Thursday, April 8, 2010

MyBrownBaby Mom: Holly Robinson Peete

CONGRATULATIONS Arlice Nichole and Hil'Lesha—you're the winners of autographed copies of "My Brother Charlie," by Holly Robinson-Peete and Ryan Peete!

The hair, the smarts, the cute boys, the secret undercover stuff—all of these things made actress, author, and philanthropist Holly Robinson Peete the envy of the girls and the ruler of men when I was a teenager; you couldn’t tell me she wasn’t the coolest black girl on TV when she starred on 21 Jump St., one of my then-favorite shows. Now, I heart her for many more meaningful reasons, chief among them because of her dedication to her husband, Rodney Peete, and their four beautiful brown babies. For sure, Holly is a busy mom: Currently, she’s showing off her keen business sense on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice; co-hosting a “family reality” talk show on Oprah Radio; running her own philanthropic The HollyRod Foundation for families affected by Parkinson’s disease and autism; serving as an outspoken advocate for children with autism, and; authoring two books, including her latest, My Brother Charlie, a delicious children’s picture book based on her twins’ experience with autism.

I had the distinct pleasure of providing editorial guidance to Holly and her daughter, Ryan, as they breathed life into My Brother Charlie, and what stood out to me was her passion for raising authentic little human beings. Like each of us, she worries—about their schooling, about their extracurricular activities, about what they’re eating and how they’re getting along with one another. You know, regular mom stuff. Which makes her just as regular as you and me—an endearing trait that oft goes unseen in the sensational/me-myself-and-I culture of pop celebrity. Perhaps most touching of all was her sharing of personal stories about her struggles and triumphs with her son RJ’s autism; particularly moving was her story about the day her son said, “I love you,” to her, even after a doctor said RJ’s autism would prevent him from expressing his emotions in any meaningful way—and especially from saying, “I love you, mommy.” This special story, and many others, are chronicled in My Brother Charlie, and today, Holly is sharing a few more personal stories about mommyhood as a MyBrownBaby Mom. AND (!), she’s giving away two autographed copies of My Brother Charlie… read on for details. Without further ado, our MyBrownBaby Mom, Holly Robinson Peete:

My name is… Holly Robinson Peete

I live in… Crazymommaville , USA

My brown babies are… Ryan and Rodney, Jr., (twins), Robinson and Roman—each of them delicious and hilarious.

I make a living… by what I give!

The last time my kids cracked me up was… this morning in the car on the way to school. They were mocking me: “Kids check for ash! Ash check!” (I can’t stand an ashy chile.)

The last book I read with my kids was… Olu’s Dream by Shane W. Evans, and My Brother Charlie, of course!

My favorite place to take them is… the beach. They are so free and peaceful there.

My proudest mom moment was… when my son, RJ, who has autism, spoke for the first time in a meaningful way.

My most embarrassing mommy moment was the time when… I was out of town and a mom emailed me to say my kids came to school lookin’ like they crawled through a dust storm (I have MAJOR ash issues…have you noticed?) Hubby got an earful.

The thing I most want my children to know is… service is the rent we pay for living! My hero Marian Wright Edelman said that.

The one family tradition I hope my kids continue when they grow up is… celebrating Kwanzaa. They learn more about their ancestors in one winter week than they do all year at school.

If I could invent one thing to make being a mom easier, it would be… a way to clone myself.

The best invention for kids ever is… LEGOS.

The kid snack I’m most likely to get busted eating is… Goldfish pretzels! The snack bag is a perfect portion!

The most important life lesson I want my kids to learn is… luck favors the prepared! Be armed & ready for life’s catapulting moments.

The one thing no one knows about me is… I hide in the closet and read magazines with a flashlight. They find me everywhere else. My version of a quick mom-cation.

The thing I lost as a mom that I wish I could get back is… me time! Naps!

My “I’d Rather Be…” bumper sticker would say… having a lychee Martini!

My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete from Expanded Books on Vimeo.


Two lucky MyBrownBaby readers will win a copy of Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Peete's new children's book, My Brother Charlie, autographed by Holly! The story, in which a sister explains the joys, frustrations and triumphs of living with a brother with autism, is a testament to love, patience, and acceptance—and the illustrations by MyBrownBaby favorite SHANE EVANS warms this book in a way that you must see up close to appreciate. The book can be purchased on Amazon for $17, but Holly Robinson Peete's autograph is priceless.

