April 21, 2014

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.

More Posts - Website

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.

More Posts - Website

Kiss the girls

It’s 5:00 pm.  I am running late for my son’s 5:15 pm check-up, as usual, and all of me, eight months pregnant belly, stuffed-to-capacity purse and two and half inch heels (I know I should know better), is bounding into daycare prepared to exchange very brief pleasantries with my son’s providers and snatch him up before running out the daycare door.  I enter his classroom and my plans are thwarted by my son elbow deep in finger pant, painting a picture of his recent favorite muse: his penis. 

He looks up at me smiling and runs over for his hug and kiss.  His teachers laugh as I kiss the top of his curly hair, narrowly avoiding yellow hand prints on my suit skirt and I direct him to the bathroom to wash his hands.  Accepting my late fate, I lower myself down to one of the kiddie chairs for a few deep breaths and wait for him to finish up.

He emerges, declares he is all clean and runs to give each of his teachers a big hug before we leave for the day. 

“Isaiah…” one of his teachers says as we head to the door.  He turns.

“Don’t you want to give Julie a hug?” 

A little dark haired girl turns around from a sea of blocks and raises her arms.  My two and a half year old runs into her waiting arms.  They exchange a very long embrace.

“Awww…” we all sing in unison.  I can’t even get mad as the clocks hits 5:15pm.  Then, just as we conclude our song, we watch as my son lowers his hand to Julie’s little waist and leans in for a kiss. 

The teachers and I gasp in unison and then end in an awkward laugh.

“Isaiah!” I exclaim, tugging his little hand.  He looks at me wide eyed and concerned.  I soften my gaze and remind him, “We ask for kisses and hugs, pickle.”  He nods. 

“I am not ready for this.” I joke with his teachers.  They laugh.

I am really not.

This past Saturday, it was asking a little girl named Gabby at the park if she wanted to meet his Grandma which led to an hour long courtship and ended in her kissing him on the cheek and wiping dirt off of him when he fell off the swing.  Last week, it was Madeline, a little girl at a daycare we visited.  They embraced for what seemed like a full minute before we left and my little man said, “I’ll miss you.”

Everywhere we go, my son finds a little girl to hug and attach to.  

And I know it is all my fault.

I am a romantic.

Yes, I said it.

I grew up memorizing the words to sappy movies like Dirty Dancing and dreaming to the beat of Boyz II Men and Babyface.  In college, my girlfriends and I would have movie nights that almost inevitably involved movies like Love Jones and Love and Basketball. 

You know.  Movies that ended in kisses and vows. Long before I knew love, I loved the idea of love: sharing a connection with someone no one else shared and building lives and dreams all based on an unexplainable chemistry and decision of commitment. 

Of course, what I grew to know of love grew me up a bit.  Sometimes you can love someone and they don’t love you back.  Sometimes you fall in love with someone who wants to love you but they just don’t know how.  Sometimes you can fall in love with someone and they can fall in love with you but you both know it just wouldn’t be right. And sometimes, all the stars align, you both commit to one another and life just gets in the way.

When I met my husband he was completely outside of my radar.  I was from New York.  He was from North Carolina.  I still wore Timberlands on winter days.  He went barefoot on summer ones.  I was used to guys who called me “Boo” and he said things like, “Sweetheart.”  When he asked me out for the first time, I was sure we would not have chemistry but he was a gentleman, he was charming and he left me glad I had went down a road I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

Us married gals know marriage is not easy so I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the seven years since have not been sunshine and light.  The adult, post-dirty dancing part of me wishes that someone would finally make a romantic movie that begins with a first kiss because the real love most certainly begins after you make it through that first rough patch.  The one where everything in you wants to give up but you fight anyway.

Nonetheless, love is in my air.  My adult, still-watch-dirty-dancing-when-it-comes-on-television side loves to see my son witness the love between my husband and me. 

Now, don’t call child services. 

