Monday, February 24, 2014

Africa Sleeps Giveaway!

I'm often asked about my kids' hair:  how I do it, what I put in it, and how it stays so pretty for days on end. 

Here's my secret:  Africa Sleeps

Why I love the products:
  • the sleep caps stay on my girls ALL NIGHT LONG
  • the products contain only healthy ingredients---no harsh chemicals and hidden dangers
  • the products smell delicious without being overwhelming

Meet Africa Sleeps owner, Arnica Rowan:  When Arnica Rowan isn't running a charity in Ethiopia, crafting with her twin daughters, baking cookies for her pet store, or teaching about sustainable business, she can be found in her kitchen, whipping up batches of Honey Almond Braid Balm. Arnica started Africa Sleeps a few years ago, so that her Ethiopian daughters would have access to great sleep caps. This past year, she expanded her store to offer an organic hair and bodycare line, designed specifically for kids of African heritage. With rave reviews from moms and influential hair bloggers, Africa Sleeps  is becoming the go-to site for natural curly whirly hair care!

Arnica is offering three White Sugar, Brown Sugar readers a fantastic product package.  First up:

Haircare essentials: Banana Coconut Nourishing Conditioner and a small kids sleep cap.
This 45% organic, luscious conditioner is super thick and creamy, with extra slip for picking out stubborn curls. Designed for the driest hair, it leaves curls nourished and soft. The super stretchy sleep cap is made of bathing suit fabric, to protect braids and hair at night, on car rides and under bike helmets.

Honey Almond Braid Balm is an African Sleeps, handmade, exclusive product. When corn rowing, twisting or braiding, smooth a little of the balm into the base of the braid. Packed with fair trade shea butter, sweet almond and apricot oils! and a little beeswax for hold, this amazing product protects hair from the elements and nurtures long lasting braids. The essential big kid sized sleep cap is for protecting braids and curls. It's stylin' for at night, but works great under winter hats and bike helmets too!

Fresh for Springtime! Pink Grapefruit Hair Oil is the most useful product in your hair toolkit. You can spray on at night and protect with a sleep cap, or spritz braids or curls at the beginning of the day. Made with sweet almond and apricot kernel oils, and a little pink grapefruit essential oil for delight. Pink Grapefruit Aloe Lotion is super shear and gentle, perfect for moisture on the face and the whole body. Pink Grapefruit Lip Balm tops off this gift pack, made with fair trade shea butter and beeswax from our local apiary.

Entry period:  2/24-3/4 at noon (Central Time)
3 winners, each winning one of the featured packages
Winner names will be posted on Tuesday, 3/4.  Winners will be chosen at random.  You MUST live in the US or Canada to win.   If you are selected, please e-mail me whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com with your name and address.  If I don't receive an e-mail from you within 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.
Ways to enter:
1: "Like" Africa Sleeps on FB.  Leave a comment on this post telling me you did so.
2:  Share this giveaway on FB or Twitter, and leave me a comment on this post letting me know you did so.
3:  "Like" my blog on FB, and leave me a comment on this post telling me you did so.
4:  "Like" my book COME RAIN OR COME SHINE: A WHITE PARENT'S GUIDE TO ADOPTING AND PARENTING BLACK CHILDREN; leave me a comment telling me you did so. 
5:  Leave a comment sharing what adoption means to you. 
Best wishes!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stop, Drop, and Love

As I shared in my last post, we are all very tired of our Midwest winter:  snow, ice, gray skies, cold temperatures, and continual threats of flu viruses and colds.

So me and all my fellow mamas in similar weather conditions, are feeling rather desperate.  The kids have cabin fever, we have cabin fever---and so we are all struggling to make it through each day without completely falling apart.

So I've come up with an awesome plan.  It's simple.  It's doable.  It's fun.

When the crap is hitting the fan and we all want to crawl into the proverbial hole and throw the biggest tantrum ever while inhaling as much Haagan Dazs as possible (because it's always a good idea to "eat your feelings," right?)...we pick from the plan:

1: Hug.  (My kids will even come to me now and report, "I need a hug" if I don't get to them first and say, "Do you need a hug?")  It's one quick way to stop a hot mess from escalating to the point of no return.  It's calming.  It's reassuring.  

