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Sojourner Marable Grimmett

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Sojourner Marable Grimmett has a BA in communications from Clark Atlanta University and an MA in media studies from Pennsylvania State University. She is a stay-at-work mom and her experience in higher education spans over 10 years working in student services and enrollment management. Sojourner previously worked at CNN, Georgia Public Television, and as an AmeriCorp member at Harvard University’s Martin Luther King Jr. after-school program. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Roland and two young sons, Roland Jay and Joshua. Visit her blog sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com.

36

Don’t let your friends drink and drive on Halloween, and don’t let them dress in Blackface. The student organization, Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) at Ohio University created a campaign that shows students of different ethnicities holding posters of an offending Halloween costume. The slogan for the campaign reads,”We’re a Culture, Not Costume. This Is Not Who I Am, And This Is Not Okay.”

My family had I lived in many different states, prior to settling at the foot of the flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. I felt the harshness of racism as an adolescent, having my locker vandalized and being called out of my name in middle and high schools. In the mid-90’s at my high school, there were only two openly gay students, both of whom I admired and supported for being out.

As a society, we are slowly progressing in valuing diversity. I’ve lived in the South now collectively for over 10 years. My most recent encounter of being uncomfortable came just months ago, when I greeted a woman with a handshake and she opted not to shake my hand. I smiled and acknowledged her being uncomfortable. Inside I was perturbed.

It’s unfortunate but the truth is many people across the country will dress in stereotypical costumes this Halloween and think that’s it’s OK. As an educator, my heart aches because somewhere we’ve missed teaching students that dressing in Blackface is racist and unacceptable. The 19th century minstrel shows are over.

One of the ways to help end stereotypical Halloween costumes is by people stepping up to the plate and letting their friends know that dressing this way is offensive to other cultures and plain wrong. Choose not to go out with your friend for Halloween if they do decide to dress this way. Be a friend this Halloween who steps up and combats discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation.

I’d like to hope that the more diverse our society becomes, the more inclusive people will be. I think we should have a “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone Day” in America, where people become more open minded to other cultures, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. I grew up in a household that was a safe zone for all people. These are the same principles that I’m teaching my own sons.


Sojourner Marable Grimmett is an Atlanta-based author who is recognized for writing about the joys and challenges of being a “stay-at-work” mom and connects with moms, both new and experienced, who have the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a full-time job. Sojourner has been featured in FitPregnancy, iVillage, MacaroniKid.com, BlackCelebKids.com, MyAtlantaMoms.com, WhatToExpect.com, BlackandMarriedwithKids.com, Fox News, and CNN. She is married to her college sweetheart, Roland and they have two young sons, Roland Jay and Joshua. Visit her blog sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com follow her on twitter and like her on Facebook. Also join her new campaign to support establishing lactation rooms in public places www.supporttablefortwo.org.

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11

Over the last 10 years, music from the radio streaming through the loudspeakers in our cars have become more vulgar and explicit. Most recently hitting the top of the charts is Chris Brown’s song, Wet The Bed.” We’ve come a long way from New Edition’s song, “Can You Stand the Rain.”

Clearly, these two songs are talking about two different things. Women as sex objects in television and print advertising has become more the norm, and many young girls are emulating what they see on television and following these trends in their daily lives. Advertising and media images that encourage girls to focus on looks and sexuality are harmful to their emotional and physical health, a recent report by the American Psychological Association says.

If you’ve read my articles about the way I dress then you know that I’m a pretty conservative dresser. I don’t have any low-cut V-neck T-shirts, navel rings, or own a pair of “booty shorts.”  To be completely honest, I’m trying to hold back from purchasing “mom shorts” and “mom jeans” —Although I must admit that “mom jeans” do look very comfortable sitting high above the “mother hump.” Another point in favor of “mom jeans” is that they also don’t seem to ride up and cause wedgies. Now, I think I look nice in a pair of jeans, but I would never take a photo of myself demonstrating the infamous Booty Pose.

Sure, you know what the Booty Pose is. It’s when someone is taking a picture of you and you turn around, poke out your booty, turn your head to the side and smile — Say “Cheese!” Our four year-old loves to take photos. When he strikes a pose he usually folds his arms and demonstrates the “b-boy stance” in which his arms are crossed and he’s grinning at the camera (more like a RUN-DMC pose). He’s probably thinking about Michael Jackson’s song, “I’m Bad.”

As a parent who observes trends, for the last several years I’ve noticed young girls (as young as 3 years-old) striking booty poses in photos. To my amazement, parents are encouraging these photo opts. This encouragement is so perplexing to me. Why are we encouraging these poses? If pop culture is any indication, they can lead to really unattractive X-rated images. We should be concerned about the mental health of young girls and what they define as appropriate and attractive.

Now, I can understand throwing up the “peace sign;” again, I’m getting older so not as hip, but I can’t understand the booty pose. Why would you want to turn around, stick your derriere out and have someone take a photo of you?  Celebrities strike booty poses all of the time, but minors should not be doing this and parents should not be cheering them on. Booty poses will lead children down a windy road to possibly booty dancing.

