Better Luck Next Year – Summer Camp 2015



In January, I received a handful of brochures for local summer camps.

“Too soon.” I thought. After briefly flipping through them, I tucked them away for spring.

Then I forgot about it until a month before school let out. So basically, I missed the boat. Again. Luckily, Mini Me’s school is having a camp this year, and registration opened in May.

Summer camp is serious business. If you don’t have your plans figured out by spring break, then it’s rough finding a solution before the close of the school year. Here’s what I’ve done now to make sure I’m in better shape for 2015.

1. Asked around. Get recommendations from parents and teachers. A friend of mine enrolled her daughter in a free camp offered by D.A.R.E. and local law enforcement. Mini Me’s teacher sent us a notice about another free camp where kids plant a community garden to learn about food production. (I looked at the e-mail two weeks too late. Sigh)

2. Reviewed outdated brochures. Some camps wouldn’t have worked for us because of location, camp hours, or price. Others seem as if they would be good options. Most of them have detailed registration procedures with incentives for early enrollment.

3. Made note of annual activities. Our school generally lets out around Memorial Day and starts again in early August. My mother-in-law takes Mini Me on an week-long trip every July. I need to keep these dates in mind.

With this general information, I filled my calendar with reminders.

August 2014: Check in with friend on D.A.R.E. camp. How was it? Would she consider it again for next year?

January 2015: Check to see if camps of interest have released new schedules. Review information and make additional calendar reminders based on registration dates.

Early February: Do a second check on camp schedules. Update registration reminders if needed.

Late February – Early March: Turn in registrations. Breath a sigh of relief.

It will be a while before I can let you know how this worked out, but it’s got to be better than the alternative.

How do you stay ahead of  summer planning?

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The Eight Things a Woman Should Do… Say What???



This morning, an article in a friend’s timeline caught my eye. It was called “8 Things Women Just Don’t Do Anymore (That They Should!)”

Based on the title, I figured I wouldn’t like a thing the article had to say, but I decided to read it anyway. I clicked the link and told myself to keep an open mind.

The author lists cooking, cleaning, and dressing up for dates as “old-fashioned” ideals that some women have abandoned in favor of becoming “Ms. Independent.” She suggests that a woman can walk the line between “Suzy Homemaker” and her modern alter-ego.

I huffed, closed the link, and started my day. The article bugged me, and at first, I couldn’t put my finger on why. Honestly, the list itself didn’t bother me. I cook. I clean. I dress up for dates. The author says a woman should support and respect her guy, and I agree. She says the respect should work both ways. I agree with that too.

While the kid’s napped, I took another look at the post, and found my problem. It was in the introduction.

It mentions a Julia Roberts movie, Mona Lisa Smile, as an example of what women were “bred to do.” In the movie, ladies went to college, found a husband, and settled down.

Bred to do? That phrase severely truncates the possibilities of both women and men. It aligns us against a set of standards that don’t work for everyone and implies that these specific eight things are a woman’s responsibility only. It marginalizes our potential and the contributions of women before us. If she had listed cure the common cold after that intro, I would have been just as bothered.

Hubs and I take turns doing many of these for each other, and it works. I would seriously miss his seafood pasta and chocolate chip cookies if the meals were left to me.

A relationship definitely requires effort from both parties, so it was nice to see that she did a companion article about the eight things a man should do. However, the intro got me again, because it credits the feminist movement and Beyoncé songs for the independent woman ideal.

Huh? Was feminism incomplete until Beyoncé’s 21st-century jams came along? I’m not so sure about that. I’d have to go to my history books to delve into this, and I don’t have the energy to go there.

Anyway, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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Throwback Thursday: Divalocks


Happy Thursday!

My decision to shed my relaxed hair has me thinking about how my perception of hair affected my self esteem. I remembered a post from 2006 I wrote right after a failed attempt to grow my hair past ear length.

It’s interesting to see how things change. Back then, I LOVED short hair. I felt most like myself when my hair was shaved at the nape. Seven years later, my hair is past my shoulders, and I feel more like myself than ever. It’s not the length of my hair that matters these days. I finally got the message that my hair doesn’t define me. I do.

I know. India Arie tried to tell us that right around the time I wrote the post. I’m just a slow learner, I guess. Marriage, motherhood (again), my mom’s stroke, changes at work, and marriage (Did I say that twice?) have changed my views on what makes me who I am.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I still want my hair to be right. But “right” is whatever I’m feeling at the moment, and “right” is something totally different for the next person. It is after all, only hair.


