August 11, 2014

A Review & Giveaway for Mixtina {Multiracial Haircare Products}

I received several free samples of Mixtina products to try with my family and give away. The decision to write a review and all opinions below are my own. 

Ten years ago, I finally discovered hair products made specifically for curly hair like mine. Then when I became a mom, I started exploring the "ethnic" aisle, trying to find the right products for each of my boys' hair. I bought products for the boys and tested them on my own hair, and did the reverse. Over the past few years it feels like I've tried everything I can find in the aisles of Target, plus a few from the salon and even on-line.

So when Mixtina asked if I'd like to  give their new line a try, of course I said yes. Or, more like YES!!!!!

I love that the company's intent is to create a range of products that work for different types of curls, rather than assuming that all curls are the same. Just like my hair responds better to some products than others, so does the boys'. Zip's hair is much like mine (loose spiral curls that respond well to creamy styling products and good conditioning), while Bee has much tighter coils that tend to dry out easily.

A few things I immediately appreciated about Mixtina products:

August 10, 2014

Life, In Pictures {August 10}

It seems my grand plans of doing something "special" as a family each week this summer kind of petered out. I think we made it to the pool a measly three times (making me glad I didn't buy a season's pass) and we totally missed the window for squeezingin our annual trip to Hershey Park. But it has been a good summer nonetheless. And the nice thing about these photo posts is that they remind me of the fun stuff we have done. It has been a busy summer in many ways, but a leisurely one in others. The boys have spent many afternoons playing with friends in the neighborhood, catching bugs and frogs, nursing wounded birds, and doing the things that childhood summers are made of.

Here are a few highlights from the past two weeks. I'm planning on one more post when we return from our end-of-summer trip to Vermont and then I think I'll make this picture-post thing a monthly(ish) event. Sound good?

*     *     *     *     *

I love this pup.Twelve years ago Hubby and I had just moved into our first house, and a few days later this sweetie joined us. His age is starting to show - the white fur, the slow walk - but he still appreciates the simple things: a walk in the evening, laying in the sun, an extra scratch behind the ears, wet dog food instead of dry. Maybe there is a message there?

August 7, 2014

A Momma's Reflections on Kindergarten {Musings}

We're in the final countdown to the start of a new school year here. 18 days left of summer. Has it really been TWO YEARS since I was anticipating my baby going off to kindergarten for the very first time? And come this time next summer, I'll be preparing Bee for his first day of Big Kid School, officially moving me out of the Momma-with-littles category. I'm sure I'll have some strong feelings about that when the time comes. For now, I'm just feeling grateful for Bee's winter birthday and the one more year I have with him at home.

For those of you with little ones who will soon be stepping on the bus for the very first time, I thought I would "re-share" some posts I wrote when Zip was starting kindergarten. (And, yeah, I'm being a little lazy about writing in these last weeks of summer!)

Here are some reflections from a momma who has been there, with all of the mixed feelings that accompanied the "freedom" of having a child in school all day and the bittersweet of saying good-bye to those little boy days.

Kindergarten Countdown {just write}
"Part of me looks forward to the ease of just one peanut at home during the week and the chance to really focus on Bee, having the kind of one-on-one time Zip and I enjoyed for the three years before Bee joined us. But as fall approaches, I also find myself thinking about what I'll be losing. Less time with Zippy. The freedom to take the boys - both boys - to the aquarium or the park in the middle of the week. The ability to protect my child from the hurts and disappointments that kids can inflict on one another as they move away from their parents and into social circles."
Read more....

From Beaches to Backpacks {post on BonBon Break}
"I can picture the first day of school. He'll be walking away from me this time, the carefully-selected backpack hoisted like a turtle shell on his narrow back, a familiar head of dark curls peeking out over the top. Out of the family cocoon, into a swirl of friends and teachers. He'll learn from books and chalkboards and kids on the playground. (Please, oh, please, don't teach him about guns or sexy stuff or the f-word just yet, okay?) We'll wake at 7, push-push-push to get those teeth brushed, get that face washed, hurry up and eat breakfast already, so that the oldest is ready to climb onto the bus at 8. His little brother will be left behind and then off to his own new school. Come home. Have your snack. Change your clothes. Dinner to make. Baths to take. Start again tomorrow. Did I remember to hug you? To tell you how very much I love you?"

