7 Best Reasons Why Parents Should Join the PTA This Year [Infographic included]

Back to school is in full effect, because Yassss… It’s finally September! Everyone is coming back from summer vacation and preparing to toss (literally) our children right back into the classroom. It’s a busy and exciting time of the year as families prepare themselves with strategies to rearrange their schedules. This year, I wanted to share something very important that parents should be considering that will not only aid in preparing for the new school year, but it will also benefit the community, the children, and other families as well.

I’m talking about joining the PTA (or PTO) in your child’s school. PTA stands for, Parent-Teacher Association. This is a group of responsibly dedicated parents that have chosen to volunteer their time, skills, resources, and knowledge in an effort to support other parents, school staff, and the children of your child’s school.

7 Best Reasons Why Parents Should Join the PTA This Year

When you join the PTA, you play an important part in ensuring that the school’s policies and information are conveyed to others parents in a comprehensible/relatable way. It’s honestly hard as a working mother to stay on top of all the information the school dishes out almost daily.  It’s not easy remembering events and important dates, and even connecting with like-minded parents. We often get so wrapped up in our personal lives and our desire to stay on top, that many parents leave it completely on the school to parent, educate, and cultivate talents in our children for a full day. Many parents don’t have time to keep track of the massive amounts of documents being sent home in your child’s book bag. There are parents who don’t understand what’s going, forcing them to just go through the motions until June peaks its head.

As a member of the PTA, you have the ability to make it easier for those parents. You are given the knowledge, tools, and resources to be a liaison for parents who aren’t connected to the administration. You can build positive and supportive relationships with other parents, who get it. By joining the PTA, you are given access to a community of individuals who share the same desire to see that their children have an awesome school year. You play a role in helping other families by participating in activities that will help them grow and build relationships as well.

I joined the PTA with that same intention. I know how difficult it is to get through a school year, not knowing what is going on or finding out things at the last minute. I got frustrated with not having questions answered and feeling like a no one truly cared about the children having a fruitful experience. I strongly wanted to be a part of a community of parents who cared and an administration that valued the relationships with parents and students, and not settling by just “doing their job”. By joining the PTA, I wanted to use my skills and knowledge to play a part in making a change and support something phenomenal. We all have to give back in some way, why wouldn’t I choose to give back to the place that I leave my most valuable possession every day, my son’s school?

If you think that the PTA is not for you, what are your reasons? You may have something up your sleeve to answer that question, but bear with me. Do you not have an hour or two of available time once a month to talk about ways to improve your child’s school? If we can watch reality television or make it to the happy hour special religiously, I find that hard to believe. Do you realize that you won’t be alone? There are many parents who are making the time sacrifices needed to build relationships with other parents who share the same goals. The work isn’t hard, it just needs to get done. It’s a rewarding experience knowing that you are assisting in bringing not only your child, but everyone else’s children, a gift of your talents and services to make their school year even better. What else do you need?

PTA work is selfless. It’s about more than just you and yours. PTA is an opportunity for parents to play a role in supporting the school that teaches their child, the teacher that comes into contact with your seed, and the children and families that your child interacts with daily. Whatever you can offer or provide, can transform the school year experience for so many people that you probably won’t even meet. That’s a small task with a huge impact. As someone who always wants to make a positive impact, that’s all I needed to hear.

I wanted to share with you the 7 Best Reasons Why Parents Should Join the PTA This Year. It’s important that parents know how important their participation in the PTA is to their child’s success and the success of the entire school and community. If you can muster up the energy to be that solid supporter of the community, I know you won’t be disappointed.

Check out these 7 Reasons Why You Should Join the PTA and the conflicts associated with them. If I haven’t convinced you, let me know why or why not. I would love to hear from you.

7 Best Reasons Why Parents Should Join the PTA This Year

Use Your Voice. 

PTA can be a great way for you to effectively suggest change at your child’s school and in the community.

Some of you believe that you aren’t qualified or educated enough to speak up. You sit on the thought that past experiences or lack thereof, limits your ability to use your voice to make a difference. That is a complete lie! Our child goes to the school, your tax money pays for what’s there. You need to recognize your power and use it, even if it’s just making suggestions or reporting what you don’t like. It’s your voice, use it!

Get Great Resources For The Family.

The school system offers a variety of programs designed for students, as well as their parents.

Do you believe that you have no say in what your children do in the school? Are you just waiting on someone to come up with the program that you’ve been waiting for, so that you can get your child involved? PTA members help develop resources and programs for the school, that are valuable to all families. The PTA is one of the first to know about resources available and how to get that information out to the community. As a PTA member, you are responsible in making sure that other parents are privy to important updates and information that was specifically intended to aid and assist families in so many ways.

Be a Role Model.

By becoming a PTA member, you’ll be demonstrating to your child the importance you place on education and how you can effectively work with a team to make a difference. Your responsibilities in the school’s PTA, will be an awesome way to incorporate your child and his/her friends, making it a community effort.

Being a parent is a lot of work, but it’s not enough. Your kids deserve to see how their parent can collaborate with others, use their skills to change their circumstances, and give selflessly to their community. By joining the PTA, you are instilling valuable lessons into your child without interacting with them at all. You are teaching by example, showing that you are willing and able to be a leader for someone else outside of them.

Know What’s Happening.

Be one of the first to know what’s happening in your child’s school, then join the organization that helps create events and projects.

Test your creative and organizational skills by coming up with educational, purposeful, and morale building events for the school and the students. You know first-hand what your children and their friends love and how school makes them feel. By supporting the PTA efforts, you can make sure that everyone is pleased (school administration, teachers, students, and other parents). You play an important role in developing activities and projects that has the potential to get everyone connected. Who wouldn’t want that?

Connect with other Parents.

PTA events and projects are opportunities to meet other parents and teachers, building relationships by discussing issues that are on your mind.

Like I said, Parenting isn’t easy. It makes sense to want to connect with other parents in the community, who know and understand what you are going through. By building relationships with other parents, you gain insight on how easy it is to solve many of the challenges you probably face working, raising children, and being an adult. There are many different types of people, from various backgrounds that can teach you something, one way or another. The PTA is a small community within a community, of parents who all want the best for their children inside and outside the classroom.

Use Your Skills to Help.

By volunteering with your PTA, you put your skills and hobbies to use for a great cause. You get to put your gifts to use by helping your child and all children in the community.

We all have something special about us. Whether you are a digital content creator with awesome design and conceptualization skills (like myself, LOL) or you are extremely organized, patient and kind person, we all have our talents and gifts that make us special. Bringing that knowledge and those skills to the PTA, you provide an invaluable asset to your community. There are entrepreneurs, activist, and incredible parents among us that can impact the school and community, by simply sharing those skills. Our children are important parts of our lives, and I know that if I can use my skills to put food on the table; using my skills to make his school year awesome is nothing. PTA members contribute something huge to the efforts of the school, in return it’s great knowing that it is helping my child and every child that walks through the door, the teachers, and the school… which then comes back to my child. It’s a win – win!

Access to Exclusive Offers. 

