Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Thank you all for making 2011 a wonderful year! Enjoy the holidays and we'll see you back here on January 2, 2012. May all the peace and blessings of the season be yours...

Birthday Tea Party, Anyone?

I love showing off creations by our talented readers at Beautiful Brown Babies and Take a look at the 100% edible (but-almost-too-pretty-to-eat!) pastries Utica Gray made for her daughter's 6th birthday tea party.

This takes talent, folks. Have something you want to show off? Let us know!

Talking to Children About Sexual Abuse & Speaking Out

I'm a firm believer that once the genie is out of the bottle, you have to deal with him. So I wanted to pose a question to parents: In the wake of the Penn State scandal, what are you telling your children about sexual abuse? Also, at what age should you begin talking to children about private parts and improper behavior? It's not an easy question to answer, even for my family. Experts have their opinions, but I would love to hear what everyday parents have to say.

My little one is 5-years-old. We want to let him know that he is in charge of his body and that if something doesn't seem right, he is empowered to trust his instincts and let us know about it right away. But, as I've been told several times over the years, we allow our son a lot more freedom of expression than African-American households are known for. I don't know if that sentiment is actually true, but I know that parents can't wait until something happens to tell children they are free to talk to you about any and everything - they just won't believe you. In my experience, allowing him to own his feelings and opinions now helps us keep the lines of communication open down the road. What do you think? Were you allowed to express yourself with your parents when you were a child? Did you feel you could tell your parents anything at all? Let me know in comments!

PowerCapes Review

This week we had a chance to try out a nifty handmade item from It was a bright, shiny orange cape with a big blue star. My 5-year-old was instantly eager to try it on, so I through it around his neck and easily secured it with the velcro fastener. And voila! We normally like to set up for nicer pictures (I'm also still learning to work my new camera) but here is a look at our impromptu try-out taken right after opening our package.

My 5-year-old really enjoyed playing the superhero and even wanted to wear his cape to school. That's a success in my book!

Now, if you're an adult who likes to dress up for Halloween (I sure do) and you want a cape of your own, don't despair. PowerCapes also makes capes in adult sizes. Most of the designs are under $25. You can choose from 11 cape colors and more than 29 emblem colors and 8 emblem designs. also has custom tutu options for all of the little princesses.

In my opinion, the capes leave lots of room for improvisation and I can envision them being part of lots of different costumes. But this is also the kind of thing that would be great for birthday parties as well. I've been known to let my little one wear a crown for his birthday celebrations, so why not a cape instead?!

An Uphill Battle Becomes Even Steeper for African-American College Students

by guest blogger
Lisa Tucker, mother of two

As a professional, college-educated African-American woman, I can attest to the importance of an education – particularly a college education. What education has afforded me is unparalleled. And as a mother, I wish the same – if not more – for my two sons. For generations, like many other African-American families, education ranked alongside our faith as two crowning testaments of our way of life. This school year marks a monumental milestone for my eldest son, a graduating senior in high school who will be beginning his first year of college in the fall of 2012. However with the rapidly increasing costs of college and so much financial uncertainty gripping our country, we wonder if we’ll be financially equipped to meet these demands after his first year of college.

Sadly, this is the paradigm facing a number of families right now. So many college students of color are confronted with perhaps the toughest choice of their young lives: for some it’s “do I attend college or not”, and for others, “do I stay enrolled or drop out”. Persistent funding deficits, a struggling economy, and significant tuition increases have created an “imperfect” storm for many students, and African-American students are particularly vulnerable. In fact, two-thirds of African-Americans who drop out of college cite finances as the reason for the decision. Couple this with congressional efforts to deepen cuts to federal aid and loans (low-interest Federal Stafford Loans and the Pell Grant) and today’s Black college students face seemingly insurmountable odds.

