Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reality has a way of restructuring dreams.

No one ever tells you how exquisitely challenging parenting can be. You only really hear the bright, sparkly, sunshine-y aspects of it--unless you go looking. Recently, though, there have been two great articles about this issue. One by Black Girl in Maine and the other by KIT.

I have been meditating and thinking and wondering and all that for months now and I've finally made peace with the decision to make it so that we will definitively not be having any more children. The hubby's been ready for a while now and I'm finally right there with him.

What sealed the deal? Put the last nail in the coffin. Yesterday we got a notice from the bank that holds our mortgage. School taxes have gone up and we will be paying a whopping $230 more a month. I sincerely hope it's a miscalculation but we're operating under the assumption that it's not.

Add to that the fact that my sleep was disturbed by police helicopters circumnavigating this 4 square mile town for over an hour. We have to leave this town for the sake of our boys and it will be much more likely to happen without more children. More children mean we need more things like a bigger car. We already managed to pay the one we have off and there's really no room in the budget for yet another car payment and we don't have the money on hand to just outright buy a car. More children means more diapers. More clothes. More everything really. And less to go around. It's so true.

When I sit down and look at all the pros and cons of having another baby, the cons unfortunately outweigh the pros. Even vanity plays in . . . I'm finally starting to see some muscle definition in my stomach. And, to be very honest . . . to be brutally and painfully honest . . . I'm tired. These two are enough for me especially if I continue to mother the hands-on way that I've been mothering. I keep thinking that as Z2 gets older, I could hang but right now . . . it's rough.

So I've given the hubby the okay. And hope he does it quick. Before sentiments start to take over. I've always envisioned myself with three or four kids . . . and I think dark thoughts sometimes like what if we lose one of our boys or something. But no new child could replace the ones I have anyway. That's the reality.

And reality sure has a way of restructuring dreams.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cheap Yarn

=badly wound pull skein
which leads to one huge tangle of a k not
+ 2 kids who find it thrilling to wrap themselves in yarn?
=quick and easy knitting project turned into something terrible and frustrating.

No budget for quality yarns + No quality time to knit =I don't even want to be bothered.

Photo Courtesy of mfcorwin on Flickr.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Angelina Jolie and I don't have much in common.

Except for the flack we catch for our kids' hair. Especially since our hair is different from our children's hair (in my case, I wear a very short cut and my kids have locks and in her case, her hair is straight while her daughter's hair is textured).

If you read any blogs at all, you know that all the buzz is an article in Newsweek that commented on Jolie's daughter's hair.

Yes, there are issues in adoptions where the parents are a from different race or from a different culture. Still, celebrity children are not fair play for the media. It disgusts me to see little children being shoved into the limelight and talked about. And while I am not surprised that the issue of hair is (again) rearing it's ugly head, I am shocked at some of the things I am reading. I'm shocked at all the pseudo-deep conclusions about Black women and their hair and, most ashamedly, that folks are trying to use Zahara's hair as some kind of gauge for Ms. Jolie's fitness as a mother and/or the level of care (or neglect) she shows her child. I get it. Black hair is political, blah, blah, blah but Black women's hair issues affect Black women who then pass it on to their daughters. Zahara is a girl. With a White mom. She has her own journey she is going to need to take and, maybe, just maybe because her mom is White, she won't be saddled with the issues.

I'll admit that there have been pictures of Zahara that have left me wondering why no one is making an effort to style it. And by style, of course, I mean styles that young Black girls traditionally wear like cornrows, twists, etc. But to be honest, the style that Zahara is rocking (which you could call a freeform afro) is indeed a style. Maybe not how I would style my own child's hair, but a style nonetheless. Now, I don't know if Ms. Jolie tried to style it differently and wasn't successful or if she thinks it looks good just the way it is. As a white woman, she doesn't have the hair baggage that black women do and it may be good for Zahara to grow up without all that.

Zahara's hair looks clean and healthy to me. It may not be stylish by my standards but it's groomed. If I had a little girl, I might be more inclined to do things with her hair, but it wouldn't be a whole lot. It would probably be locked, not twisted but neat sections and folks would probably still have a lot to say. But I know from over a decade of wearing my hair natural, the less manipulation, the better. Find a good moisturizing shampoo, make sure you hair sees lots of water, get a good conditioner, and a nice light oil and that's basically it. I see plenty of little girls around here, as young as 2 years old, with fried hair or hair pulled back too tightly. I'd much rather see girls with hair that is left alone to do its own thing.