Finding Our Kindergarten Rhythm {musings}
"Everyone (you know, 'everyone') advised us that Zip would be exhausted his first few weeks of school, especially since he still naps pretty regularly. So what I didn’t expect was for him to hop off the bus the first day, inform me 'I stayed on level green all day,' and then beg to go play with his friends in the neighborhood. What?!  Didn’t he, like, miss me?! Didn’t he want to come inside, have a snack, and give me a minute-by-minute report of his day while we snuggled on the couch? Nope!"

Reflections on Kindergarten, Six Months In
"The biggest adjustment has maybe been realizing that the bubble we've been able to live in, more or less, is starting to disappear. When Zip was little, we had a decent amount of control over what he saw and heard and learned. We could limit what he saw on television and heard on the radio. We handpicked who he had play dates with (mostly my friends' kids, of course).  We didn't share disturbing news with them....But I see that changing. Very slowly, but it is changing." 

How are you feeling about the start of school? 

August 3, 2014

Momma's Not-So-Little Helper

My 7-year-old stands beside the counter, watching me chop a head of romaine into slender strips.

"Can I try?" he asks.

"No. This is a grown-up job," I say. Reflex. Without thinking. I catch myself, "You can help me rinse it in a minute."

As he spins the lettuce in the salad spinner, I have a moment to pause and reconsider his request. I've found myself saying No too often lately, and trying to remember the word I chose for 2014 - Pause. I chose it to prompt myself to stop and enjoy the present, or to give my kids my full attention for a few minutes, or to just to step back and breathe before going forward.

On second thought, a 7-year-old is probably perfectly capable of using a knife under adult supervision.

It isn't the first time in recent weeks that it has dawned on me that Zip is old enough to do a lot of things that I might not immediately count him capable of. He's growing up faster than I can wrap my head around sometimes.

We resumed chore charts last month and, at his request, Zip was granted some new responsibilities - like taking out the trash. Taking out the trash! My 7-year-old wants to take out the trash! I should enjoy that while I can, right? He does a great job, too.

At 7, he is eager to take on new responsibilities, to master new skills, and to feel grown-up. I'm learning that, unlike when a little one helps, most of the time his assistance actually helps me get the job done faster. How is that for turning a corner?

This afternoon he helped me dig up the hostas in our flower bed and replace them with sedum, enthusiastically patting the soil back into place and spreading the mulch carefully around the new plants. I sure didn't mind digging a few less holes!

"This is fun," he told me. And that is the best part. Working side-by-side, a "chore" becomes something special - a shared moment between momma and son, an opportunity to teach him a new skill. I showed him how to mix the potting soil with the soil already in the bed, explaining how it helps the plant grow; I showed him how to place the new plant properly in the hole. Rather than waiting until he is older and not interested,  I can take advantage of the fact he still cherishes our time together. I can capitalize on his eagerness to learn. So much better to sow the seeds while the soil is soft, right?

Back to the kitchen...

"Why don't you help me chop the cucumber?" I hand him the knife, reminding him it is sharp enough to take off his sweet little finger tips, and show him how to use it safely. He chops the cucumber and the celery, even the red head of cabbage. "I want to pour it in the bowl," he tells me. He tosses the salad and puts in on the table and does everything except actually eat it.

July 30, 2014

Multiracial Round-up: Where Race & Family Meet {June/July 2014}

Ah, once again I'm a little behind on this round-up but, well, it's summer! Here are a few of my favorites reads from the past couple of months, capturing the beautiful intersection of race and family.

I know there are other great posts out there that I've missed because I've been busy taking bike rides with the kids and dealing with flooded basements and playing "Quidditch" in the street (i.e., running around with a hockey stick between my legs pretending it's a broom) and hoping I don't kill my family by serving undercooked seafood. Ya know, the usual summer stuff.

So, when you finish this list, tell me: What have I missed?