Individuals and local units can take advantage of a host of benefits from PTA membership including discounts and offers from member benefits providers and sponsors, magazine subscriptions, leadership training, e-newsletters and much more.

If you knew you could get discounts, deals, and exclusive offers by joining the PTA in the beginning of this post, you probably would have signed up already. LOL

The PTA partners with area businesses and programs to offer exclusive opportunities for families, kids, and the community. By being a part of the winning team, yes I said that, you gain access that you probably wouldn’t have had, if you weren’t a member. There are perks! Enough said.

7 Best Reasons Why Parents Should Join the PTA This Year

So if you haven’t signed up for your local PTA chapter yet, what are you waiting for? If the PTA at your child’s school isn’t up and running yet or not on par, be that parent that turns it all around. The PTA isn’t for weak individuals who are insecure with their parenting skills or themselves, but it can definitely be helpful to parents like that. Why not be the leader and step up to the plate? If you have the skills, meaning you are an able-bodied individual and still breathing, then sign up. If you see changes that need to be made or you want to further support the efforts that have been going well, sign up. Your child’s school could use more hard-working, committed, and sincere parents to help make every child’s school year the best it can be. You are just the parent for the job.

To be corny and because I wanted to say this, this entire time…

“Ask not what your child’s school can do for you, but what you can do for your child’s school”

Tweet: “Ask not what your child’s school can do for you, but what you can do for your child’s school”

LOL, now that I got that out of my system… let the school year begin!

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Happy new School Year Moms and Dads!

For more information, check out The National PTA website at http://www.pta.org/

5 Magic Ways to Get Your Mother in Law to Love You

If you are a bride-to-be or have been married for a while, you may be familiar with your husband’s mother in some way. If you’re lucky, she is either a very nice woman who respects your marriage and gets along with you at least most of the time (sort of like a second mom) or she is resting in peace somewhere. If neither of these apply to you, then you may be struggling with a mother-in-law who isn’t pleasant at all. Perhaps your mother-in-law is more like a monster-in-law, and you are literally two seconds from yanking your hair out from stress. Don’t do that, though… it’s not cute.

5 Magic Ways to Get Your Mother in Law to Love You

Dealing with a difficult mother-in-law is never easy. In a perfect world, you would be able to at least be cordial and see eye to eye for the sake of your spouse (or children). On the other hand, we don’t live in a perfect world. I know what it’s like to be in a tug of war for respect with your mother-in-law, and I can say first-hand the challenge that awaits you if you don’t learn how to stay respectful, but gain your respect as her daughter-in-law.

After over 16 years of being together and two children in, I still struggle with Mother-in-law issues very now and then. I believe there is something special about a woman who realizes that her son is in love, and instead of welcoming the young lady with open arms, she chooses to do everything in her power to make her miserable. Sometimes, it can be challenging to grit your teeth and continue smiling in your happy relationship, when all you want to do is scream. However, I’m going to give you five easy tips to get the monster… I mean mother of your darling husband, to not only like you but adore you in so many ways.

Tip #1

Be Yourself the First Time

Don’t pretend to be some innocent person who has never cursed, went without cleaning up the house, made mistakes, and blemish free; just to impress your spouse’s mother. Any real woman can see right through that, so who wants to eventually be exposed. If you want to impress her, be YOU right out of the gate. The worst case scenario, she doesn’t like you or your character. However, that’s a whole lot better than her realizing you were a fraud in the beginning, because true bonds cannot start with a lie. Start with honesty and grow from there.

Tip #2

Keep Your Business in Your Home

It’s none of anyone’s business what goes on in your home, especially NOT your mother-in-law. As much as you may want to confide in her about your relationship, finances, or personal troubles… DON’T. This will only be issues that she uses against you in the future. If you are having problems with her respecting you, telling her your problems, than being vulnerable around her isn’t going to soften her heart. No matter how she tries to play it, keep your hand close. Mind your business and keep yours to yourself. Even if she wants to call you (or your spouse, because some lonely moms do that) to gossip about her lack of sex, horrible friends, or the latest news about other family member’s, keep it short and simple. Let her know that she is welcome to come over for dinner or during the weekend, because she is less likely to gossip around the children or other family members, but don’t be her on call therapist. Mean mother-in-laws love to turn their son’s wives and girlfriends into their pet/sidekick/frienemy when it fits them… you’re better than that. Stay back.

Tip #3

Set Clear Boundaries with an Open Mind

Your mother-in-law shouldn’t just call in the middle of the night, unless something is wrong. She should not have a key to your house, unless it was something agreed upon between you and your spouse. Your mother-in-law should not be able to repeat personal conversations that you had with your husband. Nor should your mother-in-law have access to money and funds that you haven’t touched yet. She also shouldn’t think that it’s OK to yell at you, hit you, or have tantrums in front of your children. There has to be some boundaries in your relationship with your mother-in-law and your spouse. If you married a grown man, then everyone should treat him like a grown man. Your mother-in-law should not be able to treat you or your spouse like her children anymore… those days are over. That does not set a great example for your own children, if they constantly see you being chastised by their grandparent. Make it clear that your relationship and home are just that… Yours. Never allow her to impose on your privacy or life just because you want her to like you and are afraid to upset her. Don’t make your life miserable trying to impress someone else’s difficult parent. However, if you are blessed to have a very close and positive relationship with your mother-in-law, then continue to do whatever makes you comfortable. If she is helping you around the house, caring for your kids, that’s awesome. It’s beneficial for some families when the mother plays an essential role in a multi-generational home. No matter how much pride you may have, nothing beats another woman’s trusted and caring assistance in raising a family. If that your situation, count your blessings. Otherwise, keep an open mind but make those boundaries clear.

Tip #4

Never Show Fear of Standing Up For Yourself

I believe this advice applies to all types of people, but especially your mother-in-law. If she is consistently disrespectful, condescending, and manipulative… I say pray first. But then I believe it would behoove you to stay strong and stand your ground. Don’t match her drama with more drama of your own, because you run the risk of you both losing the love and respect of your spouse. Keep it classy at all times. However, explain to your spouse (not whine and complain) how challenging it is for you and how you want to keep the peace. If you genuinely want to get along with his mother, your actions must speak to that. He will eventually see who is doing what, and make moves to bring peace to his family himself. That’s what real men do. However, if after standing your ground, neither your spouse nor his mother is letting up on the misery, it may be time to reconsider your place in that weird depressing love triangle.

Tip #5

Kill Her with Kindness… until She Kills Herself

If your mother really wanted peace and harmony in the family, she would appreciate you being kind to her. Despite some mean comments and behaviors, you remain sweet and respectful to your mother-in-law, showing that you are the bigger person. Sounds awesome! However, I know many of you are like, “yeah, right! If it were only that easy.” It’s not easy at all. But it’s something you have to do. You can’t disrespect the mother of the person you love, no matter how nasty they are to you. It doesn’t look good, that you can’t show the person who brought your spouse into this world respect. It also says that you don’t want to keep peace in his family, something that should be essential to your future with your spouse. So when your monster-in-law is showing her selfish side, acting like a baby with a tantrum because her son/daughter needs to give her the attention that she has been used to their entire life, you have to keep a positive attitude and show respect. Be kind, let her know that you care and value her child, and that you will always be there for them. If you are lucky, you will eventually see that her ‘hate” for you has subsided and she realize that she has to let him be a man. However, if you are not so lucky, your spouse will have to realize that his/her happiness is not a priority to their mother and they will treat her accordingly. Either way, you get rid of a problem with the just the cost of being nice. Sounds like a bargain to me.

