Friday Finds

1. Foiled Llama Stemless Wine Glass Set | Urban Outfitters 
2. Metal, Gold, & Leather Bar Cart | Target 
3. W&P Design Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker | Urban Outfitters 
4. Mid-Century Bar Cart | West Elm 
5. 6-piece duke bar tool set | CB2 
6. Wood and Gold Bar Cart - Threshold | Target 
7. Bormioli Rocco Premiere Bar Glassware (Set of 6) | West Elm 
8. Ceramic Stacking Cactus Shot Glasses with Salt Shaker | Zulily 
9. Set of 8 Marta Double Old-Fashioned Glasses | CB2

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Multi-tasking is a mother's work

This post was sponsored by Clorox

Parenting means multitasking. With four kids, this is true every single day. I'm often trying to do two things at once because I just don't have enough hours in the day. It's the end of the school year, too, which means there are even more activities than usual. Recorder concerts, awards breakfasts, marching band appearances, class parties, soccer tournaments . . . it feels like I often need to be in two places at once.

Case in point, this was my actual Sunday last week:

8:30 a.m.: Soccer call time for Kembe
9:15 a.m.: Band call time and parade line-up for Jafta, India, and Kembe
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.: Soccer game for Kembe
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Marching band in parade for Jafta, India, and Kembe
11:30 a.m.: Soccer call time for Karis
12:00 p.m. Soccer game for Karis
12:00 p.m. Basketball call time for Kembe and Jafta
1:00 p.m.: Basketball game for Kembe and Jafta
5:00 p.m.: Basketball game for Kembe and Jafta

Now, I agree this looks insane. We needed to be in two places at once for most of the day. And typically, I try really hard not to overschedule my kids. But an end-of-the-year soccer tournament, unfortunately, had a little overlap with the boys’ new summer basketball program, and an ill-timed parade, and here we found ourselves. With Mark's help and with a little ride-sharing, we ferried everyone around and only had to sacrifice Karis's soccer game (which she was lukewarm about.)

While this was a crazy example, I'm still usually doing some kind of hyphenated job when it comes to the kids. Here are a few examples of my multi-hyphenate mom roles:

Hair-twister/soccer-mom - During a soccer game last week, I sat on the sidelines and retwisted Jafta's hair because that was the only time I had to do it.

Concert-watcher/writer - A second-grade recorder concert coinciding with deadlines means I did a little writing on my phone while watching.

Play-date-host/podcaster - Why yes, this week I did record a full episode with Paul  about four extra kids at my house.

Book-reader/basketball-watcher - What do you do when you want to support your older kids at their basketball game, but your youngest is tired of sitting on sidelines in the gym? You read books to her while you watch.

Taxi-driver/study partner - When practicing math facts is a thing that eludes your evening plans, you do them in the car on the way home.

Slime-maker/chef - It's not unusual for me to be helping with some manner of crafting in the middle of dinner prep. This week it just happens to be slime.

Somersault-watcher/conference-caller - Thank goodness for the mute button. Because I have participated in many a conference call at the park while an aspiring gymnast keeps yelling “MOMMY WATCH ME!”

Motherhood is a multifaceted role. I try to multi-task with my cleaning products as well. Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes are a great fit in my mess-fighting arsenal. They help kill germs and bacteria, and remove kitchen grease and countless other nasties you find lurking in your home. The Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes with Micro-Scrubbers do all that, plus they are textured to scour away stubborn messes other wipes leave behind, so you can tackle even the most unexpected mess.

Like homemade slime on your sideline blanket.

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Wednesday's Child: Evan

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday's Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.

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When fulfilling our kids' dreams goes too far . . .

This post is in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures.

We've all been there - your kid shows a passion for something, and you go to great lengths to make their dreams come true. Whether it's overpaying for a space-themed summer camp or lining them up for drum lessons with the local rock-star teacher, we've all gone to extremes to try to be the hero for our kids.

