Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Good Morning! I love to share when I have good, inspiring, and helpful revelations. I often don't post anything when there's nothing exciting or dramatic going on, but I realized I have so many "moments" that maybe others should share in. Although, in my mind it's always just "another day" with them, our days are so special and loving (mostly) that someone else could learn from (what I think of as) our normal moments. I realize not every home is like ours... although not perfect, we are a very together, loving family. The day-to-day Brawner-Keys house is interesting in itself... it's fun, sometimes loud with love and fighting, and we have a lot of quiet loving moments as well. Being around those guys daily, is a joy. I noticed and took a moment to think on (and smile about) the occasional, special moments that happen in our home.

I love my girls to pieces! They are thee best daughters in the world. I don't really have much to complain about... yes, they are crazy, moody, smart mouthed, menstrual teen aged and pre-teenage girls. But more than those things, they are smart and witty,  funny, sweet, loving, helpful and mostly obedient children. Of course they have their moments where they drive me up a wall, they're girls! And they're at the age where sometimes they can't help but be crazy. I probably find spaces in the house to avoid them at all costs. But when they are not monsters, I love being in their space. You can learn so much just by sitting and talking to your kids. Give them your undivided attention and they will tell you just about anything. I am shocked sometimes at the things they so comfortably divulge to me. Whenever I am just sitting on the couch and I ask Kai to come sit on my lap so I can hold her awhile, I can get just about anything out of her. (I'm not telling you this as a way to trick your children into telling you juicy stuff. I just noticed that when I provoke affectionate convo with Kai, she opens up...) I start my telling her, "I remember when you were small and could fit right here perfectly. I miss those days, you were so sweet." Then I start to ball her up and bend her legs, "see, you still fit!" I ask about her day, what's going on with her and when I feel like there is a certain thing she just failed to tell me, I take that time to ask her about it specifically. I assume she feels safe in that spot on my lap, me holding her just because I love her and WANTED her there (knowing honestly, I am usually annoyed when she attempts to "attack" me with her affection. I'm working on it.) She's probably thinking, "my mommy does love me, this is the best spot in the world. I feel safe here, I can tell her anything and know she will still love me." Our children just want our time, attention and affection. I know I don't always give them enough of it. We work, we come home, we cook, we clean...and as they get older and start to appear independent, sometimes as parents we forget they are still just our babies. They still NEED the kinda love that comes in the form of hugs, kisses and quiet moments on our laps.

The end of last year, I decided to try something different. I realized I had 2 girls that now wanted to get their eyebrows done. I let Kai start getting hers done last year for her birthday and Nae has been getting hers done since 6th grade as well. It started to become another bill going regularly to get mine and theirs done. I've sacrificed my own a few times so Nae could get hers done, she's in high school... I remember how that feels, needing to feel like you were putting your best self forward. But then one day when I didn't want to sacrifice my own (I think it was my bday) and getting hers done just wasn't in the tight (Christmas) budget, I decided I would just do them myself. Before I started going to get mine done, I would simply pluck out my stray brows and arch them myself. I figured, why not do theirs? I went and bought tweezers and a straight razor and went to work. I'd lay their head in my lap, pluck and shave at their brows until I was satisfied. While they were there in my lap, we'd talk or sometimes just sit quietly until I was done. What I noticed... they were super happy with that time getting their eyebrows done. Yes, they got up from my lap with fresh, trimmed, arched brows, but I know the main reason they accept the "I'll just do them myself" brows, is because that time with their head in my lap is precious to them. Last night was date night and when I walked upstairs, tweezers in hand, to do their brows (even though they asked me soon as I got home from work, but dinner and date night prevailed), they were shocked. "I thought it was date night!" It is, but I said I'd do them today and Two Broke Girls (I love that show!) is a repeat. "come on, who's first?" The hugest smiles! I love those smiles. Even though this is just eyebrow maintenance... it's more than that! It's good ole, having "mom's" undivided attention, your face in her hands, your head in her lap, making me pretty quality time. I'd do anything for those two girls and I vow to take more time to make those smiles happen. It is definitely the little things with our kids. The joy you feel when those smiles happen is unparalleled!