“You can’t expect respect and love from anyone else, if you haven’t first developed a love and respect for yourself.”

Tweet: “You can’t expect respect and love from anyone else, if you haven’t first developed a love and respect for yourself.” - http://ctt.ec/tklch+

Ok, so maybe these tips won’t necessarily make her adore you, but hopefully this will bring you to a mutual understanding. The goal is to bring peace to your family, keep your spouse happy and stress free, while still maintaining a mutually respectful and loving relationship with his mother. It can be done, but it takes work. It’s up to you to be the bigger person sometimes, and do something different. I would walk into it fearlessly knowing that what’s meant to be is already yours.

The truth is, there is really nothing you can do to make your mother-in-law like, you, love you, or even treat you right. There are just some moms in the world, that aren’t ready or are uncomfortable that their sons may marry a strong, opinionated, and independent women. Perhaps it reminds them of themselves or the lack thereof. Often times, by you just loving her son and being in a happy relationship with him, it reminds her of what she doesn’t have and how lonely she is. It’s not your man’s fault (unless he isn’t speaking up about the disrespect and lines being crossed), so you shouldn’t take it out on him.

Side Note: You ever notice some women with husbands and long-term relationships don’t spend too much time worrying about their kid’s relationships, when they children grow up? They’re too busy keeping their own man happy and tending to their own households. Just an observation.

Check out my Video Vlog of a Recent Experience I Had of My Own:

Note the fact, that we all have problems from time to time with our very own loved ones. There are no perfect people. I believe that as long as we continue to encourage each other and remain transparent, eventually we will all come to some compromise.

When Your Mother in Law Hates You | GaptoothDiva Life Vlog

Your responsibility is to continue to be a good woman to your man, responsible, honest and drama-free. If you maintain that level head and a cool attitude, a smart man would see that it’s not you and deal with it accordingly. Often times, you’ll find yourself being baited into arguments and tedious spats, and that’s because your mother-in-law is bored and lonely. Don’t take the bait! Show the person you love that you are capable of not allowing the behavior of his/her family members affect you to the point that it becomes detrimental to your relationship.

It’s never easy dealing with your spouse’s family, if they are mean and disrespectful. Nevertheless, your love for your spouse is far more important than someone you’re not sleeping, creating a family, or paying bills with, any day…. Period.

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How do you deal with issues with your Mother-in-Law?

Please comment below and let’s start the conversation.

Am I Really The Only Grown Black Woman with Mommy Issues?

With Mother’s Day rearing her pretty little head, I decided to talk about my struggle with celebrating motherhood. I know as a mother, this a great opportunity for my children to show me how much they love me in a creative and fun way. I love it! However, as the child from a strained mother daughter relationship, how do I let go of the past and finally show my mother how much I’ve healed?

I’m grown now. There is no doubt about it since my last birthday dropped in like it was hot. Yet, for the past decade I’ve admittedly walked around as “a grown woman with mommy issues”. If you know me or have ever been privy to my personal struggle, you know that I had battles with my family. Most importantly, my mother. We would bump heads, go months and years without speaking, and I was hurting because of it.

Am I Really The Only Grown Black Woman with Mommy Issues

People came in and out of my life, many of them trying to fill the void left by her absence. Yet, no matter how much time and energy was spent, no one can replace my mother. I struggled internally because of it. I wanted to believe I was over it, and perhaps I could live my life without ever dealing with my mother again.  As crazy as it sounds I was determined to try, busying myself with work and with people who were put into place to make me feel like nothing was missing. Nevertheless, I wasn’t right, my children weren’t right, and it started to become obvious.

Despite everything I was going through, stubbornness was preventing me from just letting it go. I had questions, I needed answers. I had things to say, I needed her to listen. Most importantly, I wanted an apology and for her to change into someone and something I always wanted her to be… my friend. It was my oldest son that begged me to be the bigger person. He asked me to make up with my mother for his birthday, because he missed her, my father, and his aunts and cousin. I knew I couldn’t deny him that effort because of my pride, so I submitted to reaching out. We talked, we cried, and we made promises. Emotionally, I was overwhelmed. To have your family back after almost two years, is an incredible feeling. After I let so much off of my mind and off my chest, finally opening up about my pain, hurts, and disappointments, I was finally heard. We made amends, something I’ve only dreamt about after all of that time had pass. We agreed that we would be more compassionate and honest. We committed to be better towards each other, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

For the past few months, I’ve been cultivating our mother-daughter relationship. Growing each week closer and closer to my own mother, something that was difficult in the past. Now that I’m older, it’s easier for me to take people for who they are, instead of what I think they should be. When I allowed enough time to go by, I realized that as a mother, you can only do what you can with what you have at the time. It’s not perfect every day, and even I had struggles that made me someone who I didn’t like. So far be it from me, to hold a grudge towards my mom for not getting it right back then, when we’re both capable of fixing it now.

Sometimes, I think I’m the only black woman with mommy issues. No one ever talks about the struggle to have that bond with their own biological mother. Often times, I felt alone in my tug of war of building a relationship with my mother and how it breaks me down when we aren’t connecting like we should. As little black girls, we’re taught that we should respect our mothers, be there for our mothers and never not speak to your mother. I held anger for her because of what I went through. I always had strong feelings about the challenges I faced as a child, and wished my mother stepped up more, did more. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone through so much at such a young age. I believed it was better to not have her in my life, than to have a riff between us that no one wanted to step up and fix. It’s ostracizing around Mother’s Day, not being able to share that special day with the very woman who brought me into this world. I just leaned on the fact that I was a mother, so I’m able to enjoy Mother’s day is that aspect.

“Seriously? Mother’s Day is around the corner and I’m really excited. I always get the red carpet celebrity lifestyle of the rich and famous treatment on mother’s day, and secretly I’ll admit I’m not that deserving of it all. I’m a great mother and everything, but I get a little spoiled around this time. Funny thing when I was a kid, I never went that hard for my own mother. So, it’s surprising how serious my children take it. I must be doing something right.”

Am I Really The Only Grown Black Woman with Mommy Issues, Gaptoothdiva at the shooting range with her mom

My mommy issues are based on fear. I’m scared to get hurt. I’m scared to just let go and love my mother with no hesitation or regret. I often posted my mother on this pedestal that I constantly asked her to live up to. When she stepped down, showed me who she was (imperfect), or disappointed me, I went into survival mode and retreated. She may have been wrong, but after a while I stopped giving her a chance to fix it and make it right. After a while, I stopped putting myself in a position to get hurt. This affected my other relationships as well. I was convinced that if your mother could hurt you, so could everyone else. I lacked even a small iota of trust for anyone because of my stressed relationship with my mother. I couldn’t fathom myself committing to any serious friendship, when I don’t have that with my own blood. Despite, my encouragement to others, telling everyone to make your own family or to create your own family. The truth is you can never replace your flesh and blood. It took me taking that time away to realize how much of myself was missing. I didn’t have my sisters, my father, my nieces, or anyone because of a feud between my mother and me.

