Lorraine Motel – when the FamiLee visits

We took the kids to Memphis this week. I’d like to pat ourselves on the back for doing a bang-up job of priming them for why Memphis is such a significant place in shaping this country’s history. In particular, we took the kids to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. As historical showcases go, the museum is just phenomenal. Interactive media, gorgeous photos, and very memorable displays that take one through the history from slavery to the civil rights movement, even ending with a segment on human trafficking.

lorraine motel

The tricky thing is that we waited until the 3p entry because Tennesseans need only present their state-issued license to get in free on Mondays! The kids were a little over-hyped by that point. We didn’t want to be those parents harping the whole time; we have realistic expectations of how a 6 year-old and a 4 year-old behave in a museum about topics that are way over their heads. Example: they got on the bus with a replica of Rosa Parks and the bus driver chastising her and they were spooked. Dude. Why isn’t she moving? Oh. It’s a statue. And also, it’s Rosa Parks. Complexity.

The part of the museum that takes visitors through a reconstructed room #306 is just very special. You peer into the last place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rested his head before he walked out with his brother and friends and was shot on the balcony by James Early Ray. You see the books that were tucked into King’s suitcase. The passage is cloaked in blue and the music playing is beautiful, funereal and the whole mood is reverent.

As we approached the window to peer in on room #306, my little man said loudly, “Shhh. We’re about to meet Elvis.”

lorraine motel tatum


Memphis, y’all.

American Parenting (see also: a tad bit over it)

I have to be careful how I word this and how I identify the cast of characters since I live in a small community and folks might read this and think I was talking smack about them and retaliate by accusing me of counterfeiting all my kids’ Boxtops for Education.


Once upon a time, I was at a children’s tee-ball game. The average age of the players was no older than 6. The coach, we’ll call him Coach, was watching his wife, we’ll call her Mom, who was taping the bench where the players would sit whilst waiting to go up for their at-bats. Mom was taping the spots in an orderly fashion and doing a bang-up job.

Part of me was thinking, That’s nice, I bet she saw that on the Pinterest. The other part of me was, Yeah, I bet you those kids can probably figure out how to sit down without someone taping their names for them? And anyway, have you ever met a 5 year-old? Sitting isn’t their best gross motor skill. Unless you ask them to empty the dishwasher. Then suddenly they’re champion sitters.

Okay, but then Coach starts critiquing Mom about her measured taping skills. He starts arguing with her about there not being enough room for all the kids on the bench. Like maybe she should have used a tape measure to precisely allocate a certain number of inches for each tee-baller rump. He starts hammering out each spot on the bench where the tape line should have gone, and suddenly Mom is feeling bad and Coach is clearly irritated and I’m on the sidelines totally embarrassed that this is happening.


Why is the five year-old tee-baller and her best seven pals not doing this themselves? Even if it’s not perfect, why are they not the ones marking up the bench so that they can take pride in their butt-assignment system? Why are we as American parents riddled with so much guilt and why are we so quick to swoop in and help our kids navigate situations that we ourselves were fine to figure out. Further, why are we taking all parenting cues from Upworthy videos and bloggers (hi.) and glossy photo DIYs pinned to the internet?


“Have you talked to your tweens about over-the-counter medications?”

I read the above on the Twitter tonight.

It is not enough to cloth diaper and puree organic root vegetables and help them with Sudoku-style math every night.

You have to add not oversnorting Afrin to the list of Things to Talk about with your Tween. Or you fail.


The moral of the story is, I should never have read Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting). Laissez Faire parenting, aka parenting that encourages discovery, is so my jam.
Packing my bags for France, parenting abroad indefinitely. Who’s with me?

Changing the story because I can

It was the kind of story that wouldn’t usually affect me because I am busy counting calories or inputting symptoms into WebMD or clicking out of stories that tend to depress me. But instead I decided to risk being depressed and to drink in the details of a story of a pastor who was left for dead in a ditch. Maybe he got unwittingly involved in a drug deal gone deadly or maybe he really was living a second life or maybe we’ll never know. But the whole sad stuffed with sadness with a side of sad made me…

I couldn’t get into life for the rest of the day.

Who wants to keep doing this life thing on this planet where the animals in the jungle have more regard for one another? Oh, hey there, lion, king of the jungle. Were you trying to get by? Oh, wow, look at you letting me through to my prairie dog tunnel. Thanks for being such a bro!

Is the internet just addling my brain or is every other headline about total rotten awful malicious garbage rotting on top of perfectly good soil?

Pupils on Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont's farm for girls  (LOC)

I had to change the story. I needed to believe in the other stories that were using the soil for good. I asked the book of Faces: who is someone who invested in you, that made a really big difference.

The responses were just so good and life-giving. Coaches and 5th grade math teachers and counselors and hubbies and grandmothers. They saw soil–maybe it was good or total garbage but they planted seeds anyway.

At work on Belmont girl farm  (LOC)

People are worth investing in, people are worth investing in, people are worth investing in because people are worth investing in.

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