All Natural Food Dyes!

It's the summer time, which means we are well into our "Summer Bucket List" items. One item that I wanted to share was "make red, white, and blue cupcakes". Sounds simple enough right? Get some pre-packaged cake, some pre-made icing and a couple things of food coloring! Something about that just didn't seem right. Plus Dreux and I have been binge watching every episode of Cupcake and Cake Wars for the last two months. We've seen enough episodes to know how to make our own buttercream with fresh ingredient right? So, me being me, I set out to find the most natural way to make homemade red and blue buttercream with REAL ingredients. Simple right, WRONG!!! Oh so dang wrong! lol 

Total Project Time: About 6hrs (lol)

Project Ages: 6yrs+

So How Do You Make Blue Buttercream? 

After extensive research, it appeared that the only way to make a natural blue color was with red cabbage. Yep, you read right. Red Cabbage + baking soda! So our baking experience turned into a science experiment. LOL 

Directions:

1. First, clean and chop a whole head of red cabbage

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2. Place in a huge pot and cover with water and boil. It took about a good 20min

3. Then we strained all the water to separate our dye from the cabbage. (I felt super wasteful because we tossed all the cabbage but you could def put it in a stir fry and eat it! LOL) 

4. Next we placed the dye back in our pot and boiled for another hour and 15min. We were supposed to boil it down to about 1/2 cup of liquid. (Meanwhile while all this was taking place we were baking our cupcakes...and yes I opted for the box kind lol) 

While the dye was boiling, we started making our homemade buttercream. Now this was easy and I was super pleased with the taste and consistency. The recipe called for 3 cups of powdered sugar, one cup of butter. and a 2 teaspoons of milk (we used almond milk). I added a hint of vanilla extract too! Once I got the hang of the electric mixer (oh because I forgot to mention I have NEVER baked anything my whole life, outside of Tollhouse chocolate cookies) we were in business. That buttercream was creaming and looking and tasting good! We even placed them in plastic bags so we could pipe the icing. We were serious, ok! LOL Now on to the colors...

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So remember the plan was to make red, white, and blue. For the red buttercream we decided to use pomegranate juice. I mixed a few teaspoons into the buttercream and mixed. I honestly have no idea how many, I just eyeballed it (LOL). We didn't get a red like we wanted, but more of a pink. Whatever, we'll go with it. It tasted yummy and it clearly wasn't white anymore so, yea! On to the blue dye we go. This is where things got a little hairy. 

Once the dye was boiled down (we actually ended up with about 3 cups because someone was impatient, ME), we set it in the fridge to cool. After a quick run to get baking soda, because Mommie SWORE that the baking powder in the pantry was baking soda and it really wasn't, the dye had cooled down enough. Now, the directions called for us to add pinches of baking soda at a time to the dye until the color began to change. We added our color to the buttercream and we got green and not blue. LOL Ok, think Mommie! Blueberries right?! Wrong! lol We just were not getting a blue like we hoped. However, after letting the buttercream sit for a few minutes, the icing started to look at little blue. It could have been our eyes hoping it was blue, but I'l let you decide. All-in-all we ended up with a very lovely (in our most astute Cupcake Wars contestant voice) "white cupcake with a fresh vanilla, pomegranate buttercream and red cabbage blueberry buttercream topped with gold sugar sprinkles!" :)

I think the colors came out cute! But def not a true red, white, and blue LOL We had fun and the cupcake was good, so I'm technically checking this off the summer bucket list! 


 Before the baking soda

Before the baking soda

 BLUE DYE! (after the baking soda was added)

BLUE DYE! (after the baking soda was added)

 Please note my 6yo decorated these (I did the white one lol) 

Please note my 6yo decorated these (I did the white one lol) 

Tory Burch Embrace Ambition Summit 2018

I am so excited to share my experience at the Tory Burch Embrace Ambition Summit in NYC this past April! So recently THE Tory Burch was in Chicago and made an appearance on Windy City Live. In true Dinai fashion, I searched for her page on Instagram and came across her foundation's page. I saw that they were hosting an invite only summit in NYC the following month and in order to go you had to fill out an application. The deadline was literally a week away, and because I can be totally random, I applied maybe 3 days before the applications deadline. The application required me to write a 500 word or less essay on how I embrace ambition and/or how I have overcame a stereotype. Well this is easy! LOL I spoke on becoming a young mother straight out of grad school; walking into a predominately white male industry as the unwed 22 year old pregnant black female and how I was one of 4 Black females that started that year in a new hire class of about 90. I touched on how I hid my pregnancy for months and wore a fake engagement ring to work, before I was even engaged, just so I didn't fit that "stereotype". I also spoke on how now my children help me to embrace ambition as I want to be the example of what hard work and sacrifice really looks like. Well I guess they enjoyed my candidness because I was extended an invitation to attend! :)

Momma I made it!