When I asked for advice from other black women, I was getting mixed reviews. Some said to reach out and just deal with her, as she is but with a long handle spoon. Others suggested that I let go, move on with my life without ever speaking to my mother again. A combination of pride and fear often took over, forcing me to fall into myself, afraid to look foolish. Being a mother and showing compassion to my children, is easy to me. They came from me and I want them to be happy children who grow into incredibly satisfied adults. However, being the child and asking for that love is challenging. As the years, go by and you start to get older, you start to feel stupid for still feeling like “I want my mommy!” That feeling of being foolish eventually turns to a productive anger that screams, “Fine, you won’t love me like I need you to, I’ll be ok without you.” As productive as I was, I still missed my mother. That feeling was too strong to hide.

Watching my friends and clients share moments with their mothers, it pained me. I’m happy to see that there are positive mother-daughter connections, but inside I felt the stings of envy. I yearned for the same fun, loving, and compassionate bond with my mother, too. We never seemed able to get on the same page to be that close, consistently, for a long period of time. We never made it long enough to just take each other for who we were, not forcing the other to change but comfortable to just be imperfect in front of each other. Looking back, I see how much time was wasted and I don’t want to continue to make the same mistake anymore.

Lately, we’ve been laughing and joking together so much that we’re in stitches all the time. Time is going by so fast, and we’ve realized that we’ve been talking for hours. We’ve been friends, and I’m happy. In the past, I would spend all this time afraid. Thinking about what you could or would say or do that would bring this gingerbread house of love and nurturing crashing down. I started to expect her to mess it up, believing that she wanted to sabotage a relationship with me and toss me on an emotional roller coaster of insecurity and rejection, just because she could… she was my mother. However, now I’m just learning to understand that she is who she is, and perhaps the pressure to be perfect for me or to make up for her mistakes from when I was little was putting her in a challenging position. Maybe, if I lightened up and gave her some room to be my mother in her own way, it would make it easier for her to come through like I need her to every time and not what I want her to some of the time.

Yes, I’m a grown woman who has had some mommy issues. My mother and I don’t have a perfect mother and daughter relationship. We are starting again after being estranged for almost two years. It was a conversation I was having with a young girl about her relationship with her mother. I was encouraging her to try to be honest with your feelings, no matter how vulnerable you are. She asked me if that advice worked in my own personal situation after writing my book. I told her, I hadn’t tried it yet. I needed to test it out for myself and see if I could let go of the fear of being rejected by my own mother. I feel better about motivating these young ladies about this, because I now know what it feels like to work towards making this relationship better, before I try to bury something definitely worth repairing. I can’t keep living in fear of my mother disappointing me, making me angry, or hurting my feelings, when I’m confident in who I am. I also can’t keep throwing away valuable relationships, just because it doesn’t fit my description of an ideal situation. I learned to accept her for who she is and to not put her on a pedestal to make the same decisions I saw other mothers make. She is who she is, and I can’t love someone unless I can accept them for who they are. There is no making up for the mistakes from yesterday, we can only do what we can now. If we try now that’s all that matters. Living in the moment is where we are.

 

Now that we are working on our relationship and starting anew, I’m taking advantage of opportunities to just enjoy the moment. What once was an issue, is now a budding friendship between a mother and daughter that has been through quite a few challenges, on a quest to turn it all around. This will be the first year that I can legitimately celebrate Mother’s Day, by doing something special for my mother. Repairing our relationship, I showed my own children that no matter what, you can always come home. I didn’t realize at the time, but I see how important it is to make that effort and how going through this experience has really changed me. This mother’s day I will celebrate my mother by sharing in the possibilities of where we go from here. How we can start an honest dialogue about our hopes for our new beginning. I’m looking forward to it. I’m not going to live in fear anymore. I’m absolutely ready for the ride.

XOXO,

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7 Undeniable Ways to Show Your Kids How to Have the Best Life Now

Now that spring is peaking her little pretty head around the corner, we’re on the spring cleaning, let’s get right for the new weather/season phase. In our home, we’re always running around purging closets, filling up new seasonal stock items in our cabinets, redecorating, and preparing for dinner parties, cookouts, and lots of events/festivals. With all that’s going on I wanted to make sure that I instilled some serious lessons into my boys, which I learned over the years about valuing life and where we are currently. I’ve been really into growing things, gardening, and DIY, so it’s about time I put what I learned into practice.
I find that life offers a fresh start everywhere we turn. Most recently, many people used the New Year as their fresh starting point to jump into 2015. I like to look at spring time as yet another opportunity to refresh, if your life needs it. However, this time why not include the kids on this journey? I’ve been blessed enough to connect with some new and amazing people, I’m learning new things like gardening, art, nutrition, and exercise… and it would be great if I could teach my children about it and get them as excited about it all as well. I could definitely use the support from my outspoken bunch, so if we all came together with the same mission in mind, I believe it would easier for everyone.
Lately, I’ve been talking to the children about taking care of our home, doing the things that we enjoy, and challenging ourselves to come up with some cost effective ways to add new experiences and projects to our calendar. I wanted us to all add some things that our whole family could enjoy. I know so many parents who work so hard on their fulltime jobs, their own small businesses, and in their community, that the time it takes to sit down and come with ideas of new things to do or family projects is almost impossible. Nevertheless, it’s important that we take the time to really do the things that we want to do, rather than settling for what we may or may not have time for.
I came up with a list of ways to show our children how to enjoy their lives right now, no matter what their current situation is. This was an effort to explain to them, that no matter what challenges we may face down the road (or if life seems amazing and nothing could go wrong at the moment), we still need to take advantage of opportunities to live, laugh, and love regardless. I wouldn’t want them to grow up believing that their happiness and quality of life is dependent on how much money we have, if we come across a bump in the road, or our ability to overcome setbacks or reach our goals. I want them to understand that now is the time to celebrate life as a gift.

Here are 7 ways to show your kids how to have the best life now:

1. Take care of home – whether you live in an apartment in the projects or a two story home in the most beautiful suburban neighborhood, teach your children to value the place where they rest their head. Keep it clean, maintained, loiter and negativity free.

– Try do this on the inside AND outside of your home to have something you can be proud to come to everyday. It’s easy, inexpensive, and the kids would enjoy helping you. The reward at the end could be ice cream and cake or dinner out on the town.
Clean
Paint
Decorate
Maintain

2. Like Date night, everyone should write down three things they would love to do in the next three months. Then place everyone’s idea in a jar. Get out the calendar and start posting everyone’s idea randomly as you pull them out the jar on the calendar. This is about goal setting and sticking to a schedule, a lesson that everyone in the family could learn. If you lock in a date for the calendar, everyone has to make an effort to meet that day to do that activity.