What I mean is, I like that my son beams when he catches my husband and I in a kiss or embrace and it is almost inevitably followed by him saying, “I want to kiss, Mommy” or “I want to kiss, Daddy.”  We find it nothing short of delicious. 

But how do I begin to teach my almost three year old about the appropriateness of that affection?  How do I articulate that very important lesson that not everyone wants kisses and hugs?  How do I teach a two year old about the boundaries of personal space? More importantly, in an age where school officials are offering condoms to first graders and leading condom manufacturers are making extra small condoms for twelve year old boys, how do I begin to make him understand that there is a very fine line between what is cute and innocent and what is sexual and intimate?  I know my son’s kisses and hugs are innocent.  However, I also know that as a young black boy, who also happens to be very tall for his age, the time for the outside world to see it that way is very short lived.  So, what do you think Moms of Hue?  How do we teach our young children about the appropriateness of affection without upsetting their innocence and being the first to break their little hearts?

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.

More Posts - Website

In the Spotlight: Dr. Yakini Etheridge

I don’t quite remember how Yakini and I met, but I think it was at a Build-A-Bear event in NYC. Whatever the circumstances of our initial meeting, she had a lasting impression. First of all, she’s a doctor. As a woman of color and former HS teacher, I was always, and sometimes desperately, on the look out for professional women to whom I could point as proof that our children can be something other than Video Vixens or a Real Housewives of Atlanta.  But she is also a triple threat: brains, beauty, and personality. She represents everything that the world tells us is impossible. I instantly became a fan and lurker on her blog. The more I read the more I realized that she and I had a lot in common- like the fact that we both love to dress up for Halloween. Having Yakini here is truly a pleasure. Read our interview with her and see just why she is In the Spotlight.

About Yakini

Dr. Yakini Etheridge was born in South Bend, IN and raised in Maryland. In 2001 she moved to NYC to pursue graduate studies in clinical psychology and psychoanalysis, where she met and married her husband, Queens-native Derek Etheridge. They welcomed their first born son, Chase, in January 2009 and are expecting another precious blessing in August 2010. Yakini and Derek are proud Attachment Parents, as they feel it’s the best way to foster the type of relationship they want to have with their children.

Yakini is a big fan of mystery novels, things that sparkle, thrift and consignment store shopping, and the color pink. Simply put, she is a born and bred priss pot! She was raised by a southern mama and dad to be polite and well-mannered, respect her elders, and make people feel as comfortable as possible in her home. Although she no longer resides in the south, these virtues are still very much an important part of her.

Aside from her roles as wife and mom, Yakini is a full-time psychologist at a large hospital in the city. She is also the owner and publisher of The Prissy Mommy Chronicles where she blogs about creating a balanced life as a (self-proclaimed) “girly girl” living in a testosterone-driven, Alpha male-filled home.

Our Interview

Moms of Hue (MOH): What keeps you motivated?
Dr. Yakini Etheridge: Since the birth of our son I can say without doubt that my motivation stems from making my toddler’s face light up with happiness. The first thoughts I have when I wake up, and the last thoughts on my mind before falling asleep, are what I can do to give him a great day and make him laugh? Decisions that I make around my job, decisions we make as a couple, and decisions as a family all revolve around our son, as he truly is the light of our life. And so this thing called Motherhood, I’ve realized, is what gives true meaning and clarity to my life. It’s what motivates me to get up every morning and give each day my best!

Moms of Hue (MOH): How do you organize your life so that you ensure that you get it all done?

Yakini: Very simply: I try not to bite off more than I can chew.  This entails setting personal boundaries, for myself as well as with other people, with regards to commitments that I will and will not take on.  This has been a work in progress as, once upon a time, I was the proverbial “over-achiever.” It took the birth of my son to realize that it was okay to “slow down” and not do it all – that I could now take off my Energizer Bunny hat, and just put on my Mom cap and enjoy each moment as it comes.

