Posts for Oakland

How We Celebrated a Big Anniversary on a Little Budget

Gay Parenting, Love Wins, Uncategorized - Allison Kenny - June 29, 2016

If you don’t know already, Oakland is one of the priciest places to live in the country. As mampreneurs, my wife and I have had to get real about our spending since bringing our little Squirrel home. I looked to other mommy bloggers for inspiration about living an abundant life on a budget and came across some great stuff by Amiyrah on her blog, 4 Hats and Frugal. After watching her video on creating a family budget and reading some posts on 64 dollar grocery bills, I was ready to help our family shift some things…especially while living in the Bay Area!

But…a 10 year anniversary is very special thing. It only comes round…well, every 10 years. So what if we couldn’t afford the Hawaiin vacation I dreamt of? What COULD we do, given the income we have TODAY? Well, one of our favorite things of all time is to hole up in a nice hotel and eat a fancy picnic. For this anniversary, our “hotel” was a super clean house and gorgeous bunch of flowers my sister gave us to celebrate. We gave ourselves a $50 dinner budget and chose to spend it at Whole Foods, instead of our usual Trader Joe’s.

Fresh flowers + clean house + Whole Foods= ABUNDANCE IMG_2322

We hurried to pick out our all time favorite decadent cheese and some good wine. We rushed to get home in time for the massage therapists who were coming by. That’s right. Our “at home Hawaii” included side by side massages in our living room. Who knew you could book this the day before? Turns out Soothe is the Uber of massage therapy. Yes please!

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I’m aware that spending $200 on massages and $50 on a picnic is not considered a low cost night to most folks. BUT let’s be honest- a trip to Hawaii would have been 2-5K so I’d say we did pretty good. Plus, we chose this budget, based on Amiyrah’s fabulously frugal advice. Our new family budget has us spending 5% of our monthly income on entertainment and another 5% on personal expenses (aka massages!). This is after giving away 10% every month, saving another 10% and paying all our bills.

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It felt so good to know we were being choiceful and smart about the cash we earn AND got to celebrate our marriage according to our values- beauty, self care, fancy cheese…oh and FUN.

Do you think my wife of 10 years busted out the kareoke machine and insisted that we sing all the love songs that were played at our wedding? Oh yes. Yes she did.

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Can my daughter learn connection through competition?

Girl Power, Learning, Parenting, Play Time, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - June 17, 2015

The other morning at breakfast, the Squirrel noticed that she and I both had the same amount of orange juice left in our glasses.  “Let’s race to see who can finish first!,” she screamed.  “Ugh,” I responded.  I just wanted to enjoy my orange juice.

This ordinary breakfast moment made me wonder/panic, “What will be my daughter’s relationship to competition?”  And this morning, in the wake of my town’s fervor over the victory of the Golden State Warriors, I feel the need to explore the concept of competition a bit further.

My competition-panic comes from the fact that I have always been a bit competition-phobic.  My grandfather, who was an Olympic-class runner in his youth, used to tell a story about me that I absolutely love.  One summer while I was visiting my grandmother and him in their home in Evanston, IL, he entered me in a little kids’ race in connection with a 4th of July festival.  I was around 5 and was running the race with other 5 year olds.  How cute is that?

According to my grandfather, I was fast.  I took off with an early lead and kept that lead for a long time.  Until, I noticed that I was in the lead.  I noticed I was no longer with all of the other kids.  So, I stopped.  I was waiting for them to catch up.

I love this story because I feel like it so beautifully depicts my values of community, connection, and equity.  I have committed my adult life to examining and promoting how to bring people together; how those left behind can catch up.

At the same time, as a girl advocate, the story troubles me.  Why couldn’t I take my place out ahead?  Why was I uncomfortable leading the group?

