Five ways to invest in your child’s hobbies.

Kids are often bombarded with the worst question ever, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I didn’t realize it until I got older but what a ridiculous question to ask a child who just learned how to tie their shoes on their own. 

Reframing the question is one thing but even if it is asked, what do you do with the information once they answer it?

Parenting is a crapshoot. There’s no one way to do it right but at minimum we should be able to expose them to as many things as possible. 

My two children are complete opposites. My daughter is super creative and loves the arts while my son draws the exact same stick man on anything that requires an illustration. We have however discovered that he has a deep interest in baseball. Who knew! We did. But only because we took a chance to expose him to a practice league. 

We thought that we would sign up for T-Ball, just to keep him active and that he would just go the wrong way on the field and play with the dirt in the dugouts. WRONG! He’s obsessed with the history of the game and is performing well. 

I noticed that my daughter had an eye for style at an early age – could that be genetics though? LOL. What started with her cutting up socks into makeshift tube dresses for her dolls has turned into now attending weekly local sewing classes. 

Will he be a professional baseball player? Maybe. Maybe not. But at least he has some experiences associated with the idea of it. It’s not something that he can’t fathom. He can.

Will she be a fashion designer? Who knows. She’s also expressed interest in being an animator, a costume designer, and an actress. My goal is to let her try it all in some small way to see if it sparks something in her spirit. She even tried soccer. And lowkey hated it, she ended up more of a motivational speaker to her teammates on the field but at least she has tried it.

Here are a  few things you can do to invest in your child’s interest now. 

  1. Pay attention to what they watch. Do they play a lot of video games? Ask them if they would be interested in a coding class. Especially mid-pandemic, it may be easier to find something age appropriate online. 
  2. Watch what they watch. Do they watch certain TV shows or youtube videos a lot? Ask them why they watch it so much? Is it for the fashion? For the action? What if you gave them a camera phone, would they be willing to record themselves doing something fun?
  3. Let them help. Do they hang around you when you cook? Do they ask to help? Include them? I know we get busy being busy but maybe helping to chop onions or knead the dough may spark an interest in culinary arts. 
  4. Commit to letting them try one activity for a month or season. Whether it’s dance class or sewing class. Find something that they are interested in and make them commit to it for a short time. Kids (adult kids too) tend to tap out if something is immediately a challenge. Insist that they push past the discomfort because often there may be some interest or skill being developed on the other side of the discomfort.
  5. Ask them. Simply ask them the questions, “What are you good at? What do you like to do more than anything.” Remember they are kids. Simple answers like “to color, to play with my dolls, to cook” are all acceptable answers. Find ways to encourage more of what they like to do. 

Also, expect kids to change their minds and be interested in more than one thing. We were taught to go after one goal when we were kids. The messaging was often that you were a failure if you didn’t do what you said you wanted to do at the age of 5. That’s so archaic and unrealistic. 

Are you doing what you said you wanted to be when you were five? Feel free to follow these steps for yourself. I sure am…at 46 years young. 

This is not a “5 ways to figure out your life” post.

Life has a way of quietly sneaking up on you and giving you a loud smack on the neck. I won’t say I’ve been struggling this year… not completely I suppose. Let’s say it this way, with the help of my therapist, I’ve been working on thriving not just surviving. Apparently, I’ve been in survival mode or autopilot for the last few years but I am actively trying to make some major life adjustments for myself. 

As I actively try to live a life that brings me joy, it’s requiring me to pivot a few things. Things I didn’t think I wanted have now shifted themselves to the front line of goals. Some things are new revelations and some are old ones for some reason they hit differently. 

This will not be a “5 ways to figure out your life” post.   Because I’m still working on it. So here are some random yet real musings I’ve had as of late. 

