Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade Pizza

This is the video that goes along with this post about the kids and I making homemade pizza!

Thank you for watching! Get in the kitchen with your little ones and/or send us ideas!

Puppy Chow and Homemade Popcorn

I love cooking with kids, when its easy of course, but most importantly I like it to be fun!
This is one of my culinary adventure with Leilani and, my nephew, Damien.
We were going to have a movie night so we decided to make some QUICK and EASY treats to snack on.

We made some Chex® Puppy Chow and homemade popcorn.


Aren't the the cutest together ?

Thanks for watching.

September 30th Update

Today has been such a great positive day!
The weather was great! Leilani and I started making her Halloween costume, and I made a few new friends here in the city.
I wanted to let you all know about my day and the things that are coming towards the site.


WOW look at that face lol
I'll get more graceful as I do more videos or maybe not. :)



Thank you for watching!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Eating healthy



Jessica's Healthy Peach Cobbler Recipe

 Eating healthy in today’s world can be difficult, tiring, and seem almost impossible. When it’s easier to eat frozen and processed foods than it is to cut up vegetables for a salad, we tend to forget (conveniently) the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.  I know, I know. There are many benefits to eating fast foods. It’s fast; it’s easy; it’s cheap; it’s CONVENIENT.  Whether you are running around with kids, in school, or working, you don’t have a lot of time to spend preparing meals when you can barely keep your eyes open as it is. But what would you say if I told you that healthy eating could be as simple as making a single change a day, or even a single change a week, until you develop a whole new way of eating—a whole new way of living.


Eating healthy is not only important for your own health and well-being. Your family is also greatly influenced by the lifestyle that you have. Once you realize the impact your actions—eating, and everything else—have on your family and yourself, you can realize that a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things you will ever do for yourself or anyone else. 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to check the list of ingredients for whatever you are looking to buy. Many people check the Nutrition Facts label and think they are doing what they are supposed to do but that is very wrong. Something can look pretty perfect on the Nutrition Facts but may contain many unwanted, harmful chemicals. For more information about healthy eating or if you have questions about anything in this article, you can e-mail me at JessicaCampbellNutrition@live.com



Jessica Campbell is a writer,certified Nutritional Coach, self proclaimed fashionista and lover of the finer things in life, living in Nashville, TN. I follow Jessica on Twitter and was excited when she agreed to give us some insight on how to start eating healthy.
Jessica can be found on Twitter @jeskahoney or on her blog at Glitter and Gravel, you can find healthy eating tips, creativity and witty post on both.
I have good news! Jessica is going to be contributing another post about making simple changes to get started on eating healthy. So be sure to come back and get her tips!


If you would like to contribute to the site or know someone that would send us an e-mail.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Month Veggie Anniversary Video

This is my FIRST Youtube video, please excuse the poor lighting and nasally voice.
Check out the fresh line up though! Lol.

Here are the links to Meatless Monday and PETA


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Religion... in the park?

Today while I was at the park with Leilani I saw that a women had approached Leilani and was talking to her. Before I could get up, from my bench, and see what was going on the same women was walking towards me.
She approached me with a smile and asked me if it was alright for her,  Leilani, to get her face painted. I looked at her and wondered what she wanted with my daughter and then I read her shirt logo that read: Something, Something Christian Something. I was still looking at her when, she sat down next to me on the bench and explained that she was part of a Christian group doing "ministries" in the park. I kept looking at her to encourage her to elaborate on what she had to say. She went on to say that Leilani could get her face painted after she listened to some bible verses, was taught some Christian principles and did some arts and crafts under the tent.
I smiled back at her and kindly replied "No thank you."
This women looked at me like I just slapped and spit on her. Her demeanor completely changed and she said, "So, just to clarify you are saying you do not want her to go?"
"Yes, that's what I said. Thank you."
She gave me one last look, got up and walked away.

First let me say that I respect every and any religion. I have my own views when it comes to religion and I am comfortable with them. That's not to say that I'm not open to hear any other views but I do not wish to have "you" speak AT me.
Now when it comes to my daughter I would rather introduce religion to her myself and then take her to different religious events for her to learn and draw her own conclusions. I do not agree with ANY religious organization "targeting" any child and enticing them with face paintings, or crafts or "stories" before consulting with the parent. The only reason the women came and spoke to me was because Leilani told her that she could not answer her and that she had to speak to me to see if she could get her face painted.
After I kindly declined her face paintings and bible verses she had another child go ask Leilani if she wanted her face painted...!
UM excuse the hell out of you! Didn't I just say no thank you?

Do you think I'm over reacting and that I should have let her get her face painted after Christian lessons and Christian arts and crafts?
Do you think that is okay or not okay to use a park as a way to spread religious views on children?
Please let me know what you all think.

Source

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Club Fair


On Thursday, after calling a character from the required reading a "boy toy" in the middle of the class discussion, I went to my first ever college club fair.

I really want to take full advantage of the position I'm in right now. In high school I didn't get involved at all, I didn't even attend my prom and I only went to one homecoming dance which a hated the whole time I was there.
High school was different for me. 
I was a new mom and "wife" and didn't have time for "high school shit" I had real world problems and situations to tend to.But now this is college, in one of the greatest cities in the world in one of the best colleges in the country, it's real life and it's right now.
The relationships and connections I make now are going to impact the rest of my life.
This is why I went to the club fair and signed my name on every sign-up sheet that looked remotely interesting. I signed up for tae kwon do, women in business, American Cancer Society, the newspaper, transfer club, student government, internship program, Eco club, a "fitness" club and just about anything else you can imagine. I am going to get involved! I need to and more importantly I want to!