I didn't really know what to expect but went in with an open mind! The event took place at the Alice Tully Hall Center, blocks from Times Square. As I approached the center, large outside signs covered the building and entrance way. The event planner in me was in total awe. Everything was branded beautifully and creatively. Ladies dressed in their best strutted to the security check point, tipping in their cutest pair of pumps. (Thank God for an uncle in fashion because Lord knows I can't afford those blue Manolo pumps and that Vivian Westwood dress I had on, but no one needed to know that lol) I entered with a huge smile, grabbed me a few pieces of fruit, a muffin and some hot tea and proceeded to find a good seat in the front (after-all I was told the most astute students sit near the front of the class right? lol) 

The summit opened up with Tory Burch having a "couch chat" with Yara Shahidi from Black-ish (and most recently, Grown-ish). This 18 year old beauty BLEW ME AWAY! She is such an intelligent and well spoken African American-Iranian young lady. She spoke on her struggles, the stereotypes she's overcome and the importance of knowing your history so that you can move through life confidently. The day was also FILLED with combating tons of implicit biases*; accompanied by stories of women and men who have experienced gender, sex, race, and age inequalities first hand. From lighthearted stories of Debbie Sterling and her creation of Goldie Box (a line of engineering toys for girls...because, heck, all girls don't want to be princesses) to heavier conversations of escaping darkness by Yeonmi Park who spoke on her escape from North Korean when she was only 13 in search of a better life. She touched on how the stereotypes she previously had were rooted in the environment in which she was accustomed too. How, prior to her arrival in NYC, she had never seen African Americans and how her idea of American Men were that of which she had been exposed to and seen on WWF.  It was some pretty deep stuff!

*unintended, subtle, and completely unconscious attitudes and decisions made by everyone, all the time".

Let’s Talk About Sexism...and Racism

 

This 8-hour long summit was well worth the trip! From the heartfelt story from the foundation's president as she told us her true feelings of her daughter becoming her son; to Theo Wilson depicting his views of African American Male privilege and its effects on African American women though poetry; to the sounds of performers like Jessie Reyes and St. Vincent, this summit exceeded my expectations! And while I believe we all left out of their with tiny tidbits on how we as women and entrepreneurs can do a much better job of being inclusive and disrupting implicit biases, there is still a ton of work to do. As Tony Tjan so eloquently put it, we need to have this conversation with "Silicon Valley's 50 shades of beige" (I nearly died lol). The fact that women make up more than half of the labor force, yet earns 24% less than our Caucasian breathren, shows just how much work still needs to be done. (And the wage gap increases by race with African American women earning 60 cents on the dollar and Hispanic women earning 55 cents for every white dollar.) ALL of this was discussed and I'm sure it wasn't the easiest or most comfortable conversation to sit through for most in the audience, but it was definitely a "need-to-hear". 

All-in-all, the summit was amazing and I met some really cool and interesting women from around the world doing some really cool stuff! I am honored to have been apart of this inaugural, powerful game changing event and only hope that this truly sparks some change and will continue to enact thought provoking conversations! Tory Burch, you really surprised me girl! :) 


"How can you fight back when you don't even know you are a slave."

-Yeonmi Park on being asked why the citizens of North Korean don't overturn the government.  

Flight 1655

Coming to you straight from flight 1655. Lets talk about how God will push you and stretch you in order to bring out the best in you; test how much you truly trust him; and push you to- what you think is your “limit”- just to see how far your faith lies. Let me give a little preface to my story....

I have a serious fear of flying. Not the nauseous/vomiting kind-of scared. I'm talking the hot flash, heart pounding, stomach dropping, uncontrollable muscle spasm, fear. The fear that sits in the pit of your stomach before even reaching the airport. The fear that either requires a Xanax or a few Ketel Ones and Cran[berries] before take off. My ritual of praying for traveling mercies happens far before departure date. Then again the day of, once I arrive at the airport, again on the plane and a few extra times for good luck while in the air, ESPECIALLY at the first feeling of turbulence! Some trips are better than others but the ones when I’m with family and friends are much easier. I can grab an arm and rationale that if this sucker goes down at least I’m not going down alone. I know...its pretty deep lol My [recent] trip to NY was supposed to be a trip traveled with my sister, but due to flight cancellations, delays etc, I found myself on the plane alone! It didn't help that the reason for the cancellation was due in part to a recent incident with the very airline I would be flying with, only a week prior that resulted in a death of a mother of two! So, you can imagine the anxiety that had already built up in my body.  

After kissing hubby as he boarded his flight to TN, literally next to mine, I didn't know if it was an omen or really God telling me that I need to be stripped of everything and everyone in order for my faith to truly be tested! He brought my husband to the airport and placed him right next to me, to give me that extra sense of comfort before boarding and then told me “baby girl I got you”. As always. I queued up my music and took a few breaths to calm my nerves. Said my last prayer and sat back. As the plane began to take off (the part I hate the most) Alicia Keys “This Girl is On Fire” was blaring through my Beats. I don’t think I ever really listended to the words of the song before and honesty I was about to change it to something else a bit more "turnt up". But I stayed on that song and at that moment I remembered my purpose for being on that plane. To travel to NY to attend a summit I had been INVITED to attend. The Tory Burch Foundation Embrace Ambition Summit for Women Entrepreneurs. For YEARS I dreamt (is dreamt even a word?) about this day. Where I would be traveling on behalf of my own company; growing my business; meeting other entrepreneurs and doing me! And here I am, heading to the big city lol. Why should I let fear mess up this moment! I am on fire, thank you Alicia! I have been praying heavy for guidance asking God to help me walk in my purpose. And here I am stuck between two strangers heading to NY for an amazing opportunity!

