Its a New Season...MY Season

I have not posted in a long while. I have had so many things going on and feeling so many different emotions. 2011 proved to be yet another challenging year and it left me with feelings of un-accomplishments yet again. The biggest disappointment for me was sending my daughter to Lane College  (Its more like a High School) in Memphis, TN. She had thee most horrible experience there attempting to follow in the footsteps of my mother-in-law. Epic Fail! We will be leaving next week to take my daughter to ASU where our Son attends. I am hoping that she will have a REAL College experience at ASU; I can almost bet my life she will. Dealing with empty nest syndrome has proved to be a challenge for me in more ways than one, but I shall get through it again. Watching my daughter lose her zeal and spunk was heartbreaking for me, but we got through it and she is more than ready for what life will bring her from this point on.
As I move forward into 2012, I am blessed that I have my health, my family, my friends, and a will to make necessary changes. I have set my goals for the year and I hope to accomplish them. I'm bringing in the New Year with all four of our children and my husband as well as some family. I enjoy bringing in the year that way, it gives me a sense of what my year will be like: surrounded by those I love and those who love me. As I look to this coming year with my application already submitted for a Principal's Position, I am confident that this is MY season. 2012 has to be a good year for our family. Before I sat and wrote this blog, I spoke with my hubby and he shared some encouraging words as he gently placed a kiss upon my lips he said, "2012 will be a much better year for us Baby." I believe him, he usually doesn't let me down.
2011 brought me and my sister Shawn back together, it helped me and my sister Nye become even closer, it gave me a new nephew, AJ, it helped me to see things more clearly with my siblings, it helped me understand why the love my husband and I share continues to grow, it helped me be a better mom to my children, it helped my personal relationships grow with my friends and extended families. Thank you FB for bringing my friend Tish back into my life, I missed her! Thanks Nakynoo for being such a great friend, I love you. There are so many of you I can thank for your friendship and encouraging words, but I won't try because someone will be left out and feelings will be hurt. So...if you're my friend, family, extended family...I love you all and I appreciate what you bring to my life, both positive and negative because it helps me grow on so many levels.
May 2012 bring us all prosperity, love, joy,peace, patience, tolerance, and respect for one another!

I know your time is precious, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Until we chat again....

There Are No Do-Overs!

I wanted to write this blog several weeks ago, but I decided against it. Why? Because my two older children read this blog as well and although I use real-life experiences when writing my blogs, I didn't want it to seem as though I was sharing "too much of their business". However, after careful thinking, I have decided to write it anyway.
I woke up yesterday morning feeling so "New", so blessed and I had an "a-ha" moment. Of course this moment did not come instantaneously, it has come to me over the last couple years with much thought, anxiety, soul-searching, self reflection, and self-satisfaction. I, me, she, her..."I" had to be okay with the way things are and were going in my life. Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I am a perfectionist and anything I do, I do it with zeal, persistence, and determination; including being a MOTHER. Which brings me to this blog. As a mother, I have four children who count on me daily; I have been a mother for the past 20 years and it's something I take great pride in. It has always been my desire to ensure that my children had a great childhood, did things they wanted to do, participated in extra curricular activities at school (clubs, organizations, field trips, parties, etc), participated in sports, had an equal balance between being a student and a friend (socially). I regularly attended parent conferences, except four. Why? Because I was working on my Masters so hubby stood in for me that year and he went solo. I regularly attended all school performances, and I regularly attended all games. (Screeching tire sound here) STOP! That's where I was wrong. You see, my eldest daughter shared with me a few weeks back that she felt I should have been more supportive of her and her Basketball Games. I didn't attend "all" of them only "some" of them. She was right in saying that. Although that's not something a parent wants to hear, she was valid in feeling that way. I didn't attend all her games; I have been a working mother the entire length of my kids' lives. Prettie (her nickname because she is gorgeous) played JV Basketball and their games were always at 2:30 in the afternoon; don't get me wrong, I have taken off work to attend "some" but I couldn't take off work one day every week, my principal would have thought I'd lost my mind. It's difficult to not be there for your kids while you're still being there for them. Does that make sense? It's like, I wasn't there for her physically at the game, but I was there for her while working to help hubby provide for us all. When those games were over, she had a ride home after school in the truck because we paid the note. She had food on the table for dinner because we worked so we could afford groceries. She had someplace to sit and do her homework because we worked and paid the rent. She had two parents in the home who could help her do her homework (if necessary). She had someplace warm and clean to lay her head at night because we worked and could afford a bed with clean sheets. She had a mother who was not out partying and "doing her", but always there when she needed an ear. I could go on and on but I'll stop here! She and her brother always say "boy you can talk!" I sure can!
Nevertheless, what I'm trying to say is, in parenting, there are no do-overs. We do the best we can do for our children. Sometimes that may mean they are not going to like us, they may be angry with us sometimes, and they may tell us how awful of a job we did raising them. But at the end of the day, you can't go back and change anything. What you can do, is acknowledge their feelings, take accountability for your actions or lack of in my case, and move forward. What pleased me so much about the conversation that Prettie and I had is that although it was a bit hurtful hearing my child say she felt I wasn't there for her enough, I was proud I raised her to have such a discussion with me. She knew she could say anything to me and it could be discussed. I raised a young lady who is not afraid to voice her opinion and is articulate enough to have an engaging conversation. I was proud! good news or bad, I was proud because at the end of the day, we want to raise children who feel empowered, supported, have a positive identity, and know what expectations and boundaries have been set for them.
I did respect Prettie for coming to me and sharing her feelings, and I also told her, "If this is the only complaint you have about me as being your mother, I think I did a pretty darn good job! Don't start me on all the things I HAVE done for you girl." LOL, but I really did say that!
This has been a pretty rough year for Prettie and she's had a great deal of time to think and reflect, so maybe she's just thinking about some things and wanted to get that off her chest. Nevertheless, I don't get a Do-Over with her. So where do we go from here? UP of course! There are going to be so many more events I will be a part of and she's knows that I will be there for her.
Side Note: My seven year old is not too happy with me either because Tuesday is her Christmas Play but I have Parent Conferences with the parents of my students all next week (five a day) and I can't make it. She's not interested in the fact that I am behind because the sub in my room did nothing for two months so it was like starting from scratch. She doesn't care that Daddy will be there filming for me and we'll watch it together later. All she said to me (through tears) is, "But you never miss my shows Mommy!" I can't catch a break with my princesses!
I know your time is precious and valuable, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Until we chat again...

