Tag Archives: Parenting

When “Best Man Holiday” Hits Home

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Sixty plus degrees..less than a week from Christmas… in DC? There was something distinctly surreal about that day. As I walked to the church (that fact that we lived so close, struck me as a bit odd) the warmth of the day and the bright sun in December, made each step forward even more unbelievable.

Our friendship was not born out of the fun of college experiences like the blockbuster hit, Best Man Holiday, but through navigating our new lives as young families. I was on maternity leave after having G1 and my esthetician/friend Germaine, told me about Mocha Moms. I attended my first meeting when G1 was 3 months old and 12+ years later, I am still a member and credit my early years with Mocha Moms for giving me my ‘Mommy Roots’. At the anchor of these roots is the Utsey family.

As a young, African American, professional, married woman, I had never been exposed to a group of people of color who were so…different. From discipline, to diet, I learned how to be open minded and explore ideas that were not necessarily the ‘norm’ in our culture. Monica Utsey, the Vice-President of the first chapter I belonged to, and then (and still) President of the second chapter I helped to charter (my first introduction to the term ‘crunchy granola’, lol!) led the way with many of the ‘unconventional’ approaches to family life.  Normal duration breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, alternative/natural remedies, stay-at-home moms, marriage support groups, my on and off again vegetarian eating :), homeschooling, natural/non-medicated births, natural hair, the importance of knowing more than Martin Luther King Jr. as it pertains to African history, and self-employment/entrepreneurism, were all values that were either supported by or in some cases introduced by the Utsey family. I would always say that we were a subculture of our community; it is where the concept  of ‘Off Da Chain and Outta Da Box’ was birthed.

When you live ‘against the grain’, it takes a special kind of man to have the confidence to respond to the critics and live life on your family’s terms. “Everyday I’m Hustling”, was the song that reminded the Pastor of Eric, Monica’s husband. Eric was time enough for anyone who wanted to challenge his family’s choices. He did what he had to do to support his family and provided the much needed ‘comic relief’ when he was around. Our marriage group was always live and poppin’ with the Utseys in attendance, lol! We all shared our stories with transparency and a deep desire to make our marriages work, but Monica and Eric always seemed to bring humor, even to the serious stuff.

It had been almost 6 years since Eric experienced a severe stroke. We were living in Georgia at the time and over the years, we stayed connected to the Utsey family and even visited Eric when he was in rehab (he was still able to tell me exactly how to get from NW DC to Potomac, MD lol!). Since returning to Georgia a few months ago, we had the honor of seeing Eric a few times, he had some physical limitations, but we all just knew that the worst was behind him and although it was a seemingly slow process, he was recovering. So it was shocking to me to get a call from a fellow Mocha Mom to tell me about his sudden passing, at the age of 47. Three days prior, Monica and I were planning to get together for a Yoga class and breakfast because I had reached out to her to share some of the challenges I was experiencing in relation to the loss of my mother (see previous post), something I knew she could relate to after recently losing her mom, grandmother, and grandfather, within months of each other. The weather was bad that day, so we decided to reschedule. After getting the call, almost immediately my own challenges took a back seat, and I set out to go see her.

As I sat in the church and remembered the little, rambuctious toddler and watched him basically officiate his father’s funeral with such maturity (he’s now 13) the tears wouldn’t stop (although there were some hilarious stories shared that did make me laugh…a lot, including all the Philly references, something Eric and I had in common.) I glanced around and saw mama after mama, some couples from our marriage group, and of course, the once babies, now big children that I was connected to primarily because of the Utsey family and the importance of them in my life just magnified. It wasn’t under the best circumstances, but it was a reunion none the less. The pastor (who was good friends with Eric) shared during the eulogy that Eric felt deserted after he had the stroke. Some friends didn’t come around anymore. We were reminded of Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times….” and challenged not to allow another friend to go through something without supporting them when they needed it most. ODC has done an awesome job of garnering financial support for the Utseys, and as a major beneficiary of their investment in community, I was compelled to share our connection. Over the past few years Monica has had more than her ‘fair share’ of challenges; the pre-mature delivery of her son Ayinde, Eric’s stroke, Zion’s car accident, the loss of her mother, grandmother and grandfather, and now this. I know that God will give her the strength to move her family forward, but as we approach Christmas Day, thank you to all who gave, and if you haven’t, would you please consider a gift to her as she now faces life as a widow with 2 young sons? Payments can be made via PayPal to motherjegna@msn.com. May Christ be lifted up during this time of year and the gift of hope and peace be given to the Utsey Family and us all.