As the plane began to ascended and I felt my nerves kicking in due to the pause in music, Brave came on by Sara Bareilles. “I just want to see you be brave” screeched through my headphones as soon as the wheels came up! (Trust me I know every sound on the plane because every ding, chime and toot has my nerves on high alert) I digress though.... I can not make this up, a tear welled up in my eyes and I knew God was speaking to me. He just wants to see you be brave! Call it crazy but I felt something which prompted me to take my phone out immediately and write this literally as I sit here on the plane. No sister, no husband, just YOU. I want to see YOU be brave. [said God lol]

I get most of my revelations on planes. Primarily because I feel the most vulnerable. And God knows this and I think that's why he uses these moments to really show me where my strengths lies. I am completely and totally out of control (as if I'm ever REALLY in control; I do get a false sense of control when my feet are firmly placed on the ground though lol). But when I’m in the air, I can’t just get down; I can’t call it quits when I get too overwhelmed or walk away from the situation. No, I have to sit there. Be still and wait. Trusting that God will keep this device in the air through his trusted servants aka the pilots lol. Every bump my stomach drops and my mind wanders, questioning if this is the day it’ll fall out the sky. (I said I had a serious fear lol) But I’ve realized that at the end of the day all the worrying I’m doing is for nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I AM NOT IN CONTROL. And why worry over things you can not control? Again its so easy for me to “not worry” when the bank account is negative; or “not worry” if I don’t book that big client. But when I’m 10k feet above ground that “not worry” mentality goes out the window.

So how do I trust God with EVERYTHING? Not just the stuff I felt I was controlling anyway....keep taking off; keep flying! Each trip forces me to put more and more trust in God. To completely remove myself and feel the takeoff, enjoy the flight and praise him for the smooth landing. These experiences are for me to learn to be free, to be faithful and understand that everything for my life has already been mapped out and if I am to go down (LORD FORBID) it was nothing on God’s green earth I could have done to stop it. Trust that God has my best interest at heart. Trust that God has ordained an amazing life for me and all I have to do is live out my purpose. As this flight descends (which literally seemed like 5mins since I've been writing the entire time) my heart is so full. I’m so excited for what the future lies ahead....now lets see how I do on this next flight...I’m actually a little excited to see God work again :)

....by the way Make Me Proud- Drake just turned on as we are making our final descend. God be showing OWT! God speaks to me through Alicia Keys & Drake, judge yo momma! He said he will meet you where YOU are lol

Blessed-Jill Scott was the final song played at we taxied into LaGuardia Airport! :)

Cranes in the Sky

When I started this blog, I did so with the intent on helping myself get through some trying times as a new mother. Writing was, and still is, therapy. What I found is that it was also a way to inspire women through my journey and my transparency. But I fought with myself for a while with opening up about this particular topic. "I'll come off weak", "It'll be bad for business", "I'm not sure I want people to know this part". But God kept pushing me. Because I've deleted this about three times lol He kept telling me to share in the event it helps someone else. So here we are....

My name is Dinai and I am struggling with “sadness” (because I can’t bring myself to say the D-word) & anxiety. At least, that's what I'm calling it, though I haven't been "clinically diagnosed" or anything. Sooooo yea, I haven’t posted in a while because I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to say, and honestly I just didn’t feel like it! Point blank. I wasn’t feeling very “inspiring”. I guess you can say I’ve been in a “mood”. A “mood” I thought I just needed to sleep or shower away. A mood that sometimes wakes up before I do. A mood I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  A mood I couldn’t quite shake. Am I stressed? Yes. Tired? Of course! Overwhelmed? Ding, Ding! I’ve been stressed out before, overwhelmed and tired. But THIS is different. Was it because of the baby? Or because I completely depleted my savings to following a dream? Or hell a combination of both? Maybe, I’m having a hard time adjusting to this new life. For years I woke up and went to work. Went to a physical place where each day I had to prove myself and work toward tangible goals and new titles with larger salaries. Maybe I enjoyed “climbing the corporate ladder” and now I am the ladder. Maybe I'm not really about this struggle life. Too much for me! For months I’ve been questioning what was “IT”. Why am I not happy? Where is the “old me”. The me that felt cute. The me that prioritized showers and didn’t have to choose between that, eating, responding to e-mails or taking a nap. LOL The “happy” me. Where is she, because that’s who I’m looking for! Well a couple of weeks ago, I found her, lying in a hospital bed, exhausted and weighed down with feeling like she had to be everything to everybody, but herself! “Take time for yourself” they say. Yea, yea, yea. I know that! But I’m bout this money right now. Growing an empire. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. ‘Cuz that’s what “they” say, right?!? You'll sleep when you're dead. 

Months of random, sudden headaches coupled with partial vision loss, should have been a huge red flag. But I disregarded it 3x and tried to self-diagnose and medicate. The fourth time, my vision had been compromised for 45min. I couldn’t make out words or numbers. I stood at that stove for minutes trying to make out what time it was. Still, I had to be coahxed into going to the ER. Once there, they admitted me. Feared that maybe I had had a mini stroke. The entire time I bitched and moaned because I had ish to do. I had a contract to send to a new client and a meeting in two days! Clothes needed to be folded, the kitchen was still a mess and here I am vacationing in the hospital lol Even then, with an IV in my wrist and a blood pressure cuff on my arm, I was thinking of everything and everyone else, but me! Looks like I need to re-read that Essentialism book (er… finish it for that matter)! LOL So for two days, I laid in that bed and tried to unplug and binge watch shows I otherwise would have NEVER caught up on. Day 2, they sent a behavioral health specialist to speak with me. I’m thinking in my head. “I’m not crazy ya'll! I’m OK, just let me get home to my kids.” But I wasn’t OK.

