April 18, 2014

Rest in Peace, Ms. Whitney Houston

There are so many things I want to say about Ms. Houston but the words are having trouble finding my mouth. I was hoping that she would be able to kick the butts of her demons and come out on top again. I hoped that the years of stress, sadness, anger, loneliness, and heartache would not win out in the long run and know we will never know if she could. We don’t know how she died, but it is irrelevant.

The above image of Ms. Houston that I will always remember: the album cover of her 1990 album “Whitney Houston.” Not only was her voice stunning, but her beauty was too. She gave black girls everywhere hope and let us know that our natural beauty was enough despite what others said. I am honored to have witnessed her talent in my lifetime. Unmatched by any other, Ms. Houston taught me to hope, to love, to feel. While many people want to write her off as a drug addict and a troubled soul, I will always remember her as the epitome of human: flawed and truly gifted.

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston. You’ve had your “One Moment in Time” and left your mark on us all. But now it is time to rest.

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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In the Spotlight: T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen Mercado is a mixed media artist, msn.com award winning essayist, wife and un/homeschooling mother of two.

A native of Queens, New York, Tameka attended St. John’s University and later NYU where she majored in Psychology. She concedes to a near unhealthy fascination with the human condition and writes about it often from the perspective of a “neurotic humanist, womanist, pacifist, socialist? Perhaps. Communist? No, a philosophical anarchist? Okay, that’s better”. She is also the occasional pessimist and a full time artist.

Tameka has been at the helm of the oft-riotous, always insightful Tea & Honey Bread blog since the summer of 2007. Her tagline and mission is to share “sweet-sometimes bittersweet, morsels for your mind body and spirit”. And, nearly 200 public followers stop in regularly to get their fill.

Her readers have described Tameka as, “Beautifully human” and her writing as, “a slice of life” from which she “is not afraid to share the big piece”. And, she isn’t.

She currently resides in the beautiful Sonoran desert with her homeschool sweetheart, their two children and a menagerie of rescued animals. It is there she can be found heavily caffeinated and pondering the penning of her first non-fiction work.

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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In the Spotlight: Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara is a former New York City free bird who leaped into Mid-Atlantic domestication with her wonderful southern husband, super-hero two year old son and most recently, the mystery child brewing in her belly.  She re-discovered her passion for writing after starting her blog, Then Came Isaiah about the ups, downs and all-arounds her life has taken since the birth of her son in 2007.  As a recovering Type-A personality, Tiara has been struggling to find her happiness along the way rather than finding her happiness at her destination.  This enlightenment came to her in the form of a refrigerator magnet and subsequently became the byline to her blog.

Tiara and Family

Born in Queens, NY, Tiara is the youngest of three and only daughter to her amazingly strong single mother and former NYPD Police Inspector father.  Her brothers, ten and twelve years her senior, taught her to punch like a boy, always expect the best and to have an unnatural fondness for the eighties glam artist, Prince.

Pre-Mommy, Tiara attained her Bachelor’s degree in English from Binghamton University, Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law and became a practicing member of the New York State Bar.  She has also studied feminism at the University of Dakar in Senegal, West Africa.  Aside from mom, wife and blogger, her definitions include full-time attorney, poet and aspiring novelist.

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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Blended Familes & “Are We There Yet?” With Terry Crews

by Kimberly Coleman

Kimberly  Coleman recently interviewed Mr. Terry Crews, who plays the father on the new sitcom Are We There Yet?”. She shares her interview below.

After a conversation with Mr. Crews, I feel like we’re old friends (so I’ll refer to him as Terry for the rest of this piece.) He was so warm and down to earth that he actually reminded me of one of my favorite preachers at church. That mental connection also probably came from the fact that Terry is a very spiritual man. When I asked Terry what was unique about “Are We There Yet?” (since I haven’t seen it yet), his answer made me want to watch the show. Basically, he shared that unlike many (if not all) current shows on television, this show is not “too adult for the kids” and is not “too kiddy/young for the adults”. I knew exactly what he was talking about, because it is very rare that my husband and I can enjoy primetime shows with our kids. That description reminded me of Thursday nights on NBC back in the day when there was The Cosby Show, A Different World, Night Court, etc. that the whole family would enjoy watching together.

