My Kid Told a Racist Joke: Advice Needed

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm so upset right now I don't know what to do. Tyler got in the car after school saying he had a joke to tell me.

"An American, a Canadian and a Mexican get on a plane."

As soon as he got the words out I bristled. I knew where he was going and I wasn't happy. I'd not heard the joke before but there's no way a joke that starts out like that is going to be good.

He finished as we pulled into the driveway. I put the car in park and, I'll admit, I lit into him a bit. I kept my voice calm but he could tell I was very angry. I told him jokes like that are not OK, not appropriate and he's never to repeat it.

I asked him to substitute a white person, black person and an Asian in the joke. Was it still funny? Did he still think it was OK to repeat?

I asked him if he'd heard the words racist or racism. He hadn't so I explained their definitions. I talked about Columbus, slavery and immigration. I didn't get too deep into those issues since he's only 8, but the examples I used from TV we've watched were things he could relate to and understand.

I told him what I was most angry about, that a joke like that is making its way around the playground. I told him I was angry at the situation, not at him. He told me which friend he heard the joke from. It's a little boy he had a playdate with a few weeks ago. Tyler said the boy heard the joke from someone else. I believe him. I don't think he's devious enough to make that up on the spot to protect his friend.

My dilemma is, should I call this boys mother and tell her what her son is saying? I know that, for the boys, the joke was funny because someone gets punched in the face, not because of its undertones. As kids they just hear the slapstick. But it's something I would want to know about. How do I even begin a conversation like that?

If someone you only met once called you with this information, how would you take it? I want to be clear that I'm not accusing her son of being a racist, merely passing on the information. I don't want to put any strain on the boys' friendship. But, I hate to think of the (blond haired, light eyed) boy telling the joke again around someone some of the older kids and having one of them call him out. I hope I'd be opening the door for Tyler's friend and his parents to have a conversation about acceptance. What if it backfires?

Would you call the other mom? Has another parent ever called you with something like this? Have you ever made a phone call like this? HELP!

Our Hockey Player: Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Standing Out in A Crowd

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Driving to meet some friends this morning I had a moment that is kind of common (for me anyway) in my suburban part of San Diego. A group of ladies were out for some exercise. I drove past and said to myself, "oh wow, black people!" And what's more, they were faces I haven't seen around town before.

There is one black woman I see quite often in my area between 8-9am. She must walk the same route because I can almost draw an 'X' on the sidewalk where our paths cross. She was not part of the group I saw this morning, which makes it all the more intriguing. Where do they live? How long have they been here that I haven't seen them before? When you're uncommon, it's easy to spot someone else who looks like you.

Since I started going to school I've almost always been the only black face in the class and one of few in the school. It got better in junior high and high school. College was an eye opener. But there are times when being a minority within a minority can be a little lonely.

Make no mistake, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm happy with the decision to move here. It reminds me a lot of where we moved when my family left Chicago. I still love that area and, as a parent, I'm happy I can give Tyler the same type of suburban experience I had growing up. But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't wonder how, if at all, our lives would be different if we lived somewhere else.

I didn't pull over and introduce myself this morning. I would have come off like a lunatic. But, if the women are new to the area, perhaps over time we'll run into each other more and more often and I'll be out walking with them one day, too.

Shoe Shopping: Fashion Haul Friday

Friday, January 21, 2011

I've talked about my shopping trips before but not too often on video. I've resolved to do more vlogging this year. I like to talk and hate to type. I should have started vlogging from the get-go. 

This video is purely self promotional*. I'm so in love with the shoes I bought recently and they were such amazing deals I couldn't help myself. But, I do offer a bit of shopping wisdom too, so maybe it's only 90% self promotion. Happy Friday!

*At least I'm honest, LOL!

2011 Reading List

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm not always good at updating these lists, but for the most part they're pretty complete. I have lists for 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Holly's Inbox and Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City - (Holly Denham) Both of these are true chick lit. They are told entirely through the email exchanges between Holly, her friends and family. Every book set in Britain is compared to Bridget Jones in some way and this series is no exception. But I liked them both and they're totally quick reads.

