The Importance of Being Reese: 2017

Where to Stay, Play, Eat and Drink At Disney World


A/N: This post is sponsored by Visit Orlando and Disney World however, all thoughts, opinions, and photos about our incredibly awesome time in Orlando are truly my own. Enjoy!

Hola everybody,

I'm just getting back into the swing of things around here. If you keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter, you know by now we were down in Orlando last week. This vacation was LONG overdue. After 5 months apart, our family needed some time together to reconnect. What better way to do that than at Disney?

It's been a while since I've been to Disney World, and things have changed A LOT. But one thing about Disney World remains the same-- it truly is one of the most family friendly places to visit. So if you're in the process of planning your upcoming Disney World vacay, be sure to pay close attention.

I've Been Selected as a Voice of the Year Honoree for BlogHer 2017


A few weeks ago, on a sunny runway in Orlando, I opened my email to find a very unexpected, but incredibly exciting email waiting for me. In the interest of getting straight to the point (but mostly because the title and cute little badge at the top of my post pretty much says it all) I'm pleased to announce that I've been selected as a BlogHer Voices of the Year Honoree.

The shock of discovering that I'm being honored at BlogHer, which will be hosted in Orlando this year, while deplaning in Orlando was so overwhelming that I literally had to ask Mr. A to read the email  just to make sure the altitude hadn't fried my brain.

Turns out my brain is in perfect health.

On a whim a few months ago I submitted a short piece to the open call for submission for Blog Her Voices of the Year, and then in true mom form, completely forgot about it. Luckily, the judges in charge of making the VOTY selections at BlogHer 2017 didn't forget about it.

So right now I'm sending a huge congratulations to all the insanely talented creatives that I get to share the honor with this year, and saying thank you to the powers that be at BlogHer who decided my post: The Day My Daughter Rejected My Blackness, was worth sharing and honoring.

I can't wait to see some of your beautiful faces in Orlando this June.

P.S. This is my first time attending BlogHer, so if you have some tips, or recaps, feel free to drop them in the comments below.

Until next time,





How to Create a Fire and Safety Plan for your Family

Having a safety plan in place could save your life, and the life of your loved one. Here's how to create a simple safety plan for your family

This topic has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I guess this is to be expected with the rise of popular television shows such as The Walking Dead and Revolution. As much as I wish I could say that this epiphany struck after an attending a conference about safety awareness, in all honestly, watching these shows is really what has spurred my thinking. What would we do if an emergency situation arose and we didn't have a way to contact each other? Where would we meet? Where would we go? How would we communicate?

By no means have I become so paranoid that I've begun making plans to install a fallout shelter in our backyard stocked with canned goods, but at the same time, I don't feel comfortable sitting around, patiently waiting for disaster to strike. I'm a big believer in being prepared, and although you can't prepare for everything, there are certain things that you can discuss that may come in handy one day. Here's a few safety tips that may very well save your life one day:

Charlotte Happenings: County Fair Open for the Season at Carowinds

A/N: I was given free entry into Carowinds and a food pass in exchange for sharing my recap with you all, but as always, all thoughts, opinions and photos belong to me unless stated otherwise. Enjoy!


Last weekend, Little J and I took to Carowinds to check out four thrilling new rides at the much anticipated Carowinds County Fair. Apparently, the wait was well worth it, because that particular section of Carowinds was packed all day. And after checking out this recap, you'll understand why.

We arrived at the park around 1:00 PM. Since we were a bit late arriving, we decided to stay until closing, which is pretty easy to do if you've ever visited Carowinds because there is plenty to do and eat. It truly is an all day affair.

16 Deliciously Simple Peanut Butter and Jelly Recipes

Easy peanut butter recipes


In my house, Peanut Butter and Jelly is basically a food group. Neatly sandwiched between vegetables and starch, Peanut Butter and Jelly is the best of both worlds. It's quick, and technically, since it involves peanuts and grapes, it's sorta healthy. Okay, so that last part is a bit of a stretch. But if your family is as big of a fan of the Almighty PB&J as mine, here are 16 deliciously simple Peanut Butter and Jelly recipes for you to try.

 Enjoy!

How to Road Trip with Kids, Without Going Crazy

Simple tips on how to road trip this season without losing your mind in the process



The days are getting longer. The weather is getting warmer. Summer is just around the corner. If you're anything like my family, that means the season of road-trips is rapidly approaching. Which means if you want to survive the summer with your sanity intact, it's time to get started planning your next family road trip now.

