Survival of the Twinnest

School and office supplies on white background. Back to school.

HOME AND GARDEN

Back to School Tips

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Over 200,000 loyal readers

Preparing the kids to go back to school can be overwhelming. Not just financially but mentally and emotionally. Just finding the time can be taxing alone.  Ever tried taking twin first graders shopping for school clothes? I have and I’m here to help you save your sanity! But before saving your sanity let me share just a snip-it of our one day shopping experience. We went to two stores, (this was after I had already placed a few orders online), Macy’s and Old Navy. We started at Macy’s both of our daughters were encouraged to leave their toys in the car; Amirah insisted on taking her American Girl Doll on her first “shopping extravaganza” and Aniyah simply refused to leave her four Disney Princesses in the car. Unfortunately before we walked into the store I already knew what that meant, either her dad or I would end up with the toys, hopefully their dad since I would be the one navigating through this shopping trip. Anyway, moving right along, as soon as we got off the escalator onto the second floor, where the kids department was, the request for cookies began to chime into the air. Those request were countered by “can we first concentrate on our mission and pick out some clothes?” At that instance all dolls were shoved into my purse and the search began; pieces were thrown me of all different sizes, seasons, and some not necessarily school appropriate. Once I calmed that down we were able to really shop. The problem I then had is that once we are finished in the toddler area that goes up to 6x we then have to go over to the size 7-16 area to shop for my other twin daughter, by this time they’ve become impatient and irritated. Amirah was only semi-concerned with giving her input, Aniyah was hiding in the clothes rack, (no matter how many times she’s asked not to) and I had sent the hubs to price check items.
We leave Macy’s, no cookies, I truly don’t want to take them to another store but I still wanted to go to Old Navy. We walk in, they are immediately over stimulated, the store is crowded, kids are running around and the line is long! We make our way to the back of the store and I spot the leggings (a hot commodity in our house), and then… I see the sale sign! I try to maintain my composure but the price has me on edge and I felt like I had just drank a triple espresso! So I try to get the team huddled up so we can plan our next move and I look around disappointed to see that I am the only one in the game! The hubs is doing something on his phone, Amirah was nagging him about something (probably the forgotten cookie) and Aniyah was looking at her dolls (yes she insisted on bringing in again!). Depleted but not defeated, I concluded that I had to carry this one into the end zone by myself. So I began picking out leggings in their sizes got about four pair before I faintly heard a whisper say “I don’t like those” and “are you going to get them anyway?” I blinked, came out of my zen, turned around, then asked, “what?” Amirah repeated she didn’t like the leggings; she pointed to the ones with the elephants on them, nor did she like the floral print; 2/4 was picked out for her. I turned to Aniyah she instantly tugged on one pair indicating she did not like the other.  My thoughts were where were you guys ten minutes ago now that only ¼ of my items remain? I shook my head and said “fine let’s start over and get out of here”!

 

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Maybe my story and tips will help you keep some of your sanity? Here are some of the deals I found in store and online.  If you are not able to leave the kids at home, treat yourself to a nice glass of wine with dinner, it helps lol! My very time consuming trip to Old Navy yielded: 6 pair of leggings at $3.00 each
4 shirts at $3.00 each  2 gymnastics sets at $6.14 each Grand Total $42.48 Of course I felt like I could’ve gotten more at such a low price had I gone solo but luckily I placed a couple of online orders a couple of weeks prior to our shopping trip. Carter’s has amazing online sales: During their BOGO  Purchase 1 shirt get 2 free $16 Purchase 1 pair of leggings get 2 free $16 Purchase 1 pair of shoes get 1 free $40 Grand Total $72  So far we’re at a weeks worth of outfits for twins (10), shoes, and gymnastics sets for a full week for only $114.48! Add in a 12 pack of Hanes panties from target $6.49 and 7 pair of Cat & Jack pack of socks for $5.49 and your set! I also got some pretty good deals from Zulily on clothing and shoes as well from Stride Rite. School supply deals are plentiful! Toys R Us has crayons, 24 pack- 3/$1. If you purchase Up & Up school supplies from Target, in addition to their sale promo, their cartwheel app offers a 5% off coupon that can be redeemed at the registered.

 

Hopefully my tips will help you save money and a little bit of your sanity? But Let’s be honest, back to school isn’t just about all the money that will be spent on clothes and supplies, it’s also all the other little things that nag away at us. Should we send our kids to private or public school, can we afford it? Starting a new school in general can also be stressful for our children, arranging for after school care, buying school lunch versus home lunch, riding the bus versus car rider, separating twins in class rooms, what parent associations to join, should I feel guilty for not signing up to be a room parent or to be on the PTA, etc.  Sometimes there is more than one correct answer so the best thing to do is to pray and plan; with preparation all things will come together.


