Sunday, March 22, 2015

Roses are red violets are blue...

Roses are red violets are blue we like poems, how about you? Cheesy I know! I remember writing silly little poems for my mom and most of them began with the "roses are red" bit.  The other poems I would write were the type you would use the letters of someone's name. For example I'm sure I wrote a poem for my mother that might have gone something like this; Magnificent Oh, so wonderful Mom. Cheesy again right? In school I do not remember poetry playing a major role in my education.  Yet, with my kids I have really found the joy of poetry. There are poems that rhyme, those that don't, silly poems, serious poems, and nonsense poems.  Shel Silverstein is probably my children's favorite poet because his poems are funny and even gross at times, but he has a few that he slips in that make me teary eyed.  So, when Samuel had to come up with some poems I was really impressed with his hard work. His poems are not quite as cheesy as mine.  But he is an 8 year old boy, so they definitely are silly.  I hope you enjoy them as much I did working with him and hearing him come up with ideas.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Baby of the Family

Newborn me (plus what's up with the eye?)

I am my mother's baby.  Now to give my sister Shelbi credit she is the youngest of us four sisters, but I am the the biological baby of our mother.  Confused? Well, to fill those in who aren't privy to my family's story my mom married my sister's dad when we were about three years old.  So, with that said, I am the baby in many ways.  Being the baby of the family has a lot of privileges to be sure, but one negative aspect is a lack of baby memorabilia.  The last born often ends up with an empty baby book.  I always give my mom a hard time because my baby book has pretty much nothing in it, no photos, no entries.  Now, to her defense she was raising three girls by herself, working two jobs most of the time and then later she was raising four girls! In her defense, she has given me many memories and taught me invaluable lessons that are more precious to me than any baby book.  Also, I must admit, I too have become one of those mothers!  My baby is going to be three in September and I do not have a baby book for him, nor has he made any appearances on this blog.  Why is this?

My beautiful mom with me.

I believe that time gets the best of us.  We want to have play time with our kids,  quality time with our husbands, quiet time alone, time to fold laundry, time to keep the house from falling apart, time in God's Word, and the list goes on.  Sometimes, I feel like the weight of being a mother is a heavy load to carry.  Not because it is drudgery, but instead due to the great importance placed on that role!  Not only are we called to be tender caregivers, chauffeurs, maids, cooks, nursers, playmates, referees, educators (both academically and spiritually), etc. but we feel the need to also be the historians of our children's childhoods.  Maybe, it is just me, but in this age of social media, of Facebook and blogs we can almost become overwhelmed with documenting every moment of our lives with photo posts, tweets, and texts.  For me personally, the feeling to "keep up with Jones'" can become overwhelming.  The feeling that "oh man, I need to do this with my kids..." or "I need to post this picture,"  otherwise I am not validated in my parenting.  Now, this is not me berating those who use Facebook or anything else.  This is simply my take on it all; how it has made me feel.  After all, here I am on social media writing a blog post.  However, blogging for me in many ways helps me remember that I am more than a mom or a wife.  It helps me keep in touch with the person I will continue to be even after my beautiful children are having little ones of their own.  I blog because I like to write and I blog because I to want to preserve in some small way the history of myself and my family.

Being a historian, I think, is part of the human condition.  There is a historian in all of us...we all want to leave our mark in some small way.  We want those who come after us to know that we existed. I mean look at trees, bridges, train cars, and sidewalks for example.  You can't go anywhere without seeing some sort of graffiti where someone has left their mark.   In many ways that is how I am also.  I want people to know that there was a girl named, Emily, whom many knew as Kati. She loved God, enjoyed reading books, was passionate about children, and was interested in anything foreign. She grew up wanting to convert Eddie Veder of Pearl Jam, so she could marry him. She was good at running the mile for track, but absolutely hated every race she was in.  She thought she might go into music, but instead ended up living in Romania for a while and coming home to study Sociology.   She married a wonderful man and became the mother of five great kids.  She lived and breathed and had an impact, maybe not an earth shattering impact,  but she did leave her mark on those she loved.

Me probably 3(what happened to all that blond hair)

So, with all that said, I too feel a little guilty about neglecting my baby Lige.  I will try in the next five blog posts to come up with a short update about all my children! They are precious to me and maybe in writing about them they will some day be able to look back on their childhoods and easily recall the blessings they were to me and many others!