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Girl or Boy...They Bring Much Joy!

Babies!!! This seems to be the year of babies; I know so many individuals having babies. There is one person in particular who is expecting a baby (not literally). My best friend will be an Aunt for the very first time! I am so excited for her. Although my children fondly call her Auntie, she will now have her very own niece or nephew and I know she will be the best Aunt ever because I've watched her be an Auntie to my children for years. She is my inspiration for this post because she's attended many baby showers but has never thrown one as a true Auntie. There are so many rules and etiquette to having showers. Who should throw it? Should men be invited? What type of food should be served? How many games should be played? Should the Shower start promptly? What type of invitations should be used? How long should a shower last? If this is the mothers second or third child, should she have a shower? What are good hostess gifts? Should party favors be given to guests? What are good themes? The list goes on and on. I have had four children and have attended many baby showers as well as thrown many over the years and I have experienced various "different" showers; I have walked away saying, "What a unique idea for a shower" to "Did that just happen?" LOL Nevertheless there are a few guidelines which will ensure a successful shower:

  • Surprise showers are not a good idea (in my opinion) because you want the expecting mother to look and feel her best and she should have a say on certain things. Including the mother-to-be to a certain extent is suggested.
  • Today, it is more and more customary for the family to throw a shower. Although the mother-to-be may find herself attending more than shower. Co-workers may also want to have a shower for her in her honor.
  • In terms of food, decide whether you want to have appetizers or a "meal". Get the mother-to-be's opinion and keep in mind food allergies or diet restrictions of your guests.
  • Inviting men should be the decision of the parents-to-be. They may know several couples and want to invite them, or the expectant mother may not feel that men should be invited.
  • The shower should begin promptly; recommend timely arrival to your guests.
  • A shower should last about 2-3 hours
  • About 3-4 games should be played; anything more than that and your guests begin to experience "tired of games" syndrome!
  • Regardless to the number of births, each child being born deserves a celebration.
  • Although individuals throw a shower out of the kindness of their hearts, a simple "Thank You" from the mother-to-be would be nice. Simple gifts like a candle, a flower, or a hand written note is recommended but not necessary.
  • Guests do not attend showers to receive gifts, they attend to celebrate the life of a child. However, giving party favors is a nice gestures; I've seen it done WITH and WITHOUT.
  • Today, many individuals are tech savvy and online invitations are popular; sites such as Socializr and Evite are popular choices. Handmade invitations are also popular as well as pre-printed invitations from your local party store. All should include a start and end time as well as any details regarding the choice of gifts the expectant mother prefers.
  • I've seen many themes at showers. Depending on the mother-to-be and whether it is her first child or not, whether she wants the shower to celebrate the joy of life or have gifts given will determine your theme. Themes such as "Mommy Time", "First Library", "Circle of Love", and "Casserole Dish" are a few you can choose from. (For more details on these themes, email me)

The most important thing to remember is that life is precious and a gift from God; celebrate this special occasion by keeping that in mind and...don't forget the cake!
I know your time is precious and valuable, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Until we chat again...

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I Can Handle It, Really...