One thing I noticed while witnessing the aftermath of last night’s championship game was the massive amount of community and connection that was created by the Warriors’ win.  Right at the final buzzer, I ran outside my door just because I was curious what folks would do to celebrate.  I heard yelps and hollers and car horns and gun shots and firecrackers and general jubilation.  There was even someone on my street playing a horn of some kind.  Not well, but with the sheer joy of someone welcoming home an old friend they hadn’t seen in 40 years.

curry and jamesI was inspired and pumped up by how this simple competitive sport was connecting me to my neighbors.  I thought about how connected the players felt to each other – not just the victorious Warriors but also the defeated Cavaliers – how taking on a task as mighty as an NBA championship can bond you to each other, win or lose.  I meditated on the connections that can even be built between competitors in that moment when LeBron James congratulated Stephen Curry at the end of the game.  It made me realize that, when people are courageous enough to take their place out ahead of the group, they put themselves in the position of not just winning a game, but winning the respect and admiration of others who recognize their efforts and celebrate their hard work.

This is what I want for my daughter.  It’s what I want for myself.  It’s want I want for all women and girls.  As I wonder/panic about how my daughter yields her own power in the world, I want us all to be able to access real competition in healthy and dynamic ways.  My wish is that we can work hard, take our rightful place out ahead when appropriate, and celebrate the wins of others when defeated.  I want my daughter to be known as both a fierce competitor and a compassionate community leader; always looking for ways to use her power to help others who have been left behind.

And I also want her to let me enjoy my orange juice.

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My Go Girls! Summer Bucket List

Girl Power, Play Time, Tales from the Maxi Pad - Lynn Johnson - June 15, 2015

7 Things to do this Summer to Care for Myself and Inspire my Daughter

Happy Summer blog editI know, I know.  The first day of summer isn’t for another week.  But, let’s be honest, the official start of summer is when your kids get out of school and the whole energy of your house changes.  The kids go to camp.  You start to pack up for vacations.  And, then, there is the Summer Bucket List.  I’m sure you have one.  It’s that list full of all of the things that you haven’t managed to get to the other 3 seasons of the year but (cross your fingers) swear you will get to in the summer.  Summer has a magic to it.  The air is different.  Things slow down.  Why not use this time to make all your dreams come true?  You can do it.  And I’m going to join you.

Around my house, the beginning of summer has a very specific energy.  The magic also contains a special mix of stress, excitement, pride, overwhelm, lunacy, creativity, and sheer panic.  Yes, it’s the start of Go Girls! Camp!  This morning 90 girls showed up in Oakland and Berkeley expecting to have a good time.  By the time the season ends in mid-August, over 450 girls will have made plays with us at our 5 Bay Area locations.

This isn’t just my first day of camp.  Today also marks my first summer as a parent.  As I navigate how to produce our biggest summer ever with a Squirrel in the house, I also have to figure out how to make some time for myself, have a little fun, and embrace the magic of the summer months.  At the same time, I have an opportunity to model for my daughter the practices of summer self-care that may have a positive effect on her choices.  I’m thinking, “why not do stuff this summer that will take care of me and inspire my daughter at the same time?”  I mean, 450 Go Girls!?!  I don’t have that much time.  I might as well do a little multi-tasking with my self-care, right?

As a result,  I have created a Summer Bucket List that I hope will inspire the Go Girl! in me, the Squirrel, and maybe even you.  This summer, (cross my fingers), I will…

1. Make Something

The theme of our first session of camp, “Girls can…MAKE!,” conveniently and coincidentally aligns with the White House’s National Week of Making, a call to action to “lift up makers and builders and doers across the country” through Maker-related events and activities.  I have a fear of and fascination with making anything at all.  However, I believe that we all have it in us to make, to invent, to create something that has never existed before.  My goal is to make something simple that challenges my fears this week, to have fun with all of the inevitable mistakes I will make, and to share this mini- adventure with the Squirrel.

2. Rock that Swimsuit…with no apologies

I hate the phrase “swimsuit-ready” when referring to women’s bodies.  We all have bodies.  If I want to swim or hang out by the pool or play in the sand or just dream of tropical destinations, then, by default, my body is ready for a swimsuit…no matter how many “extra pounds” (another phrase I hate) my body has.  My body is always “swimsuit-read.”  I will throw on my suit, no matter how many pieces it has, and enjoy it.  I will celebrate my body in front of my daughter and make no excuses or lament about any other body I wish I had.

