Back to School 2011

This last week gave me plenty of reasons to smile. My youngest child started 5th grade and it is the first year that she has been in school without her older brother.

My youngest son had a major milestone as well, he started middle school. He didn’t start on the first day of school because he is recovering from surgery but he did go to school on the first day to attend orientation. He met some of his classmates and learned the building numbers at his campus. This is a major transition for him as well, since he has ADHD and Dyslexia and will be in full inclusion honors classes. He left the comfort of his old school and it’s 640 students to attend a middle school with 3 separate buildings and 1500 students.

I was an anxious mess because of all of the transitions and new routines I had to implement with the kids. New bed times were set, new evening and morning routines were established and a new driving route to get both children to school on-time and to get me in my classroom ready to teach by 9am. I must have spoken with the Principal, Secretary, Special Education Resource Specialist and to the School Nurse a dozen times before he actually attended class. I am sure all of this contact was more for me than for him, I am completely sure of that. I figured if I was comfortable and I managed not to have a panic attack, I could instill the confidence he would need to be successful.

His first full day was filled with lots of assistance from staff and his peers, in fact it was as if a VIP had arrived on campus. All things worked together for all of us and I smiled with relief when I heard that both of my young children had a great day at school in spite of me not being able to stay with both of them! I smiled because they both thrived in their new roles. I smiled because they have both grown so much and they are both managing to survive without each other in the same school.

As I reflect on this week I am assured that I have taught them well, I have raised them to be strong, independent, loving, confident individuals and if that is all that I ever accomplish with my babies — I am proud to say, that is more than enough!

The Be Enough link-up is really meaningful, starting today August 22nd. Bellflower Books is sponsoring Just Be Enough to provide memory books for women fighting breast cancer. We are targeting 120 posts to be linked up! Please write about your “Be Enough Me” feeling or moment and come link up!

“How you have lived the Be Enough Me feeling this week?”

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15 Ways to help a Friend or Loved One with Cancer

On November 25, 2009, the day before Thanksgiving I began my fight with Cancer. It seems like a lifetime ago when I was told that the mass that was removed from my breast was cancer. I was 41 years old and I had just gotten the hang of living life in my 40’s. It was shocking to say the least. I was fortunate that it was non-invasive and I required minimal treatment. But I was flabbergasted ten-months later when my Mom was diagnosed with invasive Breast Cancer at the age of 68.

I was determined that my Mom wouldn’t have to deal with the same uneasiness from friends that I had dealt with. It is something about telling friends and family that you have cancer that make everyone uncomfortable. There are long pauses, followed by looks that remind you of when your puppy died when you were a child. There are friends that you normally chat with for hours that are at a loss of words. There are long days filled with medical terms and lots of blah, blah, blah spoken by doctors, radiologists, oncologists, technologists, nurses, etc. that you won’t remember. But I remembered this experience all too well, like it was yesterday and I decided to provide the support that I was given and to also be the support that I WAS NOT GIVEN to my Mom.

Here is my list of 15 ways to help a friend or loved one with cancer and my special way to say I love you and I am thinking about you Susan @whymommy:

  1. Give them lots of gentle HUGS and LOVE! Needless to say, this is a scary time for everyone. Hugs and extra expressions of love go a long way.
  2. Listen as your friend shares the news and be available to listen to them. Sometimes they need to just talk about things other than cancer and other times they might just need to vent. Don’t make them feel like they have to make you feel comfortable. Remember that they are sick and they shouldn’t really have to but on a good face for you. They might be losing hair or weight and feel uncomfortable keep the focus on them getting well, not how they look.
  3. Offer to take them to their initial appointments and take notes for them. Doctor’s speak so quickly and can be so matter of fact. Cancer patients can be hyperviligant or completely overwhelmed by all of the information that they are given. It’s good to have a note taker – someone who writes everything. Spouses can be overwhelmed too.
  4. Plan a Let’s Kick Cancers Butt Gathering. Include her whole support team. Ask what she needs. Sign up to cook meals. Sign up to take care of pets (walking and bathing them).
  5. Create a Cancer Bag. Fill it with: gloves, a decorated binder, a plastic bag full of writing pens, a micro tape-recorder to record their thoughts or what doctor’s tell them, a couple of her favorite magazines, and a business card holder (a neat place for all of the cards they will get: the oncologist, nurse, interns, patient care representatives, financial representatives, support group leaders, etc.)
  6. Offer to take their children out for a fun activity. Children need to have fun! Mom & Dad and even Grandparents are focused on fighting cancer. Frankly, they are often just worn out. Include your friends children in an activity with your family. Take them to the mall for a treat or a movie to to get them away from the house. Take them to one of their soccer, baseball or basketball games when Mom can’t be there. Cheer them on, reassure them that they are loved and talk to them about their concerns.
  7. Prepare meals for them and their family. ASK — what are their favorites. Prepare the items in disposable pans or come over and serve it to them and wash the dishes and clean the kitchen for them after they are done. It’s just one more thing that they don’t have to worry about during this time.
  8. Help keep business affairs in order. Children’s Field Trip Notices, recurring bills, medical receipts and paperwork.
  9. Go with them to their Chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Some people go as little as 3x’s a week to 7x’s a week. Offer to take them and sit with them if you can. They would love the company and it will take their mind off of their treatment for a little while.
  10. Chip in with some friends and pay to have their house cleaned professionally. Lurking germs can wreck havoc on a compromised immune system. Sometimes the simplest things get overlooked when everyone is focused on a cancer patients recovery.
  11. Put together a Memory Book. Include pictures and mementos of their spouses, children, friends, activities, places she loves. This can be assembled by a professional organization like http://www.bellflowerbooks.com (@bellflowerbooks), who is so graciously creating books for the JustBeEnough Campaign (@JustBeEnough) visit http://www.justbeenough.com, or at My Publisher visit http://www.mypublisher.com
  12. Plan a Ladies Night. Rent her favorite movies, bring out the healthy snacks, nail polish, and photographs, old music and have a BLAST!.
  13. Offer to dictate or help write letters to her family and friends. You might just be there to support her but she will appreciate it!
  14. Plan a Cancer Walk or Fundraiser specifically for your friend. Did you know that 1/3 of people who file for bancruptcy because of uncovered medical cost for life threatening illnesses? You will be amazed at how many fundraisers and donations go to help research or a national organization but never reach your local area. See the ideas below:
  • Walk-a-thon ask people to sponsor you per lap or a flat donation.
  • A Prayer Breakfast at Church ask people to donate $10 per person to benefit the family directly for expenses not covered by their insurance.
  • Plan a gathering at a local restaurant. Ask the restaurant to give 15% of the nights receipts to the family. Create coupons and contact EVERYONE you can think of and tell them to eat in or order to go. Email coupons to your co-workers, church members, friends and ask them to forward the email.

15. Host a VICTORY PARTY! Include anyone and everyone! Make it a potluck and CELEBRATE KICKING CANCER’S BUTT!

Better Than A Hallelujah — Song of the Day

http://youtu.be/Rm5kx3xqmg0

These past month has been so busy it seems like a blur with me running from one thing to the next. I’ve been busy doing things for my family and neglecting myself. Well GOD truly has a way for making me SLOW DOWN and pay attention to myself, its called panic attacks.

My panic attacks are very new and debilitating. There is nothing like thinking you are having a heart attack to really make you look at what is stressing you out in your life and decide to get rid of it if you can or deal with it head on if something in your life needs to change. I admit, I am Type-A personality and I can get pretty wound up about things and the process in which I’d like something to be done. I want the best for everyone around me and that takes a lot of work! Sometimes I get help with things but more often than not I put it upon myself to do it alone. Carrying the workload and sometimes the resentment for completing tasks.

A few weeks ago my Pastor said something in his sermon that convicted my heart about doing things for appearances and not from the love in my heart. I stopped and thought about that for a long time. I was guilty! I needed for this to change. While others raised their hands in approval or whispered Yes, while I cried and vowed to change. I poured out my heart in prayer and I went home and made a list of all the projects. I looked at the things that I had taken on and removed those that brought me no joy and I asked others to help me with those tasks that are just too big for one person to handle. My cries were sweet music to GOD. My burdens feel lighter and my heart feels free. The pressures have been lifted off of me and I’ll admit it feels better than a hallelujah!

Better Than a Hallelujah — lyrics by Amy Grant

God loves a lullaby
In a mother’s tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God loves the drunkard’s cry
The soldier’s plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what’s been done
The silence when the words won’t come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

(Better than a Hallelujah sometimes)
Better than a Hallelujah
(Better than a Hallelujah sometimes)

Perfectly Me — JustBeEnough post

My nickname is Sammie.  I write under the name Sammie Love.  My Dad called me Sammie because he had wanted a boy.  I come from a long line of perfectionist’s. I am the daughter of a jill-of-all trades mother and mathematician/civil engineer father.  I am a Type-A person. I struggle daily with the vision I have for my life versus my reality. I grew up and always envisioned I’d have a perfect American life. I’d go to college, get married, travel, buy a house with a white picket fence, have two perfect children, and live happily ever after.

