Tuesday, December 27, 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 unhealthy decisions every day and live with the consequences...great or small.

I wonder if I can really assume responsibility for how others perceive me because of my lifestyle if I have not intentionally sent them the message they are interpreting.

I still struggle with the expectation that I voice affirmation about hair relaxers...I have to be me. I'm just not a supporter. I'm not into bashing people about it but you won't find me gushing over it either.

We didn't really resolve our debate, except to recommit ourselves to affirming and supporting one another. Unity.

I'm sure we'll keep stumbling along...but it's a process.

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Barbie Gets a Makeover!

Check this article out!

Who would have thought it would be so easy to give Barbie some texture. I really like the way these ladies are presenting themselves and going around to schools to talk to our girls. The dolls look fantastic, and I find the girls' reaction to them to be so encouraging.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

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 effortlessly into some fabulous locks. Out of all my girls I can see her taking the leap sooner.

Some things I did:
1. Accessories. Headbands. Flowers. Barrettes. Clips.

2. Sets. A braid out or twist out on damp hair over night will not only stretch out the shrunken protective style but will tame the fuzz and give the look a completely different flavor. Add a statement headband and you're ready. This is my favorite tactic and has saved me so much time and stress when we were entertaining and I really didn't have time to do much more for the girls.

In the past--when I believed every stray strand had to be tightly and smoothly tamed, I would have made us all miserable trying to squeeze in a mega styling session--while preparing to entertain. I could shed buckets of tears remembering the "
ouches" and the "please sit still, I know it hurts but we have to get through this."

3. Last leg.....cute hats.

4. Wash the hair in the braids/style. Let dry fully then braid out/twist out/bantu knot out/roller set, etc., for another week, ending with a puff. I didn't do it this time around but in the warmer months I love getting everything I can before having to detangle again.

Try it

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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.

Friday, November 18, 2011

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 examined me and said I was no where near ready to give birth, advised me to make lots of stops, and not to sit still for too long. His main concern was blood clots.

Everything went beautifully at the wedding. I went to bed that night, never expecting what came later. Around midnight a POP woke me out of my sleep. My first thought was, Oh no! My water is breaking, I don't want to wet my sister's bed! It was a premonition, because my water had never broken on its own before.

I acted.


Imagine my huge, pregnancy bellied self taking a flying leap off the bed---imagine THAT! I still can't believe I was physically able to do that. As my feet hit the floor the water gushed out .

My babies come fast so we imagined we'd never make it to the hospital since my water had broken. My mom stayed with my two kids while my husband rushed...sped...FLEW me to the hospital. The gushing water was so uncomfortable. It replenishes itself. It's not like emptying a pitcher. I never knew that. Mg2's head acted like a cork but every time I shifted, so did she and out gushed some more water. It was like wetting myself over and over again with no control. Thank God the water was clear and odorless!

We were wrong about the fast birth.

My water had broken at midnight--Sunday morning---but Mg2 wasn't born until Monday afternoon around 3 PM. We waited and waited for productive contractions to start. I was foreign to the hospital and the doctors. Though I had brought my medical records as a precaution, they ran every test in the book over again. They insisted I be monitored non stop. They insisted I lay still on my left side. NOT A GOOD RECIPE FOR STARTING A LABOR!

After the entire night of waiting, the doctors recommended the medication, Pitocin, to regulate my contractions so my body would dilate . They were giving me 12 hours to get Mg2 out on my own or they were going to take her by c-section. I didn't want that so we prayed. They started the Pitocin and the pain was hellish. It felt nothing like my natural contractions. The peaks were harder, stronger and more frequent. The pain sharply increased sooner than they had with my last baby.

I had been up all night with all of the monitoring and tests. I couldn't cope with the pain. I had trained myself to endure a natural birth with no pain medication (I had done it before), but in the end I knew I wouldn't make it. I realized that if I couldn't buy my body the time to dilate, a c-section was inevitable. I had trained my husband to advocate for me to avoid the medication...even if I asked for it. We began to struggle. I finally convinced him we needed to move to plan B. I took the epidural.