Bloodroot - (Amy Greene) This was great! I don't know where I get my fascination with books set in the South. The characters are great and the setting is perfect.

I wrote more about Denham and Greene's books here.

Brava, Valentine - (Adriana Trigiani) I've said before how much I love her books and this was no exception. Just as good, if not better, than Very Valentine.

The Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay - (Suzanne Collins) Holy wow, I loved this series! There are very few books I will race out and buy in hardback but I did for the second two books. I read all three within a week. Now I'm getting caught up in all the movie news too. I can't wait until next year when it comes out! The series is marketed young adult but, like Harry Potter, adults are reading it too. So good!

The Kitchen House Another love. It's hard reading books about slavery and the south but it's enlightening as well. This one definitely had parts that were hard to read, but the story wouldn't ring true if those elements were left out. I heard criticism of The Help because it didn't "go there." The Kitchen House definitely does. This was for book club.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - (Rebecca Skloot) I almost don't know what to say other than I loved it. I can't call it a 'story' because it's all fact. Skloot does an excellent job telling the Lacks family history, what happened to Henrietta and how Henrietta's cancer cells have become one of the most important aspects of modern medicine. It's a fascinating read.

While I'm Falling The Rest of Her Life- (Laura Moriarty) The first book I read by Moriarty was The Center of Everything. I love her writing style. Some of her sentences are so beautiful. I finished Falling and went straight to the library for Life. I rarely read an author back to back unless I'm totally captivated. Both these books are really good.

Star Island - (Carl Hiaasen) I really like his books. His agenda is pretty obvious (conservation, protecting wildlife) but it's such a subplot it's not obnoxious. His books are funny and silly. This one is about an actress who is hired as a stand in for a pop star. There's kidnapping and paparazzi. Hiaasen has great one liners. All his books are fast reads.

I love the HBO series True Blood so it seemed obvious I should start reading the books the series is based on. They are just different enough from the series to keep both interesting. In the past two weeks I've read the first three books: Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead and last night I almost finished Dead to the World. So far I love them all. (Charlaine Harris)

Room - (Emma Donoghue) Oh man, I loved this book! I read it in two days. I had only heard good things about the book and skipped reading a synopsis or review. The way it was written, I had no idea what was happening until it was revealed. Once the twist of the book was revealed, it seemed even more brilliant. I don't want to say too much and spoil it. You won't regret this one.

The rest of the Sookie Stackhouse series - I'm currently reading book 10, Dead in the Family, I have A Touch of Dead in the wings and book 11 on hold at the library. These are the literary equivalent of eye candy.

What She Wants - (Kathy Kelly) So far, all the books I've read from Kelly I have liked and this one followed the same path.

Backseat Saints - (Joshilyn Jackson) Oh how I love Jackson! I've read all of her books and each one was fantastic. She's one of the few authors I recommend to everyone.

A Discovery of Witches - (Deborah Harkness) Wow. I picked this up because I remember seeing a great review in Entertainment Weekly. It did not disappoint. It's a big book, but it was an easy read. If you like historical fiction, this is for you.

I wrote a little more about these three books here

I Know This Much is True - (Wally Lamb) ZZZzzzzz. I put this down. I said in my review I might pick it up again to see how some plot lines evolved, but I never did.

Freedom - (Johnathan Franzen) Another dull, boring book. For something that hefty, it was a complete let down.

Lessons in Heartbreak - (Cathy Kelly) I liked this book, but I didn't like the subject matter. Extramarital affairs are a touchy subject. I think Kelly handled it well, but I was angry with the main character for the whole book. Still, it was a good read.

The Secret of Joy - (Melissa Senate) I really liked this. This is the first book of hers I've read. The main character finds out she has a half sister at the same time she starts a new relationship.

