Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

January 29, 2013

Everybody Should Live Well

I can't give the internet full credit for connecting me with this beautiful soul. We are She and I are the mothers of two young twenty somethingers (new word) trying to find their way in life. Our sons met by chance in the military which aligned the stars that guided our paths to the intersection that we now share.

Little did I know what a true star Bella is. I love her sense of style, her intelligence, confidence and vast knowledge about all things beautiful. Oni Bella is an Artist, Event and Home Stylist, Reluctant Socialite, and purveyor of creative ideas revolving around eclectic style and affordable luxury. She dances on the precipice of real life, seeking to cop little luxurious nuggets of lifestyle from high society to bring back to the masses while juggling home and family, because she believes everyone should have the opportunity to live well.

She’s quick on her feet, bold, cultured, yet, sometimes quirky, doing it all while wearing a ball gown (or Uggs and leggings) and her beloved Converse, with her trusty iPhone and a tube of Dior lip gloss tucked safely in her bra.

She’s the homegirl you love to kick it with and yet, she is always a lady; casting disapproving glances at loud cell phone talk and other such rudeness, she’s a little bit goofy and often geeky, but always about her business. She’s the good idea fairy, she’s always smiling, she’s your most elegant and artistic friend.

She is Onibella and she can’t wait to bring a little extra fabulousness to your life.

February 08, 2011

A Letter To The Unborn

Samuel Armas b. 12/2/1999 - 4 months after his first surgery!
My child,

In the life ahead of you, keep your capacity for faith and belief, but let your judgment watch what you believe. Keep your love of life, but throw away your fear of death.

Life must be loved or it is lost, but it should never be loved too well.

Keep your wonder at great and noble things, like sunlight and thunder, the rain and the stars, and the greatness of heroes.

Keep your heart hungry for new knowledge. Keep your hatred of a lie, and keep your power of indignation. . .

I am ashamed to leave you an uncomfortable world, but someday it will be better. And when that day comes, you will thank God for the greatest blessing man can receive, living in peace.

Letter from an executed Yugoslav partisan to his unborn child in World War II

Samuel today

September 06, 2010


I had the awesome privilege of being raised by a mother who made sure that we didn't know we were poor. As a matter of fact, until I became old enough to appreciate the value of a dollar, I thought we were pretty well off. Never mind that the five of us lived in a 800 sq ft cinder block house......I just considered it cozy. Or the brand name clothes that I wore on a regular basis.....Which I later found were either hand me downs from some of her co-workers kids or carport sale finds.

Holidays celebrations were elaborate. We would often run out of room to put gifts(which wasn't hard to do in a 7x12 living room). Holiday dinners always consisted of turkey and ham, along with all the trimmings. My young mind could not even imagine how much money my mom must have been making! I mean, a tower of toys every year; A fabulous feast for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter! Oh Yeah, my mom was in the money.

I never remember a car being repossessed or any utilities being turned off. There was always food in the refrigerator and plenty of canned goods in the pantry. We even had the occasional family outing at one of the local fast food joints. Life was pure bliss!

Now, as an adult, I really have an appreciation for my mother and the way she raised us. I now know that the toys were bought on credit and she sometimes struggled to pay for them. The food was bought with food stamps.....I thought food stamps were regular currency with different colors. I never would have imagined that it was government assistance.

Because of my upbringing and the example my mother set, I can live carefree even in this economy. I wear clothes until they wear out. I'm sometimes called old fashioned, but I am always covered. No food gets thrown away at my house....Leftovers are just as good 2 days later! Maybe I'm just frugal.

I said all that to say this;"Your kids don't need to know your struggles. All they need to know is that they were taken care of". Some might disagree and say that kids need to know what you went through to provide for them, so that they will appreciate it more. I say that kids have enough to deal with these days, without having to think that they are a financial burden.

I applaud anyone who performs their parental duties without looking for a pat on the back. The satisfaction you get from knowing your family is taken care of is worth far more than any praise you could ever receive.

August 29, 2010

Have Adults Really Gotten That Bad?

I'm probably dating myself here but I think it's safe to say those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I'm forty. It's not like I've tried to make it a secret.

Life's about stages and if you haven't had the opportunity to experience forty, you're either an eye blink away or pushing up daisies. There's no in between. So, embrace your age, whatever it may be and quit clamoring about how you're 21 with 30 years of experience.

