I Did a Thing (chopping my crowning glory)

But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
1 Corinthians 11:15

We all have our security blankets. We have that one thing in our lives that makes us feel better about ourselves, if only for a moment. For some people is food, a person, a special place, an activity that settles them or gets them going in a feel good way. For me it has been hair for as long as I could remember.

If you’ve seen the many photos of me that are on instagram you know that like a lot of women I love hair. My hair, that hair, new hair, braided hair, wig hair… doesn’t matter! I love switching things up. But the one thing I love most is long hair. Not because it’s oh so beautiful. Not because of the versatility it can provide. But because of the shield it provides me. It allows me to hide all of the imperfections that are in my face.

I have pmdd. I have it in the worse way. All of my symptoms are to the extreme. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen me post about it. One of the biggest symptoms I have is weight gain that fluctuates. I will get extra puffy in the face, and lately it has caused my self esteem to take a hit. A big hit. A I don’t even want to go outside of the house hit. So when I did go outside, I hid behind hair. My hair some days, wigs when I just couldn’t deal with my own. There was always hair to cover my puffed out cheeks, the massive double chins.

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I’m not a big fan of low self esteem. It’s not something I’ve experienced a lot of in life, but when I have it was scary. To not think highly positive thoughts about yourself is cripling for me for reasons I won’t go into right now. So, I knew I needed to do something drastic to snap myself back. I decided I was going to cut off my hair. Not like the beautiful warriors in Black Panther drastic, but definitely in a “it’ll take me 5 minutes or less to create a style” drastic. I didn’t want the ability to do ponytails or buns anymore. I didn’t want to hide. I wanted to force me to embrace all of me. And I wanted a bad arse hair cut. One that I could look at and say dang, that’s really nice!!!! I wanted it to work for me whether it was blown straight or naturally curly.

So I headed to instagram and put up a post asking for hairstylist suggestions. There was one stylist that stood out to me. Every photo I saw on her instagram showed flawless hair styles. I instantly knew she was the one. I quickly made my appointment to get in to see her. When I arrived I was honestly bothered by how unspa-like it was lol.There ‘s no decor. It’s literally just a room with two stylist and a tv. I was highly disappointed, but I kept my eye on the prize. When I sat in the stylist chair I let her know exactly what I was looking for, which wasn’t much. I told her I wanted a hair cut to fit my face and I didn’t want to have to “do” my hair. A style that translated whether my hair was straight or curly. But mostly I told her that I NEEDED this cut, and that I trusted her to do it.

And giiirrrllll! She did that! When I saw myself, honey, I felt like a new woman! And I felt so.darn.freeeeeee! I felt so free and so beautiful. She colored it, she cut it, she slayed it baby! No more security blanket. This is me. Fluffiness and all. This is my face. I’m embracing it. One day it won’t be as fluffy as it is now. One day things will be better in that area. But for right now I’m embracing and loving me.

If you are looking for an amazing stylist in the DC area, I highly recommend Kenni. Now, honesty is key, so I’m letting you know if you are looking for a spa-like experience, it won’t happen here (and to be fair, she literally just moved to this salon). However, if you want to look and feel amazing when you finish getting your hair done, contact her asap. You can schedule your appointment through her styleseat page. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Ignoring the School System: How I got my 7 year old to read

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 I love reading and so did my mom. When I’m not being harassed by my monster toddler, which is everyday these days (thanks teething!) I am an avid reader. However, reading didn’t come easy for me. I tested into school at 4 with my late December birthday, making me the youngest in my class. I remember very vividly that 5 of us kids in the first grade had to stay after school with Sister Marie Helene for extra help with reading. By the time I was in second grade I was out reading everyone else.

I just knew Johanna would love reading like me. That she would totally be into literature and desire to go to far away lands all day everyday via the pages of books. However, before I homeschooled Johanna, I heard all of these stories from parents saying how they got their kids to read by age 3, and by kindergarten they were reading chapter books. To say the pressure was on was a MAJOR understatement. It felt scary and uncomfortable. Johanna had zero interest in letters let alone reading. What if she didn’t measure up? What if she wasn’t ready? Was that a thing? So, I was hard on her. As I think back on it and see my poor, sweet little 3 year olds face, I feel sick. I was so hard on her and I completely regret it.

