The House Built On L♡VE & Shenanigans

The In's and Out's of Family Life in Charlottesville, VA


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I Ponder The Thought

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On a recent outing, Little Journey, got caught trying to decide how much money she was going to spend in this particular establishment.

If she’s anything like mom, she would probably hope to spend upwards around…..

“One Million Dollars!!”

MB

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Disciplining Our Children: To Spank or Not To Spank

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Most parents will tell you that parenting is hard work – especially if you want to do it well. This forces one to stop and ponder the finer points of how we were raised as children (good, bad, or indifferent), and maybe consider more progressive and evolved thinking in regards to child rearing in today’s world.

Let’s face it, how we were raised by our parents has a lot to do with how we raise our children today!

As sociocultural norms and values change, new ideas and more effective methods of parenting emerge. Which brings me to my current topic – How do we as parents choose to discipline our children?

Admittedly, this is a very personal and complex issue. Typically, most parents (consciously or unconsciously) follow this simple rule of thumb: What was done to us, in most instances is what we tend to do to our own children.

Of course there are many exceptions to this (especially in extreme cases), but we are only human and subject to our conditioning. In most instances we follow what was ingrained in us with what Iyanla Vanzant calls – Inherited Pathology!

Honestly, when I think back to the corporal way I was disciplined by certain members of my family, or hear other folks recall stories of how they were made to “pull down their pants/underpants and lay across the bed” to get whipped with a belt, or some other instrument of punishment, I physically cringe.

Perhaps I shudder because it triggers flash backs of those painful feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and yes ANGER! These are all feelings that I vow to NEVER inflict upon my children…at least not intentionally.

Disciplining styles also seem to vary culturally. It’s common in our African American community, to make light of how “Grandma made us go pull our own switch off the tree,” or “getting knocked into next week”, or “I brought you in this world, and I’ll take you out”, and many other colorful colloquialisms. Not to say that this is how we all were raised by no means, but I think historically our culture tends to discipline more on the physical side – and condone it.

Meanwhile, we dismissively crack jokes on how some of our other white brethren, were just made “to go to time out”, or “sent to the naughty spot”, or were simply “grounded.”

I’m aware that many of our disciplining horror stories are retold in jest with an air of nostalgia associated with them – and may be somewhat exaggerated. However, within the retelling of these tales, the missing theme that resonates with me is the idea of disciplining our children while maintaining an environment that still includes feelings of love, mutual respect, calm, trust, creative thinking, and empowerment.

Yes, I know that there are some children who tend to be “hard headed” and no matter how hard you feel that you are trying, some kids just don’t seem to wanna get with the program – in fact my girls at times express this sort of attitude.

But in my house, this is when we feel as parents, it is our responsibility to utilize all of our adult critical thinking skills, education, and readily ample available resources.

For we understand that how we act or react to the constant stress of dealing with our children on an individual basis, is an impression that will last a lifetime, and in most instances will be repeated by them when they have kids.

There’s an old adage that describes how a person’s character can be fully assessed by how they handle complex and turbulent issues – not just so much the easy stuff.

We don’t want our first reaction to be getting upset about something that they’ve done, and strike out by hitting, spanking, cursing, etc. We strive to be mindful of their need to still feel validated, feel worthy, feel good about themselves – even though at that moment their behavior may not be to our liking. A lot of time, extreme and quick tempered reactions usually have very little to do with the offending party or their actions, and more to do with us!

It could be our own personal ego and control issues which make us go into violent default mode and chose to hit our child, or maybe it’s just how we think we are suppose to handle a child who has stepped out of line. But we can’t say that there is a lack of information out there to help us find more creative and less menacing disciplining solutions.

Historically, some may say that there are profound reasons as to why some African American parents automatically default to spanking, or “whooping.”

Some studies have shown that our cultural tendency to “whip” our kids may have some correlated deep seeded roots to our time as slaves in this country.

If a slave did something wrong, he or she got whipped to help ensure it didn’t happen again. As a result of this frequent experience, our people may have adapted this punishing approach – many times out of fear for our children, thinking it would be best for us to discipline our kids beforehand as opposed to the brutal slave master. Unfortunately, this degenerate concept, may have been carried down from generation to generation.

