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Emancipated Past and My Sons Future

5 Jan

photo credit Ki Taylor
http://www.twitter.com/akitaylor

One Hundred and fifty years ago, on January 1, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. I knew that bit of history and didn’t really think much of it (the 1st  is also my middle sons birthday so I was consumed with celebrating him), until I went to the post office. I needed to mail packages and found that I needed a stamp. When I saw the offerings of stamps I came across the commemorative stamp and had to purchase a page of them. They look really cool, don’t you agree?

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I had to purchase them, because no matter how I feel about the politics of it all, the bottom line is, it changed the course for my people, forever. I had to purchase them because I need to show this to my three boys and, then begin the hard, emotional task of teaching them a vital part of their history.

Although it breaks my heart to have to teach them that only 150 years ago their ancestors were considered not to be people, but only property. Slaves. It’s a hard reality and one that breaks my heart. Why? Why, do they need to know? Because you learn from the past to prevent the same thing from happening in the  future. When someone calls them a “nigger” they need to know the ignorance and history behind why someone would think less of them. I cannot hide it from them. I have been called a nigger by mere strangers, with pure hatred towards me even though I had never met them in my life. They need to know.

I hate to have them know that only because of their skin color people will judge them, but it is a reality.

My husband, a professional, law abiding man, was just stopped the other day, before getting into his car at our hotel, because he “fit the description” of a unidentified robber in the vicinity. Two cops surrounded his car, startling him and I wonder what their intentions truly were. The hurt in my heart and the outrage in my spirit that is there because of that experience cannot be quenched and I have to protect my sons by teaching them history.

So, as many celebrate the emancipation  I acknowledge it and recognize the historical significance of it. I also use it to begin an educational process with my family, one I wish didn’t exist. One I hope time will heal and our society will change, however the reality is that is hasn’t yet. So, with a sorrowful heart I teach the boys that they are not the past, they are the future and they are AMAZING, STRONG, EDUCATED and INCREDIBLE.  As is their father, the man who supports his family, loves his family and contributes a lot to society. He is not a robber! He doesn’t deserve the treatment he received from police he received and our boys won’t either. I have to have them know this because they are the future.

Unsettling

31 Dec

That picture above is of a Nerf gun. It is called the Nerf Stampede gun. My 12-year-old really wanted it for Christmas. He has been very into Nerf guns for a couple of years now and it has been unsettling to me and my hubby. He gets the toy Nerf guns and then runs down to the basement to “mod” them out.

Very unsettling…

When the boys came along I was so sure I would be “that Mom”, no guns around Mom. My boys would be non-violent, respect women, and be a better man than most. Oh, and I wouldn’t be a yeller, spanker and never be  “like my mom”. (You already know I am SO THAT MOM now.) SO, when they started running around and making guns with absolutely any and every straight thing they could find I figured water guns would be fine. Then that  evolved into them getting a gun as gift or two and us allowing them to keep them. OK, no biggie. the rule then became don’t point guns at people ESPECIALLY your Mom, Dad or brothers (probably the main folks they wanted to “pretend” shoot). THEN the Nerf toys showed up, it’s OK, they are like water guns right?

ME – ” Mod them out for what son??

Son – “MOM, I like thaking things apart and, I watch YouTube videos on it and, it’s cool”

Me and Dad – “Videos on Nerf guns???”

Son – “Duh, yes!”

Mom and Dad – “OK (eyeballs rolling), whatever” (we watched and they really have lots of videos on this stuff!)

Time goes on and at least he doesn’t want those Airsoft guns, right?

Well he wants the Stampede, so, I order it and, Amazon  (LOVED Amazon this Christmas) delivers. I open it and WOW!!! The Damn thing has clips in it for automatic dispersal of the bullets. The Damn thing is a machine gun. It was as BIG as a real machine gun (I think as I have never seen one in person).  OH HELL NO!!! I couldn’t, my hubby couldn’t, we just couldn’t! ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that within one month 26 lives were brutally destroyed in Newton (with guns),  a 14-year-old boy was killed in Grayson, GA (with a gun) AND a man who was a vital part of his community was shot and killed by stray bullets ( gun again). The last two I had friends who were connected to. These were in three different parts of the country Conn., Georgia and California, yet all three were had guns involved.