Me with my kiddos

What are your thoughts?  Are any of you babies of the family with baby books lacking?  Are you mothers or fathers who feel the heavy load placed upon us?  How do you feel about the impact of social media on you as a parent?  Let me know, I'm curious.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Baby Lige...not a Baby Book, but It's a Start!

Baby Lige August was born on September 27, 2012.  Now, even though he is no longer a baby, but getting close to three years old, he is stilled called baby Lige by his siblings.  This all began even before he was born.  We knew he was a boy and that we were going to name him after my great grandfather Lige Earl Brush.  Thus, he remains baby Lige to this day.  Who knows how long he will be referred to as baby Lige; only time will tell.

Lige's namesake as I mentioned above, is my great grandfather.  We chose to name him this unique name because my great grandfather was such a unique character!  He was in his nineties still riding his bicycle because he could no longer drive his car. I remember when he was still driving and we were kids riding with him, you almost got whiplash because he would put on his breaks real quick, then speed up, put on the breaks, then speed up.  He also had one of those hula girls that would wobble her hips when the car moved.  It was a riot!  When he was younger he used to be a boxer. He also became the only dad my maternal grandpa ever knew, even though he wasn't his biological father.   We would often go visit him with my mom and he had a canary in his kitchen.  He was an onry old man too.  He was also very loving.  Always after visiting we would get big hugs from him and kisses.  I will forever remember his toothless grin and his spunk.  Even when he was diagnosed with cancer and had a colostamy, he continued to be that same old onry grandpa.  So, in some ways we gave our son my great grandpa's name in order to honor a really neat man.  We also hope that maybe some of these interesting and honorable qualities may be instilled in our little boy.  The same goes for his middle name, Scott's maternal grandfather played a huge role in his life and was a man of many admirable qualities, so August was passed on as well.  Interestingly, enough the name August is also in my family history.  My great great grandfather was from Poland (Prussia at the time) and his wife also.  Their names were August and Augusta.  Well, enough said about his name.

It's interesting how with new life there is often death.  We see it throughout our lives; death giving way to new life.  The story of Jesus' death and then resurrection to new life.  Not only did He physically die and then physically come to life again, but with His death we are promised new life.   Jesus took our punishment that we deserve because of our sins.   Because He did this, we now have a new hope, a new life transformed from the death of our sins to the life of His grace and forgiveness!  Also, we are promised by His word that even though our earthly bodies may die, we will live with Him eternally.  He has gone to prepare a place for us.  Nature shows us that even though the daffodils and tulips "die" every year, they return to us in all their splendor every spring!  So, we see this cycle of death and life all the time.  Lige's birth in many ways reminds me of this circle of life.

Going into labor I had the hopes of a natural child birth this time around.  I had previously had two cesarian sections and the idea of a natural child birth was exciting and scary.  My doctor had not even allowed me to try the second time after my first c-section, so I was surprised she brought it up.  So, when I went to the hospital that evening I thought this would be the plan.  However, my doctor never showed up to the hospital that morning.  Dr. Odunsi had delivered all of my birth children and I had always trusted her completely.  I knew something was wrong when another doctor showed up to deliver Lige and said he would not allow me to try a natural child birth.  Of course I was devastated and frustrated that I was going through labor pains all for nothing.  Before I was scheduled to deliver, Scott finally confessed to me that Dr. Odunsi had died that night.  It was sad news to hear and even sadder to discover all of this during labor.  To make matters worse, once I was in surgery my spinal tap did not take and I had to be put under general anesthetic.  Neither Scott nor I were able to see our precious boy come into this world!  I must say that when I came to, I was in great pain.  This was for two reasons: One they were out of some sort of pain medicine that is normally given before the patient wakes up and two because Mr. Lige had been wedged in diagonally.  I guess the doctor had to work very hard to get him out.  So, in many ways it was a God send that I had not been allowed to try to deliver naturally.  A healthy baby boy entered into this world... Dr. Odunsi had departed this world. She will be remembered by many women.  She had a wonderful smile and laugh.  She always remembered my boys and asked about them.  She had great advice and cared deeply for her patients.  She made women feel comfortable in those situations where it is easy to feel embarrassed.  I will remember her always and know she helped bring my children safely into this world.

