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Showing posts from 2010

A Grandparent's Truth About Santa Claus

Recently, my four-year-old grandson asked me if Santa Claus was going to bring him some presents this year. Without hesitation, I told him no.

Unlike me when I discovered there was no Santa Claus (at age 7), my grandson did not break into tears. Instead, he was inquisitive and wanted to know why so I told him point blank: the truth is–there is NO Santa Claus. I went on to explain that his mom, grandparents, nana and papa and other family members are the ones who buy him gifts.

I don’t want my grandson to get it in his head that if he is good all year, some jolly old white man will come and bring him presents. It just doesn’t seem right.

Now I know someone reading this is going to think I'm being racist but I would argue the whole idea of having a white santa claus is racist. It's something that's been embedded in our minds for years with movies, TV specials and in practically every mall in America. Have you ever seen a black santa claus? What would be his commercial app…

Being Prepared for the Unexpected Blessings

I just returned from a speaking engagement in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was invited to speak about how charter schools can ulitize the media to gain more exposure. I knew that my newly released book, Don't Ask and I Won't Have to Lie and card game, Don't Ask, had nothing to do with the conference but I decided to pack some--just in case. (I was told in advance that since my book had nothing to do with the conference that I would not be able to sell it in the back of the room).

After dinner Wednesday evening, I suggested the people at my table play the card game for fun. To make a long story short, there was so much laughing and discussion going on, several members of the group wanted to continue to play back at the hotel--which we did until well after midnight (knowing we had to get up and be ready at 7:30am).

The next morning word quickly spread about my card game and I was approached by the head of the Admissions Dept. who wanted to know if I would consider creating a card…

The Differences Between Sarah Palin's Daughter and Mine

I originally wrote much of this post in 2008, but it bears repeating with an UPDATE in light of Bristol's new found so-called celebrity status.

Let me start off by saying the one thing Bristol and my daughter share in common is the fact that they became teenage mothers.

Now the differences:


Bristol comes from a white privileged family, where her mother had a high profile as Governor of Alaska and then became the Republican nominee for Vice-President of the United States. She has three sisters and one brother. Her father is in the home.

Janie comes from a middle class black family where her dad was absent more than he was around. She is an only child. Her mother is a journalist, who left Corporate America because her boss never respected her role as a working mom. (long, unappreciated hours and no opportunity for advancement)


Bristol’s boyfriend is an 18 year old named Levi Johnson who described himself as an F----- redneck on his MySpace page before it was taken down. …

Do You Hear What Your Child Hears?

Recently my husband and I were having a disagreement that escalated into a rather loud discussion. Our grandson, who was in the other room, came running in and told us to stop fighting. We wanted to assure him we weren't fighting--we were just talking loud.

At that moment, I started thinking about this four-year-old's interpretation of what he heard. To him, it sounded like we were fighting even though there was no physical violence involved. He equated fighting with talking loud.

I think sometimes we, as adults, tend to forget that our children are within earshot of we are saying. Or we think the children are too young to understand the content of the argument while neglecting to realize that it's the negative tone of the conversation that kids pick up on. Kids do as we do and not as we say, though we often wish the opposite was true. If they see us resolving disputes with petty arguing, they are going to learn the same tactic.

Psychologist Dr. Kenneth Condrell says when…

Rewarding Parents for Bad Behavior

I've got a strong suspicion that the court system in Jackson, Mississippi is going to be rewarding some bad parents for their bad children. Three Murrah High School boys' basketball players have sued their coach and the school system over some spankings they say they endured during basketball practice.

The coach was actually caught on camera whipping one of the students. One parent said he sat in on a couple of basketball practices and watched as some of the students were getting hit---but because it wasn't his child--he didn't say anything at the time I guess.

In a written statement Coach Marlon Dorsey said,

I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to the issues our students are facing on a daily basis. I am deeply remorseful of my actions to help our students.

No doubt this coach probably saw these kids as incorrigible youth--the kind of students who will either not graduate, be unemploye…

Putting Your Business Reputation on the Line

Whether you realize it or not, your business can succeed or be ruined by social media. All it takes is one person to post a negative commnt or review about the way you do business and it can spread like wildfire.

