Friday, October 30, 2009

A MyBrownBaby Weekend: Bring On the Candy!

Now, y'all know I love me some gummy bears. And chocolate (the good kind). And Now & Laters. And Double Bubble bubble gum.

All of that is in my Halloween basket—the one that's SUPPOSED to be for the Trick or Treaters.

Uh huh.

Let's hope at least SOME of it makes it into their bags.

(tee hee!)

For those who celebrate it, have a happy Halloween!

(And enjoy that extra hour of sleep!)

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

...And Let the Prayer Circles Commence

See here’s the thing: This baby is adorable—I’ll give her that.

And I’m impressed with her ability to pick up on and break down the latest dance craze at such a tender age.

*Even as she still struggles with finding her way to a toilet on her own (as evidenced by the droopy diaper).*

What I don’t get is why this child—a baby!—is on YouTube in knee-socks and the aforementioned droopy diaper, popping her booty and bumpin’ and grindin’ and doing “The Stanky Leg” on top of a table, like the only show she’s allowed to watch in her house is 106th & Park.

She’s not singing the Barney song.

She’s not doing the Elmo “coochie coochie coo” laugh.

Dora? Who’s Dora?

Nooooo… this baby—BABY!—is doing The Stanky Leg.

Now, I’m not going to talk about this child’s mother, because I don’t know who it is who foisted her onto the kitchen table and proceeded to cackle and curse and goad the baby into dropping it like it’s hot for all of the world to see. It could very well be a goofy teenage sibling holding the video recorder. Or a really horrible babysitter.

Whoever it is that made all of this foolywang possible, I wish I could get her in a quiet room for just a couple of minutes—or perhaps take her out to a nice lunch. Maybe explain to her the kind of damage that’s being done to this little girl, who, not even out of diapers, is half-naked and being encouraged to bend over and bounce up and down on a table in front of a camera. When is this ever cute or okay?

The baby knows not what she does; she’s simply mimicking whatever madness she’s been exposed to at such a tender age, when responsible adults—parents—should be off somewhere reading to her and building puzzles with her and pushing her on the swings at the local park.

But when that little girl hits age 10 and gets to jiggling and popping it at the 5th grade dance like she’s Karrine Steffans on the come-up, I hope her mother doesn’t try to get new and act like she’s surprised.

Just go to YouTube and see where all of it began.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: What Happens When Three Brown Girls Have Too Much Time On Their Hands (and unrestricted access to a MacBook)

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MyBrownBaby MOM OF THE MONTH: Jennae Petersen

Our "Go Green" efforts at the MyBrownBaby household are cute and all—we use recycled bags at the grocery store, we keep our showers to three minutes or less, and we recycle everything from our newspapers to the cardboard boxes our Dove soap comes in. But what we do is mere child's play compared to my girl, Jennae Petersen, purveyor of the drool-worthy blog, Green Your Decor. On her site, Jennae scours the market for stylish, sustainable, green-forward home decor, and then breaks down why buying the pieces she features are good for the environment. A thought-provoking question she asks at Green Your Decor: "You may turn off the lights every time you leave a room, but do you know whether an old-growth forest was cut down for the wood used to make your bed?" Yup. Simply put: Jennae. Breaks. It. Down. So. It. Will. Forever. Be. Broke.

But the products she features aren't just great for the environment; they're super beautiful, too. For sure, Jennae's got an eye for pretty things—so much so that she recently founded a second green-conscious site, Green and Beautiful, which is dedicated to showing us through posts on beauty, fashion, family, technology, and other topics that we can be green and super cutie. Of course, green and super cutie is the perfect description of Jennae, whom I've known since I started blogging in October '08, but had the pleasure of meeting in person at BlogHer '09. She is such a warm spirit—quiet but opinionated, shy but smart, sweet but no-nonsense, and, above all else, kind. (And she is the mother of the cutest little girlpie, shown here with Jennae and her lovely husband.) I'm proud to count her as a friend, and can't wait for you all to get to know her better here at MyBrownBaby. Without further ado, our MyBrownBaby Mom of the Month:

My name is… Jennae Petersen

I live in… Athens, GA by way of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

My brown babies are… Ja’Naya, 4; Ja’Quan, 7; Ja’Keil, 9; and Ja’Vontae, 10. Yeah. We like the Js in this household, although the 3 boys currently live in Florida with their mom. I'm pretty sure if we ever get a dog, we'll find a J name for him too :)

I make a living… as the owner and lead designer of Hibiscus Creative, a full service graphic design firm, and as a blogger and freelance writer.

The last book I read with my kids was… “Suba Starts with Self.”

The last time my kids cracked me up was… when I read a book to my daughter, I always start with the title. So I began, “Suba Starts with Self…” and my daughter quickly corrected me. “No Mommy. Suba starts with S.”

