can I write about hair now?

I'm pretty boring in the hair department, hence the reason that I haven't posted much about it.  I'm still trying to find a good mix for a deep conditioner.  Everytime that I think that I am using the same ingredients, I get sporadic results.  And then end up trying to retrace my steps when I had THE best consecutive hair days.  Also, I haven't used shampoo in weeks and am still trying to figure out if that's a product that I'll exclude altogether.  So far, so good.  My go-to style for the moment:

My son is not a fan of the ponytail (nor my wearing my glasses, for that matter).  He keeps telling me that he prefers my hair to be "wild".  I, on the other hand, don't mind a ponytail while I'm still battling this heat.  And this seems to be the only way that I can rock a wash and go b/c I dislike how limp my hair looks in the front as it grows out.  One thing I can's going to take me a minute before I give up my Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter.  in fact, I'm about to hop in the shower and spend some quality time with it again as I slick my hair BACK into another ponytail after rocking this for 4 days: 

First thing that I thought when I heard word that Hurr.icane I.rene was supposed to hit the east coast was that I'll use that downtime to henna my hair.  And so I did.  But then the f'in power went out.  Thank goodness I have gas, so I still had hot water.  So, imagine me trying to do my hair by flashlight.  After a while, I just gave up, lol.  We only lost power for 10 hours so I was able to resume styling, the following morning.  What you won't do...for love.  But anyway, I think the henna is giving me more hangtime.

2 years, 3 months strong, but the way my hair tangles is driving me insane!  What kind of product do I need to prevent THAT?!

10 - mini-me is not so mini anymore :(

Celebrating my one TRUE labor day, the day that I gave birth to my lil man, J.  He turned 10 today.  Good Lawd, YA'LL are getting old, lol.

Truth be told, I've written about 3 blogs since my last posting, but I scrapped them b/c I'm just not ready to share.  I need some time to get comfortable again.  BUT, I had to celebrate my baby's birthday on blog.

My boy, Navy, came down for the weekend and took care of us.  My crew had a cookout on Saturday and surprised J (and me) with a cake.  My lil man even learned how to play spades and got to sit at the mens table.  (Next up, dominoes, lol).  We had a great time as I served everyone on some more MJ Ex.perience.  Then on Sunday, Navy treated us to King's Do.minion.  I was mistaken for J's older sister by an entry photographer at the park, but it's cool.  J had a blast and we closed it down!

Today, I woke him up and gave him his gifts.  He was so appreciative that he hopped out of bed just to give me a big hug.  I love that lil boy so much.  I was "allowed" to drop off cupcakes at his school and I made sure NOT to kiss him in front of his friends (the biggest gift that I could give), lol.

Happy Birthday to the greatest joy in my life! (only 8 more to go)

awkward black girl

My youtube addiction has gone well past natural hair gurus.  I'll watch inspirational vids, up & coming comedians, and whatever else seems interesting in the sidebar.  My mom's best friend emailed me the link to this a while back...maybe she's saying that the lead chick reminds her of me...I don't know.  I am anxiously awaiting Episode 8, but this is my favorite episode so far.

what's shaking

One reason why I know that I need a vacation...

Yesterday in the afternoon, I was sitting at my desk, working on a project that was due today. That's when I felt a rumble. At first I thought some of the maintenance men that I frequently see around the office were fixing some random piece of HVAC eqipment. But the rumble lasted a lot longer and grew more intense than the typical maintenance job. When I looked to my right, the wall partitions and lights above were vibrating. And that's when I panicked. I thought the building was about to collapse. I pictured that same scene of a building collapsing on TV. This image did not move me b/c I still sat in my seat trying to think of what to do. Am I supposed to run to the stairwell? Stand in a doorway? Get under my desk? One thing that I did do, I saved my work. Dramatically speaking, in the event that I should go down with this building; yet, my work is recoverable, I would like it to be up to date, lol. When it stopped, I got up and walked into the hallway and shouted, "What in da hell was THAT?!" A coworker said, "I think it was an earthquake."

My office is on the third floor. I migrated to the window, only to see that the whole first floor had left the building and were gathering outside. I go back to my desk and text my dad to tell him that VA just had an earthquake. Soon after that, I called my son's daycare and ask them if everyone was alright. And then, I was told that we had to evacuate for an hour.

I know that I need a vacation when I'm being told that I have to evacuate immediately, but I proceed to save my work AGAIN, shut down my computer, grab my laptop, pack my bag, and bounce. Heaven forbid it had been a fire. I went to an eatery down the street with some coworkers (us rebellious ones who refused to stand outside in the heat) and we watch CNN to try and piece together what happened. This is when I realize that I can't call anyone, can't check voicemails, can't text, BUT I can get on FB. Apparently, my dad had sent out the bat-signal to my stepmom, my sisters, and my aunt (who I hadn't talked to in YEARS) --- all FB friends. I didn't know that he tried to call me right after I sent the text and I'm sure that a lot of stuff had to have been going through his mind based on what he had seen on tv and his inability to reach me. By the time my 2nd sis got a hold of me on FB, I was able to use my phone to call him back and calm him down.