FASHION AND BEAUTY

BOSS MOM – Momspiration

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Over 200,000 loyal readers

Spring is approaching, the season of growth and new beginnings.  As I am spring cleaning and attempting to get things uncluttered in our home.  I began to think about all of the unfinished projects that are cluttered in my mind.  I wondered how does some of these other BOSS moms prioritize and get things done without loosing an ounce of sleep?  Or maybe that’s it, they don’t sleep? I figured instead of speculating, I’d ask one of my Boss mom friends and fashion show moguls Crystal Bailey, co-owner of Walk. I feel it’s necessary to take this opportunity to provide a little backstory.  Additionally, I’d like to take the opportunity to express how proud I am of this young woman.  I met her in 2004 through a friend whom I was getting ready to do a fashion show with, (no I wasn’t working the runway, I was sending models down it in my clothes) Crystal happened to be there as a model and assistant director.  I don’t quite remember how it happened, I may have asked her to model for me but it was her bubbly persona and innocence that instantly made us click.  We worked hard together on a lot of fashion projects, we also played hard.  A few years passed and my business and interest waned towards wholesale distribution and retail while Crystal continued to grind on her WALK empire.  What’s great about friendship is that even when life unconsciously takes you in opposite directions, reconnecting doesn’t push a “big white elephant” in to fill space. 
Now, with the backstory behind us, we can continue on with spring cleaning and getting projects off the back burner.  Sometimes, actually all of the time, it feels like there just isn’t enough time in a day to squeeze in the additional projects that I’ve started, definitely very passionate about, and of course have yet to finish. With my current responsibilities I often question whether or not I am engaging enough with my daughters and being a good role model so questionably adding more to my list of things to do just feels neglectful.  Now in my younger days, when we were doing fashion, I could put in a full eight to ten hours of work, go home and sew for six, and put on a fashion show during the weekend. Now after work, picking up my twins, homework, dinner, dog walks, and baths it’s almost impossible for me to even stay up for one of our favorite DVR’d shows.  So when I thought about uncluttering and prioritizing unfinished projects I thought about my old friend. Somehow Crystal’s doing it all and successfully, so I knew she would be a great person talk to. 
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 Crystal & Bailee at WALK fashion show.
Samira:    For those who are unfamiliar, what is the “Walk”? 
Crystal: Walk is a fashion production company, who provides an outlet for emerging and independent designers as well as a platform for models across North America and Europe. The audience consists of model agencies, buyers, boutique owners, supporters, family and friends.  Amazingly, the company grew from what started out as hobby in 2006 with my daughter’s father and business partner, DaiShawn Franklin.
 
