Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thankful Thursday!  This week has been a long one.  I was really hoping to blog everyday this week, but that didn't happen.  Sometimes, when life happens, certain things have to take a seat on the back burner.  And life has definitely been happening to us to lately.

This past week alone we've had to take the car to the shop, visit an Urgent Care, battle a bad cold virus and today we ended up at the pediatrician's.  I'm feeling more than a little worn out, tired and stressed.  This brings me to the first thing that I'm thankful for- this week coming to a close!  See ya!

So, the cold germs invaded us once again, but thankfully this time it was only me and JJ.  I was grateful that Moo didn't get sick because we probably would have had to keep her out of school and it's too early in the school year to be missing school.  I wasn't grateful that JJ's cold got so bad we had to take him to Urgent Care on Monday.  He had a high fever and at one point had started to cry uncontrollably.  I didn't want to have to wait 3 hours in a hospital waiting room and his pediatrician's office has a bit of a wait during the afternoons.  Therefore, Urgent Care it was.

I'm grateful that we were seen within 15 minutes of our arrival.  They did test him for the Enterovirus because he had most of the symptoms and that freaked me out big time.  That virus has been putting kids (and adults) in the hospital left and right.  Thankfully, his test came back negative.  They also tested him for strep throat and that came back negative too, (Thank God!)

This morning we woke up and found him covered in mystery hives.  I'm talking head to toe covered.  Seriously, he has hives in head, on his face, arms, chest, legs, feet, everywhere.  I freaked out again and after dropping Moo off to school, we booked it the pediatrician.  They tested him for Scarlet Fever and strep again.  Both tests came negative and I let out a sigh of relief.  While, we left without an official dignosis, I'm thankful that what they thought it could be, it wasn't and that we have some a boatload of steroid creams that should clear him up within a week. 

I'm thankful that Moo is still enjoying school.  She's made a few more friends.  They're not kids in her class, but I don't care.  The important thing is that she's making friends and learning how to build a friendship.  I'm thankful that she confides in me.  A lot of parents have complained that they have to pry for information on how their child's day at school went, but not me.  Moo starts sharing aspects from her day with me from the time she gets in the car until we go to bed.  I love it!

JJ is making more progress with his speech.  He can now answer yes or no to simple questions.  His list of words include "cheese," "chips," "drink," "Tom (short for Thomas the Train)," "go," "duck," "toast," and "juice."  We're so proud of him and thankful for all the progress he is making.  He's definitely more talkative and chattery during the day.

I'm also thankful that the holiday season is upon us.  Moo has been talking about Halloween and I've been busy planning for Thanksgiving and did my first bit of Christmas shopping today.  I'm also thankful for all the support I've been getting on my vlogs from my YouTube Mommy Meetup group members.  Those ladies are starting to grow me.

What are you thankful for this week?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I Learned From VEDA/Vlogust

Last month, I decided to try my hands at doing VEDA (Vlog Everyday in August)/Vlogust.  As much as it would give me great joy to say that I did indeed vlog everyday last month, alas that is not the case.  However, my first attempt at VEDA/Vlogust was not in vain.  Here's what I learned to help me improve as a vlogger and to be successful at VEDA/Vlogust next year.

Build A Video Stockpile:

Three days into VEDA/Vlogust, I noticed that it was taking forever for my videos to upload to YouTube.  That was mostly due to the fact that everybody and their mama and their grandmama does VEDA/Vlogust.  So, essentially there's more than double the amount of videos being uploaded to YouTube than normal and that causes the uploader to slow down. 

By Day 4, I was getting an error message saying my files were corrupted.  Eventually, I got my Day 4 video to upload.  Day 8, I hit a wall when after two days of trying to upload my Day 8 video it wouldn't upload.  First, I kept getting the same error message about my files being corrupted.  Then, the video kept getting stuck in processing.  Later I heard from several more seasoned vloggers in my YouTube Mommy Meetup Facebook group that it's best to a pre-film videos several days and even weeks in advance to schedule to post to YouTube.

This way, you will have all the kinks worked out and back up videos already uploaded to YouTube that are ready to go in case you go through what I went through.  So, I'm already working on a list of general vlog prompts that I want to talk about next year and I'll definitely get started filming in June and July 2015 and schedule them out for August.  Of course, I will still do a few same day vlogs here and there so that all my vlogs won't be pre-filmed.

