Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Well, I haven’t done a post like this in a loooong time, but my Mom told me that she misses my ‘favorite things’ posts, so, this one is for you Mom!

First up, we have the Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care blog, also known as the hair care LIFE SAVER in this house!

Seriously, our Ghana girls would be in big trouble if I would have never gotten word on this website. Basically, the author of this blog realized upon adopting her African-American daughter that she needed to figure this hair thing out. And she figured it out GOOD. Like, we are talking EXPERT level, and yet, she shares what she has learned in a way that is accessible and achievable to even a beginner. On the blog she elaborately shares about how to use African hair products (and what works/what doesn’t) and the how to’s/step-by-steps for African hair (maintenance/care/styling). It’s easy to get caught up in all the styling techniques, but in addition, this website has taught me so much about the daily maintenance and care for African hair. It is so different than caring for my hair or Jayla’s hair.

When a friend told me about this website and I started reading through it for the first time, I was quite overwhelmed and totally feeling myself hold back in fear of failure mode. But thankfully I found out about this website over 6 months ago, so I was able to tell myself that I had plenty of time to ‘study’ it, and that I would consider this as part of my adoption training! I started printing off many of the author’s posts so I could easily flip to them and have them right beside me as I style. I organized a 3-ring binder full of her styling instructions and the main things I needed to remember for the hair care steps. And then, I started practicing, going soley off the blog writer’s ‘how-to’ posts. As I blogged about HERE, I am completely new to braiding hair. And because of that, I am kind of blown away with how I can just read her instructions, and then go and do it. At times it feels supernatural. I know that sounds silly – I mean we are talking about HAIR! - but I am telling you that I had no idea my hands could actually do this. I know it’s simply God equipping me, and for that I am thankful. Now, I still need more practice to make it all look crisp and perfect, but I am getting the mechanics down.

On my last hair post I had shown you my first attempt at a flat rope twist. From there I decided that I had plenty of time to learn to cornrow. I studied the CHVC ‘how to’ instructions HERE a handful of times. Eventually what made it stick was when I compared this to a french braid. I’ve done french braids on Barbies before. With a french braid, as you go down you add the hair to each outside strand of the 3 strands of hair that you start with. This allows you to braid a whole head of hair in one braid. But with a cornrow the idea is to braid strips of hair. In the ‘how to’ she tells you to only add the hair to the middle strand as you go down. You also braid the strands under each other instead of over each other. Here was my first attempt at a cornrow…

I like to learn off ‘still objects’ first – a Barbie or a doll with hair - before trying on Jayla because I don’t want her to have to sit through my attempts! The blog author encourages making a practice board using yarn, but I find that Barbies work just fine for me. Once I get the concept down, I like to practice on real hair so Jayla helps me out. One day we were at the gym and Jayla was tired and rested her head in my lap. I practiced a little cornrow on a section of her hair, right across her forehead and it looked right! A few days later I tried it again and I knew I had the technique down…

I even practiced on myself to really get it engrained in my mind!

Yesterday I was getting the itch to practice again. I just wanted to do a few small sections, and I also thought it would be fun to try out the hair beads that Jake brought me home from Ghana as a gift. Jayla was in a great mood, especially when she realized that I was going to put the beads in! She was so excited to pick the colors out, and couldn’t wait until I had the first braid done so she could go check it out in the mirror. We only did two cornrows, but they were SUPER cute, and enough to continue to keep the technique in my memory. Jayla LOVED the feel of the beads in her hair! She kept tossing her head around so she could hear them shake.

I wouldn’t normally have Jayla wear her hair in cornrows. This is just practice for our Ghana girls. But this website has also caused me to step out of my comfort zone and try some fun styles for Jayla’s hair that I probably would have never tried either! Like a simple french braid. Once I figured out the cornrow technique I knew that I should be able to do a french braid too. The morning that JJ first went to school Jayla and I had some special girl time, and I whipped up this french braid for her!

It turned out beautiful! I loved it, and it was fast and easy (I can’t believe I am saying that!).  Our Ghana girls will be coming with very short hair, so it will be awhile before I can try out some of these styles on them.  But I want to learn the techniques now, while I have the extra time!


Alright, next up is a new favo that JJ and I have discovered…

If you LOVE the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie like we do, then these are the PERFECT imitation – if not better. And, once you are out you don’t have to hunt down a Girl Scout to get some more – just head to the grocery store. JJ requested to bring these along for a pool snack all summer. They are the perfect little treat – if you like coconut that is (everyone likes chocolate, right?).


We’ve tried a few different kid’s Bibles in our day, but this one by far is my favorite…

Now, this is not a toddler/pre-schooler Bible. I would say this is best for ages 5 and up. The author re-tells the stories of scripture in perfect ‘kid’ lingo….like she uses the words ‘nasty’ and ‘gobble them up’ and ‘secret rescue plan’….all the while maintaining the integrity of scripture. It’s kind of like ‘The Message’ Bible translation, but for kids. And honestly, even if you are an adult and you have never read the Bible, this would be a good one to start with. At the end of each Bible story the author shows how they all, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, fit together to point toward the big message of the Bible – Jesus and His offer of salvation. In the author’s explanation: There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you see a beautiful picture.


If you are on Facebook then you’ve probably seen people upload photos via Instagram, and wondered what on earth it is! Well, it’s a FREE app for your I-phone that can dazzle up the plain ‘ol pictures you take on your phone. Remember how exciting it was to get to change a regular picture into Sepia or Black and White in the photo editer on your laptop? Well, Instagram has a handful of really cool looking washes/filters (or whatever you call them) that make your phone pictures look oh-so-cool (the ‘Earlybird’ wash is my fav). Basically you just take a picture on your phone, click on the Instagram app, go to your phone photo album to select the picture, and then from there you can try out all the different washes and see which one you love best. They totally transform your photos. Here is a sample from my photos:

Original photo:

Changed with Instagram:

You also can select the option to upload the photo simultaneously to Facebook (and Twitter, etc). In fact, Instagram has it’s own sharing/social network that I believe is owned by Facebook now. You can scroll through all the photo posts that your Instagram friends have uploaded to their wall, and even comment on them and ‘like’ them just as you would Facebook posts. So, basically Instagram is like a photography Facebook. Look me up!


Lori said...

thanks honey...i love your favos too!

nick&abby said...

yay for instagram! I'm totally following you :) Nice work on the cornrows! I totally want to try it on Adelyn now :)

Steph said...

Love, Love, Love, and still haven't tried Instagram. :) (BTW I hate coconut but I love those little cookies - weird, huh?)

I guess I better get up the courage to try cornrows now. You've convinced me that I can do it too! :)

Rory, Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care said...

i love instagram too! and thank you SO MUCH for your sweet words about my blog. God bless you! this just made my day, knowing that what we do over here is really blessing people elsewhere. your cornrows look GREAT! clearly you've got a handle on the hair thing. ;-)