Friday, August 11, 2017

This Summer

This summer has been......... different. 

It’s been both busy and quiet. Things have been slightly off balance since my dad moved in back in May and we’ve been trying to recover and catch our steps ever since. Having a septuagenarian in a house with a toddler(ish) and teenager is a trip let me just tell you. Managing every one's feelings and expectations with real life applications has been quite the roller coaster ride.
A side-effect of my dad's stroke is that he needs to have someone around the majority of the time. He is mobile and ambulatory, so he can do the basics by himself but on occasion he needs a second set of hands to keep him steady. He's had a couple of falls since being home from the rehab hospital, so naturally I was a tad nervous to leave him by himself for long periods. Which is pretty hard to do when you have an active five year old. 

There haven’t been any trips this summer. No overnights or escapes from reality, no conferences or press trips and I’m realizing we desperately need that. Travel is key. No matter if it’s just a few hours drive or a flight away we need to that break from our everyday routine. We've missed that. The last few years we've managed to get away for a few days here and there and it's always been so much fun to stop our everyday routine. Getting out of town with the family is essential to our survival. 
Things started off pretty slow and around week three I wanted to pull my hair out but things slowly picked up and got better. 

The kids have been in classes twice a week the last few weeks so that’s also been a switch. Running back and forth all over town as they each have their 'schedules' to adhere to.
As we ready ourselves for Kindergarten we took the boy out of pre-school (all the praise hands for not having to write that check any more) so he’s been home on the daily. Coming up with activities to keep him occupied while simultaneously finding ways / time to be creative and get my own work done has stretched the levels of my imagination and patience. 

I'm a mixed bag of emotions about school resuming next week. Excitement for the year ahead, relief that they will be otherwise occupied for several hours of the day and a little bit of sadness that summer is over. Something that a lot of my mom friends are also experiencing, that bit of guilt that we didn't do enough, go on enough adventures,create more or even just day trip around town. No amusement parks, not enough trips to the beach or time playing in the pool. Things were just a little off from years past, but I think they still had a good time.

There were field trips to fancy doughnut shops, and time spent with friends, dinosaur books and mornings at the park. We did watch a LOT of movies but, we did it as a family and that's what matters most. 
So, while this summer may have been a little different than those before, it was still kinda fun.
But you bet your sweet cheeks we're going somewhere next year. 

What did y'all do differently this summer?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow and For Like, Ever

Yesterday we celebrated seven years of marriage. Seven. Years. It seems like both a lifetime and a drop in the bucket compared to some. It also happened to be National Tequila Day. The Universe knows man.  
There was no big to-do or celebration. No presentation of gifts or exchange of cards. Just hugs and kisses and a text asking me to dinner. And to be honest, that was kind of perfect for me. For us. At this time in our lives. 
We didn't need any special trip (although a get away would been nice) we just needed time. Together. Time to sit and talk about our life, past, present and future. Time to laugh and just be. 

This is where we are right now. Seven years later. 
A rare Monday night out that included walking into one restaurant, abruptly leaving and then wandering the streets for awhile before settling on Mexican cuisine. I meant it was National Tequila Day. We would've been doing the date a disservice if we didn't partake in some way!

For seven years we have been celebrating our union and it makes me chuckle more often than not when I think about how we ended up here.
Our story is not normal or classic by any means. There have been many twists, turns and unexpected plummets on this roller coaster ride and yet we are still on it.
Thankful for the deep belly laughs we share daily and grateful we still have them after all these years. 
Marriage has been a wild ride. It's both nothing I expected and everything I've ever wanted. I get to do life with a man whom I love and makes me laugh even when the chips are down.

So no, there weren't fireworks or a fancy dinner, however, there were margaritas, a whole lot of laughing and I was with my man, so it was alright with me. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Hair Styles For Busy Black Moms

I've been pretty open and vocal about my love/hate relationship with my hair. I've been rocking crochet braids and other protective styles for the last two years and it's been fun. But I'll be honest, I miss wearing hats. So that's a struggle. And all those curls and braids can be pretty hot on a girls neck and heavy on her head. 
I  also despise having to "do" my hair when it's 100+ outside. It's actually a waste because by the time I finish my hair and the rest of my morning routine I've damn near sweated it back out so it's kind of pointless. I also haven't mastered wearing MY hair curly yet so that's another learning curve I'm dealing with and again - it's too damn hot for all that! Okay, so maybe I'm being lazy but whatever, protective styles are where it's at during these dry days! Don't trip.

