Life... Health... Reviews...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Large warehouse purchases

When you think about shopping at warehouse places you probably picture large boxes of paper towels, giant bottles of shampoo and super-sized boxes of your favorite cereal. What you may not realize is that you can also find deals on larger items for your home like outdoor furniture, area rugs, televisions and baby furniture.

I must admit that I am glad I'm not shopping for baby cribs, changing tables or chest of drawers for a new baby. I am excited that it's almost time to think about getting twin-sized beds for my younger children and we can move beyond cribs and the baby stage. That means a visit to Sam's will be for linens and other items for a big kid's room. (I spotted a few cool twin/full bunk beds that I know they'd like.)

Whatever your household needs or to stock up on all things baby, you can find it at Sam's Club. Overall, buying in bulk is an excellent way to save money for your family and shopping at a warehouse is an excellent place to find deals. Saving money is the goal... right?

Do you shop at warehouses? If so, leave a comment about what you normally buy or how you find the best deals. I've heard that sometimes families share their purchases from warehouse stores; is that something you do as well?
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Give me more time

I'm thinking if I ever get more than five hours of sleep I can catch up on email, posting, visiting and commenting. At least I hope that's the case. I wish there were some way to have 100-hour weekends (only when the kids are with their dad) so that I can catch up on everything that I've gotten behind on. Imagine that.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Searching for singing bowls

Have you been looking for perfect Crystal Singing Bowls? If so, SilverSkyImports.com has a wide selection of crystal singing bowls, along with a wide variety of others, for what appears to be good prices. For those of you unfamiliar with singing bowls, they are a type of bell that is a standing bell. Instead of hanging inverted, they sit with the opening facing upward. The sides and rim of singing bowls vibrate to produce sound. These bowls are traditionally used in Asia and are also known as Himalayan bowls, rin, medicine bowls, Tibetan bowls or suzu gongs in Japan.

Silver Sky Imports' site says their Quartz Crystal (99.9 percent pure) Singing Bowls are brand new and have a high quality with pure and relaxing sound that's excellent for meditating and healing. The item is sold with materials describing how to use the bowl. They offer a 30-day, 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. They also sell accessories like cushions and tools that go with the bowl.

The site seems to have different types of bowls for each person's interest, ceremony or event, and the bowls come in different sizes. Right now they have a fall sale and you can get 15 percent off your order with their coupon code. Now seems like a good time to purchase something like this if you need it.
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Finding quality childcare

Every parent has had to do it: Search for daytime care for their children. It can be a daunting - scary, for some - task, but it's often necessary.

If you live in Georgia - somewhere around/near Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Riverdale, Lovejoy - you should check out Little Feet Childcare, Inc., a home-based childcare and learning center. The director/owner is Kellie and my family met her about three years ago when I was searching for childcare for my then 1-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.

Little Feet is exactly what we needed. It wasn't too long after they started that she began potty training my son - successfully! All I did was follow up at home. When the children started my daughter was a little hesitant, but she took to Kellie right away and she soon adjusted. At Little Feet, your children can be sure to get quality curriculum with the love of home. They'll get healthy, well-balanced meals with a treat or two sneaked in now and then.

This is Amareah & Andre about
six months after they started attending.


One of the things that I like most about Little Feet is that it's not babysitting. The children have a daily schedule and curriculum they follow. I could see the things they were learning. In fact, when my daughter went to the 3-year-old class at Clayton County Head Start last year she already knew how to do about 95 percent of what they were teaching (write her name, identify some letters, memorize songs, etc.).

On the personal side, when my children started I was still nursing my daughter. It had been recommended that I stop nursing because of my health. Although I enjoyed the bond I shared with my daughter and had reduced the breastfeeding time, my body was worn down and I was overly exhausted. Kellie was supportive in helping me to wean her.

I like the fact that she has been a partner in rearing my children. Now, three of my children have been taught (and mommied!) by Kellie. My oldest daughter, Amber, is like a niece to her and she's become a very important part of our family.

