of having a long and healthy life, I run. I want to see my daughters go to college, get married and have children one day. For those reasons, I work hard to stay in shape.

And last, I try to make it fun. Working out with my coworkers, who are also my friends, is already fun. I also love to listen to music. I look forwarded to running, because it gives me a chance to relax and rock out to my favorite songs.

What helps you stick to a stable fitness routine? Feel free to like, share and comment below.

Teaching Our Children About African American History

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Today, around the country, Americans are celebrating the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. As we observe this national holiday, it is important to consider what Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy means to us and our children. Also, it is important to consider what we want our children to know about African American history. For, we cannot expect school systems to teach our children everything we want them to know about African American history.

I would like for my daughters to know that although African Americans have been fighting oppression for centuries, there have been many great authors and artists despite our enslavement and oppression. For instance, the Harlem Renaissance produced literary greats, like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Theirs Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was probably one of the most enthralling books that I read as a teenager.

Moreover, I want my children to know that family is important to the black community. Statisticians would quickly lead you to believe that African Americans do not care about keeping the family together or building a strong legacy; however, if you review history, you can even find letters from slaves risking death and attempting to keep up with their families in the early 1800s.

As African Americans, I want my children to be proud of their culture. I want my daughters to know that they come from greatness and that the best is yet to come.

 

What are your thoughts on this MLK Jr. Day? Feel free to comment, like, and share.