Suffice to say, I've been pondering different braided styles for the rest of the season and possibly into fall. Most notably this braided look via Cosmopolitan

I legit haven't picked up a Cosmo in years but this video came across my timeline and I knew it was real by the grease/gel on the back of the hair stylists hand so I was into it. While the first two looks are fabulous, they don't scream: Amber. But this third one? Yes, ma'am. 
I can SEE myself rocking that style. I don't know how long it would last or how my "baby hairs" would even work out on a style like this but I'm swooning. In my mind I see it as the perfect fusion of chic and still "cool" - if that makes sense. 
Also, it fits my personal brand of suburban gangster the smaller thinner braids combined with the larger ones give I also see how I could put it in a low bun as kind of an "up-do" if I was so inclined.

That one image sent me down a Pinterest rabbit hole and I found a myriad of styles that I'm dying to try. I also figured I couldn't be the only mom on the hunt for a new 'do. 
So,here are five of my favorites. 

1) Can we just discuss the detail on these cornrows? But seriously, LOOK AT THEM. It's been at least 10 years since I've worn any type of cornrows or braids but I'm feelin this style. 

2) Senegalese twists are so pretty to me. Last summer I had the crochet version. Maybe it's time to try the real thing? 

I mean! 

3) More cornrows. Less intricate but still pretty none-the-less. No muss, no fuss. Screams summer but how would it look in a bun?

 4) Keri Hilson's box braids are giving me so much life. I'm just afraid they're going to be too heavy! 

5) This goddess braid updo tho! I love the simple complexity of the style while leaving hair off the neck to keep cool. I'm into it. 

The beauty of all of these styles is that the upkeep is minimal and kind of perfect for an active remainder of the summer. I want to hit the beach, pool, local and amusement parks with ease and not have to worry about my hair in any way. 

Let me go holler at my girl Vee and see what kind of magic she can work.

Do y'all switch up your look for summer? How so?

*all images can be found via my Pinterest 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

7 Signs It's Summer (at My House)

I am one of those weird people who really enjoy summer. I love the implied laziness of it all The slower pace and lack of super tight schedules. I like having my days feel like they are stretching on as the light lingers later each evening and the doors stay open longer. The last few months /weeks of school are a drag for everyone as the kids are itching to wrap things up so they can relax and parents want nothing more than to do the same. No more last minute projects to get done, nothing but lazy days and long nights.
In theory of course. In reality, there are flip-flops, LEGO's and abandoned projects everywhere. Those are the beginning symbols it's definitely summer in my house but there are a few more signs summer is in full swing.

1) We go on "outdoor adventures". 
Suddenly my kids have ideas that we need to be going places/ doing something AMAZING each and every day or at least once or twice a week while they're off from school. I don't know who filled their minds with such flights of fancy but mama and daddy still have to work. Sure my schedule can be a little flexible and mayyyybe we'll go on an overnighter but nobody is ballin like that to have ADVENTURES on the daily. Nor am I that organized as a mom. That's just not my portion.

2) My Costco runs are never ending. Seriously. During the school year I go to Costco once a month. Maybe. School will have been out for 4 weeks and I've already been four times. FOUR. TIMES. Paper towels, toilet paper, snacks, easy items for breakfast lunch and dinner plus ALL the popsicles. And don't get me started on how often I see the staff in Trader Joe's even more now. I wasn't sure it was possible but during the summer it grows to an absurd level. 

3)The LEGO's have taken over. They're already a constant in the house but come summer it seems like they explode into every corner. There are buildings and bundles of bricks on tables, behind chairs and on shelves. The last few weeks there has been a 'hideout' in the middle of dining table. Because they are such a hit in our house we tend to allow the kids to go wild with their building. And because summer. Get creative kids. 

4)I don't see my teenager for hours. 

might not see her the whole day. She basically turns into a hermit and has to be forced from her room under the threat of wi-fi access elimination. Or if she needs food. Forget about any form of grooming or presentation of appearance. If she has no plans to leave the house she's not trying to do anything beyond brush her teeth. If that. 

5) Projects & puzzles are also now a thing. 
I find myself at the Dollar Tree or in the dollar aisle scouring the racks to see what I can find that will occupy one or both of them so I can squeeze in a few minutes to answer emails and edit articles. Paint by numbers, play-doh, rubber lizards and whatever else it takes to keep the wildings at bay while I tap away at the keyboard or set up a photo shoot. I also realized the puzzles are a good way to keep the teenager downstairs so score one for my team. 

