Single Mom

    7 things to say to a single mom

    There’s no doubt that being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And being a single mom has made life challenging, but I am confident that I’m a better person and mother because of it. I can’t tell you how many times someone says to me, “I don’t know how you do it!”. In my heart I know they mean well, but deep inside I am rolling my eyes. I know, not the best response. Let’s be honest, whatever your circumstances you learn how to make the best of it because complaining doesn’t help. Sure I’d love to have a husband (do you hear me God?!) but it’s not in the cards right now. So I do what everyone else does, I take each day as it comes and do my best.

    Helpful things to say to a single mom

    So if you know a single mom here are some simple and welcomed things you can say to encourage her in her journey. It’ll mean more than you know.

    What was the best part of your day?
    I pose this question to my son every day when he comes home from school and love hearing his answers. It wasn’t until he started posing the question back to me that I realized how good it felt to have someone ask me how my day was.

    Would you like to go [anywhere that doesn’t have a kid’s menu]?
    Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my son, but every now and then it’s nice to go to a restaurant or someplace where there are no children. Send her a link to a groupon for an activity that is for grownups and go have fun!

    Can I babysit?
    Secretly your single mom friend has been waiting for you to offer but is afraid to ask. Sometimes we just want a moment to stare at the wall and our regular babysitter is unavailable. If you have an hour or two to spare, give us a call!

    Come over for dinner!
    Yes! The answer will always be yes.

    I’m at [grocery store or better yet, TARGET!] do you need anything?
    I’m not going to give you my entire shopping list, but it means a lot that you were thinking of me.

    Lets go for a walk.
    One of the challenges of being a single parent is that usually everyone’s health comes before my own. Encourage the single mom in your life to make her health a priority by going on a walk or doing a workout DVD together.

    You are awesome.
    We need words of affirmation just like everyone else. Sometimes just knowing that others see how awesome we are can make our day.

    How will you encourage the single moms in your life?

    Christmas Holidays Iowa

    Things to do in Iowa City this Christmas

    Christmas in Iowa City

    As an new Iowa resident I am busy adding fun Christmas activities to our to-do list. There’s something special about exploring a new city around Christmas time. Everything is beautifully decorated with lights, people are friendly and you are sure to have a Santa sighting. I love activities that are low-cost, but filled with Christmas cheer. I have created a list of family-fun activities to get everyone in the Christmas cheer in Iowa City.

    Celebrating Christmas in Iowa City, Iowa

    Horse Drawn Carriage Rides (Iowa City)

    There is no better way to take in the sights and sounds for the holiday season than a Horse Drawn Carriage Rides around downtown. Enjoy a whimsical ride while singing carols to the tune of antique sleigh bells, nestled in the enclosed comfort provided by Country Gentleman’s Horse and Carriage. From 11:30-2:30pm the carriage rides are FREE, but the line starts early at Hills Bank & Trust Every Saturday (Dec. 5, 12,19th)!

    Santa Saturdays (Iowa City)

    Every Saturday (Dec. 5, 12,19th) – Santa will leave his busy workshop for five special trips downtown to meet the area’s good girls and boys. Families can enjoy peppermint treats and FREE photos with Santa at FilmScene (118 E. College St.) from 11:30am-2:30pm.

    Aisle of Lights (Coralville)

    See how 30,000 white paper sacks, each filled with sand and a votive candle, create a magical scene on a winter evening! Miles of luminarias are available for viewing by foot or car.
    Coralville’s annual Aisle of Lights luminaria display began in 1980. Area businesses and organizations host a merry day of activities for all ages, and then participating residents and businesses light luminarias to burn in the evening.

    Hunt for the Elves (Iowa City)

    There are 30+ elves hiding around downtown Iowa City businesses just waiting to be found!

    Brucemore Holiday Mansion Tours (Cedar Rapids)

    Visitors will enjoy the seasonal splendor of 13 glowing trees, a dining room set for Christmas dinner, stunning mantel arrangements, the lush garland adornment of the grand staircase, and other seasonal cheer throughout the Mansion.

