Washington DC: So Many Sights, So Little Time

I was going through my drafts folder and found this post from several years ago about our first trip to DC.  We were still pushing RJ in a stroller, I had short hair and Obama was in the White House. Indulge my walk down memory lane.

 

We took a road trip to visit my in-laws in Pennsylvania and stopped in DC for a couple days on the way back home.  It was just a 3 hour drive from PA that took us deep through Amish country. *After this trip, I’m really intrigued by the Amish.*  Anyway, we arrived at our hotel, The Beacon & Corporate Quarters, dropped off our bags and hit the pavement. When planning the trip, we’d debated about whether to stay in DC or an outlying suburb.  Staying in the city had its benefits. Hotels outside of the city weren’t going to be that much cheaper, our hotel was in a great location and we could walk to a metro station and most sightseeing attractions.

We would have benefited from one more day in the city, but it was a great vacation.

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Prepping for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.

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We visited the National Zoo but had to rush because we needed to make it across town to the Nationals game. This lovely ape was catching her urine and drinking it. Yes, this is the image I decided to capture. It was awful, but I couldn’t look away.

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Our little baseball lover’s 1st Major League game!

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We were, recently, back in the DMV to spent time with friends, take in an Orioles game and visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I’ll cover that trip soon.

 

There’s so much to see and do in DC and so much of it is free. What’s your favorite DC attraction? 

Travel Baseball Is A Whole New Ballgame

Our introduction to organized sports began here when RJ joined his first baseball team. We’ve been full steam ahead every since.  We typically play baseball in the spring, and he chooses to play soccer in the fall. This year he decided on baseball again this fall. My motto of one team, one sport each season fell through and now he’s also playing on a travel ball team for the first time.  Two baseball teams which have our weeknights and several weekends on lock down.

The first of about 3 or 4 travel ball tournaments was last weekend. This team will only travel to tourneys 30 mins or so away.  The kids on his team are 5 & 6 year olds. However, all the other teams we play have kids who are 7, 8 an almost 9. The coach let us know up front we probably would not win any of the games. A year or two age difference make a huge difference on the field.  The objective this year is to get the kids use to playing together and expose them to a higher level of play.  That’s great in theory for adults, but not easy to relay to kids.

 

The coach knew what he was talking about. We played four games last weekend, 2 Saturday and 2 Sunday and loss them all. BIG TIME! The balance of exposing the kids to the higher level of play and not totally crushing their spirits is a delicate one. There were tears, frustration and anger from my kid.

Side note: I’ve never been more exhausted from literally doing nothing than I was last weekend. Once we got home and I sat down, I could not will my body to move without taking a nap first.

There is an episode of blackish where Miles is great at basketball until he joins a team at the next level. He then discovers he was great at the level where he was, but needs LOTS of work in the new league. Well, that’s RJ. He’s great in his rec league. His team last spring went undefeated and won the championship. His fall team has one more game, but right now they are undefeated and clinched the championship last night. With all of this winning, my child is not a graceful loser.

I’m a dugout mom on his rec team. The mom’s just watch from the stands and the dads handle the kids on the travel team. It’s tough for me to watch his frustrations from afar. Plus, I get too nervous to just sit and watch. So, I would go over to the dugout every now and then to offer encouragement and Skittles. He appreciated the candy more than my pep talk.

Despite the results of the games, I have a feeling that travel ball is here to stay for us. I’m preparing myself now by stocking up on Skittles, a few encouraging words and coffee so can survive it all.

 

Does your kid play a sport? Has he or she ever played on a travel team?

Finding My Local Blogger Community

 

The photos in this post were taken by Greenville photographer, stylist and blogger Wendi Matt of eandastyle.com.

 

This time around, I resolved to use blogging as an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and cultivate face-to-face relationships whenever possible.  Last month GVLToday featured several local bloggers from a local bloggers union. While I knew there were other bloggers in the Upstate I didn’t know there was a union that met regularly. I joined the Facebook group and attended a meeting.

At that meeting, one of the first things we did was go around the room and introduce ourselves and say what we envisioned for our blogs in 5 years. WHATTTT?! I was NOT ready! As I listened to the women in the room, I felt really intimidated.  I never thought of my blog in that way. I used 5 year plans for financial or career goals. My blog has always been a hobby I could just put on the back burner or pick up when I wanted.  This time around, however, I do have more concrete ideas that I want to explore, but I was hesitant to share right off the bat in a room full of strangers.  When it was my turn, I gave a kind of canned answer that in no way conveyed what I really wanted.

