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Showing posts from 2011

The Freedom to be Yourself

If you celebrate Kwanzaa, I'm told the focus of the first day is on the principal of Unity. When I made peace with my natural hair, I felt like a new world was open to me, and had I known what I now knew about my natural hair, I would never had pursued chemical relaxers. It was too fantastic to keep to myself. Yet, I experience my natural hair in a very narrow way, by some people's standards. Perhaps this personal choice makes me appear superior.

It's not my intent.

I just shared a YouTube video I posted about a passionate discussion I experienced with my sister this Christmas. I'm so glad we talked, and that we have the kind of relationship where we can be completely open with each other about our thoughts with the confidence that we will hold each other tight no matter what.

I struggled with her position and am still not sure how a chemical relaxer can be considered healthy. We never argued on her right to pursue it but that it was a healthy choice. We all make u…

Hot Topic: You're NOT Better because You're Natural!

10 YouTubers I enjoy

MsIslandSpice Christmas Tag

Mocha Merry Christmas!

LTP Update

I'm going to sit right down and admit that I am not the one to head up a challenge. Maybe it's the time of year and the business of entertaining while staying on top of the already busy life. Maybe it's the fact that leaving a style in for a very long time doesn't require much effort. Maybe it's because I'm just too busy to get really creative with it....I don't know.

I'll say that the beauty of LTP for me is just letting go, enjoying life and realizing that I don't have to be a slave to keeping the fuzz perfectly at bay.

It's been fantastic for all the girls but Mg2 in particular. I just can't believe how long her hair can hold a style. We went for a solid month and when I took the style down I realized I could honestly have gone longer by just redoing her edges and a couple of twists along her center part. I could take LTP to the max with her. If she ever dreads her hair...she won't have an ugly stage. She'll move effortlessl…

Homeschool Tips: Teaching My Babies

10 Things I wish I had known about nappy hair in the beginning

Hot Topic: Self Acceptance is it me or them?

Day 10 - 15 LTP Styling

I love ponytails and colorful headbands. This headband is really a simple design but the color contrast works really well with her skin tone and is a nice pop of color with her outfit.
Day 15!

Mg2's hair looks about the same. Gotta love that about her hair. Compact fuzz. HmG has some fuzz but she decides to curl her dry twists with pipecleaners. The curls start to really fall after a couple of hours--as pictured above. She will try this again with damp hair.

What about the Littlest Mocha princesses?

Time is up! The only fix for this would be a pair of cute hats.

I haven't added anything to their hair.

HmG covers her head every night but it's a hit or a miss for everyone else. Mocha Baby almost never.

Happy Birthday Mg2: Her Birth Story!

I had the worst morning sickness during my pregnancy with this one. I couldn't keep anything down for 7.5 months. Next I suffered from the most horrendous heartburn. I didn't enjoy food again until after Mg2 was born. I felt like I was STARVING all of the time. I wanted to eat and had the same appetite you hear pregnant women have but putting food in my body started a vicious cycle. Even water was the enemy. I had to be hospitalized for fluids. I felt terrible both physically and emotionally and it showed. My face swelled up and darkened in areas. I hated my pregnancy mask. I was irrational and wondered what my baby would be like--I had an evil premonition that something bad was coming out of all of that suffering.

Mg2 came early.

One of my closest friends was getting married in my home town about 6 hours away. I couldn't imagine missing her wedding so I went to the doctor for advice on whether or not we should make the trip. I was 36 weeks pregnant. He examine…

Day 4 of LTP Styling

We're on our way to a function with everyone but Hmg who has ballet practice. I LOVE the buns she creates for ballet.


I've decided to track Mg3 and Mocha Baby's progress too even though we probably won't go a month. It's interesting to see how their styles evolve also.

I'll be back with some shots of Mg3!
Here she is!


Long Term Protective (LTP) Styling

So how long have you left a style in your child's hair?

For me it really depends on the style. When I was growing up my mother was not a fan of styles with many braids on the head. She'd do them occasionally, but she believed styles of 6 braids or less (her signature style for me was 3 braids) looked more refined. This meant my hair was styled EVERY morning. My mother also did a fantastic job of making sure our hair looked fresh and smooth every day. She worked full time and lacked the time to put in numerous braids/cornrows or twists. Our hair was washed every other Saturday and she meticulously worked out the tangles until her comb slid through. I STILL marvel about this because I have the kind of hair that will mesh right back up unless you lock it in place and keep it far away from water. Grease was the order of the day. While my hair never grew past a certain length I had a lush head of hair under my mother's care. I think if she would have left my hair alone …

Your baby's hair WILL grow!