Most people, however, choose to remain silent about their bad business experiences because it might be viewed as unethical or tacky or fear that people will not want to associate with you because you might also put them on BLAST at some point.

But here's the deal. MORE BUSINESS NEED TO BE EXPOSED FOR BAD BUSINESS PRACTICES. It is unfair for a potential customer or client to have to find out for themselves how bad a company is. This is especially important when conducting business online since the only information we may have about them is what they tell us on a website.

"Hey, let me tell you how you can make $1,000 of extra income a month like I'm doing" Sound familiar?

The problem is some of us tend to let people who don't give us the best customer serv…

My Grandson Swallowed a Penny

Two nights ago, my grandson was lying in bed watching a movie when he came into our bedroom to make a confession. He didn't want to say it in front of me so he whispered his confession into grandpa Nate's ear.

He swallowed a penny.

Instead of enjoying his popcorn, he decided he wanted to see what it would be like to taste a penny. Since my daughter (his mother) never did this when she was a child, I wasn't quite sure what to do so I called the pediatrician on call and here's what she told me:

Don't worry, unless your child chokes on it, gets sick, complains of persistent abdominal pain, has trouble breathing, or gets a cough and can't shake it. A penny (or even a quarter) can easily pass through the digestive tract and will probably do so within 24-48 hours. If you check his stool, you will probably find it. If you see no evidence that it has passed within 48 hours, then you need to bring him in.

As a grandparent I am still learning new things about children and …

Grandma Prepared to Take on the North Carolina School Board

Unless I do something within the next year, my grandson is going to have to spend another year in daycare--instead of heading off to kindergarten like he ought to be.

In 2007, a North Carolina state law was passed pushing the birthdate required to enter kindergarten up to August 31. It used to be October 16. My grandson's birthday in September 6.

I have been told I can get him tested at MY expense to see if he would qualify for an early entrance. My expense is the equivalent to several hundred dollars and he must have a passing rate in the 98 percentile. He must be able to read and do math.

So maybe that explain some issues involving some adults I know. They were let into kindergarten before their time.

The following is a list of states and cut-off dates for kindergarten. Your child, grandchild or some else's child you know may also be affected:

Alabama- September 1

Alaska- August 15

Arizona- September 1

Arkansas-September 15

British Columbia, Canada- December 31


Don't Read Don't Ask and I Won't Have to Lie IF

If you are looking for a book that's going to change your life, don't read Don't Ask And I Won't Have to Lie.

If you want to read a book that's going to inspire you to take action, Don't Ask and I Won't Have to Lie isn't for you.

If you think Don't Ask And I Won't Have to Lie is going to change your lying ways--think again.

Don't Ask and I Won't Have to Lie may not make you feel good about your life.

Here's the point: Not every book is designed to be a self-help, inspirational, motivational, take action kind of book. Some books are just designed to be enjoyable to read--an opportunity to get inside an author's head and compare your life notes. Some books are just meant to entertain, while others may have you nodding your head in agreement with some of what you read. That's what Don't Ask and I Won't Have to Lie is all about.

Don't Ask and I Won't Have to Lie started out as a personal account of a LIE I told tha…

Winning Approval

This post was inspired by something my grandson said at soccer practice today. After scoring the only goal for his team (who lost 5-1), he asked his mother (my daughter) if he had done good. Of course, she said yes. Then he asked me, "Grandma, did I do good today?" Of course, I said yes, too.

Why he felt the need to ask both of us got me to thinking about his need and desire for affirmation. Even though his team came out on the losing end, he wanted positive reinforcement that he had done good job.

Isn't it interesting how the words spoken to us early in life can influence us for REST of our lives? We could've said, "Yes, you did a great job--but your team still lost." That's saying you were good--just not good enough to win.

So often in life we, as adults, also need affirmation. We have a desire to win approval for the things we've accomplished---not matter how small they might seem.

Sometimes people need to hear a kind word spoken about them, despite …

Happy Grandparents Day

Did you know there are more than 70 million grandparents in the United States? I am one of them.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the official proclamation declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. That's the same year I graduated from Ohio University. Never thought much about the holiday since my grandparents on both sides were deceased and I wasn't even thinking about becoming a grandmother at the time.