ODB

Give your kids a week off!!!

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My oldest daughter cleans the kitchen and I am not happy with the job she does.  We make homemade popcorn and she has a habit of leaving the pot unwashed. She sweeps and it doesn’t look like it.  She doesn’t take the time to move every single item on the counter top and wipe underneath. I mean we have two bread makers a juicer and a mixer and they never get moved.  She likes to use the dishwasher when there are not enough dishes to even start the thing.  So with all of this, I have decided to give her the week off.

Why?

I can do it better, but I also realized that maybe I have never really demonstrated what I mean by clean the kitchen.  Maybe I have just been barking orders and they mean nothing to a young lady who just turned 11.  I mean I have been spitting orders her way for about 4 years but I am not sure if I ever took the time to SHOW HER WHAT IT MEANS TO CLEAN THE KITCHEN.

So this week she is off duty and I am on duty.  I have her come by and check out my work and see why the chairs should be put up when you want to sweep.  She does hate when I call her and have her do inspections with me but she will know what I need from her and no yelling will be necessary.  If the kitchen does not sparkle after this week she will receive consequences and I will be sure the message was clear and I delivered.

So I hope she is enjoying her week off…

Thanks for stopping!

ODC

How tanning can get you thrown in jail for stealing an iPhone! (Part 2)

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I immediately told her that I had tracked a cell phone belonging to my wife to this location.

Her mouth dropped WIDE OPEN before she realized it and she immediately attempted to clean up her look and said, “There was not a cell phone in the bag sir.”  I asked her if there were kids in the car and she replied, “Yes.”

I told her she may want to speak with them because at this moment I am attempting to give her some grace and thinking she may not even know that someone in the car with her had the phone.

She went to check the trunk of her car and I watched her as she opened every bag that was in her trunk.  And this was approximately 8 different bags and found nothing there. She then walked back to the hair salon and before she could enter a young boy about 9 walked out. Behind him were two young girls around the ages of 10 & 8.  She asked them if they knew anything about a iPhone and they all replied, “No.”

I then asked her was there anyone else in the car and she said, Only my boyfriend but I already took him home.

BAM!

I waited for her to close the trunk and took a picture of her license plate.  She asked me, “What are you doing?” I said, “Taking a picture of your license plate.”

If you are reading this, You already know me.  Smart as they come…She was getting her first taste.

I told her I was not going to do a song and dance with her and walked away to call the police.

I called the Henry county police and gave them my location, why I was there and her tag number.  They told me if she attempted to leave that I would need to call them and point them in her direction. Do not attempt to stop her.  Sound familiar?

After I finished my call the young lady approached me and was handing me her cell phone to speak to someone.  I asked who it was and she responded, “My boyfriend.”

I took the phone and spoke to him.  He stated that he had found the phone on the ground at Six Flags and it was “ALL BUSTED UP.”

I told him that was fine because there was a Verizon store across the parking lot and his girlfriend could walk over and just purchase a new iPhone and I would be on my way.

He responded, “We don’t have money for that.”

I handed the phone back to girly and told her, “You two need to speak so you can get your story straight before the police get here.”

“Why did you call the police?” she stated and I responded, “Because I am not trying to play this game with you all night.”

She turned and went back into the hair salon.  She returned with a mature woman with a very nice hair cut.  A minute later I found this to be her mother.  She was explaining the situation…As she saw it…to her mother.  I allowed her to finish her presentation and of course she was making me look like THE BIG BAD WOLF.

When she wrapped up I walked up and introduced myself and told her mom that I was not irrational at all in my thinking.  I told her that my wife had her cell phone stolen from Six Flags and I tracked it to this location.

The young lady interrupted me and said, “My boyfriend only took your phone because he was going to return it to the Sprint Store.” Then she said, “The phone works fine.”

I then pulled out my phone and showed her mother the 5 text messages I had sent to the phone that were never returned and stated, “If the intent was to return the phone, why were these messages ignored?” And I walked over to my truck to wait for the police.

Finally, the Henry County police were on the scene and the case of the stolen cell phone was going to be resolved without any other issues….

or so we thought..