And then I became concerned about J. When we left the N.O. b/c of Hurricane K.atrina, it took a while for him to get over the trauma of losing everything. I just knew that he was probably losing it. So, I left to pick him up. When I get to the daycare, he was having a blast in the ball pit in one of the play rooms. He was actually upset that I picked him up early. When we walked outside I asked him, "Man, did you feel THAT?!" He said yeah. He goes on to tell me how all the kids were freaking out b/c of the vibrations, but that he was sitting by a bookshelf during reading time, so he got a massage out of it. I fell out laughing. Here I am worried about him. He wasn't the one that needed to be soothed.

We went home to make sure that all was well...and it was. So the only thing that came from that earthquake is a cool story to share on the first day of school.

And I will be taking a mini-staycation soon, before I go home in October.

it WAS my anniversary (hair)

It's been 2 years (and 2 weeks) since my dad said, "Are you really going to leave the house looking like that?" Several arguments and raggedy ass comments later, he's finally reached the point of acceptance.

It's also interesting to witness my son go from indifference to begging me to allow him to grow a mini-afro of his own. And we did that during the first 5 months of this year. He recently cut it off for the summer, but would like to grow it back again ASAP. He now offers his unsolicited opinion of how "I don't look right" with my hair in a ponytail as he prefers it "all over my head."

What a difference 2 years make...

(June 13, 2009)

(June 28, 2011)

(June 12, 2009 - blurry, I know)

(June 28, 2011)

My 6-month healthy hair challenge ends July 1st. I retained more length than I thought I would considering how I wear my hair out 90% of the time. I also manipulate/retwist every night (when it's not in a ponytail) to keep it from tangling. (Everything that I've read that you shouldn't do to retain length). The things that most likely worked to my advantage may be product consistency, deep conditioning after every wash, being extra careful during my detangling sessions, and overall keeping it simple.

(January 1, 2011)

(June 28, 2011 - It goes under my chin and touches my neck)

(January 1, 2011)

(June 28, 2011)

(January 1, 2011)

(June 28, 2011 - beware of the CLAW, lol)

I usually get the 2 year itch to cut my hair off, but I'm gonna hold out for a minute. I haven't henna'd in ages, but I think that I'd like to try it again, so that I can darken my hair with indigo. I know that the summer inspires many to go lighter, but I think that darker hair looks better against my skin tone and I'm hoping that it imparts more shine (and lays the smack down on these 3 gray hairs that have sprouted up, lol). hun.ters

So, my episode of Hunt.ers aired last Thursday (too lazy to find the link to the blog that I wrote about my filming experience, but it's around here somewhere :o). The couple that I helped out had a mini-watch party at their not-as-new home. I've always wanted to be on HGTV. Although not necessarily in this way, but it's a start, right?

I debated on whether or not to announce it b/c I wanted to preview it. After all, I had gotten up early, thinking that I would've filmed my scene first, but fell asleep while waiting for my big break. The things that I thought that they would've shown, they didn't. The things that I don't remember saying while filming, they did. And while watching, all I could focus on were my cheeks. It looked as if the camera added 10 pounds to my face and my hair wasn't as long as it is now to detract from them.

But aside from that, it was fun to watch...especially after 3-4 glasses of wine. My fam kept texting me and ribbing me. It was all good.

Unexpectedly, they ended up showing my loft/office and it looked fabulous. I'm still waiting on Can.dice Ols.en to call and ask me to cohost Di.vine De.sign. They did not show my living room, which I thought, was the money shot. But perhaps that was for the best. I made mention of my emotional decorating in my last post. I recently painted over the red accent wall in my living room that I have been enamored with for the past 3 or 4 years. I remember when I painted it...all 5 coats of it since I didn't buy primer (too lazy to find the link to the blog that I wrote about my painting experience, but it's around here somewhere :o).

Initially, I didn't want to cover it b/c that would negate all of my hard work back then, but it was time for a change. Plus, I needed something to do since J was leaving me. So, I picked up some cinnamon paint to brighten things up a bit.

Ignore the orange blotch. I was trying to see if I preferred something brighter, but after staring at the blotch for a day, I covered it back up with more cinnamon paint. I'm pretty happy with my decision since it brings out the terra cotta undertones in my slate countertop and coffee table. Also, it compliments the other walls that one sees when they walk through my front door.

Now, I'm walking around with a hammer and a screwdriver, looking for other things to do to my house while I'm missing my baby.

the goings on

Thanks to everyone that congratulated me in my last post. I really appreciated it. So much has happened since then. Now that my son has left me for the summer (hopefully, only a month), I'll devote more time to tell some stories. I should b/c otherwise, my missing him will lead to other impromptu decorating painting over my red wall in my livingroom. Yes, I did that. I have since put the paint brush down and backed away slowly.

I reached my 2 year natural anniversary a little over a week ago, but my camera is acting funny, so I didn't bother doing a special post. I'll figure this out later. But 2 years ago, I had about as much hair as my son has in the above pic taken on my birthday.

