June 12th commemorates the anniversary of the Supreme Court striking down state bans on interracial marriages, on June 12th, 1967. This was possible thanks to the love and fight put forth by Richard and Mildred Loving, a interracial couple from Caroline County, Virginia.
While, Virginia is known for the phrase, “Virginia is for Lovers” – that was not always the case. In fact, prior to the case Loving v Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967) it was illegal to marry outside of your race and many people were jailed as a result. The couple who fought so hard for love, Richard and Mildred Loving were both sentences to a year in prison in 1958, all because they wanted to love each other. According to Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between whites and colored, the Lovings were guilty for love.
Thankfully, the Loving’s decision to fight on for love, pushed them to appeal their convictions to the Supreme Court of Virginia and their case was heard. On June 12, 1968, the court made a decision in the favor of Richard and Mildred Loving, overturning their convictions. On June 12th, 1967, the court struct down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws, ending all race-based legal restrictions regarding marriage not only in Virginia, but across the United States.
This court ruling made it possible for my parents to marry legally and has made such a great impact on many other interracial relationships and families. Let us never forget, June 12th, 1967.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope”
“Love is blind despite the world’s attempt to give it eyes.”
Through this pandemic a lot of people and companies are honoring men and women who are first responders and those who are on the front line. Not all who serve the community have a actual job or official title. There are many who are working behind the scenes in their spare time around the clock to help others.
Today, I just want to thank those who may have been overlooked. If you are doing something great within your community in order to alleviate the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects it has on others- THANK YOU!
A special thank you goes out to my mother in love, Rolanda McKinney of RoDazzle’s Designs on her dedication to crafting and distributing hand made face masks throughout her community. For the past three weeks she has worked day and night, making well over 300 masks.
Her dedication has been unmatched as she worked endless hours a day to keep up with the demand for face masks. And even faced challenges trying to locate supplies such as fabric, thread, and elastic which are all pretty much sold out everywhere. Yet, she continued and improvised in order to satisfy her orders.
Take a look at some of her patterns:
I am proud to have her in my life. As a frontline worker I am appreciative that through her dedication I am not effected by the mask shortage. She made sure me and many others have the protection needed to leave out the house each day.
Thank you ma! Continue being a Angel in the community. Your efforts during this time of need is greatly appreciated.
The world has been dealing with the rapidly spreading coronavirus for weeks now. As more testing is made available, the number of those infected continues to rise. Not only America, but the entire would is in panic.
Bread, toilet paper, and water still remain out of stock in many stores. Schools and local libraries are closed. Restaurants have closed their doors to the public. All American’s have been advised to quarantine for 14 days and practice social distancing.
What better way is there to practice social distance other than running to the mountains? There is no better way for us.
Blue Ridge Mountains
Being a Virginia girl myself, home for me lies within the Blue Ridge Mountains. Beginning in Carlisle, Pennsylvania… stretching all the way to Mount Oglethorpe, Georgia, a total of 615 miles. Trailing through the following states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Mount Mitchell is the highest point along the Blue Ridge, with an elevation of 6,683.
A weekend nestled away in the mountains is exactly what the doctor recommended for social distancing. Being able to wake up to the sounds of birds chirping, a perfect view of the sun rising, and no traffic since you are miles away from the city. It’s just what we needed and the kids love it when we stay in the mountains. It’s our home away from home, aside from the beach.
What to do while in the mountains
There’s no need to utilize the do-not-disturb feature on your phone. Phone service is nonexistent at this elevation. This weekend gave me time to do the things I enjoy and love with no distractions.
Things to do while in the mountains:
Catch up on reading- Setting time aside to read can be so difficult when you are constantly distracted by notifications from social media, and or surrounded by things to do at home. When I am at home there is always something to do, an item to put back, clothes to be washed, and dishes to be put away. When I am in the mountains there is always time to read and the hours of the day seem longer so I honestly am able to get more reading done with limited distractions.
Study your bible- Use this time for quiet time with God. Set aside time in the morning or evening to pray and open your bible. Study the word. I enjoy using my Bible app to follow daily devotionals.
PlayBoard Games- Confiscate all electronic devices and bring out the board games. Isolation with family, kids specifically calls for board games. As we disconnected ourselves this weekend, it stretched to the kids as well. We replaces electronic devices with board games like Trouble, Pictionary, and Candyland.
