Children’s Books Black History Month Edition

Children’s Books Black History Month Edition

Here’s a short list and description of some children’s books to read to your kids during black history month.

1. Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. It’s a book for kids a little older but Sage who is 3 likes looking at the illustrations and I just read her the woman’s name and occupation.

2. Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins. Such a motivational book for any black child.

3. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen. A dream book for a little girl obsessed with ballets and dancing and dresses. Not to mention so much history in Debbie Allen’s accomplishments.

4. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty. Cutest illustrations with a big meaning and a funny story. Girls can be scientist. Little black girls can be scientists.

5. Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn. A book to get your child excited about reading books.

6. A Night Out with Mama by Quvenzhane Wallis. This book would have been published by the author when she was 13 if that’s not a big enough feat to read this book to your children I don’t know what is.

In retrospect I also realized all these books are about AA women (I guess cause I have a daughter) but these are just some books we already had that showed African American representation. What books would you recommend for younger kids to start learning about African American History? Leave some comments for me on what you’re reading to your children this month.

Photos from Hey Black Child.

Photos from Ada Twist, Scientist.

Advertisements

Sage’s 3rd Birthday Recap

Sage’s 3rd Birthday Recap

Sage turned 3 last Friday. And I took her to children’s museum in Atlanta. Sage had fallen asleep in the car on the way there so when we first got to the museum she was a little overwhelmed so we went to the water fishing area first because there were less people in that section of the museum she had fun. Kept saying she was catching fish with her daddy. The other exhibits or sections of the museum is the kitchen a building/ball area, a jungle gym, painting station, Daniel the tiger section with houses and mail and stuff and a sand section.

There are also classes you can sign your kid up for but they go fast. We got to the museum later than I wanted to and the spots for the classes were already filled.

Sage wore a dress because that’s usually all she wants to wear anyway and even if we live in Georgia it’s still winter time. And she wanted to wear a crown so yes I was that extra parent for the day. She had a lot of fun there was a reading time of Daniel the tiger at like 2:30 but she didn’t want to sit for it.

The kitchen area is defiantly a Waffle House replica even if it doesn’t say so anywhere. That’s where most of the kids were and there was food everywhere I’m pretty sure it was Sage’s favorite section too. She kept making plates of food for her dad and myself and naming all the food or asking us what something was.

We stayed at the museum until close then went and got food. Sage picked this hot pink icing for cupcakes (which I forgot to get a photo of) she doesn’t really like cake and just ate the icing off a few.

My parents flew in to celebrate Sage’s birthday with her on Saturday and we went to yard house, a candy store downtown and to chuckie cheese. Next year for Sage’s birthday I hope she’ll have some friends from being in school (fingers crossed she starts this August) and I can actually throw her a birthday party.

Here’s some cute photos from her birthday and Saturday when we went to chuckie cheese.

Potty Training

I began potty training Sage over the summer but I’m not going to lie I wasn’t consistent at all. Between work and other things potty-training wasn’t a priority on my list of daily things to do. We transitioned to pull-ups with no fuss. Then started sitting her on the potty to get her used to it. And it kind of became a game for her. She liked sitting on the toilet and saying she had to go potty (even though she wasn’t yet) and she liked feeling a sense of independence and saying “I do it”. She did get really interested in her female parts during this time too and would ask me what things were down there for the first time.This led to print out coloring sheets with labeled body parts.

So, potty training is just an overall learning experience I wasn’t prepared for. My sister suggested (because she did this with my niece) that I should give Sage a reward like candy for using the bathroom in the toilet but I didn’t really like the idea so I never started it. Sage found it enjoyable without the “treat” and is now telling me when she has to go potty on her own without me asking her.

She still wears pull-ups to bed (haven’t figured this one out yet) but during the day she doesn’t (this includes during naps) and she hasn’t had many accidents once she got the hang of it. In the beginning she did have a couple accidents and wet herself while wearing underwear but she fully understands now and can feel the difference between her pull-up and undies- and if she’s wearing undies will say she has to go potty.