Living in North Carolina presents plenty of road-tripping opportunities. Between the beaches and the mountains, there's plenty to see, and we often try. During the summer months, we typically spend at least one weekend a month on the road. Still, no matter how many road trips we take, road-tripping with a kid, is considerably more difficult, than road tripping with adults. Which is why before we leave, I take extra measures to ensure that our road-trip doesn't deprive me of my sanity.

WeMo Mini Smart Plug by Belkin Review and Giveaway

It's week two of my Smart Moms, Smart Homes series, and today, we're talking about the WeMo Mini Smart Plug. Be sure to check out my review on YouTube for more information about this smart plug. This post is sponsored by Belkin, however all thoughts and opinions belong solely to me.

WeMo Mini Smart Plug

You know that feeling of annoyance you get when it's too warm and your A/C just isn't doing the trick, but you know your fan will get the job done. Only your fan is on the other side of the room, and you're in a comfy position on your couch? Turns out, there's a fix for that-- The WeMo Mini Smart Plug by Belkin.

This tiny little plug packs a powerful punch. With one flick of the button, or a simple voice command, you can control electronic devices throughout your home, even if you're on the other side of the world.

Moana Movie Viewing Party + Moana Inspired Snack Ideas

Thank you to Disney for providing us with some awesome Moana swag and a gift card to help make our movie viewing party extra special! 

Tips and treats for hosting a Moana styled party


8 is the number of times my daughter has watched Moana since our movie viewing party last weekend. Not that I'm upset, because Moana is so good we can literally watch it over and over again, and love it every single time.

If you keep up with me on Twitter, you know that last week we celebrated the upcoming release of Disney's Moana with a few pint-sized friends and tons of goodies. Since Mr. A was out of town, it was truly a ladies night, complete with some serious yummies, and a movie that introduces a new kind of Disney Princess. As the mother of a strong-willed daughter, I LOVE the tone that this Moana sets, which is why it was literally the perfect choice for a ladies night in. My family has a rich history of strong, independent women, so watching this movie with my daughter, was especially important.

My Wisdom Tooth Story + A Memo Box Giveaway



 
I want to start this post with a huge THANK YOU to all of my readers who tweeted and messaged me about their experiences having their wisdom teeth removed! Your advice has helped to make this experience a bit more bearable. So Thank You, Thank You, Thank you! (P.S. my giveaway is sponsored by Memo Box, however, all thoughts, opinions and pictures are mine unless otherwise stated.)

I'm not a fan of the dentist. Any dentist, really. And by not a fan, I mean incredibly terrified. I know, call me weak. But there's something about having a person operating a power drill in my mouth that conjures up enough"what-if"scenarios to keep me awake at night for all of eternity.

I credit my phobia to that one time my dentist told me it wouldn't hurt. He lied. It hurt. A lot.  I was 5 at the time, but that memory is still fresh in my mind. So you can imagine that I wasn't overjoyed when my dentist told me that I would need to have all four of my wisdom teeth removed.

Philips Hue White Ambiance Light Review and Giveaway

It's week one of my Smart Moms, Smart Homes series, and I'm kicking things off with one of my favorite products so far, the Philips Hue White Ambiance Smart Lights. Be sure to check out my review on YouTube for more information about these super smart lights. This post is sponsored by Philips Lighting, however all thoughts and opinions belong solely to me.





Question of the Day: How do you make a dumb home smart?
Answer: By installing Philips Hue White Ambiance Lights

By now we all know that lighting has the ability to affect our wallet, moods, productivity and sometimes, even our sleeping patterns. In a sense, investing in smart lighting is not only economical, but it can make your life easier in a number of different ways.

A month ago, I had the opportunity to try out some smart lights for the first time. And now, I'm pretty much addicted. With more than 50,000 shades of white, Philips Hue White Ambiance lights can match your personal preference. However, if you'd prefer something a bit less custom, the Philips Hue App  and the Philips Hue wireless dimmer switch come loaded with 4 preset options to choose from.

Charlotte Happenings: UniverSoul Circus Returns + A Giveaway





A/N: I was given tickets to the UniverSoul Circus performance, however, all thoughts and opinions are mine. 

Charlotte get ready! The UniverSoul Circus is back and better than ever!

On Tuesday, March 14- Saturday, March 19th, the UniverSoul Circus returns to Charlotte. Entering into it's 24th season, The UniverSoul Circus features a wide variety of acts and a diverse selection of talent from every corner of the world. The show is highly energetic, highly engaging, and highly entertaining for both children and adults.

