Friday, October 30, 2009

raising bi-racial children

I apparently hadn't given enough consideration to the reality of raising bi-racial children.  By the time my twins were born six years ago we had a truly blended family and home life in quite a quirky way.  I had already six children from my first marriage, my ex's family and I remained very close and they even accepted my new husband as a part of the family; we adopted a barely teenage boy who was half African American and half Puerto Rican; the house was always full of neighbor kids of all backgrounds and cultures. 

My husband is brown and I am white, of European decent.  He doesn't know what nationalites his ancestors are so I use the term brown as it is his preference.  When we became pregnant, the subject had come up of course in conversation between friends and even between my husband and myself out of fear that the children may have issues out in the world with prejudice.  I was told by many that it was certain to happen and to prepare myself for it.  What I wasn't prepared for was that it would sneak into our home.  It entered through what I would have thought to be the most unlikely source...the twins themselves.

It was sorta funny at first with the games they came up with on their own.  I've mentioned before the time we were in the mall and Anthony had to jump onto the light tiles because he's white and Ashley had to jump from dark tile to dark tile because she's brown.  I didn't say anything at the time - it seemed innocent enough, right?  But this game they played at the mall was more and more a way of identifying themselves.  Soon, they decided Ashley would have chocolate ice cream and he would have vanilla.  She'll have chocolate milk 'cause its brown and he'll have strawberry because its not.  By now I've mentioned to them from time to time that everyone is their own color - nobody in our family is exactly the same color, although ironically, Ashley and our "adopted" son are too close to detect a difference. 

Today, we were walking in the store parking lot, the twins; one of their older brothers, Josh; Josh's girlfriend; her nephew, and me.  Anthony announces hey we are five white people and one brown!  Mind you now they are bi-racial TWINS, and the other child is Mexican.  Ok... enough.  Time for me to start asking questions I think to myself.  His skin is pale and hers is carmel colored, true and while they aren't insinuating that one skin color is better than another by any measure, my concern here is that they not make more of an issue out of skin color than it deserves, but they seem to be more aware and focused on this difference between them than I am comfortable with.

I've asked if there has been any conversation in school about people's skin color, or if classmates have made comments.  Their responses were "no".  It may just be a game with them and nothing to worry about because they are also very focused on the differences between boys and girls, even definining certain colors as boy/girl colors beyond blue and pink.  Did you know red is a girl color and yellow is a boy color?  This was decided because red is Ashley's favorite and yellow is Anthony's.

I've only started to investigate this phenomenon that has entered our home.  I've just started reading the book Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria written by Beverly Danielle Tatum, Ph.D.  (I'm so aggravated with myself for leaving it in my drawer at work... I got so busy that I forgot I brought it.)Hopefully that will give me some skills to help to guide them to a healthy way of developing their identity that doesn't focus so much on skin color.  I mean, I want to live in a world where that is only as important as eye color or hair color when describing an individual.  I can't expect that to happen if it's not even happening in my own house... can I?

I'm open to advice and I guess posting this to ask for advice, support, or anyone that can identify and comiserate (sp?).

Internet - a time saver? I think not.

The internet was supposed to make our lives easier and some major tasks less time consuming. The problem is that there is just sooo much information here that I am becoming overwelmed with information and ideas that I can't actually get anything done lol.

Before I actually used the internet for recreation (back when I had time), I really didn't have much to do outside of working and caring for the family. Now, my Goodness, I have started a dozen projects through information I've collected here and can't seem to finish anything because I'm still learning about the other things I've always wanted to see, create, reconnect with, and just plain play. Until now I didn't know there was so much I wanted to do. I've started crocheting a blanket for my daughter, scrapbooking, sewing, flower arranging, sort of keeping a diary, learned where to shop for bargains (and when), even taking crayon off my wall. The best thing about it though is I've re-connected with some people that held a special place in my history/heart and made a couple of new friends too.  That takes time too, going through pictures, videos, postings, etc... Now I want to fly to Mystic to see Laureen, Florida, South Carolina, back to Massachusetts, etc... to actually spend a little time with more people than is truly possible. Some even moved overseas! (sigh)