Check out this inspiring story! All I can say is yes, yes, yes!

Maximizing the style: setting old twists

Hot Topic: Step up YOUR styling game Mocha Mom!

Everybody has Good hair and Bad Hair....

...wait. Let me explain!

I've considered my hair to be bad when it wouldn't do what I wanted it to do. Maybe it wouldn't hang, was difficult to style or detangle. Maybe it wasn't long enough for a special updo. Maybe it wasn't thick enough--I love big hair. Maybe I imagined other people looking at me and wondering when I was planning to do something with that hair of mine.

Once I thought this experience had everything to do with my texture, but now that I've embraced my texture I realize that bad hair days come with having hair. It's inevitable that one day my hair won't cooperate with my expectations and I just can't take myself too seriously. It's the same thing with my girls.

In a perfect world I would be consistent with washing their hair right when I know it's time, but in my world the unexpected is expected. I find myself having to sit with the knowledge that it should be done but couldn't be done. It always turns out OK anyw…

Mocha Girls: How I consider texture to find the right products

Hot Topic: I'm all natural...now what?

Hot topic: Embracing the fuzz makes me look like a bad mother!

One Year Locked!

Mocha Baby is TWO!

Happy Birthday!

We've finally realized that babies really DO grow up really fast and you'd better enjoy every moment. With this one, we really haven't spent most of the time wishing she'd get through this stage or that stage...realizing that every stage is an adventure. We've tried really hard to trap time and learned we can't, but are enjoying every moment.

Happy Birthday Mg3!

Was she ever happy to enjoy her special day at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando!

My reflections on September 11th

Nappy Hair is forgiving!

Thank God!

I have learned that I can't go wrong by just leaving my girls' hair alone. There have been times our lives have gotten extremely busy. In times like these, we tend to slip out of our routines. I'll turn around and 3 weeks have gone by without a thorough wash and conditioning routine--yet my girls' hair continue to thrive.

This experience challenges the assumptions I made about nappy hair before. I once believe it wouldn't survive without extra pampering. I imagined a long list of things to do to maximize our growth. My girls' hair has taught me I can have great success because of the things I DON'T do.

Embrace the fuzz.

I've observed our measure for neatness to be based on a straight hair aesthetic. Neat hair is considered to be smooth and shiny hair. In the past, my pursuit of neatness has been the death of my girls' hair. I was simply doing too much and denying their hair too much moisture in an effort to keep it neat longer. I'…

Lock Update

HOT TOPIC: FIVE difficult pregnancies????

How can I keep my baby still for styling?

Sometimes you can't.

At least, that's what I've discovered with Mocha Baby. She communicates much better than her siblings did at her age. I'll credit that to the fact that she's constantly stimulated by four other siblings who find whatever she expresses to be fascinating. When it's time to do Mocha Baby's hair, she says, "No hair! All done!" Before scampering away.

I've only got so much time to chase her around and present a convincing argument that a new style is important in her busy little world. Sometimes I just give up and try again later or wait for another day. When it's not practical to wait, the following has worked for me:

1. I try to keep it simple. Diva sessions are coming soon enough but for now, Mocha Baby will be two years old in October, and her attention span is very short. I try to plan styles I know will only take me twenty minutes or less to complete. This includes detangling.

2. My goal of 20 minutes or less h…

Hot Topic: I'm NOT perfect and neither are you!

My BEST advice for new homeschoolers

Mocha Mom on the Real: Bring HIM the mess.

Hot Topic: How do you do it with FIVE children?

How I Choose my Homeschool Curriculum

A few months back someone requested more information on how I go about choosing my curriculum for homeschool. My son is 14 years old today, and I've been reflecting on our homeschool journey. I've changed so much from how I approached things in the beginning.

We started our homeschool experience in New York State which is a highly regulated state, though not as rigid as some others. I was required to submit an IHIP at the beginning of each year which is a detailed plan of books/curriculum and my strategy for fulfilling all the requirements for each of my students for the year according to New York state regulations. Each quarter I submitted a report itemizing how each of my school age children have fulfilled what was described in the IHIP for that quarter. At the end of the year, I submitted a written assessment in narrative form detailing how we obtained our objectives and what the academic performance of each of my children were. I lived in a district where the deputy …

Honey Shea Shampoo Bar (Bobeam Naturals) Review

Y'all know by now that I am the farthest thing from a product junkie. I'm a firm believer that if something is working for you then stick with it. Even if I wanted to spend my time trying new things for entertainment--I'm working with so many nappy heads I'd be broke before long. If I try something new and add it to our rotation of tried and true products--you can be sure that the product really made an impression on me.

