Marriage 2.0

April 1st, 2010

yacht1

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

Check out my latest post at The Faster Times!

Perhaps my last post as a single woman?

March 23rd, 2010

Between grading, chapter writing, and last-minute wedding prep, I’m not sure when I’ll update here next.   On Sunday, March 28th, just as the sun is setting, TechBoo and I will be somewhere out in the Atlantic Ocean saying, “I do”, to each other and to our four girls.  We have written family vows, and, in addition to our rings, we  have ceremony gifts for the girls to symbolize our unity, all six of us.  The girls are reading poems and blessings, playing violins, and bearing the rings.  I can’t wait to post pics and share all the details as we officially start our new life together.  See you on the other side of the 28th and our wedding at sea

"What Now"? I talk co-parenting with Laurie Giles, that's what

March 22nd, 2010

Tune in as I talk co-parenting with Laurie Giles on her show, “What Now”, TODAY, March 23rd at 4:25 PM EST.

What Now – Helping Women Create the Life They Deserve

Laurie Giles is a professional life coach and attorney focused on helping women get through important life transitions and the author of the What Now? series. Through her coaching firm, Your Right Track, Giles has helped countless women cope with life-changing events such as divorce, empty-nest syndrome, the death or disability of a spouse and the challenges of coping with aging and sickly parents. In her What Now? book series, Laurie gives women practical, step-by-step advice on working through issues that every family deals with. Her unique perspective as both an attorney and life coach allows her to help women navigate through the overwhelming issues of estate planning, living wills and health care proxys while at the same time dealing with emotional and psychological issues of gaining the self-confidence to be a single parent and the stress of being a part of the sandwich generation.”

Laurie Giles

To Shar Jackson and all the women scorned

March 22nd, 2010
TeeLynn: "Writer. Geek. Mental health advocate. Sarcastic smartypants."
TeeLynn: “Writer. Geek. Mental health advocate. Sarcastic smartypants.”

My friend and fellow Yalie, TeeLynn, recently blogged about dealing with the pain of a break up–or not.  What gets on my everlasting nerves are those passive-aggressive folks who, instead of dealing with their hurt and disappointment, hand their emotional baggage to their children to lug around.  What a bullying, cowardly way to go through life–not to mention awful parenting.  But in her no-holds-barred piece below, TeeLynn talks to the mamas who err on the other extreme–holding their feelings in and adhering to the “high road” principle, to their own detriment.  No further introduction is needed…

Armchair Therapist: Celebrity Fit Club, Shar Jackson Edition

One of the benefits of long-term therapy is being able to see yourself very clearly. Another benefit is seeing others as they are, and I must say that I’m getting really good at spotting the mote in my brother’s eye, so to speak. But I don’t judge; I just call it as I see it, and today I’m calling Shar Jackson for not kicking Kevin Federline’s ASS on Celebrity Fit Club. You heard it here, from the Armchair Therapist.

Seriously, Shar needs to cuss ole dude OUT like you wouldn’t believe. Every week she’s talking about “my past” and “these last 5 years” while everyone in the room gives K-Fed the side eye like she’s not talking about him. I’m sure some of that is done to make the show more dramatic, but the fact that she cries every time she talks about Kevin (though not by name) shows that while she may be over the man, she is not over the hurt.

Think about it: if your man, your baby daddy left you for another woman while you were pregnant with #2, you would be mad as all get out. Some of y’all have keyed a car or two in your day, which is a form of expression I understand but do not endorse. Destruction of property followed by arrest is not a good look. However, at least “acting out” puts your anger where it belongs: out of your mind, out of your psyche, onto the person who really hurt you. Shar Jackson represents a lot of mothers who want to lash out at an ex but keep the feelings inside for the sake of the kids. Shar has the added pressure of staying out of the tabloids; for the rest of us that first Post-Breakup Sunday in church – surrounded by gossipy whispers – can feel like the front cover of The Enquirer. But still we press on, pressing our feelings down and believing that they’re gone until we realize that we’ve been eating/drinking/working past them instead of addressing the pain.