I turned 33 last week. YAY to 33! I tell you one thing, I love who I am in my 30s. Yes, I still have problems and things don't always go my way but it's different. You couldn't pay me to revisit my twenties. Seven of my girlfriends here celebrated with me during a Sunday birthday brunch at a fabulous French-themed restaurant. No big hats this year. I DID overdo it on the mimosas, but it WAS long overdue. Since my idea of going out is browsing the aisles of Home De.pot when on break from baseball games and cubscout meetings, my girls encouraged me to down another one...and another one. I was rather "nice" by 1:00pm. We just sat and enjoyed each other's company until I sobered up...somewhere around 5:00pm. :o)

Since passing my exam, I've had my Performance Evaluation and it went great. Now, I'm just waiting to see if the next raise matches the review. But that's not even the sweetest part in all of this.

I'll close out this random post with one of my little stories. I did contact my former know, the one that said that he can no longer afford me the day after I returned from vacation 2 years ago. Anyway, I thanked him and some other gentlemen for writing my recommendations for my exam application and let them know that I passed...extending the olive branch. Now, I may be childish but I still have a slightly bad taste in my mouth over the way things went down. And on top of that, I didn't like how he gave my former coworker a bad review when contacted by my current employer. I was trying to get him hired at my company when he was laid off by them (with a family to feed and an unemployed wife), but my ex-supervisor told them, "I wouldn't trust him with his own projects." I found this to be rather odd b/c he was telling my ex-coworker one thing and apparently, letting everyone else know something totally different. Needless to say, my company didn't grant my friend so much as an interview.

Fast forward to now, he writes me back to tell me congratulations. But in the same email, he asks if my company has any openings, b/c he'd like to get on. Come to find out, since I had been laid off, this dude was demoted from VP, had to swallow a pay cut, and had his decisions questioned until he finally decided to leave my former place of employment. I was tripping out, b/c the same man that couldn't afford me 2 years ago was asking ME about a job. How ya like dem apples? So, I kept it cool. I asked him to forward me his resume and told him that I'll make sure that the VP receives it. I held true to my word and sent it off. Part of me felt like I owed him "something" since he did hire me. The VP then calls me in his office and asks me questions about my ex-supervisor. I struggled to answer b/c I didn't want to bad mouth the man b/c that reflects more on me than that man. All I could think was that ever since this dude had brain surgery, he hasn't been right, but I didn't exactly know how to phrase it. I was finally asked, rather bluntly, about the man's performance. My honest opinion...

"Well, I can't say much, but...I wouldn't trust him with his own projects." I guess the OTHER part of me felt that I owed him "something else". HA! A setback is a set-up for a comeback, baby!


Pictured below is J and I at the school's Mother-Son dance a few weeks ago.

Pictured above is a woman, who just found out 2 days ago, that she passed her PE exam!!! I am still on cloud 9! I believe that I have hit the stage where you debate what kind of frame you want to display your certificate in and on which wall will you display it. Should I hang it up in my home office or bring it to work and ask, "Are you ready to take me seriously now?" I have 2 months to decide since that's when it will arrive.

Admittedly, I was freaking out this week b/c my co-worker and accountability partner found out that she didn't pass her exam (a different one from mine). And then I heard tale that 2 people in my department (who were attempting a different certification) didn't pass their exams. And seeing as how I'm not foreign to failing, I was ready to hang it up. My books have been stacked against a wall across from my bed since I took the test, ready to be picked up again if necessary. Yet, in my mind, I couldn't fathom having to sacrifice my livelihood for months, holed up on weekends and getting up at 3 am on weeknights (when it was quiet), studying until it was time for me to get ready for work.

I had just finished discussing my plans for the Memorial Day weekend when I checked my email on my phone and saw that the testing board had posted the results. This is earlier than normal b/c they usually like to ruin your July 4th, lol. I wasn't so sure that I was ready to give up being content with life to know my results. I logged into my account and viewed my notice with my hands covering my face. Slowly peeking to the right, I saw in all caps, "PASS!" Holy mother of God, I had to muffle my screams. I cried. I jumped around. I got my shout on. This.was.big.

I am the first one to acquire this license in my specialty, one of 2 women in my dept., and one of 2 black people in the whole daggone company. I popped my collar so hard that I almost got a crook in my neck, lol.

I promptly printed my results notice and pranced around with it. The VP of my dept. wasn't in his office, so I kindly emailed him the results and cc'ed my direct supervisor.

I got a "congratulations", 3 handshakes, increased respect....oh, and a RAISE effective immediately. And there's more where that came from come annual review time in July.

I know that I neglect my blog more often than not, but to retrace what I have written to date about the things that I have gone through career-wise makes me feel so blessed. Two years ago, I had just been laid off and had no clue of what I was going to do. Interestingly enough, the same people who were responsible for letting me go were the same people that wrote my recommendations for my exam application afterward when asked. I guess that I have to thank them for helping me to get where I am now. Finally, I'm at a place where I'm valued.