You've heard me mention my Scalp Stimulator Shampoo Bar by Bobeam Naturals. I love it on my locks but it works just as well for my entire family of loose haired nappies. I contacted Laquita, owner of Bobeam Naturals, to find out if she could recommend any of her other bars for my family. She was happy to send me several bars. I haven't tried them all yet. I wanted to use each bar for at least a month on all of the girls before making a judgement. Since we've all been swimming ALOT and washing our hair multiple times a week--this was…

ASK Mocha Mom: Am I making the puffs too tight?

Hi Natacha, my name is Harmony.

I tried to find the "Ask Mocha Mom" section of your blog but I could not find it. So, that's why I'm just commenting on this post.

I check your blog often and you are SUCH a help to me with my daughter's hair. My little Megan is 21 months old right now and I need some help. When she is this young she has enough hair on the back of her head that it looks bad if I put puffs on the rest of her head, but not the back. But, I struggle because if I put in the puffs on the back, then I know she will not be comfortable when she sleeps. Also I get worried that the puffs are too tight. I have read about the bumps on the head being an indicator that they are pulled too tight, but when I look at her head it's not that there are bumps, but the skin actually looks tight. Obviously she cannot communicate if it hurts, and I guess I just want to be on the safe side. I have seen lots of mothers pull the hair very tight and they claim …

Nappy Miranda Rights

I have a right to remain tightly coiled up.

Any method you use to fight my natural design can and will be used against you when it comes to length retention.

I have a right to rise up instead of laying down.

If I'm not allowed to rise up, any fluctuation in the level of humidity where I am will help me to rise up.

I can exercise these rights at any time and stay the same frizzy length year after year.

If what you've always known to do hasn't been working for you, why not try something different?

Should you lock your child's hair for you?

What if my four daughter's had locks and I allowed their locks to free form--meaning I allow the locks to form on their own? Even if I chose to cultivate their locks, wouldn't my routine would be much simpler? Imagine only having to maintain one to two inches of new growth every other month by twisting or latching the roots! Imagine NEVER detangling again! I mean, I don't think locks look that great--maybe on some people, but wouldn't it be worth it so I wouldn't have to struggle through these long grooming sessions anymore? It's taking over my life, shouldn't I have the right to choose whether I want to give that much? What about me?

OR

I feel so blessed to be able to adopt this baby girl from the continent of Africa. I only know how to deal with straight and wavy hair. I love my new daughter so much already, but I'm completely overwhelmed by dealing with her hair. My friends are telling me I don't stand a chance, and that the easiest thing …

Happy Father's Day!

I say it all of the time....my kids have the BEST father!
Happy Father's Day Mocha Dad!

The PRODUCTS I Use on My Girls' Hair

Many of you have requested a video so I'm doing one, but you should know that I'm NOT giving credit to any particular product for the success I've had with the girls' hair.

I think we fall prey so much to false marketing and many of us will buy anything that promises to increase growth or eliminate dryness. I've had a cabinet full of products in the past that did absolutely NOTHING toward fixing the problems I was experiencing with my girls' hair. Their hair remained the same length year after year and was very dry and brittle.

I had to change my expectations, my methods and be committed to just letting their hair do what it was designed to do. This can be very hard, especially when many cultures use the straight aesthetic to measure beauty. In my experience, trying to keep vibrant nappy hair smooth and perfectly coifed at all times is a recipe for dryness which often leads to breakage. People who know me in real life can testify that I am at home with A LOT…

The Lost Art of Homemaking?

I don't know if the art of homemaking has been lost, or if our girls just aren't interested in focusing much energy at home. My mother was and still is a fantastic homemaker. She worked full time while raising my 2 sibling and I, yet still had time to make delicious meals, clean, do laundry, and grow thriving plants. I grew up thinking these skills would get magically transferred to me, despite my resistance to coming along side my mother to do what she did and be trained.

I remember countless arguments, and feelings of frustration whenever my mother asked me to help her cook, or fold clothes. I found the work a tedious waste of my time, because as soon as we were done, it was time to start the same tasks all over again. What gratification was there in a job that is never quite done? It wasn't until I was an adult, with a family and home of my own, that I found myself picking up the telephone over and over to consult with my mother, about all of the things she had wan…

Change the Attitude...

...toward the word nappy because the word isn't going anywhere. This is such a big deal to people, and from time to time I'm confronted about why I embrace the word. I love it because it spurs just the kind of conversation I'm after.

Here's a video response I made to abht01's video: "Get rid of the word Nappy".

