Resource List for Studying Race

*Please note: I am not writing this because I think I’m an expert. I’m doing work on this, and maybe, knowing that someone you know is working on this makes you do the same. That’s why I’m writing.

In the post On Being a White Person, after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I listed several resources as places to start investigating race in America. Shortly after posting, I realized I’d forgotten some, and then I also got lots of great recommendations from others about additional books, shows, podcasts, etc.

So, I decided to compile them here (I know I’ve missed some . . . I tried to take notes all week long when I could). I did most of the writing of this post, but hadn’t finished it, and then . . .

Then came Monday night, and on Twitter, I saw the first of the Central Park Ramble incident. I was frustrated and angry over what a despicable thing it was to do, to fake hysteria on a 911 call to try to get an African-American man in trouble. I woke Tuesday morning to see the typical “not all white people” defensive response. Ugh. Sure, it’s true that not all white people think this way, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not appropriate for that to be your response. Because plenty of white people obviously DO think this kind of behavior is ok.

And while it’s fine to be blown away by Christian Cooper’s education and accomplishments and love for birding, the fact remains that even if he was a homeless man who appeared unkempt, he does not deserve to have the police weaponized against him when he was in no way committing a crime. That white woman didn’t like being told she was breaking the rules of the park, and she used what she thought she had at her disposal – her white, hysterical voice – to get “justice.” What if there wasn’t a video?

And then, right on the heels of the reporting of the Ramble incident came the Minneapolis police and George Floyd. Again there is video. I stopped watching when I realized the full story, that this was a video of yet another black man’s life being taken by someone who was sworn to serve and protect. I couldn’t watch police kill him as he begged for his life.

When you hear this story and see this video, what is your reaction? Is it that you want to know the rest of the story? Is it that he shouldn’t have committed a crime, and then he wouldn’t have been in trouble? That he shouldn’t have resisted arrest?

He did those things. He appeared under the influence of something, was accused of forgery, and resisted arrest. But when he’s on the ground, handcuffed, unarmed, and under arrest, repeatedly telling the officer he can’t breathe, with onlookers pleading for the officer kneeling on him to get up, with THREE OTHER OFFICERS allowing this to go on and on minute after minute after minute . . . are you telling me forgery and drug use and initially resisting arrest deserve this? He didn’t even stop kneeling on him when his nose was bleeding, and he was unconscious.

And now, a picture of this officer has surfaced, with him wearing a red “Make Whites Great Again” hat, styled, you guessed it, after his dear leader’s slogan hat. Don’t tell me this doesn’t impact how he polices the streets of Minneapolis. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that he can keep his white supremacy separate from his job.

(Edited: this was proven to be a fake picture. I commented about it after a leader whose voice I trust posted it.)

I’m so tired and angry, but I’m not nearly as tired as the people of color in this country who repeatedly have to deal with this shit, who repeatedly lose their lives over this ignorance. This is on us, white people, to be tired of it and keep educating ourselves, and keep talking about it. So here’s the list I put together. This list is small, and if you have resources not listed here that you consider vital, let me know.

Let me reiterate: It doesn’t help to just be vocal when an outrageous news story appears, and then not continue to stand up for injustice, or continue to educate yourself. Start now. Examine every angle. Talk to your kids. Don’t hide from this. Help them understand racism from the slavery angle they’re taught in school, and then help them understand it as it is today, so they become ANTI-racist. Actively anti-racist.

Here’s a list of words or phrases to define and understand. Teaching Tolerance or The Innocence Project are two good places to begin as resources:
Racism
Systemic racism
Bias
White privilege
White supremacy
Colorblind
Cross-race effect or Cross-racial identification, as they pertain to witnesses

Study the history of the neighborhoods in the city in which you live. I’m willing to bet you’ll find it very informative.

The asterisk means I’ve read/watched myself. As I stated in the last post, I highly recommend following these authors on social media platforms, as a way to constantly be educating yourself. Honestly, the viewpoints they present (particularly in reaction to events like what is going on now) and the articles they point to have contributed significantly to my understanding and make me question myself regularly to examine what I think. They are where I keep learning. Follow the book authors and journalists, follow the historians and activists, follow projects committed to equality, like The Equal Justice Initiative and The King Center (and also Bernice King) on Twitter and Black Coffee with White Friends on Instagram. This list is long, but I’ll compile it if it makes one white person do this work. Let me know if you need me to do that.