  1. I’m now at the age where I worry about things like having enough life insurance for the kids. We have plenty  but I want more. LOL! It’s really about leaving a legacy. I wish I had this mindset twenty years ago but that’s not how life works. More than anything, I don’t want my kids to struggle through life. Some things will obviously be life lessons but some things are just about pre-gaming (as a parent.)
  2. People will weaponize family and Christianity (respectively) to their advantage. It’s always from the most toxic people. The people who have the moral background of Al Capone yet are often the ones trying to drag you to their level of toxicity. You are never too old to establish boundaries. 
  3. Success looks differently for mature people.  What I mean is that quality of life, taking care of yourself surpasses having the fanciest cars and Instagram-worthy pics to post. Right now, success is looking like me being able to drop off and/or pick up my kids to school and eat a healthy breakfast and get consistent with a healthy lifestyle. 
  4.  You don’t have to be stuck in life. I wasn’t necessarily stuck but I was content for a long while. I’ve decided to unstuck myself. I’m actively trying to change how I live my life in the coming months, not years… MONTHS. I am not happy complaining about it anymore. Hopefully, I will have an update on this soon. 
  5.  Thriving in life should be a goal. So many of us have mastered the art of survival that we think that just making it is a goal.  Case and point,  my car broke down a few months ago. I had it for 7 years. And I had no intentions of getting another one. Until one day I realized that it’s okay to enjoy life a little – or a lot…mind your business! I finally convinced myself that not only did I need a new car but I deserved the one I wanted. I smile every time I drive now. I’m 46 years old and it’s a flex. Not the car…the smile. 

Life comes at you fast. This year alone has been enough to take anyone out. But I choose to change the things I can. And avoid people who haven’t figured it out yet because time is ticking.  Let’s call this a check-in! Now that you’ve read mine, I’d love to know how you’re doing! Leave me a comment below and share this post if it touched you.

Talking to your children about moving and other family decisions.

I know that my mom cringes sometimes when she sees my parenting style is slightly different from hers. Honestly, hubby cringes too but I’m just trying to do the best that I can. I am not of the old-school style of parenting that suggests that children should be seen and not heard. We don’t quite operate like that. Hubby and I bump heads a little bit in this area but I try to rationalize why I approach things the way we do. 

Recently, we made the decision for our family to move to a new home. This means a new school for 5-year-old Zavier and 7-year-old Zara. I was dreading this decision the most because Zara has been at this school since Kindergarten and has ingrained herself in the culture there. Everyone knows Zara! If you follow me, then you know I wasn’t too worried about Zavier because he doesn’t care anyway. 

After avoiding the conversation for a while, I had a very intentional discussion with them both explaining that we were moving and why we were moving. Things like needing more space, the current house not having all the things we need, etc. I wanted to include them in the idea of moving early instead of just telling them. 

Why? We’re the adults, right? Well, I want them to embrace change and be fully informed even as 5 and 7-year-olds. There’s something about including your children in family decisions that has become super important to me. We do not always get it right, trust me, but I just didn’t want to make this an abrupt and traumatic transition. 

Surprisingly, Zara explained that she was having a “bittersweet feeling” but understood that “no one can stay in the same place forever.” Zavier suggested that we “download the Realtor.com app” to look at floor plans. Again. I don’t know where Zaiver comes from but that’s indeed what he told us. They took it far better than I expected and Zara immediately let it be known that she wants to take the lead for the theme of her new room. 

I know a lot of us grew up in the “speak when spoken to” era of parenting. And I’m not saying that I don’t find myself pulling that card every now and then but I’m hoping that they feel empowered to process feelings and understand the concept change. 

There are so many of us as adults right now who get or are STILL stuck in life because we were never given the language to understand or process transitions in life. Hopefully, this experience will be another notch of coping as they grow into adults. And Let me be clear, I’m not saying that we would have changed our decision to move if they didn’t take the news well. But I still want them to feel like they are a part of this family and not just cute props!

You can read more about my parenting style on Mom.com. 

How to stage a pre-loved home for sale.

If you missed the news on Instagram, our family is preparing to move to a new home by the end of the year which means we need to sell our “pre-loved” home to a lucky new occupant.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Reiko (@reikofoster)

I’ve personally been through this process before so there are a few tricks that I think help move the process along.

Clear your home of personal effects.

ALL of your family photos, cultural art, etc should be removed so that potential buyers can visualize themselves in the space. Now, this is twofold because you do want to stage the home with simple universal art and other decor to make the home warm. I will be removing all personal photos and art and replacing them with a super cute art piece of a dog and a custom piece of my favorite plant, a sansevieria (Snake) plant.

Declutter, declutter, declutter!

You want the home to have a clean and clutter-free vibe. It’s normal to collect things over time but when selling your space, homebuyers want a clean slate so they can envision their items on shelves, etc. This also means decluttering closets. Most buyers look for maximum storage so be sure to rid your closets and shelves of boxes, hodgepodge, and odds and ends. I am going through each of our closets and storing most of the items at a storage facility. There will be one pretty storage box in each closet to house my family’s absolute necessities for living in the house while selling. That’s a great excuse to make a Homegoods or Target run, right?. Get rid of clothes or at least pack up those clothes that are out of season so that when a potential buyer opens the closet it doesn’t tell a terrible story!

