My Interview with VoyageLA!

Shout-out to Mike Bhand, for being such a gracious host!

A snippet:

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Actually, it has been mostly smooth with a few bumps. Because there aren’t that many black mom bloggers, I am able to stand out. There is still a need to be recognized, however, and some people want the follow back for the numbers. They couldn’t care what you do. That’s an ongoing issue. A lot of the women bloggers want the numbers, but they don’t care about the interaction.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m known as blussianmommy, part of Meet the Blussians. So far, I love being a brand ambassador of my own (who can better hype you than you?). I did recently complete a yearlong ambassadorship (is that a word?) with Shea Moisture.

What sets me apart from others? Hmm… maybe that I’m a bit older than most mom bloggers so there’s the age thing. I also don’t sugarcoat a lot of what’s going on or how I feel. If I’m inappropriate, I am. If I’m right, I’m right. If I’m problematic, I own it. I don’t try to present one image of me when there’s so much more of me to that. I think too many people try to present themselves as just one thing when we’re all a little bit of everything.

To read the rest of my interview (and see pics of Maks and Bear), click here.

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Our Trip to the L.A. Zoo!

For my birthday, we went to the L.A. Zoo. I haven’t been to the zoo in a very long time and it was my first visit to the L.A. Zoo since I moved to L.A. some 10 years back.

The zoo was much bigger than I thought it was going to be. In fact, it was so big, we didn’t have time to fully experience all of the exhibits. Next time, we’ll leave earlier and have more time to plan our day.

All in all, it was an amazing experience. We went on a weekday (which was on my birthday), so it wasn’t too crowded. As always, I recommend visiting exhibits, theme parks, and the like during a weekday if you can. There are a ton of less crowds but also you’ll have a better experience and not so crowded.

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Bear was told to put his hand out and we thought they were going to photoshop some image. Turns out they didn’t. WTH, yo?
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I bought a popcorn bag and Bear was gracious enough to give me a single popcorn. 
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We all fed a giraffe. That was super dope. 
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Hub-hubs took a nice photo of me with my Jody Watley earrings. (No, she doesn’t have a brand but I call them that.)

For more pics, click on the slideshow:

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Top 100 Stunna

I like to give a shout-out to Brand Ballot for featuring this blog in their Top 100 Mommy Blogs of 2018. I have to say that’s pretty dope. I’m not going to give an emotional write-up and blah blah blah when I can just bless y’all with a pic of Bear.

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To check out who else made the cut (and I have to say I have some really good company!), click here.

A Journey – From Being the Only Black Student to Being the Only Black Mother

It’s funny how life can sometimes do a complete 180.

You never quite know where you’ll finally end up. You don’t know the many twists and turns life will take you. Something you once thought was in the bag, may not be so secure, after all. Life is funny that way. No matter how much you use your planner, how predictable and mundane your routine is, you can never be too prepared for what life brings at you.

Growing up in a two-parent, upper-middle class family, I was used to being the only black kid. In my neighborhood. In my classes. At slumber parties. I was just used to it. Looking back at it, I never felt uncomfortable. I never felt I was the lone one out. I was just…well, there.

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In high school, I was one out of four black students in AP classes and we all knew each other and we all sat near each other, LOL. You become acutely aware in high school about race and class.

In college, I went to a predominantly white institution. I had a lot of black friends in college, was involved in the Black Student Union, and hung out with those girls regularly. We’re still friends.

I live in L.A., specifically Highland Park where it’s predominantly Latino and has been (long story on how it used to have more black residents but I’ll save that  – as well as my controversial opinion on gentrification – for another post). While more white people have moved into my neighborhood, there aren’t that many black faces. In fact, one of my black neighbors just moved out and although I’m happy she’s found a new place, I’m low-key upset she’s gone.

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That brings me to today’s topic – being the lone black parent.

I noticed it when Maks and I went to childbirth classes when I was pregnant with Bear. I was the only expectant black mother. When I told my mother this, she said she had the same experience when she was pregnant with me.

Bear goes to preschool and it’s pretty diverse. There are kids from many different backgrounds and cultures. One of Bear’s best friends is a Muslim boy named Tee (protecting his full name for privacy).

And while I’m not the lone black parent at the school, I am the lone black mother there.

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It’s something I knew from the jump so it’s not a surprise. There are other biracial children there so it’s not like Bear is the only one. As I participate in preschool activities with my son and accept invites to play dates and birthday parties, I become acutely aware of my status.

I don’t act any different when I’m around the teachers or anyone else. Several of the parents know I run a blog and *hopefully* they can attest I’m pretty much the same way on here as I am IRL.

My status is also rare – I’m a working at-home mother so I’m able to free up time to go to Bear’s preschool and do all sorts of activities. Even when I go out with Bear during the weekdays, I still get questions about what is it that I do (and it’s usually questions by my skinfolk).

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Now, I need to make this absolutely clear  – no parent has made me feel uncomfortable nor has there been any shading or passive-aggressiveness of any kind. If anything, I’ve received a lot of love. We all share the same ideals and values, no matter what our backgrounds or social-economic statuses are.

