‘Something New’ + Natural Hair = Hilarious Video

It takes a lot of spunk to be a black woman who gets up on YouTube to talk about her hair journey. Some of us introverts would sooner DIE! But only a real man, who happens to be white and married to a black woman, can get up there to crack jokes about his “bald journey!” Take a few moments to enjoy this video, please. I watched it sometime last year, loved it, forgot to bookmark it and lost track of it. Then I found it again Thursday night. Good thing, too. It re-energized me after a long days’ work, and I’m now ready to refocus and write my work-related blog. Yes, at night, if you can believe that!

Interracial PDA: Take Our Poll

Warm weather has finally settled onto the New York City area, which means it’s time to break out the strollers and get some exercise with your little ones!  Or, if you are in a couple with no young kids, its time to be outdoors for some quality hand holding.

Don't worry. I sprang into action and shook that twig out of her hand.

Last year, a day after this photo was taken—around early Spring—Hubby, Little Sister, Baby and I went to Liberty State Park in Jersey City to enjoy a relaxing afternoon before dinner. We tossed a frisbee, snacked on nachos and took in the sights on the harbor promenade.

We also saw at least a couple of other Latte Cafe types of couples, which is not unusual. We’ve got loads of nationalities and ethnic groups represented here, so it wasn’t surprising to see more couples like mine and Hubby’s. I was on a business lunch less than a year earlier in one of the hotels in downtown Jersey City, and spied a Latte Cafe type family having breakfast, probably before heading into Manhattan to soak up the atmosphere and take in the sights for the day.

This year, I expect to see lots of mixed families like ours, because well, I work in Manhattan and live in the New York area. The hordes of European visitors never really ebbs, with their generous vacation benefits that make me green with envy! And I’d safely say that I see about the same the percentages of European mixed couples as American ones I think that says Europeans are far less hung up on interracial dating than their American peers, but it also says that I do lot of people watching, doesn’t it. 🙂 Don’t worry I don’t stalk them!

But Spring weather does get me to wondering: How many mixed couples and families and I going to share a sidewalk with this year?  Will there be more than last year, as Americans keep warming up to this idea of looking past racial and ethnic difference to form relationships? Am I going to hear more mixed couples talk to each other with Southern and Midwestern accents? Are people from other parts of the country becoming as comfortable with interracial dating as the folks in the coastal cities already seem to be?

I’ve decided to really pull readers into that discussion with a quick poll. I’d love to hear stories from other American cities, especially ones that are not as foreign tourist-attractive as New York? It’s a first for The Latte Cafe, so share it with your friends. Enjoy!

Keeping Up With the Past

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Baby has outgrown her onesies, not because they are tight on her, but because she is in full potty training mode. The snaps on the inseams get in her way as she prepares to go. And since we inhabitants of the Northeast are putting up with a frigid, wet spring, where we haven’t had a single three-day stretch of clear and warm weather, I thought those two inducememts were enough to convert her onesies into long- and short-sleeved T-shirts.

The thing is, until I took on this project I had not sewn much beyond basic hems and re-attaching buttons. I had never even owned a fully functioning sewing machine until I picked up the Singer Esteem II model at Target last winter. See the serious-looking Singer in the photo, the one with the foot pedal that comes inside the cabinet? I picked that up from an Italian woman who was clearing out her parents’ house to move them to smaller place. I mean to have it refurbished and get it up and running again, because I admire the workmanship that goes into these machines. I can’t see the sense in having a beautiful piece of work like that simply lay fallow and rust in my house.

I also like having it around because it makes me feel connected to my Caribbean past, and to a generation of women whose practical knowledge I envy and admire at turns. I know at least 10 very talented seamstresses. Aunt Mary is one of them, and she has a serious professional model. When Baby, Little Sister and I drove down for a visit on one of our (many) snowy days last winter, Aunt Mary let me take a few practice passes on it to hem up Baby’s “new” T-shirts. Readers, I was very rusty. But I was also determined to make these hands do something useful. Something that gave me something in common with some of the most creative and self-sufficient people I know. It is one thing for a family to assimilate into a culture, and send its second generation, myself included, into the professional workforce. Journalists like me tap out words for a living. (And a mean living it is, too. Generally speaking, journalists are among the most underpaid professionals you’ll find. Makes me mad.) For me, that’s not enough. I need something to do to take my mind off of work. Work, money, careers and getting ahead. It can’t be about that ALL THE TIME.