I guess if you’re older and you know that’s your best “asset,” then maybe it’s OK to strike a booty pose. Kim Kardashian has a great figure and pokes her derriere out for nearly every photo op. Young girls on Facebook are taking profile pics flaunting their newly developed cleavage and young boys are showing their hairless pecks. Abercrombie and Fitch now sells padded bras and bikinis which targets 7-14 year-old girls.

Am I just old school? Or is this a serious issue? I think as parents we don’t need to encourage our children to strike this kind of pose. To me, this is borderline child pornography.

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Sojourner Marable Grimmett is an Atlanta-based author who is recognized for writing about the joys and challenges of being a “stay-at-work” mom and connects with moms, both new and experienced, who have the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a full-time job. Sojourner has been featured in FitPregnancy, iVillage, MacaroniKid.com, BlackCelebKids.com, MyAtlantaMoms.com, WhatToExpect.com, BlackandMarriedwithKids.com, Fox News, and CNN. She is married to her college sweetheart, Roland and they have two young sons, Roland Jay and Joshua. Visit her blog sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com follow her on twitter and like her on Facebook. Also join her new campaign to support establishing lactation rooms in public places www.supporttablefortwo.org.

Featured on YourBlackWorld.com.

18

One of the greatest struggles for breastfeeding mothers is to have our voices heard and accommodations met in order to express milk and feed our children in public places. Women have lobbied and fought for years to establish lactation rooms in their places of employment and public facilities. Only recently have states begun to pass laws that help ensure that mothers have a private place to nurse their children.

On March 30, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that mandates an employer with more than 50 workers to provide a private room (not a restroom) in which their female employees and customers can express breast milk for their children as needed. Today there are more than 83 million mothers in the United States – roughly 61% of them work. As the socio-economic structure continues to change, more women are returning to work immediately after maternity leave. While some women are able to transition smoothly back into the workplace, others need assistance with juggling work and newly-minted motherhood.

The transition back to work is sometimes difficult and can be a bit challenging for nursing mothers who would like to continue to breastfeed. The lack of private spaces to pump at work makes this transition even more daunting; some mothers decide to stop breastfeeding their children all together. I was one of those mothers. With our first son, my only option at work was to pump in the public restroom. I slowly whined him then eventually stopped breastfeeding due to the inconvenience and lack of privacy. The painful reality of allowing breast milk to “dry up” when women are not ready to stop nursing can cause tremendous grief, depression, and disappointment for some mothers’ effort to provide the most important nutrients to their newborn. Also, breastfeeding during the first 12 months of an infant’s life can provide tremendous health benefits for the child, even long-term. A recent report from the CDC shared that breastfeeding helps to prevent childhood obesity.

After giving birth to our second son, a former colleague and I spoke up and assisted our employer in establishing a permanent lactation room on site. We provided a safe and designated place for mothers to pump and feed their children. This allowed a smoother transition for working mothers, and enabled them to continue to provide milk for their children after returning back to work. I was pleased to have the ability to nurse our second son for nearly 15 months.

Employers come up with many excuses about why they do not have private rooms designated for nursing mothers. These range from costs to space availability. Companies would benefit from establishing lactation rooms on site, because breastfeeding mothers will have support transitioning back to work, look favorable to customers, and can be a good recruitment tool for employees.

Unfortunately, these challenges are widespread. Living in Atlanta, I was shocked to find out that the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA), does not have designated lactation rooms for employees or customers. They ask mothers to feed their children in the restroom or to call in advance to arrange a private room to pump or breastfeed. There is no information or timeline posted on their website when or if lactation rooms will be established.

Breastfeeding in the bathroom is synonymous to having your child literally “eat” in the restroom. Let’s face it – eating in the bathroom is gross! You wouldn’t eat in the bathroom, so why would you expect your baby to eat there? Holding a child up or squatting on a public toilet to feed among unpleasant smells is inhumane. Oftentimes, in order for ones milk “to let down” mothers need a pleasant, clean, and sanitary environment to express milk. Breastfeeding mothers deserve safe, secure, and comfortable places to pump and nurse their children.

To address these issues and to provide a resource for those who would like to establish lactation rooms at the public places they frequent most, I have launched a Lactation Room support campaign, Table For Two. The campaign’s first initiative is to bring lactation rooms to HJAIA. It’s time to establish designated and convenient lactation rooms at Atlanta’s airport, as well as companies, and organizations across the country. Would you eat in the bathroom? Of course not, because eating in the restroom is gross. Ask officials at the world’s busiest airport to support their employees and customers.

To support this cause and for more information, please visit www.supporttablefortwo.org. You may also join the campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Sojourner Marable Grimmett is an Atlanta-based author who is recognized for writing about the joys and challenges of being a “stay-at-work” mom and connects with moms, both new and experienced, who have the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a full-time job. Sojourner has been featured in FitPregnancy, iVillage, Southwest Parenting Magazine, BlackCelebKids.com, MyAtlantaMoms.com, WhatToExpect.com, Fox News, and CNN. She is married to her college sweetheart, Roland and they have two young sons, Roland Jay and Joshua. Visit her blog sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com follow her on twitter and like her on Facebook.

