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A Writer's Den: September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I’m Not Only Your Mom

10 Things Your Kids Should Know About You

Now that my daughters are growing up, I think it’s time we had the talk. Not that talk. My girls are only 3 years and 6 months old. I get puked on daily, I go back and forth between play dates and activities to socialize them (note to self, “socializing” is another word for describing how your kids have a life, and you don’t), I read them tons of books in a very happy voice, I kiss boo boos, and I teach the girls new things by singing and dancing to ABC’s, 123’s and specially customized potty training songs. But it’s never too early for them to know, I’m not only their mom!

Here are 10 things your kids should know about you:

  1. Mommy Is Not My Real Name: I hear the word “mommy” so many times a day that I sometimes forget my own name. “Kid, my name is NOT mommy.” About 30 or so years ago, your grandma and grandpa had a baby. That baby was me, and the word “mommy” doesn’t appear anywhere on my birth certificate. Although I do enjoy you calling me mommy, at some point in your life, I need you to know that I was and still am the young lady that I was before I became your mommy.

  1. I Do Have Eyes In The Back Of My Head: This means that every time I tell you to do something, and then turn my back to walk away, and you proceed to cut and roll your eyes at me, sulking and pouting with your arms folded, I SEE YOU. 

  1. I am Psychic: I know that I’m raising you to believe in God, and there will be no black magic in this house. But it’s time I let you in on a little secret, I’m psychic. In fact, all moms are psychic. God granted me these special powers so that I could be a better mother to you. Part of me being a good mom, is preventing you from hurting yourself. So if I tell you the fire is hot, and you will most certainly get burned if you touch it, DON’T TOUCH IT. I don’t think I owe you any further explanation on this matter.

  1. I Love To Read, Write, & Dance: My dear child, before Dr. Seuss entered our home, Stephen King, Alice Walker, and Harper Lee were here. I’ve written everything from mission statements to million dollar contracts. And I may not be a great dancer, but I love to dance. When you’re old enough, and that means you have kids of your own, we will head out for a glass of wine and a night of dancing. You may ask, “Why do I have to wait until I have children?” Until then, you will not be able to appreciate the NEED for a glass of wine.

  1. You May Be Smarter, But I Will Always Be Wiser: What I learned in kindergarten, you are already learning in pre-kindergarten. Heck, you’ve already mastered using my cell phone and computer. So I will admit, you’re a smart cookie. But you will never be wiser than me because being wise comes with age. Some will dispute this. But no matter how many letters I’ve got attached to my name, I take comfort in knowing a degree has never taught me to be wiser than my mother.

  1. I Still Have Dreams: My life did not stop when you were born. I have the right to dream, to set goals, and achieve each and every one of them. So listen here kid, I will always support your dreams, but I will NEVER stop dreaming.

  1. I Don’t Negotiate With Children: The answer is a resounding NO. Again, this is another one of those things where I will not offer any further explanation. Just know that I’m the mother, and you’re the child, enough said.

  1. Not So Long Ago, I Was A Little Girl Too: I know times have changed, but the one thing we have in common is that I used to be a little girl too. So when you say it’s the end of the world, I somehow know it isn’t.

  1. A Stork Didn’t Bring You Here, I Did: When you’re old enough, we will have a conversation that many refer to as “the birds and the bees.” Right now, all you need to know is that you did not come from a stork. You were in my belly for a very long time. I gained over 40 lbs. while I was carrying both you and your sister, and there is no way I’m allowing some bird to take all the credit.

  1. Grandma Is Your Best Friend, But Someday I Will Be Your Best Friend Too: This last one is tough for me, and it actually makes me a little jealous sometimes. When I was a little girl, I adored my grandma. She was my best friend. I’m so happy your grandma is also your best friend. You need to know that our relationship will hit many bumps in the road, take a few turns for the worse, and it may get downright nasty at times. But I will always be your mother, and hopefully your best friend someday too.
My darling daughters, now that we’ve covered the basics, I saved the best for last. You should know that I LOVE YOU. And nothing will ever change that.