I told J I was going to look into a waxing kit, just to give them official brows! After thinking about that a sec, I realized that process may go too fast, it won't allow for the time we spend just sitting there plucking at each hair. Maybe I'll hold off on that for a bit, I want the time with them just as much as they want it with me. The years are going by so fast. Kai will be 12 in a couple months, Nae will be 16 this year... I have to cherish this time while I still have them just a few doors down the hallway. I don't want the day where they don't want me around to come too soon and I miss all the moments.

Idk what happened yesterday, but I just came home super happy.. I didn't even take my "15 minutes" (Idk why I thought I wrote a blog in this, maybe I will. Wait for it...)  as soon as I got home. I talked to Kai about her straight A report card, she recited the words to her song for me (still won't sing), but she did the work and learned the song :), kissed Nae all over her face, played some music and danced for Nae, which turned into dancing with Kai, group hugged them both, then went to take my 15 minutes. Before I left though, they both asked "what happened to you today? why are you so happy?" I couldn't even explain it. I like to describe that as "the JOY of the Lord!" I just told them, my day was normal and I loved and was proud of them both. Then left to take some Tam time, before I started on dinner. J came home, we ate dinner, date night started, he fell asleep, I took that time to (not complain) and go spend time with the girls, then came back down to wake him and put him to bed :) and he surprised me with a trip to the movies instead! That was special to me. I didn't complain about him falling asleep (as usual) on what's supposed to be date night and I got date night multiplied. I realized this before... but it must didn't sink in then. But I'm going to share it with you guys because I love you....

Whenever I do what I'm supposed to do (minus emotion, complaints and annoyance), there is ALWAYS a positive outcome. I never have to say a thing. Something good just happens!

Example: There was this other time when I wanted J to go somewhere with me, but he had to play. I wanted to frown and whine and complain, but I didn't. I just said it's ok, babe. I know you can't control it, I still love you. Guess what? Show got cancelled. I responded with the exact opposite of how I really felt, but what would complaining have done? Nothing positive, it just would've made him feel bad that he was disappointing me, but it wasn't intentional and he couldn't control it. But I responded with genuine love and support and ended up getting my way anyway! Voila... magic! :) I really need to do this more often.

Step out of my own way, honor God and be obedient to what I know He wants me to do and watch the blessings come! That's my peace!

"How can I bless you today?" I hope in some way I have... love lots!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Say A Little Prayer

Good Afternoon

Straight to the point.. Kai has an audition on May 4th to get into a performing Arts school, and I am super nervous. 1. she is not even close to prepared and 2. she has a super degree of stage fright.

