The Importance of Being Reese: 2017

Summer Family Road Trip Survival Guide with Walmart Family Mobile

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerIsForSavings #CollectiveBias #WFM3

Summer may be winding down, but there's still time for a few quick road trips. See how our latest road trip was made even simpler with Walmart Family Mobile Plus Plan + take away some useful information from my summer family road trip survival guide!

On average, our family takes at least 12 road trips per year. Though taking a quick flight seems more efficient time wise, we actually prefer the ride. Call us crazy, but there's something special about spending time in a car with family, taking in the sights, and enjoying the journey. Especially if you have unlimited data and the ability to turn your phone into a hotspot. Because, let's face it, there's only so much enjoyment you can get out of each others company before you start to get restless.

I'm an O Mag Insider #OMagInsiders

You know that email you get every once and a while that makes your heart burst through your chest and your eyes well up with tears of happiness? Last week, I received THAT email.

It came unexpectedly. Mr. A and I were doing a last minute showdown for his upcoming drill weekend and my phone let out an unassuming buzz. I took a quick cursory look at my inbox and noticed there was a new message titled, "Welcome to O's Inner Circle." I shrugged it off, thinking that perhaps it was time for me to renew my nook subscription to O, The Oprah Magazine. But then I realized that my account was set to auto renew, so I opened the email and went in for a closer look.

This is what I saw...

"Since founding the O Mag Insiders group in early 2017, we’ve received thousands of submissions and selected the most influential, engaged, and enthusiastic fans of O, The Oprah Magazine to join – and we think you’re one of them."

My mind instantly went into a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions...

"Wait, what?" 
"This has got to be a mistake."
"Did I really submit an application for this?"
"Wait, what?"

After reading through the email several times, and checking the name half a dozen times to ensure that it was addressed to me, it sank in. I had just been invited to join an ellite team of ambassadors for O, The Oprah Magazine.

The next few hours were spent obsessively stalking researching my fellow #OMagInsiders, looking for more information about what to expect. The gist of it is, in the coming months I'll be acting as an extension of The O, The Oprah Magazine, testing out new products, attending some exciting events, and (hopefully) will have the opportunity to give valuable input. Which basically means me and Oprah are now besties  (kidding). But most importantly, I'll continue to put out as much love and kindness into the universe as I possibly can. And let's face it, this universe could deal with a bit of extra kindness and love these days.

Be sure to keep up with me and my fellow insiders by following our hastag #OMagInsiders and stay tuned for more news from O!

Until Next Time!

How to Have the Ultimate Water Fight Date Night with your Spouse

This shop/post has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #SummerRefreshment #Publix #CollectiveBias

Step One: Stock up on water gun paraphernalia. Bonus points if you snag a super sweet end of the season sale.
Step Two: Stock up on refreshments and goodies (FYI, Publix currently has an awesome sale on Minute Maid Lemonade & FUZE® tea, but more on that later)
Step Three: Set up an adorable refreshment stand before the craziness ensues
Step Four: Leave him a note to let him know what's in store.
Step Five: Instantly regret your decision to encourage a water fight date night with someone who has military training.
Step Six: Lose horribly
Step Seven: End your water gun fight with a truce because you're both hungry and thirsty
Step Eight: Eat, drink and be merry.

The Curious Case of the Overly Vigilant Neighbor

I was sitting on the park bench halfheartedly flipping through a magazine  and intermittently looking up to make sure Little J wasn't reenacting scenes from Cliffhanger when she pipped up.

"She can't be more than 10. Do you see her parents? I think she came here alone."

I looked up confused.

The park was basically empty.  Which was strange for this time of  year. The question had come from the only other adult at the park, sitting at the bench next to me. At first I thought she was talking about my daughter, but after a cursory glance around the nearly empty park, I spotted the "target."

She was a young girl, blonde hair, and definitely much older than 10 years old.

I sighed internally, knowing where this conversation was heading.

