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

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 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.