Get your Pinterest on!

This is the perfect time to try some of those Pinterest tricks that you’ve been saving for years and never tried because you live a real life. So now that you get to sell a fake life…do those special bathroom folding tricks where your towels look like a duck! LOL! Change out your pantry and use those glass jars with the corks to stage that perfect pantry! This is YOUR TIME!

Clear off ALL kitchen and bathroom counters!

I know we love to keep our chips on the counter and have our bread at the ready but this ain’t the time. THIS AIN’T THE TIME! While we are on the subject of the kitchen…Spruce up your cabinets and pulls. Wipe them down or if you need to run a quick stain on them, this is the time.

Bedding should be light and airy. And matching.

That’s it.

Get rid of extra furniture in the bedroom but not all.

Buyers like to see how the space can be used in each room but be smart about it. This may mean putting your bulky dresser in storage or relocating it. You want a buyer to feel like they have room to grow. For example, we are replacing our current dining room table since it is very large and doesn’t give the appearance of enough room. We want the buyer to be able to ease their way around the kitchen so we are going to replace the dining table with a smaller/round dining table to encourage the eye to focus on the space.

Have you sold your home? Share any tips I’ve missed in the comments below.

 

Destin Florida: Drawing Lines in the Sand

If you’ve been keeping up with the Fosters (that’s us) you’ll know that prior to two weeks ago, our family had not been on a family vacation since 2019. We were over it and decided to book a vacation. Of course, we followed all safety precautions because it’s still a pandemic. (We actually booked a vacation last year but decided against going) We settled on a family and friends trip to Destin, Florida before spring break because that’s our business. (Insert Tabitha Brown’s voice) 

We went the Airbnb route to host 13 people and mainly because we wanted to save money and be near a beach. I’ve heard so many people rave about Destin over the years so I was looking forward to finally leaving Houston and seeing something new. We all needed it.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Reiko (@reikofoster)



But dare I say that I didn’t get the “warm and fuzzies” while in Destin? Like not at all. It was based on a few collective and individual experiences that we had that just didn’t sit well with my spirit. 

The first red flag was when we all got to the beach for the first time. This was my kids’ second time being to the beach in their lives so they were beyond excited. The Airbnb we stayed in was technically within walking distance which was a selling point. It was a Thursday, midday. Not many people out. As mentioned, this was the week before Spring Break so there were no crowds. 

Of course, we noticed that no one “looked like us” on the beach but that’s not a new experience when you’re black in America. As we unloaded and began to walk on the beach we were met by a “beach attendant.” He was maybe early twenties at best.

He made a direct line for us and met us before our feet even hit the sand. He proceeded to tell us that it was a private beach and that if we stayed, we had to stay on the “public part of the private beach.” Mind you that this beach was listed as part of the Airbnb’s amenities. What bothered me the most is that he never asked if any of us have access to the “private beach.” Maybe my sugar daddy was letting me use his access for the week, he doesn’t know my life! I digress. 

Keep in mind that there are at least 4-5 adults in our group and a whole bunch of kids clamoring to get to the water. 

So beach boy decided that he would further explain that the “public” part of the beach was any area that had WET sand. The sand had to be wet which meant damn near in the water only. I felt myself getting hot but I decided to stay quiet because I didn’t want to call it what it really was. 

By this time, there were definitely eyes in our direction. To be honest, if it was up to me, I would have left but the kids would have been devastated. There were also more level heads in our group and they handled it way better than I would have if it were just the four of us. 

Eventually, we conceded and let him know that we understood that the WET sand was the only area we could occupy. Do you know this fool had the audacity to walk over with us and draw a literal LINE in the sand so that we knew where we couldn’t cross?!? By this time, I am boiling hot. My friend shut him down immediately and explained that we don’t need his artwork to help us understand. 

The kids got in the water. We all did our best to power through the experience and not let it affect the kids’ visit. The kids played and splashed while I kept not so secretly staring at beach boy anytime he was in my peripheral vision. It was not lost on me/us that no one else around looked like us. There were some teenagers that were with us and I hate that this will be one of their memories. 

That was the most outstanding experience but not an isolated feeling while in Destin. I remember being at the Boardwalk and standing in line at a food truck. I was quite obviously being ignored so I left the line and went somewhere else. 

