He Knows He Loves His Wife

In case you haven't heard already, Chris Rock is about to take a DNA test to prove (hopefully) that the adoescent child of a 36-year-old Atlanta journalist isn't his.

Recently, Rock and his lovely wife, Malaak, went public, disputing gossip that their marriage is headed for splitsville:

"It is extremely hurtful to us, our children, and our extended family. We remain, as always, very happy and committed to our marriage and the beautiful family that we have built."

I have to be honest, I've heard quite a bit over the years about things not going so well for them, tales of his infidelity and her planning to leave, but that doesn't mean they were true. And even if there was a bit of truth to it (or a whole lot of it) here and there, the bottom line is that they are clearly trying to make it work. Clearly, they're still in love and value what they have.

And we all know that for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, the only people who reeeally know what is going on in anybody's marriage are the two people in it. It they're alright, shouldn't everyone else be, too?

But that said, (cough) I really hope the kid isn't his.

I just couldn't help but doing the math to figure out if Chris and Malaak were together at the time the child in question was conceived. Regardless, I applaud Rock for doing the right thing by agreeing to take responsibility if he's the real dad. Truth be told, the baby mama seems kinda off (and why is it that it's always those types who pop up screaming "love child!"). But either way, something tells me the family will be alright no matter what.

Wish I could say the same for Eddie Murphy. That paternity situation of his is looking quite scary these days.


Speak for Yourself

For years, I was pretty much indifferent towards The Baldwin Brothers. I'd have been hard pressed to tell Alec, William, Daniel and Stephen apart, even for a million bucks. I had no idea there was also a fifth Baldwin, cousin Joseph. But that was before I met Jack Donaghy, the character Alec Baldwin plays on NBC's "30 Rock".

And fell in love.

With the character, mind you, Alec Baldwin's not even my type. Come to think of it, neither is Tracy Jordan, I mean, Morgan, but I depend on the comic relief they give me to pave the occasionally bumpy road of motherhood. Race, age, body type is unimportant: men who make me laugh just have me open. My surprisingly unjealous (and quite hilarious) husband is aware of this, so it's all good. He knows his wife has needs: I have to laugh. Often. I depend on comedy the way some women crave chocolate. And we know what they say about chocolate.

So naturally, I was stunned upon hearing the verbally abusive voice mail message Baldwin left for his eleven-year-old daughter, Ireland, last week. Once I got over my initial embarrassment that I, along with the rest of America, was eavesdropping on a message that really wasn't meant for my ears or anyone else’s (except his ex-wife Kim Basinger’s, apparently), I was shocked. It was hard to believe that such words could come out of the smiling-eyed actor’s mouth while he wasn’t even in character for anything. Towards his child.

And then I got mad. But not for the reason one might think.

I was miffed because anyone who’s ever been a parent (or has ever had one) knows full well how unperfect we are. Half the time, we’re winging it. Hopefully, we do our best to stay calm under pressure, remaining conscious of the words we use. We do this because we love our children, not because we don't want them to write a tell-all about us one day. Or maybe for some people it's a little of both. Either way, I don’t condone using harsh language with children. I hate hearing teenage mothers threaten to beat their babies with Snapple bottles as much as the next person does. But what prompts strangers to program C.P.S. into their cell phones, threatening to push the button at a parent’s first false move?

Such was the case one chilly Mid Hudson morning I took all three children out for a walk on the college campus where my husband teaches (and where, coincidentally, we reside), only to discover it was actually effing freezing. We weren't even a stone's throw from the house before I decided to corral the kids and turn around to head back. But my oldest had other plans, which included romping in the grass like she was the missing half-sister from The Sound of Music. After six pleads to coax her indoors, I lost it: "Come on. Now. Come. ON!". And then, as if they'd been hiding behind bushes or something, two undergrads appeared out of nowhere, glaring at me like I was Joan Crawford . I swore I saw the shorter of the two with one finger on her cell phone, daring me to make her press send.