But I digress.

Remember how Mike and Carol Brady would sit the kids down and give them one of those speeches that A Very Brady Movie poked so much fun at. Or how Mr. Drummond imparted his words of wisdom about growing up, doing the right thing, and surviving in a world where racism is an ugly part of life on the two little inner-city black kids he was raising on his own. Or even how Mrs. Garrett, in spite of her man hungry ways, was able to give Tootie, Blair and Jo advice that only comes with having been-there-and-done-that-already.

Or how James and Florida Evans managed to instill morals and values into their three children while they suffered through life in the ghetto.

Occasionally, Ward and June Cleaver were even able to make ol' Eddie Haskell straighten up and fly right.

Although I'm not a prepubescent girl that needs to hear someone besides my mother's take on real issues that affect every child growing up, I still miss seeing strong adult role models on television for our kids.

I've watched far too much Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, iCarly and that God-awful Drake and Josh! All the adults on these shows seem to have suffered a bad acid trip they never quite recovered from.

They serve as little more than "humans" over the age of 21 which, I guess, by law gives people the right to care for children under the age of 18. The adults are basically the comic relief for shows that are already not very funny....just extremely silly.

Sure these shows are for kids and about kids. Watching parents probably isn't something the show's viewers want to spend a lot of time doing. But watching incompetent adults pose as parents/teachers undermines the value and role the importance of adults have in a child's life in today's society.

Let's just turn the televisions off and let the kids explore life outside, read a book, play a great family board game. Sure those are great ideas but not always practical in a world where both parents work, sometimes untraditional hours and kids are left to their own devices which are rather plentiful these days.

Whatever happened to the ABC after-school specials? Those were some great shows exploring things that were a bit "taboo" back in the day but relevant, just the same.

I'd even take the parents from Charlie Brown over what we're subjected to watching today. You couldn't understand whether the squawk box voices were making any sense. You just assumed that they were based on the reaction of the Peanuts crew.

I know parents have always been an embarrassment to their children once kids reach a certain age. But they were embarrassments because they were our parents....not because they were embarrassments.

August 20, 2010

The Kidney Transplant

A few years ago I purchased a book  Your Brain: A User's Guide. 127 pages that explore the human brain in an effort to help understand things like how we learn, how we mature, why the brain grows old, why children under 5 learn and retain knowledge faster than adults, mental disorders, memory and morality.

The portion of the book that deals with morality presents you with exercises or scenarios that are referred to as moral dilemmas. The Kidney Transplant is one of those exercises:

The Kidney Transplant
You have two children, both of whom will die tomorrow without a kidney transplant. You are the only possible donor - but assume you can donate only one kidney. You have a crystal ball and can see that Child A will grow up to be a successful surgeon and will save many lives herself. She is so sick now, however, there is only a 50% chance she will survive the transplant.
Child B will grow up to be a gambler, and while she will never hurt anyone, she will never help anyone either. There is a nearly 100% chance she will survive the transplant and live a happy healthy life. To whom would you give your kidney...

August 11, 2010

Coming To Terms With My Own Phobias

The argument continues over whether Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are exercising good judgment by allowing their daughter, Shiloh to have such a strong say in how she chooses to dress and wear her hair.

Long before little Shiloh's appearance began to create a buzz I'd noticed how unique her style of dress was.

She prefers track suits to twirly skirts, swim trunks to bikinis, and cropped hair to long tresses.

I must admit my first reaction was that these Hollywood elites were obviously not thinking clearly.

What responsible parent would allow their 4-year old to decide that she wants to dress like a boy! They're only setting this poor kid up for years of ridicule and condemnation.

I even commented on a post several weeks ago over at HuffPo with:

"I don't think anyone's judging this sweet child. She's innocent. People are questioning the mother's judgment. She wants to BE a boy. So, we've decided to help our daughter BE a boy - cutting her hair, buying ALL male clothing, and allowing her to THINK that she is.

I was a tomboy too. But I knew I was a GIRL. Sexual identity starts developing around pre-school. Let them be who they want. But don't confuse them about who they are.”

But in order to allow a child to be who they want to have to let them be WHO THEY ARE.

My opinion regarding this child's parents was a total contradiction to my stance on making gender stereotyping a thing of the past. How can I admonish the behavior of others and not realize I harbor some of the same ideals.