Samira: What is the origin of this brand? 
Crystal: Walk originated in 2009 while we were at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI. My business partner and I have an almost 10 year old daughter together.  This particular day we took her to see Sesame Street Live and during a cross walking skit with street lights, my partner jumped out his seat and yelled, “ WALK, that’s it!” I thought he had lost his mind because he had been feeling defeated due to the previous days show which was horrible at Cobo Hall where if it could go wrong, did go wrong.  This was the birth of the brand Walk Fashion Show.
Samira: Now that you’ve built a national, even international brand what is the philosophy behind your business? 
Crystal: I produce fashion shows to give models the opportunity I wasn’t able to get when I tried to break into the industry. I wasn’t the ideal height or weight to pursue a career in runway modeling, but we’ve changed the game in independent fashion! The philosophy behind my brand is the grassroots marketing. We have a phenomenal marketing team that markets by using a multitude of strategies reaching worldwide.
Samira: You mentioned you didn’t have the opportunity to break into the industry, how long were you modeling before you decided to step off of the runway and run things behind the dressing room?
Crystal: Well, I didn’t get many paying gigs, runway modeling. Print modeling was where I found myself getting the paid opportunities. My first runway show I walked in was in Detroit at the Grand Quarters. My big sister was in Barbizon Modeling School and somehow I landed myself in a fashion show as one of the youngest models at age 9. But, I stepped off the runway as a model at the age of 23. I was a maternity model in my own show. Needless to say, I didn’t get compensated lol
Samira:  You are often photographed in different cities and/or countries with your daughter, how often does she travel with you? Are you homeschooling? And how does she feel about her mom always being on the road?
Crystal: Bailee travels when she can, she has a very busy schedule as well. When she’s not traveling for cheer competitions, tennis matches, or soccer tournaments she’s traveling for the love of fashion. We mostly travel on weekends and most of her breaks from school.  Bailee is not home schooled because she enjoys getting up and out to a school environment. She has been elected to be the student council representative of her grade for two years in a row. She is a high achiever that thinks it’s “cool” her parents own a company that consist of constant traveling.
Samira: I’m sure it’s difficult being a single mom, and even more so when you’re a BOSS. How do you manage the responsibility of running your company/brand, being young and single, and being a mom and a good role model for your daughter?
Crystal: Everything I do, I do it as if my daughter’s watching. Life can get extremely difficult at times and I just keep pushing, praying with the strength from God. While I own WALK I also own a nonprofit 501c(3) that teaches and trains those interested in modeling, sketching, drawing, patterns and textiles. I also own Walk University for children who are 13 years and younger, which is the same philosophy as WALK. I work for the government, in school to earn my MSW and not because my businesses aren’t successful, but because I am setting a precedence for Bailee.  I am not only a role model for her, but for other entrepreneurs. I manage all that I do with my business partner and a strong support system.
Samira: Does Bailee want to be in the fashion industry when she grows up?
Crystal: On the contrary, she actually wants to be in politics as well.  She wants to be President!
Samira:  As a mom of twins bombarded with work, sporadic changes with schedules, extracurricular activities, home life, etc., just thinking of the list makes me tired.  How do you find energy for it all?  How do you find time to fit in Bailee’s practices, school, work, and teaching all within a 24 hour time frame?  Do you actually sleep? 
Crystal: I could not do it without the favor from God, my partner and our supporters. I am motivated and energized by the words of the models, MUA’s, supporters, designers, photographers, vendors, hairstylists, bloggers and so many others. To hear you made some ones dream come true is humbling. Its rewarding and it drives me. And you mention sleep, what is that?
Samira: Do you ever have times when you feel like there is just too much weight on your shoulders?
Crystal: Being a young single mom, a boss and role model is challenging but it is also very fulfilling and rewarding. Without the support I have life would be much more challenging. Walk is in 20 cities and 3 countries. 
Samira: What’s next for you and WALK?
Crystal:We are launching a new website this month and a smart phone app by next month. We will be launching Walk Magazine in May 2017. We are working on a Walk stage  play with the play writer, T. J. Hemphill.  Walk has many amazing things upcoming and we are excited to have formed a solid team who will help us get to where we’re going.  I am currently writing a book about how I balance my work life as a boss mom and while doing it with DaiShawn, my daughter’s father and business partner. I am also working on a campaign for Crystal Bailey as State Representative. There is politics in my near future:)
Samira: You certainly are not getting ready to take a back seat any time soon.  Has Bailee been asking for a sibling?  Does BOSS mom see any more children in her future?  By the way I do understand that you would need to take a break long enough to be able to do so. What is your drive behind the decision to flip from fashion to politics? The two aren’t really related, unless you’re dressing a politician however, that is not your goal.  And last but not least, once you are in office (I’m claiming it for you now) do you still plan on continuing to run or have a hand in Walk?
Crystal: Bailee has a baby sister who is 2 years old. I have to keep telling her that so she can stop asking me to have a baby (lol). They’re very close and spends a lot of time together, she just wishes it was promenade. I do at times, but I am stretched pretty thin. I can’t imagine another kid with a schedule like Bailee’s.  Regarding politics, I recognize the need for a moral, fair and understanding citizen in politics, which is why my concerns has led me to take a stand. Politics wasn’t a passion of mine until I saw a semblance of variety and good fit or the lack there of like I’ve seen in the fashion industry. Thank you for claiming my seat in office, I truly appreciate that!  Walk is my baby and I’m still raising her. 
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Mom and daughter after competition.
 
Samira: What advice would you give to other moms who are aspiring to step out and try their hand at momtrepreneurship?
Crystal: Without children Entrepreneurship is rough. So to step out and try it with children is another ballgame. I would suggest that they understand what all comes with being a “momtrepreneure”.  There will be many long nights, days with no pay, absolutely no consistency with economic flow and many days when you want to give up.  I have to juggle soccer practice, cheer practice, tennis practice, Bailee’s schoolwork, my schoolwork, our community service, work, and our time together. And lets not forget the importance of alone time.  My advice would be to make sure you have a strong support team that you love and trust. I feel I have the most optimal situation possible with my partner being the father of my daughter. We strengthen each other when is gets tough and we understand each others struggles. This is also, very important when stepping out into the world of motherhood mixed with entrepreneurship. Those who are outside see the beauty of working for yourself, but don’t see the 7 day, 24 hour work weeks or realize there is no biweekly check coming in (lol). Please don’t misunderstand me, it is very rewarding to see your dreams manifest. I am thankful and blessed to be a mom and entrepreneur!  
Samira: This is why in the Spring of things I wanted to interview you, to inspire those who aspire, to encourage those who have stopped, and to motivate those who have forgotten how to chase!
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*Flyer designed by Samira Howard
***For more information on Walk Fashion Show, visit the websitewww.WalkFashionShow.com
***Crystal can be followed on Instagram at:  @IamCrystalBailey
***Crystal can be followed on Facebook at: @IcedCrystals

