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The fall decor massacre

I woke up Saturday morning expecting to take Daughter #2 to her weekly swimming lesson and then to go for lunch with some friends. Daughter #1 was still sick, but her fever had broken. We rescheduled our family plans until she was 100% better. A regular Saturday and quiet weekend…until I opened my front door.

What happened, you ask?

Destruction.

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My beautiful pumpkins. The largest one decimated. The mini ones stolen.

This is what it looked like before:

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The lone survivor–which is now inside the house until we’re ready to carve it.

And to make matters worse, the culprits–I am assuming they are the raccoons that like to prowl our neighbourhood–left every other pumpkin on the street intact.

Except for mine.

This isn’t the first time we had been hit by these terrible creatures. When we first moved into this new neighbourhood, we hadn’t closed the garage door properly.

Yo, it was not pretty.

The raccoons attacked the garbage and left it all over my driveway. They got our neighbour this past garbage day.

I know, I know, some of you are saying, “but why did you leave the pumpkins out like that? What did you think was going to happen?”

I know, but we had left our pumpkins out last year for a good two weeks and nothing happened to them. I don’t know if it’s the unseasonably warm weather we’re having this fall or if things are really bad for raccoons and they are attacking pumpkins. I don’t know and I don’t care, I am just annoyed that my front porch was covered in pumpkin guts and seeds this morning.

I found the mini pumpkins, tossed carelessly, in the side yard. I guess the beasts thought that if they couldn’t eat them, they might as well get rid of them.

The sole survivor of the massacre is safely inside the house. I will be carving it later this week. Hopefully, it will make it to Halloween.

Chupse.

Washing pumpkin guts off my porch after a lovely lunch was not the way I intended to end my Saturday afternoon.

 

 

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Fun Fridays!

Anyone who knows me, knows I can be silly–and a bit random. So, Fridays will be that day of the week when I can freely speak nonsense about all the random stuff that I encounter throughout the week.

 

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The kids are sick.

Lawd, give me strength. It seems like every three weeks or so, Daughter #1 comes home from school with some kind of plague. Daughter #2 is pretty hardy, so she manages sickness well, but the oldest?

She is on par with man sickness.

Which is thisclose to death.

I was hoping for a fun weekend, but I will probably be cleaning mucus.

Get the Vicks and vests out!


This week in Black movies and TV

I enjoy stories, whether they are written or filmed. The kids take up a lot of time, so I don’t get to read as much as I would like. When they are asleep and I have some energy, I am binge-watching TV shows or watching movies.

Hubby, a friend and I watched two horribly bad (or horribly good) independent movies on Netflix: The Man in 3B, based on a book by Carl Weber, starring Lamann Rucker, Christian Keyes (the star of almost EVERY Black independent film) and a host of C-list actors; and Boy Bye starring Wendy Raquel Robinson and Shondrella Avery.

themanin3BI enjoyed The Man in 3B because I watched it for what it was: a wannabe drama that had nufty plot holes and crazy connections. Hubby was watching it with a critical film eye.

Really, hun? This is not the movie.

The premise is that Daryl (Lamann Rucker) moves into an apartment building that is filled with gossiping folks, including Jackée Harry. Of course, everyone is enamored by the new dude–including his neighbour across the hall, Connie (Brely Evans) who is going through hard times with her husband, Avery (Anthony Montgomery). Also in the building is Benny (Robert Ri’chard), who becomes friends with Daryl; Benny’s bestie Krystal (Nafeesa Edwards) and independent Black film superstar Christian Keyes who plays Slim.

Lots of characters, lots of drama, and lots of foolishness that leads to the murder of the man in 3B and a police investigation.

It was so bad that it was good. We stayed engrossed in the film, discussing it or laughing at some foolishness.

I must say, the scene with Avery and his bosses at the furniture store is classic. The language is strong–very strong in that scene–but, I think, many people would appreciate the situation and maybe, just maybe, want to do the same thing and then pray profusely for forgiveness.

If you don’t have anything to do Saturday night, you’ll have fun watching it.

boybyeNow, Boy Bye. Sigh. You know when a movie has no real tension? It’s just happening and you’re yawning, talking to the people around you about their week and the news–Harvey Weinstein, damn–then all of a sudden, BAM! The drama starts and you’re like, “huh? What happened there? Why is this happening?”