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Bear at his classmate’s birthday party over the weekend. He got to meet a stormtrooper in person!

It’s one of those things where as a parent and an adult, you notice it a bit more. You want your children to grow up in the best possible conditions and environment but you also want to expose them to as much diversity as possible. And sometimes, that means you’ll be the only black parent in the room.

I’m reminded of my mother. She was a nurse and was able to have a flexible schedule so she can attend my games, meets, and whatever else I had going on. And as I remember high school days, it dawned on me that my mother was also sometimes, the lone black parent at the PTA meetings, at the games, and at the meets. She handled it with pride and dignity.

I hope in the future things might change a little bit and I’ll see other mothers who look a bit more like me when I go events at school. But for now, the priority is to make sure Bear feels safe, happy, and loved no matter where he goes.

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Don’t Call It a Comeback: Interview with Ricci Bester-Adams

Who said I was sane???? LMAO. No seriously, as I began this serious journey, I decided early on, “I’m a brand. You will find me everywhere with my ideas on everything. Like Kim K, without the porn tape and cosmetic work done on her, but more talent.”

For this week’s Mommy interview, I spoke with one of my oldest and closest friends, Ricci Bester-Adams. It’s difficult to describe Ricci without saying she’s a little bit of everything – mother, entrepreneur, activist, homegirl.

She recently shared with me about raising a special-needs child to adulthood, how she managed to leave her abusive marriage, and why driving for Lyft has given her some of the best stories.

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For those who don’t know you, introduce yourself!

Hiya! I’m Ricci M. Bester-Adams, I’m the owner of CSMenterprises. It’s an umbrella of companies, but what started it all was my parent blog, Common Sense Mommy. It gives tips and insight on our shenanigans with mah crew(my three kids, family, roommate, furbaby) career, and views on life.

Describe your parenting style.

My parenting style is just like the name, I use common sense. I think some parents go to one extreme or the other. Either too strict or trying to hard to me their friend. Now, I’m not saying I know it all, but if it works, it works. If not, we fix it and keep it pushin. When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure(shortly after I got divorced), I had to really look at my parenting styles and stressors in our lives. It’s one of the biggest keys to running the house peacefully.

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What made you decide to become a blogger?

Oh geez! I love to write. I’ve been writing since I was 12, but blogging came in when I was in my mid 20s. My eldest was still sick, so I didn’t get out much, but it was my way to connect with the outside world. It was my form of therapy at the time. Humor tends to get me through things and I began to write my thoughts on a blog. That blog has since died and gone to blog heaven.

The writing bug tends to bite you in the ass, and take a chunk like the acting bug. Another mom gave me the idea to chronicle my insights on being a single mom. My tips, humor, recipes, and everything in between, so Common Sense Mommy was born in 2014(damn 4 years??!!). Still a humorous, but a better reflection of our lives.

You have a hand in a little bit of everything – you promote small businesses, you’re in theatre, you write, blog, do videos. How do you manage it all and stay sane?

Who said I was sane???? LMAO. No seriously, as I began this serious journey, I decided early on, “I’m a brand. You will find me everywhere with my ideas on everything. Like Kim K, without the porn tape and cosmetic work done on her, but more talent.” I can never just sit because I’m a creative person.

Even when I’m hanging out with the crew, ideas for stories, blogs, my businesses, or career moves comes to me. A HUGE part to taming it is I carry around a 3 or 5 subject notebook with me everywhere I go. It helps me keep track of ideas or thoughts. It’s fun. I get paid for my hobbies. It’s a beautiful thing.

You have a child who is disabled and is an adult. Could you share the challenges you faced with his care?

I naturally love to learn, but I never knew this experience would always teach me new things. I mean daily. As a kid, for him it was constant neurology, orthopedic, and IEP (Individual Educational Plan) appointments. Just a ton of appointments, but now it’s finances and future planning.

It’s funny you ask this. We are in the middle of writing my will, and it’s not easy when you have an adult child on social security. I’m learning how to leave my assets between my kids and how not to leave too much to Brandon, so it doesn’t affect his social security benefits. Also, instructions for his sisters on care for him. Interesting stuff.

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Ricci’s son, Brandon

What advice would you give parents who have a special needs child and might feel overwhelmed?

Make sure your support system is intact. No extra drama! Anyone who knows us personally knows that we’ve cut off anyone who isn’t supportive or brings drama into our environment. You have enough to deal with as you learn how to be a special needs parent. I always tell other parents “you have to pick and choose who you give your energy to, and who you need to cut off”. Your family needs you to be the anchor at all times.

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I’ve known you for over 10 years so we’ve grown a lot! Over the past couple of years, you have become more vocal in politics and everything current events. Have you received a lot of pushback regarding taking a stance?

Dear Lawd yes! I grew up in a military activist political family, with CSPAN, CNN, and nightly news playing at dinner. We discussed civil rights and minority issues over fried chicken and cheese potatoes. It was a family thing. Only close family knew about my grandfather writing to Presidents from Kennedy to Obama(RIP Grandpa).