However, when/if I do find myself becoming spread thin (which sometimes happens despite my first resolve), I simply “re-organize” myself by: 1) making To Do lists, 2) prioritizing the items on that list 3) sometimes taking a step back from those items that fall toward the bottom and 4) not being shy about asking for help when I need it (which took some growth on my part, as I’ve always been fiercely independent, and asking for help never came easily).  Through these efforts I’m usually able to accomplish all that I need done, without sacrificing those things which are most important to me.

Moms of Hue (MOH): What lessons do you hope your kids will learn from you as they watch you work?

Yakini: My mom instilled a very important mantra that still rings in my head today: “Work First, Play Second.” So very simple, but I find that when you take the time to do the things that aren’t so “fun” first, you free yourself (physically and mentally) for the things that are more pleasurable.  The more you practice this, the more easily it comes.  As a child, that meant homework before play, as a teenager it meant chores before phone time, as a young adult it meant term papers before socializing, and today it means (once my son is asleep) doing my cooking/housework before allowing myself the luxury of the internet and Tivo. :-) I hope Chase learns this very important lesson from me, as I think he’ll find that it makes his life that much easier and ultimately richer.

Moms of Hue (MOH): Who is your biggest supporter and why?
Yakini: This is hard for me as I feel tremendously supported by family, including my mom, dad, and three sisters.  However, on a daily basis, my greatest source of support comes from my husband, who is my #1 cheerleader.  He may not always understand the intricately-woven, eccentric creature that is me, but he nonetheless tries to support my endeavors in any way that he can – from helping me with my grueling dissertation collection to facilitating our home/work schedules in a way that allows me to enjoy certain blogger events/programs he knows I’m excited about.  He was one of the few husbands at Blogalicious 2009 because he knew how badly I wanted to be there, yet realized I wasn’t yet ready to leave our son behind, and also didn’t feel comfortable leaving him with child care staff available at the conference. So he traveled to Atlanta with me and enjoyed his role as Mr. Nanny in the hotel room while I attended plenary sessions, socials, and enjoyed myself – with nary a complaint.

Moms of Hue (MOH): What advice do you have for other Moms of Hue trying to raise children and maintain positive values?

Yakini: I recently blogged about “Sticking to Your Values as a New Mom” and was amazed by the overwhelming response that I got. Apparently, other new moms have also struggled with holding their ground with respect to certain issues [around their child] due to outside criticisms and negative feedback. With that said, my advice to other moms of hue, trying to raise children while also maintaining values they hold dear to their heart, is never to waiver in what you feel is right.  As moms, new and old, I think we sometimes struggle with feeling self-conscious about the choices we’ve made.  However I firmly believe that, when sticking with what you feel is in the best interest of your child(ren) you can’t go wrong.  Whether you’ve chosen to enforce a bedtime, limit sugar intake, cloth diaper, make the decision to home school…. there will always be folks giving you their input and telling you why you’re wrong.  Well, I encourage moms to remain steadfast in their values and not allow such naysayers, while good-intentioned, to sway you from what you and your partner have determined is best for your little ones.

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.

More Posts - Website

In the Spotlight: Kimberly Coleman

I met Kimberly Coleman while we were both attending the 1st Disney African-American Mom Blogger’s Mixer in 2008. She was one of the first bloggers that I got to meet in real life. What amazed me the most about Kimberly was her sensitivity. When Disney assumed that we would all enjoy going to a Gospel Concert (assumptions are such awful things), she was concerned about how I felt in light of my religious beliefs. She was worried that I was uncomfortable even when most people would not have cared.

Kimberly is also very intelligent and approaches much of her online life from a business background. She writes, speaks and consults about parenting in the NYC Metro area. A graduate of Columbia College, Kimberly worked in various research and finance positions in corporate America for eight years. She left Time Inc. when she had her first son in 2004 and began working in the parenting field. Currently, Kimberly writes for Harlem Community Newspapers (Former Family Editor, current Freelance Columnist) in addition to being the lead blogger at Mom in the City. She recently moved to Forest Hills (Queens) where she lives with her amazing husband and their two wonderful, energetic sons.