Homemaking Tips

I doubt I'll blog about these unless you really want me to, but I've been asked to share some of my homemaking tips by some viewers who also know me in real life. I decided to start with a video onfreezer cooking because it's made such a tremendous difference in my family life. I certainly didn't invent it and you'll find many books, blogs and articles about it. I'm sharing the way I've tweaked it to make it more manageable for me.

I also uploaded a video on meal planning.

As always, let me know what you think.

MP's Graduation Piano Performance

A couple of months after getting married my husband and I were praying about our future children. At first we were just dreaming. We wanted a family but were determined to finish our graduate degrees first. I had just started my masters program and Mocha Dad was nearly finished with his PhD. As we prayed we felt God respond. We imagined we'd have a son with a talent for music.

MP started showing a musical interest around the age of 3. While playing with the same musical instruments as other toddlers his age, he would pick out melodies he heard from us and others who sang near him. We noticed and remembered our prayer experience about him early in our marriage. We waited until he was 6 years old to introduce MP to formal lessons.

We are blessed to see all that the Lord is doing with him and look forward to where God will lead him to use his gift. These days MP is always composing something original.

Here's his performance earlier today, at his 8th grade graduation.

SIDEWINDER Follow-Up

Mg3's hair is so soft! The ends look great! The bundle I created to hold the sidewinder in place held together well and came out easily with my seam ripper. I think it would have been difficult to avoid cutting hair had I tried to use scissors. If you want to try this method (bundling for the ends instead of beads) I highly recommend picking up a seam ripper. I bought mine at Walmart in the crafts/sewing department. I paid less than $3. I'm sure they can also be found in any fabric/craft store where sewing materials are sold.

Here's the video!

Check out the BLOOPERS video too! This one was fun to put together.

Mocha Prince in FRONT of the camera!

I'm so proud of our son--Mocha Prince (MP). He was about 9 months old when Mocha Dad and I decided we wanted to homeschool him and any children coming after him. My husband was a college professor in the computer science department at the time. I was home full time with MP, but had been successful as a social worker in clinical practice working with emotionally disabled children and their families. My greatest fear was math. For some reason I feared teaching it to a child, but my husband was confident that we could do a good job.

MP has exceeded our expectations in his academic performance. We are so proud of him. Along the way we've discovered that he has a great gift for music and writing as well. It's never boring trying to balance a curriculum for someone who is comfortable with math and science but also demonstrates abundant artistic expression.

I think the greatest benefit of homeschool for us so far has been the gift of time. We are together so much, and fin…

SIDEWINDER Review and Tutorial

I've been looking for an alternative to beads and a way to secure the ends of my African Threaded styles so my girls can wear their hair down the way they like. I think the SIDEWINDERS found on hairholders.com may be my solution. Here's what I've done.

Book Review: Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney

Black Red Riding Hood, mother and grandmother. All with beautiful loosely coiled natural hair. Black author AND illustrator! Beautiful art work.

The above was Mg3's choice for story time today.

I've heard several versions of this story and wondered which path this author would take. While all the characters but the wolf and woodsman were Black, Pinkney kept the details and culture of the story the same as the traditional versions I've read.

The main character is named Red Riding Hood because of a red hooded cape she wears everywhere. Red lives in a village with her mother. She's instructed by her mother to deliver soup and muffins directly to her grandmother who lives in the woods. Calamity ensues both for Red and her grandmother when she disobeys her mother by allowing a wolf in the woods to distract and trick her.

I cringed a little as I read about the wolf swallowing the grandmother whole and later doing the same to Red. I closely watch Mg3's face. She look…

Movie Review: Rogers and Hammerstein Cinderella

This is an old one--1997! I was watching it with my daughter the other day and had a completely different reaction from when I watched it as my much younger self when it aired on TV. I remember spending the first twenty minutes of the movie arguing with the multi-racial cast and refusing to accept a world where race is completely ignored. My hair wasn't natural and I didn't even notice the celebration of the diversity of our choice of styles as women of African descent. I was delighted to discover this movie all over again.

There are some things I would change about the movie, but I think if a mother is determined to share the Cinderella story with her daughter, this is a unique one to offer. All my girls especially enjoyed the music.

Check out my video review for more detail on my thoughts and concerns.

Are we reading to our kids enough?

We spend so much time trying to pull negative things out of our kids, but how much time do we really spend purposefully offering them a desirable alternative. When it comes to promoting a healthy self image in our daughters (and sons), I'm learning that I really need to be proactive. I need to present to my children the norm I want them to have.