Even though New York City is a populous city you can feel very isolated, which I have felt at times. I want to meet new people, make connections, make friends and joining clubs is the best way to do so. Another great thing is Baruch has designated club hours, this means no classes are during club hours. I am at full liberty to get involved and that's exactly what I plan on doing.

" I Don't Care"

I often times find myself committing parenting errors and this morning I committed a grave one.
I recently found out that Leilani's school doesn't REQUIRE uniforms they just strongly encourage them... Surprise surprise! What that means is that I spent money I really didn't have on uniforms instead of spending that money on things she is REQUIRED to have like oh I don't know, school supplies.
I digress.
This is a blessing in many ways. This way the "regular" clothing I bought her will not have to endure the abuses of everyday activities and since the school only "encourages" the uniforms she has a choice about what she wants to wear.
This morning while I was slowly getting her ready she told me that she wanted to wear her regular clothes because a friend of hers doesn't wear uniforms. My ridiculous parenting fail statement of the day:
" I don't care what she does! You're going to wear your uniform and maybe tomorrow you can wear your normal clothes." 

Why was this my parenting fail of the day? Because of the way I answered her. She was simply expressing to me why she didn't want to wear her uniform today and instead of listening to her I brushed her off, was rude and didn't explain anything to her.
While the statement I said was true the way in which I said it was incorrect.
I think it's important to analyze your patenting self. We all make mistakes and acknowledging them and learning from them is how we become better parents.
How should I have dealt with her statement? By stopping and addressing her opinion head on.
I should have stopped and told her that I understand what she is saying however, she has to wear her uniform and since tomorrow is Friday she can wear her regular clothing then. I should have further went on to say that although her friend does not wear the uniform everyday that doesn't mean that she doesn't have to. Then I would have explained individualism and how and why is is important.
Don't tell your kids you don't care. What kind of message is that sending to them about the type of relationship you have and how much you value it?
The way you say things to people and furthermore your children has an impact larger than you can imagine.
We are all human and we are always learning so mistakes will be made along the way however, it is the way we handle them that makes all the difference.

Thank you for reading and let your mistakes and your children make you into a better person.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zumba Classes and much more


Start your week off right and get some information about getting and staying fit!
Remember Maria and her previous post on Zumba, the post was about her finding fitness and how it has forever changed her life. Well, she's back and she has more in depth information to share with us! Information about the various classes, how to stay fit at home and a has even left us contact information if we want more advice and tips!

My classes range in age shapes & sizes, which is beautiful.  I think this is what I love most about Zumba® is that even the instructors are different and of all shapes & sizes, women can all relate more to one another.  If you have not tried a Zumba® Fitness class yet, I suggest you visit www.zumba.com and find a class near you.  I also suggest that you try all the classes available in your area till you find the one you click the most with.  Not all classes are the same so it’s up to you the participant to decide and you may like them all, even better because now you have a variety of classes to attend.

As a teen mom I can’t even imagine how hectic your schedule is.  I’m sure there’s plenty on your plate but if you can find a way to fit exercise into your daily schedule you will have the energy you need to deal with a rigorous schedule.  Not to mention the example you are setting for your child, with child obesity on the rise in America it’s important that we maintain active but also make sure our children stay active.  The beauty about Zumba® Fitness is that they now offer programs such as ZumbAtomic which is Zumba® Fitness for kids and many places offer classes where mother and child can participate together, again you can find these classes by visiting www.zumba.com.

If getting out of the house is just not possible at this time, look into home fitness.  There is FitTv available through most cable providers.  You can look into the Zumba® Fitness home workout videos or the video game which you can play along with your child and have fun.  There are home workout videos such as the ones offered by a company called Beachbody.  I have been an Independent Distributor with Beachbody for two years; you have probably seen their infomercials on P90X, INSANITY or Turbo Fire.  Beachbody offers some great fun alternatives and what I love about these programs is that they come complete with a calendar to keep you motivated, measuring tape, elastic resistance bands, a complete cook book you can use as a guide with suggestions on how to grocery shop.  Beachbody offers fun home fitness programs such as Turbo Jam, Shaun T’s Hip Hop Abs as well as Shaun T’s Fit Kids program. 

I would love to hear from you and if you have any questions about any of the programs that I have mentioned, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I believe that fitness can and should be fun! And I am grateful that Zumba® has led me to all those fun programs.  

Click to contact Maria --> http://about.me/mariacmelendez

Remember
If you would like to contribute to the site or know someone that would, send us an e-mail.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Check

As you all know Leilani has started kindergarten this year. Although we are only 7 days into the school year I have already experienced her horrible reaction to the school lunch food. Even though I packed her a lunch she opted for the school lunch and later on had a horrible tummy ache and puked in the middle of the pharmacy while I was buying Gatorade for her. Then today as I was dropping her off I realized another fear, LICE!