3. Read an out-of-your-world book

Melissa Harris-Perry (the mother of 2 daughters) is my spirit animal mainly because she seems so unafraid to share exactly what she feels/thinks with the whole world.  And she does it in a kind and compassionate way.  I wish all of us women could do that?  Anyway, recently, when she noticed that the NYT’s summer reading recommendations had no authors of color on it, she had something to say about it.  Have you seen this?

I am particularly drawn to the part where she recommends that we read a book by someone outside of our own culture.  As Allison and I work to support the Squirrel with her reading this summer in preparation for first grade, I want to make sure that 1) She sees me reading for pleasure as much as possible – the goal being to reduce as much “do as I say, not as I do” kind of behavior – and 2) She sees me being curious about worlds outside of my own.  The Squirrel has been fascinated by the Spanish language lately…a language I don’t speak at all.  How cool would it be if she sees me reading a book by a Latina/o author that actually contains Spanish words and phrases?  Maybe I can support her to continue her exploration as well.

4. Have a total veg-out/breakdown day and invite no one

The Squirrel is so busy all the time.  “What are you doing, Momma?”  and “What are we going to do next, Momma” are often-heard phrases around the Maxi Pad.  It’s our continued challenge to teach her the importance of quiet, down time; how to enjoy spending time with herself and just herself.  Despite the busy-ness of running camp, or perhaps because of it, I must remember to embrace the lazy-ness of the season.  I must take at least a day or 2 where I do absolutely nothing of importance…all by myself.  I’ll need, certainly, and she will need to see me doing it.

5. Make a new friend

In the fall, my daughter will start a new school.  She has been going to a school far from our house and we decided to transfer her to the public school nearby so that she could make friends with the kids who live in our neighborhood.  The Squirrel actually has no trace of social anxiety.  She is that kid who will come up to your kid on the playground with absolutely no filter and the classic kid query, “Do you want to play?” Meeting new people is not her problem.  Actually making and keeping friends is where she struggles.  I’m actually very good at this but haven’t ventured out into the new friend territory in quite awhile.  I have a whole other bucket list of “folks I want to be friends with” – those people whom I really like/admire but only know casually.  This summer is the perfect opportunity to dust off that list and get to work sharing with the Squirrel the steps of making a good friend.

6. Woman the Grill

Despite the fact that I throw an exceptional party, I tend to overcook meat – a fact I am a bit embarrassed by.  And my tendency towards dry meat makes me fear the grill.  But, here’s the thing, my mother-in-law bought us a brand new shiny gas grill this spring and I am obliged to bust it out this summer.  My daughter has already seen me engage more than one man in helping me figure out how the grill works…I literally couldn’t turn the grill on without the help of my friend Steve…I can’t continue to let my grill-timidation (yes, it’s a word) get in the way of improving my meat-abilities (again…).  And I especially can’t reinforce the stereotype that grilling is only the domain of men, especially not in a home full of women and a brand new shiny gas grill.  I have a hankering for some pork chops this summer and nothing is gonna get in my way!

7. Dance

Isn’t the summertime made for dancing?

I used to dance all the time.  I studied dance in my youth and danced my butt off socially when I was a younger adult.  I rarely dance these days.  And now I have a daughter who loves dancing.  She dances while walking down the street.  She had her first ballet class this spring and returning to class is all she can talk about.  Summertime is made for dancing.  This summer, I will grab the Squirrel, my new friends (and old ones) and create as many opportunities as possible dance the day and night away.

My last goal for the summer is to drink lots of lemonade.  This has nothing to do with modeling exemplary Go Girls!-like behavior for my daughter.  I just love lemonade.  The Squirrel loves lemonade.  And I wholeheartedly believe that summer is only summer with lots of lemonade.

There’s magic in it.

 

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