#AskAwayFriday With Alison of Embrace the Struggle

I'm so hyped about #AskAwayFriday today, y'all. Today I get to swap questions with my blogger friend Alison over at Embrace the Struggle. She is a superb writer, who is one of the most loving, kindhearted, and warm-spirited women I have ever met out here in these blogging streets! Since we've met through my other lovely blogger friend Michelle (at Radiant Brown Beauty), she has shown me nothing short of love and support-- and I appreciate her for that!


I want to take a minute to tell Ali Happy Birthday. I'm so excited and honored to be partnering with her on her special day. May you get everything you want and everything goes your way, today!  Here's a little Stevie for you, by the way :-)  Now here are her questions, along with my responses.

What was the highlight of this Christmas for you? The highlight of this Christmas was having a baby in the home. It was Jj's first Christmas, so that was pretty exciting. He's been in awe over all the bright colors and stuff. I will imagine by next year, he will be tearing the tree down!

The new year begins in a few days. What are your top three personal priorities, rather than resolutions? Number one would be strengthening my relationship with Christ, number two would be strengthening my relationship with my husband, and number three would be continuing to build my children up and being the best mommy I can be! 
Tell me two of your "happies and crappies" of 2013? Two happies-- moving and giving birth to Jj! Two crappies--losing my grandmother last month and severing ties with a close friend.

Jj at 2 months

What direction do you see "So She Writes" taking in 2014? Same as before?  A U-turn?  Or branching out into new territory? When I first started blogging, I was more personal, I think. I shared more stories and anecdotes-- things I was going through. I believe in 2014 I want to go back to that. I want to share more about myself and my life. I love makeup and all things beauty so I will still be blogging about those things, but I'm a mom and a wife first-- so that's gonna be seen more here.

How has your experience in the first few months with the new baby differed from those of your first two kids? I'm older and more experienced, so I believe I have this thing in the bag the third time around lol. With Gabs, I was completely lost about everything. What my mom didn't advise me on, I learned from other mothers. With Core, I had a newborn and a toddler. Things were chaotic! I was getting one baby out of diapers, just to put another one in them! Now I'm more relaxed and confident about what I need to do to nurture and care for my baby.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas ever.  Would you want to relive it?  Why?  Why not? I talk about my favorite Christmas ever in my Christmas Tag here. Four years ago, my family and I were able to spend time with my late father on Christmas. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see him. There are so many things I would have said and done differently, had I known. I would relive that moment over and over if I could.

He was telling someone he was happy to be home with the family!

What's your ideal down-time activity, or "me" activity? It's a tie between reading and writing. I'm always either reading something or writing something-- most of the time both simultaneously. I think everyone should always be in the middle of reading an awesome book if they can :-)

What was the favorite Christmas gift you received this Christmas? MAKEUP, hands down! Lol. I'll share my goodies with you guys in a later post :-)

What family Christmas tradition from your childhood have you incorporated into your kids' Christmas celebrations? Opening one gift at midnight definitely stemmed from childhood. Funny thing is, my children were so tired this year, they didn't open any gifts at midnight! But they were up bright and early at 7 AM to get at that gift wrap! Lol.

What's the most difficult thing you've conquered as a blogger? The most difficult thing I've conquered was determining how much to share on my blog. I'm a very private person, so I've often steered away from talking about my personal feelings here. When I finally got comfortable sharing posts about my life, I learned that many people I know read my blog. Just when I thought I was able to use this space to vent my frustrations and share my innermost thoughts, they were being used against me by a few of the people I knew. Only recently did I decide that since this was my space, I would write about what I want! Lol. And just like that, I was over it.


How do you guys feel about sharing your lives on your blog? 
Do your family and friends read your blog?


I hope you guys enjoyed reading our rap session. To read Ali's responses to my questions and to get more familiar with her, click her button! Be sure to go by there and tell her happy birthday! I'm sure it would really make her day!


If you would like to partner up with me for #AskAwayFriday, be sure to leave me a comment or send me an email! To check out other #AskAwayFriday participants, including Carissa who is a co-host this week, click here!

#AskAwayFriday With Mrs. Tee of Love, Life, Laughter

Happy Friday, loves!  Do I have a treat for you today! I'm participating in #AskAwayFriday again this week, and I've been honored to pair up with my blogger friend in my head Mrs. Tee H. of Love, Life, Laughter. 


She's such a COOL mama, guys! Reading her posts have uplifted, motivated, and inspired me to be a better mom, wife, and woman. Her spot is described to be a place where love, life and laughter collide to make a collage of unexpected happiness. Be sure to check her out to read more about her life as a mom, wife, and God-fearing woman. In the meantime, peep my answers to the questions she asked me.

Your tagline is "On a journey through life with her pen, notebook, and laptop in tow--wondering as she wanders."  I love it!  How did you come to it and what does it mean to you? My tagline is actually a part of a poem I wrote a long time ago called "...So She Writes." The poem spoke of my journey through life as well as my journey to self-- and the utensils I use to get there. I haven't always been as vocal as I am now with my thoughts, so I would write everything down. And there's several journals around here that prove it. Unfortunately the poem "...So She Writes" in its entirety was in a journal that was destroyed. "Wondering as she wanders" paid homage to Langston Hughes, one of my favorite writers.

When did you have your first encounter with makeup?  Was it love at first application or did you grow into it? My earliest memories of playing in makeup stem from admiring my aunt's makeup collection. I write about that here in my favorite post to date, The Burgundy Lipstick Story. Somewhere between sneaking in auntie's makeup at age 8 and sneaking to CVS to buy Wet 'n' Wild cosmetics in the 8th grade, I fell in love with wearing makeup. I didn't start wearing foundation until 2009 though.