According to the website,, 43% became grandparents in their fifties, 37% in their forties, with the average age of grandparents in this country at 48. I becme a grandmother at 49. Other stats:

■72% take care of their grandchildren on a regular basis
■13% are primary caregivers
■60% live close to their grandchildren
■46% wish they could live even closer
■70% see the kids at least once a week
■66% travel with their grandkids
■81% have their grandkids for part or all of their summer vacation

On this day, I say Happy Grandparents Day! I…

The Case of the Lost Camera

Today I am trying to wrap my mind around the fact that someone at my grandson's birthday party yesterday could've walked off with my digital camera.

It's not something I want to believe or accept but today it is missing and the last place I remember having it was on one of the picnic tables at the park. I don't want to believe it because everyone invited was either family or friends.

I would rather believe that the camera was accidentally thrown away during the cleanup and someone just didn't realize what it was.

Nevertheless, all of the wonderful pictures we took at my grandson's 4th birthday on Saturday are now gone.

Thankfully, my grandson wasn't stolen or today I would still be on the hunt or in jail.

Welcome to the Real World My Child

Last week, my daughter returned to college. Instead of going back into the dorms, she decided she wanted her own place so she shopped around and found a nice little apartment about 10 minutes from campus.

What my daughter has quickly learned is having your own place costs money---especially if you like "new" and not "used" and you must do your homework before deciding on the best place for you.

Here are some of the things baby boomer parents can do to help make off campus life a pleasant experience:

What can your college student afford? Help them evaluate their budget so they know how much rent they can afford without overextending financially. You might also suggest they consider a roommate, who can split the bills.

Your college student should make sure they check to see what, if any, utilities are included as part of the rent. Sometimes landlords will pay for the water and heat for a tenant, whereas other landlords will not pay for any utili…

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

My husband and I are a part of a growing trend in America. We are grandparents taking on the role of primary caregivers for our grandson.

My daughter is a rising junior in college and since school is located out of town, we have agreed to raise him in her absence. We are among nearly 6 million grandparents who have grandchildren living with them. and

Here are more numbers from the Census Bureau about grandparent caregivers:

4-out-of-10 grandparents are responsible for the youngsters basic care.

5.8 million, the number of grandparents who live with one or more of their grandchildren under 18 years old.

4 percent, the percentage of people age 30 and older who live with grandchildren. The rate is 8 percent among blacks and Hispanics.

2.5 million, the number of grandparents responsible for most of the basic needs, such as clothing, food and shelter, of one or more grandchildren with which they live.

21 percent, the percentage of preschoolers who are cared for primarily by their grandpar…

When the Saints Go Marching In

Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Based on what I've learned about my grandmother in the last 48 hours, I wonder if that's a song she sang to repent.

I have discovered that my dear sweet grandma wasn't as dear and as sweet as she portrayed herself in her latter years. As a matter of fact, she had quite a reputation in a small Alabama town back in the 1920s. After her husband died, she allegedly found comfort in the arms of other men and ended up having two babies by two different fathers---in addition to the four children she already had.

She took her secrets to her grave---leaving only the gossip about her life to be passed down from generation to generation.

If you want to research your family history, a site I recommend is

The Genealogy Search Continues

On Friday I received a letter from the Alabama Office of Vital Records. This was in response to my $35.50 request to receive a copy of my dad's birth certificate so I could see who my grandmother listed as the father.

Before opening the letter I said a little prayer asking God to prepare me for whatever I might read.

This is what the letter said:




August 4, 2010

I certify that a diligent search of the records in my custody has been completed for the years 1920 - 1934, and no certificate of live birth was found to exist for LEWIS MOTON MAHONE, born July 22, 1926 in Macon County, Alabama, to SAMANTHA CASTON

Signed by Catherine Molchan Donald
State Registrar of Vital Statistics

Another dead end.

Unspeakable Truth

I spent a good part of my day yesterday searching for clues surrounding the mystery of my father's father.