The movie was a big ‘why?’, like ‘why was this film even made?’ The lead character, Love (Wendy Raquel Robinson), is a self-made woman who has no time for, you guessed it, love. She wrote a book, Boy Bye, which, I guess, is some kind of self-help manual for women. She is also a very successful real estate agent. About 10 minutes into the movie, we see that she’s crushing on a colleague, Lance (Ross Fleming). We go from “I don’t need or want a man” to “that Lance is the one!”

Love, her bestfriend, Charity (Shondrella Avery), who is recovering from breaking up with her husband, and another friend, Beverly (Tammy Townsend), go to a retreat–led by Love’s therapist–at a winery that is for sale. Love invites Lance, who brings his boys (including Omar Gooding) to check out the property and five minutes later they are in love.

Like, literally, FIVE MINUTES LATER.

Now, maybe I’m expecting too much, but if you’re a woman who has written a book, which you named Boy Bye, I’d think that you’d need more than two dates, a run around a park, and some wine to fall in love. Now, Lance is attractive, but he isn’t Blair Underwood or Kofi Siriboe.

Then the ‘drama’ starts and I rolled my eyes.

It was all played out. I know that many of these films are based on stereotypes, but it was done in such a boring way without much creativity.

And Love’s weave was annoying my spirit. Why did they need to put 10 packs in Wendy’s head? C’mon, y’all.

Personally, I think the cast was just looking for a cheque–including Valarie Pettiford, who got top billing for appearing for 10 minutes and doing nothing to advance the plot. I’m still wondering what her purpose was. More power to them, but you don’t need to subject yourself to this on a quiet Saturday night.

Anyhow, I’m out, lovely people. Enjoy your weekend and see you on Monday!

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The evolution of my hair

Editor’s note: Imma tell you now, this post is FULL of gratuitous shots of me in variations of hair. Even though I wasn’t posting anything, I was taking lots of pictures. Just so you know 🙂 

Years and years and years ago when I started my little blog, The Accidental Natural, it was a hair blog. I was newly natural and was interested in figuring out how to get big ringlets.

HA!!! Joke was on me! I was not a ringlet having girl. After playing around with techniques, products and having lots of patience, I figured it out–well, most of it out. For  about five years, I was all about twist outs, deep conditioning and trying to find the perfect regime.

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I had to add the photo to the left, because I can’t stop laughing at it. It was taken in 2004, I think and I look so old. LOL!!! I know the flips were trendy at the time, but damn. I look 10 years younger in the photo on the left.

 

Then, I got pregnant.

And I was sick as a dog. Fatigue and all-day sickness–I mean SICK.

When you can barely hold your head up, you’re not really trying to spend three hours washing and styling your hair. So, I got through the first 30 weeks and finally was able to keep food down and regained some energy to do my hair on a regular basis.

Then my daughter was born.

See was wonderful and tiny and all we had prayed for because getting pregnant had been a journey in itself. As wonderful as she was (and is), she was (and still is) a handful. I just didn’t have the time for hair and it was starting to shed.

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Can I say my hair was glorious…until my daughter was about six months. Then it started coming out in clumps. My edges were gone and I was worried about what was happening. Like, were my hormones off? No, just regular postpartum hair loss.

That’s when I did it. I loc’d my hair. I’ve always loved locs, but I have scalp issues and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to contend with those issues and have my hair look the way I wanted it to. I got them started with my hairdresser, but I am not the type of person to go to a salon regularly. I love playing with my hair… 

…but it’s a lot harder with a baby. And a baby who loved (and still loves) attention.

Once my hair loc’d, it became a lot easier to take care of and I was getting into a routine of sorts. I was tired–the kid didn’t like to sleep–but I found the few hours each week to do my hair.

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This is the evolution of me from “I just had a child and no clue what I’m doing” and I’m EXHAUSTED mom to “alright, I’m figuring this out” mom. As I was looking through the images, I didn’t even recognize myself in the first image. Who was that person? The photos are from starter locs to my hair finally loc’ing and looking pretty.

