Sunday, June 28, 2009

A must read book

For the past year, my reading has been limited to law books. I decided this summer though, since I only had two classes, that I was going to begin to read books non-law school class related again.
Our kids are becoming aware of race, color, and differences in people... I've been interested in things like this for a while....but since I am parenting kids of a different race than I am, it is something that I need to know more about. It needs to be something that is "normal" to me... something that doesnt throw me for a loop when it comes up... I want to be able to understand the psychology behind these things... and a look into how children of color relate to race.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a pizza delivered to the house. The driver was an African-American man. My dh invited him in as he had our food and dh had to sign the receipt. My kids ran up to him... one of them asked if he was black... He said he was. Then one of the said: "That's cool! we are white!" Dh told them, "no, you guys are not white... you are brown." Then they all looked at themselves, looked at the driver, looked at us... and all came to the conclusion that they were indeed white.
I've read other books and such about how kids come to understand color first and race second things like that... I know that it's important for us to put ourselves in a position of diversity so that the kids are exposed to others like them and are not singled out for their color... we do things like that... but in one quick sentence, my kids completely called into question things we were doing to help them navigate this thing called race.
One book I read over Christmas was "I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla" by Marguarite Wright. It is a great book about how kids learn to identify race and color and when they put it all together. Parenthood is all about learning as you go....and for us that are parents in a transracial family it seems that we need to be open and learn even more...
So, the pizza man encounter gave me some more reading to do.... A book that I have wanted to read that just hadnt gotten around to reading is one that I just finished. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. In addition to "I'm Chocolate", I believe this is another MUST READ for a transracial adoptive parent.
While neither book is geared to the adoptive parent... both include sections on adoptive parenting. One section really stood out to me.... as it is something I have said to other people...and it seems to be one of the more "sticky" points of being parents to children of another race.
Dr. Tatum discussed a mother's effort to immerse herself and her Latino child into events in the Latino community. She then goes on to talk about another mother: "During the question-and-answer period that followed, a White woman stood up and explained that she was considering adopting a Latino child but lived in a small rural community that was entirely White. She was impressed by the mother's efforts to create a Latino network for her child but expressed doubts that she herself could do so. She said she would feel too uncomfortable placing herself in a situation where she would be one of few Whites. She didnt thing she could do it.
I thought this was an amazing statement. How could this White adult seriously consider placing a small child in a situation where the child would be in the minority all th time, while the idea of spending a few house as a "minority" was too daunting for her?"
She goes on to say: "The successful adoption of children of color by White parents requires those parents to be willing to experience the close encounters with racism that their children - and they as parents - will have, and to be prepared to talk to their children about them. Ultimately they need to examine their own identities as White people, going beyond the idea of raising a child of color in a White family to a new understanding of themselves and their children as members of a multi-racial family."
I really believe this is something that we as adults must face head on... If we are uncomfortable as the minority in a group...then it must be very daunting for our children to be the minority in the group... We as adults are able to process things... our kids usually are not at that point yet... I know mine are not. I've been in many situations where I have definitely been the minority... I usually dont feel uncomfortable... and when I have it has related to the difficulty of a language barrier and not necessarily the color or race of the people around me.
The book really discussed White Privilege and things like that... I think it's important, as parents of children of color, to do our best to realize these things... we need to be aware of White Privilege and how it has affected us...and how it will not be there for our kids. We need to prepare our kids for the racist world they will encounter... how they will be put into a "group"... how other parents may react to them being friends with their kids.... how society sees them....
This book also discussed the importance of language... and how that bound members of the Latino communities.... This is one reason I want my kids to be fluent in Spanish... not only to facilitate ties we already have with people in Guatemala...but because it will be expected by their peers. Their peers see my kids as Latino.... doesnt matter the race their dad and I are... the world doesnt see that. Right now, the world sees 4 little Latino kids... but soon, that perception may change. Unfortunately, the lessons must begin sooner than later for the kids... It's our job as parents to protect our kids... by gearing them to combat racism and by instilling pride in them and their race/cultural identity, we are protecting them.
I am now reading: "Loving Across the Color Line: A White Adoptive Mother Learns about Race" by Sharon E. Rush, an adoptive mom of an African-American girl.
So far, it's a good read.
While I dont believe that all learning must be done from books... I do believe in learning from others' experiences...and I do believe there are those out there that do this research and such for us to learn from. Combined with other things like, living experiences, talking with others, and immersing ourselves in different groups, I believe that reading books such as these help me to help my kids navigate these things.
Just some of my Deep Thoughts on a Sunday night....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fav Foto Friday Vacay Edition (6.26.09)

Today's Fav Foto Friday is from our recent Vacation to Altoona, PA!

To see other Fav Foto's go Here!

About two years or so ago, I received an email from the Yahoo Guatemalan Siblings Group... It was asking about my kids' mom and her last names (on the list you give First, Middle, Initial, Initial)... the first names didnt match, but the last names did. The departments matched, as did the village... so, we were both pretty sure we had a match of first cousins!

It was confirmed while in Guatemala to meet our Little Lady! We had found our sibs' cousin!
Now... to meet! That would be the more difficult part... Z (cousin) lives in Puerto Rico with his mom S and his two sisters B and K (both of his sisters are Russian!). Z is only about 3 weeks younger than our oldest son E. (They are both 4 right now).

We finally had the opportunity to meet this past weekend as Z's family, along with their Aunt V, flew up here to visit family in NY, NJ, and Florida! We decided to meet in the middle of NY and MI... and ended up going to Altoona PA. Now... a couple of months ago... I had never heard of Altoona...but it's a neat little town that is surrounded by little, but fun, amusement parks.

