The House Built On L♡VE & Shenanigans

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


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The Girl Who Carried Too Much Stuff, Ready for Festival Season!

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We are pleased that on November 1, 2015, after a considerable amount of time and effort expended by a family of committed people, we were able to bring The Girl Who Carried Too Much Stuff book project to life!

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This young reader seems very pleased.

I continue to feel truly grateful and in awe of how well our labor of love is doing.  The book is  finding its way into the hands of many readers, bringing tons of smiles to the faces, and joy to the hearts of the many little ones who have experienced this thoughtful tale.

And now I’m pleased to announce (drum roll please) that The Girl Who Carried Too Much Stuff, was accepted to the 2016 Virginia Festival of the Book! 

As a part of this 5 day event, I was invited to present at:  The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center on Thursday, 3/17, and The Village School on Saturday, 3/19.

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Corbin H. loves the book!

I will also host a program at the Congregation Beth Israel on Thursday, 3/17 at 10 am, and I have a book signing at Alakazam Toy & Book store on Sunday, 3/20 from 3-4:30. All of these events are in Charlottesville, VA. so if you happen to be in the area, please come and check us out.

In addition to that, the book will also be presented at the 2016 Baltimore Book Festival! This festival is taking place on Saturday, September 24, 2016.  Please visit my website for more updates (times, locations, etc.) as they become available.

My hope is that this “little-book-that-could,” will continue to be used to inspire both young and old to follow their passion — to be bold, and to live this life on your own terms, by truly living and breathing your unique authenticity!

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That’s what we are here for!

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Kojo S. shows off his copy!

To create, love, encourage others…and to dream! But we mustn’t stop there.  Oh no homie, we must then act on those dreams in an effort to BE the change we seek to make in this universe.

Thank you to all those who have supported our book.

Let’s keep it movin’!

MB

 


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The End Of An Era

 

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Ahh, peace and quiet.

Just me, my thoughts, and my computer.

It’s one of the main things I’ve always wanted.  Something I’ve always talked about.  You’ve all heard me mention how I couldn’t wait to be alone in a tranquil house, free to write, feeling unencumbered with no distractions.

And now I’ve got it – that mystical, magical, majestical day has finally arrived.  Oh yeah, IT IS ON!

Wow, right now in this moment, I can attest to the fact that silence truly is GOLDEN!

So I’m supposed to be having the time of my life right? This is supposed to be my time to shine!

Then why am I sitting here alone awash in an overwhelming sense of loss?

Why are there more tears in my coffee than cream?

DSC_0719Then it hit me…I think I’m actually experiencing, of all things,  Separation Anxiety from my kids. Especially from Journey, who has been with me the longest and is the last little birdie to leave the nest.  PBS.org and AhaParenting.com both have interesting articles on the subject.

 

DSC_0568_2I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I feel this way.  For the past eight years, I’ve been a stay-at-home dad – even though it took several years for me to accept and become adjusted to the role of being a full time parent.  There is so much joy associated with being a full time caregiver to ones children, but it is also a lot of work, particularly if you choose to parent consciously.  There are long stretches of monotony associated with the routine of being at home all day with children.

I never thought that I’d ever get used to staying at home with three little girls.

But I did.

IMG_3534I found myself in a unique situation as a dad who stays home with kids. Its true that the numbers of fathers staying home have been steadily growing lately, (2 million dads vs 10 million moms) however when I started out in the gig, I was the only one I knew locally. We hardly ever got invited to play dates by moms in those early years, because I guess being the only guy on the block at home during the day seemed quite unusual to most.

I never thought that I’d ever get used to being the only guy at the park surrounded by a sea of moms, making our own fun.

But I did.

DSC_0076_3When you meet people at social gatherings for instance, they love to ask, “So, what do you do?”  You should have seen some peoples faces when I told them what I did all day.  They couldn’t understand the concept of a man staying home with kids.  It was as if I was just a weirdo babysitter or something. They’d quickly develop a disinterested look, and politely excuse themselves so they could chat with someone who they felt had greater career aspirations.