Having kiddies of my own I know that their personalities can vary like night and day.  Do you children have similar or opposite personalities?  How do they interact with each other? My children are like night and day for real.  But I think they get it from J and I. Gabs is just like me when I was her age. She's very quiet and reserved if she doesn't know you well. Corey on the other hand, is very outgoing. He's also very competitive and always feels the need to be right (like his daddy lol). Sometimes these things can drive a wedge between the two because Gabs is the oldest and she can be very bossy. Needless to say, they stay bickering about the smallest little things. Jj is still very young, so it's hard to say how he's tempered. But I can say he loves his big brother and sister. He just lights up whenever he's around them!


If you could have any of the following which would you pick and why: maid, makeup artists, chef. Can I have all three for $1,000 Alex? Lol. If I had to choose, it would definitely be a maid. As much as I love makeup, I could do without it, or swing it on my own. I love to cook, so I could swing that too. But I would pawn the cleaning off to someone else in a heartbeat!

Where would you go for a fantasy vacation as a family? Since we will be seeing Atlanta, GA and Orlando FL in the near future, I guess I would say San Diego, CA. I probably wouldn't take them out of the country just yet and the babies are always saying they want to see the San Diego Zoo. I bet they would love going out there to the West Coast.

Where would you go as a fantasy romantic getaway just you and hubby? I so want us to travel to the Virgin Islands for a week-long getaway. I could picture us there now. I have photographs of St. Thomas and St. Croix in journals and envision myself in them from time to time. Hopefully it will happen soon :)

What are your fantasy date night plans? I don't even need anything fancy. It's been so long since hubby and I've had a date night that I just need some alone time in general lol. But if I would have to be specific, I guess going to a low-key jazz spot together or a R&B show down to the House of Blues. We could wrap up the night at the beach, since that's my favorite place to be. It's so calm and serene at night. Watching the sun rise there is always the best :) I said all of that to basically describe what a normal date night looks like lol.

me and my sweet thang :)

With Christmas being next week I have to ask..what is your favorite Christmas tradition as a family? Since we don't have an official tradition yet, we just watch Christmas movies together and drink hot chocolate. I will be gifting everyone in the house pajamas on Christmas Eve though, as I discussed in this post.

Do you have any Holiday traditions from your childhood that you have carried over to your family or are you starting all new ones? I think opening one gift at midnight was something that carried over from childhood. I don't know where it came from, but we've been doing it since Gabs has been old enough to unwrap a gift.

My signature question:  Are you a member of the Coffee Crew or Team Tea? Ooh, now this one is a toughie. In all honesty, I think I would say--- coffee is my wifey and tea is my mistress. I'm hopelessly devoted to my morning cup(s) of jody-joe, but when I want to sit back and unwind with no stress, I look to my right hand-- my tea lol.

I hope you all enjoyed our Q&A this week!  Be sure to visit Mrs. Tee over at Love, Life, and Laughter to check out her answers to my questions :) And if you would like to partner with me in #AskAwayFriday, drop me a line in the comments link or shoot me an email! 

Wash Day + Bantu Knot Results (8 WEEKS POST)


Ladies, you really have to forgive me for this one. I said I was going to share more about my hair journey here, but I only share relaxer updates. Now it's time for all of that to change! Though this was a bit spur of the moment, I thought I would begin to share more about goals and practices starting today. Since yesterday was wash day, I'll start with that.

The Cleanse
As my first cleanse of the month, I clarified with shampoo instead of co-washing. I used my staple clarifying shampoo, ORS Creamy Aloe Shampoo. I then conditioned with Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor in a cap while in the shower. After rinsing the conditioner, I applied Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner (infused with peppermint oil) to my hair and let it sit for about ten minutes. This was an attempt to add a little moisture back into my hair and stimulate the scalp a bit.

After cleansing and conditioning my hair, I noticed it felt stronger, but not as moisturized as I would have liked it to be. I generously sprayed my Aphogee Keratin & Green Tea Reconstructurizer all over my hair as a leave-in conditioner. I moisturized and sealed with African Pride Olive Miracle Maximum Strengthening Moisturizing Lotion and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO). Then I wrapped it in my knotted head scarf and let it air dry for most of the day. 

The Aftermath
Last night, I got the bright idea of trying bantu-knots again. When I tried doing them the first time, I did them on wet hair and woke up the next morning to something like a bird's nest. It was a mess! This time I decided to do them on dry hair to see if I would get better results. Since my hair was already 80% dry, I added a drop of Silk Remedy to my hair and blow-dried the rest. Then I proceeded to bantu-knot my hair all over.

The Bantu Knot Process
To style my dry, relaxed hair, I used this method here, adding a bit of African Pride Olive Miracle Moisturizing Lotion and Grapeseed Oil to each section. After completing about 12 or 13 knots all over, I put on my bonnet and went to sleep.

This morning, I woke up and took down each of my knots carefully. They felt so soft and moisturized! And they were each (almost) perfectly coiled! I was beyond excited as I took them down. I continued to separate them and shake them out until I achieved a fuller, more desired look. These are my results:



They're not perfect, but they work for me! I'm happy that I've finally tried another protective/low manipulation hairstyle and it looks decent. Next time I try them, I'll make sure to take a picture of what they looked like before I took them down. 

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED BANTU-KNOTS BEFORE?