So I walked up to the officer in an effort to  introduce myself and went to shake his hand. He looked at me like I was the biggest, nastiest, slimiest person on the face of the earth.  I will just say this.  He was a WM and he made me feel like I was in Georgia and not Washington DC.

It has not happened much but it does happen and this was THE WORST I HAVE FELT IN A LONG TIME and I was TOTALLY UPSET.  I believe he was hoping he could cater to the young lady with the nice tan standing next to me.

The police officer looked at me and said, “I don’t shake hands!”

To which I replied, “I totally understand.”

I made my best attempt to move past this situation and tell myself that maybe he was a person with a germ phobia.  (even though I knew it was more than that…It was the venom in his eyes)His delivery was horrible.

I began to tell him why I called and made sure to stick to the facts and he cut me off in the middle of my sentence.  I began speaking again and he cut me off again.  I then told the officer that I was the person who placed the call and I was going to need him to allow me to tell him why he was called and he needed to allow me to finish my statement.

He replied, “I don’t need you to tell me what to do!” And he got that stance thing going on like he was going to come at me like I was the problem of the evening.

I immediately took my phone asked him for his name and his superior officers name to document.  His name was J. Palmer and his superior officers name was Gibbs.  I told him that I would no longer speak to him and I needed his superior officer on the scene. “Right Away.”

His entire facial expression changed in that moment and he began apologizing and said, “I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot.”

Without saying a word, I walked away and went back to my truck to wait for the superior and pulled my phone out to begin typing my complaint on the officer.

You can blame Henry County for there being a Part 3!!

ODC

A high school senior renewed my hope in the African-American Male!

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Who remembers the last week they spent in high school?  I sure do….Well kinda.  I remember thinking it was the last week for about the last 2 months and can remember that I really did “act a fool.”  I feel so sorry for high school teachers who only deal with seniors.

Well today I was blessed to be invited to a celebration reception in honor of a wonderful kid.  He is a graduating senior and is going off to college to play soccer and study art. He is also a member of an awesome family in our community that we are glad to be linked.   An African-American family that has both mom and dad TOTALLY in tune with what is going on with their children.  Involved with the school activities and TOTALLY ACTIVE in all aspects of raising their children.

I know…It does happen in our community….It just needs to happen more often, but I am always sure to keep my not pad when I visit their home.

He does not know it but I have watched him for years and see a lot of myself in him and am pretty excited with the possibilities he brings to the world.  It is not everyday that people are excited about an African-American male and positive future possibilities.

I mean with some of the recent challenges we have had with other young men his age in our communities, This young man is like a breath of fresh air.

Today also confirmed something for me as it pertains to his taste in women.  I met her.  She was his prom date and they are dating currently.  I had seen pictures of her on his moms Facebook page and immediately called and started asking questions.

His mom told me, “You would be so proud of my son for who he is seeing.” She described his friend and the wonderful family that she is a part of and I am not surprised at all.

Then I realized and had to share today that I met my wife when I was 15 and my ability to know what a great women is like came from watching my mother.  I took the information that was in the home with me growing up and knew in high school that my wife was WONDERFUL and actually told her before we left high school that I would marry her.

I was able to share with today that he too has a wonderful example in his home and to understand that because of his growing up in such an awesome home with parents, who are ‘in tune’ with his needs…He has been prepared for the next step.

Today I was able to share my family with my community and get together in celebration of a young African-American male!!!!

Thanks to a high school graduate and scholarship athlete for giving a man with 4 daughters renewed hope.

If you ever need anything from our family…you won’t have to call me.

I will be stopping by unannounced, because WE ARE FAMILY. 🙂

ODC

Does spanking really work?

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My wife and I have struggled with this for our entire marriage and I don’t want to go deep in this post but do want to give my wife credit for a home run  she hit just yesterday with one of our daughters in the area of discipline.

Our 8 y.o. took some scissors and cut a cute little bracelet that was handmade by our 6 y.o. The bracelet was something she really liked and had been wearing for about the last week or so.

The 6 y.o. did a great job practicing self-control, which she struggles with, and just came and spoke to my wife about the incident.

My wife called my 8 y.o. and asked her what happened and then why she did the cutting.  “I don’t know” might have been her answer or maybe I am just saying it because that is normally her answer when she does something wrong.