Well, life didn’t quite turn out like my “perfect plans.”  I did go to college and I finished in six years because I had my first son while I was in still in school.  I traveled through North America, but I never made it to most of the places on my travel list with the exception of Paris, FR and London, EN on my second honeymoon.  I got married and had two additional bundles of joy.  That’s right I have three children not the two children I dreamed about and I should add one of them is a regular learner, one of them has ADHD and Dyslexia, and one of them has been classified as gifted.  We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we are unsure if we will ever own another piece of the American Dream here, but I assure you I am living my happily ever after!

My life is not as perfect as I envisioned in my youth but it is PERFECT!  Its perfect for ME! All of my joys and all of my challenges have been a gift because they taught me that I can handle anything that lays before me.  My perfect life has helped me increase my faith and remember that no woman is an island unto herself.  I’ve had to learn to reach out to others for help so that I could learn and grow from them.  I’ve also learned to share my knowledge with people in need and how to advocate for children whose voices otherwise would not be heard.

As I look at my perfect life today, I am proud of the woman I have grown up to be because:

  • I am African American
  • I am a daughter.
  • I am a sister.
  • I am a friend to many.
  • I am a rape survivor.
  • I am a college graduate.
  • I am a wife.
  • I am a mother of three children.
  • I am a early childhood educator.
  • I am a mentor to new teachers.
  • I am a writer.
  • I am a special needs advocate.
  • I am a cancer survivor.
  • I am uniquely me.

I AM PERFECTLY ENOUGH!

THE HELP — A review through the looking glass

I had read a review of the movie The Help by Russell Simmons last week on http://www.globalgrind.com and he was verbally being assalted because of his appreciation of the film. Some sentiment was just what we need another movie with African American Women being portrayed as hired help, others actually called him a sellout for liking the film. I am not easily swayed and I decided to hold off on the debate and see the movie myself and form my own opinion. Off I went to see The Help on opening day.

I had the pleasure of seeing The Help with my Mom and two younger children on Wednesday. My immediate thoughts were I enjoyed the movie but I am still processing it. Do I recommend you seeing it? I surely do. Take your girlfriends, fiends, dates and teens. Do I think it is worth the Oscar buzz — you bet your sweet cheeks I do! Was I disturbed by portions of the movie? Of course I was. Do I feel as if the African American characters were stereotypical? I do not! Do I think there is power in these African American women’s voices? Yes, indeed, I do, because it is the telling of their stories that created the the lives that African Americans get to live today.

It’s been three days now and I have taken time to reflect on the movie and compare it to the true to life example of my great aunt’s experience as a domestic in Alabama and later on in some of the finest homes in Chicago. This is my Aunt Tee’s story. This is the story of all those women who traveled near and far from their homes to take care of others households.

I always admired my Great-Aunt “Tee” because she was a hard worker and she spent her life raising children other than her own (she was childless) including my father and his four siblings. “Aunt Tee” was a fierce Christian woman who had a sharp wit, and sharp sense of business to match. She managed to buy a house, and send two of her nephews off to college: one to University of Indiana and my Dad off to Purdue. She worked hard as a domestic and she did that so that my Dad and his siblings could have a better life. She often worked 6 days a week and she never complained, she just smiled when she was able to help someone who had less. She was humble and the daughter of a sharecropper.

As I watched The Help, I couldn’t help but think of “Aunt Tee” and all of her struggles. I thought of how she cared for another families children as if they were her own in order to take of her own family. I thought about how she must have felt and how she must have been treated and I just remember her as a wonderful, loving, proud, hard-working woman. One thing that stood out for me in the movie was the bonds that children had with the domestics. I really felt sad for those children that their maternal bond was with the hired help and not their mothers. That really left an impression upon me since I am an Early Childhood Educator, and it is my job to strengthen the bonds of the family not to act as a surrogate mother.

The movie easily transported me into that turbulent time called the 60’s when the Civil Rights Movement was brewing to eradicate the ugliness of the Jim Crow laws. It was interesting to see how the all of women reacted and responded to the social norms that had been dictated to them. Hilly was a monster created by an ambitious nature. She was power-hungry, grandiose, and almost inhumane, unlike her mother who was compassionate, witty, and likable. Millie her housekeeper was verbose, hard-working, stubborn and proud. These two characters represented the battle for civil rights, the battle between the rich and the poor but most importantly they represented the classic dichotomy of good versus evil. Abeline and Skeeter and their quiet strength helped the society women take a look at themselves through the eyes of the help and I can only hope that those “society women” were able to see how truly inhumane and silly they behaved.