Smart Moms, Smart Homes: Coming Soon

Smart Moms, Smart Homes

20 years ago, the idea of home automation was a bit hard to swallow. Sure we had futuristic shows like The Jettson, and Power Rangers, but truthfully, not many people believed that we would one day have refrigerators that talk to us, or computers that could be activated with our thumbprint. Flash forward 20 years and while we don't have flying cars (yet) home automation is starting to become more common. 

So I started looking for affordable ways to "smarten up" our home. Which is how I came up for the theme for my new series. Smart Moms, Smart Homes offers inexpensive smart home for moms (and dads) to make their lives easier. 

Every Monday in March, be sure to swing by my blog and YouTube channel for help and reviews for some fun, affordable and innovative smart products to get you started with home automation. Plus, enter to win some of this super smart tech as well.

If you're not already, be sure to follow me via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

Until next time!

How to Be the Perfect Mom

10 simple ways to be the worlds most perfect mom


If you've ever hung out in the comment section of every major parenting blog ever, you know by now that literally millions of perfect moms exist seemingly for the mere purpose of schooling us mediocre moms. So in an effort to tip the scales a bit, I'm here to provide you with 10 super easy ways to be a perfect mom. Really it's so easy, anyone can do it. Don't believe me? Give it a shot.

On The Go with Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant

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My on the go beauty routine with  Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant

When you’re living the mommy dream, sometimes basic beauty routines can take the backseat to life. Lately, my super-secret mommy weapon is Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant, which is why I’m so excited to partner with them for this post. Dove Advanced Care is refreshing enough to rejuvenate me, and small enough to travel with me on the daily. Which sounds crazy, but as a mother, some things are a given, for instance:

1). When you are in a rush, your children will inevitably move as though they are stuck in a vat of molasses, with cement blocks strapped to their ankles.
2). Yoga pants will become an essential part of your wardrobe.
3). Your purse will become storage for all of your children, your husband, and in some cases, your family pet.
4). As a mother, you will sometimes forget to take care of basic beauty routines, such as, but not limited to: shaving, showering, applying makeup, and sometimes, even putting on deodorant (hey it happens, I'm not judging).

SoBakeable: A Monthly Fix for your Sweet Tooth



Confession: I'm a choc-holic. Cookies. Cake. I can't get enough of it. Unfortunately for me, summer is around the corner, and my metabolism has come to a screeching halt since I hit 30. Still, an occasional fix for my sweet tooth is necessary to keep me from going off the deep end and going on a nightly binge. Which is why I'm so excited to feature SoBakeable this week.

If you've been a longtime follower, you know I'm a big fan of subscription boxes. It's always fun to come home to an unexpected surprise every now and then. Enter SoBakeable, a monthly fix for your sweet tooth. SoBakeable is similar to other food subscription boxes in that the ingredients all come pre-measured and packaged neatly for easy baking, but it's got a pretty sweet twist to it.

DIY Moisturizing Liquid Hand Soap

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DIY Moisturizing Liquid Hand Soap




Disclosure: I've partnered with the Vaseline team to share my thoughts and ideas for how you can incorporate self care into every aspect of your daily beauty routine. All thoughts, opinions and photos belong to me unless otherwise stated. Enjoy! 

Confession: I have the world's driest skin. It's flaky, it peels, and it makes me incredibly self conscious. As a result, I tend to carry lotion with me EVERYWHERE.

In my purse: Check
In my car: Check
In my backpack: Check
One my side of the bed: Check

Winter has been known to cause my skin to dry out, so every year, between the months of October and March, I make an extra effort to incorporate lotion into my everyday beauty routine. I'm a firm believer that self-care begins with skin care, Even so, my dry skin gets extra dry during the winter. So I swapped out my go-to lotion and started using Vaseline® Intensive Care™ Cocoa Radiant™ lotion, and oh what a difference it has made.

The Day My Daughter Rejected My Blackness



"Mommy, I don't want to be black like you." 

It came so unexpectedly, in the bath and beauty department of Target, while I was precariously perched on one foot attempting to get the last Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie from the shelf overhead.

Almost instantly, I could feel the eyes of strangers upon me. It was as though a spotlight had suddenly appeared overhead, and dozens of shoppers spontaneously generated behind me, all eager to see how I would screw up this moment.

Any second I expected a voice on the intercom to come on alerting the oblivious shoppers to the incident.

"Attention Target shoppers. We have a black mother dealing with an identity crisis on aisle 3. I repeat, we have a black mother dealing with an identity crisis on aisle 3."



Of course none of these things actually happened. In reality, I took a deep breath, took my daughter hands in mine, and hugged her.