At the end of the day, you look back on what seemed to be difficult in the beginning and realize, "I handled that pretty good!" That's what happened to me today. Today is Thanksgiving Day and a very important person was missing...My SON! He's away at college and he's working as well as going to school. Initially, when he told me he wanted to work, I was concerned if it would be too much for him handle with school; the thought of him making his own money was also refreshing because college is not cheap! Nevertheless, he's always worked during the summer months so he's not afraid of responsibility or dedication. I was really looking forward to seeing him because I haven't seen him in about four months; I can Skype with him but its not the same as hugging him :-). When I learned that he would not be coming home for Thanksgiving I was pretty disappointed about it. I did my best not to stress him out more ( I know he was looking forward to coming as well) by calling him and telling him how much I would miss him. I did great until...WEDNESDAY! I called and told him how much I would miss him but how proud I was of him for being so responsible and dedicated. When I woke up this morning, I didn't feel like doing anything but I knew I needed to finish cooking so I did. In between my cooking, my eldest daughter surprised me and got him on Skype for me. We laughed and talked and had a great time.
After talking to my Son I really had more to be thankful for. I arose this morning thinking how blessed I am to have a roof over my head and food to cook, a husband lying next to me who is dedicated to both me and our children, great kids who make me proud on a daily basis, extended family and friends. Things could be much worse, I could be homeless or lonely. Realizing that the young man on the other end of that computer Skyping with me is a product of me and hubby's parenting made so eternally grateful and thankful. So, at the end of the day, I handled it, really, I did! Now, if I don't see my son for Christmas, we may have a misunderstanding. I'm just saying. (Smile)
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and you shared it with those closest to you and those far as well.
I know your time is precious and valuable, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Until we chat again...

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What's In a Name?

I have often pondered a thought: why is it that you need a license to practice Psychology, drive, hunt, practice medicine, practice law, sale liquor, and sale real estate? however, you do not need a license to be a Parent! Wow! Food for thought, right?
Being a Parent is a HUGE responsibility that some take for granted or pass on to older siblings, extended family members, and even grandparents to do in their absence for whatever reason that may be. One can hold the "Title" or "Name" of Mommy and Daddy but still not play the role of Parent. A Parent parents their child; they are nurturing, attentive, guiding, supportive, empowering, committed, positive, responsible, dependable, kind, caring, loving...I could go on and on. Being a Parent is such a HUGE responsibility that its commitments are mentioned in the Bible.
Where does "bad parenting" come from? The adult who finds him/herself faced with being a parent, looks back and cannot remember being parented themselves. When you know better, you do better. Period. Being aware of the fact that you should give your all to being a parent is one of the first steps to being a great parent. When you consider other tangible things in your life which you consider to be assets, do you think of your role as a parent as an asset? If not, you should. Parenting and raising children with qualities such as setting boundaries and expectations, empowering them to succeed, teaching them time management skills, values, morals, beliefs, and social competencies are all tools which will support their growth and development as people. If you do not instill in your children a positive identity of themselves, how do you expect it to occur?
If you are not the person(s) in your child's life to foster their growth and development, can you truly expect that child to respect you? Children have rights as well as adults do. Children have a right to be loved and nurtured from committed parents; if you are not this doing this, you are violating the rights of your children. Of course, we can never do everything perfect, but we should our best to get as close as possible.
Supporting our children with love, care and attention while empowering them to make the best possible choices while clearly setting expectations and boundaries will assist us in nurturing them to have a commitment to learning. The positive values, morals and beliefs we instill in them will be the positive values which guide them through life.
After all shouldn't we want to raise assets, not liabilities?
I know your time is valuable, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Until we chat again...

The Other Little People...

We often associate the term "Little People" as the politically correct description of dwarfed individuals. For me, it has a been term of endearment for my children and my students. Afterall, we are raising "Little People"; our children will grow up and become functioning adults in society and we want them prepared. Often, some adults believe children should be seen and not heard; depending on your own experiences as a child, this may be something you feel strongly about.
Consider for a moment, that you do not allow your child to have input in certain conversations which may involve them. What are you teaching your child about having an opinion? Thinking for themselves? It's true, you do not want a child that has a difficult time being respectful and the ability to voice opinion becomes disrespectful and you find yourself arguing with this little person. We do, however, want to create a balance of meaningful conversation when having dialogue with our children. The lessons you teach them now will follow them for years to come.
It is a great idea to hold family meetings sometimes when major things are occurring to include the children; this gives the child or children a sense of belonging and it also lets them know that they are a valuable member of the member of the family with input to be considered. It allows them to share how they are feeling as well.
Over the years, I have parented my children to have open dialogue with myself and their dad as well as teachers. There are moments where your children may have input in regards to certain rules, especially as they pertain to them. Discussions with with your child or children regarding washing dishes, curfew, homework schedules, sports, chores, bedtime, television watching, and video game playing are all relevant discussions where our little people may want to have a say. The important thing to remember during these conversations is that you are in fact, the parent and you are willing to hear them out, but make it clear that the final decision is yours. Remember that our little people are watching us intently; they are determining what type of adult they will be based on their experiences with us as parents; in essence, this is what occurs during the rearing of our children. We want our children to grow and learn and have the tools for independence, especially the tool of having discernment and knowing whom they can trust. You build this trust by letting them know that they will be heard while maintaining consistent discipline. They need to see that sometimes you are willing to make decisions based upon their input as well.
You want to create confident children because confident children become confident adults!
Happy Parenting!
I know your time is precious and valuable, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Until we chat again...