The Christmas Tag (Repost)


My beautiful blogger friend Mylah, of MylahSai.com tagged me in a fun Christmas post she was also tagged in last week.  Reading her post gave me a little insight on her Christmas likes and memories.  I'm so glad she tagged me so that I am able to spread the fun and holiday cheer to you guys.  So here goes!  

What is your favorite Christmas song?
I love Silent Night.  When sang correctly, it can give the coldest heart the shivers of a warm spirit.  And there's nothing in this world like the Temptations version of it. 

Except this: Coming very close to the Temptations rendition of this song would be the version my church's Adult Choir has sang for years.  Man, when Mr. Smith and Mr. Thomas would sing in those heavy baritones, it would stir everyone's souls! Even the meanies in the congregation would smile and clap during this song! And I loved it.  Apparently my brothers did too, because they still mock them lol. Rest in Peace, Mr. Thomas.

What is your favorite Christmas Treat? 
My Oreo Cheesecake or Oreo Dirt Pie.  (Chocolate, YUM!)  You know the spirit of Christmas has truly overwhelmed me if I took the time to load a dessert with all that delectable goodness and let it sit in the fridge long enough to chill for other people, lol. Just kidding! Sorta.

What is your favorite childhood Christmas memory? 
My last Christmas with my father three four Christmases ago trumps any holiday memory I had as a child.  My husband, children, father, and myself were each present at my grandmother's house--something that had never happened before and will never happen again.  I can still remember the smile my father had on his face as he embraced my children.  Tears welled in my eyes as I saw a strong resemblance of him in my son's face.  I can't remember one gift I gave or received, can't remember a thing I ate, or any in depth conversations I shared with anyone else that day.  All that stands out was spending time with my father and my paternal relatives.  Just being present in those moments made that Christmas one of the best and most memorable days of my life.

What is the best Christmas gift you've ever given? 
I'm not sure.  I do think the best gifts I've given overall are the ones I personalize or made myself.  Either those or books.  I love to leave a lasting impression or do something memorable!

Do you make or buy keepsake ornaments for your family every year?  
No, I never really gave buying keepsake ornaments much thought.  The little ones always make ornaments at school, so I guess those would be what our family considers keepsakes.  My mother kept the handmade ornaments my siblings and I made for years (sadly she no longer has them) so I think that's where I got that from.

Would you rather be one of Santa’s elves or a reindeer? 
Is this a trick question? I don't know if I would be athletic enough to be a reindeer-- what with flying over rooftops and moving all over the world in one night.  And elves put in a lot of work too, work Mylah considers slave labor lol.  So I would try to fade in the background and not get picked to be on either team (like I did with kickball in elementary school haha). 

Gift wrap or gift bags? 
Gift bags for sure. They're much easier to use and I suck at wrapping gifts.  You should see all the extra paper I waste trying to cut here and there.  But if it's pretty Hello Kitty gift wrap or the Rankin/Bass Christmas cartoon wrap (think Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), I will go for wrap.  And make J wrap everything lol.

Do you own a Santa hat?
I do, thanks to my bestie.  She was trying to put someone in the holiday spirit last year, so to speak.  Now, I have to decide exactly how I want to use it again this year ;-)

Do you prefer Black Friday, or Day-After-Christmas sales?
Black Friday is EVIL! Nah, just kidding. I'm just not a fan of crowds, so I rarely partake in Black Friday shopping.  But Day-After-Christmas shopping is fun, especially with those shiny new gift cards I'll receive in tow.  I always look forward to the Bath and Body Works sale, so I usually reserve that gift card for that time.

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate. I can sip on that with the little ones with no problem.  We enjoy watching holiday cartoons with hot chocolate and marshmellows. I never did really get with egg nog.  I guess it's a bit of an acquired taste that I haven't acquired yet.   


What was your favorite childhood Christmas gift?
My favorite childhood Christmas gift was Teddy Ruxpin, hands down! He was my best friend that winter!  He read to me whenever I wanted!  But I think my little brother was lowkey jealous that Teddy Ruxpin was reading to me all the time, because he ripped his mouth off like it was nothing.  Imagine how scary Teddy started looking with no mouth and a mechanical nose that moves erratically as he recited his stories.  It really put a damper on our friendship to say the least. Ha!

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
When I was about 7 or 8, I decided to quietly wait up for Santa in my bed.  Apparently the adults thought all closed eyes were sleeping because I heard my aunt tell my parents to get the bikes out of the trunk.  I did the math.  Thanks auntie!

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN! 
I TAG ALL OF YOU READING TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS FUN CHRISTMAS TAG.  
IF YOU DECIDE TO PARTICIPATE, PLEASE SHARE YOUR LINK IN THE COMMENTS, 
AS I WOULD LOVE TO READ THEM ALL!

The Blogmopolitan Quiz

I was browsing around the webs today and I saw the cutest link up ever at Two Thirds Hazel. You know how Cosmopolitan Magazine always gives featured celebrities those fun quizzes, right? Well Erin created one of her own and shared it with us readers. It looked too fun for me to pass up, so here I am! Check out my answers below.



Wanna join in on the fun?  Download the form here and link up with Erin here!

10 Things: Creature Comforts for PMS


Being pregnant for most of the year gave me a serious case of memory lapse! It made me forget all about I had an Aunt Dot who was due to visit me soon after Jj arrived. Nonetheless, the new baby came home and after a month or so, my estranged aunt decided to pay a visit. I was so unprepared! I had forgotten all about how she likes to come down and over-stay her welcome, throw her weight around (that bloating is no joke) and shake up my home with her emotion-driven shenanigans! Tell me your aunt comes through and is just as crazy as mine, please!