How do you relax?” she asked….(ummm good question. I didn’t want to say drink wine because that opens the flood gates up and next think you know they’re sending me to AA)

Do you get enough sleep?” (What constitutes as “enough sleep”, exactly?)

“What do you do in your spare time?” (Say what now? Spare time?)

Are you stressed?” (Ah! One I can answer, YES!)

What is stressing you out?” (Well that’s a loaded question ma’am, where do you want to start lol)

Following her one million questions, normal MRI and CT scans of my brain, a neurologist visit, and numerous blood tests to rule out practically every other serious disease and illness, it appears I have developed migraines brought on by stress/anxiety and exhaustion. I have never suffered from migraines, let alone headaches. So developing them at 29 seemed a bit strange to me. Did I do this to myself? I hear this all the time “take time for yourself”. And until I read another blog a few weeks ago, I thought that meant leaving the house to grab drinks, getting my hair and nails done etc. While these things are great and do make you look and feel better temporarily, the true meaning of this requires a complete shift in thinking. For me, it’s taking the time to have a glass of water in the morning before leaving the house so I’m not dying of thirst! It’s reminding myself that I am human and its OK if I don’t feel like playing with Barbie at that very moment and not shaming myself for my true feelings. It’s not comparing my journey or work to anyone else on Instagram. It's disconnecting from this social addiction of following what everyone else is doing, or "portraying" to do. It's eating, because Dinai you can not survive on PB&Js alone. It's taking time to rub some coconut oil in this dry a** hair of mine before leaving the house. It’s taking more of those long showers at night alone and not the ones I’ve grown accustomed too, which includes two children sitting on the bath mat all while listening to that God forsaken Paw Patrol. It’s waiting to respond to that e-mail or text because I’ve promised myself I would sit in silence for just 5mins to gather my thoughts. Its admitting when I need help and not trying to do it on my own, just for the simple fact of saying “I did it”. It's also being self aware. Knowing when I'm getting anxious, and learning how to manage that through relaxation and coping techniques. That is self-care. That is “taking time for yourself”.

I think overtime I’ve inched my way here. Trying to be that perfect [insert titles here]. But lets be clear, I am not complaining. I'll tell anyone, I am abundantly blessed and love this life my husband and I have created! However, this "mood" of mine has found its way in. This post is not a cry for help, nor am I looking for sympathy, a lecture, or pity, just your prayers. I am not the “warm and gooey center” type-person. I’m more like a Twix! (Or a Snickers, cuz I’m a nut! *cues cymbals for lame corny joke* lol) Opening up like this is hard. People tend to tell their stories in hindsight because it’s easier. It’s less embarrassing. It’s a “rags-to-riches” mentality. You don’t tell the story while you’re in the rags, you wait until you’re in the riches! Well I’m Raggedy a$$ Ann, and I’m working on me every single day to sit upon my riches. I am not the only Mommie who feels like this. It's so easy to "lose ourselves" in our husbands, our kids, our careers. And if you allow yourself to be lost for so long, you may find yourself in a "mood" you can't quite shake either. 

My Right Hand

Mommies you ever feel like "if only there were another me, 'xyz'"

"If only there were another me, I could keep the house clean"

"If only there were another me, I could run all my errands in one day"

I'm sure your "if only-ies" could go on and on! Well I recently met Tiffany, owner of My Right Hand Gal, a company that focuses on giving working families time to focus on the things that matter most. My Right Hand Gal provides sitting, nannying, transportation, and errand-running services. How could I not see what this was all about, right?1?! Any parent knows that when you become a parent you give up a lot of "free" time and consequently add on additional tasks to your already jammed packed life. Let's be honest, it just doesn't seem like there are enough hours in the day! 

So in the midst of wrapping up wedding number 3 of 5, serving as a Table Leader for Diner en Blanc Chicago, all while planning a 1st birthday for son; I had run out of hours and sanity! So I reached out to My Right Hand Gal for a little help. 

The Process

I went online and filled out the quick request form. Basic question and literally only took a few seconds. From there I received a call from Tiffany for a more in depth assessment. She asked me things like "what chores the kids have around the house". "How I would expect a sitter to discipline the kids, if need be" (GREAT question btw), how I would describe my "parenting style". The assessment took about 20min but it was very thorough, which I appreciated. After all if you are going to bring someone into your home and expect them to care for your most precious cargo, they better know all it is they can possibly know about you and the kids. 