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FASHION AND BEAUTY

Mommy and Me Fashion

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Over 200,000 loyal readers

Summer is officially approaching and shopping for summer clothes is one our favorite things to do and now that my daughters are getting older I’ve been having fun with mommy and outfits. Though I can say shopping for young girls can be a little overwhelming at times. I see some of the cutest things but I have to remind myself that I’m shopping for them not me. There are so many age inappropriate things on the rack that it’s often hard to decipher between the kid’s and women’s department. The racks are flooded with little booty shorts, crop tops, shirts that brag about sass, and dresses that frankly show just a little too much, well you know what I’m thinking. My feelings continue to be that my daughters have their entire lives to be women, so what’s the rush? What happened to innocence? Seeing little girls in lace, scalloped things that swirl and twirl? Or just in general, clothing that is age appropriate. There are far too many young girls missing as of late and developing far too quickly due to all of the extra hormones, steroids, and chemicals in our food that are being digested by our children on a daily basis. Compared to when I grew up, ten year old little girls physically look 15 so when the decision is made to dress them like mom, instantly years have been added to their physical appearance. They become prey and may even like how it feels to be older. Again I stress, what’s the rush? Call me crazy but there’s been several times I’ve wished I could go back to those stress free childhood days without worrying about the typical adult day-to-day stuff. And during my generation, maybe I’m wrong, but it was almost customary for old siblings to take care of the younger ones. So my childhood was somewhat rushed anyway.
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> Before I continue on my with my rant, the point I was making is that childhood gets rushed for so many other reasons, rapid body development, early introduction into puberty, facing personal issues such as bullying, etc. Why take away the one thing as parents that can be controlled? The way in which your daughter dresses?
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> Dressing like your daughter or vice versa can still be fun; find something cute for her then find a complimentary piece for yourself. For special occasions have mommy and me outfits made. Moms with sons don’t feel left out, there are coordinating pieces for you as well; matching T-shirts, ties to match your dress, etc. Last summer I made quite a few matching sets for my daughters and they loved dressing like mommy!

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If you would like a “Mommy and Me” outfit made for you and your children.  Please contact me for more information.

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In case you didn’t catch my the latest article in Fresh Lifestyle magazine…

Kids and Politics

By  | 2.18.2017

Over 200,000 loyal readers

            How much should you engage your children in politics?  How much is too much?  Is ignorance really bliss?  What age should you engage in political conversations at the dinner table with your children?  With negative headlines scrolling across the television daily and constant reports of government elects and officials stepping down; how can your children not be inquisitive?  My six year old daughters have been asking quite a few questions about our new President.  This is where I met the fine line.  I try to supply my daughters with general information and attempt to answer their questions without being bias.  I find that so many children have biases early on based on their parent’s likes and dislikes.  Prejudices and racism’s are unfortunately formed early based on the ignorance of parents who inflict their views upon their children.  Even the likes and dislikes of food can be imparted upon a child’s palette based on what their mother and father eat.  It may seem like I am getting off the topic but this is all relevant.  If a parent discusses their likes and dislikes for a person, for example, the President of the United States and the topic comes up during your child’s lunch or recess; they express your views and the conversation gets heated, thankfully that day it did not escalate into a fight.  The following days your child is taunted and called a “Trump Lover/Hater” which to the parent does not seem like a big deal but for any child it’s a form of bullying and it makes it hard to concentrate on learning, makes children sad, and can lead to isolation or worse.

 

There has been many times when my opinion about our new President wants to escape my mouth when my daughters ask me specific questions especially when we are watching Good Morning America while getting ready for school and work.  It’s very difficult to give them unbiased answers but I try my best to supply them with the answer to their question and allow them to form their own decisions; as we do with everything else.  Not look at people and see color but see a person.  Not see food and immediately think it’s yucky because they’ve never tasted but exciting because it’s new.  Look at situations and think the best instead of doom and gloom.  Not to look at the government and doubt the future but have faith knowing that regardless of who is president the God we serve remains the same.  We are not instilling positivity we are just maintaining and enhancing what they were born with-optimism. Ultimately once we understand that children are born free of hate, prejudices, dislikes, and anger we can nourish the good and raise little people free from bias and constraints.


Radiated Glow

By  | 12.13.2016

The saying “Happy Wife, Happy Life” instantly directs the thought to one’s spouse.  Did you know that a Happy Mom equates to happy children, a healthy family, a happy spouse and a positive female role model?  At the end of this article we will take a self-inventory and see how the happy scale measures up.  For now, let’s get into the heart of what I mean by this.  Last month I challenged you to “30 days of Yes to You”! There was a reason for that, of course to take some time for you and see if you actually had the heart to do it.  Even more so because it aligns with my theory of “radiated glow”.  My definition radiated glow means to experience a feeling of well-being or happiness extending from good health or an intense emotion that is arranged in a common center, when released it glows and spreads like a virus.

 

Have you ever noticed how you dress when you are happy?  Are you more prone to wearing more colorful clothing, putting on a little make up, or combing your hair differently?  What types of food you buy at the market or lunch do you eat when you are happy? Are the foods more colorful and healthy?    What about the activities you engage in with your children and husband when you are happy?  Are you up for the sporadic bike ride or staying up late with your spouse to watch one of their favorite shows?  The sun tends to just shine even when it’s gray and cloudy outside.  How is that possible, you might ask? The weather report does not dictate the climate in your home.

