150 Ways to Show Kids You Care: #104

wpid-img_103493663980444.jpegThis is the second post in a series based on the pamphlet “150 Ways to Show Kids You Care” (see previous post for link). I choose one of the items and share how I apply it with my children. Today as my son walked out the door to catch his bus my eyes fell on #104; Visit their school. This seems like a simple, no-brainer, but in this economy where many parents are working long days and sometimes two or three jobs, it’s very difficult to take the time off to visit their child’s school. I fortunately am self-employed and can schedule my clients around important meetings and/or events at my childrens’ school. I can’t stress enough the importance of showing up occasionally at your child’s school. Both administrators and teachers (not just your child’s teacher but the teachers who may have your child in their class in the future) are paying attention and notice the parents that walk the halls occasionally, volunteer at school events and reach out to the teacher if there is an issue at school. The idiom “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” is actually true. When you have a presence at your child’s school the teachers see you as a partner and supporter of not just your child but of the teacher and the school as a whole. Your presence also allows the school to become familiar with you as a positive contribution to the school and not just a parent who complains or shows up only when there is an issue with your child.

It doesn’t mean you have to volunteer to be the President of the PTG or the Classroom mom, but let the teacher know that you can make yourself available to help out with advanced notice a few times a year. Show up to a few PTG meetings in the evening, send email or notes to your child’s teacher once a month just to check in and give a compliment or suggestion. Buy an extra family-sized pack of snacks or a box of pencils at the beginning of the school year (or mid-year) and send them in with your student. Volunteer to chair or co-chair one of the school’s fundraisers, or at least sign up to support the event. If you are unable to visit your child’s school ask a sibling, parent or even grandparent to stand in your place. Maintain a presence in some manner and believe me when there is an issue at school, everyone involved will be more supportive, more inclined to hear you when they see you as an involved parent. They will also keep your child in mind when other educational and/or extra-curricular opportunities are available because they know that you will support them in their endeavors. The most important reason to show up is because your child is watching. They may not say it but it makes them feel loved and protected and more motivated when they know you care enough to take the time to support them at school.

Believe me, it works! Let me know how it works for you.

150 Ways To Show Kids You Care: #62

wpid-20150905_151221.jpgOne of the best tools that I took away from my training as a Parenting Partners Workshop Facilitator was the pamphlet “150 Ways To Show Kids You Care” (c) distributed by The Search Institute. The brochure lists 150 ways to interact with your children or other children in the community that would cause them to believe that you genuinely care about their well-being. I have it posted right next to my door as a reminder for me, amidst the daily rush in and out of the house, to make a conscious effort to connect with my kids. Again this list also applies to family members, your children’s friends, mentees or other children you nurture or spend time with. Sometimes I ask my children to pick one, sometimes I ask them to choose a number in between one and one hundred fifty and sometimes I close my eyes and choose whatever number my finger lands on. I will try each day to post the item that was chosen and write a little about how I applied it.

Today it landed on #62 “Encourage Win-Win Situations“.

Sometimes I’m not sure about how I will apply the item of the day but by the end of the day, the opportunity presents itself (or I get creative 🙂 . My thirteen year old son loves football. If he’s not playing himself, he’s playing it on Madden, watching College Football on television or videos about the science of football on You Tube. I’m not saying he’s the next Heisman Trophy winner but he is aggressive on defense, easily teachable and the coaches love him. I say all that not to brag but it helps you to understand the dilemma. His Quaker high school does not have a football team so I registered him with the local area football league. Several weeks into practice his coach reveals to me that the league was unable to recruit enough kids for the Senior 130 pound varsity team. This meant there was a strong possibility that my would not be able to play on the 120 varsity team at his current age and weight combination but he assured me the coaches were working on “trying to get him in”. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant but he somehow made weight for the first three home games and I didn’t think more about it. Last week was an away game and he didn’t make weight. The officials said he was 13 pounds over and would have to lose at least 6 or 7 to continue playing. I looked at my slim, still growing thirteen year old son (he’s about 5’3, 120 pounds) and knew that he did not have six pounds to lose! I knew he would be heartbroken, so I thought about item #62 and tried to figure out how to break it to him that may have to give up playing football with it being too late in the season to join another league. How could this situation end up as a win-win? I talked to my brothers, his father and a college friend who trains college athletes and they all concurred that he should be gaining weight, specifically via muscle rather than losing. I realized that his coaches didn’t have my son’s best interest in mind and were more concerned about winning games. It was slightly flattering, but I knew that I needed to talk to him and support him in making the right choice for him. I decided to approach him at his favorite place, on the trampoline in our yard, and we had the conversation. We talked first about his feelings on the matter and I shared mine. Though he would rather play, he understood the importance of gaining muscle especially in such an intense sport and agreed that if he was unable to play out the rest of the season he was okay with taking a weight training class at the local YMCA. He also knows that his parents have is best interest in mind and care about his happiness. I gave him choices and feedback and he learned how to look at his options and make the best choice for him. He’s content and I’m a happy parent. Win. Win.