My Sitter

I was matched with soft spirited, Jade. When Jade arrived she was ON TIME! We had actually got up late that day and were still finishing up breakfast (at 1pm...don't judge us) when she arrived. She walked in sporting her My Right Hand girl tee & jeans and immediately introduced herself. She removed her shoes (a pet peeve of mine I mentioned to Tiffany during our assessment) and we went right into what I needed her assistance with for the day. Really I just needed someone to keep the kids out of my hair and out of my way. I needed to clean the house from top to bottom to get ready for the birthday party. And unfortunately answering all of Dreux's 17,672,301 questions while dancing around like a plumb fool to keep DJ entertained, was just not going to work for me. I graciously handed over my kids to her! LOL

What amazed me the most was how well DJ took to her. Anyone who knows my sweet DJ, knows he's a MOMMA's BOY!!! He sits on my hip all day and if you try to tear us apart, its a screaming war. (We have close family members this boy will not go too...as in his grandparents lol). So much to my surprise, he literally reached out for Jade in the universal "pick-me up" sign and laid his head on her shoulder as if he knew this lady lol. That alone was a load off and one thing I was mostly afraid of. He gave her no problems when she put him down moments later for a nap. She spent the afternoon playing with Dreux and, I'm assuming, answers all her burning questions. Long story short, they all hit it off well and for once I had a solid 4hours to clean, grocery shop, and breathe for a moment, knowing my kids were in great hands. 

My Right Hand Gal was a blessing. I got a piece of my sanity back that day. Parents, seriously, this company is amazing and you would be doing yourself a huge favor by looking into how they can bless your life! LOL The prices are affordable and well worth it! Let them watch the kids a bit while you clean the house, shower, hell sit in your bed and watch TV, whatever! Be sure to mention the Young Workin' Mommies blog when you book with them! 

Check Them Out...

My Right Hand Gal | Facebook | Pintrest


Thank you so much My Right Hand Gal for such awesome profressionalsim, and an amazing experience. I felt like a weight had been lifted for those 4hrs! You know things are great when your 5year old asks "so when is she coming back"? :)

Let's Get Naked!

When should you start covering up around your kids?

This question recently came up in one of my "Mommy Groups" on Facebook. And its a good question. People have their own viewpoints on nudity and whats appropriate vs not appropriate and here is my take. I think its totally fine to be nude around your kids, up until a certain age. They have been exposed to this mom body since day one. I mean lets be honest, both kids came out my who-ha and were immediately attached to the boob, so being naked never really "weirded" me out LOL. 

I also come from a very "open" family. It was nothing to see my grandma, or mom, or aunt "guns ablaze" walking around the house. It was their house and if they wanted to walk around naked, they could" would typically be the response I would get when I would question why I was being subjected to such "openess". It didn't bother me though. I wasn't traumatized. AND I grew up in a house full of women, so we all had the same materials. No big deal. It was kind of 'my norm'.

When I got married, I was having this conversation with my husband about how open we were, so nonchalantly, and he thought it was so strange. I guess when you throw testosterone in the mix, it can get a little hairy (no pun intended). At the time we had a young daughter and she had clearly seen me naked. It was nearly impossible to shower without dragging her in the bathroom with me. So for peace of mind,  and convenience it just worked. Hubby on the other hand, wouldn't let as much as a chest hair be visible around her. LOL And I understood. She's a young girl and I agreed she didn't need to be exposed to a male body, even if it was her father. I think I was more so avoiding having to explain the "differences" between the male and female body parts. But with us having two children now, a boy and a girl, its no avoiding it. The first time I changed our son at home, she was standing right next to the changing table and asked "Mommie what's that"? I just told her. Oh thats your brother's penis. He has a penis. You have a vagina. Thats what makes him a boy, and you a girl. Her response "oh ok!". LOL 

Dreux still has never, and will never, see Daddie in his birthday suit though. Call me crazy, but I personally don't think its appropriate for a young girl to see her father naked. My preference. However, Dreux does still shower with me from time to time. Why? Because its convenient! It's quicker, AND as her mother I can assist her properly with cleansing her body. She still prefers her bubble baths, but showering with Mommie doesn't make her uncomfortable. How do I know? I asked! I think children will indicate, be-it verbally or physically, that they are uncomfortable. She's five so she's at the age now where she doesn't want "boys" to see her naked, and that includes Daddie and her little brother from time to time (as if he knows what the hell he's looking at anyway lol). We give her privacy as she runs to the room screaming "don't look I'm naked". LOL But then there are days she twirls that lil ashy booty around for giggles. 

Consequently though, we've asked ourselves, how do we handle the boy? Is it ok to dress and undress infant of him? Will he shower with Mommie? Does he shower with Daddie?  If so, up until what age? Do we bathe the kids together? Again, at what age do we stop? It's not like they are super close in age (4years apart) so I'm not too sure an 8 year old girl and 4 year old boy should bathe together. Right? All questions that need answers. For now, they do bathe together, RARELY because its a complete circus. DJ thinks splashing his sister (and mother for that matter) in the face is fun, and Dreux yells "stop touching your penis DJ" every five seconds. (Disclaimer: DJ is only 11months and he 'found' his toy that goes everywhere with him, and attempts to detach it........*rolls eyes* BOYS) Hubby has already said that once DJ gets of a certain age, me changing in front of him will have to stop. What boy wants to see their mother nakied anyway? (Clearly right now he could care less, though he's recently found a fascination with putting his hands down my shirt and he hasn't brestfeed is over 5months...manish little boy lol). Again...BOYS! No one warned me! 

I digress. Long story short, I don't think there is anything wrong with bathing with your same-sex children when they are young for convenient purposes. Our lives are complicated enough. And dressing and undressing doesn't bother me much either IF the child seems comfortable. I am not, however, for fathers and young daughter seeing one another in the nude. I may or may not shower with DJ when he's a little older either. Have no clue, but I'm not opposed to it. I will say though, he won't be five hoping in the shower with me how Dreux does now.