We got to this stage of understanding by having talks after she would have accidents me telling her I wasn’t mad at her and reminding her to tell me when she had to go potty. I also just started taking her to the bathroom every hour when she had on undies. This got her in the habit of knowing okay when I feel the urge to go I need to go to the bathroom. Talking and explaining things to Sage repeatedly really helped her to understand and get the concept of using the bathroom.

Getting her to use the bathroom to go poo I knew would be hard I don’t know about other toddlers but Sage would always go to the same spot squat down and poo then tell me she had. But the transition to her using the toilet and pooping really wasn’t that bad.

Every time Sage uses the bathroom in the potty she exclaims “I did it” so it is fun for her she likes knowing she can do something with her body on her own. Still working on the wiping but I’m so proud of my baby. Sage does use a separate like booster toilet seat because she’s dramatic and swears she’ll fall in the toilet without it. So, if you’re having trouble getting your little one to be comfortable sitting on the toilet seat I suggest purchasing a kiddie one.

I’m going to leave some tips that I found helpful and links.

1. You should definitely purchase toddler flushable wipes. These were a game changer because Sage would go through the motions using so much tissue when she didn’t even use the bathroom. Also it helps them be able to wipe themselves more efficiently. I get mine from target they’re the up and up brand and super affordable.

2. Like I said I suggest getting a training seat for an actual toilet but there also are those toddler/baby toilets that could be helpful in the very beginning with just helping your child get used to the act of sitting on a potty. You can also let your child personalize this mini toilet with stickers, paint, etc.

3. Help your child get comfortable with the toilet. So, whatever they need to feel comfortable using the bathroom do it.

4. Kids learn by imitation so having an open door policy is a good start to showing your child how to use the bathroom and correctly wipe. I did this even before potty training because I’m usually the only one home with my daughter and need to be able to keep an eye on her even when nature calls.

5. Let your child pick out their underwear Sage has trolls and poppy and of course that motivated her to want to wear undies instead of her pull-ups. The little things will help your child get used to this change smoothly.

Here’s some links I used while potty training with more tips to help ya potty train your little one.

https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a548953/potty-training-for-girls

https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/potty-training/tips/potty-training-tips/

Mom Talk #4

This mom talk might be a little sensitive to some mommas. Because I’m talking about co-parenting this month. I never thought I would identify as a single mom. Sage’s father was there my whole pregnancy and after for 9 months we did live together and try to make things work. There of course was a limbo period where we didn’t know what we were doing but I think we’re almost (knock on wood) in an okay place. I don’t have set rules or regulations for co-parenting I don’t like confrontation and have a hard time asserting myself. I’m learning to ask for what I want. Whether is a night off to hang out with my friends or just a night off for self-care. At first it was hard for me to ask for help with buying things Sage needed or ask for a break but co-parenting does get easier. I know society has conditioned women to believe their place is at home with their kids and sacrifice sacrifice sacrifice but that doesn’t have to be your reality. You can be happy with your child or children and happy alone having a night off (and this is whether you co-parent or have a husband). Never be afraid to ask for what it is you need as a mother to feel your best mentally and emotionally.

Sage is not yet on a set schedule when it comes to co-parenting but I would like her to be (if any of you co-parenting moms or dads have tips on scheduling let me know). I have had issues with accountability sometimes Sage’s father doesn’t do as much as he should and the responsibility usually falls on me to provide financially. As well as being her primary caretaker (which is why identify as a single mom). But he is there for her he’s her dad and really her best friend they have a bond and when he is around it’s like I don’t exist – so I make things work for her.

However, co-parenting is not about the parents and all about the child. Well, it’s a little about the parents because things need to be worked out and parents need to be on the same understanding when it comes to their child’s needs. But other than that it’s about doing what’s best for the child and not taking things personally when things come up (cause they will). Parenting isn’t a perfect system and co-parenting isn’t either. There is a lot of growth that has to happen with both parents for things to work. Separating your personal relationship from your co-parenting relationship with your child’s other parent is key to making this relationship work.

