Work Hard! Dream Big! Lady C’s Lunch With a Black Rockette

A few weeks ago Lady C went to see the Radio City Spring Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. We’ve been to the Christmas Spectacular several times, we’ve had dinner with a family friend that is a Rockette, several of them signed a souvenir doll for Lady C when she was a baby and we have even done a backstage tour but… she never met a black Rockette and didn’t know they existed.

After the Spring Spectacular, Lady C came home with a question that rocked us. She asked her dad:

Can I only be a Rockette if I am tan?

If you’ve read our blog before, you will know that we’ve explored the topic of race and color with Lady C. She uses the term tan to refer to white people… which includes her little sister… (and that’s a discussion we are still working on… that her sister is not, in fact, white).

Man, we were devastated.

Here we are… a family with a mother with a law degree, a dad with a Masters degree, each of us with careers that make us proud.

Here we are, a family that watched the inauguration of Barack Obama while Lady C was a baby, in utero, and we cried because our child would only know a world with a black President.

Here we are a family who felt like we could tell her she could be ANYTHING …. and it would be true.

But here we were with a five year that feels like she cannot do something because of her brown skin.

Whoa!

This moment was so timely because there was a lot of social media discussion around Black Girls Rock, First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance and whether the Black Girls Rock movement is a racist one. The fact of the matter is that ABSENT representation is just as detrimental as NEGATIVE representation on the self-esteem, aspirations and ambition of young children. They need to see it to believe it!

So what did we do? We did what any rationale person would do… we cried to our mommy. Lady Cs grandmother, GG, has had a part time job at Radio City for years and a great relationship with many Rockettes.  So GG asked Danielle who is not only a black Rockette but was one of the marquis ones for marketing during their most recent season.

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That’s Danielle!

Danielle agreed to meet Lady C and they had a fabulous lunch and even did a kick line together. Danielle told her about her career, when she started dancing and about other brown women dancers. Apparently Danielle is now invited to Lady C’s sixth birthday party… ha!

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Danielle and Lady C

wpid-0422151655c.jpgWhen she got home I asked Lady C about her experience and whether I could record it for other little black girls. She agreed.

Here it is…. enjoy.

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Lady C’s video message

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White House Easter Egg Roll 2015

The White House Easter Egg Roll is an annual event held on the White House Lawn every Easter Monday. Each year there is a lottery to attend the event.

Every year for the past six years I have applied.

Every year I get NOTHING.

This year I applied and got NOTHING.

Then one day my Mommy Twin called and said… “I have extra tickets… do you want them” … and I nearly cried because I felt so lucky.

*Side note* All you purposely anti-social people, please get friends... real good friends are always helping you and you 
will return the favor too and maybe make someone happy... it is a great thing.

So – This year Lady C and I were able to go and experience the egg roll on the White House lawn – YAY. It is a massive event filled with activities, arts and crafts, performances, picture opportunities, etc…. there is too much to do and not enough time so you have to decide how to use the time. We heard a rumor that President Obama was going to speak while we were there and were lucky enough to be able to see him and the First Lady.

This year’s theme was #GimmeFive in celebration of the fifth anniversary of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Throughout the event there were activities, giveaways and information encouraging children to lead healthy, active lives.

My blurry picture of POTUS - yay!

My blurry picture of POTUS – yay!

Truth be told – we never got a chance to do the actual egg roll because the line was loooooong and it would have been the only thing we did but we filled our time quite nicely:

* Yoga class

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* Pictures with characters (and by the way the kids were way more impressed with the Octonauts than the First Family)

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* Making craft projects and getting tattoos

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* Visiting the First Lady’s Garden

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*Planting their own fruits and veggies

*Watching the First Lady perform with the cast of So You Think You Can Dance

We had a nice time and at the end each child received a souvenir egg that they can cherish. I would totally do this again and hopefully we can so Lady H can experience it too. Next year, be sure to check out Recreation.gov for your opportunity to enter the lottery and experience a great event with your little ones.