Then I fell asleep.

For hours.

When they woke me up, it was time to push. We were at a teaching hospital so the room was FULL of interns--all women. They began shouting and screaming instructions on how I should pushed. I had already birthed 2 babies but they were confusing me awfully. I couldn't really feel my body because of the numbing effect of the epidural. Pushing had always been easy for me but I couldn't feel which muscles to use. I curved my body over and felt like I was losing the battle. The baby monitor went crazy. The doctor attending me was also in her last trimester of pregnancy. She looked me dead in the eye and yelled, "We've got to get this baby out NOW! You can do this but I have to help you. I need to use forceps!"

My eyes rolled to the back of my head. FORCEPTS! I had read all about forcepts and none of it had been good.

The doctor looked at me again and said, "I'm fighting for you. It's either the forcepts or a c-section."

We took the forcepts.

A couple of pushes and Mg2 was out. She was my first VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). I've had 3 VBACs!

I loved her instantly. She looked worn out. My most worn out looking baby to date. She had little bumps all over her flushed face. She was small. She had been through it too. I had a wicked episiotomy. We laughed and we cried....but we've been laughing ever since.

I was wrong about her.

I was SO wrong.

She's my sweetest, most laid back, most joyful child. She's got a light shining from her eyes that glows so bright.

My experience with her has taught me that out of great suffering can come something indescribably precious.

I'm so glad I stayed the course.

I'm so glad she's here.

Happy birthday Mg2!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

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!

Friday, November 11, 2011

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 more, she would have enjoyed the lengths I achieved as an adult applying the principles I know now.

I left Hmg and Mg3's hair in twists for a month!!!! I washed their hair and scalp in the twists (which was MUCH easier than managing loose hair). I let them do what they do which meant their hair was liberally doused every day in the shower. Once their hair fuzzed up we managed it with girlish updo styles, headbands and other colorful accessories and set the frizz with a braid out set. I expected the take down to be a nightmare because of meshing. I washed their hair with the twists still in and sat down to take down the style. I planned to work twists by twist--finger detangle, apply shea butter mix and retwist. Their hair was still very damp so the step of spritzing was eliminated (LOVE this!) until I had completed most of the style.

Their twists came down easily! There were some loose hairs trying to hold the 2 sections of twisted hair together but I was able to pull the hair apart without as much effort as I had expected. Finger detangling went so much more quickly than I expected that I managed to process all 4 girls in 3 hours!!!!

As I said, I must repeat this process and see what I did.

I am planning to go another month (Hmg and Mg2) with this new set of twists--washing their hair with shampoo every two weeks and letting them rinsing as needed. I will periodically check back in with you on how we are working with the frizz. At the end of the month I want to see if I have the same experience with take down.

If I am successful, I plan to start a challenge YOU can join me on.

This approach is for Hmg and Mg2. I haven't tried this on Mocha Baby yet because she won't sit still long enough for me to put in a style I could work with for a month. I haven't tried it on Mg3 (my fuzzy wuzzy princess), because I'm not sure her strands will stay twisted through washing for a month.

What do you think? Would you be interested?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Your baby's hair WILL grow!

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

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 anyway. It's the same with styling.

I've embraced the fuzz, but a special occasion is still not the time I want to practice acknowledging that nappy hair is fuzzy and celebrate the benefits of letting it do what it does. There's still a part of me that is concerned that
Aunt MeansWell may pull me aside and chide me for not taking the time to groom my girls properly before taking them out of the house. As difficult as it is, I have come to appreciate the times I've had no choice but to sit with the discomfort, because life happens and we can't always control everything.

If maintenance and grooming means I'm ripping through my girls hair and snarling at everybody...maybe it's time to stop and just throw my hands up. I've done it, but my goal is to do it less. In a perfect world--never again.

So whatever the circumstance, we can go anywhere with our heads held up. Nobody is perfect and it's guaranteed that the person who is invading your space with their unwanted opinion has been where you are OR will be.

