Archive for July, 2009

Zakiah day 5

July 29, 2009

Zakiah is sleeping in his own bed back home with Mommy and Baba tonight. Grandma is staying overnight, then will be on her way to Indiana. Our 4-hr drive here was a pretty smooth ride, really. I did not even play a movie. Zakiah talked to himself in his carseat the whole trip. He DID ask me repeatedly, “Grandma, I want to go to my mommy’s house…” at least once every 20 mins. I’d say, “that’s where we’re going,” and he would respond, “OH-tay.” We stopped 2-3X, I don’t remember, not too bad.

I was thinking tonight, that in raising my 4 kids, I never, ever got such a break. My mom was an active alcoholic until the week Levin was born, and never did even watch the kids for an evening. She just wasn’t capable. I mean, she raised 4 kids, but she never watched my kids, even though we were in town. Let’s say, she wasn’t comfortable.

Anyway. I was never separated from my kids, ever. I took the girls to the World Congress and left the boys at home with Al. They were ages 10 & 7 at the time. At least one of them still resents that. I also went back to work when Levin was a year old. But we were always together at night.

I was also thinking that I was fierce in my being a stay-at-home mom for 11 years. It was the poorest financial time we ever had. And I did not go back to work. There is no way someone else was going to watch MY kids when they were so little. We also kept having them……. and it is hard to find a babysitter, let alone for an overnight, for 4 kids. We also could never afford a vacation, ever. So, I have many full memories of wracking my brain trying to think of free things to do. Library trips were a regular. They also check out puzzles and cassette tape books (I’m sure now they are CDs). Once in awhile we actually rode the bus just for something to do. most of the time, we’d walk to the drugstore and get something cheap, or walk to the donut shop. I can remember so many, many times, letting each of the boys pick out some toy at the Mall, as long as it was $2.00 or less. What the hell can you get for 2.00 or less? They always got some hot wheels car or an action figure on sale. Not having money, though, is very stressful and tiring, especially when you are raising kids. But that’s always when you don’t have any money. And now I see my kids going thru it.

I hope I have a safe trip tomorrow.

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Zakiah, day 4

July 28, 2009

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Today was a playground day. This was a great time. However, a little boy came right when we were ready to go home for a nap. Zakiah has been asking for his “friends” ever since he got here. He played with the boy for a few mins. & then I made him leave, and he was SOOOOO sad. He was reaching out his arm to his “friend” and crying. It was really hard for me to do, but we were already 1/2 hr. late for naptime, and I promised Mommy to try to stay on schedule. I think, really, he just reached his limit today, & is missing home very much. So it was a way for him to let out the sadness he feels. He has been very happy with us, playing, interacting, pretending, reading books, getting ice cream, it is been a great visit. He is just at his limit. I told him he will have so many friends at Mommy’s school, when he gets back home.

The other thing we did is stop to see the horses near us, close up. Got out of the car. They actually walked over to be closer to us and were eating grass near us. Zakiah sadly said, “They’re not saying HI to us.”  I said, no, horses can’t talk. Then he said, “They just make noise?” I said yes. Then, “They’re not making noise Grandma.”

Zakiah day 3 (Mon.)

July 27, 2009

  DSC00896  I feel like the days are very full, yet there is little to report. We are out of extra money this week, we are moving, so we are not doing things that cost money. I had planned to take Zakiah to Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. But that will have to happen at another time.

Zakiah is a happy child. Today he played around me quite a bit. We started the day watching Diego and Dora the Explorer. He liked those, and joined in with some of the Spanish and English words. Dora always has a map, and Diego a backpack. We had banana and pancakes for breakfast. Zakiah loved a simple pancake with honey on it.

Then he and I made a trip to the new house. I brought the rest of our framed pictures and paintings and a few books, always more books. It was 10:30 by the time we left, so I drove thru McD’s and got us one chicken mcnugets meal to share, Zakiah having an orange juice as well. He explored the house but really lost interest in that faster than I thought he would. (As a kid, I was excited about exploring any new house. It was always a big, good time for me to run through a new house.) He found a chess set and played with that, but soon took pieces here and there, so that didn’t work too well either. I unpacked some small kitchen boxes, as we needed them back at the house to pack (more books) into.

We walked over to the pond behind the house briefly, then returned for a little more lunch, (sugarless) popsicle, and NAP. He has only had candy once while here. The nap was into 2 hours long, so I decided to run a load of books to my office, with Al calling me if he woke up. He did wake up and was very sad Grandma wasn’t here.