I almost feel as if things don't come easy for me for a reason. I adore humility in others and that's how I wish to remain. But mayne...when I get my stamp in the mail, like Ye, "You can't tell me nuthin'!"


hair challenge: 4 months in

I try not to write so much about my hair b/c, in my mind, I think that I may bore some if not all that still read my blog. However, I get the most interest by way of email questions and comments with regard to my hair. I guess that I'm getting traffic based on some product that I mentioned or just by talking about my journey. Sooooo, here's another hair post. :)

I last washed my hair on Saturday morning and here's my 5th day twist out. I have a little less than 2 months left in my 6 month hair challenge and I have to admit that I have slipped more than a few times. I have gone to sleep without my bonnet, stretched out the time between washings while I was studying, and trimmed my ends a little too often. On the flip side, I have been more open to trying different products and techniques in order to optimize my hair regimen.

Here are the things that I've learned so far:

(1) I love the Shea Moisture Restorative Masque; however, I have discovered that the best moisturizing deep conditioner for me is the yogurt and coconut milk homemade conditioner. I change up what I mix in it...banana baby food (after a mishap with unproperly mashed avocados), amla (to darken my hair), random oils that I have laying around, etc. I just need to be sure to not leave it in too long before my hair gets mushy. Otherwise, incredibly soft hair for days.

(2) Try as I might, I cannot give up aloe vera gel. I thought that all gels were the devil, but aloe vera has been really good for my slicked back ponytails and for my frizzy curl section.

(3) Alone, castor oil creates a hot mess. When mixed into my deep conditioner, I get a shine like no other.

(4) Washing my hair in twists has been the business.

(5) Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter has given me life. Up until now, I was sold on Yes to Tomatoes, but the new formula wasn't cutting it for my strands. And I was also having more trouble finding it at Ross for $2.99...I might've told too many my secret. I read a review on the Suave Professionals line and thought I'd cop it the next time I went to the grocery. Kroger had the 14 ounce bottle on sale for $1.15. Couldn't lose, right? Detangling was a BREEZE with this stuff. Plus, I diluted it with water and used it as a leave-in. Once again, winning. Went back to Kroger and bought 7 more bottles (only b/c that's all they had left). Yes, I have a problem. So much for using only all-natural products, but who cares when it gets the job done.

(6) Despite the minimal manipulation rule, re-twisting at night has minimized my single strand knots a great deal.

(7) My hair seems thinner on my right side than it is on my left. Hoping for the miracle cure of simply being natural, my hair remains thinner on this side from my relaxed days. Maybe it's b/c I sleep on the right side of the bed while on my right side. At any rate, I've come to accept it and don't plan on trying all kinds of treatments to cure it. It is what it is.

(8) I hope to never have to part ways with my Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. It has loved me like no other.

yes we can, yes we did

Yesterday, J and I did the 10K. TODAY, my legs, thighs, and other regions that I can't name are screaming at me. Despite the weather reports, it was a beautiful day. We started out good, but man oh man, I started fading fast. And then when I got my second wind, J started acting like he was about to drop b/c of a cramp in his stomach. I know that he was salty at me everytime that I pointed at something and said that we were going to start back running once we hit that point. But it was fun! There were so many people out there cheering us on. And then there were those people holding and offering pans of cupcakes and boxes of doughnuts along the route in support. It was truly an experience...even when J decided that he had to go to the bathroom in the middle of it, lol. We ran and walked it, but once I saw the finish line from afar, I told J that we had to finish strong (this feeling was intensified when I saw this pregnant lady pass us up...and then the old man). And it was on! I kept chanting "We Can Do It, Yes, We Can!" We just had to keep pushing ourselves and we did it! It may have been ugly but we did it. Now, will we do this again next year...I'm not so sure. Unfortunately, J had a baseball game right after, so we had to race again to get to the field on the other side of town. I told him that he should be proud of himself b/c he did an amazing job.

I found some energy to wash my hair afterwards, but I just stood in the shower for 30 minutes. Simply stood. Reporting back from my last post about my deep treatment was a miss this time. My curls were again moisturized but fell limp. I read that this could be a side effect from using either the yogurt or the coconut milk, but I hadn't experienced this before. The hair that is a looser texture was almost straight. I might've kept it in for too long or using it 2 times in a row could have been overkill. Who knows. I have been wearing my hair in a ponytail for the past 2 weeks to hide it and give it a chance to bounce back. So, I went back to my Deep Treatment Masque in hopes of bringing it back to life. Crossing fingers b/c I have to go to Cali next week and then back home the week after that, and I absolutely cannot afford to look crazy in either place.

I scored some She.a Mois.ture products on sale (BOGO) at Walgreens. I should be stocked up for the rest of the year. However, it looks like I have to find a new detangling conditioner. I bought the newly packaged Yes To Cu.cumbers and my hair gave it two thumbs down. I don't know what's missing or added to the new formula, but I'm not a fan. I am open to suggestions.