My advice: Do what works for your family. Have age appropriate conversations about body parts. Give them privacy and cover up if it makes you and your kids a little uncomfortable. Teach them to love and respect their bodies as well as other people's. I think adults have a bad tendency of over sexualizing everything! Boobs are baby feeders and vaginas are gateways to life LOL Get over yourselves. :)

Homemade Baby Food + Recipes

Once my son was diagnosed with moderate to severe eczema, it was suggested that his flare ups could be food related (though it has since been indicated that it's probably NOT food related *rolls eyes* lol). But I told myself that I would strive to make all his food once introduced to solids. Google is my best friend! I searched for some easy homemade baby food recipes and voila! Honestly, its SUPER easy, cost efficient and for me, safer. We don't know what is in today's foods (I'm dreading watching that new Netflix documentary on health). Between GMOs, pesticides, and I know you all remember the whole Capri Sun and Go-Go Pouch "MoldGATE" lol I didn't want to take any chances. I kind of feel bad I didn't think about this with my daughter. Nonetheless, I made a commitment to myself and my son to at least TRY to make all his food! I couldn't afford a Baby Bullet or some other food processing tool so I used what we already had in the house, a good old blender! Between that, our ninja (which was a wedding gift), some BPA-free silicone ice trays, and plastic wrap, I was well on my way to creating fresh organic baby food from my kitchen. 

So in case anyone is interested I'm sharing my top fav below and some other helpful sites! :)

Disclaimer: You should always consult your pediatrician before introducing food to your baby. We were given the go ahead when DJ was 6 months. And always do your own research! Only the best for these lil crumb snatchers. 


So Where Do I Start

Sweet Potatoes

Another good "first food" are sweet potatoes. Takes a little more effort, but they store great! 

Items Needed: 

SWEET POTATOES 

Water

Potato peeler

Skillet/Pot

Blender

Instructions

Clean the potatoes thoroughly. I made my own fruit and veggies wash by using 3 part white distilled vinegar, lemon juice and water in a spray bottle. I also use a veggie brush to gently scrub the skin. 

I then cut the potatoes into small cubes, or triangles (however the shapes panned out) and threw them over in my skillet. 

Add enough water to cover the potatoes. You have to eyeball it. If you don't add enough water and watch the potatoes, they will burn (lesson learned haha). If you add too much they get a little too mushy.

Let them simmer until tender. Check by poking a few with a fork. If they are pretty soft, they're done! 

Add them to the blender with a little of the water reserve from the skillet. (I have a puree function on the blender and that worked wonders.) 

Check the consistency of the potatoes and add a little water as needed to make sure the food is completely pureed

 

 

Bananas are suggested as a great first food for baby. And these are by far the easiest to make. They don't have to be cooked first and you can make them in a matter of minutes. 

Items Needed:

BANANAS

Microwavable bowl

Knife & Fork

Water/ Formula/ Breastmilk

Instructions: I've read some sites that suggest washing the peel of the banana first. I just peeled it and then washed my hands before slicing lol. Whatever makes you happy is my motto lol 

Slice the banana and microwave for 25 seconds. Just enough to heat the banana to make it soft

Using a fork mash the banana

Add water, formula, or breastmilk to get your desired "creamy" consistency

Note: I found the ripper the better (just not over ripe). It's easier to mash and sweeter. Also, since bananas brown once exposed to air, I don't prefer making bananas in advance. Now there is nothing wrong with the banana once it browns, it was more of a personal preference for me. Plus it literally only takes a few seconds to make, so I just make them on the spot. You will notice the color is different than what you find in the jars, and that's because the banana is in its natural state and ascorbic acid and other preservatives are clearly not added. 

Another note: Bananas can cause constipation. Found that out! OH and if you see black fibrous specs in babies' poop after feeding them, bananas are more than likely the culprit. 


STORING

Items Needed:

Ice Trays 

Plastic Wrap

Freezer Bags 

Pour the pureed food into ice trays. When I first started I used these god awful plastic ice trays. It was terribly hard getting the food cubes out so Hubby found these amazing (red) BPA FREE silicone ice cube trays from Target. Points for Daddie! (Note these trays are meant for large ice cubes for adult beverages, but who cares right lol) The cubes are a lot larger, which means more food and i'ts much easier getting them out.

Let the food freeze overnight and then transfer the food cubes into freezer bags. Label your bags with the food item and the date. They say prepared food can last up to 3 months in the freezer, but they never last in my freezer longer than two weeks!  LOL

But how much is enough? 

Great question lol The amount of food baby needs is dependent upon their age. My pediatrician gave us a food chart with the suggested amounts. We keep this on our fridge. You can also check out the Guidelines for Feeding Healthy Infants. And since we are using ice trays with no other formal way of measuring, here are some helpful hints and tricks I found in my research.  

1 standard size ice cube = about 1oz

My giant trays = 3oz

The Gerber 1st food containers are 2.5oz each (they typically come n packs of two) and 2nd stage are 4oz. I use these as my serving size guide and for food combination ideas!

And what about those bananas we just mashed and never measured? Use this site to help convert the amount of bananas needed to achieve the desired amount. This site was so useful!  