Sidenote: Be sure to investigate the voices you follow. Shaun King comes to mind, as he is yet again being exposed for his shady practices.

Books:
*I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Built for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
*The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein (currently reading)
*Waking up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
*An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
*Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
*The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
*Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
*Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (currently reading)
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad
Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter
I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi
Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims

Movies/Documentaries/TV:
*Just Mercy
*42
13th
*When They See Us
The Central Park Five
The Hate U Give

Podcasts:
*Catlick
*Somebody
1619

TED Talks:
*Lucky Zip Codes
*Color Blind or Color Brave?

Museums:
National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The King Center in Atlanta

Here’s an entire Google doc of resources. It’s full of links to social media, books, etc. It’s really good.

On Being a White Person.

From the moment I woke today, I’ve known I needed to write about this. All day long, thoughts about what I’d include in a post like this have run through my head. And as I sat here, after four attempts at logging in before I remembered my blog password, I couldn’t get this started.

But I have to write this. I know I do.

I’m going to say up front that I know I won’t get all of this right. I have come a long way, but I also have a lot to learn. Understanding race and bias is complex.

On February 23, Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, was killed by two white men, a father and son, in a neighborhood. They saw him run by their house and believed him to be the person responsible for breaking into houses in their neighborhood. They ordered him to stop, and he kept running, so they followed him in their truck. A brief scuffle happened, and Ahmaud was shot and killed.

Yesterday, a 40-second video surfaced on the internet. It was filmed by a friend of theirs, for reasons I don’t understand. The video only contains the final seconds of whatever exchange happened between the parties, and then shows Ahmaud being killed.

The three men have not been charged in the killing. In the last couple of days, the DA of Georgia’s Atlantic Judicial Court has decided the case should be presented before a grand jury. Two prosecutors in the area recused themselves from the case because of their connection to the suspects.*

*Update: as I finished the end of this post, I saw the news that the father/son suspects have been charged with murder and aggravated assault. That it took two months is an abomination, but I am glad they’ve been charged.

Everything I’ve stated above is fact. Here’s a link to a Time Magazine article (I’ve chosen what I hope can be considered a neutral reporting source, so no one will discount credibility) with what is currently known about the story. If you are unfamiliar with the details, I recommend you take a minute to read the account they’ve provided.

Before we go further, I want to address anyone who may be saying, “But, but, but…you don’t know everything that happened! The video only shows 40 seconds!”

Yes. You’re right. I don’t know what happened before those 40 seconds beyond what has been reported in addition to the video (again, read the Time article if you are unfamiliar with the timeline).

And I submit that for what I have to say here, it doesn’t matter that I don’t know more.

Because here’s the thing, and please read this carefully to fully understand what I’m saying. If, indeed, this man HAD been breaking into houses in a neighborhood, he was still
gunned down in broad daylight,
while not committing a crime (the 911 call does not report that he was in the act of committing a crime),
by two men who saw it fit to chase him down and take the law into their own hands based on the color of the “burglar’s” skin.

That father and son made themselves judge, jury, and executioner, without having a shred of evidence they had the right person. Because EVEN IF he was the neighborhood thief? He deserves a trial.

I hate that I even feel like I had to write all that, because that’s not at all what I believe happened.

When you call 911 like the shooters did, and the operator asks what your complaint is, and you respond that a black man is running down the street after looking at a house that’s under construction, you’ve just outed yourself as a racist.

>>>

It’s time, white friends. We have a responsibility.

It’s time to own the horrible way we’ve dealt with race in this country. It’s time to understand our history–really try to understand it, and all the ugliness it entails–and acknowledge that systemic racism exists, and that we have a role in dismantling it. It’s time to understand privilege, and what it actually means instead of rejecting it as not applying to you, because you’ve also had a hard life. It’s time to stop saying or thinking, “I’m not racist – I have a black friend!” or “I don’t hate black people!” and instead, really look at your belief systems and what you’ve been taught, and examine it under a microscope. It’s time to embrace the fact that race issues didn’t end with slavery ending, and they didn’t end with desegregation. Not even close. It’s time to understand generational wealth and what opportunities are offered based on your race, and have been for generations, how the law worked in favor of my white relatives, but not my fellow black Americans’ relatives.