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Happiness is not a bunch of materialistic things packaged up with a pretty bow on them.  Nor is it a destination.  You have to choose for it to be a lifestyle.  Honestly, everyday can and will not be unicorns and rainbows but it is definitely worth shooting for bubbles, right?  Aren’t you and your family worth it?  Everyday this month for the challenge, I have allowed myself to sit down for at least a half hour, after homework is done and before I begin dinner.  My thought is that if I don’t squeeze anything else out of the day for myself, at least I’ve done that; and it gives me enough mojo to push forward with patience and sometimes a smile on my face.  Mothers are labeled as the nurturers, care givers, mechanics who keeps the engines running, central command, doctors, and CEO’s because we do it all!  Multi-tasking is our middle name!

 

Think of the mind set you have while you are multi-tasking and those around you while you are doing it.  Are you curt, irritated, tuned out, tired, or just down right frustrated because you feel the weight of the world rest on your shoulders?  If you answered yes, think about how your children feel and act when they are not around you.  Everything you display in front of them, they display in front of others.  Your exhaustion, irritation, frustration with your spouse, anger with your job, etc. radiates through your home and through your children.  Not only does it affect their attitude but their health and it will affect their psychosocial well-being as an adult.  Often times we feel the consistency is better so we don’t make changes, but the depression and long-lasting effects are worse.  We are not given more than we can bear, and complaining nor having a bad attitude about it never makes it better.  Instead, the colors in your home become dull and gloomy.  Your basket at the market is filled with unhealthy and over-processed foods because your mind tells you that there’s not enough time to cook dinner.  You take less interest in your own appearance because you feel as though your colleagues are not worth it or you are too pressed from time to do more.

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Are you stuck in that rut?  If so I guess you want to know how to get out of it?  There’s no one simple way to do so or one solution fits all; but saying yes to yourself is definitely a great start.  Are you on the fence, don’t know where you stand?  Next time you go to the market record what you bring home.  At the end of the week, write down all of the activities you engaged in with your children and anything you did with your spouse.  Finally, take inventory of what you have done for yourself, even if it’s as simple as taking time out for a bubble bath.  Noting, there will never be balance, but including things that takes care of you helps you get closer to your happy place so you can radiate more of that glow.


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I pride myself on my level of preparedness and organization when it comes to motherhood.  This year I was ready to face the task of our twins attending a new school with earlier hours and additional requirements. Prior to us deciding to change schools I had already ordered my daughters personalized lunch bags and reusable 10 oz. water bottles well in advance before the first day of school.  Their GTT, MiMi, and Gram Gram had purchased them sets of backpacks and pencils boxes (enough to change up throughout the year). Their Nana, MiMi, GTT, and Gram Gram had all purchased them more summer clothes so they were pretty much set.  I showed them pictures of different lunch ideas and they chose what they wanted.

The night before school they picked out their clothes and told me what they wanted for breakfast, pancakes of course.  I thought, “this is going to be easy, I’ve got this in the bag!”  I got up, fixed their breakfast, while the pancakes were cooking, I made their lunch.  I soon realized that their lunch bags hadn’t arrived nor did the water bottles.  I had to search for the old ones and the old thermos’s.  Ok not a big deal?  Nope, not until I burned the first pancake while I was searching, ok I got this, just start over, that shouldn’t put me too far behind, right?  My goal was to get them up at 6:30 am, by the time I finished making pancakes, not finished with lunch it was 6:45. I rushed to get the girls up. While they were eating I finished their lunch. Long story short, I got them to school in what I though was just in time but we were the last people there so technically I think we were late.

Now here’s where my back to school game went from being strong to all wrong.  The girls wanted homemade pizza for their lunch, something they loved taking for lunch at their other school, they came home with pretty much an uneaten pizza.  I asked “why didn’t you girls eat your lunch”? They said, “our teacher said no hot food, there’s no microwave and we don’t like cold pizza, we can only bring cold lunch”.  CRAP! I totally negated to ask that at the meet the teacher event.  I got spoiled, actually we got spoiled by that at their old school.  For the entire first week, day after day the girls would bring home about 75% of their food uneaten no matter what I sent and then try to pig out on snacks when they got home. So the following week I tried to focus on the things that I knew they really liked: hummus, carrots, cucumbers, bagel bites, cheese, turkey pepperoni, crackers, granola, vanilla yogurt, apples, grapes, applesauce, raisins, cranberries, etc. I mixed and matched these things throughout the week and cut them into fun shapes. Well it worked for the first few days then a repeat even though the percentage of uneaten food decreased.

