I Just Wanna Write

It’s been almost 2 years since I last updated this blog. I think for a while there I had to truly figure out what I wanted this place to be. Is it about raising kids? Being a Christ follower? How about homeschooling? Lifestyle? Travel? Is it about me outside of my role as mother and wife? Do I need to narrow it down to one thing? Do I have to narrow it down to one thing? When you’re a person that can’t necessarily be defined because of all your little quirks and intricacies, it’s hard to stick to one label. So I’ve decided, I won’t. And if you’re the kind of person that likes to put people into neat little boxes, I just may not be for you, and that’s ok.

IMG-0227What has pulled me back is my desire to write. I just want to write. I love having my youtube channel, but sometimes I have moments that I just need to write down and figure out. Empty my brain of the 5000 different thoughts inside of my head and discover what is truly going on.

But also, My world today is truly different than it was that May two years ago. I even exist in a different space than that woman did and I don’t want to forget what this journey was like. I want to capture my true, raw emotions and memories.

I will update you all on this life that I live now, but not right this second. You see right now, Isabella is rolling on her head instead of going to sleep, Johanna is complaining about her eye hurting, and my to do list isn’t getting crossed off enough.

What I will say is that exactly 6 months ago today we landed in South Korea. In fact, at this very moment we were on a bus from Incheon airport to our new home, Daegu. See, I told you things are different now.

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Finding Home

When we first looked at this place I remember thinking “finally…maybe…yes?…yes” We found the house. Not where I wanted it to be, not how I envisioned it. But DC is expensive man. It was one thing to rent in the city, but buying in the city? Who could afford that? Apparently a lot of folks, but we weren’t one of them. So this cute little townhome in the DC suburbs would have to do. I would adjust, begrudgingly. But the neighborhood was quiet and it had a playground, perfect for then 11 month old Johanna. It would work. We would make it work. We would give it five years, but then we would have to make another move because this could not be permanent.

This was not home.

It’s been 6.5 years since that day. 1.5 years longer than I bargained for, and I’m still itching except now I have to find a remedy. This is not home. This is not our place. This is not where we are supposed to be. This home is not where our babies are supposed to forever grow up.

This home is small. It’s a mess. There’s no space for anything. So much needs to be replaced. So many memories need to be replaced too. This home has served us as well as it could. We have been thankful for this home. It has done its job.

But I tire of it.

I want more.

I feel silly saying that. So many don’t have anything. So many would give anything for what we have. We’re not ungrateful. We’re not greedy. We’ve simply grown and this home can no longer provide what we need.

This state can no longer provide what we need.

I am stifled. My growth is being stunted here. Yet I am scared.

This area provides so much. It provides everything. I have the best friends in the world here. The best opportunities. Black girl magic happens all over the place here. New opportunities present themselves every day. There’s never a dull moment. What if we move to a place where there are dull moments?

Where it gets too quiet…

Where downtown isn’t full of people on the weekends.

Where people are complacent and aren’t looking for more.

We’re too young to live in complacency. But we tire of living in the stress, the rush, the work, work, work, never family, family, family. We tire of living where time simply slips away every day. We’ve been meaning to talk, meaning to sit with each other for awhile, meaning to play and enjoy, but time is not made for family here. Time is made for work. It is made for the important jobs that come before your family without you realizing it. It’s made for the events that cannot be missed, the plans you must be apart of. It is made for being known, being in the know, and mixing it up. Time here eats away at your relationships. “When are you going to make time for me?” Is often heard when things are ending here because time gobbles up everything you have and you realize you didn’t use it wisely.

But what if we go someplace where it’s too much us time? Where we grow, but don’t grow individually? Where we stretch, but the kids don’t? Where there potential isn’t challenged and met?

Home. This state is our home, but not this house. It is time for us to leave both. I know that. But I’m terrified of finding a new one. Terrified of failure. Terrified of boredom. So scared of opportunities lost.

And this is the part. This is the part where we have to trust God’s plan. This is the part where our faith must stretch. This is the part where we must let the Lord lead us for he knows the plans he has for us. We’ve got to trust that, and move.

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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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