I don't know all the details about the Brown case in Ferguson and I'm not claiming to.  I do have to say the ruling has compelled me to write this post.  It does seem to me to have to do with fear of otherness.  I don't agree or disagree with the ruling, since I don't know all the facts, but that doesn't change how sad I am today for our country, for all the people of our country.  

Sameness is the opposite of otherness.  How boring would that be, if we were all the same.  This is one of the biggest reasons I decided to make teaching my profession.  I love to learn about others.  I chose Spanish as my undergraduate major, not because I loved the language or the literature, but because I loved learning about others.  Paolo Freire described teaching this way as well, rather than a banking model where, as the teacher, you only make "deposits" into your students. He also says this kind of teaching frees us from oppression.  This is what I hope my teaching is doing.  I learn from my students everyday.  It is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.  Everyday that I learn new things about my students and their cultures, I find we have more and more in common, even though there are differences.  I strive to teach cultural consciousness in my classes, even to young children.  Cultural consciousness is awareness of your culture and the ability to understand other cultures and the differences that exist between them.  With my elementary students, I choose to cover topics about their culture.  They really enjoy talking and learning about themselves.  One of the most important things I think I can teach as a teacher is to identify or make a connection with a text, to find similarities and differences with yourself. You must understand your culture and the biases that you hold, to begin to understand and accept others.  A lesson, it seems, that many adults have missed.  

As many of you may already know, I am an ESOL teacher.  That stands for English to Speakers of Other Languages.  I feel my role in education is to teach children who speak a second language to be proud of their culture, their language, their traditions, while helping them with second language acquisition.  Their families struggle with being who they really are in America. Many of my students are told not to speak Spanish by their own parents.  When most students register at my school, they identify themselves as white.  When you ask a student their name at the beginning of the year to make sure you pronounce it as they do and they respond with an English pronunciation of the name, it is disheartening.  And after this, how can I blame them. They've been dehumanized because of their otherness.  They've been discriminated against because of who they are.  Something like this happens and contradicts everything I am teaching them.  This shows them they need to be afraid of showing who they really are.  It really depresses me.  

As a mom, I hope for a better future for my children, as I'm sure most parents do.  The same that my students' parents want for them.  I know they are only protecting them from being hurt.  The thought that my sons, who are being raised with as much critical consciousness as possible, may one day be hanging out with one of their friends and could be in danger simply because that child is of another color, is beyond frightening and disgusting.  I also have to consider that they too may be discriminated against because they are bilingual.  I send them to a Spanish immersion daycare for many reasons.  They also have Italian names...good thing the Italians aren't the immigrant group we are discriminating against currently.  I also don't know their sexual orientation yet.  I'm not sure if they will choose a religion.  I don't want fear in the lives of my children, especially fear surrounding otherness.  I don't want them to be treated badly because of who they are, because of their color, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability or ability, national identity, language, etc.  I want them to know who they are and to be proud of it.  I also don't want them to be afraid of someone who is different in any way than they are.  I want them to learn from them, find commonality.  I want this for all children.  

This ruling has brought to light one of the greatest social issues our nation sadly is still facing. Racism.  We need to stop ignoring/denying that it exists so that we can work on solving it.  We need to stop pretending that the solutions being presented address the true issues.  Unfortunately, racism, poverty, and segregation are still issues that our country faces.  I hope that my children's generation can eradicate hate!  Let's turn the narrative from "us & them", to "we"!  How about creating dialog with the other.  Learn from them.  Find similarities, commonality.  Agree to disagree, but have the conversation instead of making assumptions and perpetuating stereotypes.  I hope for peace and strength in unity!


So Long

Again, I've put myself in the situation of having to apologize for not updating this blog regularly  at all.  I have a good excuse though...I think...
The boys outside of school

Candler Park Fall Festival


Enzo the Ewok

Mace the Ewok

Enzo in "Daddy's Hat"

On the playground at school

Maceo at Birthday Dinner

Enzo at Birthday Dinner

Maceo at B-day Dinner




Mace the monkeyman

Daddy & Boys

Go Vols...Get Em Smokey



Watching the Trains at Market Square

Gay Street
2nd Birthday Dinner
Birthday Present
See, we've been busy. 