The thing about “for the kids” is, you’re not really protecting them from anything by taking the “high road” all the time. I know a woman whose ex-husband is a first-class jackass; she is a saint because he’s not dead yet, and she should’ve killed him at least 5 times for the way he treated her. She didn’t ask for alimony. She doesn’t talk badly about the bastard. She’s also pretty nice to the man’s new wife who, if there is any justice in the world, will someday treat him in a manner appropriate for such a low-class individual. But I digress. . . This woman’s children are now in double-digits and they already know what an asshole their father is because they can see it for themselves, no matter what their mother says. As old Southern women are wont to say, the chickens have come home to roost; that man’s children will end up despising him one day, or at the very least completely ignoring him. I’m not saying that Federline is a jackass of epic proportion, but his kids know that daddy’s gone and mommy is unhappy, and that’s all they really need to know to form an opinion. On last week’s Celebrity Fit Club episode, Shar’s daughter told her to be happy and start dating and “beat daddy”. “Nuff said.

So here’s the Armchair Therapist’s advice to Shar Jackson and Any Other Woman Who’s Still Crying About What Some Man Did to Her: LET IT OUT! Write a letter, send an e-mail, call old dude on the phone and tell him how much he hurt you. Call him outta his name. Tell him what he did to make you so angry. Admit that you feel embarrassed, or rejected, or ugly, or whatever and tell the frigging truth about your emotions. Get closure, but don’t expect anything in return. Exhale, dammit! Then go be the dope-girl-fresh you were always supposed to be before you let some jerk steal your swag.

This has been the first installment in the “Armchair Therapist” series, where I’ll give a little virtual couch time to some deserving public figure. Stay tuned, and prepare to be enlightened ;-)

Many thanks to TeeLynn for granting me this re-post. If you want more TeeLynn in your life, check out her blog My Polar Opposite, or follow her on Twitter.

Partners for Life: Spades and Mothering in Two States

March 20th, 2010

So TechBoo and I whopped up on his mom and one of his sister’s last night in short game of Spades. Spades is the ultimate partner game, and over the years I’ve risen to the occasion of being TechBoo’s partner. The man takes his Spades seriously. Not long after we first started dating, he taught Chris, my brother from another mother, how to play–while playing an actual game against me and one of our neighbors. Talk about trial by fire. But Chris rose to the occasion, and we were neck and neck the whole way to 500 points. It came down to the last game, and out of the blue, Chris reneged. True Spades heads will understand how criminal this is. TechBoo and Chris lost. We all decompressed; it was a long and intense game. Techboo got up and went to the powder room. Later I mentioned to him how I didn’t hear a toilet flush or any water running; he had gone to the bathroom to calm down after Chris’s disappointing move. Like I said, the man takes his Spades seriously. If you want comedy, get him playing against El Ex’s wife; she’s like his female Spades doppelganger. More trash-talking and loud-talking than two human beings should be allowed to get away with.

I’m more of a quiet Spades player, silent but deadly at the table. I think I complement Techboo well, and we’ve whooped up on his friends on a few occasions. So I wasn’t surprised last night when we dominated his mother and his sister, L (I wrote about L a little bit here). We plan on making whooping them a family tradition.

As we played, my future bonus daughters (8 days!) dozed. I love these little ladies. From the moment they rush outside to give me hugs before I can even make it into the house, to their telling me all the minutiae of their school day (field trips and food fights and friends acting funky), it feels good to connect with them. Of course our four girls are different in many ways, but basically the mothering is the same: hair and extracurriculars and homework and privileges and responsibilities…and growing up. Man, are they growing up. I get to do the teen thing four times: envy me.

Well, I’ve lounged enough this a.m. (Hair) duty calls and the in-laws need to be awakened with a reminder of who ran this town last night. ;-)

A Twitterrific Wedding

March 18th, 2010

Okay, so here’s the thing: I don’t like to shop. I enjoy “stuff”, but the actual process of shopping does nothing for me. (And window shopping  makes absolutely no sense to me: If I can’t afford it, the last thing I want to do is stand around looking at it. Can someone who does this explain this to me?  Because it seems like a colossal waste of time.)  I know that for some women shopping is a form of recreation, but I didn’t get that gene. So of course I pretty much resolved to do as much of my wedding shopping as possible online. I got everything including my dress, the girls’ dresses, TechBoo’s Cuban beach casual ensemble, everybody’s shoes, all the jewelry, and the girls’ ceremony gifts…online.

