Curl Centric Curly Kids Coloring Book Review

Curly KidsWhen I found out I was pregnant with a girl, I knew that there were 3 important things I would need to get her to love in order to make it in this world – Her hair, the skin she’s in, and a deep love for Jesus. I also knew that out of all of those things, her hair would probably be the topic that would give me the biggest challenge. I mean, how do you get your daughter to love the very thing that many people, including her own people, put down?

Johanna's MamaEveryday many choose to straighten their hair, not just to enjoy a temporary hairstyle, but because they truly believe that curls and kinks are negative things and they want no parts of them. The media has constantly pushed onto us that straight, flowing hair is what is acceptable and beautiful. Those are the very messages that I have to fight against when it comes to Johanna. I constantly try to show her cartoons (I’m looking at you Doc McStuffin!) and books that showcase curly haired girls. If we are out and about, I make it a point to point out little girls that have gorgeous hair that mirrors hers. The beauty in all of this is that she was born during a time when natural hair was beginning to really be embraced. Today you see sistas everywhere rocking their twa’s and curly fro’s. Natural hair has become cool. However, inside I know, that it is probably a fad that will fade into the background, and when it does, I will still need for my daughter to love her hair. That is why I was ecstatic when I was contacted to review the Curly Kids Coloring book and share it with you!

The Curly Kids Coloring book was created by Curl Centric and contains over 30 images of curly haired beauties! You know I’m in love. A coloring book featuring girls that look just like my Johanna is definitely a dream come true. Even she grabbed her hair and was amazed that the girls in the book had hair just like her own!
Johanna's Mama(1)I had the opportunity to do a quick Q&A session with the author, Akirashanti Byrd to understand the idea behind the coloring book from her perspective.

Q: Why did you choose to create this coloring book?

A: My youngest daughter is the inspiration behind the coloring book. When the idea of the coloring book first came up, I wanted to surround my daughter with images that were relevant and relatable to her. I wanted her to have something to help her see natural hair in a positive way. Because she is so crafty and creative, a coloring book was fitting for her.

Q: Did you grow up natural, and if you did, was it difficult for you?

A: I had a Jherri Curl and used Snap Back Curl Activator and all, very similar to a curly perm, in the 6th grade! It was all the rage- LOL!

Q: Did you love your hair as a child?

A: I think it depends on the time-frame. As child being able to run around in the rain and remembering my mom putting water and grease on hair, yes, I loved it. But in later years when I “couldn’t” get it wet because, it was cute but it wasn’t fun anymore.

Q: What are you hoping that your audience gets from this book?

A: The one thing I want the kids to take away is there is nothing wrong with their hair. They should look in the mirror and feel confident at what they see looking back at at them.

CurlyKidsColoringBookFullCoverAre you as geeked about this coloring book as I am? Click here to buy Curly Kids Coloring Book and visit Curl Centric for more curl positive articles. If you do pick it up, let me know what you think. I want to know your little one’s reaction!

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Pinterest Tested Thursdays: No Bake Honey Nut Cheerios Bars

One of my absolute favorite pastimes is finding things on Pinterest to recreate, especially food! And if it’s something for the kids, that’s even better! So I’ve decided to share my experience with you guys because 1) I’m not a professional and 2) I’m not a food blogger. Don’t you appreciate it when people show you what these beautiful creations will truly look like when you’re finished? I do, and I always wonder if they’ll taste any good. I want you to see what these meals look like from a regular, busy, can barely keep my head above water mom. First up are these No Bake Honey Nut Cheerios Bars.