In January 2015, I started to feel really tired, like extremely tired. Was I anemic? That was what the doctor told me…just before she told me I was pregnant.

What?!?! After the journey to get pregnant with our first child, just getting pregnant wasn’t anything that I thought would happen easily and without medical intervention.

Fast-forward three weeks, I was sick as a dog. And this time, I was sick for the entire pregnancy. Who’s thinking about hair? That pregnancy was hard–I was vomiting numerous times a day. It was summer and the heat and sun were killing me.

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Because I was so sick, I have this one lone photo where you can see my hair and the length. I look happy, but I was suffering. I probably was running to a washroom to throw up.

After 38.5 weeks of sickness and misery, I gave birth to daughter #2, who is fun, spunky and adorable like her big sister…and also a handful. We had a 3.5-year-old and a newborn.

Hair? Hair, what? I barely had time to bathe, furthermore spend time researching products and fine-tuning hair regimes.

I let my hair do and it did and here we are, 4.5 years later and hair almost touching the top of butt. As the girls get older, I have some more time to fiddle and play with my hair–not like how I used to, but every so often.

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I love my loc curls–that’s probably my favourite style. I think I finally feel like I’ve gotten this hair thing down…for now, anyway.

So, what do I do next?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Bring on fall!

My favourite season is summer. But, this summer was questionable. Don’t get me wrong–I had fun, but it rained all the dang time.

All. The. Time.

The rain fell and during the most inconvenient times–like my first time playing mas at Toronto Caribbean Festival (or whatever they call it now), but that’s another story.  I didn’t have the time and the weather didn’t cooperate with me to have the house looking the way I would have liked for the summer season. Just keeping the cobwebs under control and fighting with the bees, wasps, hornets, fruit flies and various beasts that live in my neighbourhood tired me out.

All the Raid was bought and used.

I legit live in the suburban wilderness.

So, now we’re in the midst of October and the weather has tricked me into thinking it’s summer. It’s been warm and humid. The trees are still quite green and I only had to pull out my fall jacket a handful of times…but I think, finally, fall has decided to join us.

And with that, let’s decorate for fall! We just celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween is just around the corner. From wreaths, to pumpkins, there is just so much that we can do to decorate the house for the season.

My first stop was Michaels…Lord, you know, I could spend my entire pay cheque in that spot. (My new hobby is my Happy Planner! That will be discussed in another post.) I got two white pumpkins, some paint and a glass gourd storm lantern. If you go to Michaels regularly, you know that they always have a sale and 40% off coupons. Next stop was the Great Canadian Superstore for glass pumpkins, mini pumpkins to do a pumpkin craft with my oldest daughter and these cute owl tealight holders.

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Finally, my favourite spot: Dollarama.

Now, Dollarama is not fancy, but, lemme tell you, you can definitely get the job done at the dollar store. You can get some cool stuff for cheap.

And that is my style.

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Last week, we went to the nursery to get some fall chrysanthemums and pumpkins to decorate the exterior.

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Some garden humour!

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The wreath I made last year–yes, I made it myself for less than $30. I fell in love with the ones I had seen on Etsy and thought, “well, why can’t I make one?”

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Anyhow, check out the house–it looks cute, huh?

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Make sure to water those mums! We missed some watering, thinking that the rain would do the job. It didn’t. My poor mum at the front is just dried up and tired looking.

Check back on Mondays for more home/craft/decor posts–especially as we get closer to the holidays!

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Let’s do this again!

meSo I’ve started and restarted and restarted this blog.

And here we go again.

My challenge with writing was finding the time to do it. Between work, family and the kids–and their schedules–it was really hard to find the time to sit down and write. And what to write about.

And would anyone care?

My confidence took a hit as well.

There has been a bit of upheaval in my life over the last few weeks, but with every challenge is an opportunity.

So, I’m reclaiming my time and doing some things for me–including getting back to writing. Yes, I’ve said it before, but I am making the time to write because, honestly, I need an outlet to share my thoughts. Every time I say that I’m going to write and I don’t, my creativity suffers.

As a writer, that is the worst thing that can happen: to want to write and can’t. It’s painful. I’m somewhat fulfilled by other things, but nothing takes the place of pen to paper or fingers on a keyboard.

