Friday, December 27

R. Kelly and The Culture Of Sex

By: April D. Byrd

The controversy surrounding singer R. Kelly is crazy. The internet has blown up with the concept, to support or not to support his career. The discussion can't be considered too late, because it's far from unwarranted. It's not shocking that he's under fire again for his background and the nature of his music. Even if we by-pass all the official allegations and charges, his mostly sexual discography speaks for itself. Seriously, this is Mr. My-Minds-Telling-Me-No-But-My-Body-Is-Telling-Me-Yes, because I want to Feel-On-Your-Booty and Ride-You-Like-My-Jeep. We can see how he thinks for the most part. Are we really surprised at the backlash or the allegations?

It doesn't help that his latest album is also explicit in nature, but again it shouldn't be too surprising. Since the discourse is now open. How do we let other artists with sexual and derogatory lyrics off the hook? Bumping along with beats and partly ignoring lyrics may be cosigning the use of women as tools or property to some extent. Incidentally Beyonce has also been catching hell  and making women question the true meaning of feminism and girl power around the world. In one of her most recent songs her husband Jay-Z actually compares himself to Ike Turner.

All this talk about the culture of sex in the music industry just takes us back to the question. Should artists with a platform be considered role models or not? Perhaps, its just up to us to censor what we ourselves listen to and which artists/media we support. The nature and inspiration of R.Kelly's perversion is openly exposed. How much more media are we being fed and eating up without question, or concern? How much does it affect our perception? or future generations?

What do you think of the whole ordeal? Do you support R. Kelly? or his demise? Listen to Sexually offensive content, because of the nice beat? or Do you think more Artists Should be held accountable and called out for their lyrics and lifestyle? Is freedom of speech truly freedom from responsibility?  Leave Your Comments Below.

Wednesday, December 25

Twas' The Night Before Christmas

By the time you read this I will be recovering from the 2013 Akande Christmas celebration.  I will be breathing the sigh of relief that says, “Now the real holiday begins!”  Let me explain…

Seven of the people I love most in this world are curled up sleeping in my house.  Incidentally, these seven people are also most likely to make me lose my mind!  Anyway, grandma, who my kids call nanny, is bunking with us for a few days until power is restored to her house.  Like so many folks in our city, our Christmas plans have had to change because of a bad ice storm.  My kids are so excited to have nanny full-time.  And I am so grateful that we are in a position to be the ones doing the caretaking. I am less grateful that my Nanny care-taking gig is coinciding with Christmas. 

My mom, although not a fan of cooking, is the one who always hosts family holiday dinners.  Her home is big and warm.  She loves having her eight grandchildren in the same home where she raised her kids and the grandchildren love Nanny’s house! But when Nanny’s power went out, we took her in along with the 20 pound turkey she had purchased to feed the 19 Akandes for Christmas Eve dinner.  I smiled my most welcoming smile, thinking to myself, “Oh good Lord, how will I pull this off?” immediately followed by “I better have some Ativan left!”   

You may or may not know this about me, but I really don’t like to cook.  I don’t even really like other people to cook if I am around.  Cooking gives me tremendous anxiety.  I have yelled at Wife many times for cooking.  “What are you thinking?  Why are you cooking now?”  She grumbles something about having to feed the kids and in order to feed children – something we are legally required to do (stupid laws), one of us will actually have to cook.  She is so show-offy about her parenting skills.  Cooking is messy and disorganized.   I just hate it. 

BUT as the big moment approaches, something amazing is happening.  I’m getting excited.  First of all, I’m a bit of hero, because I am saving Akande family Christmas.  And I am receiving the torch.  The Akande baby is grown up enough to host a pressured filled family meal.

We don’t have a tree, (ours is a Jewish home).  We have only 8 chairs (there are 7 of us and I discourage guests during meal times).   We are short on space.  And I am pretty sure one of our kids has a raging fever.  But we’re doin’ this thing!  Bring on the Akande Family Christmas celebration.  Check back next week to hear how it went down. 

If you are celebrating Christmas this week, the Silverman-Akande family wishes you and yours a very merry and bright holiday season. 

XO Ajike

P.S.  Listening to my cuties having morning cuddles and chats with Nanny…  Nanny singing, “I’ll be home for Christmas” and G says, “No you won’t!  You don’t have power!” 

Monday, December 23

Gifts That Make Room For Us

By April D. Byrd

Who will bring you before excellence if you don’t do it yourself? Our special gifting or talent that we authentically have makes room for us and brings us before great men. Making room means to create opportunities and opens doors.  It's up to us to Capitalize on that!

There is a saying that goes: "when the teacher is ready the student appears." Well when you are prepared for it, the opportunity comes. Being cognizant of your gifting and who you are is important. What are you passionate about? There is no actual set path to success, but it's important to be professional and confident in your gift.