On a serious note, I had truly forgotten how PMS makes me feel. Sure I had grown used to having my emotions all over the place and craving various foods due to pregnancy, but I had forgotten that my cycle sends me through so many changes. I have the worst headaches. I bloat like crazy. I get a breakout or two. Or five. I crave sweet and salty everything. And last but not the lesser of the evils, every single thing makes me cry. So in hopes to better prepare myself for the upcoming months of premenstrual trauma + drama, I came up with a list of "creature comforts" that help me to better deal when it's that time of the month.

1. Aromatherapy. One thing I love doing to help myself de-stress during that time is surrounding myself with invigorating scents. Essential oils such as rosemary and lavender are both said to help with relaxation and enhancing one's mood. My personal favorite is peppermint oil. It awakens me, making me more alert, and helps open my nasal passages. And if you are one who gets the occasional headache when you're PMSing, peppermint oil is also known to rid one of headaches!

2. A nice soothing face mask (or other facial treatment). Being spoiled with such a glowing complexion during my pregnancy really made me forget how annoying those hormonal breakouts can be. To help deal with unruly skin, I love applying a facial mask while relaxing or reading a good book. Freeman Beauty has a great variety of face masks, such as the Avocado & Oatmeal Clay Mask (one of my personal favorites). And they're super affordable (at most $3.99 for a 6 oz bottle)!
  
3. Great eats. My favorite PMS meal is actually breakfast food. I love pancakes with the bacon on the side (in my The Dream voice lol) along with a nice warm cup of hot chocolate (especially in the winter). Most combinations consisting of sweet and salty seem to tame my cravings.

4. Mani + Pedi Goodies. As you guys can tell from many of my postings, I can always go for a DIY mani. I have tons of polishes, nail art, and products to aid in creating the perfect manicure. Most days, doing a manicure definitely pulls me out of the dumps and helps me feel better. But a manicure, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing on a good ole pedicure! Though I go to the salon every now and again for one, I enjoy doing them at home. I really feel like I'm indulging with the pampering when I pull out my Conair Waterfalls Foot Spa and soak my feet! After, soaking, exfoliating, and doing my paraffin wax, I always treat my nails and do a little nail art on them also.

5. Heat. During that time of the month, I tend to have horrible cramping and back pain. To ease the pain and discomfort, I use heating pads and they really help! If I'm not using a plug-in heating pad, I use my Hot Heart Massager heat pack from Pure Romance. It works wonders, I tell ya!

6. Fluffy robe and slippers (or pajamas). All is well with the world when one can just lay back and relax in a fluffy robe and slippers. The warm, comforting texture of a fluffy robe is just what I need to lounge around when I'm deep in my feelings. There's also something very rejuvenating about being enveloped in a plush, luxury robe--- reminds me of being at the spa, I suppose. And if fluffy robes aren't your thing, feel free to trade them in for cute pajamas! Be sure to grab up a pair of these Muk Luks Esscentials Aromatherapy Scented Thong slippers to add even more luxury for less to your comfort!

7. Sarah Vaughan and Solange (or your favorite tunes). There's nothing like music to get me in a mood. Music sets the tone for everything in life :-) So while I'm feeling such a wide range of emotions while dealing with my cycle, smooth tunes from the likes of Sarah Vaughan and Solange always tend to mellow me out. Truth be told, Make Yourself Comfortable has been known to calm both me and the little one to a smooth slumber in these last few weeks!

8. A Great Flick or Two. Or a Series. Though I'm already deep enough in my feelings during my cycle, I still want to watch chick flicks and tear-jerkers. Why? I don't know. I'm thinking maybe it's because I'm already crying and watching emotionally charged films give me an excuse to do so even more. And since I won't feel like doing much in my spare time other than laying on the couch, I might as well give some DVDs a few spins. I could watch movies like Safe Haven, The Lucky One, Brown Sugar, and Claudine over and over! And of course it wouldn't be me if I didn't add a few reruns of Girlfriends to the mix.

9. Tea + Pretty Mugs. Many of us already know the relaxing, calming, and de-stressing benefits of tea. In fact, Peppermint, Chamomile, and Honey Lavender Tea are excellent for each of these benefits. But did you know that Traditional Medicinals makes an herbal tea called Female Toner that actually balances female cycles and tones the uterus? It's very similar to the Raspberry Leaf Tea that I enjoyed during my last trimester of pregnancy, as it is composed of raspberry leaf as well as strawberry leaf with nettle. A cup of this tea would be love during your that time and what better way to compliment it than with a pretty mug or tea cup like this one?

10. Midol. If everything else on this list fails you at some point, feel free to break the glass and grab a couple of Midol. Though it's usually my last resort, it works like a charm. It will relieve that headache and bloated feeling in no time! Promise :-)

What are your favorite creature comforts for, 
you know, when it's that time?

5 Christmas Traditions for New Families

holiday

Usually for the holidays, my family always packed our suitcases and head to my hometown to celebrate Christmas with my parents and siblings. My siblings and I would always come "home" and get together to discuss Christmas memories, listen to Christmas music, and muster up some Christmas cheer to pass along to my children with mama & daddy.  But for the last couple of years, I have been looking for my own Christmas traditions to practice with my husband and children. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with everyone over at mama's. But now that I have my own family, I want to start a tradition within my own home-- something my children can look forward to each year. And since we have a new baby in our new home, I thought this would be a great year to start something new!

