Podcasts We Love

Podcasts We Love

While Frederick and I are music lovers, we spend car time listening to and discussing podcasts. As a parent, I love podcasts because they encourage us both to use our imaginations–I liken it to the days when folks didn’t have TVs and they listened to radio shows for entertainment beyond news commentary or music. I also love them because they are a great way to learn without beating a kid over the head with “you’re going to learn something today!” Sometimes, I tune out because I’m pondering other things, but Frederick is always eager to talk about what intrigued him about the episode when they end or as we’re walking from the car to his school in the mornings. It also teaches him patience–he has to wait for the next episode (which was torture for him at first!), unlike clicking on OnDemand or Prime Video or Netflix to see every single episode at once.

Here are our favorites. There are a couple that I like that he’s not so interested in, so I’m not including those. There are a couple that he likes that aren’t all that engaging for me, so I won’t include those either. So here are the podcasts that we BOTH enjoy listening to:

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian: This is hands down Frederick’s favorite podcast. It’s a kids’ soap opera adventure series about a kid named Finn Caspian and his friends and their pet robots who all live on a space shuttle with their parents while they explore various planets. Just like the TV shows we watched when we were kids, much of the time, the parents are surprisingly nowhere around when the kids get into shenanigans in which they solve mysteries and save the day.

One thing I love about this podcast is that it’s narrated by a guy who includes his son as an editor and features him after the latest episode so that they can discuss what happened. It makes me want to create a podcast with my bambino that is geared toward black families (which I learned is just not readily available when I first got into podcasts). Also, the show is co-narrated by a “robot” (the narrator using some sound effects) named Beebop. Frederick loooooves Beebop. Between seasons, Beebop hosts his own “Beebop Tales,” and he enjoys these tall tales but most of all the theme song for Beebop Tales. His fave line: “Beebop Tales, Beebop Tales, fighting dinosaurs and mutant whales, Beeeeeeboooooooop Tales!”

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian: Science Fiction for Kids

Wow in the World: I think this one is my fave of the kiddie podcasts we listen to. It’s NPR sponsored (yes, I’m an NPR superfan), and the two hosts Guy Raz (who also hosts How I built This, which I love) and Mindy Thomas are very entertaining as they explain science topics. It has a great balance of silly and informational, and they effectively get really deep into the topics. For example, I do believe it was because of Wow in the World that Frederick chose good and bad bacteria as a topic for a project last year as a Kindergartener. He was super enthusiastic about teaching his classmates about bacteria and handled preparing for his project all by himself.

As an added bonus, we both love the theme song. 🙂 Check it out.

WITW

Brains On!: This one is Frederick’s go to when he’s run out of episodes from the first two. It’s also a science podcast, and this one is cool because they feature kids at times as they’re explaining a concept. I became a fan of this one when it talked about the Flint Water Crisis and featured a brilliant girl named Gitanjali Rao, who developed a device to detect almost instantly how much lead is in your water. Amazing!

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The Mayan Crystal: This one is a new one for us, but so far, so great. At the end of each episode, Frederick has asked if he can listen to the next episode next time we’re in the car. I asked him this morning why he likes it so much, and he said it’s because there are bad guys and good guys. The background music is pretty suspenseful so it adds to the intrigue (although sometimes it’s a bit too loud behind the dialogue, but pish posh). I especially like that it’s mystical while talking about an ancient culture, heritage, and lineage. I really would (again, I say) like to see (or create, if I must) a podcast geared toward black families and black heritage. But until then, this story has captured our attention!

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Next time, maybe I’ll talk about the adult podcasts I love the most. In the meantime, what are some of your fave kid-friendly podcasts?

 

I love when I make myself cry, lol.

I love when I make myself cry, lol.