There is a new movie with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler (HELLO two of my favorites) that explores this very theme . . . the lengths we will go to in order to make our kids' dreams come true. In The House, two parents set on sending their daughter to the college of her dreams, only to discover it is way beyond what they can afford. They set about to raise the money in some unorthodox ways, and hilarity ensues. I can't wait to see it. The movie opens June 30 nationwide.

I usually tend towards the "good-enough mom" role. I'm fine being a bit of a slacker. I don't need my kids to be stars, and I don't feel the need to buy them the latest and greatest stuff. They still lament that their iphones are ancient and our Wii is first generation. But my weakness is when my kids show an interest in theater. I'm sure this is in large part due to the fact that it's also a passion of mine, so I get all sentimental and excited that they share it, too.

I saw Hamilton in New York when it opened, with the original cast. As I was watching, I started thinking about how much I wanted my kids to see it. My daughter Karis was 6 at the time . . . a bit too young. But we started listening to the soundtrack and immediately, she was hooked. She started begging to see the show. She memorized the soundtrack. She poured over the photo book. She was obsessed.

Soon after, the whole world became obsessed, and tickets were sold out as soon as they went on sale. So last summer, when several months of seats were released on Ticketmaster, I decided to go for it. I got tickets for her 8th birthday in April - almost a year after I bought them. I got a ticket for her sister, too. I held the secret for months. I told them on Christmas morning. And I booked flights to New York . . . totally knowing that this was overboard, but also thinking that this would be a dream-come-true.

We flew in the night before the show. Our plan was delayed, which landed us in New York in the wee hours of the morning. We made our way to our hotel but got very little sleep that night. And I started to panic that they would be too tired for a play that starts at 8pm and ends at 11. What if they fell asleep during this show I'd invested so much time and money into seeing? With these fears in mind, I made both girls take a nap before the show. They fell right to sleep, so they clearly needed it. Except . . .

When I woke Karis up from her nap, she was drunk-tired and crabby. She wanted to stay asleep and wanted nothing to do with Hamilton. She was confused and deliriously tired and OUT OF HER MIND. I had a daughter kicking and screaming about doing the very thing we flew to New York to do. And I realized . . . I'd gone too far. I flew too close to the sun. This experience was too much for an 8-year-old. 

She was angry and wanting to go back to bed the entire way to the theater. Forunately, just as the play was starting, the grogginess wore off and she was back to her usual self. She enjoyed the play, and didn't fall asleep. Crisis averted. But still. If she hadn't pulled it together, we would not have been able to see the show at all, after all that planning.

Hopefully I've learned my lesson, and I won't feel the need to engage in illegal activities to get my kids into the college of their choice, or any other such nonsense.

Have you ever gone to extremes to fulfill your child's dream, and had it backfire?

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When a "not-guilty" verdict in the shooting of a black man becomes predictable . . .

The other day, Jafta wanted to walk to a friend's house at dusk. He was wearing a hoodie over a baseball hat . . . a look that he likes. As he walked out, I yelled after him.

"Hoodie off! And take your hat off. Try to look less . . ."

And as the words came out of my mouth, I was mortified with myself. What is the end of that sentence? Did I just ask my son to look LESS BLACK?  And yet, he answered back.

"I know."

And he did know. Because of the talk. The talk that we continue to need.

My boys are growing so fast. My oldest is taller than I am. It's a milestone most mothers will feel bittersweet about, as we watch our boys turn into young men. But for mamas of black boys, it's also tinged with fear. My boys aren't as "cute" anymore. They don't look like little boys. They are nearing an age when their skin color becomes a liability to their safety.

Last year, a man named Philandro Castile was pulled over for a traffic stop. He was asked to provide his license and informed the officer that he had a gun - as gun owners have been instructed to do in the presence of police. He had a permit to carry. He did not reach for the gun, and yet, he was shot. He bled out in his car in front of his daughter as his wife filmed. Yesterday the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter. He also was acquitted of two counts of intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety. He killed an innocent man, and was not held accountable.