Article also featured on YourBlackWorld.com and MyAtlantaMoms.com.

Allen Cooley Photography

K. Kheir Photography

4

I must admit that I was a little embarrassed when I first started dating my now husband, Roland, because I wasn’t a skilled cook. However, to my credit I could make simple dishes like spaghetti, but didn’t really “put my foot in it” like Roland does. Chores weren’t something that we discussed at premarital counseling unlike expecting mother, Monika Alston-Miller. She stated, “We discussed this (chores) during premarital counseling and decided to play to our strengths. He’s the better cook so he does most of the cooking and I do most of the cleaning. But at times it depends on our work schedules. If I wasn’t working, I would do everything in the house, just because I would want that to be my contribution to our home. Oh and outside is his domain and he enjoys that.”

Fast forward six years later with two boys under 4 years old. Like Monika, my hubby is still the better cook and I’ve “thrown the towel in” most days and stick with the dishes. This arrangement works for us and we’ve agreed to share household responsibilities. We always keep our house presentable, but Sunday afternoons are set aside for a thorough cleaning. We even have a clean-up song that our boys sing. (I think this melody is copy written by Barney.)

I have to say that my husband and I are a pretty good team. We have an unspoken rule, though once spoken in order to establish the rule in regards to dirty diapers. We rotate who changes our youngest sons diapers. Our household roles aren’t that stereotypical, but I’d be the first to tell you that I don’t jump to clean the toilets.

Opposite from my household, Becky Greenspan Slemons, working mom of three is the cook in her family. She stated, ” I cook and he cleans up, but it depends on the night. If he’s extra tired or if we eat out, we split it. Sometimes he takes out the trash, sometimes I do (usually me, but I’m the one at home most often). I do laundry across the board. He manages the outside of the house, and I’ll do the toilets. We both pitch in when needed, and it’s all hands on deck with the kids. When we first lived together, I was so concerned that it was 50/50, when in reality it was more like 70/30, me because I like things done a certain way. Now that we have kids and both work, it’s mostly a “stay afloat” type situation, and we both do what we have to do. I’d say it all comes out in the wash.”

With three small children, Meca Mack has someone come in and clean their home. She explained, “Having someone to come in really makes a big difference. We split the bill. My husband says that’s why he works so hard so he doesn’t have to do things he doesn’t want to do. With three small kids the real heavy cleaning could take days. I tried it once and ended up sending everyone to my mom (husband too). Right now I would rather have help than to get my nails/toes done.”

Some couples don’t mind if chores aren’t 50/50, because one spouse or partner may prefer chores done a certain way, while others may feel like certain chores should be done by a woman or a man.

Darrick Grimmett, father of three, talked about some of his colleagues who believe women should take care of the home. He stated, “You know it’s sad because a lot of guys I work with will not do anything that is considered woman’s work. I know guys that would come home first, not pick up the children from daycare, don’t clean, and won’t start dinner. Then they try to call men like me weak. I’m not weak. I love to have a clean house and see my wife smile. If I can take some of that burden off of her then I will.”

Yolanda Innis, mother of one believes that men and women can help out with chores in order to support each other and the family. She stated, “It boils down to where a man comes from (learned behaviors). A lot of men will hoot and holler about what they will and won’t do but a man who knows how to take care of himself cook, clean, tend to his children will look at it from a different perspective. A man that appreciates what a women does and who is willing to do the same because it benefits the family as a whole is the man who usually won’t object to sharing any of the household responsibilities.”

I believe that household chores should be shared not only with your spouse, but also with your children. Kids can learn the “clean up” game and song early in life. In the end, I think whatever needs to be done around the house usually gets done. I’m sure if one person continues to have to pull all of the weight in the household, then he/she eventually will ask for help.

How do you decide who does which household chores? Are chores done as a team? Does he take out the trash? Do you do the dishes? Who cleans the toilets?

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Published on MyAtlantaMoms.com.

1

If last week was your child’s first week back to school then I can imagine it was a whirlwind getting all of his or her important documents together to enroll. My co-worker had a “laundry list” of required school supplies, permission slips, and back to school immunization forms to complete. While doctor check-ups are the required norm before going back to school, an increasing number of states are requiring dental check-ups as well.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that children should visit the dentist before their first birthday. AAPD states, “Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.”

Cavities as an adult scare me and I can’t imagine how little people and teens would feel if they experienced tooth decay at a young age. “It’s all about prevention, initial dental screenings and orthodontic consultations, treatment of existing conditions, regular visits and proper home care can prevent major dental and orthodontic problems in the future and may save lots of money in the long run,” said Dr. Sana Pasha Augustus, a graduate from Howard University College of Dentistry.

I  interviewed Dr. Genise A. Evans of Southern Smiles Family Dentistry to get her advice on how to prevent dental problems and hopefully reduce dental phobia in small children.