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Mg3!

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

Friday, September 9, 2011

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've learned the following;

1. Nappy hair likes to be left alone.

2. Nappy hair loves moisture--WATER moisture--not the grease coated slickness I once believed was moisture.

3. Nappy hair is fuzzy and can be frizzy.

Nappy hair is forgiving. I can relax my routines and watch for what the hair needs and if I miss it everything will still be OK if I honor points one and two.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

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 hair sessions sometimes means I may take out an old style and detangle in one session and wait for a later time to follow through with the new style. Washing is a completely different session. I fail every time I expect her to sit for too much at once.

3. I try not to wait until the last minute before we need to be somewhere to try to approach MB about getting her hair done. In those situations I have very little patience for any power struggle she may start. I already know grooming is not her favorite activity so I try not to set both of us up for failure. Multiple negative experiences probably make it more difficult to convince a baby that next time will be any better.

4. I use MB's desire to imitate everything her sisters do to convince her that she does want to sit still in her chair while I hurry up and throw together a style. This is a BIG one for us! I will style Mg3's hair first, while MB is in the room. When I call MB to the same seat for her turn she'll often fly to me while parroting, "My turn! My turn!"

5. If all else fails, I wait until MB is in a solid sleep pattern and lay her across my lap for styling. This option worked better for us when MB was much smaller. These days, laying her across my lap doesn't give me enough access to her head even if I'm trying to do simple parts. I hate to risk waking her up by moving her head around too much. Spritzing MB's hair with cool water has the same pitfalls. I've still found it to be better than nothing.

6. Finally, it's OK if I don't oooh and ahhh when I'm done with the style. I've had to pep talk myself through this one. I love to create a style and pat myself on the back for a good design and perfect parts. These days I'm often rushing so much nobody's parts are perfect anymore. I'm learning to find peace in imperfection. I make a mental list in my head....clean hair? Check! Shed hair out? Check! Simple neat style neither MB nor I will be crying about when it's time for take down? Check! Check! I'm good.

The above style is not my favorite.....but it works! If I really want to jazz it up, I add a cute headband OR a unique clip here and there to match MB's outfit and I keep it moving. The payoff is that her hair is flourishing. I remind myself that plenty of days are ahead when she'll be able to sit for as long as I need to get the style she will finally be vested in.

In the interim....this too will past.

Friday, August 12, 2011

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 superintendent expected everything submitted on time, but I never received any feedback about what I had done. Today that same district has become very particular about dissecting the IHIP and expecting revisions.

I shared that to show why I may have been uptight in the beginning in my approach to picking out curriculum. I had read many books on homeschool philosophy which described a freedom to finally do what I wanted, but in my district I always felt like someone was watching and waiting for me to mess up. Thankfully, I rose to the occasion and worked hard. Over time I owned our homeschool and found ways to stay compliant while meeting the goals and objectives my family had.

Back then, I shopped according to grade level having very little knowledge about the scope and sequence (criteria for what each child should be taught at which academic level). These days I familiarize myself with the body of knowledge I need to cover--then shop for resources. Sometimes I find much of what I need in one place, but I usually end up putting together an eclectic group of materials. I've found the library and internet to be a huge resource. Lately I've been exploring ambleside.com which is a website built by homeschool moms linking curriculum and books online based on the Charlotte Mason method of education--for free! I had no idea so many complete works may be found for FREE on the internet. Homeschooling is becoming easier and easier than ever before.

I recently put up an in depth video about my process in choosing curriculum on the YouTube channel. Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

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 a good season to test out the bars and see what they can do. I used the Honey Shea Shampoo Bar exclusively on all the girls and have recently uploaded a YouTube video about my experience. Also check out Bobeam Naturals on Facebook and Etsy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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 that it is perfectly fine as long as there are no bumps. What do you think?

My other question is: do you worry about putting puffs on the back of your daughters' heads in the fear that they will be uncomfortable when they sleep? Do you just wait until they don't take naps any more to do this? Or should I not worry about it if she uses a pillow?