If you'd like a partner in the raising of your children and someone who will support you in teaching your children values, educating them and providing them with a nurturing and caring environment then I suggest you call for a chance to meet Kellie and learn about Little Feet.

Check out her Facebook page for contact information.
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Practicing patience

I am not a very patient person. I don't do well with children whining, mumbling, crying or any of the like, but with four children I've heard my fair share of that and much more. This week my 2-year-old daughter, who can be difficult to deal with on a regular basis, isn't feeling well. She has strep throat.

She's already with me everyday and likes for me to pick her up instead of working. Her being under the weather has made it worse. I have rubbed, coaxed, cajoled, kissed, hugged, tickled, held, babied for a week now (she was just diagnosed yesterday) and I think I am coming to the end of my rope.

Then I have to remind myself - once again - that she doesn't feel well. The thing with little Miss Anna though is she's a super master manipulator. I'm beginning to think that she's just using the not feeling well as an excuse for me to continue with the babying. I am so behind on everything, I have a headache and I am so extremely exhausted that I think I'll be waiting outside of the house, in the driveway tomorrow when their father comes to pick up the kids.

I'll pass on the medication instructions, kiss them all good bye and either pass out or get work done. Passing out is looking more appealing as I watch Anna throw herself from the couch because I wouldn't take a toy from her and told her to just sit it down. Maybe I should get an iPod or MP3 player to drown out the whining... okay, deep breath, I'm back. She's safely tucked under my arm contentedly playing with the toy.

Parents, pray for me today that my patience lasts. There's nothing worse than a sleep-deprived mom who is trying to avoid catching strep throat from a child who won't get out of her lap.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Turn right then stop West of Mars

Have you met Susan Helene Gottfried? If you haven't then you won't be disappointed if you click on over to West of Mars and check her out. She's a fabulous author and blogger. She has a promotion going on that I thought I'd share with you for a couple of reasons:

1. I think she's awesome.
2. I was supposed to review her book eons ago. :)

Here's the message she recently sent on Facebook:

Just a reminder that the October 10% off sale on both Demo Tapes: Year 1 and Demo Tapes: Year 2 is winding down. You only have until Saturday to take advantage and who knows when I'll do this again?

Here's the link to the main books page:
http://westofmars.com/west-of-mars/the-books/

And here's the link to the blog post, with coupon codes:
http://westofmars.com/2009/10/01/sale-on-demo-tapes/

Just a reminder: this sale is good for purchases at Lulu.com, Smashwords.com for you digital readers, and through me directly. It is NOT good in the Kindle store or at Amazon.

Come join the Trevolution!


You know, books are great holiday gifts!
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From a snake's POV

Most people who know me know that I am a book lover who gets true pleasure from reading a book. Most recently, I've begun reading and reviewing more children's books and I've found that I love them just as much. The true perk? Sharing my love of books with my second generation of children.

I received "Rattlesnake Rules" by Conrad J. Storad and read it to my children a few nights ago. This easy-to-read book relays the rules of dealing with rattlesnakes from the snake's point of view. It's genius! I enjoyed the book so much that I've already told three people about it.

My children were really into it as well. It was obvious they liked the book because while I read they asked clarifying questions or pointed out things they noticed and understood. My two middle children absorbed the information about rattlesnakes and also understood the warning to humans regarding what to do if encountering a rattler.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Nathaniel P. Jensen and one of the best features of it is the glossary of information in the back that includes rattlesnake facts, mysteries, myths and vocabulary words along with a curriculum guide.

"Rattlesnake Rules" gets a definite two thumbs up.

Another children's book that we've read recently is "The Pout-Pout Fish" by Deborah Diesen. It's an extremely cute and entertaining story. Verdict: Love it.
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Shop at Lou Lou's Corner

It's the treasure trove of places you find that carry little gems you are glad you stumbled upon. That's what it feels like when you go to Lou Lou's Corner, a specialty boutique store where they prefer to think of themselves as "a toy box for the whole family." Lou Lou's carries gifts items, popular baby toys, stylish designer baby clothes as well as women's items including pajamas, jewelry and tees.