Later, in an effort to appear like a “normal guy,” I began to preface my answer with, “Well I worked for Sprint for eleven years, and now I’m staying home with my girls for awhile…until they go off to school.” I made sure to insinuate how temporary I felt my current situation  was, and I’d soon be back in the corporate world making money like a man is supposed to.

As time went on, my perspective changed, and I learned to eliminate all pretense. I have come to realize how important my position as a father who stays home with his little girls truly is.

I never thought that I would get comfortable proudly affirming to people that I’m a stay-at-home dad.

But I did.

Because I realized after all these years, that I’ve been more than just a stay-at-home dad.

I am:

  • a nurturer
  • a role model
  • a teacher
  • a chef
  • a nutritionist
  • a first-aid provider
  • a household manager
  • a maid
  • a butler
  • a spiritual advisor
  • a protector
  • an event coordinator
  • the head cheerleader.

These are some of the many hats that stay-at-home parents must wear.  And I finally got the hang of it…accepted it…and for the most part, have relished in it.

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One went off to school, and then there were two.  

Then two went off, and then there was one.  

Now all three are off, and at home there are none.

That chapter of my life is all but done.

So just like that, POOF…its just little ol me holding it down during the day – and a new chapter begins.  Can I get used to whatever the Universe has for me next?

I’m sure I will.

MB

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Take A Hike!

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When Rachael asked what I wanted to do for Fathers Day, I made it clear that whatever it would be, it would have to be done on Saturday – because on Sunday, my plan was to do nothing but lounge around all day while she took sole control of entertaining the kids.

Sunday was going to be the one day of the year that I sat in my drawers all day, fluffed up the pillows, remote in hand, and metaphorically got the big piece of chicken!

With my under-active Fathers Day plans laid out, Saturday, would be our day spent doing something lively together.  I wanted us to get some exercise out in the sun with the birds and trees, and pesky bugs, surrounded by nature.

We decided to go take a hike!

I have a newfound love for hiking, and lately it’s become one of our go-to family activities.  Along with the obvious cardiovascular benefits to hiking, Active.com listed 5 reasons why it can be valuable.

  • Helps you stay limber
  • Minimal equipment needed, just some comfortable shoes and a water bottle.
  • Gets the family together
  • You can set your own pace – go hard, or take it easy.
  • Get Your Zen on, while appreciating nature.

We’ve hiked Humpback Rock a couple of times before, so we chose to try someplace new. I Googled, “places to hike in Charlottesville” to find a spot that would be most suitable.

So on Saturday morning, we loaded the girls up in the van, and off we trekked to Crabtree Falls.

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Crabtree Falls is located in George Washington National Forest, located about 50 miles south of Charlottesville in Nelson County, VA.  It is said to be one of the tallest set of water falls east of the Mississippi.

Following our phone GPS, (which is sometimes a bad idea in Central Virginia) we were led up one road and down the next – until Siri, robotically announced “your destination is on the left!”

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The sign on the left read, “Crabtree Falls Campgrounds.” Believing we had arrived, we stopped and parked.  Oddly enough, I could hear the sound of rushing water, but I didn’t see any waterfalls. We hiked around the campgrounds for nearly an hour searching for access to the falls before the camp proprietor, a very cordial fellow by the name of Dave, informed us that we weren’t quite where we thought we were.

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After he pointed us in the right direction, and gave the girls free ice cream, (how bout that ol’ southern hospitality) we had to drive about a quarter mile up the winding, wooded road to get to the falls.

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We were all taken aback as we marveled at the beauty of this natural wonder! A true feast for the senses!

Crabtree Falls is divided into three sections, with a hiking trail that leads to the top.  The trail continues on for about 13 miles.

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After we tramped to the crown of the falls, I was forced to make the executive decision to call an end to the excursion.  That’s because my dang legs started shaking, quaking, and trembling so bad, that I would’ve had to have been emergency air lifted off that mountain on a stretcher had we gone any farther!

Journey being carried in a pack up Humpback Rock 2014.

Journey being carried in a pack up Humpback Rock 2014.

I was the only one who couldn’t continue – even Journey, was hanging tough, this being her first hike not being carried in a pack.