Divalocks – February 22, 2006

There are two movies that come to mind when I think of long hair. The first one is The Color Purple. Young Celie was just wed to the evil Mister and had to pick out his daughter’s matted hair because it hadn’t been combed since his first wife died. Mister told Celie not to cut the girls tangled mop, then slapped his bride for refusing to quiet the screaming child.

The second is Waiting to Exhale. Bernie (Angela Bassett) had just found out that her husband was leaving her for a white woman. After a week-long stint in bed, she walked into her friend’s salon and demanded the shortest haircut imaginable. “Are you crazy?” the friend yelled.

“If you don’t do it, I’ll cut it my damn self!” Bernadette grabbed the scissors and chopped off a plug of two-foot long hair.

Those movies scenes don’t appear to have anything in common, but for me, they clarified the relationship between hair and self-esteem. I can’t think of too many women who feel good about themselves while sporting a jacked up hairstyle. And I am no exception. When my hair isn’t to my liking, I don’t feel quite like myself. I’m a little grumpier in the mornings. Outfits don’t seem to look right.

The two women in those movies had an even deeper connection to hair. They allowed their characters to be defined by someone else, specifically men. The Exhale scene was hard for me to watch the first time because I was dating someone who believed that short hair was a practically a sin. That clown would check my hair every time I came from the salon to see if my stylist had trimmed it any.

When I decided to cut my hair seven years ago, my hairstylist’s reaction was similar to the one in the movie. “Are you sure?” she asked. After I answered the question several more times, she opened the drawer at her station and pulled out the scissors.

“Wait! You can’t cut your hair,” a customer cried. “Lisa, wait. Let me talk to her for a minute.” I can’t remember the customer’s face. I was too busy trying not to lose my nerve.

“No waiting,” I said. “Cut.”

“You’ll be sorry,” he said.

“I doubt it,” I replied. “Cut.”

The customer stared in disbelief as Lisa cut my hair down to two inches. By the time she pulled out the clippers to taper the hair at the nape of my neck, he decided that he couldn’t take anymore. He declared me a fool and left the salon.

When Lisa turned the styling chair around to show me my reflection that day, there were no regrets. I was introduced to the real me.

I’ve toyed with growing my hair out from time to time, but the result was always the same. I would cut it before it grew to my ears. This past year, however, my hair made it to my chin. Lisa styled it into smooth bob. It reminded me of Dorothy Hamill.

There were things about longer hair that I had forgotten. For one, it sheds. A lot. I had to clean the sink out every morning after combing my hair. And the bathroom floor was a mess. I later remembered that my college roommate and I had to sweep our dorm room every week because our hair shed so much.

Another thing that I had forgotten was how ridiculous long hair looks when it needs professional attention. Last week, my hair appointment was two weeks overdue. I felt like a wolf. No matter how much I brushed my hair or tried to tie it down with a scarf, it would look puffy. I felt as if I had stuck my hand on that static electricity ball at the Magic House.

The final straw was last Wednesday. A coworker came into my office to discuss a project. “Are you growing your hair out?” he asked. I nodded weakly. “It looks nice.”

I know that he was being kind, but I didn’t want compliments on something that I didn’t even like. As soon as he walked out of my office, I picked up the phone and made a hair appointment.

I walked into the salon Saturday morning. Lisa was a few minutes late. “How short do you want it?” she asked as she pulled out her supplies. “I want to lose at least half of this,” I said.

A few hours later, Lisa turned her chair around to show me my reflection. Two-thirds of my hair was on the floor, “Welcome back,” I said.

The past few days have been a lot easier. I haven’t had to clean the sink or sweep the bathroom floor. And I am still getting compliments.

“You cut your hair!” a co-worker said. “It’s awesome.”

“Thanks” I said.

“I know you were growing your hair out, but it really didn’t seem like you,” she said. “I like this a lot better.”

“Me, too,” I said.

Relaxed to Natural




I have an announcement to make: I’m growing out my relaxer!

If you are underwhelmed by this declaration, then join the club. I am too. I had no intention on writing about the transition, but a good friend made me change my mind. (Thanks J!)

