about me · Reflections

June 20th

I love being apart of a group that motivates you to who you said you would be! Today’s post is prompted by the Girl Boss, Javacia arris Bowser of See Jane Write. She recently blogged about not having writer’s block and how simple it can be to write about the things you are into right now. Today is my niece’s 5th birthday, and I’m all into it!

I get excited about birthdays in general. There’s no reason not to celebrate life, another opportunity to do and be, and of course, eat cake! Being a preschool teacher, I always look forward to the 5th birthday so I can say, “You’re a whole hand now!” In my eyes, 5 means you’re a big kid now! But of course, my niece is special. She is the reason that every child above the age of 2 at our school knows me at “TeeTee” instead of Ms. Valerie!

Now that my Gracie is five (a whole hand). I reflect on the fact that she is unique in so many ways.

  • She only knows my life the way it currently is. She knows nothing of me being a child, going off to college, making so many mistakes, or even being something other than a teacher. She only knows that every morning she can knock on my door to see if I’m awake and every evening she can come in to tell me goodnight and say, “Te Amo!”
  • She is the most singest child I have ever met. If she hears a song once, she does her best to sing all of the words but then just makes up those she doesn’t know. BUT if it is a song she enjoys, she will bellow it out (especially in the bathroom) until the song is also stuck in your head.
  • She is very particular about people’s belongings. Sharing is not a foreign idea but if she sees you with something that she knows belongs to someone else, you had better make sure to have asked for it first!
  • She has the tiniest voice, the most chocolate skin, the most gorgeous eyes, and the brightest smile of any 5-year-old girl hands down!
  • She knows no strangers. She is friendlier and bolder than I ever was!
  • Because she is the only child in the house, she also thinks she’s an adult (insert eye roll). I believe she cringes inside each time she hears, “you are only a child!”
  • The day I became an aunt was one of the most emotional days I have ever experienced. I was happy, excited, nervous, cautious, anxious, overwhelmed, tired, but endured no contractions, labor pains, and the like.

She’s the best! She makes me tired yet pushes me to do and be more. So happy birthday, Naomi Grace! Naomi Grace! Gracie! Gracie! Gracie! Gracie! Grace! Grace! Grace!!!!! My little brown girl …

 

 

 

about me · My Soapbox · Parenting · Personal essays

teacher Appreciation

Last week was teacher appreciation week. I have been a teacher for roughly 12 or so years – an early childhood teacher who is unforgivingly titled as a “Daycare worker.” My lack of state or national certification does not make me less deserving to be called a Teacher. This frequent “mistake” has even made me hesitant to tell people my occupation because the next question is, “oh! what grade?” Then I have to explain that it’s not a grade but an age. And unless I say I am teaching 4 and 5-year-olds, people picture piles of diapers, runny noses, and constant temper tantrums, which is not far from the truth. However, being an early childhood teacher requires lessons in not only numbers, letters, and shapes but we must also teach self-awareness, self-help, and self-expression. It has often been quoted that the 1st five years are the foundational years and I have never taken that lightly. For most, it is not until they require childcare, that people realize the importance of preschools and child development centers. Or some see another child, same age as their own, and that child is potty trained at 16 months or reading at 2 years old that they learn that their child is being taught and not attended to. Despite having taught infants, toddlers and 4 and 5-year-olds, I have never taken my role for granted. At one point, I felt that my teaching certification would provide me the validation needed for the public. It was not until recently that I have found my own validation in my teaching abilities. I have always been an advocate for early childhood programs, but it has been a hard fight trying to convince most that even though my day does not end at 3pm, I teach the children AND their parents, day in and day out.

I LOVE being a teacher. It is my gift. The amount of gratification I receive cannot be described. It is not my only calling in life, but it positively frames how I present myself to the world. I no longer wish to trade with 2nd-grade teachers in order to earn some level of professional respect. I have lost the desire to force myself into the public school system as an early childhood teacher (even though I applaud the state for including ECE into the school system ♥). Being a teacher is an often thankless job, that’s why we get a “teacher appreciation!” Parents and administrations have the opportunity to say or show thanks. A simple act that goes a long way. Most parents of children under age 5 cannot wait until Monday morning to deposit their child back to “daycare” and cannot imagine having 10 of the same age running around. Those same parents expect their child to talk, walk, read, write, and potty by age 5 through those “daycare workers.” So even if I cannot be called a teacher or if parents can’t say that their child attends school, “thank you for all you do” will suffice. I can and have adapted to the rest.

 

Give love. Get love.

 

Personal essays · Reflections

Mother’s Day

I can appreciate a holiday that allows people the opportunity to express their love, appreciation, and precious throwback photos of their mother. Just like my favorite, Valentine’s Day, each year on social media, feeds are flooded with pics surrounded by words of adoration that make me smile. But one thing I noticed this year was a generational theme. So many pics of mothers and grandmothers – 1st-time mothers posting pics with their child and then their mother. It reminded me the importance of a village (refer to my previous post here). It made me realize the significance of one’s past to acknowledge the future.

