Monday, March 15, 2010

Our blog is now located at:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

As of Sunday, March 14, 2010 this Party of 5 blog will no longer be continued. We have a new blog located at  --  This blog, called Five Free Spirits, is a "private" blog requiring logging in with a password. We brought over 400 of our "Party of 5" readers with us to our new blog... and we are happy to continue to give most people access to it if they'd like. If you are interested in being a reader of Five Free Spirits, head on over and register (click the link at the bottom below the login form). Please be sure to tell us a bit about yourself when you do!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Top 10: Reasons For Going Private

Top 10: Reasons For Going Private
  1. We are so very sick and tired of the hurtful, nasty comments. In truth, we get about 100 positive comments for every negative one.  But the negativity stings. Trying to stay honest, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, while people (most of whom find ways to stay anonymous) slap us in the face... it has been very challenging. We've tried to keep our chins up. But we can't do it anymore. It came down to this: quit blogging altogether, or go private. We've decided to try going private.
  2. Comments, like this one, from a couple of months ago:  "I read your blog and enjoy your discussions. However your grammar makes me wince. It detracts from the great content. I believe that all writing should use appropriate grammar and syntax. You really need to take a writing course." Nice. Honestly, I am an academic, a published author (of "real" publications). I know how to write with formal prose and proper grammar. I choose not to on this blog. For a bunch of reasons. And I don't want to have to defend that.
  3. But the comments that really cut deep are the ones about more substantive aspects of our lives. Comments, like this one, from a couple of weeks ago: "Why is it that adoptive White parents feel the need to mess with Black childrens' hair! Your kids are NOT Jamaican, why the forced dreadlocks??!! It looks ridiculous! You aren't raising Bob Marley's!"  
  4. Or, comments, like this one, from a few days ago: "If it is so hard for you to leave your baby then why do you do it? Mothers who really care about their children prioritize their children over their own selfish desire to WORK. If a woman isn't willing to dedicate herself fully to raising her children then she shouldn't have children in the first place, let alone adopt them!!! Nothing is more important than your children. If you truly cared you would not leave them with a NANNY!!!!!!!!"
  5. Or, comments, like this one, from yesterday (comment made to a post I later removed which included photos of our baby Meera, not always fully clothed): "You people are sickos! Seriously! You're sick! You should be arrested and jailed for these photos of your daughter. This is classified as child porn. You are sick!!!!!!!" 
  6. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Right? Right. Well, we've tried to stick it out, and maybe we're wimps, or weak, or too sensitive... I don't know. However you look at it, we're ready to get out of the kitchen. Or, alternatively, (as I like to think of it), we're kicking the haters out of our kitchen. Because in our kitchen we have rules. The same rules that apply to every room of our home. And right at the top of the 'House Rules List' is this one: If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. At least with a private blog we can lay down the law-- if readers don't play by the rules they're not invited to our Party [of Five]. 
  7. There are lots of other benefits to going private too. Benefits we've been contemplating for a long time now. First and foremost is that we will feel more free to write about some of our more real issues, our more sensitive subjects, our more touchy topics. We want to write more, for example, about our trials, tribulations, and triumphs in regards to issues related to working women/dual-career-households/egalitarian relationships/gender-bending/etc. We have felt very constrained in this arena because we've been so fretful of the dreaded negative comments to anything we post on this subject. We look forward to being able to be less "careful" where these subjects are concerned.
  8. We'll feel more liberated to write without worrying about who might be reading. This has been especially problematic where our own professional lives are concerned. I have always worried about students of mine, colleagues of mine, or potential professional connections of whatever sort reading this blog. In many respects, this blog has kept me grounded and real and honest. It allows that gray fuzzy area between the public and the private to be more transparent. But in other ways I look forward to not worrying so much about the 'who might be reading?' question.
  9. Photos. With a private blog we'll be more comfortable continuing to post photos of our children on the internet. We are always cognizant of the fact that nothing on the web is truly "secure." But a private blog will help us feel a little less vulnerable.
  10. K & O are turning six in May. Meera is turning two in May. They are getting older. How will they feel about this old blog when they're teenagers and older? Going private will feel a little less 'exposed,' and, for their sakes especially, I think that is more and more important as they get older.
So, we're moving on. We're taking our party 'underground.' The good news is that it is still going to be a big ruckus party! (Based on all the emails I've been receiving since yesterday's announcement, it looks like we'll be taking a few hundred readers with us). It is really sad to end this blog as we've known it. The saddest part of all, for me, is knowing that we won't be out there -- loud and proud -- to support, in whatever tiny ways our blog has, those folks out there in the blogosphere looking for companionship on these crazy journeys so many of us are on.*  I am humbled beyond comprehension by the hundreds (thousands, actually) of people who have read our blog and told me of the very real and meaningful ways that it has made them think, or has helped them to feel less alone. Just in the past day I have read hundreds of notes from people all over the world telling me that they've been reading daily for 2 or 3 years. That is just mind-boggling to me. The things you all have said to me in these emails are beyond touching. They are moving, and inspiring, and so gratifying. Thank you so much for reading and following along with our story. We're telling it mainly for us and for our kids (hopefully they will look at the blog some day?), but it is amazing to know that it has meant so much to so many more out there.

