Leave All of that Nasty Garbage

Happy Halloween, everyone! It's always nice when this day falls on a Friday because it just adds an extra layer of delight. No worrying about waking up early for school or work the next day, no thoughts of homework or errands that must be done. We can all enjoy the evening and candy, stretching the celebration out into the weekend. Three days of win, right?

Anyway, it's been awhile since I've participated in Five-Minute Friday, and today actually marks my first time linking up since the torch was passed to the lovely Kate Motaung! I'm excited to get started, so why don't I stop yapping and get on with things?

The prompt today is Leave.


Lately, I've been wrestling with the truth of who I am, rather than the idealized version of myself. It's extremely difficult internal work to accomplish, but tremendously worth it. Over the last few weeks and days, I've been confronting not only the more painful experiences of my past--and allowing myself to mourn--but acknowledging the once-valuable defense mechanisms I put in place in order to protect my heart and mind. 

I've had to accept that because I'm no longer powerless, the mechanisms I developed no longer serve their original purpose, and in fact, are hurting me, my husband, and my children. (Whew!) So yeah, to sit with that knowledge and to actively start to dismantle it has been a challenge to say the least, but I am determined to leave all of that nasty garbage firmly in the past. 

The New Year is fast approaching and our little family is poised to make some pretty sizable leaps toward our dreams in 2015. After years of hemming and hawing, we've taken some valuable steps toward our future, and I refuse to allow my old life to contaminate my new one.

Image source


Now, it's your turn! Interested in knowing a bit more about this Five-Minute Friday business? Head here to get the details for this fabulous linkup!

#WordlessWednesdays: The Black Panther.

Baby's Super Tips to Zap Eczema!

Isn't this graphic fun?! I had a blast playing around with the Comic Heroes Theme on PicMonkey. It's a nice alternative if you don't know how to use Photoshop. 

Happy Friday, folks! Give yourselves a high-five for making it through yet another week! I don't know about you, but this season has been pretty intense. While I'm excited for the upcoming holidays, I'm a bit flustered by how quickly my calendar is filling up!

Seeing as how the weather is cooling down--or is already pretty cold, depending on where you live--it seemed like the perfect time to share a few tips on caring for and protecting delicate baby skin. A little over a month ago, my husband and I noticed a few reddened areas on our daughter's skin. We discussed it with our pediatrician, who thought it appeared to be eczema, but because the blemishes were minor, couldn't be certain.  We weren't worried, but we did keep a watchful eye on how Joy's skin reacted to various stimuli (new foods, fabrics, and environments).

While on vacation this past summer, we made the mistake of using a different detergent and our daughter immediately developed an angry rash all over her chest, back, and along her jawline. Our oldest son had eczema when he was a baby (he's since outgrown it), so we weren't unfamiliar with it. With him, we applied Aquaphor multiple times a day, paying special attention to his "hot spots": the crook of both elbows and behind both knees. We tried the same approach with Joy and it worsened her condition! To the internet we went, where we found the National Eczema Association's list of approved moisturizers, cleansers, and other products, and used that as a jumping-off point.

Now that we've been using the items below for awhile, I can confidently say that they're incredibly effective at protecting Joy's skin and controlling her flare-ups. If you're looking for ways to battle eczema, I hope they work for you, too!

1. California Baby Eczema Cream
This stuff is pricey, but it works! So far, Target has the lowest price at $29.50, but it couldn't hurt to shop around. After the first application, we could feel the difference in Joy's skin; after a week or so, it was completely clear.

2. Vaseline for Baby
To maintain and protect Joy's skin, we apply a thin layer of eczema cream followed by another layer of Vaseline to seal in moisture. This is most effective after bath time, but we'll do it on non-bathing days, too.

3. Shea Moisture Fragrance-Free Gluten Free Baby Wash & Shampoo
First, let me say that I adore Shea Moisture's entire line of baby products! Everything smells so doggone good and is made with wonderful ingredients. Unfortunately, the scented items proved to be too harsh for my girl, so we switched to this formula for sensitive skin. It works well and doesn't irritate her skin. Win-win!