My late aunt Lena, my mother’s sister had a Singer similar to my vintage model. She kept it near one of my cousins’ bedrooms in the teacher’s cottage where we lived in rural Clarendon parish. I remember being a small child, about four or five years old, and sitting on the floor of that room while she sewed. The sultry air outside pulsed and teemed with noisy birds, monger out on the road hawked coconut water from homemade carts. Tiny lizards skittered along the verandah. Aunt Lena pumped the broad iron foot pedal and sent the machine whirring, joining these country noises, as she fashioned dresses, hemmed clothes, shortened or made drapes, or worked on whatever else was needed around the house. Aunt Lena’s son is married to a dynamo, Patrice, who is just as inventive as Martha Stewart, B. Smith and any other domestic taste maker out there. She just doesn’t have a syndicated media powerhouse to ply her wares, is all.   🙂  In any case, Patrice is a fantastic seamstress, who makes beautiful drapes, furniture covers and all sorts of other things. My mother is also proficient, and she made herself a few outfits during one of her particularly lean years in the early 1980s. I remember going into fabric stores with my mother. Colorful fabrics jutted out from everywhere, and the quiet was only broken up by one of the shopkeepers flipping the bolts of cloth around on a table to measure out the yardage, or the scrape of heavy tailor’s shears along the table as they sliced off what she wanted. I remember listening to her rev her Singer as she sewed her clothes. My mother looks great in pretty much whatever she wears—always turning heads—but I don’t remember any of her clothes (except for what she wore to my wedding) as much as I do her handmade outfits. Not to outdone by the women, my uncle Rowan worked as a tailor in London, where he lived for many years.

These women and uncle Rowan are all out of my league when it comes to sewing. We’re not even on the same planet, or galaxy, for goodness’ sake. There are times, like when I purchased drapes for Little Sister’s room and the kitchen, then brought them to a local dry cleaner to have the tailor shorten them, when I feel stupidly helpless.  With all this knowledge around me, why couldn’t I make simple, sturdy and attractive drapes for my house? Or just buy them and make them over myself? I regret taking such a late interest in developing this skill, which is just as relaxing as it is practical. For the few hours that I put into changing Baby’s onesies, sewing actually made me feel good, once I practiced. I got to feel a little more like a self-sufficient, can-do Jamaican than someone who has to run out to a store and swipe a card for every little necessity.

Keeping the ‘Do

Now that Baby’s hair is long enough to style almost every day, I feel like I should make an effort to send her out-of-doors putting her best foot forward. A few weeks ago, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with brushing and parting her hair every morning. Hubby and I both have jobs with frequent writing deadlines, so minutes in the morning are precious.

I decided to do one style a week. I part Baby hair in the way that I want the night before, then brush in shea butter and a small dab of coconut oil onto each section. Then I plait (platt, if you are Jamaican) each section. Baby’s ends are sometimes too slick to simply roll into place and tuck under the braid itself to secure it, so I double the braid over and secure it with a small Goody Ouchless band. In the morning, I let down the sections and put a light amount of Curly Q milkshake on each section, then brush it and put it into a ponytail holder. Each section is already neatly parted, so it saves me about 5 to 10 minutes. I’m sure that’s a trick every Black mom has used since forever, but hey. It’s my first time, so I thought I’d share my results. Here are a few shots with Baby’s hair in pretty much the same sections on different days. I changed the ponytail holders to match her outfits.

 

Parting and "platting" the sections to prep for the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's a pink day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking preppy in her white polo shirt and blue ponytail holders.

 

 

 

 

Come As You Are

On Monday evening, I did more research on maintaining natural hair. Once again, I popped by one of Naptural85’s YouTube channels. This vlogger is becoming my top favorite quickly, because I get a lot of ideas for managing Baby’s hair. It also makes excellent background research for when/if I take the natural plunge.

Last month, Naptural85 posted a personal video introducing her Brazilian husband, Filipe. Quite a charming pair, these two are. They acknowledge their interracial relationship, and do so in a really refreshing way. No angst, preaching or zealotry for Black women to—quick!—grow their hair natural and get a white guy! Just a couple of married younguns having fun together.

