Passport Attempt #1 – The Phone Call

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In case  you haven’t been following along on our passport drama for kid two here’s the skinny:

  • We move and misplace original birth certificate for our daughter.
  • We ask adoption worker for another copy of birth certificate and she says no.
  • Adoption worker says we can get a passport without a birth certificate.
  • We finalize the adoption.
  • We apply for passport with birth records.
  • We go on staycation and place mail on hold. We get an email saying that we were receiving a letter from the passport folks. We return and get no letter. We tell USPS and no one cares. We end up calling the passport folks.
  • We speak with a customer service rep who tells us he can’t tell us what was in the letter but he’ll have someone from the office call us to chat.
  • We miss the call.
  • We return the call and no one picks up. We leave a message.
  • A woman returns the call and tells us that 1) the laws have changed and you do need a birth certificate to get a passport and 2) we need to sign a declaration saying that she doesn’t have a social yet.
  • We’re waiting on the letter to arrive in our inbox so we can get the birth certificate in the mail.

Ugh …..

 

 

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How I Became Like Miles’ Mom

When I was in eight grade, I dated a boy named Miles. We attended the same middle school (7th – 12th) and his mother worked there. At the time, his family was doing well financially while my family was not. I was cute, got good grades and had good manners, but since I wasn’t raised in a more affluent family I didn’t have certain social graces or access to the cash that would gloss over those deficiencies.

For whatever reason, Miles liked me anyway. For Christmas, he bought me a Christian Dior perfume set. For my birthday, he bought 12 white roses and had them sit in green food coloring for a while to change the blooms to kelly green, my favorite color. I specifically remember him taking me to an event that I didn’t have clothes for and didn’t have the money to buy an outfit. When I showed up in my mom’s too-big dress, his mother looked horrified and we quickly went to the mall. After that, she’d take me shopping periodically.

At first, I was a bit ashamed that this was necessary. Things were so bad at my house that my gym instructor gave me a pair of her old shoes to wear, and I was happy to have them. It took a while for Miles’ mom to start to like me. My guess is that she realized that though I was poor, I was smart and I had ambition. She wanted the best for son. The. Best. I can’t fault her, now that I’m a parent I’ve become her.

She wanted  a first-class education for her son.

She wanted to see her son partnered with someone that would help him succeed.

She was able to see that I was raised well, though poor.

She encouraged me to grow and taught me things.

When I was younger, I kinda thought she hated me. Now that I’m a bit older I can see that she just trying to go right by her son. I hope that as my son gets older, I’ll be as determined about making sure that he has a good life.

Being a Crunchy Black Parent

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Doing our world schooling thing in Salvador, Brazil.

I joined a Facebook group for crunchy Black parents and until I joined, I wouldn’t have thought to call myself “crunchy”. Lol I know that there are some things that we do that other Black parents don’t do but I don’t think of us as hippies or anything.When I delved into the terminology a bit more, I came to understand just how crunchy I am … or possibly scrunchy. Lol

Crunchy parents tend to be more all-natural. Silky parents tend to be more traditional. Scrunchy parents tend to be a mixture of both. Here are some things we do, in no particular order, that apparently make us crunchy:

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Our son is not impressed by Kirstenbosch Garden in Cape Town, South Africa. Lol

 

#1 Babywearing

We started babywearing when our son was about 3 months old. Until that point, we were carrying him around in his car seat. That thing is HEAVY! Lol Once I realized that I could use a little piece of material to attach him to my chest I was in love. It made me hands-free and helped us bond. Talk about a win-win. We transitioned over to a mei tei when he was about six months old and haven’t looked back. He’s almost 2.5 years old and we still carry him when we plan on doing a lot of walking or when we know there will be tons of people around.

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#2 Baby-led weaning (aka No Rice Cereals)

Everyone knows that babies should drink milk (or in our case formula) until their first birthday but starting your baby on solids is a whole ‘nother deal. I knew I wanted to make his baby food from fresh veggies starting at 6 months but I hadn’t yet learned about baby-led weaning. Basically, baby-led weaning means that you make foods a bit softer/easier for your baby to eat while not creating purees.

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#3 Cloth diapering

Cloth diapering is cheaper than disposables and some would argue better for the environment. I really wanted to use cloth on my little one, but I couldn’t get the hang of it so we used cloth mostly at home and used disposables while on the run.

#4 You dabble in composting

We attended a seminar on composting from our county and the idea took root. I love the idea of not creating as much waste and then trying to use some of the waste you still create. Our county offers a simple composting tube for $10. If you do it right, it produces little smell and created great fertilizer for your home garden.

#5 You have a garden

We went our house, so we haven’t created an in-ground garden. Instead we do pots. It’s easy to do, super cheap (non-gmo seeds are a few dollars a pack), fun to watch grow, and yummy to eat.