Here is an example of what was in our jar & what we’re adding to our calendar

– Mom – Museum, Beach, Picnic, & Gardening
– Dad – Fishing, Bowling, Amusement Park, Paint Ball
– Son #1 – Go Cart Racing, Fireworks, Bike Riding/Hiking the Trail, Atlanta Road Trip
– Son #2 – Beach, Cookout, Children Museum & Zoo

 

3. Having some sort of spiritual foundation has been extremely important to my family and I. Once we were baptized and connected to a church, it seem like our challenges subsided and we knew that we had an automatic extension to our family. Encourage your family and your children to get more involved in the church or in the community. Sign the kids up for classes, groups, field trips, or local organizations that can motivate him/her to be a positive individual. Encourage them to look for opportunities to be leaders among their peers and always make time (even if it’s 20 minutes) to listen to them about their day, their concerns, or just hear about the highs and lows of their experiences.

4. A family that prays together stays together. I’m also learning that a family that works out together stays healthy together as well. When we wake up early to workout, we’re including the kids every now and then also. It turns out that my children are more active when they see that their parents are as well. If gives them that competitive spirit to move more become faster than us, but I hear a lot less whining and complaining throughout the day. They aren’t bickering and teasing each other out of boredom. When they get really quiet, I know that all that physical activity wore them out, so nap time is so much easier. It turns out that exercise is making everyone in the family much happier with better attitudes. I encourage all parents to get outdoors with their kids and allow that positive energy to surge through your bodies, raise those endorphins while you watch your family have a spectacular workout and lots of fun.

5. Projects aren’t just for school. During spring break and the summer break, we decided to all come up with a selfless project that we have to work on in our free time. We will present them to each other at a certain deadline and explain how it all came together. Something similar to what my husband and I did when renewing our vows, but this includes the whole gang and it’s about helping others. I’m really excited to see the kid’s project, because they are collaborating on it together. I like to see everyone commit to something and work persistently to see it complete. Of course there is a prize, but the actual effort put into each person’s project will be priceless.

6. Cultivating positive relationships with family is very important. No matter what you’ve been through, if have the ability to create a family now, if you refuse to limit yourself to what family truly means. Spending quality time with our loved ones, sharing special moments and stories form our family’s history, and gaining new experiences with one another is precious. Some people don’t have that kind of access, so to explain to your children how blessed they are to have family is a lesson that you shouldn’t put off. Go visit that aunt, grandmother or cousin that has been heavy on your heart. Show your children where you grew up, played, and got your first kiss, so that they can see the experiences and people that made you who you are today. Take a day where you go a tour around your old high school, church, your first apartment, or even where you and their father/mother met to connect the dots for them about your lives before they were born. Those kinds of history lessons are so valuable to truly understanding where you came from.

7. Show your children how to show gratitude. I encourage my children to show gratitude for all things big and small. They shouldn’t start eating until they say Grace. They should never walk away from someone who complimented them or did something nice without saying “thank you”. I show them that everyone doesn’t have it as good as they do, so be grateful for it all. Some of us know what it’s like to have life just snatch some things right from under you, but by instilling gratitude in my boys, it is my hope that they understand that they are blessed. Enjoy the life you have now, not when you get to where you want to be or when things start to look better. My sons say “Thank you Lord” now, sometimes I don’t even know why. I’m just happy to hear them give God the glory. Show your kids that having goals and ambitions are awesome, keep it up and continue. However, if you don’t do anything about the blessings you have today, I doubt it if you should expect any more tomorrow.
Let’s show our children how to celebrate and have an awesome life now, without someone saying that they’re qualified to do so. They will learn to appreciate and value their lives for many years to come.

Any ideas you would like to add to this list? Tell me how you plan to show the young people in your life how to live their best life now.

Making Memories That’ll Stick with Picstick Because Our Family Photos Are Just That Cool

I would be the first mom and social media junkie to admit that since Facebook, Instagram, and my Smartphone came into my life, it’s getting harder and harder to remember to print out my family pictures. Tons of photo albums lay across my living room shelves, most with many empty pages. Going to the photo department hasn’t been a priority on my list, and I know how bad that must sound. I capture memories all the time. Some memories are of my two beautiful children and of my husband, but once I share it with my family and friends on social media, that’s it. The memories live inside of my account, available to me in my handheld device in the event someone wants to see them.

Then came along a wonderful and cool service brought to me by Picstick. Picstick allows me the opportunity to transform my favorite pictures into beautiful photo magnets that I can dress my refrigerator up with. Now when people come over, they can see all my wonderful memories that I normally hold hostage in my Instagram, right on my refrigerator door.

Making Memories That’ll Stick with Picstick Because Our Family Photos Are Just That Cool

All I have to do is upload my photos from your computer, phone, Facebook or Dropbox and have them printed as glossy magnetic pictures. The pictures are then transformed into amazing magnets that are also perfect for photo gifts. Picstick ships worldwide for free, so it’s also very cost effective as well, for those of us who are always on a tight budget.

I started by choosing the 9 photos I wanted to display on my refrigerator. I chose to use pictures out of my Instagram account, which was very easy to do. Once I made my selection, I saved the pictures to my basket and proceeded to checkout. No fuss, no complicated programs or software to install at all.

When I received my pictures they were attached on 200gsm art board to give them a high quality and durable finish. Each individual photo magnet is 50x65mm and 0.75mm thick. They are small and not heavy or bulky at all. I wouldn’t let my kids play with these, however. Although PicSticks indicated these magnets are tough and child-friendly, I wouldn’t want to risk messing them up or damaging them with drool or rips. I was able to easily separate each sheet of 9 photo magnets by tearing along the perforated edges or bending and snapping them off.

Each sheet of 9 photo magnets costs $14.99 and no matter where you want to have them delivered, you pay one flat shipping rate. That shipping rate is… Nothing. That’s right, Picsticks ships worldwide for FREE. Once ordered, you should receive your magnets within 5-10 days (if you live in the USA).

I love it! It was really cool to see my photos transformed into art that I could post to my refrigerator for my whole family to enjoy, the kids can use these magnets to post their school work and pictures, and my houseguest can see our family smiles while raiding my fridge. It’s a win for everyone!

Making Memories That’ll Stick with Picstick Because Our Family Photos Are Just That Cool

Check them out at https://www.picstick.com/

Also, as a wonderful gift to all of my readers, Picstick is offering a personalized 25% discount code: DIVA25 to use on your purchase. Try it out and enjoy getting your Instagram or your Facebook photos on your refrigerator or office. It’s really dope, trust me.

What Pictures Will You Be Posting with Picsticks?

 

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For more of the baddest creative motivation in motherhood and family, follow me on Instagram @GaptoothDiva or Twitter @GaptoothDiva

Brand provided this item free for review, and all opinions and experiences are 100% my own.

