Thursday, February 27

Robin Roberts To Honor Maya Angelou

by: April D. Byrd

Good Morning America reporter Robin Roberts will honor Poet and Author Maya Angelou at the MLB Awards Luncheon. The Major League Baseball Association is sponsoring the luncheon along with their annual Civil Rights game on May 30th. Football legend Jim Brown and Motown Records Founder Berry Gordy will also be honored. Aloe Blacc singer of the notably illustrated "Wake Me Up" and Award-winning Violinist Miri Ben-Ari will be performing.

The MLB Awards Luncheon will pay tribute to people who fight for equal rights and honor the history of racial progress. Roberts will be the keynote speaker for the event.  The Civil Rights Game will be played by the Houston Astros and the Baltimore Orioles in Houston, TX. and will air on the MLB network.

Robin is so strong and she's definitely staying busy, She's also returning to the Oscar's red carpet for the first time since her health crisis.
"To Have My Mojo Back and to be here at  the Oscars. I hope it symbolizes to people who are going through maybe their own personal struggle, whatever it is, to know that this too shall pass."                                       
--Roberts told KMBC-tv in an interview. 
Awesome! Looking forward to seeing Robin this Sunday at the Academy Awards. The Oscars Red Carpet Live! will air from 7 p.m. ET, on ABC and For the first time, ABC will offer a live stream for viewers to watch online. Ellen DeGeneres will also be back to host. Check out Robin's new mojo in her video interview (below).

Will you be watching the Oscars this year? What nominees are you rooting for? Tell us your picks here in the comments section and follow up more on this story on Trey Anthony's Facebook Fanpage. Let's Hear it!

Wednesday, February 26

Tomorrow Clothes

As a parent of five little kids, other parents often say to me, “I don’t know how you do it.”  First, could someone please tell me the appropriate way to respond to this comment.  I know “on psychiatric drugs,” is not the best response so I usually say, ““Ohhh, come on.  I do it the same way you do.  Kids have a remarkable way of taking up any physical and psychic space available, so we’re all swimming upstream totally exhausted and blessed.” While my closest friends and family have heard a slightly more honest response to this comment, this is verbatim what I say to people.  Until now. 

What is the point of having a unique, large family, if I cannot share the wisdom borne of my experiences as a parent?  And so I will share some of the ways that I “do it”:

I was never a girl scout, but I am a firm believer in the adage “Always be prepared.”  The lengths that we go to, to prepare for one day of our life is quite something.  During the school/work week we do everything the night before.  We make lunches and coffee and our smoothies.  I know, this is nothing special.  We also pour everyone’s cereal including a smaller bowl which holds “seconds” should anyone require them.  If I’m feeling especially panicky about the morning to come, I will place each child’s bowl at the their spot at the table along with a spoon.  Back when Z rode in the bike trailer to get to school in the winter, I would hang his snow pants on the back of his chair so that he could put them on before sitting down to breakfast.  He didn’t like this.  I think he may have cried once.  Wife told me it was excessive, but time is everything and there is no time to waste in the morning.  Besides this was nothing compared to my mother’s response to me being a slow mover.  When I was in kindergarten, in an effort to improve the speed at which I dressed for the outdoors, my mother borrowed a stop watch from the gym teacher and spent a weekend doing snowsuit dressing drills.  Now that is excessive! 

In addition to the preparation of the children’s breakfasts, we also lay out all of their outdoor clothes (jacket, hat, mitts, scarf) on the living room floor, which we now refer to as the staging area. Z just throws his jacket and stuff on the floor as soon as he comes in the house, in an effort to “help” with the night time set-up.  Unfortunately, because I’m crazy, I insist that the children hang up their belongings with their hats etc. in their coat sleeves so that I can have the satisfaction of removing everything from their hooks and laying it out on the floor myself after they go to bed.  Inefficiency at its best. 

Certain that we were not prepared enough for the morning, I recently made another modification to our night time routine.  On the odd occasion, over the past few years, we have put the kids to bed in their “tomorrow clothes”.  It was fun and cute and always because something special was going to take place the next morning.  It occurred to me that “tomorrow clothes” don’t have to be just for special occasions, they can be the norm.  From Sunday to Thursday, our children now go to sleep in their “tomorrow clothes”.  Of course there are always the minute details of a plan that need to be worked out.  You see our children bathe and get ready for bed before supper.  Before you start thinking that eating in our house totally hinges on being prepared for the activity following the meal or that meals are rewards for completing undesirable tasks like bathing and getting ready for bed or school, let me explain the very good reason why bed prep is done before dinner. 