And not writing what someone else is demanding you to write, but writing what’s on your mind and sharing that with a willing audience.

Here we go again, as Portrait says.

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Priorities, priorities – #OACFuel4Fire

51249527-884D-46D5-A503-FFDC3BECAA80If you’ve read the blog over the last few weeks, you’ll see that I’ve decided to put out my writing. To get your thoughts about it, but also to challenge myself a lot.

Why? My life has changed completely since I first started writing years ago. I got married and had two girls. Those are the biggest changes that happened in my life.

When I got married, I had the time and energy to continue writing. Once I had my children, my focus changed.

Of course, there will be people who say I should have focused on my writing for me(!), but children–especially when they are young–take up a lot of your time and your energy. It’s not that you don’t want to move forward with your dreams and goals, you sometimes just don’t have it in you.

My oldest is now five years old and the baby is a year and a half. And I finally feel like I can carve out a little time for myself. Not every day, mind you, but sometimes.

Today, I was able to carve out time for some professional development and attend the Ontario Arts Council‘s Fuel For Fire: Professional Development for Writers of Colour event at the Toronto Reference Library. And you know what? I am so happy that I found the time and the energy to roll my carcass out of my bed at 6:30 am and head downtown to this conference.

There were sessions on writing and editing, publishing, grants, and networking. There were people who are published authors, emerging writers, poets, screenwriters in attendance–a cornucopia of thoughts, ideas, and information. Lots of information.

I am tired, overwhelmed, and excited that there is a community of creative writers of colour, racialized people who have experienced some of the same experiences I have. Some who have broken through barriers and glass ceilings, and some who continue struggle to have their writing accepted for what it is.

It was pretty damned cool.

A couple of things stayed with me, but one thing truly resonated with me. Jael Richardson who is a published author and the artistic director of the Festival of Literary Diversity spoke of finding balance as a parent, a writer, someone with a full-time job and how that balance will look different depending on what season of life you’re in.

Last year was a really tough one for me. My dad was sick and he passed away in June 2016, I had a young baby and a preschooler on my hands, we moved into a new house, I was going back to work at a corporate job that I still wonder is the right fit, but above all, my focus was on my family. I had absolutely no inclination to write a word or to think about publishing something. And I’ve beat myself up about that.

Why didn’t I keep up with my writing? Why didn’t I keep going? Why didn’t I continue to follow my dreams?

When did I become that woman? Who is running to soccer practice, doing crafts, and planning kids’ parties–although I enjoy the party and event planning…and crafts. I love crafts!

Seriously, I felt guilty. But the guilt I felt was unnecessary, but I had to re-focus during a really stressful, busy period of my life and there can’t be any shame in that. The shame would have been to ignore my father in the last months of his life because I had to write or to not spend time with my children because I had to write.

I’m re-balancing my life and writing can now take up a larger part of my life. And I can get back to it.

Tonight, I was going to break open my new set of essential oils to deal with the scalp issues that I’ve been fighting since birth, and regale you with a tale about my latest scalp concoction, but children need to be put to bed.

So, that will just have to wait until tomorrow.

Priorities, priorities.

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Happy Shopkins birthday!

Happy Monday and happy first day of spring, y’all!

So, chapter 2 was supposed to be posted last week, but, yeah. There was something a bit more important that I was doing: preparing for the firstborn’s 5th birthday party! Yes, this is mom life. LOL! This kid has had a birthday party every year of her life and I am tired. I decided that this will be her last big party until she turns 10.

Well, if it’s going to be the last party for a couple of years, we might as well go all out. Right?

The Kid is all about Shopkins. Now, I have no idea what these Shopkins do or what their purpose is, but the child adores them. When she said she wanted a Shopkins party, I said, “why not?”

I don’t have a money tree in the backyard, so I had to be aware of my budget. That being said, I am never having another major birthday party in my own house (because that is MADNESS), so I had to find a space that could hold all of our friends and family and still be reasonable. Our town rents out pavilions and heritage buildings for use. There is one just a couple of blocks away from our house and I was able to snag it—a couple of weeks after The Kid’s birthday—but whatever, that gave me extra time to plan and prepare.