I hope this made sense. Thank you for all the time you spend to educate the rest of us. You are such a blessing and I have to say that your family is absolutely gorgeous!!!

Thanks for your question Harmony! You can ask questions at any time and I will try to answer them where ever you post them. However, if I think your question needs an entire post, I will answer it under the title, Ask Mocha Mom, so everyone can benefit, as I have done here.

I was the queen of doing the puffs too tight with my first daughter. I also added a million huge barrettes to the ends of her hair and never gave a second thought to whether or not she could sleep comfortably.

I've learned to be very careful about pulling the hair too tight when I fashion any style. If my daughters complain about their hair being too tight I will take it down and do it over. I'd hate to have to take an entire style down so I ask them periodically the entire time I'm styling if anything feels too tight. I force myself to do this because those little bumps that come up from too tight styles are very unsightly. They can become extremely itchy and cause my daughters to scratch them until they break the skin. These bumps can also become infected. Continually pulling the hair tight can cause Traction Alopecia, where the hair follicles are so damaged your child may experience hair loss. This hair loss can be permanent. Finally tight styles may cause headaches and scalp soreness.

In my opinion, no smooth style is worth all of that suffering.

Here's what I do when I use small rubber bands to make MB's puffs:

1. Try not to wind the rubber band around more than 3 times. In my experience 3 times is optimal for a section of hair like this:
Wrapping the rubber bands around the hair with a firm but flexible hold allows the strands to loosen up if you have accidentally gathered the hair too tightly. I recommend giving up that perfectly slicked, glossy, every strand in place look we all like our girls' pony tails to have. I love it too, but it's not worth it. There should be some slack.

2. Don't leave the style in too long! Only you can judge how long is too long for your child. I do MB's hair over once a week when she wears the above style. The rubber bands break down over time and become enmeshed with shed strands. Ask me how I know?

3. Cut the rubber bands out with a seam ripper when the style needs to be taken down.


I've worn a puff in the back of my head as a loose haired natural and gone to sleep on it. My puff was huge. It felt like resting my head on a pillow. Something like the image below but at my nape and bigger:
I wouldn't worry about the puff feeling uncomfortable for your baby to sleep on, as long as the rubber band holding it in place is NOT too tight. If you are using pony tail holders with decorative plastic bows, bears, flowers etc. on the ends--I'd be more concerned with those things digging into her scalp. If it's just fluffy hair--it doesn't hurt at all.

If you are still not comfortable with doing the puffs, you can try what I do with MB's hair. I don't do puffs in the back of her head--not because it's uncomfortable--but because they flatten out when ever she rests her head anywhere. I find that I am constantly having to fluff them into place. Even if I didn't think this could be too much manipulation--and I DO think it is too much---neither MB nor I have the time or inclination for the constant fussing. I either braid them into pigtails as you see above or cornrow the same 3 large sections.

I hope that helps! Be blessed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

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?

Monday, June 27, 2011

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?


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 for me to do is lock my baby's hair. Nappy hair is so much harder to manage than my own hair. Maybe they're right because I can't imagine weaving those complicated styles I've seen Black mothers do on their daughters. Maybe that skill is innate. My one Black friend is always telling me to do exactly the opposite of what I've been reading online on the hair blogs. I know she doubts I can handle this. Maybe I should lock this baby's hair...if I do it early enough, she'll never know the difference.

I tackle this issue in my latest Hot Topic Video. Check it out--I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

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

Friday, June 17, 2011

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 of fuzz and frizz--may be too much for some.

Watch the video.

I'm not saying there aren't good products out there, but we should definitely understand what we can expect from these products and how to make wise purchases.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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 wanted to teach me at a time I was too rebellious to learn.

I've been floored by the response I've gotten from the homemaking tips I've shared on the YouTube channel. When I was approached to share a little more about my home life, I imagined I'd get no response. Instead, you're asking for more and contacting me privately to share your personal struggles. Wow!