Go towards your goals and express your talent with no reservation, because it's especially yours. When you go towards it, a way will be supplied. Where there is a will, there is a way. The world makes way for the person who knows where they are going. If you know where you're going, what you're doing, and exactly what you want to accomplish, then chances are you wont be very disappointed with the results you get. 

Taking action to express our gifts to the world, is a gift to the world. We were created with purpose it's up to us to fulfill it with passion. Be open to your positive, creative inspiration then open your greatness up and share it with the world. 

April D. Byrd (@aprilinspired) is a Writer, Producer, and Creator of Breath Of Life Daily.

Friday, December 20

SNL Wants Black Comediennes

The Late night comedy show Saturday Night Live wants black girl funny. Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels says he’s bringing seven or eight female African-American comediennes to New York to audition for the show, and one  will be added to the cast in January. SNL hasn't had a black female cast member for almost six years. The show has received criticism for it's lack of diversity, but Micheals said that it didn't attribute to the surge in interest to find a black actress. 
When Kerry Washington recently guest hosted the show, she had to play a variety of roles. Washington did Michelle Obama, Beyonce, and Oprah all in one sketch.Saturday Night Live again realized the lack of diversity, and even poked fun with an announcement:  

“The producers at Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play tonight,” the Voice-over Guy said as Washington ran on and off stage changing costumes. “We make these requests both because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent – and also because SNL does not currently have a black woman on the cast. As for the latter reason, we agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future, unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.”

SNL has now done multiple sketches to poke fun at the issue, but they're actively moving to do something about the situation. They held auditions earlier this month in Los Angeles, which attracted media attention because it was set up for black comediennes. Actor Kenan Thompson told T.V. guide that there hasn't been a black female cast member for so long because most of the time "they never find ones that are ready."

SNL will definitely make a role available to the right actress or comedienne. Black Womyn Rock and are clearly making a huge impact in media. Kudos to Maya Rudolph who was hilarious on the show for a long time.  Blogger Jasmine Brand was made aware of the opportunity, but it conflicted with her schedule for the show "Love That Girl" on TV One. Comedienne Tiffany Haddish also auditioned and interviewed with Inside Edition about the role. We hope to see more black comediennes shine on SNL and in the comedy arena as a whole.

Tiffany Haddish speaks out on the issue: (video)

Wednesday, December 18

Reasons I should have been a mom 30 years ago

Last week I found out that I’m anemic.  Not a big deal, Easy to fix.  I’m actually relieved because I was beginning to worry about my sluggishness and complete disinterest in my children and their needs.  There’s been a lot of “Mommy’s just resting her eyes.”  Sadly, discovering the cause of my complete lack of energy does not actually give me anything more than an excuse.  So, while lying on the couch watching my littlest ones destroy the house, I started thinking about how parenting 30 years ago, even with anemia, would have been better for me.  So here is my list, so far, of reasons I should have been a (middle-class, urban, North American) mom 30 years ago. 

1.        Snacks – Part A.  Thirty years ago children didn’t have “snacks” that were held in traps.  Thirty years ago children hardly had “snacks” at all.   Snack Traps are special containers that have a flexible rubber lid with slits so that small children can stick their hands in and pull out a snack without spilling the itty bitty crap all over the stroller/car seat/ couch or whatever ridiculous place kids insist on eating.  Unfortunately the flexible rubber lid with slits is annoying as all hell to most children so they either shake the container like maniacs spilling the snack everywhere or they ask you to remove the lid – usually while you are driving.  (Don’t even get me started on “emergency” requests I get from my children while I am driving and the subsequent cry fest when I explain that I can’t actually address their request.) 

2.       Snacks – Part B.  This is how “snack time” went down in my house when I was a kid…  “Mom, I’m hungry.”  “There’s fruit in the fridge.”  That was it.  That was the conversation.  Done.  Any kind of food storage container in my house was big enough to hold a meal.  They were FOOD containers, not snack containers. 

3.       Car seats.  Remember when kids didn’t have car seats?  I love safety.  I really, really do.  “Safety First!” I always say.  BUT I do not like being responsible for my children’s safety.  Children don’t care about being safe.  They care about asserting their feelings and strength – usually when you are trying to get them into their car seats.  Children who need to be put into any kind of restraint are freakishly strong.  The only way to deal with this is to be freakishly stronger.  I have wedged my knee between my kids’ legs and used my forearm to bend them into their seats.  I am not proud of this.  That’s not true.  I am totally proud of this, because I win...which brings me to my next point… 

4.       Children’s Rights.  I am all about the rights of the child.  I really am.  I am not joking here.  That stuff’s for realz.  BUT when I was a kid, adults were adults and kids were kids.  My parents didn’t offer me choices, they gave me directions.  I followed them or I didn’t follow them.  If I didn’t follow them, there was hell to pay.  I knew that going in, and I generally did what I had to do to avoid negative consequences.  “Because I said so” was an acceptable reason and when I protested a parental decision, my mother would say, “The good Lord gave you parents for a reason!  Until you can make good decisions, I’ll make them for you!”  I have said these things to my children.  The difference is, 30 years ago, I would not have received the same looks that I get today when people over hear me.     