On the search for new traditions to begin, I found a plethora of ideas on ever-so-faithful Pinterest. And just in case some of you guys were thinking of beginning new traditions, I decided to share a few ideas I found there with you, too.

1. The Christmas Jar
The Christmas Jar is such a great way to teach our little ones about giving-- in the true spirit of Christmas. With this activity, everyone puts money in a mason jar (or whatever jar you have in your home) throughout the year. On Christmas Eve, the family delivers the money jar anonymously to a selected special someone. This beautiful idea was created in 2005 by author Jason F. Wright, who also chronicled this notion in his novel Christmas Jars. To read more about this idea, read here and here.

2. The Christmas Eve Surprise Box
The Christmas Eve Surprise Box would be ideal for my family. With this tradition, there's a box loaded with goodies such as new pajamas, hot chocolate, marshmallows, mugs, popcorn, holiday movies, and books. J and I would pack this box with said goodies and open it with the kiddies on Christmas Eve (at sunset). This sounds like so much fun, especially since we already do movie night with snacks each week anyways. To read more about this idea, click here.

3. Annual Christmas Book
Now if you're more of a book person than a movie person, you may like the "Annual Christmas Book" tradition better. In reading this idea, I found that "Santa" sends a new book to the children for them to read each Christmas Eve before heading to bed. While I like this idea in theory, I would probably have the books sent via the grandparents or from J and I to the children. Read more about this tradition here.

4. Christmas Cookie Baking
Since I'm a cookie lover, I'm all about baking cookies for Christmas. When I looked for different cookies to bake on Pinterest, I found so many cool ideas!The one that stuck out the most was the 12 Days of Christmas Cookie Project. With this project, several baking bloggers got together and baked Christmas cookies, using the twelve days of Christmas as their theme. Click here to read more about that project.

As for my family, we may choose a couple of those ideas and bake cookies on Christmas Eve, to enjoy in the evening along with our hot chocolate and Christmas movie choices. And if we don't stick to that theme, we'll be trying these cute snowman cookies out I found here.


5. Soundtrack to the Holidays
This is actually a tradition that I came up with on my own. Since I'm so big on holiday music and making mixtapes, I decided to create a mixtape each Christmas. Each of us will add a few songs to the mix and explain to the family why we chose those particular songs. I'm letting the kids create the album cover art, and everything! I will upload the songs and make copies for the extended family to give out at my mom's annual tree-trimming party. Look out for more information about this tradition in an upcoming post!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
Will you be trying any of these?

Headed to Work.. Or Not

work at home mom

This past weekend, my family laid my sweet Grandma Louise to rest. It was bittersweet. While we were able to get together for the holiday week as a family, it was for a sad occasion and we were riddled with grief. Needless to say, Thanksgiving just wasn't the same.

I was tightly bound all up in my feelings because of the loss of my grandmother, so any and everything seemed to make me emotional. That would include nasty comments from the peanut gallery on the night of my grandmother's wake as well. People, please know--if you are going to pay your respects to individuals who have lost a loved one, please keep a nice encouraging word in mind. And if you can't offer an encouraging word, please just offer a hug or a warm smile or whatever your forte' may be. But please, under no circumstance, take that opportunity to cast your wit and not-so-humorous "humor" and snide remarks on to others.

So... While I am up, standing less than one foot away from the spot where my grandmother's ivory and rose adorned, trimmed in gold casket is resting--surrounded by mourning family members, peace lilies, and beautiful floral arrangements, this lady from the community comes up to greet me with a hug. After we exchange pleasantries, she asks how my 10 week old son Jj is doing. As I proceed to tell her that my son is doing just fine, she tells the person beside me "I'm going to babysit for her so she can go to work." Really?


I look at her and politely respond to her, letting her know that my 10 week old is a full-time job and she corrected her statement by then saying, "I'm going to babysit for her so she can get a FULL-TIME JOB." Okay, wait a minute. I know what you guys are thinking. Is she gonna get at this lady and really let her know what's on her mind? And I really want to, ladies and gentlemen. I was one part stunned that this woman had the nerve to even say anything like that to me (or perhaps, about me, because she looked in the other person's eyes as she talked about me as if I wasn't there). The other part of me thought to carefully choose my words as I was standing in a chapel surrounded by family and friends. I didn't want to show out because my grandma was resting within a foot of the conversation and I wanted her to know I could be humble and a lady of few words just like her. But I was steaming on the inside. Having to make a split decision on how to handle this lady while maintaining my cool resulted in giving her a stink eye and walking away. However, her comments haunted me for the entire ride home. I wish I would have said more. You know how it is once you leave a confrontation and you ingeniously think up all the clever things you could have said but didn't, right? That's what I did for a good thirty minutes, I promise.

With everything that was going on, I totally blocked the comments out of my mind until a few minutes ago when I sat down to catch up on reading blogs. I wondered to myself what some of you fellow moms would have said. I wondered how some of you would have felt had the comment been directed to you. And I also wondered what it was about this comment that bothered me so bad.

For one, I wanted to know how this lady knew I wasn't working in the first place.  She is indeed a lady from the community I was raised in, but I have no dealings with her. I haven't seen her in months. How and why is she in my business anyways?

Secondly, why did it bother her that I wasn't working? I mean, bothered to the point that instead of saying she was sorry that I had lost my grandmother and that she would keep my family in prayer, she brought that ish up?