My dad is coming up on Wednesday to play Mr. Mom for a week when I go to Cali. My test is on Friday and I'm ready to knock it out of the park! J's baseball Opening Day is on Saturday, but after that, a coworker (who is taking a different professional exam that day) and I are celebrating getting our lives back after being holed up in our respective caves and studying for the past 3 months. I can't lie, I plan to be "nice" by 9pm. I'll spend Sunday recuperating and packing. I leave for Cali on Monday, will return that Thursday, and then my dad, J and I will all fly home on that Friday. Provided I'm not in a coma, I plan to enjoy my week in N.O. to the fullest. I don't normally take off from work for a whole week, but this is well-deserved and needed. Can I make it to then?

And the countdown begins...

macgyver hair

I've mentioned my hair a few posts back, but hadn't posted a recent pic of it in a while. So here's how we're hanging:

Forgive the face...I had just come from the dentist, who pratically had her foot in my chest. Just kidding...somewhat. This is 5 or 6 day hair that had just endured 2 hours of smooshing and squirming from the dental chair.

I wore a flower in my hair to work that day (yesterday) and got stopped by 4 different people, who were happy to see my flowers re-emerge for the spring. I guess that I get "some kind of way" during the winter and lose interest in dresses, heels, flowers, and almost all things girly. I have been wearing jeans and my "comfortably ugly" shoes (despite my close coworker's opposition) consistently for the past few weeks.

While working on a project in the training room with my team, a young man walked in. I have seen him before at 2 other meetings, but all I knew of him was that he was a new hire and quite an expensive one since he's leading a project that is providing my company's bread and butter for the next 2 years. He sat down behind me for a few and briefly chatted with a team member of mine. I overheard him offering too much information when asked about food or cooking or something close to that. His response included rambling on about losing his appetite after his ex called him the night before. I'm positive that he and my team member are not THAT close. I left to get a cup of water and to chuckle to myself away from him. When I came back and sat down, he leaned in and said, "I really like your flower." I thanked him for the compliment. Then he said, "You know, you have such beautiful hair" and proceeded to gaze at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. I thanked him again and wondered to he flirting with me? Can't be possible since I was wearing my "comfortably ugly" shoes, right?

But maybe my hair was still thriving off of my deep conditioning macgyver mission from the weekend before. It had been 2 weeks since my last wash and my hair was in NEED. Unfortunately, I did not have my fave conditioner on deck nor did I have my Shea Moisture Deep Condtioner. I winged it with some Herbal Essence Hello Hydration. My hair didn't seem to care for it, which is weird. But I didn't shed a lot of hair during my detangling session, which was weird as well.

At any rate, I needed to come up with a deep treatment, so I got a bowl and started searching my kitchen for some ingredients. I grabbed some leftover yogurt, a container of banana baby food that I previously used for a homemade deep conditoner, and some coconut mik. I then went upstairs while stirring and figured that I should throw in everything including the bathroom sink. In went the coconut oil...and then the castor oil...and finally, some Trader Joe's Nourish Spa conditioner.

I washed my hair and then slathered on this mixture while in the shower. I covered with a plastic cap and went to sleep. Yep, you guessed it. I was sexy and sure that any man would approve of this being the way that EVERY woman should come to bed.

The next morning, I rinsed with cool water and prepared to style into a twist out. My hair was shiny and soft and it appeared that the frizz that I usually suffer from at the canopy of my hair had been tamed. Problem is, I don't know which ingredient did it. My hair was almost TOO defined on Monday. Which is ok, but I like my hair to be slightly poofy. By Wednesday, I had finally hit the sweet spot.

So right now, I'm letting the same mixture marinate under my plastic cap, replacing the Trader Joe's with some amla powder that I had in my stash. At the beginning of my hair challenge I used amla and brahmi every week, but it seemed to be very drying after a while. I figured that this may be the safe way to use amla and see if it makes a difference. I trimmed my hair today and am pampering my strands with this treatment, as a way of apologizing for those nights that I slept without my bonnet, for every day that I have refused to wear a protective style, and for those lunch hours that I spent out in the sun while power-walking and sweating to the oldies. We'll see if my hair will accept this mission or if the message will self-destruct.

I was browsing through my hair pics on my comp and found this one from this time last year. What a difference a year makes. I remember thinking that my hair is taking it's sweet time to grow back.

he's proud of ME

Life has been pretty hectic, but I have to press pause for this moment. This month, I am helping the cubscouts earn their engineering badge. They have been building catapults and "towers" out of stiff sphaghetti noodles, marshmallows, and tape. I stayed an hour late at work last Friday, printing up portions of plans and creating packets for the boys that show what I do. I was concerned, b/c this is a den full of 9 year olds. I thought by the end of my presentation, that they would topple out of their chairs in boredom. Especially since I'm more of a "hands on" learner myself, I would have rather led another activity. But somehow, by the grace of God, I kept them engaged and interested. I had a couple of the parents tell me that their sons went home excited about what I showed them and even said that my job was "cool". But even better than that, J was quick to share with his PawPaw how good I was that night.