Please and Thank You!

The past week has been a very busy week for me, but then what else is new? I had so many experiences this past week that I pondered what I should write about. My eldest sister and her family have what is known as Junk Food Fridays so I copied her last night and I suggested to hubby and the kids that we have Wing Stop. Coming out of Wing Stop, I looked across the street and McDonald's was calling my name; well, the Strawberry Lemonade was! Make a long story short, I'm one of those people who believes that God places where I need to be, even if it's not where I want to be. As fate would have it, the syrup for the lemonade is empty and needs to be refilled. Instead of me telling McDonald's how unprepared they are because my wings are outside with hubby getting cold, I patiently waited. While I waited, a "lil person" (I affectionately call children this) approached the counter and said, "I need a Ranch (dressing)" after look at one another, the employees pulled out a Ranch Dressing and gave it gave it to him. Now, I'm assuming his parent(s) are close y because he looks no older than about eight years old. He then said, "I need another one". Me being the Teacher that I am, bent down so he could hear me and I said, "Say please and thank you"; he said it, smiled at me and walked off.
Was that my business? YES it was! Could his parent(s) approach me and say "don't speak to my kid that way"? YES, but I wouldn't mind. I believe that some children have lost their manners because some parents have lost theirs. Bold, but true statement.
Another example: I stopped to get donuts for the staff at my daughters Middle School and my staff. Without even thinking about it, I said please and thank you to the lady behind the counter; its honestly a part of my daily vocabulary because I have so many people (children and adults) who are watching my every move and word. An older gentleman next to me waiting to order said, "You know, people don't use use those words too much anymore, I rarely hear please and thank you anymore". Of course I enlightened him with my theory as to why we don't hear those words too often anymore, but that's another blog!
My point is this: I work with about five different Assistants in my classroom everyday. I have 26 students, of which three are special needs students, and I interact with about 30 more staff throughout the day. It is very important to me to show the staff in my class that they are appreciated and that I know we are all doing an important job. So when I ask them to do something, I make sure to say please and thank you each and every time. Not only do my staff appreciate that about me, I am setting an example for my students who are watching. There have been times when a student has asked for more milk or a different activity in a learning center and did not say please and thank you. I did not have to correct them because their peers did. They have become accustomed to me "expecting" it from them and see and hear me use them daily.
Are we setting this type of example for our children as parents? When you are asking for the remote or a glass of water or for the dishes to be done, are you saying please and thank you? Although you know that as a parent, they will do it because you asked, it doesn't take much to say please and thank you. You are teaching manners that will be passed on for years to come.

I know that your time is precious and valuable, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Until we chat again...

Fruit Snacks!

When I think of Fruit Snacks, and when I eat Fruit Snacks, I feel young. Not literally of course, but Fruit Snacks are most kids' favorite things to eat. Children often do not worry about the tedious and troublesome issues we as adults face on a daily basis. Therefore, when I'm having a "moment" I sometimes grab a bag of "Fruit Snacks" and just eat myself into "happiness"! I have to be honest and say that this is not my usual method of release and relax, but I have had several "Fruit Snacks" moments. A smile just instantly comes to my face when I have a Fruit Snack; I think of my children and the joy and innocence of childhood.
As parents, we have to have a mental health plan in place. It is very important to consider your mental health and to have a plan for relaxing and knowing when we have reached our limits. As a professional, I have what is known as a "Professional Burnout Plan" this plan allows me to take a step back from work (Mental Health Day)when "I" deem it necessary, take time out for and with myself and take time out with family. I have also (in my older years) began to apply this "Burnout Plan" in my personal life as well. Often, we become bombarded with the daily routines that we begin to feel like robots.
Its okay if those dishes don't get washed right away; trust me,they are not going anywhere! Its okay if you only get one load of laundry done. When you don't feel like doing something, don't do it. Its somewhat like a meal plan. How so? The meal plan usually does not leave room for Brownies (I love Brownies)so you feel like you're cheating if you eat a Brownie. EAT A BROWNIE!!! Ha!
Basically, what I'm saying is, we have to know when enough is enough. Its okay to "check out" for a couple hours. When you return, it will be business as usual. Trust me. Do me a favor: next time you're feeling a bit worn out, have some "Fruit Snacks"! It works for me.
Happy Parenting!

Silly Boyz...Trucks Are for Girlz Too!!!