Other than my body failing me, it was a lovely way to spend the day.  And if you’re wondering, I did spend the next day in my boxers allowing the Netflix to wash over me as planned.

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A nice balanced Father’s Day weekend…the best gift I could have received!

MB

 


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Why I Like My Children’s School

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I have had the pleasure over the last few weeks of taking the girls to school each morning, as this is typically dedicated to Marc. Even though I usually get up at 6 am and arrive at work by 9:00, my morning routine is jam packed with meditation, exercise, scarfing down breakfast, getting the girls dressed, and finally myself….and boy, does time fly.

One of my personal decisions in choosing to move half way across the country was to spend more time with my family, as well as being closer to our family here on the east coast. Back in Kansas City, my work responsibilities did not allow for me to be involved at all with the girls daily school regimen, as I was already en route to work while they were still sleeping. I really wanted to be there to wake them up and help get them dressed for school – even if I couldn’t take them, and at least be able to contribute to the start of a joyous day and be able to send them off with a kiss.

I’m now able to do that every morning, and now even have the time to take them to school. Being used to working 55-60 hours a week, I had forgotten what a 40 hour work week felt like….and it is GREAT!

Back to the girls’ school:

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First, there’s a whole staff there to help unload and load your child into the car when you arrive. The cars pull up and around, the vice – principal, school counselor, and several other administrative employees open your car door and even help unbuckle the kids out of their car seats if needed, as they wish you a wonderful day and see YOU off, leaving you with a feeling that your kids are in good hands. Although we walk our kids in and personally deliver them to their classrooms, it’s a nice service to see.

Second, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere, with a somewhat relaxed starting time. Honestly, I still do not know the official start time. They encourage drop off times between 7:40 and 8:00 am. If they see a lot of late stragglers, they’ll wait a little longer before morning announcements. There’s a greeter that sits at the front door to sign you in, nice friendly kid tunes played by the music teacher Mark, on his ukulele, and the front office is warm and inviting – complete with softly lit lamps and a small play and book area for the kids. Everyone seems so warm and genuine in their willingness to serve you. You can truly tell that most of these people enjoy their jobs and take pride in it.

Speaking of morning announcements- they are unlike any that I’m familiar with in this day and age.. The very first thing that is announced on the intercom is the start of the school day with what they call “morning meditation”. They observe 60 seconds for an opportunity for you to pray, meditate, or just sit quietly and slow down from the morning rush and gather your thoughts. I think this is GREAT and what a way to get centered! And this is not private school, but public school!

In observing, the staff and a whole lot of the kids take it seriously. You see many with their eyes closed and lips moving saying a private prayer, you see some with eyes closed and heads resting on their table tops, and some just sitting perfectly still just watching. I often tease Marc, because the few times that we have taken the girls to school together, and we happen to be there at this time, Marc gets serious about taking his opportunity to meditate. We’ll be standing still in the hall, and I’ll look over at Marc and his eyes will be squeezed shut, lips moving, and sometimes arms outstretched. He takes this moment and any moment that he can – to say thank you. I mean, I take the moment too, but not like him 🙂

I can remember when I was in middle school, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, 6th grade, and every morning during our announcements the principal would read an actual bible verse and say a morning prayer. Those were the beginning of the end of the last days of prayer in public schools before the whole church vs. state debate began to grip the nation. Perhaps, this is another reason why I enjoy this part of the kiddos school…brings back nostalgia.

The school is also heavily centered around embracing the arts, with frequent trips to art museums, and theater shows. The teachers seem unafraid to hug their students and comfort them without fret of accusation or concern.

We’ve had lunch with them a couple of times, and I’ll tell ya, the school lunches today, far exceed what I remember. These kids have their choice of a fresh salad, and several choices of entree items, fresh fruit, flavored milk or juices, ice cream/popsicles, as well as some snack items.

The school is very much multicultural. I’m so glad that the girls are not the sole brown kids in their class anymore, and for a little while, I was starting to think that little brown boys were extinct!

The school hosts an International Night to celebrate all the various cultures of their school, and everyone is encouraged to wear their ethnic attire. There’s food, dancing, and plenty of fun.

