Our Visit to the King Center: A Photo Blog

Visit to the King Center : Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

Earlier this month, we loaded the kids up in the car and went to visit the King Center.  My older daughter had been to the King Center before, but unfortunately she was too little to have really understood exactly what the Civil Rights movement or Dr. King’s dream was about.  And so, with  blatant racism, and bigotry being displayed everywhere these days, we thought that it was important for us to remind our children of their significant heritage.

As a parent, I always err on the side of caution when it comes to telling my kids the gruesome and graphic details of life/history.  My philosophy on that is that they have their whole lives to be adults and to deal with such things.  And, I simply don’t want them living in fear.  But, as we were walking through the King Museum and I was trying my best to answer all their questions and explain the things we saw.  I was reminded that the Civil Rights movement was not just for adults.  There were several children on the front lines standing up for what they believed was right.  And, it brought me back to the famous quote by George Santayana, “that those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Surprisingly enough, I do not have too much to say about our trip other than to say that it was a humbling and solemn experience.  It filled me with both great pride and waves of grief.  Pride because of the long journey that our ancestors took on behalf of the very inalienable rights we are supposed to have today.  And, grief for those who lost their loved ones in the struggle and continue to do so in the name of upward mobility and dreams yet to be actualized.

Visit to the King Center - A Day On ... Not A Day Off

A Visit to the King Center : Call To Lead

A Visit to the King Center: Signs from Marches

A Visit to the King Center: Freedom March

I'm Black and Beautiful.

I hope that you enjoyed these pictures that my husband took and, if you are ever in the Atlanta area definitely put this on your list of places to see.  It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.  How do you deal with telling your children about things that are unpleasant?  Do you sugar coat it, or give it to them straight?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, in the comments below.

7 Things Every Parent Should Know

7 Things Every Parent Should Know - www.stage-presents.com

  1.  Every child is different.  I think sometimes we base our parenting styles and decisions on how things worked the first time around, or how our parent’s raised us. I have three children and they couldn’t be more different.  Growing up, I remember thinking that my sister had it so much easier, because I had already gone through all of the hard things.  And, that my mom favored her over me, which.. well I am still not sure that isn’t entirely true, lol.  But… now that I have children of my own I know that what worked for one of them wouldn’t necessarily work for the other.
  2. There is no such thing as the perfect parent.  Even though it is what we all aspire to be, we would save ourselves so much time right out of the gate, by acknowledging from the very beginning that we are human, and therefore flawed. There will be times when you have to say you are sorry.  You will not always be right.  You are charged with shaping these little lives that have been entrusted to you, but try as you might you can’t mold them into your own image.  (Trust me I’ve tried, lol)
  3. Quality and Quantity.  I know you probably thought I was going to say  Quality over Quantity.  But Nope.  Here’s is my reasoning you are probably never going to be able to please everyone see #1.  And, even though you will most likely try to find things that everyone is interested in and or try to give them as much one on one time, as possible.  That simply may not be the way that they remember it.  So do you best to spend as much time as you can, whenever you can.  And hope that it is enough.
  4. Routine. Routine is the key to any well oiled machine.  Bed times, chores, expectations, etc.  As I mentioned before, I thought my parents were too strict.  But, the thing about it is that looking back I see now that knowing what was expected of me and how I was to conduct myself played a large part in shaping me.  I can see now that a lot of the heartache that my friends went through I was lucky enough not to have experienced, because I simply didn’t live that life.
  5. Enjoy it.  I will be the first one to tell you that parenthood is NO WALK IN THE PARK.   You love your babies and you can’t imagine life without them.  But, sometimes you do.  You imagine what it would be like to pull your hands through you hair, throw on some bright red lipstick and skinny jeans and just jump in the car heading off to God knows where and for God knows what reason.  But, you know those days are over.  So once you are back from your pity party.  Make sure to enjoy these days.  One day you will miss it.  Since my oldest is 20 and my youngest is 6, I have a unique vantage point.  I can see the other side while still in the trenches.
  6. Document your days.  This is a controversial one for some people, because if you are snapping pictures then maybe you aren’t present.  I guess I have mixed feelings about this, because I see things from behind a lens that I am not sure I would notice otherwise.  Or maybe it’s that the things that I see make me want to pull out my camera to preserve the memory.  Like taking my daughters to the beach last year, and watching their faces so go from fear, to fun, to frolicking.  It was amazing to sit there and watch them grow before my eyes.  To me, it’s equally amazing to look back on those pictures and remember that day with joy in my heart.  I think I have always taken a lot of pictures, but when my son was little there were no iPhone’s and such, so there are way less pics of him than of the girls, and it is one of my biggest regrets.
  7. We Time and Me Time are a necessity.  Before they came, it was just the two of you.  And, before you became the two of you, it was just you.  Every relationship needs cultivation, even the ones we have with ourselves.  And, I believe this with all my heart.  If you are depleted at some time in some way, it is going to come out.  I am lucky enough to have my parents close by and when I need a break they are more than happy to afford us that luxury.  But, even if you don’t have a support system close by, little things mean a lot.  Can you both get off work for a couple of hours while the kids are at school, for lunch or for a movie or both?  Can you schedule a babysitter, and make a night of it?  Or maybe you just need the peace and quiet, or solitude of a massage, or mani-pedi appointment.  Figure out what feeds your spirit and your soul and do that, make time for that.