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

Kimberly: Gratitude. I have a life that I didn’t see too often growing up. I’m married to an amazing, loving man. I am fortunate enough to have attended an excellent college (Columbia) and worked for some of the most respected companies (Smith Barney, Time Inc., etc.). Then, I was able to be a stay at home mom with my kids. Now, I am a work at home mom merging my passions for business and parenting.

Moms of Hue (MOH): How do you organize your life so that you ensure that you get it all done?

Kimberly: I’m a planner by nature and I thrive on order. The night before, I make plans for the next day. I try to stick to them, but I realize that life doesn’t always go according to plan (especially with kids in the mix). I am a lot more gracious with myself now – I don’t expect to get it ALL done. I primarily focus on getting what is most important done!

Moms of Hue (MOH): What lessons do you hope your kids will learn from you as they watch you work?

Kimberly: I hope that my kids will see that you can (and should) enjoy your work. My oldest son decided that he wanted his own blog this year – focused on his favorite thing, video games. He is only five, so it’s a vlog (gamerkidvlog.com). He has totally taken ownership of it and hounds me to post more frequently! I love that the seeds of entrepreneurship are already planted in his mind.

Moms of Hue (MOH): Who is your biggest supporter and why?

Kimberly: My husband is my biggest supporter. He used to do the html for my website before it was a blog. He encouraged me to keep my blog going even when I was getting paid by another company to do parenting writing for three years. (It’s good to “have your own”, he would always say.) He is my biggest fan (and I am his)!

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

Kimberly: Be clear on your priorities and make a focused effort to live them out. Relationships are my priority – God, husband and kids – before anyone/anything else. As such, I say “no” to some opportunities. I decided at the beginning of the year that I would not go on any unpaid (as in not paid for my time) trips away from home during school sessions since my husband is a teacher and my oldest son is in school. In the last couple of months alone, I have said “no” to three great different trips in sunny locations. It’s fine though, because that frees me up to say “yes” to other opportunities that work better for this point in my life. In sum, my favorite quote (that I try to live by) is William Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Photo credit: Jade Albert (www.jadealbert.com)

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.

More Posts - Website

Hue says my voice doesn’t matter?

by Talibah Mbonisi

In October 2008, I started to conceptualize what would eventually become the what I claim as my calling—encouraging and supporting African-American mothers and fathers who despite living apart are, want or could be parenting together. Like many vocations, mine was born not of some brilliant idea but rather of an almost desperate need to see myself and my experiences reflected among the plethora of stories and images of women, mothers, parents on this journey of parenting alone or together after a split.  Although I found many resources that supported single parents, single mothers, even, as well as those which addressed the challenges and the possibilities after divorce, none really felt like “home” to me.

I was a single, working, Black mother of a brilliantly busy little Black boy.  I was among the unwed, and I was struggling trying to find a way to manage conflict with my son’s father and keep our family as far away from the court system as possible.  I felt alone, and the absence of my resemblance in the books I studied and the sites I visited mirrored back to me that I was.

But the truth, which became clearer to me through blogging, is that I am not alone.  My experiences, my voice, colored (pun intended) by everything that has converged to create me as I am in this moment…it all matters.  Somehow it connects me to people who on the surface seem most like me.  But mysteriously, it also opens me up to those who at first glance do not.  Being able to express myself fully through this medium, through this beautiful place called Moms of Hue, knowing that what I say, who I am is embraced, provides me with a potent reminder that the same is true for all of us.  That all of our voices matter…and that there is a place for each of us to call home; a retreat to which we can retire to be fed, filled and empowered to stand strong in who we are so that our mattering might make a difference in this world.

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.

More Posts