Once we got past the 5 year question, I was able to exhale and engage in the conversation we were having. The more we talked, the more my true extrovert was able to come out and the more at ease I felt.  I loved that we were all at different stages in this blog thing. Many of the women used the blog as an extension of businesses. Some were like me and trying to see just doing something we enjoyed and trying to see where it leads. I’ve been in this space for 9 years and I have amassed an awesome group of blogger friends across the country. I’m looking forward to having a group that close to home for accountability and encouragement. I’ve gained so much insight in the two meetings I’ve attended about the business of blogging, what I purpose I want this blog to serve and what I want to get out of it in return.

 

If you are a blogger, have you ever been to meet up of other bloggers in your area? If so, is something you do consistently and do you find it beneficial? 

That Nonprofit CEO Makes What?

When a natural disaster strikes, as they have over the last few days and weeks, those of us wanting to help often search for where to donate. This is often when nonprofit agencies get the most recognition and scrutiny.  Money is tight for a lot of us, so if we choose to give of our funds we want to be certain that money is getting to cause or people we’re seeking to help.  Real talk, that’s not always the case whether it’s a nationally recognized organization such as the Red Cross, think Haiti, 6 billion donated and only 6 houses (NPR’s take | Red Cross’ take).  When stories such as these come out, the conversation on how much the CEOs of these agencies earns becomes an offshoot.  It’s also not just disaster that bring about the pay discussion. Based on my Facebook feed, the issue of nonprofit upper management salaries comes up about every 6 months. Usually, it’s based on a meme of salaries of some of the biggest nonprofits in the country (Snopes take on the meme).

Sure enough, several days ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and someone I followed posted about the fact that Goodwill had hired a new regional CEO in her area. She went on to state the person taking the job was leaving a company where he made $500. Naturally, the consensus was that he would be making that or more when he joins Goodwill.  She questioned why/how/if a nonprofit should pay such large salary and if that money should be going to a greater cause such as hurricane relief.

Full disclosure, I have worked for a small local nonprofit for 6 years.

Now, that being said, I worked in corporate america before choosing to leave for my current job. In my case, that meant a decrease in salary. I took the job because I wanted to help others and felt this particular job would allow me the flexibility I needed as a mom of an 8 month old. However, my professional goals and aspirations didn’t change because I chose to work for a nonprofit.

When these questions about nonprofit CEO salaries come up, I often want to know what do those questioning think a decent salary would be for these national and sometimes global agencies? Let’s consider a local Goodwill branch in my area: Goodwill Upstate/Midlands. They have about 40 stores spanning several counties. Take into account workers you see on the sales floor, managers, those in stock, those who drive trucks to pick up donated items, staff accountants, human resources, etc.  That’s just the stores, Goodwill also offers educations services. So, consider the staff for that.  Nonprofits are businesses they need to be competitive to attract the best people to reduce turnover, attract donors/partners and keep the doors open.

Now, if you are the person in charge of running ALL of that, how much would you want to make?

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Consider you’re at the top of the totem poll so whatever you cap yourself at, you are also capping everyone else under you. So, if the CEO should only make $50k, then what is the store manager, accountant, human resource worker or sales clerk making?

Creating an agency to help people doesn’t mean you don’t want to make a living or that you don’t want what you’ve created to grow and expand. My husband knows someone who gives to a certain nonprofit because the CEO only makes $13,000 a year and not what she considers exorbitant amounts of bigger agencies. Ummm ok! A few things. This nonprofit must be extremely small which is just fine, but it should add to perspective. This person is a one man band and is running this alone. This person must have another job as a supplement, has a trust fund he’s just dipping into or is constantly making a choice between food and housing.  If she just wants to give to smaller agencies that’s great, but to give because of what the CEO makes doesn’t sit well with me. How about instead of focusing on CEO pay, you focus on how much of every dollar you give actually goes to the cause? How about researching success stories or stories showing how lives or situations have changed due to the agency? The CEO making less money doesn’t equal a well run organization that’s making the most of your donations.

Making decisions for workers and making sure they are successful and an agency is successful takes a lot of work. It can be just as much work if not more than the corporate realm because you also have to search for donors for your cause. As a nonprofit you don’t pass a lot of your costs to your customers as other businesses do.  Now, should nonprofits have to do what they say they are going to do and account for the money that is donated to them? ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY! Hell yes! Hold their feet to the fire, those are YOUR coins!

Bottomline is nonprofit workers are skilled, highly trained and educated. We just chose to take our talents to the nonprofit world. The same opportunities for growth, pay increase, etc. are expected. Not all nonprofits are equal and when it comes to salaries size, funding and how the agency is run both come into play. However, if a nonprofit is able to pay big bucks, still stay on its mission and account for money given, then I say “show me the money”.  Nonprofit doesn’t mean “we don’t see money”. It means, we want to help and still get our coins while we do it. Both can be done and that’s ok.