“TODAY’S LITTLE MOMENTS,  BECOME TOMORROW’S PRECIOUS MEMORIES.”

End of Year Review

2016-a-year-in-review

It is the last day of 2016, and I for one am glad to see it go.  2016 has been the most tumultuous year I have experienced in my 40 years.  It has literally been filled with the lowest lows and the highest highs,  a perpetual roller coaster of emotions, blessings and disappointments.

We entered into 2017 full of hope and vision.  And, as seems to be the norm at this stage of my life the days quickly turn into months and the months into years.  This is something that most Moms tend to be cognizant of as you watch your babies speed through their younger years. And, believe it or not with a business it is not much different.  I sit back a little awe struck at times, as I watch it develop in new ways.  The most minute changes can garner the most significant rewards.

On the Business/Blog Side of Things:

We started off the new year by re-branding.  Even though we loved our original logo, we wanted a new logo that we felt represented where we were going as a company. I assume that this can be a fairly easy project for larger companies who hire out this type of work.  But, we decided to do it ourselves, or I should say my hubby did it.  And, since we both have the perfectionist gene getting on the same wave length was a bit harder than we thought.  But, ultimately we were both pleased with the finished product.

TheStagepresentsBlog got its own Instagram Page. Having another account separate from the one we already had for our Etsy Store allowed me to share more of myself, my family and my daily life with all my Stage Presents friends.  It also gave me a chance to connect with other like minded bloggers.

Our Etsy Store hit 400 + Sales and officially passed the 3 year mark.

Our Back to School Binder Covers went viral.

Increased our Social Media presence and Developed relationships with other bloggers

Collaborated with other bloggers to present the Friday Favorites Linky Party.

We had some amazing Guest Bloggers.

2016-highlights

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
― Charles BukowskiFactotum

On the Personal side of Things:

Life dealt more blows than I would like to remember in 2016.  Only months into the New Year, my toddler niece got very sick and passed away.  It is something that I honestly don’t know if I will ever truly understand. The only thing worst than experiencing that loss, was watching my baby sister go through it.  As a big sister, you never want to think that there is something that you just can not help your younger sister with or through.  But, I had to accept that this was something that we could only call on God to help and heal.   Then some months later, I had a health scare that consisted of  a spider bite and my blood sugar being way too high, that landed me in the hospital.  Though terrifying, it turned out to be exactly what I needed to get my act together as far as eating what I should eat, instead of what I wanted to eat.  This year, I also started subbing at the School System for longer periods of time.  I got a quick refresher course on just what a balancing  act it was to work full time hours and still juggle being Mommy and Wife, Blogger, Etsy Shop Owner, Cook, Taxi…  The flip side to that was being able to do more of the things we wanted to do as a family with more money coming into the household, and having a little more to invest back into our business.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
― John SteinbeckThe Winter of Our Discontent

The pain makes us change. The change makes us grow, and finally the growth makes us strong.