Thirdly, and most importantly, I wondered, did it bother me because I thought she was right? 
Not right in being rude, but right in the fact that I do indeed need to go back to work? Did I feel a tinge of guilt and was I mad that she called me out? Ooh the shade!  And crazy is it that the shade can show up anywhere, even at the wake of a funeral?

Something in me is growing angry as I type. What business is it of anyone's if I am staying at home with my baby? And with all the unsolicited advice I've received in my last 9 years of being a mom, why am I still getting shade from folks about the way I choose to raise my children?  At first, I wasn't going to share these words, as I just wanted to blow off some steam in writing.  But then I decided that perhaps I should.  Maybe another mother can shine some light on this subject and offer me some words to help me cope with the rude folks around me.  Or maybe some rude individual will read this post and see the error in their own ways and stop saying discouraging things to others, especially when they are grieving.

Fellow SAHMs, how do you deal with folks who don't understand why you choose to stay-at-home?  

header photo credit- essence.com

Hair Journey Update: Fall 2013

Since fall has been upon us for a while and I've recently done a touch-up, it's high time for another Hair Journey update! Sharing updates here on the blog and taking notes has really helped me keep up with my hair goals and needs. While some things have been the same since the last update due to pregnancy, I have seen a few changes as well.  I really think that after using a cocktail of products and practices, I'm starting to learn what my hair likes, hates, and needs.


relaxed hair journey

This is one of the days I wore my hair out.  
I did it up with that side bang from back in the day lol


Hair Stats
Last relaxer: October 25, 2013
Next relaxer: February 1, 2013
Hair Length Goal: Full APL, then BSL
Current Length: APL--except in crown area
Hair Wants: huetiful hair steamer, hempseed oil
Loving: scalp massages, JBCO, and Hair Trigger Growth Elixir

Current Goals:
1. Obtain overall thickness, as opposed to length.
2. Grow back crown breakage. 
3. Try new low-manipulation hairstyles 
(twist-outs and braid-outs)
4. Stick to my routine! Remain consistent in my hair care.
5. Keep it simple- moisturize and seal. cleanse. deep condition.

In remaining consistent, I must make sure to stick to these tasks:
1. Not using any direct heat at all.
2. Moisturize + seal and wear bonnet each night.
3. Deep condition weekly under the dryer.
4. Massage scalp with Hair Trigger 2-3x weekly.
5. Apply JBCO to edges and ends nightly.
6. Use what I have- no purchasing of any new products. 
Exception: running out of staples.

The Stretch

Prior to October 25, 2013, my last relaxer was on July 5, 2013. This time I stretched for 16 weeks, and boy was it tough! Just like with my last stretch, I kept my hair away for the most part.  I moisturized with African Pride Olive Miracle Moisturizer and sealed with grapeseed oil nightly or every other night. I also continued to add a drop of JBCO to the ends of my hair every other night after moisturizing and sealing. With the ceramides from the grapeseed oil and the JBCO, my hair seems to be getting a little thicker!


Unfortunately I didn't get around to trying new protective styles this stretch, either. After a failed bantu-knot attempt, I told myself trying something new now was so not worth it. I was always tired in my last semester of pregnancy, so I gave myself a bit of a break and kept my hair in a bun for the most part. I made sure not to wear my bun in the same position for too long, as I am trying to correct the breakage in my crown.

And of course, as I have mentioned before, the Aloe Vera Mix is absolute love to new growth when the stretch starts to run long. The mix of aloe vera juice, vegetable glycerine, and rosewater made my new growth very soft and a breeze to manage for the remainder of the stretch.


The Process


Per my usual relaxer process--I applied the Optimum Care No-Lye Relaxer. Directly after relaxing and rinsing out the relaxer, I applied the Aphogee 2-Minute Reconstructor to replenish some of the protein that was lost in the process. After rinsing out the protein I neutralized, cleansing thoroughly, and conditioned once more with the conditioner that comes with the relaxer. I then rinsed, squeezing out the excess water with a t-shirt. Then I applied a spray of Aphogee Keratin and Green Tea Reconstructurizer as my leave-in conditioner.  I moisturized and sealed with my African Pride moisturizer and a bit of grapeseed oil, then just a drop of GVP Silk Remedy before wrapping it and putting it in a scarf + bonnet for the night.  


The Results

I think this was the first time my hair has actually felt full after a relaxer.  Usually after I relax, I will air-dry and take my hair down the next morning (with the exception of my spring relax). Instead of combing down limp, lifeless hair, it seemed to have a bit of thickness to it. This NEVER happens after a relaxer. It also felt stronger too, like I had just had a protein treatment.  

Everything is looking great so far. While I don't think I've had a tremendous amount of growth, others around me notice that my hair has definitely grown.  I think I'm finally APL everywhere except in my crown area. I do have a game plan on getting it back on track, though. I'll share more about that in a post next week.

In the upcoming months, I will be looking to finally test out these protective and low-manipulation hairstyles.  For one, I am tired of wearing a bun. And for two, I need a break from my wigs and weaves for a little while also. I'm either going to try again with the bantu knots or try to perfect the twist-out and braid-out. And if that doesn't work out, I'm getting braids or a sew-in. I will update with pics in whatever choices I make so stay tuned (for real this time lol)!

I will still be using my JBCO for my edges and ends, I will still find more ways to add ceramides into my regimen (more than likely deep conditioning with oils), and I will continue to do scalp massages every other day with Hair Trigger Growth Elixir.  Look out for a review on the Hair Trigger Growth Elixir soon, too :-)


WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR HAIR GOALS?
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE HAIR PRODUCTS?