We all remember the lice checks that we had to go through in grade school. The lining up at the door, walking down to the nurses office all the while talking about whomever you suspected had lice with your friends. The conversation usually ended in vowing to no longer be that persons friend, if they had lice, because they're "nasty". Once you got to the nurses office you'd file in, one at a time, get your head checked and once you were cleared you'd join your classmates in the celebratory line. Then while you were in that line you would watch the door to see who didn't come back and then you'd know those are the
ones.
Its all very nerve wrecking. The lice check had the potential to ruin your reputation, the power to end friendships and the power to isolate you from your peers until you got treated. Now I know I sound dramatic but this is grade school were talking about everything was dramatic!

All of these memories came flooding back to me because I saw a little girl this morning with hair, that's it just hair lol, and she reminded me of lice. Now I'm not saying that she looked like she had lice I didn't even get a look at her and besides people can't really look like they have lice, right? Lol
After looking at this little girl and her pig tails I looked down at Leilani and her long tresses and thought: oh shit!
Personally I've been both, the child in the celebrating line of those that successfully passed the test and one of those that sat in the nurses office and waited for their mother to come pick them up because they "failed".

My hair at that time was long, I mean really long, past my butt and thick. I remember the daily checks and the numerous kits my mother had to buy in hopes to get the pesky invaders out of my head, so I could be sent back to school once and for all.
After numerous kits, home remedies, head checks and loads of laundry being washed in boiling hot water. The day came when the problem would be laid to rest once and for all, the day I had hoped for, the day to be LICE free and get back to whatever friends I had left.
My mother, being an immigrant from the Dominican Republic had a different idea on how my relief was going to come. She had tried all the American methods and now it was time to get back to her grass root solution. Her plan included scissors and gasoline.
I don't remember which came first, the memory is kind of like the chicken or the egg, but who gives a dam. Lol. What I remember was returning to school with short hair and being told "No te muevas" and "Quedate quieto" while the gasoline was poured over my head and the smell seeping through the numerous clothes she gave me to hold over my face.

As you can tell the whole debacle has left a lasting memory. My plan for Leilani is to do as much research on preventative methods to reduce her risk of getting lice and doesn't include gasoline.

Thank you for reading!
I am not recommending the use of gasoline to get rid of ice in any way. The passage is purely an account of my childhood experiences with lice. If you child gets lice seek medical advice or advice from your friend and family.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Work Hard, Play Hard


This fitness contribution is from one of my Twitter friends, @Dantresomi, he is a husband, father and Capoeira instructor. I first learned about Capoeira through the video game, Tekken. For those of you that do not know what Tekken is, it is a street fighting game where you choose characters and BATTLE! Lol. I would play Tekken for hours over the summer. Then one day while we were playing I got my virtual butt handed to me by Eddie and his awesome moves, which were all Capoeira. I wanted to get some advice from Peoples about the art of Capoeira and how he maintains in shape with his busy life. The tips he has provided us with are awesome and virtually effortless.


Eddy Gorudo
Work Hard, Play Hard


Raising babies really gets you off track on so many levels. From the time one takes to sip tea while reading a good book to watching a documentary gets shuffled in the everyday hustle of getting your children from place to the other or spending quality time with them. It's called sacrifice and in the end it's worth it. One complaint I get from parents is staying in shape. Let's face it, at the end of the day when we put the babies to sleep we are just too drained to do anything at all but sleep.

As a young blood, I always wished that my dad would play with me whether it was wrestling, playing tag, or catch. That never happened. So when I started having babies, I made sure this was one of the first things I did with them. I started to notice something while doing this. I was usually drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. I was actually getting a nice work out with them. So when I am not training, I maintain my level of stamina, strength, and endurance by playing a number of games.

Jump Rope -- Never in a million years did I think this would be loads of fun. They sell them everywhere and yes we go through so many through so much use. I taught all of my babies how to jump rope. Oftentimes I usually jump rope with one child and when we have the time we run out and do it old school. Now I just need someone to teach us the songs. You can do it inside if you want with one child jumping in front of you. We usually play a game where we see who can jump the most. It's hours of fun and great competition between the wife and me.

Tag/kick the can -- I love this so much. When we go to the playground, everyone else joins in. These games can last for hours and trust me, you will be running miles without evening knowing it. I add a little free running/parkour at the jungle gym/monkey bars for the upper body. Sometimes I go to recess at the children's school and play kick the can. It gets a little chaotic and I tend to run faster but it's still fun.

Playing catch/Dodgeball -- I know folks cringe at the second part but again, fun is what it's all about. The children love every moment of it. It's also a great way to work out.

Wrestling/grappling -- Here is a great way for me to pass on martial arts training while keeping it fun. For those who don't have a carpet (like we do), a bed will do just fine. Sometimes, we go out to the park and play on the grass. I just learned that men who wrestle with their children grow stronger bonds.  Just be a little careful.

Horseback riding/crab walking -- Here it is, my secret to being able to do thousands of push ups and at 38, still able to walk on my hands for days on end. Yes, put in 18 years of horseback riding with 3 or 4 kids on your back and push ups will be no problem. In Capoeira, we do an exercise where we walk on our hands and feet with our stomachs up called "quadro de quatro" and my students call the crab walk. It really works you out. Sometimes, I let the younger children ride on my belly and we race. It's a great workout.

I am sure folks can come up with other games to stay in shape. These are just the ones that we do at home or at the park. The key is to have fun with your children while you are at it so it doesn't seem like you are working out. You will also create memories that last a lifetime and create stronger bonds with your children. Just don't forget to bring water.