Who says only boys can play with trucks? Only girls can play with dishes? Don't panic if you see your child(ren) assuming "another" role while engaged in play; its important to allow children to have hands on experiences and venture into other roles. In all honesty, our sons will grow up to be fathers one day. Wouldn't it be nice if he has experiences in handling a baby, cooking, sweeping and vacuuming? There is no need to panic when boys visit the Dramatic Play area at school; reminding children of the various roles in the home is healthy and age appropriate for Preschoolers. The same hold true for girls who may want to visit the wood bench or the block area at school; who says a girl can't work on a construction site or become a world renowned architect?
Eventually, our children will grow up and leave the home and become adults, possibly parents. We want them to have real-life experiences at an early age which will, in the end, prove to be beneficial.

America... Land of the Free! Or...Is It???

We live in a country that is such a melting pot. The State of California alone is rich with so many varying cultures and races of people. However, there is a question we should ask ourselves: "Are we raising culturally aware and sensitive individuals?"
Such a bold question to ask and the answer may surprise you. For the first time ever, we have a Black President and this did not occur without doubts, fears, or reservations. Regardless to what has happened or what will happen in the future, we are still very far away from being a culturally accepting society. This may be a touchy subject for some, but a subject that, needless to say, needs to be discussed.
What do our children hear us say about individuals who are "different" from us? Do we correct our children when we hear them make comments that sound similar to the ones we have made? Do we correct them when we hear them refer to a certain race in a derogotory manner?
I am sure we are all guilty of saying certain things we shouldn't say, but what is important is that we make ourselves aware of the fact that there are certain "individuals" watching us and our every move and word: Our Children.
Because our neighborhoods and classrooms are made up of various individuals from various backgrounds with varying beliefs and practices, we need to be sure that we are instilling in our children acceptance. Accepting those who may look, think, talk, and behave different than what is considered the "norm". It is important to remember that an individual's environment plays a key role in how that individual may think or behave.
You may ask yourself, "how is it possible for me to teach acceptance to my young child or my children?" The answer is very simple: YOU should be accepting of others who are different from you. The word "different" covers a variety of things; it is always wise to consider that not everyone's family will look like yours. If someone's family is not made up of the same family unit as yours, does that make them any less of a family than yours? If they are a different color, does that make them any less of a family than you are? I'll answer those questions: NO! You just may be surprised at how well that "other" family functions; you may learn a thing or two from that family.
Continue to be mindful of your actions and your words when you are not in the presence of your children, and when you are in their presence, it will be much more easy to set the proper example for them. We do, after all, live in a free country and love and acceptance should be free. Should they not? I think they should.

How Much Time Are Wii Spending on Video Games?

Wii is the game system of choice for me and my kids. Of course hubby is a PS3 lover. Nevertheless, this family enjoys playing video games. I enjoy using the Wii to work out or dance to Michael Jackson moves. The kids, on the other hand enjoy the actual video games. However, now that school has officially started (a couple months ago) we had to make some changes. During the summer months, between the summer readings and occasional writing to stay refreshed, my kids enjoyed playing video games every spare moment they had. Of course there were the "turn that game off and do something constructive" moments, but for the most part, my two younger children played video games with the neighbors and their cousins quite often.
How did this cease? We had the conversation that when school started, the video game playing would be minimal. Sticking to our word is what was key in making this arrangement work. In addition to limiting video game playing, the television hours were also cut. There were a couple times our seven year old tried to pull a fast one on daddy to watch television during the week, but I reminded her in front of Daddy that there is no television watching during the week. I would make her accountable by asking: "Is that what you should be doing? What are the rules?" I put the ball in her corner to make her responsible for her actions and to reflect on the negative behavior.
Its very easy to fall back on your word because sometimes the television is a babysitter for us. But setting limits and sticking to them will teach our children respect. Following through on what we say we'll do, or not do will teach them to respect us for our word and they will in turn practice the same. Rules are rules, don't cave in, you're in charge!
Besides, it gives them something to look forward to on weekends if they have cooperated in school, handled their chores and have been good listeners overall.
Happy Parenting!!!

Wait Until Your Daddy Gets Home!!!