Let's Get Real

Over the course of the summer semester, I had a few conversations with classmates and professors about motherhood that I have wanted to share with you.  Also recently, the mayor of NYC announced a new initiative for breastfeeding (formula ban), which I think is important education, but it forced me to write this post.  I am a proponent of breastfeeding and understand all of the benefits that it has for mother and baby.  However important education on the benefits of breastfeeding is, I feel that all these campaigns do is give me and other moms who have failed at breastfeeding another indication that we're not perfect.  I suggest that instead of putting more pressure on mothers to be perfect, we should be creating initiatives for what mothers really need, support. 

In U.S. society, we put pressure on mothers to be perfect, projecting images of "perfectness" everywhere.  The U.S. mother can do it ALL.  Breastfeed, make baby happy, get baby to sleep well, get baby to eat well, dress baby stylishly, keep the house clean, cook, 24 hours a day and all by herself.  I could go on and on about how the media portrays celebrity moms, but I won't go there.  New moms are trying match this perfection at the same time that they have no idea what the hell they are doing.  Have you ever heard, "it takes a village"?  This is the mentality I think we need to get back to (I bet the celebrities hire their village).  This image of perfection allows us to judge and I'm guilty of judging too but I'm trying to change.  We need to stop judging, even ourselves, and make more comments like "nobody's perfect" to each other.  We need to share the idea that we can't do it all perfectly, and that that is okay.  We need to get real with each other.

The first 8 weeks of the boys' lives were overwhelming and a very nice person wrote to me on Facebook, a person I barely know, but her words meant so much to me during that very difficult time.  She too is a mama of twins and I'm sure she knew what I was going through.  All she had to say was that it will get easier and that at that point for her she felt like she had been run over by a semitruck.  Part of the reason those first 8 weeks were so difficult was because of breastfeeding.  I had the boys 5.5 weeks early.  Maceo didn't even have the sucking reflex yet.  The boys stayed in the NICU for 11 days.  I pumped and fed as much as I could.  However, I wasn't getting enough supply for them.  I had to supplement with formula.  I was so disappointed.  I tried to breastfeed only for a few days to try to force my supply up.  The boys were upset & hungry and I couldn't handle it.  I never built up my supply for them and we supplemented with formula.  I breastfed for 3 months and then continued to pump for 2 more for a total of 5 months of breastmilk supplemented by formula.  I was so upset with myself as a new mom over not being successful at breastfeeding.  Everything I had heard was breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed and I couldn't do it.  I felt so guilty and ashamed.  Unfortunately, I know other women that couldn't do it either and feel the same guilt and shame for not being able to do it.  Now I'm okay with it, and would never judge another mother for breastfeeding or not breastfeeding after this experience. 

Looking back, what I am not okay with is the stress that it created for me and the boys in their first few months of life.  What I wish someone had told me earlier was that what really mattered was my sanity and happiness, not the freaking breastmilk.  I wish someone told me that if I didn't take care of me first, then I would never be able to give the boys what they needed, all of my love and energy.  I wish someone told me that it is totally normal to feel overwhelmed and its okay to ask for help;  that it is normal not to be able to do it ALL.  Where's the ad campaign or government initiative for that message? 

When I started back to graduate school, when the boys were a little over a year old, I finally realized what had happened to me.  Struggling to be the perfect mom, I had lost myself.  I had thought that I wanted to be a stay at home mom.  I wasn't cut out for that, at least not the way I was doing it, 24/7 never allowing anything for myself.  Once school started I had my own time, a focus other than family life and household matters.  I had more balance, and I know that everyone in the family is happier. 

No one told me about the bad parts of parenthood.  I thought of it idealistically, choosing to ignore that I would never have my "old" life back.  No one shared what a control freak I would become.  No one shared that being a stay at home mom isn't the easiest job in the world.  We need to get real with each other.  A classmate of mine said no one wants to rain on your parade,  no one wants to be the bearer of bad news to the lady with the pregnancy glow.  Well, I want to get real, parenthood is the most difficult thing I have ever done.  Maybe if we were all telling the truth, even if it's brutal, more would think through the decision to become parents.  I thought my marriage would surely end in divorce, I thought I was such a bad mom that it would probably be better if I wasn't around the boys, I thought I wasn't good at any of it.  It took me a year or more to really come to terms with my "new" life and understand that I am learning to be a parent and that mistakes will happen along the way.  I hope by writing this perhaps someone will read this post and think deeply about becoming a parent, while lessening their judgment of other parents and the choices they make.  Get real with yourself.  Share your experience, but know that it's not the same as everyone else's.  Be supportive of other moms, they want the same for their children as you do yours.  The best. 