 You guys heard the man! Get out there and play with your kids and get in shape at the same time! We loved these tips and hope to get some more contributions from Peoples,@DanTresOmi, in the future. Maybe even a video of him doing Capoeira...? 


If you would like to contribute to the site or know someone that would send us an e-mail.

Zumba

I met Maria through the wondorous world of Twitter. She is high energy, humorous and her fitness certifications are long enough to fill a page. I approached her about writing an article on fitness for us to learn about some different workout techniques. We all want to get healthier and fit into that bathing suit or hot pair of jeans but the thought of doing endless crunches, lifting weights or running for miles is enough to leave all of us scared and or tired. Then the fact that our lives are already hectic enough the very thought of working out seems almost like a myth.
Maria is a certified Zumba instructor and has had her own journey to becoming physically fit. Here is her story.

Growing up in the 1990’s I will never forget many of my school girlfriends having babies and growing up much faster than I.  Prior to becoming an Elizabeth High School Varsity Cheerleader, I was in Dance school and we’d travel every year to dance competitions throughout New Jersey.  I had a busy active schedule, and while my friends were raising their babies and being grown ups I went on to college and other things and now here we are …

A little about myself, after all the high’s and low’s of LIFE I managed to get an Associate’s Degree in the late 90’s from what is now known as DeVry University in Computer Information Systems.  A woman in the Information Technology field in the start of the millennium was rare but at the time I thought I loved my job.  As I mentioned earlier growing up I had a very active lifestyle, however in my twenties that was pretty much put to the side – I wanted to be FREE and enjoy life, before I knew it I was in my thirties and without having any children found myself unhappy with my sudden increase in weight.  What was happening to me?  Where did this weight come from? We all know that with age come many changes and boy do we ladies experience some changes – to my teen readers, I don’t want to bore you but just know that what you do for yourself today will pay off for better healthy tomorrow’s!

To make a long story short I spent my thirties trying every diet known to man, going to the gym and growing increasingly bored and aggravated with the mini step instructor yelling at the top of her lungs like the cheerleader I once was. It was no FUN, but I knew I had to do something.  So here’s my story and how I found the LOVE of FITNESS. In early 2008 I went to the gym because I received a newsletter from my local YMCA that they will be offering Zumba® – the Latin inspired “dance” Party – with the huge slogan “Ditch the workout, Join the Party!” I thought to myself, “hmm… I hate workouts and I love parties, let’s see what this is all about”.  I remember that day so clearly because since it was a NEW class and the attendance in numbers wasn’t sufficient to hold class in their larger group exercise rooms, the girl at the front desk directed me upstairs to their employee “coffee” room.  I recall hearing the music at the top of the stairs, being Latina; of course I am drawn to the Salsa rhythms playing in the distance as I make my way up the stairs to this so called “Latin FITNESS Party”

This is where my passion began. I was in every single class after that day.  It brought me back to my years of dance each and every song was exhilarating and moving.  I didn’t even care if anybody else was watching, matter of fact I don’t think anyone else in the class cared either.  I fell in LOVE with Zumba®, soon after my initial class and losing my first 18 lbs I looked into instructor training fast forward to today, three years later I offer my own classes in my community.  Zumba® has opened my eyes to so many other fun fitness programs that I would have probably never known about today.

As you can see Maria is a determined women. I'm glad to say that she will have more information and advice for us in the near future.

 
If you would like to contribute to the site or know someone that would send us an e-mail.

Meet Jordyn

Silly Isabel and Jordyn
I met Jordyn through Maile another teen mom whom has also done an interview with us. Jorydn is a strong girl and meets all life throws at her with dignity and resilience. Jordyn has her own car and apartment which she pays for all on her own. This girl is no stranger to hard work.



Finally we have found a time slot that works for the both of us! Could you give us some basic background information?
My name is Jordyn Lewis I am 21 years old. I found out I was pregnant when I was two weeks and 17. I have one daughter and her name is Isabel she’s 3.5 years old.

What was your initial reaction?
[Laughing] I was still holding the test in my hand I had a dumb moment, I didn't know what the plus meant.  I grabbed the directions and read that the plus meant I was pregnant. I stood there and looked at the test in one hand and directions in the other and went back and forth. In order to confirm what was already confirmed I tried another and again I went through the motions of disbelief. This was all at five o clock in the morning. Then after the results I called her dad.

That's too funny! Was he as dumbfounded as you were?
His first reaction was, "I'm going to quit the high school band, get a job and save up money. Don't worry we'll take care of this." However, he never quit the band and there was no job just "attempts", mean while I was working two jobs. I got my first job at four months pregnant and the second one the following month and he had the nerve to tell me there were no jobs for him. I remember struggling to change my pants with my huge belly in the driver’s seat of my car in between my two jobs. [Laughing]

My goodness you are a hustler.
How do you think the relationship between you two changed after she was born?
He was around until she was six months old and, semi-supportive but he didn't want to grow up. Then during the next six months there was a lot of back a forth. We’re in the ninth month of 2011 and he has only seen her three times.
Being that you went through so much during your pregnancy and the early stages of her life do you think that teen moms at an age disadvantage?
No. I think it’s more of struggle because we are alone; it’s harder to be accepted by older moms and society. We are isolated from the rest of the parenting world. When a 30 year old has a child they know just as much as we [teens] do. You don't know what it is like to be pregnant or a parent until you do it. You can educate yourself but nothing compares to going through it, at any age. I went to classes at Toys R Us, read books and magazines if you research it pays off at any age.
So is there an advantage?
I think so, I feel that older parents are more reserved and timid when it comes to letting their children explore, which limits the child in a way. Being younger enables you to keep up with them and their non-stop energy. You can identify with them closer because you still have your child in you which, I feel the relationship can be stronger because of this. I’m not saying that getting pregnant younger is essential to be able to understand your child or advocating to get pregnant as a teen at all. However, I see my position as an advantage and not at all a disadvantage.