5.       Parenting books/blogs/websites/social media.  This topic requires an entire post.  Let’s just say that if a parent is looking for a way to feel bad about themselves or question much of what they are doing as parents OR if they are looking for a whole lot of other parents who subscribe to their particular parenting approach, they just need to hop online.  I realize that I am now writing about parenting on this blog, so I’m either contributing to the problem, or providing validity for others by sharing my particular brand of crazy!  Thirty years ago, you chatted with your neighbours about parenting, not a whole bunch of people you’ve never laid eyes on. 

6.       Baby & Child Gear.  There’s just too much and it’s just too fancy.  The baby/child gear industry is expanding because parents are perpetually looking for ways to better manage their lives and because we will believe anybody who tells us that a particular product will make things so much better.  I know this.  I have been separated from my money daily since we started thinking about having kids!  I currently own 6 baby carriers and a double decker quad stroller that I am not tall enough to see over!  Thirty years ago, gear was simple.  There weren’t a thousand different versions of every “must-have” baby product.  Baby gear was utilitarian.  I think I would have liked that.

Look, I’m happy to be parenting with all the conveniences and all the information about kiddos at my fingertips, but I’m pretty sure that things are more complicated than they need to be.  I would have totally rocked parenting 30 years ago.   I just know it.  No snacks, no car seats, and no on-line parenting advice…think of all the time I’d have!  Just sayin’! 

XO Ajike

Monday, December 16

Monday Motivation: Buy Your Own Flowers

By: April D. Byrd

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection. ~ Gautama Buddha

Someone once bought me flowers and I was extremely happy, later after the relationship didn't work. I realized that It was that gesture that I liked most, so instead of being sad. I thought: "why don't I buy my own"? It was a liberating thought that slightly changed my outlook on life. "Buy Your Own Flowers". We're not dependent on anyone. No one created our lives, so we shouldn't expect anyone to be a source of it. Instead let self-esteem and love blossom from the inside.  So many times we may wait to be honored or acknowledged by people.

Don't wait to be celebrated, loved, accepted, affirmed by anybody. When people see you've upgraded your life and doing well, they take notice. If you celebrate your value and your worth then others will too. Even if some don't it still doesn't matter.  Everything you need already comes from the inside of you. Loving yourself right first, causes everything else to fall into place. You will expect good treatment from others, because you treat yourself well. Make sure you love what you see in the mirror first, and dress up for yourself.

Sometimes we may feel lonely or expect love from others in return for our own, but its best to love with no expectations give from ourselves wholeheartedly without expecting anything in return. The ability to love without attachment comes from self-love. Self-discipline ignites from the flame of  self-love and makes achieving success much easier. In taking the initiative to buy my own flowers, pretty soon i'll have my own garden, and it will be filled with enough beauty inside to share with the world.

Celebrate yourself, Feel free to buy your own flowers (literally) and decorate your own soul, there are few things that are more liberating than realizing that you're worth everything.

April D. Byrd is a Writer, Founder of BOLD Journal ( and resident Social Media Blogger for Trey Anthony Studios. Send your feedback via social, you can catch her on Facebook, tumblr and on Twitter/Instagram: @aprilinspired.

Friday, December 13

"Selfie-Love": Are We Addicted To Social Media?

By: April D. Byrd
"looks like the first lady just wasn't having it!"

So, Roberto Schmidt the photographer that took the selfie that blew up on the internet says "Pictures can lie"... "the first lady's stern look was captured by chance". I say it looks like the first lady just wasn't having it! Did she really make the President change seats? and Exactly how inappropriate are selfies at a funeral? In his AFP blog post, Schmidt also said that All around him were South Africans dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. "It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid." and it was totally relaxed. 

Social Media has seriously magnified the popularity of selfies. Now we'll probably never be able to tell whether it's vanity or really some in depth form of art? We can learn a lot about ourselves through a self-portrait. Mashable even made a list and rated The 16 Best Selfies of 2013. Social media has definitely made us "selfie" obsessed! Where is the dividing line between Arrogance and Confidence? Surprisingly the most arrogant  Self-confident rapper Kanye West recently made an anti-selfie move. At his concert "Yeezy" wore a mask that covered his entire face. To his credit when a fan shouted for him to take it off. Kanye screamed "I'm Kanye motherf**king West." then had the woman escorted out of the concert.

 we hope the fan got a full refund!