6) Bed and nap times are lax. During the school year I am a stickler for bedtimes. I don't care what we're doing or who's in town, somewhere in the back of my mind I'm like this little dude needs to lay it down. I also don't play when it comes to nap time. But come summer? Psshhh....if the nap is too late then bedtime will NEVER happen so occasionally, naps are missed. Life goes on,bedtime still happens and Baby Ninja sleeps like a dream. It's all good.

7) I start contemplating a lock for the pantry. It's absurd the amount of snacks these kids mow through. And if I happen to have any extra kids forget it! I can feed them a full lunch and 20 minutes later they'll be asking me for a snack and fifteen minutes after that they'll want dinner. The number of times I shoo someone out of the pantry while I'm cooking dinner doubles during these warm weeks. Why are they so hungry all the time?

Oh and dinner? It still has to happen. So I'm usually standing in front of the fridge/freezer trying to make sense of it all while yelling at child to get off the back of the sofa.

Summer is awesome.

What are some tell-tale signs summer is happening at your house?

Monday, July 10, 2017

5 Reasons You Need A Nude Lipstick

You might've seen on my Insta Stories or in my feed that I recently discovered Mented cosmetics and their line of nude lipsticks. I had heard about them before but suddenly they were back on my radar and it was like it was meant to be! 

So here's the thing: people will argue all the time about WHY is there even a reason for nude lipstick? Particularly for women of color. Can't you just put on vaseline and call it a day? Looking at you Luvvie. The answers to those questions is simply because and no, Vaseline is not the same thing.

This is because most lipsticks that claim to be "nude" or "warm" and work for WOC are not made by actual women of color. I know,crazy right? They have us out here looking like Ashy Larry, but yet (and even slightly more disturbing) we still try them out and hope that this one will be the one that gives us that flossy, glossy natural glow we haven't seen since 1997 and our obsession with MAC's lipglass (original of course). More often than not, we're seriously disappointed.

Mented to the rescue! When I opened the box I did a little hand clap of excitement. Vegan lip products made by black women for all women of color? It was hard not to be excited. They are all beautiful let me just tell you. My brain is going crazy with all the fun looks I want to create with these hues. So why on earth would a WOC want a "nude" lip stick? Well, I can give you five simple reasons a nude or neutral lip color is necessary for all.

1)  Lips can become discolored over time and sometimes you want a lil somethin' to even things out. All the while appearing as if you don't even have any thing on. It's called natural makeup folks. It's a thing.
2) Sometimes you just want an extra pop of color that's not actually color. Mented has a range of shades that compliment so many skin tones from a soft subtle brownish pink to a deeper dark espresso.

3) It's the perfect compliment to a smoky eye. There's nothing worse than having fabulous sultry eye makeup but no lipstick that exactly works with it.

4) No smudging issues. Let's talk about how liberating it is to eat without your lipstick wearing off on your food or your face! The barely there look is so effective you'll forget you're even wearing anything!

5) Red doesn't always work. I knooooow. I love a red lip. Really, I do, y'all know it's true. However, there are times when you just want to keep it simple and that's when a neutral lip color comes in handy. Kanye shrug. I said it. 

*Bonus - these Mented lipsticks are moisturizing as all get out. When I put on lipstick one of my pet peeves is how it drys my lips out or how if I apply lip balm it tends to run.

Check back next week for a natural look tutorial! 
Are you into the nudes? Tell me which is your favorite? 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Having Fun In The Summer Sun

* I was compensated by the CHPA's Educational Foundation, KnowYourOTCs, but all opinions are my own

It's official! We are on summer vacation!! Whoo hoo! Well the kids are. I'm still working but with less ferocity as I have in previous months. Trying to really take time and enjoy the "lazy days" before they end. Summer is by far my favorite season. And not just because my birthday is at the beginning, I genuinely love being outdoors with the kids and enjoying the So Cal weather. However, I wouldn't say I'm outdoorsy. I just like being able to hang out in the back yard or take the kids swimming or to the beach and the weather be amazing. With those types of outdoor activities, on the horizon you better believe I check my stash of sunscreen to see what I've got on hand and what needs to be replenished. I've said it once and I'll say it again, no matter how much melanin you have in your skin you still need some kind of skin protection!

I'm adamant about putting sunscreen on the kids or sending them off with some tucked away in their bags whenever they go off without me and hoping that what ever adult is in charge sprays them. Because ideally, you want to put it on at least 30 minutes before exposure. Buuut it's not always easy to do that. Sometimes you're chasing them down by the side of the pool to get something on some part of their body. Tell me I'm not alone in this struggle? 