Moms please join me in sharing a few things your kids should know about you.

credit: AtomicSparkle © istockphoto.com/AtomicSparkle

Kludgy Mom

Week 3 Assignment: Top 10 Networking Tips for New Bloggers (0-100 Followers): B2S/B2B
1. In Pick, you can pick a topic out of last week’s Idea Bank and write about it.
2. In Practice, pick one of the above tips and put it to use this week. Blog about what you picked, what your goals are and how you’re going to meet them.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Graduation Rates Amongst African American Male Students in Georgia

Drastic Changes Needed to Counter Low Graduation Rates of African American and Caucasian Males
credit: jsteel77 © istockphoto.com/jsteel77

Georgia has a lot of work to do in regard to the graduation rates of African American and Caucasian male students, according to a recent report by The Schott Foundation for Public Education, a Massachusetts based organization. African American and Caucasian male students in Georgia had a 43% and 62% graduation rate in 2007/2008, well below the national graduation rate of 47% amongst African Americans and 78% amongst Caucasian male students. However, if you had to guess which metro Atlanta school districts boasted the highest graduation rates amongst African American males, and you chose the school districts where African American students represented the majority of enrollment, that would be far from the truth.READ FULL ARTICLE: Graduation Rates Amongst African American Male Students in Georgia

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

You Like Me. . . You Really, Really Like Me!

Many of you have probably figured out that I really love writing. However, it has definitely been an experience juggling my passion for writing and being a wife, mom, recovering attorney and the list goes on. Recently, in the last six months or so, I started actively interacting online with other bloggers, writers, and professionals from all walks of life. I realize I have a lot to learn about self promotion, engaging readers, and promoting others. I only hope that you all know how much I have appreciated your feedback, your willingness to share your advice and experiences along the way.

So without further ado, I’m so excited to be honored not once, but 3 times this month with blog awards.

“The Versatile Blogger” Award has been presented to me by  Cori at Cori’s Big Mouth. Cori I sincerely appreciate this Award, “versatile” is definitely a great description for my blog.

 Here are the rules for winning this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 other bloggers who you recently discovered and think are fabulous.
4. Contact the bloggers you chose and let them know about the award.

7 things About Me
  1. I love red wine.
  2. I was a cheerleader in highschool.
  3. I’m conservative only when it makes sense, I’m liberal when it doesn’t make sense to be conservative, and I’m independent when I understand but don’t fully agree.
  4. My mother is my best friend, although she drives me crazy. 
  5. I’m very passionate about the things I believe in, and will verbally express my beliefs.
  6. I’m passionate about my faith.
  7. My husband is my biggest cheerleader (and also my best friend)!
15 Blogs You Should Check Out (in no particular order):
  1. Motherly Law
  2. Multiple Mama 
  3. Buddy Notes 
  4. Ann Again… 
  5. Colorful Rants Of A Fed Up Sista 
  6. The mom who stayed sober... 
  7. Kat's Confessions 
  8. I Married a Moron – And Survived! 
  9. Adventuroo 
  10. Mel's Coffee Break  
  11. Inspired Moments
  12. A Diary of a Mad Woman 
  13. Single Mom on a Budget 
  14. Unplanned Cooking 
  15. Blue Frog Legs 
The “One Lovely Blog Award” has been presented to me twice by Tiffany at Shhhhh Just Between U & Me and U and Victoria at Victoria’s Voice. Tiffany presented me my first blog award, so I am very honored. I am also very excited that Victoria thought that my blog was worthy to receive this award!

Here are the blogs I have chosen for this Award (in no particular order): 

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Friday, September 24, 2010

My Greatest Fear As a Parent

When Brandon and I got married, our plan was simple, to have fun getting to know each other as husband and wife first, before we decided to have children. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, but we sure did have a lot of fun before the girls were born. We worked hard, so we could play hard. We took trips, and partied with our friends. I don’t even remember cooking before we decided to have children.

Then one day, Brandon let me in on a little secret. He was ready. I’m not sure exactly what went through my mind, but I know I felt really happy and honored that he wanted me to be the mother of his children. Our family backgrounds and life experiences are totally different. Let’s just say he’s from small town USA and I’m from big city USA. It was important to Brandon and I that we get our spiritual house in order, so we embarked on a journey of faith to grow closer to God and to each other. Shortly thereafter, we started trying to have children, and it happened a lot faster than we thought it would. In fact, we were partying at homecoming like two children a week before we found out that I was pregnant.