At this point we encountered yet another problem, wardrobe issues, even though clothes were picked out at night in the morning minds would be changed.  Or they would think they should have pancakes every morning or they don’t want to wear leggings with their dresses (to protect their knees and legs) or they need to find their dolls dress on the way out the door etc. It was getting crazy! So on a Friday morning we decided to let the girls buy their lunch and see how they do with that level of independence. When I picked them up from school they were so excited! They told me all about what they purchased, actually healthy options, how it tasted and how fun it was and of course they asked when could they do it again.  This reminded me about what I did last spring, using their alarm clock, making them come down stairs own their with their clothes.  Increasing their level of independence gave them a since of pride and decreased my stress level. On a Sunday night I put batteries in their alarm clock which told them when it was time for bed and when it was time to wake up, hung their clothes on the hook along with socks and leggings, set up the routine that homework is to be completed as soon as we walk in before snack & playtime, and I can honestly say things are running more smoothing.  Meltdowns have not been completely eliminated but greatly subsided and are about different things now.  My back-to-school game may not be completely strong but it’s definitely not weak!

 


My Fresh Lifestyle Magazine article (A hilarious must read!)

50 Shades of Red

While on vacation I was doing something that is very rare, enjoying a girl’s night.  This was not my typical explanation of a girl’s night when it’s me and my girls or my friends and their daughters; it was just me, MI bestie and my sister (yes MI, one of my Michigan besties).  We are eating, having a cocktail, talking about marriage, dating, just having a really good time catching up.  Of course since 2/3rd’s of us are moms we had to reflect on how are children are growing, how long it’s been, what they’ve been up to, and of course the crazy things they do and the most embarrassing things they say!  As moms, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had it happen, unfortunately more than we’d like to admit.  Here is the point where you can smile, it doesn’t just happen to us!  Our kids embarrass any member of the family they are with!  Especially aunts, maybe it’s a gender thing and those most close to mom?

At dinner, which is where the idea resulted, thanks to Amy Safir, I loved how she prefaced her embarrassing moment “50 Shades of Red” because that’s exactly what she turned as she explained one of her many most embarrassing pubic encounters with strangers; thanks to her daughter Alexis Safir.  As I recant our night I think the least embarrassing story that she may mind me sharing is about her playdate luncheon.  The other couple was discussing the possibility of getting their daughter a dog.  Alexis, chimed “dogs are great, my mom toots and always blames it on Jersey!”  I literally felt a little of my martini come out of my nose.

It wouldn’t be right to use her title and share her story and negate to share one of mines.  My girls were about 3 ½ when Amirah barged in the bathroom on me, honestly she startled me a bit.  She proceeded with her usual line of questioning, I explained and asked her if mommy could have some alone time on the potty, on her way out of the door her neck whipped around like something I had seen on the exorcist, she said “you got on a mommy diaper?”  Before I knew it she was summoning her sister and I felt like Cersei doing her walk of shame on Game of Thrones.  It got worse before I was able to force them out and lock the door, they began to tell me I needed another and Amirah told Aniyah to find where mommy kept her diapers!  In one word I can explain how I felt, mortified; simply because at that age you aren’t ready to explain how a woman’s body works.

Remember I mentioned it doesn’t just happen to moms?  Well my sister came to visit and we were out shopping, Aniyah was her shadow for the day and followed her to the dressing room.  Ashley proceeded to try an item on that did not require removing any extra layers but Aniyah yelled “Tee Tee why are you taking your panties off?”  Considering this was my sister’s first walk down the road of shame, when she came out of the dressing room she was still red! Even though she tried loudly to explain to Aniyah that she in fact still had her undies on the damage was already done.

Humiliating, and I am only able to share one of my many stories because there are just too many. It happens to all of us and after sitting with my friend and sister realizing no one is exempt, literally the best part of being a kid is that you get to be filter free!  Honestly this is one among many of perks of being a parent that aids in keeping us young.  Be light spirited about their innocence, help your child remain one as long as possible because childhood is fast and fleeting.


My article for the April issue of FRESH Lifestyle Magazine.

Familial Aspirations

By
 | 4.11.2016

My husband and daughters attended their 2nd annual father-daughter dance recently and I can’t tell you who was more excited, him or the girls.  For the last two years our group of dance dad’s get together and take all their daughters to dinner before the dance; like a father daughter date night (the sweetest thing).  A week or so later I partook in my guilty pleasure, the season premiere of Love & Hip Hop and got sick to my stomach as they previewed the upcoming episodes.  Once again, a portrayal of a father being arrested on national television.  Allegedly, the show has added 3 new cast members who are wanted for the murder of their father/husband.  During the episode I watched this young man talk about how important it is for him to be in his son’s life but how can that happen if he is incarcerated? Let’s be clear on my position, if he did the crime then justice should be served, but VH1 plays a major role in this and they are not taking any responsibility; morally or ethically and why just to boost ratings?  Is this the message that we want to continue to deliver to our young men and women?  Women, work hard because if you become a mother you can expect to be raising that child by yourself!  Men, go out and do something foolish, VH1 will make you famous and before the arrest is made you can have your five seconds of fame a few thousand dollars to leave to your child and oh yea a video clip of you getting arrested for your child to put in his/her electronic scrap book!  The reality about reality shows is that ratings drop if anything positive is depicted.  My mantra “You don’t have to be a product of your environment” is challenged by this because if one is not exposed to anything other than negatively portrayed men or none at all then there is nothing to aspire to.