Regardless of its historic significance, in our house, we strive to use communication as a way to thwart ill behavior. Kids go through a lot of emotions that they have not yet learned to master – just like many adults.

They get frustrated, they get bored, they become irritated – they feel all of the same emotions that adults feel! They are like us, just smaller and underdeveloped. With our girls, we try to give them constructive ways to handle their stress. We say things like “that is not an appropriate way to behave in this house” or ” it seems like you need a little time to yourself to calm down”, or “how about going to do some deep breathing and think about it.”

We almost always follow that up with a discussion about the undesirable behavior they exhibited and most importantly, a more constructive way to demonstrate their disgruntlement. Then comes a hug, to make sure they know that no matter what, we still love them, they are still a good person, and now lets continue on with the day. For the most part, this works!

For parents and children, taking a time out when we are upset to calm down, really helps to put our emotions in check. I would almost bet, that if before a person raised their hand to hit a little person, if they took several minutes to calm down first, the intensity of the situation would be lessened.

If you believe in spanking or whipping, then perhaps you wouldn’t hit as long or as hard, perhaps your words would be softer, as opposed to angry, and just perhaps, you may find that the point was already well received by the lil’ offender, and no more punishment would be necessary.

Do our kids work our nerves sometimes – YES!!!

However, our choice is to teach them and train them lovingly, peacefully, and respectfully.


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Having A Ball At The Mall

DSC_0025There was a feeling of a tornado-like-rush of several small people piling into our bed, landing sharply on my feet, legs, and back – startling me from my hard earned, well deserved sleep.  This scene served to alert me of one thing – Saturday morning is here again!

Of course they never wake up on their own during the week when it’s time to go to school…no sir! But on Saturday morning, they have this sixth sense that tells them that daddy is trying to enjoy a few more hours of sleep, and this dastardly deed must be foiled at once!

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Anyway, on this Saturday, we tripped down to the Charlottesville City Market, and the Downtown Mall for fresh produce and a bit of Christmas shopping.  We also found a cast of colorful characters that provided loads of unexpected entertainment.

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We watched a gang of weird hobo dancers do their thing, met Rudolf and Tigger (not sure what he has to do with Christmas), and the girls even got fun animal hats for when it gets colder.

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Yeah, we had a ball at the mall! And after all the flurry of the day, who knows, maybe I’ll be able to pick up where I left off when we get back home, and settle in for a nice nap.  One can only hope!

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MB

 


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We Had A Bash – Literally!

 

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Our Kansas City Chiefs have had a remarkable season this year – unfortunately for us, they waited until we skipped town before they decided to adopt these new incredible winning ways!

So when we saw on the schedule that they’d be playing the Washington Redskins in Landover MD, a short two-hour drive north, we leaped at the chance to buy tickets to the game to support our team in person.

We decided to get a hotel room within walking distance of the stadium, and Grandma even drove the 45 minutes down from Baltimore in the snow and rain to babysit the girls while Rach and I had our game day date. Even though it was very cold and snowy, we had a great time routing for our Chiefs, which reminded me of the good ol’ days when we were season ticket holders and were regular visitors to Arrowhead stadium.

The game went down without a hitch as the Chiefs trounced the Redskins 45-10.

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We said our goodbyes to grandma, and we stayed the night in Landover. The next day before making the trip back down to Charlottesville, we took the girls to Chuck E. Cheese, which happened to be one of their favorite joints back home in Olathe, but sadly (for the girls) there isn’t one in C-Ville. The minute they saw it from the highway, the hooting and hollering and begging began, so we pulled over so they could have their own uniquely fun Landover experience.

Oh yeah, we had a bash!

It was early in the afternoon, so we were the only ones there, and had the run of the place. We ate, played all the games, and took lots of pics – even Chuck E. scurried out of his hole to pose with us.

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We were inside the restaurant, reveling in a cocoon of contentment, oblivious to the sinister events that were transpiring just outside in the parking lot.

All things must come to and end, and it was time go. As we were gathering our things preparing to leave, our blissful bubble was burst when a woman anxiously entered the restaurant, and urgently approached us to ask if we were the owners of the VW minivan – who’s side window had been broken out!!

And just like that, we went from having a bash, to having our window bashed out!