Don’t get me wrong. We still enjoyed each other and our stay. There were plenty of drinks and good food, swimming and laughing had by all. 

Because that’s what we do right? We make the best of situations. I am also fully aware that these are isolated incidents and likely to happen again if we stayed somewhere else or even just went on a different day or a different time. But I personally have no intentions of finding out. 

It was still a great road trip and some much-needed fellowship with some of our favorite people in the world. 

Update: I did a google search. This is what came up. 

What is a private beach in Florida?

The sandy part of the beach above this line, if it’s not public beach, is usually private. Most Floridians have understood this as the “wet sand/dry sand” law. In other words, every part the water touches is public while dry sand is private. – Sep 3, 2020

I guess what’s most frustrating was the humiliation of the experience. For this young kid to offer to draw a line in the sand for a group filled with adults was degrading. I get rules, I do. But it’s how you handle people. And again, how did he know that we didn’t have access to the private part? We assumed that because we had access through the beach house that this included walking on the beach. Miscommunication? Probably? The beach was not even close to being full so I didn’t understand the urgency. And I also noticed personally that other people who were just arriving at that same entrance of the beach did not get approached. Will I return? Nah. Unless we own the private beach! Adding to my list of goals!

How not to raise a baby Karen.

This story takes place before spring break 2021. 

Zara is the social butterfly in our family. She came out that way and definitely got that from her daddy. I’ve always worried that someone would try to dim her light. So I straddle the line of giving her the real while allowing her to enjoy her childhood. Imagine my reaction when she shared that she has been crying at school because a girl in her class talks to her too aggressively. 

Long story short, the classmate seems to find her way into Zara’s business and tell her what she is doing wrong. The problem is 1. Zara never asks for her opinion and 2. The girl practically yells at Zara. Zara says that she is friends with the girl except when she is bossy. From what I can tell, it seems like the classmate spends a little extra time focusing on whether Zara did a word problem correctly or if Zara hung her backpack on the correct hook. Petty? I know. Second-grade stuff. Totally. But the point is that Zara feels like she can not tell the girl to MIND HER OWN BUSINESS because she doesn’t want to be rude to her. The irony. 

The first thing I did was have a talk with Zara about speaking up for herself. The fact that I had a conversation with a 7-year-old about making sure your friends respect your boundaries is not where I thought I would be this year but here we are.

Zara attends a predominantly white school and to be completely honest with you, I do believe that this is her first encounter with a school-age “Karen-to-be.” and I felt that it was important to share different ways that she could tell Karen to mind her business.

Zara didn’t want me to tell her teacher but I emailed her anyway because…documentation. Her teacher was absolutely supportive and got right on it. It seems that the child is considered a bit of a “mother hen.” We call it nosey, bossy, and aggressive but either way, it vexes Zara’s soul. Sounds like she does it to other kids too but I’m not worried about other kids, I’m worried about my own. After some time, I had to send a follow-up email to the teacher because it seems the clash of personalities was still circulating. 

I wanted to share my email today in case you’re not entirely sure how to communicate with your child’s teacher or school in the best manner. Here’s a snippet of my email to the teacher. Of course, names have been changed to protect the identities of Zara’s teacher and Miss Karen.

Email template

Dear Teacher,

[Starting off an email without a greeting is triggering to teachers. I know. Trust me.] I hope you are doing well. My child [state the problem immediately, teachers don’t have time for fluff and neither do you] has been really struggling with a student in the class, Amanda*. 

[Show evidence that you have done your due diligence and got as much proof and truth from your child as possible. This allows time for processing on your part.]

This weekend my child actually asked me to reach out to you to see if you could address the issue about Amanda. I know I sent an email a few weeks ago (To Miss Davids*) about how my child feels that the student is too aggressive with her. I’ve discussed my child advocating for herself and speaking up for herself whenever she feels that Amanda is overstepping her boundaries but she is still feeling unnerved by her. 

[Don’t blame the other student because it could be a misunderstanding.] I do not believe that the student is being nasty, [Be sure to state when something is your opinion and not a fact to avoid confusion and anyone being wrongly interrogated.] she just seems (in my opinion) to be nosey and bossy and aggressive when sharing what my child should do. 