Greetings from Somewhere Else - (Monica McInerney) In the same way Cathy Kelly sets her books in Ireland, all of McInerney's books are set in Australia (I hear my friend Tonya's voice when I'm reading them). I liked this book. I've always wanted a sister, so books about the relationship between female siblings interest me. I've read four others of her books and this was just as good.

Bossypants -  (Tina Fey) If I could only use one word to describe this book it would be hysterical. I'm so glad I chose Bossypants as my first audio book. It's read by Fey herself and she does an excellent job. Had I chosen the print version, this would be the book that would have had me spitting coffee out of my nose in Starbucks. I hope she writes more.

A Sign of Things to Come?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Right before New Year's I went to Rubios for takeout. I gave the cashier a $10 gift card. He commented on it and I told him I won it on Twitter. We started talking Twitter vs. Facebook and at one point, I told him that social media is my job. Later on I replayed the conversation and wondered why I phrased it that way. The words just slipped out. I've never referred to blogging as my job before. When people ask what I do, I usually say I'm a SAHM. Sometimes I mention blogging, sometimes not. 
VisionBoardArtofWellnessphoto © 2010 Nanette Saylor | more info (via: Wylio)

I believe in signs and signals from the universe. I believe some things happen for a reason. I've been thinking a lot about this space, making plans for another and generally wondering what I need to do to 'up my game,' so it's not lost on me that I chose to say those words, out loud, when I'm at such a cross roads. 

Methinks a vision board is in order, pronto.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Honor and Remember

Monday, January 17, 2011

This is an excerpt of a speech Dr. King gave on April 10, 1957 in St. Louis Missouri.

A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations 
I bring you greetings from Montgomery, Alabama, a city that has been known over the years as the Cradle of the Confederacy. But I bring you special greetings from the fifty-thousand Negroes of that city who came to see a little more than a year ago that it is ultimately more honorable to walk in dignity than ride in humiliation. 

I bring you greetings from fifty-thousand people who decided one day to substitute tired feet for tired souls and walk the streets of Montgomery until the sagging walls of segregation were finally crushed by the battering rams of surging justice. I bring you greetings from a humble people who heard the words of Jesus and decided to follow him, even if it meant going to Calvary. A people who decided that love is a basic principle of the universe.

But I didn't come here this evening to talk only about Montgomery. I want to try to grapple with a question that continually comes to me. And it is a question on the lips of men and women all over this nation. People all over are wondering about the question of progress in race relations. And they are asking, "Are we really making any progress?" I want to try to answer that question. And if I would use a subject for what I plan to say this evening, I would use a rather lengthy subject: A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations.

There are three basic attitudes that one can take toward the question of progress in the area of race relations. And the first attitude that can be taken is that of extreme optimism. Now the extreme optimist would argue that we have come a long, long way in the area of race relations. He would point proudly to the marvelous strides that have been made in the area of civil rights over the last few decades. From this he would conclude that the problem is just about solved, and that we can sit comfortably by the wayside and wait on the coming of the inevitable.

The second attitude that one can take toward the question of progress in the area of race relations is that of extreme pessimism. The extreme pessimist would argue that we have made only minor strides in the area of race relations. He would argue that the rhythmic beat of the deep rumblings of discontent that we hear from the Southland today is indicative of the fact that we have created more problems than we have solved. 

He would say that we are retrogressing instead of progressing. He might even turn to the realms of an orthodox theology and argue that hovering over every man is the tragic taint of original sin and that at bottom human nature can not be changed. He might even turn to the realms of modern psychology and seek to show the determinative effects of habit structures and the inflexibility of certain attitudes that once become molded in one's being. From all of this he would conclude that there can be no progress in the area of race relations.

Now you will notice that the extreme optimist and the extreme pessimist have at least one thing in common: they both agree that we must sit down and do nothing in the area of race relations. The extreme optimist says do nothing because integration is inevitable. The extreme pessimist says do nothing because integration is impossible. But there is a third position that is another attitude that can be taken, and it is what I would like to call the realistic position. 