Shade101: Talking About Someone’s Children Should Be off Limits

Gaptoothdiva discusses Shade101 No Children do  not take jabs at families and children

 

Speaking as a grown woman with two little boys, and a person who happens to have a very candid communication style, I want to say first hand I know how hard it can be. You have children, little people looking at you every day. You have to set an example and you want them to learn from your actions and the moves you make. On the other hand, you’re that person who always speaks his/her mind, you never bite your tongue, and depending on your current platform and occupation, you have to voice your real and honest concerns and opinions. However, no matter how much you need to get your point (or lack thereof) across, I’m not about to condone someone talking about my children or my family. It isn’t right and fair for people to throw shade at your kids or your family, especially because their beef is really with you not them.

It seems like reality television has gotten quite reckless lately. In addition some of our talk show hosts have also played themselves with some foolish comments as well. From Wendy Williams calling Basketball Wives’ cast member, Evelyn Lozanda’s new son a “cash register” to Basketball Wives LA’s Sundy Carter making unnecessary comments about Draya’s son. All the while Sundy Carter also putting her own daughter on blast with a twitpic depicting her daughter kissing a penis. I mean, where does it stop?!

This is why I feel like I may be going crazy. I come from a time where you didn’t bring up mothers, daughters, sons, spouses, or even cousins. You just don’t throw shade at the family. If you were to hit that far below the belt, you was liable to get you behind whooped. It wasn’t a joke. People expected you to be way too fierce, talented, and secure within yourself to subject yourself to such a trashy, uncreative way at taking jabs at people. You damn sure don’t call an infant baby out of his name, Wendy.

Perhaps you have a strong opinion about a certain woman, maybe her behavior is less than moral, pure, and of good taste. You should be able to read someone to death without picking on people that have nothing to do with your conflict. Taking cheap shots at someone’s child and family members, shows just how basic you are… not them. You failed, you lost and as a last minute effort to make a scratch before you die, you pick up a piece of dirt and hurl it at their eye? Chile, get slayed gracefully. Stop calling some children’s names and bringing up folk’s family struggles, like you don’t have some skeletons in your closet. People have enough mess right in front of you that you don’t even need to go rummaging through their garbage.

I’m disappointed by Wendy’s comments about Evelyn. Whether you think of her as a “whore” or a really great strategist, Evelyn didn’t deserve that. Even if the reality junkies believe that Evelyn is an opportunist, gold digging “thot”, Wendy still didn’t have to go there about her new born baby. Shameful!

So overall, the lesson here is to keep it cute. Stop taking shots at the damn kids. You have to come up with something better than shots at someone’s family. You wouldn’t want someone reading you and your whole family tree, and we all believe in karma and justice. If I’m wrong, feel free to let me know. I know one thing, I protect my cubs over here.

 

 

 

 

What Do You Think? With Shade, Are Kids Off Limits?

How to Make Venison (Deer) Meat & Veggie Stew For The Whole Family For Under $20

So this past weekend I decided to finally cook that deer meat that has been in the freezer since the holidays. My husband, with all his country-ness, received some gifted deer meat from one his co-workers. He has been asking me to cook the deer meat for him for a while, and I decided to oblige his request. It’s not like he ask for a whole lot these days, right?

So, I already know… deer meat, really? Yes, otherwise known as venison, is the meat of those little Bambi’s that people sometimes go in the woods and hunt down to kill. I myself, do not have the stomach for hunting, but as of right now I’m still a carnivore. Since I’ve had deer meat before, I wasn’t grossed out in the least bit about preparing it and cooking it for my family. For those of you that do not know anything about deer meat, it’s actually delicious. Deer meat taste a lot like roast beef or pot roast depending on how you choose to prepare it. It can be a lot tougher, but the way I prepare it, it’s tender, moist, and falls off the bone.

If you do a little research on Deer meat, you will find some extremely useful facts that may sway you to at least become bold enough to try it. Deer meat is reportedly much healthier for you than the meat that is purchased at the grocery store. It’s not pumped up with any steroids or additives, as deer normally feast on grass, berries, stems, and other natural things in… uh nature. LOL, I was so comfortable with that. I knew that this large piece of meat would last a while, as we eat leftovers throughout the week for lunch. My goal was to ensure that my family had a meal that was filling, satisfying, and delicious for more than just one sitting.

GaptoothDiva shares recipe for (Venison) Deer Meat Stew

Ingredients (Venison) Deer Meat and Veggie Stew:

A pound or more of Deer meat (free)

Red Potatoes (I used about five large ones and chopped them up into three or four smaller pieces) (2.99)

Celery (1.00)

Carrots (1.50)

Mushrooms (1.99)

Onions and Green Peppers (1.50)

Thyme (1.00)

Oregano (.50)

Garlic Powder (.50)

Salt and Pepper (1.00)

Vinegar (1.00)

Beef Stock (1.99)

A pinch of Curry (but this isn’t necessary) (1.00)

Flavored meat rub (I used a McCormick brand that I normally use for pot roast) (2.50)

Olive oil (1.00)

A Slow Cooker (my own)

Water (boiled tap water from the faucet)

How To / Directions for (Venison) Deer Meat & Veggie Stew:

  • First soak your deer meat in a large pot with a mix of 1 ½ cup of Vinegar and water. Fill the pot up to an inch over the meat with water to soak it. You will soak this meat for at least 24 hours to ensure that you’ve drained it out completely. This helps to slightly avoid that “game” taste. You don’t want your meal to taste like it just died, but that’s just me.
  • Once the meat has soaked for a day, empty the pot filled with water. Thoroughly rinse the meat off with cool water and place it in the slow cooker (crockpot).
  • While in the crockpot rub meat with olive oil throughout (use only a tablespoon). If you prefer you can substitute with coconut oil or butter as well.
  • Rub meat throughout with your favorite meat rub. I suggest McCormick’s, as I love how mostly everything about their products really bring life
  • I usually don’t tell people how much seasoning and spices to use, because it depends on your taste. So put the spices and seasonings listed above as you would like it. I’m not a professional chef by no means, so I’ve perfected my wrist action when it comes to seasoning my food. I don’t measure that often, therefore I suggest season to taste.
  • Add 1 ½ to 2 cups of water to your crock pot/slow cooker and then pour a matching amount of beef stock or broth in there as well. The goal is to barely reach the top of the meat to ensure it’s fully submerged. You will notice some of the fluid “steam off” or condense as time goes by, that’s ok. We’re making stew, not soup. Don’t use too much water.
  • Place the slow cooker/crockpot on High
  • Prepare to have the meat in the slow cooker for at least 5 to 6 hours before putting your vegetables in the pot. You want to ensure that the meat is falling off the bone. The vegetables only have about and half an hour to 45 minutes to cook. Therefore, it’s the last thing you want to throw in.
  • After 5 to 6 hours, you should have chopped your veggies up. I mean, what were you doing all this time, huh? LOL. After chopping up the vegetables, place them in with the meat and stir well, so that all your vegetables aren’t just floating at the top, but being thoroughly immersed in your broth and spices for adequate flavoring.
  • Wait about 30 to 45 minutes for veggies to cook thoroughly. Once you can literally cut through the carrots and potatoes with a spoon, it’s time to get some bowls and enjoy.