Some Newberry friends Al has made at a coffee shop here, came by to help us move our couch, my mom’s hutch, & a file cabinet. Zakiah was excited to return to the new house with Grandpa but very upset Grandpa rode in the truck and not with us in the car. We unloaded all that stuff there and took a relaxed walk around the big pond (see picture). Zakiah has learned while here to be interested in “the woods”. There were some side trails into the woods there so he said, “Let’s go THIS way.” He wanted to touch the water, but gave up on that when the grass got wet near the water (He was holding my hand). There are no ducks on this pond. We are not sure why. We heard frogs but couldn’t see them.

Back home, dinner, shower, brush teeth, phone call to Mommy and Baba, and to bed. He has 3 books he has adored reading every night here. (Kids get into habits and remember certain books). Every night we have read “Swimmy,” “Put me in the zoo,” and “The Giving Tree”. There is one other one which is an antique, a really strange, older book, called “The Funny Bunny Factory,” about some rabbits who live in an abandoned factory that they accidently turn on, and it starts making fancy colored and candy eggs.

Funniest part of the bedtime tonight was reading “Swimmy,” who is the only black fish in a school of all-red fish. Zakiah knows the part where he says “and ONE fish was BLACK,” and the next line is, “And his name was _______.”  Zakiah tonight said, “Dirty!” I guess this is the first time I’ve interacted with Zakiah closely with books and he has listened all the way to the end, and taken part in the words as he gets to know them.

He has missed Mommy and Baba too, and reacted with pure delight tonight when I said, “And day after tomorrow we go to mommy’s house.” He also is into the letter “s” and the SSSSS sound. Every time he says “Yes,” he hangs onto the ssssssssss sound. I also noticed him accentuating a “t” sound at the end of a word tonight, saying t-t-t- a few times.

Other than this, he was out in our yard here at the older house for awhile and always enjoys that, a little bit in the sprinkler, etc. He is happy outside.

Zakiah day 2

July 26, 2009

July 26th. DSC00886

Zakiah woke at about 7:30am. We had banana and cereal for breakfast. We left about 9:15am to drive to our friends’ in Waterloo, about 45 mins. from here. Zakiah watched Toy Story on the way there, had my Buzz Lightyear talking doll with him.

At our friends’, he met Julian, Niki and Dalilah, ate cheese and crackers and cantelope melon, drew a little bit and really enjoyed the yard outside. They live near South Carolina woods and are fairly isolated. A long, windy dirt road leads  back to their property. We met the dog, and heard a rooster crow outside. We also watched and chased a blue butterfly that landed near Zakiah and flapped its wings for him to see.

Zakiah found a large stick and drew in the sand with it. He also thought the sandy dirt was “the beach”. It was very pleasant outside and we listened to the wind blowing through the trees.

Before leaving, we said prayers. Grandpa was going to take Zakiah outside before they started, but Zakiah requested Blessed is the Spot, so we sang it and he sang many of the words. It was obvious he was familiar with singing it. Grandpa then took Zakiah outside and we each said one more prayer.

Watched “Tigger movie” coming home. We were ready to put Zakiah down for a nap, but our neighbors called saying someone was wanting to see the house. Zakiah had toys in the living room and we had things we were moving sitting around. I swept the floor & we cleaned up, then laying Zakiah down about 3:00. They came early, 3:20, so Zakiah got right back up. They looked all through the house & took pictures for another couple thinking of moving here. I think they liked it.

After they left, Zakiah finally fell asleep about 4:00, slept until nearly 6. At one point, I looked in the room, he raised his head up and I sat down near him and held him, talking to him & realized he was actually still asleep. I laid his head down and he was right back out.

When he woke up, we ate dinner (chicken, rice, veggies) and had a popsicle. he played in the sprinkler for a few mins. Took a walk down the road with Grandpa, took a shower, played a little more, read 4 books and he laid down w/ no problem except that he refused the small homemade bed and insisted on sleeping on the floor with “all his animals” around him. I will move him later.  

I think in the morning we will go straight to the new house. He will enjoy seeing all that. Playground nearby. I plan to unpack a few kitchen dishes & bring those smaller boxes back here to take the last of Al’s books in them. Other than that, the plan for tomorrow is playground. I may try to hit Dreher Island State Park immediately after 5pm because it’s free. There is a little area with a small bridge that leads to a small island where the lake water laps up onto the shore.

