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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Celebrating Thanksgiving as a Step Family?

My original Thanksgiving plans was to stay at home and enjoy some mom and son time. But Gabriel (the Romain ex-boyfriend) invited us to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family.

thanksgiving as step family

Really he invited me over to cook Thanksgiving dinner with him, but I don't know what he was thinking since neither one of us ever cooked a whole Turkey before. I suspect it was more about bringing our families together to see if things gelled or not.

A few days back we started a conversation on the idea of us getting together. The conversation didn't end well since we had very different ideas about what "getting together" meant. After a timeout we agreed to be just friends.

So today I headed to Queens to be with my "just a friend" and his family.

thanksgiving as step family
thanksgiving as step family

Gabriel and his daughter met us at the train station and things just flowed smooth from there. His daughter and Daniel instantly started playing. I mean instantly. They started playing tag as we walked down the block to the apartment. Once inside Daniel discovered her car and they spent some time driving it around.

thanksgiving as step family

Gabriel and I shared a beer..or two...and sat watching sports (him) and talking (me). As the day went on, in some ways I fell into the women's role. Thanks for Gabriel dad, the Turkey was already in the oven so there was little else for me to do. So I reminded 2 kids to be careful running around, then I asked the male on the couch to come with me to store.

Once back then I asked him to help me in the kitchen while I made baked sweet potatoes. He of course complained (half joke, half real) that all he needs to do is work and bring in the money. Everything else is my job. Yeah right!

thanksgiving as step family
thanksgiving as step family

Soon dinner was done and we sat down to eat...as a family. He cut the Turkey while I took out the dishes, set the table and settled the kids down. As we sat there doing the family thing I started wondering if I could really do this. So far Gabriel daughter already claimed Daniel as her brother. So far she had no problems with me spending time with her dad. And Daniel? Huh. Daniel already made himself at home. So far so good

But still....

As I sat there, I heard them speaking Romain to each other. I wonder how that would for Daniel when he started to learn Korean? Would he feel weird? Would they feel weird with him speaking Korean instead of learning Romain? Heck, would I feel weird to hear my half Korean son speak Romain?!

me and Gabriel

And what about this women's role? Am I willing to give up some independence to be a wife and mother of 2 kids? What would being a mom to a little girl be like? How would I handle things with her mom?

And then there's Gabriel.... *sigh* In many ways he's changed and matured but in many ways he's still the same. For one, he likes to work. A lot. Am I going to be OK with him working 12 hrs 7 days a week? Would he would a good dad for Daniel? A good 3rd husband for me?

I dunno....

After dinner Gabriel invited us to spend the night...

Again, I dunno.....

In the end I decided to leave and come home. Partially because I had to many questions without answers. Partially because tomorrow is black Friday and I wanted to catch a sweet deal on a Xbox Kinect Bundle. The answers to my questions will have to wait till after I play a few games of Kinectimals with my son.

While it was nice to spend Thanksgiving as a family with others, for now I'm happy with our little family of just 2.

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Thankful for Native American Heritage Month

Today many here in North American are waking up to celebrate thanksgiving. They're imagining a day filled with food and family. They consider this a day to be thankful. They're right. They should be thankful but many of the people who should be receiving their thanks are either all dead or fragmented across the United States without a home to call their own.

Native American Heritage Month

Every November I try and support the Native Americans for Thanksgiving because my heart aches for the Native people who saved those first Pilgrims. While the Pilgrims acknowledged the wisdom and kindness of those Native Americans, somewhere along the lines the natives became savages and we all know how history unfolded for them. Many have forgotten the true history behind thanksgiving and the people who made those first pilgrims thankful.

But I wont forget and I'm thankful that every November, which is Native American Heritage Month, others see why they shouldn't forget either.

koreanfeet

This month I celebrate the history and heritage of my friends like Krystal, who's of Korean and Native American decent and blogs at Siksi Korean. Krystal is also a Domestic Violence Advocate for the Native community. Everyday Krystal deals with the after effect of the damage that was done to the native community. She inspires me with her courage and love for her community.