Because the truth is, in that brief moment, I was terrified. I didn't want my daughter to be black. Because to be a black woman in 2017 is a lot of things. And none of them are easy.

It means pretending not to hear comments that are intentionally designed to provoke a reaction of you.

It means you'll battle with double consciousness and are more likely to silently struggle with depression.

It means you'll deal with daily micro-aggressions that will eat away at your self-worth.

It means struggling not to buckle under the unbelievable pressure of being the model minority.

It means that no matter how many injustices you have experienced, someone, most likely from your inner circle, will have a counter argument at the ready designed to undermine and invalidate your experiences.

But mostly, it means your journey will be emotionally and physically exhausting.



The reality is that my daughter is so young she likely doesn't yet understand the complexity of racial identity, or the heavy burden that comes along with being black. But, she's not so young that she's hasn't started to notice the subtle difference between my husband and I, namely our skin color. And that's why this conversation was so important. I couldn't afford to wait until someone else took control and led my daughter down the path of self hate.

Control the conversation, or let it control her.

Unlike myself, my daughter will have a whole new dynamic of racial identity to explore. And that's something I can't figure out for her. In that moment, I realized that no matter how eloquent my speech, my words could not physically protect my daughter. In a manner of speaking, biracial kids are in a giant paradox. While they are simultaneously two different races, they are never fully able to exist as one or the other. That's a lot to process. Even as an adult.

So there, in the bath and beauty section of Target, I took a deep breath asked, "Babe, why don't you want to be black."

"I dunno." She she whispered, looking down at her feet.

"Being black isn't a bad thing. I told her.  "In fact, I'm black. Right?"

She looked at me for a moment, "Yeah."

I continued on, "And you love mommy, right?" She nodded. "It's just sometimes, as a black girl, you have to fight some bad guys that others don't notice. It's just like being a superhero. We just don't always wear a cape."

She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment before asking, "So if I'm black, does that mean I get a cape?" 

I hugged her again. "It sure does. In fact you can get a matching one. Just like me." 




In that moment, I realized that it's wasn't that my daughter didn't want to be black, she was simply struggling to deal with her perception and understanding of who she is.  Realistically, I know how the world will view her, and I can't shield her from it. What I can do is make sure she knows who she is, that she is loved, and that she loves her self, fully. I can make sure that she owns every bit of melanin in her body, no matter how much, or how little.

Too often I hear other mothers proclaim "I don't teach my children to see color," and that worries me. The world is a colorful place-- whether or not we choose to accept it. We can either have the difficult conversations with our children while they're younger, or wait for the world to teach them how to treat others. Color is a part of life. Just as I want my daughter to know about her heritage, I expect her to know and understand others. When you understand, you can appreciate.

As she gets older, more questions will come.  I'll be better prepared and have a more eloquent speech. Like most parenting moments, you fumble, you struggle, you prepare, and you pray that next time it gets better.

And sometimes it does.





Homemade Snow Paint


It's not often we get snow in the South. So when we do, we like to take advantage of it. This morning I woke up to the soft crunch of footsteps walking in the snow. I'd fallen asleep on the couch anxiously awaiting the first snowfall of the season, but by 11 PM, a thick sheen of ice covered the grown with no snow in sight. I fell asleep feverishly praying for snow. It's hard enough being trapped inside all weekend, but toss in a 5 year old who's upset because there's no snow, and it's pretty much unbearable.

So you can imagine my excitement when I woke up to snow. Not much. But certainly enough to keep a 5 year old happy, and a mom sane.

Luckily, I had hit up the store in anticipation of our snow day. After grabbing the typical snow day essentials: soup, hot cocoa, and wine (hey, priorities), I headed to Michael's to come up with some fun snow day activities. Unfortunately every store in within a 100 mile radius had already sold out of sleds, so I figured I'd better come up with something to keep Little J distracted.

Forward





I realized it's been a while since I've given you all a life update. Part of this is heavily influenced by my decision to cut back on sharing my personal life on my blog. I made the decision last year to transition into a less personal space. But from time to time, I like to check in and give you all an update. The beginning of another year seemed like the perfect time.

2016 was the year that everything and nothing happened all at once. It's hard to relieve all those seemingly insignificant, but incredibly special moments that happened this year. So if I had to use one word to sum up our year, I would say forward.

As I was putting up Christmas decorations in our new place, it occurred to me that we're back in the same space, but not the same place, if that makes any sense. Last year we made the decision to return to Charlotte. After spending two years in Raleigh, we realized it wasn't home. So we packed our bags, loaded up the truck and returned home. Moving on, moving forward.