Enjoy Nature- Take a walk and simply breathe in the fresh air. My favorite time to enjoy nature and take a walk is in the morning as the sun is rising, when the dew is still in the air. With each breath I inhale and exhale.
Gather Inspiration- I was able to gather inspiration from Liz Marie Galvan book, Cozy White Cottage. Liz’s blog has given me so much inspiration as I redecorate our home to fit a more rustic farmhouse decor. I recently purchased her book and decided to take it along with me this weekend so I can read through her 100 ways to love the feeling of being at home. So, far her book is amazing and is a easy read. She even includes some D.I.Y to get you started. I have mapped out my next project.
I hope each of you are practicing social distancing and isolation during this time. Don’t look at this as a punishment. Use this time to refocus and cleanse your mental. Catching up doing the things you enjoy and love.
This time will soon pass. Until then, continue to take precautions, practice good hand hygiene, and respect the space of others. Be mindful when making purchases and do not over-buy. Be considerate of the elderly or just others who may need what you are purchasing a excess of.
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I consider Sunday to be the start of my week, not Monday. Sunday is the day where I typically get all of my planning done for the week ahead, laundry, meal prep, and grocery shopping. Oh, and I never forget to end Sunday with a little self care.
Journey with me on my weekend recap:
This weekend my husband and I decided to grocery shop on Friday instead of Sunday due to the hysteria surrounding a potential America lockdown, due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus. Even when we went out on Friday, the shelves at all of our local stores were bare. But, we managed to get all of our usuals like every week. It was unbelievable to see all empty shelves where all the basics (bread, water, cheese) and toiletries once use to be.
Starting meal prep for this upcoming week is spaghetti. Instead of prepping for the entire week (Monday-Thursday), I decided to only prepare for two days at a time. Through trial and error of meal prepping I found that we would often get tired of what I have prepped by day two or three. Instead of wasting food I decided to meal prep for a few days at a time. By day two or three I can always switch up dinner with something new. Generally, I stick with main base throughout the week. This week my planned meals are based with ground beef.
For later in the week I have planned to make either chili over rice or taco bowls. Basic main ingredient (ground beef) but we have options to tweak the menu with three different dinner options. This keeps the picky eater protesters hushed in my household. But, honestly I also get tired of eating the same thing after day three.
Planning my meal preps for the week with a variety has been very efficient and successful. It still saves me a lot of time from cooking daily in the kitchen and we aren’t wasting food.
Check out this amazing skin mask I picked up at Target on clearance. This Que Bella Skin Brightening Papaya Peel Off Face Mask is only $1.99. And the smell is amazing. It smells fruity, just like a papaya. It was a plus that this was actually on clearance at my local Target. I always pick up a few of these every time I go to Target for Sunday nights like this. There’s nothing better or more refreshing that giving yourself a facial or face mask treatment.
A little self care goes a long way. It is a great way to take care of yourself as you move into a new week, a fresh start. After removing my make up tonight I cleansed my face and then spread this peel off face mask on my face with my fingertips. I let it sit for 30 minutes while I loaded the dryer and folded clothes. After 30 minutes, I peeled off the mask and rinsed my face with cold water. I must say… my skin feels amazing and is glowing. This mask even reduced some redness I had been experiencing. I definitely will continue to purchase the Que Bella face masks from Target. This brand is my favorite and works well with my sensitive skin.
Hulu & Chill / Late Night Snack
To conclude my Sunday night, I am curled up on the couch with hubby watching US (2019 film) by Jordan Peele. It’s a awesome movie, go watch if you have not seen it yet. I must warn you that it is a typical Jordan Peele film, good but MIND BLOWING.
My late night snack of choice is fresh strawberries loaded with heavy whipped cream.
I am feeling refreshed and ready for the week ahead. Before bed I will sneak in at least fifteen minutes of reading. That always helps me quiet my mind and fall asleep.
Hope I will never forget this day. The day your Daddy got to hold you for the first time before me. I am glad we have this moment of the two of us holding you for the first time in a picture. This still moment captured in a picture can not speak enough how proud we were this day.
It definitely was a happy moment in our lives. A reminder that we never gave up “Hope” on you even when Doctors doubted that it was even possible for you to make it to delivery. God had a different plan and we trusted in him. Because we trusted and had faith in God, he gave us 11 months to enjoy before he called you home for his purpose.
Today Hope… you and your big sister Abigail would have both been 5 years old together. Our two Irish twins, only 10 months apart. In the 11 months you blessed us on this earth you taught our entire family so much about love. You have given us a strength to endure any and everything that life can and will ever hurdle at us. Because of you, we are stronger.
