ITYC podcast interview

Michelle McCrary, from Is That Your Child Radio, interviewed me a few weeks ago and it was posted on July 6. I loved it! I had so much fun talking with Michelle about raising mixed kids, interracial relationships, natural hair and being a brown nerd. You can listen to the interview here.

Time was limited, so we didn’t get to talk about nerd stuff as much as I wanted to. As an African-American woman, I don’t fit the usual mold in a lot of areas; for instance I am not religious (I am, in fact, an atheist and secular humanist). And I have always loved science-fiction in any form (books/television/movies) and comics. I can’t think of one girlfriend during my childhood/teen years that shared my interest in any of these things.

Speaking of sci-fi, now that my religious/philosophical leanings have evolved, I’ve come to appreciate even more the creative genius of Gene Roddenberry and the future he imagined in Star Trek. I’m thinking that will be the subject of a future post!

Yo Gabba Gabba Party

My son recently became enamored with Yo Gabba Gabba, so we decided it would make a great theme for his birthday party. For the cake, I made a rainbow cake (recipe here). This blogger recipe uses diet Sprite to mix with the cake mix, but I just followed the box directions. I also used butter instead of oil and whole eggs versus egg whites.

Before going into the oven. Colorful!


It was a bit hectic, so I didn’t have time to take a pic after they were taken out of the oven. Below is a pic half-way through cutting it at the party. It was a hit!

Not the best pic. I'm a party hostess, not a photographer.


These next few pics were the food and craft table. We had finger foods and dips that matched the color of each Yo Gabba Gabba character.

Kids could choose what Yo Gabba character they wanted to make, with one already made to guide them.


Plex dip. You can't see little Plex there...again, I'm not a photographer!


Brobee veggie dip. Same bad angle, can't see the little figure there.


Muno sauces


There's Foofa!


And Toodee

The Yo Gabba figures were cupcake toppers and the colored sheets underneath were craft material we got from Michaels. My DH spent a long time putting the crafts together. We both thought maybe one kid may be interested in doing it because it’s kind of a crapshoot with kids aged 2-5; maybe they’ll be interested, maybe not. But the craft was a hit too!

Some details were a little off for us, but overall we were happy with how everything turned out. And most importantly, the kids had fun. We’re already thinking about the theme for next year. What cool themes have you done for your kids parties?


Limp wrists? Crack ’em

Well, the day after Spank Out Day, during which I read so many encouraging posts about positive, respectful parenting, I got to listen to a nice sermon clip (insert irony) from a North Carolina pastor encouraging his flock (and other Christians I assume) to physically assault their children if they suspect they are gay.

And of course those suspicions are fueled by really stereotypical garbage like a boy “acting girlish” or a girl “acting butch”.

You know, if your son starts walking around with a limp wrist, `å la Jack Tripper, he advocates cracking that wrist.

And your daughter? She can play sports to the glory of God, but she’d better put some lipstick and a dress on (I assume not while playing sports)!

It’s bad enough that this advice has someone judging their child because they might be gay. It’s also bad enough that, if their child is gay, again, the stream of judgment.

But the worst part? The co-signing of wanton physical and emotional violence against someone, a defenseless child in this case, who isn’t going along with your program. Listen to the clip. The “amens” and laughter in response to what this dude is screaming about is chilling to me.

People want to blame everything under the sun for societal problems; video games, television, comic books, trashy novels, whatever.

But we really don’t have to look any further than our own homes.

When will people realize that the best chance your kid has of being a happy adult that tries to play well with others is having unconditional love and acceptance from the parental units? That this does not make them needy and dependent? That, in fact, the hitting, the head-games and the constant control will likely produce just that result? An angry, bitter, resentful adult who doesn’t know why he/she is angry, bitter and resentful all the time?

I just hope that some of the people in that audience will call bull on this insane advice and that they outnumber those who will blindly follow it.


Potty training, part infinity

For the last year, potty training our oldest has been a huge struggle for us. About 6 months before he turned two in 2010, he was very open to it and liked sitting on the potty chair. But this interest did not last long; he got bored and moved on. We eased up a bit, but still, leading up to the birth of his little brother last April, he was extremely resistant to even sitting on a toilet or potty chair.