Twitter friends including OneChele gave me feedback on my dress and helped me pick my shoes. And another Tweep, an angel-friend named Bi, saved the day where my make-up–I don’t typical wearing anything but tinted lipgloss–is concerned: What’s better than MAC.cosmetics? MAC at 40% off. (Thanks, Bi!) I got the 411 on exactly what MAC (and other products) to get from another Tweep, Vogue Italia’s own Afrobella.

Afrobella even threw in some recommendations for must-see places while we are in Key West.  Apparently, there’s a brown sugar mojito there with my name on it.  Cheers!

Call for Submissions – Fatherhood Freestyle: The Unheard Voices of Single Black Fathers

March 12th, 2010

My sister-in-spirit and “Co-Parenting Matters” co-host Talibah Mbonisi of WeParent is accepting submissions for an anthology about single black fatherhood. Please forward, re-post, re-tweet, and, if you are so moved, SUBMIT!

__________________________________________________________

Fatherhood Freestyle: The Unheard Voices of Single Black Fathers
(working title)

Open Call for Submissions

Summary:

WeParent seeks submissions for an anthology expressing the insights, experiences, and feelings of African-American fathers who are no longer in relationships with their child(ren)’s mother, and who are co-parenting, solo-parenting and/or have or have attempted to do either. This book is intended for publication in mid-to-late 2011.

Deadline for submissions: October 15, 2010

Overview:

The purpose of this anthology is to explore the experiences of African-American fathers who are no longer involved with their child(ren)’s other parent but who are, have or seek to be engaged, active fathers nonetheless. WeParent seeks to amplify the often unheard voices of single, divorced, and separated African-American fathers who are parenting their children. Through a combination of probing blog posts from the popular “Fatherhood Freestyle” blog on WeParent.com and original personal essays from other contributors, WeParent seeks to pierce through the deafening charges of deadbeat absentee-baby-daddyism and offer refreshing and enlightening perspectives on parenting, co-parenting, step-dating and step-parenting, remarriage and more.

We seek essays that offer transparency and heartfelt honesty, as well as inspiration to fathers committed to navigating the sometimes tumultuous waters of fatherhood in the absence of a relationship with the other parent.

Our project is still in its early stages and we realize that at this point, though we have dedicated contributors, we cannot make any guarantees about the collection’s outcome; however, we are confident that this project will appeal to publishers for a number of reasons. One prominent reason is the focus currently being placed on fathers and fatherhood by the Obama administration and increased attention in the media. When we have a publishing contract in hand, the essays will undoubtedly go through a review process with the publisher’s readers and ultimate acceptance of articles for the book will depend on that process.

Possible topics to explore include:

  • Impact of your childhood and your parents’ relationship on your experience of fatherhood
  • Your journey through fatherhood, co-parenting, remarriage
  • How you experience other people’s perceptions of African-American fathers/single fathers
  • Your challenges and/or victories with custody, child support issues
  • Insights you have gained as a co-parent, single parent, step-parent
  • Experiences related to dating as a single father
  • Challenges, failures and victories you have experienced in parenting or co-parenting

We are open to any topic as long as it shares your personal story and/or insights.

Submission guidelines:

  • Submissions should be no longer than 5,000 words.
  • Good writing skills are helpful, but not necessary. Mostly, we are looking for powerful insights and stories that share the hearts and wisdom of our contributors. We will work with you to polish your writing.
  • Be sure to include full contact information, including your name, address, phone number and email address. Also, please remember to notify us at once if you move, change your phone number or email. (If you wish to remain anonymous, let us know, and we won’t include your name in the book.)
  • Submissions should be sent via mail (our preference) or email. When mailing, please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope (SASE) so we can return submissions we are unable to use. Without a SASE, submissions cannot be returned.
  • Each contributor chosen for the anthology will receive, as compensation, one (1) copy of the completed anthology within one month of publication.
  • The deadline for final submissions is October 15, 2010. However, it may take you some time to write your submission. So that we will know if you are considering making a submission, please send us a brief letter via email or mail to notify us of your intention to submit by June 1, 2010. The letter of intent should include your contact information, along with your proposed topic. Your letter of intent in no way obligates you to make a submission. It merely allows us to provide you with information and support during this process.
  • Final drafts of submissions must be postmarked on or before October 15, 2010. The final selection process will begin then.
  • Address your submissions to:

WeParent

Attn: Fatherhood Freestyle

PMB 153

1000 Whitlock Ave., Suite 320

Marietta, GA 30064

Or send an email with subject ‘’Fatherhood Freestyle Book Submission’’ to: info@weparent.com.