It's one thing to be proud of your kids, but it's an indescribable feeling when they are proud of you. Although I have been so tired from feeling as if I am burning the candle at both ends, I have to say that I DO love my job...the mommy one.

what had happened was...

So, if you have been following me for a while, you know by now that I have a tendency to drop off the map. I used to think that this was something that I needed to change...mainly b/c I am constantly being told that I NEED to change...and not close myself off so much. But honestly, I don't think that that is what I do. Sometimes, I just like to be to myself and my own thoughts. And if I need to take a vacation from people to clear my head, then that's what I'll do. Only child syndrome in full force, maybe.

With that said, if we're FB friends, I hadn't de-friended you. I de-activated my account right before the new year, so that I could focus on a few things. I didn't really think that this would be a big deal until I started getting calls and emails asking if J and I are ok. I appreciate the concern. And I do plan on re-activating the account sometime after my exam. This was just one of those times when I felt the need to step back from my web presence and be more present in my other relationships and responsibilities.

How are my challenges coming?

Well, unfortunately I got sick last month. What I thought was a cold hung around for 3 weeks and started to set up camp in my lungs. I was finally pushed to go to the doctor after being sent home from work for "sounding like hell". The doc said that I had a touch of pneumonia and opted to put me on antibiotics to take care of it before it got worse. I even argued with her about taking time off from work b/c I had so much to do. It didn't matter b/c the day that I was about to go against her wishes, J caught a stomach bug and I had to stay home anyway. I didn't even have time to be sick b/c no matter how many trash cans I placed in front of him, whenever he felt the urge to vomit, he missed. That was a "fun" day but maybe God's way of forcing me to slow down.

So, I have been playing catch up with my studying ever since. I have a month left until this test and then I'm ready to have my life back.

J and I are still on board to do the 10K on April 2nd. I have been keeping up with my pedometer and working it out all the while I was feeling horrible. My accountability partner at work has been pushing me and that's what I need, even when it annoys me , lol. I am in the middle of another step challenge and I am not the weakest link on my team **wipes brow**. I find that when I go by my friend's house and do the "Michael Jackson Experience", I am burning that pedometer up! (If you have it, that Ghost video is my joint. I "kills" it everytime, lol.) I love that game so much that I have decided to reward myself with it after I take my test.

My hair is coming along. I fell off my weekly routine when I got sick and went 3 weeks without washing and detangling it. I was prepared to comb out enough shed hair to make a wig, but it actually wasn't THAT bad. Since I started detangling with my shower comb and spray bottle of my conditioner/water mix before washing, I have been less stressed. And washing while my hair is still in twists has saved me much of a headache as well. Part of me wishes that I had the kind of hair that I can flip up and down in the water stream and wash it all sexy-like, like they do in the commercials, but it's ok. I like it the way that it is and maintaining it has gotten easier as it grows out. I have been consistent with all of my products, except the deep conditioner. I have tried a couple of homemade mixes and they were ok. I sometimes daydream of auditioning different deep conditioners but my pocket reminds me to stick to what I know. We'll see. But I've discovered that washing with shampoo and detangling every 2 weeks may not be a bad idea. I'm not too keen on spending so much time on my hair.

April: The 10K is on the 2nd. My exam is on the 8th. And then J and I are going back home to the N.O. during his spring break, the third week of April. Looking at my work schedule and everything else going on for the next 2 months, I will have earned my week-long vacay. I am counting down the days!

My dad shipped us a King cake that has been devoured and there is another cream cheese one on the way. Talk about lifted spirits to help me through this time! I may share with some folks, but then again, I may eat it up and walk it off later, lol. Happy Mar.di Gras, N.O.! I may not physically be there, but I'll be there in (good) spirit.

the race

Can you guess which car is J's? (These were the cars in J's den only).

So, the night before the race, I tried to hammer in the axles and wheels to the car. In the process, I jacked up one of the axles. After fiddling with it waaayyyyy too long (b/c J was downstairs in his room having a ball while I was toying with HIS car), I decided that we were going to go in early, so that I could holla at one of the fellas in the pit crew and get him to help me fix it.

Well, the fella in question claimed that there was nothing wrong with my tire. I asked him to check again, but got the same response. I annoyed him for maybe 15 minutes and then let it go. What was J doing? He was playing with his best friend having a ball while I was toying with his car, lol.

And then there's the race. First round, J won first! Second round, J came in second. Third round, J's car was third. The ship had sunk. I was more dejected than J. But guess who comes in first in the whole pack...the fella in question's son (J's best friend). I smell sabotage, lol.

It was all in good fun. We had a great time regardless and J never allows something like this to negatively affect him.

We stuck around to cheer for his best friend. Lo and behold, the Pack Leader announces the Best in Show award for the WHOLE PACK.

J grinned. I, on the other hand, threw my hands up in victory. The other parents laughed at me, but hey, I was up in the middle of the night painting teeth on that dang thang while J was asleep, probably having a dream about having a ball...while I was toying with his car!