Co-parenting should be consistent similar rules, discipline, and rewards so your child knows what to expect with both parents this also won’t lead to confusion. Never vent to your child about the parent in a co-parenting situation. Stay focused on your child and less worried about what the other parent is or isn’t doing – however if problems do arise setting a meeting time without children present to talk through issues and resolve them will be beneficial to all involved.

Co-parenting is team work. Approach the relationship in a business like manner and keep conversations focused on your child as to not get past feelings mixed up. Always be respectful in dealing with the other parent and communicate effectively. Request for things instead of demanding and making comments about things that you want to happen but aren’t. And realize that with any relationship a co-parenting one requires work and communication to work effectively. If you and the other parent can stay focused on your child things should run smoothly. Also make big decisions together don’t make them in the spur of the moment then later talk to the other parent about it. Being mindful will go along way in keeping the relationship healthy and unstrained.

Your child’s emotional and mental well-being is more important than any petty thing that can come up in a co-parenting relationship just remember this and keep this in mind and co-parenting might at least feel better when things do come up.

Personally, I do my best to only focus on Sage when it comes to co-parenting as long as she is okay and happy I try not to let a lot of things bother me. If you co-parent and you feel overly stressed in an area whether it’s financially, mentally, emotionally or even in your physical body it may be time to communicate this with your co-parenting partner and come up with a plan to get things more relaxed. I know moms feel the need to do a be all things but we don’t have to anymore it’s okay to help and expect help from the person who helped bring your child into this world. Do not be afraid. And co-parenting gets easier and if it doesn’t take legal measures to get what you need for your child and for you.

3 Ways I Manage Stress with a 2 year old

Not going to lie my patience sometimes is at 0 with my daughter. As a single working mom I’m stressed more than I’d like to be. This of course causes me to be less patient with my high strung toddler and tense. Here’s 3 Ways I destress and find a lil selfcare for myself throughout the day.

1. Yoga

And I’m not talking about yoga as an exercise. I’ve learned quite a few poses over the years (when it was an exercise for me) and in the morning I sometimes put on nature or meditation music and just allow myself to sit and flow from pose to pose for however long I feel. Being aware of my breaths. And getting out of my head a little.

2. Showers

I’ve always had this weird gravitational pull to water (I’m not a water sign so this is why I say weird). Water calms me all the way down. And if my daughters particularly intense one day I will either make her take a midday bath or I’ll take one myself for some me time or we’ll take one together if we both need to chill out. For some extra relaxation I sometimes add epsom salt and oils to the bath too.

3. Listening to Music

When my daughter was a newborn I had a record player and one of the ways I’d get her out of a crying fit was to play records. I even had made a playlist called Sage’s Morning on my SoundCloud. Music chills me out cause it again gets me out of my head space. And for Sage she likes to dance so it keeps her occupied even if only for 5 minutes.

What are your tips for keeping cool and calm through the day with your toddlers? (or kids) let me know in the comments!

Mom Talk #3

Hey everyone!

Today’s mom talk is all about the creative mom struggles. One of the biggest/hardest things about becoming a mom for me was that my time wasn’t as free as it used to be. I have always been very selfish with my time. And I guess I took it for granted. One thing that being a parent teaches you is that your time isn’t necessarily yours anymore. Without having a partner who lives with you or shares the same amount of time with the child in a co-parenting situation – being a single fulltime parent can be very overwhelming. As a painter and writer I found myself very lost – not being able to create when I wanted to because my daughter needed my time and attention. Feeling too tired to create and unmotivated because of stress. There were and are a lot of factors that contributed to my inner struggles of being a parent and a creative. I tried working during her nap times when she was a newborn (and still do this) as its the only time I really “get time to myself” besides being at work which I don’t think counts. But I quickly began to feel burnt out from using her nap times trying to get things done. There’s that saying when you first become a parent to “sleep when the baby sleeps” but its like so when do I get the million things I need to do done. It was like I racing against the clock trying to hurry and get as much done during her hour and half naps and anyone who is a creative knows you cannot rush art especially not watercolor. And rushing myself to get as much done with my paintings in such a short amount a time led me to making lots of mistakes and feeling like a failure as both a parent and an artist.

