Disowning The Inheritance of Fear

  1. 1.
    an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

I don't think I'm a fearful person but 
  • I'm nervous about heights and close my eyes in glass elevators
  • I panic in 4 feet of water even though I'm 5 feet 6 because I can't swim
  • I hate cats because my dad hates cats
  • I don't say the word "snake" because my dad does not like snakes at all. Even typing the word creeps me out a little
  • To be honest, I'm nervous being around any animal period
Truth is some of my fears are natural to me and some of my fears are "inherited". Try as I might, I can't get myself to like cats (sorry cat-lovers reading this!) and I know that is not based on anything more rational than the fact that my dad is leery of cats. Not so my girls. They love cats and dogs and snakes and glass elevators and climbing really high on the jungle gym. 
and when they ask to go look at the cats in the pet store, I oblige them
when they ask for a ride in the glass elevators, I unclench my stomach, relax my muscles, fix my eyes on a spot and ride with them
when they ask to go into a petting zoo, I take a deep breath, fake a smile and stand right there with them
In a den of animals pretending I'm not scared of being pecked by that wild duck!
Twin Parenting Lesson 6: Because I can't afford to let them assimilate my fears. I'm brave because they are so much braver.

What about you? What rational or irrational fears do you hide bravely?

Hair Matters 3.5

This will be the third hair care post on mytwintopia. The first time was when the girls were under a year old and the next time was when they were 15 months old. Now, they're almost 4 years old and a lot of things have changed about our hair care routine. Here are the highlights of some of those changes and what I've learned along the way:

Set Goals: If there's one attribute that makes me standout, it's my hair. I'm always cutting, styling and dyeing it and sometimes that is not a good thing. So now I'm learning to set hair goals not just for myself but also for the girls. My goal for their hair is length and health - healthy shoulder-length before they go into kindergarten September 2015.

Why? Because lets be honest, hair is one of the image struggles black females have and kindergarten is just about the time when little girls of African descent start noticing the differences between their hair and Caucasian hair. I know at that age, all I wanted to do was "whip my hair" and my girls are beginning to have the same feelings and requesting for their hair to "shake". If I can take care of their hair so they have good length, then the pressure to get a perm is removed.

Collaborate: My babies have started having opinions about everything including their clothes, accessories and hair styles. Before I could slap a style on their head and call it good. Now it's a collaborative process with them telling me what they want and me finding the easiest way to get it done. Current request is "Mickey Mouse Hair". I did this and Sugar complained that it looked like a bunny and not Mickey Mouse. Will try again

Accessorize: For the first couple of years, I didn't use any bows, beads etc on the girls' hair to prevent breakage due to strain. Now we have a plethora of accessories which I keep in a craft box purchased from Michaels

The beads and clips collection
Personalize: The twins' hair texture is as different as their personalities and I choose hair products and styles based on their hair texture and their personality. For example:
Spice has a full head of hair with 4a texture in front and 4b texture at the back. Her scalp is also very sensitive and she can't sit for long styling periods. I use heavier products for her hair and stick to simple single braid styles because cornrows on her take forever. Her hair hates protein products
Sugar has fine, low density 4b hair that breaks easily. She can sit for longer complicated styles so I usually cornrow her hair to keep the weight off individual strands and also use lightweight products. Her hair loves and needs protein products
Style Regimen: Styling for 2 kids (plus myself) is a whole weekend thing but I break it into shorter length sessions to avoid mummy-burnout and kiddie-tantrums. So I can take out a style on Friday evenings, wash on Saturday and style on Sunday
I change the styles every 1-2 weeks depending on neatness. 
Shampoos are every other week. I wish I could buy a shampoo bowl but there's no where to store it when not in use. One change I'm also implementing is shampooing with the style in to prevent major tangling issues. 
I try to stick to simple styles and leave the intricate ones for special occassions. 
I learnt a lot from blogs and youtube and my skills are definitely better today than 2 years ago. I was able to buy a kid's styling chair on kijiji so I can stand upright while making their hair. My back sent me a thank you note the other day! All styling is done in front of the TV. 