Fatherhood Freestyle: The Unheard Voices of Single Black Fathers
(working title)

Open Call for Submissions

Summary:

WeParent seeks submissions for an anthology expressing the insights, experiences, and feelings of African-American fathers who are no longer in relationships with their child(ren)’s mother, and who are co-parenting, solo-parenting and/or have or have attempted to do either. This book is intended for publication in mid-to-late 2011.

Deadline for submissions: October 15, 2010

Overview:

The purpose of this anthology is to explore the experiences of African-American fathers who are no longer involved with their child(ren)’s other parent but who are, have or seek to be engaged, active fathers nonetheless. WeParent seeks to amplify the often unheard voices of single, divorced, and separated African-American fathers who are parenting their children. Through a combination of probing blog posts from the popular “Fatherhood Freestyle” blog on WeParent.com and original personal essays from other contributors, WeParent seeks to pierce through the deafening charges of deadbeat absentee-baby-daddyism and offer refreshing and enlightening perspectives on parenting, co-parenting, step-dating and step-parenting, remarriage and more.

We seek essays that offer transparency and heartfelt honesty, as well as inspiration to fathers committed to navigating the sometimes tumultuous waters of fatherhood in the absence of a relationship with the other parent.

Our project is still in its early stages and we realize that at this point, though we have dedicated contributors, we cannot make any guarantees about the collection’s outcome; however, we are confident that this project will appeal to publishers for a number of reasons. One prominent reason is the focus currently being placed on fathers and fatherhood by the Obama administration and increased attention in the media. When we have a publishing contract in hand, the essays will undoubtedly go through a review process with the publisher’s readers and ultimate acceptance of articles for the book will depend on that process.

Possible topics to explore include:

· Impact of your childhood and your parents’ relationship on your experience of fatherhood

· Your journey through fatherhood, co-parenting, remarriage

· How you experience other people’s perceptions of African-American fathers/single fathers

· Your challenges and/or victories with custody, child support issues

· Insights you have gained as a co-parent, single parent, step-parent

· Experiences related to dating as a single father

· Challenges, failures and victories you have experienced in parenting or co-parenting


We are open to any topic as long as it shares your personal story and/or insights.

Submission guidelines:

· Submissions should be no longer than 5,000 words.

· Good writing skills are helpful, but not necessary. Mostly, we are looking for powerful insights and stories that share the hearts and wisdom of our contributors. We will work with you to polish your writing.

· Be sure to include full contact information, including your name, address, phone number and email address. Also, please remember to notify us at once if you move, change your phone number or email. (If you wish to remain anonymous, let us know, and we won’t include your name in the book.)

· Submissions should be sent via mail (our preference) or email. When mailing, please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope (SASE) so we can return submissions we are unable to use. Without a SASE, submissions cannot be returned.

· Each contributor chosen for the anthology will receive, as compensation, one (1) copy of the completed anthology within one month of publication.

· The deadline for final submissions is October 15, 2010. However, it may take you some time to write your submission. So that we will know if you are considering making a submission, please send us a brief letter via email or mail to notify us of your intention to submit by June 1, 2010. The letter of intent should include your contact information, along with your proposed topic. Your letter of intent in no way obligates you to make a submission. It merely allows us to provide you with information and support during this process.

· Final drafts of submissions must be postmarked on or before October 15, 2010. The final selection process will begin then.

· Address your submissions to:

WeParent

Attn: Fatherhood Freestyle

PMB 153

1000 Whitlock Ave., Suite 320

Marietta, GA 30064

Or send an email with subject ‘’Fatherhood Freestyle Book Submission’’ to: info@weparent.com.

Toughest writing assignment ever…

March 9th, 2010

…my marriage vows.

Word on the street is that TechBoo has already started on his.

It’s like, “physician heal thyself.”  Kinda. I can write other stuff in my sleep.  But this…not so much.

I’ll just procrastinate some more, and go find a poem for Li’l Mama (my oldest future bonus daughter) to read.  Let this marinate…

I get by with a LOT of help from my friends

March 8th, 2010

I’m fairly certain that I’ve posted a blog entry with this exact title before.  Because it’s true.  I’ve always been blessed with good friends, even though many times in my life I’ve nevertheless felt alone in the world.  After my mom, grandmother, and dad died in 2005, which coincided with the break up of my marriage, some friends fell by the wayside and new ones emerged.  I’ve been friend-rich every since.