Aisha 

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Black History Month: Kiddie Good Reads

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It’s Black History Month and we’ve come across some great children’s books this year from the library. All of the books are focused on learning about slavery in ways that a child can consume.

Here are three books that we’ve enjoyed.

Henry’s Freedom Box

Henry’s Freedom Box tells the true story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom in a crate box. The book does a great job of addressing the destruction of family ties during slavery and its psychological affects on slaves. Also, the illustrations by Kadir Nelson – a phenomenal illustrator, are beautifully done.

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

Juneteenth is the celebration of the emancipation of African Americans in the United States. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas received the announcement that the Civil War was over and that all slaves were now free. In All Different Now, children learn about Juneteenth through the eyes of a little girl who views the world as different after learning the news about her family’s freedom. The book includes a glossary of important dates and historical information which is helpful to continue discussions with the children.

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Follow the Drinking Gourd is a good story that introduces the underground railroad and highlights the collaborative effort that was the backbone of the institution. It discusses how the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” provided slaves with the tools and directions for escaping to the North and introduces you to characters, both black and white, that were integral in the Underground Railroad network. The book had a rhythm and repetition that children will enjoy.

These are our Black History Month Kiddie Good Reads – please share yours!

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Daddy confessions.

I had decided to use this forum to air out some of my dirty laundry. I have some confessions to make and I think I should ask for forgiveness from our readers… Le Sigh…here I go…

I hide from my family sometimes. 
Now I don’t mean that I go out for milk and return 3 months later. Or say that I’m going to hang out with some friends and then don’t return for 6 years. Nothing crazy like that. I hide in my kitchen!
I…I…ummm…errr…
Wash dishes!
See we have a traditionally formatted house so if I’m in the kitchen then I can escape for 5 minutes to reset my brain! And even though washing dishes is my MOST HATED chore, it’s a perfect reason to escape to the man cave…ummmm …I mean the kitchen. I’ve heard my wife hides in the bathroom but who am I to judge!

I assassinate balloons.
My kids LOVE balloons. I mean, if there is a helium filled orb in a 1 mile radius, these girls go crazy!  I, on the other hand, DESPISE balloons! Just call me the Grinch of Inflatable Objects. So when balloons get to the house, overnight they seem to lose their ability float! It’s like they all develop a tiny leak at the base of the knot and within a day they’re completely flat! It’s soooooo weird! My kids can’t figure it out and neither can I. I think Aisha is onto me though.

I have opposite views about snow.
Here is my Lady C’s reaction to snow:
“YAAAAAAY!!!!”
Here is MY reaction to snow:
“@#$^&”)@&@^%$!!!!!” 
She thinks about snow angels and going down the slide into the backyard into a pile of fluffy snow. I, however, think of shoveling, scraping, salting the pathways. AND I hate the cold (you may remember I’m Trini!) so snow is a reminder that I don’t live in the tropics any more!  I make every excuse not to go outside, including, but not limited to, “It’s too cold outside”, “The snow is too wet”, or “Daddy’s back is killing him”! Almost none of these excuse are ever actually true. Don’t judge me. I suck it up at least once a season and go pretend like snow is cool.

I lie about batteries.
Inevitable a noisy, annoying toy makes its way into the Greene house and of course, it will be the girl’s most favorite thing…and the reason for multiple headaches on my part. Fortunately, most of the toys run on batteries which means that they eventually die. That’s where my sinister actions take over. Rather than replace the batteries, I put on the saddest voice I can and say, “Oh nooooo! The blah blah blah toy is BROKEN!! Let’s put it over there with the rest of the ‘broken’ toys. So sad!” Shhh…this plan is flawless…for now.

I know. I know. This make me a horrible father. I hope you all can forgive me. However, I am sure you have some stuff that you have to confess too! I can’t be alone…I hope!

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Oops…my bad!

We teach our kids a lot of lessons:

  • How to tie your shoes laces.
  • How to eat properly at the table.
  • The value of play and exercise.
  • What is the proper way to be a Jets fan.