Because I know my grandmother's maiden name, I was busy trying to find possible relatives who would be connected to her. White Pages and Zabasearch got me only so far by at least providing some recognizable names and addresses, however, the numbers they listed have been disconnected with no new information available.

I then tried to find out more information through the census records--only to find that they send you to, who then turns arounds and makes you pay to find out the information you're looking for.

I did end up paying $35.50 for a copy of my father's birth certificate from the Alabama Dept. of Vital Records. Hopefully, there will be a record on file to shed more light on this mystery.

I don't know what I find more disturbing about this story: The fact that my grandmother, a woman who was crowned a "saint" in her latter years, …

Secrets and Lies

On Sunday, while on Facebook, I was befriended by someone with the same last name. It piqued my curiosity so I explored his page and discovered a "Mahone" family reunion coming up in August. How cool, I thought since I've never been to a family reunion on my father's side. But first, I had to confirm that I was related to this group of Mahones.

What I discovered in the hours following that had my head spinning and left more questions than answers.

I called my cousin in Maryland. She dropped a bombshell. My dad wasn't really a Mahone because the man I had known as "Grandpa Joe" wasn't really his father or my grandfather. Joseph Mahone apparently died about six weeks after my Uncle James was born---and my Uncle James was born nine years before my dad was born.

I will admit that about 30 years ago my Uncle James did mention something about him raising my daddy because he didn't have a daddy but Uncle James liked to drink so I heard what he sai…

Change Happens

This week the largest tree in our front yard toppled over during a rain storm. Although it destroyed my beautiful rose bush and was a total mess to clean up, it didn't cause any property damage and there were no injuries.

What was so surprising about this is the fact that no other trees in our neighborhood were damaged. Was this a sign? A sign of what?

After spending two days cutting and clearing the debris, our house now has a new look. That picturesque view seems so naked without that tree and my lovely red rose bush.

Losing that tree is a reminder that CHANGE HAPPENS.

That tree has changed the landscape of our home. It wasn't a decision we made. It was a decision made for us by Mother Nature.

The point is this: Throughout our lives, change will happen. One day we are single--then we are married. One day we are young--then we grow old. One day we have a job--the next day we may not. One day you're on top of the world--the next day the world's on top of you. …

Living in Fear

I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 1999 at the age of 42. My father died of heart disease in 1983 at the age of 52.

In January of 2009, I started living in fear---fear that I would not live to see the age of 53---just like my dad.

Before being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I assumed my symptoms were the result of menopause. I started experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms in my early 40s and went into full-blown menopause at 50. I’m writing this to tell you, DO NOT MAKE THAT ASSUMPTION. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing heart failure in addition to menopause:

•Shortness of breath during physical activity or even while lying in bed
•a sudden weight gain ( I chalked this up to a slow down in metabolism)
•swollen feet, ankles or legs
•fatigue or weakness
•confusion or decreased alertness (I was calling this “meno-moments.”
•nausea or loss of apetite
•rapid or irregular heartbeat
•the need to urinate more often during t…

Being a Sperm Donor Doesn't Make You a Daddy

My husband isn't the father of my child but he deserves to be honored on Father's Day. He has been more like a dad than my daughter's biological father ever was.

We are a part of an ever growing number of blended families in this country. According to statistics, over fifty percent of US familieis are re-married or re-coupled and 1300 new stepfamilies are forming every day.

Here are some other interesting statistics from the National Fatherhood Initiative:

•Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.

•Studies on parent-child relationships and child wellbeing show that father love is an important factor in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.

•24 million children (34 perce…

Kids Say the Darndest Things about God

As a part of the nurturing process I talk to my three-year-old grandson about Jesus and God. While I'm not trying to make him "religious", I do want him to grow up and understand how important God is in all of our lives.

Afrer church this morning, we went to brunch. Before we ate, we blessed the food (as we always do). After tasting his eggs, Jarod said, "This food is good. Thank you God."

When we got home, I decided to lay down because I didn't feel too well. Jarod came into my room and said, "Grandma, you don't feel well?" I said, "No. I'm just going to lie down and get some rest for a little while."

As he was walking out of my room he said, "I'm gonna ask Jesus if you can come sleep with Him."

"No, no," I replied. "I think I'd like to just sleep in my own bed for now."