My life is more busy now... no... not even a little easier. Thanks internet ;)

I've been looking online now into meditation to slow myself down.  Look, meditation CDs!  rofl!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meet Nicky

Nicole is my oldest and has been my "right-hand-man" since she was about ten years old.  She was a sort of second mom to her younger two sisters and three brothers at the time.  Since she was 13, she was the babysitter after school, not just for me but for neighbors too; on nights that I had to work late, she'd cook dinner; she helped me to lead the cleaning parties we'd have on Saturday morning dancing to loud music and laughing while we cleaned with the rest of the kids.  We spent so many nights sitting up in my room talking about school, the neighborhood, friends, and not-so-friends.  She was wise beyond her years even as a teenager and for that, I was lucky that it was easy to keep her on the right track to being a great person.

She's 25 now and living in her own apartment.  She is a caretaker for an elderly lady.  A great line of work for her, she has such a nurturing soul.  She is still in Massachusetts watching over Brandon and Brittany who are still there in college... still the second mom.  :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Twins

 I wanted to introduce you to my babies, the twins, Anthony and Ashley.  They are wonderful.  They stick together like glue.  I found out about a year ago that it's common with boy/girl twins that one be a lefty and the to be right handed (he's the lefty by the way) but it never ceases to amaze me how opposite they are from each other.  She was a night owl, he was a morning person and as they grew personalities, she was total girl and he total boy. I don't mean they were kids with female/male tendencies but Ashley is extremely feminine and Anthony extremely masculine.  They play opposite, which is often common for boys and girls their age; they learned opposite, she memorized prayers while he learned colors; he was an extrovert while she was an introvert (they have since switched roles in this area); but I've noticed they even eat opposite if he's eating the meat that day, she's eating the vegatables; he's cruncy peanut butter, she's creamy.  One thing they do have in common is that they don't like to be apart.  They are in separate classrooms at school but otherwise, they are together every minute all day until they drop at night... they are rarely even on a different floor of the house from the other. 

I guess my question is, has anyone else noticed this with their twins?  I just think it is the neatest thing to watch them interact with each other.  They are six years old and I still can't take my eyes off them.

Friday, October 9, 2009


In the middle of cooking the chicken rings I was so excited to get a Walmart coupon for from (one of my most frequented blog destinations) and some macaroni and cheese to go with it, my stove went kaputz...  just stopped working.  Frustrated, I searched all over for what could have gone wrong.  Nothing seemed loose or out of place.

With a groan from me and quite a bit of whining from the twins, sandwiches were the alternative supper choice.  I proably could have heard a lot less whining if I had just let Anthony have the cereal he wanted, but alas, he had the misfortune of having a Mommy that faithfully watches the Today show and I believe it was that very morning that I was witness to how many cookies the sugar in cereal is equivalent to.  The sandwiches probably weren't much better for him (not that the chicken rings are all that nutritious either now that I think about it) but the cookie thing was so fresh in my mind he was doomed to join us in ham sandwiches.  It's been a few days without a stove and I am just fried.  Is there anything healthy you can prepare without a stove besides a salad?  I was up and down the isles that night trying to find some supplies to hold us until the weekend with no stove and either my imagination is limited or humans really need a stove.

Well, we went today looking around for a used (cheap) stove and ended up at the Habitat for Humanity store in our city and got one for $150.00.  There were six of them there but all had sold signs taped to them except two.  They were all sold in these last few days the employee explained.  At least I'm not alone.  I wonder what they ate tonight? and whose gonna buy that yucky last stove?