One of the most important lessons that we teach our children is taking responsibility for your actions. In our house, Lady C ALWAYS has a reason why the thing that just happened “wasn’t her fault”:

 “You stopped me before I could do the right thing.”

“I didn’t mean to but Grandma made me do it.”

“I thought you said to do it.”

“So-and-so did it so I can’t be blamed for my actions.”

Just a few weeks ago, I stopped her from spouting one of her many excuses and said,

Just own up to it and say I’m sorry. Don’t blame someone else for your actions!

Good advice…so I thought.

Until recently, when I realized that I wasn’t following myself!

I had done something wrong (as we husbands are prone to do) and immediately I started spewing a bunch of excuses (you know: the tools of the weak and incompetent, used to build monuments of nothingness? Yeah…those!). All of a sudden I heard the words that I had told my daughter coming from my wife’s mouth… to me. Jarring. In that moment, I realized a few things:

Sometimes we need to listen to our own advice/lessons. Children can make you revisit the basics of human behavior because they’re at the starting blocks of their life. The lessons they’re learning should still be important to us but we forget sometimes.

Watch your actions: you’re kids are watching. I know we hear that all the time but most of the time we’re talking about really bad stuff like drinking, smoking, or domestic violence. It applies to bad habits like making excuses too. Now, I don’t know that Lady C sees that from me and copies it, but now I will be conscious of it.

Be easy on your kids: they’re still learning. Sometimes I get frustrated that I have to say the same thing over and over again. After a while you should get this, right? Well clearly, some things stay with us all of our life and we have to keep working on it. If I’m still hammering away at it, it stands to reason that it’s an even more difficult concept for a kid to grasp!

Have you ever had to take a step back and take your own advice? What did that look like for you?

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Light Painting: Cold Weather Fun

I am not a fan of cold weather.

If left to my own devices I would get home, get into some sweats, and binge watch Sports Center. But I don’t have a choice in the matter do I? Why not, you ask? Because we live with…
Miniature Humans!!!

Kids do not care about the weather. They want to go outside.

Can’t go outside? Fine! What fun thing can we do INSIDE, daddy!?!

Welp, since I’M not going outside, the challenge is always to find interesting things to do inside.

Let me clarify: Interesting to both of us! If either of us becomes bored with the activity, it’s a wrap!

So I have a Pinterest board of cool stuff to do with a 5 year old but then it dawned on me; why not use what I am passionate about.

Photography!!

So far we have done stuff like a photo shoot with her Barbies and practicing taking portraits. This time I wanted to try something different and her light up toy from Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular gave me a great idea: Light Painting. It was perfect since the sun goes down at like 4pm these days!!
(How rude! Come on, Mr. Sun! Put a full day’s work, why dontcha!)

Here’s how it works:

  • First you need a camera….duh. (You can do this with both digital  and film but for younger kids, you might want to use a digital camera so you can show the results right away.)
  • But you need one where you you can control the shutter speed OR the ability to leave the shutter open for as long as you press the button.
  • You will also need a light source. A small flashlight will do but spinning lights and sparklers are great once you get the hang of it.
  • Next, you need a room that you can make completely dark. Any random light will comprise your image.
  • The next step is to set the camera up on a steady base. A tripod is best but a table or tall chair will work just fine.
  • It helps to be wearing dark clothes but it’s not necessary.

Now you’re ready to paint!

Step 1 – click the shutter

Step 2 – move into position and turn on or ignite your light source

Step 3 – start making shapes like you’re drawing figures in the air.  Any shape will do and you can start and stop lines by turning the light off.

Step 4 – close the shutter or wait for the time to elapse.

Step 5 – enjoy your work!!

Here is what we did in about 10 minutes:

First I tried to make an “H” in a circle but I was to high…IMG_6076

Then I went for Lotus Flower type design!IMG_6077

The Lady C tried her hand at it…
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Lastly I made a house with chimney smoke!IMG_6079

Like I said. It took 10 minutes but it was a ton of fun that we can do again easily.

What indoor activities do you love the most?

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