Have A Reliable Computer:

My poor little Dell Inspirion Mini is on it's last leg.  Seriously, I have the charger taped in because the battery no longer charges or holds a charge.  Also, if you move the charger the wrong way the whole thing shuts down in the middle of whatever it is you're doing.  This was so frustrating because I was in the process of uploading videos to YouTube that I couldn't upload to my Windows Movie Maker and my computer cut off.

The bad news doesn't end there.  I had already erased them from my memory card!  Needless to say I quit VEDA/Vlogust all together on Day 12 after that happened.  What I should have done was used the Mr's laptop or went to the library and used one of their desktops.  Don't ask me why I didn't do that.  I live and I learn.  But definitely make sure your computer is somewhat reliable or at the very least make sure you don't have little kids crawling about who will accidentally yank out your charger with their feet.

Also, I've been researching video editing apps for my phone because I've seen some pretty awesome vlogs shot using iPhones and Galaxys!


Collaborations are a great way to bond with other vloggers.  Also, it's a great way to grow your subscribers because your collaboration video will not only be posted on your channel, but your co-collaborator's channel as well.  So, you're getting double the exposure.  I do wish that I had reached out to some vloggers to maybe do a live Hangout or to a specific topic video.

We would have filmed and edited clips and then we would have put the clips together to make one video and uploaded it to our channels.  I did get to do a live a Hangout for the YouTube Mommy Meetup Anniversary Celebration.   That was fun and it was nice getting my feet wet with that.  Since my computer was acting nuts, I hungout via my phone which was not difficult at all.  

You just download the Google Hangout app and go.  I am currently in the process of making a list of vloggers that I would like to collab with in the future.  And no, all of them are not moms.

Variety Is Key:

So, I don't do daily vlogs because I'm not ready to put my kids on YouTube.  The YouTube crowd can be pretty rough and brutal.  I get very defensive when people talk about my kids.  I don't have time to be going She-Hulk crazy on some cyber bully because they came up out their keyboard wrong about my kids.  Talk about me all you want because I can handle that.

However, I do realize that I need to add a little variety to my videos.  I tried to do that by switching up where I vlog from.  For my shopping haul and beauty videos, I usually film in the bathroom because it makes sense.  For other videos, I'm filming in front of the pantry in my kitchen because I love the lighting in there.  Also, it has glossy white paint on the walls which helps the light to bounce better.  

I would film in the bedroom, but there isn't any ceiling light and our lamps aren't bright enough.  Plus, the wall paint has a matte finish and doesn't reflect the light as well.  I have the same problem for the dining room.  I have been looking at lighting kits though and trying to film during the day (I currently film only at night) to give me more flexibility with my filming locations.  

Also, I'll be trying to film when I'm out and about.  Tons of vloggers film when their shopping trips or even film from their cars or outside.  I'm toying with the idea of doing random street interviews.  Those might be rare at the moment since I'll have to do those on a day the Mr is off.

Promote, Promote & Promote Again:

I suck at self-promotion.  I can promote the heck out of others, but I tend to feel selfish when I promote myself or my work on social media.  Coming off as self-obsessed is a big fear for me because it can turn people off to you.  However, if I don't promote more, I'll never be able to turn people on to me and work.

My goal for the rest of this year is make sure that I promote all of my work, especially my vlogs on a daily basis.  

Although, I failed at VEDA/Vlogust this year, I still had fun and enjoyed the overall experience.  I learned a ton, gained some vlogger friends and subscribers and came out of my introvert shell a little bit more.  Be sure to check out my YouTube channel.  I'm still vlogging and today I finally got that dang Day 8 video to upload!  Better late than never, right?

What kind vlog videos or topics would you enjoy seeing on my channel in the future?

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thankful Thursday

On this day 13 years ago, life as we knew it in America changed forever.  Let us not forget all of those who lost their lives on September 11th.  Also, let us not forget those men and women in the military and their families whose lives were also changed forever because of the events of this day 13 years ago.  I'll always remember the sense of panic and anxiety I felt sitting in my high school classroom as we watched the news coverage in horror and shock.