We couldn’t.

How Unsettling.

This post isn’t a political commentary, opinion piece, or push for any agenda. I just wanted to share and put it out there that if there is one little thing I can do to help reduce violence I will. I hope taking a stand and not giving him the gun will plant a better seed than the opposite. Of course there is WAY more my hubby and I need to do to help foster a healthy lifestyle for our boys and, we will try to do our best. Be engaged in their lives so we can help them grow into understanding there honest and natural aggressiveness.

I have no judgement for those who carry guns, use them, etc. For me , I am just too uncomfortable with that type of violence. And a good guy with a gun scares me just as much as a bad guy with a gun. I wish they weren’t so prevalent in our society and I wish there was no need for them in our society and no need for so much anger, extreme violence and total disregard for life.

I just pray that we can all help boys and girls have more respect for life and be not so insensitive to violence and death.

Hey, I’m all about Peace, Love and Soul!

 

 

In Honor of those I know of who lost their lives to guns this month.  (I know none of theme personally but have shed tears for them all)

Paul Stampleton, Jr., 14 years old

Victor McClinton, 49 years old

– Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
– Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
– Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
– Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
– Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
– Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
– Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
– Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female
– Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
– Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
– Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
– Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
– James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
– Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
– Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
– Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
– Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
– Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
– Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
– Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
– Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
– Lauren Rousseau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
– Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
– Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
– Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
– Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female

A bathroom sharing dilemma

11 Nov

My sweet (notice the sarcasm) family of five, three boys, the hubby and myself (the only female) have been in a hotel for five days. I am not complaining, especially in the aftermath of Sandy.

We are blessed to have stayed here for four weeks (sarcasm on the four weeks part of it). We are simply waiting to move into our new home here in Pittsburgh, PA.

We have enough space, a cute kitchen, and daily housekeeping, HOWEVER, we share a bathroom. One woman, 4 dudes.

This is a picture of my favorite shower gel, on the floor of the bathtub, after my oldest son (12yo) took a shower.

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Me: “Why is my shower gel in the bathtub floor?”

Son: “What shower gel?”

Me: (pointing it out) “That one”

Son: “Oh that, I didn’t know that was what that was. I have been using that as my shampoo.”

Me: 😡

Sharing a bathroom, with my boys, is bad, very bad.

Relishing Motherhood on Election Day

6 Nov

Last night when hubby came home (well home to our hotel, which is home for now) after work, I got to watch he and our two older boys engage in an interesting conversation. They were discussing politics! The boys have been discussing this with us, throughout the week, at their own urging, not ours! I was so intrigued with their conversation. I also swelled up with pride. What I felt, is hard to describe. I am not proud because I feel like “OOOO, I am super Mom and these are my creations who think the way they do because of me”.  I realized that as I listened to them converse with their Dad, I actually like  them because they are who they are in spite of me. I am intrigued with their thoughts and decisions and beliefs. They had real, definite positions and were clear  on why they believe what they do. They had clear understandings about the voting process, the electoral process and they had clear ideas about what can be done to help our country. My two older sons are 10 and 12 years old!

When they were younger I loved them and, loved motherhood, but was always waiting to get out of whatever stage they were in. They are 16 months apart and it was hard, fun but hard. When they were 4 and 6 another son came and life was really busy then. Now, though, I am really enjoying them. My 12-year-old is so insightful and engaging. He brings up really interesting and thoughtful topics and ideas. He is developing into a really neat person (in my opinion).

I thought that as my boys got older, I would dread them. I assumed they  would dread me too, however, I am liking all of my boys even more. This stage of motherhood definitely has its challenges and twists and turns but I find myself relishing it and not wanting it to rush by.

SO, today in Nov. 6th, election day in the USA.  America is voting and we will all watch it together as a family. We’ll have debates, discussions and friendly banter back and forth but as a family we will engage in the political process of our country with no vitriol, anger or malice.

My prayer is that this will continue with boys for their lifetime. In the future, near and far, they will further engage in acts of discourse with others. They will go into the world and help others, be fair and do what is right. I hope others will see in them what I do, strong, engaging, caring, insightful individuals who want to make a difference in our country and our world.

That makes me proud and confident that America will be okay because we have a future and a hope in our next generation. Happy voting day!

