Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Random Goodness: Hair, Skin, & Adoption

Miss E playing in an ice-cream-maker box. Oh what fun!!!

I've had many adoptive mothers of brown kids ask me recently about hair products. I feel very strongly that not only does it matter what we put into our bodies (food/drink) but what we put on our bodies. After all, our skin is a largest organ.

It's hard to find products that are healthy and work well, so there's always the constant cycle of trial and error.

Currently, we use this product in Miss E's hair: Kinky Curly Curling Custard. One, a little goes a LONG way. Two, it works well. Three, it smells like cake batter. Four, the ingredients are safe.

You can order the product online or find a local retailer.


My baby girl, like many kids, has eczema. Again, I prefer to go as natural as possible, but her skin has been horrible the past few months. I finally gave in and utilized a tip from our derm and a few experienced moms. I put 1/4 cup of bleach in my daughter's bathwater---and, it, worked. (Though I still cringe at the thought---as we did not even own bleach up until that point. That stuff is so nasty!) Her eczema is significantly better.
For lotion: we use coconut oil, olive oil, or Milk and Honey Body Lotion from Burt's Bees. Burt's Bees products are considered moderately safe by many green experts.
What not to say to an adoptive family. Oh, have my friends and I talked about this a bazillion times! An online friend posted this blog entry to her Facebook wall, and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed. If you're an adoptive parent or know an adoptive parent, please read!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Dear Readers, There will be another giveaway in the next few weeks, so keep checking back!
amberlee said...
My life as a mother? I don't remember any other life! ha. Mine is particularly awesome for me because it has SO many dimensions. I've known since I was four that I would be an adoptive mother, but I didn't actually understand what that would mean. I didn't know I could love this much. I didn't know I could feel love/pain/appreciation all at the same time for another mother that I have never met. I didn't know it could be scary. I didn't know I would miss parts of their life. I didn't understand the journey I would take to get here. I didn't understand the journey they would take to get here. I didn't get how important it was to tell their story (or at least the parts that aren't their's alone to keep).

ALL of those pieces count. ALL those pieces make me a mother. ALL those pieces make it awesome.


Amber, please send me your full name and address so I can mail you your autographed copy of Selina's book!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interview and Giveaway---Round 2!

Photo credit: Walker Esner

After my first giveaway last week, I was honored to "meet" Selina Alko (via a comment she made on my blog). Selina wrote a wonderful book called I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother, a book we purchased earlier this year that covers the beauty of an interracial couple, their son, and the new baby who is about to enter their family. What color will the baby be?

Selina graciously agreed to an interview and, yay!, my second blog giveaway!

First, the interview:

First, tell me a little about yourself---your work, your family, your hobbies.
I'm a children's book author and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. I've always been interested in telling stories and making pictures, so creating books for children was a natural path for me. My husband is African American (also an illustrator for kids; Sean Qualls) and our children are biracial. Our 5 year old son, Isaiah, and 2 1/2 year old daughter, Ginger, are both really good at drawing, and I just love that it appears they got our art genes! Originally, I am from Vancouver, Canada, although I've lived in New York for almost 20 years. I feel that I bring a slightly Canadian perspective to my work, in that I have great enthusiasm for everything I do; an optimism that permeates my work and is reflected in my use of bright colors and jazzy juxtapositions. My illustrated books, My Subway Ride and My Taxi Ride are like love letters to New York City.

Where did you get your inspiration for your book, Peanut Butter Big Brother?
When I was pregnant with my second child I was wondering if my new baby would look like my son (then 2 years old), and I felt that kids of interracial families might have similar questions. So I wrote this book about an older child wondering and imagining what his baby brother or sister might look like. The language is really poetic and playful, which I think kids can relate to. "Will you be my vanilla bean ice-cream sibling, or super rich double chocolate fudge?" is an example of the language used and fun nature of the protagonist's questions. My son, Isaiah, is the protagonist and in the end he is rewarded with his baby sister, who does look quite a bit like her, "peanut butter big brother!"

What's next for you? I'm hoping you have something in the works! :)
I have two books coming out next year. One is an alternative to the princess pantheon for little girls called, EVERY-DAY DRESS-UP. It's about a girl who dresses up like a different, real woman from history every day of the week. Some of the Icons include: Frida Kahlo, Julia Child, Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. I am also doing my own version of an alphabet book for Brooklyn called, B IS FOR BROOKLYN. It has tons of hand-lettering and fun imagery and is all about my beloved borough here in New York.
How can my readers get to know you better?