Please feel free to share how you’ve applied this successfully. Thank you for reading and keep coming back!

Arts and Artists Extravaganza Today! Voorhees NJ

A Family Friendly Event TODAY AUGUST 16th, 2015 showcasing Artists and Authors including children’s authors. Free for kids under 10 and Free parking! 4-8pm at the Mansion at Voorhees, NJ. Come out and support the arts!

Toni's Room

2015 Arts and Artists Extravaganza http://www.bit.ly/artsandauthors2015

Good Morning! Toni Love will be appearing at the 2015 Arts and Artist Extravaganza at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ today! The event will take place from 4PM-8PM and there will be a showcase of the area’s finest artists and published authors. I am honored to be invited to share some of my poetry with the attendees. I will also have copies of my new CD “The Restoration” available before it is officially released to the public at my CD Release party on August 22nd. In addition, you can get Toni Love t-shirts and purchase tickets to the show! It’s a family friendly event and FREE for children under 10. Check out the link below for more information. I hope to see you out on this beautiful Sunday!

Click here for more information —->  2015 Arts and Artists Extravaganza

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Memories of a War Veteran..I have not forgotten

Re-posting in memory of my Uncle Bay and all of the soldiers who lost their lives as a result of war. Hoping you all make love and not war your priority this Memorial Day. #loveistheanswer

Memories of a War Veteran..I have not forgotten.

via Memories of a War Veteran..I have not forgotten.

Teachable Moments: Why I took my seven year old daughter to see Selma

Selma Pic

As a child born right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, exactly six months after the assassination of Malcolm X, I have only my parent’s memories of those horrific and powerful moments in American history. When I started seeing the trailers for the Selma Movie I immediately felt the energy of the movement pour into me from the visual presence of powerful African-Americans moving forward in spite of the immense opposition. The pictures are always so powerful, and tell the stories that are starting to fade with the passing of each legendary activist and committed ancestor. As a woman I was both surprised and proud to see that this major motion picture was directed by Ava DuVernay who was also of African descent and extremely accomplished. I was excited and couldn’t wait to take the kids to see this film! I assumed that it, like the few MLK movies made for TV, would be rated PG and I set off immediately to secure tickets for us to see it after we volunteered on Martin Luther King Day. I was proud of myself for being so proactive until I saw that it was rated PG13. My heart dropped. My son was twelve and soon to be thirteen in a few months, but my daughter was seven and a half at most. Did I really have to deny her the opportunity to experience this African-American female director’s opportunity to tell the story of the March to Selma? Did she have to sit and listen to stories like I did as a young child never seeing the beauty and ugliness of those who both fought for and stood ignorantly in the way of universal love and freedom? I was torn between my own strong emotions about the project and being a responsible parent. My daughter, a very sensitive and loving soul was also practically begging me (no, literally) to take her to see the movie. I decided to poll my friends in social media who are teachers, parents, directors, storytellers and activists for their opinions in order for me make the best decision. Surprisingly I didn’t receive a resounding “YES, you should definitely take her” from the majority of those polled, but I took all of the suggestions and comments to heart and eventually decided to take her to see Selma. These are the reasons why I chose to ignore the film rating and take her anyway:

  1. She is the granddaughter and daughter of storytellers: My father wrote great short essays about his experiences growing up a young black boy in the fifties as well as experiences in the Air Force and the emotions and struggles that followed him into his adult life. Unfortunately he never published any of them. I started writing poetry in third grade and am just starting to tell stories that have been waiting to come out. My daughter is watching and may one day be a great writer too and I think it’s important for her to see stories unfold in front of her eyes. It’s her legacy, her reality and too important of a story to exclude from her growing library.
  2. She begged me: It was a different plea than the one I get a the toy store. My daughter has learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and other great men and women in American history and she wanted to know more. I thought about one friend’s comment about how she is “my child” and how she has been listening to and enchanted by storytellers since she was an infant. Some things you just do by instinct, but she was right. I even had a storyteller at my son’s 5th birthday while my daughter watched from her baby carrier. After enduring too many “please Mommy”, how could I argue?
  3. I prepared her ahead of time: A few of my friends warned me that there were a few graphic moments in the film, especially in the beginning that could be too harsh for someone her age but felt that with the right preparation and conversation beforehand she could handle it. My daughter promised me that she wouldn’t be scared and she wasn’t going to have nightmares and that she wanted to see anything that involved “her people and their struggle and Martin Luther King”. So I Googled “Bloody Selma” and sat next to her while she viewed the actual footage from the march across the Edmund Pettus bridge and she didn’t flinch. As I watched I realized that children such as my father and mother birthed in the midst of segregation didn’t have the option of being sheltered from the brutality of their oppressors.
  4. She would walk out more proud of her ancestors’ strength and perseverance: I did get a few strange looks when I walked into the theater with her in tow and I just knew every parent secretly shamed me. I even started to doubt my decision after the opening scene (which was both powerful, shocking and necessary) but when the movie ended and she turned to me with a big smile on her face and said “that was awesome!” I knew that I had made the best decision for her. Not only did she get to see images of courageous women of color in both strong and supporting roles, she saw them fight for their men, children and communities in a way that is not depicted in history books and definitely not on the Disney channel. The Civil Rights struggle was told from a different angle and with a different voice all guided by the vision of a female director and producer of African descent. Definitely a teachable moment!