There are real dads out here taking care of their children and families daily; working hard to ensure there’s a roof over their heads, food stocked in the fridge, and clothes and shoes on everyone’s body.  More importantly, these dads are showing their sons how to be men and their daughters what to expect and how to be treated by men.  When my daughters and I are with my husband the three of us step aside so he can open the door, it’s natural for them.  Father’s play an invaluable role in their children’s lives but many men are only exposed to the negative images they see on TV and environment in which they live.  As of late I’ve convinced my husband to help with building several projects around the house and this has equated to many trips to the lumber yard some of which by myself.  There has been several times when I’ve been in the parking lot struggling trying to put wood in the car, plastic I had it covered with blowing away, one end of the wood falling on my toes, and saw dust literally covering my body and though multiple men passed me none of them stopped to ask if I needed help.  One trip I was down to my last piece of wood and was wrapping it before putting it in the back seat on the floor and this older gentleman who had to be about 60 years old came up and said “let me help you with that” and before I could say anything or finish wrapping the wood it was in the car.  He said “there you go but you may want to vacuum that out later” while I was looking at the pile of saw dust on my car floor I thanked him (probably twice) and he went into the store.

My initial thought was chivalry isn’t dead, there are some older men who will still get the door for you, clear the sidewalk so you don’t have to walk on the grass, and catch the elevator so you don’t have to wait.  The current generation of late teens and 20+ may need some reminders but I think my daughter’s generation has a fighting chance.  I listen to my daughters daily stories on the way home from school uninterrupted so they can continue to keep the information flowing.  Aniyah says “Karbon says he wants to give me a kiss and marry me but I told him he has to get me a ring first and he said ok”.  I smile because she knows not to let anyone kiss her and because she has standards, no marriage without the ring.  Now I’m sure this is the part where most moms would get concerned, I did too for a moment after smiling about what she’s learned from observing our household behavior but then I thought about it.  The lesson here was not to become afraid about the discussion of a kiss but more so to thank Jennifer and Guy Pullen for setting such a great example for what marriage looks like for their son and daughter (Karbon and Rain).  Girls are taught to aspire to marriage and motherhood from a very young age but boys aren’t.  After she told me that I said I have meet this Karbon and introduced me the next morning.  That weekend we were all at a birthday party together and we meet Jennifer and Guy and quickly understood where he got his good manners, kindness, and sweet spirit from. Everyday for the past week young Karbon is either waiting at the door or nearby to greet Aniyah or show her something.  One morning he was at the door with a Doc McStuffins book and said “look what I have Aniyah” but saw she wasn’t in a good mood, he looked at me I said she’s a little tired but I’m sure she would love to see your book, Doc McStuffins is one of her favorite characters. So he kindly asked again and she went.  Another day, once again in a bad mood because she was tired he came and gave her this huge bear hug and it made us both smile.

The point simply is The Pullen’s have set the stage for Karbon and even at a tender age he knows how to treat girls and they’ve taught him that not only should Rain aspire to marriage and having a family but Karbon should as well. Growing up in this type of environment produces high hopes for the future because divorce rates will lower, the percentage of single mothers will decrease, and the possibility of domestic violence will lessen if we are teaching our sons and daughter to aspire to some of the same things: marriage, respect and cherish the opposite sex, family is important, chivalry is not dead, women are delicate and are a gift from God, and fathers are just as important as mothers.


Frequent Mommy Rewards

I was having a conversation with my Aunt about personal vices.  She said I know your vice used to be lingerie and shoes, mines used to be perfume now it is shoes.  What is yours now?  Without giving me time to think she answered for me and said, everything involving your babies!  I said yes, you’re right.  I began to think, what is that little thing I like to purchase to reward myself?  I thought and thought and thought some more.  To no avail I really couldn’t figure it out.  Had it really been that long?  Had I really deprived myself that much?  Why couldn’t I think of one single thing, outside of chocolate of course, that I like to do, purchase or splurge on as my “way to go mommy” reward?

How long has it been since you’ve treated yourself to a “way to go mommy” reward?


much love fromTwin Tested Mother Approved (2)


image A Twin-tastic Halloween!image


  You Are A Super Mom!                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Sometimes as a mom, especially as a mother with a daughter; or in my case a mother of twin daughters you feel inadequate. You wonder ifimage you are doing a good job, making the right or best decisions, exposing them enough or too much to real world situations, providing them with the best education, using the right form of discipline, have them involved in enough extra curricular activities, boosting their self-confidence enough, not being too hard on them but letting them know there are rules, creating the perfect balance between work and play, spoiling them too much, do they know how much I love them, am I fussing too much, and I am providing with a proper role model? Can they look at me and say “mommy is my superhero”? 90% of the time my answer to the majority of these questions I ask myself, albeit at different times, are no! But as mothers we must realize that we are extremely hard on ourselves and honestly many of us have far more on our plates than one person should.  Raising daughters is complicated and requires several other prerequisites beside patience. I read an article in Parents magazine about raising strong confident daughters and the interesting point of the article was not about encouraging our daughters to be anything they wanted to be when they grow up but about nurturing their emotional and psychological well-being while they are young. Even though women are on the rise out numbering men educationally and in many professions they also outnumber men in depression rates.  This is definitely food for thought. The pressure rises and anxiety increases. All the aforementioned questions began again to race through my head amongst strengthening my daughters how do I ensure that emotional they are nourished?