So, in closing...I'd like to thank all the little people that made this possible. 2nd place Scout's Choice last year, 1st place Best in Show this year...I may just start a pinewood derby car painting business. LOL!

God knows I'm a knucklehead

It's THAT time of year again! The cubscouts are gearing up for the pinewood derby race. I re-read last year's post about it and I got teary-eyed again.

I had J sketch out what he wanted his car to look like. I'm trying to get him in the habit of planning and executing. Well, this time, he brought his sketch to me and I was shocked to see that he wanted his car to look like Harry Po.tter. The body of the car was in the shape (supposedly) of his favorite character of all time.

Now, I can be a tad bit more hands on than I need to be at times. I try not to take over the whole project but I want to guide him in the direction of success. I explained that the car was too boxy and; whereas, "cute" can win "Scout's Choice", the goal is to win the race. He looked dejected. I applauded him for his creativity (as I always encourage it), but explained that sometimes we get caught up in "looks" and that detours us from the task at hand.

I sketched out another plan, taking into account the best shape to overcome drag and the best place to secure the weights so that the car can go fast. He shook his head in agreement. As far as the design, we can compromise and have it look like a face...can't guarantee that it'll look like Harry, but it will look "different". (He still wanted to argue with me on that idea, lol.)

We headed to Lowe's for "cut night" and afterwards, I left him responsible for sanding the car down. Now, that he is more focused on the goal, he has been sanding the mess out of that block. Any moment that he can spare, he's on the case. I find myself watching him when he doesn't know that I'm looking. And when I see him, I see me.

I made a few decisions going into the New Year. One is making me really uncomfortable right now, but for some reason, I know that it's the right thing to do. I can't even see the whole path and the thought of letting go of how I wanted things to be, terrified me. However, I feel as if I'm being directed and shown something better. That "something better" may not happen tomorrow and may not even happen this year, but I can't be concerned with the "looks" of it all in the NOW.

There IS a plan.

And sometimes, I think that God knows that I'm a knucklehead. And He will have me act out these little lessons through other people so that I understand.

At any rate, I don't know what the outcome of this race will be. I'm just glad that J is better at taking direction.

hair challenge: regimen notes #1

I think that my hair is upset. I can't believe that my Sa.ints lost...well, I can believe it, but I'm just real salty right now. And then the C.olts went down. Honestly, I don't give a damn about the Colts but I do respect Pey.ton So, in one day both Su.perbowl teams were knocked out of the playoffs. My last hope was the Ea.gles. But I just watched Vick throw an interception with 30 seconds left in the game, sealing it for the Packers. **Huge Sigh** I don't even know who to go for right now, but short term gain, I need the Pac.kers to stomp the Falc.ons and put this nonsense to rest. I'll be happy to NOT see the Fal.cons or the Be.ars in the Su.perbowl and find myself eyeing the Ste.elers. And for this, my hair is angry. This playoff weekend sucked!

Woo-to the-Sah!

So, I am on this 6 month healthy hair challenge, which really should be re-named my Ultimate Regimen Challenge. I have been trying to tweak my regimen so that I can cut my wash, condition, and style time to under 3 hours. However, for the purpose of the healthy hair challenge, I have re-introduced amla and brahmi to my regimen as an experiment to see if my hair health noticeably enhances b/c of continued use. I'm 2 washes in...and fighting.

Of the "spa night" ritual, as I call it, I do not look forward to detangling my hair. I do not have the kind of hair where the tangles just unravel under the shower stream. And I've just discovered that it may be time for me to wash in sections. The main reason that I wanted to go natural was to thicken my hair. Well, I got that...and with that, more work.

Last week, I switched my steps around which was a major fail. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? This week, heeding the advice of my favorite blog, I tried oil rinsing to make the detangling easier. I reached for the closest oil to me while in the shower...castor oil. To put it lightly, my hair HATED this. If nothing else, it added more time to my detangling. The Sain.ts loss plus this oil just pissed it off beyond pissivity. I ran out of my Ye.s to Toma.toes and had to settle for one of the three bottles of Ye.s to Cu.cumbers that I hoarded from Ross. (I do this b/c in my mind there could be a major snow storm and I absolutely cannot be snowed in without product...somewhere deep, deep in my mind, that is. :)

I FINALLY finished detangling. Here is where things started to look up. After I finished detangling, I may have had 20 twists in (more than usual, but necessary considering the mess atop my head). FYI - detangling takes me a long time b/c I section, finger detangle most of the huge kinks and then follow up with my wide tooth comb. I realize that a brush may cut down on time, but I would rather not use a brush on my strands. I mix the amla-brahmi mixture and add some coconut oil. I simply apply the mixture to my twists which cut down on a lot of time from last week. Also, since I rinse most of the mud out in my sink to avoid clogging my shower, I didn't have to worry about more tangling when whipping my back and forth. Score! This time, I didn't apply my deep condish to the mix b/c my hair was still feeling a little off and had to be moisturized more than usual last week. So, I sat with the mix in my head under the dryer for 30+ minutes, rinsed, and applied deep condish. I then sat back under the dryer for another 30+ minutes to soften my hair. Jury is still out on whether this worked out better b/c I have yet to take my hair down. I was then ready to style.