Native Polynesian Heritage
Native Polynesian Heritage

This month I also celebrate the heritage of the other Indigenous ethnic groups keeping their history alive. A few months back I attended Island Beats: Festival of Oceania at AMNH where I introduced my son to Aboriginal and Polynesian culture.

Native Aboriginal HeritageNative Aboriginal HeritageNative Aboriginal HeritageNative in spirit


Of course my son had a blast. But more important he learned about the sounds, dances and traditions of Indigenous culture from the people themselves. I think that is such an important point. To many times we learn about other cultures from a white perspective and most times it's tainted to paint the culture as inferior.

But Native and Indigenous cultures are far from inferior. These cultures are worthy of being celebrated and remembered in a positive point of view in their own right. I always worry that these cultures will disappear and go under ground. That somehow we'll lose their unique voice in the diversity collective. Each November I'm thankful that hasn't happened. I'm thankful that many are still sharing their voices, cultures and kindness with us modern day pilgrims.

Happy Native American Heritage Month!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thankful Moment as a Working Mom

When preschool asked me to attend my son's class thanksgiving lunch, I started panicking. The lunch was in the middle of the day during a very short week. I already was in the middle of a major product push to meet a tight deadline. How to explain to my boss I needed to leave the office for a few hours to go to my son's school for lunch?

thanksgiving preschool lunch
thanksgiving at preschool

I knew it'd be a problem but I braved my supervisor and mention I'll be a little late getting back from taking an early lunch. Immediately her head snapped up from the pile of papers in front of her, her eyes narrowed and she asked. Are you going somewhere during lunch?

After taking a deep breath, I told her I was joining my son's class for lunch. Her come back? Guess I can't make you NOT have lunch. My reply? No you can't. LOL

hand drawn turkey

As a working mom I'm always juggling demands of work and my son. While I enjoy being a good employee, being a mother is always first for me. Did I need to be at my son's school thanksgiving lunch? Maybe not but I wanted to go and I'm glad I went.

As I sat with my son, sharing a meal I was thankful to have this moment with him. Even though he ate out all my corn bread.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

VIP Treatment for Happy Feet 2 & Breaking Dawn Movie

It's been a while since I took Daniel to the movies. Since Happy Feet 2 released this weekend I decided it was time we went. I texted my sister, who works at a movie theater in our area, and told her we're coming. Of course she was happy to let Daniel in to the movies. Since I was a tag along she had to let me in also. LOL

at the moviehappy feet 2 3D

After meeting up with her, she walked Daniel over to get his tickets and 3D glasses. Then she wanted Daniel's cup so he can get free juice refills. I tell you this kid has it so good. She wanted to give him popcorn also but I'm over protective and don't let Daniel have movie popcorn. We settled on a pretzel instead. We gave my sister a quick thank you for the free tickets and then we settled in for Happy Feet 2.
happy feet 2

At this point I should mention that I saw the first Happy Feet movie with Daniel's dad 4 years ago. Can you imagine the irony I felt sitting there watching the continuation of a movie where the couple now has a family storyline? Specifically about a father conflict with his son?

Some parts made me sad, while some parts made me laugh. Gosh that Spanish penguin is a riot. I wont tell you to much about the movie in case you haven't see it yet but it's very touching. Especially when Erik finally realizes how wonderful his father is *sniff, sniff*

twilight breaking dawn

For the most part Daniel enjoyed the movie but did start to get restless towards the end. Which was fine since I snuck us over to the next theater to see Twilight: Breaking Dawn. I didn't expect him to watch the movie but oddly he did. For some reason he only like the parts with the "doggies". LOL. . During the non doggies parts, he tried to dance in the isles or ask me if the movie is finish...very loudly. Clearly he's on Team Jacob like his mom.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Learning Afro- Amer Train History at NY Transit Museum

Since Daniel LOVES trains, today we headed to Brooklyn to visit the NY Transit Museum. As a Kids Club Thirteen Ambassador, I was the event mayor of their ElectriCity: Powering New York’s Rails exhibit happening today.