At one point, Naptural85 said it was her husband who prodded her to go natural. He agreed, explaining that women should work what they have instead of dousing—my word—their hair with so many chemicals that are really quite damaging, in the end. How nice it must be to live like a guy, and see the world in very simple ways!  LOL.

And yet, it reminded me of how Black women often fail to appreciate natural beauty in themselves and each other. We all know the colorful terms that Black folks toss around for natural hair—nappy, peasy—but white men and other guys who are not Black don’t see it that way.

Guys from outside my culture have complimented me on my short coils and twists and short textured styles far more than any other permed or pressed style I’ve ever worn, if at all. (As Hubby points out, textured styles can’t really be considered natural. To which I hotly retort: ‘Of course they can! What do you know about it, white man?’ Every time I want to trump him—it could be about the weather—I say that. He is a patient man.)

Black women have no idea, collectively, how attractive men of other cultures find them to be. And even in less social situations, they judge themselves much more harshly than those guys. I see it almost every day at work, and out and about. And no, we don’t have to dress like some trollop on BET or be bi-racial or very light-skinned. We are fine the way we are, and by fine, I mean fetching. Slowly, we are realizing that. And we’re realizing that we don’t have to totally banish our natural textures to have ‘good hair’.

Product Review: Like—Don’t Love—Shea Moisture

Is there an unscented version?

I like this cream for from Shea Moisture, the Baby Head-to-Toe Ointment. I found it while strolling the aisles at Target for Pull-Ups and other Baby supplies for you-know-who.  😉  The cream is very rich, and when you do work it into little elbows, knees, heels and wintry eczema trouble spots, it does keep dry, ashy and scaly skin at bay. Moisture is very important for all skin types in the winter, not just on biracial and African-American kids.

I don’t love it, though, because I think the scent is too strong. Although Baby is all of 37 inches tall, it took more than a small amount to get it into her trouble spots, by the time I was finished applying it, she scent was almost overwhelming. I almost washed some off of her. And believe me, I didn’t slather it on her, either. Just a golden dollar piece sized amount, at the most. Also, even if I wanted to use more, I would be hard pressed. The cream itself is very thick, which is what you would expect from shea butter, and I just managed to wring a modest amount out of the tube as Baby skipped here and tottered there, waiting for me.

I wrote to the company, complimenting them on the product, and asking about an unscented version, but I got no reply. That was at least three weeks ago. Well, I went on their Web site, searching for an unscented alternative, and came up empty.  I did notice, after exploring their Web site, that Shea Moisture loads up almost all of its products with very richly scented exotic ingredients, like myrrh and frankincense. I didn’t do a thorough analysis, but I bet it’s safe to say that each product has no less than three very aromatic, pricey herbal ingredients.

Well, I need to keep Baby’s routine simple, for all of our sakes. She is a busy-body, two-year-old child who can’t sit still (I love it!) I have a demanding full-time job and long commute, and Hubby … he doesn’t care very much about this stuff. If I need to work late and leave Baby’s hair-and-skin care routine to him for the night, it needs to be simple, or it won’t get done. For now, I dilute the Shea Moisture Baby Head-to-Toe Ointment with an unscented baby cream from Aveeno. That combination works well, along with skipping a day or two of the Shea Moisture.

There you have it. I like it. I might try other Shea Moisture products, especially if commit to a strategy for going natural again, or at least texturizing.

Here We Go A-gain!

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A snowy day for Jamaican pursuits.

I woke up this morning to see several inches of snow on the ground. And it is still coming down. Ugh! There is so much to do today, including driving to my aunt’s house and cooking curried chicken. I also want her to give me, if she consents, a sewing tutorial. She is an excellent seamstress, and I want to absorb a lot of what she knows. I wish I could sew proficiently. I think that if a set of curtains or a duvet needs to be altered, I should at least know how to do it myself, so that only the lack of time to do it myself would force me to bring those jobs to a dry cleaner/tailor. Years ago, I brought two sets of curtains, purchased from Target, to a local dry cleaner/tailor for altering. I thought he looked at me thinking: ‘Wow, this is really simple, but if you want to pay, I’ll do it.’ 🙂

Cooking and sewing are the two things that many well brought up Jamaican/Caribbean women can do, especially those who are in my aunt’s generation. In my 20s and 30s, I spent so much time trying to juggle expectations from family, church and editors that little time was left to slow down and really learn something like sewing. My life is still busy, but it doesn’t matter. Now that I also have a house and two growing girls, think it’s high time I advanced past stitching a crooked hem. LOL. We’ll see what happens.