This morning I got an email with the subject teaser “I love you.” Hmm. What’s this? It was a letter from the July 2013 me. I wasn’t going to share it, but why not? It’s my 2nd mommyversary today, and I am super blessed to be able to celebrate the milestones my baby has made over the last two years AND the milestones I’ve achieved myself as the sole caretaker of a bustling, precocious, charming boy. I’m so proud of him, and I’m even prouder to be his mom. He’s an amazing soul, and though this journey hasn’t been easy, it has been beyond worth it. I look forward to being Frederick’s safe place throughout his adventures. Watching him evolve is an almost unbelievable experience. I can barely even believe that at one time he was a butterbean in my body. Now he’s over half my height! If Frederick has taught me nothing else, it’s that life keeps moving through it all. He’s a daily reminder that life is mysterious and beautiful and hope-filled and worth living to the fullest. Happy 2nd birthday to my sweet thang!

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 June 6, 2014 vs. June 6, 2013

Anyway, here’s the letter from past me to present me.

Dear FutureMe,

Congrats on your second anniversary of pushing an almost 9 pound human out of your body! Frederick is 2, and you have even more to be grateful for than ever before. I hope that as you’re reading this you are saying to yourself, hey old me, I can barely remember the heartache from that time. I hope that by now, you have fully reclaimed your confidence and your passion and your “I can do it” attitude and have been slanging it around for all the masses to see and feel. You MADE it through the roughest time of your life so far, but just like the other rough patches you’ve been through, you are better for it after it was all said and done. Can you believe you actually thought you were less of a woman because of situations out of your control?? But I am confident that today, you know and OWN the fact that you are MORE than a woman. You are a WARRIOR and an extremely loyal, dedicated, and gifted person. Do you realize that in the worst of times, you conquered your depression, your hurt, and your bad outlook on your own life to do whatever was necessary to give Frederick everything he needed and more?? That’s powerful, young lady. Even when you didn’t want to take care of yourself, you did it anyway so that Frederick could have a strong foundation and a solid connection to his mother. Even when you despised his father, you swallowed all your hurt, anger, and sadness to try to have a cordial relationship with him for the sake of Frederick. That’s not WEAK, honey, that is STRONG. Can you believe that your sweet thing was once an arm baby, then he started teetering everywhere like he would tip over at any moment. OMG I can’t wait to see what he is like at 2!!

I hope this letter finds you in a brand new, loving, positive, promising place in your life, where you wake up with happy thoughts and new ideas and a fresh outlook on the day ahead of you. Continue to leave the past in the past, and know in your heart that your future is #winning. And live today like the star you are.

I love you for all you are today, all you have been throughout your life, and the wonderfulness you will be in your future.

Love,

Your Past Self on July 3, 2013

Sharing My Journey

Sharing My Journey

In my journey so far as a single mother, I have experienced an emotional roller coaster like none I’ve ever ridden. And not just romantically–that’s actually probably the easiest part of the ride. The scariest and most difficult parts of the ride have been dealing with my self-image, managing and changing the dynamics of my friendships, and reconciling societal perspectives with my reality.

Some days, I get to a place where I want to share this experience, and other days, I don’t–mostly because I don’t want to deal with any more opinions. I also don’t like that some think I sound bitter (and in some instances, I am)–when my bitterness has waned significantly over the last two years. What’s funny is that the more I talk, the more some think I’m bitter, when in actuality, the less bitter I am, the more willing I am to talk. There was a time that the last thing I wanted to do was talk about what I was going through. And I avoided people like the plague for fear of being seen by people whose opinions I valued as a negative Nancy and bitter Betty. And then I think to myself that the bitterness that’s left should be understood–why is it even such a negative label? Emotions are what they are, so who can judge me and say and too bitter–from my perspective, it’s just as relevant to wonder if I’m bitter enough because I haven’t allowed my bitterness to permeate my decision-making as a mother. So then I began to really appreciate the people who ASKED me how I was doing and stayed around no matter what I was talking about, whether it highlighted my bitterness or not. Because they still saw me, Ranada, and still cared about me as a full person, and didn’t confine me to the box I limited my own self-image to.

There are times that I also wonder why I care what people think. And I’ve realized it’s because I’m human. Humans need to be liked, accepted, affirmed, and understood. So when I’m feeling my loneliest, it’s because I feel like the group of people who have tried to understand what my life has been like in the last two years is much smaller than the group of people I considered my friends before this ordeal began. It’s all an exercise in evaluation.