That's why Allstate is raising funds to benefit The Tom Joyner Foundation and provide much-needed scholarship dollars to assist African-American Students through the Quotes for Education program. Here’s how the program works, Allstate will donate $10 to The Tom Joyner Foundation for every insurance quote (auto, renters, homeowners and more), up to $200,000.

The Tom Joyner Foundation's primary mission is to help keep students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and since 1998, the Foundation has raised more than $60 million that has assisted more than 14,000 students and benefited more than 100 HBCUs.

Supporting Quotes for Education is as simple as Click or Call and Quote:
• Click - Go to to find a participating Allstate agent near you or get a quote online
• Call - Allstate at 866-998-2188 to speak to an Allstate representative any time, day or night
• Quote - Receive any insurance quote from Allstate through December, 31, 2011

You can get involved and support this worthwhile cause to help our students stay the course and get their degrees!

Just When You Think No One's Watching

WEEKS ago, the lovely Sabrina over at Pinkytopia gave me The Versatile Blogger Award. I'm just getting around to blogging about it, and now that I'm finally back on the blogging bandwagon, I honestly think it means more to me at this time than it did when I first received it. I'm SO happy to be versatile. Many many thanks, Sabrina!!! I will be following the rules that accompany the award. Meaning I will

1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in my post.
* Done!

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

* I only eat the red skittles
* I love the beach
* Fall is my favorite season
* I like (slightly) burned popcorn
* I can’t draw to save my life
* I'm from the Deep South
* Music enriches my day!

3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs.
Doing it now and will come back to update.

Thanks, again!

So Long, August

What a weird and wacky month. East coast earthquakes, hurricanes, and power outages. If I haven't been blogging as much as usual, it's because we've sort of been through the wringer. On top of that, my little one started Kindergarten on Monday and turned five on Tuesday. (Happy Birthday, Pumpkin!) His party is planned for Sunday, but everyone around us is so fatigued (is that a word?) we don't really know if anyone is going to show. We're going to make the best of it anyway, if only for this reason: In spite of all the weather/seismic/electrical activity, we're still here! Plugging away, barreling through, grinding it out, making headway. I don't know where we're going, but we're getting there. As for you, August 2011. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Summer Sale at Wild Dill

One of my favorite online children's boutiques is having a sale and I want to make sure all the mommies of little ones know about it. Wild Dill (I'm a total sucker for their organic cotton graphic tees) is putting lots of items on sale through Monday August 15th. Here are some of the adorable things that are reduced this weekend:

So hop over to Wild Dill while there's still time.

Opening Up

I'm a smiler. Or at least that's what people tell me. I love smiling and laughing and it shows. But this wasn't always the case. When I was a young child I had dental issues that made me less confident in lots of ways - everything from covering my mouth when I smiled to being hesitant in approaching new people. I had a huge overbite and jumbled, crooked teeth. When I became a teen I let my parents know that I wanted to wear braces - they agreed, thank goodness - and I learned to take care of my mouth and teeth. You would think that braces would give me yet another reason to be shy, but they didn't. Little by little, I began taking chances when it came to socializing and found that the only thing that was ever holding me back was my own lack of confidence. Going to college, finding new friends, and becoming more open gave me proof positive that I could be successful by "putting myself out there." It all started with loving myself enough to make a change in the first place and knowing that I didn't want to go through life as a fearful person. It's a lesson I'm passing on to my little one.

Thanks to Crest for sponsoring my participation in the and for giving me the chance to tell my personal story about having a confident mouth.

Your mouth is more than just teeth and gums, it's your most important feature when it comes to expressing yourself and engaging with the world. The Crest & Oral-B Life Opens Up Project will highlight individual stories that showcase how a healthy mouth has played a role in opening up to life and to the world.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Crest & Oral-B via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Crest & Oral-B

Polka Dots and Pixies

- by Brittiny

While planning weddings brought me much national success, my passion for it began to wain. After both of my sisters became pregnant, I decided I wanted to "have" a new project as well and my brain child that I have been thinking of for a while, Polka Dots & Pixies was born. Polka Dots & Pixies was created with my favorite things in mind.... fluffy, girlie items that are ".... so fluffy I could die!!!!" My twirling diva daughter,Heidi, is the inspiration behind each tutu creation. Each layer of tulle is hand selected and applied and last but not least diva tested and approved by Heidi. Our elegantly knotted tutus are perfect for portraits, flower girl ensembles, birthday parties, flower girl gifts, and our most recent request: rocker prom skirts with chucks. We can also use the tulle from your wedding as a spectacular heirloom for your daughter.