My favorite place to take them is… Memorial Park, otherwise known as the duck pond. We feed the ducks and occasionally pull out the fishing poles, though we have yet to catch anything.

My proudest mom moment was… when my youngest stepson asked if it was OK for him to call me Mama. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it, because I knew right then that he understood I love all of them like they came from my own womb.

My most embarrassing mommy moment was the time when… I got out of my husband’s Cadillac, with the car still on, completely forgetting that the locks were messed up and sometimes would lock automatically. Inconvenient? Yeah. But what made it embarrassing is the fact that my then infant daughter was still strapped into her car seat in the back. We called a locksmith, and I felt like the worst mother in the world when he realized that there was a baby in the car. Thankfully the air conditioner was on and we played peek-a-boo through the window until the doors were unlocked. She had no idea what was going on :)

The thing I most want my children to know is… they are beautiful just the way God made them, and that anyone who truly loves them will accept them as they are.

The one family tradition I hope my kids continue when they grow up is… praying together, as a family. I know it’s a cliché, but I truly believe that the family that prays together stays together. And I find that when we pray out loud, we find out what is truly important to each of us.

If I could invent one thing to make being a mom easier, it would be… an extra hour or two of sleep time for the kids every night so I can squeeze in all the little things I never seem to get done. Or some extra quiet time for me and the hubby.

The best invention for kids ever is… not exactly an invention FOR kids, but the iPhone. With its endless educational apps, it is great for keeping restless kids occupied during car rides and long waits.

The kid snack I’m most likely to get busted eating is… Goldfish.

The most important life lesson I want my kids to learn is… the only limitations that matter are the ones that are self-imposed. As long as we believe we can achieve a goal, it is already done.

The one thing no one knows about me is… I’ve known my husband since I was 13, and I knew the moment I met him that he would be my husband. That, and I can sing. Like really sing, and not just because my mama told me so :) I'm just too scared to do it in public anymore.

The thing I lost as a mom that I wish I could get back is… spontaneity.

My “I’d Rather Be…” bumper sticker would say… laying on my husband’s chest on a beach back in the Virgin Islands.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Proof That I'm Doing My Job: Black Girls and Self-Esteem

Check out the essay Lila penned as part of a school-wide PTA arts competition in which entrants were asked to give their artistic take on the theme, “Beauty is…” Your girl chose this topic without prompting from her mother, and I can't be more proud of what she wrote. (The picture is an illustration she whipped up for the essay.) *Dabs at eyes, pats heart, leaps for joy!* Check it out:



I love me because I am beautiful. I love everything on my body. I like my smile most of all. It is the prettiest thing in the whole world. I will not let anyone treat me the way I don’t want to be treated. Also I will not let anybody touch me in private places on my body. Also I would like to say I’m not just beautiful on the outside, I’m also beautiful on the inside. I’m smart, I’m good, I’m sweet, I’m helpful to others, and I’m strong.

And I’m happy to be me.

To read about how I'm trying to stop the cycle of low self-esteem in my brown babies, check out my latest offering at The Parenting Post by clicking HERE.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

On the MyBrownBaby Table: The Warm Mediterranean Flavors of Moussaka


October can be wishy washy: Some days it's warm, some days it's cool and some days it's just plain cold. Fall is the time when we begin to slow down, plan for the months ahead and, if you're like me, get your palate ready for warm, comforting winter dishes. I enjoy exotic tastes and experimenting with flavors, spices and textures that transport me to enchanting locales. Especially when it's cold, windy, rainy and snowy outside, I like to picture myself in some place warm, in a loose fitting sun dress, sitting in an outdoor cafe with my handsome partner and some serious culinary throwdown on my plate. *giggle*

To transport myself in this cool October month, I decided to visit Greece and enjoy warm, savory Mediterranean flavors. With the help of a fanciful cookbook I picked up in London, I co-created a Roasted Veggie Moussaka. Traditional Moussaka is made with lamb and eggplant in a rich creamy sauce. However this vegetarian version features oven-roasted eggplant, red bell pepper, portabella mushrooms and red onion in a blend of tomato sauce with savory herbs, topped with a feta cheese and yogurt cream. This season, don't let cold weather keep you in. Your palate will open a world of flavors. Journey with me.