And then, it’s time to be really, really aware of what we’re teaching our own kids.

I don’t know exactly when this journey began for me, but I know Ferguson solidified a lot of things in my mind. I started in earnest to read different viewpoints, sought out posts and books from people who had already done this work, and went to hear a speaker about race for the first time.

Wanna know something? It’s really, really uncomfortable, examining your own beliefs in this way. It’s undoing thought processes, and figuring out where you learned things. It’s thinking through phrases you use, and it’s making yourself aware of prejudices you didn’t even realize you had. It’s sometimes embarrassing.

It’s embracing the truth that other people’s lived experiences may look different than yours, and that doesn’t mean yours is wrong, but it also doesn’t mean theirs is wrong. And this isn’t an argument for relative truth; it’s acknowledging that our own life experiences shape how we interpret events.

Which leads us to white privilege. Ahh, white privilege, the term that shuts people down so quickly. Because this is just a blog post, I have to keep this part shorter than I’d like (linking to a great resource for this topic below), but we can simplify it here to this: it is acknowledging that the color of your skin does not put you at a disadvantage in any way, or in any system. White privilege DOES NOT MEAN you’ve never struggled. It does not mean you’ve lived in affluence. It does not mean you’ve been handed everything in life.

So for instance, I’m the mom of a runner. He’s a 17-year-old white kid. Do I worry about him when he’s out running? I mean, I’m a mom. I hope he stays safe, and by that I mean I hope he doesn’t get hit by a car or he doesn’t get hurt. But do I ever, EVER, worry that him running through a neighborhood (or driving his car somewhere) might not be safe, because someone might take one look at him and think he’s a criminal based on his skin color? NOPE. White privilege.

So…if you’re one of the people reading, and you’re interested in examining this for yourself, where do you begin? All I can tell you about is my experience. What I’ve read, who I follow, what terms I’ve tried to understand better.

Let me say that I live in a pretty white world. I don’t have a lot of black friends. So when I went back to work several years ago, and a black woman around my age was hired at the same time, we became friends. I talked to her about what I was reading. We asked each other things about being black and being white, with the understanding that we were both curious and learning, and we might sometimes step on each other’s toes a bit. (Shenekia, I love ya, and I’m thankful for our conversations, and how comfortable you made me feel about my questions!) So…I’m NOT saying go pick out a black person to be friends with…that would dumb and weird. But maybe, have a hard conversation with someone you know, and ask them if they’d be ok talking with you about what you’re learning. Also, caveat: this friend is there to help you as you process, not to do the work for you.

Commit to learning about different terms: racism, bias, systemic racism, and this article from Teaching Tolerance is a very good place to start. Understanding these is key.

Read this Instagram post from today, from Marcie Walker of Black Coffee with White Friends. It will give you a peek into systemic racism. It’s heartbreaking and profound.

There are white people I follow on social media, or whose books I’ve read, because I know from their work that understanding their whiteness is important to them. Of course, this does not replace following and reading black authors. But since I’m white, it’s helpful to hear white people talk about how to understand race. Jen Hatmaker, Mike McHargue, Brene Brown, and Glennon Doyle are some that I follow on Instagram and Twitter.

I follow a whole host of black authors and speakers and activists on Twitter and Instagram. Here are just a few I would point you towards if you’re looking to understand the lived experiences of black Americans: Austin Channing Brown. Ava DuVernay. Jemar Tisby. Ashley C. Ford. Michael Harriott.

Read books.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Built for Whiteness
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (I’m currently reading this one)
Waking up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race
An American Marriage (yes, it’s fiction, but it’s eye-opening about issues of race)
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (also, the movie was fantastic)

Listen to podcasts. Catlick by BT Harman weaves an incredible tale of the racial history of Cabbagetown in Atlanta.