Some of their most popular brands are jellycat, appaman and barefoot dreams - just to name a few. They have the cutest items ever seen (check out their infant and toddlers See Kai Run shoes that are podiatrist recommended) and the most comfortable-looking items for women.

You can find something for everyone at this online store so don't forget to do a little virtual shopping there for those on your Christmas list. The boutique offers gift wrapping and free shipping for purchases $65 and over. If you like what you see then take a moment to join their e-newsletter so you can be kept abreast of red tag sales, new additions to the inventory and anything else going on at Lou Lou's Corner.

Have fun shopping... and don't forget your blogging friends during Christmas. ;)
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I hate "good hair!"

Before you click the comment button and tell me all about myself - let me explain. Actually, it's the phrase that I hate.

Over the years, for as long as I can remember actually, I've had my own thoughts and feelings about my hair and black women's hair in general. Those thoughts resurfaced when I caught yesterday's Tyra Show, which I think was a rerun. I don't normally watch television at that time of day, but I was sharing a late lunch with my youngest daughter and decided to sit down and watch the tube for a minute.

Tyra Banks was sporting some cornrows. "Looks pretty good," I thought. Then I realized the topic was about hair and I came in on the part where five young black girls from the ages of about 3 to 8 were talking about their hair, what they liked about it and their perceptions of hairstyles.

I was livid from what I heard.

The 3-year-old's mother had been perming her daughter's hair for about four months because it was "easier." The 6 year old preferred wearing a Hanna Montana wig as opposed to her gorgeous thick ponytails that were adorned with barrettes and the little ball things. There was another 6 year old whose mother had purposefully never dated a black man because she didn't want to have a child with kinky, nappy hair. That type of hair, she said, indicated you were poor and low class. To make matters worse, the daughter - half Latina - now believed the same thing. The 8 year old black child, whose mother was white, was given a perm AND tracks (that's weave for those who don't know) because it was easier and faster "for the mother" to comb out the kid's wrap in the morning as opposed to spending time braiding or styling in ponytails.

Now I was livid and appalled.

I am amazed that still, nearing the end of 2009, we continue to teach our children that ethnic, coarse hair is bad. Those girls actually pointed out an Afro as ugly and bad and then said "white hair" is good and pretty.

I.am.so.tired.of.hearing that.

While growing up I heard the term "good hair" somewhat frequently, but it wasn't necessarily used in a negative context. Either way, it didn't sit well with me. My paternal grandmother had naturally wavy, thick hair. You know the type you can wash and go or just run a straightening comb through real quick if the mood struck. My mother, although she chose to get a relaxer, had naturally straight black hair, which grew to her waist as a child. My father had naturally curly hair as did his father. (In case you're wondering, or think it's important, my mother and grandfather are dark brown.) And in between all of that, from one side of the family to the other, were all variations of ethnic hair with some being more coarse than others.

My family, however, made a point of ensuring that our hair was neatly groomed regardless of the texture. No one, back in the day, gave their daughter a relaxer. Our hair was straightened with a hot comb for special occasions. It was normally braided or styled in ponytails.

As we grew older we developed our own likes and dislikes regarding our hair. In middle school I got a Jerry Curl (don't you laugh), in high school I got a relaxer, which I started growing out sometime in my 20s mostly because I learned quite a bit about what the chemicals were doing to my hair and my body. I began wearing twists, which lasted for about six weeks, and then I let my hair lock.

For some in my mother's generation that's almost appalling.

I was about 7 years old when my family and I attended a wedding. I had never seen dreadlocks before and there was a man in the wedding party that wore them. I couldn't keep my eyes off of him. Finally, I whispered to my mother asking her what was in his hair. She said something I'll never forget, "That means he doesn't wash his hair."

Really? Even at that age the answer didn't seem right and although I remembered it, I never assumed it was true.