I am still processing The Help in terms of race relations in the 60’s and today in 2011, but I do know that there are still some differences that exist like this in certain parts of America, Europe, and India. It saddens me, but this is still reality for some people in parts of the world. I hope The Help will make all of us take a look at ourselves and the doctrine in which we say we believe. I hope The Help will open doors for discussions about the importance of the 60’s and give this generation of people a better understanding of what went on during that time and how what was brewing then has the same undercurrent which is brewing today (think of London).

My final hope is that those who watch this film look into their hearts and NEVER EVER let history repeat itself because we are all made equal and the sun that shines above each of us marries all colors into one race called human!

Summer Ended Too Quickly

This a Sunday Streams of Consciousness exercise. 5 minutes of writing whatever is on my mind at that moment. No spellcheck or grammar check, just me clearing my mind.

*********************************************
It’s T-1 day and younger children return to school. They are attending different schools this year which adds pressure to get them both where they need to be on time every morning. I’ve planned, laid out their clothes, prepared lunch but all the organization in the world goes out the window when trying to get a child with ADHD and Dyslexia out of the house if he is having a bad morning.

His bad mornings equal his sister and me being late to school and work, in spite of our best efforts and us being ready to leave on-time. I hope this school year will be better and I pray that they both have a successful school year. We are all in transition this year. He begins Middle School, she is in the 5th grade and ready to run her Elementary School and me being off work until September. Things are different for each of us this school year and in seven hours we’ll see how it goes.

Defying Gravity


(Glee Version featuring Chris Coffer and Leah Michelle)

Last week seemed to have a recurring theme for me and those around me online and offline. Many of us dealt with FAITH! We either tempted it, my online friend @SharonDV did the CN Tower Walk in Ontario, Canada and survived. Alex @L8enough struggled with faith, My friend/Sister @MOMmagRocks as we begin to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and do something DARING! Finally, I literally verbally fought with someone I love because of my faith (I assure you it wasn’t my finest Christian moment).

This week has been an incredible week for each of us, but when I look back at it I hope Sharon, Alex, Tamara and J know that they are loved beyond anything they can humanly measure. I hope that they continue to challenge themselves and continue defying gravity and press forward with the courage and questioning that inspires so many people. We are each evolving, growing, clinging to and testing our FAITH. Life can be a bumpy journey but I’m so glad to have met each of you as I have traveled along my path.

Defying Gravity Lyrics ~ from the Musical WICKED
(Melody Sung by Idina Menzel the first wife of MY HUSBAND Taye Diggs — LOL)

Something has changed within me,
Something is not the same.
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game.

Too late for second-guessing,
Too late to go back to sleep.
It’s time to trust my instincts,
Close my eyes and leap.

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down…

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so.
Some things I cannot change,
But till I try, I’ll never know.

Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost.
Well, if that’s love,
It comes at much too high a cost!

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down.

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity

And you won’t bring me down.
Bring me down!
Ahhahhoahh

The Breastfeeding Baby Doll — Coming to a home near you?

As a mother of three and a professionally trained Early Childhood Educator, I am often amazed at the advances that have been made in toys. My oldest child will be 21 this year and when he and his classmates had dramatic play at his preschool it generally revolved around improvisation and “make believing” certain items had become something else. The classrooms building blocks “became” multiple items such as: a hammer, an iron, a saw or a multitude of other items.

Advances in educational materials in the past 16 years have been phenomenal. The Cabbage Patch Kids that were all the rage have been replaced by baby dolls that come in all ethnicities. Barbie has evolved from a “Classic American Beauty” into a corvette driving, prom going hoochie-mama that has her own beach house and business. The American Girl dolls have started another wave of altered reality for our children, with their papers of origin, fancy written back stories, and matching clothes designed for them and their “Mommies.”

Well, hold onto your hats folks for what’s coming to America this year — it’s the Breast Feeding Baby! The doll comes with a halter top for a child to wear with a flower that allows the doll to imitate suckling. WOW, was my response when I saw it on the TODAY Show this weekend!

There has been a baby boom at my preschool in the last few months and our two and three year-olds have siblings that they have welcomed into their home and they are observing them as they are breast feeding. The children have come in and said things like, “See, I’m feeding the baby!” as they hold a doll close to their chest. It’s a beautiful thing to see and I have to admit I get a chuckle when the boys do it.