I would like to encourage you to be patient with yourselves. I've been married for 17 years, and been a mom for nearly 14 years. The methods I am sharing today didn't evolve overnight, and I am STILL learning and making mistakes. At times, I've burned my share of meals, overspent, fell behind chores and felt like hiding in my closet when it seemed like the kids were in charge instead of me. At times, I've yelled or been too harsh, and had to go back and apologize to my kids. At times, I've mouthed off to my husband, and been unreceptive to his needs. At times, I've failed to pray and stay close to the Lord. No one is perfect, and even those who are no longer making the mistakes you are making today, are making their own new mistakes. We're all on a path of growth. I've learned to maximize my mistakes by using them to improve my systems, and to keep me humble enough to be receptive to being taught.

In my latest video I share several books on getting organized, written by a close friend and mentor who has authored even more books on the subject since I purchased the three discussed in the video. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

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".

Thursday, May 26, 2011

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 on freezer 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.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

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.

Friday, May 20, 2011


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 find that we'd either kill each other or learn to live together in harmony. I'm glad it's the latter. We really like MP. In preparation for my kid's adolescence, I'm reading many accounts about how difficult this season can be. So far so good!

I share a brief video of gratitude and congratulations here. I couldn't do much of what you see on YouTube without my son's support.

Thanks MP and congratulations on moving up to the next level!

Friday, May 13, 2011

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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hot Topic: Black Men and Nappy Hair

I can't believe I did this video, but I really appreciate Hubby's willingness to participate. Is that giggly girl really me and after 17 years? LOL!

Here it is!

Finger Detangling Tutorial: My method!

Watch it here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

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 looked very serious and concerned. I only continued reading because I expected a happy ending from the author's pointed repetition that the wolf has swallowed both characters whole.

Mg3 continued to look somber as we read about the wolf's satisfied slumber and the speculation of a woodman who hears the wolf's loud snoring and wonders what has happened to his friend--the grandmother. I cringed some more when the woodman guesses what the wolf has done, slaughters him and quickly makes an incision through the wolf's huge belly to free Red and her grandmother.

As we read about them jumping out one by one Mg3's body sagged with relief and I exhaled. She looked up at me with a smile that said. "OK, I can live with that!"

I think it's a good idea to look through stories before reading them to your children. Not necessarily as a deterrent, but to help you be better prepared for the ensuing conversation.

I'm reviewing this story because the above experience caused me to reflect upon the caliber of dilemmas we present to our children in modern stories. I thought about the fairy tales I grew up with and the Haitian folk tales my family shared. When people disobeyed or moved outside the law, they died or suffered serious consequences. Limbs were lost, blood was spilled and deviants were ostracized. I pondered that these are some black and morbid tales to be sharing with young children, yet I don't remember walking away from these stories in terror. Somehow my childish mind could accept harsh outcomes if I could identify justice in it. I had a strong sense of what was expected of me and the consequences of choosing a foolish path.

In comparison, the stories we tell today seem fluffy. We often prefer movies to books. The violence is often pointless. We use special effects and impressive fighting choreography to captivate our audiences, but sometimes I find it difficult to reconcile myself to what I'm watching--as Mg3 was able to do with Red Riding Hood--because the mission is vague and there's no clear justice behind the tragedy. At times, the lesson learned is too weak or vague to sustain what I've seen.

Are we doing our kids a disservice?

I don't have any answers. This is just something I'm chewing on.

Any thoughts?

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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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 so focused on is conveying an important message? A positive message, while they're doing it quietly... are you sold yet?

Here are some things I do to keep my family reading you may want to try:

1. Study your child so you can choose books tailored to your child's interests. Two of my daughters love all things girl-y. It would be easy for me to walk into a library or bookstore and head straight for anything pink, but I have one daughter who is fascinated by the human body. If I want to hold her attention, we need to move toward the science section--and not necessarily in her age group. Don't be limited by where the store expects you to find things.