To this day, I still wish I'd told them to mind their own business, but it's okay. They'll get it eventually.

I guess that's what irritated me about all of the heated, passionate responses to Alec Baldwin's hissy fit. Most people without children have no idea how emotionally taxing parenting can be. And most people of the parental persuasion can admit that they’ve lost their temper at least once. Or twice. Or more. I've never used scathing, diminishing language with my kids (and don't ever plan to), just as I'm sure that most people reading this haven't either. But I can remember times when, to put it gently, I could have said things a little differently. Most parents can.

Don't just sit there and act like you can't hear me.

I have no idea what prompts a dad to sound like he wants to jump through the phone and strangle his daughter. It's terribly sad that young Ireland has to be stuck between her parent's bitter divorce. One minute, her dad's playing "This Little Piggy" with her, the next thing she knows, he's calling her one. Nothing good can come out of that. Eleven is a tender age: hopefully she won’t end up on a the couch of a Beverly Hills therapist for the next twenty years, too weak from anorexia to get off of it. And hopefully, her dad will realize that she’s the one who deserves the apology, not us; we'll be fine.

But until then, I refuse to join the ranks of people who are insisting that Alec Baldwin does community service or pledges $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Club to make amends. I refuse to contact whomever the attachment parenting version of Al Sharpton is to organize a march. I refuse to applaud Baldwin for threatening to quit "30 Rock" in order to become the poster boy for "parental alienation issues" (come on, Tina, can't you talk some sense into him?).

Most importantly, I refuse to stop watching my favorite sitcom just because one daddy had a bad day; it brings me too much joy. As the old adage says: when mama's not happy, ain't nobody happy. And we wouldn't want that now, would we?

On Friday my posts also appear as an online column for Time Out New York Kids. Visit them at Time Out New York Kids for more city-specific parenting tips and diversions. The regular column will be called Not the Nanny, which pretty much answers the crazy looks I sometimes receive when I'm out and about with my rosy-cheeked son.


Word to the Mother

Just when I thought it would never happen, Big L uttered his first sentence this morning:

"What's THAT?!?"

Not about anything specific, just a general question. So while the girls were still asleep, I sneaked him into our bedroom to see if I really heard what I thought I did (or if it was just some early morning dementia). Turns out, I was right: Prince Charming proceeded to run around the room pointing at things, repeating his new sentence over and over again. I spent the next twenty minutes answering him: "That's the bed, that's a lamp, that's a shoe, don't eat that! That's a book, that's the nightstand, that's...uh, gimme that!"

Even Mr. J, strep throat and all, woke up laughing his behind off, because for months now, our boy's been making absolutely no sense. Maybe to his twin, but not to us. And there was little to no effort made. He seemed to think that the "I cry, you get me what I want" method was working for everybody (namely himself). Not so. Sooo not so. I guess that's why Toddlerspeak: The Toddler Lexicon, the blog that lists every unimaginable toddlerism was created. I added a preverbal term of Coco's there a few weeks ago.

And as much as I try not to get caught up in comparing them, the fact that J-Jo was practically reciting monologues by their age doesn't help (the thought that she might have been somewhat atypical never crossed my mind once). So needless to say, I was elated. When the clock struck a more Godly hour, I called my dad to tell him that the mystery words Big L kept saying to him during our visit last weekend as he pointed at a picture on the wall actually meant something:

"e-TAA?" = "What's that?"

Who knew?

Of course in another six months I'll probably be dying for him to zip it. All of them, for that matter. But right now, for the two weeks it'll probably last, it's the cutest thing in my world.


Umm, okay...

I'm not really into personality quizzes and generally assume they're kinda cheesy. But I thought this one was fun (and strangely accurate!).

You Are a Cappuccino

You're fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.
However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.
You are a total girly girly at heart - and prefer your coffee with good conversation.
You're the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please

Each One, Teach One

I wish I could report that the J family spent the insanely beautiful weekend picnicking and frolicking in grassy knolls of the Hudson Valley, but alas. We were homebound and didn't stray much further from the backyard, due to the fact that Mr. J was under the 80 degree weather. So while he mustered the energy to watch the kids as they played out back, my time was spent preparing for our upcoming move (more on that later).