Q: Why are early and regular dental visits important?
Dr. Evans: Early office visits can help prevent dental phobia in young children and teens. Our office recommends seeing children as soon as the first tooth comes in. This allows us to educate parents on the importance of home care and creating positive habits. Our hope as family practitioners is to develop long term relationships with families. We like to see children early to get them acclimated to the dental office. We want to dispel myths and horror stories about dental visits. Early and regular visits to the dental office allow us to hopefully have mostly happy appointments; and should we detect developing decay we can address it before pain is the prevailing factor for the dental visit.

Q: Can nighttime feedings promote tooth decay in small children?

Dr. Evans: We encourage parents of small children to avoid bottle feeding or use of sippy cups at night. Those habits tend to promote the development of tooth decay. Although being a mom myself, I understand some parents find it necessary to offer night time feedings to small children but we encourage wiping their mouths with a cloth immediately afterwards. That small step can help prevent the development of tooth decay. We also recommend filling those bottles or sippy cups with water if your child needs that to fall asleep.

Q: What should children expect when going to the dentist?

Dr. Evans states: Dental visits for young children (2 and younger) generally involves the dentist simply taking a look in the child’s mouth. Even if the child cries we praise them for opening wide enough for us to see everything and reward their attempted cooperation with cool gifts like a brand new tooth brush and dinosaur floss and stickers. Our hope as an office is that the child remembers the positives, so we spend a lot of time focusing on their triumph in allowing the dentist to check their teeth. We love to get mom and dad involved in the praise as well. In my experience this method makes for excellent dental patients (even into adulthood).

Q: What recommendations do you have for parents to help encourage brushing and flossing with their children?

Dr. Evans: We recommend parents aid their children with bushing and flossing every night. Night time is the most important time to ensure that children do not develop tooth decay. During the day children are talking, eating, drinking and their saliva is constantly washing the teeth. Night time is different, at night the mouth creates a dark moist warm environment that bacteria loves to breed in.

I tell the parents just like I tell the kids don’t feed the “Cavity Creep” at night, make sure your teeth are very clean before you go to bed. Please allow your child the independence they seek in the morning. Let them brush their own teeth in the morning with a little supervision. It really isn’t a big deal if they don’t get the teeth sparkling clean, but it does matter in helping them independently learn the mechanics of brushing without compromising their overall oral health. Allowing them to brush solo at night can cause problems for the oral health if not done properly.

Q: Should children use training toothpaste or toothpaste containing fluoride?

Dr. Evans: One caveat to brushing that is extremely important is that if your child cannot spit do not use a toothpaste containing fluoride (use training toothpaste). As soon as your child learns how to spit (well) it is okay to use a regular kids’ toothpaste (containing fluoride). Ingesting too much fluoride can cause staining on developing permanent teeth. However fluoride is important in developing healthy strong teeth and should not be avoided; only used when a child is ready (meaning they can spit more than they swallow).

Q: Is flossing important for children?

Dr. Evans: Flossing is as important for children as it is for adults. Occasionally children have gaps between all of the baby teeth which allows you to brush 360 degrees around the tooth surface. However many children lack the spacing and can only brush the front and back surfaces of their teeth; leaving a significant portion of the tooth untouched therefore prone to tooth decay. Flossing helps prevent the development of decay in between the teeth. Flossing with your child early creates good habits. The same way they have learned the importance of brushing twice a day, they will remember to floss once a day. Just creates excellent home care habits and decreases the potential development of tooth decay.

About Dr. Evans: Genise A. Evans is true G.R.I.T.S (Girl Raised In The South). She was born in Atlanta,GA and graduated from one of Atlanta’s finest public high schools. Genise earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from The University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1993. She then moved north of 85 to attend dental school at Howard University in Washington, DC. There she earned a DDS degree in 1997. Upon graduation from dental school Genise chose to serve her country and improve her dental proficiency by completing an AEGD residency with The United States Army Dental Corp. After serving 4 years in the U.S. Army she moved back to her beloved Atlanta and has been practicing for many years. Outside of dentistry Genise enjoys time with her Power Ranger/Super Hero son and photography. Dr. Evans would love for you to become apart of our Southern Smiles Family.

About Dr. Augustus: Sana Pasha Augustus is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland and currently resides in Laurel, Maryland. She completed her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Chemistry from Clark Atlanta University in 2001. She completed both dental school and her orthodontic residency at Howard University College of Dentistry in 2011.

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Originally published in MyAtlantaMoms.com.

9

I’m a conservative dresser and believe that it’s best to maintain your “interview attire” a couple of weeks after you’ve landed a new job. Believe me, you want to get your seat warm before you start testing the waters with your wardrobe. Not too long ago some companies mandated that women wear pantyhose with sandals to work. The rule of thumb for me is that if you don’t work at Hooters or The Gentleman’s Club, then you probably don’t want to show cleavage on the job.

Tight Booty Jeans and over the Bra Cleavage are a “No Go” in the Workplace.

You do not want to shock your supervisor the second day on the job by wearing a mini shirt, and a purple push-up bra reveling your weekend tan-line cleavage. That kind of outfit would have you in the Human Resources Department in a flash. Don’t test the waters.