Now we have been blessed with two beautiful little girls. I love my babies, but what I love more is seeing Brandon walk through the door after a long day of work. I love seeing the smile on his face that never seems to fade. I love the way he stares at me when he doesn’t know I’m looking back out the corner of my eye. I love that he makes me feel so safe in a world that’s full of uncertainty. I love that when I think I look like a train wreck, he thinks I’m sexy. And will actually get mad if I say anything bad about myself. I’m my worst critic, so most of our arguments stem from me being overly critical and him being overly optimistic. He’s the yin to my yang, and my partner in crime. So what is my greatest fear as a parent? My greatest fear is losing my husband. That I will be left to parent our children alone. See Brandon’s job requires that he protect others, and his job is what gives me the most stress. So losing Brandon is my greatest fear.

I would like to know what your greatest fear is. Or what advice can you give me to cope with my greatest fear?

Kludgy Mom

Week 2 Assignment:
1.) Come up with 10 (or more!) writing topics for the Idea Bank.

2.) Next, take any ONE topic from the Idea Bank list and use that as inspiration your post for this week.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are You Ready to Purchase a Home?

Stop Listening to All the Doom & Gloom of the Housing Market and Call Your Realtor!

credit: jhorrocks © istockphoto.com/jhorrocks

You were so excited when you finally decided to take the leap into homeownership. You worked hard to maintain your credit score. You even saved a hefty down payment to purchase your new dream home. But then the housing market crashed and you decided it wasn’t the time to purchase a home. Fast forward 3 years later, the housing market is still up one week, down the next week, 1% better than last month, but 15% worst than this exact day one year ago, with foreclosures rising .2% higher than they were exactly one minute ago. Depending on what you’re reading and what channel you’re watching, it is understandable that you are scared to purchase a home. But you can’t allow your fear to stop you from buying the home that you’ve been waiting for.

Here are a few reasons why you should turn off your television, skip the real estate section of the newspaper, and avoid any real estate online content that’s discouraging you from buying your dream home:READ FULL ARTICLE: Are You Ready to Purchase a Home?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dating Your Way to the Perfect Preschool

3 Steps that Will Make You an Expert in Choosing the Perfect Preschool

credit: Omar_Franc © sxc.hu/Omar_Franc

Dating someone new is exciting, a little intimidating and downright challenging. But if you’ve ever been on a date, you will find that choosing a preschool is no different. And as parents, we must prepare ourselves to face the inevitable. Our little babies will grow into pre-kindergarteners and leave the nest. For many parents, daycare may have been your first experience with allowing a third party to care for your child, outside of family and friends. For others, preschool will be the first time you allow a third party to not only care for your child but also prepare your child for kindergarten. Choosing a preschool may be a new experience for you, but hopefully dating isn’t.

When you’re dating, you probably keep a shortlist of the places where you are interested in meeting people, you mingle with the crowd while searching for that perfect someone and you may even be introduced to your soul mate through friends. Here is a shortlist of how those 3 things will make you an expert in choosing the perfect preschool: READ FULL ARTICLE: Dating Your Way to the Perfect Preschool

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back 2 School Back 2 Blogging: The Discussion Plug-In

credit © 2010 DISQUS
Disqus pronounced “dis•cuss” is a plug-in that works with Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr, Typepad, and Movable Type to name a few. Presently, I use Disqus with Blogger. I did a lot of research before choosing a comment system, and Disqus won me over.

Common myths about Disqus:
Disqus holds comments hostage. Disqus allows it’s users to sync comments locally, so your comments are not being held hostage. In fact, I recently imported all my pre-Disqus comments directly from Blogger into Disqus and exported all of my Disqus comments into Blogger.

Disqus doesn’t work with Akismet. For those using Wordpress, there is an option in settings that allows users to enable Akismet.

What I like about Disqus:
• Hands down, the customer service at Disqus is amazing. If I email help@disqus.com, I always receive a prompt response from a Disqus representative. To top it off, Gianni, the community manager for Disqus has also responded to my questions, and I’m just a little guy.

• Managing all of my comments in one centralized location is definitely a plus. I can also edit those comments.

• Giving my users the ability to login with Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo.

• The Extra Widgets that allow you to show a combination of Recent Comments, Popular Threads and Top Commentators.

• Comment threading is also another plus that allows me to engage in discussions with my readers. Upon receiving a comment, I am notified within minutes.

I’m sure there’s much more to Disqus, and I’ve got a lot to learn. But so far, as a newbie to the blogging world, I’m extremely happy!

To learn more about Disqus, please visit them here.