NY Transit Museum

While it was cool to be the event mayor it was more cool to learn the history of the transit system with my son.

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

Our first stop was to the KidsClub 13 special membership room. There Daniel learned about the different tools used to make the trains run smmoth. He even had the chance to try on a pair of spacail heavy rubber gloves used when working on the train tracks.

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit MuseumNY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

Then Daniel made a special train letter button. We chose the letter "D" since his name starts with the same letter. After picking his color, he stamped his latter and then waited while it was all pressed together into a button.

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

Then we learned about the different types of electric current and the power is passed. Daniel had the chance to conduct a mini experiment using batteries to light up tiny blubs. Then at the last table we made trains! He needed a little help figuring out to fold corners but once it was done, he was so proud. LOL

Once we were finished with the activities in the Kids Club 13 membership room, we headed out to tour the rest of the Transit Museum.

One of the exhibits that caught my eye was Steel, Stone & Backbone: Building New York's Subways.

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

One of the photos showed a black man, while another talked about the history of African-Americans who worked on the subways systems but were barred from the trade unions

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

As I toured the exhibit with my son I was proud that this history was there for everyone to see and learn about. Black Americans have contributed in many ways to so many areas of building New York City from the start. My son needs to learn his history as an American of African decent.

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

After touring that exhibit, we went on different buses and pretended to drive.

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

We learned about different gears and how they make things move on the train. We learned how energy is generated at the source and transmitted to the train system

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit MuseumNY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

Then it was time to go on some trains! We went to the 2nd level where real train cars from different years waited. I had fun seeing the ways the train cars have changed throughout the years. We saw how the trains had different colors, seats and even handle bars. Of course we posed for a mom and son photo in one of the trains.

NY Transit MuseumNY Transit Museum

Then we went up stairs to the exhibit ElectriCity: Powering New York’s Rails at the New York Transit Museum. Daniel was able to play with switches and circuit breakers and see how power travels and turns on different areas. We really liked that the exhibit was so hands on and child friendly.

Spending time at the Transit Museum was a great way to spend a mom and son Saturday.

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Who my baby daddy could have been

On the way to our morning activity, I passed by a man and women standing in front a building. In truth I didn't really look at them. When I heard my name called, I looked back at the women to see if I knew her. As I stood there frowning, cause I sure didn't know her, the guy walked into view. As I looked at him it all came back in a rush. Ah Gabriel, my Romanian ex boyfriend!

gabe ex boyfriend

Now it's been over 10 years since we last saw each other. We ended (sorta) our relationship on semi good terms. Our relationship didn't work because I had no interest in moving to Romain, where he was building a house and wanted to settle down and live. Hello! I'm a black women and Romania is COLD!

But also we were at different points in our lives. He was a lil older, with a European view of life and I was a young wild new yorker, living the carefree life. We floated back and forth into each others lives for a bit until I married then we sorta put things on permanent pause.

Ah how things have changed. Now we're both older with kids!

As he stood there telling me about his life, I became sad. But not for him. Since the last time we saw each other, he did go through some bad times with family drama, some minor drug abuse and then being surprised with a baby. But he shared after the birth of his daughter (who's half black) he was motivated to change his life. He cleaned things up and got his life back on track. Now things are good for him. He finished his 3 story house in Romanian, his daughter spends half the year there, speaks better Romanians then him and is loved and accepted within his culture.

Damn. Talk about depressing! As I stood there listening to him, I was happy for him. I really was. But I became sad for myself. Gabe had become the man my son's father should have become.

The man who was motivated to be more after the birth of his child. In this case the child he begged me to have.

The man who sobered up, got off drugs, got a stable job and accomplished his goals.