The impact of fame or recognition can make people a bit crazy sometimes. Social Media has done just that. Instagram is continuously upgrading with videos and now direct messages. Facebook is expecting a new upgrade as well. How bad is Social media really making us? The Diagnostic and Statistical  Manual of Mental Disorders has now actually included Internet Addiction Disorder and listed it for further study. Psychologists fear that Internet and mobile technology contributes to "compulsive personality traits" and is related to ADHD and OCD. Newsweek printed that a third of smartphone users go online before getting out of bed. 

I can personally admit that I'm a social media fanatic. My obsession even led to an internship. It's easy to get lost in social media world because those instant "likes" can make us feel like we're actually getting something done. However, It can be an effective tool, if we use it right. So I monitor relentlessly and hash-tag my heart out, all the while getting distracted by some other post in the process. Despite all the reports and statistics, Social Media is not all bad, it does give exposure. Without it I never would've started a magazine or met my she-ro Trey Anthony. In the instance that we do have something meaningful or interesting to say, it serves as a great platform. So by all means, Let the digital fun and discourse continue. 

What do you think of the Kanye and the President's behavior?  Do you consider yourself addicted to "selfies" and  Social Media? many hours a day are you on for business or personal reasons?
Share  and comment below.

April D. Byrd is a Writer, Founder of BOLD Journal online magazine and resident Social Media Blogger for Trey Anthony Studios. Send your feedback via social, you can catch her on Facebook and on Twitter/Instagram: @aprilinspired.

Wednesday, December 11

Raising Little Activists

When I heard about Nelson Mandela’s death last week, my mind was flooded with memories.  I remembered being about 8 years old, standing in a sea of adults gathered in my home during the 1986 Toronto Arts Against Apartheid Festival.  I remembered seeing my father throw a South African apple in the fruit section of the supermarket, declaring that as long as the supermarket supported South African apartheid, he would not shop there.  I remembered seeing Mandela at Queens Park in 1991 and exactly where I was sitting in my grade nine history class when I heard that apartheid had ended.  I remembered sitting, as a teacher, with my grade one and two students in the gymnasium of Nelson Mandela Park P.S when Mandela danced into the gym for the school’s renaming. 

The struggles of black South Africans and the life of Nelson Mandela was my first introduction to social justice, activism and most importantly the idea that we (all of us) belong to each other.  My parents were the first people to teach me that my voice could be powerful and that my actions can make a difference.  Mandela’s death and reflecting on my own development has caused me to question what kind of example, if any, I am setting for my own children. 

Before I had kids, and I was an S.P.W.C (Superior Parent Without Child). I imagined taking my children to protests and marches and singing freedom songs instead of lullabies.  Stop laughing.  I really thought it would be like this. I wanted to raise baby activists.   I thought their first words would be “solidarity forever!”  I thought they would chant “What do we want?  Justice.  When do want it?  Now!” with great enthusiasm and true understanding.  In reality, it’s more like “What do we want?  Snacks!  When do we want them?  Five minutes ago!”

I started strong with little Z.  He was a chill little guy and we had ‘lots of time to just be together and talk.  When he was a toddler Obama was elected.   Little Z was obsessed with him.  In his toddler-way, he knew why his winning the US election was so significant.  In toddler-eeze we explained racism and change.  I believed we were raising a baby activist. 

With the arrival of our twin girls, my focus went from raising compassionate children who have a sense of justice for all and the ability to recognize their own struggles and the struggles of others, to my own struggle to get through the day!  I became less concerned with what was in their heads and hearts and more concerned with the head count at the end of day when they were, God-willing, asleep! 
I realize that most people don’t formally teach their children to be good, caring people, but they demonstrate goodness and talk about our place within our smaller and larger communities and how well, we belong to each other.  I’m pretty sure that I mostly demonstrate frustration and in all honesty, I spend very little time actually talking to my kids.  I spend a lot of time corralling, directing, redirecting, and yelling at my kids.  Sure there’s a lot of playing, tickling, reading, but not much talking.  Z had a different kind of mommy from the mommy the younger kids have. 

Z still asks a lot of questions and shares ideas.  His world is much bigger than his siblings so he has greater opportunity to be exposed to and learn from others.  He also has unique identities in most situations.  Our boy is often the only adopted child, the only child with two moms, the only dark skinned black child, the only gender fluid child, and the only capital Q, drama Queen!  I think, although he couldn't say it yet, he knows that just being who he is, is a political act.    He is always looking for acknowledgement that while who he is may be unique and can be hard, his individual identities are not unique to this world. Right now he’s as self-absorbed and sometimes unkind as any other 6 year old, but I feel (hope) he’ll grow to speak up and to seek answers.  When he’s not focusing on styling his new faux hawk (Why on earth did I agree to it?!) or practicing his dance moves or planning for the school talent show in June, I think he is beginning to get what’s going on in the world. 