5 Takeaways: Disciplining My 6 Year Old

A couple of days after RJ was born, we had his first doctor’s appointment. They weighed him and he’d loss a few ounces. For a newborn who was only 6lbs 11oz, this was a concern. The doctor told me to nurse then give him formula as a supplement until my milk came in. The first time I did this and he looked up at me “milk drunk”,  I thought “I got this”. In the years that followed there was the switch from bottles to sippy cups, potty training, first day of daycare. We were slaying all day. Then, my child turned 6 1/2.  The stage where he dislikes everything that wasn’t his idea or exactly what he envisioned. The stage where nothing is fair. The stage where not getting his way results in epic shouting matches and meltdowns. The stage where his dad and I are about to lose our f’ing minds!  I’ve been learning from our mistakes, reading tips from experts and gotten some advice that I think is helping.  Here are my 5 takeaways from disciplining my 6 year old. 

My child is not me and I’m not my mom

I’ve always had this idea of parenting the way I was parented, with a few minor tweaks here or there.  I think I turned out ok. I had a good balance of being able to talk to my mom and still understand she wasn’t one of my little friends. Somewhere along the line in my memories of my childhood I forgot that though I feared my mom,  I didn’t always listen to her.  She was very stern. I knew not to be disrespectful in her presence, but I think that just made me sneaky. This was an art I would practice heavily in my teenage years.  I always thought that when I had kids of my own, I would instill that level of fear. You know, the look that would make them cease and desist whatever awful behavior they were doing. Well, apparently my look needs work because RJ doesn’t have that fear, at least not to the extent I did. It’s not for lack of me being stern because I am admittedly the “bad cop” in our house. He just isn’t built that way.  He doesn’t react to things the same way I did and I don’t have the same presence as my mom.  Who would have thought, my child would have his own personality and not just be a clone of me?

 

This parenting sh*t is hard

I’d love to say I’ve been praying and using what I’ve learned in the books from The Art of Listening post and RJ just became a parent obeying child. I’d also love to say we’re no longer experiencing some of the behavior that started this. That’s not the case. We have BAD days and I’ve shed lots of tears, because I felt I should have answers that I just didn’t have.  I’ve questioned our parenting. Mainly because for the most part RJ only exhibits his extreme behavior with us. Part of me is grateful because that means he knows how to behave and therefore, we have done something right and at least he knows how to act in the streets. Part of me feels ashamed because as his mom, I should have a better handle.  How can my child behave with others and not me?  I was talking to my god-sister recently about how our upbringing put a lot of pressure on moms to “control” their kids. Growing up we always heard children should be seen and not heard. It seemed anything short of a child who is obedient in all situations was a failure. “Oh, it’s shame, they can’t control that child.” I spend a lot of energy making sure RJ doesn’t bother other people when we’re out or even visiting friends and family.  I believe kids shouldn’t take part in grown conversations and there are times when kids should be quiet. However, my child has thoughts and opinions that should be taken into consideration. He wants to be heard just like us adults. I’m realizing some of those standards I grew up with don’t allow for wiggle room and for kids to be kids.  I’m learning is to parent the child I have in whatever way works best for us.

Spanking doesn’t work for my child

We’ve tried spanking RJ with our hands and discovered it’s not a good form of discipline for him.  It doesn’t result in the behavior we’re seeking from him and it doesn’t give us a leg to stand on when we tell him not hit others. Mainly, don’t like how it makes me feel. I want him to have a sense of fear of me and Ralph in that he’ll think twice about misbehaving because he doesn’t want to disappoint us. However, I don’t want him to be AFRAID of us. So, spanking is out for us.

 

My husband and I have to be on the same page

My husband and I were raised differently and it plays out in our parenting styles. He kind of leans towards the idea of being friends with RJ. He doesn’t really want RJ to be mad at him so he will cave before me. Often times this makes me the “no” person and therefore the bad guy. Lately, as we’ve been trying to nip some of RJ’s behavior in the bud, we’ve had get on the same page quick! These kids aren’t playing any games. A united front is the only way we will survive.

We have tons of random stickers around the house so I’m just using up what I have. These are from BOB books.

My child’s love of winning is our solution

I was talking to a coworker about being fresh out of ideas on how to deal with RJ’s behavior. She suggested a behavior chart.  RJ is huge sports and he likes visuals.  He likes working towards a goal he can see rather than just an arbitrary end goal I’ve created in my head. Plus, he’s familiar with behavior related points from Class Dojo at school. I created a chart with behaviors I’d like to work on as well as some aspects of our morning/evening routine. Then, I came up with rewards for reaching certain goals.  We are about 2 1/2 weeks in, it’s not an overnight success, but he’s engaged and hasn’t dismissed it. *Yes, I had to add shower to his chart, because he views washing as an interruption to whatever he’s doing.

Does how you imagined disciplining your kids would be match your reality? Do you discipline your kids the way you were disciplined? If so, do you think it’s working?