It also doesn't matter if it's overcast or not, as I proved to my husband last weekend at the beach. He was laughing that I text him a reminder to spray both kids before they arrived to the beach. When exposed to the powerful UVA and UVB rays you need to always protect yourself. 

To help us all out we're partnering with Know Your OTC's with in a short video with some reminders on sun protection this summer.

Look - I know how hard it is to not only get sunscreen on the kids (how do they manage to move so quickly and why do they always run??) let alone remember to re-apply every 2 hours.  But sunburns suck even more hence the video. And I implore you to go here and check out more information on sun care and protection to keep yourself and your family safe this summer!!

Do you have any fun tricks or tips for getting and keeping sunscreen on your kids? Tell me in the comments! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Canned Wine In The Daytime

I partnered with West Side Wine Co. on this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Listen, I love day drinking okay? I’ll go right ahead and say it. I do. I like drinking in the middle of the day, particularly, outdoors on the patio in the summer time. What I don’t like is lugging a bottle around to an event or having to stock up on one variety or another trying to guess what everyone will be into when hosting friends over for some afternoon entertaining. This whole canned wine phenomenon is brilliant for these occasion’s. Guests have the option to drink their choice of Chardonnay or Cabernet and be done with it. There's no need to waste a bottle by opening something you might not have been ready to open, simply because a few folks aren't feelin' the lighter wines. No worries. 

There is also something slightly nostalgic about sipping a little something during the day time with my homegirl crew. Takes me back to a time before busy schedules and kids and adulting. 

However, our taste in snacks and choice of beverage has grown up over the years along with us.  Which is both a blessing and a curse. Cheese and crackers can be expensive y’all. But it’s totally worth it when you’re sitting around the patio with friends spending quality time on a sunny afternoon.

The weekend before my birthday I was able to do just that. I invited a few friends over to gather together for a little ‘canned wine in the daytime’. It was just the thing I needed to kick start a kick ass week. A variety of things to nosh on, some of my favorite ladies, and delicious libations. My day couldn’t get any better.

Everyone oohed and ahhed over the spread and then immediately inquired about our beverage of the day. I fully admit I totally out did myself. I couldn't help it. Y'all know how much I enjoy entertaining and sometimes it's just too easy to go overboard a bit. I couldn't help myself. I love any reason to hang out with girlfriends and sip some wine and eat some delicious food. 
Sunday Funday indeed!

The wines were cool and crisp resting in a bowl surrounded by ice and the ladies chose their Chardonnay and Cabernet’s. Fun fact, in the summer French red wines are also chilled? I did not know that. Nor was I aware that the cab had a slight effervescence since my previous experience with West Side Wine Co. was a can of the Chardonnay.

The creamy cheeses, savory meats paired back to the bright, refreshing wine was a huge hit and my girlfriends peppered me with questions on how they could get their hot little hands on a 4-pack for themselves. They were thrilled to find out West Side Wine cans could be purchased at their local Whole Foods as they each had one within at least 15 minutes of their homes.

All of us raved about how perfect the size was (oz.) and how easily they slip into a beach bag or tote for a long day at the sports complex (judge your mom). I'm excited to take them everywhere this summer. No picnic, jazz festival, beach bonfire or backyard bbq will be free of these cute cans. First of all, it's WEST SIDE Wine Co. Hello? As a California native, naturally I was drawn in by the name and fell further in love with the taste. 

The timing couldn’t have been better in some ways and in others it could have. Several of my girlfriends had previous and last minute engagements that didn’t allow them to make it by the house but, the ones that were able to attend were exactly who needed to be there. Vacations, sports, work and family commitments seem to go full throttle in the summer and who knows when we’ll get a chance to kick back sans kids, eat snacks to our hearts content and sip on a little canned wine in the daytime?

Gotta take advantage of these moments when they come, however fleeting they may be.

As we parted ways and the ladies excitedly took home their goody bags while trying to figure out how soon they could get to a Whole Foods and stock up on more cans of their favorite variety, my heart was so happy.

Clean up was a breeze as I didn’t have to worry about how to store a bunch of opened and unfinished bottles but simply tossed the empty cans into the recycling bin! Done and done!
Looks like summer is going to be that much more exciting. I’m ready and stocked with West Side Wine Co. and you should be too!! You can thank me later. I accept wine. 

It's going to be a party at my house all summer long!! 


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