Falls Embrace

5 Nov

Fall has found me in transition. Just like the leaves turning, we too are turning. Our life in Georgia has ended. This is a very big deal for my hubby because he was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia.

He returned and lived in Georgia for the past twelve years. He left Georgia as a single young man and returned with a wife (me) and, together we increased by three. His father was the last living male of nine. His father was the only one to have a son to carry the family name. We, in turn have the only boys in the family that now carry the family name. My in-laws got to experience the births of their only grandsons. My hubby, their only son, gave his parents such joy.

Our twelve years in Georgia encompassed so much, but it’s time to go. In our time here, my husband’s parents are have both gone on. It was time for him to go on too.

We arrived here in Pittsburgh at a beautiful time of year. The land gave us her best. The vibrant. warm colors surrounded us as we arrived, as though it was embracing us. I realized then that although this is a transition that isn’t always easy, it is beautiful and it is meant to be.

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Memorial Day

27 May

I saw this picture on Pinterest and it warmed my heart. Seeing the hands of various hues holding on to one flag reminded me of how great unity is. How great it is when there is no discrimination, racism, sexism or any other -ism. It reminded me of why we celebrate Memorial Day. Then the picture below broke my heart.

Did this young woman lose a father, a brother or a husband?  Her grief is more than I can imagine or my heart can take right now as I sit on the couch with my three boys and man-child  husband. I am so VERY thankful for my life as I sit here enjoying this weekend. I am very mindful of the fact that MANY people have sacrificed their life to serve our country. My political opinions and “bent” are more liberal and moderate and often those who are conservative want to take on the cause of supporting the military however I think any decent person, regardless of politics, should support our troops. We do and I hate that war even exsist. I hate to see so many men and women suffer from PTSD and injuries due to the wars.

My family has been blessed. I have had family serve in War World II, Vietnam and The Korean War with distant relatives who served in the Gulf and Afghanistan. Luckily they have all come back home with life and limbs in tact. Thank you God for that and for them.

As I sit around and eat some Bar-B-Que (I hope hubby will make that will happen) tomorrow. I will also remind our three sons of the sacrifices others made for us. I will remember my grandfather and father-in-law who are gone and lie as noble veterans in our eyes.

My practice for yoga tomorrow will focus on sacrifices. My day will involve having the boys reach out to veterans. What will you remember this Memorial Day?

Drinking it Up

20 May

My youngest has had a little cold and passed it on to hubby and now I have it. UGH! I figured some good drinks would help us out.

A large handful or two of Kale, some blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and banana with almond milk is delicious and filled with Vitamin C.

It was so yummy!

For protein I add a powder or just some plain greek yogurt.

I also had everyone drink Kombucha with mint from the garden. Gotta get the probiotics in to help cleanse and get rid of toxic germs that make us so sick.

Hopefully, with school coming to a close and baseball season ending we can just rest and enjoy family time and personal time. We can heal and be refreshed by drinking it all up!

Bakasana Family Love

20 Feb

The other night when my entire family decided to practice yoga together; I was very touched. It wasn’t a pre-planned event where I laid out mats and we had instructional time. It was spontaneous, challenging and fun. I felt love and warmth in my heart and soul for this bunch as they practiced Bakasasna (crow (crane) pose).

I have been teaching yoga, weekly, for about 6 years now.  I have really tried to not push yoga on anyone in the house. I do have my own practice, so, of course, throughout the years they have watched, participated and even inquired about it on their own. My two older boys have even taken classes that I have taught for kids. In yoga the boys giggle and enjoy it but are not serious yogis. My husband has back issues and visits the masseuse and chiropractor often. They always tell him to do more yoga and he tells, ‘them my wife teaches that”, and they just give him a crazy look and ask him why he doesn’t do more yoga. He then comes home and we will do some yoga. We do yoga every now and then, and I show show him things to do to help him out. We even do a little couple yoga now and then, but no consistent practice. So we aren’t the “yogi family”, or  so I thought. Being with three boys and a man-child has makes us a football and baseball family.

Now, don’t get me wrong my family knows the importance of a yoga practice especially with the type of sports they are engaged in but, they need a little prodding and I already nag about  enough stuff (chores, homework, etc.). So imagine my delight when it hit me that my family is a “yogi family”.