I may be telling my age here, but I remember this television show from my younger years! However, this catchy title means something totally different for me today. This blog is for all the Mommies and Daddies who are in charge of running their households and sometimes feel under-appreciated. I can't tell you how many mothers I have talked to who are so fed up with being the "one" who does 90% of everything around the house. Some are working mothers and are some are SAHM (Stay at Home Moms). In my opinion, SAHM have it a bit harder than working moms. How so? Because their husbands feel like, "she's home all day, she should be able to handle everything." Well news flash buddy!!!! While you're sitting at your nice desk relaxing in a nice office, guess who's taking care of your children while they scream, are demanding, and do not allow their mother to get half the things done on her list on a daily basis? That's right...your wife! Therefore, to you SAHM, this is what I say: Remind your husband how much money you are saving him in DayCare by staying home, remind him that if you were working, you just may be too tired to clean anything up or deal with kids once you hit the door (like he feels often), remind him that you too could be late home from work just to give yourself a few more minutes of quiet time before you come home (that is after all, why they're often late). Remind him that if you were working you all would need a housekeeper to help with chores and laundry, that dinner would begin to look like fast food joints more occasionally. Create a schedule and post it visibly so that he is able to see what your days look like. When he doesn't pick up his clothes, start a nice pile in the corner on his side of the bed. When he doesn't take out the trash, sit the bags at the door he uses to leave every morning, when he doesn't put his dishes away, start that pile on his nightstand next to his side of the bed. It sounds harsh but sometimes you have to demand respect and demand to e heard. Actions speak louder than words.
Fo you working moms, the same holds true. You cannot do everything by yourselves. AS women, we are innately built to nurture and care for our families; if you're a nurturer on steroids like I am, you often will find yourself in overdrive! It is important to have the talk with your spouse about sharing responsibilities; teams work together to get things done. This also goes back to my last post about having the children help out as well. It's not child labor or husband abuse to ask them for assistance. A great deal of work goes into taking care of a household. I can mostly speak for myself, but I have also had these conversations with other women who share the same responsibilities as me. There are heads to comb and brush, clothes to wash, PTA meetings, volunteering at school, making lunches, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, help with homework, drop off and pick up to school, the mall, cheer, basketball and football practice or whatever sport they may be involved in, be a counselor, nurse, psychologist etc when our children and spouses need us to be, be a daughter, sister, grandmother and friend when our extended family outside the house need us. Some are active in their religious institutions, kids need bathing, trash needs taking out, dishes need doing, cars need gas often, doctors appointments... have a full time job to work. You cannot do it alone. Therefore, some things will just have to wait until Daddy gets home. Let Daddy help with giving baths; it will allow him to have bonding time with the children. Let Daddy help with homework, let Daddy cook dinner one night a week (its the least he could do), let Daddy help with the laundry sometimes, let Daddy help with carpooling or dropping off and picking up. You're getting my point, I'm sure. As I've stated in past blogs, the family unit looks so different today than it did years ago; it takes two incomes to survive or two people to make it work. Its okay to ask your husband or significant other to help out around the house, it won't kill him, trust me!
Does this work in my house? Yes. All the time? No! Sometimes my hubby gets comfortable with me doing a lot. Does he not help at all? O course he does! I think my hubby is pretty good at helping me do a lot. Everything I mentioned above, he does it and some. BUT...(there's always a but) sometimes he will slack off and let me do most of it. What happens then? We talk about how I'm feeling and how it makes me feel when he doesn't help me out. But I want you women to listen very carefully to what I am about to say: the last talk hubby and I had (two weeks ago) he said something that made me angry at the time but later I thought about it and said how many other men feel this way. Its not often men let us into their heads to know what they're feeling but after many years of marriage, they slip up! Ha! So hubby said to me: "You don't tell me what you need done; all you have to do is ask me." During our conversation, I was so upset when he said that. My response was, "Tell you??? Tell you what to do??? You don't have to ask me to do the many things I do around here!!!" But later on, I thought about it and made complete sense. As the perfectionist I am, I have a certain way I like things done and I often do carry things out on my own, but there are times that I would like help. Maybe all I have to do is ask a little more often.So, the last couple weeks I've been "asking" for extra favors. I mean hubby did say all I have do is ask, right???
Everyone's joy is equal. I like to use that because we often sit and judge others when we shouldn't. What works in my household, may not work in yours and vice versa. But if it makes you happy, I'm happy. But do me one favor... next time your children ask for help with homework or need a ride to the mall, try saying this: "Wait till your Daddy gets home"; next time you feel overwhelmed and tired, "Wait til their Daddy get home" and ask for a little assistance. Teamwork when raising a family makes a world of difference.
Happy Parenting!!!!
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"If I scratch Your Back, Will You Scratch Mine?"

From an early age we are taught that you don't get something for nothing!
What are we teaching our children about this very topic? Should chores be associated with allowances? Are we paying our children to clean up? If so, are we paying them what the standard minimum wage rate is? Hmmmmm... makes you wonder, huh?
Personally, I don't really agree with giving allowances. All my children's needs are being met by me and hubby, why do they need a set amount of money weekly? Maybe because it teaches them responsibility, how to manage their own money? True. But should the allowances be attached to them doing chores? In my opinion, no. Doing chores does teach a lesson of responsibility, however, it also teaches that we are a family and we work together to keep our home (our space) clean and tidy. This is largely in part due to the fact that the family unit looks nothing like it did years ago. You have single moms, single dads, married moms and dads, two moms, two dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, etc. Regardless of what your family looks like, it takes two incomes "and some" to survive in today's tough economic times. Therefore, you want to teach your children that being a member of a family means being there for another no matter what; assisting one another to get things done.
Allowance, on the other hand should be used to teach money management, responsibility and sensibility. Do not associate the two with one another. Although there are times when my 11 year old drags her feet about certain chores, I often say, "Okay... you know we work "together" in his house. I'm asking you to help me out, there will come a time when you will need my help with something, right?" I'm not threatening her at all, I just want her mind to think about that for a minute. I could be speaking on a number of things with that one statement/question. Believe it or not, it works! I mean, they will, after all, need us again for something.
It's true...the world does function on the premise of "if I do something for you, you need to do something for me". Isn't that why we go to work everyday? I'm not saying disguise reality for our children. What I am saying is this: there are so many lessons to be learned by our children from us. The meaning of family looks so much different today. Teach them that its normal to take care of your family by helping out around the house without being paid for it. I mean, one day we're all gonna be old and our children will choose our convalescent home for us. Will they choose the one that's cheaper so they can keep the change? Or will money not matter when it comes to family?
Happy Parenting!!!!