Did the relationships you had with  family change? 
It changed a lot.
At first my family did respect me as a mom and my motherhood was not validated. My step dad disowned me and my unborn child and refused that I enter a certain part of the house because of my pregnancy. It got so bad that my mother and I actually moved out because of this.
On the other hand my father finally started coming back into my life after years of him not being there. He would call me and check in on us and he still does.
Now that my mother has passed my daughter has bought the relationship with my grandparents a lot closer.
For Isabel’s First and Second birthday my family was all together in the same room. Now this is a big deal because there were so many people that hated each other in the same room and you couldn't tell because of the love they all shared for her. Her existence alone is so strong that she turned a lot of years of hate to love.

Aside from the social stigma, what is the biggest challenge teen moms face.
Definitely the lack of being taken seriously and feeling that you have to live a double life. If you show your age for even a second and act goofy or complain, people automatically act like you are unfit and too immature to be a mom. It’s not fair just because I’ll act goofy for a moment doesn’t change that fact that I drive home in the car that I pay for, to a house I pay for and the bills and food I’m are providing. Adults make mistakes too.
people who look at you a certain way because you have help from the government and say you are wasting it. Is that your sister? I was hoping it was, why were you hoping anything about me and my child.

Do you have any advice to teens thinking about having sex?
Think about all the normal day to day things you do and how much time you have for yourself. Then realize that the few minutes you don't take out to protect yourself or schedule a doctor’s appointment to get on birth control will lead to all that lovely, unlimited free time being GONE. Also, talk to your parents and make sure is worth it and not someone trying to take advantage of.

Even though teens often hear advice why do you think so many of them still think, “It won’t happen to me”?
I look at it like drinking and driving. Let’s say someone is drinking and after a few drinks they still feel like they are okay and capable of driving. Then they get in their car, drive home and make it home with no problems. Then a few times later they feel confident they’ll make it home safe again because they’ve done it before and have gotten used to it. However, this time they don’t make it home and take someone else’s life in the process. If you have sex once, or a few times, without protection you get used to it and think “Oh, I’ll be fine. I’ve been doing it this whole time and haven’t gotten pregnant.” Just like the drunk driver you’ve gotten confident until that one day you miss your period and realize you’re pregnant. It only takes one instant.
That’s a very good metaphor! I’ve never thought of it like that but it makes perfect sense. What does the future hold for you and Isabel?
I want to get us into an apartment where we both have our own rooms. She'll be in a good school and we can make mutual friendships with the parents who respect me and my child, I still feel uncomfortable being around “adult” parents and being taken serious or feeling as confident as I should.
I want to have and provide a consistent, stable male figure in her life, to be financially stable and for us to have a closer relationship with and between the two of us and God.

Any words of advice you’d like to share with other teen moms
When the times that you want to go out, party, have your “me” time and you can't get it or you feel that there are things you are missing out on, remember and visualize your child. Just think about your child growing and expressing themselves nothing can surpass that feeling. It’s also something you can't get back and even though it really sucks at the time just think about how much the moments and your child means to you.

Thank you very much for the interview and best of luck to you and Isabel. We're confident you two will be just fine!

If you would like to contribute to the site or know someone that would send us an e-mail.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So much Hate for teen moms?

As you may have read already and unfortunately know as teen mothers we experience a lot of side eyes, horrible looks and down right blatant disrespect by random strangers and often times even our own "friends" and "family".
I've been stared at, "spoken" to and lectured. I was fed up one day and decided to find answers as to why strangers and especially other mothers treat teen moms like second class or with such disrespect.
On Twitter I follow a mother by the name Rene. Rene is the creator of Good Enough Mother(G.E.M) a website dedicated to mothers and their perfectly imperfect parenting techniques. On her site she has a section entitled "ask Rene" so I did. I asked her why there is so much hate for teen moms and sent in this letter:

Dear Rene,
I am 21-years-old and have a five-year-old daughter. Whenever we go out I get people looking at me as if I have personally offended them by being a teen mom; some have even had the nerve to lecture me!  They say I selfishly placed a burden on society and my DAUGHTER. I don’t get that at all.
I was with ONE person, got pregnant and maintained a six-year relationship with the father of my child before I decided that the relationship was no longer healthy for the three of us. I stayed in high school and was a full-time employee, mother, fiancĂ©, step-mom, housekeeper, student and daughter; I even graduated with HONORS. I went on and earned my Associates degree and now I’m pursing my Bachelors.
I am not trying to sound like I’m the poster child for teen moms or make it sound easy, because as we all know being a mother at ANY age is difficult to say the least. However, why don’t “adult” mothers got the same RUDE treatment that I receive for no reason and why are “adult” mothers often the ones that dish it out the most?  Shouldn’t a mother get the same respect REGARDLESS of age?
In the end we are all trying to do the same thing;  raise healthy, happy, successful children.  So why all the hate toward teen moms?
Please help because I am at a loss.
Teen Mom NYC
  
 A few days later Rene responded to my questiong, posted it on her site and opened the floor for her readers to weigh in as well. To read the reply and the comments click -->here
Be sure to check out the site in its entirety is has really great info and stories!