Self-evaluation, which I’ve gone above and beyond in doing for the last two years and had to realize that even though so many of the self-help articles begin and end with self-evaluation, that I was being WAY too hard on myself, and there definitely is a such thing as judging yourself too harshly.

The evaluation of the people I can truly call my village, understanding that I could not have made it to this place in my life without their support and understanding that you can’t predict who will be standing there when the dust settles. And you can only trust that God sends his encouragement through the people He chooses–over the last two years, I’ve received a good word from the most unlikeliest of places, and they were salve for my soul.

The evaluation of my previous perspectives, societal ideals, and my current reality in the context of those.

The evaluation of what happiness is to me and what role hardships have in my journey.

Evaluation.

Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday was yesterday, and one of her most well known quotes is

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

Sometimes I think 2012 and 2013 were question-asking years and I’m hoping 2014 is an answer-giving year. But time will tell, huh?

So as my bitterness continues to subside, or at least I continue becoming one with it and learning to not care if people use it as a label when I’m only speaking my truth, I am kinda looking forward to sharing the lessons and emotions and outlooks from this joyful yet painful, rewarding yet taxing, fun yet hard, loving yet lonely journey as a single mother. Happy new year!

Mommy’s Night Out

Mommy’s Night Out

Last night, I had the good fortune and great timing to go to the concert of one of my favorite artists. Frederick was well-taken care of by Tee Rashida, and Mommy threw on a vintage sweater outlined in pearls, some red lipstick, and some thigh high boots with silver buttons running up the fronts.

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So, in music loving fashion, here are a few comments:

1. Rahbi is a trip. Wasn’t feeling his attire, but I loved his mashup of Loveeee and When Doves Cry.

2. Rahbi’s background singers outsang him, yikes. Those girls sounded wonderful! Let me add, though, that his voice reminds me of Stokely’s from Mint Condition. So his voice is nice, don’t get me wrong. But those girls behind him did their thing!

3. Roman GianArthur is a nice singer, but I walked away thinking about how that brother played that guitar. Great opening act! I’m going to have to check him out more than the brief research I did before the concert.

4. JANELLE MONAE has incredible energy. I feel like she blessed the start of my new year. She sang and danced and hopped all over that stage and never seemed to get tired. I left at midnight and she was still singing, lol (though I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything because she introduced the band before I left).

5. The first song she sang that’s not on Electric Lady is the song that made me a real fan (I was a fan before Metropolis, but this song sealed the deal). It’s def one of my top 3 fave JM songs. But her singing “Sincerely, Jane” at that moment was just like her singing Happy Birthday to me.

“Are we really living or just walking dead now? … Daydreamers, please wake up; we can’t sleep no more.”

6. She sang almost all of the songs I really wanted to hear live. Yes, “Mushrooms and Roses” from The ArchAndroid too. Love love love.

7. I loved that her encore was a whole new production, lol. We got our money’s worth fo sho.

8. One of my favorite things about Janelle Monae is that the music behind her vocals is ALWAYS on point. There’s a song where she yells out “Kellindo!” and you hear a ripping guitar solo. Well, I got to see Kellindo in action and that thang knows he plays that daggum guitar. And I would be wrong if I didn’t talk about his hair. I don’t watch the “My hair is laid like” videos, but I kept thinking he would be the perfect subject–his hair was part of the show!! She also has an 4-piece orchestra within her band. I kept wondering if Frederick’s future teacher would disapprove of me buying him the acrylic outline violin or cello if he decides he wants to play a stringed instrument like mommy. Probably so, but those instruments had me in awe!

9. I’m thankful for Alisha who came with me. We were co-workers at my job before my current one, which was over 5 years ago, and she’s still been in my corner ever since. Smooches!

10. I love connecting with new people too. I’ve been in an email group of people who are all friends with one person for years, and I’ve only gone to one or two group outings. But when one of the members (Tonda) emailed if anyone was going to the concert, I told her I was so we met for the first time, and she’s great! Definitely plan to keep in touch.

11. This was one of the best bday gifts I’ve given myself in awhile. Happy birthday to me!

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God made my bambino beautiful.