As for the rest of our kiddos, I don’t know yet.   Maybe the next time they are staging a protest at the kitchen table because I am not producing the right food at the right speed, I will explain to them that their collective anger and determination, although totally insignificant in comparison (ahem, Kanye), reminds me of the collective determination of black South Africans during the 50+ years of apartheid.  Maybe this is a stretch.   I trust they’ll figure it out eventually.  For now, I stand on guard, by the snack cupboard, watching them grow and hopefully, incidentally, discover that we belong to each other.   Who knows, maybe their big brother will teach them. 

xo Ajike 

Monday, December 9

Monday Motivation: I'm Talking To You

I can’t believe you’re so dumb!

Wow that was stupid!

You look huge!

You need to be more disciplined!  Then you would be further ahead!

You're not tired  you are  just being lazy?

Your hips are huge!

You’re getting fat!

I am embarrassed and even somewhat ashamed to admit that I have said all of the above to myself on many occasions.  The harsh and awful things that I say to myself I would never say any of these things to any of my friends. I would not even dream about saying any of these things to someone I strongly disliked!
Lately, I've really started to become more aware of how I speak to myself. Being more aware of that critical voice in my own head.  Whenever, I catch myself saying negative things inside my head I actually say them aloud and apologize to myself and re-frame the negative talk to something much more supportive and encouraging. For ex: now instead of saying, Wow, Trey that was stupid! I now say,  Wow trey, you’re doing the best that you can.  Good for you for trying!

In order, to find a more gentle and kinder way to speak to myself, I now have instructed myself to speak to me, as I would a four year-old little girl. I chose four years old because I believe that four is such a tender and precious age. An age where you are curious about life, an age where you’re still trying to figure things out, and sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’t.   I wanted to encourage the four year old in me to be ok with sometimes “messing up.” I wanted her to know that whatever she does she will be loved. I wanted her to know that she is loved and supported.  I wanted to be gentle, and extremely kind with that little girl and it hasn't been easy but I’m getting better at it. Less critical, and more encouraging.  

So, I ask you today, to be gentle, and kind not only to others but most of all to yourself~ Imagine that today is a  brand new day to start a love affair with yourself! Thus, talk to yourself, as if you are worthy to be loved and cherished…



Friday, December 6

Woman Denied A Pedicure Because Of Weight

In Houston Texas, Shawanna Thompson was denied a pedicure because of her size. The owners of the salon told Shawanna her weight was a problem and they didn't want her to break the chair because of the cost.
“It was very shocking and astonishing that someone would come and out of the blue exclaim that I was too big to get a pedicure,” Shawanna Said.
Even though she had been to the salon before the owner still refused her service. Thompson is encouraging her family and friends to boycott the salon. she says "If the salon wants to have a weight restriction, they should apply them consistently...the policy should be posted so customers of all sizes can see it and decide whether they want to spend their money there. She wants others to learn from the experience.

“You have a choice. You don’t ever have to take any disrespect or discrimination. You have to say something about it.”
What do you think about the situation?
Check out the video below:

Wednesday, December 4

How I Am Like My Toddlers

I have been sick with some sort of cold virus for three weeks now.  It’s not a big deal but it has left me completely exhausted because while I've been sick so have three out of five kids.  Also not a big deal but I must admit that it has rendered me whinier and complainer (totally a word) than usual.  In fact, in many ways I’m no better than my toddlers in regards to my behavior.  This got me thinking, my toddler–like behavior is not reserved for times of sickness. It’s pretty much an every day thing for me.  So for your reading pleasure…

How I Am Like My Toddlers
* Please note that many of the following behaviors are extremely annoying in actual toddlers, but in me, they are adorable!  Just ask wife. 

1.       I continue to get double ear infections.  Wife’s unsympathetic response when I returned home from the doctor the other day and told her that I have a double ear infection?  “What are you, five?”  At 38, I rest my head on her lap and squeeze her leg as she puts ear drops in for me.  It hurts!  And I am a bit of baby. 

2.       I have mood swings.  The toddler kind.  One minute I will be fighting back tears when I want to literally cry over (the third class of) split milk, sure that I can’t do this parent thing for another second and then the next moment someone will make a funny face and I will giggle and carry on like life couldn't get any better.  This mood swing thing may be hard on Wife.  The kids understand mood swings; Wife, on the other hand, is probably counting on me remaining a little more level headed. 

3.       I have an unhealthy attachment to my cell phone.  The strong desire to scroll down, finger on screen is truly shared by my little ones.  They get it.  They too have scrolling needs which makes point #4 an issue. 