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I quickly ran out to the car overwhelmed with a feeling of shock and bewilderment. A terrible sense of dread filled my thoughts, as I knew what we had in the back of the van. Dude, we were out of town, so we had several pieces of luggage, not to mention my camera, and both laptops! All I could think was that this thief had seen the cache of items we had stored in the back and had hit pay dirt.

During those 7 seconds it took me to get from the Chuck E. Cheese to the car – I was completely sick!

My pace slowed and my apprehension increased as I neared the van feeling nervous and ill at ease. At first I couldn’t see a broken window, so for a brief moment, a bit of optimism flashed through me – maybe she had the wrong car? But as I rounded the back, the sight of glass on the pavement slashed all inkling of hope.

Immediately, I began to take inventory and to my great surprise, it seemed that everything in the back, the luggage, the camera, the laptops, were all still in tact!! I couldn’t believe it…everything was still there! You wouldn’t imagine how relieved I was to find that all of our stuff was still in our possession. But then I went from being alarmed to feeling agitated as I wondered, why on earth did this clown bust our window out only to take nothing?

When Rach came out to survey the damage, she verified for me that thieves don’t break into cars just for the hell of it. As it turns out it was her purse that they had spied partially hidden beneath a baby blanket, and for these crooks, it had become the Catch Of The Day.

Ironically, earlier as we were driving slowly around the outdoor mall on our way to the Chuck E. Cheese, we had both acknowledged how nice we thought the area was – Rach even briefly posted to Facebook that she could even see herself living in Prince George County. And then some fool goes and breaks into our car, thus instantaneously nixing the idea of us ever residing there!

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As it turns out it was a terrible score for these jive time criminals because there was nothing of value for them inside her purse…thank goodness. However for us, the break in turned into two weeks worth of heartache, headache, and a stressful load replacements and repairs.

Along with some brand new make up (that Rachael is still hot about), a checkbook, address book, and God only knows what else, Rach’s only car key was inside her bag – this of course was expensive to replace. We had to tow her car to the Volvo Dealership, so she was without a car for a couple of days.

Then, the company that we chose to fix the window on the van, broke the dang latch on the sliding door, so the door wouldn’t close. This turned into a week of back and forth with them, and with VW to determine the problem and who was at fault. Once they admitted (to themselves) that they had in fact broken the latch while replacing the glass, they agreed to pay the damages – but I was without a vehicle for two days while VW fixed the door.

Woosah…woosah…

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Fortunately everything is now back to “normal” and as the old adage says – “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

This whole affair truly served as a test of our patience and perseverance. We may have simply wanted to see a ball game, but life has a way of stepping in to remind us that “things” happen.

How we respond to these “things” is completely up to us – but it would behoove us to be mindful to remain calm, peaceful, and to have faith that all things work together for good, even in the mist of our issues and dramas.

It’s all a test to see how well we play the game, but if we lose our cool, we are only playing ourselves.

MB


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Breaking The Barriers Of Belief Systems

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“Become more aware, become more conscious, become more courageous. Don’t go on hiding behind old belief systems and masks and theologies. Take your life into your own hands. Burn bright your inner light and see whatever is. And once you have become courageous enough to accept it, it is a benediction. No belief is needed – this is the first step toward reality.” – OSHO


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To Go Or Not To Go, That Is The Question – A Deliberation On Plantations

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We’ve recently moved to the South, not quite the deep South, but still to a part of the country that prides itself on its southern roots and glorious historical past. Virginia, known for its earliest settlement, Jamestown, in the early 1600’s, and home to the wealthiest and most elite ruling class in North America due to the establishment of the plantation agricultural system via the institution of slave societies and economies dependent on slavery. It was home to four of the first five Presidents of the United States: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.

Virginia’s interesting yet controversial past is too vast for me to summarize without sounding like a history Professor, so to avoid boring you to death, I’ll cut the lesson short.

Fast forward to Virginia today, or at least to the part of Virginia that we live in, Charlottesville, which could be defined more as an exurb due to major influences from larger nearby Eastern cities such as D.C., Richmond, Baltimore, etc.

Some of the more popular attractions and tourists spots are the area’s numerous wineries and curiously enough, its historical plantation sites. As newbies here, there seems to be almost an expectation by the locals that as soon as you unpack your bags, as a rite of passage toward becoming a true Virginian, one must partake in one, if not both of these excursions at some point. Recommendations of favorites (mostly the wineries) abound and are quite variable.