1 lrg eggplant, thickly sliced
2 med zucchinis, thickly sliced
2 red onions, cut into small wedges
2 red bell peppers, cored, deseeded, chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
5 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 eggs beaten
14 oz. canned diced tomatoes in juice
10 oz authentic Greek Yogurt (I like Fage brand)
2 oz. authentic Greek Feta Cheese

To Cook
1. Place eggplants, zucchinis, onions, peppers and garlic in a roasting pan/casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil, toss together, then sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.
2. Roast in preheated oven at 425 deg for 30-35 min. Turn pan halfway through cooking and roast until golden brown and tender. (Note: veggies will reduce by half)
3. Meanwhile, beat eggs, yogurt, salt and pepper. When veggies are cooked, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
4. Transfer and put half the veggies in a layer in a large ovenproof dish/casserole dish.
5. Spoon over canned diced tomatoes with juice.
6. Add remaining veggies.
7. Pour over yogurt mixture and crumble over the feta cheese.
8. Bake in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown. Serve at any temperature.

About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
Shelley Chapman is a culinary artisan who has tended to her palate by traveling and dining at unique eateries and collecting recipes, tips and culinary stories for her own delight and nourishment. Her passion for "natural, from scratch, quality ingredient meals" led her to consult on meal preparation, planning and holistic consumption as a personal chef for her company, Naturi Beauty Concepts. She offers private culinary services in the Atlanta area, specializing in Vegan and Vegetarian cuisine with a global influence. For more tasty vegetarian/vegan recipes, please visit Shelley at Naturi Beauty.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yet Another Reason Why Mothers Totally Rock

“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” ~ Tenneva Jordan

So. True.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Something Old, Something New: The Color of Love

Yup, I used to be one of them—the black woman who would throw dead fish eyes and hella shade in the direction of African American men who dared high-step with white women draped on their arms. It didn’t matter who they were or that I didn’t know them from Adam or that they might have really liked each other: If he chose her, I took it personal.

Really personal.

It felt like an affront, see? Like black men who chose white girls over ones who looked like their mamas were making an indictment against African American women—saying under no uncertain terms that we were not good enough to date them or wear their rings or birth their babies or spend their money. To live in their happily ever after.

Plenty of sistahs had my back on this—would hold war councils discussing the latest brother to fall over into the white side. We’d spit out their names: Quincy Jones. Charles Barkley. Kobe Bryant. Tiger Woods. Taye Diggs. Terrance Howard. Ice-T. The list runs deep. And then we’d shake our heads and swear on our future kids’ eyes that black men, especially the well-to-do ones, couldn’t handle black women. Our strength. Our attitudes. Our low tolerance for the bull.

And then, well… I grew up.

Somewhere along the way, I worked out in my mind that human beings—black men included—have the right to love who they love, and even though there are some screwy people out there who choose mates of different races for superficial reasons, that’s not everyone’s story. They have the right to love.

We all do.

I think I embraced this line of thinking when I truly fell in love—when I recognized, for the first time in my adult life what it meant to really be committed to someone. It is not for the faint of heart, commitment—not even in the most ideal situations. Not even when you and your mate have little differences that outsiders can point to as superficial evidence that your union is somehow contrived. Falling in love and staying there is tough work. And I’m much too busy trying to make my relationship last to really give a damn about what some black man and his white mate are doing in their bedroom.

Which is what I was screaming at my computer last week when I read this bizarre story about Keith Bardwell, a white justice of the peace in Louisiana who refused to grant a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is black. Bardwell told the couple he doesn’t marry interracial couples because their marriages usually don’t last and interracial kids wind up being rejected by both races.

“I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
He added: "There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."


And after reading that, acknowledging how utterly ridiculous this man is, and throwing up a little in my mouth, I silently asked for forgiveness for my long-held ignorance on interracial dating. I got a mental image of my daughters, smart, pretty, sweet, strong brown girls who might, one day, have the courage to fall in love—without a care in the world what color their mate’s skin is, or what anyone else has to say about it.

From me, their mother, my babies would get nothing but my love and support.

After all, what right would I have to pull a Bardwell and presume to know what is right for my girls and the people they choose to love and the life that they ultimately create together?


None at all.

Love, you see, is the place to be. And my girls deserve it like they do air.

No matter the color.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!

My talk with my mom about menstruation went something like this:

Me: “Mommy? We learned about periods in health class today. The teacher said we should get this kit. It comes with books and pads and stuff.”

My mom: “Okay.”

Uh, huh. That was the end of the conversation. She ordered the kit for me -- it came with three books about puberty and an assortment of pads and tampons -- and when it arrived, she handed it to me and we never talked about periods again. I was 13 when I finally got mine; I was at my uncle’s house on a weekend visit, and spent half of Saturday and most of Sunday with wads of toilet tissue stuffed in my panties, too embarrassed to ask my uncle for help, and later, too embarrassed to tell my mother about it. My mom didn’t find out, either, until after she realized I’d used up all the pads in my “kit.”

She was hurt. I could tell from the look in her eyes.