Thank you for reading!

Meet Devyni

Devyni and I attended the same high school and I can honestly say that Devyni is the girl that always looked effortlessly awesome, even during the treacherous exam weeks. Thankfully she is even more beautiful on the inside, daughter Zariah is a wonderful example of this.

Thank you for agreeing and finding the time to do an interview with you busy schedule and all.
Can you give us a little bit of background information?

My name is Devyni I'm am 21 years old. I'm currently in my senior year of college at Florida State University pursuing a degree in Retail Merchandising and Product Development. I was nineteen years old and in my sophomore year of college when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Zariah, who is now fifteen months old. Although her father and I are no longer together we maintain and good relationship, especially when it comes to our daughter.

Wow! So you were just settling in to college life when you got this life changing news. What was your initial reaction?
I didn't know what I was going to do. I was overwhelmed and remember thinking I can't possibly do all of this. Along the way I had an epiphany that I HAD to do it. For her and for me, I was determined to stick to my initial plans. My pregnancy was a big motivation, I achieved the highest grades I ever had in my entire life.

How did your friends and family take the news?
I called my roommate right after the pregnancy test read positive and all I could do was cry. As for the rest of my classmates I kept my pregnancy a secret until I was about five months old and a girl blurted it out in the middle of a large group of people. She touched my stomach and blurted: "Wow, Devyni your stomach is so hard are you PREGNANT?!", everyone heard her. I swallowed all my angry and embarrassment and graciously answered "Yes" to her and the rest of the people in the large group that were all now looking at me. I was so upset.
Everyone was in like what? We had no idea! They told me that I kept it such a good secret by still dressing and looking good everyday [laughing]. But I had to, here I was gaining weight I had to do something for myself to feel better.
My mother was in shock, she couldn't believe it. Then she called my younger siblings, both boys, into the room and made me tell them right then and there. I just remember crying while I told them. After wards the oldest of my two brothers came up to me and told me he still loved me and didn't see my any differently. It was good to hear that.

Why do you think you were so emotional when it came to telling your mom and family the news?
My mother was also a teen mom and I felt like I let her down. I felt like she and the rest of my family would look at me like a brat that took all the hard work to get me where I was for granted. I literally relived what she went through, our stories are too similar.

Was there anytime during your pregnancy or after wards that you had, what I call, the Oh My Goodness moment?
Well during my pregnancy I was talking to my mom and she was telling me how my body would react after delivering the baby, I remember just looking at her in awe and disbelief. [Laughing] I was so clueless. In fact she thought I was joking by my reactions.
Then after I had her, I returned to Tallahassee for my junior year and I had a baby. The day to day schedule of dropping her off at daycare, going to school, work, picking her up and going home was what bought everything full circle for me. This was my new life.

What do you think is one of the factors as to why teens get pregnant?
The lack of addressing sex head on. Teens have sex and are going to, so instead of shying away from it and acting like it doesn't happen talk about and be blunt. Don't just say "Oh, it's hard." Explain, provide details and examples.

What does the future hold for you and Zariah?
I want to move to California because I believe my degree will go farther there. However, I am very apprehensive about the move. It's a big move and doing it with a child makes it even bigger. I am also considering going to graduate school.

Those are both really exciting options!
Do you have anything to say to other teen moms?
“Any girl that is pregnant and doesn’t feel like there is a way out or uncertain about the future. Keep pushing your child is an asset not a burden.”

I completely agree! A child should push you to do your absolute best!
Once again thank you so much for sitting down with Teen Mom NYC.

We are all rooting for you at Teen Mom NYC and look forward to any and all contributions.

If you would like to contribute to the site or know someone that would send us an e-mail.

Why don't you just get a job?!

Jobs! The topic on every one's mind.
President Obama gave a job speech last night where he asked/ told political parties to put aside their political bias and work together to fix the job problem in America.
Many people unfortunately either hate their jobs, can't find a job or they don't posses the necessary skills to obtain one.

My case is different.

Thankfully I filled out my FAFSA early this year and was able to obtain a work study. For those of you whom do not know what a work study is, it is a program put together by the government to help provide students with a job on campus. The student works the job until the money allocated to them is paid out to them through a regular payment schedule.
The job opportunities serve as a number of the beneficial things to the student. A few of them are but not limited to, having another position of employment they can put on a resume, the opportunity to begin working in their desired field of study, a way to make an income and study at the same time and a great networking tool with the student body, faculty and staff.
This sounds great right?!
All I have to do is work and I know the money will be there because it is in an account for me, so to speak.
However the problem I am having like most mothers, whether single or not, is scheduling and lack of help.
Because of time, scheduling and the failure of the NYC department of education to place Leilani in a school more convenient for us I am required to do more traveling which is time and takes time away from any respectable and realistic schedule I could put together for a prospective employer.