In four days (that would be Saturday) around noon-ish (my time), I'll select (at random) and post the name of the lucky winner of an autographed copy of Selina's book, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother. You may enter the giveaway up to four times by doing the following:

1: Read over Selina's website and/or blog and tell me (via a comment to this blog post) one thing you love about her.

2: Become a follower of this blog (and leave a comment telling me so). If you're already a follower, leave me a comment telling me so. :)

3: Share with me, via a comment on this post, something awesome about your life as a mother.

4: Publish this giveaway ASAP on your own blog and/or FB wall and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

It's that easy!

If your name is posted on Saturday, you'll need to send me an e-mail within three days, at supagurlrae at hotmail dot com, with your full name and address. If the winner fails to contact me within three days, I'll draw a new winner. :)

Good luck!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A NEW Giveaway Winner...

I didn't hear from my first drawing winner, so today, I've drawn a new winner:

Kristen said...
I love Crepes by Suzette, and it was always popular with kids I was babysitting. No matter how many times I read it to them, they never tired of the "game" of finding the photo of Monica's daughter, Lydia, on each page, always incorporated into a bustling, colorful Parisian scene. This book is especially beautiful for its combination of illustrations and photos of Paris

You have three days to contact me (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) to claim your prize! If I don't hear back, I'll draw a new winner.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Few Tidbits

My baby girl before dance class.

First, vitamin D is crucial to healthy kids (and adults), especially people with darker skin tones. See this article for more information.

Second, if you have a little brown girl, let her watch this Sesame Street video on YouTube called "I Love My Hair." It's adorable!
Third, check out my daughter's currently favorite book entitled More More More given to us on her first birthday by a lovely (and large) transracial family. Breaks my heart every time I read it!
Happy reading (and viewing)!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Wildflowergirl said...
I enjoy your blog and especially your adoption journey. I am a retired social worker who worked with all aspects of adoption throughout the years. Children and families of adoption are very dear to my heart. I would love to read 'Mr. Cookie Baker' to my new/only grandchild - may replace my favorite, 'Goodnight Moon'. Best to you and your family.

You have three days to contact me via e-mail (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) with your full name and address.

You won two of Monica's books:

Mr. Cookie Baker and Color and Cook: Healthy Snacks

Both are autographed and ready to be shipped. :)



More giveaways to come this month! Keep checking back!

Friday, November 12, 2010


My daughter's favorite book.
Monica hard at work.

Monica creates coloring books, too!

Dear Readers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Wellington, the author of my daughter's favorite book, Mr. Cookie Baker. The best part of Monica's books for our family is the beautiful illustrations which feature children of various races---not just a bunch of white kids!

Besides the diversity, what I love about Monica's books include: the vivid colors, the recipes, the simple sentences, the details in the pictures, the simple but exciting plots, and so much more! I also learned so much about Monica---she's a single mom, she's a cook and baker (yum yum!), and she's even more talented than I first understood.

At the end of the interview is information on how to win a copy of one of Monica's books! Just in time for Christmas shopping!!!

Let's get to know my daughter's hero:

I am so happy that you found my books and enjoy them together with your family, and that you have invited me to participate on your blog. I have been writing and illustrating picture books for young children for almost 25 years. Many things have changed over that time including the ways I can connect directly with readers through email, websites and blogs. Since writing and illustrating is very solitary work, it is wonderful to connect to the outside world beyond my studio with families, teachers, and librarians.

I love creating books. I love working on my own and being self-employed, never working in an office. The way of life very much suits me. I live in New York City. My studio space is in my apartment where I live. When I step outside, I am in the center of a very busy area of the city, but when I am inside my apartment, it is very quiet. I face into the center of a tree-filled block and the sounds of the birds create a buffer from the sounds of traffic. I can almost pretend I am living in the country! I have lived in NYC for 30 years.

I have a daughter. (She is now 20 and dances with New York City Ballet.) I have been a single mother since she was born. Especially when she was young I felt very lucky to be self-employed, and to be able to combine work and motherhood so easily. I was working on my books very much in the midst of all the busy activities of her young childhood. I would draw and paint when she was sleeping (during naps, and early, early in the morning before she woke up), when she was on play dates, and then when she was at school.