Kludgy Mom

Week 1 Extra Credit Assignment:
Blogger and WordPress Plugins and Widgets

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Homebuyer Tax Credit: The IRS Has Apparently Dropped the Ball

credit: © L. Eleana Johnson

At a time when the country is experiencing what some are referring to as the worst recession since the Great Depression, the IRS has apparently dropped the ball. Initially, the homebuyer tax credit was passed to stimulate the economy by bribing first-time homebuyers into purchasing the American Dream. In a previous article, “Homebuyer Tax Credit: Stimulating the Economy or Fueling False Hope?” the negative impact of the recent lapse of the homebuyer tax credit on pending home sales was discussed. Now what’s even more alarming is the recent news that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has no strategy for ensuring over 950,000 taxpayers purchasing homes in 2008 repay the $7,500 homebuyer tax credit that they were loaned interest free. READ FULL ARTICLE: Homebuyer Tax Credit: The IRS Has Apparently Dropped the Ball

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Friday, September 10, 2010

9/11: First My Childhood, Now My Freedom

credit: bjearwicke © sxc.hu/bjearwicke

As a child, I learned to adapt to many situations. By the time I was in kindergarten, I knew that the sound of gunshots meant I was supposed to lay flat on the ground until the shooting completely stopped. And by the time I was 7, I could tell you what a dead body looked like after being shot up, and how long it would take for the police to respond. I had already walked out my front & back doors to play on numerous occasions, to only see chalk outlining where bodies had previously lied and bloodstains waiting to be washed away by the rain.

When other kids my age were being shielded from PG-13 movies, my childhood was being stolen from me. Things weren’t perfect, but we finally managed to escape the housing project I grew up in. And I never really managed to get away from all the violence, being held at gunpoint when I was only 16 years old while working trying to earn extra money and a host of other events that no child should ever experience. But I had survived my past.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001, I had just turned 22 years old. READ FULL ARTICLE: 9/11: First My Childhood, Now My Freedom

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

No Boobies in School!

credit: Keep A Breast
© http://keep-a-breast.blogspot.com

New clothes. New shoes. New hairstyles. New boobies? Fashion has always been an important part of the first days of school. Tweens and Teens were expected to spend between $18.27 and $31.74 of their own money on apparel, supplies and accessories this year. But no one predicted that many of them would also spend their money supporting Keep A Breast Foundation, a non-profit breast cancer awareness organization. Their mission is to help eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support.

With a product line including, “I Love Boobies Bracelets,” “Keep A Breast T-shirts,” and even “Keep A Breast Guys T-Shirts,” supporting breast cancer awareness has never been more popular amongst teenagers. So why are schools banning I Love Boobies bracelets? READ FULL ARTICLE: No Boobies in School!

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day: End of Summer, Beginning of College Football, and Last But Not Least, the American Worker

credit: DOL.gov
© http://www.dol.gov

Labor Day marks the end of summer, and the beginning of college football. Despite high gas prices and unemployment rates, over 34 million Americans were expected to travel this Labor Day weekend taking trips of at least 50 miles. And tonight’s game featuring No. 3 Boise State and No. 10 Virginia Tech, marking the end of the Labor Day college football season openers will be watched by millions. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we forgot about the American Worker.

Originally, Labor Day was commemorated by street parades celebrating “‘the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations’ of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.” For 14.9 million Americans and their families, celebrations, if any, will be accompanied by the reality of the 9.6% unemployment rate. READ FULL ARTICLE: Labor Day: End of Summer, Beginning of College Football, and Last But Not Least, the American Worker

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Friday, September 03, 2010

National Preparedness Month 2010: Is Your Child's Preschool Prepared?

credit: Ready.gov
© http://www.fema.gov

“Knowing how to respond quickly and efficiently in a crisis is critical to ensuring the safety of our schools and students. The midst of a crisis is not the time to start figuring out who ought to do what. At that moment, everyone involved – from top to bottom – should know the drill and know each other.” Margaret Spellings

September marks the seventh annual National Preparedness Month (“NPM”), a nationwide effort encouraging individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together and take action to prepare for emergencies. Preschoolers are also starting off their new school year, and although disasters rarely occur at childcare centers, NPM is a great time for parents to review their childcare program’s emergency management plan.

There are four phases of effective crisis management: READ FULL ARTICLE: National Preparedness Month 2010: Is Your Child's Preschool Prepared?

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