There’s so much more I could write about, and maybe I will. Someday. But this is all for now. I’m so grieved that another mother of a black man had to bury her child. I’m grieved that this happens over and over again. I’m scared for my friends with black children, as I can only imagine the pain they feel every time something like this happens AGAIN.

It’s time, white friends. All of us are responsible for doing the work.

EDITED TO ADD: It’s way, way past time. Way. Thank you to a commenter on Facebook for saying so…she’s right.

(Of course, I would love to talk, and I welcome comments. Disagreeing is completely fine; being rude or dismissive is not.)

 

Showing Up.

Remember how I wrote a book, and how it’s still in draft form on my computer? Right. Well, I have no idea if or when I’ll do something with that. So in the meantime, because I have something new to write about, I’m going to use a tiny excerpt to help tell this little story.

My sister Hayley is getting married next week! I’m so excited for her, and we all love her fiance, Matt. I’m one of two matrons of honor, but we already need to stop this story because…

…for real, who came up with matron of honor? It’s just a horrible word, matron. I feel like there’s probably some historical reason why it mattered whether your maid of honor was married or not and therefore needed/wanted a different title, but I don’t care to research it, and I’m just going to call me and my cousin Karah, the other matron of honor, MOH and leave it at that.

Anyway, back to the point, Hayley is getting married!!!

There are hundreds of details involved in planning a wedding, as anyone who has ever been closely involved in one knows. Obviously, for most brides, their mom is a huge part of the planning. And obviously for Hayley, this isn’t an option.

It is sad, planning a wedding without your mom. However, Hayley has been amazing at not hanging out inwhat if” or “I wish…” I am sure that it helps tremendously that it’s been nearly ten years since we lost our mom; we’ve gone through a whole lot of things without her here, and time does, truly, take away some of the sting. I can’t help but think this would be much harder if this was just a year after she died. But, there is no denying that we wish Mom was here to do all of those little wedding details with her.

Again, though, we aren’t dwelling there. This is a celebration, and we’re making it one. Which, of course, means that we had a shower for Hayley.

So here’s where I’ll back up and pull an excerpt from the book…

My parents met, married, and lived in my mom’s hometown. Actually, my mom lived there her whole life minus her years at Eastern Illinois University, where her roommates were even friends from home for some of the time.

My mom was soft-spoken and kind; I have to think she was pretty easy to like and befriend. She had three lifelong best friends, all girls that she had known since elementary school. Those three friends, Val, Marty and Joan, all also married men from Effingham and settled there. Naturally, the four husbands became close friends, too.

Doesn’t that sound like a movie? Even as I wrote this, I had to blink back tears thinking about how special and unique it is to have close friendships that literally span your entire life like my mom had. Those relationships impacted me both as a child who loved times when these families gathered, either to enjoy each others’ company or to help when there was a need, and again as an adult who learned so much from watching these friends spring into action when circumstances changed.

This group of friends watched their crew grow from no kids to 15. They saw each other through the births of all those babies, illnesses and deaths of some of their parents, job changes, moves to different homes. When they all had houses full of really young kids, the moms got us together for morning “coffee,” which was likely code for “we don’t see each other often enough so let’s have the kids burn some energy together so we can catch up.” The guys went fishing. These families did life together for years and years.

And when the years passed by and my mom’s biopsy revealed cancer, they didn’t walk away. Not even close.

(There’s so much more to that chapter, including information on other groups of friends and our family, but I have to get back to the wedding story…)

Hayley’s lived in the St. Louis area for well over a decade, and our dad doesn’t live in Effingham anymore, so we decided it was easiest to just have one big shower in St. Louis. In addition to our family from all over, we invited several of Mom’s lifelong friends, and our former neighbors, and Hayley’s and my boss from Homewood Grill, Mindy, who was also a good friend of Mom’s.

And they came, to celebrate Hayley. And to honor our mom, really. I didn’t think to take group pictures until it was almost too late and several people had already left, but I am so thankful that I got this one.

Val, Joan, Hayley, Mindy, Marty.

[I know that several people who wanted to attend couldn’t because of other commitments or distance, so please don’t read into this further if you couldn’t make it. I just think it’s really amazing to see friends of my mom’s show up so long after she died to help us celebrate.]