FOR WHATEVER REASON, THESE BOOKS HELPED ME OUT THIS YEAR.

Favorite Books:

Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer

Make it Happen by Lara Casey

2016 has been a year of growth for the business and for the blog and it is with bated breath that I wait to take in all that 2017 has to offer.  We are humbled by the support of our readers, our customers, and our community.  We acknowledge that without you we couldn’t have come this far.  As we end this year, and venture into the new one keep these words in mind.

THROUGH ADVERSITY, NOT ONLY ARE WE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER OUR INNER STRENGTH, WE ARE ALSO GIVEN THE  GIFT OF FORESIGHT SO WE CAN SHINE A LIGHT FOR OTHERS WHO GO THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE AFTER US. — RACHAEL BERMINGHAM

On Your First Day of Middle School

First Day of Middle School The house is eerily quiet after a summer full of laughter and yelling.  And,  as I put the last load of laundry in the dryer, and sit down to relax before bed,  so many thoughts flood into my head. You finished your first day of Middle School.  Around this time last night, your Dad and I  sat and debated all the things that could go wrong and how we would handle it, if it did.  We were both nervous for you and dare I say shook. As we sat there with the tv off for almost 40 minutes just staring out into space.  It seemed unreal that our little timid girl was turning into this tween right in front of our eyes.    On our way home from dropping you off and speaking with your counselor, your Dad told me that he wrote you a note.  I grimaced a little, after all Dad is often known for his boyish ways (less frills and curls and more blunt and direct).  But, when I got home and read the letter. tears literally filled my eyes. (I thought about posting the note, but some things should be between a girl and her Dad.)  Now, I know that this doesn’t surprise you because over the years Mom has turn into MUSH.  Long gone are my hard exterior and Sky High Walls, blame your Dad for that.

But, I am in tears for many reasons.  There is nothing like knowing that your child is loved.  I know you are saying he is my Dad and he is supposed to love me.  Which of course is true, but it’s the way that he loves you that chokes me up.  It is knowing that we were all, you, me and Dad sitting on pins and needles for the last two weeks coming up to the New School Year.  It is the little secret conversations that I would catch a second or two of when walking by, over the summer.  The way he thought of how to prepare you as best he could for what comes next. Or the pride that I saw in his eyes when you walked across the stage at your Elementary School Graduation in May.  And, it is my own understanding that there really is nothing like a Daddy’s love for a little girl.

So as I brace myself for the Middle School Years and the changes that I know you will make and the person who you will become.  I remember something that I thought of when you were just a wee little girl.  I hoped that you would always be able to feel the love that surrounds you.  And, that means when we don’t see eye to eye, or when discipline feels more like punishment and my caring seems more like “stalkery”. And, all these years later as you embark on yet another part of your journey, I hope this still.  You are one of my greatest accomplishments and you are loved, supported and wished well in more ways than you will ever know.

 

Advocating for your Child’s Future

Advocating for Your Child's Future - Does your Child require an IEP? Do you need to know what lies ahead of you? Be an advocate for your child's future with these tips from a fellow IEP Mom.

Being a parent is the hardest job that I have ever been entrusted with for all the obvious reasons.  There is no manual, no two children are the same, my normal way of creating templates that I can repeat mindlessly doesn’t work here.  All the ways that I can work smarter rather than harder in other roles, can not be applied to this job.  I learned very early on that parenting was just not a job that I could prepare for. I bought everything on the suggested nursery list, and tried to anticipate any need I felt that they would have before they arrived.  But… still there were just things that could not be anticipated .