This also led to me resenting my daughter only cause I couldn’t create when I wanted to and couldn’t give myself the time to fully immerse into my work. I still struggle now with this and Sage is 2 I don’t resent her now though I’ve come to the realization that life has changed and I just needed to get on board with it. I am going to enroll her in school next year and I know this will free up some hours during the week (when I’m not working) to devote to creating. It doesn’t help that most of the people I know are creatives and don’t have kids so I started to begin to compare myself to where I was and where they are in developing creative careers, recognition and how many shows they were doing. This ultimately made me feel worse and insecure like I wasn’t doing enough. Comparison is I think the worst thing that can happen to a creative it creates doubt and fear and I had a lot of that when it came to my work.

There is this big myth that artists of any kind make terrible partners and husbands/wives. That we are selfish and only care about ourselves our work that our relationships come second and I guess in away this serves both people in relationships (the artist and the partner) when things don’t work out. There are even more myths about working mothers that we cant have it both. Be successful and be a good mother. Add that to a “job” or whether “jobs” that never stop – there is no clock out for a parent or a creative and it seems impossible. How to be a successful creative and be a successful parent. A woman looses a lot of her identity becoming a mother much more than a man does in becoming a father- even now in the 21st century there is so much weighted on the mother. I read in the article that I linked below that the reason that parenthood is in conflict with being an artist is because ” Because the point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s goal as a parent.”  And it made me stop and think that there might actually be a real reason to why I myself have struggled with making art and being a mom for the last 2 years. “Oscar Wilde said it is the most intense mode of individualism the world has ever known.” I had my daughter at 24 I got pregnant at 23 and immediately I could see in class and in my friends faces that I was not the same I of course did not feel the same but it was mirrored back to me in countless ways – I had a ceramic teacher the first full semester I was back in school who everytime I brought up my daughter I knew it made her uncomfortable what I didn’t know then was with what. She is young – maybe a year older than me and I think she knew and felt through my own struggle what a struggle being a mother and a creative can be. To devote time and space to parenting or creating? That’s where the struggle is. Do I give my daughter the phone for a couple hours to work on a poem? Do I zone out? Do I neglect her? Do I plop her in front of the TV? Or do I stop do I mother and work to pay the bills and find away to be satisfied with that. Or do I try and find some balance? Do I wait till she’s older? Do I step back for a couple years. But the question should be why do I have to choose. I know that there will be days I give more to motherhood and days I give more to creating and I also know I never want creating to mean I neglect my daughter.

On days when Sage goes to her father’s I always make these long lists of things to get done. I go to work and I have the night to work creatively whether that’s paint or work on my book of poems and not get my toddler ready for bed. But rarely do I use the whole time to work before I feel anxious and I cook or I take a bath then I tell myself I deserve a night off cause I do. Its rare. So, I watch Netflix and then feel guilty for being happy that I have time alone but I’m not creating. I’m unsure what the answer is here. Maybe a little bit of me has given up on creating and said mothering is a lot (cause it is) and I’m no longer driven or motivated. Or I decided to believe in society and thought I cant have it all. I think writing this will (hopefully)get me back to creating consistently. Motherhood isn’t just one thing. And it doesn’t have to look like it either. That’s what I want these mom talks to be about. Go out and resist and prove people wrong. Motherhood is powerful and badass and I’m over feeling inadequate as a creative because of it- when in fact I’ve created the ultimate creation.

I still haven’t been able to find this balance between parenting/working to pay bills/ and creating. I would love to get to the point where my creations pay my bills but until then I’ll be trying to find some sort of normalcy with it all. Create when I can and be thankful and present in the creation.