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Don’t these look ridiculously fun and yummy?! Obviously I had to try them! The ingredients and directions seemed simple enough, so let’s go!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup creamy unsalted butter (half of one stick)
1/4 cup honey (light-colored corn syrup may be substituted and will keep the bars firmer at room temp than using honey)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups Honey Nut Cheerios (or similar storebrand cereal; plain Cheerios may be substituted for a less sweet bar)
1 cup raisins, optional (1 cup  honey-roasted peanuts, 1 cup chopped almonds, or 1 cup trail mix may be substituted)
about 1/2 cup chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, optional (I used Trader Joe’s)
pinch sea salt or Kosher salt for sprinkling, optional

Directions:

  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, honey, brown sugar, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt.
  3. Stop to stir. Mixture will be on the granular side, this is okay.
  4. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 more minute on high power. Stop to stir
  5. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 more minute on high power. Stop to stir. On this third and final burst, mixture will become quite bubbly and foamy; use caution when removing from micro because this is boiling hot caramel and can cause burns.
  6. Stir in the vanilla using caution because mixture could bubble up.
  7. Stir in the cereal.
  8. Stir in the optional raisins (or nuts).
  9. Turn mixture out into prepared pan, packing it down firmly with a spatula and smoothing the top.
  10. Optionally, sprinkle evenly with sunflower seeds and salt (the salt cuts some of the sweetness and I recommend it).
  11. Cover pan with a sheet of foil (to prevent fridge smells), and place pan in fridge to set up for at least 2 to 3 hours, or overnight, or until bars are completely set before lifting out with foil overhang, slicing, and serving.
  12. Bars will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. I recommend storing them in the fridge rather than room temp because they soften and get loose.

So, the originator of the recipe preferred corn syrup and that’s what I used. I didn’t just happen to have those beautiful, colorful chocolate covered seeds on hand so I knew my bars weren’t going to look as pretty, and they don’t!

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Thankfully presentation doesn’t persuade my kid at all. She’s all about texture. The verdict – she liked it ok. I think the mistake I made is using all corn syrup. Next time I would do half corn syrup and half honey. Also, I would add a pinch more salt to it to combat some of the sweetness.

Would I make these again? Absolutely. Now that I know what I need to do I think they make a great on the go snack. Please visit Averie Cooks for more tips on how to make these bars outstanding!

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DC Outdoor Film Festivals!

It’s that wonderful time of the year again! When several locations in the DC area show movies under the stars. This is the list of locations and movies as I know it today. Bookmark this page because I will update it as I get word of more locations!

District of Columbia:
Adams Morgan
June 2: The Bicycle Thief
June 9: Rich Hill
June 16: Whiplash

Capitol Riverfront
June 4: Back to the Future
June 11: Selma
June 18: The Princess Bride
June 25: Rush Hour
July 2: Independence Day
July 9: Bring It On
July 16: LEGO Movie
July 23: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
July 30: Big Hero 6
Aug. 6: Pitch Perfect
Aug.13: The Goonies
Aug. 20: Guardians of the Galaxy
Aug. 27: To Kill A Mockingbird
Sept. 3: The Sound of Music

Cinema in the Circle – Dupont Circle
(8:30)
June 20: A League of Their Own

Drive-In Movies at Union Market
June 5: Pretty Woman
June 12: Beverly Hills Cop
June 19: Space Jam
June 26: Jurassic Park

Family Film Night at Sursum Corda
June 23: Annie
July 7: Happy Feet Two
July 21: Rio2
August 4: The Princess and the Frog
(Family Film Night at Sursum Corda will take place in the plaza at L and First Streets, NW. The event starts at 7 p.m. with kid-centric activities and free food. Films start at sunset.)

Golden Cinema Series – Farragut Square
May 22: Empire Records
May 29: The Devil Wears Prada
June 5: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
June 12: The Social Network
June 19: Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
June 26: Hook
July 10: Nine to Five
July 17: Miss Congeniality
July 24: Italian Job
July 31: The Wedding Planner

NoMa Summer Screen
May 27: Dirty Dancing
June 3: Center Stage
June 10: Bride & Prejudice
June 17: Flashdance
June 24: Strictly Ballroom
July 1: Grease
July 8: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo
July 15: Singing in the Rain
July 22: Save the Last Dance
July 29: Moulin Rouge
Aug. 5: Stomp the Yard
Aug. 12: Footloose

Palisades Recreation Center
June 12: The Goonies
July 17: Raiders of the Lost Ark
August 14: The Princess Bride