Mother’s day also reminds me of those who have lost a parent. Many of my friends, peers have lost their mother. My sympathy extends to them each holiday. I never know if it’s safe to call, text, or share a fond memory. I depend on my mother so much, and I could not imagine life without her. My mom lost her mom was about my age. Even though we are in two different phases of life, I know my mom would appreciate having her mother now.

This year, in particular, causes me to think upon those with strained mother/daughter relationships. Being a mother is an unending, tireless, and frequently, thankless role. Many are given the responsibility without warning or preparation. I have always seen motherhood as a gift because not every woman is granted the title, at least not biologically. One of my mottos has been, “Children don’t come with instruction manuals” and if you become unexpectedly or undesirably pregnant, no manner of manuals will help. It is my hope this holiday provides an opportunity for healing or reconciliation.

And in honor of this particular day, my brother, the artist, GI Magus has released a new song, Simone GraceIt serves as an ode to the beauty of the black woman as a hope to inspire young brown-skinned women to accept themselves just as they are and to carry that feeling into adulthood. It is an intergenerational lullaby that should motivate mothers to teach their daughters to embrace every curve, every dimple, every mole, and every pimple. Anchored by the hashtag #tellher, GI is signaling to all his followers to tell her that she is loved, that she is beautiful, that she is essential, and that she matters.

Motherhood is more than a notion. Being a godmother and aunt are roles that I have been honored to claim. Being surrounded by so many beautiful women who have shown me numerous lessons in sacrifice, devotion, elasticity, multiplicity,  and sheer grace has allowed me to appreciate being the man with a womb. Regardless of the circumstance or the relationship, #tellher (mom, sister, daughter, wife, friend) beyond social media and before it is too late. Do not assume that she knows. She would not mind hearing it again and again and again…

Give love. Get love.

about me · Personal essays

Maintain – My 2018

I follow a few bloggers who have declared a word for their year. I cannot recall what my word may have been last year, but this year it came to me quite quickly – MAINTAIN!

Here’s the story: Every new year brings this euphoric high. Of course, armed with this feeling, I was wondering how could I keep or maintain this attitude all year long. What helped with this belief was an Instagram post by one of my favorite bloggers/vloggers, @askproy, where she is doing #askproyselfloveproject. For January, she has encouraged her followers to post a selfie and attach a positive affirmation (I have yet to post my selfie). On this day, January 2nd, her statement was: I have come this far & I can keep going. She goes on to describe how we all make goals at the top of the year and then give up. She instructs to just take a moment, day, week, etc. at a time. My response was: My goal for this year is to keep this feeling all year long! And that’s when it hit me, the song lyrics of Jonathan McReynolds, Lord, Help me MAINTAIN!

Per my google search, Maintain is defined as:

  1. cause or enable (a condition or state of affairs) to continue
    1. It is my utmost desire to stay high all 365 (it’s already been a struggle!)
  2. provide with necessities for life or existence
    1. This is all God! But it also ties into a new venture I am exploring as well! WIN-WIN
  3. state something strongly to be the case; assert
    1. Now this one, it does not automatically come to mind when I think of maintain, but I declare/assert/affirm/avow/profess/claim/allege/contend with the notion that I will remain optimistic and motivated all year long.

But my visit to the hospital for some tests provided me with a 2nd word for 2018: HOPE. I was reminded that my God can use anyone at anytime to confirm something He planted in you. Words have power and actions carry weight.

I am moving confidently in my faith.

This is my scripture for the year: Psalm 16:5 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot.

I’m in a zone. Lord, Help me Maintain…

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Personal essays

The New New

January 1st signifies a newness. But as time ticks on, some people have begun to avoid the cliche’: “new year, new me” or even ignore new year’s resolutions. For most, before the 1st quarter is over, the resolutions have dissolved and old habits have resurfaced. Some, like myself, have tried to work on or plan for those January resolutions in November or December in order for maximum success. For me, I have tried not to fall into the same old mindset. However, I am realizing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using January 1st to start all over again. It’s a new day, a month, a new year that has never been seen before. The wisdom comes in planning:

  • I can create a new path to wellness in January but I need to plan for whichever I decide to follow.

Thinking about yoga + pilates, combined with some weight training. However, water aerobics would be the bee’s knees!

  • I can create a have aspirations for my blog but I must plan and schedule my posts.

My blogger/writing guru, Javacia Harris Bowser of See Jane Write has offered this as a guide for her Janes!

  • I can desire to a better steward of my time, talent, and treasure but I must apply discipline.

The Parable told in Matthew 25:14-40 paints a descriptive picture of what we are required to do with what God has placed in our hands until He returns.

Overall, I am very excited about 2018. I have enjoyed my Christmas break. I have lounged and ate and thought and planned and ate and slept and laughed and lounged. All of that served me quite well. However, I am ready to move forward guided by wisdom and led by love.