When we decided to homeschool, I took a lot of time to read homeschool blogs and to speak with homeschoolers in various groups across facebook. The one thing that some of them that I really admire they drilled into me was that this was the benefit of homeschool. You can take your time, go your child’s pace. You don’t have to worry about forcing them to be ready for something that they just may not me. Don’t get me wrong, you still have your fair share of homeschoolers who believe in having their child read by age 6, ready or not, but I found that majority do not. So, I fell back and realized Johanna was indeed not ready, and that was ok. As the as the days and months went by I realized that she was more into science and math. I didn’t have to push her in those areas. She adored them both, so I worked with her much on those two subjects, but I didn’t push reading aside.

Late into Johanna’s 5th year I introduced Teach Your Child to read in 100 Easy Lessons to her. We very slowly went through it and she enjoyed it enough. I also read to her a ton throughout the day. She loved story books and I love books period, so it worked really well.

The summer of Johanna’s 6th year here on this Earth we became bored with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I knew that if we were bored it would no longer be effective, so I simply stopped. We made it to lesson 79. I still 100% recommend it when teaching your child to read, and I will use it with Isabella as well.

This past fall I tried my best to use All About Reading, but it was very clear even in the first week of us using it that it wasn’t going to work. We pushed through for a month, but it was terrible. We both just wanted it to stop, but goodness, I had already spent money on the curriculum and I didn’t have anything else in mind! That is when I found out that one of my favorite curriculum’s, The Good and the Beautiful, had a language arts curriculum. After researching it I decided to give it a go. Then I found out something amazing – it was free! That particular curriculum is free through 5th grade on their website. You download it and print it yourself (or you can feel free to buy the printed version). I was ecstatic! This gave me the opportunity to try it out with Johanna without feeling like I may once again waste money.

I also started reading awesome chapter books with Johanna. We would read, then watch the movie (we only picked those books with movies). We read books like Black Beauty, A Cricket in Times Square, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… it was fun, and effective!

I picked out level books for Johanna to read in down time. I know a lot of parents give their children above level books to challenge them, but Johanna can’t handle that. She is the kind of girl that cries when she doesn’t get an answer right. She likes to be perfect in everything she does. I did not want to frustrate her and turn her off of reading.

I am proud, very proud, tears rolling down my face proud, to say that today, at 7 years old, I gave Johanna an assessment test and she is reading on a low second grade level. Are you getting this??? Second grade! She went from barely being able to read anything beyond a, the, is, her name, and maybe two other words at 5/6 to reading slightly above grade level at 7. I’m so proud of my girl! She’s improving every day. And guess what? Yesterday she finished the first book she’s ever read on her own. Big News! Emma is on the Air. It’s a really cute book featuring an adorable Latina girl who wants to be FAMOUS! I definitely recommend it…Johanna does too.

The one lesson I have learned while teaching Johanna to read is that patience is key. It’s ok that she is not doing what every other kid I know is doing. It’s ok if she isn’t picking up some things as fast. She is learning, and she is thriving in her own areas. This is absolutely the beauty of being a homeschool family. Also, curriculum is not one size fits all. It may take test driving a few to see what works for you. Always check to see if the curriculum has test pages you can download to see if it’s something you really want to commit to.

So please, don’t give up on your child. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t throw the towel in. Don’t question whether or not you’re a good enough teacher. Don’t push them to the point of frustration. Breathe. Take a break. Research what else might work. Give them some grace. Give them time. It will happen. They will learn whatever it is you’re trying to teach them – in due time. But first, do something that I often forget to do first…Pray and ask the Lord to lead you. I don’t seem to ask him until I’m already flailing. I’m working on that.

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Last month I took a week break from Facebook. Actually, I fasted from Facebook. No logging on at all. No checking my groups, not even my preview homeschooling groups, no checking messages nor events, nothing.

Is not the first time I took a break from Facebook, but I did find that I was more inebriated this time. I wanted to use my time well, doing things that absolutely had to be done. So I did.

I did more work in my devotional. I prayed more. I worshiped more. We got through our homeschool days easier. I watched sermons from New-to-me ministers. I was present.

It was amazing!

I felt like I had taken my life back. No more taking on others pains, anxieties, worry, or sorrow. I’m am emotional chameleon, easily taking on the works of those around me and in Facebook, you get a little of everything. But I noticed that I was getting way more bad than God, and it was reading me alive. And I knew ALL the news. There was no escaping it, and that sucks me cry as well. I was too plugged in! I needed time to just be in HIS presence and to seek Him. But I’m not finished.