She was going to a vocal coach that a friend of mine, Liz, recommended. The first time she went, she appeared less than enthused and less than halfway through the class she literally passed out. That crazy girl had let her anxiety build up so badly that she just fell out right in front of the coach. Of course, we decided to leave and return again next week. We did go back, and my sweet little Kai was not her sweet little self and got kicked out of the session. I'm sure the lady was completely frustrated with Kai's lack of interest and asked her if she even wanted to do this. To which Kai gave a simple shrug. The vocal coach's response.. "well when you're sure, you call me and we can try again." We left that day, about a month ago and have not been back. I don't blame her at all, she was doing us a favor and Kai was wasting her time. Thanks Liz, for the favor!
After that day, I have been periodically asking Kai, "well, what's your plan?" I get the same response the vocal coach got... a simple shrug. (11yr old's have not mastered successful communication skills yet). Sometimes I just shake my head and let it go, other days I am just so frustrated I go on a seemingly endless redundant rant about the importance of this for her education and future. about how she has to make decisions for herself and they're not always going to be the easy ones, but they'll be worth it. I'm tired of hearing myself.. go figure. Up until last week, I'd had in my mind that eventually she'd grasp the importance of this and come around. No haps!
Last week, her music teacher called me "What's going on with our Kai?" I have no idea! "I can sense a lack of disinterest in her, she's lost her spark!" And here I was thinking this was special reaction just for me, oh no. She's behaving this way in school too? *SIGHS* It's one thing for her not to give me any hope, but for her music teacher (who loves and raves about her) to also begin to start losing hope... something has to be done. I had been allowing Kai to make this decision for herself, I can't make her get up on that stage and audition. But after the call from her teacher, I realized I'm gonna have to go about this a different way. I needed to become "enforcer mom" for her own good. "Ikaia, I can't make you sing. But this is not about you singing, this is about your future, your education. What I can do is make your life not as sweet though. What you're saying to me is that you are choosing to accept mediocre for your life. You aren't willing to put into the work to invest in yourself, so why should I feel so obligated to invest in you? Those new shoes you want, forget them. That tv in your room, you're going to miss it. You don't need that cell phone and you don't need a radio (you don't like singing anyway, right?" I felt I had to make her feel some consequence for not making the right choice for herself. No, she didn't do anything wrong, but sometimes not making the right choice is the wrong choice. She chose to make no choice at all, and just accept whatever happened or didn't. As her mom, I just couldn't accept that so easily. Her response: tears! "What are you crying for? I have no sympathy for your tears... I'd be crying too if I decided to not be successful in life too! Go ahead and cry but it's not going to change the outcome of anything unless you're willing to put in the work to make it better." I seriously don't feel like I was reaching her at all. I let her walk away from this tirade of mine and sent her to her room, phoneless!
I wasn't satisfied with this outcome so I went upstairs with all intentions of beating her into submission (don't judge me, I tried every other option over the last two months. Sympathy, nonchalance, force, threats...) Discipline was the only option I thought I had left. I went into her room, belt in hand... the tears down her face kept me from carrying out what I thought I had come prepared to do. I'd asked her many times what was keeping her from doing this. I'd mostly always just get a shrug, or a "I just don't want to sing"... I decided it was stage fright, mixed with laziness, along with perfection issues. The fear was keeping her from thinking she could do it, laziness cause she didn't want to put in the work to be successful and perfection because she was doubting her ability and allowing that to perpetuate the fear. I knew I'd asked a MILLION times before, but this time I sat down on her bed with her, stopped trying to figure her out and simply told her. "Ikaia , I love you and I believe in you. I don't know what's keeping you from wanting to do this. I know you love to sing, it's all you ever do. I hear you sing when you think I'm not listening and it's just so beautiful... I don't know if I ever told you this before but, you're the greatest thing I've ever done. You are my single amazing accomplishment. Not to take away from my own life in any way, I turned out fine. But truth? You are at the top of my achievement list, the best thing I've ever done.You have been amazing since the day you were born. Nothing else I've ever done comes close to you. You are smart, beautiful, kind hearted, funny... as a baby, you didn't cry, you were fun, walking by 7 months, potty trained well before 2, you've always gotten straight A's. I am just proud of you. I know you're afraid. I know everything you've accomplished has always come so easily and you have to work for this, but I believe in you. And you not trying is breaking my heart. I love you, and just like Day 1, I just want what's best for you. I can't control what you do anymore. You're almost grown now, you have to decide for yourself, but I'm just scared that my greatest accomplishment is going to give up on herself before she even has a chance. I'm not done believing in you yet." Tears in my own eyes, I didn't know what else to say. Then she says, "Mommy, I'm scared I'm going to mess up, I'm scared I'm not going to make it in and I'm scared you'll be disappointed in me."
Shame on me! I am NOT the perfect parent. I felt horrible in that moment that she even felt so much pressure to perform to the point she was afraid to disappoint me. I don't know if this is something I could've changed or controlled along the way. Yes, I have a standard for her and yes I vocalize it and let her know there are consequences if she doesn't do her best. But never has she been in any kinda trouble for not being perfect. Or would I even know? She has always performed up to standards... she's had the occasional B, and there was never a punishment. Or a C grade and I'd take the phone for a weekend. But isn't that what I'm supposed to do? I didn't let my own thoughts of parental failures consume me. I felt I had an opening, my 11 yr old had finally communicated and expressed some emotion. I jumped on it!
"No matter what happens, I will always be proud of you. When have I ever not been proud of you? Yes, I'm tough on you and I want you to do well, but you always have done well. I'm only so tough on you because I see your potential to be great." I held her in my arms then let her know this: "I see your potential to be amazing, but you know who else sees it besides me and anyone who knows you? The devil. God already has a plan for your life, he has opened doors for you to become an amazing, successful, talented woman. God gave you this gift. The devil sees the greatness in you and he will do anything to put a stop to what God has planned. Fear is of the devil, he's talking this fear into you. He wants you to fail, don't let him win Ikaia! He wants to work on you so you never even get up to try. All you have to do is overcome the fear one time. The devil is not that powerful. Do it one time, beat him once, show him he has no authority over you and get up there and sing one time, and what else can he do? He will see there is no way to stop you and maybe he won't give up trying, but you will render him powerless. You will know that God is in control and you can overcome the devil and fear. Don't give him the power to stop what God is trying to do in you. If you work hard now and you get up there and give your best audition and you still don't make it, one thing you never have to worry about is me being disappointed. I will be proud that you did the work, that you overcame your fear, you did your best. And we will know that it wasn't God's plan for you. Then we both can accept that. We will wait to see what God has in store and what doors he will open next. But you have to try." We hugged it out, she promised to try... all I can do is pray over her. I am trying not to let it consume my thoughts, but I would appreciate if you all prayed over her with me. I don't have a Plan B, I don't know what God's Plan A is, and all I can think to do next is ship her off somewhere to a better county or move myself. She has less than two weeks to make miracles happen... God is able!