Be and stay encouraged, God equipped us with exactly what we need to get the job done. There is no play book, or cookie cutter daughter that yours should be like or your should aspire for her to be like. And for those of you that have twin daughter you know that there is no such thing as 2 daughter being the same even if they shared the same birth space.  What I do know is that you continue everyday to try your best, some days you will get it wrong and you laugh about it later. Some days you will have to take a time out (for yourself). And others, you say “I rock!”. Relish in all of those moments because they are your playbook; your trial and error; your ah ha moment. Because you are superwoman and your child’s superhero! (Even when you go to work with oatmeal in your hair).


image

A True Mommy Moment!

That moment when you walk into your destination dressed for the theme and realize that the birthday party is actually tomorrow! Get lemons, make lemonade- so we went and had lunch! Sometimes we get overwhelmed, stressed, and just lost in the day-to-day tasks of life. It happens, don’t beat yourself up about it after all even with all of the super powers you possess, you are human & so am I! Survival of the twinnest! We’ll try it again tomorrow! 


(09) Fall Leaves

It’s Fall! My favorite season of the year! We don’t get much of a fall season in Texas by way of the beautiful colors or the chilly temps, those happen more so during winter for us.  Fall means squash season for us.  Warm and savory good for the soul meals. I know I’ve mentioned this before but Spaghetti Squash is a great swap out for Spaghetti Noodles.

Food for thought:

Squash                                              Spaghetti

42                   Calories                           22

10g                  Carbs                             43.2g

2.2g                  Fiber                              2.5g

With that being said, I love incorporating pumpkin into our dishes in the fall but that’s extremely difficult because just about every form of pumpkin comes in a BPA lined can! Take a look at the Twin Approved Recipes page to see how we still get our pumpkin fix.


Back to School Blues and Burn Out!

So were your kids excited about going back to school or bummed that their summer vacation is over? There is really no reason fro me to ask parents that question because I am pretty certain that answer would be a resounding YES!  I have question though; because I basically crashed and burned at the end of the night trying to ensure my girls had a successful first day at their new school in separate classes.  Honestly I think I had secretly had more anxiety about their first day than they did. My Sunday preparation felt like an endless list of lasting things to do.  I thought let’s try to delegate some of this may divide and conquer will help.  I wrote a very item and brand specific 2-day grocery list and sent the Hubs shopping; not exact but successful.  From that point I guess I was pretty much on my own.  I also had approximately six more hours of training that I still had to squeeze in along with washing & deep conditioning hair, laundry, rearranging some things in their bedrooms for their convenience, Sunday bed linen change, make dinner, pack backpacks, make lunches, give baths, and set out clothes.  I am certain I left something out.

So I lie down thinking how can I make this easier for the rest of the week.  This is new for me.  No more uniforms, making lunch now, right next to public school dealing with more traffic, and their adjustments of not being together.  So I referred back to a “Back to School” article from Parents magazine for lunch idea.  Got cranking on my weekly menu planning, purchased some back of the door hooks for their dress up play to free the space for their clothes, and definitely plan on pushing dinner time up to get them to bed earlier to avoid early morning blues. Obviously your child may not want a complete replica of what you see below but it will be fun allowing them to choose and mix & match, here is Parents magazine lunch ideas below:

kid lunch 1 kid lunch 2 kid lunch 3 kid lunch 4 kid lunch 5 kid lunch 6 kid lunch 7


Introduction

A question that is posed most frequently: is it hard having twins? I don’t know how it is to have only one baby. But I will say I remember a time I would say time to myself, what do these moms of single births have to complain about? The answer to that question however, is a resounding YES! It is also fun, tiresome, trying, annoying, and down-right exhausting.  I wouldn’t have it any-other-way! My daughters were born with their best friend, their protector, and their big/little sister all at the same time.  So let me formally introduce you to my girls Amirah & Aniyah, our fraternal twins. To us they look completely different and on most days have different personalities as well.  Twin spirit is very alive in our household, these girls cannot do anything without each other.  You put one to bed because she fell asleep early she will peek through one eye and ask where’s my sister? While Aniyah was in the Hospital Amirah did not want participate in their ballet recital without her sister yet alone go to school.  These two are inseparable but fight and argue all the time.  I’m still wrapping my head around that!

Definition of a Father- Happy Father’s Day (2 Part video)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBhw69pFfJo8LqhThqVPtKA

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