I’m not catholic, but I still like to give up something for lent. This year I decided to give up Facebook again and although it’s just really started, I know it’s going to be amazing! I’m looking for God to reveal himself more to me, to work miracles and for his favor to rain down on me. I’m looking to grow, to bend, to be molded. To hear his voice. Have him order my footsteps. I want more. More him, less of me. I can’t get that unless I shut the noise out.

I took a break from Facebook and survived thrived. I look forward to making this a new habit.

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Expressions of a People Black History Month Celebration

One of the things I love about living in the DC metro area is all of the events that occur for every holiday, every celebration. That means this Black History month there is no shortage of things to do all over the area.

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On Sunday we were able to partake in the Expression of a People at Harmony Hall in Fort Washington, MD. I do not frequent Fort Washington much as it is a bit away from me, but this event seemed very interesting so I headed out that way. It was amazing!

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There was a caricature artist who was very personable and quick. There was face painting, tattoos, balloon artistry, pottery making, mask making, story telling, dance performances, etc. It was truly a day filled with Black richness! We had a ball.

To top it all off the staff was phenomenal. They answered all questions with a smile and were genuinely courteous. I will not hesitate to enjoy an event at harmony hall in the future.

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If you are interested in future events, please visit them here. There is a lot going on throughout the year and I have no doubt you will have as good a time as we did.

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Epic Supergirl Party For My Super 7 Year Old!

When planning Johanna’s 7th birthday party I was…tired. Tired and confused. She wasn’t really clear on what she wanted and I was still super exhausted from planning Isabella’s (that post is super late, yet coming soon). To know me is to know that I like to be very hands on when it comes to my parties. The thought of having to plan yet another one was overwhelming to say the least. We threw around so many ideas: Emoji party, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland… The emoji party sounded very blah to me, I loved the idea of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (still not sure why we didn’t go with that one), and Alice in Wonderland was just too much. There were too many decorations I would simply have to do and I would run myself into the ground trying to make my vision happen. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a flash of Johanna in a superhero outfit went through my mind and I knew that was it.

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But I also knew that I did NOT want to do your typical Spiderman/Avengers/etc. party. I also did not want to do wonder woman or any other supergirl character party. I wanted the party to be focused on Johanna and her friends specifically being superheroes. That’s when I jumped on good ole fiverr and began the first step in having an african american superhero girl created. In fact, I had 2 different people turn a photo of Johanna into a superhero. I was not very happy with either of them – shout out to my graphic artist friend Amanda for fixing the drawing I liked the best (you can find her contact info down below)! In the end it worked out and it gave me a great starting point for the party. With that photo I began to scour the internet for invitation ideas and I felt pretty darn good about myself for getting the invitations out before 2018!

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So here’s the thing. I knew Johanna was watching me with this party. She saw how much work I put into Isabella’s party. She also saw how for months I had supplies rolling in so that I could make all the things for the party. She was watching to make sure that she received equal treatment and I was trying my darndest to make sure that happened.

But then the Christmas season came. And I forgot. Forgot all about the party.

So right after New Year’s I looked to see what was on my plate and was shook to find that not only was her party coming up, but I hadn’t done a darn thing for it! We had secured Badlands in Rockville, MD for the party, but that was all that was done. No cake was ordered, no cookies, nothing! And while I do love making cakes for family and friends, Isabella has sucked every bit of energy I ever had in the last year and it just wasn’t going to happen, so I had to get moving.

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Thanks to Instagram I found a baker. A week before the party we headed to his bakery at Iverson Mall and I tried a cupcake. The cupcake was good, so I went ahead and inquired about ordering a cake. After some back and forth of trying to work with my meager budget ($100 or less) I got the cake order and felt darn good about that. Next I dug through facebook trying to find the cookie decorator I had met at a local Homemakers Ministry I attend, as my usual cake person was on vacation until the day AFTER party! Thankfully I found her, and she was able to fill my order with iced sugar cookies that were so soft and yummy! I was on a roll!

Then thanks to my creativity and at times, some help from etsy, we got things rolling. Johanna was constantly peeking over my shoulders and I could tell she was starting to feel very excited about how things were coming together for the party. But then I remembered that the child needed something to wear. Oy! I hit up my friend Mallory who is famous for making an outfit for her girls in a day, and gave her my vision for Johanna’s cape. I also need one made for her cake topper (more on that later). She was able to whip it up and get it to me in a week, and I am forever thankful. I bought a plain white shirt from Walmart and do to limited time I shoved my silhouette into the corner and created a simple and quick iron for her shirt instead of vinyl. I also made one for the whole family. I ordered a tutu off of amazon (which arrived smelling very much so like fish and had to be washed 2x to get the smell out) and some gold pants (wear once and done type pants, if you know what I mean). I forgot all about the mask, but thankfully a wonderful etsy shop was able to get that to me in 3 days.