4.       I don’t really like to share.  My phone is MY phone.  My food is MY food.    Isn't it a little weird that toddlers hate sharing but they truly believe that what is yours is theirs?

5.       I like Wife’s food and drink more than my own.  Whatever she is eating I want to eat.  Her drink is my drink.  If it were even a little bit appropriate, I would sit on her lap at the table and demand that she feed me off of her plate. 

6.       I announce when I have to use the bathroom.  I have no secrets.  I like people to know where I am and what I am doing.  I should rethink this though, as I often get followed into the bathroom by little privacy-snatching children.

7.       I like to sleep in the car - when other people are driving, of course.  Any expectations of committed conversation or navigation assistance will not be met.  I also drool when I sleep in the car.

8.       I never stay seated while I’m eating.  This may have to do with the constant requests to fetch things but I often don’t even bother sitting down.  I regularly threaten the end of a meal if my children do not stay seated on their bottoms while eating.  Parenting is all about double standards. 

9.       I still use a sippy cup.  Adults – if it’s got a spout and a straw and you call it a water bottle, really it’s just an adult sized sippy cup.  Don’t try to argue.  You know I’m right.  Get someone to video tape you taking a sip from your “water bottle.”  Do you essentially look like a toddler?  Yeah, I rest my case! 

10.   The best way to dance is in my underwear.  I am not sure if I should apologize to Wife for this behavior or smile and say “you’re welcome!”
Anyway, there it is.  Ten ways I am exactly like my toddlers. 

Am I the only one whose behavior bears a striking resemblance to a child’s?  Ease my embarrassment and share your child-like behaviors in the comments. 

Xo Ajike

P.S.   About the use of the word Wife rather than my partner’s actual name Lisa.  Calling her Wife and not Lisa may suggest that I believe that wife is her only identity.  I do not believe this.  I am not evil.  The whole Wife, not Lisa, thing started because I decided about a year ago to change her name on my phone from Lisa to Wife.  Why?  Well I started worrying that one day I would be crossing the street, and be hit by a car and the paramedics caring for me would look on my phone and to see who to contact about the accident.  Looking through my contacts with just a bunch of random (to the paramedics, not to me) names wouldn't help but if I had Wife, they would know who to call.  It’s kind of brilliant, right?  Anyway, that is how the name Wife was born.  Thanks to my neurotic imagination, paramedics will always know who to call and Lisa has a new name. 

Monday, December 2

Monday Motivation: Giving Up On The Dream?

Friday, November 29

Why We Love Da Kink In Vanessa's Hair

Are you kidding me! A child chooses to wear her hair natural and faces being kicked out of school?!
The story of 12-year-old Vanessa Vandyke facing expulsion for her natural hairstyle has gone viral and made national headlines. Attention was brought to Vanessa's hair when she reported to the school that she was being teased because of it. 

It was originally reported that Vanessa was told she had a week to decide whether to cut her natural hair or leave Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Fla. Now the school is saying they would just like her to style it differently with claims that is doesn't meet the guidelines of the school handbook. Sabrina Vandyke, Vanessa's mom said she will fight for her daughter's freedom and originality. Most recently the school said Vanessa Will NOT be expelled because of her hair. Singer Elle Varner also wrote a poem "Hair Care" dedicated to Vanessa.

A few months ago 7-year-old Tiana Parker from Oklahoma faced the same issue. Journalist Melissa Harris-Perry had some powerful words of encouragement:

"to all the little brown girls who rock their hair in all its many styles, you are perfect just the way you are and don't be confused, it's whats in your head, that's way more important than whats on your head."

Vanessa loving and embracing her natural beauty is wonderful. Support, Support, Support! Please share the link as well. Kudos to her! Continue to stand firm in your uniqueness.

Check out the video below:

Wednesday, November 27

Did I Mention That Ours Is An Interfaith Family?

It’s official; the Christmas holiday season is upon us.  Our school aged kids are learning Jingle Bells and The Twelve Days of Christmas to perform at the school Holiday (CHRISTMAS) Concert, so naturally, the questions have started about Santa and Christmas.  How will Santa get into our house; we don’t have a chimney?  When will we get our get Christmas tree?  Is Santa going to come into our room like the tooth fairy because I don’t want him to?  (I totally agree about the weirdness of random made up people coming into my room at night.  Creepy!)  It is at this time that I have to explain to the kids that they are Jewish and that we have a Jewish home and therefore don’t celebrate Christmas at our house but instead celebrate Christmas at Nanny’s house.   We don’t have a tree and Santa won’t come to our house.  As I’m explaining all of this to the kids, I’m preparing for some heavy duty “it’s not fair” tantrums, but luckily the kids are pretty chill about this.  After, they clarify that Santa knows where they’ll be and they will, in fact, receive their presents at Nanny’s house, they go about their business.  Discussion done.  ...For them. 