I love the lyrics of Beyonce’s new song. I look at Frederick every day and am still amazed that I shared my body with him for 40 weeks exactly. And I will always be grateful for the joy he’s brought to my life. This Thursday, my #1 blessing is Frederick Daniel. ❤

Softball and Switchblades

Softball and Switchblades

I’ve had to say goodbye to a hefty number of family members in my life, but bidding farewell to my auntie (pronounced aint-tee) Rita Kaye Robinson Purvis has been almost surreal to me. I can’t really believe she’s gone. If I ever believed anyone was invincible, it was her. I still haven’t really fully accepted that she didn’t tase the heck out of cancer. She stood 4’11”, but she was one of the feistiest people I’ve ever known. She was fun to be around, but she didn’t take no mess either. She was the only girl smack dab in the middle of a bunch of boys (like me! I’m the only girl and middle child too 🙂 #youcare), and she was tough yet nurturing. She was one of those people you definitely wanted on your team. She was fiercely protective of anyone she loved.

I love these pics. Her smile tells you most of what you need to know about her.
I love these pics. Her smile tells you most of what you need to know about her.

As I was reading her obituary, I realized that even though I’ve always known she was a single mother, I never labeled her that. One line in her obituary caught my attention more than anything else: “She was proud to be a single mom to her four children.” I began to wonder why I’m so ashamed of my status when I’ve admired her all of my life. I still don’t have an answer. It never even crossed my mind that it was anything but natural for her to be my cousins’ solo parent and protector. As a matter of fact, as I’ve been navigating my way through this single motherhood thing, I didn’t even think about Rita as a role model of single motherhood. Isn’t that crazy? She’s definitely been a role model for motherhood–as are my mom, my cousins, and others. But when I think of single mothers, she just didn’t come to mind even though she’s never not been in my life–so how could I overlook that? Of course I was a child so I wasn’t privy to some things, but she never seemed upset about her “plight” or resentful or any of that. It’s kind of been a lightbulb never-ending moment since I read that line. I’ve been thinking about this almost nonstop. I think the biggest way I can honor my aunt now is to figure out how to start being completely proud of my journey as a mother. And maybe, as well, to be willing to share with my village, which includes her children, when I’m feeling overwhelmed the way she and my mom shared with each other. It’s really hard for me to show my hand and let people know when I’m feeling really down, but I know I need to start, as they reminded me this weekend. (I’m listening Shun and Chelle, I promise!)

When I think of Rita, I will always remember her coming down from the scorekeeper’s box to give me a hug when I arrived at the softball field to watch a game. As I noted in my blog post about my granddaddy, baseball and softball are a family tradition, and of course, she played, and when she stopped playing you could still find her at a game. Keeping score, socializing, making everyone around her feel special, and talking much smack.

Still at the ballpark
Still at the ballpark

And yes, that second part of this blog title is how I will remember her as well. My aunt never left home without a boxcutter, switchblade, taser, SOMEthing. She gave me my first taser after I started living by myself. And when my neighbor was effing with me, I’m sure Rita wished she were in Atlanta to stick up for me. I hope I made her proud when I decided to start walking my dog with my softball bat in my hand. That definitely solved my problem! I didn’t hear another threat once I showed I wasn’t taking any mess off of him! I can thank Rita Kaye for her feistiness when it came to protecting myself. She would say “I don’t care how much bigger they are, how much stronger they are, I got something for em.” And she always had a way of making you feel so much better and more optimistic about a situation after she finished with her pep talk and but-I’m serious-though jokes.

I will absolutely miss my aunt. I’m happy she’s no longer in pain. I know her mom and children and grandchildren and brothers and nieces and nephews will carry her in our hearts forever more. Rest in love and power and happiness, my firecracker aunt.

31 Reasons I Love My Mom

31 Reasons I Love My Mom

Last month, I shared a status on Facebook that mentioned that I had received a couple of negative comments about how much I talk about my mom. I received tons and tons of support for showing my mom love, and then one friend even suggested that I share something I love about my mom daily. Well, I’ve never been one to turn down a “dare” so I took the challenge. And now that it’s September (the challenge is over!), here’s a run down of just a few of the endless reasons I love my mom.