All could think about were my family members who worked near and in the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon.  Our family was lucky that day and no one was physically hurt.  However, for them I'm pretty sure just the thought that they could have been among those who weren't as fortunate to make it out alive still haunts them.  As one of my cousins told me, you just don't get over an experience like that once you've lived it.

This week, I'm giving thanks to God for having watched over my loved ones on this day and allowing them to be here with us to share their story.  That was yet another moment that proved just how precious and fleeting life is.  I'm thankful today for all the men and women in our armed forces who wake up daily and go to bat for us as a nation.  I've said it once and I'll it again, your bravery for putting your life on the line for millions of strangers leaves me in awe!

I also want to give thanks that this week I have had the opportunity to be a friend and pillar of support for one of my loved ones as they go through a really difficult time.  As much as my heart broke and still breaks for what my family member is going through, I've been able to find my own personal comfort in knowing that this experience has strengthened our bond.  I thank God for giving me the right words to say because I was truly at a loss for them.

Things are still going well with Moo and school and I am grateful for that.  We did have a bit of a dilemma with pick-up, but again God came through and it's been worked out.  I'm grateful for all of the new opportunities that are steadily coming my way and the strength to turn down the ones that aren't the right fit.  It's easy to let money influence us to make a not so wise partnership.

Lastly, I'm thankful for this lovely and much cooler pre-Fall weather that we have been having this week.  While I've enjoyed days warm enough to take a dip in the pool, there's just something about Fall that makes me feel all warm and cozy.  Plus, I'm anxious to light up our fireplace for the first time now that we have one again.  I foresee lots of indoor marshmallow roasting with the kids.

What are you giving thanks for this week?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Skintimate Happy Legs

Disclosure: I received a sample from Crowdtap to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

When it comes to legs, smooth is the way to go.  Over the last couple of years I have tried various methods of hair removal and shaving it what works best for me.  So, I was pretty stoked when I heard that I had been handpicked to try out the Skintimate Mandarin Burst Shave Gel.  Who doesn't love trying out beauty products?

What I Like

I love products that smell good and this Mandarin Burst smells AMAZING!  Like seriously, why can't all hair removal products smell this great.  I've tried some that have literally had such a pungent odor that it brought tears to my eyes.  Needless to say I didn't use them ever again.

Another thing that I like about this product is that it contains 6 moisturizers including Vitamin E and Olive Butter to help keep your skin hydrated during and after shaving.  Hydration is very important, especially if you want to avoid painful razor burns.

The lather is so rich.  It goes on clear and as you rub it in it turns white.  A little bit goes a long way, too.  And I definitely love that because that means it will last longer.

Overall, I have no complaints about the new Skintimate Mandarin Burst Shave Gel.  If you haven't tried it, go out and pick up a can to try it for yourself!

What do you look for in a hair removal product?

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

THE BOXTROLLS Cardboard Challenge

What combines family, fun, recycled materials and loads of imagination?  THE BOXTROLLS Cardboard Challenge!  This Sunday, Septemeber 14th, THE BOXTROLLS have partnered with the Imagination Foundation to host this event for children of all ages to come out and make any creation of their choosing using cardboard, recycled materials (i.e.- paper, cans, etc) and of course, their imagination.  The event will be held from 1-3 PM at Heroes Aren't Hard to Find located at 1957 E. 7th St, Charlotte, NC 28204.

There will be fun prizes from THE BOXTROLLS for participants as well as an opportunity to enter to win a "What's in the Box" Prize Pack that includes an Xbox One!  You can also share your child's creation via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #TheBoxtrollsCC for a chance to win the "Imagination Box," the national prize that includes an Apple iMac, an iPad Air and plenty of other cool prizes.

The iMac alone is worth entering if you ask me.  I can almost see myself crafting blog posts on that baby now.  The best part is that this event is FREE to the public.  So, if you're in Charlotte or a surrounding area, come out and have some fun with the kiddies.

Not in the Charlotte or a surrounding area?  No worries.  Check out the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win my THE BOXTROLLS Back-to-School Prize Pack.   The prize pack will include a THE BOXTROLLS backpack, puzzle, pencil case, lunch box, pen and button.  So, go enter!