Kai saying pledge for Elementary Honor Society

Pray with me and for me!

Kai receiving her award

Kai giving speech and reading a poem
dedicated to her mom :) me!

Singing in chorus at
 Honor Society induction




my cutie in her chorus attire

At the Kennedy Center for Wicked!
Present for her acheivements

Kai on her way to school! :)

I know this was long (I'm sorry), but it's super important to me. Please pray for my little baby, she is ONE IN A MILLION... there's nothing else I can do. This was so hard for me to type, I cried through the whole thing. She really is the love of my life and I just want her to have every opportunity in the world. It saddens me that I can't just make this better for her. I am so overwhelmed. That's my peace!

Love, Tam

Friday, April 20, 2012


Good Afternoon good people! Happy Friday!

I am here today with a specific message, so I won't keep you long. I started to just post this as a Facebook post, but realized it deserved a little more finesse than that...

As all of you should know, I am getting married in less than 2 months. I sent out the invitations just yesterday (I won't even get into the anxiety the walk to the post office brought on, maybe I will later)... but some of you will have the honor of receiving an invite in the mail soon. I never dreamed of the details of a wedding before, but now that's it's going on I am excited and I can't wait to experience this moment in my life. I love J and I love the people that I've invited to the wedding and I can't wait for you all to join me to witness and celebrate my union with J. In saying that... I am inviting YOU to the wedding. My lovely grandmother made the beautiful invitations for me, thanks grandma. And with the invitation, there is a return RSVP card that gives the impression that you have the option to bring a guest... :) You don't! Unlike J, I don't mind playing the bad guy, so I am going to simply let you know how I really feel. I intend for my wedding to be a small, intimate affair with the people I love and care for most. I can't invite everyone and as much as I'd like you to have your (current) boo thang on your arm and for the world to witness the much anticipated union of J and Tam... no haps! So unless your invite said "Mr. & Mrs." or "You & Guest" then more than likely, your date is NOT invited. I hope it isn't too much to ask for you to leave your boo thang (and KIDS) at home for this one evening. 
If J had it his way... after the wedding, any old Tom and Dick can show up to dance and celebrate and "who cares if they don't have a seat or some food." Well, I do care. As much as I wish I was big baller, shot caller... I'm not and I'd like for everyone attending to enjoy themselves, eat, drink and dance or sit if they so choose!

I really would just like to keep the ceremony and reception as cozy and intimate as possible. I love J and yes, our marriage and wedding is a celebration and I intend to PARTY... it's just that it's more like a VIP party with a big, buff security guard holding down access on the other side of a thick, red rope... not a house party. I hope everyone can understand and abide by my request.

It's my day (that I paid for), just do what I say! :)

I really am looking forward to this day and I hope to see YOU (not you and a guest) there!

Love ya!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Ready or NOT?

Good morning gang! We can't keep going like this. We haven't spent any time together in awhile... I guess it's mostly me not posting but where have you guys been? I've been here and there and everywhere (not really), but you know! It's hard out here for a pimp (in this instance pimp being a soon to be married, mother of 5). I have just been super (not) busy doing a whole lot (of nothing) and not having much to chat about. I'm sorry my life has been so calm (has it?). But alas... here I am now. I've missed you so. How have you all been?