I grew up in a family that wore a range of hairstyles from afros, dreadlocks, and braids, to Jherri curls (um, yeah) and relaxers. Hair lengths ranged from finger-snap short to waist-skimming long. I don’t really remember anyone making judgements on one style versus the other. I take the back. My mom hated Jherri curls.

Momma, who spent a good deal of her college years trying to force her fine, silky locks into an afro, had come to a conclusion by the time I came along. Hair care was best left to the professionals.

So as soon as I was old enough to sit still, my mom took me to a stylist twice a month for a shampoo, blow dry, and ponytails. If a special occasion, like school picture day, came up in between rotations, she made an emergency appointment. The only hair care items we had at home were combs, sponge rollers, headscarves, and a can of oil sheen.

High-school swim class dictated my introduction to relaxers. Neither my mother nor I could imagine shampooing, blow drying, and curling my shoulder-length mane twice a week. My hair stylist explained that a relaxer was a lifetime commitment I had to renew every six to eight weeks.

For 23 years, I followed the advice of both my stylist and my mother. I’ve had my hair relaxed every two months by the hands of a licensed beautician. During that time, I gave myself only one relaxer. It was done under the watchful eye of my college roommate because I couldn’t get home to have it done.

Going to college two hours from home forced me to get more involved with my hair. I made it home every couple of months, so I needed to get acquainted with shampoo and conditioner. I learned how to do roller sets because I was afraid of burning my hair with a curling iron. I figured that was a piece of professional equipment I had no business using.

As soon as I was gainfully employed, I went back to a stylist full time. Having children, however, changed my hands-off-the-hair approach. Neither my time nor my money were as free as they once were, so I took to doing my hair more often. And after I had Lil Ma, I noticed a difference in my locks. They’re a little thinner, and the texture is different. It’s not bad, but it’s not the same. So, after a consultation with my stylist, I decided to grow out my relaxer.

Since I made the decision, I’ve paid closer attention to how polarized women can be when it comes to hair. Upbringing and external influences have our opinions all over the map. Some think we should free ourselves from the “creamy crack” while others think a girl needs a relaxer by the time she’s six.

I’m thankful to be a haircare moderate. It’s your head. Do what makes you happy. Don’t let anyone else decide what’s right or what’s beautiful for you. I’m on a relaxer-free journey today, but who knows where I’ll be a year from now? For me, it’s an exploration of options.

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How to Hate Laundry a Little Less



As much as I mention laundry in my posts, you would think that I love it. The truth of the matter is, I hate it. I actually had to stop myself from using an expletive in this post.

Laundry is a never-ending task. Because unless you plan on washing while naked, you will always have a load waiting at the bottom of your clothes hamper. The only time I revisit my childhood dream of having magic powers is when I am staring down a pile of dirty clothes.

I won’t ever be able to snap my fingers and make dirt disappear, so I’ve figured out a laundry routine for our family. The below tips are not magical, but they make the chore much more bearable.

Wash every day. A family of four fills hampers at an exponential rate. If I wait until Saturday, laundry consumes the entire weekend, making me hate it all the more. It’s much more manageable to do a load or two a day.

Focus on one person at a time. I wash everyone’s clothes separately. I started this practice when it was just Hubby and I. His guy smell (which I love, by the way) was working its way into my clothes (which I did NOT love). By the time the kids came along, I discovered added benefits. There are fewer missing items when the loads aren’t mixed, and it’s easier to put clothes away.

Treat stains as you go. I keep stain remover in the bathrooms and at the changing table. There’s a much better chance to get the stain out at that moment than a week later. And, if you’re like me, you’ve forgotten all about it by the time you toss the item into the washer.

Pin mates.  A friend shared this tip with me after I complained about Lil Ma’s missing socks. At least if they’re pinned together, you’ll have a matched set when they turn up again.

Zip and snap. A load of unzipped hoodies and unsnapped bodysuits flapping in the dryer sound like the house is falling down. The load is quieter when everything is closed. Plus, it reduces the chances of a busted zipper or stretched out shirt.

Fold right away. I still struggle with this one, but you get fewer wrinkles if everything is smoothed and folded while still warm from the dryer. I hate ironing nearly as much as I hate washing, so I really should be better about it.

This system works pretty well in my house, but there’s always room for improvement. Oh! I almost forgot. Keep your toddler out of your freshly folded clothes, especially when her fingers are covered in strawberry jam.

What do you do to make laundry time easier?