The result:

My wife asked my 8 y.o. if she currently had any money and she said, “Yes.”  My wife asked her to go and bring what she had.  After bringing it back and presenting her cash to my wife she got that sad look.  I was cracking up on the inside and was so proud of my wife.

And she did it!!

She had my 8 y.o. pay for what she had done by giving my 6 y.o. money for her bracelet. This really meant a lot to her and allows her to purchase  the supplies to make another one.

This is something I probably would have just given a spanking over when we first got married, but we now attempt to choose the best option that reaches the child and speaks their language.

I need you to understand that my 8 y.o. previously received money on her birthday and still had some of the money on her next birthday.  At that age, what child does that?  Only she is that protective of her money and because of that….

This was a home run and she will never forget the consequences of THIS action.

Congrats to mommy for being great and not reacting quickly but going the route of most effective discipline.

And in this instance, it was not to spank because it just would have gone in the database with every other spanking, but now she remembers this specific incident.

Thanks for visiting our site.

We appreciate you all,

ODC

“March Madness Blogging Series”

Do we take the Easy or Hard road?

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Happy 1 year anniversary: ReMix and it is still relevant!

I just received an amazing article from a friend…am I wrong if I say she is white?  Well I have spoken to her and she is okay with me saying it…so you just get over it.  We actually were sharing with each other about raising children and I said something that sparked her memory and she promised she would send me a copy of the article…AND SHE DID! (I told you she was white)…Some of you guys need to learn to laugh a little and get over yourself.  I am not a racist!  Quick…Who do I sound like?

There I go again…off the subject.

Well back to the lecture at hand.  So the article is awesome.  If I did not think she would read this I would just retype it and take credit for it…Naw because I have to add my 2 cents.  But the question at hand…….Why is life so tough?

The answer is…….

It’s not! For most of us, it is very simple…EASY EVEN.  Because we take the easy way out.  Here are a few examples:

Spending is easy, Saving is hard.

Cheating is easy, Faithful is hard.

Public school is easy, Homeschooling is hard.

Sex is easy, Love is hard.

Going along is easy, Walking alone is hard.

Epidural is easy, Natural is hard.

Formula is easy, Nursing is hard.

Reaction is easy, Action is hard.

Pizza is easy, Salad is hard.

Sleeping in is easy, Early workouts are hard.

Watching TV is easy, Reading is hard.

Talking about God is easy, Praying to and following God is hard.

Getting married is easy, Staying married is hard.

So why is all this true?

Because nothing in life that is worthwhile comes without effort.

Thanks for stopping by…

See you tomorrow.

ODC

“March Madness Blogging Series”

Are 6 Y.O. boyfriends REALLY harmless?

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As you all know I have 4 daughters and as you all know…

I am the right man for the job.  I had a conversation with my wife about a conversation she overheard my daughters having concerning “liking” someone of the male persuasion.

You know it was addressed with the quickness.

What she explained to them was it was great to “like” other kids…Meaning boys and girls, but you will not have a “harmless” “boyfriend” because we don’t believe they are harmless. Not at any age.  We are hurting our children when we allow them to play dating games at such an early age and stand around thinking that the game is harmless.

I had a conversation with a parent the other day who I told 16 was to young to be dating.  She disagreed.  That’s okay.  I told her I hope she is ready to be called G-Ma or Me-Ma.

In our society we allow small children to play the “is that your boyfriend game and then we wonder why we have all the challenges we have as they mature. This behavior is contributing to the breakdown of our families.

We all can agree that dating is a HUGE PROBLEM!!

I like to say dating is practice for getting divorce and we do not want our children participating in the setup.

So NO a boyfriend at any age is NOT HAPPENING, but “guarding their hearts” is the way to turn this cruise ship called dating around and it will take more than just us on this block for this to become a success.

But we believe our children are worth every effort.

We are teaching our daughters to “guard their hearts.”  We believe and pray for them daily that they know the importance and keep a pure heart and body until marriage.

Many of us have made all the mistakes of not following this path and I want those that feel their lives and marriages are better to SPEAK UP!

Otherwise,

We will be instructing our children NOT to discuss or participate in “liking” and “so-called harmless boyfriends/girlfriends” AT ANY AGE!

We will only be “GUARDING OUR HEARTS.”

ODC

“March Madness Blogging Series”