Susan M. Heathfield writes for About.com suggests, “Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your feet, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for a place of business.” Most companies have dress code policy’s and mandate that their employees follow the dress code.

Dearroka Winfrey, from PrettyGirlsRockDresses.com, runs a website where women from around the world share their best dressed work attire. There are over 1,000 photos of women in everyday wear from Target to Prada. Dearokka shared photos of women who have a clear sense of style in their daily wear.

“Jean Day” at work doesn’t mean your tightest pair either. Below are a couple of items not to wear to work:

1. Tight jeans
2. Low cut tops
3. Short Shorts
4. Flip-Flops
5. Short skirts and dresses

Put that miniskirt back in the closet. The rule of thumb for me is that if you’re standing up straight with your arms on your side and your fingertips don’t touch the hem on your skirt, then your skirt is too short. Save it for the club. I like to select my clothes several days or the night before, because I don’t have time to get the kids ready for school and choose a suitable outfit in the morning.

Kim N Carswell, Chief Brand Strategist from Persona Affairs states, “Unfortunately many women unwittingly compromise their professional brand credibility by making costly missteps in following fashion trends, which ultimately sabotage opportunities for career advancement.”

It’s fine to have a unique sense of style. I admire people who are able to mix different patterns and colors together, but office attire needs to remain professional and not sexy.

What would you add to the list of what not to wear? Do your co-workers dress too sexy? Have you talked to them about it? Let’s start a conversation!

About Dearroka Winfrey: The girl who was always in search of a RIGHTEOUS cause or person to support has now found a cause and her very OWN righteous movement. Her mission is empowering women and girls to do better by embracing femininity. Feel free to email her at: prettygirlsrockdresses@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Featured on MyAtlantaMoms.com

8

At 15 I was the product of a divorce household. I understood that my parents’ marriage had ended and the result was going to be them not being together anymore and my Dad’s household was moving across the country. My siblings and I visited our Dad often and he came to see us, but our dwelling mainly stayed under Mom’s rooftop.

Dealing with divorce as a young adult was extremely painful. However, I always felt truly blessed and very fortunate to have two amazing parents who loved us unconditionally. I couldn’t imagine not having a relationship with either parent. Nor could I imagine them not wanting to be an important part in our lives.

The theme of absent parents kept reoccurring after I lost my Dad. In May, at his public memorial service in New York, I embraced and spoke with many of his former students. One woman hugged me for quite some time and told me that my Dad was the Father that she never had. Her Father was still alive, but he had not been a part of her life since she was a little girl.

One gentleman told me that my speech encouraged him to be a better Father. I thanked him and was glad that I was able to touch him in a way that propelled him to become better in his parenting.

Flying back with my family from New York to Atlanta, I kept thinking about parents who are absent in their children’s lives. Another message that remained in my mind and heart was that, “You only have one life to live.” I no longer had my Dad present with me on Earth, but I have 31 years of wonderful memories to cherish and hold on to for the rest of my life.

Researchers on divorce have shown that a father figure is important in a child’s life in order for them to develop emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Nina Chen, Ph.D., Human Development Specialist advises parents, “If you have not been involved much in your child’s life, start now to spend quality time with your child. For a divorced and non-residential father, it is very important to keep regular contacts and spend quality time with children. Mothers also need to provide support and encouragement to help build the bond between a child and a father.”

Why do some parents decide to not be a part of their children’s lives? Is it because they are upset with their exes? Or maybe it’s because they have a grudge because they have to pay child support?

I think absent parents need to stop using the excuse that they no longer want to be a part of their ex’s life and therefore they cannot be involved with their children’s lives. Stop using these excuses because it’s never too late to get involved with your children.

My mom says, “Children don’t ask to be born.” I’ve often think about this and firmly believe that it’s true. If you decide to have a child, then it’s your and your partner’s responsibility to take care of your child.

How do absent parents get involved and play an active role in their child’s life?

Author Jennifer Wolf states, “Much of what is required is actually simple – things like planning ahead for visits, being there when you say you will, and not allowing your commitment to your kids to fall into an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ abyss. Once parents who initially thought they couldn’t or wouldn’t be involved in their children’s lives begin to see their own ability to have a positive impact, their motivation to maintain their involvement can develop.”

When I lost my Dad I realized even more so that life is not forever. I also am more aware of spending quality time with our children and making a positive impact in their lives, the same way that our parents made in ours. “Divorce is never easy for any family, but it does not have to destroy children’s lives or lead to family breakdown,” states author and sociologist Constance Ahrons. Life is too short and uncertain to not be involved with your children’s lives.

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Published on MyAtlantaMoms.com.

Allen Cooley Photography

33

My husband and I missed a get-together last weekend that my friend hosted at her home. Curious about what took place at the event, she emailed me photos from the party. I skimmed through the pictures and came across party- goers planking. My immediate reaction was laughter. I could barely keep my composure looking at her photos. I couldn’t believe that grown folks were participating in a trendy viral game.