I have always been able to provide financially for my daughter and myself whether through working or living off of savings at times, when being employed was yet again almost impossible.
Towards the end of my relationship with her father we ran into hard financial times which resulted in me naively clearing out my savings and paying bills on my credit card in order for us to get by.
Now I am left with no savings and credit card debt a position, I have never been in and don't know how to handle emotionally. My first instinct to get a job but with scheduling problems and the fact that I am new to the city and only have my father as a form of support doesn't create an environment conducive for work.

The title of this post is actually inspired from my one of my favorite lines that Leilani's "father" says to me whenever I ask him if he's going to pay child support this month. He always resorts to saying:

"I actually work! Why don't you just get a job and stop trying to take my money?!"

His statement is so ridiculous that I don't even want to entertain it but my response to him is, me having a job or not having a job shouldn't influence him being financially responsible for Leilani.
I am still trying to find another department that will be able to accommodate and work with my dysfunctional schedule. I am not going to get discouraged on my job search and will continue to actively apply for all and any positions available on campus.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First day, First time

The day has come! The day that I have been planning, stressing and crying about since Leilani has been 3 years old, I'm not even joking, I'm ridiculous like that. Lol.
What day could I possibly make such a big deal out of?
The First Day of SCHOOL of course!
Now Leilani had been super excited and ready for more than a few days for the first day of school. She has even talked about it in her sleep and woke up the day before her first day screaming "I'M SO EXCITED!"

Of course I slept in the same bed as her last night, which was unbelievably uncomfortable on account of she has a twin sized bed and we both sleep like ninjas in a battle. I woke up this morning extra tired, swore and then realized today was the day and I told myself not to cry and make it more of a big deal than need be. After I made her breakfast, cleaned the dishes and helped her get dressed it was time to put on the finishing touch, the BOOK BAG. As I helped her put her book bag her back was turned to me I started to cry but stopped right away because I did not want her to see me cry. Then I began taking numerous photos and giving her "mom looks" and she finally said "Mommy I'm going to be late we have to go."
I held her hand and looked down and her bright smiling face and could not believe I had a 5 year old daughter looking back at me! Time goes by so quick!
Once we go to her class I counted the name tags to see how many students would be in the class with her and was pleasantly surprised at the low number. Then I proceeded to corner her teacher and ask copious questions and then revert back to the only thing I knew how to do, smile at Leilani and take numerous pictures all the while trying not to break down in a flood of emotions.
I left after about twenty pictures and her telling me I could "go now."

As I walked away I cried like clock work. I tried to not be the crazy person walking down the street crying, but I was and soon regained my composer.
The most shocking thing was when I got back home, I didn't cry anymore!
I was all done, but I did think about her and then quickly realized what Leilani had told me the night before, I had a break!
So I took a nap :)
When I picked her up from school she told me she had a good day but almost started crying when I asked her if she listened well. She confessed to me, on the verge of tears, that she did not listen all the way because she had made a new friend and was so excited she could not stop talking.
I told her she didn't need to cry and that she knows what to do next time, to which she replied, listen better.

I told a family friend about her being talkative and she told me, "good luck, shes a talker."
That she is and so was I when I was her age. I can recall being told to be quiet several times and that I was in a classroom not a circus whenever I would be the class clown.
LOL. Aww man this is going to be quite the journey, but I'm excited! I'm also excited and looking forward to my upcoming PTA meetings.
Source
And so begins the school journey.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

First melt down of the year

Since coming back from my vacations, thanks to my lovely family I was able to have multiple this year and summer, I have been going none stop!
I don't even really want to list all the things I was dealing with because it will stress me out all over again but to give you an idea of how much I had on my mind...
School, money, job, getting to school, buying text books, going back to school, child support, finding a school for Leilani since this happened and a lot more.
After getting back into school and atteneding the first day that went well, I finally found a school for Leilani and learned that I had to be at the school at 6:30 AM to stand in line to hope I would be able to enroll her. This led to me missing two classes and my first melt down of the year. Lol

I came back home hungry, tired, hot and emotionally drained! The school informed me that they require uniforms and when I heard this dollar signs starting going off in my head. I already went out and bought Leilani her back to school clothing and spent money, then to hear that was all obsolete and that I had to find money somewhere to get her uniforms... I was done!
My bank account was already like a shallow bath with a huge leak in it and now I really had NO idea how I was going to pay for textbooks, metro cards, food, and UNIFORMS. I immediately realized that unfortunately even though Leilani was really looking forward to her dance classes and DESERVES them there was NO way to pay for all of these things and then some and her ballet classes. I would have to keep her out of dance class this semester and hope that I could get her in sometime else down the line. Now I felt even worse because I couldn't get her what she wanted let alone NEEDED.
I started heating up food to eat and my mind just kept running. How was I going to make all of this happen, why is all of this happening and why am I such a MESS!
One thing about me is that I lack emotions so this next part was very strange for me to experience. Lol
I served Leilani and myself the food and sat down to eat. As I sat there the only thing that was going through my mind was: You're going to cry, you want to cry, go ahead and cry. Of course I didn't want to cry, I was hungry I wanted to eat and crying wouldn't solve anything.
As I rose the fork to eat, my life and everything around me felt heavy. I felt like gravity was literally pulling me down, double time, and I got nauseous just looking at the food. I finally got up and walked to my room, then immediately had feelings about how horrible of a mother I was for leaving Leilani in the kitchen eating by herself.  I threw myself on her bed, laid there still thinking and looking at the ceiling telling myself that I had to make it to my next class and that I had no time for a pity party especially one that involved crying. I didn't listen to myself and before I knew it I was in a little ball crying silently so Leilani wouldn't hear me. It lasted all of about 3 minutes because Leilani walked in so I immediately stopped crying and got up to get her the juice she requested.
If it wasn't for her asking me for juice I would probably still be there crying, horrible face with booggers and all. Lol
I will say that being that it was my first melt down of the year and we are in SEPTEMBER I did pretty dam good job keeping it all together. :)
Since my pity party I have solved some of my problems, once again thanks to my wonderful family. However, new things have efficiently and quickly taken the place of my solved problems. Now I look at my "problems" in a new way: I'm too blessed that's why I have so many options/ problems and I am blessed enough to know that I can and will get US through them.
Remember pity parties are often times warranted but in my opinion keep them quick...lol.
Thank you for reading!