"Why did you put those things in your hair," my mother asked the first time she saw me. I was a little hurt, but it didn't change my mind about what I wanted to do with my hair - despite her continually bringing up the subject. Long story short, my locks over the course of about 10 years, grew to my waist. It's been about a year or two since I had them cut off, combed out and have worn my hair in its natural state.

My hair isn't as long as I would like it, the texture has changed a lot over the years and I'm not necessarily happy with it; however, I don't think I have bad hair.




When I had my first daughter, whose hair is naturally curly and fine, my mother would say she has "good hair." I would admonish her and say, "Please don't say that around her. I don't want her to think that someone else's hair that is kinky or thick has bad hair."

It took quite some time for that message to sink in, but she respected that and learned. My daughter grew up with a healthy appreciation for her hair and other's regardless of the texture. Of course she has her likes and dislikes, but she's diverse. She's worn classic children's ponytails, twists, dreadlocks, straightened and curly. She's colored it, but never permed it. As a matter of fact, she really doesn't need a relaxer.

She's 18 years old.









When I had my second daughter (who's hair is even longer than it is in this picture) my mother may have slipped up on the "good hair" comment once or twice, and I'm sure my little one has heard the term before but it's not something I teach her. To me her hair is long, thick and beautiful... it's all her. She's only 4 now and her hair seems to grow about a half an inch within two weeks. It's thick, curly, black, long ... and tiring! But I love it and I let her know it.

My third daughter's hair is more like her oldest sister's in color and texture, but so far it looks like it's going to be long like her second sister. But, so what?

The what is that black hair has always equaled status in our community. When our slave ancestors wanted favor they knew they were most likely to get it if their skin tone and hair texture was closer to that of the master than to that of their brothas and sistahs. It meant better food, better clothes, possibly education, favor and status.

No, this is not a racial thing. This is a history thing and it's part of our history that has brainwashed some of us in the present. (Unfortunately we can see this in other areas of our lives as well.) Now instead of teaching our children that our hair is better if it's long, straight, flowing, silky or any other variation of "good hair," we should teach them to love and accept themselves from the tip of their toenails to the ends of the hair.

I ask myself and my spirit for forgiveness for my recent thoughts of getting a relaxer. I also apologize to my oldest daughter for displaying that doubt about my appearance. That Tyra Show reminded me of why I started this quest in the beginning. I am proud to display my heritage and likes on my head, and I can't help if other people like it or not.

It's one thing to prefer or like one hairstyle over another, but it's an entirely different thing to hate a part of our features that links a lot of us. We need to embrace and respect each other... I may not like your hairstyle, but I think your hair is beautiful just like mine.

Check it out
  • I found a link to that Tyra Show I mentioned above.
  • There's Chris Rock's comedy (some are calling documentary) Good Hair
Read up on it
  • "Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America" by Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps. I believe these ladies were on The Tyra Show that I watched. They eloquently spoke about how our good hair mentality is tied to slavery.
  • "Good Hair: For Colored Girls Who've Considered Weaves When the Chemicals Became Too Ruff" by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner.
  • I love the coffee table book "Dreads" by Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano with an introduction written by Alice Walker. It has amazing photography of all types of people with dreadlocks and their thoughts behind their hair.
As usual you know I want to hear your take on this subject. Leave me a comment with your opinion, recommended reading and experiences. Always remember: Rock your crown.
This is me today. ----->
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Find fun holiday gifts

Earlier today my 4-year-old daughter told me how she likes Barbies. "Really?" I responded. And she nodded with a slight smile on her face.

I smiled as well - thinking about the Barbies I had when I was a child. I received my first Barbie in the early 70s and spent hours dressing her, making clothes for her with my grandmother, choosing accessories for her and setting up scenarios for her. My oldest daughter, who is now 18, loved Barbie as well. When she became old enough to appreciate the doll, I passed down some of the things I had saved from my Barbie dolls.