Maryland
Bel Air Outdoor Movies at Shamrock Park
June 12: Finding Nemo
June 26: Paddington
July 10: The Boxtrolls
July 24: Big Hero 6
Aug. 21: The Incredibles
Aug. 28: Cinderella

Bethesda Outdoor Movies
July 21: Sixteen Candles
July 22: Chef
July 23: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
July 24: Mrs. Doubtfire
July 25: Imitation Game

Laurel Friday Flicks Outdoor Movies
June 12: Planes: Fire & Rescue
June 26: Paddington
July 10: Disney Nature: Bears
July 17: Big Hero 6
July 24: Despicable Me
Aug. 7: Up!

Montgomery County/Comcast NIH charities Film Fest
Aug. 21: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Aug. 22: Interstellar
Aug. 23: Guardians of the Galaxy

Montpelier Arts Center Outdoor Summer Movies – Laurel
July 15: Grease
July 29: The Book of Life
Aug. 12: Big Hero 6

Movies on the Potomac – National Harbor
May 10: Big Hero 6
May 17: Brave
May 24: Akeelah and the Bee
May 31: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
June 7: Viewer’s Choice
June 14: Space Jam
June 21: Martian Child
June 28: ET: The Extra Terrestrial
July 5: Viewer’s Choice
July 12: Journey to the Center of the Earth
July 19: Jumanji
July 26: The Flintstones
Aug. 2: Viewer’s Choice
Aug. 9: Back to the Future I
Aug. 16: Back to the Future II
Aug. 23: Back to the Future III
Aug. 30: Disney’s The Kid
Sept. 6: Viewer’s Choice
Sept. 13: Matilda
Sept. 20: Monsters, Inc.
Sept. 27: James and the Giant Peach

Movies on the Beach – North Beach
June 6: Dolphin Tale 2
July 18: The Lego Movie
Aug. 15: Stuart Little
Sept. 19: Guardian of the Galaxy
Oct. 24: Jaws

Ocean City Movies on the Beach at the Carousel
June 3: Blended
June 10: Big Hero 6
June 17: Muppets Mot Wanted
June 24: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
July 1: Into the Woods
July 8: Maleficent
July 15: Dolphin Tale 2
July 22: Planes: Fire & Rescue
July 29: The Box Trolls
Aug. 5: Annie (2014)
Aug. 12: Cinderella (2015)
Aug. 19: Frozen
Aug. 26: Guardians of the Galaxy

Ocean City Movies on the Beach at 27th Street
*Movies begin at 8:30 pm
June 22: The Lego Movie
June 26: 101 Dalmatians
June 29: Alexander & Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day
July 3: Earth to Echo
July 6: Dolphin Tale 2
July 10: The Box Trolls
July 13: Annie (2014)
July 17: Planes Fire & Ice
July 20: Frozen
July 24: Big Hero 6
July 27: Strange Magic
July 31: Paddington
Aug. 3: Muppets Most Wanted
Aug. 7: Cinderella (2015)

The Wine Bin – Ellicott City
May 30: Footloose
June 6: Jurassic Park
June 13: Roman Holidays
June 20: Sideways
June 27: The Wedding Singer
July 11: To Kill a Mockingbird
July 18: The Breakfast Club
July 25: Frozen
Aug. 1: Ghost
Aug. 8: A Good Year
Aug. 15: Apollo 13
Aug. 22: Karate Kid
Aug. 29: Princess Bride
Sept. 5: Sound of Music
Sept. 12: The Godfather
Sept. 19: Guardians of the Galaxy
Oct. 24: Zombieland

Virginia
Alexandria Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
July 17: How To Train Your Dragon 2
July 18: X-Men – Days of Future Past

Centreville Starlight Cinema
Aug. 1: The Sting
Aug. 8: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Aug. 15: Frozen
Aug. 22: Big Hero 6
Aug. 29: Paddington

Cinema Del Ray – Alexandria
May 16: Big Hero 6
June 20: Anastasia
July 18: Penguins of Madagascar
Aug. 15: Finding Nemo