I began by packing up books to get rid of, mostly:

1) books that have anything to do with birthing babies . J-Jo's five-and-a-half now. The twins are almost two. Life is just starting to feel "normal" again; we don't plan to follow up with a remix.

2) books that were advance copies of novels that Mr. J's publisher and/or agent sends him that he hasn't even breathed on in seven years because he's usually working on one of his own.

3) sewing books that I bought hoping they'd inspire me to learn how. Same goes for cookbooks with recipes that include the kitchen sink amongst their ingredients.

4) kids books that bore me (I'm fine with reading to them fifteen minutes a day, but I'm sorry: if mommy's going to read it, SHE has to like it too. At least a little bit).

5) college textbooks that haven't been cracked since the day before finals, nearly fifteen years ago (Just plain embarrassing).

So, what to do with these dusty old tomes?

At first, I thought I might look into selling the books online to one of those online book resellers, but had to rethink things after learning that out of the one hundred or so books I have waiting in boxes by the back door to go, I could only get $1.55. Those used book sellers have veeery specific ideas about what they want.

After boxing the books up, I had half a mind to cart them over to the local hospital thrift store. Then I recalled how rude those ladies were to me the last time I tried to donate something. Excuse me, Miss America 1948, if I'm bringing you over $500 of clothing that is perfectly good, perfectly stylish, but just not perfect on my post-partum body (that will never, ever be the same again), please don't act like I'm trying to steal from YOU. Parting with my hot pants is painful enough.

And don't bark at me that you "can't give me a tax receipt", like I've got plans to cash it in for crack.

So after recalling the unfortunate incident, I decided that I should look into sending the books someplace where people will actually appreciate them. Here's what I found:

The Camel Book Drive brings books (literally by camel, see the picture on the left) to the children of Kenya. Many published authors are donating their books to the effort. Hat tip to Lori for telling me about it.

Housing Works, the well-known NYC thrift store and outreach organization,dedicated to improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. They used to have free-shipping, but will still accept donations by mail.

In China alone, more than 1,000 university libraries and 3,000 reference rooms need collections of English language teaching and research materials. Bridge to Asia seeks to rectify this situation by accepting tax-deductible donations of used books.

Adopt a Library is a great site that provides resources to promote world literacy and help encourage donations to libraries and schools in the U.S. and around the world.

Okay, I'm off to ship the boxes. There's a certain type of comfort I take knowing that they'll find a home on the other side of the world, gracing the shelves of someone who really wants them. And while I wish that I didn't have to pay for shipping, it feels so much better than taking the chance that these books will end up in a landfill somewhere.

Now, if I can only figure out what to do about the ridiculous collection of CDs. Especially the ones we haven't listened to since '93, when were so cool like that, the contents of our entire lives could fit into our backpacks.


Barney vs. Hip Hop Harry

Barney V.S. Hip Hop Harry - Funny home videos are a click away

This is an advertisement for their long-overdue Battle Royale.

For the record, I should probably just mention that any one of us would gladly take either one of them, especially if it meant never having to watch the shows again. No offense to dinosaurs with hypoglycemia or retired bear mascots who think they're Fat Joe.

But feel free to go ahead and correct me if I'm wrong...


A Love Supreme

It took me until last year to realize that checking on my then four-year-old five times a night might be getting to be a little much.

Now that I’ve gotten that fear out of the way, I just try really hard not to think about the day when the tiny bed I tuck her into each night will be too small for her. But something tells me I won’t be sleeping any better by then.