Now I'm wondering if it's time to start the serious Barbie tradition with my next daughter. I don't want to spend a lot of money on Barbie and her accessories because this daughter isn't as conscientious as her older sister, but I still need to "Shop Smart, Save Big." And it's that time of year: Purchasing fun stuff for the holidays.

I'm sure she would like 2009 holiday Barbie in her shimmering pink and gold lame gown. To find a great deal, I can use Shop.com, which is an easy-to-use online shopping comparison site. You can find just about any product you're looking for as well as coupons, free shipping offers, exclusive sales and sweepstakes.

There are tons of other gift ideas to check out at Shop.com. Start with Barbies and Nba comforters and go from there.

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You've got to read this

My beautiful friend Lin (remember I mentioned her in my last post?) has a post called Livin' La Vida Hobos. I'm not telling you to read it 'cause she mentioned me... although that's a good reason. I'm telling you to read it 'cause it's a wonderful post that's excellently written, humorous and one of the many reasons I love her so much. ;)
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Weekly Inspiration: Friendships

This past week has been... uh, interesting. Broken coffeemaker, dead washing machine and a medley of other ins and outs, ups and downs. By Friday I was totally exhausted from day-to-day responsibilities, lugging laundry to my girlfriend's place and running errands. But I was excited to see the weekend arrive because my friend Shaunalynn and her adorable girls were coming for a visit on Saturday.

If you aren't familiar with Shaunalynn at The Art and Science of Parenting (Mom Robs Grocery Store and a few others), you should hop on over and get to know her now. I can't even remember how we "met," but through our virtual relationship we became fast friends. Then we realized we both live in Georgia and the rest, as "they" say, is history.

Shaunalynn and her girls arrived minutes before the guy who was delivering a washing machine. He was about an hour past the time we had originally discussed. Shaunalynn and I sat down at the kitchen table to chat and talk coupons (she has this great coupon binder) while the guy and his helpers installed the washer.

The installation didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked. Upon removing the old washing machine, which was filled with water, they dumped all of it - every green stinky drop of it - onto my floor. The water pouring from the washer seemed to flow continuously and slowly as I watched with my mouth agape.

"Look," I said to Shaunalynn, while I pointed.

She was as stunned as I was...

and then she started to laugh.

Dealing with those washing machine guys caused one laugh after another and had it not been for Shaunalynn's presence I probably would have gotten extremely irritated and upset. She made what could have been a stressful event into a minor blip on the screen. (That's not even mentioning the "new" washer that didn't work and the guys returning at 7 p.m. that night with another one only to spill some water on the floor again.)

You've heard me talk about friendships in the past and that is what's inspiring me this week. It's Shaunalynn and everyone else who is important to me...
**It's Frankie who helps me catch up on my email and who endlessly puts up with my grumpiness and neediness.
**It's Kellie who let me wash and dry about SIX loads of laundry at her house AND she braided my hair AND made the kids and I dinner.
**It's PJ who checks in on me, makes me tea and mails things without a second thought.
**It's beautiful Lin who always makes me laugh, emails me encouragement, listens to me rant and sends a surprise for the kids.
**It's Sandra - my Portuguese friend and one of my first true blogging buddies - who I dearly love despite our busy lives and opposite schedules that have gotten in the way of our communication.
**It's Lewis who randomly calls to check on me "just because" I am on his mind.

They do those things and so, so much more. Even if they didn't do anything physically, the care that they've shown to me amounts to pounds and pounds of gold. As I sit here quite exhausted (I think my busyness is finally catching up to me), I'll think about my friends to get me through the week.

If you're name isn't here, don't fret! I have not forgotten you and I have not missed the care you've shown to me. Cherie, Rick, Stace and everyone else. I hope you know who you are. And, I can't resist saying, if you have doubts well then you probably know what that means. I'm just saying. LOL

Shaunalynn, It was so exceptionally wonderful to spend time with you and the girls. I'm so glad we met in person and I'm looking forward to our next visit. I hope it doesn't include washing machines.
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