Now we just have to get it here - it's not going to fit in my Taurus lol.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Question to Moms

I have a question as to how people would handle this situation:

You and your family are at a friends house for dinner and she's cooked all day a fantastic beef stew.  My son, comes over and whispers to me, tells me he doesn't like it.  Her feelings would be hurt that he didn't like it (it's happened before).  Now what would you do?  He's hungry, can't eat what she's worked really hard for, and I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Preserving Herbs

Preserving Herbs

Posted using ShareThis

I've been getting herbs from my mother's garden and was looking today to find out how to preserve them longer than the few days out on the counter.  Who knew it was this easy?  I needlessly wasted so much oregano and rosemary!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Treasure

Joining with some other Mom bloggers, Tuesday's blog is a reflection of what made you happy during the past 7 day period and writing about that in the hopes of maybe lifting up some other Mom's in a crummy mood.  Just something simple that made us happy or a huge accomplishment that week.  Here's mine for this week:

My happy moment came this week with Anthony's first meeting as a Tiger Cub (part of the Boy Scouts of America organization for first graders).

He went to the meeting with his Daddy, which was another Blessing.  Since Fred, his dad, started working overtime the opportunities for the "guys" to get of the house to do something together have been few and far between.

When Anthony came home he was beaming, showing me his t-shirt and new handbook! He'll be selling popcorn for the next month to help raise money, much like selling girl scout cookies is for the girl scouts.

We girls had a good time while they were gone too. Ashley and I went for a short walk and then began our long awaited project of making matching pocketbooks from an old pair of jeans I actually wore while pregnant for the twins.

We all had a great afternoon, and productive too!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mr. Limbaugh (an e-mail)

Mr. Limbaugh:

“But Mr. Obama’s political team and other party leaders have grown increasingly worried that the governor’s unpopularity could drag down Democratic members of Congress in New York, as well as the Democratic-controlled Legislature, in next fall’s election." Now, if you are a fan of Barack Obama, this sounds like a serious and terrible precedent. I wonder how receptive Obama would be to a call from former President Clinton asking Obama to step down for the good of the party in 2012 and let Hillary run.”

I wondered if these were your exact words, or just a bad transcription. I, unfortunately, believe the former. If it were indeed a really bad transcription you would have at least reviewed and corrected what was going to be printed on your website as a direct quote from you… wouldn’t you? Or hired someone to do this in your absence?

I must say that I am hugely disappointed in your blatant disrespect for the elected officials of this country whether you agree with them and/or their policies or not. I note quite a few examples of your disrespect just in the above paragraph that I cut and pasted from your own website in order to draft this e-mail. First and the most important is you calling President Obama “Mr. Obama”. Who does that?! Especially when you, in the same paragraph (and as long winded as you are this was likely in the same breath), call a past president “former President Clinton”. I also note that our Secretary of State was identified as “Hillary”.

Who the heck do you think you are? Nevermind, don’t answer that.

I assume that there must not be many people who are respectful in the same manner I expect our citizens to be listening to you any more when you speak - or your e-mail is full of other e-mails just like this one.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Response to a friend's comment on the issue of racism

I absolutely understand and respect the fact that one's own life experiences shape the perspectives with which they view the world. I suppose I'm lucky in not experiencing what some of my friends have and maybe for that reason I am naive to some behaviors for what they really are. By the same token, unfortunately, other experiences create a view that puts things into a situation that just aren't there. Therein lies our problem and we all need to be more open to each other's feelings and understand where each individual is coming from. That's not just about race, but all individuals. We all come from somewhere and went through something that made us who we are today. Mutual respect on an individual basis and less name calling is what's needed.

Much love,

Saturday, September 19, 2009

No Child Left Behind? Yea, ok...

Ok. I'm confused and upset. I attended my children's curriculum night last week and learned some things about Brunson Elementary and other schools across the county and I guess, from a letter I recieved today, maybe even the nation...

I'll start with the letter I received today in the mail. It is with regard to the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) legislation that requires schools to meet targeted achievement goals in both reading and math. If they fail to meet these goals for three years in a row they need to provide Supplemental Education Services (SES) [free tutoring] to eligible students.