After a new baby enters the household is not the best time to do potty training so we waited about six months. He wore Pull-ups and we took him to the potty three or four times a day. However, he never initiated having to go to the bathroom.

Concerned (perhaps overly, in retrospect) about massive amounts of bodily fluids all over the house, I was really hesitant about letting him wear regular underwear or going bare-bottomed. But leading up the last week in December, we starting thinking he needs to wear something where he can feel being wet.

So DH researched a little and found SuperUndies, a brand of training pants that are supposed to keep the mess in but the child feels it when they are soiled. So we bought a couple from a place in Hillsboro called My Precious Kid. December 26 was the first day with no Pull-ups (except at night or during a nap).

Only, the SuperUndies kind of acted the same as the Pull-ups. After two days, he was still peeing and going about his business, totally oblivious.

A while back, we bought some Gerber training underwear that has some extra padding in the front, but if he peed in these, he would definitely feel wet and there would be puddles. We had plenty of those, so we started using them instead. Within the same amount of time that we were using the SuperUndies (two days), he starting telling us when he had to pee. I think it was due to the accidents he had in these, feeling wet and us staying on the course (we tried the Gerber’s before, but after a day of constant accidents, we chickened out). We also used an itzbeen timer that went off every hour that signaled potty time.

So now, a week later, he might have one or two accidents during the day, but more times than not tells us when he has to pee, sometimes before the timer goes off. We’re going to now stretch the time out to two hours. Still working on BM’s, but he isn’t resistant to sitting on the potty to try to go in it. To avoid constipation, we let him go in his underwear if he is adamant about doing that.

So we’ve made some astronomical strides in the potty department. What I’ve learned is that Pull-ups are useless, by and large. Maybe they are ok for some kids who are extremely sensitive to to their pants being soiled, but some, like our oldest, don’t care. They need to have it pretty much running down their legs before they can make the connections between that and the feeling of having to go.

I hope that by this summer, he is totally trained. Now using public bathrooms with him? Ugh. That is going to be another thing to get used to!

Learning styles

I went to a free parenting/teaching workshop last night that talked about how everyone, but particularly kids, learn. Very interesting. The info is from educator Cynthia Tobias.

These are the three learning styles:

1. Visual (lots of color, images, etc.)

2. Auditory (need to talk)

3. Kinesthetic (need to move)

Most schools are geared toward the visual. So, as you might guess, the second and third type of learners have a lot of problems in school and get into trouble for either talking too much or being too active. These kids would probably do better being homeschooled (if their parent is not stuck in the there-is-only-one-way-to-learn matrix).

At a little over 3.5, it’s hard to tell which style my #1 son prefers, but the workshop reminded me to start paying attention now. I also thought about how I learn best. I am a visual learner. I also like the lighting a little on the dim side, need a drink/snack and to be generally nestled while reading/studying.

What is your learning style? What type of environment helps you learn best?


On spanking

Whether or not to spank your kids is a hot topic. I’d say most Americans think spanking is okay. Many others consider it abuse. Some are on the fence.

I recently read a blog post from Demand Euphoria about this disconnect some have between kind of thinking spanking is ok…but kind of not….but kind of is…in extreme cases…

You get the drift. There is conflict.

I know how that feels. Both my husband and I were spanked. For me, by the time I came along my mom lost the desire to continue with this line of discipline because she said she hated it.

Mom did follow through on not spanking as much or for as petty reasons as her mother did (e.g. eye-rolling). But my grandmother’s perspective (she passed away earlier this year) also shifted in older age; she said many times that in retrospect, spanking did nothing to improve behavior.

We don’t want to think badly of our parents if in all other areas, they were kind to us. But, as the blogger from Demand Euphoria said, our parents are human and they just didn’t know any better. Thinking they were wrong for spanking, doesn’t mean you have to hate your parents.

Countdown to Christmas

December is almost upon us and I have done nothing in terms of Christmas cards, getting a tree, etc.