Wedding day: coming soon 🙂

inked.

When I got my second tattoo, the word courage in my mom’s handwriting on my ribs, I didn’t post it here for several months. I love my simple little tattoos, and I’d honestly love a whole bunch more. And I can deal with them not being everyone’s taste – that’s totally cool, you don’t have to get one. I don’t have much patience for people who are rude or super judgy about them, though, which is why I’ve always waited to share here.

I’m guessing you know where this is going…

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from one of my closest friends asking me and another friend if we were available for “lunch on Friday and maybe a tattoo.” I laughed and immediately said I was in…for both.

I’d been thinking for a while about adding more of my mom’s writing to my ribs, and the timing couldn’t have been better – we were going on the Friday before Mother’s Day. On my 10th Mother’s Day without my mom. So I quickly grabbed my only writing sample of hers and decided on the other two words I’d have added to courage.

It’s all healed up now, and I am so happy with it. It’ll be a while before it blends with how settled into my skin courage is, but I’m fine with that.

And yes. It hurt, but it was totally worth it.

Driver’s Ed.

Luke, seen here as he first appeared on the blog in 2007, as a preschooler…

…is now learning to drive.

Oh. And because I didn’t blog for like a year, I forgot to post this a year ago, when he finished middle school. He’s taking his second-semester finals this week for his freshman year, so that’s cool and clearly I’m on top of documenting the big life changes around here.

he was still 1″ shorter than me in this picture a year ago (I was in heels)…he is now almost 2″ taller than me.

Ah. Also, it turns out he’s a runner. Like, a real runner. He had a great cross country season last fall, and an equally successful track season this spring, and I’m just a tiny bit proud of how dedicated he is to this. Indulge me one bragging mom/record-keeping moment to say that his 1 mile PR this season was 4:54. (Also SERIOUSLY if I don’t write something down it will NOT be remembered. #thisis40)

I couldn’t run half a mile in 4:54, by the way.

luke cross country 2

I just want to say that I’ve been trying to get him to take up running since this one cross country season 5 years ago.

His summer goal is to run 400 miles total, which sounds like absolute madness to me, but you do you, Luke.

not gonna lie…track meets are looong. but the 5 minutes your kid is actually doing something is really, really fun. xc meets, for the record, are FAR more enjoyable.

But back to the driving: guys. I don’t understand why this isn’t a standard part of the school curriculum like it was when I went to high school in Illinois, but it’s not and either we have to teach him to drive or we pay someone to do it. Currently, I’m teaching him, and he’s doing fine and gradually getting better. I can’t help but think of how much harder it is to learn to drive in the suburbs than in a tiny town like I did, so all things considered, he’s doing great. But all of the sudden, in the last several weeks with him doing more and more driving, and I’m not proud of this but it’s true, I am so sweary all the time…not like the worst swear words if we’re putting them on a spectrum but still: not good.

Close friends and family are right now saying, “Um, Nicole? You and curse words is not a new, sudden occurrence.” And I would answer that with this: you are correct. However, I have been very effective at keeping my bad-words-saying away from my children a vast majority of their lifetime…but when Luke is driving, it’s like I can’t even help it. It’s not directed at him, and I’ve been careful to clarify that with him, but it’s over seeing my life flash before my eyes repeatedly in a ten-minute span of time a couple of times a day with no recourse but to yell “THERE’S A CURB THERE!” that’s doing it to me. I’m trying to stop.

All I can think is how this is going to be so much easier with the next two boys. Right?

Reliable.

First, I had to think long and hard about how to even log in to this account to be able to write on my own blog that I used to write on multiple times a week, so I realize that no one may read this because you don’t know that I’m still here. It’s been a minute since I’ve written…but if you’re reading this, welcome. I miss writing and I’m here because I’m a little bit fired up.

it’s not rocket science, people.

I used to spend a LOT of time in coffee shops when I was writing a book (I don’t want to talk about it…it’s in draft form, begging for a revision that I already have in mind, and I’ll get to it someday but who knows when). I usually had earbuds in, but occasionally I’d grow tired of the music and instead listen to the din of noise around me. I feel like I got pretty good during that time at reading people who were there in my usual spot. Most people were pretty considerate of those around them.