It’s a pain that I never want to feel with my own daughters -- that much I know. I made a vow when each of my babies was born that I would be honest with them, that no matter how hard/embarrassing/uncomfortable the conversation, I’d do my best to make them feel like they could ask or talk to me about anything.


To read how I make the most of my sex conversations with Mari and Lila, click HERE to check out my latest blog on The Parenting Post.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

A Sneak Peek At Disney's "The Princess and the Frog"

Just one more month until Princess Tiana takes a bow on the big screen in Disney's new movie, "The Princess and the Frog," a sweet spin on the classic tale of a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again. In this version, the frog and Tiana share a fateful kiss that leads them on an action-packed adventure through the mystical Louisiana bayous.

My girls absolutely can not wait to get their popcorn and their slurpies and grab a choice theater seat to witness the debut of Disney's first African-American princess. Lucky for them, they can totally get their Tiana fix with this new trailer and frequent visits to the official The Princess and the Frog site, which should hold them until the animated feature hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 25, and everywhere else in the country on Dec. 11. Play it for your sweetie, too!


Congratulations to the following MyBrownBaby readers—winners of "Testing the Ice," the beautiful new book by Sharon Robinson and illustrator Kadir Nelson.

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-10-16 13:09:57 UTC

Congratulations Terri Potter! You win the grand prize pack, which includes a copy of the book and a Kidorable hat, glove and scarf set.

Each of the following MyBrownBaby readers win one copy of the book:

Miss Lori of MissLoriTV
Alice Anne
Future Mama of BabyMakin(g) Machine

Please email me your contact information so that Scholastic can send you your prizes.

Happy weekend!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living Without My Radio: What's Spinning On The (Kid-Friendly) MyBrownBaby iTouch

If you've read my post about MY BEEF WITH BLACK RADIO, you know I don't get in the car without my special home made mix of kid-friendly/mom-approved music. I mean, I'd much prefer the babies groove to Chrisette Michelle's "Be Okay," De La Soul's "Me, Myself & I," or Michael Jackson's "Can't Help It," than the hot mess they're pumping into out stereos these days. I mean, Lil Boosie's "Better Believe It"? Pleasure P's "Under"? Jeremih's "Imma Star"?

I. Can't.

And. I. Won't.

(Lest blood gush out of my and my children's ears.)

Nick hooked me up with a new iPod connection in my ride a few months ago, so I don't have to make my own mix CDs. But I have to admit, even with the thousands of songs I have in my iTouch, I've grown a little bored with my playlist. A couple weeks ago, I copped albums by a few of my favorite '90s R&B bands, including Intro, Brownstone, and Mint Condition. I also bought Jay-Z's latest, "The Blueprint 3," because his "Welcome to New York" and "Run this Town" put me in a New York state of mind (Go Brooklyn! Strong Island!) But dude, I need some new music—seriously.

Can you guys help me out? What's on your playlist these days? Let's swap some of our favorites so we can all up our music game (and keep the kids' ears pimp-free). Here's what's been in constant rotation on my iTouch:

• Melodies (feat. Leon Ware) — Liquid Spirits
::The architect of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" pairs with a very cool hip hop/neo-soul group out of Europe::

• So Cold (feat. D’Angelo on Rhodes) — Don-E
::If you, like I, still stan hard for D’Angelo, you’ll love this smooth neo-soul singer, also from the U.K.::

• I’m Done — Tweet
::The most beautiful “beat it, Negro,” song I’ve ever heard::

• So Beautiful — Musiq
::This man knows his way to put a smile on a girl’s face::

• I Know You — Esperanza Spalding
::Thoughtful, fresh music!::

• Stop the World — Maxwell
::Um, Maxwell. Need I say more? I didn’t think so::

• Chains — Kirk Franklin
::A brilliant song that reminds us to curb the self-pity and drama::

• Secret (Live) — Maroon 5
::Adam Levine? Please believe it.::

• Hidden Charms (Acoustic E.P.) — Van Hunt
::Sweet, simple, inspirational::

Okay, bring it: What are you listening to?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday—A Black Butterfly's Pretty Wings

I'm no fan of bugs—not even genteel lady bugs or butterflies with pretty wings. My girls, however, don't hesitate to get up close and personal looks at creepy crawlies (as I recounted in Girls Are Made of Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, Too!), and so when they found this colorful Monarch fluttering about in our driveway, they couldn't resist picking it up and giving it a looksie. Isn't it lovely?

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

But Words Will Never Hurt Me…


There is this thing in the Latino culture where your parents, or other relatives, will often say “terms of endearment” that if were said in the English language would be down-right insulting and offensive.