So many think that breastfeeding is simple. It is far from simple. This pregnancy with our third child was the longest that I have ever been able to breastfeed. Our son will be 10 months in two days and I was blessed to have had enough milk produced and stored to be able to still feed him breast milk throughout his first year.
Having multiple reoccurrences of mastitis, which is an inflammation of the breast tissue which leads to infection, commonly affecting breastfeeding mothers made it a greater challenge. Along my breastfeeding journey there were 5 top breastfeeding essentials that really contributed to my success and the convenience of breastfeeding.
Selecting the perfect pump is extremely important whether you are deciding to exclusively pump or not. I have had multiple pumps including: Medela Pump in Style Advance and Ameda Finesse. Each had their pro’s and con’s.
The Medela Pump in Style Advance lasted 5 years and still works but I only would use it at this point as a back up pump. It’s a open system pump which means milk has the ability to flow back into the tubing which is not good at all. Also, the suction has lost its power over the years.
My Ameda Finesse is a closed system pump with decent suction but overheated on me after only 3 weeks of use, causing me to have to order a replacement. I also personally feel like the suction is not adequate enough to completely empty my breast with pumping, as a result I experienced mastitis which is a terrible experience to endure.
Having developed mastitis made me invest in a hospital grade pump and I read so many great reviews about the Spectra S1 and S2. The primary difference in the pump is price since the S1 is portable and the S2 is not. I decided to purchase the S2 for $50 cheaper and simply purchased a car charger for the pump so I can still pump on the go when traveling and/or commuting. This pump has been one of the best investments that I could have made. The suction is great and has various cycle and vacuum settings making it more custom to your body needs to remove milk efficiently.
I purchased this particular pumping bra on Amazon and while a handsfree pumping bra is essential, I do not recommend this particular brand and design. If you are going to be pumping it is crucial to be handsfree. You will highly dread the experience if you have to sit up there and hold two flanges for 30+ minutes at a time. It gets old very quick and is a tiresome task. When I am pumping I need to be able to relax while pumping and a handsfree pumping bra makes it possible.
However, this brand is extremely uncomfortable. The design of the opening is very uncomfortable when it rubs against your breast. Also, the opening flaps overlap awkwardly and can irritate your nipples prior to and after pumping. I am not satisfied with this brand and will be researching another brand so I can order a new pumping bra that caters more to comfort.
I definitely needed a pump bag to tote around my breast pump when traveling and on the go. This particular bag had great reviews on Amazon 4.5/5 and looks great. Once I received it in the mail the quality was everything that I had hoped for. The material is durable and it is well designed with openings on each side of the bag that can be used to access your pump. This pump and diaper bag is very spacious and waterproof. It also is large enough to fit most breast pump brands.
I love the color (grey) as it looks very professional. This particular pump bag is great for those who are returning to work. Since it is discrete, no one would ever know what you have inside, making it perfect for the workplace setting. This tote also includes 3 insulated slots within the side of the bag that can be used to store bottles of milk. It even includes a laptop pocket. Overall, I am very impressed with this bag and it serves its purpose well.
After being diagnosed with mastitis and dealing with chronic clogged milk ducts I needed something to help me improve my breast milk flow in order to prevent clogs. I was not the best at hand massaging prior to pumping and nursing. This tool has been a lifesaver! This lactation massage roller does exactly what it was intended to do: alleviate engorgement, and plugged milk ducts. It’s easier and more convenient to use this massage roller rather than use your hands, making it easier to empty both breast efficiently while giving your hands a break.
This supplement was recommended to me by many other breast feeding mothers. This supplement is used to prevent and aid with clogged milk ducts. I take 2 pills daily at night before bed as a preventative and 4 pills a day if I suspect I have a clog. This supplement helped with thinning my fatty milk in order to remove clogged milk ducts and promote milk flow.
If you are struggling on your breastfeeding journey and are in need of breastfeeding support please reach out to you local La Leche League. This organization offers support all around the world. Some of my greatest friend and supporters I met through my local La Leche League.
Pregnancy loss is one of the greatest losses a mother and father could possibly endure. Having experienced both pregnancy and infant loss, Alaina’s Gift Inc. is near and dear to the heart of my family and I. A parent cannot and will never be prepared to handle the loss of a child no matter what stage of life, born or unborn.