Lately, when I have work to do between appointments, I sometimes settle in for an hour or two at a coffee shop. I did just that today. Again, when I’m working I generally have earbuds in, but the group of three at the table next to me was so loud that I could sometimes hear them over my music. So I had some idea of what they were talking about.

From what I gleaned, Mid-50s Lady had a small business she created (the product was on the table and you’d die laughing at how ridiculous it was, but in the interest of keeping this anonymous, I’m not going to link to it…I’ll just say that there’s something for everyone, right?). Slick-Guy-in-His-30s was self-employed, had contacts in the radio industry and does marketing-ish stuff, and she wanted him to help her get her product out there, in magazines and on the radio (and I hilariously heard him trying to explain podcasts and streaming content to her). Other Man at Table, with his back to me, was also in his late 50s, and after 90 minutes next to them, I still have no idea why he was there because he seemed clueless about both her product and marketing in general.

M50L left after a while, and the two men remained at the table. I was still listening to music, their conversation was a bit quieter, and I was just working away at writing a report I needed to get done. I took out my earbuds when I got up to refill my iced tea, and as I came back to the table, I heard Slick Guy say he was looking for a full-time graphic designer to work with him, how he had trouble retaining people, blah blah blah. He then told a quick story of a recent female employee who thought she deserved a raise, and he told Other Man at Table why she didn’t. But I left my earbuds out when I heard Other Man at Table say something to the effect of how he’d just seen a story last week about women still making 70 cents on the dollar compared to men.

“You know why, though, right? It’s because women aren’t as reliable as employees. Got a sick kid? They’ve got to go get them, and then their work doesn’t get done. That’s why they don’t get ahead. And then if they stay home with kids, they completely lose their skills.”

MMMKAY. So now you all know why we’re here on the blog today.

I shot Slick Guy a look that probably scared him because I’m positive I looked possessed. He knew I heard this. I looked back at my computer immediately, and listened to Slick Guy say something to the effect of how he could kind of understand needing to tend to kids, as he was a single dad, so he sometimes had to leave work, too, etc. Then he quickly tried to move on and wrap up their conversation and go.

In the moments I forced myself to stare at my computer instead of sharing with this gentleman what I thought of his opinion, I bit back a million words, and trust me that some 750,000 of them are not fit to publish. I side-eye glanced at the tables around me: a young woman studying her medical books; a middle-aged couple having lunch; another young woman working diligently on a spreadsheet. I decided in that moment not to let the redneck girl in me unleash a sweary tirade lest I set my fellow women back further. I forced myself not to tell him I’d taken years off to stay at home with my boys (did he have children? Who raised them?), and that I’d since gone back to work (clearly having gained NO skills while I raised children), and that I was sitting there, reliably meeting my deadlines and getting my work done while he was running his mouth and perpetuating the stereotypes that keep women from ever catching up, all while making less than I probably would if I’d just stayed in the work force all those years.

The funny conclusion to the story is that those guys left, and Other Man at Table left his coffee cup sitting there (this is a place where you clean off your own table)…y’know, cause an underpaid woman was probably going to clean it up for him. A woman did walk up to the table and asked those of us in close proximity if it was taken; the man from the couple sitting close immediately commented, “No, the man before you left it there.” My ears perked up and I looked at him, and he said, “Did you hear what he was saying? I told my wife I’d be fired if I said that about a woman. Are you here working?” I nodded, and said, “And, I’m one of those women who stayed home for years, too.”

His wife said she had, too, and then gone back to work. I told them I’d had to force myself not to respond to the loud talker. They both smiled and wished me well as they left a couple of minutes later.

Equality. It’s not really a thing just yet, friends. But keep being reliable, ok, ladies? We’re gonna get there.

So Far: Summer 2017

Is it weird that even though I haven’t blogged regularly in almost two years, my brain still thinks in terms of blog posts, of story snippets? Always.