The realist in the area of race relations seeks to reconcile the truths of two opposites while avoiding the extremes of both. So the realist would agree with the optimist that we have come a long, long way. But, he would go on to balance that by agreeing with the pessimist that we have a long, long way to go. And it is this basic theme that I would like to set forth this evening. We have come a long, long way but we have a long, long way to go. 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 1964 (source: Library of Congress)photo © 2006 Mike Licht | more info (via: Wylio)
So, where do I stand? Which attitude do I have? I'd say I'm a realistic pessimist with optimistic leanings. I can't ignore how far we've come because that would be disrespectful to all the people who have helped get us here. But I also see how far we need to go.

I see it on the news and in the TV shows I watch. I read it in the newspaper, on Twitter and in blog posts. I hear it in casual comments.

Fifty four years after this speech, we're still saying we have a long way to go. I wonder if, in my lifetime, we'll ever be able to say, "we've come a long way," and have that be the end of the sentence.

Read Dr. King's speech in its entirety here.

A Moment of Panic

Monday, January 10, 2011

During the Christmas break I was folding laundry on my bed and heard a faint buzzing. I thought I was imagining it but then I followed the sound to the bathroom. It was definitely coming from there but I couldn't pinpoint it. 

At first I couldn't think what would be making a sound like that. It wasn't the toothbrush or water pick. Phil hadn't left his razor on accidentally; I could see it on the counter. What could it be? Then it hit me. 

Oh shit. 

Did Tyler find "it"?

What was he doing poking around in here?!

Why didn't he ask me what "it" was? 

Thank God he didn't ask me what "it" was!

Do I say something?

I don't want to say something!
I was about to reach down into the cabinet to turn "it" off, but as I bent over the sound got louder as my head passed by one of Phil's drawers. Turns out, it was just his nose hair trimmer. Crisis averted.

But since then I've been thinking. Should I move "it"? I don't want to bury "it" too far because then "it" isn't, uh, convenient anymore. 

So now I'm asking you. Where do you keep "it"? Have your kids ever found "it"? How did you respond?

Redbook, Food Network: Cheap Magazine Subscriptions

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Good deal alert: Amazon has a few good offers on magazine subscriptions. Right now it's only $5 for a 2 year subscription to Redbook and 1 year of Food Network Magazine for $10 with an instant $5 credit at checkout. There are a few other titles that also offer the $5 credit.

I like Food Newtwork Magazine but still prefer Taste of Home and Rachel Ray. Taste of Home is a Best Deal Magazines - Deal of the Day Offer for $4.69 for one year.

When my Gramma was here we made chicken noodle soup and ranch mac and cheese from Taste of Home and both turned out really well. I've never thought to add ranch to mac and cheese. Tyler loved it.

* 4 cups water
* 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
* 1-1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
* 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
* 3/4 cup sliced celery
* 3/4 cup sliced fresh carrots
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
* 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium chicken bouillon granules
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 3 cups uncooked egg noodles

In a Dutch oven, combine the first 10 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in noodles; cook 5-7 minutes longer or until noodles and vegetables are tender.

* 1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
* 1 cup 2% milk
* 1/4 cup butter, cubed
* 1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
* 1 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1 teaspoon garlic pepper blend
* 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Colby cheese
* 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
* 1/2 cup crushed saltines (I left this out*)
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the milk, butter, dressing mix and seasonings; heat through. Stir in Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses until melted. Stir in sour cream.

Drain macaroni; stir into cheese sauce with the saltines. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

*We tried breadcrumbs so the mac and cheese would have a browned crust. I mixed crumbs, butter and Parmesan and sprinkled it over the top. I baked it for awhile but it didn't brown. I'm not sure what I did wrong but it still tasted really good.

(affiliate links used)

Storing Christmas Decorations: Works for Me Wednesday

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday. But I dread decorating because of how much stuff I have and how long it takes me to set up and take down. I used to spend hours putting everything away. It took me a few years, but I finally figured out a storage system that works for me.