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#6 You used elimination communication

I found out about elimination communication before we were matched and loved the idea of it. Many cultures around the world use elimination communication and have used it for hundreds, probably thousands of years. Anyhoo, when our son was around three months old we started watching for signs of when he needed to eliminate and then sat him on a potty training toddler toilet. Around 13 months old, he could signal that he needed to eliminate. Kids are going to go anyway, this just made for fewer diapers for us to change.

#7 You’re considering World Schooling

Kids are learning from the day they are born and some would argue before. We had very different experiences in K-12 but we’ve both come away with the same idea: we’d prefer not to place our kids in the K-12 school system. Once that decision was made, we had to decide whether to homeschool (have class at home), unschool (let the child lead the learning), or worldschool (use the world as your classroom). We chose worldschooling because we love to travel and it would expose our children to lots of different ways to live all around the world.

#8 You believe in gentle parenting

We are not perfect parents but he is a perfect kid. We are making an effort to speak with him in a respectful way and encourage him to feel all of his feelings. He’s a raucous toddler. He likes to throw things down the stairs and leave toys all over the house. He rarely has temper tantrums though. His adoption worker says it’s because our house is so calm. We rarely yell, we try to stop problems before they occur using H.A.L.T. and we don’t believe that he is “too old” to be held or made to feel secure. I’m not saying that we don’t have problems. I’m saying that we try to deal with those problems in a respectful way to all the stakeholders involved.

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Travel toys in Johannesburg, South Africa rental house.

#9 You limit plastic toys in your home in favor of wooden ones.

Wooden toys have fewer chemicals and encourage a child to use imaginative play because they only do what imagine they do. When people started giving us toys most of the toys were of the plastic/singing variety. We did let him keep a few, but most of them were donated. I want him to be able to use his imagination and lead the play, not follow the directions of some toy created by some adult in some lab somewhere.

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I sewed this felt campfire, logs, and stones set.

#10 Borrow, Buy Used, Buy New

For me, part of trying to be “natural” is not spending tons of money on non-essential things and using, or re-purposing, what I already have. I sew soft toys for our son pretty often and almost all the rest of his toys are used. Every piece of clothing and”baby stuff” (blankets, burp cloths, etc.) that he has is something that a friend gave us or something that we bought used. I know as he gets older, we’ll probably have to buy more new things but we try to minimize as much as possible.

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Our little one munching a snack while I put groceries in the car.

#11 Extended rear-facing car seat usage is a must.

This was one of the ones that I didn’t realize was crunchy. Studies have shown that the longer your little one is rear-facing the better chance they have of surviving a car accident. While I hope that we’re never in a car accident, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry, no? Our little one is almost 2.5 years old and is still rear-facing. We hope to keep him rear-facing until he’s four years old. We’ll see. Right now, riding backwards doesn’t bother him so … shhhhh … don’t tell him that other kids his age are not rear-facing.

#12 You taught your little one baby sign language.

They say that most toddlers become frustrated because it’s challenging for them to communicate. One way we’ve tried to help with this is by teaching our little one baby sign language. We used free videos from YouTube. We learned together and he has been signing since about 11 months old. He doesn’t use it as much now that he can talk, but it’s there for him when he needs it.

Since we rarely hear about other crunchy parents of color, please, please, please leave a message below if you’re crunchy or scrunchy (I love typing that! Lol). If you have a blog, link to that. It would be great if we could meet IRL sometime.

 

 

 

 

My Mom Didn’t Pass Her Crap Down to Me

“The more spacious and loving a woman is towards herself, the more she can offer that to her daughter. A mother cannot give her daughter the support, love, guidance, and empowerment that she herself does not have. If a woman does not have that healthy model of self-love in her mother, she has to seek those models elsewhere.”

I just read The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Pass Through the Mother and reminded me of how awesome my mom is. To recap:

My mom was molested. When she told her mother, the story goes, my grandma basically told her that it wasn’t important because most women suffer sexual assault. I don’t think my grandmother said this to be mean. I think it was her reality. When my mom realized I had been molested (I didn’t tell her because we had already left), she sprung into action. She called the police and encouraged me to tell them what happened. When I said that I didn’t want to testify at trial (I was a kid), she supported my decision. She made me feel like none of this was my fault and she supported whatever decisions I wanted to make.

My mom graduated from high school, met my dad, and ended up pregnant with me. She used to tell me that she loved me before she even knew she was pregnant. I was wanted. I was loved. She raised two kids by herself, for the most part, and I knew she regretted not being able to provide for us financially. She went to college when I was in elementary school. I went to undergrad and grad school. I started a business that I’ve run successfully for the last nine years. She always encouraged me to build my skills, increase my education, and build the kind of life that I wanted to live. There was no competition and no pressure. She genuinely wanted me to have a happy life.