Products: Here's a list of our hair products and styling aids and where we get them
  • Herbal essence hello hydration shampoo and conditioner from Grocery store
  • Selsun blue antidandruff shampoo from Grocery store
  • Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Conditioner/Detangler - 8 oz for Spice (I stock up on US trips to Target)
  • Mane 'n Tail Detangler for Sugar (and mummy) from Walmart
  • Denman tangle tamer for brushing the stands after detangling with afro comb from Amazon
  • Tangle Teezer for the "kitchen" area from Amazon or Sally's
  • Afro comb from comb section of various stores
  • Sulphur 8 extra strength cream for their scalps from Walmart
  • Giovanni Vitapro Fusion Leave-In Hair Treatment for Sugar's hair from Winners or Real Canadian Superstore
  • Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner for moisturizing with styles in from Winners or Real Canadian Superstore
  • Castor oil alone or mixed with jojoba oil for seal moisture with styles in from the pharmacy, health food stores, Amazon or ethnic hair store
  • Cutting comb from Nigeria
  • Boar bristle brush that's not too stiff from comb section of various stores
  • A collection of hand towels that are reserved for hair only.
  • Sleep caps (which are not always used) and satin pillowcases from Sally's or Amazon (the Betty Dain brand. It feels very stiff when new but softens up after washing)
When I recall that on their first birthday the girls had teeny-weeny afros, I appreciate how far we've come and really love the hair journey we're sharing as a family.
Hair at their first birthday photo shoot

PS: In case you're wondering about MY hairstyle, I've gone from dreadlocks to afro to texturized afro to red afro to mohawk to very short afro to very short afro with red highlights THIS year alone! Yes, I need that vision board. 

 I blame my hair shenanigans on midlife crisis. What's the most adventurous thing you've done with your hair lately?

The Nail-Biting Finale

This is my optimistic post on the nail-biting finale at our house. And by nails I mean fingernails and toenails!

It was over a year ago when I noticed that Sugar almost took out my eyeball with an itsy-bitsy fingernail. I quickly trimmed her nail and turned round to do Spice's. I was pleasantly relieved to see that her nails were still short and thought nothing of it. That is until I walked into her room one night and found her chomping furiously on her nails. Ah ha! So that's where all the fingernails went. 

I bought one of those nasty tasting polish things and applied to her nails, hoping to nip the habit in the bud. She kept chomping but now was also gagging on the taste of the polish. I panicked about her choking and never used the polish again. 

Until last month! Spice told me she had an "owie" on her foot and when I bent down to take a look I was appalled by the fact that she had almost no more toenails. Her fingernails were bitten to the cuticles and the toenails were not faring any better. To make matters worse, Sugar was ALSO now biting her fingernails. It was time for action.

What didn't work
I bought some chewelry (chewable jewelry) last year for the Spice to distract her from chewing on her nails. She liked to wear it, but never chewed on it.

What I did wrong
I showed Spice my fingernails and told her they were pretty and hers were ugly because she was biting on them. She cried and I felt really bad at my choice of words. So much for saying I want to foster positive body image in my girls and then turning round and telling them a body part was ugly. I really messed up on that one.

What worked
Thank God for the multiple opportunities for do-overs in parenting. Instead of emphasizing a negative, I tried to put a positive spin on the situation. I got a pedicure just before our trip to Nigeria and Spice was really entranced with my painted toes. I made her a promise that if she stopped biting her nails, I'd paint them pink. She bought it! They both did. 

What Helped
Since most of the nail biting happened when they were in bed, I had them sleep with socks on their hands for a couple of weeks to help break the habit as well. No access to nails = no biting
This is the longest her nails have been in 2 years!

What was needed
Imagination and perseverance because multiple times a day, both girls would assure me that they were no longer biting their nails and could they have the pink nails now. I'd say no, their nails need to be longer. After a week, to make sure they still kept their eye on the ball, I painted their thumbs and big toes pink. They were ecstatic. A couple of weeks later, their nails were indeed longer and I painted a rainbow of colors on their nails. Looks like the nail biting episode is over

If you had asked me 5 years ago, I'd have told you my kids' nails would not see polish until they were done with high school. I was such a confident mother before I actually had kids!

Twin Parenting Lesson 4: It's ok to appeal to your kids' vanity sometimes

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