Partying like a rockstar…on a budget

Like I said before, there is no money tree in my backyard. I am convinced, however, big children’s birthday parties are costly. Yes, yes, there are parents who manage to do everything for $50, but for the last five years, I’ve done parties on a budget and the least I’ve spent is $300. Whether it’s at home or at a play place, it’s expensive. Why? The Kid is born in the winter. Late winter, but she’s born in the winter, so there are no fun outdoor parties at the park or just a backyard barbecue with kids running amok.

Anyhow, there are ways to cut costs and still have fun.

How, do you ask? Pinterest! Pinterest is my best friend for ideas. I logged in and typed ‘Shopkins party’ into the search bar. Goodness! The number of ideas that popped up. What I loved was the Poppy Corn popcorn boxes.

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Yeah, The Kid and I made them. Aren’t they cute?

This was easy-peasy. I had the faces printed and bought the popcorn boxes from Dollarama – $1.25 for eight boxes. Cut them and glued them and we were good to go. I was going to just buy microwave popcorn from the grocery store, but, c’mon. In a room full of hungry, crazy kids, who was going to have time to pop and monitor the microwave so we didn’t end up with burnt popcorn? I just sent Hubby to Kernels to buy a large bag of butter salt popcorn and a large bag of caramel popcorn. And guess what? Buy two, get one free!

I’ve seen a lot of people with these huge Polaroid photo frames and I thought it would be a great idea. I checked out the prices and, honestly, for a customized photo frame, it was too expensive. I mean, we were only going to use it for the party and because it was customized, I couldn’t use it for The Baby’s birthday party in a few months. So, why spend the money? Why not make it? I headed back to Dollarama to get two foam core boards ($1 per piece) and taped them together. I used a box cutter and cut out a rectangle. I reinforced the joints on either side and it was ready to be decorated.

Before I get to that…I also wanted a backdrop for my Polaroid photo booth. Again, too expensive for one-time use. I decided to make one—back to the dollar store. I bought six bristol boards ($3 total) in green, pink, and yellow, as well as glue, hole puncher and string and got to work to create…TA DA!

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Like my tutu? Amazon Prime, y’all! I’ve worn it to a wedding, a ball, and now my five year old’s birthday party! I’m all about being able to wear my clothes everywhere. LOL!!

Fun, huh?

Word to the wise, don’t buy your hole puncher from Dollarama. They are cheap and bust up your hands. The Kid decided she wanted to help punch holes in our dots and the dang hole puncher lasted about five minutes. Spend the extra $1.75 and get a proper hole puncher—especially if you plan to do more crafts. Between cutting out dots, punching holes, and stringing everything together, it took about two hours to make. We glued nine strings of dots to the leftover foam core from our Polaroid photo frame and made our photo booth backdrop.

I got Shopkins props ($2.79), general ones like glasses, ties, moustaches ($10.99), and a wack of other decorations from Amazon using Amazon Prime and next day delivery. The great things about the photo booth props, they are great for playtime with friends after the party.

I LOVE Amazon Prime. With all my heart.

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Isn’t the poster adorable? The Kid is too 🙂 Thanks Artful Monkeys on Etsy! You guys were great. 

Lastly, I wanted to something special for The Kid. So, I was perusing Etsy. Now, I peruse Etsy A LOT, but I don’t necessarily buy anything. Not because the stuff isn’t lovely, but because I just never have. My sister and I were looking through it and I saw a personalized Shopkins-themed birthday poster by Artful Monkeys. How adorable is that? I ordered the PDF and received it in about three hours. The Hubby printed it at The Printing House and The Kid loved it.

Next time, I will show you how I actually made some of these things, instead of just showing how FABULOUS the finished product looks!

All in all, a great day was had by all and now The Accidental Natural Mama is tired and my back is aching, but it was all worth it. This party was our gift to our crazy, hyperactive, lovable wannabe teenager who is only five. And guess what? I have to do her head full of kinky, curly, thick hair tonight.

Lord help me.

So, that is the long story of why chapter two is still waiting to be posted.

Sometimes, a kid’s birthday party comes first 🙂