There’s this story that I think is in Woman Who Run With Wolves (but I can’t find it and believe me I’ve looked but also this book is amazing and I highly recommend it to all women but especially to mothers) about a woman who loves to dance but doesn’t anymore cause she’s a mother and wife. She takes care of her kids her home and I can’t remember if this happens once her kids are grown and gone or not – but she would sneak into the city and dance on the weekends until one day she stops. She cleans the kitchen and she takes out a gun and kills herself. The story was about the death of the woman because she becomes other things. Mother. Wife. Nurturer. Home maker. Maid. And she has little tome for herself for the things she loves. She is drained. And tired. A shell of a woman until she can no longer take it. So, if you feel this way tired and drained and not yourself. Let the woman in you come out. You do not always have to be all things to your kids to your husband to the life you’ve chosen. Make time for the things you love for the creative you. For the you who likes to go dancing with friends. Whatever it may be that makes you feel alive do it.

How do you other creatives who are parents balance being a parent and being a creative?

Also check out this article if parenthood and being a creative is something you struggle with: https://www.thecut.com/2016/04/portrait-motherhood-creativity-c-v-r.html

How I Breastfed for 2 Years and Tips

This is my breastfeeding 101 post. I have nursed my two year old Sage for 2 years. I didn’t go into breastfeeding knowing much of anything. I didn’t do any research on it or take a breastfeeding class prior to giving birth so I kind of just went with it. I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right at first but I had almost no issues besides cracked nipples in the beginning. I did have trouble getting Sage into a position that was comfortable for the both of us (since I had a c-section birth) and was given a pamphlet on the different holding positions like the “football”. We eventually got the hang of it. I say this to say you can get the hang of it too if breastfeeding your baby is what you really want to do. Yes, it requires time and effort and waking up in the middle of the night to nurse and sometimes your baby might cluster-feed for hours and you’ll get irritated and want to quit from cracked (sometimes even bleeding) nipples but its worth it for you and your baby.

There are so many resources on breastfeeding and ill link a few of my favs down below. Because I know it can get easy to get lost in the sea of information just from googling a topic as vast as this.

I still breastfeed my daughter and despite curious glances and people (family included) saying I’m crazy and giving me weird looks I think she still benefits from it. My daughter is vegetarian like I’ve stated in previous posts however she’s a picky eater and I do worry if she’s getting enough nutrients. She hardly eats any fruits, veggies, or beans which means she’s mainly eating starches like pasta and bread. Also I have noticed the change in her nursing is only about twice a day now so my supply is really low and I think soon my milk is just going to stop. Until then ill continue to breastfeed her
while I can.

Also let me just say that my experience with breastfeeding isn’t the norm. I know that a lot of women struggle with breastfeeding even if they are dedicated and want to breastfeed. Its hard doing it consistently feeling like some sort of milk machine or dealing with Post Partum Stress and nursing. Whatever your situation may be. I feel for you. Breast is defiantly not best. A fed baby is what is best. Saying things like this is so inclusive of mother’s who can’t breastfeed, don’t have the support, or who just don’t want to do it. If you do want to breastfeed your baby but can’t there are milk donors out there who would love to help mom’s in need and ill link some options below.

If you want to breastfeed though don’t let anyone talk you out of it not your doctor not your spouse not your friends. No one. If you’re determined to breastfeed your child and you’re able – DO IT.
Breastfeeding Benefits:

For your babe:

  • Bonding – this one actually benefits you both. I know some people have babies and instantly feel connected and in love. But I also know some don’t feel that connection instantly breastfeeding (if its an option for you) will help create and solidify a bond.
    There are many sources and ill link one or two that say that breastfeeding babes get sick less than formula fed babes and are less likely to die. Which very well may be true (I’m sure it is) but I’m not trying to scare anyone into breastfeeding like I said a fed baby is best and its inclusive to assume that every mother can, wants or should breastfeed. But there are plenty of health benefits for your baby if you choose to breastfeed.
  • Normal weight gain
  • Healthy digestion less constipation diarrhea or upset stomach
  • Can protect against allergies and asthma

For you:

  • If you eat right because breastfeeding burns extra calories than the body normally does you can shed those pregnancy pounds quicker if that’s what you want.
  • Breastmilk is essentially free (minus buying or renting a pump) but the cost doesn’t add up to the cost that formula is which will keep your pockets full.
  • Reduces the risk of Postpartum Stress Disorder
  • Can help protect against breast and ovarian cancers
    There are other benefits these are just the ones I highlighted.