Our kids love bath time and get unbelievably excited about all being naked together.  It occurred to us that putting the kids to sleep would be easier if they didn’t have to come down from the high of bath time, so we moved it to earlier in the evening.  Once we decided to get rid of pajamas, the kids simply put on their “tomorrow clothes” after bath.  BUT nobody wants to go to school in “tomorrow clothes” with stains from last night’s dinner, so I decided that the kids would wear their “tomorrow bottoms” and a bathrobe to dinner.  We call them dinner jackets.  

After supper we go upstairs, brush teeth, put on “tomorrow shirts” and hunker down for bedtime stories.  Obviously the Littles want in on this “tomorrow clothes” business but they still wear diapers at night so they need to be changed in the morning anyway.  No problem. We put on a diaper with “tomorrow underwear” on top so in the morning F & L can pull down their pants, half way, pull off their diaper and pull up their dry “tomorrow (now today) underwear”!  Bam!    

And that, my friends, is how it is done!  It’s true about all parents swimming upstream, but some of us have a larger school of fish to lead so we need some, outside of the box, strategies.  There are more, equally amusing, ways that we “do it”, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.  How do YOU “do it”?  Let me know in the comments. 

XO Ajike

Thursday, February 20

Lupita Nyong’o talks Racism and being a "Natural Hair" Icon

by: April D. Byrd

I LOVE Lupita Nyong’o! Is there anywhere to buy a shirt with this statement? The Kenyan Actress and Film director, (who was actually born in Mexico) has been blowing up media everywhere.  American cinema was introduced to Lupita through her role as "Patsy" in the film 12 Years A Slave. Not surprisingly Lupita is being considered a natural hair icon because of her short, sophisticated cut. 

Lupita explained  hair as being "political" in an interview with Britain's Pride Magazine.
“I wasn’t really aware of being a natural hair icon. I don’t really read the news, so this is the first time I’m hearing that. I’m not surprised though; there is something about hair that has always been political."Someone has long hair and they cut it, it’s political, when someone grows their hair it’s political. So I don’t know how to answer that. I guess I’m just taking it in my stride."

Lupita also discussed issues of skin tone, and her relation to the experience of American slavery with Kevin Frazier of OMG! Insider. 

“It’s so flattering. I know I’m representing an underrepresented group of women. And being dark-skinned and having short, natural hair, I’m happy to be that for them."

Lupita is definitely a good representation of  all women. With her intellect, talent, fashion sense, and humility, she rightfully has media swarming over her like bees over honey. We get to witness Lupita's elegance in her interview on Fame and Fashion. (video below)

Is Lupita a natural hair icon? and What do you think of her statements about Hair being political? Comment and join in on the discussion at Trey Anthony's Fan Page.

Wednesday, February 19

Glad That Week Is Over

If you read my blogpost last week, you may not be surprised that I am totally exhausted and deeply in need of some rest and sleep.  Now that our little twins are in big kid beds and no longer nursing, it takes hours to get everyone to sleep at night and I am, most definitely, a hormonal mess.  Let’s just say that things got ugly this week. 

Last week we bought a new van; so much to my surprise, I am now driving a fancy 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan.  In beige.  Go ahead and chuckle.   As if it’s not bad enough to be driving a minivan, it’s also beige!  And folks, if the minivan is a-rockin’, please come a-knockin’ as there’s probably a kid having a tantrum inside because the laws require that they be buckled into a car seat!  Anyway, the week got off to a good start.  The kids were excited about the new van with a DVD player and bets were placed on how long before the bacteria content on the floor of the van reaches frightening levels due to the amount of food on the floor.  What could go wrong?