The reality hit me the other night when my oldest (11 yo) showed me he could do Bakasana. He struggled a bit and was getting frustrated so I then got on the floor and just talked him into being calm and focused and trying again.  He began to  look to me for more guidance so I then did Bakasana.  He tried again and then hubby wondered if he could do it so he got onto the floor with us. He was so surprised and excited that he had the strength to do it! My middle son happened to walk in on us and jumped right in with confidence and an attitude of  “let me show all of you how its done”. He dropped on the floor and did it with ease (he has always been able to do this). Now all four of us are on the floor practicing our Bakasana together and then trying to go into other asanas (postures) as well. The little one (5-year-old) even jumped in!

The entire J5 (our family nickname) is all into it. I sat back and just watched and it hit me, I do have a “yogi family”! Look at my little brood, practicing together, finding their strength, being challenged, laughing, goading each other on to just try again, and just having fun doing what Momma does all of the time. All these years I didn’t need to nag, or push them into it, it just happened. I guess I do have some influence over these bodies filled with testosterone and they do see the value in what I do and how valuable it will be for them in their own personal journeys as well.

Love, Love,Love

14 Feb

Today is a day to share your love! There are so many ways to express love to your loved ones, your pets, your neighbors and most importantly yourself! If you have no one to share it with do it for yourself! Here are some ways I shared love today.

Hubby left to go out of town yesterday so I stuck a card in his bag and this morning I called to tell him to look for it. This morning, I woke up early enough to make heart pancakes for my three boys. Chocolate chip for my middle son, blueberry for my oldest, and regular ones for the baby (well he is 5, not such a baby anymore).

heart-shaped blueberry pancakes; made with fresh blueberries

I made a “love” playlist for my cycle class. We had class this morning at 9:45am and what better way to love yourself than taking a class to improve your health. This is one of my FAVORITE love songs, which I played in class:

I also gave them dark chocolate heart-shaped pieces of goodness! I have never done that before;  we all need a treat sometimes. Not all 45 took it, but some did and appreciated it. I appreciate them for working so hard. Some of my students work harder than I do and I love them for always coming back to my class and working hard with me and inspiring me to be better ( a better teacher and better with my own work out routine)!

There are great things you can do today and everyday to show love. Today, I have a friend who is going to write a letter to God, and express her love for Him! WOW! I think that is beautiful. SO, see today need not be a downer day. Give love, give it to a friend, a neighbor, your family, yourself. No greater gift is there that love. As Stevie says:

“Did you know true love asks for nothing?

Her acceptance is the way we pay.

Did you know that life is giving love again

To last forever, another day?”

Peace, Love and Soul in 2012!

2 Jan

LOVE this picture! Washing away 2011 and seeing 2012 so vividly. Ready to begin 2012 anew and resume my passions and share myself through blogging once again. I had a period of writers block, busyness and just burn out. I stopped blogging and felt bad about it but had no real energy to continue. I’M BACK, and excited to be back in 2012. I’m leaving 2011 behind.

I wouldn’t wash all of 2011 away. I did have some great moments and the good out weighed the bad. These few weeks of holidays and vacations really culminated the year in a wonderful way for me. My family was around; there was no school, no traveling for work (my hubby does this A LOT ), and I felt the peace, love and soul in my life.

Peace I am at peace with where I am in many areas of my life. Emotionally, physically (need to hit it hard in 2012), spiritually (growing and studying and delving deeper into my walk with God and in prayer), and in my relationships. Not that I have “arrived”, I have work to do, however I am at peace with where I am.

Love – Having my three boys and hubby around so much has made me appreciate them and love them being a part of my life so much. Not seeing my Mom and sister and family on the West coast makes my heart grow even fonder for them. I love my family and the life they have given me. My love for life and experiences and people really fill me with such joy.

Soul – I love the quote by C.S. Lewis that says (paraphrasing) you are a soul who has a body! I am going to take care of this vessel; this vessel houses a wonderful soul and I am thankful for it and thankful for being able to share my soul with others. I am thankful for the souls of others and am blessed to be able to share life with so many wonderful friends and family members. I am going to do my part to help others take care of their bodies too; so their souls can thrive.

I hope you have some peace, love and soul experiences in 2012 too!

Happy New Year!