So Mayor Bloomberg, to encourage overall family health, don't lock up formula with your "benefits of breastfeeding" campaign, but consider the unintended consequences.  Offer your support of mothers' choices and insist that they not beat themselves up over not breastfeeding excusively, for the stress that it creates is even more unhealthy than the formula.  By all means, educate about breastfeeding, but don't make it seem like the only option.  I suggest that a campaign focusing on the health of a new mother is much more important for our children's health, than one for breastfeeding is.


School Daze

Ha...I started this post back at the beginning of the semester.  And never finished, but here it is now. 

The title of this post explains my absence...kind of.  The holidays happened and now I'm back in school.  3 nights a week.  Daddy doesn't get home early enough so we had to find a solution for the boys.  We toyed with the thought of a part-time nanny, but ultimately decided on a wonderful Spanish immersion program.  Every night that I have school, the boys go to school for a full day (9-5.30).  They have 3 teachers, all native Spanish speakers from 3 different countries.  So far, everything is going great!  The boys scream everyday when I drop them off, but Maceo stops after like 5 secs and Enzo, well he really drags it out for a few mins.  They seem more comfortable everytime they go.  The first day, I cried so hard driving out of the parking lot.  The attachment we share is strong.  I had no idea how strong, really.  But I'm adjusting and so are the boys & Daddy.  I'm getting sooooo much done while the boys are at school.  On school days it almost feels like before having them, except for when I walk in to clean their room and happen upon some ridiculous mess, then I remember.  I forgot to mention, on school days Daddy picks up the boys, feeds them dinner, bathes them, and puts them to bed!  Big points for Daddy...big, big points!  Although, he says he hasn't seen the points yet.

The boys have been trying to talk so much since they started school.  It seems that being around all the other kids has them trying new things...

such as

Last week Enzo started with a few steps and by the weekend was roaming around the house rather easily.  And this week Maceo, not to be out-walked, got up and is taking a few steps here and there too!  He is so happy with himself when he does it.  We make a big deal out of it when either of them does it, clapping, hooting, and hollering, and usually ending with a dance of some kind! 
Go boys, go!  But be careful, please! 

So, since I'm back in grad school and there is much busy work required, I probably won't be able to keep up with this blog as well (I haven't been very on top of it as it is).  I apologize.  If you really are curious about us, I guess that just means you'll have to come see us, LIVE.  Or there's always Skype.

So, there you have it.  This is what's been going, school, and more school.  The semester is over now, and I'm trying my hardest to catch up on life.  We all survived Mommy's first semester back at school!  It was a trying semester; the boys were sick pretty much for the whole semester.  And everytime they got sick, they got an ear infection.  We even had to go see the Ear, Nose, & Throat specialist, but after testing their hearing and passing all the tests, the doctor suggested we hold off on putting tubes in!  Yay!  And since the visit they've had one more ear infection each and we didn't treat them with antibiotics this time.  The boys made it through and I'm really hoping we're in the clear since cold season is at an end. 

What's best about all this schooling is the time that Mommy gets to be herself.  Having an identity other than full time Mommy is something that I've needed.  Having something besides my family to focus and put energy into has been soooooo gooooood for me!  I realized after this semester how important it is for a new mom to make time for herself and it's not easy to do that, even when people are volunteering to let you do that.  Going back to school gave me the chance and good reason to break away.  It has been good for us all!  Even with all the new tasks to fit in, we are much more balanced. 

The boys are running now, have motorized four wheelers, are incoherent chatter boxes, and fight continually.  They love to wrestle with Daddy, and throw ball.  Stickers and markers are popular and their matchbox cars and books continue to be their most favored toys.  They have six teeth each and are currently working on molars.  Mommy can't keep them out of the dirt and water. 

And since the photos above are really from several months ago...some more recent ones, a lot of them.  I'll try not to be so absent, at least until school starts again.
Mace face


Detailing Daddy's Car

First trip to the High

Maceo in the puddle

Enzo destroying Mommy's clovers

February Picnic Lunch

Enzo getting Daddy love

First trip to the zoo

On the train at the zoo

Maceo working on his truck


sleeping beau, Enzo

I Love Spaghetti- Enzo

I think it's alright too- Maceo

Maceo sportin shades


Our babysitter, Nana

Maceo at the Goat Farm

Enzo at the Goat Farm