I couldn't help but smile through the tears.

Marriage The Second Time Around

Is marriage really better the second time around? As one who falls into that category, I say absolutely! I'm very excited and feel blessed to have been given another opportunity to love again.

Isn't it interesting how differently we think when we're young as opposed to when we grow older and wiser? When I look back over my younger days, I realize I spent way too much time craving the WRONG man for all of the RIGHT reasons. I wanted to feel love, to be loved, and to give love in return but the sex clouded my judgement in making sure I was choosing the right mate.

One of the beautiful things about growing older is it gives us the benefit of wisdom. That, in turn, allows us to make smarter choices. As for me, I'm smart enough not to believe in love at first sight anymore. One reason being, I don't see quite as well as I used to. I'm also smart enough to be more discriminating in my taste. I've learned how to weed out the imitation from the real thing.

So now I&#…

Running Out of Options

In 1996, I started boycotting Mobil Oil for disparaging racial comments made during an Executive Board Meeting.

In 1999, I stopped buying gas at Exxon because of the Valdez oil spill and the slap on the wrist given to the captain on the ship.

Now, it looks like I'm going to have to add BP to that list. What happened in April is nothing short of a catastrophe. From the beginning of this mess, I knew it was bigger than it was being reported. The media was spoon fed information and went with it until BP officials could no longer deny the mess they created.

The BP Spill not only affects the livelihood of fishermen on the Gulf Coast, it also affects seafood lovers like me who live thousands of miles away.

The BP spill is one also more example as to why we MUST find alternative means to oil.

Paying Your Tithes Online

When I went to church on Sunday, the Pastor made an announcement that kind of surprised me. He told the congregation we could now pay our tithes online.

I assume this is a trend more and more churches are following, which makes it easier to collect the one-tenth we are supposed to give from the financial blessings God has given us.

Why should paying our tithes online be any different than paying our bills online? Paying our bills online not only saves us a stamp but it also saves us gas money since we don't have to drive to the location to pay in person.

Is that what's going to happen with the church? Are some of us going to start paying our tithes online so we don't have to drive to the House of God to pay in person?

Paying online seems like an "opt out" clause to me. You can still honor your tithing commitment, without having to be in church. Will this trend form a new generation of the Bedside Baptists.

What do you think?

Baby Boomers and The Country Club Mentality

Prior to leaving campus for the summer my daughter asked me to come visit so I could go apartment hunting with her.

Much to my surprise, every apartment complex she liked at had a pool and fitness center. The landscaping was impeccable and some were gated communitities---which means a security guard had to approve your entrance. Rent ranged from $595 to $800.

My, how college life has changed!

My first apartment in college was on the upper floor of a two bedroom house. It wasn't in the best condition but it was liveable and it was quiet. It had a stove and refrigerator but no fancy carpet and certainly no pool in the back yard. My fitness workout was the distance I had to walk from my apartment to campus. My rent was $100/mo plus utilities.

OK, so that was more than 30 years ago and I do understand the cost of living and all but what happened to the little mom and pop landlords who just want to help out students who are trying to advance in life? Do they exist anymore?

But th…

3 Rules for Work

Each day as I'm driving my grandson to daycare, I feel it necessary to reinforce the Grandma Rules for Daycare.

1) "Don't let Miss Candy have to call me about your behavior."

2) "Don't be mean to others and make sure you share."

3) "Have a good day!"

Today, this little three-year-old decided to give ME some rules as I was preparing to meet a client.

1) He said, "Don't get in a fight with nobody."

2) "If you get some popcorn make sure you share it with everybody."

3) "Have a good day!"

Yes, our children do watch and listen.

Don't Let the Lack of Gray Hair Fool You

I used to believe stress was the reason our hair turned gray but if that was, indeed, the case I'd have a headful about right now.

But don't let the lack of gray hair fool you.

Being the primary caregiver for my three-year-old grandson is as challenging as any obstacle course I would ever compete in. My physical and mental abilities are called into question EVERY DAY. No, he's not a bad child by any means---because grandma don't play that---but he is so full of energy and life and seems to be on overdrive from the moment he wakes up until it's time to go to bed at night. And even then, it's a fight to get him to actually get in bed and close his eyes. Poor grandma has to resort to lying about a make-believe bogeyman who will take him away if he doesn't go to sleep.