On Tuesday evening, a.k.a the evening I lost my mind, Wife picked up the new wheels.  Because I had misplaced the special part of my brain reserved for reason, I lost it on the kids over the dinner and bedtime hours, for having the nerve to be kids, and then Wife and I had an epic, but brief, angry exchange.  Why sugarcoat it?  There was yelling and swearing.  So in an attempt to win the award for being the most dramatic participant in a marital disagreement, I stomped to the front door of our house and announced that I was leaving (Really I was just going out but leaving sounds way more dramatic).  

Unfortunately, in the middle of my tantrum, I had to ask Wife for the keys to the new van.  (Should you ever find yourself needing the assistance of your opponent during a fight, consider postponing the fight!)  This is when things got a little comical.  She hands me something that resembles a fob and trying very hard to remain in control and angry I say, “And what the hell am I supposed to do with this?!?”  “That’s the key!” she spits back at me.  “This?  This stupid thing is the key?   Fine!  Good-bye! ” 
This is what I use to start my car/spaceship!

At this point it would have been totally understandable if one or both of us burst out laughing but we were already invested in our fight, so I stormed out and went to the car.  Once I got into the massive beige minivan, I checked to make sure Wife was not watching from the window because I was a little embarrassed by my behaviour and it took me a solid two minutes to figure out where and how to insert the “key” to start the car!  I then spent another minute looking for the gear shift and the lights and then actually jumped when I put the car in reverse and the screen on the dashboard lit up with a live action video of me reversing.  A rear camera is a bonus feature on cars these days but they are totally weird!  I felt like I was angrily running away from home in a spaceship!  Vans have really come a long way, baby! 

My week didn’t actually get much better after Tuesday evening’s Oscar worthy performance.  On Wednesday, instead of spending the 30 kid-free minutes I had before school pick-up being still or drinking tea or reading, I decided to make an emergency run to the closest barbershop that I could find.  And that, my friends, is how I ended up with Bobby Brown’s haircut circa 1987!  

My lovely son, who frequently plays the part of image consultant, made me feel better about my haircut.  When I asked him if it looked “manish”, he looked at me like I had temporarily misplaced reason (which I had) and said, “Mommy, there’s no such thing as boys’ haircuts and girls’ haircuts.”  Right.  Good point.  The take away from Wednesday?  Do not get an emergency haircut from an unknown barber and be grateful when your kids are way smarter than you! 

I had hoped that I would reign in the crazy for Thursday, but that was not meant to be.  I sobbed for the entire drive to the kids’ school in the morning (not safe) and was still crying as I tried to say good-bye to them in the office in front of the Late Slip Lady.  The principal called me into her office to calm me down and reminded me that punctuality isn’t everything.  I’ve decided not to tell the other frequently late parents that she was so understanding, as she regularly reads the riot act to all the latecomers. 

By Friday I was so emotionally exhausted that I spent most of the day sharing sugary treats with the kids in the name of Valentine’s Day.  While I am still in need of sleep and rest, I am adjusting to the change in hormones.  In closing, I would like to thank the friends and family that rode my special roller coaster last week.  You are the real heroes of the week of February 10th!

XO Ajike

Friday, February 14

T-Pain: "Rappers Won’t Work With Frank Ocean Because He’s Gay"

by: April D. Byrd

Hip-Hop Super Producer T-Pain is speaking out in defense of his assistant and against homophobia in Hip-Hop. As T-Pain begins to speak out more openly on the issue, he revealed that not only are people afraid to approach him because his assistant is an out gay man, but He also knows certain rappers who refuse to work with Frank Ocean because of Ocean’s sexuality.

Pain said in a statement: 
“I think the radio is getting more gay-friendly,” he said. “I don’t think urban music is getting more gay-friendly, because if that was the case, Frank Ocean would be on a lot more songs. He also went on to say that he feel's "No-Homo" jokes are unnecessary. The producer also took his rant to twitter:
T-Pain is speaking his truth foul mouthed and all. Check out His exclusive interview with DJ Vlad in the (video below). Parental Warning:---- Explicit Language.


What do you think of T-Pain's perspective? Do you Agree?...or is the rapper just using the N-word too much for you to tell?! Let Us know in the comments below and follow up on Trey Anthony's Facebook fan page. 

Let's Hear it!!

Wednesday, February 12

No Nursing, No Cribs...Sh*t Just Got Real!