These attractions are so immersed in Virginia culture, that even the school systems perform their due diligence in incorporating it into their learning curriculum. So we were a bit concerned when Delaney came home a couple of weeks ago with a permission slip to attend her Kindergarten class field trip to one of the local plantations!

Ashlawn-Highland was the estate of James Monroe, the fifth Prez of the United States. His plantation was close to Thomas Jefferson’s famous plantation Monticello, so they were next door neighbors.

Ashlawn-Highland may currently describe itself as a place that “offers a compelling glimpse into a period of growth in US history, in a setting full of abundant charm,” but let’s not get it twisted – during Monroe’s 24 years as its owner, it was a working plantation which experienced this period of growth as a direct result of the subjugation of brown people, and forcing them to work as free laborers while considering them less than human – which justified for them how they could consider these people chattel slaves.

http://ashlawnhighland.org/james-monroe-and-slavery/

Let us note that he and Thomas Jefferson, two of America’s shining symbols of excellence, and so-called heroic founding fathers, were complicit in this morally corrupt “peculiar institution.” But like they say, one man’s hero is another man’s heel!

So Delaney and her class will tour this suspicious homestead today, thus we were rightly concerned that during the tour, she might learn of this dark portion of American history at this establishment that can obviously be likened to something similar to Auschwitz, as a Black Holocaust transpired for centuries in places such as this.

We have no intention of allowing her self image to be negatively altered or eroded by the knowledge that brown people like her, had to endure outrageously inhuman treatment that went on there. She will learn of this someday, but we wish to be the ones who inform her – delicately, in our way, and on our time, from our perspective! We did not want this to be the venue of her first introduction of the cruelty that our ancestors endured.

We approached Delaney’s teacher with our trepedation about allowing her to attend this field trip if slavery would be discussed at any point during the tour. She was sympathic, and agreed to research the tour for us. When she got back to us, she assured us that the subject of slavery would not be touched on during their tour. So we reluctantly allowed her to attend.

I’m glad that kiddie tours omit the shame of slavery, but I hope that it is not swept under the rug altogether for the grown folks, nor that tour guides try to present it in a palatable, watered down way to obscure the true horror of the institution.

For until the complete truth of slavery becomes seared into the consciousness of all people and seen for the national tragedy that it was, Americans will continue speaking of the good ol’ days as something for ALL citzens to be proud of! They will continue to believe in the myth of the Antebellum south and see it through the distorted spectacles of propaganda, while the consequences of that terrible period and it’s ripple effects are still being negatively felt today!

So they can promote these plantations as a lovely place to revisit the quaint and charming lifestyle of the past all they want – but that still will never hide the fact that this was certainly not the case for all people.

MB & Rach


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What’s In A Name?

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Last month I read a story about a young woman living in the Kansas City area who was determined to change her name because of the flack she was catching from her peers.

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/11/04/4597442/burdened-by-bigotry-a-girl-born.html

Keisha Austin is a biracial 19 year old, whose mother is white, and lives in a part of town that is not very racially diverse. She said she was tired of being teased by white classmates who associated her name with negativity, and she had had enough!

Her mother said that she gave her the name Keisha because she thought it as a way to pay homage to her African American heritage, and felt it represented the “strong, feminine, beautiful black woman” she had hoped her daughter would grow up to be.

Apparently Keisha didn’t agree!

It would seem that there is an element in this society that associates certain names with unfavorable stereotypical behavior. Admittedly, the name Keisha is a very popular name in the African American community, and some would straight up call it a black girl name. But what about names like Ananya or Yui – these are popular names in both the Indian and Chinese cultures. Are they also subject to the same ridicule? Or is it just those with black girl names that are type casted and labeled with unfair generalizations?

If the world only knew the richness of black history and the far-reaching influence of it’s culture, and creativity, I don’t think we would believe that our community would be something to scoff at!

So now Keisha Austin calls herself Kylie, and we certainly wish her well and encourage her to live long and prosper.

Its unfortunate however, that the level of our self-esteem should be so strongly influenced by our name, or that the content of our character should ever be judged by it!

What do you think, Cool or Uncool? Feel free to comment!

MB