If you haven’t heard about this new craze called “planking,” then I’ll enlighten you on this subject. The planking game was created by Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon, who called it the “lying down game.” They later changed the name to“planking” and since then it has created an internet buzz across the globe.

This bizarre internet sensational craze is just that. People plank (lay down flat) on public random items and/or structures and post their planking photos online. Even celebrities – such as Rosario Dawson, who planked on Jimmy Kimmel’s desk are doing it. Usher’s two sons joined in the planking sensation and their TwitPic hit the web.

My immediate reaction to the idea of planking was funny, but then my mother instinct kicked in and I thought crazy. What if planking goes wrong? What if someone gets hurt trying to plank on an object that isn’t plankable? After doing a little more research I discovered that a 20-year-old Aussie man planked on a hotel balcony and fell seven stories to his death. I can imagine that planking and alcohol wouldn’t be a good mix. I can also imagine that we may see more deaths or severe injuries.

Therefore, you won’t find me planking on anything but my bed. Maybe I’m just a worrywart being overly cautious. What do you think about this new planking craze? To plank of not to plank? Have you planked?

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Originally published on MyAtlantaMoms.com

7

This summer will be different without my Dad, who passed away three months ago. Every summer after the age of 15, my siblings and I would visit him on the Upper West Side in New York City. We’d hang out at Columbia, attend Broadway shows, visit museums, marvel at the windows in Macy’s Flagship store at Herald Square, purchase mixed CD’s in Harlem, and hop on the train that would take us to different parts of the city. I remember the unique smells of the city, very different from Boulder. It just seems like yesterday, sitting on a bench, munching on some fresh warm peanuts while being entertained by the very talented street performers.

What I realize now is that summers are a good time to create traditions. Later, we would visit my Dad in Martha’s Vineyard, walk on the Ink Well and bike around Oak Bluffs. I loved spending time on the Vineyard and soaking up the sites and sounds of nature. I especially enjoyed being with him.

This summer we’re going to continue making memories and traditions in our family. Road trip plans are already in the works, our two boys are under the age of four so, at their ages it’s easier to pack everyone and everything in a car than it is on a plane. We’ve started a family tradition in our family, and that’s attending family reunions. It’s tough planning these gatherings, but once they’re planned and underway it’s a great time.

Family reunions are also a great time to learn more about one’s history. In our family, it’s a tradition that older generations pass down stories, photos and memorabilia. Do you have family traditions? If so, what are your traditions? When was the last family reunion you attended?

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Published on MyAtlantaMoms.com.

5

I wrote an article not too long ago entitled, Dads: Tips on How You Can Help with Breastfeeding.  This was about my husband assisting with breastfeeding shortly after giving birth to our second son, Joshua.  I argued that new Moms don’t have to be on the journey alone.  As a matter of fact, I’d be doggone if my husband refused to help me with breastfeeding!  In the article, I provided a list of ways for dads to help with the process:

DADS TO DO LIST:

1. Adjust the positioning of the pillow

2. Provide water and food

3. Adjust the lighting in the room

4. Burp the baby

5. Change the baby if needed after feeding

6. Swaddle the baby after feeding and changing

7. Clean / cook

8. Massage

9. Take a shift

10. Encourage with love

Some men don’t feel like they can help with breastfeeding, or other aspects in raising children, but they really can.  One touchy subject is changing diapers.  I’ve witnessed dads running out of the room, and disappearing off the face of the earth to get away from a “smelly diaper.”  You’d think they were allergic to diapers!  Witnessing this frustrates me to no end.

My husband and I made a pact that we’re in this for the long haul, so both of us prepared to “roll up our sleeves” and commit to the most important job of our lives: raising our children.  This includes the good, the bad, and the stinky.

It’s important that we as new moms break the gender stereotypical roles that only women can cook, clean, and take care of our children.  Don’t take the excuse from men that prefer these stereotypical roles.  This is 2011.  Grab a wipe, butt paste, and change a diaper!

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Originally published: MyAtlantaMoms.com.

1

Celebration of the Life of Dr. Manning Marable on the Morningside Campus of Columbia University, Roone Alredge Auditorium, Lerner Hall on May 26, 2011. Eulogy for Dr. Manning Marable delivered by Sojourner Marable Grimmett.

On behalf of my older sister, Malaika, and twin brother, Joshua, we want to thank you for joining us this evening, to celebrate the life of an extraordinary and inspirational man, and above all, an exceptional Father. On this day, and every day, it makes us proud to honor a true champion for our people, whom he so loved, our Dad.

Our hearts have continued to ache over his passing, but we have found strength in reflecting on the memories that we shared and how he chose to express himself and live on earth. We are forever thankful and appreciative of everyone who has reached out to us, and who loved him as much as we did. We thank you.

To most of you, he was Dr. Marable, Professor Marable, or Manning. To us he was Dad, Daddy, and Pops. To him we were Tiger, Soji (My Little Girl) and Handsome Son.

There is no greater gift to give your children than to be amazing. Dad was amazing.