While I think it is really a healthy thing to talk about breast feeding and it provides a teachable moment for all the children to learn about the beautiful way that a mother’s body nurtures a child, I understand people’s concerns. Perhaps some parents believe it is best for children to imagine breastfeeding instead of creating a doll for everyday consumers. The overwhelming consensus on the TODAY Show poll was 76% of American parents who were polled did not like the doll. It is important to note, that this doll has been available in Europe for over a year and they can’t keep it on the shelf! I’m sure the dolls popularity in Europe has a direct correlation to their openness and willingness to discuss sex within their country.

I have to admit, while I love the doll, it would be more appropriately used as a demonstration doll in a Siblings Class, Lactation Class or a doll in a Sex Education class, however I value it’s usefulness as tool to engage children to talk about the important change in their life and to better explain what they are witnessing.

The debate will continue I am sure, but we all need to remember that as our times advance so do our children. Which brings up an entirely different subject, “Is it right to expose preschool aged children to a breast feeding doll in school or is this something that should be initiated by their parents?”

I would love your opinions on this subject!

Wonder — Dedicated to #BlogHer11 Attendees and Us Here at Home

Everybody has a story. Our story is about: our experiences, our families, our triumphs, our challenges, our reactions to the daily occurences in our lives. We are Bloggers, more specifically we are BlogHers! We support each other, learn from each other, and encourage each other.

Our stories are full of wonder. The wonder of who we are, what will we become, why will we become that way, where will our lives lead us and when will we know that we have become the person we’re destined to become. We prod along, learning, striving, living, existing and being the magnificent wonders that we are. One day we meet and share our stories online and become a unique member of a sisterhood/brotherhood that share similar experiences but seen through our own perspective. We are wonders now connected through thoughts, words, exchanges, and computers until a wonderful event like BlogHer happens. BlogHer is place to physically meet the people that we have shared our lives with online, a conference to celebrate the wonder of who we have become and to make tangible the connections that we have made through our blogs.

I thought of this song today as I am siting at home thinking of the friends I’ve met this last month that are at BlogHer11. I celebrate each of you that are attending and those that could not for whatever reason! Our stories are powerful, our lives are truly full of wonder, and our laughter heals the world.

Enjoy BlogHer11 Ladies. I will meet you at BlogHer12 in NYC next year and in the meantime I’ll see you here online!

Love,

Sammie

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“Wonder” Lyrics by Natalie Merchant

Doctors have come from distant cities
Just to see me
Stand over my bed
Disbelieving what they’re seeing

They say I must be one of the wonders
Of god’s own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer
No explanation

Newspapers ask intimate questions
Want confessions
They reach into my head
To steal the glory of my story

They say I must be one of the wonders
Of god’s own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer
No explanation

O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience and with faith
She’ll make her way

People see me
I’m a challenge to your balance
I’m over your heads
How I confound you and astound you
To know I must be one of the wonders
Of god’s own creation
And as far as you can see you can offer me
No explanation

O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as she came to my mother
Know this child will not suffer
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience and with faith
She’ll make her way

The Accidental Blogger — Summer Blog Special

I started my blog because I had written a reflection on Father’s Day. As I wrote it I had been looking at all the well wishes on Twitter for Father’s Day. I also noticed a lot of single Mom’s speaking their experiences of “being” both parents to their children and at the complete opposite end of the spectrum were these fabulous odes to fathers.

My story was different from any I had read and I wanted to tell it. That’s how The Musings And Ramblings of Sammie Love began. I’ve only been blogging for a month. But here is my advice for someone that is new and decides they want to start a blog.

1) Read other blogs:
If you have twitter, there are tons of people there that have blogs. Check out those links and read away.

2) Evaluate other blogs:
Look at the design of other blogs. What images do they use? Are they affiliated with other blogs? Take note of what you like and what you don’t like about each blog.

3) Decide what platform you’d like to use. Is it a WordPress, Typepad or Blogger? What features do you want your blog to have?

4) Decide what message you want to send out to the world and make a writing schedule. Fact check, spell check, and grammar check! It’s important and readers notice. You never know, your high school English teacher may stumble upon your blog and won’t he/she be so proud of you for crossing your “T’s” and dotting your “I’s”.

5) Be true to yourself. Don’t pick a topic just because it’s a headline in the news. If you don’t have passion about the subject — don’t write about it!

6) Engage your readers. Ask their opinions. Make them feel welcome to comment on your blog.

7) Answer the comments that readers leave on your blog. It fosters your connection with them. Thank them for taking time to read your thoughts.

8) Talk with other bloggers! Find out about their successes and their lessons learned.

9) Promote yourself on Twitter or Facebook because if you are writing and no one knows you are there, then who is reading what you wrote? (Can you hear the sounds of crickets out in the fields way beyond your backyard?)

10) Exercise your voice! Say what’s on your mind and have a great time writing.