The recent tragedy at Virginia Tech has been a somber reminder that a large part of parenting means relinquishing control. In the beginning, we cross our fingers on the sonographer’s table, praying the ultrasounds are okay. Then, once the baby gets here, we anxiously wait to see if they’re meeting all of their developmental milestones on time (“Wait a second Ms. BabyDoc, mine’s not talking yet – is that okay?”). We spend time wringing our hands over organic peanut butter vs. generic and whether play-based preschools are really the best way to go. And before we know it, we’re kissing them goodbye in the residence hall lobby. Unsure if the dorm is also home to a troubled student who might randomly commit the unspeakable.

I guess that’s when it clicks: the first time we realize how much (or how little) power we ever really had to begin with.

Right now, my kids are still small; my husband and I talk about saving for college in the same conversations we have about The Little Gym. We squirrel away money for higher learning and ponder where it should be spent (because of course they’ll have plenty of options!). We compare and contrast the finer points of both Ivy League schools and HBCUs and why we both think they should at least leave the state. But for all the investing we do – both financially and emotionally - there will never be enough in the 529 Plan for me to picture our kids away at college until they actually get there. For some reason, the mental image of us sitting in the audience of their high school and college graduations are easier for me to imagine (even if my hair is grey) than what will take place in between. These days, that thought’s just too scary.

Of course I expect that the four years will be well spent – that they’ll thrive academically and socially – it’s the unknowns that haunt me. The parts that even the most vigilant attachment parenting can’t prevent. And not only the heinous crimes, but also the soul crushing things. Things I can easily imagine like my son’s study partner from, say, biology class – the blonde kid who always insists on hi-fiving him - making fun of black people at a “Ghetto Party” (for MLK Weekend, how thoughtful!). Or how one moment we could be marveling at our daughter's impressive gross motor skills, the next going to away games cheering her on...only to later send her off to college where her entire basketball team's success is marred by some jerk flinging cheap shots at them? (Oh, hell no!)

It’s probably a good thing that kid-sized beds are as small as they are. While we can’t pretend they’ll fit them forever, it’s not the same bed they’ll sleep in until they’re eighteen; it lets me pretend they’ll be little for at least a little while. I can tuck my son into it without imagining his legs eventually dangling from it, because by then it will long be outgrown. I take temporary comfort knowing that it will never be slept in by a person that doesn’t love Goodnight, Moon. Just looking at it lets me conveniently ignore the fact that one day, they won’t want me to read I Love You Forever to them ever again.

Because as much as my husband and I dream of the day when all three of our kids are big enough to drop off at a relative’s while we jet off to Jamaica, as much as we hate picking Cheerios of the floor of the car and who knows where else, every milestone makes me long for the last. Every tiny Zutano hat that gets tossed in a box headed for the Salvation Army reminds me we don’t get these days back. I guess it’s practice for the day this nest is empty, mud no longer tracked through the back door (unless we have a dog). And I'm sure that even then, I'll probably catch myself check on one of them, only to be reminded that they’re off at college and the next time I’ll probably see her is Spring Break. Provided she’s not off getting jiggy in Cancun.

Nobody warned me that 95.5% of my time would be spent pointlessly trying to protect my kids from every paper cut that could possibly happen. And that no amount of reliance on Supernanny or Dr. Sears would prepare me for the parental unknowns. The things – of which there are many – that remain outside of one's control. Because each time any one of them is out of my sight, I’m constantly reminded of those words my Bradley Method instructor gushed on the first day of class. Not about giving birth, but what it actually felt like being somebody's mom:

“It’s like your heart has grown little legs and is running around outside of your body.”

“Um, okay…” I remember looking down at my swollen belly, trying to figure out why the baby preferred to lay on one side instead of the other. Hiccupping. I rubbed the unidentified lump as I crunched on a Luna bar , wondering if everything was okay.

I had no idea that was the safest she’d ever be.

On Friday my posts also appear as an online column for Time Out New York Kids. Visit them at Time Out New York Kids for more city-specific parenting tips and diversions. The regular column will be called Not the Nanny, which pretty much answers the crazy looks I sometimes receive when I'm out and about with my rosy-cheeked son.


Fries With That?