OK, so here's what I've discovered...Stress won't turn hair white overnight. That's an old wives' tale. But according to Tyler Cymet, a researcher at Sinai Hospital of Balti…

The Tea Party May Be for Boomers But Not For Babies

Last month, my three-year-old grandson joined our neighborhood youth soccer league. I wanted him involved in some type of sport so he could burn off some energy and learn how to play with others. So far---so good.

But what I have come to discover is, his coach---"Coach John"---is a proud member of the Tea Party. You know them---the gun toting, we don't like anything President Obama does, Sarah Palin supporters who are stockpiling weapons and daring anyone to take away their second amendment rights.

How did I find this out? When I created a Facebook Fan Page for the soccer group the other day, I invited everyone involved to become a fan. He did. I then went to his profile page and read his comments and also saw the people he was connected too--very scary.

This is certainly not someone I would want to be an influence in my grandson's life but so far, he hasn't been anything but decent and helpful to the kids, who are mostly African American.

I'm writing this …

The High Cost to Live

Two weeks ago my 90-year-old mother in law was diagnosed with lung cancer. According to her son/my husband, she never smoked a day in her life so this was surprising news. But that's not what this blog is all about.

This blog is about the prescription charges associated with treating this form of cancer. The doctor who treated her during her stay in the hospital wrote a prescription for a drug called Tarceva and told us the cost for a 30-day supply would be between $5,000 and $7000 depending on her insurance coverage. Medicare, we were told, doesn't cover the expense because it is an experimental drug. We were also told there was no guarantee with the medication. It might prolong her life for six months.

My first question is, what ingredients could be in a pill that would warrant charging that much money?

My mother in law is 90-years-old and spent her entire career as a nurse. If she is being used as a guinea pig, why isn't the drug FREE?

How can a drug company in g…

My Local Pharmacy versus Prescriptions By Mail

I went to my local pharmacy yesterday and found myself paying $25 more this month for my medication. When I questioned why, the pharmacist said he really didn't know and advised me to contact my insurance company directly to find out what was going on.

I did just that and discovered the extra money I paid was considered a penalty. My insurance company penalized me for patronizing my local pharmacy instead of using the prescriptions by mail plan. Apparently, I can only go to my local pharmacy so many times before the insurance company tacks on their version of a fine. The plan, according to the insurance company, is the one agreed upon by my husband's employer so they are just enforcing it. Is this a part of health reform?

So now, instead of having one on one contact with my local pharmacist, I will be at the mercy of my local mailman. I wonder if he will know what I should do in case of an emergency.

Do you use prescriptions by mail? If so, does it work better for you?

Mind Your Own Business Boomer Grandma

I witnessed a theft at the Family Dollar Store today. I think I was more shocked than anything to see this pre-school age child sneak a giant-sized lollipop into one of the store bags while the store clerk was ringing up her mother's items and the mother was busy chit-chatting on her cell phone. The little girl did it so slyly that it made me believe she has done it before or at least seen someone else do it.

As they were headed out the door, I told the clerk about the theft and the little girl was apprehended and the lollipop taken away. She started to cry. I could only think to myself, "If she were my grandchild, I'd be giving her something to cry about," and I would've done it right inside the store to make a point in front of others.

But then the unthinkable happened. When I walked out of the store, the little girls's mother starting cursing at me and told me I needed to mind my own f------ business! She told me I had no right to stick my nose in a pla…

Life's an Interesting Trip on Facebook

For the past several months I have been re-connecting with old high school and college classmates from the '70s via Facebook. Some of these people were truly my friends, while others had very little to say to me back then because I wasn't a part of their "in crowd."

As I read through some of their posts I am somewhat amazed that these are the SAME people I knew back then. Back then some were ready to kick my butt over the smallest of things. Some just didn't like me because of my skin complexion or the fact that I made good grades while others were simply jealous over the fact that I made the cheerleading squad and they didn't.

These re-connections have made me realize a few things:

Kids really do grow up.