Pandora-World of Avatar Expedition Travel Guide

What to See, Ride, Eat and Drink at Pandora-World of Avatar

A/N: This post is sponsored by DisneyWorld and SheKnows Media, however, all words, thoughts and pictures belong to me. 

Last month, I was invited by Disney and She Knows Media to experience the magic of Pandora- World of Avatar. It's been a while since I've been to Animal Kingdom, and quite a bit has changed, most notably the addition of Pandora. If you've been a longtime reader, you know that we are Disney fanatics. In fact, we visited Disney World in April and JUST missed the grand opening of Pandora by a few weeks. So you can imagine my excitement when I received my magical invitation from Disney World to come check out Pandora-World of Avatar.

Thrilled doesn't even begin to cover it.

Verizon Wireless is Giving Away Free Backpacks FULL of School Supplies

Your back-to-school shopping just got easier! On Sunday, July 23rd, Verizon Wireless Zones will be giving away free backpacks with school supplies from 1-4 PM. The backpacks will be given out on a first-come, first serve basis and a child must be present to claim their free backpack - no purchases necessary, just good community fun!

Why the giveaway? Wireless Zone stores are locally owned and operated Verizon Franchisors.  Actively being part of and giving back to the communities in which they exist and serve is a part of their core values!

How can you help?  After you get your free backpack, share your photos using#WZGivesBack on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to spread the goodwill! 

Get more details, including a list of participating location at:

Unforgettable DVD Release and Giveaway

A/N: This post is sponsored Warner Brothers, however, all thoughts and opinion are truly my own.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Girls Night Out screening of Unforgettable. I can honestly say I was completely unprepared for the intensity. Not only was the cast amazing, but there were a few scenes where I literally found myself talking to the screen and cheering on the characters. It was perfect for a Girls Night Out.

8 Key BlogHer17 Takeaways and Tips

BlogHer17 welcome

I'm finally winding down from BlogHer17, and WOW, what an incredible (and exhausting) 4.5 days. Normally every year around the same time, I spend an hour or two a day perusing the BlogHer hastag and seeing what my favorite bloggers are up to at the conference. Having done this for several years in a row, I can tell you, following the conference hastag is nothing like actually attending the conference. At all.

Three weeks later I'm finally just processing everything and downloading all of my photos. Now that things are mostly back on track, I wanted to take the time to share a few of my most important takeaways from BlogHer17.

4th of July Cake Batter Donuts

Celebrate 4th of July with a dozen or two of these adorably delectable 4th of July Cake Batter Donuts

 We're a few short days away from 4th of July and I'm celebrating by sharing these cute and delectable 4th of July Cake Batter Donuts for your family to try this week! Not only are these donuts incredibly delicious, but they're the perfect showpiece for your 4th of July festivities. Not to mention, they're so simple, even your tiniest bakers can join in on the fun!

Being an Army Brat, the 4th of July has always been a big deal in our family. As a kid, I spent most of my 4th's on post BBQing with friends and family and watching the firework show the Army puts on every year.

25 years later and not much has changed. Except now I'm the one in charge of the food and dessert making. So every year I attempt to put a fun twist of a patriotic dessert for all of us to enjoy.

Enter these yummy patriotic cake batter donuts.

Where to Stay, Play, Eat and Drink in Fayetteville, North Carolina

Question of the Day: What do you get when you let loose 8 military wives in the city of Fayetteville, North Carolina

 Answer: A fabulously good time.

A few weeks ago, I was invited by SoFluential and The Fayetteville Areas Convention and Visitors Bureau to take a tour of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fayetteville holds many good memories for me. It was the place where I met Mr. A, where I graduated with my first degree, and it is currently where my parents have planted their roots.

Still, on the surface, Fayetteville can be mistaken as one of the many other military towns whose reputations sometimes precedes itself. But once you take a closer look, you'll see that Fayetteville has some serious small town charm and rich history. You just have to know where to go to unlock all that Fayetteville has to offer.