Shiloh, like all other children, is exploring and going through the many phases that encompass growing up. Allowing her to cut her hair or wear the clothes she likes best is not stunting or harming her.

Often denying children and forcing them to comply with society's gender identity standards can cause a greater level of confusion and pain in the long run.

Is it wrong for parents to make children conform to a single gender identity?

July 11, 2010

Auntie Em, I am not...

So the other day I was thinking up great ideas to help the boys (my Jacob and my nephew Jordan) have a fun filled afternoon. Jordan is basically the 3rd son I never had. He and Jake are pretty inseparable. Needless to say I feel pretty rotten when Jake takes off down the street on his hot rod Mongoose and Jordan strikes out trying to chase him down like an orphan straight out of Mudfog.

After witnessing this more times than I cared to, I throw both of them in the car and haul it to the neighborhood Wal*Mart to purchase Jordan his own bike.

Fitting myself, two boys, household items can't leave Wal*Mart without 'em and a bike into a mid-size sedan is no small feat. But we made it back home without a traffic citation, or damage to any of my merchandise...including them.

Everything would have been perfect. Helmet...check. Elbow pads...check. Knee pads...check. Bike...check. Jordan...check. Obstacle...Jordan doesn't know how to ride a bike!!

No problem. I taught both my boys how to ride without a problem. As I remember it, we had the most fun ever....bonding....cheering....mother and one...taming the bike monster together.

Fast forward to about two days ago at high noon. Jake was showboating and getting in the way. Jordan was wobbling worse than a bobble head on the dash of a 1978 El Camino and I was sweating like a ho' in church!

After spending 3 hours in the drive way with my nephew, he still can't ride. I don't know what went wrong....maybe it was too hot....maybe it wasn't as easy as I remember....maybe this kid'll be packing training wheels for the rest of his life.

All I know is...he stormed in the house balling like a newborn baby, I passed out under the magnolia tree...and Jake rode off in the sunset on.

Maybe we'll try again....ummm....between the 1 and 15th of Neveruary!

February 19, 2010

I Remember the Old Days...

The stories my mom used to share with me about how hard "they had it" when she was growing up were legendary. I would listen attentively as she shared her tales of wearing hand-me-downs that weren't fit for the Goodwill trash bin, missing school because helping her mom in the field was more important, gathering kindling and wood for the wood-burning stove before going to all seemed so unreal which is the same expression my eight year old gave me a few days ago when I told him about the old days.

Yes, my love there was a time when the television went off without having to be turned off. Remember the eagle soaring past old red, white and blue right before that wretched humming noise and then....silence with that awful colorful array of bar graph looking lines that made it clear that television was closed for the night.

Or how about walking to the library to gather reference material for your science project, term paper or anything else that required encyclopedic reference material.

Googling for anything would have been a term that probably would have landed you in the principal's office.

We did have four encyclopedias at home. I think they were A, F, I and L. My mother managed to get these four gems free with a $25 grocery purchase (on four different occasions) at the local Safe Way.

If you arrange the letters in the way having only four encyclopedias feels to a ten year old get the word FAIL!!!

He was so amazed and curious as to how I managed to get anything done with no internet, cell phone, daily cartoons or a gazillion video games with 2 or 3 different consoles....and even more perplexed at the idea of going outside and playing until the street lights came on.

I could tell he was kind of settling in to the notion that life....wasn't all that bad. I made the memories of enjoying Saturday morning cartoons, reading good books, and harmless mischief while walking to and from the neighborhood library sound pretty good.

That warm fuzzing feeling he was developing came to a screeching halt after I shared the last memory of a time gone forever with him...and that was the fact that a microwave was unheard of (at least in my house) until the mid 80s!

He got all wide-eyed and wanted to know how on earth we were able to eat things like leftovers, popcorn, frozen meals, or even heated water for hot

Come to think of on earth did we ever SURVIVE??!

September 26, 2009

When Your Child Lies

As new parents let me be the first to tell you that there will come a day when your precious little bundle of joy is going to look you right in the eye with the sweetest, most innocent face he can conjure up and lie his tender little buns off. It's inevitable and can be quite alarming, to say the  least. Question is how do you handle these deviations from the truth...

A bottle of "Ram-a-liar" truth syrup would be ideal. However, this isn't the world of make believe and lying is a learned behavior that can get out of hand if not addressed.