Don't forget to check out the movie, THE BOXTROLLS, when it hits theaters on September 26th!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Cleopatra's Choice: Keeping Skin Hydrated And Nourished

When it comes to beauty and personal care products, I have really started being more careful about what I use on my skin as well as the kids.  There are just too many harsh and artificial chemicals that can end up being more harmful than good over time.  Whenever possible I like to use products that are made from or with natural ingredients to help minimize our exposure to those products.  That's why I decided to give try out Cleopatra's Choice 100% Pure African Shea Butter.

I'm no stranger to shea butter.  My mom would travel to a flea market in a neighboring city to purchase pure shea butter from a woman who made all kinds of products using only natural ingredients.  Eventually, though she moved and it became harder for my mom to find pure shea butter.  

Well, I decided to take a two challenge shea butter challenge.  So, for the past two weeks I've ditched my usual lotions and creams and have been just moisturizing and keeping my skin hydrated with the shea butter from Cleopatra's Choice.  I have to admit that I'm happy I took this two week challenge because I definitely noticed a difference in my skin.  

What I Liked
What I like most is that my skin feels so incredibly soft now.  It was soft before, but this is a better level of softness in my opinion.  I even got compliments from the Mr about how much softer my skin felt. Also, I like that it's long lasting and therefore, my skin stays hydrated longer.  That is a definitely a plus because as I have mentioned on here before, I have super dry skin!

It absorbs well.  I'm not a fan of products that just sit on the surface of the skin.  They get all gunky, sticky and ... just nope.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I didn't feel like my pores were getting clogged or weighed down.

And I like that Cleapatra's Choice has Vitamins A and E, both of which I have heard are not only great for keeping skin nourished, but also for treating skin discolorations.  I know some women of color who swore by shea butter to help battle stretch marks be it from pregnancy or just regular body changes.  This is perfect because I do suffer from adult acne that leaves me with dark spots sometimes.

I've used my shea butter as a lip balm, too.  Hello kissable lips.  I'd also recommend Cleopatra's Choice for your rough heels as well.  Do your regular at home pedicure and then put on some of this and a pair of socks and you'll be good to go.  Shea butter also can be used to help with minor burns and eczema. 

I'm not a fan of the smell of shea butter, but you can always mix a little bit with some essential oils as needed to obtain the fragrance you want.  Overall, I was and still am very satisfied with my Cleopatra's Choice 100% Pure African Shea Butter and the results I've been getting.

Do you use any all natural products on your skin or hair?  Do you have a DIY beauty product recipe using shea butter?  Share it below because I'm on the hunt for some.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thankful Thursday

It's a rainy Thankful Thursday here in the Queen City.  It's been pouring buckets on and off since last night.   Today definitely feels more like fall instead of summer, but I'm not complaining because the cooler temps are certainly welcomed.  I'm beyond ready to fire up the fireplace. 

See how the leaves are already starting to change color?

This week I'm most thankful that despite a rough first week of school, this week is been much better and Moo actually told me that she loves school!  She's made a few friends already and comes home excited to talk about everything she's learned.  So, far she's enjoying homework.  Hopefully, that will last until the end of the school year.

That is the smile of a kid who loves going to school!

I'm also thankful that this past weekend, we got to hang with my mom, my niece and my baby sister!  The weather was great and the kids had fun seeing each other.  I'm thankful that I did get to squeeze in some vlogging time.  I feel like I'm getting better at it.  It's not nearly as awkward as it was in the beginning talking to a camera.

While my family was visiting, Moo caught some cold germs and passed them along to JJ and I.  Thankfully, though she and JJ are already on the road to feeling better.  Me?  Not so much.  Last night was rough and today has been slightly rougher considering I only got maybe 3 hours sleep.  Tomorrow is a new day and I'm hoping that I will feel a million times better.

I'm very thankful that JJ is becoming quite the talker.  He's steadily improving with regards to his verbal skills and is now saying a lot more words compared to this time last year.  He will now answer yes or no to questions.  There are no words really to express the joy that we as a family feel for his progress.  His therapist was amazed this week at all the new words he's picking up.

He and Thomas the Train are inseparable. 

I just want to say thank  you to everyone who continues to keep my little guy in prayer for continued growth and progress.  Thank you to everyone who's always there to offer a kind word and/or share your story with me.  I greatly appreciate it.

Last but not least thank you to everyone who has helped YUMMommy reach over 700 likes on Facebook!

What's on your Thankful Thursday list? 

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