Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Will Love You Everywhere Always

Over the last week, I have witnessed the passing of two mothers.  While the world mourned the loss of the iconic Whitney Houston, locally we paid tribute to my dear soror and fellow Jack and Jill mom, Janifer Lighten. 

While we grieve, I can't help but think about the children who must now go on without their beloved mother.  Those who love her agreed that Janifer was an inspiration and a role model of motherhood.  She loved her children fiercely and without apology.  Their bond so close.  In her passing, a huge void now remains.  The children will need a lot of support as they learn to cope with life without their mother's physical presence in it.
After paying tribute to Janifer and spending the day watching Whitney's home going service, I Will Love You Everywhere Always, was brought back to my remembrance.  I learned about this beautiful book several months ago while listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show.  Written for children who have suffered from the loss of a loved one, it speaks straight to the heart and helps with the healing and grieving processes.  It provides comfort as the narrator reminds the child that although the loved one may have transitioned, they are ever present and will be found everywhere in everyday life. 

Thank you Renee Alexander Craft for penning such a beautiful and thoughtful book for our children young and old.  Unfortunately someone we know will need this book.  May it bring them comfort and peace as they cherish the memory of their loved one.

Targeted release date for I Will Love You Everywhere Always is October 2012.  Check out the link below for an update from the author.  Like them on Facebook to receive periodic updates on the status of the book.

In loving memory of the incomparable Janifer Lynn Lighten.  Our heart felt condolences to her husband Bill and her children Adrienne, Alexis, Christopher and Michael.

Great Cultural Activities for Winter Break: Freedom Sisters, Malcolm X and More

I love the community that exists between mothers.  Most often, I get my best leads on great family activities from chatting with other moms!  The sharing of information that mutually strengthens our families is AWESOME. 
Olive and Takisia so kindly shared these cultural events with me, so I'm playing it forward by passing them along to the Chocolate Chip family.  With winter break upon us, what a great way to keep those young minds stimulated while expanding their understanding of self.  Share widely.

Freedom Sisters
Now through April 22, 2012

Dare to Dream, Inspire Lives, Serve the Public, Look to the Future.  Theses phrases are the back drop to this cultural analysis of the impact of Black Women.  A collaboration between the Smithsonian Institute and the Cincinnati Museum Center, Freedom Sisters examines the significant, but often unrecognized contributions of women throughout the Civil Rights era.

The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center
(formerly known as the Audubon Ballroom)
3940 Broadway, NYC
Monday thru Saturday 10am-5pm,

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture never disappoints with amazing cultural events.  I remember taking a group of 16 year olds from the ALPHA program to see Roger Guenveur Smith in Free Huey back in the 90's.  I digress...

Two exhibitions of note: 

Malcolm X: A Search for Truth 
Now through March 8, 2012

"Malcolm X: A Search for Truth will provide the general public an opportunity to examine materials from the Malcolm X collection. The Malcolm X collection is unique in that it contains a wide range of speeches, sermons, radio broadcasts, diaries, correspondence, and other documents handwritten by Malcolm X or typed and edited at his direction. Most significantly, Malcolm X: A Search for Truth will offer the public fresh new insights into the nature of his thoughts and development, as well as his multifaceted, at times seemingly contradictory, persona and personality."

The Obama Presidency A Look Behind the Scenes
Photographs by Pete Souza Chief Official White House Photographer
Now through June 2, 2012

"Souza’s work documents the Commander in Chief’s daily executive routine, which includes attending historic events and dealing with crises. Some of the images also offer glimpses of the lighter side of President Obama’s personality and reveal his sense of humor in views of his more private interactions with his staff, family, and friends."

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
Monday thru Saturday 10am-6pm

Personally, I'm really looking forward to sharing these events with my children.  As guardians of our history, let's make sure they learn and remember.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Encouragement for Today- Let's Make Time

I received this from a colleague today via email and couldn't wait to share it with you. I needed this badly and I figured you did too:)


"...for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed."
Ecclesiastes 3:17b (NIV 1984)

I didn't want to...yet I did.
Hungry, cold and dirty, my daughter walked through the door, home from
softball practice. She wanted a snack, to talk and a hot shower, in that
order. I wanted to keep working. I was on a roll; walking away from my
computer was going to stop my progress.

But, I did. Putting my computer aside, I popped her favorite treat in the
microwave and sat down to hear about my daughter's day.
That's not so easy for me to do. Like many women, deadlines loom over my
mind. Work deadlines, volunteer deadlines, dinner and dirty clothes
deadlines all call me to make them my first priority. Sometimes I do, but
this day I didn't.

See, the day before, while in the process of making another time management
decision, I remembered something really important. And that "something"
brought tears to my eyes: my daughters will be gone all too soon.
These years they're in school will be mere memories before I know it. I
want me listening to them, giving them my full attention, to be a part of
these memories.
Ecclesiastes reminds me to keep a check on how my time is spent. "...for
there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed" (vs.
3:17b). The days of softball stories and tales of German class will not
wait. I have to strike a balance in how I use my time, not neglecting
people for tasks.