So update on the boys since it’s been a while…Luke will be a freshman, Bennett in 7th, Jack Henry in 4th. Yes, I know. They were just babies, providing daily blog fodder with their antics and lispy voices and long eyelashes. Their not being little anymore is a major reason I don’t write here much…they don’t like much being posted to social media, and I’m definitely not going to tell their stories. (But for the record: they have approved this message.)

Parents of older kids know that at some point, you cross this threshold into basically being your kids’ Uber driver because they have very active social lives. The timing of all that works out well because by that point you’re too old and tired to have that much of a social life yourself anyway. (Also for me: back to work this year + I TURN 40 NEXT WEEK + generally bad sleeper = 10pm bedtime at the latest. We’re for real gonna be calling an Uber to pick these kids up late at night.)

Anyway. Lightning quick summer recap:

Luke went on a 9-day trip to the Tetons with a group from his middle school and had the time of his life. This kid will probably end up living near mountains. (Also, he is approximately only one inch shorter than I am.) He hikes and bikes with friends at a state park near us and laughs like a maniac at The Office and looks at Instagram a billion hours a day. His baseball season: ✔️


Bennett: trip to Springfield, MO for college baseball watching with friends, trip to Lake Geneva with his youth group, baseball practice 3 days a week + tournaments 3 out of 4 weekends a month (one tourney to go next weekend and it’s a wrap). I think he still lives here. Based on the amount of food we go through, I’m going with yes.


Also he got stung by a bee yesterday, and it is no joke. No allergic reaction, and he’s been stung lots of times before, but that must have been a serious amount of venom because this picture was 10 hours after the sting (but looks better now):


And my baby who isn’t a baby anymore (guys…he’ll be 10 in a couple of months!) is thankfully able to go with the flow. Jack Henry’s had some time with friends and a basketball camp and Jump Camp, so it’s not like he’s not having fun, but of course, the older boys’ schedules dictate his more than he’d like.

He did get to do something cool last week though. Our school district’s alumni association has a “Granting Dreams” program where students submit ideas of things they’d like to experience, small businesses they’d like to start and need seed money for, etc., and the organization arranges as many as they can. An assignment in JH’s gifted class was submitting a dream to this program…and since this was all completed at school, I didn’t even know about it until I signed paperwork saying it was fine for him to apply. His dream? To work at Krispy Kreme. This was a new one to me, but of course, I signed it. Sure, kid. Dream away.

Of course it got accepted. So last week, I took him there, and it was awesome. They made him a nametag and everything. Showed him how the process works from dough to cooked and on display, and let him make his own dozen donuts to take home.



All I know is that if I’d had this opportunity in elementary school back at home and could have scanned groceries at IGA, I would have been in heaven. (I worked retail briefly when I was about 16-17, so I did finally get to use a scanner, but really I feel like that dream came true for me several years ago when the groceries around here put in the self-checkout lanes.)

Jack Henry baseball season: one more game. Naturally, on my birthday.

Matt and the boys have started biking on trails around here lately, and minus Luke getting poison ivy pretty badly, they’re loving it!


We’re headed to the beach soon, and while the boys are excited because they love the beach as much as we do, the 40-somethings in this house are looking forward to a week of just sitting and reading and enjoying an adult beverage or three. Cheers.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far…

Last night was conference night at the middle school. I saw teachers for both boys. 

The child referred to in this post shall remain nameless to protect the guilty. 


[Said child is obviously doing well in his math class. He’s a hard worker.]

Said child’s math teacher (who is fabulous and has control of her classroom – this is not a concern of mine) reported that she gave him a Satisfactory instead of Outstanding for citizenship because he and his best friend talk so much…like she recently explained to them, jokingly, what “cut the cord” meant. 

I cracked up because this is atypical for this child. I also told the math teacher that while I support whatever she needs to do to make class manageable, and that I will discourage the talking, it deep down makes me *so happy* that said child has such a good friend (a few, actually) because he could not always say this. 

Also. 0% of my former teachers would be surprised to hear that one of my offspring talks too much in class. Sooooo there’s that. 

enough is enough.

(I know. I’ve been MIA for months. I got a job! It’s been an exciting, crazy couple of months. I’ll get back here and write about that soon.)