Alaina’s Gift Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded by Delvon and Charie Combo. Named in honor and memory of their precious daughter, Alaina Michelle. The Combo’s created this nonprofit organization after the loss of their daughter, Alaina to Turner’s Syndrome in January 2017.
Inspired by their own pregnancy loss the Combo’s dedicated themselves to helping other families who also have suffered a pregnancy and infant loss. This organization is solely funded from generous donations and fundraisers.
Alaina’s Gift Inc. Mission:
Our mission is to pay either the full amount or partial amount of medical bills associated with women who have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss.
Alaina’s Gift Inc.
Alaina’s Gift Inc. Vision:
Our vision is to assist as many women as we can each year to relieve the financial stress that comes along with this type of experience.
Alaina’s Gift Inc.
The hardest questions that I am ever asked is: “How many children do you have?” … “Do you just have these two?” These questions make parents who have experienced a loss very emotional. Often, I find myself obligated to explain my loss which is a difficult conversation to have with someone who doesn’t really understand or may have not ever experienced such a loss. These conversations are hard for parents and others. Yet, organizations like Alaina’s Gift Inc. is making this topic an easier topic to openly discuss and talk about. This organization is actively spreading awareness in the community which is greatly needed.
Pregnancy and infant loss should not be a heavy conversation for people to have. “About 1 pregnancy in 100 at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later is affected by stillbirth, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States” (CDC, 2019).
Families are experiencing pregnancy and infant loss each day. And unfortunately, many of those families are left with medical bills. It is a devastating experience to suffer the unexpected loss of your child and then have to be faced with the financial burden of hospital bills on top of funeral expenses. These situations are never planned or expected.
Having experienced firsthand the emotional pain and financial strain of losing a child the Combo family has dedicated themselves to helping women in order to alleviate full or partial financial burdens, but also to provide emotional support and resources to those in need. Ultimately, advocating awareness through their events, volunteer opportunities and fundraisers.
Why We Need Your Help | How You Can Get Involved
Alaina’s Gift Inc. has been made possible through the love and support of others. And this organization will be able to continue to give back to others and their community through your help.
There are many ways for you to offer your support to Alaina’s Gift Inc., whether it is by making a tax deductible donation, attending one of their events, volunteering or participating in their fundraisers.
One of the greatest contributions you can also make today is to follow this organization on social media. Please share their posts with your family and friends and help us continue to spread awareness and offer the needed support to Mother’s of Angels in need.
MacDorman MF, Gregory EC. Fetal and perinatal mortality: United States, 2013. National vital statistics reports: from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System. 2015; 64(8):1-24.
I truly believe that God knew exactly what he was doing when he called you home to Heaven on February 29, 2016. He didn’t want us to celebrate your death each year. He loved us too much to burden us with that pain.
With today being the first time in 4 years that this day has come to remind us that you are not here, we are in a place of acceptance. Knowing that God makes no mistakes. My heart is content, knowing that you are in a better place… with no pain.
Although, you are not physically here with us, your presence surrounds us always. Your spirit and image lives on through your siblings.
We love and miss you Hope. You are gone but will never be forgotten. Each year, we will continue to celebrate your life through the memories of your 11 months here on Earth with us. Until we meet again… ❤
Mommy & Daddy ❤
P.S. We never lost Hope. We just gained an Angel. ❤
Our morning began with Baby Andrew demanding his 6:00 am bottle of milk. Shortly after he woke up the entire house, Abigail discovered that Santa made his stop. From that point on we gathered in the living room to watch the children open their gifts.
What does Christmas mean to us? As we grow older the meaning of Christmas has changed. It’s not about the gifts under the tree. It’s about the people who is gathered around it. Gifts? We celebrate each other all year long and surprise each other throughout the year.
The joy of Christmas for us is watching our little ones open their gifts and just spending time together. Christ-mas is a reminder of how thankful and blessed we are. And let’s not forget the greatest gift of all, the birth of Jesus Christ. I will be ending tonight with reading a bible story to the children about the birth of Jesus Christ and what that means for us. We can not forget Christ in Christmas.
I hope each of you enjoyed your loved ones today and had a Merry Christmas.