Interesting news from The Holistic Pediatric Association:

French fries have appeared in the medical research news once again. This time a large study examined the correlation between breast cancer incidence later in life and a list of 30 foods eaten during the preschool years. Interestingly, the food with the highest correlation to breast cancer was French fries.

For one additional serving of French fries per week consumed during ages 3-5 years, the risk of breast cancer increased by 27 percent.

Click here to continue...

Little Richard Sings Rubber Duckie

The classic Little Richard on Sesame Street segment came on this morning and the twins were going crazy! It was an instant flashback to why I was so fascinated with the guy when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the You Tube clip, but here are the lyrics (why they're online, I have no idea). Just a little routine for the routine. My voice is worse than Sanjaya's, so I'll just stick to the spoken word intro, but maybe you guys could try the whole thing.

(signature piano intro)

Well, here I am in my tubby again. And my tubby's all filled up with water and nice fluffy suds, honey. And I've got my soap .... looky here ... and I got my washcloth ... look at this ... and I got my nifty scrub-brush, honey, just scrub, just scrub. And I got my big, BIG, fluffy towel to dry me off when I'm done. And I got my piano. And there's one other thing that makes tubby-time the very best time of the whole day, honey. And you know what that is? A very special friend of mine, my very favorite little old friend .... (music starts)

Rubber duckie, you're the one
You make bathtime lots of fun
Rubber duckie, I'm awfully fond of you
Rubber duckie, joy of joys
When I squeeze you, you make noise
Rubber duckie, you're my very best friend, it's true
(patented-Little Richard-ooooooh!)

Every day when I
Make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who's
Cute and yellow and chubby
Rubber duckie, you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber duckie, I'm awfully fond of you

Oh every day when I
Make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who is
Cute and yellow and chubby
Rubber duckie, you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber duckie, I'd like a whole pond of you
Rubber duckie I'm awfully fond of you!


Flower Child

It's the type of inspiration Hallmark copywriters would kill for. My best friend, the one I've known since we were eight-year-olds teetering across the balance beam in gymnastics class, is getting married. Tomorrow. There aren't many people more excited for her than I am. And nobody's more excited to walk down that aisle than she is.

Except the flower girl, of course.

Which is absolutely adorable, if she weren't my daughter. The one who's decided the world is a stage. Unlike most mothers of the flower girl, I don't worry that she'll hesitate to walk down the aisle, I'm praying she won't decide not to moonwalk down it. We're talking about a child who sings showtunes (in full voice) in the checkout line at Target. The one who, at age two, insisted on singing "The Ants Go Marching One By One" to business men from Philadelphia as they disembarked the Amtrak at Penn Station. The one my husband jokingly refers to as "The Black Ruth Buzzi" and we both swear is the next Maya Rudolph (Should she do Second City or Groundlings? Before or after college?"). I'm speaking of our resident ham, the one that makes Heavenly Ham taste like hell.

Don't get me wrong, I'm honored that J-Jo's about to be a part of my friend's special day, especially considering that the rest of the bridal party is comprised only of immediate family (and that my dear friend spared me the annoyance of buying a dress I'll wear once). But right now, I'm kinda worried that J-Jo's comedic timing might put a damper on the blessed occasion.

Of course none of this would be a problem if I knew how to give The Look.

I'm sure you've seen it before. It's the facial expression that black mothers who refuse to be publicly embarrassed are famous for. The one that with a slight arch of the brow and purse of the lip simply states: Don't even think about it. The one Claire Huxtable brought into the mainstream. Five years into this parenthood thing and I'm still waiting for my instruction manual to come in the mail.

So in the meantime, I'm going put the Claire Huxtable in me aside and remember that this wedding is much bigger than J-Jo's inner diva. I'm probably overreacting, anyway; everyone says that kids in weddings add levity to a joyful, yet tense, occasion. Maybe I should just focus on the symbolic beauty of the occasion and remember that most people can't actually manage to get hitched without hi jinx of some kind. I'm going to take a deep breath and put this whole flower chile thing into perspective because life is far too short. In a blink of an eye, a grown-up J-Jo could very well likely be walking down the aisle once more (provided Tina Fey isn't keeping her too busy at 30 Rockefeller Center).