First day at Baruch College

After all my crazy emotions and the official first day of school canceled due to hurricane Irene Tuesday was my first day of school. Do to life I had to take a year off of school so I had a lot of reservation, expectations and just over all a lot going on in my head.
Over all I wish there was more to say but the first day of classes was good. I got to class like 15 minutes late, there was no desk for me to sit in and I had a quick paper to write after reading two different passages and that was it.
I know not too fun or exciting but... lol
I did have homework and when I got home and read the paper I was pretty impressed that my brain STILL WORKED!!! When class met again I was impressed at hoe much I picked up on and how much I missed at the same time. Lol.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Meet Alexandra

Alexandra and Charleigh
I met Alexandra through the natural hair community on Twitter and soon found The Good Hair Blog, her wonderful blog on all things beauty and natural hair. Through some of her tweets I learned that she too is a teen mom; I was very excited to find this out for several different reasons. Alexandra is a go getter. She has her blog which is well established and another one that she recently started Lush In Flats, along with her Etsy shop, a hair product line called Safi (on Twitter @safihaircare), a full time student, employee, daughter and a mother to her 3 year old daughter, Charleigh.

Hi! I'm so excited you agreed to do an interview for the site!
Do you remember how you found out you were pregnant?

I was seventeen when I found out and at that time I was so naive I thought I could keep it a secret. I was actually scheduled to have surgery and they[the doctors] asked for a pregnancy test. Again me being naive, I figured if I gave them the smallest sample possible they would not be able to tell I was pregnant. Of course that didn't work and being that I was going in for surgery my whole family was there, my mother, stepfather, grandfather, everyone and they all heard the news.

Oh my goodness! I Couldn't imagine. How did your mother react and how are your parents now?

She was furious but more so of the way that she found out. Today they are very supportive, we live with them and they help out a lot but it was a process to get here. If you are a teen mother and have the support of family use it.

How about you. What was your initial reaction?

At first I was shocked, of course I never thought that I would be a teen mom even though I didn't use protection when I was sexually active. I also felt like my baby would save me and I was excited for what some people could consider the wrong reasons. In a way she did save me, she is such a sweet easy going baby.

Since she is such an easy going baby, was it an equally easy pregnancy and delivery?

Yes, I didn't have any morning sickness at all. I threw up twice and both times were because I ate far too much. My delivery was also easy, even though she was four days late and they had to induce me, twice! However, when she was born she barely cried and was so chill.

That's good. Was going to high school and being pregnant as easy?

I have actually been in college since the age of 16. High school was a horrible experience for me and I attended classes at a local community college instead. Being that I was on a college campus and pregnant I think people didn't see it as a big deal and people think I'm much older than my age as well.

What is life like today?

Life is good. I just finished working for a wonderful non profit, Advocates for Youth, which educates youth on sexual health, relationships, eating disorders and several other challenges youth and teens face. I am currently enrolled full time in college and have a job on campus as a social media assistant.

That's awesome! 
Did you learn a lot while working at the non profit?

Its funny that I ended up working at the non profit after all the things I went through. I learned that the government is currently stopping funding for sexual health programs and taking away a lot of woman's rights about their very own sexual health decisions. I think these actions would only cause more problems in the future and create even more teen moms. The way to help reduce and stop the amount of teen pregnancies is through open education. Once people acknowledge that teens are having sex and educate them then the rate of teen pregnancies will be reduced. Education and getting inside a teens head is the way.

How will you educate Charleigh to help ensure she does not become a teen mom herself?

I'm going to talk to her all the time about self worth and sex. I want her to feel comfortable with herself and also feel comfortable enough to come and ask or tell me anything. My mother did the same thing with me but times change so it's important to maintain a open conversation.

Where do you see you and Charleigh in the future?

I get nervous when I think about the future because we have so much help from my parents but I see myself in my ideal career in the world of media. Ideally a journalist or something to do with beauty but for sure in the world of media. I want to be able to give Charleigh everything my mother and step father gave me, all the 1 on 1 time, education and luxuries.

Do you have an advice for teen moms? Teens?

Just remember although you have a child, your life is not over and if your family is supportive allow them to help you.
If you are not a teen mom ask questions, ask questions and ask questions. So many people think sex is casual and it can be but be informed and safe!

I'm very glad that Alexandra and I had the opportunity to meet. She is such a down to earth woman and a hard working momma! Alexandra's advice and writings can be found on her blogs The Good Hair Blog and Lush In Flats.

If you would like to contribute to the site or know someone that would send us an e-mail.