{mom.me} 6 Things I Learned About Motherhood From Clair Huxtable

MMM Showcase Friday, September 19, 2014

Are you sitting down? Because what I’m about to share is startling, and I’m only looking out for you here. Ready? All right. Here it is: This week, September 20, marks the 30th anniversary of “The Cosby Show.” This means the groundbreaking show debuted three decades ago, folks. It also means that we’re bloody old.


(Photo credit: Mom.me)

Like so many “Cosby Show” fans, I have a thousand favorite moments. Certain scenes left an indelible mark on that part of the brain where all things pop culture collect and take root. The whole Huxtable fam ja-ja-jaammin’ on the ones in the studio with Stevie Wonder(!). The Gordon Gartrell shirt. The excellent Elvin Tibideaux Takedown about his chauvinist ideas, masterfully delivered by head mama in charge Clair Huxtable: “And if you don’t get it together, and drop these macho attitudes, you are never gonna have anybody bringing you anything anywhere any place any time ever.” Man! It was classic wig snatching, and it was glorious.

RELATED: 9 Questions Moms Across the Land Are Tired of Answering

In fact, many of my top scenes involve Clair Huxtable. She was soft and solid, serious and silly, compassionate and commanding, confident and charming, and so damn fly in her jumbo earrings and shoulder pads. Clair Huxtable was the ultimate example of what having it all looked like way before it even became A Thing (granted, one that we soon realized was unattainable.)

So in honor of “The Cosby Show’s 30th anniversary, here are the 6 lessons I’ve picked up from Clair Huxtable on motherhood.

1. Mom Gets in the Picture

GIF via Tumblr

Whether it’s being part of a lip-syncing, choreographed dance routine to “Night Time Is the Right Time” to celebrate her in-laws’ wedding anniversary or snatching a hoagie from right under Cliff’s nose, Clair made sure she was in on the fun, experiencing things as a joyful participant instead of a smiling observer standing just outside the frame. It’s more fun inside the circle. And I’ve long made a strong effort to get — and stay — in the picture.

Read the full post on mom.me.

{mom.me} 9 Questions Moms Across the Land Are Tired of Answering

Life As Mom, MMM Showcase Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I get it. I do. There’s just something about babies that brings out the Barbara Walters in a lot people. These sweet, new, tiny human beings make folks feel like they can ask the mothers basically anything and, moreover, they expect us to be naturally ready with answers to all their queries — from the innocent to the downright intrusive.

The first few times we — if I may employ the Royal “We” here — are pretty OK with answering a couple of these questions. We’re even OK with responding to the same one a few times over. But there comes a moment where the line in the sand gets drawn and we’re done.

Lucille Ball

(image from GETTY IMAGES via Mom.me)

Maybe it’s the confluence of sleep deprivation and the ice-cold realization that our old life is at the bar laughing about us, and it all comes to a head. You’ve been asked that question too many times and it’s only causing the stress in the pit of your stomach to mount up at the back of your throat, leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. And if you had your druthers, you would look at the next person who rolls up on you toting those dingy queries with steely eyes and say: “Eff off! No, not yet!” It’s what I like to call FONNY™ (pronounced: phony).

Now, because we’re friends, and I want your friends and relations to be aware of the thin ice on which they are walking, here are nine of their questions that need to be voted off the island. Print it out and mail it over to them, with a real stamp and everything, because this is legit business.

Read the full post on Mom.me.

Q&A: ‘Princess Cupcake Jones’ author on bringing diversity to children’s books

Parental Intel Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We’re big readers in this house. One thing I’ve written about a lot when it comes to children’s books is the need for and importance of more diversity. And more diversity now.

Earlier this year someone reached out to MMM to see if I would be interested in checking out a new book by Ylleya Fields called Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu. It sounded it cute (it is) and I really liked that the lead character of the story just so happened to be a little brown girl.

The Youngster totally enjoyed it, and often requested it as one of his three bedtime books. And so I’m pleased to have had a chance to chat with Fields about her work, her family, and where the two intersect.


Photo by KSB Promotions

Photo by KSB Promotions

Q:  How did you become a children’s book author? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Ylleya Fields: I actually became a writer due to what I saw as a lack of children’s picture books that featured an ethnic main character that my own children could relate to. I won’t say it happened overnight, but it wasn’t something I thought about until then.

Q: I know that Princess Cupcake is based on your children, but how did you come up with this story — that rhymes! — about the missing tutu? 

YF: The stories are based on things that my daughter’s have either done or loved! My oldest probably wore a tutu everyday of her early life. While my middle daughter absolutely hates to clean up! So that was a nice combination of both personalities (which I do a lot in this series). As for the rhyming, that was just the type of picture book that my children and I gravitate towards. So I decided that was the type that I wanted to write as well.