Helpful Tips to Keep Up Milk Supply:

  1. Don’t supplement with formula unless you absolutely have to – even then try to find a place where they are giving breastmilk from another mother away. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand so the more you nurse the more milk your body will produce.
  2. Eat Oats: whole oats not those instant Quaker oats. Whole oats are great for helping you keep up your milk supply.
  3. Drink Plenty of Water: if you don’t like water switch it up by adding fruit but staying properly hydrated while nursing is both good for you and your baby.
  4. If you have the money and are struggling but want to breastfeed and don’t have support. Hire a professional. A lactation will coach you through breastfeeding till both you and your baby are comfortable and will give you tips, advice and the support you need to continue.
  5. Don’t Stress: stress will have your body in a tense mode which will lead to not having a good milk supply. I know this is easier said than done especially right after having a baby and all the demands that come with new parenthood. But stress will mess with the flow of your milk coming out through the nipple. When the body is tense everything is tense so the let down of milk that’s needed can’t happen as freely.
  6. Eat Whole Foods like fruits and veggies. You burn more calories than average during the day when you breastfeed. Eating healthy foods filled with nutrients and not empty calories will keep you satisfied and healthy so your body can produce adequate milk.
  7. Lactation Cookies! These saved my life when my supply got a little wonky from work and school. I got mine from Babies R US but you can also order them offline or make your own their are recipes online and ill link one below
    Pumping:
    If you have to return to work or school or just need a few hours away for your own sanity, then pumping will become your best friend. Now with pumping get a pump that best suits you there are double pumps, single pumps, hands free pumps you name it. Invest in one I know they’re costly. Some hospitals will let you rent one or you can see if your insurance covers some of the cost. With pumping you need a established schedule because a pump is different than breastfeeding the first couple of times can be difficult and you might not get a lot of milk. Keep at it everyday at the same time. Then you can freeze your milk for whenever your away from your baby.

Links:

Mother’s Milk Tea: which I have tried and it worked well:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0009F3POY/ref=mp_s_a_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1526183885&sr=8-1&keywords=mothers+milks+tea&dpPl=1&dpID=51r0C9y71QL&ref=plSrch

Vegan Lactation Cookie Recipe:
https://www.tasteslovely.com/dairy-free-lactation-cookies/

Milk Makers Lemon Lactation Cookies: these are the cookies I used in the beginning and during rough patches:
https://www.amazon.com/Milkmakers-Lactation-Cookies-Bag-Lemon/dp/B00L5LHPEM

These are Milk Makers Lactation Bars which I never tried but thought a bar would be cool so mother’s could eat it with breakfast in the morning: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0792PD9H9/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526182953&sr=8-1-spons&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=lactation+cookies&psc=1

Milk Makers also has a lactation tea if you want to stay in one brand. I just searched on amazon.com for these links and in no way am sponsored by either of these companies. I just shared what worked for me.
Also try fenugreek the herb too if you hit rough patches established supply and none of these other options work for you.

More Info on health Benefits and other Benefits of Breastfeeding:
http://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/HealthyPeopleFamilies/Babies/Breastfeeding/Pages/benefits.aspx

Milk Bank to Donate Milk:
https://www.hmbana.org/

Where you can donate and receive milk:
https://milkbankne.org/receive/

Also there are many support Facebook groups.

5D059005-D831-431A-8C0C-10166D44D7EC.JPG