If you're reading this blog, I'm probably preaching to the choir--clearly YOU read-- but we really need to be reading to our kids. Some of us are juggling so much and I know it can be hard even to find a moment to breathe, but we must read to our children. I believe it is a highly effective tool to foster rich discussion about a plethora of issues.

I always marvel at how much my kids are drawn to images. Are you sick of listening to them watch their favorite video over and over yet? If we give them the opportunity, kids will do the same with books they love. I often find mine staring and thinking. What if the image they are s…

ASK Mocha Mom: Summer Hair

I received a question on the fanpage too long to answer in that tiny box we get. I've decided to start an ASK Mocha Mom feature to this blog. I'll still answer your questions in the comments, but if I don't have a blog post I can refer you to, or my answer is too involved I'll answer you like this so we can all benefit from the discussion. Here's Pam's question:

CMD, how does the texture of hair change with the change of seasons? We are going into warmer months and I was wondering what does that mean in relationship to my daughter's hair?
Good question Pam!

Her texture won't change but her hair will certainly behave differently if the climate where you live changes in the summer. The primary factors are heat and moisture. Hair is dead, but you'd think it's alive because of the way it reacts to water. I'm sure you've noticed that when you wet your daughter's hair, it probably stretches out a little because of the weight of the …

Mocha Mom Speaks about Length Retention and Protective Styling

My hair on the day I put in my Braidlocks before the shrinkage set in.

I considered making another video, but opted to return to my first love--writing. I've been reflecting on the many responses I've received on my Hot Topic: The Tangle Teezer is Breaking my Hair video. I've been wondering if there's a little more to my success story.

There was a time my daughters' hair remained the same length year after year. I thought their hair wasn't growing or had reached terminal length--meaning their hair had grown as long as it could possibly grow. It never occurred to me that their hair was breaking off at the ends as quickly as it was growing in from the roots. Culturally, as people of African descent, we do many things to our hair that's death to our ends.

I never set out to retain length. Something changed in me during a completely unrelated experience. I talk about it in detail in my post Her mother needs to do her hair! When my expectations changed abo…

Natural Beauties in the City Episode 9 - The Children's Episode!

I entered the Mocha Girls in the Identity Pillow Giveaway! You can watch our video entry here:

Magic Flower Pot: A Tangle Teezer for Girls!

When I saw this I contacted Tangle Teezer about trying this out so I can share it with you! Of course I taped my trial. You can see it here.

Want more Cherish the Momma?

I'm working on some more Cherish the Momma segments. Our girls watch us, imitate us--we're leading by example whether we're trying to or not. I want to pass on as many positive things as I can. I also want to break bad habits. For example, my entire life I've hated to sweat, but sweating is good for our bodies in so many ways. Not only are we eliminating waste through the body's largest organ, we are promoting hair growth with all the circulation our sweating process brings to the scalp.

Let's get moving for ourselves and for our daughters! The benefits are endless.

I find it easier if I'm doing something fun. Here's another one of us--check out Pam's quick Zumba workout video on YouTube. Try it! In my enthusiasm, I worked up a nice sweat.

I also enjoy her blog, because of her insight on raising fit kids.

Mocha Baby get's her hair washed for the first time...

...in the kitchen sink! We video taped it to share with you here.

Cherish the Momma: The Stay at Home Mom

Choosing to stay at home can be difficult for many of us. For those of us who want to pursue a higher degree of education or have already spent years earning a professional degree, it can seem like a waste. Check out the video response I made to Chocolatetresses--a fellow subscriber who posted a video about her struggle with her recent decision to focus her energies at home.

Using Classics with a Different Spin to Teach a Positive Message

What a unique spin to an old favorite! I think the relationship emphasized in the story Ponyella is sweet and a really positive message to share with young girls. Check out my book review video here.

*Also--I have set up multiple playlists on the YouTube channel to help make it easy to find what you may be looking for.

For discussion: Have you come across any new versions of classics you like?

I really like some of the animal versions, but I also like the people versions with a special twist. Ever watched the movie Penelope? I don't recommend this movie for young girls, because I'm not interested in introducing my girls to a lot of romance at an early age. Also, I'm not sure that the way Hollywood does romance, sends the best messages toward helping people to develop realistic and wholesome partnerships. That said, I enjoy a good chic flick as much as any other woman, but it's getting harder and harder to look the other way at the questionable content. Anyway...I en…

African Threading: With a little practice...

I've been a little anxious about taking down Mg3's hair after our last experience. You can watch how it went here. This one is super short, but I'm so excited to share my progress!

One thing I found helpful was using the sharp end of a sewing needle to pry apart the knot at the end of her hair. The end of my rat tail comb was too fat.