2: Turn on music and move.  Whether we need to chill out, show off booty-bumpin, pretend to line-dance, yell, whisper, or mock-waltz, I've got a play list.  Dancing is magical.  Music makes us happy and turns a situation around very quickly.

3: Create.  Bake cookies and care only how they taste, not how they look.   Color.  Glue dried beans to paper.  Invent a game.  Make up performances and cheer for one another. 

4:  Change of scenery.  Move to another room (my youngest loves to wrestle---specifically on the carpeted floor of any bedroom in the house), play outside, even for just five minutes, lay on the floor to read a book instead of sit on the sofa.  Simple.  Serene.

What else can I add to my Stop, Drop, and Love plan?   I'd love your suggestions!

Monday, February 10, 2014

The More I Read, The Less I Know

I LOVE to read.  I will become completely obsessed with a topic and order every related title from my local library---devouring book and book.   

Of course, one topic I read a lot about is parenting.  Like any parent, I want to get it right.  I know what all the grandparent-types are saying is true:  they grow up SO FAST.  Enjoy these precious seasons.  Soon they will be leaving the nest.

The truth is, it's hard to enjoy these LONGGGGGGGGGGG winter days.  It's gray, gray, gray outside.  It's bitterly cold.  We can't leave the house without bulky "puff" coats, mittens, scarves, snow boots, and ear addition to a diaper bag, a toy bag, my purse, three sippy cups, and three snacks.  It's a chore just to get into the van.   

I'm over it. 

I'm desperate for trips to the park and slightly stingy skin gained from sun exposure.  I want my kids to collect rocks and piles of dandelions.  I want to push them on swings, I want to stomp in rain puddles, I want to feel energetic and inspired.

So instead, as we wait out these (hopefully) last few weeks of harsh winter, I turn to parenting inspiration from Facebook, blogs, articles, and of course, my beloved books. 

Somehow I hope that by reading about good parenting practices, I'll become a better parent.

But there's SO much information.  Parenting trends.  Parenting statistics.  Parenting philosophies.  Parenting goals.

Project ideas.  Like the book that tells you how to create art with your kids.  Or how to play outside with your kids. Or how to make reading fun.   (And I'm like, duh.  Which might come from my background of growing up in the country where our days were filled with creative play involving dirt and Crayons and swapped chapter books).   And meanwhile, you are reading these parenting books---getting excited about possibilities, while your kids are standing next to you waiting to go outside or waiting for you to simply sit and color a coloring book page with them.

Or our big focus right now:  half-day vs. full-day kindergarten or our five-year-old. She loves school, but she struggles when she doesn't have enough down-time.  Our town's kindergarten starts late for young kids:  9:15 a.m.  If she rides the bus home, she won't get home until 4:00 p.m.   I know she will be a hot mess.  Now all the pro full-time K people say, "She'll get used to it."  And, "They need full-time to prepare them for first grade."  And I know those things sort-of make sense and are true....but it's not sitting right with me.  I have several objections to full-day kindergarten for MY child.  And finally, I realized, I have to stop "feeling out" what everyone else thinks when I know what the right answer is for my child.  

There are gobs of books with beautiful, glossy covers.  Authored by "experts":  psychologists, educators, physicians, social workers, coaches, celebrities, other parents.  They all have something to offer that's supposed to be better and different.  And the almost always say their method is simpler and easier than the other methods---which is never true.   Because there are one thousand bullet points, seventeen chapters, and twenty-five page Sources Cited pages.

But I found out that I'm often so consumed with learning what to do,

that I'm not actually parenting.  

I saw a cool quote on Facebook the other day:

"Be careful not to turn others' lives into the mold for your own...We have a God who is a creator, not a duplicator."  ~Francis Chan 

In my heart of hearts, this is what I know about parenting (free of bullet points:  I will use another symbol instead):

~I want my children to see me lean on God's voice and words FIRST and foremost (you know, seek first the kingdom of God) so that they learn to do the same

~I want my kids to see their parents parenting in a united-fashion

~Most of the parents I know are doing the very best they can for their children.  It may not be what others think is best, and that simply doesn't matter!  So I want to be one who encourages others in their parenting choices---because they are the expert on their children. 