Mind Right Mondays: Goals, Gratitude, and Accountability


Hey guys! I'm linking up again with Dani of Ok, Dani again this week for her Mind Right Mondays Linkup.  Along with sharing my goals and gratefuls, I will be sharing how I did with my goals for last week. Let's go!

My major intent for the week is to: Take it easy. Seriously.

Ok, I have learned that I can't do everything on my own. I need help. I wish I were Superwoman-- Superwife or Supermama or Super-something, but I'm not. That's why I have to be more proactive about making sure everyone does their part within the home. I've also realized that any self-exhaustion I've experienced lately has been self-induced. I'm trying to do too much, which winds up being nothing at all. I can't take care of everyone, be the best wife I can be, or be the best mother I can be until I take care of myself (just a little). 

My goals for the week:

Continue to devote first waking moments to prayer and meditation
Get out and do something for myself outside of the home
Be more present--unplug and disconnect from everything at least two days this week
Call and connect with a friend 
Take care of personal affairs I've postponed for yet another week
Complete my resolutions chart (inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin)

I am truly grateful for:

-The beautiful memories.... Being able to recall precious moments I've shared with my Grandma Lou and all of the stories she's told me over the years.
-Family near and far.
-The ability to write to express myself-- while I have not always been able to vocalize my thoughts or find a better way to communicate my deepest concerns, I've been pretty nice with the pen over the years. It really helps in times when I need to vent!
-The beautiful fall scenery.
-Being able to fill my home with the beautiful voices of Sarah Vaughan and Solange when I'm in a mood.
-A home ideal for my family.
-Sustenance.
-J, Corey, Gabs, Jj, and Nino ;-)

Accountability:

Devote first waking moments to meditation and prayer  GOOD JOB!
Clean the bedroom at the end of the hall (oh how dreadful that sounds!) FAIL
Plan and prep meals for the week  GOOD JOB!
Handle business affairs that I've been postponing for weeks FAIL
Do inventory on the kids' closets and clothing
Clean out my inbox and reply to all emails PARTIAL..
Schedule and brainstorm blog post ideas GOOD JOB!
Get into it with my squats and crunches FAIL
Finish my Christmas shopping list 

I achieved over half of my goals for the week, so for that  I am proud.  I've been doing a good job with getting into my prayer and meditation as soon as I wake up. I kept it on the list for this week so that if I keep it up continuously, it will become a habit.

Cleaning the bedroom at the end of the hall just seems like such a daunting task! I don't know how I thought I could get that entire room together at one time. I'll break this task down into parts so that I can have it done before Thanksgiving.

I also really have to get my fitness together.  I didn't do any working out, any cardio, or any crunches last week.  I'm not even gonna put it on the list for this week--maybe I'll surprise myself and do something anyways!

What are some of your goals for the week?

My Fall Fashion Must-Haves





What's on your fall fashion must-have list?

#AskAwayFriday with The Green Eyed Lady Blog

Hey everyone! For my first ever link- up with #AskAwayFriday, I am linking up with my new bloggy friend Carissa of The Green Eyed Lady Blog.  I must say this has been fun!  How in the world have I been missing out on this? Check Carissa out!
For those of you who may not be familiar with #AskAwayFriday, it's a cool way to get to meet new bloggers and get to know them better. Partners exchange 10 questions and answer them on their respective blogs.  Sounds interesting, right?  Below are the questions Carissa asked me, along with my answers. Check out her answers to my questions here.

1. If you woke up tomorrow and you were told you could do anything that you wanted to do...what would you do?
Wow, that's a tough one.  Do I have a babysitter for the day? Lol.  I think if the weather permitted, I would grab up my books, some great food, and just head out to the beach for the entire day.  I would try to relax and enjoy the relaxing stillness in my own company. I'd be sure to get a massage, a facial, and a pedicure. Simple, but that's exactly what I'd enjoy doing most.  

2. If you could only use one makeup item for a week, what would you use and why?
OMG, I don't know.  That's REALLY hard! I think it would be my lipgloss or something.  I could go without foundation, powder, and even mascara-- as long as my lips are moisturized.  Ain't nothing cute about dry, cracked lips, honey.

3. What is one beneficial tip that you would share with a bloggers that you have learned along this journey?
Be yourself-- don't be afraid to share the good, the bad and the ugly.  For some reason, there's this pressure to be perfect on social media.  We post the most flattering pictures of ourselves.  We overly share those glamorous moments-- those times when everything is going according to plan and life couldn't be happier.  But no one talks about the rough times-- days when we hate to get out of bed, our husbands get on our nerves or the kids are cuttin' up.. Of course, no one wants to air all of their dirty laundry-- but it's okay that every day isn't the best day ever. It's alright if that smoky eye tutorial didn't come out exactly how you thought it would. It's fine that it's raining outside so you don't have the perfect scenery for that outfit of the day photoshoot. Go along with what you have- It lets others know you are human.  If someone stops reading because you share what comes from your heart and what you're most passionate about, that's okay. Someone somewhere will come along and will be able to relate to what you have going on. Remember- everybody ain't for everybody. I guess I could have had an entire post dedicated to this! I rambled on and on and on lol...

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Anywhere with nice tropical weather and a place to plant a beach chair :-)


5. If you had to restart your blog...but you couldnt blog about the topics that you currently blog about, what else would you write about?
I'm almost certain it would be about food and cooking.  My readers probably don't know that I love cooking with a passion and am a real foodie.   