Apparently Brunson is one of those schools because I learned at curriculum night that SES were being offered to students from their school. I visited with their teachers and learned of their expectations for the school year and certain testing schedules, which I thought was actually the point of the night. We were all told at that point that the school was offering these services without mention to us of why. I thought it was just something the school system did to supplement their normal day-time program (until today's letter).

Now, I know from my twins that there are drastic academic differences from student to student because Ashley is advanced, reading books on her own, while Anthony is having trouble even recognizing his kindergarten words. Strange because they both do everything together including sitting with me at night for stories so they are even getting the exact same stories read to them. The only differences in their lives are their teachers at school and their own ability. Anyway, my point is that Anthony could benefit from the tutoring.
We went to the cafeteria where all the providers were set up (there were 18 of them I think). They were all set up with freebies on their tables to draw attention to them, lots of literature and applications.

I was then informed that eligible students are defined as students receiving free or reduced lunch. I was disappointed because we are not eligible for free/reduced lunch. So I asked how much tutoring like this would cost a parent whose child isn't "eligible". The response was the same from every table. It is against the law for them to even give such information while there. Because my child wasn't eligible, they couldn't even (without breaking the law) give me a business card for me to call them outside of the function!
I am now furious! The more I think about it the more angry and confused I become. It's Saturday so I cannot get any further information from the school until Monday. Consequently, you are reading my rant. I am left to think that because their school isn't doing an adequate job of educating their students that the financially disadvantaged children will get extra help to bring the school up-to-standard while my ineligible child in need of the service will not. I cannot afford the tutoring which runs from $30 per hour on up. I could quit my job to have the extra time with my son to work with him (vs. him having to stay up later to study his words with me when I get home at 5:30).
What I want to know is who decided what "eligible" means. As I stated earlier I am aware of the differences between students academic progress - the difference is not a financial difference. Why is the eligibility not based on academic need?

Hey, maybe if I do quit, we'll be eligible for the free tutoring?

Joe Wilson's moronic outburst

I cannot and will not defend what a rude thing that was for Mr. Wilson to do but I really wonder why people jump to the racist accusations following this. He, as far as I can see, doesn't seem to have a history of racist behavior... does he?

I believe he is, as am I, not happy that illegal aliens would have benefited from the health care package as it was written at that time. President Obama claimed in his speach that illegal aliens would not benefit from the plan but at the same time specifically stated in said plan that it would be illegal to ask for proof of citizenship... how would anyone know if you were illegal if you didn't have to provide proof of citizenship? I know the story is out there and people for some reason are disregarding this fact and rather are yelling racism... I might add that following his statement the plan was amended to require proof of citizenship as a prerequisite to obtaining coverage.

Again, I need to stress how stunned I am at the level of disrespect but I believe it was more about the issue than race. (let's face it that if any race was affected by this transaction, it was less black/white and more hispanic as a great number of the illegal aliens are here from our neighboring Mexico)

But, I'm just babbling.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the city can recover

Springfield is different because times are different. I can remember when I was a kid and about 3 out of 4 mothers of my friends were home at least most of the day. Today 3 out of 4 mothers are at work (or higher - I don't know the actual statistic, this is just my observation). We aren't there when they get home from school and some don't even have the luxury of making/receiving a phone call at that time depending on the nature of their job. The financial cost of after-school care can sometimes be too high and is only subsidized to what... age 13? The child needs the supervision until much older. Parents often opt to leave their kids at home to save the money for frivoulous (obvious sarcasm) things like rent, food, lights, and/or heat. Lacking adult supervision, these kids find comaradarie with one another during these hours which may begin innocently enough, you know their parents, they know you, and all is well until even just one "cool" kid enters the picture. It doesn't take much of an imagination nowadays to see what can and does happen.

Combine the lack of direct parental supervision during these couple/few hours a day with the drastically reduced "teen friendly" establishments in general that we enjoyed as kids on weekends, i.e., the local bowling alleys, skating rinks and neighborhood theaters, etc... and the activities the kids are turning to for fun or necessity don't involve a hand-stamp if you know what I mean.