Zakiah has also enjoyed seeing horses close to a road we drive down near here. I think we need to stop the car and let him go up to the fence one time.

(His funniest expression: “Oh, MAN?” exaggerated & said like a question at the end.)

words of Baha’u’llah no.6

July 25, 2009

O SON OF BEING!
Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion.

 (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

Zakiah July 25

July 25, 2009

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3 years old. Zakiah is with us today through Wed. Here, he had taken the material from the arm rest and put it on his head, and holding 2 balloons, was ready to jump off the chair.

I was going to write today’s highlights, but I think I am too tired to think of anything clever. He talks absolutely non-stop. The only times he “played” without talking to me was a little bit with a plane made out of lego’s; outside in the yard with two sticks; and when he found the santour (or whatever it is) of AL’s and was banging on it with a wooden stick player. We also did bubbles in the yard.

One close call was when he stuck his finger into a fire ant hill, and Grandpa swooped him up immediately before thousands of them came zooming out and swarmed the top of the hill looking for the invader. They are FIERCE and their bites hurt and swell. Zakiah has avoided that area ever since watching all those ants come swarming out of there.

We unpacked his suitcase and found his gummy vitamins all melted together into a blob. He took a shower quite well, once he got in there, then we read 2 books, he gathered his stuffed animals around him, and laid down. In one book, we read a prayer, so that was done as well.  We made a rather comfortable spot for him on the floor, with a rug, 2 sleeping bags, 2 pillows and his purple blanket. I also gave him a small kitty cat blanket.

Obama and Henry Louis Gates

July 24, 2009

and so we now have the 2 sides digging in their heels, as I predicted. Meanwhile, President Obama made some very intelligent and wise remarks on television about the incident of Dr. Henry Louis Gates being arrested in his own home. He alluded to research that shows a history of law enforcement committing racial profiling, which we know is true, but also said words on both sides were probably sa,id that were not necessary and results would have made more sense if “cooler heads” would have presided. He made the big mistake of refering to the arrest of Dr. Gates in terms of the police acting “stupidly”. With that comment, Pres. Obama committed a cardinal sin. The police involved do not think they acted stupidly in the least bit, and even if they do, they could never admit it, especially to the public!

Let me just state what happened. Police responded to a call from some neighborhood know-it-all who saw 2 black men on a porch in her neighborhood and suspected them as burglars who did not belong there. Police arrived to find Dr. Gates in the house, and did their thing, asking him to step outside. Rather than comply as citizens are expected to do when the guy with the gun tells them to do something, Dr. Gates indignantly refused. He had not done anything criminal. He was in his own home. Instead, he asked the officer for his name and badge #. Now the officer is pissed off and he refuses. The man before him is supposed to follow orders. His authority is in question. How dare a citizen ask him for his name and badge no. And it escalated from there. When Dr. Gates called him a racist, told him he had not heard the last of him, and followed him onto his front porch still in a tirade, the officer did what any police officer is allowed to do when confronted with an unruly citizen: put him in handcuffs and arrest him for “disorderly conduct”. The charges have now been DROPPED so they didn’t amount to anything. Their purpose was to bring the unruly professor into submission.

Now, Dr. Gates is “demanding” an apology. And the guy ain’t gonna give it no way. So here we sit.

It is not that white people are “racists”. It is that white people live and breathe a sense of privilege that they themselves are not even AWARE OF. And so they live in complete denial, while still benefitting from it every hour of every day. There are a million ways this plays out. They are never doubted for their intelligence, their morality, their ability to do a job, teach a class, buy a certain product, or even their athleticism, due to their skin color alone. They are never followed in a store, so how can that behavior still happen? They never see it. They are never turned down for a date due to their skin color alone — ever. These experiences do not exist in their daily reality.