By the time the day of the party arrived I was dizzy with exhaustion and so happy that I was almost done. However, my annoyance at how tired and frantic I was dissipated when I saw how happy and excited Johanna was at her party. I barely saw the child because everytime I looked around I would just see a flash of gold sprint down a hill, or a slide, or climbing up. There was laughter, much exercise and the sounds of kids becoming exhausted from the fun.

They colored airplanes, got inside of one, and had fun with some stuff that looked like playdoh but was actually much nicer than any playdoh I’ve ever had. And then there was cake!

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So my regular cake topper lady was also on vacation when I went to place my order. Instead I decided to buy this really cute doll I saw and I was going to use her for the cake topper. She arrived and she was MUCH too big. I tried to get a couple of people to make her a doll. One wanted entirely too much money, and the other just…it just…yeah, no. I couldn’t. So that was scary because I was really stuck. 2 days before the party I drug the kids to Target in a final effort to find the dang cake topper. I prayed that the Lord would guide me, and he did. In my favorite aisle (you know which one) I looked down and there was exactly one doll that was $5 and could totally work for the cake topper! I jazzed her up with the cake and a little sticker I attached to her shirt and voila! It really worked out, don’t you think?! And I intended on making cupcakes, but then I saw this hot pink cake at my local grocery store for only $14 and I thought about how much time I would be saying and decided what the heck? Two cakes it is! I also stepped on the cake before leaving for the party so there’s that…

The kids loved their favors! I’m so thankful to oriental trading for the sunglasses and cupcake (turned candy apple) stand I was able to get from them. Although I must say that was absolute favorite favor to give out was the tumblers I bought from Dollar Tree. I glittered them, added a sticker, and boom! I also really enjoyed making the placemats. For the backside I was able to print a cute table setting guide for the kids. I really do like for my favors to be functional and I thought the parents would appreciate that.

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It was an amazing party and everyone had a super time. And I am beyond happy that in 2016 we decided that the girls would have a birthday party every other year instead of every year, so mama gets some rest in 2018.

If you would like for me to do a review on my experience having a party at Badlands let me know!

Location: Badlands PlaySpace, Rockville, MD
Cake: Pro Cakes, Iverson Mall, Temple Hills, MD
Safeway, Bowie, MD
Cookies: Adrien of Sweet Treats Couture, MD.
Cupcake Stand: Oriental Trading
Cake “topper”: Target
Water Bottle Labels: PrintablesMirtaGyles
Supergirl Candy Bar Wrapper: SimplyEverydayMe
Superhero Birthday Sign: SimplyDovie
Mask: Monichelle Designs
Metallic Leggings: Amazon
Graphic Design Artist: Amanda Carlson

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God’s Grace is Sufficient

The Christmas season has come and gone and I’ve been silent. If you have followed me for a while, you may notice that every  Christmas season I get a little quieter, or just become non-existent altogether.  In October I have so many big plans for this blog. So many things I’m going to post, areas I want to challenge myself in, but then November hits and…nothing. And that’s because this particular season is always hard for me.

Every November I welcome Thanksgiving with a bit of excitement, but also a whole lot of apprehension because Turkey Day means that December is on the horizon and December means I’m in for very rough terrain. December means a little bit of depression, a whole lot of anxiety. It means excitement and sadness. It means being overbooked, having too many plans, trying to find space to breathe. It means missing my mom desperately and not knowing what to do with those emotions. It means fighting so so so hard to stay present for a little girl that loves the advent season more than anything and trying to make new memories with a baby who still doesn’t know what to quite make of it all. It means struggle. It means screaming inside for peace. It means wondering if I’ll survive it all or if I should just go ahead and put myself on a 72 hour hold.

My birthday is December 16th and my moms was December 19th. It’s tough. December 19, 2016 found me having a total and complete breakdown. My dad had to come over and tend to me because I was in a bad way. I had hit rock bottom of it all.It was ugly, scary, and it hurt physically and emotionally. I was in my own personal hell and for the life of me I still don’t know how to escape myself in times like that.