Suffice it to say, we’re very happy with this school, the girls enjoy it and have grown leaps and bounds this school season in their Kindergarten and First Grade Class.

Cheers to a great school experience!

Is Black History Teaching In School Progressive or Regressive? What Are We Actually Celebrating?

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“Today at school, we learned about a little brown girl name Ruby, and people didn’t like her because she was brown and they didn’t want her to go to school, and some of the adults even wanted to poison her because she was brown. But she was brave and went to school anyway.”

On Marley’s face was the look of worry, and perhaps a little thrill in sharing with us an unbelievable story that we were just hearing for the first time, as she hastily recanted the story she was taught in her 1st Grade class today.

We could sense her concern (as well as our own), being that this was her first introduction to past racism and institutionalized discrimination because of skin color. Up until now, none of our girls have ever expressed any knowledge of racial differences other than the obvious – skin color , and language. To them, if it’s not English, it’s Spanish!

I’m inclined to say that still at this age, skin color truly has no real implications – unless learned of course. Kids just play with each other. Listening to the girls talk, they seem to be more concerned with who’s nice, or doesn’t play right, or even whose in trouble at school the most because they don’t listen or follow directions.

As people of color in this country, Marc and I have struggled with how, and when we were going to introduce our children to the injustices orchestrated against our ancestors, as well as educate them on the probable opportunity that at some point in their young lives, they may yet still encounter some subtle residual, if not blatant issues by some ignorant and ill meaning people because of the color of their skin.

Today’s introduction at school, was not the way we had planned.

Both Marc and I, can remember sitting uncomfortably in our elementary school classes feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and alienated, as we were “educated” about black people in this country – especially from the white perspective.

 

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In a nutshell, it went something like this: Black people were brought over from African on slave ships; white people were better than black people so they deserved to be slaves thus had no rights or freedoms; black people were whipped, beaten & mistreated by their slave masters (complete with visual aides of the brutality and suffering); Some white people wanted to help free the black people so in steps Abraham Lincoln, The Civil War. Flash forward to the Civil Rights Movement, where black people were still treated with hate, and treated unfairly; Then our savior Dr. King shows up on the scene with his passive resistance and all the people of the land love him, and this is when things start to get better for black people – of course, then he’s murdered.

It sure didn’t make me feel good about being black at the time, and I can’t imagine how it could have had a positive impact on any of the kids in our class – regardless of color. Yes, the curriculum sprinkled in a little bit about notable historical black people such as Harriet Tubman, the peanut man (George Washington Carver), Fredrick Douglas, – you know, the same old redundant antiquated figures of yesteryear (no disrespect meant towards these important figures).

However, our black history, which is still American History is much richer than that, and that’s what I wish our basic school curriculums detailed. Instead of just teaching that we were shipped here from Africa, why not expound and tell more uplifting facts – such as how Africa was a very exotic and rich land, how our ancestors also came from royalty and were kings and queens, how intelligent beyond their times as compared to most parts of the world Africans were, that most of the African nation greatly contributed to the western hemisphere with contributions such as architecture, astronomy, medicine, advanced civilization, etc. The majority of the African nation collectively were NOT just running around naked, poor, destitute, as most of us were taught to believe. For we have contributed far more than just our backs for the building of this great nation.

If we are going to “celebrate” black history month in school, how about minimizing the socio-political aspect of it – the little Ruby stories, the Rosa Park stories, the King speeches – for we know these hard fought victories and achievements have a great and significant place in our history, and for the most part are the cornerstone of the skimpy education that is received in school. Oh they will learn this, over and over and over again.

But how about highlighting more of the vast amount of contributions made by the even more extensive amount of black individuals? The contributions are endless, yet so obscure because they were entirely neglected from the history books, underrepresented, or grossly misrepresented.

Unfortunately, in order to learn it you have to self seek, be fortunate enough to have parents or another informed person teach it to you at a young age, or if you’re patient enough, be willing to take a slightly watered down Black History course in college. But by then, my friend, I fret it’s almost too late to have any meaningful impact on a youth’s impressionable self -esteem, self-worth, pride, and the feeling of unity, singularity, oneness, – which is all of our truth.