Yet, they know in their heart, how their parents or aunts and uncles at the family reunion would react, if they married a person of color. Suddenly, color would be an issue. But never mind, we are all just individuals. We can live in that reality UNTIL something happens that smacks us in the face with another reality. Like thinking about attending a function where they might be the only white person there. Never happens. So color doesn’t exist. Until it does. Until a black man is elected President, or they contemplate being the “minority” in the year 2050 or whenever that is predicted to happen.

is the white cop a “racist”? That is not the right question. Was he affected by Gates calling him a racist? Absolutely. Would he have arrested an older white man in his own home? Probably not. Was the arrest of Dr. Gates unnecessary? I think evidence says yes, absolutely. Was D r. Gates out of line?  Any time words are shouted and not stated, bad things will come out of that interaction. Either side could have calmed the situation down. Neither side did. And today, demanding an apology? Not the right tactic. Insisting on a private consultation, for the purpose of promoting better relations? better one. Adamantly stating race had NOTHING to do with this situation? That is “acting stupidly”. Of course it did, it always does, especially when a dignified professor is calling you a racist. Next time, GIVE THE MAN YOUR NAME AND BADGE NUMBER! That is his right as a citizen to have that information and you know it. You both were out of control.

President Obama was nieve about his use of the word “stupidly”. He is learning the magnitude of denial. He is used to interacting on an academic level. My students have no understanding of racial profiling as a reality. The very topic offends them and brings a strong emotional reaction. But I thought his comments were fair and wise. He evidently did not understand Gates was arrested finally for disorderly conduct — not breaking and entering. He is learning.

National Health Care plan

July 22, 2009

Obama spoke tonight for his national health care plan. I did not even turn it on, and have not listened to the 10 million reviews of it which I’m sure have taken place by now. I wanted a peaceful evening.

My views on a nationalized health care plan are simple. Over 40 million Americans cannot afford, and do not have, health insurance. Now, that may not be that big of a deal if we were Canadians. Or Brits, or French. We could go to the emergency room at our local hospital there, and get patched up for free. We wouldn’t get funny looks or rolled eyes when we said we didn’t have an insurance card to show them before being admitted. We wouldn’t get patched up, sent home and then had the bill sent to a collection agency as soon as we couldn’t pay the few thousand dollars our visit cost. But this is America. And that is exactly what happens in America. People going to the emergency room in America did not go to their doctor for regular check ups for exactly the same reason. No health insurance. So they go to the emergency room when the condition becomes critical and they or their loved one is in pain.

Do I trust the President to put together a health care package for me? HECK YEAH. It can’t be any worse than doctors being able to turn patients away when they need prenatal care,  which happened to me when we were poor. People don’t believe these things. But they happen every day. Doctors in America get paid more money for their work than any doctors in the world. They do not as a general rule practice preventive care, let alone herbal or natural healing. I TRUST THE PRESIDENT TO GIVE ME A HEALTH CARE PACKAGE because so many Americans have NONE if we do not take this step!! What is so hard about that? I just don’t get all the uproar.

The uproar must be from people who stand to make LESS money if all this goes through. The medical profession and the drug companies. That’s all I can figure. So I am for it.

Try being poor in America for awhile. It’s no picnic. Most of Europe and every other Western-style nation has a nationalized health care plan, paid maternity leave for fathers and mothers, paid vacation time for part-timers as well as full-time workers, and subsidized daycare. Only the USA does not have those things. Our independent spirit sometimes makes no sense. Society has to take better care of its struggling multitudes. We do not excel at this task. Other nations do it better, and we stand to learn something from them in this case.

one heart ruby red

July 22, 2009

When we first joined the Baha’i Faith, we used to sing a lot of songs. One we used to sing is “One Heart Ruby Red.” It is corny, as are most Baha’i songs, but the memory is of groups of people, different races, sitting around singing it together and believing in it with all their hearts, Persians with accents as well as black and white Americans, other groups and mixtures of all. It is a nice memory.

One Heart Ruby Redheart

Walking down the street I met a friend,

a friend with skin of midnight black,

Suffering, suffering,

with a weight upon his back,

One heart ruby red, 

One heart ruby red,

One heart ruby red,

Beats the heart of man.

Walking down the street I met a friend,

a friend with skin of snowy white,

Suffering, suffering,

holdin’ up the world with all her might,

On heart ruby red, …… beats the heart of man.

Walkin’ down the street I met a friend,

a friend with skin of golden brown,

Suffering, suffering,

with his head a’hangin’ down,

One heart ruby red, ……. beats the heart of man.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

July 21, 2009

I just heard Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested in his own home after returning from vacation. Why? A neighbor reportedly saw him on his own front porch, along with his “driver”, trying to force the door open because it was jammed. By the time police arrived, he had entered through the back door, shut off the alarm, and was sitting on the phone to the management company of the home.