I have two boys who both have freeform dreadlocks. I *know* people look at them and make all kinds of wild assumptions about how they are cared for. Even my mother periodically entreats me to "do something to their hair". People have openly wondered why I "do this to them" especially since I don't "do it to myself". They don't know my story. Not even the half. So I've come not to care. And I hope Ms. Jolie doesn't care either.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Danger of a Single Story

I found this on a great blog I recently discovered called flip flopping joy. It is a talk given by Chimamanda Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun, one of my all-time favorite books, about the danger of taking a single story and making all kinds of extrapolations.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Book Review, Chocolate Cupcakes and a (Minor) Yoga DVD complaint

A few weeks ago, a visitor to my blog sent me a lovely e-mail in which she recommended the book Zenzele. I put it on hold at the library and as soon as it came in, was thoroughly overjoyed to put aside the utter borefest that isThe God of Small Things to get into it. And my enthusiasm was well warranted.

This slim book is simply stunning. I loved it and highly, highly, highly encourage you to read it. It's a letter written by a mother to her daughter who is on her way to study at Harvard. It's tempting when reading this letter to forget that it is fictional especially since so much of what is being spoken about in the story actually happened in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). It captures so much emotion and details so meticulously much of the mother's history. It tells the mother's story with poignancy and honesty. There is so much wisdom in this little book. It is indeed political and there are times when it does get a little heavy-handed with the warnings of "what you should not become" but that just lent tremendously to the air or authenticity because, after all, that is what mother's tend to be sometimes, i.e. overbearing and heavy-handed--just because of the sheer weight of a mother's love and the soul-deep desire to see your children happy, successful and fulfilled.

I tell you, I would just love to have such a letter written to me by my mother. It would explain to me the reasons for the things she does--the things I'm so critical of her for. It would explain what I perceive as her passivity, what I perceive as her being too humble, not ambitious enough, not strong enough. It would open a door of knowing.

I was deeply moved by this book. I have to share with you this one excerpt from page 185:
"I no longer see the world as ready-made, requiring only that we occupy our own little spot and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, as the taught me at the Sunday school in Chakowa Mision. Like your father, I am coming to understand that this world is as yet unfinished. There is no Eden here ave the one we create for one another. Our mission is to complete and preserve the work that was started. And that is why we are created in God's image."
One hundred thanks to the sister who recommended it to me.
Over the weekend, we had the chance to hang out with some friends that we've met because we share the similar goal of homeschooling our boys. We visited Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture which is a working farm that raises animals humanely and the way they are supposed to be raised, i.e. out in the open field eating their natural diet. Read more about what they do here. It was so interesting learning about the animals they keep there and the cooperation between the farmers and the chefs in the restaurant.

We really enjoyed ourselves tremendously and to celebrate a bit late Z1's birthday and the birthday of one of the other boys that make up our informal homeschooling group, I made chocolate cupcakes.

Here's my recipe for chocolate cake. Double this recipe and you will get 2 dozen cupcakes. Reduce the baking time to about 25 minutes. And, why yes, I did pull out my tips and pastry bag and get to decorating. I can't wait till I have more time to practice cake decorating. I really enjoy it.

This is the frosting recipe I use (comes from The Vegan Chef) and it works well every time.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup soy margarine, softened
1/4 cup soy milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk of choice
3 cups
Veganized Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Using an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, place the soy margarine and soy milk, and cream them together. Add half of the sugar, and beat well to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to beat the mixture until light and fluffy.

*Note: For a Berry Frosting, add 1/4 cups mashed fresh or frozen berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries.

For a Chocolate Frosting, add 1/2 cups cocoa powder or 1/3 cups melted vegan chocolate chips.

For a Coffee Frosting, substitute cold coffee or espresso for the soy milk in the recipe.

For a Mocha Frosting, substitute cold coffee or espresso for the soy milk in the recipe and add 1/4-1/3 cup cocoa powder or 3-4 T. melted vegan chocolate chips.

You can also stir in chopped nuts, chopped vegan chocolate, shredded coconut, or chopped fruit into the basic Vanilla "Buttercream" Frosting recipe to create additional variations.


And last, but not least, practicing yoga at night has been great for me. I'm much more flexible since I've been moving around in the day but I'm also in wind-down mode. So tonight I attempted to do MTV Yoga and it was horrible. The pace was way too fast and I found myself wanting to hold positions for much longer. By the time I got comfortably into a pose, the instructor was 3 poses ahead. Breathing, which by now has become very natural for me to do correctly while practicing, was forced and I kept forgetting. It was like aerobic yoga which is not what I am looking for in the evenings. I'm looking for a strong yoga routine that builds heat but that doesn't leave me light headed and tense. I guess in the early morning, I was more up for this kind of routine but for the night, it's a no go. So, I started tonight but didn't finish which is rather disappointing although it is what it is.

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