Work from Home Style with Phonetic Eyewear + A Giveaway

A/N: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Phonetics Eyewear, however all thoughts and opinions are provided by me. Dress provided courtesy of Angela Roy LulaRoe.

I've worn glasses since I was a kid. I suppose my inevitable journey into wearing glasses started with my insatiable need to read. Most of the time, at night, in the dark, with a flashlight. This was, of course, pre-e-reader days, so my eyes paid the price.

Since I work from home, I'm pretty much on some form of electronic device 24/7, which puts a serious strain on my already strained eyes. So you can imagine my surprise (and pure delight) when I discovered that Phonetic Eyewear helps to alleviate digital eyestrain by using a special coating to deflect harmful blue light caused by computer screens and most electronic devices.

Cars 3 Candy Popcorn

Head to the theaters to check out Cars 3, the latest action-packed movie by Disney Pixar!

It's no secret that we are a Disney loving family. Every time a new Disney movie comes out, we're typically front-and-center in the theater to check it out. Since Mr. A is quite the car aficionado, you can imagine that our entire family was excited about the release of Cars 3. So much so that I celebrated by creating a fun, and super easy Cars 3 snack to celebrate.

Bright, colorful, and fun, this Cars 3 Candy Popcorn is the perfect snack for a Cars themed party or Cars moving watching marathon! It's 50% sweet, 50% salty, and 100% delicious. Which makes it the perfect treat for EVERYONE in the family.

5 Easy Ways to Stay Safe While Working From Home

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A/N: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Iris by Lowe’s, however, all thoughts, and opinions truly belong to me.

 Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. This is a rule I have always lived by. It can be applied to every aspect of my life. Parenting. Work. Writing. And, of course, personal safety.

Last year, I remember watching the news in horror as a stay-at-home-mom was attacked by a home intruder. The thing that truly struck me was the timing of the attack. It was broad daylight. She lived in a seemingly safe suburban neighborhood. And she even had a security camera. What scared me the most is that I found that I could check off every single item on that list as well.

Watching that incident unfold left me feeling incredibly uneasy. As a work-at-home-mom, I had always assumed that working from within the confines of my home was somewhat safer. Watching that 45 second clip of a woman fighting for her life made me realize just how easily that could have been me.

Summer Ravioli Pasta Salad

Summer Ravioli Pasta Salad

Cheesy ravioli and fresh veggies marinated in a deliciously healthy Italian dressing-- this Summer Ravioli Pasta Salad is the perfect side for picnics, BBQ's and summer gatherings. 

During the Summer months, there's always something going on at our house. We're serial entertainers. While Mr. A typically mans the grill, the side dishes and decor typically fall on my plate. Which is why I find it helpful to serve dishes that can be whipped up in no time.

Summer Learning: Slide It

In any other circumstance, sliding playing cards along a table might not seem like a learning activity, but this game is! Take turns sliding cards, measuring their distance from the edge using a ruler, and adding up the total to find your score. Practice makes perfect! Try sliding the cards so they just touch the edge, if you're successful you're almost guaranteed to walk away the winner.

Giveaway: Win Two Zoёs Kitchen Entrees

You may have noticed that I'm a bit of a foodie. In fact, I'm the original foodie. Which is why I am beyond excited that there's a new Zoёs Kitchen coming to my neck of the woods.

I have long since been a fan of Zoёs Kitchen. It basically meets all of the qualifications necessary to be a go-to for me and the A Team. It's quick. It's healthy. And it's delicious. Basically it's the closest you'll come to experiencing Mediterranean food without hopping on a plane.

Because the folks at Zoёs Kitchen are so awesome and excited about launching their new restaurant, they're giving away one thousand entrees for their opening day. For your chance to win, simply click on the link below to sign up AND leave a comment below to let me know you've signed up.


The Giveaway ends at 9 AM on Thursday, May 25th. Good luck! And if you win, feel free to split an entree with me at the Rivergate Grand Opening!