My rough and tough boys are the inspiration behind the paperie. They love art projects and are constantly asking me to create things for them, or forcing me to write their teachers notes of apology, and being the diva that I am, these notes MUST come on gorgeous stationary. The paperie evokes the elegance of years gone by with pricing that reflects the nation's current economic situation.

My family and life inspire me each day. My blue engagement ring reminds me of the whimsy that each item should have. My crazy, wild boys remind me that everything should be sturdy yet elegant and of course my daughter reminds me to twirl and feel the wind in my hair.

I hope that you are inspired by all of my pieces as well. Our grand opening prices are $12.00 for a custom designer tutu and headband in any color and size, and we can also make custom tags for your wishing tree, favors and more.

So stop by Polka Dots & Pixies and like me on Facebook!
All tutu pictures courtesy of (Thanks Tara and Emmanuel!) on Sesame Street

I love to see celebrities on Sesame Street. It could be my imagination, but being in the midst of puppets and music seems to make almost every guest appear childlike. Here is singing "What I Am" in Sesame Street's 41st season.

Mom Jeans

We've been talking a lot about children's clothing recently. But what about clothes for mommies? Do any of the mothers out there get concerned about falling off the fashion chart? I will step up to say that I do. When I hear someone joking about "mom jeans" I usually laugh right along because I assume that I don't wear them. But over the weekend, it hit me: "What if I do wear them and I don't know?" After all, I have no idea what they would look like and I'm years behind in finding out, so there was at least a slim chance that I might be sporting these obviously offensive garments without my knowledge. And that would be horrible. So like any modern mom, I hit up Google images to make 100% sure I owned nothing resembling such rags. What I found was a hilarious Saturday Night Live video from a couple of years ago which featured a "new" product called Mom Jeans. Please enjoy.

Mom Jeans - watch more funny videos

Semi-Annual Tea Collection's Sale

Tea Collection is honestly one of my favorite clothing companies for children. I love the quality and the way my little guy looks in Tea Collection clothing. That said, I will forever pass on news about serious sales from that company. Right now, they're having a semi annual sale with savings up to 40% off dresses, pants, and shirts.

"The Muppets: Green with Envy" Teaser

Have you guys seen this yet? It's the teaser trailer for the new Muppets' movie, "Green with Envy." Judging by the clip, Muppets fans young and old are in for a treat when the film is released on Thanksgiving.

Sponsored: Hair Help & Style Advice From Motions

Click below for helpful tips, photographs and product suggestions!

Healthy Choices For Us

Wouldn't it be nice if we all had extra time to prepare fantastic, leisurely meals for our families everyday. The reality is that for many of us, there's almost no such thing as "spare time". But healthy food is something that is very important to me, so I was very excited to use my free coupons to try out some new Healthy Choice entrees. The meals I picked up were called Sesame Glazed Chicken, Lemon Herb Chicken, and Portabella Parmesan Risotto.
Here's some background: This Spring I decided to get my family moving,which means less time on the sofa and more time walking or putting the Wii to good use. I'm also trying to find ways to help us to do two other things - get to bed on time and eat more vegetables. The latter explains why I was completely open to putting some quick, but more wholesome, meals on the table. Recently a study that followed 60 people for 30 days showed that replacing 10 meals per week with a Healthy Choice meal can increase your dietary fiber and lower your saturated fat intake by 50 percent.
From reading the ingredients I knew that my husband and son would get lots of vegetables in each serving, if they liked the meals. I'm thrilled to report that the Glazed Chicken and Lemon Herb Chicken were hits with a couple of the world's pickiest eaters. As for the Portabella Parmesan Risotto, I kept that one all to myself by making it into a few lunch portions. I'm already a sucker for almost anything parmesan, but I really enjoyed the risotto and it helped me save money on lunches that week. Here's what I think many parents will appreciate even more than all of that: Making the meals was SO easy. Two of them only required steaming in the microwave. I really don't think getting a decent meal on the table can be any easier than that.
Have you found any quick ways to make healthy meals? If so, let me know! I need all the help I can get.