Here’s how you enter: Visit Holly's blog on the HollyRod Foundation For Help and Hope website (CLICK HERE), and then come back here to MyBrownBaby and leave a comment about the most surprising fact you learned from Holly's "Shifting Focus: 8 Facts About Autism the Media is Not Covering." You must leave your comment by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 25, 2009 to qualify to win.

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

1. If you haven’t already, sign up for MyBrownBaby’s email updates by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 25, 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.

2. Buy one or more of copies of My Brother Charlie HERE on Amazon HERE, and email a copy of your confirmation order to

3. Become a MyBrownBaby Google Follower.

4. Tweet about this giveaway: "I’m in it to win it 4 kids w #autism thanks to @mybrownbaby and @HollyRod4Kids #mybrothercharlie" (You can tweet this message up to five times—once per day. Please leave a separate comment for each tweet. While appreciated, extra tweets beyond the alloted five will not be counted.)

5. Follow @mybrownbaby or @HollyRod4Kids on Twitter.

6. 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 11 entries. Two winners will be chosen via, and contacted via email. This contest is available to U.S. mailing addresses only. PLEASE LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH TASK YOU COMPLETE. This is the only way that your extra entries can be counted on

Well… what are you waiting for? Go ahead—Charlie is waiting!

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  1. I too love Holly Robinson Peete. I've been following her since her days on 21 Jump Street also. I think she is an inspiration, of a down to earth, hollywood mom and wife. In addition to her tireless fight and efforts with autism and autism education. Her passion for life and her children is great to see. Thanks for this highlight. I will check out the book too.

  2. This was a great piece. I feel warm all over.

  3. It didn't surprise me but was more like confirmation when I read "Minority Children are Diagnosed with Autism Years Later Than Other Children". My BFF has a 15 yr old w/ Aspbergers and I've learned so much about Autism from her.

  4. Holly has been a shero of mine for ages. Thanks for sharing your insights Holly!

  5. Beautiful family....I love her..always have! Thanks D! -Hill

  6. Denene,

    I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. I heart your blog, and feel that you are simply the best mom, sister-friend,that even a stranger could ever ask for. As the mom of a brown baby with autism, I can relate to Holly's love for her son. Thanks again!

  7. What really shocked me was the cost of treatment...therapist. "$100-$150 an hour - many require up to 14 or more hours a week." How are parents suppose to provide their children with the best care if it's so unaffordable?

    Hugs and Mocha,

  8. I have always admired Holly Robinson Peete. She is so pretty with a beautiful family and her natural hair is drool-worthy! I had never even considered the effects that puberty could have on individuals with autism. It is already difficult enough to deal with autism and then having to deal with a surge of hormones on top of that....I just can't imagine what these children go through!

  9. I just tweeted!! I’m in it to win it 4 kids w #autism thanks to @mybrownbaby and @HollyRod4Kids #mybrothercharlie

    Would love to get the book!

  10. I can't stop laughing about the ash issues! What a beautiful interview. Thanks for sharing. Now let me see if I can win this contest.

  11. Whoa! As a mother of a son with ADHD I can identify with a lot of what was said. I found the high cost of treating autism a bit surprising because I've always thought for sure autism is something that would def. be covered by insurance companies. What's really heart breaking for me is the very, very high numbers of adults living with autism who aren't able to self-sustain. This is one of my reoccurring nightmares for my son.

  12. great article. those are worries of mine as a mother of a child with autism. It helps to learn all I can about other issues that may be raised that are associated with autism.
    annemolino at hotmail dot com

  13. tweet # 1

  14. I follow my brown baby on twitter

  15. I follow holly rod4 kids on twitter

  16. I'm not sure if it worked, but I faved you on technorati (amolino)

  17. tweet 2

  18. tweet 3

  19. tweet 4

  20. tweet 5

  21. I signed up for mybrownbabys email updates.
    sendannealetter at gmail dot com

  22. The symptoms of autism can appear differently and at different times during development. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly "regress" and lose language or social skills they had previously gained. Others may have subtle symptoms and not get diagnosed until later childhood, even adulthood.

  23. I'm following via Google Friend Connect.

  24. I'm following HollyRod4kids via Twitter.

    ID: HilLesha

  25. I'm following MyBrownBaby on Twitter.

    ID: HilLesha


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