Guess what? I had a baby this weekend! :) Now hold your horses... I didn't birth this baby out, but I do have the honor of being godmommy to my awesome Ranberry (nicknamed to protect his identity, lol). But yes, he is awesome. This was our first time on official godparent duty. And I must say, J and I had a good time (god) parenting a baby. It helps that he is uber delightful, I don't think he "full cried" all weekend. He'd let out this "I'm not happy" sound and fuss a little, but never an all out cry. J enjoyed the time having Ran a little more than I did. Having 5 girls, it's not often we have another "man" in the house, so J found joy in not being the only guy around. When I first brought Ran home, J helped me by taking the carseat out my hands as I was walking in the door. Then it was all about Ran... I didn't get a hello, our routine kiss, not a "hey boo!"... nothing. He unstrapped Ran, picked him up, then went and sat down in the chair with him. I did NOT like! I am spoiled rotten apparently. Now I love Ran and I want J to love him too, and I hope they create their own bond... but HELLO! Don't forget about me in the process. Yes, I was over there pouting too! This was just the first 30 minute exchange, I eventually recovered. J handed the baby off to one of our baby obsessed daughters and came over and loved on me. But I was NOT happy at first. Ran was about to be dropped back off, lol j/k!!! I own my spoiledness... it's his fault. He's ALWAYS put my love on top. That was just a shock to my system. I eventually adjusted, then I fell in love with him more just watching him with Ran... excuse my moment of J adoration, but it was HOT! I want him to be my baby's daddy one day :)
We quickly got into the flow of parenthood, enjoyed our weekend with 6 kids. I abandoned J and most of the kids (the youngest ones, Ran included) for a bit to go on a hunt for a white dress for my mystery May 6th date (I'll explain later cause I really don't have much info myself to go into detail). And before I knew it, the weekend came to an end and here I am at work. Happy Monday! Over all it was a good weekend. Quality time with J and the kids, got to see my sis and her kids twice... (it's the meet spot for me and my baby mama, Ran's mom) and got to get dressed and go out to see J play. I learned lots... are we Ready or not to add a baby to our tribe? NOT! J has spoiled me rotten and now he has to deal with the aftermath, we should spend some QT, just us after-marriage/ pre-baby so that I get my J fill before a baby comes along and steals it all away, and... our other 5 kids are both a blessing and CRAZY! They were so baby obsessed that poor Ran barely got anytime to himself to just be a chilling baby, but also... although we had Ran, we also got to have moments where we just enjoyed each other because we have 5 super willing baby sitters... poor Ranberry! "I want to hold him now!" "Is he awake? Can I wake him." "Maybe he wants his paci, maybe he wants me to pick him up, maybe you should change his diaper." "I'll carry his stuff, I'll carry him too." "I'll tie my arms in a knot and jump on my head... anything for Ran!" Kai: "Where's my baby? I'll take him now, thanks!"hahaha, they were NUTS... so special! Gotta love 'em! I think J and I decided not right away. Right now, we'll just be happy godparents.

In other news... wedding planning is coming along nicely. I have 3 of the 5 bridesmaid's dresses at my house. Jules (always on top of her game) has her dress and shoes. (Nae also, but that's my work so it doesn't count). The others... let's not get into it. I am trying to maintain my Bridezilla! :) I am trying really hard to make this fun for myself, but the process is so NOT FUN! My motivation? A happy J at the end of the aisle and day! I just want to give him his every desire, even if it stresses the heck out of me. It won't kill me and it'll be worth it (?) hahaha, if he isn't super cheesy at the end of the day come June 3rd... I'm gonna kill him! :)

So, alls I know... Jules sent me a message telling me to keep May 6th available and to wear a white dress. I went out looking for this white dress, and let me tell you... not the easiest of tasks! Tis the season for florals and rainbows and bright colored dresses. White? not so much. After finding out about my frustrations, it changed to any color (except blue)???? as long as its solely one color. Then, it changed to get whatever you want! HOW IN THE WORLD does it go from strict rules, to some rules "except blue", to NO RULES whatsoever??? I am so confused. At the end of the day, I found a white dress and I just hope Jules and all the conspirators are happy. I do not like being left in the dark, I do have a small bit of a control problem. And I don't have ANY control of this! Just imagine the anxiety I am feeling right now. *sighs* But truth be told, Jules has her own control issues and this is just another way for her to control me! You can have this one, but I always come out on top! *in my Pippi Longstocking voice* hahahaha. He who laughs lasts, laughs laughs!!! (like the kids say... insidey, ha!) Anyways... enjoy your day! I'm out!

That's my peace! Love, Tam