~Nobody gets it totally right.  That's ok.   And everyone is equally as confused and fearful as I am.  Because parenting is a BIG FREAKING DEAL.  

A girlfriend of mine is a counselor, and said once that she was fearful that she was going to make parenting choices for her son that would make him grow up and be in counseling himself.  Then she laughed at herself and realized that if he grew up and went to counseling, it's because she taught him that counseling is a healthy decision! 

The truth is, the more I read and talk about parenting, as exciting as it is to learn new information, digesting MORE means parenting LESS.    Um, yes, defeating the entire original purpose.

Here's what I know about my kids:

~Above all, they need love, security, food, and shelter.

~They want my attention and affection.  Eye contact.  Hugs.  Hand-holding.  Wrestling.  A calm, assuring voice. 

~They need me to be their primary teacher.

~They think I hung the mom.  I'm a big deal to them.  And I need to own it!

I got this.

Friday, February 7, 2014

And the winner is....


Thank you for entering.  Please e-mail me your full name and address:  whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Happy Black History Month!: Rosa Parks T-Shirt Giveaway

February is a special time of year for our family as we celebrate Black History Month.  I've heard many arguments on the celebration.  Often, as I talk about in my book, I hear white people say, "Why is there a Black History Month?  Why isn't there a White History Month?" I also hear people say that having a month dedicated to Black history only furthers racial segregation.  I know some believe that there isn't Black history or White history:  there is just history.

We celebrate Black History Month for a few reasons.  First, I think it's very important that my children know and appreciate their racial history.  Two, I think as a Black/White family, it's important to celebrate those who came before us, paving the way.  Without them, our family wouldn't exist.  Three, though we teach our children about Black history throughout the year, February is a time to really focus in and delve deeper.

There are many wonderful ways to celebrate throughout this month (and the whole year through) with your family.  Read this article on to get inspired!

To kick-off Black History Month, one of my favorite companies, History to a Tee, is giving one White Sugar, Brown Sugar reader a Rosa Parks t-shirt (youth sizes XS-L).

From the creators:  "History to a Tee was created by Jane Yeomans and Melissa Goldstein, two artists who met at the Art Institute of Chicago and now work in publishing. Our work has been on the covers of your favorite novels, has shown at major museums and is in public collections.
We both have worked extensively in journalism as photo editors at many of the major publishing companies in NYC.
Our love of historical photography and drawing brought us to design the shirts. The tees were further inspired by our children, who love history, heroes, and cool design. Now they wake up and ask, “Who should I wear today? Sitting Bull? Rosa Parks? Ben Franklin? Galileo?” Who will your child’s hero be?
With children, friends and teachers we came up with a list of favorite historical figures. After writing and designing the shirts our next task was to find a printer that we liked to work with and was as excited as us about creating the line. We found him deep in the heart of Manhattan. He has been our guide through this process as he has been printing shirts for 55 years.
We believe that the ideas and struggles of the people portrayed on our shirts are are as relevant now as they were in the past. They are colorful and cool enough to appeal to kids, and provocative enough to create conversations about the most influential people in our history!"
Giveaway:  Begins 2.1.14 and ends at noon (Central time) on 2.7.14. 
(Winner must reside in the United States.)
Each reader can enter to win up to five times:
1:  Like History to a Tee on FB; leave a comment on this post telling me you did so.
2:  Check out the History to a Tee website and leave a comment telling me which tee is your fave and why. 
3:  Share this giveaway on FB or Twitter, tagging me, and leave a comment telling me you did so.
4:  Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you did so.
5:  Follow me on FB and leave a comment telling me you did so.   
Check back here on Friday to see if you won!  Winner is selected at random.  The winner needs to e-mail me (whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com) his or her full name and address within 48 hours of posting, or a new winner will be selected.  
Good luck!