Daddy was our Hero. Growing up we were captivated by his storytelling that took us to his childhood days – playing practical jokes on Uncle Jimmy, marveling over his younger sister, our Aunt Madonna, and spending long-hot summers with family in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was an animated storyteller, had a great sense of humor and was very funny. His stories of real life experiences captured our imaginations, warmed our hearts, and impacted our lives.

Dad was gifted. He had the ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the world. His charm, charisma, and radiant heart could light up any room. People were drawn to his magnetism. Dad was hip and in his own words, a real “cool cat.”

Dad provided sound advice at the right moments, to comfort you during the toughest times. He was always there when you needed him most. His smile, loving hugs, light-hearted jokes and songs, would make you come alive and brighten your day.

As a child, our grandparent’s blessed over him and directed him towards becoming a historian. Dad had an incredible mind, and his memory was remarkable. Growing up, we called him our “walking encyclopedia.” We could be anywhere, and he would know the importance and historical significance of each place, building, and person. He was a humble genius. A classic academic. We recall as children, forming an assembly line at the kitchen counter, stuffing and sealing envelopes for his column,“From the Grassroots,” which later became the column, “Along the Color Line.”

We believe he spoke so passionately about his work because he loved it so much, but also for all of us to carry on his legacy. Every story, every book, every lecture, small talk at the dinner table, walk on the Vineyard, speak truth to power and his words into existence and live not only for him but for yourselves.

He will always be with us. He lives through his teachings, books, students, colleagues, family, children, and grandchildren. Dad would want us to find our life’s true passion and live each day walking on that path and fighting for what’s right, even when some may be too scared or think that you are wrong. That’s speaking truth to power.

We miss everything about him. His laugh. His smile. His real hugs and warm embrace. The way he danced, talked about sports, his listening ear and sound advice. His hand clap and laugh, pretending to bite his nails waiting to tell us the punchline of a joke. The twinkle in his eyes when he talked about his life’s work. The many other books that he had stored in his mind. Him.

So today we say, thank you. Thank you Daddy for being an inspiration to us all. Thank you for being an exceptional human being. Above all thank you for being an amazing Father.

We are forever thankful for his love, support, and guidance.

Our Dad was not only amazing in his work but truly amazing as a Father. That’s the type of legacy that we want to leave. Be Amazing.

Thank you.

Learn more about Dr. Manning Marable.

View photos from the public memorial.

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6

Our oldest son, Roland, will be 4 years old in June.  I’m already thinking about the cost of college tuition in 2026, when he graduates from high school.  My husband and I started a 529 Plan shortly after he was born, and contribute monthly towards his college education.  Yet, I cringe to think about the cost of tuition when he walks across the graduation stage.  Our youngest son, Joshua, will follow in his older brother’s footsteps 2 years later in 2028.

The College Board’s website highlights current tuition costs:

  • Public four-year colleges charge, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. The average surcharge for full-time out-of-state students at these institutions is $11,990.
  • Private nonprofit four-year colleges charge, on average, $27,293 per year in tuition and fees.
  • Public two-year colleges charge, on average, $2,713 per year in tuition and fees.

Rather than worrying myself sick about the rise in college tuition and inflation, which I can’t control, I’m staying optimistic about the possibility of paying for college.  I can imagine in 2026 those numbers will have at least doubled.  (The College Board reports that on average tuition and fees for 2010-2011 will increase 6% annually.)

My background is in higher education, and I worked in admissions at a southeastern university of art and design for almost 8 years.  One aspect of my job was to encourage prospective students to apply to the university.  Throughout the years, I assisted in enrolling hundreds if not thousands of students into the institution.  Each year, the tuition would increase slightly, along with other universities across the country.  This caused my sales pitch to become a little more sensitive.

Oftentimes, parents would ask to speak with me privately and their eyes would welt up from the necessity of wanting to provide the best for their child.  I found myself grabbing boxes of tissue, holding hands, and giving a comforting pat on the back to parents struggling to find ways to pay for college.  I assisted parents on brainstorming ways to help pay for college despite the high tuition costs, and derived a combination of student loans, financial aid, or scholarships.  Like most colleges and universities, if students score above the national average on their SAT/ACT exams and have a fairly high GPA (usually above a 3.0), then they may have the opportunity of earning a college scholarship.

Some students contemplated whether or not they should attend college.  The U.S. Census Bureau report titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” highlights that over an adult’s working life those with master’s degrees will earn $2.5 million, adults with bachelor’s degrees, $2.1 million, and those with high school diplomas can expect to earn $1.2 million.

Rather than putting the emphasis on or tantalizing about college tuition costs for our children, I’ve decide to follow my own advice and focus on researching the resources that are available to us that will assist with college.

My advice for parents is to always ask questions.  Admission and financial aid officers are in a customer service profession and their jobs are to assist students and parents.

Although our sons are nearly 4 years old and 14 months old, I’ve already started instilling in our children the importance of higher education.  I have a “college wall” above the bookcase in our oldest son’s room with pendants from various universities.  My Father-in-Law attended Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL and insists that I purchase a “Tuskegee University” pendant the next time we’re there.