Crystal Screen Cystal City, VA
June 1: Mission: Impossible
June 8: Mission: Impossible II
June 15: Mission: Impossible III
June 22: Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
June 29: Charlie Wilson’s War
July 6: Red
July 13: Argo
July 20: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
July 27: Body of Lies
Aug. 3: Enemy of the State
Aug. 10: The Bourne Identity
Aug. 17: The Bourne Supremacy
Aug. 24: The Bourne Ultimatum
Aug. 31: The Bourne Legacy

Films at Arlington Public Library – Central Library
*Films begin at twilight
Aug. 6: Empire Records
Aug. 13: The Great Gatsby

Lake Anne Plaza- Reston
June 14: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
July 12: E.T.
Aug. 9: West Side Story
Aug. 30: Jazz on a Summer’s Day

Mosaic District
June 5: Rudy
June 12: Miracle
June 19: Father of the Bride
June 26: Angels in the Outfield
July 3: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
July 10: Eat Pray Love
July 17: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
July 24: Frozen
July 31: Ratatouille
Aug. 7: Despicable Me 2
Aug. 14: Cinderella
Aug. 21: Captain America
Aug. 28: The Hundred Foot Journey
Sept. 4: The Lego Movie

Northern Virginia Community College – Manassas Campus
May 29: Frozen Sing-a-long
June 5: Dinosaur 13
June 12: The Theory of Everything
June 19: Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
June 26: Disney Bears & 42 (double feature)
July 11: Spare Parts
July 25: Flubber & Instructions Not Included (double feature)
Aug. 8: Born to be Wild
Aug. 22: The Boxtrolls
Sept. 12: Reach Me
Sept. 26: Into the Woods
Oct. 10: Big Hero 6

Rosslyn Outdoor Film Fest
June 5: Wedding Crashers
June 12: Mean Girls
June 19: Happy Gilmore
June 26: Tommy Boy
July 3: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
July 10: When Harry Met Sally
July 17: Anchorman
July 24: Clueless
July 31: The Big Lebowski
Aug. 7: Austin Powers: Intl Man of Mystery
Aug. 14: The Hangover
Aug. 21: Despicable Me
Aug. 28: Zoolander

South Riding Movie Night
June 24: Annie
June 30: Alexander & Terrible Horrible
July 8: Into the Woods
July 14: The Boxtrolls
July 22: 101 Dalmatians
July 28: Planes: Fire & Rescue
Aug. 5: Big Hero 6

Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center – Woodbridge
May 23: Rocky
May 30: Hook
June 6: Sleeping Beauty
June 13: Space Jam
June 20: Dolphin Tale 2
June 27: Maleficient
July 4: Independence Day
July 11: American Tail
July 18: Million Dollar Arm
July 25: Happy Feet
Aug. 1: Harry Potter Socerer’s Stone
Aug. 8: Annie
Aug. 15: Frozen
Aug. 22: Big Hero 6
Aug. 29: When the Game Stands Tall
Sept. 5: Captain America Winter Soldier

Rosslyn Outdoor Film Fest
June 5: Wedding Crashers
June 12: Mean Girls
June 19: Happy Gilmore
June 26: Tommy Boy
July 3: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
July 10: When Harry Met Sally
July 17: Anchorman
July 24: Clueless
July 31: The Big Lebowski
Aug. 7: Austin Powers: Intl Man of Mystery
Aug. 14: The Hangover
Aug. 21: Despicable Me
Aug. 28: Zoolander

Mom, I saw your heart.

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Four months into holy matrimony I was over it. I picked up the phone and called you because my husband and I had just had an argument and I was ready to throw the towel in. Adjusting to marriage was tough. You and I were on the phone and I bawled while panicking and asking “what am I going to do when you’re gone? How am I going to get through this without you?” And you told me “you will, you will get through it. Hopefully I’m not leaving you anytime soon, but if I do, know that you will get through it because you know how to pray and prayer changes things. You WILL make it!”