I don’t want my daughters to be institutionally indoctrinated into the still yet divisive, lop-sided, non-reconciling, insensitive, and most importantly LOVELESS, miseducation about who they are and whence they came. From past experience, and current reality, we don’t count on, nor expect the educational system to teach them our history from an honest and enlightened point of view that reciprocates mutual understanding, and respect for all.

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So until then, we will respectfully speak with their teachers (again) to pre screen the black history lesson and perspective, and if we have any concerns about the material not positively contributing to the esteem of our children, or if we deem it too politically charged – which we feel is age inappropriate at this time, we will humbly ask that they not participate and be removed to work on another activity.

Several weeks ago, when we were debating whether or not to allow Delaney to attend her Kindergarten school field trip to one of Virginia’s historic plantation’s, we had concerns. Concerns of how black people would be represented, what would be detailed, and how. We expressed our concerns to her teacher – who was more surprisingly understanding than expected, and followed up by calling the plantation and outlining for us the details of the tour. It turned out to be a non issue. She thanked us and appreciated our concern.

I know that people may have many thoughts and opinions about this, however this is a very personal and well thought out decision that we feel is important in raising our girls with good intention, and with values that are important to us and that we feel will serve them well.

Our preemptive initiation of black history education at home has now officially begun.

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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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Am I Brown? Or Am I Black?

DSC_00091Original artwork by Marley Boston age 5

As the girls are getting older and discovering more about themselves and the world around them, they are becoming more conscious of ethnic differences; specifically languages and skin color. Any time that we are out and about, and the girls hear someone speaking a language other than English, they automatically assume that – “They’re speaking Spanish!” The person could be speaking Japanese, Swahili, Cantonese, Portuguese, it doesn’t matter – it’s all Spanish to them. Of course we correct them (or attempt to), but we hear them quietly discussing amongst themselves how wrong we are, still thoroughly convinced that it is in fact Spanish that they heard.

Typical for children, they seem to comprehend life concretely, very literally, and they do not yet grasp the more abstract or higher level conceptualizations within our society. So it doesn’t surprise me that the girls, with regard to skin color, refer to themselves as brown. When they hold a brown crayon next to their skin, something they’ve done many times, it’s obvious to everyone that they ARE brown!

So why would I tell them that they are not?

We’ve never told them that they are black, or that society refers to them as black – a conversation that I’m sure will happen soon. But at 3, 5, and 7 – I’m not sure if I am quite ready to discuss such convoluted subject matter or delve into the history of Africans in America.

I love who I am, and what I am (which has little to do with color), because I understand the Universal Truth of our Beings; of our connectedness with our Creator, with each other, and with all things. We are all spiritual and divine expressions of God having a human experience. So to me, in the big scheme of things, skin color is less important.

However, it would be naive of me to deny that in this country, being defined as ‘black’, and even the word black, carries with it many negative connotations and stereotypes. I think we all know it, we all feel it, and probably have been confronted with it directly at some point in our lives. Think about all of the words that are negative that start with the word black: black market, black sheep, black mail, black list, blackballed, black Monday (wall street crash), etc. All of these words undoubtedly have had these negative associations purposely attached to the color black for many subliminal reasons.

Now lets think of some good words that have black associated with it…Hmmm, it’s a stretch. I can think of Blackberry – or in fashion when a hot new color is defined as “the new black.” Can someone please help me out, because I’m having a hard time coming up with anything! And I will not even digress into the history and deep rooted implications and social conditioning that come with being a black person in America – because that’s a whole nutha post! Yes, I said nutha!

However, like any parent, I want my children to grow up feeling validated, worthy, secure in who they are, loved, and protected. Which means, it’s up to me and Marc, as their parents to provide and teach this, so that when they do go out to make their own mark in the world, they will have an unmistakable knowing of who they are, and Whose they are, and become less affected when the world tries to define who they are for them!

So, if they want to refer to themselves as brown, black, purple, green, orange – it’s fine with me. Color is only skin deep. And in this family, we try our best to go deeper than that!