*For this reason, we will be keeping this blog located here for at least a good long while. People will thus still be able to find us, and, if so inclined, can always request access to our new 'private' blog.

So, adios --for now-- amigos! And hello to a whole new era of our blogging!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Blog Going Private

On Sunday, March 14 this blog will be going private. If you are interested in continuing reading, please email me at hbj2 (at) lehigh (dot) edu
Thanks for reading all this time y'all!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Funk

Dear February 2010,
Good Riddance.
Sincerely, The J-Ms


Freakish amounts of snow and Snow Days
Everyone doing their best to hold it together (some times more successful than others -- photo below taken on a good day... making cookies!). Oh, and 'E' also stands for Earthquake. We're still trembling, even though we're time and space away from the January 12 Haiti earthquake.
Basketball (and 2 boys' love-affairs with Lehigh b-ball games) replaced football, and baseball, at least for the time being. Basketball, basketball, basketball. Oh, and Black History Month, of course.
Really and truly, this month felt like an uphill battle every single day ALL MONTH LONG.
Under, unfortunately, sad circumstances we had what actually turned out to be a great (definitely the highlight of our month) impromptu trip to Massachusetts. Grandma Lorraine's was K & O's first family Memorial Service (profoundly sadly, it was Meera's third). But -- always the optimists -- as we left the church chapel Kyle proclaimed (totally genuinely) to the pastor, "That was the best funeral I've ever been to!!!!" (later she came and talked with me for awhile about our little Religious One). We really did wind up having a great trip-- including a fun 2-night stay in a nice hotel (with --jackpot!-- an indoor swimming pool) in Worcester with MorMor and MorFar, Auntie Stina, Mark, and Sadie. [Photo below = H with boys in hotel room during Meera's nap, before boys heading out with Braydon for a morning swim] Please please please do not leave nasty anonymous comments about how ashy their skin is. I know. Chlorine and February do that. Duh. We're aware of it. Please do not harass me about it because right about now I seriously cannot take the negative commentary. Trust me, I've got it covered.
Antibiotics. Need I say more? Sickness sucks. At one point, three of the five of us were on antibiotics. Several bottles of various prescription and over-the-counter meds were consumed by the J-M family. I don't think there has been one day during February that we've all been 100% healthy. That just totally, totally sucks. Miraculously, Owen has been the only one in the family who did not get sick (at all!) during February. Of course, he had a broken collar bone. But that's a whole other story. (and -- a positive note: we found out in February that his collar bone is 100% healed... so, that's good... and he's now --for better or for worse-- back to his full range of activities... including stuff like dish-washing... but also including driving all of us crazy with his crazy antics)
Reliving the Lion King over and over and over and over and over. (Oh, and there was that Ridiculous holiday, Valentines Day, in there somewhere too-- but, honestly, that kinda got lost in the snow day shuffle... plus, Braydon had been throwing up the night before, so that kinda put a damper on it too. ugh.)
Year two is quickly closing in on us. As of today, our baby girl is 21 months old. Which, truthfully, just feels so depressing. How, oh how, can that be? Can't Meera Grace just stay a baby forever???
P.S. Lucky for us our trusty coffee maker went on the fritz during February. At first this seemed like yet another thing to hate about this month. But, no! It was a blessing in disguise! We finally had a semi-decent excuse to buy that Keurig coffee maker we've been coveting. And oh how that Keurig made our last few days of February sooooooooooo much better than they would have been without it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gospel Music at River Valley

On Saturday I had the good fortune of brining K & O to what is, thankfully, starting to be a tradition - The Brockington Ensemble's concert at River Valley Waldorf School.

Although it's a bit strange for me, as a white man with two black sons to be at an almost all white school listening to an all black choir who are raising the roof and praising, with a lot of eyes on us and how we three handle the entire thing.... despite that hyper awareness and sense of vulnerability, we had a great time and the boys loved the music.

During the intermission, they ran up to the drummer and chatted it up and tried out the cymbals.  During the final song when everyone got up to "get up" we got up and were a witness along with the rising euphoria of the ensemble. Pretty awesome.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sleeping Together For At Least One Year

February 26, 2009 I posted this post: click here. Apparently at that point K & O had been sleeping together for 2-3 weeks. (I would never, ever have remembered that if it weren't for this blog.) They've been sleeping together every night since then. So, it has been at least a year, solid, of sleeping together. They still sleep with Owen's Lovey Lion and Lovey Lion's twin brother and with Kyle's Honey Bunny and Honey Bunny's twin brother. "Turtle" or "Tortoise" (as they sometimes call him) --a light-up turtle that I gave to Owen-- also has been sleeping with them for the past few months. They still always have "sleep music" blaring all night long. And numerous night-lights. They almost always choose to sleep in Owen's room. And they almost always do well at bedtime. This (doing well at bedtime) is a huge improvement over the years prior, when bedtime was a serious challenge. Now, more often than not, bedtime is pleasant for all involved. I think it is so sweet that our boys want to sleep together at night. When we check on them before we go to bed they are almost always entwined under the covers. I love that they have this.