We Are All Alike, We Are All Different...

That's the title of a book I like to share with my students often. Lately, the topic of diversity and being culturally sensitive has come up a lot. I had a friend to ask me about age-appropriate books to share with her daughter, and later the same day, I read my friend Leslie's Blog about Diversity. As parents, this can often be a touchy conversation to have with our Early Learners (preschool aged children), yet it is a necessary conversation. After reading Leslie's Blog, I decided I would call her this evening and speak to her directly. I enjoy reading her blogs and I thought it would be a great idea to share my knowledge and wisdom with her. During our conversation, I gave Leslie a long list of books as well as some timely advice regarding dealing with Diversity in a Preschool setting. I hope the following information is helpful to you all as well.

  • Check the classroom environment for a variety of multicultural materials such as books, pictures, toys, etc.
  • If you don't see a lot present, donate these items to the classroom teacher.
  • Volunteer to come in and read to students. When you arrive to read, have plenty of multicultural books handy to share with the students.
  • Suggest that for Thanksgiving and or Christmas, parents share their favorite recipes and a classroom recipe book can be created and shared with all the families. Its very simple to create, just ask me!
  • Use Parent Conferences to discuss with the teacher what the requirements of the school are in regards to multicultural lessons, activities, etc. Ask if staff have been trained in this area.
  • Arrange for play dates with classmates who look "different". When children are able to play with one another outside of school, they have an opportunity to bond a little more.
  • Update the library of your children's room with books that reflect all cultures.
  • As parents, do our friends reflect diversity? Do our children see us interacting with others of various cultures and colors?
This is definitely a great topic to discuss. I have shared with you only a few ideas. I challenge you all to think of other ways we can address this topic and share your thoughts here. Another parent may find your advice helpful.

Here is a list of great Multicultural Books:

  • The Black Snowman
  • Kevin and his Dad
  • Margaret and Margarita
  • A Birthday Basket for Tia
  • Apple Pie, Fourth of July
  • Happy to be Nappy
  • Whoever You Are
  • Nappy
  •  We All Sing With the Same Voice
  • We Are All Alike, We Are All Different
  • Bein' With You This Way
  • Mama, Do You Love Me?
  • Bee-bim Bop!
  • My Nose, Your Nose
Happy Reading!!!  
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A Simple "Thank You" Will Do...

The job of a Teacher is one that is often a Thankless job. It doesn't take much to let a teacher know how much you appreciate them and their efforts to assist you in educating your child(ren). I know, there are some teachers who may need to retire and you could care less about showing them your appreciation. Nevertheless, being a teacher is a difficult job; just knowing that you are appreciated means a lot. I am somewhat biased when it comes to this because I am a teacher. It is because I am a teacher that I have so much respect and admiration for my daughters' teachers.
Last Friday, I had Parent Conferences at both the girls' schools. I took all their teachers (four of them) a little "thank you" gift from us to them. It doesn't cost a lot of money to show your appreciation; I'm all about bargain shopping. My first stop: Target (The One Spot), where I found the cutest little candy corn felt bags for $1.00 (I purchased 4), and Mrs. Fields boxed chocolates also for $1.00 (I purchased 4). Second stop: .99 Cent Only Store where I found packs of candy with eight candy bars in each pack for .99 cents. I purchased one pack each of Snickers, Twix, and M&M's. I spent a total of about $12.00 for four teachers. They all were so shocked but grateful. It wasn't a lot but it let them know we were thinking of them and we appreciate them. It's the "little" things that mean so much.
Next time you have a meeting, conference or you just stop by to check on your child(ren), a Simple "Thank You" to the teacher will do!

Day Trip: Shawn's Pumpkin Patch

Sometimes the work week is so long and tiring for me that I just want to rest on Saturdays and even sleep in if possible. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen too often! We try to take the kiddos out and do things with them when they have no extra curricular activities planned. Because the 11 year old is between Basketball Teams and the seven year old is taking Gymnastics during afterschool hours, our Saturday was free and open. Friday night, my nephews (their cousins) came to sleep over. Saturday morning, we planned to take the kiddos to a Pumpkin Patch and what better way for me to spend time with my nephews as well. The children had their face and arms painted, they rode ponies, visited the petting zoo, jumped in the bouncer, ran through a maze, and took silly pictures. They had a blast and we spent about $40.00 for all four of them. We took them to Mc Donald's after where their Happy Meals came in cute buckets which will double as candy holders for October 31st.
There are so many Pumpkin Patches in the city and close by that you can visit. They're usually open until October 31st and some stay open until November. Also, where you see a Pumpkin Patch, you will more than likely discover that they will have an XMas Tree lot there as well in December.
Here is a link to help you locate Pumpkin Patches and more near you Pumpkin Patches and More

Eat All Your Peas...