I had this note on my calendar at the beginning of November to start planning for Christmas stuff…this did absolutely nothing.

My short-term goal is to order Christmas cards and send them out by the second week in December. We’re using Shutterfly, so this includes taking some pics of the boys. For some reason, all of this seems like a monumental task to me.

Anyone else just puttering along towards Christmas?

What nap?

During the last two days, #1 has not napped and boy has it started to show today. Totally flipping out, and it was barely past noon. About an hour before his usual nap time, I put him down. Amid a lot of protesting, but I had to be firm. He was really tired.

During the holidays, little ones get so excited with all the visitors and days off, naps can fall off the radar. But eventually, the lack of sleep rears it ugly head in the form of ultra bad attitudes. Hopefully, my #1 can catch up on some sleep today.

Thanksgiving Plans

Thanksgiving is in two days and I decided to cook a turkey breast in the Crockpot. However, I have about a 2.5-3-quart Crockpot and needed to get a bigger one for this (which I was fine doing since I can use it for other roasts and bigger portions of stews).

So I bought a 5-quart Crockpot on sale from Fred Meyer.

This would be fine if the turkey breast I bought was 4 pounds…it is not. It’s a little over 7 pounds. So now I have to exchange it for a bigger one. If I wasn’t hallucinating, I believe I saw a 6.5 or 7-quart Crockpot so this should be a painless transaction.

If all goes well, the turkey breast with onion soup mix rubbed all over it will go into the Crockpot. I might add a little mushroom stock and white wine to mix with the meat juices for gravy. And perhaps place pieces of apple or pear in the cavity.

So, my menu for Thanksgiving is:

Turkey Breast

Brussels Sprouts+Garlic Stir Fry

Potato+Parsnip Mash w/ blue cheese+carmelized onion

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

MIL is bringing over other sides, cornbread and cranberry sauce.

Small group for Thanksgiving. My family is in Philly and DH’s family is scattered as well although they all live in the Pacific Northwest. However, on both sides no one is really close unfortunately. But for most of us, there is no particular reason for the distance; we’d all have a good time catching up if at a gathering. For others, though, there are issues. Not a big deal, it is what it is.

One thing I almost did: Saturday, we went to a birthday dinner for a friend of #1. A mom I know there wasn’t doing much for the holiday and it’s just her, DD and DH. I almost invited her over for Thanksgiving. Most of the people I know here in Portland (including the mom I mentioned) are recent transplants. If their family isn’t in town visiting, it’s kind of cool to have friends over for Thanksgiving dinner.

Maybe next year?


Like most kids his age, if my #1 is hungry or tired, meltdowns are inevitable.

But while I believe that a child may not truly be as hungry as we think (so eating a piece of toast and some milk may really be enough to fill them up at the moment) sleep is a different story. Little ones, without question, need a lot more sleep than we do. But because they are having so many new experiences, they are the last ones to admit to being tired.

So today it dawned on me that #1 may not be getting all the sleep that he needs.

There is a lot going on. He’s getting older and loves being busy; particularly practicing his spelling and playing with his trains. And there is the ever curious little brother that keeps changing before his eyes. SO also gets home at around 6pm and after dinner is playtime with dad.

But among all that, he needs good sleep. He seemed to be getting tired later and later in the day, so initially I thought he was starting to grow out of his naps. By 5pm he’d be about to fall asleep in his chair. But he didn’t seem to get tired until 2:30 or 3pm. Then, almost every time, I’d go to wake him up from nap at 5pm and instead of bounding out of bed he is moody, crying and not wanting to get up. In addition, his general behavior is out of pocket at times. Over the top even for a 3 year old extrovert.

So, I believe that he starts to get tired earlier than I think; like around 1 or 1:30. When he is not put down, he gets a second wind that makes it seem like he is not tired. When that burns out, and he goes for his nap later, then is woken up at 5-ish, he whines and is moody because he needs more sleep.

Regardless of how he seems, nap time will need to be at 1pm. I’ll assess things after a week to what is different or the same.