Notes From the Trenches of (Yet Another) Snow Day

We're dreaming of vacation. That is always the dead give-away that we're in the depths of the doldrums of the winter-time-blues. Pre-kids, Braydon and I would always start dreaming of vacation right about late February/early March. It happened every year. We'd start planning a May trip then, and the hopes-dreams-plans for that spring vacation would keep us going through the end of the school year. {We never entered the "real world" and have always, still to this day, operated on an academic-year-type-calendar.} Well, now that we have kids, nothing has changed in the right-around-late-Feb-early-March hoping-dreaming-planning for vacation department. Except that now our kids participate in it with us. Sometimes it feels like that May vacation, and that alone, is what keeps us going. How pathetic is that? (I posted about the less-pathetic aspects of this phenomenon here.) Pretty pathetic. I'm not sure exactly what to make of it that K & O are just like their parents when it comes to travel. I suppose it shouldn't be such a surprise, but still-- it was surprising today that during Meera's nap, while K, O, and I were sitting at the table drawing (with a near-BLIZZARD outside our windows and nearly 2 FEET of new snow piled up), I found my boys drawing pictures of "our next big trip." Kyle drew what is, for him, a very detailed and painstaking drawing of a "Hotel Map" (note the yellow 'beach' and the blue 'ocean'). Owen drew an airplane and next to it wrote out a long sequence of numbers, which were "our airline ticket numbers" and "our hotel room number." They asked me to draw "a boat going to an island with starfish and coral under the water." Nice. So, that pretty much sums it up. At least in some existential kind of way that sort of says it all, I think. Just a couple other notes from this, the MILLIONTH SNOW DAY OF THE WINTER OF 2010:
Seriously, the biggest, most grueling task of being home with the boys all day long (i.e., with them having no school, no outings, no nothing allllll daaaaaaaaaaaaaaay loooooooooooooong) is the FOOD PRODUCTION. I cannot even explain how intense it is. Seriously. They eat sooooo muuuuuuuuch.And they are onlyyyyyyyyyyy fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive years old. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: What on earth will it be like when they are fifteen?????????? They eat so much. They are hungry almost all day long. They are bottomless pits. Lately Kyle, especially, is just ALWAYS hungry. He finishes a huge meal and within an hour he's asking for more food. He must be going through a growth spurt. But seriously, you have to see it to believe it. Photo above taken at 9:30 this morning. After many and multiple breakfast food items between the hours of 7:00-9:00 a.m., they were ready for "a real snack" (i.e., what most of us would consider a MEAL) at 9:30 a.m. While I drank coffee Owen had leftover pizza and Kyle had leftover ravioli with pesto and parmesan. That satisfied them for about a 1/2 hour. Over the course of the day Kyle ate 3 bananas, the two of them combined ate 5 clementines, Owen ate so many oatmeal-cranberry-white-chocolate cookies that I lost track, and they (along with their sister) consumed 1/2 gallon of whole milk. That is just in addition to their real meals and many other various snacks. For dinner they ate -- amongst other things -- an entire "Family Size" package of chicken nuggets. Keeping up with their food consumption is truly exhausting. It, alone, keeps me 100% busy all day long on a day like today. By the end of the day I want nothing-- absolutely nothing-- to do with food prep, ever again.
In a moment of brilliance we dragged an old toy from the boys' toddler-hood out of the basement. It kept them all occupied for quite some time. And it brought back a lot of memories of when K & O were M's age. It was a lot of fun, and probably (pathetic as this is...) the highlight of our day. It was not one of our greatest days. Nobody under the age of six had any major meltdowns (miraculously), Meera continued to pee (and poop today!!!!!) in the potty, and no parent lost their temper (huge accomplishment)... but Mommy cried (hard) twice, and the parental unit was not so unified (including one major blow-out). We are so sick and tired of snow, and the novelty of Snow Days has definitely worn off. But, thank God, today is all done, and tomorrow is a new day.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

PeePee on the Potty!!! And Other Firsts!

Yesterday, late afternoon, while the boys were at Kung Fu (and Braydon chaperoning them there), Meera did her first pee pee on the potty!!!!!!!!!!!!! Huge, huge, very big deal!!! It was deliberate and purposeful; it was the real deal. Then again, this morning, she did a repeat performance for the whole family! We all did the happy dance and she got a little chunk of good Swedish chocolate as a reward. What a proud little 20-month-old she is! In the past couple of weeks Meera's had a few big 'Firsts'...
First time at the climbing wall!
First french braid!
First day of "school"!!! Meera and I are doing Garden Gate together at our Waldorf School on Monday mornings this semester. We've had two sessions so far, and we are both loving it. Braydon took the photo above just as Meera and I were pulling out of the garage to head off to our first day.

Another Snow Day

Daffodils are yellow 
Some crocuses are blue
We've had way too many snow days this winter
Oh Spring!-- how we can't wait to see you