2. Read to your child regularly. I start reading to my kids while they are in the womb. Once they are born, I find my babies are so much fun with books--especially when they're teething. As they grow older I schedule a daily story time. I commit to reading two short books or one long book aloud. This time quickly becomes their favorite time of day. Not only do they enjoy a tale of their choice, we snuggle close together and share precious cuddles. You can also reinforce your reading times by taking your child to public story times. They are often free and available at your local library or book stores like Barnes and Nobles. Sometimes a simple craft is offered at the end of the story. When my oldest was a baby, I cherished story time at the library as an opportunity for me to interact with other moms in the middle of my day. I made some valuable friendships and forged a good relationship with the library staff. I want to be heard if I make a recommendation or share a concern about what's being offered to my kids.

3. Read during a meal, snack or at bed time. You can also offer your child a coloring book, puzzle, play dough, blocks, or paper to draw on while you read to them. I've noticed that if I keep their hands busy, my kids will listen to me read for a long time.

4. Read a chapter or a few pages at a time. Even my five year old will sit still and listen to me read a book to her that has NO PICTURES in it! As long as her hands are busy, or she's cuddled in my arms, she can tune in for at least a chapter. Unfortunately, in this media crazed society we're living in, it has become a talent to sit still and pay attention. This is also great for the busy parent who is struggling to fit in a reading time. Little by little and chapter by chapter can become something you both look forward to. I think 15 minutes a day is a nice place to start.

5. Let your kids see YOU reading, and choosing recreational activities that celebrate reading. I love to read in bed at night after all the kids have gone to bed, or behind closed doors during the day while the baby is napping. I have had to force myself to bring my books to the family room instead, where I'm easily seen as everyone moves through the house. My husband reads anything and everything--no matter where we are. On a lazy Sunday afternoon after worship and a big meal, we'll get really enthusiastic about hanging out a Barnes and Nobles. Everyone gets to choose a book and we may share chocolate chip cookies or shakes after. I'm learning that no matter what we say to our kids as parents, they are eager to do what we do.

6. Encourage others to gift your kids with books. When the grandmothers ask what would make a good birthday present we often recommend a gift card to our favorite bookstore.
If this is hard for you to imagine right now, be encouraged that your child's eyes can light up to receive such a gift, if you foster an environment that celebrates reading.

Check out my review of Say No and Go by Jill Urban Donahue. I think it's a good book to use to facilitate necessary discussion with your child about stranger danger, while conveying the unspoken message that nappy hair can be the norm for everyone in a family.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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 water, but tends to contract, curl, or shrink up as it dries. This type of action also happens when tightly coiled hair encounters moisture in the environment. If you live in a place where your summers are humid, prepare for you're daughter's strands to
come alive.

Her strands won't suddenly become living organisms, but you'll notice lots more fuzz and frizz as they rise and move towards the moisture in the air. I see Fuzz as the motion of textured hair to move and bend according to it's natural shape in response to moisture.

If your summers are hot but dry, you may notice more dryness in your daughter's hair. Moisture may be sucked from your daughter's strands. We're told to wear sun screen to protect our skin, but exposing our dry hair to the hot rays of the sun can actually be extremely damaging and drying to our strands.

Here are my summer tips:

Embrace the fuzz and freedom! Wet sets including twist-outs and braidouts are great but you may notice a quicker loss of the curl definition you have worked so hard to achieve. Unless you are using an effective holding product, the moisture in the air may make your daughter's strands move away from the shape you've tried to freeze it in. I save myself the trouble by choosing styles that work well with fuzz. My favorite summer style are afro puffs! I think of it as maximizing the poof. I fluff them out with my fingers and since I'm not altering the natural curl pattern of my daughters' strands they looks mostly the same no matter how much moisture they encounter. This is a great time to experiment with your daughter's natural texture. I prefer manipulating their puffs with my fingers to using a pick. If you try using a pick, be sure to apply it to damp hair and finger detangle first. Pick gently from the ends up, just as you would with a comb/brush.