Speaking of The Cosby Show, we talked about how it presented one type of ideal. There was the loving professional wife and father raising their children together in a comfortable reality. Now, there are shows like “Are We There Yet?” that portray a different reality. No, it’s not the Cosbys, but it can be a different type of ideal. According to Terry, some people should not stick together in an unhappy marriage and they need to be honest enough to say what works and what does not work. Many couples should have called it quits a while ago and moved on to find someone who truly loves them. People today are more honest about what they want and as long as kids have loving parents, then that is good. The reality is that there are more blended families in today’s society, so it’s important to show them in a positive, loving light.

When Terry mentioned that he was lucky to have been with his wife for twenty-one years, I wondered (aloud) what he personally knew about blended families. It turns out that he knows plenty. His wife was a single mom and he had a child when they met. At the time, others were trying to convince his (now) wife to marry her baby’s father. However she made a stand by saying, “no” and making her own life decisions. It is obvious that Terry thinks that she made the right decision because they ended up getting married. (It’s very sweet the way that he talks about his wife. It is obvious that he both respects and adores her.)

Before I spoke with Terry, I asked some readers and friends what they wanted to know. Below, I’ll share his answers to the top four questions:

1. Question: Is “Are We There Yet?” just another Black comedy filled with stereotypes?

Answer: Basically, the television show starts where the “Are We There Yet” movie (with Ice Cube and Nia Long) ended. The couple gets married and have their honeymoon. After that, reality sets in as they deal with the day to day challenges of life. The show attempts to realistically portray a Black couple that deals with blending their families. They love each other and are simply trying to make their new life work.

I must say that the thing I appreciate the most is that Terry is adamant about portraying hardworking Black men who love and provide for their families on television shows. There are a lot of great African-American fathers. They are not as rare as the media makes them out to be. (I agree…my husband is one of them joined by my brothers, my father, my father-in-law; etc., etc.!) Unfortunately, that does not get shown. Rather, Black men are often portrayed as criminals or “playas” with a gazillion different baby mamas. Looking at Terry’s track record, I would say that he is doing a great job. My entire family used to love Everybody Hates Chris (until they kept moving it around on the television schedule, but that’s another story). I even enjoy his family reality show The Family Crews. I’m happy that it’s coming back for another season, because I especially like the way that it portrays his wife. Black women have a tendency to come off looking bad on “reality” shows, but his wife is portrayed like many Black moms that I know in real life – spiritual, loving and down-to-earth. As Terry said, “I’m embracing the dad thing.” I love it and hope that even more men (of all racial backgrounds) follow suit.

2. Question: What is the most difficult challenge that you have faced as part of a blended family?

Answer: We talked about various challenges. One of them (which is going to be addressed in tomorrow’s show) involves the birth parents versus the step-parents. Terry shared that in the beginning, he used to have issues with his oldest child’s father (he calls his step-child “his” oldest child). Fortunately the two men are really cool now, but the original issue was “my kids” (the birth parent) versus “my house” (the step-parent). Boundaries had to be set and respected on all sides. Charlie Murphy, who I think is hilarious, is playing the ex, so I can’t wait to see how that episode regarding showing up unannounced goes. That’s what I like about the concept of “Are We There Yet?” – it uses real life scenarios.

Another challenge that Terry had me both cracking up/ dreading the day was the topic of dealing with their teenagers. I have worked with teens before and I just hope that I have the strength of character to survive those years with my own kids. Terry joked that teens start “smelling themselves”. Do you know what that means? Basically, it means that they get big heads and think that they are “all that”. They don’t pay for anything, but they think that they own everything. I’m interested to see how the show handles that dynamic. Terry joked that teenagers are so difficult, because that’s God’s way of making us parent so happy when they leave home. (If they stayed all sweet, we would never want them to leave. )

3. Question: How do you keep the passion alive in your relationship?

Answer: Ten years into his marriage, Terry and his wife focused on making their relationship a priority. With all of the focus on their kids, they saw that their relationship was suffering and made an effort to pause. They decided to “date” again so that they wouldn’t remain in the “who are you?” state. Once they decided to be a priority to one another, they figured out the practicals (i.e. babysitters, a nanny for their last kid, etc.). He cautioned parents not to put their kids above their spouse. As he said, “The kids are going to grow up and leave you!” and “The best thing that you can do for a child is love their mommy.” True.