Thank God there is a God and some of my former classmates have discovered the Bible.

Holding on to old grudges serves no purpose--besides the other person has probably long forgotten what the dispute was all about.

Real maturity comes when you learn to start …

Being From Ohio is Not All Good

I grew up in Ohio. I have always been proud of that fact until I read the list of America's Most Miserable Cities, as reported by It seems Ohio holds the dishonor of having not one---not two---but FIVE cities on that list.

1. Cleveland
9. Canton
12. Akron
15. Toledo
18. Youngstown

Although my hometown of Canton is known for the Football Hall of Fame and birthplace of President William McKinley, the city was cited for have a low population of intellectuals. According to, only 18 percent of adults living there have a college degree. I guess a lot of people followed my lead in the 1970s and migrated elsewhere after graduating from college.

Akron may be the home of Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James but that's obviously not enough to keep it off the miserable list. Apparently Akron has some of the highest local income taxes in the state.

Youngstown was a miserable city when I was living there 30 years ago but it's apparently gotten worse. …

The Storm Isn't Over Yet

Last weekend, a snowstorm swept across North Carolina. We got about six inches. Schools were closed and city services came to a halt for a few days. Most of the snow is now gone, but the storm isn't over yet. Right now I am storming mad over the fact that the City seems to be dragging its feet on a hazard created sometime after the snowfall.

OK here's the story.......

My daughter came home from college today and discovered the storm drain cover in front of our house had been removed. Upon further investigation, my husband discovered that the storm drain cover had broken in half. How could this be? It was perfectly fine last Saturday when he and our neighbor's friend, Ray, were shoveling snow.

We called the city to report the situation and were told the projected completion date would be April 26. OK, that's two and a half months away! My husband pointed out the fact that we have children who play in the area---children that include my three-year-old grandson. Th…

Let There Be Light

About two years ago, I called City Hall to ask them to send someone out to repair a street light that had apparently blown a bulb. At that time, someone said they would take care of it---but never did. I called again several weeks later and was told they received tons of repair requests and would get to mine as soon as possible.

Time passed and I forgot about that light until today. Much to my surprise there was a repair truck in our neighborhood right in front of that light. When I approached the repairman I told him I couldn't believe it took them over two years to finally answer my call. He told me if wasn't MY call he was responding to. It was actually my neighbor, Kathy, whose call he was responding to.

When Kathy came home from work I made it a point to thank her for getting some action taken on that light---and much to my surprise again---she had no clue as to what I was talking about. She never even knew the light needed fixing. Imagine that!

Maybe she didn't …

Whose to Blame When Children Fail?

This week a former principal in my community died from an apparent heart attack. Earl Pappy was 51. I met him once in 2008 when I brought actress Bern Nadette Stanis to his school to speak to the drama students. (pictured on the left of Ms. Stanis). My first and only impression of him was he was nice. But that's not what this post is about.

Mr. Pappy was forced to resign last year because of his school's continued low academic performance ranking. Of all of the high schools in the area, Hillside was dead last. The school had been on the steady decline for several years. Mr. Pappy was supposed to change all that when he moved from the same position in Richmond, VA. It didn't happen and parents complained LOUDLY.

Here's my question: If high school students can't read or perform academically on the high school level, is that the Principal's fault? If students came into the school with a behavior issue, is the principal responsible?

By the time students get…

The Challenge of Raising a Black Male

My daughter returned to college this week after a three week holiday break. Having her home gave me a much needed vacation from her three-year-old son.

But now I am wearing the mommy/grandma hat again and dealing with a growing, inquisituve and challenging little boy. At three, he is now starting to test his limits and testing my nerves.

This means he is beginning to defy authority and assert his growing independence. Everything I've read indicates I should recognize that this is a developmental stage. Frequent eruptions and disobedience can be a sign of a strong-willed child, the experts say, and being strong-willed is not such a bad thing in today’s world.

Does this also apply if the child is a black male?

Some of my well-meaning friends don't take too kindly when I bring up race as a factor in how my grandson will be treated in the future. But when CNN does a story indictating that most employers say they would rather hire a white male who's a convicted felon over a…