It's a story that is all too familiar - police officers reacting quickly - assuming a greater threat and using greater force than a situation warrants. We've seen so many stories like this recently. An unarmed man shot during a traffic stop because he followed the instructions to present his drivers license. A man shot and killed while holding a toy gun in a store. And Mike Brown, stopped for jaywalking, and a confrontation leaves him dead.

I am growing so weary of posting about these tragedies and having people rationalize and excuse the completely obvious lack of safety inherent in being Black and male in this country. I'm so tired of people finding excuses, minimizing, and victim-blaming. I'm sick of people perpetuating the idea that these people brought death on themselves, or somehow deserved to die, because they weren't following the right script.

 I feel like every time these stories emerge, I get the initial wave of fear and sadness, thinking about my own sons and the world they have to navigate. God forbid they engage in pot-smoking or shoplifting or talking back to adults as teenagers - behaviors I myself did in high school - because for them, it might be the thing that someone cites as an excuse for being shot. But then, to compound those feelings of grief, I also have to deal with round 2: the anger that emerges when our society, and oftentimes our justice system, fails to acknowledge the problem. When police officers are not held accountable. When excuses are made. When I'm told, repeatedly, that this isn't about race. When moms of black boys are viewed as too paranoid or too sensitive or too "obsessed with race."

I could tell you plenty of personal stories about how I've observed the bias against black males manifest towards my own sons. I could share instances that have occurred at their school, in our neighborhoods, and in our community. I could share about times that they've been assumed to be menacing or threatening . . . about the double standards we observe towards them . . . about the way my kids are treated more harshly than others, how the expectations of them don't match their age. I could share, but these stories are painful and private, and more than that . . . I don't want to expose my kids to the predictable character assassination that comes with any discussion of racial bias, as people try to find excuses that wave away the reality of racism in this country. But suffice it to say, when moms of black children are in safe spaces, we discuss these things together. We observe the same patterns. We share the same fears. And while most of us are dealing with micro-aggressions that hurt our children's psyche more than their bodies, the fear of violence is ever present.

But the thing is, I shouldn't have to share our stories to be believed, because there is a plethora of empirical research that illustrates the phenomena so many of us observe. The APA reports that Black boys as young as 10 may not be viewed in the same light of childhood innocence as their white peers, but are instead more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime,

The bias inherent in law enforcement has been well documented as well. In repeated psychological tests conducted by the psychology department at the University of Colorado, researchers illustrated the implicit suspicions people hold against people of color: Participants shoot an armed target more quickly and more often when that target is Black, rather than White. However, participants decide not to shoot an unarmed target more quickly and more often when the target is White, rather than Black. In essence, participants seem to process stereotype-consistent targets (armed Blacks and unarmed Whites) more easily than counterstereotypic targets (unarmed Blacks and armed Whites).

This graph, by Mother Jones, illustrates that black individuals are shot during arrests at a much higher rate.

So when you see people rioting and protesting . . . when you witness the tears and anger in the faces of the family as they learn that Philandro's killer will not be charged . . . remember: this is not just about Philandro Castile. This is about a community who has witnessed a clear pattern of violence towards men at the hands of people charged to protect our citizens. Violence with racial bias that is well documented. And the decision to fail to even charge the officer in in the death of a man is yet another blow. It's another perceived message: black lives don't matter.

If the anger around the decision made yesterday is confusing to you, it's time to listen. It's time to research. It's time to pull your head out of the sand and face the cold, hard facts about racial bias and police brutality. No one is saying that all police are racists. In fact, it's quite possible that many of the cops who have slain black boys weren't themselves racists by the general definition of the word. But they were living in the context of systemic racism . . . in a country that socializes us to be afraid of black men. Whether we like it or not, society conditions our impulses. We can try to counteract the systemic racism we're living in, and many of us do, but research indicates that racial bias infiltrates our first response, before logic takes over. Please read the psychological studies I linked to above the post to understand more. We are all susceptible to this kind of bias, and that bias is life-threatening for my kids, and the kids of people you know. And nothing will be fixed until we acknowledge that it's there.

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