4. Question: How do you handle disciplining your stepchildren?

Answer: The biological parent has to give the stepparent the authority to do so. He cautioned that women need to know the men whom they give authority – which needs to be earned/deserved – to discipline their kids in an agreed upon manner. If the biological parent has any questions or doubts, then the other adult shouldn’t be in the house anyway. They shouldn’t be together, because it is essential for the parents to back one another up. There shouldn’t be any “don’t you discipline my kids.” This goes both ways, depending on who the biological parent is – the husband or the wife. For instance, Terry shared how his daughter went off on him one time about her stepmother. His response to her was, “If I have to choose between you and her (his wife), you are going to lose. I’m living with her forever; but you’re going to be out of here.” Suffice it to say, his daughter got the point.

I ended our conversation by asking Terry if he had any last words of encouragement for those who are considering (or are already) a part of a blended family. He mentioned that blended families are actually a real life example of what God has already done by accepting everyone and calling them family. Terry emphasized that blended family bonds can be even stronger than biological bonds. It takes a lot of patience and love to build trust and a lot of other good things. They are earned and can sometimes come slowly. There will hard times and sometimes it will feel like a thankless job and ultimately, there are no guarantees. However, if you consistently do what is right, it will all come back to you. When the kids leave your home, that is usually when it clicks for them. That is when they will realize that they learned to love by your example. In sum, kids learn to love by being loved – blended family or not.

Are any of you moms a part of a blended family? If so, do you agree with what Terry has shared? Do you have any other words of wisdom to add?

*this article was originally  posted at Mom in the City

Guest Authors

Guest Authors

We love publishing diverse articles from diverse men and women. If you have something to say and would like your voice heard on We of Hue, please head here to submit and article or here to inquire about joining our team of talented regular authors.

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In the Spotlight: Orlena Grant

Orlena, a stay-at-home wife and mom to three beautiful girls,  decided from an early age that she would one day be an artist.  She received formal training and soon became a graphic designer and illustrator. She also bakes and designs cakes.

While working at a modeling agency, she was asked to bring her daughter to a children’s modeling agency. Her daughter was soon signed as a model.  After being laid off, Orlena went on to manage her daughter’s modeling career. Her youngest daughter then became a model too.  During Orlena’s time at home, she wanted to do more to earn a living. Combining her love of art and baking, Orlena decided to make specialty cakes.  She is currently working on her website, and hopes to go back to school to continue in the field of art education and 3D animation.  Orlena is also an active member of the Graphic Artist Guild in NY, and is currently working on writing and illustrating children’s books.

Moms of Hue (MOH): What keeps you motivated?

Orlena Grant: What keeps me motivated is the grace of God, and the love of my family and my desire to be an artist.

MOH: How do you organize your life so that you ensure that you get it all done?

Orlena: I do not have a system of organization, but if it were not for my trusty iPod and iCal programs, I would be a hot mess!

MOH: What lessons do you hope your kids will learn from you as they watch you work?

Orlena: I want my kids to learn that in order to get respect, you must give it, but don’t be anyone’s doormat either. For them to find loving husbands who support all of their ventures. I want them to be loving mothers who want the best for their children and will be dedicated to her success, and theirs.  I also want them to know that whatever they put their minds  to, they can achieve as long as they put hard work and they enjoy doing it.

MOH: Who is your biggest supporter and why?

Orlena: I have many supporters, I think my main supporter is my husband. He’s always bragging about my artwork, my work with cakes, and how I take care of my girls.

MOH: What advice do you have for other moms of hue trying to raise children and maintain positive values

Orlena: Whether you are a single mom or married, never give up on yourself.  Even  if it seems like a heavy load to bear, make time for you.  Believe that God will see you through anything.  Always treasure what you have in your children.  The rewards are worth all of the struggles.  Always support your child’s dreams, even if they seem far-fetched; they will love you more for that. Lastly, keep it real (Be honest).

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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In the Spotlight: Rene Syler

I met journalist and author, Rene Syler four years ago.  A close friend was working with Rene at the time and had invited me to their employer’s holiday party.  I was sipping on a really good French Martini when I noticed Rene dancing amongst her colleagues.

“Come meet Rene!” My friend encouraged.

Trying not to appear nervous, I followed.  As a young Black woman, fresh out of law school and living in Manhattan with my husband, her success was something I aspired to replicate.  I, too, wanted the career, the love and the cute kids! She greeted me like an old friend and shortly after our introduction, she threw her hands up swayed to the music and said to my friend and I, “Can you go ask the DJ to play ‘Sexy Back?’”.

That just put her over the top to me!  Not only was she all the things I thought, she was also down to earth enough to want to bust a move to Justin Timberlake.  It wasn’t until I became a mom a year later and received a signed copy of her book, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting, that I realized just how phenomenal she was!  Recently, I had the privilege of asking Rene a few questions on motherhood, success and making it all work!