November 2017 I was determined that December would be different. That 2016 would never happen again. That healing, not darkness, was on my horizon. So I prayed. I mentally locked myself up and had a face to face with Jesus. I needed him to perform a miracle in my life. I needed him to break that chain that was pulling me down every year. I prayed so hard. I had others pray. For once I let others in and I asked them to please, please pray. Please.

And when I tell you that God delivered…

I was in awe at how he met me right where I was. I was in awe at how he showered me with love in the way my mom would so many times. Like the Minister at church who gave us a monetary blessing for the girls on behalf of my mom. And then there was the lady in the Post Office who not only paid for me to ship my package, but then also gave me a blessing. When I went to thank her for being so kind in paying for my package, I told her that the blessing was right on time as funds were very tight for me in that moment and I was dreading shipping the package because of it. I also told her how that very day was my moms birthday, she would’ve been 67, and what she did felt like God soothing me. She asked me to do her a favor and accept something. She said that it was also her birthday and she was 47 to my moms 67 and that’s when she handed me $50. After thanking her and praying that God bless her for blessing me, all I could do was call out to Abba God.

He was literally raining down blessings on me. And that was only the beginning.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have some struggle. As I drove out to hang out with my friends for my birthday, I had a mild panic attack on the way. I still shed tears. I still had moments of not being sure if I was coming or if I was going. However, they were nothing like previous years. 2017 I felt 70% present, which is amazing for me! I made it. I made it through my birthday. I made it through her birthday. I made it through Christmas. I made it without breaking down, without losing myself. God met me, God loved on me, God reminded me exactly who he is.

And before anyone thinks it was about the money, let me assure you it was not. You see, my mom loved to show people her love by giving to them. She loved to by them very nice gifts and that of course included me. My love language is not presents. I’m not impressed by money or things. But when those around me started giving to me in honor of her, and they were doing it so extravagantly, I KNEW that was God loving on me the way that she would. Awwww That God of mine! He overwhelms me! He’s too much! My cup runneth over! The way Jesus loves on me is perfection.

So while I am sorry that I’ve been away, it was necessary. It was survival.

Thank you for sticking with me through my quiet seasons. I hope to be very loud in 2018.

Not an Instagram Homeschool Mom

I’ve always wanted to be what Instagram showed me as the perfect homeschool mom. Waking up an hour or two earlier than the kids, drinking my cup of coffee or tea while reading my morning devotional, going into prayer, then planning and preparing for the day. I used to think man! Those moms really have their crap together. Definitely not a slacker like me. But tried as I may, I never could get myself together in the mornings. I peel my eyes open once Isabella begins hitting my face, or crying, whichever comes first. And then I just lay there, much like a sloth you would see at the zoo. Tap dancing on the line of dreaming of just one more hour of peaceful rest and thanking Jesus that I’m seeing another morning, promising to make good use of it…if only the bed and I could stop our love affair. Then Johanna right on que announces that she’s hungry, so we all get ourselves together and eventually make our way downstairs for breakfast and the start of another school day. And as that day comes to an end and the kids and husband are in bed having their own affair with the bed, I realize that I have found my sweet spot. It’s not Instagram picture perfect as the only light streaming in is that which is provided by the moon, the bathroom, and the computer. It’s not ideal for drinking anything but decaf coffee or tea as I would be ridiculously jittery from the real stuff, but it is perfection.

The moon and I have been great pals for years now and many a night we have fought the sun so that we could dance just a tad bit longer. It is when the moon is shining reflecting the light of the sun that I really become alive. Suddenly my thinking is clear and sharp, brainstorming ideas to execute my homeschool dreams and plans is as easy as breathing, and patience to learn and grow as a homeschool mom magnificently magnify. I’m able to purge much of what I hold in my head for only me, myself, and I to see, clearing much needed space to have a dialog with my Jesus that I tend to struggle to have during the day. It’s nothing short of brilliant, until my head starts to swim and my vision gets heavy reminding me that I’m no longer 20 something and this dance I have going with the moon must cease until yet another night as I have to spend much of my time with the sun these days because I’m 30 something with kids that need to be taught and molded and real world problems that can only be resolved between the hours of 9-5.

Somedays I still really admire those Instagram moms. Many in this society put so much value on those who are able to wake up with the sun. They accomplish much and they’re hard workers. They must be amazing and their kids must be geniuses! But I remind myself that I’m no less awesome. After all, I get to dance with the moon and that’s downright magical.