This recipe should yield about 6 to 8 servings for your family. I have some very greedy people in my house and a serving for one, although is healthy and accurate, just doesn’t cut it.

I hope you like this recipe. I look forward to sharing more budget conscious recipes that are little quirky and unique for those of you looking to had something a little interesting to the dinner table.

 

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So Tell Me, How Did Your Deer & Veggie Stew Turn Out?

 

Top Back to School Lessons for Parents That Teachers Probably Can’t Tell You

Those of us with children, all want our kids to be as awesome, if not more awesome, then we were as children. We want them to look good, feel good, be great, and excel at all their lessons. It’s only right that we focus on what’s important for not only the school year, but all throughout their lives. However, there are a few of us (parents) who may not realize just how much our behavior and what we do and say, can affect the future of our children. People look at us and judge our children, look at our children and can almost guess what kind of people we are. It’s a cycle of “Don’t you dare embarrass me when you leave this house”, but people rarely talk about it. As a very observant parent, I thought it would be great to have an open dialogue about this with you all. Teachers, Administration, and school staff all talk about this, especially when we’re not in earshot. I have a few friends that are school teachers and they definitely share words and opinions on parents and their children off the clock. Their words, although often true at times, cut deep and hold nothing back. If they would ever say anything to a parent or to a child, it could potentially lead to chaos and catastrophe for their career, side-eyes, and questions regarding their passion to teach. However, I don’t think they should be in trouble for speaking the truth to grown adults, identified as parents and guardians. We should be able to handle constructive criticism from the adults that we entrust with the safety and education of our beloved offspring. This whole process is a joint effort, but many of us (parents) fail to realize that. Here are some lessons that I believe that Teachers probably want to give you but are too afraid to lose their jobs after. If you think of anything that should be added to this list, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

Top Back to School Lessons for Parents That Teachers Probably Can’t Tell You by I'esha GaptoothDiva

 

Lesson that the Teacher Probably Can’t Tell You:

1. It’s more important that your child can read, write, add, and subtract than what new deals you snagged at your local DTLR, Citi Trends, and Rainbow.

2. It’s always obvious which parents are living vicariously through their child’s life, because they failed to be popular, well-dressed, or liked at their age.

3. Despite all the warnings you give your kid before the start of the day “You better not tell this… or you better not say that…” most likely they will.

4. When you come to school in your pajamas in the morning, and then return in your pajamas in the afternoon, you proclaim to the world “I’ve been in the house all day asleep!”

5. School is not a free daycare center, expect assignments, structure, rules, and a flourishing opportunity to teach and mold your child. Not a drop-off and pick-up service.

6. It wouldn’t hurt to attempt to speak like an adult when in conversation with your child’s teacher, loud obnoxious slang and broken English does not look good. (I’m is, what that is? How old he is? Etc.)

7. Hygiene is important! A room full of dirty children, only leads to disease. Bath time, bird bath, a shower… please take a baby wipe to your kid. It’s helpful to all of the other families, if we can all do our part.

8. If your house is lit up with the smell of illegal drugs, please believe that odor is residing in your children’s clothes and hair. Everyone knows you do drugs…. *side-eye*.

9. Your little girl is adorable, she is cute, and you dressed her up very nice. However, teach that little girl to sit her fast behind down and stop chasing after all the little boys in the classroom. Don’t wait until she is a teenager to keep her from getting pregnant, stop her now!

10. Bullying is wack! Stop teaching your kids to beat up other kids in school, just because you got your tail whipped every day of your life. Teach them to keep their hands and feet to themselves.

11. If you can make time for reality television and the nightclub, then you can help your child with homework. Period! (… and don’t do it for them, that’s NOT helpful.)

12. Stop walking up to the school grounds with your child, smoking heavily on your cigarettes and black & milds. You may not worry about the health of your own child (pity on you), but don’t taint the lungs and minds of the rest of the children. Save your cancer sticks for your time away from the school.

13. How you treat the teacher, sometimes can affect how she teaches your child. I’m just saying. Professionalism and respect is not out of style and definitely goes a long way.

14. Times are extremely busy and everyone is working, taking care of their family, etc. Try to find some time to get involved, before or after school, weekends, once every 3 months, do something.

15. Try connecting and networking with other parents. Playdates, study groups, and birthday parties are all beneficial to the development and social skills of your child.

16. Talking with your children about inappropriate touching from strangers, adults, and other children, is very important and crucial to their safety. It can be awkward and weird, but better safe than sorry. It should come from you, their parent.

17. If the teacher wants to discuss your child’s behavior, listen up. Don’t get defensive and feel like she is picking on your child. Work together to correct your child’s behavior and make the school year easy on everyone involved. It’s not personal, it’s their job. However, if you feel like there is a bigger issue, talk to administration or a mediator.

18. Understand that everyone doesn’t have it as good as you may have it. Some children in your child’s class may be homeless, destitute, impoverished, or struggling with personal problems that their parents don’t want to share. Give if you can. Don’t always brag and boast about your latest new purchase, or send your child off to show off their new toys and clothes. Humility and modest behavior is a lesson that you can teach your children that will last a lifetime. If your child outgrows clothes and shoes, ask about a local clothing drive or donation box. Volunteer as much as you can. And connect with families that you can perhaps bless in some way if you are fortunate enough to have plenty. Don’t judge the children and other parents, but try to sow a seed.

19. The rules are set in place for a reason. It may not always fit your lifestyle or comfort, but by you being mindful of policy and procedure shows your child that honoring those things is important as an adult.

20. We all are going to take plenty of pictures and post great things about our kids. It’s a proud time in our families’ lives to be able to do so, but you do realize that there are great things to share other than the first day. Share moments with your kid outside of the school day and week. Taking your kids to the park, zoo, aquarium, and the library are all great things to do. Find out what the lesson is and expound on it, by doing things with your kids at home and around your neighborhood. It’s not just the teacher’s job to educate your kids, so Google some awesome ways to have fun and learn at the same time. Chuck E. Cheese and Amusement Parks are not the only options. The time you spend doing some low cost and family friendly activities has its long-term valuable benefits. The job of teaching isn’t the Teacher’s alone.

I’m truly excited about this new school year for my oldest child, I look forward to seeing all the post of proud parents and kids. Wishing everyone a truly awesome and amazing year.

What Other Lesson Should Parents Learn This School Year?

Creating a Healthier Family Lifestyle for Virtually Nothing By Supporting Community Events

These days you ask a young mother in the inner city how she plans on spending the weekend with her children, she will most likely name some place like Chuck E. Cheese, Romp and Roll, and/or some amusement park full of entertaining attractions. Although these places would be an awesome way to spend time with your children, often including great food and lots of laughs, this isn’t always the most financially viable experience for most families. Everyone can’t afford to spend upwards to $100 for fun and entertainment for them and their children, however that should not allow families to not seek out opportunities to create some wonderful memories for them and their children, regardless of their income level.