Big changes are afoot at the Silverman-Akande ranch!  As of last Saturday, February 8, my exactly 2.5 year old twins have been refused entry to the milk bar.  I just couldn't take it for one more day.  My breast, a.k.a the milk bar, had become a stand-up, dance-at, always open spot to check in, soothe a broken heart or a stubbed toe and re-hydrate before running off on the next emergency toddler adventure.  They fought over sides and positions.  They broke my jewelry (and sometimes my spirit) and became rude and bossy about where milk should be served and how convenient access should be – “Don’t put my milky away mommy, I will be right back!”  Rude!

So last Saturday when I couldn't stand the feeling of their sharp little fingers kneading every part of me, I told them that they had to say goodbye to “milky” and that they could have milk in a cup or juice and as many cuddles and hang-outs in the carrier as they wanted but no more milk from mommy.  They whined and cried and have tugged at me and asked for milk several times over the past few days, but we’re done.  
We went cold turkey, which is probably a bit cruel, but I am not exactly a slow and steady kind of person.  And while I don’t remember how I dealt with the feelings of my older kids when they stopped nursing (yes, even Z who is adopted), I do remember that they were also made to stop nursing abruptly.  My big guy nursed from about 6 to 17 months and stopped on the night I started injectable hormones to try to get pregnant. 

The girls nursed for 22 months until I was 6 weeks pregnant with the Littles and started bleeding.   I don’t know how we got through it – how I made it okay for them.   When F & L cry for milk and I bribe them with a cookie or juice, I feel so awful and think “Is this really necessary?  Shouldn't I just continue?”  But I can’t because I always said that when I started to resent nursing, I would stop.  No little one wants resentment flavored milk.  It’s probably curdled!  Ending our nursing relationship is the right thing to do but I still feel sad.  These are my last nursing babes.  It’s the end of a stage of my life and I am not that into endings.
The possible up side is that the world will finally find out what I am like without serious lady hormones coursing through my veins.*  I have been on fertility drugs, pregnant or breast feeding since September 2006.  That is 7.5 years!  I realize that I’m not breaking any records, but I am so excited to learn if my raging anger quickly followed by extreme bliss is related to my hormones or if it’s just the joy that is me!  I imagine Wife is also very curious about this.  To be truthful, just wearing a proper, proper bra and having my breasts rest much higher than my waist, which is wear they've been hanging out for years, is enough to shift my mood! 

 In response to the end of nursing, or just to keep life interesting, Mr. Lee thought that he needed quick access to me and learned to climb out of his crib this past weekend with great precision.  Sure, the first attempt landed him on his head but he is not one to shy away from a challenge so he kept practicing until he was a smooth escape artist.  Figuring that one day he would try to escape while half asleep and really hurt himself, we decided on Monday to take down the cribs.  I once read a blog post by a mom who referred to bedtime as a game of whack-a-mole.  This could not be truer in our house.  Wife and I quickly move through our tiny hallway returning escaped children to bed for a good hour and a half after “lights out”.  The twins – set one and set two, refuse to stay put at bedtime.  I am certain that we have successfully dealt with this in the past.  The girls went through a phase when they stayed in bed but they are smart, and realize that there are good times to be had at bedtime.  It is after 9 pm before the last emergency bathroom trips are taken and fetching of necessary toys and singing of various renditions of classic kids’ is done and the kiddos are too tired to continue their antics.  And in case you are like me, and measure time in cups of coffee (AM) and glasses of wine (PM), by 9 pm I am about 2.5 glasses of wine in and am pretty much ready for lights out myself. 

So the Littles are in new phase of "littlehood" and we are along for the ride.  I suspect that there will be crankiness – theirs and ours, from lack of sleep for a while as well as frustration – mine, from having to come up with alternatives to “milky” for solving toddler problems .   As the title of this post suggests, sh#t just got real! 

XO Ajike

*I use the term lady hormones in reference to myself, fully aware that this terminology would not be appropriate for all of those who have the same hormones running through their bodies. 

Thursday, February 6

Rapper Nicki Minaj Rocks Natural Hair

-April D. Byrd

Hip- Hop femcee Nicki Minaj who rigorously refers and expresses herself as a "Barbie", posted photos to Instagram of herself sporting a more natural look.  The rapper who we see mainly wearing a rainbow of wig colors chose to go with a more dark color which most naturally reflects her own. 