If you want define your daughter's strands with a wet set, accept that it may not last as long as it would in other seasons. Set the hair wet, being sure to lock moisture to the strands with a good oil/butter. Set your style with a good holding product or coat the strands with something that will block moisture from the air temporarily. I find that my shea butter mix works well for this. Be advised that shea butter can make loose hair look a little dull. Castor oil is another good choice. Whatever you choose, use it sparingly to avoid the look of greasy weighed down hair. If anyone wants to chime in about their favorite holding product I'd appreciate it. I typically put the style in without worrying too much about how long the set will last. As it morphs into a more natural afro look I just go with it.

If your climate is hot and dry, imagine that your daughter's hair is perpetually experiencing the stress of having the moisture pulled from her strands. You will have to work to put it back in. Style her hair damp and seal the moisture in with a good oil/butter. If her strands feel dry, you may want to spritz it frequently with an oil and water mix. I'm sure you can find a recipe on YouTube or search nappturality.com (nappy hair forum). I'm personally not much of a spritzer. My daughters get their daily spritzing experience when they bathe. We don't cover our heads with scarves and shower caps. Their styles fuzz up more quickly but I no longer struggle with dry and brittle hair.

Whatever you do with your daughter's hair, make sure she doesn't let her hair stop her from enjoying fun summer activities. If you welcome the fuzz, the shrinkage, the big-ness or tightness of nappy hair, you won't be ruining any of your hard work with water. In fact, water will bring it all to life.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

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 about the appearance of my girls' hair, some of my practices were abandoned. We've all heard of protective styling which is founded on the principle that by manipulating the hair as little as possible we can minimize breakage. We maximize protective styling by keeping our strands moist and tucking away the ends which are the oldest and most fragile part of our hair. Many of us have adopted protective styling but are still doing some things highly celebrated in the Black culture which may be sabotaging our efforts. If you want to see more length retention you may want to consider radically reducing or completely eliminating the following expectations:

1. My daughter's hair isn't done unless her style is smooth at all times. I enjoy a smooth style as much as anyone but I've learned to appreciate my girls' styles in three stages. I enjoy the smooth stage of when I first do the style and it looks perfect for the first day or the first week depending on which daughter and which style I have done. I've also grown to enjoy what I think of as the fuzzy stage, when the style isn't quite as perfect anymore but still looks neat enough to be worn a little longer. Nappy hair doesn't stay smooth for long, it wants to be fuzzy. We're always rushing to fix it because our perception of neatness is based on a straight hair aesthetic. I've noticed this is true for many races and hair types. I'm determined to stop trying to make our hair do what it wasn't designed to do, because what it does do naturally, is beautiful.

Sometimes I'll let my daughters' hair slide into the final stage, where some folks may be saying, her mother needs to do her hair--and I will, but not until I know I have positioned myself to be able to do the job right. Meaning I've got the time to finger detangle. I'm calm and ready to work patiently through the process without sabotaging all my hard work. I also want to make sure I am communicating the right message to my daughters about their hair. Even when we don't say a word, our frustration comes through. I don't want my girls to think their hair is a burden to me and a hassle to handle. Their strands are indescribably beautiful and precious. As you can imagine, I can live with a lot of fuzz. I've developed some tricks to make the hair pass inspection even when it should have been done over. I demonstrate one of my tricks in my video Maximizing Old Twists.

2. My daughter's style isn't perfect until I hang some beads or barrettes off the ends. I've shared a small portion of my bead collection with you, so you know I enjoy beads as much as anyone. I also have giant tubs full of barrettes I've collected over the years. I've learned that anything hanging from my daughter's ends for a prolonged period of time is death to their ends. Mocha Baby has never had anything suspended from her ends and the difference in her hair compared to her sisters' at that age is monumental. My kids all have the same mother AND father and are drawing from the same gene pool. I've learned that my method makes all the difference.

I'm not saying don't accessorize. I prefer to stick the barrettes anywhere but on the ends. I also love headbands. As for the beads, I've found a safer way to use them.

