Just Say No: The Holiday Toy Edition

“A Christmas Story”

Up until now, I have considered myself fortunate in that my children have never been whiny or continually asking for toys every time they see a commercial on television. Actually, that has happened in part because the only channels they watched up until this year were Sprout, Nick, Jr. or PBS Kids, neither of which really play too many commercials. However, this summer, my 6-year-old son Izzy decided he was too old for pre-school television and now opts to watch NickToons, home of the Power Rangers franchise, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Supah Samurai, etc. These are the shows that are chock-full of commercials for dolls, action figures, games and the like.

After 6 years of safety, I am now exposed to the constant cries of “Ooo, I want that…” and “Mommy can I have that?” But I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself. Instead of going on some long tirade of why they can’t have a toy or how Daddy and I have not yet decided what you’re actually getting for Christmas, I take the easy route and just say, “No.” What parents sometimes fail to realize is that children don’t always respond negatively to the word “no.” They don’t always begin to whine, cry or protest. It’s actually kind of funny – sometimes all I get from them, especially Izzy, is “OK.” Five minutes later, they ask for another toy. I say “No,” they say, “OK,” and we’re golden! 🙂

In Christmases past, I have actually been thoughtful about what we bought for them, even if there was no direct request. We knew the characters the kids liked, so we based our choices on that. And like any good parent, we included educational toys and clothes (how many hat and scarf sets did YOU get for Christmas?). But this year, I went the route of my parents. Since there were so many requests, instead of hiding the Toys ‘R Us catalog from them, I actually let them peruse it every day, over the past 2 weeks. They studied it like there was going to be a test on it, and they asked for the moon. But they were warned that they would only get a few things from their list. Going through the book with them this morning was HILARIOUS!! There were a few ground rules about what could NOT go on the list – no plush toys, nothing with tracks, no large toys that took up too much space, nothing with too many parts and pieces. They knew the rules so well, that they automatically skipped pages in the book that didn’t apply. Side note: children also know how to tell themselves “No”! It’s also funny that they understand the meaning of the famous phrases, “Batteries not included,” “For ages 3 and up,” and “Each piece sold separately.” One day, I hope they will also become familiar with “Some assembly required.

So the word “No” has its place in our home and can live peacefully in your home too. C’mon…say it with me…”N-n-n-n-n-o-o-o-o-o.” That felt good, didn’t it?! 😉


What a Wonderful World!

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy over the East Coast, courtesy of Discovery.com

For the past two weeks, the Northeastern United States and parts of the Caribbean were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. A few days later, a Nor’easter hit an already overwhelmed and hurting New York/New Jersey area, leaving anywhere from a few inches to over a foot of snow. During the hurricane, over 2 million people were without power (many are STILL without power), and the Nor’easter knocked out more power, and in some cases, knocked out the power in homes that had already had their power restored!

Fortunately, both storms were kind to my immediate family – we never lost power and did not sustain any damage to our home. Our children were out from school for the week after Sandy hit and at worst, we all suffered from a bit of cabin fever. Last year, when Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast, my family and I had just returned from our vacation and came home just in time to prepare for the pending storm. Because we were hearing last minute news, the children were not exposed to days of storm previews on the news. Clearly Sandy was much worse than Irene and the New York/New Jersey area experienced much more devastation as a result. So the television news was full of pictures of families without homes, shelters and soup kitchens being erected. I am always mindful of what my 4- and 6-year old watch on the news, so I was concerned about balancing the reality of the news with comforting my children so they would not worry. I wanted them to understand what was going on, teach them that sometimes storms can devastate communities and disrupt the lives of many, all while helping them to be appreciative of what we had survived. On a more humorous note, it was often a delicate balance, especially when they wanted to know why I had to interrupt their Power Rangers marathon in order to watch the Mayor’s press conference!

Photo courtesy of coolmomtech.com

What made me reflect on the effects of the storm on my children was a quick blog post I read earlier today on Cool Mom Tech, where the kids’ music download selection of the week was the Louis Armstrong classic, “What a Wonderful World.” Its imagery serves as a reminder to children and adults alike that despite last week’s dangerous weather, and even more dangerous political climate, we do live in a wonderful world.

This and That This Week: Doris New York

Doris New York is an amazing hair care company I mentioned after my visit to the Circle of Sisters Expo in New York. Check out my video review of their Leave In Conditioner ($15) and Olive Oil Hair Cream ($17).

These are two great products from a beautiful and professional hair care company. The care they take in promoting and representing their brand is amazing.

Click here to see the entire product review.