I find this interfaith family thing a little more challenging.  I am Christian - not A Christian but I grew up celebrating Christmas and Easter.  And I’m still the first one up on Christmas morning ‘cuz well, it’s Christmas people!  My partner Lisa is Jewish.  She grew up more as a cultural Jew than a religious Jew. 
When we met, I was all “If God had a refrigerator, my picture would be on it!”* and Lisa was all, “I’m going to meditate at the local Buddhist temple.”  When we started planning to have kids, I said that I want to raise our kids to believe in God and Lisa said she wants the kids to be raised Jewish. Regardless of the biological technicality that none of our children were born to a Jewish woman and therefore are not recognized as Jewish, it seemed like a good option to raise the children to believe in God in a Jewish way.  Cool, right?  Wrong.  As it turns out, Lisa doesn’t really know much about finding God in the context of Judaism and I pretty much use God as a tool in managing behaviours.  Basically this leads me to saying things like “God doesn’t like it when you blow out the Hanukkah candles!”  Jewish God, with a side of Catholic guilt!  Not at all what we had intended.  

So every year- Jewish and Gregorian, we promise to bring more religious spirituality to our family life.  We light candles and say blessings on Friday nights.   It is true that on some Friday nights, we bless the sushi we’ve ordered in rather than a traditionally blessed Challah, but the kids get it – we thank God, farmers and Sushi Island for our food.  Our eldest goes to Jewish religious school once a week.  (We are late for religious school too by the way).  This week, we gently suggested that he not take his picture of an elf decorating a Christmas tree with stars of David to show his teacher.  We excitedly teach the kids to spin dreidels while they excitedly sing Christmas carols.  This happened.  I am not making this up.  And we explain, to anyone  who asks, that the reason why we haven’t cut our youngest boy’s hair is because we are following the Jewish custom of letting a boy’s hair grow until he turns three before having a celebratory chalakah (Jewish hair cutting ceremony).  The actual reason for keeping his hair long is because he’s crazy cute with long hair!  Obviously we pick and choose which customs to follow and which traditions are meaningful to us.  Truth be told, right now our kids may be more Jew-ish than Jewish, but we’re getting there. 

Hanukkah starts this week we have placed our menorah in the window so that when we light it on Wednesday night everyone will know that ours is a Jewish home.  This week we will also practice the Christmas songs in preparation for the Holiday (seriously, call it like it is – Christmas) concert, because no kid of mine, Jewish or otherwise, is going to be in the back row of the choir pretending to sing! 
I am confident that when the teacher asks if anyone celebrates Hanukkah, my kids will raise their hands and say “I do!” and then proceed to have a lengthy conversation with their friends about the travel pattern of Santa on Christmas Eve.  Clearly the kids have this interfaith family thing down! 

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating this week! 

xo Ajike

* Quote by Max Lucado

Monday, November 25

Monday Motivation: F%^&*4ing Namaste!

I’ve been on my spiritual path for some time. I’ve devoured all the standard new thought thinking books.  I sign all my emails with Namaste and Blessings.  I practice yoga, I read Oprah,  I meditate, I chant, I have an altar, I manifest,  I daily send love and light to others. I secretly  smirk inside when people refer to me as enlightened, spiritual, and peaceful.  And I nearly pee my pants, whenever I overhear people say, "Trey is so Zen!" 

Yes, I’m the poster child for new thought thinking!  At the rate I’m going I think The Universe/god would definitely assign me a seat up there with all the angels!  I feel my wings already growing! Yet, recently my new Zen attitude was tested.   I had asked someone close to me to do something very important and their response was not what I had wanted.  I was angry, hurt, and  very, very, very disappointed.  And my first response was to fire off a defensive, yet dismissive email and also to regress to my deeply rooted belief that, “No one does anything for me, that’s why I don’t ask anyone for s&&%!”  This is a thought pattern that I have desperately been trying to change through meditation and also through personal therapy.   

Deep down, I knew this person did not mean to intentionally hurt me  and did not mean to let me down, but I felt justified to sit with my anger and hurt.   I sat with this anger and hurt for a few days until I suddenly came to the realization that, it is in the most difficult times that I need to call on my spirituality and beliefs.  And I must function from a place of love, forgiveness and acceptance. I also went back to the very core principal of what Author,  Don Miguel Ruiz shares in his popular book,  The Four agreements,   "Don’t Take Anything Personally".

"Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. -The four agreements. 

I realized that I had taken this person’s response personally therefore I was now suffering.  I had made their response become all about me. I didn't want to see that perhaps they had struggled with their response to my request. I didn't want to see what was their reality, what was their own dreams.  No,  I immediately went to my hurt place and started an inner dialogue about what “inferior” place I must occupy in their lives.  