The man who proudly shows off pictures of his child and brags about how well the child is learning his language and culture.

The man I saw in him and feel in love with. But the man standing in front of me is not my baby daddy. He's an ex who did what my son's father couldn't do. Damn.

As the conversation turned to my son and his father, what could I say? Nothing but the truth. My son's father choose to live a different lifestyle then the one we planned so I'm doing it on my own.

Gabe shared he's also doing it on his own. He has full custody of his daughter and is single. *side eye and a wink* We should all hangout one day.

As I looked at him. I mean REALLY looked at him, I wondered.... Now that we're older and wiser in life and love, only time will tell how our renewed friendship develops. But at least he showed me that some men do change for the better after Fatherhood and there's hope for me yet.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Discipline My Child: The Annoying Preschool Seminar

Tonight I went to my son's "preschool" for a state mandated seminar on "Child Abuse/Maltreatment". Now I'll be honest that going into it I was already annoyed. Like really, after all day at work I now have to sit through a lecture?! But since it's an important topic I prepared myself to just grin and get through it. After all how bad can it be right?

white parenting experts

Well I soon found out after arriving. After receiving my informational packet, I took a seat and waited to hear from this expert on child abuse/maltreatment. The expert turned out to be the daycare psychologist. Ugh. I've met this man before and I'm not all that comfortable with him. He's a Mister Rogers type with the sweaters and just overly friendly greetings. He greets everyone like old friends from way back. There's something just a bit off about it.

But anyway, he starts explaining the need for the class and what we're all going to discuss tonight. Then he asks us to introduce ourselves, starting with me. Of course! After my very quick intro, I went to my special quiet place. Really he was just going over the paperwork in the packet anyway. So as I listen with one ear, I looked around at the other parents in this seminar. Hmm. All Black and Hispanic families.

Let me say that again. ALL Black and Hispanic families.

The staff of the daycare also has a Black or Hispanic background. This makes sense since the kids in this daycare is either black decent or Hispanic decent. As of tonight I haven't seen one little white child. So if you know me then you know my next thought.

Why is this white man discussing child discipline and practices with ethnic families?!

And I swear just as I'm forming this thought, I hear one man say that parenting should be left to the families. That it truly take a village to raise a child. This statement of course goes over the white psychologist head. He sorta side steps that point and raises questions about how we "feel" about child care laws, what do we do when angry with our child, etc.

As I sat there, I became even more annoyed. Lets be real here. How can this man understand and advise these families on ethnic child discipline practices? He doesn't understand the enthic cultural thinking behind spanking!

Why isn't there a BLACK /HISPANIC psychologist in a Harlem school? Someone with a background from a ethnic community? Someone the parents can relate to instead of feeling defensive that this person is trying to tell us how to raise our kids?

Yeah I wrote this, because that's how I felt. Dude doesn't know anything about Guyanese culture and how we discipline kids. If I say that I flick my son to get his attention when he wont listen to me, will he understand what that means? Or is that going to send off the child abuse warning signals which will lead him to report me?

Cause that's the other thing. The daycare and it's employees have a legal responsibility to report on a child/parent they suspect of child abuse. Good law when child abuse is clear cut. But what about the grey areas? Yes I think there are gray areas and it's easy to error on either sides of the child abuse issue.

While it's great to have these classes to help parents with information and support, I wonder why these classes are not tailored to fit the community. One issue I have is that white experts are always "advising" and taking a leading parenting role for ethnic families. Where are the black, asian, hispanic, ethnic experts to help us raise our next generation..... clearly not at my preschool.

After picking up my son, and being annoyed with the director over a food related incident that night, which needs it's own blog, I left the building wondering if the "white" daycare's also have these "mandated" seminars on child abuse or does the state think white parents don't abuse their children....

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Supermarket Snacks - Wordless Wednesday

supermarket

Picking up a few "essential" items at the supermarket

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