A number of things race through my mind as I read this. First of all, it was HENRY LOUIS GATES JR., Harvard Professor, world renowned, author and television special producer!! Did the neighbor not know who lived next door to her?? Did the police officers who demanded ID not know who he was?? Unbelievable!

Second, Henry Gates probably totally lost it. I’m sure he was ticked off and railed on & on at the police officer about what was happening to him. He was probably incredulous himself, being asked for ID and, I’m sure, treated like a criminal. One thing I’ve learned from criminology and also every guest speaker I’ve had from law enforcement to the classroom: Attitude is everything, when talking to the police, or the “po-po” as they say down south. The police officer has the badge, wears the gun, and holds the power to hand cuff you, strip search you and take you into the station. Like it or not, the thing to do is say “Yes sir,” and “Sorry, ma’am,” and “I’m sure this is all just a misunderstanding, of course sir, here is my ID.”

But this was Henry Louis Gates Jr. They might as well have been arresting Al Sharpton or even President Barack Obama for breaking and entering into his own home. It was going to be a national issue.

When we lived in downtown Indianapolis, in a gentrifying neighborhood, the neighborhood crime watch was intense. They sent out regular e-mails about break-ins, or suspicious behavior of people walking through. I always found this excessive. We lived downtown. Vagrants are going to be walking down the alley behind our houses. They didn’t have cars. Good to be cautious but not freak out. It was when the leader of these e-mails sent out a warning to watch for 2 men described  onlyas “young and black” that I reacted. I wrote back saying this was not enough information, and to please not call the police if they saw a young black man in the area because it might be my son-in-law. This was followed by numerous apologies.

I also cannot help but to remember and honor the memory of Amadou Diallo, the young, West African immigrant who was shot 43 times in the vestibule of his own apartment in downtown New York City, by 4 police officers. He was not displaying any sort of suspicious behavior at all, but was standing there. At the time, the NYC Street Crimes Unit was in effect. This was a police unit allowed to stop & frisk anyone at any time, in certain “high risk” neighborhoods, to look for guns and drugs. You did not have to be doing anything suspicious. You just lived in the wrong place. Amadou died reaching for his wallet, to show the police officers his ID. It became national news. The police officers were acquitted.

Henry Gates was in his own home. If his neighbor had seen a white man in a suit trying to pry the door open, with his black driver standing near, might she have asked him, “Is something wrong, Mr. Gates?” Would she have had a speaking relationship with him, known who he was? Would the police officers have acted with the same suspicion? Would the white professor have been taken downtown in handcuffs? Something tells me, probably not. I think the story would have ended differently.

But this was Henry Louis Gates Jr. And he lost it. Of course he could have just shown his ID (which he finally did) to the officer standing in his living room. He could have thanked the officer for coming and shown the proper deference expected, rather than demand the officer’s name and badge number (which he refused to give Dr. Gates). He could have called the neighbor lady and made friends with her, calling on a higher power to possibly give him the strength to meet her gaze and “love her for the sake of God” alone. The officers could have realized the mistake and shown some deference to Dr. Gates for accusing him of breaking and entering into his own home. They could have done their best to smooth over an awkward situation. But he didn’t. And they didn’t.

And now the whole nation will watch this scenario play out to the bitter end, in all its ferocity. No one will be looking for spiritual principles involved. No one will be attempting true understanding. No one will ever let their guard down to admit their part in the horrible situation. Each side will stand their ground and determinedly fight to WIN their case. And that is life in today’s America. 

“”Strive earnestly,” He again exhorts both races, “and put forth your greatest endeavor toward the accomplishment of this fellowship and the cementing of this bond of brotherhood between you. Such an attainment is not possible without will and effort on the part of each; from one, expressions of gratitude and appreciation; from the other, kindliness and recognition of equality. Each one should endeavor to develop and assist the other toward mutual advancement…. Love and unity will be fostered between you, thereby bringing about the oneness of mankind. For the accomplishment of unity between the colored and white will be an assurance of the world’s peace.””

 (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 37)

 ”The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behoveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.’”

 (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 36)

 ”So they (members) must confer and consult in such a way that neither disagreement nor abhorrence may occur. When meeting for consultation, each must use perfect liberty in stating his views and unveiling the proof of his demonstration. If another contradicts him, he must not become excited because if there be no investigation or verification of questions and matters, the agreeable view will not be discovered neither understood. The brilliant light which comes from the collision of thoughts is the “lightener” of facts.”

 (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 406)