It is often said that a parent is a child’s first teacher and also their first example of God’s love.  Both scary sentiments, if you ask me, but equally true.  And, as such it is our responsibility to advocate for them and their needs.  I don’t often talk about my daughter and her speech and educational challenges, and I think most people keep these things within the family.  But, recently the thought occurred to me that there are parents who do not advocate for their children because they are afraid, embarrassed, uncertain and unaware of the resources that are available to them.  And I don’t know, maybe I would have felt this way too if I was not surrounded by knowledgeable friends and family who were able to point me in the right direction.

Even though my daughter is just 11 years old, I feel like we have already been on quite a journey together.  At an early age she was diagnosed with a Significant Speech Delay and Auditory Processing Disorder.  She has been in Speech Therapy since she was 3 years old and has had an IEP since the 1st grade.  I know first hand how hard it is to accept that your child has a delay or special needs that make her different.   But, once you come to peace with this, the world is literally your oyster.  Now, I won’t lie to you and tell you that the sea will part and the mountains will crumble.  You are in for an uphill battle, but one that is possible and even if progress is slow, one that can be rewarding.

  1.  Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  What I mean by that is,  be an expert on your child.  Don’t allow anyone else to tell you what will work for him or her.  When my daughter started school, she was VERY VERY VERY shy.  Now, I am sure that you are thinking that most Kindergartners are.  And, that is true.  But, in her case, it took her a while to warm up to strangers.   And, I knew that.  So I let everyone who would be working with her know that.  She would also get frustrated when she was trying to express herself and others could not understand, and any kind of aggression towards her, made her shut down.  So I made all of that known.  In fact, call me a  “Helicopter Mom” if you like.  But, I would literally write a letter to the teachers at the beginning of the year to make sure that they went into the new school year knowing just who she was and the best way to reach her.
  2. Be diligent in your pursuit of services.  It is the public school systems responsibility to see to it that your child is educated.  You might think ok, well I can leave that there.  Wrong.  You can not.  There are seven different recognized learning styles.  Knowing which ones work  best for your child can improve both the speed and the quality of your child’s education.  That being said, If the arrangements that are set in place for your child are not working it is your responsibility to seek out a situation that better suits their needs.  The key to this is being involved enough to see the red flags.  For example. even though IEP’s are pretty common now a days, you may  have to request that your child be evaluated to determine if he or she needs one.  The meetings can be long and tedious, but it gives you an opportunity to both get your concerns across and work with those who come in contact with your child to make sure that he or she has the accommodations that she needs.  Extra time for testing, a Small Group Setting, or  Additional Study Skills just to name a few
  3. Build a team.  I was beyond lucky when it came to my team.  And, I don’t just mean the people who interact with your child at school.  But, a support team, I had my Mom, my sister, and my husband who I felt were all equally vested in my daughter’s success.  And then as fate would have it, the very first Speech Therapist that the school paired her with was hand picked by God.  She was able to pull my daughter outside of herself and give her some of the confidence that she was lacking by helping her with her speech and by her sweet and encouraging nature.  In addition to that , she was the gentle hand that guided the team at school that worked with her.
  4. Be both forgiving and flexible.  For me this was a new experience, so I say be forgiving because you are learning as you go.  But, even if this is not your first time at the rodeo, no experience is going to be the same.  And, sometimes the goals and milestones you put in place originally, will need to be revamped and changed, or even thrown out all together.
  5. Accept limitations.  As I said before things may not move as quickly as you would like, and that could be as far as how quickly your child is learning and making strides.  Or, it could mean how long it takes to get additional testing done or to receive additional  resources
  6. Don’t Give Up!!  This is the most important point that I will make in this whole post, because it is a frustrating process.  It is hard to see your child try and fail, and be discouraged.  It is hard for you not to become emotionally drained on their behalf.  Or to stop yourself from feeling like what you are doing is not yielding results.  But, you have to stay strong because you are the only one who can fight this fight for them.

” WHAT LIES BEHIND US AND WHAT LIES BEFORE US ARE TINY MATTERS COMPARED TO WHAT LIES WITHIN US.”   rALPH WALDO EMERSON

Taking the Stress Out of Moving Day…

Taking the Stress Out of Moving Day originally found on stage-presents.com

SOME tips for making moving day run smoother

  1. Whenever possible, DO NOT MOVE on the 1st of the month.  If you are renting your own van or truck, this is the busiest time for truck rental companies.  The supply runs out quickly and even with a reservation some companies overbook and will not honor your reservation.  If you are hiring a moving company, and you must move on the 1st,  make sure to book them as far in advance as possible.
  2. If time is not a factor, do the packing yourself.  Movers tend to charge by the hour.  This will cut down on what you have to pay them and save you some “coins” for all the little things that you will most likely have to purchase for your new space.
  3. LABEL LABEL LABEL …. LIST LIST LIST…  Obviously you need to keep like items or things that go in the same room together.  But, in addition to that consider color coding and thinking all the way through to the unpacking process.  For example, if you have shoes and clothes that are not for the present season, you want them in your bedroom.  But, they are not your priority when it’s time to unpack.  It’s more than likely that the things you packed last are the items that you use more often.  So you need to be able to put your hands on those things first.   For me that would be, the coffee maker, the K-Cups, Forks, Knives, Plates and a Go-To Pot or Two.  Aside from putting the beds down and getting sheets and towels, the kitchen is almost always the first room that get’s unpacked.
  4. Move as many of your packed belongings to the door closest to where the movers will be entering and exiting the house.  I don’t expect you to try to move big furniture pieces but at the very least move your boxes.  This one is tried and true.  Day laborers tend to lolly gag.  I don’t have time to pay you to talk to your coworkers about little Timmy’s Soccer Game.  If there is ever a time to micro manage this is the time.  Time is Money!!
  5. Use bubble wrap, newspaper and packing peanuts to protect your delicate/breakable objects.   Even if the item is not dropped it can be crushed. If money is not an object most Storage Rental Facilities make boxes now specifically for your dishes, glasses, etc.  Bottom line is no one is going to take care of your things like you.  And Grammy’s China might mean the world to you, but… maybe not to Joe Schmo The Moving Guy.  I’m just saying.
  6. Take date and time stamped photos of your most prized possessions.  This will assist in settling disputes if your property is damaged and or stolen.
  7. Always get the insurance. Insurance for the Truck if you are doing it yourself.    And, if you are hiring your own mover’s make sure they are both licensed and bonded and able to reimburse you if the worst happens.  In this the day of Google, there is no excuse for not planning and preparing.  Check the BBB and look for references/reviews and complaints.  Then make an informed decision.
  8. I always say that you get what you pay for.  But, there seems to always be a Moving Company on Groupon or Living Social these days.  If you are going to go that route  READ THE FINE PRINT.

So there you have it,  Happy Planning and Happy Moving Day!!

“IT WASN’T RAINING WHEN NOAH BUILT THE ARK.” –HOWARD HUFF.

“Pin-nable” AM Inspirational Quotes

START YOUR AM OFF THE RIGHT WAY WITH OUR INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES.

Pinnable Inspirational Quotes

Are you following us on Facebook and/or Instagram?  If not, there is no time like the present.  Every Morning, we kick off the day on FB and Instagram with our AM Inspirational Quotes.  Lately, we have been getting a lot of interest in these Posts.  I always like to start my day off by reading or hearing something positive and I guess I am not  alone.  But, unfortunately, you can’t Pin from Facebook and or Instagram.  So, users have been asking us about putting these quotes somewhere that they can save  and pin them .  Seems like a reasonable request, but, we are almost two years into our Positive AM Posts, that is a lot of content to post, all at once.

So we thought that we would gradually start to post them to the blog,  where you are free to pin away to your hearts content.

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A Lie

A River

AFool

In addition to sharing these AM Posts here, I will gradually start to add them to Our Pinterest Page as well, follow us here.

Looking for some more of my favorite quotes check out these posts here and here.  Coming soon… we will have a Header Page on the blog just for these.  Stay tuned for more information.