 

I know it sounds like ALOT of work, but so is being a parent. DJ is now 10 months and pretty much eats anything we give him. I still make MOST of his food, but we do supplement a few food items with the Beech Nut brand! For example, we made Sweet Peas once and they were a disaster so now all his green veggies are purchased. We also get other fruit and veggie combinations like his Beet-Pear-Pomegranate; because let's be honest who wants to puree pomegranate seeds, or a beet for that matter LOL. If it's overly complicated or just too messy (like peaches), I'll just purchase them. However ALL his meats, his apples, pears, bananas, avocados, butternut squash, zucchini, and sweet potatoes are made with love by Mommie, at home! And no, I am NOT bragging. I am just super proud of myself for sticking it out! Truth be told, the fact that I'm a struggling artist and it's so much more cost efficient, keeps me grounded LOL. A $4 pound of turkey can feed him for a week and half; those $1 jars will only get him through dinner. Oh and don't let me catch a sale on sweet potatoes. $.78 a pound! Yes Please! You do the math :)

Happy (Baby) Meal Prepping! 

Some of DJs (Food Combination) Favs! 

Turkey-Avocado-Pear

Turkey-Cinnamon Apples

Turkey-Sweet potato

Chicken-Apples

Sweet Potatoes-Cinnamon apples

Pear-Apples

 

Our Eczema Journey!

For the last 6 months, my son has been SUFFERING with eczema. I say suffering because when you see the pictures below, you will see exactly what I'm talking about! I hid his eczema from social media and avoided taking pics that showed it (not including the pics I took below to show our progression). Only close friends and family REALLY knew what we were going through! 

Let me be clear I am a huge advocate of natural remedies, but when his face basically started coming off and not responding to the natural options, I had to introduce something a bit stronger; steroid ointment! Ugh. I hated to do it, but when his skin got worse I had to do what I had to do.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these photos may be disturbing to some viewers and please note it took a lot of courage for me to post these pics of my baby so please, tread lightly...*side eye emoji* I'm sensitive about by kids lol

Doctor's Visit 1: When DJ was 3 months, I noticed his back looked "raw". It was very splotchy and discolored so I immediately took him in to the pediatrician.The doctor took one look and immediately diagnosed him with eczema and gave us a prescription for Hydrocortisone 2.5%. I was leery about using it so I went to the web to search natural remedies and ran across using Coconut Oil for eczema. I purchased some organic unrefined oil from Target and immediately began applying it to his body right out the tub. Within days, his back started improving, however at the same time I noticed a small patch on DJ's left cheek developing. So naturally, I started applying the same Coconut Oil to his cheek since it worked so well on his back. Before I knew it, another small patch was developing on his other cheek. So I figured I would just lather this boy up in coconut oil! Every chance I could get, I was lathering him in oil. He was smelling like a german chocolate cake for weeks! lol

Doctor's Visit 2: Weeks had gone by and his cheeks weren't getting any better, they were actually getting worse, so I took him BACK in! Subsequently, around the same time we also introduced DJ to formula; because Mommie's boobs decided to dry up early! :( We initially thought the rash wasn't completely healing due to a possible formula allergy so Doc had us try a hypoallergenic formula (Nutramagen). He hated it...back to the drawing board. Since I had a few frozen bags of breastmilk left, I thought to give that to him. His face broke out in rash-like bumps all over his face. He's allergic to me!!! I thought! Maybe it the jars of peanut butter I've been demolishing. So we gave up on the breast milk and went back to the gentle formula. (Side note, I STILL have a FULL frozen bag of breast milk in the freezer I just can't fathom throwing out, because I worked HARD for that!)

Doctor Visit 3!: His face continued to get worse. By now it had gone from red and blotchy to yellow and oozing. We switched his soap, re-washed everything (including our bedding), and removed his car seat strap covers; everything we could think of. But to no avail. Poor baby had scratched his face so much, it was now inflamed and slightly infected. Also at this time, his legs began to develop a very rough rash that he was constantly clawing at. His legs were covered with scars and it was a full time job keeping his mitts on his little hands. My heart ached! I felt so out of control because we just couldn't find out what was triggering his flare ups and nothing seemed to be working. The minute we applied the antibiotic prescribed at our third office visit, it instantly turned white (picture below)! Maybe it's drying out we said. Maybe this is what it looks like when its "activated", and working Hubby said lol.

 Right After The Antibiotic

Right After The Antibiotic

Doctor's Visit 4!!: Days following the antibiotic, his cheeks began to look like they were actually improving. Up until that morning we went to get him up and streaks of blood stained his sheets. I was at my wits end and I hated that little man had to go through this! I couldn't even stand to look at his face because I didn't know how much of his face would be left lol (Yea I overreact a tad). I pleaded for an emergency visit with the Dermatologist and I was denied because it wasn't "severe". I'm sorry, finding my son's face practically mauled off is severe! (Yes I am dramatic at time...and I know it wasn't "mauled" but I was fighting for my son's rights lol). I had to wait an entire month to get in to the Dermatologist (newsflash, there aren't many GOOD African American Derms in Chicago). So back to the pedeatrician we went. This time we were given a prescription for stronger steroid (Desonide) some CereVe body wash and body ointment and another hypoallergenic formula! (Which happens to costs $40 a can!) This one he liked! 