On Friday my posts also appear as an online column for Time Out New York Kids. Visit them at Time Out New York Kids for more city-specific parenting tips and diversions. The regular column will be called Not the Nanny, which pretty much answers the crazy looks I sometimes receive when I'm out and about with my rosy-cheeked son.


Coffee Break's Over

In the best of times, being black is absolutely beautiful (let the choir say "Amen!"). In the worst of times, it feels something like this:

Three men went to hell.

The devil said to them "You have come to hell, and you must now choose whether to spend eternity in room 1, 2 or 3"

He then opened the doors to the three rooms.

Room 1 was filled with men standing on their heads, on a hard wooden floor.

Room 2 was filled with men standing on the heads, on a cement floor.

Finally, room 3 had just a few men, standing in human feces up to their knees and drinking coffee.

The men thought for a while, and decided to go with room 3, as it was less crowded and they could drink coffee.

They entered the door to room 3 and just as it was closing behind them, the devil said "OK men, coffee break's over. Back on your heads."

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Because just when it looks like everything's cool, that no public figure has acted out in a while and offended black people, some modern-day Jimmy the Greek has to come out of their face with a racist insult. For no good reason at all (not that there ever is one). By now, just about everybody in the black blogosphere has weighed in on Don Imus' ignorant and offensive remarks about the Rutgers' Women's Baskeball Team. The comment that referred to the impressive athletes as "nappy headed hos" (for those who've been under the mommy - or daddy - rock for the couple of weeks).

I've read countless, incredibly astute reactions to the "shock jock's" remarks, but thought one of the most pointed came from Deborah Dickerson's The Last Plantation: "You never see the racism coming. You're minding your own business, say, playing basketball or buying groceries or eating at Krispy Kreme when an Imus comes along and forces you to be 'black' so he can be 'white'." As a woman who deeply despises misogynistic language and has has proudly worn just about every natural style known to 125th Street, all I could think was, (to quote The Millionaire's Wife from Gilligan's Island): "Well (snif). I've never!"

Oh, wait a minute. Yes I have.

Like my friend Field Negro so eloquently alluded to, this Imus business is par for the course for those of us LWB (Living While Black). I don't like it, I don't condone it, but do I expect it? Sadly, yes. Because, just in case anybody is late coming to the party, there are a lot of ignorant people in the house. To narrow the group even further, there are a lot of ignorant racists dancing poorly, to their own rhythm. And to whittle it down even one degree further, there are a lot of ignorant racists throwing their hands in the air like they just don't care, 'cause they really don't think they're racists. I'm fairly certain Don Imus is one of those clueless types. The type that thinks that having a couple of black drinking buddies gives them free reign to say whatever and end up getting left at the bar (or in the studio) wondering "Hey...where did everybody go??"

I say this for one reason only: the term "hos" is one highly offensive thing, but how many white guys do you know actually even know the word "nappy"...until now? Hugh Grant thinks it means diaper. So does Paul McCartney. Of course they do, they're English. But what about white American guys (the ones that aren't married to black women)? Sure, terms like "diss" began popping up on sitcoms back in the early nineties and "bling" crossed quite seamlessly, thanks to people like Puffy (who I blame for many things). "Hos" I could see (rappers throw that one around all the time which is a seperate post altogether), but "nappy"? Where'd he get that one from, BET's Comicview?

All I can assume is that, much like the old anti-drug commercial, where the hysterical dad confronts his adolescent son when he finds weed in his room ("I learned it from watching you, Dad!"), Don Imus learned the word "nappy" by watching black people (not that I, nor my fellow ethnicists are personally to blame for any of this nonsense). Whether it was through listening to hip hop, watching School Daze, or hanging out with Robin Quivers, somewhere along the way, Imus caught on to another N-word and assumed the word was fair game. Or maybe he caught somebody proudly sporting one of those old school "Happy to Be Nappy" t-shirts I picked up junior year of high school at The Greek Picnic. I don't know.