Both families ended up reaching the hotel within 30 mins of each other... Once all the kids saw each other though... the fun was on!!!!!
After eating, all kids hit the pool... time to eat after the pool, and everyone slept very well that night!

Our 2nd day took us to Lakemont Amusement park!
We were in line when the park opened at 11am! This park (as well as the other one) was wonderful because it is very inexpensive ($10) and has a lot of rides plus a water park! They had little kid rides for our kids... and bigger rides for dh and the older girls! Lakemont is also home to the oldest roller coaster still running! It was a lot of fun to see the kids on the rides and how much they enjoyed them.
We had lunch and then we were off to the water park side. The water was kinda cool but that didnt stop the kiddo's fun! There were three distinct parts to the water park... a HUGE area for little kids.... a very large pool for bigger kids... and waterslides for the bigger kids!
The kids area was great... they had things to climb on... water cannons to shoot, and us adults got to sit around an talk while still watching the kids. So, the kids had a great time... and us adults had a great time also! We stayed around till closing time... and then dragged ourselves to Ponderosa for dinner. Our kids needed NO prompting whatsoever that evening to go to sleep!

Sunday was Father's Day... and we went to DelGrosso's Amusement Park! Dh, since he was a dad, got to ride free for the entire day!!! Once again, this park had little rides for the little ones... and bigger rides for the bigger ones! Dh took the older girls B and K to ride the large rides while S, V, and myself kept all the little ones to go on the little rides! Our little ones all had a blast and rode some rides multiple times!
We then went to find everyone else, and we ended up having a great lunch and then headed to their water park!
This water park was a little bit different, but still very good. The waterslides for the adults at DG's looked like a LOT of fun! According to dh, B, and K, they were a TON of fun! Once again, us ladies hung around the kids pool, chatted, and helped the little ones warm up with ice cream and soda in between swimming jaunts!
We left a tad earlier than closing... and headed to Outback Steakhouse to have a great dinner. We have always had great dinners at Outback...and this one was great also! We did head to an ice cream shop on our way to the hotel...and then sat by the pool enjoying our ice cream in the dark!
The kids were exhausted (as us adults were) but Sunday night, they didnt seem to want to sleep... they knew we would have to leave in the morning...and they didnt want the night to end... I think our kids fell asleep finally at 11pm...

We were all up early Monday morning as Z's family had to drive to NY...and we had to drive home. No one really wanted to say goodbye! The kids especially... they seem to bond so quick and the bond is so tight that it is very difficult to say goodbye.
We had breakfast, finished packing up the van, and headed for home.

Half way home, we also stopped in Cleveland and visited with dh's cousin and had a great meal at their house... while turning our toddlers loose in their house!

The weekend was almost perfect.
The only bad part of our weekend???
We are now without a camera.... dh had our camera...cuz he wasnt going swimming due to the cold water... well... he forgot bout the camera as he went watersliding for a few hours! *oops*
Thankfully, we still had our pictures!!!!!!! Yea for the sd card!!!!!! It saved our pics!!!!!!
The camera will be replaced...but as we all know... priceless pics cannot!

So.... here are those pics of our wonderful weekend!!!!

Our Three Boys ready for their road trip at 6am!

Our Little Lady not so ready for the 6am road trip!

F is driving solo in the back boat, while K allows E and Z to drive him!

Z and K wrestling around while waiting for lunch!

S, (Z, B, and K's mom) and V (their aunt) enjoying our conversations!

K, on a ride with F and E!

Z enjoying his flight!

K taking dad and F for a drive!

E causing K to really hold on while he drives!

Dad showing F how to drive while K and Z hold on tight!

K in his go-cart!
(as a side note here... if you want to see the FUNNIEST thing in the world...put a toddler into a go cart! I almost peed myself as these kids tried to drive these things! They would punch the gas and then go right into the darn wall... they just didnt understand that 1. you need to look where you are going... 2. that the wheel is there to turn the car...and 3. those walls are NOT there to bounce off of! Seriously... just thinking about watching these guys is still giving me laughing fits!!!!!!)

B taking E for a ride on the worm coaster!

Z enjoying his elephant ride!

Our Little Lady not quite sure bout her Elephant ride!

Z takin E for a spin!

All 4 of our boys in a car!
Wont be long and they may be on a street near you!

It was such a pleasure to meet all of you!
I hope you enjoyed our visit as much as we did!
We cannot wait to see all of you again!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fav Foto Friday!!!! (6.12.09)

Happy Friday!!!!!!!

It's time for another Favorite Foto Friday!!!!

To see more Fav Foto's click HERE!

We had a fun weekend last weekend... and an eventful week this week!

Last weekend, we spent Saturday at the Zoo!

It was our 2nd time this year but we had a great time!

We also now have T-W-O Pre-schoolers!!!!!

K began preschool with his brother this week!!!!!

They are in separate classes but the teacher said K is doing really well!

He seems to like it though and was happy to go back!

Now... just two more to go! *laughs*

Just HAD to get a pic of all 4 of them...and thought this was soo cute!

The three boys clowning around on the bronze tiger!

The Little Lady and F enjoying a juice break!

K, Just hanging around....
E comparing hand sizes!

The boys are still all smiles on our way out of the Zoo!

K showing off his new backpack!
All ready to go!!!!
Our two boys at school...with their bird's nest for Show & Tell!