Of course you have to take all of these factors into consideration before choosing to take your younger child to see this  PG13 movie. I have to admit even with her excitement over seeing Selma I was worried that she would have nightmares, but none came. There was also one moment where my Mom instinct kicked in and I covered her eyes, but she abruptly moved my hand! The sad truth is, our kids are so exposed to brutality, injustice and violence today, that ‘Bloody Selma’ is not as jarring as we would expect. We cannot expect our children to reflect the qualities that we do not mirror back to them. Sometimes we are the mirror, sometimes it appears in the form of a book, a writer or motion picture but I believe it has to be done by any means necessary.

10 Rules of Survival – Get Home Safely : Your life matters to us and we need you!

First I have to say thank you to the Salt Project and Dare to Be King for the vision to create this video! I was at first angry as an independent parent of a young African American male, and tax paying home owner in my community that I need to educate my son with the reality that not all of those who vow to protect and serve their communities will have his best interest at heart and that some may very well find small pleasure in harming or killing him, content in removing his life’s calling from this earth. I know police officers personally and they are extremely brave to weather the streets to protect and serve with the same intense and unconditional dedication as our military. Yet  I have also looked directly into the face of racism and hate many times in my life which excludes me from being naive about our reality as African Americans. Regardless of how far we look back – five hundred years ago, sixty years ago, two years ago, one month –  this continues to be our reality and these organizations have so brilliantly produced a video that have helped us as parents to become aware of it, to come to accept it, feel it, and teach it to the next generation. Watching the video made me sad, angry and proud at the same time. I am sure Harriett Tubman distributed such harsh realities to the slaves she helped escape to freedom in her days and in these times it unfortunately is still necessary, relevant and just brilliantly executed. Please do yourself and your children a favor and watch it. Then watch it with them and discuss. We need our children to shape a better world and they can only do that if they return home safely.

Peace and Blessings!

<p><a href="http://vimeo.com/116706870">Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/saltproject">SALT Project</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>” target=”_blank”>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/116706870″>Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/saltproject”>SALT Project</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Here’s How Much Experts Think You Should Sleep Every Night

Make sure your children ate getting enough sleep to be successful at school. And don’t forget to get the sleep you need as a parent! I am posting this for my son who is almost a teenager and believes he is invincible and should be allowed to stay up until midnight on a school night! 🙂

The Balancing Act: You can have it all, just not all at once.

Toni's Room

wpid-wp-1404782549159.jpegI remember the day I started writing again. I was a full-time stay at home mom and business owner, six years into my marriage, lobbying with my son’s school to get his IQ tested and nursing an infant. I wasn’t getting much sleep at night and had to find time to juggle clients, housework and bills, babies and PTA meetings during the day. Needless to say my house never looked like the spotless ones in the Parenting magazines! One day while checking e-mail, I came across one from a dear friend from high school. She came into my life at a time when I was my most authentic self – proud, brave, strong, emotional, nurturing, vulnerable and fearless, and I wasn’t afraid to write about any of it. She asked me if I would consider writing an essay for her upcoming anthology. I thought she was either on medication or feeling sorry…

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Mocha Moms – Occupy Schools Mission

http://www.mochamoms.org/article.html?aid=735

Thanks for visiting! Love, Toni

Making Our Own Market: Justin Scott Parr

Meet Justin Scott Parr, African American author of the Sage Carrington series of books encouraging the exploration of math and science, geared towards middle school students!

justin-scott-parr_portraitHabari Gani? Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)! “To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.” We celebrate this Kwanzaa principle today with a post by Justin Scott Parr, author of the Sage Carrington middle-grade series.

Inspired by his little cousin’s curiosity about his travels to Africa and Latin America, Justin created his first novel, Sage Carrington: Eighth-Grade Science Sleuth which blends culture, history and mystery. The titular character is a 12-year-old African-American girl who loves science, baseball and fashion and treasures her friends. His second novel, Sage Carrington:Math Mystery in Mexico City, and the second companion journal, Book of Love: Math Edition, debuted earlier this month.

His engaging website, http://www.sagecarrington.com, transports you to Sage’s world through educational and fun activities like “Realizing Your Civic Power” and “Cultivate a Garden,” a peek inside Sage’s best-friends journal that she shares with BFF Isabel Flores and a profile of Sage, Isabel and their friend Benji. Learn more about Justin, a former web…

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