FB_IMG_1430714901402Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mother. Such comforting names in the midst of a storm. Just saying the name seems to make you feel like everything will be alright and they show up when you need them. I need you mom. I need you every day. I need to know that I’m doing a good job. I need to know that you’re proud of me and honestly, I just want you. Your presence alone made me feel comforted. You were my safe place. People often commented about how close we were and it was true. We had many of hard days in my early years, but we had very good, solid days too. I knew things about you that no one in the world knew. The things you found disgusting, the things you privately enjoyed. You had a bluntness with me on EVERY subject that few others, if any, got to experience. We held each others secrets even when we didn’t recognize them as such because we were just being us, doing what we did in our sweet bubble. It was good. It was safe. It was love.

A little more than a year after our phone conversation you lay in your death bed not speaking, eyes closed. I wondered if you were just resting or if you were all drugged up on painkillers that day. You were in a lot of pain then. Thinking that it was definitely the latter I sat beside your bed with my belly full of baby and I cried. I cried a weary cry. I was exhausted. I was scared. I was trying to wrap my brain around what was happening while also trying to “live in the moment”. I didn’t want to miss a minute of you, but it became so hard to come see you emotionally, and quite frankly, physically. For a moment you opened your eyes and said “what’s wrong?” I told you that I just wanted you to make it until my baby was born and in typical you fashion you stated that we would just have to pray and ask God for that to happen. And he heard our prayers because you held on until a week after Johanna was born. You did it and I know in my heart you held on for me. Even in your last days you thought of me. God bless you for being so stubborn. But that’s what we did for one another. We had each others backs. I was your baby and you were mine.

20150504_095527-1As adults we looked out for one another as best friends do. Like that time we took our annual trip to the Ritz Carlton to celebrate our birthdays and I walked into the lobby to see you with the saddest look on your face. I asked you what was wrong and you told me that they wouldn’t serve you in the hotel restaurant because it was close to closing time. Well, I wasn’t having that, obvi. Nobody puts my mama in the corner. After speaking to the manager and explaining to him that not only would he bring you food, but that he would have exactly what you wanted delivered to the room since they couldn’t be bothered to seat you, you gave me a big ole proud smile and nod of approval. I could hear you thinking “that’s my girl”. And I was. As adulthood had me navigating through the difficulties of our relationship from my childhood and coming to terms with what was in the past while embracing the present, my respect for you blossomed and for a few short years, I saw you. Not as a mom, but as a woman. I saw you. I saw your heart. I saw your unspoken hurts. I saw the scars of the wars that you fought, some I knew about, but others you kept close to your chest. I didn’t need to know the details because I’ve never been a particularly nosy person, but I did pray for you. I wished you happiness and joy. I wished you the peace of God in every area of your life.

Now as a mom I wish I could say to you that I get it. Being a mom is hard. So hard. While I break my neck trying to avoid some of the mistakes you made, I end up making brand spanking new ones. Then I get scared. I don’t want to screw this up. I don’t want to screw Johanna up. I often look back on a troublesome interaction between her and me and wonder if that one thing I did or didn’t do will be the thing that sends her to therapy in 20 years. I want to pick up the phone and ask you if you think I did the right thing, but you won’t answer. You can’t, I know. So I give it to God because he can answer, and he can guide me, and that’s what you taught me to do anyway. Lean on Jesus and not my own understanding. I’m doing it mom. I’m doing it. He is my rock and it’s because you introduced me to him and his love. You drowned me in lots of expensive, awesome gifts in our time together, but that gift of the knowledge of Christ is priceless. Thank you.

I want so badly for you to be proud of me. I asked you once if you thought I would be a good mother. After thinking for a few seconds you said “yeah, yes I do. I think you will be a really good mother.” Thank you for that vote of confidence in me. You have no idea how those words carry me through a rough homeschooling day or one of Johanna’s fournager tantrums.

Thank you for the friendship. Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for being the kind of woman and mother that deserves to be missed. I was blessed to be born to you. I only pray that Johanna could say the same someday. Oh, and hey, mom, look at hubby and I. We’re all making it and stuff. Prayer does indeed work.

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