The book I want to highlight here, Mr Cookie Baker, was a book I wrote and illustrated when my daughter was about three. I have always loved baking and making cookies. I loved making cookies when I was little with my mother. The idea for this book came from those memories, as well as the experience of then baking with my daughter. In addition, some years before, I had worked in a bakery in NYC during the holidays. All this came together to shape the book. Mr Cookie Baker is about a busy day in the life of a baker, He makes cookies, step by step... He sells them in his shop to the neighborhood children...He finally eats a cookie himself before he goes to bed. There are just a few short sentences on each page. I didn’t say in the words where the story takes place, but in the pictures I show that it is a place like NYC, where there is great diversity: people of all skin colors and backgrounds.

I go through many stages when I work on a book. I develop the idea with little sketches, then I draw bigger more detailed sketches. I put them together into what is called a dummy: a first book in black and white. Then I plan out my colors and the overall look for the book. Painting the final pictures in color is the fun part but it is the last step of a long process that usually takes me anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the book. Here is a link to my website showing more about how I worked on Mr Cookie Baker: http://monicawellington.blogspot.com/p/inside-mr-cookie-baker.html

Mr Cookie Baker was my first book in which I included recipes. The recipe for the decorated sugar cookies is based on my mother's recipe - I fiddled with it to make it as easy as possible. Many people have told me how much they love this recipe and that the cookies always turns out! Apple Farmer Annie, Pizza at Sally's, Crepes by Suzette all include my recipes. More recently I have worked on a series of coloring books for Dover Publications that are about cooking and include even more of my recipes. Cooking is a really fun family activity, plus children learn so many valuable skills. And of course cooking is an important part of healthy eating. One of my coloring books "Color and Cook Healthy Snacks" just won a Blueberry Award honorable mention.
In my small way I am happy if I can help encourage reading, cooking, healthy life styles, appreciation of the arts... and in my next book, an awareness of the environment. My new book is titled Gabby and Grandma Go Green and will be out in early 2011. It is about a little girl and her grandma (modeled on my own grandmother) working on a sewing project together. They make tote bags and then have a fun-filled day that’s great for the environment!

To find out more about my books visit: http://www.monicawellington.com/ and monicawellington.blogspot.com
Blog Giveaway Information:
To win a copy of one of Monica's books, please leave a comment on this post telling me which of Monica's books you think your kiddo(s) would most enjoy (visit her website to explore your options) and why. I'll draw a winner and post his/her name on my blog a week from today, Friday, November 19th. The winner will then have three days to contact me (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) with her first and last name and address. If the winner doesn't respond within three days, I'll draw a new winner.
One entry per person, please!
Good luck!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Adoption #2

Dear Readers,

We are working on our homestudy to begin our second adoption.

Here are some things I said I'd never do (listen to God laughing at me as I type this):

1: Have children close in age.

2: Have a big family.

There's one thing for sure: I'm way more laid back about adopting this time than I was the first time. I think it might be that we already have a child (we aren't waiting to become parents), I'm more educated on adoption, and I have more faith in God's plan (and my hope isn't resting in the hands of humans at an agency).

I stumbled upon this blog entry from my old adoption blog, the one I created while waiting for our first child. Reading it makes me smile. I remember how I was feeling, and I also didn't have a clue that nine days later, we'd get THE call. I think it's so important to reflect on these moments:

Thursday, October 30, 2009
Fall Is Here!

I'm loving the warmth of our gas fireplace, sipping hot tea all day long, and making soup. Last night I made s'more brownies----amazing!

I'm in "crunch season" at school. I have a continuous flow of papers to grade, e-mails from students full of questions and concerns (esp about their grades!), and the ever looming realization that I still have more planning and prepping (just when I thought I was finished!).

I'm often haunted by the upcoming holidays. We have no baby. I would LOVE to spend Christmas huddled up in our house, holding a bundled up newborn, and have guests come to us for a change. I would give up all the presents and all the celebrations for a child this year.

I don't understand God's timing right now. I hope it's made abundantly clear when our child arrives. I want to feel that this period of waiting has been validated.

Well, back to grading, prepping, and dreaming.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!!!

Candy sorting with dad after trick-or-treating.
Hmmmm....what's in here?


This is Miss E's second Halloween. Last year she was a s'more, and this year she went as a pumpkin fairy.

Her favorite part of the holiday was watching airplanes fly overhead as we walked a local neighborhood. Her least favorite part was the scary decked out houses with creepy music and adults in some horrifying costumes. I don't blame her.

Back at home, we enjoyed homemade pumpkin cheesecake and candy-sorting.
What a fun night!