Things to try next time:
1. Oil rinsing with coconut oil: a kindler, gentler oil.
2. Washing and conditioning in sections.
3. Applying coconut oil directly to twists in lieu of the nightly oil spritz.

Things to throw out!
1. Applying amla-brahmi to loose hair.
2. Oil rinsing with castor oil.
3. Watching the playoffs while doing hair.

I'm getting there. I should have the ultimate reggie by July.

Aside: Last scene for HGTV will be filmed on MLK! My 50 seconds of fame is about to be on and popping, lol! Hopefully, my hair is too.

natural hair journey 2010-2011

My last hair post was on November 1st. Since then, I made the 18 month mark with my natural hair journey in mid-December. I have enough blog posts to chart my year in hair. So, I'll just post these comparison shots.

This is how I began 2010:

This is how I ended 2010:

It's safe to say that I have retained some length and am apparently doing something right. It's to the point where I cannot wear a scarf (like I did at the Sai.nts-giving get-together above) or a ponytail (directly above) without being asked if I'm wearing a hair piece. Maybe that's a compliment.

To address the questions that I have been asked:

Do I HAVE to big chop to go natural?

No. Do what you're comfortable with. I think that people seem to think that just b/c I did it that I'm a proponent for it. If for some reason, I decided to relax and then go natural again, I will most likely transition until the relaxed length is cut off. I'm glad that I had that experience. But I didn't transition long enough to fully learn my hair. So, I kept cutting the front of my hair, not realizing that it tends to be more wavier than the rest of my hair. In addition, when I got it cut professionally, I had my sides and back faded so that I could have a style. With that, I lost the little bit of length that I had grown during my 3 month transition.

Do I have to have a particular texture in order to go natural?

Hell naw! I'm from N.ew Or.leans but I'm not Cre.ole. I'm mixed with black and blacker. So, the thought that you have to have a loose texture or be biracial or whatever the hell to wear YOUR hair how YOU WANT is craziness. Some of my fam and close friends, rejected the idea from the start. Be strong enough to tell whoever opposes to kick boulders with open toed shoes and keep it moving.

I have gray hair and I'm trying to figure out how to dye it naturally. Any ideas?

Have you researched henna? I henna'ed my hair during the beginning of my journey, but I have not been consistent. I only did it for conditioning purposes but it gave my hair a reddish tint in the sunlight, nothing too drastic. The only reason why I haven't used commercial dyes is b/c I'm allergic to the PPD in them. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with playing with color.

What products do you use? (I apologize for the periods)

Shampoo - She.a Mois.ture Org.anic and Bao.bab Thick.ening Shampoo
Conditioner - Yes to Tomat.oes
Deep Conditioner - She.a Mois.ture Raw She.a Butte.r Deep Treat.ment Mas.que
Moisturizer - She.a Mois.ture Co.conut and Hib.iscus Cur.l Enhan.cing Smo.othie
Gel - Fr.uit of the Aloe Ve.ra Gel
Oils - A spritz of coconut, castor, jojoba, rosemary, and vitamin e oil (I only use at night)
Nothing has really changed, since I'm not a PJ.

So, I was reading my favorite hair blog, of the moment, Mop Top Maven. She is holding a 6-month heal.thy hair challenge. I will most likely be on the sidelines and not officially checked in, but I would like to continue to implement my healthy hair practices and check my progress by July 1st. I have even gotten my friend, Kat, on board (who is now natural) and a coworker (who is relaxed). I will upload pics of me here but form an email ring with them (b/c I still have this thing about keeping my blog semi-personal).

On Thursday, I switched my regimen around. I washed and then deep conditioned. I revisited and brah.mi and mixed them into my deep conditioner with a dollop of castor oil. I then sat under the dryer for about an hour (longer than I intended b/c I got sidetracked while reading hair blogs). I rinsed the majority of the mud out in my sink, so as not to clog my shower drain. I then conditioner washed the rest and proceeded to detangle and style. Let me just say that I will never do that again. my hai.r back and forth while it was wet just caused the most tangled mess that I've ever had to deal with. After suffering a wicked detangling session, I decided to leave well enough alone.

I allowed my hair to dry in twists all day Friday. I took them down and then went to a Wii - Michae.l Jack.son Exp.erience tournament at my girl's house yesterday. I didn't get home until 12:30am, fooling around with Mike. I got the work out of my LIFE. But where I went wrong was that I was trying to sing along (which isn't required). "Di.rty Di.ana" is my JAM and I kinda overdid it on some improv'ed air guitar, lol. That game goes HARD. But I digress, lol. Needless to say, I sweat, sweat, and sweat again. So, the following pics are a bit grimey, but I wanted to show my starting length on the 1st of the year to compare to the ones that I'll take on July 1st.

Hopefully, I won't get crazy with the regimen tweaking or else my after pics won't look too far off of these. We'll see.