I was surprised that my child actually wanted me to send the email this time. She didn’t want me to before. [Avoid saying your kid would “never” do something while still maintaining that you know your child’s habits and tendencies.] Again, I think it’s a personality issue but my child seems to want to stay on Amanda’s good side so she doesn’t yell at her. [Be honest about your kid too.] I do understand my child is a sensitive girl. But it’s not like her to constantly talk about a particular student. She does say they are friends but that she sometimes cries privately because Amanda is constantly telling her what to do and doing it aggressively.

[Share that you have already started the process of teaching your child how to advocate for themselves while also stating the real issue may be.] I already explained to her that it’s okay to be friends with everyone as long as they respect her boundaries but it seems like the other student is dancing on the line of those boundaries. 

She says that she thinks of rebuttals in her head but never says them out loud to Amanda because she doesn’t want to be rude. She doesn’t want to answer rudeness with rudeness back.

[This is key. Avoid demanding the other child be immediately accused of wrongdoing. Instead suggest/request support on de-escalating a potential future situation.] Can you please keep an eye out for any uncomfortable moments between my child and Amanda? I don’t think it’s an everyday thing though. For some reason, she wants to stay in Amanda’s good graces (which is totally fine)  but it bothers her soul the way Amanda seems to constantly tell her what to do.

[Another critical point. Position yourself as an ally to the teacher. Which you should be anyway!] Please let me know if I need to address anything on my end. I [share your goal or preferred outcome here] don’t want my child to feel like she has to tiptoe around anyone while she is at school.

[Be reasonable but firm.] I’m sure it’s just second-grade stuff but I am taking her lead on reaching out with her permission.

[Always end your email by leaving the door open for communication and partnership.] Feel free to call me or email me.

EMAIL ENDS

I want to be clear. In my particular case, the teachers were immediate in their actions to resolve the issue or at least commit to monitoring the situation. They were absolutely encouraging and supportive in making sure Zara feels safe and secure and even offered to talk to the student again. 

Zara feels happy with the outcome so far but I have also told her that she has the right to have friends that respects her boundaries and she also has a right (and our permission) to not hold it in and shut Baby Karen down. 

Minding your own business costs you nothing. Respectfully. 

The next step if necessary will be a meeting request with the student’s parents but my prayer is that it never comes to that and it just works itself out. 

Emailing your child’s teacher about Dr. Seuss

Hey you! So it looks like we’re starting off the month with an email to Zavi’s teacher! Very often, I get direct messages from moms who aren’t sure if they should say something about the lack of diversity in their child’s classroom or in the curriculum. The question is always, “Should I say something?” My answer is usually “yes.” If this sounds like you, and you need help constructing emails to your teacher, keep reading.

March kicks off the national campaign, Read Across America. Read Across America uses prompts from Dr. Seuss’s books to encourage reading. I will be honest in sharing that I have not always thought that Dr. Seuss’s books were racist. I grew up on them. My mom collected them at one point. She even saved them and gifted them to me to give to Zavi and Zara. But they never made it past my car trunk. Because by then I knew better.

Dr. Seuss’s books are riddled (pun intended) with racist stereotypes and imagery. And given that I am a veteran educator, and always maturing as a parent, some things don’t get a pass. So even though I was not sure if our district or campus was participating in the Dr. Seuss activities this year, I didn’t wait to find out. So about that email???

Because I am an educator myself, I understand how emails can really trigger teachers.  I really try to keep things professional, to the point, and always make sure that it’s clear that my first priority is my child, not anyone’s feelings. In the same breath, I do think it’s possible to approach challenging subjects with teachers/schools/administrations without attacking the teacher. 

Before I show you my email, here’s a general rule of thumb for emailing your child’s teacher. 

 

  1. Use a pleasantry at the beginning of the email. No one wants to be attacked out of the gate.
  2. Share your concern clearly. Don’t ramble. Don’t talk about what you heard. Base your concerns on your experience. 
  3. Be transparent about approaching the teacher. 
  4. Be clear that you are a lifetime advocate for your child AND also a support for the teacher. Teachers or admin want to know that the student’s education is a partnership. 
  5. Offer a reasonable suggestion or solution.  ALWAYS come to the table with an answer to your own question.

Example Email

 

[Start with a greeting] 

Good morning Mr/Mrs, 

Are you ready for the weekend like I am? 

[Mention problem immediately] This may seem random but will your class or campus be doing Read Across America/Dr. Seuss books? I am only asking because Dr. Seuss’s books are filled with racist stereotypes and imagery and I do not support the use of the books as a resource. 