(credit: Instagram)
Speculators say she chose the transformation in honor of returning to a more classic, gritty sound for her work. Nicki's new Au Natural look, looks good on her. Hopefully it will be the beginning of more natural confidence and authentic love for the star. Whether it does or doesn't promote more self-love to her fans, being real is still a good look. No matter how "Black Swan-ish" she looks with the make-up, kudos to her for making the switch!

(credit: Instagram)

What are your thoughts on Nicki's "New Do"?

Wednesday, February 5

Monday Writing Sessions

On Monday evenings I try to take a few hours out of the house to do something for myself.  My original plan for Mondays was to attend my friend’s Nia class.  The class is amazing but I’m not that into sweating for reasons other than stress and anxiety, and the purposeful sweating thing was throwing me off.  Also if I didn’t attend the class, nothing happened.  Low motivation coupled with no actual consequences apparently doesn’t work for me. 

Now I use Mondays to write my weekly post for Trey Anthony’s blog (Thank you Trey!).  If I don’t use this time to write, I won’t be living up to the commitment that I made to Trey.  I am good at committing to others, less good at committing to myself.  I know this is bad news; I know that I need to care for myself; fill my tank, yada, yada, yada….  Not the point here. 

Anyway, Mondays I write.  This Monday I am sitting in a coffee shop trying to write this week’s post.  This is my third attempt.  First, I started writing about being a lesbian housewife, then I started writing about exercising and this spin class I went to (It was a party for family.  I am good at committing to others.)  Not feeling excited by my first two attempts at this week’s post, I decided to google “Mommy blog post ideas”.  Apparently in 2010 there were 3.9 Million moms, so clearly there should be no shortage of ideas. * 

Much to my surprise, I came across a Mommy Blog idea generator.*   I was hopeful because I’m a mother (Cannot refer to myself as a mommy without gagging); I write stuff in a blogging format, and sometimes I have good ideas.  This idea generator was possibly going to be a goldmine!  I click through the generated ideas on the site and gave each idea some thought. 

I chose not to write about “the best baby gadget”, “my children’s eating habits”, or “what’s in my diaper bag/purse”.  Clearly the best baby gadget is whichever gadget is in use while your baby is happy.  I know from experience that the best baby gadget may be the tissues from the (once full) box on the coffee table.  As for my children’s eating habits, I don’t know anyone except my mother-in-law, who cares at all about their eating habits.  Boring!  What’s in my purse?  Never the one thing I need but enough crap to make it impossible for me to find my kid’s pacifier when he’s screaming in the car. 

I also spared you a detailed post about mine and my daughters’ favourite hairstyles with a how-to video, as well as a post about what’s for dinner, or what I am reading.  Okay, okay, I know you’re super curious about the last one.  I’m reading articles that my friends post on Facebook and newsletters from my kids’ school.  That’s it. 

While I’ve always liked to put things on paper, I have never written for an audience, other than professors, teachers, or employers, on a regular basis.  This little job I’ve taken on is both freeing and overwhelming.   Overwhelming because it’s a thing that I have to do and want to do well along with all the other things I am trying to do well.  I’ve come to realize at this point in my life, even the good things on the To Do list cause stress. 

On the other hand, it’s so great to have the space to share my disorganized thoughts about my disorganized life.  From the feedback I get, I am confident that at least one person every week reads my post and thinks these three overused words: “I know, right?”  And should my writing be as un-relatable and uninteresting as the posts that may be inspired by the mommy blog post generator, I am still grateful to have the external motivation to record the stories about me and my family at this particular time in our lives.  

I know that I will forget how it really feels to have five little kids and I’ll remember it as dreamy and perfect when I have a house full of five teenagers.  I don’t even think it will take that long.  After all, I forgot what it was like to have twin infants and thought it was totally reasonable, when O & G were 18 months, to return to the fertility doctor and request that he place three embryos inside of me and assumed we’d have only one baby - evidence that I am both forgetful and unrealistic.  This is not a good combination. 

Anyway, thank you for stopping by.  Please come again.  Invite your friends.  Next week I’ll be writing about what I find in my kids’ backpacks at the end of the week.  You can thank the post idea generator for that one! 

XO Ajike