My Adventure at Circle of Sisters in NYC

I’m pretty sure today is the most motivated I have ever been to write a post so quickly…EVER! This weekend is the Annual Circle of Sisters Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. My best friend Stephanie invited me to go and I am SO glad I was able to make it. We have decided to make this an annual pilgrimage.

What is Circle of Sisters? According to their website, “Circle of Sisters is New York’s largest expo for women of color and hosts a variety of speakers, authors, seminars, inspirational services, R&B and gospels concert in addition to the more than 200 vendors and companies selling unique items and services.” What made it special for me today? I met three incredible women for the first time today and each one of them left an indelible impression on me!

Afrobella – As you all already know, Miss Patrice is my favorite beauty blogger, and she is the creator of my FAVORITE MAC lipglass, All of My Purple Life.

I found out she was going to be moderating a Fall Fashion Show for Bali Shapewear and I knew I had to find her at COS and meet her in person. During the day, I saw actor Anthony Anderson, local newswoman Brenda Blackmon and Pastor/Gospel Singer Donnie McClurkin. But it was my meeting with Miss Patrice that absolutely made my day. I was meeting ROYALTY! She is just as amazing and charming in person as she is in social media!

Calandra and Miss Afrobella!

While at Bali, I met Denise A. Johnson, Editor In Chief of Rainy Day Diva. Such a down-to-earth Sistagirlfriend! She and Stephanie and I found ourselves engaged in a very serious conversation about shapewear! Now you know only sistagirlfriends can talk frankly about shapewear! We had such a great time with her – my new Twitter friend!

Calandra with Denise - Rainy Day Diva

The first booth we visited was #200 – Doris New York (www.dorisnewyork.com) – our dear friend and sister Marlene Duperley is Owner and Senior VP of this wonderful hair care product company. You must try the Olive Oil Hair Cream, and Leave In Conditioner. AMAZING products. Stephanie and I met Marlene on Facebook, where she moderates 3 awesome pages – Married to Me, MTM for Men, and MTM for Teens. We became great online friends and FINALLY got a chance to meet in person and hang out with our sister.

Calandra, Marlene, Stephanie - Natural Hair Rules!

We also had the chance to meet and hang out with her colleagues and models – what an awesome time we had with them!

The Doris New York Models

These three Divas have been so inspirational! I am so glad to have been able to spend time with them today. Thank  you Patrice, Denise and Marlene for a wonderful day. And special shout-out to my best friend of 25+ years, Stephanie, for suggesting we go.

Calandra and Stephanie - Best Friends Forever! LOL

(Oh yeah, and the rest of the Expo was pretty cool too! LOL)

13 Personal Question Tag

One of my favorite YouTubers, Brian (ThesPNation) is returning to YouTube with his own personal 31-day commitment to posting videos during the month of August. His first video is a tag of 13 Personal Questions. I decided to answer the tag myself. Feel free to answer them yourself. Here are the tag questions:

13 Personal Questions:

1. What do you order at Starbucks?
2. What’s one thing in your closet that you cannot live without?
3. What’s one thing that most people probably wouldn’t know about you?
4. Name one thing that you want to do before you die
5. What’s one food that you cannot live without?
6. What quote/phrase do you live your life by?
7. What do you like and dislike about the YT community?
8. What’s your number one most listened to song on iTunes?
9. What kind of style would you define yourself as having?
10. What is your favorite number
11. Name two hobbies.
12. Name two pet peeves (if any).
13. Name one guilty pleasure.

New Feature – This and That This Week (TTTW)

I’m coming off the heels of my 30-Day Video Challenge. I ended the month having posted 23 new videos to my YouTube channel, 7 videos short of the 30 suggested, but 3 ahead of my personal goal of 20. I’m pleased not  just because of the 23 videos, but because I’ve been inspired to expand my YouTube Channel,  change the look of my blog, and I have now even started a Facebook fan page. Oh yeah, I also joined the ranks of Beautylish – feel free to check me out!

So on to the next challenge – another great thing that came out of the challenge is the new group of  YouTube channels I’ve been watching and blogs I’ve been reading (see my post HERE). And now with my natural hair journey, I’ve got loads of new sites to check out. Having said that, welcome to my new feature, “This and That This Week,” affectionately known as TTTW. Every week I’ll review/highlight videos and articles of interest related to hair, beauty, parenting, etc. – basically a little bit of this and a little bit of that!  I know, it’s not a new concept, but it’s new for This and That With Calandra! LOL

Stay tuned and keep checking for my first installment coming this week…