4. up & up Baby Liquid Laundry Detergent
Moment of truth: I was one of those people who thought "baby laundry detergent" was a scam. Really and truly! So of course, I would give birth to a kid whose skin is too sensitive for regular ol' Tide. *sigh* This stuff is cost-effective and gets her clothes clean without making her break out in a full-body rash. God bless it.

So, that's it for my tips (so far)! I'm nursing, so I'm definitely watching what I eat and how that may affect Joy. At this point, I haven't found anything that is cause for concern, so we'll just keep on using the products above. If you have any tips, though, I'd love to hear 'em!

Have a blessed weekend!

The Tent.

Hubby and I had a beautiful "Date Night In" in this tent. The pic doesn't do it justice, but you get the idea. 

It's been a rough few weeks. I won't get into the specifics, but there's been so much thrown at our family in a rather condensed amount of time. Some days, it was like fighting against the tide; one wave would crash, and then another would be looming on the heels of the first.

It was exhausting and disheartening.

However, this weekend, we had a breakthrough. I cannot even convey how necessary it was, but that's kinda how the good Lord works. He's never early, but His timing is impeccable. On Friday night, the four of us--Baby Joy turned in early--hung out in a tent in our back yard. A bag of obscenely large marshmallows, a (small) makeshift bonfire for roasting the aforementioned confections, and a laptop playing the latest adventures of Captain America.

I felt like the richest woman in the world. My heart was so damn full as I snuggled next to my husband and giggled at our silly, beautiful boys, so excited to be "camping" with Mom and Dad.

The next evening, my husband surprised me by turning the tent into a beautiful, grown-up oasis. He strung lights, prepared a platter of assorted cheeses, meats, and dried fruits, and had two bottles of white wine chilling on ice.

And he did it all for me.

After over a decade together, he still enjoys finding ways to make me smile. It was just what I (we) needed. Lately, I had been feeling like a failure, that I'd managed to do nothing but age over the course of the last decade. So much floundering and so little to show for it. Things simply hadn't gone as smoothly as I had hoped.

As I looked around that tent, I finally recognized the fullness of this blessing. I married a wonderful man and together, we built a family, a strong one, and a life that is still evolving. That is priceless.

The money may--or may not--come, but the truth is, I am already wealthier than I ever thought I'd be.

Did you know that it's #mondayformoms? Well, now you do! Come join the party and link up with Mrs. AOK & Friends because we'd love to expand our MommyMonday Blog Hop circle!

#ThrowbackThursday: Two Moments That Made Me Nostalgic for the 90s.

Who doesn't love a good #ThrowbackThursday post, amirite? If you're into that sort of thing, prepare to get yo' life!

Pretty much every adult around my age (32) watched and fondly remembers The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Like, I don't know if we can even be friends if you don't understand my undying love for that show! Obviously, Will Smith was the main character, but the ensemble cast was strong in its own right. In particular, Alfonso Ribiero, who played "Carlton", Will's straight-laced cousin, was unforgettable. And everybody did--or attempted to do--his signature dance. The show may have ended almost 20 years ago, but it turns out, there's still a rather large audience who adores Alfonso Ribiero and The Carlton. If the video below doesn't make you smile, I don't know what will.

*sings* It's not unusual to be loved by anyone...

As someone who came of age in the 1990s, I have a tremendous amount of love for the music that came out of that era. All of it encompasses the soundtrack of my journey from girlhood to adolescence to young adulthood, and most of it sounds as good today as it did back then. Like most young black girls, I loved me some Brandy (still do, to be completely honest)! The first time I saw the video for "I Wanna Be Down", it became an instant favorite. When it hit the airwaves in my town, I was glued to my radio with my finger on the "Record" and "Play" buttons (pre-iTunes and before I got my CD player!), waiting to record the song on my cassette tape. Then, when the remix hit, I about lost my freakin' mind! My mama didn't let me listen to a lot of rap, but she gave this song a pass, and I'll be forever grateful to her for that. Seeing all these beautiful women sharing their gifts with each other without competition meant--and still means--so, so much.

I didn't watch the Hip-Hop Awards, but when I heard, via For Harriet, Brandy, MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, and Queen Latifah reunited for this remix, I couldn't click this link fast enough. It's been a minute since we've seen 'em, but this performance feels like they never left the spotlight.  

Are you a child of the 90s like me? What are some of your favorite moments from that decade? Leave me a comment below! :)