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Day 1: I love my mom because she gave me her heavy duty umbrella this morning and took my flimsy little umbrella. And it came in handy when I drove up to daycare and the sky was falling. My little umbrella is for sprinkle storms, lol. Thanks again ma!

Day 2: I love my mom because she helps me start my day on a positive note every morning. During my commute, I always talk to her about how we’re feeling, any new family updates, and current events. It kinda reminds me of when I was a kid and she would call me at home after I got off the bus. Back then, I thought she was magic because she could tell if something was wrong just by the way I said hello. I enjoy having someone to check in with.

Day 3: I love my mom because she has believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She reminds me of who I am when I’ve forgotten.

Day 4: I love my mom because she knew I needed a break even though I’d never ask. She came here, got Frederick, and then brought him back because she doesn’t want me on the road. Thanks again.

Day 5: I love my because she exposed me to culture and education outside of the classroom. I love to travel, and I know it’s partly because it’s second nature.
Day 6: J’adore ma maman because she always includes me in her If-I-win-the-big-lottery-wishlist.

Day 7: I love my mom because she has become the caretaker for my aunt, even though she had a million reasons not to. She’s my example of duty, love, and family responsibility. And yes, I know I skipped yesterday–I wanted to be consistent with the calendar so that I don’t have to keep looking to see what day I’m on, lol.

Day 8: I love my mom because when I was a kid, she never gave me a hard time for my preference to write her a letter when something was bothering me over talking to her. I still remember vividly putting letters on her pillow and running to my room and pretending to be sleep when I heard her walking to the back. It means a lot to me to have had someone who respects my ways of communicating.

Day 9: I love my mom because she’s a stunna. You would never guess how old she is. And she is one of those people that looks great when she’s not trying. So to you people who think I look like an undergraduate, I get it from my mama. LOL

Day 10: I love my mom because she instilled the importance of community service in me. She took us to feed the homeless on holidays, she encouraged me to tutor my peers and students in lower grades, and she never let me forget to give back to the community that supported me.

Day 11: I love my mom because I have a thousand sippy cups as a result of her quest for the “perfect” sippy cup. lol

Day 12: I love my mom because I get my niceness under pressure from her. I’ll credit my fiestiness when I’m fed up to my daddy or maybe my aunt Vernita, but I know I get my (albeit reluctant) need to try to keep my temper at bay and smooth it out if at all possible from her. She hates conflict and avoids it like the plague.

Day 13: I love my mom because she and Frederick have a secret language. When we skyped her yesterday, he started grinning and “talking” to her. I have no idea what their convo was about, but they enjoyed it.

Day 14: I love my mom because when she wanted me to divert my focus to positive things, she didn’t just say “be positive,” she gave me plenty to focus on. She’s been in my corner, she helps me physically, emotionally, and financially, and when I’m feeling like I’m missing out, I can redirect to how much help I have from her.

Day 15: I love my mom because her food is yummy. She says when she cooks for me, she cooks with love for me and my baby, and that’s why I haven’t been able to replicate a couple of her (seemingly very simple) recipes.

Day 16: I love my mom because she’s always been a real person, not a fantasy. When I go through various life experiences, she doesn’t judge me, but she shares with me similar experiences she’s been through. She’s never pretended to be perfect, and I appreciate that because she’s a true example of “how I got over”.

Day 17: I love my mom because she tells me stories about my relatives who have gone on. She lets me know that they were my guardian angels on earth too. And I wouldn’t really know that I am anything like my Aunt Vernita if my mom didn’t tell me. Happy birthday, Vernita.

Day 18: I love my mom because she raised me in church, and I still have a family at Zion Travelers to whom she gives regular updates (and they actually care!). I love my mom because she has Frederick in church when he’s in MS.

Day 19: I love my mom because she plays Wordfeud with me and gives me commentary on her other games and background life info about the randoms she plays lol!