6. What do you do for time for yourself?
If I can't do anything else-- I will make sure I do a manicure and a pedicure for myself. That's one way I always get a little bit of pampering time in.


7. What are you doing for the Thanksgiving Holiday?
This is my first year in my new home, so I'm making a big Thanksgiving dinner over at my place.  I probably won't be doing much visiting family as I usually do because it's getting cold and I really don't want to bring Jj out in the elements like that yet.

8. As the year comes to an end, how do you prep for the next year?
Last year, I started setting goals in September. It prompted me to start crossing things off my list before the new year even began. This year, I'm gonna just sit down with my family and discuss all the blessings that we've experienced this year and brainstorm on ways we can make next year an even better year. This year will be the year we make goals as a FAMILY.

9. What are three must have items that go in your purse?
Hand sanitizer. Floss. Plushglass (it plumps all those fine lines out of your lips with the quickness!).

10. Tell us one random fact about yourself.
I wrote my very first song in the second grade. I can't remember much of it, only that someone's love was as sweet as a jelly roll. Too much, lol!

Be sure to check out Carissa and get more familiar with her blog by clicking her button below!

The Green Eyed Lady Blog

Current Beauty Wishlist

F+W Beauty Wishlist 1

Here are the items (in no particular order):

NYX Butter Lip Gloss
MAC Mineralized Blush (Divine Night Collection)
MAC Viva Glam I Lipstick
NYX HD Makeup Primer
Yves Saint Laurent Lipstick in Luminous Pink
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer
Lime Crime Lipstick in Centrifuchsia
Maybelline Big Eyes Mascara
NYX "Push Up Bra" Eyebrow Highlighter
NARS Pure Matte Lipstick
Sara Happ Lip Scrub in Pink Grapefruit
EOS Lip Balm in Acai Berry
Benefit Groovy-Kind-A-Love Set
MAC Mineralize Charged Water Moisture Gel
NARS Cheek Palette
NYX "Matte Finish" Makeup Setting Spray
NARS Union Libre Nail Polish
NARS No Limits Nail Polish
OPI Suzi & the 7 Dusseldorfs Nail Polish

Have you tried any of these items?
What's on your beauty wish list?

REVIEW: Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession-- or in this case, more like an obsession.  Since trying out the Mario Badescu Skin Care line earlier this year, I have been IN LOVE with their products.  I am over the moon in awe with how well they have been working on my oily, hormonal skin.  So I was no doubt excited when I was presented with the opportunity to try out the Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum. For those of us who have issues with hyperpigmentation and desire a more even complexion, skin care products with vitamin c are a dream come true.  In hopes that this serum would brighten my complexion and give my skin an overall smoother complexion, I decided to give Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum a shot.


STATS:  Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum is packaged in a 1 oz green glass bottle with a dropper as a dispenser, retailing at $45. Serums are known to run pretty expensive, so I personally would not mind paying this price for an effective one. As vitamin c alone is known to even skin tone, reduce signs of aging, and protect skin from damaging free radicals, the serum also contains hyaluronic acid which retains moisture and collagen which enhances firmness and elasticity. I don't know about you guys, but as a woman who wants to keep a youthful appearance and overall glow, reading these things on the packaging were quite promising. It sounded like I had struck a gold mine or had the fountain of youth at my fingertips! 

HOW TO USE: Thanks to the handy dropper dispenser, applying this serum is a breeze! Using the dropper, you're to apply 3-4 drops on clean skin every other night. So after I cleansed with my Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel and applied the Mario Badescu Cucumber Lotion (for toning), I applied the serum. The packaging suggests that the serum can be used under the moisturizer or alone. I opted to use it alone the first time as serums can feel oily or "slick" once moisturizer is layered on. 

THE RUNDOWN: I will admit I wasn't sure what to expect with my first application. It stung a little, so I said to myself, "This serum must be working already!" I did not, however, expect for it to get to work on my skin so fast. After my first night of using the Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum, I woke up the next morning with a glow. Seriously. My skin felt smooth and moisturized, not slick like it has been when using other serums. Within only a few weeks of use, I noticed that my skin looked refreshed and radiant WITHOUT MAKEUP. Not only did I notice a difference--so did others. It seems that everyone was complimenting me on my "glow."  My skin felt soft and supple to the touch, even a bit "tight" if you will. The dry patches I had developed in my t-zone became smooth.  Even my dark spots had faded significantly. While I can't say my hyperpigmentation is completely gone, I can say that it is clearing up quite beautifully. Now after a couple months of use, I can say that I am very impressed with the performance of Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum. It has definitely been added to my beauty staples and skincare arsenal!

Recommended: Yes
Pros: has functional packaging, improves texture, brightens complexion, evens tone 
Cons: can be a bit pricey, retailing at $45
Key Ingredients: 7.5% absorbic acid (vitamin c), collagen, hyaluronic acid
Where to Buy: mariobadescu.com
Overall Score: A

Have you tried the Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum or any other products from the Mario Badescu skincare line? I highly recommend this serum for those of you looking for a more youthful, radiant complexion and/or have issues with hyperpigmentation like myself.

This product was sent to me for review by Mario Badescu. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Fall Fashion Lookbook: All Dressed Up


What do you wear for a special occasion during the Fall Season? Since I won't be running behind children or carrying a small baby around for these occasions, I decided to add some scandalous heels to the mix and come up with some inspiration for my scheduled date nights and things for the upcoming weeks!

Black White and Red All Over

Black, White and Fuchsia

Featuring the Mustard Cardigan

Would you rock these looks?

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