I was immersed into higher education at a very young age.  My dad, being a professor, allowed us the opportunity to move from one college town to another.  Having that experience, gave me the opportunity to interact with college students and attend university functions.  There are so many wonderful institutions in Atlanta and the South, that I often take our oldest son to various events on campuses.  Planting the seed early is crucial, and staying open-minded about their future is also important.

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Originally published: MyAtlantaMom.com.

6

My heart ached when I read the article in The Huffington Post, “Detroit Schools Closing: Michigan Officials Order Robert Bobb to Shut Half The City’s Schools.”  The school closings may increase class sizes to 60 students.  My mind spun around in circles.  I had a gut-wrenching feeling just thinking about how many students will not receive a quality education, if this plan passes.

Americans are experts and innovators in many fields, but when it comes to education, we’re not progressing as we should.  The average teacher’s salary in the United States according to payscale.com, is $35,869 – $53,734 per year.  How many teachers are going to sign up to teach a class with 60 students for $35,869 dollars per year?  It’s hard to manage an average class size of 26 students, let alone 60 students.  There are so many implications for what could go wrong if this happens.  Such stress upon the teachers and student population, could eventually lead to increased crime, poverty, and a higher drop out rate.

I have worked in education for nearly 12 years, but don’t know all of the ins and outs of budgets or the reasons why teachers aren’t getting paid more.  I have never met a teacher that doesn’t love her/his occupation.  They stay late hours to grade papers, read assignments on the weekends, spend their own money on school supplies, and counsel students.  At the same time, I have also met teachers that feel that their efforts aren’t appreciated, work in undesirable conditions, and feel underpaid.  What would it take for teachers to make more money?

The topic of a quality education is constantly discussed in our household and with friends.  We agree that class sizes directly impact student achievement.  There was a clear difference when we took our oldest son out of a daycare that had 22 students in each class, and moved him to another daycare with 6 students per class.  He was able to receive individual attention in smaller groups, and excelled faster in his new environment.  Stronger relationships with his teachers and classmates were developed.

Every child deserves a quality education from grades K-12.  America continues to struggle on being highly ranked in the world of education. We are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, but our high school students are at best average in math and science.  We must not fail our own children, in or outside the classroom.

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

5

The only thing conservative about me is the way that I dress.  That’s it.  It’s my own personal preference not to show cleavage at work, wear short shorts, and pierce my navel.  I am a fan of self-expression, and have seen it all.

However, as a parent to two young African American boys, I’m not a fan of the recent trends that I’ve seen popping up among some Black artists, who many young African Americans look up to as role models.  The most common trend is sagging pants and the latest trend is getting tattoos on the face.

To defend my first point of sagging one’s pants, last year’s American Idol, Larry Platt, became famous for singing “Pants on the Ground” and argued that men should pull up their pants, rather than let them sag.  It seems that since this song hit the airwaves, a lot of men have sagged their pants even lower.  Pants are so low on the ground these days, that you might as well walk in your draws.  (Quick rant.) “Yes, take them off and walk in your underwear.  I think I would prefer seeing that, than you trying to stumble up the street, while holding your pants.  What is the point in wearing a belt if your pants are way below your waistline and tucked under your butt. Not to mention if they are skinny jeans.” Exhaled.

Mashaun D. Simon wrote an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about dress code entitled, “Morehouse dress code seeks to ‘get back to legacy.’”  In the article, he quoted Dr. William Bynum, vice president of the Office of Student Services, as saying, “We know the challenges that young African-American men face.  We know that how a student dresses has nothing to do with what is in their head, but first impressions mean everything.”

There’s got to be a limit or intervention with what is and isn’t appropriate and what some would deem “cute,” “funny,” and representing the “streets.” Now, the latest fad is to get “tatted up.”  Recently, Atlanta rapper Yung LA had the internet buzzing about his Duck tattoo on his face.  He recorded one hit song, wasn’t yet signed to a label and went out and got “tatted up.” Facial tattoos are becoming a fad.

I’m calling on young Black male artists, sports figures, fathers, and professionals to set the standard for what is and isn’t appropriate.  You can wear your pants a certain way and not be seen as Steve Erkel.  I also believe it takes a village to raise a child, and when I see young brothers sagging their pants, I become embarrassed.  I want to pull up their pants for them.  It’s not cute or professional.  It’s tacky.  In 2009, Pharrell Williams, the lead singer of N.E.R.D., began removing his tattoos and concealing his body art in order to become more marketable.

I understand that at ages 15 and 16, you’re trying to fit in with what’s hot.  I had a Jehri Curl when I was younger, wore different color socks, backwards clothes, and big hoop earrings.  Getting a tattoo on your face is permanent, and it will limit the job opportunities that young folks may receive in the future.  I’d encourage kids to slap a fake tattoo on their faces, just to see what it would look like before getting a permanent one.  Please tell your children not to let a fad label them or pigeon hole their success.

Visit my blog Married with Two Boys follow me on Twitter like me on Facebook and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Photo: Raftermen Photography


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