The city desperately needs to advertise more aggressively the free after-school programs there are and establish more locations for parents without their own vehicles. Maybe even start seeking donations from businesses and citizens to help subsidize child care to an older age? Someone taking a risk and opening a business with the teens interests in mind would be great too.This won't solve all the problems by any measure and will actually take years to realize the benefit to the city at all but the peace of mind would be realized by the families before the end of the day!

I'm just babbling...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

college scholarships came through

Brittany called this morning letting me know she received her scholarships and grants and we breathed a shared sigh of relief. We were starting to worry we'd have to start selling pet rocks or something for school money. :) She is a brilliant kid, graduated valedictorian of her graduating class but even that didn't give her free college becuase we decided this particular private college was better suited for her. I highly recommend as a great resource for scholarship, grant money, and even interships and some jobs. After filling out the website application, you can elect to have e-mails sent to you when scholarships meeting your profile become available and they even send reminders to you when those specific scholarship application deadlines are getting close.

Monday, September 7, 2009

We're apart but still together

I am the biological mother of 8 and we added one along the way. Circumstances compelled me to move 800 miles from my world, and some of my children wanted to stay behind. I have six children from my first marriage ages 25, 24, 22, 21, 19 and 17. In 2000, we added another member to our family; he was pre-teen friend of the children's - I think at first he thought I wouldn't notice :) And I have six-year-old twins from my second, best, and current marriage.

The main reason for the move was finding out my mother had breast cancer.

They, my parents, moved to North Carolina about 5 years ago now. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer almost right away after the move. It was very hard for me knowing he was going through something so serious so far from his family (his siblings are all over the country and parents passed away) and of course we children, though my parents made it clear we were to move down there with them, were still living in Massachusetts. But when Mom was diagnosed, a panic ran through me that I cannot explain. I HAD to move and right away. Both parents are fine right now but the feeling of mortality sets heavy in your heart when you hear the "c" word associated with your Mom and Dad and I desperately needed to be closer to my parents.

I assumed that all but maybe one and possibly two of the kids would just pick up and move with me and was under that assumption right up to less than a month before the move. It was very hard but they explained very valid and mature reasons for staying, i.e. college for two and one in the Massachusetts National Guard who didn't want to change her state just yet, etc... and with mutual assurances that we would visit often and be on the phone all the time, I started work down here about a month later, without them. My husband, our twins, and my youngest older son of 16 at the time were the only family to move to North Carolina permanently. A couple of the boys have been down here for some months at a time but eventually went back home because of lack of work here and missing some close friends. Some are able to visit down here more often than others and I've been up more than a couple of times since moving. It's not easy when you consider that this family had "table time" daily which even included some of their friends at times. [the reason for the table on my profile :) ]

Some people may say that I didn't make the right decision in making the move so far away and there are many days I feel that way too. Overall, though, it has worked out ok between us. I've stopped crying so much because I miss them and there are days where one or another child forgets to call me, so I know they're doing fine :)

I just felt the need to explain the reason for being so far away from so many of my children so maybe if a later post refers to the distance, it's understood, whether or not its agreed with. And over time, I, like my mother, will be enjoying my children living here some day.

Missing you Val

"You've been gone over a month now and we all miss you very much. Technology though is a wondeful thing in that we can try to stay close by e-mail and cell phone. When I see the prefix of your number on my caller ID feelings of relief and joy run through me in a way I don't think you'd understand. "

I know there are other mothers out there going through the same thing and maybe together we can make the time a little more tolerable by keeping in touch. Valerie is a gunner stationed in Iraq with the Army National Guard of Massachusetts for her second tour. She has five brothers and three sisters who also miss her very much. Most of the kids are older (17 and up) but I have 6 year old twins who don't understand what she's doing, except when they ask when she's coming over I tell them, when she's done being a hero. (that's what they called it when she was deployed a few years ago to Iraq - they were 4ish and didn't understand but did understand that our military men and women are heroes so that's all we needed to say "she's going to be a hero").

I'd love to hear from other families, stories, problems and triumphs.