Moms of Hue (MOH): So, you are an award winning journalist who has interviewed past presidents, politicians and celebrities, you are an author, and you are also a mom and wife! It seems like you have it all! Do you believe women can have it all?

RENE: I think we can have it all but I’m not sure it’s possible to have it all at the same time. Personally, I just don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to chase all those pursuits at once. So, we have to learn to make peace with ourselves. Some days (or weeks or years) the career will be high flying and you’ll be spacing play dates or PTA meetings, while other times you’ll be the one telling other moms that the kids are supposed to wear white shirts and khakis for the school play. The trick is to adopt a bit of an easygoing attitude and understand that that is the ebb and flow of life.

MOH: So many mothers struggle with maintaining a sense of identity after the birth of their children.  Let’s face it, young children can be all consuming and between work, child rearing and in some cases, being a partner or wife, we can often lose ourselves in the shuffle.  How do you find time to remember who Rene is? How do you maintain a sense of self in the face of your many responsibilities?

RENE: Yes, it is true that we CAN lose ourselves when that baby comes along but we don’t have to. The trick is to work at it. You need to actively maintain or cultivate interests outside of your family.  And for crying out loud, get out of the house without the kid! When my daughter Casey was born, my husband and I went on a date about two weeks after she arrived. I feel as strongly about protecting who I am as I did us as a couple. I go out a couple times a month with girlfriends and continue my career pursuits. I think it’s important for my kids to see that and I am setting a great example for my daughter.

MOH: As moms to children of color, do you feel that we have a unique set of challenges in child rearing? How do you handle those challenges, if any?  Do you find these challenges get more difficult as your children grow older?

RENE: I have yet to run across any issues unique to the raising of children of color. Of course, we talk about race and racism and equip them in the event something comes their way. Of course, it is my sincere hope that never happens.

MOH: So, you have an amazing book titled the “The Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect book of Parenting” and an awesome blog of the same title.  I was given your book by a friend shortly after my first son was born and I must say it helped me breathe a sigh of relief at my own imperfections! What inspired the book and blog?  What do you want readers to take away from your work?

RENE: I wrote the book because I was so tired of seeing my friends making themselves crazy trying to live up to a completely unreal and unattainable standard of motherhood that has been laid out by someone else. In writing Good Enough Mother and with the blog, I was trying to show the absurdity of everyday life and how sometimes you just have to “punt”. In other words, you make do and do better next time around. The funny thing about motherhood is that it is elating, thrilling, exhausting and everything in between. Some days you will be batting 1000; other days, you won’t get it out of the park. But you suit up everyday and give it your best and your best will have to do. (What’s with the sports analogies?)

MOH: As I mentioned, you are incredibly accomplished and a real inspiration to all moms, not just moms of color.  Any advice to our readers on how you continue to pursue your goals and aspirations while still being a present parent?

RENE: I think the big trick is to lower the bar and have realistic expectations. I have no illusions about my cooking ability, which registers a negative 6 on a scale of 1-10. But I am okay with that and I make up for it in other areas.  The advice I would give is that women need to really learn how to separate what matters from what can wash off in the shower. The other day a woman wrote to me about how she was going back to work after a 3 month maternity leave and she was sitting at her desk and all she could think about was what to feed her kids for dinner. I wrote her back, “CEREAL! You can feed them cereal tonight!” Now obviously you don’t feed them cereal every night but come on, she was paralyzed by this thought, getting no work done and in the end, was doing herself no favors. When I was working full time, we had breakfast for dinner or “Brinner” as we call it at least once a week (by the way that is the one thing I am pretty decent at making) and it was fan favorite in the house. Repeat after me “Make it easy on yourselves.”

MOH: “Brinner”! I am totally stealing that.  Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! Any things down the pipeline we should keep an eye out for?

RENE: I am working on a new book so more on that later.  Other than that, I am actively trying to BE a Good Enough Mother.

For more on Rene Syler, check out her blog, Good Enough Mother and be sure to pick up her book, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting!

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara Faith McCray

Tiara is native of New York City and reluctant resident of the DC Metro Area. She is a writer in her heart but a lawyer by profession. She is a wife and also a mom to two boys. She is a self proclaimed and self loving oddball. She is determined to find both spirituality and happiness and like any true totalitarian matriarch, impose both on her family. She is wise enough to know that this may not happen simultaneously.

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