Spanish term/phrase: Esta gordita!
English Translation: She's fat!
Spanish term/phrase: Negrita
English Translation: Dark-skinned girl

SpanglishBaby posted about this issue. It was part of their Ask an Expert series and a reader asked, “Will my daughter be hurt by “negative” Spanish terms of endearment?” She wrote:

“My four month old son is easily entertained and smiles instantly at one’s playful interactions. However, my 22 month old daughter will not be playful until she feels comfortable with someone…The other day he told her (in a playful manner) ‘tu hermano es más bonito que tú porque el se ríe’.”

Translation? “Your brother is prettier than you because he smiles.”

I’ve never really given any of this much thought, but could certainly relate to the reader’s remarks and question. I experienced this myself and have many times been called “gorda” and “negrita.“ You somehow get used to it I guess. Did growing up hearing such comments affect me? I have no clue, honestly. My lack of confidence at times may partly be because of that or a myriad of other things that have happened in my life. Who knows.

In reality, no harm is meant when people say such things. It’s always in a playful manner and said “with love.” Growing up around it and in that culture, you know that to be true. But, now that I have a daughter and enough negative images out there to compete with, I’m certainly more aware of how hearing such things could cause some harm.

I’m not normally one to be overly cautious of how I say things. My husband, his family, my family, and our friends, all pretty much joke in the same manner and don’t hold back. It’s just known that you have to take the jokes to survive in our circle. In fact, if we don’t make fun of you, we probably don’t like you. This probably seems backwards, but the fact is that energy is spent on those we care for.

But, I think with our daughter, there will be a very distinct line between jokes and jokes that involve self-image. In today’s society, and with the culture she’s growing up in, it’s something my husband and I have to really consider.

My favorite part of the expert’s advice to the reader who posed the question:

“When your children are older and better able to understand what is being said, the terms will provide you with an excellent “teachable moment” for discussing cross-cultural communication, which is one of the 21st century skills necessary for success in the global economy!“

Discussing cultural differences and how she should understand and even embrace many of them, is something that I strive to teach my daughter.

Any thoughts? Did you grow up hearing “terms of endearment” that were more hurtful than loving?

Photo Credit: Loligallardo

About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
Melanie Edwards is a Modern Mami™. As a latina working mother, she provides an honest depiction of the everyday humor and drama in the life of today's wife, mother and woman from a Latina perspective. She often blogs about the special concerns working mothers have in attempting to achieve a work-life balance. Melanie has been married six years and has a 3-year-old daughter.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

New On the Parenting Post: What Tough Girls Are Made Of

The girl had Mari by a few inches and at least 20 lbs, and she wasn’t afraid to bulldoze my baby whenever the soccer ball came near. I saw her checking my child -- slamming her girth against Mari’s sides, elbowing her, tripping her with her humongous cleats. Mari, in her first season of soccer, was frustrated by it -- couldn’t figure out how to get past this wall of a girl without being hit/pushed/sliced/knocked down. By game’s end, my Mari was near tears. And when the two teams lined up to shake hands and congratulate each other for a game well played, the little/big girl punched my child in the back. Just flat out punched her in the back and walked away!

Now, you should know I’m not afraid of any 9-year-olds. And, with Mari crying in my arms, I made a point of telling the girl and her coach that there wouldn’t be too much more punching going on on that soccer field. I was mad as heck.

And my husband was mad at me.

To read more about Nick's TOUGH LOVE on the soccer field, check out my latest blog on THE PARENTING POST.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

A MyBrownBaby Weekend: Getting Blogalicious In The A!

Oh yeah—this is the weekend that the super smart, super cutie, super sweet women of MamaLaw bring their inaugural Blogalicious conference to Atlanta. Bloggers of color and the bloggers who love them will travel from far and wide to meet, party, and exchange experiences and ideas with one another for the three-day event, which kicks off tonight at The W Atlanta Midtown. Justice Fergie, Justice Ny, and Justice Jonesie promise their conference will combine "all of the things that you love about blogging with the added element of face-to-face interactions and the intimacy of 'IRL' relationships. At Blogalicious 2009, you'll laugh, you'll learn, you'll let your hair down. It will be just like blogging... only better."

I can't wait to meet up with my people, hang out at the parties (and after parties!), and, of course, exercise my brain at the break-out and keynote sessions they've got lined up; I'm speaking on Saturday's "Mom 2.0" panel with Ronnie of BlackandMarriedWithKids and Ms. Latina of LatinaOnAMission, and on Sunday, I'll be talking author stuff and reading from one of my books at the brunch.

The conference is sold out—GO MAMALAW!!!—but there are still party passes for all of the evening events. And if you can't make it to those either, don't worry: I'll be back next week with the blow-by-blow.

Have a fantastic weekend—I know I will!