As parents, we see all the research and we see all the hoopla about eating your vegetables. I mean, I grew up during an era when my mom was serious about us eating everything on our plates! When it comes to parenting skills, I like to think that as parents we do the best we can; there is no manual on parenting. One of my favorite phrases to say is: "when you know better, you do better".
Here's my idea of sharing the "better" with you about making your children eat everything you put on their plate: DON'T DO IT! (LOL) Seriously, do not force your children to eat what they don't like. Mealtime should be a pleasurable experience for you and your child(ren). Think for a minute... when you're busy doing your daily tasks, and you think about dinner, is it not true that sometimes you begin to imagine what that meal will taste like because you just can't wait to get home to eat it? Just the thought of the food hitting your pallate makes your mouth water!
Don't you want your children to have the same experience? There are many ways to ensure your children are getting their daily dose of vitamins; take a little extra time to read labels. If all else fails, here's an idea: ask your child(ren) what THEY like, what THEY want to eat. Allow them to assist with the grocery list. Do you visit restaurants that do not prepare the type of food you like? Well...your child(ren) don't want to visit your dining room or kitchen when it doesn't offer the choices they like. Children have rights as well (that's another blog) and they have a right to say what they don't like. Even if you notice they are asking for the same foods, cook them! Their bodies are gettig nourishment from their food choices. Its okay to continue to offer other food choices and remind them why certain foods are good for them, just don't force them to eat foods they don't care for. Out of my four children, I had this issue with two: my oldest (a 19 year old football player) and my youngest ( a 7 year old cheerleader who loves gymnastics); my 18 year old daughter and 11 year old daughter are basketball players who will try anything at least once. The key is offering choices, children like to know that they have choices. Recommend other food choices while allowing their input as well. * Please note: I discussed thhis issue with the family Pediatrician each time it arose with my children to ensure what I was doing was appropriate, hence, my advice in this blog.
Happy eating!!!

The Wondrous World of Parenting: Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full...

The Wondrous World of Parenting: Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full...: Making time for meaningful dinner conversations is so important for families, especially during these busy and trying times. Personally, my ...

Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full...

Making time for meaningful dinner conversations is so important for families, especially during these busy and trying times. Personally, my hubby and I have found that making time to sit and eat at the table with the children, is at times, challenging. With so many responsibilities and extra curricular activities, the family unit looks totally different today than it did years ago. What has worked for our family is to make sure we have a method to the madness; in other words, we follow strict schedules. There was a time when I was in school two days a week and meeting with my Learning Team as well as putting in countless hours of research. As a team, hubby and I made it work. We didn't sit at the table every night as a family, but we made sure that when we did sit together, we had meaningful conversations with one another as a family. With two in high school and two in elementary, you can imagine how interesting the conversations were and how they flowed from one extreme to the next. Most importantly, we worked together as a family to ensure we all pulled our weight. Having the children on a strict schedule and following it daily provided consistency and stability; children need those two things in life. Knowing what is going to occur and having attainable expectations set for them will foster their growth and development.
Don't forget about Mommy and Daddy time after the kids are all settled in bed and you finally have time to eat. Instead of eating under the "big light", light a candle, sit it on the table between the two of you and ask how your days were. It's the little things and the precious moments together as a couple, without the kids, that remind you of why you married one another in the first place. What will dinner look like in your home tonight?
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Time Out or Thinking Time?

Many parents and educators believe that Time Out is an excellent way to reprimand children who have somehow disappointed them with their actions. Time Out can be a tricky idea. How so? First and foremost, Time Out should only be given in increments of one minute per year of age. For example, if you have a three year old, that child should only spend three minutes in Time Out. I am sure many of you know a child who has been placed in Time Out and "forgotten" about until maybe five to ten minutes later.
What purpose does Time Out serve? Some may argue it its a form of redirecting the child and discouraging the behavior. As a preschool teacher of 15 years, I have proof that this is not true in many cases, which brings me to my opinion regarding Time Out. I believe that Thinking Time serves a much better purpose. How so? Children need time to reflect upon their actions and how their actions may have affected another child. By giving children Thinking Time and asking these open ended questions such as: "How do you think that made your friend feel when you...?" or "Is that what we use our hands for?" Always remember that every moment is a teachable moment. Would you rather have your child or student sit alone for 2-5 minutes watching the other children play, or use two minutes to teach the child an invaluable lesson about respecting others and making wise decisions?
For me, there is no doubt that that Thinking Time wins! How about you?