Lige is such a whirlwind of a boy.  He loves tractors, actually he loves any type of machine that is humongous!  It is strange because I know this is supposed to be a "boy" thing, but I really have not gone out of my way to introduce my boys to "cars and trucks and things that go." However, they all have taken some interest in these things.  Yet, I would have to say that Lige truly is intrigued by machines and seeks them out, searches for them when we are driving, and is normally the first to spot something ginormous with four wheels.  I will forever love the memory of him standing at our front picture window watching, for what seemed like hours, the tractors working out in the field.  Last fall we were blessed by the farmer who works those fields.  He just so happens to go to our church and offered to take my husband and Lige for a ride one day!  Besides being a tractor man, he also loves books and building with blocks or big legos.  Like all children he loves and gets annoyed by his older siblings.  But he truly has them wrapped around his little finger.  He calls Samuel, Bubba and Brennan, Brenny, he calls Juwan, Ju Ju, and Lola, he usually says Lalo.  Some funny things he says are: "I have idea!"  He also calls marbles, Narbles.  Another thing he does, which he got off the movie, "Box Trolls" is he will come up to you grab your hand to shake it and say, "Nice to MEET you!'  The accent he always puts on the MEET.  Some of his favorite books have been, "Machines at Work" by Byron Barton,  "Cars and Things That Go" by Richard Scary, "Old McDonald Had a Workshop," and "Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site."

Baby Lige...he makes my heart smile.  I may not have a baby book for him yet, but this blog post is a start.  My baby, the words on this page are only a small glimpse at the awesome little guy he is and continues to become.  My prayer is that he will love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Black History Month

What do most of us think about when February comes around? Frilly heart cards, roses, dinner with that special someone, chocolate that we really don't need, phrases like kiss me" and "be mine" or maybe if we are lucky, breakfast in bed; these could possibly be some of our thoughts that surround the month of February, the Month of Valentine's Day.  For me, this month has become a very special month! Not only do I get to celebrate the birth of my sweet little Juwan, but I get to remember a part of America's history that is often neglected.  
The month of February is black history month.  It is a month set aside to celebrate African Americans.  It is a time to remember the harsh realities of slavery and Jim Crow.  A time to recognize the amazing African Americans who fought against the atrocities forced upon them.  A time set aside to remember how they rose up and forced this nation to recognize its failure and fault! Yet, it is not only about slavery.  It is a celebration of many African Americans who have accomplished great things in science, art, music, heroic deeds and sports to name only a few.  Many of these individuals are not taught about in our history books and were never recognized by the masses for their contributions to this nation.  Some were recognized in some small way, but more often than not decades after the fact.  This is also a time to reflect on how this black narrative affects our country, our states, our cities, our families and our own hearts today. Now, I know some people will say why is there a whole month dedicated to only one people group? I would counter argue, why is their story not part of our collective history in the first place? Why is it so conspicuously missing from our history books?  This is why black history month exists. I have not always been aware of black history month.  An even sadder statement might be that I did not grow up knowing much about the history of African Americans or about racism in the United States.
Growing up in a small suburb where there were few minorities, I was very much unaware of what diversity lay just over the lake.  My first real experience with what race meant and how it affects people's lives very differently, occurred when my sister moved to Decatur.  There she had black friends and then gave birth to my beautiful niece who is mixed.  It was then I began to see and understand the role of race in this culture, but only in a small part. Now, I'm in my late thirties, have traveled and lived overseas, have lived in neighborhoods that some people might never venture in to, have married, I have birthed 3 children, adopted two and fostered others and this idea of race and what it means in our country has come to mean so much more!  
Black history month has allowed me to really focus for a month on the African American side of our history, not simply for knowledge sake, but more importantly to to make sure my kids know the worth of every human being!  I want my Adopted children to know that they have a rich history. That they come from a people that are strong, courageous and talented.  I want all my children to learn from the horrible mistakes that were made during slavery and Jim Crow.  I want them to learn that we all have our own prejudices and we need to recognize them and not allow them to govern our actions.  I want them to know that racism and prejudices are not qualities that God intended His people to have.  