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Thursday, October 8, 2009



I snapped hundreds of photos of my youngest son, but my favorite is a black and white of him at age two. He's wearing the cheesiest smile and holding on for dear life to his Batman and Robocop toys. His saucer-shaped eyes are playful and slightly mischievous. He’d just bounced back from his bout with chicken pox. Life was sweet, simple and uncomplicated. I’m a softie for nostalgia.

My son is 20 years old now—6’2” and tipping the scales at a rock solid 195 pounds. Troy is a senior at the University of Akron and was a wide receiver on the football team until two weeks ago. The call came while I was standing in line at the bank. “Mom, I just quit the team. I thanked my coach for the opportunity. It’s over.”

Stunned, I grabbed my deposit slip and ran into the parking lot. “What happened?” My heart was racing. “Are you okay?”

He calmly explained that while he loved the game, he couldn’t stand the coach favoritism and empty promises. He added, quietly: “I lost my ambition.”

I hurt for my son! He’d worked his butt off to be a legitimate athlete for the past 10 years; he was 5’9” and 150 lbs as a high school senior—not a physical powerhouse, but he had heart and guts and a dream to play in the NFL. I will NEVER forget his first touchdown. Of course, I acted up and screamed his name like any red-blooded mom would do. Troy’s catch made the front page of the local newspaper. I ran my mouth! You would have thought he won the Heisman.

Troy joined his college football team as a freshman walk on after getting only limited playing time in high school and getting passed over when the college scouts handed out football scholarships. He spent his summers on campus, religiously lifting weights and running routes with teammates, even though it wasn’t mandatory.

Still, this year he was frustrated that he wasn’t “getting in” during preseason practices with his team after sitting out his junior year to satisfy NCAA rules for players who transfer to new schools—a red flag of how the regular season with his newer, bigger school would go down.

I didn’t want to make matters worse by talking him to death and letting on that this situation had my stomach in knots. When your child is an adult, you teeter a tight rope between being a loving, concerned parent and a total nag. Angst and panic often hitch a ride on this neurotic super highway. You have to sharpen your listening skills and your intuition, and know when to back off or you’ll be spoon-fed incomplete information or, worse, be completely left out of the loop. But you never, ever stop worrying—even if you keep it to yourself.

You do, however, get to witness firsthand how well a job you’ve done as a parent. Though my heart ached for my son, I was proud to see that his decision was mature, not knee jerk or impulsive. It wasn’t the product of rage, big ego, whining, jealousy or arrogance. He was relentless, self-motivated, disciplined, coachable and driven, and pushed himself mentally and physically to meet the demands of college football while sitting pretty on the Dean’s list.

What my son did wasn’t about quitting. It was about knowing when to say goodbye—being content with his decision and walking away with integrity when he gave his all. Troy dared to dream. His dad and I encouraged his passion and didn’t kill his spirit. The Jim Kelly, Peyton Manning and Chris Carter camps were worth it. The lingering smell of Icy-Hot on his banged up legs and requests for back rubs and jugs of Gatorade warmed my heart. The life lessons learned on the football field about working hard and dealing with adversities will go a long way with him as he enters the working world and has his own family one day!!

Next year I’ll get to act up and scream his name again with pride when he WALKS ON the stage to get his Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. My kind of cheering—with a box of Kleenex and all.

About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
Vivian Eison is a divorced mom of two grown sons. In addition to being a registered nurse, she is a contributing writer for, and is writing a book about surviving divorce. She lives in Connecticut.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MyBrownBaby Has a Hot Birthday Date With Maxwell!

Don't be mad.

I'm going to see my man... er, Maxwell, in concert with my other man... er, Common.

(Oh, and Chrisette Michelle will be there, too.)

Uh, huh—my husband hooked it up.

Got me two tickets and a hotel room for my birthday (it's Oct. 21, but I celebrate all month long... word.)

I just love me some Nick Chiles, particularly when he hooks me up with hot dates... er, concert tickets.

I get one ticket.

The other is for Angelou.

We're going to be road trippin' to North Cackalacky for the next two days to see the concert.

Yes, like my girl Akilah over at Execumama, I cross state lines for Max.

There will be lots of shenanigans on the way to the concert venue.

And especially when my man... er, Maxwell takes the stage.

Adult elixirs may be involved.

And I expect to thoroughly lose my mind when he leans into that mic and lets that falsetto loose.

And don't get me started about what I might do when he gets to gyrating those hips.

Ha'. Mercy.

It's. About. To. Go. Down.

I'll see you all on Thursday.