I have several tubs for storing my Christmas stuff but they were a jumbled and chaotic mess. Every year I'd start decorating and it looked like Santa's Workshop exploded in my living room. Last year I reached my limit. My anal side couldn't take it anymore. I spread everything out, grouped like items and started labeling.

It took me hours but it was totally worth it. This year, I was able to find exactly what I wanted and didn't need to open some of the bins at all. I grouped all the like items together into their own tote. All the tree decorations are together; my cards, bows and gift wrap are together, etc.

Each tub has pieces of masking tape with an item written on each piece. If I rearrange or get rid of something it's easy to pull off the tape.

Things are labeled within the totes, too. Before the reorganization, I had a ton of tiny gift bags scattered between the bins. Now they are all in a 2-gallon zipper bag in the gift wrap tote. I also had a lot of little things, like tape or treat bags, that would get lost in the totes. I now have two gift wrap cutters and enough pop up tape to last me another four Christmases because I thought I didn't have any and bought more only to find them when I started wrapping. Now, I have another giant zipper bag with a label taped to the inside with all the contents listed.

My sanity has been restored! I don't have to dread the decorating process anymore. Now that I'm organized I can spread it out over a few days.

Do you have a storage system for decorations? Please spill in case I can be even more organized!

TRON Light Bike at El Capitan: Wordless Wednesday

*Tickets to the show were provided

$5 Starbucks GC for $1: Hot Deal

Alright coffee lovers, get on it! Another daily deal site, Family Finds, has a great offer today. Get a $5 Starbucks gift card for just $1!

Log in or sign up to Family Finds.
The deal is in Los Angeles.
One per household (boo!)

Corn Chowder Recipe from Storytellers Cafe at Disneyland

Monday, January 3, 2011

We went to Disneyland in the beginning of December for a holiday preview. We met up with Deb and her family and the little ones ran around like kids on a sugar high. They decorated cookies, got their faces painted and danced to a DJ. It was so cute. 

We also got to eat some really good food. We had a buffet dinner featuring some of the chefs from restaurants around the park. My favorite was the corn chowder. I haven't tried the recipe yet but it looks pretty simple so I thought I'd share it with you.

If I didn't have time to roast the corn (or if it wasn't in season) I'd use either the frozen fire roasted kernels or sweet kernels from Trader Joe's. This is definitely not a healthy recipe which is probably why I liked it so much! Enjoy!

Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder from Storytellers Cafe at Disney's Grand Californian (serves 4-6)

4 ears of fresh shucked corn
4 slices of bacon, divided
1 TBS diced onion
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
4 C chicken stock
6 TBS butter
6 TBS all-purpose flour
2 C heavy cream
1 C pulled chicken meat
2 tsp cilantro (optional garnish)
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

*Preheat oven to 350

*To roast the corn, put whole ears in their husk into preheated oven for 25 minutes. Cool then shuck and remove the kernels. Set aside.

*Dice 2 slices of bacon and saute. Drain all but 1 TBS of of the fat. Add onion and garlic and sautee until transparent. Add corn, potato and stock. Bring to a simmer.

*Meanwhile, in another pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour, whisking until smooth. Cook 3-4 minutes until mix loosens slightly. Cool.

*Add cooled butter/flour mixture to the simmering broth, mixing well with a whisk. Stir often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer 30-40 minutes. 

*Add cream and chicken and simmer another 10 minutes. 

*Meanwhile, cook the other 2 bacon slices until crisp. Drain, dice and set aside. 

*Add to chowder salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Serve and garnish with bacon and cilantro.

I copied this recipe into Google Docs for you to print:

Disclosure: Disney provided tickets to the park, dinner and the entertainment for the kids. This is not a sponsored post. You all know how I love my corn chowder! I get so many people visiting my blog looking for the recipe to the Chili's corn soup. I hope this one will be a good substitute. It's fantastic!
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