By the Reagan Administration, he was getting invited to White House Dinners to explain his views on retraining drug addicts so they could be productive members of society, or how to make the living wage happen, instead of a minimum wage. Issues of the poor, disabled, and minorities always were topics in our house, and we weren’t too young to talk about it.

Though my grandfather and my mother were a tad bit old fashioned, I gave my generation’s view on these subjects. It began to ring through on my blog as Obama took office, and black kids were getting shot. It hits home so much for me. My kids were bullied so much when we lived back east, and I guess it was then I had to make my stance known.

I’m vocal because it’s my human duty to be. It’s also the mother in me to be this way. I’ve lost readers to my support of BLM, LBGT, and voting third party to start the process of cleaning out congress. I want to the best for my three, and a fair shake for them. Since I’m using my voice to blog, as a blogger, you must touch on current events, and sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth.

Their loss, I guess. I hope that by me doing this shows my kids to stand up for the little guy as well. They need to remember that they once were the minority and how it feels.

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You made the very strong, yet also terrifying decision, to leave an abusive marriage. I had no idea you were in one until the day you called me and said, ‘That’s it, we’re done. I’m leaving him.’ And you told me the full story. What advice could you give a woman looking to leave or even those supporting one who’s in a relationship like that?

Two things:

Be Strong. If you stay, be strong. Don’t forget who you were before this relationship. I learned that in abusive relationships, the first thing to go is your spirit. It becomes broken. Don’t lose that. You were strong before this, you’ll be strong after it too. I hid emotional and mental abuse for 10 years. He didn’t hit me until the last day we were together, but I was broken way before the physical contact. I grapple with my PTSD daily but I’m stronger after I realized he wasn’t going to break me ever again.

If you have kids, remember, your kids see it all. Now, as I write this, this is when I get the tears. Not because of the sadness, but they also see when you decide to fight back, even in the literal sense. If you stay, they see that this is a normal way of communication, when we all know it’s not. Hell, your partner may have thought it as normal because it’s all he/she knew. Everyone in some way must decide to break the cycle.

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Ricci’s oldest daughter, Annie.

No matter what you decide, seek therapy. It helps more then you realize. That’s why I teary eyed. We have come so far, and a strong unit for it. I showed my kids my strength and wanting better for them. Be open to re-learning to communicate. I’ve met women who chose to stay, and therapy. Of course it works when both are willing to go to therapy, but it can work. If you leave, seek therapy. It makes you look in the mirror. Not in the sense of it’s your fault, but in the sense of how did you get here, and where do you need/want to go from this point? Who are you truly? Then how not to repeat the cycle.

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Ricci’s youngest daughter, Emily.

Looking back at your life up until now, what is the one event you could say, ‘Hmm…I probably should’ve thought about that one a bit more.’ It could be any event. It’s not necessarily a regret; it could also be a triumph. But what is something that happened that makes you wonder, ‘I probably should’ve thought that one through…’

My last long relationship. It was 4 years too long and not healthy. It could have been if it was honest, but it wasn’t. It also began to change me to make him love me. He loved the person he molded me into, not the me that I’m comfy with. I loved the goofiness, great vibes, and dreamer but not at the cost of me unrecognizable. It’s ok, it did teach me what I want from Mr. Awesome when he comes into my life. If not, I’m fucking awesome they way I am (two snaps and a shimmy shake)!

Oh well, when I’m on everyone’s screen promoting my project, he’ll wish he didn’t fuck up…..

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For those who are starting out mom blogging, what tips can you give them?

Just be you. Readers will see the fake shit and call you out on it. Write what you feel. There is an audience for everything out there, so just be you. Also edit/spellcheck everythang like no tomorrow. The interwebs is a brutal place like that……

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Ricci in character

Fun time! Name five fun facts about you.

  • According to 23andme, I’m African, Jewish, Russian, Jamaican, Native American, Siberian, just to name a few. I’m in the process of filling in my family tree. That’s just my mom’s side though…..LAWD!
  • I’m a Thespian and History nerd, hence my Bachelors will be in Theatre-Acting Emphasis, Minor, US Social History.
  • I played violin and modeled in elementary school. I’m in a Chinese elementary health textbook somewhere. LOL.
  • We are a HUGE wrestling gaming family. I own 3 replica WWE belts, and purchase them every tax season. I’m frugal like a sumabitch.
  • I met Drake, a porn star, and Partick Warburton(Joe Swanson voice actor) after I puked on his driveway driving for Lyft. Long ass story with all of them. Thank you Lyft for the good times. LOL.

Drake approves this interview:

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Thank you, Ricci, for doing this interview for me! Please be sure to follow Ricci at her links below:

Blog: www.csmommy.com

Instagram: rmbesterbrand, csmenterprises, common.sense.mommy

Twitter: rmbesterbrand, csmommy2014, csmenter1125

Snapchat: fabredone5266

Facebook: @boutiquecsm81, @csmommy2014 CS Cocktails(Mobile Bartending Business)