(P.S.: I know this ain't got nan thing to do with babies or moms, but good grief, we gotta have our fun sometimes don't we? )

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Nipples and Ninny: An African-American Mom's Breastfeeding Journey

It was a no-brainer for me: All the books said I should breastfeed my baby because it was best for her—that she would be stronger, faster, smarter, better for it. And so I rushed out and bought myself a fancy Medella breast pump and stocked up on breast milk storage bags and got all giddy when I started filling out my nursing bras. (Um, yeah—I was the president of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee and so the prospect of having boobies was a huge plus on my “Reasons Why I Should Breastfeed” list.) And I proudly told anyone who would listen that I planned to feed my child the natural way—the way my mother’s generation and all the generations before hers did, too. The way God intended.

Um, yeah. The nurses at the hospital where I gave birth to my beautiful Mari had other intentions. I mean, in theory, breastfeeding made all the sense in the world for me and my baby. But in the real world, a.k.a. a hospital in the middle of Harlem, where the environment made doctors and staff more prone to assume that a young black woman pushing out a baby was single, poor, uneducated, and alone, breastfeeding just didn’t fit into the equation.

And so the nurse put my Mari in my arms and disappeared, leaving me for 12 hours with nothing more than my baby and a “goodie” bag full of coupons for baby lotion and soap, useless pamphlets, and two bottles of baby formula. I was absolutely terrified, overwhelmed, exhausted and clueless; I simply didn’t know how to feed my newborn child. No manner of picture/conversation/book chapter prepared me for The Show—the actual breastfeeding of my baby. Was I supposed to be sitting any particular way? Pop in my boob any kind of way? Squeeze it to help get the milk into her mouth? Where was the milk anyway?!

I mean, I was convinced the baby would starve to death. And that she would die with a piece of my nipple in her mouth (those little gums were killer, especially when I unwittingly pulled my breast out of her mouth).

When a nurse finally made her way back into my room, she seemed surprised to find me breastfeeding. (She was also surprised that I had a husband, insurance, a good job, and that Mari was my first child—more on this ignorance in another post.) Still, she made quick work of showing me how to get the baby to latch on, how to get her to stop sucking, and, most importantly, she gave me a number to La Leche League so that I could ask an expert questions on how to feed my baby the right way.

Getting the breastfeeding right wasn’t easy or natural; for the first two weeks, the skin on my nipple was literally shredded and my breasts were raw—it was like a toothless little man was sucking on an open, achy wound. I’d smooth Lasinoh on my skin between feedings and sit shirtless with ice packs on my nipples, and literally cry out when Mari latched on.

But I didn’t give up.

Through the pain.

Through the doubts.

Through the pumping in the bathroom at work.

Through the ridicule from my more old school friends and family members who wondered loudly and unabashedly when I’d stop letting my baby “suck on my ninny.”

I breastfed my baby for 10 months, and pumped and fed her my milk for two more months after that, even after she stopped taking my breast. I was proud of myself for hanging in there. And proud of my daughter, too, for being patient with me. I know that it would have been just as easy for her to reject my breast. But she didn’t. And for this, I’m grateful.

There are plenty of moms who aren’t as fortunate—who don’t have the benefit of expensive breast pumps and copious amounts of time to recuperate from the painful beginning stages of breastfeeding or halfway understanding bosses who give them time to pump or even a pamphlet’s worth of information telling them how it’s done or extolling its benefits. These are things that some of us breastfeeding moms simply take for granted.

Of course, there are plenty of moms who forgo breastfeeding to formula feed—and this is their right. No judgment here. To each her own.

But I thank goodness that there are plenty of resources available for moms who do want to successfully breastfeed—much
more than was available when I had Mari more than 10 years ago.

And for this, we should all be grateful.

For more information on breastfeeding—from how to do it successfully to how to dress to what breast pumps to buy—check out the March of Dimes website, which is rich with great information on this and many other helpful "bringing home baby" tips.

This blog post was donated by MyBrownBaby to the March of Dimes as part of its March of Dimes Moms initiative.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

On The MyBrownBaby Bookshelf: "Testing the Ice." Plus, a New MBB Contest!

Congratulations to the following MyBrownBaby readers—winners of "Testing the Ice," the beautiful new book by Sharon Robinson and illustrator Kadir Nelson.

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-10-16 13:09:57 UTC

Congratulations Terri Potter! You win the grand prize pack, which includes a copy of the book and a Kidorable hat, glove and scarf set.

Each of the following MyBrownBaby readers win one copy of the book:

Miss Lori of MissLoriTV
Alice Anne
Future Mama of BabyMakin(g) Machine

Please email me your contact information so that Scholastic can send you your prizes.