These days, I get my news from my Twitter feed in the very-early morning while I wait impatiently for my Keurig to spit out my first cup of coffee. Today, I was finally reading a bit of post-debate news. I came across some information that suggested Sen. Jeff Sessions, who supports Trump, didn’t think it was “clear” that grabbing a woman by the genitals is sexual assault (after intense backlash, he has since recanted and said he was misquoted, etc.).

But reading that made me mad as hell. Because I highly doubt there would be any lack of clarity on his part if a man or woman grabbed his own child by the genitals. Yet, he and MILLIONS of others are willing to dismiss this as “locker room talk.”

(Yes, I am aware that this was a nasty man bragging about a hypothetical situation. I am also aware that we live in a world where Billy Bush has been suspended as an entertainment reporter from the Today show for his involvement in the conversation while his counterpart is running for President. Insert giant eyeroll.)

Look. I’m not a prude, and I am well aware of braggadocious, crude language being dismissed for generations as “locker room talk,” but let’s not change the subject. Let’s pretend for a second that it’s 2016 and women are humans and that our kids deserve better than this. Because I actually think my boys do.

What they deserve is everyone – men and women, regardless of party affiliation – denouncing sexual assault in any and all forms.

This is not about who you are voting for – and we are not having that discussion in this space – you do what you have to for whatever reasons you have to. But do not dismiss this talk. If you are still able to vote for Trump after this, I understand that there are myriad reasons for that, but stand up against the thinking there is grey area in sexual assault. Don’t divert by talking about how “what Hillary (or Bill) did was worse!” That is another discussion, and it’s also possibly the reasoning behind why you’ll still vote for him, but it is NOT a response to Trump’s statements.

And for the love – stop with the asking about where the outrage over 50 Shades of Grey was years ago. It was a work of fiction (that I did not read, for the record), and while I completely understand and agree that books are powerful and can influence culture, and that this series was far from wholesome, it’s preposterous to use this to deflect and defend.

Sexual assault is wrong. Period. Full stop.

Vote for him if you must. But don’t let your, or my, kids grow up thinking there is any grey area in terms of assault.

Today. 

The 2 younger boys are at a summer camp for the better part of the day this week Monday through Thursday (cue angels singing), leaving me and Luke to fill our days.  

This morning, I asked him to come with me to drop off the boys, then go for a walk/jog on the levee. Told him we’d go look for some shoes for him after that, then get lunch. He agreed, and he wasn’t even reluctant.

We exercised, shopped the outlet mall, and ate Pie Five for lunch. And it was just so pleasant. 


Not that many years ago, I would’ve told you that the prospect of parenting teenagers, especially boys, freaked me out and seemed completely out of my comfort zone. 

And trust me, there is still plenty to be uncomfortable and awkward about, and moments where his obvious early-teenageness makes me crazy. 

But gosh, I love it when he’s talkative and willing to listen and have a conversation. I’ve warned him before, and reminded him again today, that he has a mom who is not afraid to discuss hard topics, and give him different angles to consider, so that he can form his own opinion. And that I hope it means he knows a) I’m going to bring stuff up that may be awkward and b) it means I’m comfortable with him asking questions, etc. 

Today we talked about current events, particularly about prejudices and stereotypes, and why they’re just not ok. We talked about the difference between ISIS and Islam, and how some people don’t understand that there’s a difference. We talked about LGBTQ issues – how America views the issues, how Christianity does, how I view it all – and the horror of the massacre in Orlando, and how people are trying to use this to further religious/political agendas. We talked about how it’s entirely possible to have a different opinion than your friends, even on heated topics, if you can simply manage to approach each other intelligently and with respect.

I’m sure there were lots of times that he would’ve preferred I stop talking or asking him questions. But he’s not always easy to engage, so I took full advantage of our morning together. And I really feel like these conversations have to happen if we, as a generation of parents, have any chance of putting humans out into the world who do a better job of civilly engaging with each other.

And yes, I’m all warm and fuzzy about parenting right now. But give it an hour…his brothers are about to blow in here like a hurricane, and then it’s the supper/baseball game/baseball practice evening frenzy that is regular life (which I love, don’t get me wrong).

Just thankful for the one-on-one we got today 🙂