Pancakes, Paintings and Puppets

Last weekend, while the rest of the country took the national holiday to sleep late, go shopping, watch television, catch up on household chores or administrative tasks (or maybe even work a little), I had charge of Baby. Like banks, brokerage houses and most government functions, her nursery school was closed in observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Running after a two-year-old is one thing, but designing activities to keep her developing mind entertained and interested is another, especially because Hubby and I do not subscribe to cable television. I started the day by letting her help me mix pancake batter for breakfast, and by the time her mid-day nap rolled around, we had completed two art projects, one puzzle and played cheerful interactive children’s songs.

The day’s exertions wore me out a little, but that’s a good thing. That morning, as I drummed up ideas for the day’s activities, happy memories of art projects from my schooldays came flooding back. Baby liked putting together the paper bag puppet—with my guiding hand, of course! I also hope she had fun seeing different colors come about by mixing primary and secondary ones for her finger painting. It was worth the effort, and if I was tired, it was my own fault. I was running on six hours’ sleep from the night before (bad habit), and hadn’t had any coffee during the day. By the time late afternoon rolled around, I was off making dinner and I think Little Sister watched about 30 minutes of a Dora the Explorer adventure with Baby.

Hubby and I decided years ago to forego watching cable television, mainly to simplify our busy lives already filled with work, travel and our bi-state relationship. Over the years, broadcast television dropped off as well, because of the sham agreement between the FTC and cable carriers to convert all analog television channels to digital. We just didn’t want to pay an extra fee for a form of entertainment that doesn’t mean much to us. If we must watch something from network TV, we try to catch it for free online, Hubby will wait for it to come out through Netflix,  or buy I’ll try to buy the episode from iTunes or someplace else. It’s all for the best. We can’t possible sit still to watch much television, with the demands of a young family. Sometimes, though, we do betray our fraying connection to popular culture. For instance, Hubby is among the tiny minority of men in America who don’t watch ESPN or Sportsline, and I am one of the few black women in America who hasn’t seen a single, solitary episode of Myles of Style.

I’ll have to rectify that situation via iTunes, if possible. There were rumors that the show had been canceled. I hope not! I’ve seen magazine photo spreads of Kim Myles’ creative work, and I’ve been floored.

As for Little Sister and Baby, we think they will be one of the few young people to never be enthralled by video games. Although I do think it is important for kids to be current with their times and to be media wise, too, sometimes Hubby just shakes his head at the whole idea of video games. He thinks they do very little good, even as a form of entertainment. In the end, we really do want to encourage Little Sister and Baby to have the sorts of minds that stimulate their world, rather than be over stimulated by it.

The Birthday Boys

Another busy week has gone by and I’ve decided to post another “podcast” rather than write a regular post. This time, I’ve tried to make it interesting by including a couple of funny photos of myself check it out! LOL.

You can link to it here. Podcast Twins DP It covers:

• the Richardson twins, a pair of black and white twin brothers who have just marked their fourth birthday. Check out this link to the story on AOL Health.

• my snow day

• another Duncan & Paulette installment, in which Paulette accidentally ruffles feathers in Duncan’s new relationship.

Happy New Year!

I hope all you visitors had a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and holiday season, and that the new year is off to a great start. This podcast is a departure from my normal way of doing things, but that’s OK. This is a simple way for me to do a quick blog update and I’ve done at least one before, on Nov. 14.

Honestly, I needed to take a break from the intense, on-the-grind pace I’ve been on for the past few weeks. We hosted Christmas, then we hosted a New Year brunch. We had two snowstorms here in the Garden State, and work has been as busy as ever.

Activity on the site dropped off a sheer cliff last month, because of my busy schedule. I’ll be happy to get back into a consistent blogging rhythm again. Aside from all of that, I like to think the podcasts keep visitors entertained and interested!

Here is a quick rundown of what I talk about in the next five minutes:

• Christmas at our house

• quick recaps of party discussions on race and interracial experiences

• a new Duncan & Paulette installment. If you’re not reading these contraband emails, you’re missing out. These people are leading interesting lives, and I’m trying to post as many messages as I can to catch up. All names have been changed to protect the innocent—and the notorious. To find the new installment, just look/scroll down. It’s called “Taking Shots.”

Happy New Year!