Being the mother of two boys, ages 17 and 8, I've had ample opportunity to fine tune my lie-radar skills. The boys are so much alike it's almost amazing. I generally know when they're lying and they don't have a clue how. Knowing your child's behavior can tune you in to these lying episodes and possibly curtail this behavior before it gets too out of hand.

Just the other day I asked my 8 year old son if he had any homework. His response was that he had completed his assignment at school and left it in his desk to turn in the following morning. I knew this didn't sound like something a 3rd grader would normally do. Heck, they can hardly complete their in-the-classroom assignments without outbursts of talking, giggling and other short attention span behaviors synonymous with this age group.

I asked him if he was being honest and told him how disappointed I would be if I found out he wasn't. He told me he was telling the truth. Oh, how sweet and precious he looked standing there lying like a rug!

Wonder how I know? Well my boys have this nervous "tick". It only occurs when they're lying, scared or having a bit of anxiety about something. They have their hands down at their side and continuously flex and extend their fingers - kind of like playing an imaginary piano.

As he little phalanges danced away, I wondered how to best handle the situation. So, I gave him opportunity #2. I asked him if I would find out anything different if I stopped by his school to ask his teacher about his homework.  Nervous finger tick again. Again, he lied and said no.

I gave him the rest of the night and the next day to come clean. Never happened. Finally, 2 days later, I made an unexpected visit to his school. In these situations, the element of surprise it's worth it's weight in gold. It was right as the children were leaving the cafeteria heading to their classes for the day. He saw me! The smile he had plastered across his face disappeared...then reappeared as he made a beeline my way to give me a heart-felt hug.

I spotted his teacher and asked if she had a moment. By the time we made it to her class, my little man's fingers were exhausted. He had banged his last tune on his imaginary piano. The lie was revealed for just what it was - a lie.

After school that day, I gave him a list of the things he wouldn't be allowed to do as a punishment for lying - explaining to him that his revocation of privileges was a consequence of his decision to lie when telling the truth could have been so much easier. He accepted his sentence and we settled in for a nice quiet evening at home.

I'm not going to say it won't happen again because I'm sure it will. What I do know is he is aware that the good ole checks and balances system is alive and well. This particular system was a great deterrent for my oldest.

Another key ingredient in stamping out this behavior is to lead by example.

  • Stop telling your children to tell people you aren't home when the phone rings and it's not someone you want to talk to. 
  • Don't accept excuses for lying
  • Tell them that you value the truth far more than a lie told to make us happy
  • Enforce the fact that their are consequences for their deceitful behavior
  • Love them unconditionally

August 17, 2009

Sharing is Hard to do

They say you're blessed with good luck when your son looks exactly like you and vice versa when the daughter looks like the father. Well Jacob's entrance into the world 8 years ago certainly should have bestowed the best luck ever upon his dear sweet mother.

He's an absolute jewel - even tempered, bright, athletic, full of life, sensitive (beyond his years) and a pleasure to be around. That's what makes his not being here with me so painful.

My ex and I share joint custody of Jacob. Although we had come to the end of our season together, our love for both our boys is immeasurable. The oldest is currently in Basic Training (Ft. Sill, Ok - paying for college) which leaves Jacob here with us.

The schedule isn't ideal. We spend one week at a time with Jacob. On Sunday evenings he comes to me and breaks my heart one week later when he's dropped off to spend the week with his dad.

Since his father and I have been separated for so long, we've never formally told Jacob that we're divorced but I know somehow he knows. He showers me with kisses and tells me every second that he loves me more than anything in the world. Knowing my son the way that I do...I know he tells his dad the exact same thing which definitely makes me happy. He doesn't say that as much as he used to. I think in his own way he was letting us both know how much each of us meant to him.

I want him to understand it's okay to love us both equally and I want him to know that we love him dearly as well. Although we can't love him as a family unit, we certainly can love him as individual parents.

We have a little "love affirmation" that we constantly say to one another throughout the day: I say "I love you Jacob." He says "I love you more". I say "I love you most". He says "I love you more than most". I say "There's nothing 'more' than most". He says "Yes there is". I say "What?". He says "My love for you."

I hope he's getting the best of both of us. My greatest fear is that this back and forth will somehow taint him in some way. But it's the best of the worst case scenario. I certainly can't imagine being away from him longer than one week at a time.

Sharing is hard to do...