Today on Twitter, someone tweeted about the importance of having cheerleaders in your life.  I’m happy to say that I have cheerleaders and that I try to be a cheerleader for others whenever I can.  I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of encouragement and help, so I know it can literally be a lifesaver.

After my mother died, there were times when I literally felt like I could not get up, and my friends were there for me.  My friend Becky was there then, and she was there again for me this week.  She’s dealing with her own stuff, and yet she reached out saying that she knew with the kids, the puppies, teaching, and the wedding coming up, I could probably use some help.  Boy, was she right.

Around the same time of my mother’s passing, a woman I did not know stumbled upon my custom writing service site.  She went on to become my biggest client, a cheerleader, and a dear friend. She gave me a professional chance to a degree that no one else ever had.  Thank you, Taneshia.

Another friend, S, runs an errand service.  Talk about the best wedding gift ever: Last week, she gave us 5 hours of her service for free.

This morning, a fellow writer whom I’ve only cyber-met, has joined the ranks of the dozen-plus folks who have written wonderful blurbs to accompany our co-parenting book proposal.  Blurbs are those killer quotes that, God-willing, will be printed on the back of our book jacket and used to promote the book.  Publishers care a lot about blurbs; getting them means that experts in the field and already-published folks find value in our book.

Late 2008/early 2009, a woman I did not know reached out to me via email to ask if maybe we could collaborate; she was about to launch a site for African-American co-parents.  Today, she is my collaborator, sister-friend, online radio co-host, life coach, and sounding board.  Thank you, Talibah.

TechBoo, my best friend, my love, likes to call me his favorite writer.  Well, I call him my favorite editor.  He has a sharp eye, and unless my deadline won’t allow, he reads everything I write before I send it into the world.  Gotta love a man who will debate with me about a misplaced “is.”  It means so much to me that he values my writing, enough to not only celebrate my successes, but also to give his time to the nuts and bolts of it.

So today and everyday, I look for ways to pay all this help, love, and encouragement forward.  I’ve found one today, so far.  How about you?  Who’s cheering for you?  Who have you cheered for today?

I know the Beatles did this first, but Joe Crocker did it best:

Tip #792: Making Long-Distance Love Work: It's Not All Romance & Roses

March 7th, 2010

A big part of why my relationship with TechBoo works is that aside from the unavoidable issues related to the distance, we each function the same way we would as if we were living under the same roof full-time.  In other words, we work together on the mundane, the logistical, and the drudgery too.  Effective communication is a must of course, as is coordinating schedules, and making sure our priorities align.  To this end, our life together looks like a lot of other couples’ lives: we have to manage kids, their schedules, and needs; tend to household issues (maintenance, shopping, chores); plan how we spend time and money; and make sure we set aside time to nurture our relationship amidst all the busyness.  We just do it across two households.

What does this look like in practice?  We each do chores, grocery shopping, and cooking in both houses.  We both stay up-to-date and as involved as we can be with all four girls’ school and extracurricular activities.  When we are present or even long-distance, we’ve both helped with homework and school projects. TechBoo has scheduled Comcast and Dell service calls for me here.  From my living room here, I’ve rescheduled dentist and doctors appointments for him there.

Exciting stuff, right?

We bring order to what would otherwise be chaos with a really simple tool: Google Calendar:

I love Google Calendar.  It’s color-coded; on ours, my stuff is blue and TechBoo’s is pink (how’s that for gender-bending?).  The calendar displays both our work, travel, and personal appointments, as well as important school- and health-related appointments and dates for all the kids. We can edit each others calendars as needed and see what’s going on at a glance. El Ex and his wife have access to my side of the calendar, and they can make updates as well.  This all comes in handy when booking travel or if anyone needs to change the parenting time schedule.

All in all, we run a pretty well-organized ship…albeit in two different bodies of water.

Techboo and I get asked all the time, “How do you do it?”–”it” being maintain a long-distance relationship which will soon become a long-distance marriage. Periodically, I offer some answers to that question here. The short answer? He’s got shared custody; I’ve got shared custody.  Neither one of us wants to parent from a distance.  So we do it because we love each other, love our kids, and are committed to being partners for life.  The “how” flows from that: we make it work.