[Your desired outcome] If so, I just want to be able to offer my child* other resources/books at home that support diversity and inclusion during the week. 

[Be transparent about approaching the teacher] It’s highly uncomfortable for me to ask [Affirm that you are advocating for your child] but I am my child’s die-hard advocate and fan so this comes along with the title. 🙂 

If the campus/district has no plans to participate in using Dr. Seuss’s books to support Read Across America, then it is fine. 

[Offer a reasonable suggestion] Please let me know if I can help with other books/resources that support diversity for the week while keeping with the theme. I don’t mind him participating in the week at all. It’s just the actual use of Dr. Seuss’s books as the resource I find challenging. 

[Let the teacher know you are here to help] Feel free to call me or email me. I am here to support you in all ways. 

Sincerely

Parent

Now that you’ve seen one of at least a handful of emails that I send to school in a year, remember, you never have to apologize for being a parent to your child! This post is not to tell you to hate Dr. Seuss. This is for you if you want to voice your concern but don’t know how to address it. It may not be a big deal to other parents. and that’s okay! P.S. Zavi’s teacher replied to the email saying that I had no worries and that she wasn’t into Dr. Seuss anyway. Crisis averted. 

Here’s a great resource from Carlos Whittaker to help you decide if this your battle. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit)

Feel like it’s too late to contact your school about this? Bookmark this post for next year! You can also find me on Pinterest for easy access to ALL my resources.

 

*my child – I will be replacing all names in emails shared on this blog, because you know, crazies. Also, unless stated otherwise, all matters referred to in these posts have been resolved with our school/teachers.

 5 Uses For Bar Carts That Have Nothing To Do With Alcohol.

Most of us have made changes in our homes within the last year thanks to COVID. Nothing like a good quarantine to make you live in your house! One thing I’ve noticed is that I tend to move or restyle little corners of my home all of the time. It may start with just switching out a vase then turn into a complete room makeover in the middle of the night. Just me? Okay. I will take that charge. One item I’ve come to love is the bar cart! Have you used your bar cart for more than just storing alcohol and libations? I highly recommend it.

Bar carts are great for so many reasons: 

  1. Don’t have room for a bookcase? Use a bar cart! Bar carts allow you to style your favorite books by color and provide varying heights for picture frames and other little trinkets to display. So go on and stack those cookbooks that you swear you will use one day. 
  2.  Have you turned into a #plantbae in the past year? Are you constantly looking for new plant stands or places to put your new babies? Use a bar cart. Styling your plants on the shelves also makes it easier to move them where they can get the best sunlight. 
  3. Add storage bins or baskets to hide board games, remote controls, magazines, etc.
  4. Use them as bedside tables. Most bar carts have 3 shelves which are perfect to hold a lamp, storage baskets, and your favorite pictures.
  5. Use bar carts to display toys in a kid’s room. They are the perfect height for little ones to grab their favorite toys without trying to climb chairs. You can stack their favorite books or display their favorite toys. You can even use them as a chic mobile diaper changing station in a nursery. 

The possibilities are endless. Bar carts can literally serve a purpose in any room in your home, especially if space is limited. Because I love you, I linked some of my favorite bar carts in my Amazon store. You can find inexpensive ones at Ross, Homegoods, or even Burlington Coat factory but Amazon certainly has some affordable ones as well. 

I hope this post has inspired you to elevate your favorite things with a chic bar cart. If you liked it, please leave a comment or share this post with your friends and family. 

 

How to supplement your child’s Black History Month school lessons.

It’s Black History Month. If you’re an adult that means celebrating the accomplishments of people who have contributed to American Culture in all areas of life. If you’re a parent of an elementary student that probably means you (and your kid) see the same people highlighted every year. If you have a kid in Pre-K through 5th grade, that means your child will no doubt learn about Martin Luther King Jr, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and if the teacher is really spicy…Ruby Bridges. Likely a coloring page will come home with one of those faces on it. And there’s no problem with those figures. They are indeed worthy to be celebrated. But Black History does not begin with slavery and end with Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was hoping, especially following a year of volatile outcries and admittance of social inequities, black boxes, and social promises to do better, that there would be SOME effort to do more but my spidey senses say that’s not the case – and it’s frustrating. So I thought I would share five Black figures to share with your own children at home. Because if the schools aren’t going to make an effort, even now, do your due diligence.

Here are five more faces to add to the Black History Month conversation.