So, in honor of Black history month, my children took some time to learn many things.  We will attempt to share some of what we have learned, with you on this blog. I know that the month of February has past, but after all this part of our history doesn't have to be confined to one month.  Sit back and enjoy and maybe, February will metamorphosis into a whole new month for you too!  Courage, triumph, racism, peace, unjust, slavery, emancipation, inventors, jazz, blues, skat, and hope: Maybe now these will be a few of the words that come to mind when you think of the month of February.

African American Poems

During Black History Month we also read many poems by African American Poets.  Some of our favorite poems came from the poet Langston Hughes.  Here are a few of the poems the kids chose to recite.  

What Black History Means to Me by Samuel

What Black history month means to me is that it is a day of the people that went through slavery and people that  weren't  celebrated for the things that they did. For a example Lewis Howard Latimer and Dr. Henry T. Sampson and nobody put them in the history book. Dr. Henry t. Sampson turned the gamma Electric cell into electricity, for a fact. Lewis Howard Latimer helped make the light bulb.  Also,the history of black people is slavery.  Harriet Tubman was a brave slave woman.  She ran away to the north where slaves were free.  Then she went back to her old master's house to save the other slaves and returned with hundreds to the North! Oh that's too bad for that slave master and woo hoo for those Black people! Do you know how African Americans got there?  They journeyed to the North by the underground railroad. It was an organization of  white and black people that helped slaves run away. Whenever the slaves were freed, they were almost still slaves.  Jim crow laws and share cropping kept them in poverty and other horrible things.  The Jim Crow laws were very harsh to black people.  I take that back, the laws were mega racist!  People like  Martin Luther King Junior fought against the Jim Crow laws, not with guns or hands but with peaceful protests.  He had his famous "I have a dream" speech that helped free black people from the Jim Crow laws. My hopes are that racism will stop! I have two siblings that are dark colored and I don't want anything to happen to them.  

Guest author: Samuel 
Age: 8 years old
Hobby/ interests: Video games, climbing trees, drawing, and reading
What he wants to be when he grows up: an inventor

These Jazz Men

Part of our Black History Month learning took on a musical note!  It all started by reading the children's book "This Jazz Man" by Karen Ehrhardt.

We have had this great book for many years, but this year we decided to find out more about These Jazz Men.  In this book you learn about nine great African Americans who were great musicians or dancers.  The neat thing about this book is that it is intended to be sung to the tune of "This old Man...he played one." We read the book, listened to some of their music, looked at real pictures of these greats, learned some facts about them, and even played a game called guess that Jazz Man.  The boys really loved it and it was a great way to incorporate my 2 and 4 year old in learning about Black History Month.  Here are the pictures of all the men we learned about...please ignore my blue tape :)

Here are a few projects the kids worked on to go along with our Jazz Men lessons.  Juwan, my 4 year old, (oops he just turned 5) started drawing this picture all on his own, without my prompting.  He knew his older brothers were choosing their favorite jazz men to write about and I guess he decided to choose his favorite also.  He drew this picture of Art "Bu" Blakey drumming.  It is a bit hard to see, but this is what he told me and I wrote it down. 

He is a drummer.  He would put his elbow on the drum to make a different sound.  Blakey played a song called "Drum Thunder."  I like him because he is a good drummer!  I want to be just like him. 

Brennan chose Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller as his favorite jazz man.  He looked at the picture in the book and drew his own version.  I thought he did a great job drawing.  He also wrote a few sentences on the back.  This is what he wrote.  He is in first grade and so there were some spelling mistakes and some corrections and lessons on some of the words he didn't know how to spell.

He plays the peano.  He maks faces when he plays the ivories.  I chose Waller because I think a piano is cool!

Samuel also wrote about his favorite Jazz Man.  He chose Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.  This was a very educational time for Samuel because not only did he have to do research, but he had to chose what information to include, how to organize his thoughts, and to type it all out.  He also chose a picture of Robinson to use.  This took a bit of time and it was kind of learn as you go. We talked about how good writing has an introduction and a closing.  He also learned that both need to grab the readers attention. So, for the caption of the picture, the introduction, and the closing we looked at different options together.  Some of these included quotes, stories, jokes, quotes about Robinson etc.  So with that said, he chose what he wanted for his paragraph.  I think he did a great job and he really enjoyed researching and learning new information he did not know about Robinson.