3. It's a special occasion and my daughter will be so cute if I flat iron her hair and curl it or blow it out. I no longer use heat on my girls' hair. EVER. I have very little experience using heat on my girls. I'm an expert on my own hair, but the only daughter who has ever received a blow out is HmG. I tried it when she was about 5 years old because I was curious. Wanted a change. Her hair hated it. I didn't even bother to move on to the flat iron because it looked dull and brittle and angry to me. I know hair is not alive, but I actually felt like her hair was screaming, "What are you doing???"

Please don't receive my experience as a judgment on what you choose to do. I've said I never use heat. I think heat is damaging. I prefer to develop styles that work with my daughter's natural texture. I think nappy hair is appropriate and beautiful in every situation. I am NOT saying that because you do what you do--if it is different from what I do--- you believe the opposite. I am saying that by doing what I do I am celebrating what I believe. No one doubts that using heat stresses the hair or there wouldn't be a market for heat protectants. I'm not a fan. I think it's Russian Roulette.

3. My daughter's braids last so much longer and look so much better if I get her some braid extensions. I have never added artificial hair to my girls' braided styles. Ever. I have been tempted with Mg3 because her hair is fine and her styles fuzz up within the first day and often look sparse. I don't do it because I doubt her hair can't handle the added weight and friction. I cringe when I see a little girl hauling around more hair than her poor neck can bear. Some girls have too much fake hair added AND too much length....the result is more breakage, Traction Alopecia
and as I've been saying--death to the ends.

Many of us think that once we put in those extensions we're done. Suddenly the hair doesn't need to be washed as often or moisturized regularly. The result may be dry and brittle hair. I've also seen horribly flaky and irritated scalps. I can speak for days about this because the damaged scalp was my own.

I have no doubt that braid extensions work well when installed and maintained properly--I've used them on my own hair for years. They worked beautifully after I made some changes. However, be advised that your daughters are still developing and their tender strands may not be ready for all of that yet.

I hope the above helps someone. Breakage and hair damage can be gradual and accumulate slowly over time. Sometimes we don't notice all the little things we are doing that are counter productive.

Friday, April 22, 2011

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:

HotTopic: The Tangle Teezer is Breaking my Hair!

I share my tips for using the Tangle Teezer here, and address some of your concerns.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


You could win a free original Tangle Teezer OR Magic Flower Pot (Tangle Teezer for girls). I share the details 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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

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 enjoyed the ending of Penelope--which has a Beauty and the Beast plot twist.

Penelope is born with the snout of a pig instead of a human nose because her family line has been cursed. She's told she will only receive a human nose if she can get a blue blood to marry her for love. Her mother feels responsible and tormented by her daughter's condition and goes to extreme measures to deliver this blue blood. However, Penelope is constantly challenging the frenzy and wondering why she can't just go on with her life despite her snout. Finally, she escapes into the world she's been hidden from, and is embraced by the public--much to her mother's surprise.

While a romance does develop between Penelope and a VERY imperfect man who is not a blue blood and tormented by his inability to lift the curse. The two only share about 2 or 3 scenes together in the entire movie. The man is caught in his own web of deception, and is actually inspired by Penelope to get HIS life together. The movie focuses on Penelope's development and her mother's struggle to understand that helping her daughter is about more than finding her a pretty face.

I really enjoyed the ending, and I won't spoil it with too much details. We are left with the message that imperfections may be overblown. I actually grew to like Penelope's face despite the snout. Penelope developed more and more self confidence. Others accepted her because she accepted herself. Everything she needed was within her. I also enjoyed the resolution of the struggle she experienced with her mother. Through it all, Penelope remained kind and respectful toward her parents. Though her mother crossed the line repeatedly, Penelope's response was exceptional. She challenged their assumptions without tearing them down and took her stand with a resolute dignity. The fact that her mother's transformation wasn't perfect was all the better! It reminded me that perfection isn't always a necessary part of success.

I give it a thumbs up and would definitely watch and discuss this with my teen. Again--not one I'd share with little girls.

Friday, April 8, 2011

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.