I want to conquer the temptation to let what seems urgent overtake what
truly matters to me every day. Most of us have to work, pay bills, answer
emails and do chores. But it's so important we also take time for talking,
listening and parenting well.

Investing in children, whether they are our own, nieces and nephews,
grandsons or granddaughters, neighborhood or church kids, is a privilege.
Whether they admit it or not, they want us to hear their stories and learn
about their days.

Will you join me today? Let's walk away from the computer. Set aside our
phones. Turn off the televisions. And let's make time to talk with and
listen to our children. One day, we'll look back and be glad we did.

Dear Lord, today I need to set aside what appears to be so important to
give to those around me what they need: affirmation, attention and
affection. Pour through me to love on them. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Author/Source: Unknown

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Black History Month 2012...Innovators in Science & Much More

Royal Amethyst, LLC

For a comprehensive approach to celebrating Black History Month for your family, Chocolate Chip is your #1 source for information!
As a mom with children in elementary school, I do my best to contribute my time, talents and resources to make a difference.  So when Black History month was a non-event during our first year of enrollment,
I went directly to the PTA president and volunteered myself as the chairman of the Black History Month committee. 

To ensure that the children learned more than our history as slaves, my committee (me and Chocolate Chip mom Tara Lattimer-Wilson) has taken a comprehensive approach by selecting a theme to explore throughout the month.  In 2011, we studied the Harlem Renaissance to demonstrate the intellectual and creative brilliance of African Americans and pay homage to the cultural mecca just a few miles south of our Westchester County neighborhood.   

Check out last year's post from the Chocolate Chip Archives....

The Harlem Renaissance- Brown History for Young People

With the need to emphasize math and science in our schools, we selected Innovators in Science as our theme for 2012.  The banner above sets the tone at the entrance of the school building and depicts 6 of the innovators whose biographies we will explore daily during the morning announcements.  This week we feature Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. Mae Jemison, Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver and award winning cardiologist and Westchester resident, Dr. Lynn Perry-Bottinger

I LOVE Dr. Perry-Bottinger's story!  Her father is a cardiologist (a chip off the ole chocolate block) and her mother is a pediatrician. She has 7 brothers and sisters- one is a lawyer and the other 6 are doctors!  Now that's legacy building for you!  I must add that she's also my sorority sister and a fellow Jack and Jill mom:) 

We're especially proud that one of Pennington's finest appears on the banner, CBS 2 Meteorologist, Elise Finch (ok- I'm a little biased because she's my cousin). Seeing her on television knowing she sat in their seats (literally my daughter's 3rd grade teacher taught her) is so inspiring!

Last year we offered a school wide raffle and gave Black History related prizes to the winners who earned 100% on our weekly Black History quiz. This year we've chosen to donate science related books to each class to ensure there are books telling the stories of African Americans in every classroom. 

I've done the of leg work, so I'm sharing my research with you so you can continue to build your libraries at home:

Kareem Abdul Jabbar's new book for 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders- What Color Is My World?

African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention

Scholastic Reader Level 4: Great Black Heroes: Five Brilliant Scientists: (level 4) k-2nd

Great Black Heroes: Five Notable Inventors (level 4) (Hello Reader) - K -2nd

Black Pioneers of Science and Invention (ages 10 and up)

Book of Black Heroes: Scientists, Healers, and Inventors (grades 5 and 6) 

and from the Chocolate Chip Archives....
Great Reads for Black History Month

Lastly, check out these two terrific family events coming up this weekend:
The Junior Teens of the Westchester Chapter of Jack and Jill present, "VOICES: Those Who Wore The Shoe"-"A staged documentary, adapted and directed by Harlin C. Kearsley. Based on actual slave narratives culled from the 1934-1941 Federal Writers' Project interviews, this staged documentary incorporates music, dance and archival photographs to recreate a neglected part of American history".
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Sarah Lawrence College Auditorium
1 Mead Way Bronxville, NY
Donation: $15 per person
Space is limited
Recommended for children 5th grade and up

Third Annual Harlem Fine Arts Show -a leading showcase for modern and contemporary African Diasporic art — “A vital networking and multicultural event for art lovers everywhere, the Harlem Fine Arts Show reflects the diverse demographic and international appeal of popular and cutting edge Afro-centric and Hispanic artists,” said Dion Clarke, Founder of the Harlem Fine Arts Show and President of JWD Enterprises. “Our overarching mission is to support the arts in a way that enriches and educates communities on a global scale, while showcasing Harlem as a cultural hub.”

The Third Annual 2012 Harlem Fine Arts Show will feature a VIP preview reception hosted by transcultural lifestyle expert, author, and restaurateur B. Smith, on Friday, February 10 at the historic Riverside Church 490 Riverside Drive (at 120th Street) in New York City. A two-day exhibition of more than 100 emerging and established multicultural artists will open to the public on Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12. Tickets for the art show are $20 and will be available for purchase at or by calling Porcia Gardner at (914) 450-4269. Students from public, independent and charter schools in the tri-state area, as well as members of the military in uniform will be granted admission at no cost.