Day 20: I love my mom because she loves ratchet TV. As intellectual as she is, you’d never guess that she enjoys watching Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos, and the who’s the daddy show (can’t think of the name). And then, because she’s so intellectual, she analyzes the personalities she sees and connects them to real life to explain why folks act so crazy. Gotta love it! (Sorry if that was a secret, Mary Robinson!!)
Day #21: I love my mom because she really took care of my hair and skin when I was growing up. She never let me sleep with stress on my hair, which meant she combed and brushed my hair every single morning. And she lathered me up with cocoa butter, aloe vera, and whatever else to make sure I didn’t have scars and such. I finally appreciate this now that Frederick is starting to come home with various scars. I also love her because she STILL takes care of my hair when she can. She will sit down and twist all this hair I have if I ask.

Day #22: I love my mom because she encouraged me to start taking advantage of kids eating free at Piccadilly so on nights like tonight when I don’t feel like cooking, I can still make sure Frederick gets his veggies. Yum. Reminds me of going to Morrison’s after church some Sundays!

Day #23: I love my mom because she has always given me space to choose my path. When faced with a fork in the road, sometimes she won’t even give me her opinion if she thinks I will just go with that instead of figuring out what I want. Case in point: when Tougaloo sent me a letter before I went back to school for 11th grade saying if I maintained my GPA I could bypass my senior year and go there on a full ride, she let me choose without pushing me in any direction. She said she didn’t want me to ever look back on life and regret a decision because I didn’t make it. I’m the master of my fate.

Day #24: I love my mom because she sticks up for me. Sometimes I get bogged down in wishing someone would speak up for me/defend me/have my back in tough situations, not knowing that my mom already has. She just may not tell me for months or years, lol.

Day #25: I love my mom because I can’t for the life of me figure out how she did laundry and ironed clothes for our family when I was growing up. It’s only two of us now, and I never feel like I’m caught up on laundry, and I definitely don’t have time to be ironing LOADS of clothes at a time. Seems like her days were made up of >24 hours, but of course they weren’t. Guess she hides the superwoman get up under her clothes, lol!

Day 26: I love my mom because she loves animals. For as long as I can remember, she’s always had love for the 4-legged companions. Even though they creep me out, her fave is long-haired cats, but she loves her grandpups tons. From Delilah (cat) to Jeremiah (dog) to Diamond (cat) to Rex (dog) to Jade (dog), there’s always been an animal around her house to soak up the extra love and compassion. Hope I didn’t miss any pets. LOL (And yes, she loves her some Smokie, and he loves her too.)

Day #27: I love my mom because even though math is my forte, I have effective writing skills because of her. She is a retired English instructor, which means when I was growing up I couldn’t finish a sentence using incorrect grammar without her interrupting me and making me correct myself. I was constantly looking in the dictionary for the correct spelling of words because she wouldn’t just tell me. I never received the kind of help i wanted when writing papers because she believed the only way to learn was to completely write the paper before she marked it up with red ink. All of that has resulted in writing skills that people seem to enjoy reading (www.nadajo.com) and that I am able to use in proofreading. Thanks, smarty pants lady.

Day #28: I love my mom because she is one of the main reasons I wanted to attend an HBCU. She took me to probably every JSU home game and several of the away games if there was bus headed there, and she made sure I was on somebody’s campus every summer.

Day #29: I love my mom because she prepared me for my future. I wasn’t afraid to stay on campus (even at 16!) and I wasn’t afraid to move to another city after college because neither was new frontier. She let me try different things and figure out things while I was growing up so that she could catch me if I fell. I still remember her telling my dad that they needed to let me go out on dates while I was still at home so that I wouldn’t get to college and lose my mind. I can still see the frown etched in his face when my first date got to the house to introduce himself a couple of days before the actual date (for which my dad didn’t even answer the door–he went and sat on the porch. LOL!).

Day #30: I love my mom because she was always the “cool mama”–every one of my friends who has been around her any time loves her. I remember being jealous of Jamie B. when she got my mom as her big sister in Christ. Lordy, I was like she’s all mine!!! LOL

Day #31: I love my mom simply because she’s my mom and she’s stuck with me for life. LOL! Thanks for bearing with me all month! Bye August!