My mom would have loved to travel internationally, but she never did. She died when I was twenty so we never got the chance to take any wild trips (I did with my grandma though) that I’m SURE would have happened if I was a little older. She wanted me to know that the world was mine though. She’s drive around nice neighborhoods to show me the possibilities. She made sure that I went to school with affluent kids. She would get us dressed up and we’d head out to museums, and musicals, and plays. Now, I’ve been to 18 countries on 5 continents. My son has been to 7 countries on 3 continents. My mom would be so proud.

My mom was married four times, I think. I like to say that if there were 99 AMAZING men in a room and 1 bum, my mom was gonna find that bum! Lol I think she really had some stuff that she hadn’t healed from. My mom would love my partner. They would talk shit during sporting events and giggle at random silliness. I know them both, so I know this is true. We’ve been married 8 years, this year, and I hope that this will be my only marriage.

My mom knew that she didn’t have all the tools I’d need to flourish. Instead of pretending she did or acting like it wasn’t important, she got me what I needed: 3 big sisters from the Big Sister program. My first Big Sister, Martha, was a Black woman in the military. I don’t remember every moment with her but I remember feeling loved. When she was shipped out, she gave me a little wooden house money bank with a little mouse on the porch and little rocks glued to the front. I kept it for years. My second Big Sister was a white woman that owned a beauty salon. I think she was only doing community service for a ticket or something. Her idea of us spending time together was taking me to her business and letting folks give me manicures and pedicures. It wasn’t that exciting, but it was her business. My last Big Sister was a young woman in college at the time. She was married to a man that used to call me a Crumb Snatcher. Lol This is the one that stuck. I’m almost forty years old and we’re still in touch. She’s seen me through everything from first loves to grad school applications. When I considered getting a doctorate, I called her. When I got married, she was invited. We try to visit often and her kids adore my son. My mom was unselfish in her love for me. She made sure that I got what she didn’t have: wonderful women role models.

Most days I get to do what I want to do. I have a great life and I like to think that it honors my mother. She’d be very proud of the life I’ve created. I hope my kids can say the same about me.

 

Mamas Have Maybe Days Too

Now that I’m an adult I understand my mother better.

I was raised by her and when I was young, I thought she made so many mistakes. Now that I’m older I can see her choices for what they were ….  the least of the two evils. We had a lot of love in our house, but not much else. We usually had a roof and food on the table but that meant that luxuries such as new clothes and enrichment classes were out.

I wonder what my son will think of my choices.

Maybe I’m not a good mother.

Maybe we don’t have enough money.

Maybe I don’t play with him enough.

Maybe I am not creative enough or focused enough or …  enough.

All I can hope is that he is able to see my trying to provide for him and care for him the best that I can. I hope he will know that I love him fiercely and that I tried my best.

#MaybeDays

Naked & Afraid Parenting Lessons

Kim-Kelly-Naked-and-Afraid-Crotch-WaterThis morning Naked & Afraid is doing a Mother’s Day marathon. I just watched Kim Kelly be a total badass! Her partner belittled her and then promptly dropped out after 4 days. She was left alone in a jungle for 17 days and she kicked ass!

She built a fire, she found coconuts, she caught and killed and alligator, she created a shelter, and she caught a piglet that she let loose because she already had so much meat from the alligator. She cried, she drank “crotch water” (coconut juice that spilled in her lap) and she rubbed her body with urine and soot … and she rocked it! What I learned from her adventure:

  1. Crying doesn’t mean you can’t be badass.
  2. Regardless how upset/worried you are, you have to get it done.
  3. Have faith in your strengths and abilities.
  4. Just because you haven’t done it before doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

That was just the message I needed to hear going into these toddler years! Lol

Happy Mother’s Day y’all!

 

Black Dad Sells Comics to Put Daughter Through College

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Al Sanders will sell his comic book collection at Emerald City Comicon to fund his daughter’s college education.

I am so happy to see this story! It combines my love of Black people, my love of comic books and my love of family into one amazing story!

Al Sanders is willing to sell his 5,000 comic books to pay for his 16 year old daughter’s college tuition. Sanders is taking all the books to the Emerald City Comicon, happening in downtown Seattle, Washington. Dad-Comics-CloseUp

His daughter started kindergarten early and graduated from high school. She plans to attend Fisk (an HBCU) in the fall.

“As all parents who have college-age kids, we started putting together what it was going to cost and what we needed to do,” the Seattle father told ABC News. “You start looking at those options you have, and my comic books were an option. That’s when I looked at their value, and I’m now trying to find a good home for them.”

Sanders’ daughter, Rose, is super smart, and as such, she’s graduating from high school early in June to attend Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., this fall.

 

Talk about a feel good story!