Give Love. Get Love.

Cheers to 2018!

 

Parenting

Gifting from the Heart – Parents edition

With 7 days left until Christmas, I am updating this post from last month targeted towards a specific group – PARENTS!

If your home is already overrun with toys (see yesterday’s post )and you know your child will not be excited about any piece of clothing, consider these options:

  • Create experiences!
    • Ask relatives for memberships to local museums, like the McWane Science Center, or to the Zoo, or even play experiences such as Kindermusik, ArtPlay at UAB
    • Download/print the upcoming schedule of your local event arena and allow your child to select a performance.
    • Plan a road trip or your child’s 1st train/plane trip. You can include your child in the planning process by allowing them to pick stops or attractions. They can also help save towards the trip (a lesson in responsibility and delayed gratification 😉).
    • Take your child to their favorite restaurant or play spot. If you are a parent of multiples, spread this treat through your Christmas break with each child.
  • Participate in Random Act of Kindness
    • distribute socks and toiletries to the homeless
    • distribute homemade Christmas cards at a local assisted living facility
    • give old/gently used books to your pediatrician’s office
    • donate coloring books and crayons to a children’s hospital
    • offer a homecooked meal to a family spending the holidays in your local Ronald McDonald House

However, if you feel that your child deserves a toy or something tangible to unwrap Christmas morning, how about

  • if your child is in preschool, ask your child’s teacher if there is a toy your child prefers or plays with daily
  • choose toys that they can grow into such as magnetic tiles, legos, building blocks (search for patterns online for your child to attempt)
  • board games (they allow for not only teaching experiences but also help create family memories)
  • invest in your child’s interest (Proverbs 22:6 AMP)
    • voice lessons
    • acting classes
    • joining a team sport

Again, make Christmas more about the giving. We are all given the gift of Jesus, God’s son. He’s the reason we celebrate so in that spirit, show your children how to express that same level love, beginning in your home, and spreading it everywhere they go.

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Parenting

Gifting and Re-gifting

We live in a day where technology has become a daily necessity and in some cases, an obsession. Toddlers know how to how to talk selfies and/text. People neglect the simplicity of just talking. But this is not an anti-technology rant but an awareness of the importance of appreciating each other and the things we currently possess. Because tomorrow is not promised, each day should be treated as a gift. That is a lesson that our children need to obtain, especially during this time of year where getting is emphasized over giving.

I read something – either a blog post or a meme – about giving each time you get. It was stated that each time you purchase something, that you should give or get rid of something. So when you buy a new purse or a new pair of jeans, you have probably just replaced a purse you no longer carry or a pair of jeans you no longer wear. I have done my best to abide by that principle because it makes so much sense to me. As much as I would love to have variety and options in my wardrobe, I lean to the comfy and the black or neutrals. My fashion instinct tells me that I should always bet on black when I dare to venture into color!! So, unfortunately, those pops of color usually end up in my “give” pile. This will definitely apply to your children!

First, it is always best to rotate toys, particularly for children 5 years and younger. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Presents that are opened for Christmas or a birthday can be divided and stored for a later day. Even those toys that don’t pop with your aesthetic, can be passed along.

Second, depending on the age of your child, you can sort through those old toys yourself or make it Saturday morning project, and decide which toys can be given to a family that cannot afford toys. Or the toys can be given to a friend that has younger children. Either way, the point is to give.

  • Children 2 and younger – just sort and bag.
  • Children 3 and up – I would involve them in the process explaining to them that there are those, the same age as them, that are not able to celebrate in the same manner. Children are able to understand lending a helping hand especially if it is taught. Do not underestimate their abilities to comprehend.

Aside from wanting to make room for the incoming, the lesson “tis better to give than receive” for the attitude towards the outgoing. Children need to be taught the appreciate the feeling that comes when you are able to give. If they can embrace this principle, they can spread the love that the world needs.

Use a few days over the Christmas break to create a new tradition. Allow your children to be the change you want to see in the world.

Give Love. Get Love.

about me

#30layers30days

Alright, so I am a day behind on my 30 days of blogging commitment. But today’s post is the theme from day 3 of allthemanylayers writing challenge: over too soon.

When I read this day, I really thought about skipping it but I think I can write with full honesty and share about a recent event that I am confident was over too soon.

I completed a week-long medically mandated bed rest on Thursday. I did all the right things to make sure I would arrive to work on time but failed (but did not feel like a failure). The failure came with me thinking I could handle going from very little activity to a great amount activity. I usually push my recovery from any and everything but I forced myself to stay in bed a few days. Thursday was a shock to my system and to my entire being. As much as I hate to admit it, my bed rest was over way too soon.

There is such as thing as too much rest and I truly thought a week would be too much rest to recover from a virus. I underestimated the demands of my job and the state of my body. Over way too soon…

 

Give Love. Get Love.