What I do know is that there are words that are okay for black folks to say in present company that other people just can't use (sorry). Is it a double-standard? Yes. Is it a rusty, jagged, double-edged sword? Sure. Is it fair? Hell, yeah. It's called code-switching people, and it's high time black folks get back to that. If every word that is a part of African American vernacular is pumped into the mainstream, a critical part of the culture will be lost. I'm not saying we should go around speaking Gullah, but I do think there's a certain power to the A-B conversation. If for no other reason, then to prevent racist jerks from appropriating African American terminology and then using it to insult people.

Maybe there should be a Negro Lexicon of sorts, for words that are an historical part of the vernacular, meant only to be used in certain company. That way, they'll never be used incorrectly and nobody's feelings could get hurt. Everybody with some African ancestry would receive the book; it would be sort of like the National Do Not Call Registry. But for black people. I'm not talking about words like "pimps", "playas" or garden tools (which the Rutgers Women's Team is far from by the way, and I resent that, too). I'm talking about the words your Nana used to say when she was doing your hair in the kitchen Saturday night before church. Does Don Imus know what "baby hair" is? What "edges" are? Dear Lord, let's hope not.

It seems like every time I think the coast is clear, somebody has to slip up and say something stupid to inform me that they really think I need to forget the college degree and go scrub dirty toilets for a living. In this particular instance, what we can take from Don Imus' comments is that to some, hardworking, talented and college educated young black women will never be seen as anything more than hypersexual chicken heads. Those young ladies deserve better than that. We all do. Right now, OK Go's "Here It Goes Again" (and that mesmerizing video on the treadmills) is stuck on continuous play in my brain. Here it goes. Again.

Okay black people, coffee break's over. Back on our (nappy?) heads.


Happy Easter & Happy Spring!

It's too cold for an egg hunt right now (did that on Thursday, anyway) so J-Jo and I are spending the afternoon making these:

Aren't these just the lovliest Easter eggs ever?
Courtesy of Design Mom

My peeps.
Courtesy of Kids Craft Weekly

All the best to you and yours!

Mrs. J, Mr. J, J-Jo & The Dynamic Duo


Josephine Too?

My friend Lori over at My American Melting Pot is starting to wonder if Angelina Jolie is starring in her own period piece as the late Josephine Baker. I have to admit I'm beginning to think it too, with the whole Rainbow Tribe business and all. Word has it that Jolie is now planning to adopt a fifth child, this time a daughter from Chad.

I don't know where they'll find the time, but I'm not mad at 'em. They certainly can afford to send them all to college. Even though we already know that Maddox will probably be a rock star and Zahara the next Iman. And I think it's just great that they took my advice and are planning to give little Zahara a sister that actually happens to be one.

What do you think? Is Brangelina buggin'? Or do you think it's a beautiful thing?

Rock the Vote

A few months ago, I posted a powerful short film directed by seventeen-year-old named, Kiri Davis. She's received widespread critical acclaim for "A Girl Like Me", her gut-wrenching exploration of how race impacts our perception of beauty. Now, she's up for a $10,000 CosmoGirl Film Contest Award! Anyone who's seen the short knows that this young lady doesn't play, so let's spread the word and hook a sister up.

To watch "A Girl Like Me", click here. To vote for it, click here.


Million Dollar Baby

At one time in my life, a trip to the supermarket meant picking up a few things from Fairway on my way home from work. Within a few minutes, I could be in and out, without answering anything beyond "credit or debit?". Today, a trip to my small town grocery store is a major life event. As if toting my three under six isn't challenging enough, I never manage to get past aisle six without answering a truck load of questions about them. As if it's any of their business, strangers want to know how it's possible that my kids share can the same brown eyes, but skin tones that range from basic beige to caramel brown. How I gave birth to a Whitman's Sampler and they all have the same biracial dad.