But, I had to really put myself in check!  It’s easy to practice spirituality and love when all is well and everyone is doing what you want them to do. But the real testing of your faith comes when you feel hurt, disappointed and betrayed.  So I began to meditate daily and place this person in my heart. I daily sent them love and light.  I daily meditated on the fact that I forgave them. I daily reminded myself that this was not about me.  And I also called the person to say that I still loved them.  This was a huge step for me because usually when I’m hurt I go into my defense mode of cutting folks off, and creating physical and emotional distance to keep my heart safe.  But I realize it’s easy to love and be nice to nice people.  The hard part is to love and forgive those who challenge us. 

So today I ask you, to ask yourself, who is it that you need to send love and light to?  What hurts are you wrongfully holding on to?  What have you taken personally?  

We can’t be convenient in our  love, forgiveness and spirituality.  And all the Oprah reading and yoga isn’t going to enlighten you, unless you decide to remain spiritual in the path of difficulty.   Now stop Namaste-ing  and go pick up the damn phone and say, “ I love you!”

Friday, November 22

Kanye West Debuts New Video with Kim Kardashian

This week Kanye West premiered his new music video exclusively on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He talked about his relationship with Kim Kardashian, his proposal, and baby North. So How exactly do we feel about "Kimye"? Is it a love/hate thing? They're the most talked about couple in the world and now they have a video. Kanye was heavily involved with the concept and editing of the video. The visual for his song "Bound 2" with vocals by singer R&B singer Charlie Wilson includes Kim happily riding topless on a motorbike. The new video is creating a lot of buzz.  I must admit I wasn't that impressed with it and didn't like it all that much.  

What are your thoughts about it?

Check out the video below:

Wednesday, November 20

A Letter To The Late Slip Lady

Dear Late Slip Lady,
We’ve gotten to know each other quite well over the past few months and I feel I owe you an explanation for our rampant lateness.  I know, I know you don’t care WHY we’re late; you just want us to arrive on time.  But just in case you are wondering what could be preventing us, day in and day out, from arriving at school on time, I am writing to you today.  If you could just consider things from my point of view, you will realize that our lateness is not my fault.  Like every parent, I am doing the best I can with the kids I’ve got!
So one morning back in October, my 2 year old twins discovered a full tub of Vaseline and applied its entire contents to their pyjamas, faces and hair.  Their timing was lousy – 8 am on a school day, but really their curiosity about the properties of petroleum jelly and it’s spreadability shows their commitment to the scientific process – hypothesize (I’m sure they did this pre-application) and test.  After a loud “What are you doing?” followed by “It feels pretty cool, eh?” I had to do the motherly thing, and clean them up.  I am sure you can imagine how long it takes to clean up after pint sized scientists.  And anyone who saw them for days following this incident can attest to the fact that I didn’t even waste time washing their hair because I knew you were waiting.  We tried to get to school before the bell, but we were late.  Not my fault.

And there’s Z.  While he is older (six) and more accustomed to the school routine and the insistence that children respond to bells as though they have been trained by Pavlov, he has recently discovered skinny jeans and seems to believe that there is a direct correlation between his wearing them and his obvious coolness!  He is not above crying (sobbing really) for a remarkably long time about the fact I have chosen some jeans for him that appear baggy.  This is why we were late that cold November morning.  I was trying to get the kids to school on time.  I actually chose his clothes that day to save time.  There was no way I could have known what would happen when I handed him his clothes.  Let the record show, that after I mopped up his tears and coaxed him off his bunk bed where he had thrown himself, head buried in a pillow, he put the jeans on and discovered that the jeans were, in fact, skinny.  We were late, but Z looked fabulous.  Clearly, not my fault.  
The problem is, that after so many of these unexpected incidents causing our lateness,  even on the rare occasion when we are able to leave the house in enough time to arrive before the morning bell, I hesitate because the key to good parenting is consistency.  Children need to know what to expect from their parents and my children expect their parent to get them to school late!  Just because occasionally the stars align, and my children choose to take a break from their usual antics, I don’t think it’s a good idea to throw off their routine and drop them off at the same time as other kids with show-offy, on-time parents!  And besides, if the children are at school on time, it’s probably because I’ve screamed so much and so loudly that my heart beat is visible to the naked eye.  I don’t think this is a good way for them to start their day.  I’m a good mom and I keep reading that we need to stop yelling at our children because it’s harmful.  I’m good, but I’m not an over-achiever so I’m not trying to stop yelling all together, I’m just trying to limit my yelling.  If I use up my flipping out quota in the morning getting them to school on time, what the heck will I do at bedtime?  You understand right?  Not my fault.  
So there you have it.  You now understand why we are late every day.  Try not to hate us and if you must give “the look” can you give it directly to the children, because this late thing, is so not my fault!  
With love,

Late Mommy