    Visit the City of Christmas (Keokuk)

    Keokuk’s City of Christmas began in 1989 when dreams became reality and Toyland, Santa’s barn complete with reindeer and elves, Santa’s Workshop, a Nativity scene, and the International Christmas display all appeared in Rand Park for the month of December. Public reaction was outstanding and a holiday tradition began. There are nearly 100 displays and approximately one million lights, so take your time and enjoy it all!

    What are some of your favorite things to do around Christmas?

    Live Justly

    Why you should care about Dressember

    I can count the number of dresses I own on one hand.  I’ve never been much of a dress person, but that is about to change this December. I stumbled across Dressember while scrolling through Instagram. A friend posted a Stitch Fix outfit that included a cute dress and mentioned Dressember. My interest was piqued so I headed over to the website to learn more. For 31 days women wear dresses every day to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking.

    Why you should care about Dressember

    As a Black person in America I am well aware of our country’s legacy of slavery, I’m the descendant of slaves. However, I think many of us think that slavery ended in 1865 with the Civil War. It’s a painful part of our history that we would to forget and ignore that it continues to this day, in the U.S. and countries around the world. There are currently about 35.9 million people in slavery today. And a significant number of them are people of color. This is not the 18th or 19th century, this is 2015.

    How does this continue to happen today? According to the International Justice Mission, people are often forced into slavery through false debts.  An owner will give an advance payment for labor and then make repayment impossible and preventing them from working anywhere else. These debts are then passed down through generations. This sounds eerily familiar to the sharecropping practices in the American south after the emancipation of African Americans from chattel slavery.  It was often referred to as “slavery by another name” since many African Americans continued to work for free because of the endless list of debts they incurred from the landowners.

    I was absolutely heartbroken when I read this and sad that I am not more familiar with the fight against this violence. Where are the abolitionists of today?

    Dressember is bigger than a dress. It’s about restoring dignity to all women and freeing them from slavery.

    I hope you will join me this Dressember as we work to end slavery in the U.S. and across the world. You can join my Dress It Up team to help spread the word and raise funds. The world is filled with so much hurt and anger right now that I think it’s important to find one small thing that you an lend your voice and/or hands to.  We have to cling onto the small things and hopefully it’ll create a ripple. I’ve created this little guide for you to use and share.

    Guide to Dressember

    I’ve also created a Pinterest board with some inspiration. I’m off to get some leggings to swear with my dresses!

    #StreamTeam Netflix Stream Team Parenthood

    5 Bedtime Tips for Tired Parents

    Disclaimer: I’m a member of the Netflix StreamTeam and this month’s post is in support of parents everywhere who battle the bedtime blues! As always, opinions are 100% my own!

    If bedtime was an Olympic sport I’m sure my son would have a gold medal.

    Every night there’s an endless list of conditions that have to be met before he will finally lay down and go to sleep. Granted he’s not an infant or even an toddler, but we still have these issues. Sometimes it’s one more drink of water or he has to finish a book he conveniently decided to read before going to bed.  I tell you this kid is going for the gold. Lately I’ve decided that yelling, “turn off the light and go to sleep!” is a waste of time and there are better tactics to use so both of us can have a good night. So here are my 5 bedtime tips for tired parents like myself:

    Bedtime Tips for Tired Parents

    Set a bedtime and stick to it
    This seems like common sense but it’s something you have to do consistently. There was a time when people would ask me when my son went to bed and I’d respond “somewhere between 7:00pm-9:00pm”. It really depended on what activities we had going on that week. Now that he’s older, has homework and after-school activities, it’s important that we have a set bedtime and adhere to it every night. Even on weekends. This helps me plan my time and eliminates surprises.

    Create a bedtime routine
    Once again, common sense but an important piece of the puzzle. My son is a creature of habit, as are a lot of children. Giving him structure before he goes to bed helps make bedtime smoother. When he was younger I created a routine chart and laminated it. He could check things off his chart and feel a sense of accomplishment. I think this also gave him a sense of independence as he was learning how to take care of himself. Some of the things my son does now before he goes to bed include: using the bathroom, brushing and flossing his teeth, packing his book bag and picking out his clothes for the next day.