 When I Thought It Was Getting Better...(2/14)

When I Thought It Was Getting Better...(2/14)

 The Worst of IT!! :( (2/25)

The Worst of IT!! :( (2/25)

 TWO DAYS after treatment (3/25)

TWO DAYS after treatment (3/25)

Doctor's Visit 5: We finally got in to see the dermatologist and he was diagnosed with moderate to severe eczema. Duh! Now fix it! She created a treatment plan for us that involved the Desonide cream for his face and Fluocinonide for his body (both steroid ointments) and CeraVe ointment. She didn't believe it was food related and indicated we could go back to the original formula. For my peace of mind I requested an allergy test. He had two tubes of blood drawn from his little arm and was tested for a peanut and milk protein allergy. Both negative. I was relieved but we were back in same spot of uncertainty. Within weeks however, his face looked SO MUCH BETTER. His legs began to heal and things were finally on the up-and-up! 5 doctor visits, 4 different treatment plans, 2 food allergy tests, 2 different formulas, and 1 awesome God later (lol) we were FINALLY, finally getting better! 

 Picture Taken May 26th; 2 months after treatment! :) 

Picture Taken May 26th; 2 months after treatment! :) 

Next week we have a follow-up and my top concern is the lasting effects of the meds. Now that his face is practically healed, with just a SLIGHT discoloration from scaring, I want to try this whole natural thing again but I'm scared. I'm not looking forward to making my son my "natural remedy guinea pig" again. The dermatologist told us that we just need to pay attention to things that could cause flares such as changes in weather, exposure to heat/sun, diet changes etc. But to date we still have NO IDEA what caused this horrible flare. 

Signed,
An exhausted mother of an itchy kid

Mommies & Mimosas Recap!

Hey There!

Last month, I celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Young Workin' Mommies blog at the 1st Annual Mommies & Mimosas: Brunch 'n Shower! While technically I've been blogging for 5 years, this 5th year is the year I really plan to be more intentional. For years, I've blogged when I felt like it, or when I had the time. Never really making the time and setting aside the time to sit and just focus. As a mom there are always tons of things that "take precedence" like showering, making dinner, sleeping, etc. lol. So when I made it up in my mind that I was going to focus on creating an event that brought women (mostly mothers) together to fellowship with one another over great food and drinks, I couldn't 't help but intertwine the Young Workin' Mommies blog into this event. It was the perfect marriage. Being a mother and creating events are at the very core of my essence and I wanted to use that platform to create an event that gave back to mothers whom, unfortunately, are expereincing difficulties providing the basic necessities for their children. From that train of thought, Mommies & Mimosas was born!

For three years I've sat on this and finally just decided to move forward with it! I found every excuse in the book..."it will be too expensive", "no on will come", "finding sponsorship will be hell" "it will take a lot of time that I probably don't have" "I need to focus on MAKING money, not spending it" lol and on and on, but I put those negative thoughts to the side and looked at all the positive that would come of it! I am super proud of the outcome! Days following the event I drove to the New Moms headquarters on the Westside of Chicago to drop off all the items we collected at the event on their behalf. I was AMAZED by the amount of stuff my guests brought to the event! It literally took 4 trips and a large cart to get everything inside. 20 LARGE bags FILLED with items such as diapers, formula, kids clothing, women's business suits, cleaning supplies, and non perishable food items were delivered and will go to great use!

I'm am super thrilled, I got over that hump and am even more excited for next year's Mommies & Mimosas event! Who knows, it may be in a city near you! ;) 

Screenshot 2017-05-03 15.42.19.png

Letter from New Moms

 

#StayTuned

Official Event Photos courtesy of Dion J. of Immaculate Perception

Videography courtesy of Cydnee Kennedy

Mommies & Mimosas: Sponsor Spotlight- Crowned Curlies

As a mother to a very "tender-headed" daughter with long thick, tresses, I am always looking for the right product for her hair that makes styling and detangling easy on us both! I must be honest, I have resorted to beauty salon visits every three weeks so that I do not have to deal with the tears, the screams, and frustrations (on my part.) Finding the right product for "our" hair is difficult, yet very important to ensure it remains healthy and strong. Crowed Curlies may be the solution! 

Crowed Curlies is what you get when you mix nursing and education! In 2015, co-owners (and mompreneurs) Dominique Brown and Alexis Washington joined forces to create a natural hair care product line specifically formulated with children in mind. They set out to create a line that promoted positive self-image and self-esteem, while trying to lessen the frustrations of caring for children’s hair. With natural and organic ingredients straight from nature, Crowned Curlies understands the importance of what goes in your body as well as on it!

I am so thrilled they found me and have decided to partner with us for the 1st Annual Mommies & Mimosas: Brunch 'n Shower! When asked why they decided to sponsor the event they simply replied that "servicing mothers in need is simply beautiful". Crowned Curlies vowed to give back and found that the mission of this event spoke to their brand and mission as well. 

Advice to other mothers or women starting a business:

"Replace Fear with Faith and put your best foot forward! At some point you have to put 100% into your business. How can you possibly do that with a family? I truly believe it's all about balance. As a mother we put ourselves last, our dreams on pause because we are selfless. Take time to write down your visions and pray over them and let God do the magic". ~ Dominique Brown, Co-Owner & Mother of 2

"Never give up! It's hard work but it's worth it!" ~ Alexis Washington, Co-Owner & Mother of 3

Make sure you get your tickets to the event to meet these lovely ladies and learn more about their products. As a guest you will also leave with a special gift from Crowned Curlies! Be sure to follow them on social media! 

www.crownedcurlies.com | @crownedcurlies

Thanks ladies!!