He was the first African American to integrate Major League Baseball and so Jackie Robinson’s eyes and ears saw and heard unspeakable truths about the hatred some whites had for people who looked like him. For sure, he had to be exceptionally brave to walk out onto the fields of America’s baseball stadiums, where nasty words and physical violence against black and brown players was as American as hot dogs and apple pie. But when the Brooklyn Dodgers won their first World Series against the New York Yankees, buoyed by Robinson’s home run steal, the Dodgers, and especially the Robinsons, celebrated like nobody’s business. “That,” Robinson’s daughter writers in “Testing the Ice,” (Scholastic Books) her new picture book about winters with her father, “was a sweet victory.”

Indeed, so is “Testing the Ice,” for its sweet, revelatory look into the personal life of the sports icon. Graced by the stunningly rich and bountiful illustrations of the artistic genius Kadir Nelson—honest to goodness, Nelson, of “Dancing in the Wings,” and “Henry’s Freedom Box,” fame really outdid himself with his colorful, 3-D-like images—Robinson recounts life as a child in her family’s grand Connecticut home, where her dad regaled her and the neighborhood children with stories about his baseball fame. The book is full of surprising facts about Robinson that a child may not necessarily know—his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, for instance, and his work as an author. But what’s sweetest is the life Robinson led when no one was watching—as a gentle, attentive Dad who enjoyed watching his kids fish, row, and witness “frog eggs hatch into tadpoles.”

But as accomplished and athletic and strong Jackie Robinson was, he had one weakness: He couldn’t swim and was scared to death of water—especially the grand lake that stretched across his property. When his children talk him into taking them ice skating, Robinson shows a different kind of bravery—one that his daughter Sharon will never forget.

Words can’t express how touching and beautiful this book is. I adore it for its poignant messages—bravery and fear aren’t mutually exclusive, black fathers can become heroes in their children’s eyes in the simplest of ways—and especially for Nelson’s sweeping renderings, all chocolate and rich and bold. For sure, this will be a favorite in our house, where, even though my girls devour chapter books like a fat kid does cake, picture books still rule.

To enhance your child’s reading experience:
• Have your child look up the word “hero,” discuss it’s meaning, then draw a picture of her hero.
• Discuss the concept of “bravery” and “fear” with your child, then let him list all the ways he thinks he’s brave and the things he fears most, then discuss with him how he can be more brave and, of course, overcome his fears.
• Let them read more about Jackie Robinson on his official website HERE.


MyBrownBaby will be giving away “Testing the Ice” to FIVE LUCKY READERS; one will win a prize pack that includes a copy of “Testing the Ice,” as well as one Kidorable hat, glove, and scarf set, (an estimated $48 value) as seen above. Four other winners will receive a copy of this incredible book (a $17 value).

Here’s how you enter: Check out this video of Sharon Robinson and Kadir Nelson talking about their experience writing “Testing the Ice,” and leave a comment about something you learned about their process by 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 15, 2009.

Want to enter more than once? Boost your chances of winning by completing one or more of the following:

:: If you haven’t already, sign up for MyBrownBaby’s email updates by 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 15, 2009. To be eligible, you must verify your email subscription when Feedburner sends you a verification email. Your entry will be invalid if you do not verify. If you would prefer to get MyBrownBaby updates via an MBB RSS feed, please leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so, and include an email address, as RSS subscribers are anonymous.

:: Become a MyBrownBaby follower.

:: Blog or Tweet about this giveaway, and post a link to your work here.

:: Purchase a copy of “Testing the Ice,” (it’s been added to the MyBrownBaby Bookshelf in the righthand sidebar) and then send a copy of your “confirmation” email to mybrownbabycontests at gmail dot com.

:: Fave MyBrownBaby on Technorati. After you do this, come back to MyBrownBaby to leave a comment with your Technorati user name so that I can verify it.

See? That means each of you can receive up to 6 entries. A winner will be chosen via, and announced here at MyBrownBaby on October 16, 2009. This contest is available to U.S. mailing addresses only; all prizes will be sent to winners by the book’s sponsor.

Good luck—and happy weekend!

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The First Lady Ain't Nevah Lied...

See? This right here? It's why I just love me some Michelle Obama. First Lady Obama told Prevention magazine in its November issue that she learned "what not to do" as a mother from her own mom, Marian Robinson, who tended much too often to put her own two children first, sometimes to the detriment of herself. Mrs. Obama says her mom warned her not to make the same mistake:

"Throughout my life, I've learned to make choices that make me happy and make sense for me. Even my husband is happier when I'm happy," Mrs. Obama told Prevention. "So I have freed myself to put me on the priority list and say, yes, I can make choices that make me happy, and it will ripple and benefit my kids, my husband and my physical health."

"That's hard for women to own. We're not taught to do that," she added. "It's a lesson that I want to teach my girls."

Tell it, Shelley. Because the one simple truth is this: When mama's happy, everybody is happy. I think a new pair of shoes—a cute suede peep-toe bootie—would make mama very happy today. Yes, indeed.

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