    Start preparing for bedtime at least an hour ahead of time
    In the past I would jump up and start rushing my son through this nighttime routine 15 minutes before bed. It wasn’t fair for him and it stressed me out to hear him complain about being rushed. By announcing that bedtime is coming, he has an hour to transition. It also gave me an hour of time to prepare myself as well. I could use that time to pick up around the house, pack our lunches and make sure we had clean clothes for the next day.

    Eliminate electronic distractions
    Turn off the TV, tablets and phone. There’s always a temptation to check your phone or let your kid play 5 more minutes of the latest app. However, I think that the stimulation from our gadgets can make it harder to wind down. It’s hard to get my son to focus on anything when the tv is on or he has his tablet in his hands. So we have a basket that everything goes in before we go to bed so we can power down our brains and prepare for rest.

    Go to sleep
    I’ve noticed that once my son is in the bed I turn into superwoman. I try to zip through my to-do list instead of listening to my body and going to sleep. There are no medals for being an exhausted parent. I’m trying to practice going to sleep at least an hour after my son so that I can be refreshed for the next day. I find that I’m more productive when I’ve had enough sleep and I can get up at least 2 hours before my son and use that time get things done.

    Did you know that 60% (I thought it’d be higher!) of parents around the world struggle with the bedtime blues. Netflix is also aware of the bedtime struggle and has created these Dinotrux 5 Minute Favorites.  It’s genius! Let your little negotiator think they’re getting away with the age-old ‘just five more minutes’ ploy. In a mere 300-seconds, your kids will be speechless as they march themselves up to bed knowing they got exactly what they wanted. You: 1, Kids’ stalls: 0.

    Netflix Bedtime Staller Infographic USA

    Christmas Holidays

    Christmas Gifts for Your Best Friend

    Christmas Gifts for Your Best Friend

    I’ve been blessed to have amazing women in my life and Christmas is one of my favorite times of year to show my gratitude for their friendship. If I had an unlimited bank account I would send them on vacations around the world. However, my budget always reigns me back in, but that doesn’t mean I can’t purchase gifts that are thoughtful and reflect our friendship. Here is my list of great, affordable Christmas gifts to share with the wonderful friends in your life.

    Christmas gift guide for your best friends(from left to right)

    Alexandra Bracelet, ($24, ViBella Jewelry)
    I have no shame in saying that I think every woman should own this bracelet. Not only is it beautifully made, it’s ethically made. ViBella Jewelry employs women in the U.S., Haiti and Mexico to create their jewelry. The Alexandra Bracelet is made by women in Haiti giving them an opportunity to lift their families and communities out of poverty. Not only do you get to wear beautiful jewelry, you are helping women lead beautiful lives.

    Find the Joy in the Journey ($10, Chamel’s Creations)
    Have a friend who’s always sending your notes of encouragement? Now is the time to return the favor with this key chain. It’s a beautiful reminder that we can always find joy in the simple things as we go about our day.

    Venture Mug ($24, Sole Hope)
    We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus and I can’t think of an organization that does that better than Sole Hope. This  organization provides medical care, education and employment to children and adults living in Uganda. Their closed-toe shoes help protect feet from jiggers, tiny bugs that can burrow into feet and lead to infection and even amputation. This is truly a gift that gives back. Want to do more? Gather your friends and host a shoe cutting party.

    Love God & Serve Others ($27, Persimmon Prints)
    There’s nothing like a super soft tee with a simple, yet powerful reminder. It can be paired with a blazer or cardigan and will quickly become a favorite. This tee is another gift that gives back, Persimmon Prints donates a portion of their earnings to a non-profit each quarter.

    Every Little Thing by Deidra Riggs ($10.14, Amazon)
    I secretly want Deidra to take me under her wing and adopt me. I’ve been a huge fan of her blog for years and was so excited when her book Every Little Thing was released this fall. It is hands down one of my new favorite books. There is so much going on in the world that we can get overwhelmed thinking about where and how to lend our voices. Deidra reminds us that we can do great things where we are with with what we have.

    What gifts are you giving this Christmas?