I received compensation from TheMotherhood and Healthy Choice to try the dishes and give my very honest opinions in this post.

Squirreling Away Time For Yourself


Thanks to Crystal Light for sponsoring this post. To learn more about how Crystal Light can flavor your day with 30 refreshing flavors, visit

If you've ever seen a squirrel collecting nuts, you can see by his scurrying that there is no shame in his game. But a lot of us parents feel guilty about "squirreling" away time for ourselves. If you think about it, there are probably small pockets of time in your day that could be used as quiet time for yourself. For me, the most convenient time to clear my mind is after work but before going home. Each day, I take that half-an-hour to have a nice beverage and read or chat with friends. Afterwards I'm able to go home to my family refreshed and ready to take on my "second job", which usually includes making dinner and getting the little one ready for bed. The end of the workday may seem like an odd hour for quiet time, but it works for me. My philosophy is that you have to take it where you get it, or you won't have it!

Remember, visit to learn more about how Crystal Light can flavor your day with 30 refreshing flavors. I was selected and paid for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Cee-Lo & The Muppets at the Grammys

To be clear, the unedited version of Cee-Lo Green's current (and un-nameable) hit song is not for children. But this version of "Forget You", performed by Cee-Lo with The Muppets at the Grammy Awards this week, seems to be a lot of fun for young and old. What do you think?

Where is Your Hat???

This is a familiar phrase in my neck of the woods. Many of us can recall as children getting ready to step out into the chilly air only to hear someone call out just in time, "Where are you going without a hat?" Now this is our chance to remind you - whether you enjoy snap caps, fedora hats, panama hats, or newsboy hats - pull one on yourself and your little ones before strolling out the door. The fact is that you do lose varying amounts of body heat through your head. It's something to keep in mind until the weather warms up, and by then it will be time for sun hats.

Hooray for the Groundhog!

Winter? Over it. If you live in the Northeast or the Mid-Atlantic, chances are you are completely over this winter weather. Many of us recently dealt with (or are still dealing with) more snow than any U.S. jurisdiction can handle. I this is what's called "weather fatique" But this week, the world's most famous groundhog - that's Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania - did NOT see his shadow, which means an early spring according to lore.

Let's celebrate the wise old rodent with the video we post every February: "I Hog The Ground", by Steve Burns (formerly of Blue's Clues) and Steven Drozd (of The Flaming Lips).

Kids' Foods That Aren't As Healthy As You Think

I just read some great information about foods that are touted as healthy and child-friendly but really aren't. An article on Yahoo! Shine pointed to a new study by the Prevention Institute showing that 84% of prepared foods with health labels on the front didn't even meet basic nutritional standards. This is something to think about the next time you're in the grocery store because it means that parents can't count on the labels for guidance on whether the products are healthy.

According to the study, 95% of the products contained added sugar, with more than half of the products qualifying as high sugar. Thirty-six percent of them were high in sodium, while nearly a quarter were high in saturated fats. Also, 21% contained artificial coloring, which has no nutritional benefit and some potentially harmful side effects.

What do you think?? Is this much-ado-about-nothing? Or does it concern you? What do you look out for when you're in the grocery store?

Happy New Year!

A belated happy new year to all our friends and readers. We have lots of great things in store for you in 2011!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin