Monday, April 21, 2014

Don't Stop

I recently read, "when you are going through hell, don't stop."

Last month I blooged about seeing my breakthrough. /my-break-through  It was invisible to my eyes and intangible but I knew it was in my grasp if I kept moving.

I arrived at my break through and it feels like it came in abundance!  I won a case at hearing after being on a losing streak.  I did not give up! Then another motion and at this point,  we will be able to build up a healthy financial cushion.

Business is doing well and it funds the high cost of living in the Bay.  We are comfortable and while we aren't yachting on the ocean we are able to access a variety of things.  Sometimes when you are building, you focus on where you are, never think about where you were, and bemoan where you want to be and the hard work required to get there.

Mr. A and I are now able to sustain our family on our business. That is major!  Our expenses more than doubled when we moved.  Then we added tuition and expensive activities for the kids to that.   My mom always says, "be not weary in well-doing".  I am not greedy but the drive for more sometimes makes it hard to recognized the well-doing,

Bondage of the mind

For years the black community has been asking why young black boys will kill each other over a disrespect, a cross word, or having their white shoes stepped on.  Pretty much everything and everybody but the mother has been blamed. The education system, the criminal justice system, the social justice system, inequality, oppression, sorry black men, religion, the economy, everything but the mother.

These reality t.v. shows are bad enough but the comments by adult women are heartbreaking.  I would expect grown women to say violence is a last resort but reading online most black women seem to believe violence is an appropriate response to being angry.  

Our boys are steeped in ignorance and violence because their black mothers believe physical violence is an appropriate response to being offended. That truth has been ignored.   Most of these boys don't have fathers to teach them how to fight so they are too scared to fight.  They shoot and they kill.

So often I read comments by black women on social media and black women will condone and support the most damaging actions.  Black women are happy Porsha pulled Kenya's hair but no one cares that Porsha embarrassed herself, brought shame to her family legacy, got arrested, potentially lost her job, and the access to promote her fake hair through the show.  The momentary satisfaction, is not worth the long term losses.

When I  hear, read, see black women always sinking low to ensure people continue wallowing in dung, I wonder why we can't just tell the people they made a mistake but can do better and we will support them to be better.  Nope we just tell them they are fine in the pile of crap.  Do we truly believe acts that can ruin you are not a mistake? Do we not know that better is available.

Planning for my kiddies

Anyone who read my blog when TR was a babe knows I was opposed to things like, "Your Baby Can Read". My belief was/is that time is better spent letting my kids play.

Her formal reading instruction began in September and she now reads above a 3rd grade level.  Her teacher told us she is self-motivated and when she finishes early she will get other work and do that until the class moves on.  Have I mentioned that her kindergarten class has 3 kids?  I think the teacher will have them ready for 6 th grade by June.

The class uses "Letterbooks" formally named "Beginning to Read, Write and Listen".  Each letter has its own huge book and the series starts with letters that are made like a circle, i.e. C, O, G.  The class has ~ 7 more letters to complete all 26 and all students are reading. TR has a great teacher!  She will make TR re-do any work if her handwriting gets lazy.  Its annoying, but I appreciate that she is making good penmanship/handwriting a habit.  My handwriting is and always has been pretty awful.  I skipped 3rd grade and got to 4th where cursive was done and had to teach myself.  By the time my mother realized I had taught myself cursive, she tried to re-teach me but my habits had been formed.

My kids have learned a great deal playing, creating, hearing and being part of conversations, running errands with family members/caregivers  and just engaging in the activities of daily life.  Both did home preschool.  TR went to a play based preschool and would come home and request work.  Mr A gave her work and of course QT had to do what his sister did.  Mr. A is an excellent teacher!  He is patient and creative, and people are amazed by what QT knows

QT will be able to start JK this school year.  Whoo hoo!  I am excited for him!  If he does well he can go to first grade after JK. If he needs more time, he can do kindergarten.   I am pleased he has these  options.  He will be 4.6 when JK starts. Not too young, not so old.  He did not attend preschool and we have done home school and added art and STEM classes in addition to library story time.  I am pondering putting him in a 2 week city preschool program which is designed to get kids used to going to school. The only problem is sometimes the city hires people who are unskilled for the job of working with kids and do not seem to care about doing the job well.

It's been almost 2 years since he had a nanny so at this point, he is unfamiliar with a non-family caregiver.  TR's 1st grade class will be next door to his classroom, but I want him to be familiar with a drop off, and know he will be picked up. TR has always been open to new situations and people.  QT leans toward the shy side and has preferred familiar environments and takes a while to warm up.  

We toured two private schools with QT and he has said which school he wants to attend.  I had to explain that he can give his input, but we choose. I have tried to recall how I made my 4 year olds believe he gets final vote.

Many schools start at 8:00 and end at 3:15.  I automatically remove those from consideration.  It's too early in the morning, too late in the afternoon and too long of a school day. Alaskan kids might have to wake and go to school in the dark, but until we move to Alaska, I don't want to do the same.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

QT as the Earth

QT's STEM class went outside and did a play. They have been working on the Solar System.  He loves his classes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Raising Athletes

TR has been working on a variety of track events in her P.E. class.  I love that her school has daily p.e.  Too many schools ignore arts and physical activity and focus solely on academics.  I like programs that value a variety of intelligences and abilities.

The caterer ar TR's school had told Mr. A that TR "picks them up and puts them down.  When she was two she could run faster that some of Mr. A's football kids.  At 2 we went to a h.s. football game and at half time she took off and ran about 50 yards on the field in a big dress and fancy shoes. The field was grass with dirt patches and rough to run on.  She ran like it was turf.

Fortunately Mr A was on the field because I (a former runner) could not catch her. I was also holding an infant QT.  Mr. A was on the field chatting, he turned his head, saw her, turned back and it took him a second to realize his little girl was on the field. She ran another 10 yards or more as he caught up to her.  She was laughing and had a great time.  Afterwards parents were discussing her time in amazement.  Her form at 2 looked as if she had trained and she was fast.  

It is work to have  fast well coordinated toddlers. Where most little kids might fall and a parent knows they won't run too far,  with both TR and QT, I knew they would just gain speed and I would have to stay prepared to sprint at my top speed if they decided to take off.  I see some parents go to a light jog to catch their toddler,  that was not me.  Having my babies under verbal control was always essential.

TR occasionally runs the track with the cheerleaders at Mr. A's current school.    I know she is fast but apparently she is quite fast.  Last week the p.e. teacher asked me if I understood how fast she was.  She can run a mile in under 10 minutes.  The p.e. teacher said she knew TR had great body coordination but had no idea it would carry over to track. She said TR runs faster than many of the older kids.

The craziest thing to me is TR hates the running.  I asked her why she does it so well if she dislikes it.        I was puzzled by the idea that she would excel at a task she dislikes.  I wonder what she could do if she enjoyed it?  I appreciate her work ethic and her preference to do well at the tasks she undertakes.

I think perfectionism and competiveness is part of her personality and those traits are enhanced by gymnastics.  Gymnastics is totally aligned with her innate drive to be a perfectionist and to win. I once visited a play based preschool in L.A. and the director noticed TR trying to get some blocks aligned perfectly and called her anal.  I told her she was a perfectionist. Anal sounds negative to my ears and I was reminded why I was keeping my kids home.

I hope the personal discipline TR is developing stays with her, whatever path she chooses.  QT is much more laid back.  When he is building his Legos he turns into a perfectionist but for the most part he is happy to be in the mix.  Both perfectionists and laid back people add value.  I like both personalities and as parent my job is to make sure my kids know they are perfectly and uniquely designed.  Their traits are their tools.

So ..........Girl Scouts is having an overnight trip to Monterey Bay.  The trip will conflict with an upcoming track meet.  I asked TR what event she wanted to do and to my surprise she picked the track meet.  She is competing in every kindergarten event.  I am excited to see her run, jump and sprint. We will have to do another family trip to Monterey and next time spend the night.

I think it's amazing how naturally athletic our kids are.  Mr A pointed out that when TR was months old was wearing her at football practice and she saw/ heard him coaching the kids on running form.  He says its more than just natural.  He pointed out how the other track coach has a 7 year old daughter who runs 5ks and great running form.  I will give him that TR also learned from being around sports.

I am very pleased my kids are also bright.  They get to enjoy multiple gifts.  They are blessed to also
 have gifts in arts, I understand the musical gene is surely mine and the art seems to come from Mr.
A, although I have seen my mom draw and she is good even when she is just playing at drawing.  I
think because Mr Aand I have different gifts we have been able to foster the development of multiple
Interests and skills..

Our last nanny was also a skilled artist.  In hindsight I think introducing the kids to  a variety of things early helped them feel comfortable trying different things and thinking they can.

My personal belief is that our body/flesh is the hardest thing to control.  Once we know that our body can do what our brain commands, we know we can succeeded at any endeavor.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

'Tis the time

   TR's school has 178 school days.  They are somewhere in the 140th day.  My baby is on her way to 1st grade!  She loves school and she loves her school.  It is such a wonderful, nurturing environment.

   QT will start Junior Kindergarten next year. He just turned 4 and is too young for kindergarten, but if he does well our hope is he can move to 1st grade after JK.  It is quite annoying that the government is now regulating when private schools can accept a kid.  California requires schools to have a day care license it if takes a 4 year old into kindergarten.

   The state regulates everything and controls parts of life it should leave to families.

I want to make sure QT is in an environment that encourages a love of learning.  I am so pleased that TR got an experience that increased her love of learning.  QT is very hands on.  I think he would do great in a science based school.  No such school exists within a reasonable driving distance. He likes to participate and figure things out on his own.  

   Today I took QT to the park and realized public school is on Easter break.  I don't have an Easter break plan for our family.  I had a hearing in L.A. during TR's break but it was continued so now we do not need to travel.  QT's STEM class does not meet next week, so we cannot do that.  I have nothing formal to offer the kids.  They will have gymnastics but we will be playing by ear.

   Spring Break and summer break disturb me.  I feel the pressure to get it right.  When we lived in L.A.  I took a trip to Kmart with my kiddies and realized summer vacation had arrived.  I saw groups of teens hanging out in the Little Ceasers pizza inside of a Kmart.  The kids were well-behaved but I felt a bit hurt by the reality of it.  The Kmart was directly across the street from the Grove.  Kmart also shared a lot with Whole Foods and the distance between the two realities could have been miles and not mere feet.   Within eyes view I could see how differently people lived.

   I told myself after that Kmart run, that I would like to offer my kids more exciting summer options than congregating at strip malls.  I am sure it's all preference, but I understand wanting to hang out at the Grove, Beverly Center, Century City Malls or walking up and down Melrose.  Those places have a variety of activities and food options.  In the summer through Fall,the Grove has events and bands and people on blankets on the lawn.  I would take my kids there for a variety of kid/ family friendly events.  

    I was recently reading about achievement gaps and how many kids lose 2-3 months of educational attainment during summer break.  12 years of losing a couple of months adds up.  Those kids have to start from a deficit each year.

    So now I feel greater pressure to keep my kids engaged during summer breaks as they age.  Before they entered school, I could focus on play experiences, arts, and community experiences.  As they grow what they need also grows.

   TR will be 6 soon and will soon be uninterested in children's museums or Fairyland locations.  When we were in L.A., the kids would go the Zimmer Museum from10 am to 2:30 pm and hide when they saw me coming to pick them up. They would play at the park from 9 am to 3 when they collapsed in sleep.

   I want to provide as much play opportunity as possible because I know childhood moves rapidly.  I have to start developing a plan for bigger kids.  I am convinced L.A. is an excellent location to have young kids.  I think the Bay might be a better place to have bigger kids.  We can visit islands, forests,
 mountains, cities, rural areas and farms, camp grounds, aquariums, universities and science labs, we
can hop ferrys, trains, and more.  I think in L.A. as kids age it gets pricey to expose them. Here we
can make day trips and feel like we have left the state.


Thursday, April 10, 2014


I recently realized that I can create and maintain work-life balance.  There may be weeks I have to focus on work but that is not the majority of the weeks.  It felt good to drop TR off at school, go have hot chocolate with  QT, go to the park, story time, play Connect4 at the library and then home for a nap.  It felt great to do this and not be rushed thinking about the work I needed to get done.  I have been diligent, so I am not in catch up mode with my work.

It feels good to be present in the moment with my kiddies, not be rushed and to play and engage.

A couple of months ago, I took the kids to sell their bottles (hopefully Mr. A will stop throwing my bottle collection out.  He forgets that I collect them.)  and the man who received the bottles went on break.  We drove a block to McD’s, walked in, ordered and the kids asked if we could eat inside.  My auto-response was no.  I thought about it and wondered why I was in a rush.  We had 30 minutes and we did not need to be first in line.  We sat down and ate.  An acquaintance then came in with her son and we chatted about mutual friends, private schools and tutors.

It's nice to slow down. My goal is to get into the practice of slowing down for personal matters.  The constant rush is ridiculous..  My kiddies are used to going inside fast food spots when they are with my mother and they apparently like to sit down inside.  Fortunately for them, they have not adopted my hurried behavior.  TR gets dressed for school and eats her breakfast like she has 2 hours to burn.  She and QT sit at the table and chat and never rush.  Good thing Mr A is good with time management.  The kids relax before school while the parents move like we are prepping a race car in Indy 500.

This week I tagged along to QT's science/engineering class. Oakland is nearly evenly split by race but no matter if we are at the zoo, fairyland, Habitot, a  science museum, etc. we are the only brown
people.  At gymnastics there are a few of us and we migrate to each other.   My guess is, if as of 2008 72% of black kids are born to single mothers, my mommy sisters are either at work or if  they are
single and not at work, maybe money or desire is the reason.

I have once again sent an email to connect with the Mocha-moms.  At QT's science class I discovered that at least 4 of the moms were home schooling and had a network.  I could probably participate in
their network and maybe I will, but since my kids are black, I want them to know our family structure isn't some unicorn among blacks (although it almost is).

It is unreal to know that 28% of black kids age 5/6 and under have parents who got married before
birth.  Who will they date?  I hope they avoid the people who think their own mother was single and
they turned out fine, so marriage is not needed.  My parents were divorced and my reaction to that
was to marry I man, I liked enough to stay married to.  Being a child of divorce makes me value Mr.
A's role (to a much greater degree)?because when I see the relationship he has with TR, I reflect on how much I wanted that relationship and how I still want a father I could places total confidence and admiration in.

But my mother reminded throughout my childhood me that it is better to have a father for your kids and that though she did not want to be married to him, he  was there to make sure his kids were okay. She also let me know you marry him before having kids and I could have a lasting marriage, although she did not.

My mother did not make divorce seem like a good thing or an option I wanted for my life.  Some single mothers make single motherhood seem like a good decision and I think the children f these women, will accept and replicate the behavior.