Until next time,

Freebie Friday: Try to Be a Rainbow In Someone Else's Cloud

It's been so long since I've done a Freebie Friday, and these quote have been on my mind a lot. When I wrote the post, " The Day My Daughter Rejected my Blackness," I had no clue it would go viral. When something you write goes viral, there's this incredible sense of accomplishment. You've written something that has touched so many hearts. But the problem with going viral, is that you've essentially invited millions of people with varying opinions into your life.

For the past few days, I've been blocking and ignoring the overly obnoxious people sending me hate mail, and have been focusing on the good. And there's a lot of it. So many kind people who read what I had to say and found solace in my words. They're the reason I'm still going. They're the reason I'll keep going.

But today, I'm sending out a little extra love into the universe with these printables. I hope they serve as a reminder to someone who needs it.

To download, simply click on the links below.

Try to be the Rainbow in Someone Else's Cloud
We Rise By Lifting Others

Peace, love and happy thoughts. And remember, today, be kind to those who need it the most.

5 Cheap Ways to Help your Kids Defeat the Summer Slide

5 ways to defeat the summer slide

Days are getting longer. The weather is getting warmer. Summer is nearly here, and our kiddos are probably anticipating the joy and adventure that summer brings. But as many of us in the Parenthood club know, summer isn't just all kicks, giggles and mudpies.

With summer rapidly approaching, educators are beginning to remind parents of the dreaded summer slide--the drop-off in academic skills during the summer months that most school-aged children experience. Research shows that many students lose anywhere between two to three months of math skills during the summer months. Once school resumes in the fall, it typically takes teachers more than a month to get students back on track. If that's not enough to scare you consider this: over a 12 year period, kids can lose more than a year and a half of academic skills due to the Summer Slide.

Which is why I'm sharing a few easy ways to help keep your kiddos learning on track during the summer months. The best thing about these tips, us they won't cost you a second mortgage to keep your kids entertained this summer ( I'm looking at you STEM Camps).

Sephora Mother's Day Gift Guide

A/N: I received a box full of Sephora goodies in order to facilitate this gift guide, however all thoughts, and opinions belong to me. 

Mother's Day is just around the corner, and today I'm sharing some of my favorite Sephora picks in this exclusive Sephora Mother's Day Gift Guide.

Moms rock 365 days out of the year. I know, I'm a bit biased, but motherhood isn't for the faint of heart, and I've got the scars and sleepless night to prove it. That's why this year I'm devoting my Mother's Day Gift Guide to the one present that sure to pamper, soothe and rejuvenate the special lady in your life. This simple gift guide with help you pair up some products to help pamper the special lady in your life the way she deserves.

Enjoy. And for all the moms reading, I wish you a happy and relaxing Mother's Day. You've earned it!


Join Jane Park, Founder and CEO of Julep, for a Master Class and Beauty Event

Beauty aficionados, prepare to pamper yourselves! Stock up on some of your favorite beauty products, discover new products, learn the secrets of radiant skin, and chat with Julep's "Chief Girlfriend" (AKA Founder & CEO) Jane Park on Saturday, May 20th.

Come hang with the Jane and Ulta gang in Gastonia and learn how to pamper your skin during the Morning Master Class lead by Jane herself! During the class, learn all about the Korean beauty secrets that have propelled Jane to the top of the beauty industry, including a simple 3 step routine for achieving and maintain radiant skin all season long.

20 Fun Coding Games for Kids of All Ages

Teach your kids to love and master coding with these 20 fun coding games for kids of all ages

Teach your kids how to code with these 20 Coding Games for Kids of All Ages.

In our house, computers are life. I remember how adamant I was about ensuring that our daughter spend more time outside with nature, and less time in front technology. This was obviously before she was born. Oh, how naive I was.

My daughter belongs to the "generation of tech." A generation that will never know life without cellphones or tablets, and a generation that gets to play with robots. Frankly, I'm a bit jealous.  So instead of shying away from technology, I'm teaching my daughter in hopes that one day she'll grow to love it. Since I believe that sharing is caring, today I'm sharing 10 of my favorite Coding Games for kids of All Ages.

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.


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.