Q: Of course, one of the things that I thrilled me most about your book is seeing not just brown faces, but also that this family of color is royalty. How important is it for you to have that diversity and representation in children’s stories? 

YF: Extremely important, as it’s the whole reason I set out to create this series in the first place. I read somewhere that children of color seeing themselves in books is as important as children seeing a black president or a black doctor … it really drives home the point that you can be anything that you want to be.


Photo by KSB Promotions

Photo by KSB Promotions

Q: On the topic of this clear need for more children’s books starring kids of color, representing real life — not just talking bears and cars and pigeons — was it a challenge for you to try to tell Princess Cupcake Jones’ story? Did you experience a lot of pushback from publishers? 

YF: I didn’t I send [the book] to many publishers for a few reasons: 1) I don’t deal with rejection well. 2) I wanted complete control of this project, which you can’t really have when you just sell a story. But yes, from the few people I have sent it to, you basically hear the same things, which is that it’s a great concept, but there really isn’t a market for it, which absolutely isn’t the case.

Q: What can we mothers of color and mothers of mixed heritage families do to have our voices heard on this important subject of inclusion? 

YF: Wow, that’s a deep question. But I think the best answer would be to let our children know that they truly matter. No matter what they look like, or where they come from, or what social economic status they’re in.

Princess Cupcake Jones | Ms. Mary Mack

Q: What’s been the best part about seeing your story in hardcover, there for others to experience?

YF: The best part is exactly what you said: seeing it! Also, having my children show it to their peers and really be proud of it. There is no greater feeling that accomplishing a dream or goal and having others share in it.

Q: Do you have a lot of input on the illustrations, as in how the characters are depicted?

YF: Oh, absolutely! My illustrator is a genius because he brings what I want to life. But every page of every illustration is usually first ran by my fiancée (or, as I like to call him, my creative consultant) and me, and then we in turn tell Mike (the illustrator) what we want to see happen.

Q: What’s the process like for you, from the idea to the finished product in bookstores? How long does it take? And what’s the most challenging part of that process?

YF: Oh, boy! That depends on a lot of factors. The writing of the story itself has so many variables (for ex.,  if I’m in a writing mood, if I have the topic). But usually I pick a topic, write the story, have the story edited, rewrite, edit again, rewrite, send to the illustrator, come up with a concept for the cover, wait for the illustrator to send that back, fit the story into a 32-page format, go over what I want to see illustration-wise, wait for the pencils of the illustrations, tweak them, wait on the color illustrations to come back, edit one more time for punctuation, and viola! The book is done … But that is it in the most simplest of forms. That process can take a year or two to get done.

Q: If there’s a message you’d like parents and kids reading your books to have when the walk away from it, what would it be?

YF: Each book has its own message. The [first one] obviously is about cleaning up but others will have their own theme. As long as parents and children take something meaningful from each book, I’m happy.

Q: What’s the next book about? And when can we expect more adventures with Princess Cupcake Jones?

YF: The next book is Princess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go To School. It actually was just released, and it’s about dealing with the fear of the first day of school.


Guess what time it is? Oh, yes. It’s Giveaway Time! One lucky MMM reader (US only — sorry) will win a copy of Princess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go To School. All you have to do is leave a comment about one of your favorite children’s books. Good luck! Winner will be announced next week.


Who’s in Charge of Serving More Days Like This?

Life As Mom Monday, September 8, 2014

He could barely contain his excitement, and started talking to me from the top step of the school bus. It’s The Youngster’s third day riding the school bus like this. And by this I mean happy. He wanted to tell me about his new school library book about sharks and that it was “nonfiction book with real photographs.” As we walked home from the corner bus stop, he was smiling. So was I.

“Today was the best,” he said, a grin stretched across his sweet face. “Mondays are the best days.”

Uh, I was thisclose to busting out one of these right there on my neighbor’s lawn:

Then toss in a bit of this:

And strong finish with this:

All of the posing and dancing is because of last week. As you may have read, last week was the opposite of happy, for everyone in our little family. Our little guy went from enjoying the short bus ride to his new school to absolutely dreading it, and was having a tough time with the transition from Pre-K to Real K Life. Thankfully, his principal and her staff are fantastic. Together we came up with a plan to help the young’un smooth out the edges around all this. The new strategy involves stickers and a chart posted on a wall in his room.

The new system is working.  The change in attitude and stress levels was instant, and we’re all proud of how well he’s doing now — especially him. You can just tell. I mean, the kid is practically skipping down the street after school. And he’s always bringing home some fun little observations about the day.

More of this, please! We are open and we are ready for more of this. We’re even willing to spearhead the new and revolutionary movement: Mondays Are the Best Days. Who’s with me? …

Anyone? …


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