Kamala Harris

This one is too easy and takes the least amount of research. The first woman Vice President in U.S. history. The first African-American and first Asian American President. She attended historically Black, Howard University

Amanda Gorman

The first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest poet to speak at an inaugural event at the age of 22.

Valerie Thomas

The NASA physicist who invented 3D movies and Television. She remembers been fascinated by technology as early as 8 years old. She invented the illusion transmitter in 1980 that is still used by NASA today and she is still alive. Scientists are trying to figure out how to use her invention to look inside the body.

Jennifer King

In January 2021, Jennifer King became NFL’s first full-time Black female assistant coach. The NFL began in 1920.

Simone Biles

Simone is one of the best gymnasts in the world. She is the most decorated American gymnast with 30 Olympic Medals and she still competes today. Her family even owns World Champions Gym where she practices in the suburbs of Houston.

There you have it. Five new names to add to the list. I admit that I am writing this post out of frustration after asking my own children who they have been learning about for the first week of Black History Month. The answer? Martin Luther King, Jr, and Harriet Tubman.

Let me make it clear, they deserve to be remembered and honored but can we make a little effort. Somehow I knew they would say those names. I am just asking, especially if you are an educator, to go against the status quo. See how your students light up. Watch their faces when you say that all of these people are alive today and some even made history just a few weeks ago.

If you’re a parent reading this, this doesn’t have to be “another” virtual lesson. This can be as simple as a conversation with your kids when you pick them up from school. Start with “Have you ever heard of Amanda Gorman?” And take it from there. For older kids, you can text the name of someone and ask them to find you a youtube video about that. If you just need a manipulative, run to your local Michael’s store and grab these creative worksheets to follow up your discussions. I grabbed a pack for my own kids because I already knew I was going to have to supplement what they are learning.

There’s way too much information out here on these internets to not try. And if you need more resources, Here are a few sites that have excellent resources for parents and teachers. Many of the resources are free 99!

Resources:

https://laneshatabb.com/
https://readlikearockstarteaching.com/
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Its-Moniques-World

Now go forth and do better. And if you’re a white teacher with an entirely white class, this month is especially for your students. They will be better for it!

Disclaimer: My children go to a great school. They try. They really do. More than some schools, trust me. I don’t have complaints because they do incorporate lessons. I just want to be wowed by something out of the box. That hasn’t happened yet. Not in this area. It could happen though. It’s still early in the month. Until then, I got this. At home. Year-round.

My Favorite Things – January 2021

*None of the mentions below are sponsored. All items were purchased with my own coins.

If you’re new here, you should know I like lists. It helps me compartmentalize my thoughts and interests, so here is a list of good things that I either look forward to or simply enjoy.

  1. Journalist Abby Phillip is getting her own show on CNN. She’s brilliant, her hair is always laid and she stays ready when the mic is thrown in her court. Exciting news.
  2. I’ve been obsessed with the viral song, “Earth is Ghetto” by Aliah Sheffield because well…the earth is ghetto. I find myself tickled by the song and doing a few hundred Ummm hmms when I listen to it. Check it out on Youtube here. Can’t wait until it’s on Tidal so I can add it to my playlist.
  3. They are bringing back Sex and The City this year! I wonder if it will have the same magic?!
  4. Have you ever noticed that you never see any Black unicorns on children’s clothes? I hadn’t realized it either! I stumbled upon The Black Unicorn Shop. They sell products with unicorns on them that represent black and brown children. I bought three t-shirts last week and loved the quality of the shirts. My baby is now sporting the cutest little graphic tees with unicorns with afro puffs and brown skin. This is a shout out to creating what is missing in the market. Tell them Reiko sent you if you grab anything. This is not sponsored. I just loved that this exists for my children! What a time to be alive:)
  5. I printed a second batch of pictures from my phone using MPIX. I had been letting my photos die in my phone but realized that if something happened to me, my kids would not have all of the photos documenting our lives. A few months ago, I printed over 400 pics that went back to my wedding up until my son was 2 years old. That’s about 5 years worth of memories! This time around I printed 400 more pics. I used a 30% discount code (they always have discounts) and the pictures arrived in chronological order in perfect little plastic sleeves. I’m creating a photo box to give to the kids when they are older. This is not sponsored either. I just wanted to remind you to get those good pics out of your phone and create memories for your future kids/grandkids.

Random, but that’s how this works. What have you been loving lately?