These questions at the supermarket are typical for many women whose children don't resemble The Von Trapp Family Singers. One would think that in an era when celebrites adopt babies of different races as if they're shopping for Jimmy Choos, mainstream Americans would get used to seeing families that don't "match". With time, I've learned to answer these questions politely before letting them roll off my back. If my kids are within earshot (and not begging for Pop Tarts), I want them to hear a response that validates who they are, instead of something that sounds like an apology. In doing so, I let them know that even though America calls us "black people", they themselves are technically shades of almond, butterscotch and caramel. That African American families come in all colors, it's part of the beauty of being black. I do this not for the strangers' benefit, but because I want my kids to be proud of who they are.

I hope that Nancy Andrews, the Long Island mother who is suing a Manhattan fertility clinic for impregnating her with a "black baby" will do the same. Upon discovering that their daughter Jessica was born several shades darker than she is, Mrs. Andrews (who identifies as "white" despite the fact that she's Dominican and looks a whole lot more like Halle Berry than Nicole Kidman) and her husband, who happens to be white, had DNA testing done to find out if the baby was actually theirs. As it turned out, the results proved that the Park Avenue clinic had erroneously implanted the donated sperm of a black man (gasp!) into Mrs. Andrew's womb. The result was a beautiful, Afro-Hispanic baby they named Jessica. The couple is currently in the process of filing suit, claiming that Jessica "looks nothing like them" and that she will always be a reminder of a terrible mistake. As if Jessica won't have enough to contend with growing up.

One can only imagine what it must be like for a woman who desperately wants a child (in this case, a second child) to endure the emotional trials of infertility, the miracles of modern science, the inconvenience of morning-sickness, leg cramps, insomnia and who-knows-what-else during pregnancy only to find that her dream baby has been fathered by a complete stranger. I'd like to think that the race of the donor or appearance of the child would be of little importance in a case of gross negligence such as this. Based on the couple's claims, however, I'm not fully certain that they'd have had the same reactions if Jessica had been born blue-eyed and blonde. Regardless of the clinic's error, the shade of her skin, the kink of her hair, Jessica Andrews is absolutely Nancy Andrew's biological daughter. While her mother may never appreciate the African genes in her own bloodline, I hope she'll do her best to accept Jessica with open arms and that her husband will also learn to accept the child as his own.

And that with time, the Andrews will find ways to answer strangers' questions in the supermarket that will assure their youngest daughter she's 100% loved.

On Friday my posts also appear as an online column for Time Out New York Kids. Visit them at Time Out New York Kids for more city-specific parenting tips and diversions. The regular column will be called Not the Nanny, which pretty much answers the crazy looks I sometimes receive when I'm out and about with my rosy-cheeked son.


Deck the Walls

Ever wish you could find something to decorate your daughter's room with that went beyond the standard flower/princess/butterfly motif? And if it has to have a character, can't it be one that actually looks like her, thankyouverymuch?

Problem solved. Check out Yoon Kids for their collection of modern wall art that portrays a diverse mix of kids being kids. You can choose background colors, patterns, hair colors and yes, even skin colors from a unique assortment of canvas prints. Currently working on a boys line, the indie line goes far beyond the generic, tapping into the unique attributes our kids naturally posess.


Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Mr. J woke up bright and early this morning to take J-Jo to the little bakery they like frequent on the weekends. That's it pictured there on the right, it's actually about that big, too. But I have to tell you, those cinnamon buns are the bomb (as evidenced by the remainders in the bottom right corner).

Before they left, I asked for a coffee and handed Mr. J some change before shooing them out the back door. I was despareate to take a catch a nap while the twins were sleeping.

Oh, but what I wouldn't have given to have heard this exchange:

Mr. J: (Counting his change) Okay, I think this is it...

J-Jo: Daddy, are you rich?

Mr. J: Uh no, I'm really...not. Are you?

J-Jo: Oh yeah (nodding head), I'm rich.

Mr. J: Yeah? How do you know?

J-Jo: Because I have more money than I can count.