This past weekend, despite a lot of obstacles faced in the weeks prior, I decided to embark on a family challenge. This challenge was to do as many family activities as we could without spending a dime. We didn’t want to lean on the easy and predictable “go to” activities that most families would rely on, we wanted to see just how involved we could be with our family, without going broke. With this plan, our intentions were to really prove that it doesn’t take a whole lot to have a positive weekend experience with those you love, with very little effort.

Renew Richmond GaptoothDiva Volunteering with Family

 

During our weekend, we volunteered with Renew Richmond (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Renew-Richmond) at the Jerusalem Connection Garden located at 210 Giant Drive Richmond, VA. We carried coffee grounds into a pile for decomposition, which apparently makes for better soil to grow your plants. This helpful information was provided by none other than Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest at http://happilynaturalday.com), activist and entrepreneur. My son was excited at the prospect of seeing worms and playing with them. Both he and Duron’s son participated with enthusiasm, collecting peppers of the vine, shoveling dirt, and washing off vegetables. At times you forgot they were children, by the conversations they held, philosophizing over their small task and exchanging theories on life for 5 year olds. It was amazing to see. I appreciate John Lewis for inviting us out, I look forward to doing more with Renew Richmond, as my family enjoy gardening activities now and we want to learn more. Please be sure to follow them and check out what they have to offer the community. If you can get involved in some way at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Renew-Richmond.

We also stopped by the mural installation that my friend Patience was facilitating called the Light of HumanKindness, it through this mural that you get to read and experience stories about kindness and real life. It was beautiful to read the stories and watch families come together to help paint the wall in not only English, but in other languages that speak to people in the community. Patience was overwhelmed with love at the sight of support and love from the community, providing bottles of bubbles for the kids to preoccupy themselves with. It was a pleasant afternoon, although the sun did not shine bright, it was definitely shining on her project and all around her. The significance of bringing my family out here was to share with my children, that when good people come together something amazing can come from it, and all it takes is a little effort and community. Please support and check out Light of HumanKindness at https://www.facebook.com/thelightofhumankindness.

The Light of HumanKindness wall, GaptoothDiva and family attends

 

We stopped at the Down Home Family Reunion by Elegba Folklore Society (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elegba-Folklore-Society) and the Hotchkiss Field Park Family Festival by Motiv8s (https://www.facebook.com/motiv8sRVA) all in the same day. These community events, aimed at celebrating its residents, its families, and its business are easy ways to get your family out of the house with little to no cost at all. Showing your children, the people in their community, doing amazing things, using their talents and skills to make a living, and how collaborations can bring positivity to the world around them, is the ultimate lesson in taking part in opportunities such as these. We walked away feeling a sense of pride in our families, in our future, and what we can do with just a little more effort. Of course, amusement parks, the beach, and even a cookout in the backyard could have been an option that would have exuded ounces of fun, but overall these experiences provide such a lesson that your children will be more than grateful for down the road. When events cater to children and families, allowing more people the option to participate without the burden of childcare, then you will see better outcomes from people wanting to be included, and families wanting to participate.

Overall, we learned that it doesn’t cost a thing to give our families a much more positive experience. We are looking forward to doing more from here on out.

For more motivation, follow me on Twitter @GaptoothDiva

 

 

Pregnant Belly Art; A Blank Canvas for expressing your new stage in life

This post has been contributed by Kristen Hurst (seraphinematernity.com

Joy beautiful henna belly original

Kristen Hurst is a stay at home mother of three who enjoys blogging. She received her bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing, and writes often about maternity fashion and maternity topics at seraphinematernity.com. When she’s not trying to juggle the lives of Casey, Austin and Ben, she enjoys painting and catching up with a great Jane Austen novel.

Let’s face it; a pregnant mother’s burgeoning belly is a magnet for attracting attention and sometimes unwanted hands from those who have personal boundary space issues, but if you want to take advantage of this blank canvas and would like to express your new stage in life with a form of body art, then perhaps looking into a henna tattoo might be the way to go.

Nicole henna belly 2
Nicole henna belly 2 (Photo credit: Henna Sooq)

Henna is a natural dye that has been used since the Bronze Age, mainly for medicinal purposes as it has soothing and healing properties when applied topically. It was only after applying henna paste to the skin, ancient Egyptians noticed it left a temporary stain and it was soon repurposed to adorn young women living in parts of Africa and the Middle East. The henna plant or ‘Lawsonia Inermis’ can grow to heights of 12 feet and is found naturally among the arid climes and deserts, especially thriving in parts of the Sub-Sahara where temperatures on average are over 120°. The chemical element, ‘lawsone’ is responsible for henna’s dye qualities and is found in the leaves of the plant. After harvesting, the leaves are ground into a fine powder where water or natural oils are used to reconstitute it into a paste, which is then applied to the skin. The art of Mehndi incorporates henna for its medium and has been used for centuries as an expression of beauty and in used celebratory events like holidays or wedding ceremonies and has been purported to bring about good fortune and a happy relationship with a bride’s future mother-in-law. Regardless of henna’s legendary promises, it is a natural and especially elegant way to enjoy the art of body ornamenting or adorning without the worry of introducing chemicals and since it is temporary it takes out any regrets that may come with a traditional ink tattoo. The tattoos last anywhere from one to four weeks and the hues can range depending on where the tattoo is applied, for example the thicker skin on the palm of the hands shows much darker than the skin on your limbs or torso. The paste is applied moist and takes about five to ten minutes to dry and will flake off naturally when you shower. But if you are considering getting a tattoo to mark your journey into motherhood, is it safe for pregnancy?

English: Henna Lawsonia inermis plant
English: Henna Lawsonia inermis plant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s take a look and see:

For thousands of years, the use of henna and the art of Mehndi has been embraced as an integral part of certain cultures, but like anything else that you experience during your pregnancy always talk with your OB-GYN if you are considering getting a henna tattoo. They can help educate you on the risks that might be associated with any kind of dyes. A note of caution; you should never use ‘black’ henna. Natural henna colors range from ruddy oranges, cinnamons, chocolates to maroon but are never black. If you see black henna it is made with PPD (para-phenylendiamine) which can cause severe burns, blisters and other reactions that can last for months. Make sure that you go to a reputable Mehndi artist, check the Better Business Bureau as well as searching them online.

If you are so inspired by the free-flowing, swirls and repetitive shapes and patterns, you too can learn this ancient art. There are great resources online as well as books you can purchase, practice on paper and let your creative mind take over.

The best time to show off your belly art is the warmer summer months and can be paired well with a very cute maternity bikini.

Remember, pregnancy is temporary too, wouldn’t it be fun to mark this momentous occasion with something as unique as yourself?

Find Kristen at seraphinematernity.com

Check Out more of her published post

http://themushymommy.blogspot.com/2013/03/what-your-pregnancy-style-says-about.html

http://www.bellyitchblog.com/2013/02/a-look-at-maternity-wear-through-ages.html#more

http://startupmothering.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/guest-post-tales-from-a-nursing-failure/

http://momdoesreviews.com/2013/03/13/whats-new-for-spring-maternity-wear/