Friday, May 10, 2019: I followed up with my OB/GYN for my weekly appointment. I was still only 2 cm dilated and about 60% effaced. With Jr. due date quickly approaching in 4 days I began to feel overwhelmed. Despite knowing that due dates are only predicted estimates of when baby is expected to come I began to get concerned since my next appointment would be on his due date, Tuesday, May 14, 2019 and my OB/GYN said he would recommend for me to have a scheduled c-section around 41 weeks if I failed to progress. He explained to me that despite having a successful vaginal delivery with my first that inductions are not an ideal option after having a c-section as it puts the mother at an increased risk for a potential uterine rupture with the medicines they would use for induction. While he explained what to expect, he did remind me to stay positive since things can change quickly.
Before I left my appointment, since it was Mother’s Day weekend he handed me a beautiful Pink Rose and wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and I told him that it would be even nicer if baby boy made his arrival. He smiled-laughed and told me to be careful what you wish for.
Later Friday evening, we decided to get our grocery shopping out of the way since we didn’t know what the coming week would bring. After googling ways to induce labor, I decided to pick up some more Dates which reportedly softens the cervix and pineapples. I figured why not give it a try. I had already been walking a minimum of 3-4 miles per day and doing 10 squats each time I would go to the bathroom. All methods recommended to move baby further down into the birthing canal and begin labor. [I can’t say for sure if these methods worked or if it was just naturally the right time for baby.]
Saturday, May 11, 2019: I woke up around 7:30 am and heard my husband scuffling around in our room and putting his clothes on. It’s the weekend so it’s not shocking that he was getting out of bed this early (he never sleeps in). I asked him where was he going and he told me that he was going to go get a oil change. I asked him, “If I ride with you can you stop me to get some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on the way back home?” He said “sure”, which was very surprising since he had been discouraging me from drinking coffee throughout my pregnancy.
While at Valvoline, I just kept thinking to myself what if my water broke in the middle of the mechanics changing his oil. I even joked with him about this. I mean I know they are quick with changing oil but they wouldn’t be that quick when we are in a state of panic. The oil change was a success and we made it to Dunkin’ Donuts for my medium Caramel Cappuccino Blast. (favorite drink)
Before heading home hubby wanted to stop at CVS to check to see if they had his beard products on sale. I normally would chose to stay in the car but I was determined to hit my hourly step goal so I decided to go in CVS with him. CVS did not have what he was looking for and as we began walking out of the store I kept thinking about the urge I had to use the bathroom and I felt a little trickle of water between my legs. As I set down in the car the trickle became a little heavier and I could noticeably feel that my underwear were soaked. I looked at my Husband Andrew and I told him, “I think my water just broke”.
He looked at me with concern and asked, “are you sure”? I told him that I wasn’t sure but what I do know is that I still have the urge to use the bathroom so I know I didn’t pee on myself. We rushed home (thankfully we was not far). I immediately went to the bathroom to pee and check my underwear (completely soaked). As I cleaned myself up and put on new underwear and pants I called the nurse’s advice line and described to them what just happened. While talking to them on the phone my fresh underwear began to soak up again with fluid. At that point it was definitely confirmed that this was not a simple case of urinary incontinence – my water had indeed broke!
My OB/GYN was contacted and I was advised to make my way to the hospital. At this point, my husband, sister in law, and daughter were all scuffling around the house trying to get everything that they needed. All of us in disbelief that it was really happening – in a few hours we would be welcoming our son into the world.
Upon arriving at the hospital, the L&D Nurse checked the leaking fluid and confirmed that it was amniotic fluid. The on call OB/GYN was the same doctor that cared for me when I had the stomach flu a few months ago and she was wonderful. The odds of her being on call this very day was unbelievable. God had everything to do with the planning and timing. She came in to check my dilation and I was at 3 cm by the time I arrived to the hospital. She asked what my birthing plans were and I told her that I wanted to try for a VBAC and she told me that, that was a great choice. She explained to me that I have a 99% chance of success given my history and she did not suspect that I needed to be induced. She was allowed me to labor on my own and my body did just that.
She came back to check my progress every 3 hours and I dilated 1 cm every 3 hours. It definitely was a long time waiting but things began to progress faster as the time went on. I opted for my epidural at 4 cm and it worked pretty well but my left side and leg did not numb up as well as my right did. At 10:30 pm, the doctor checked me and I was at 7 cm. She informed me that should would be back in about 3 hours and will introduce me to the other doctor coming on for her. I was disappointed to hear this because I really wanted her to delivery baby boy.
Immediately, after she left the room not even 5 minutes had past and I started feeling intense pressure and as my mother in law and sister in law watched the monitor my contractions were coming less than 1 minute a part. In my first pregnancy the last time I started complaining about pressure Abby was already crowning on her own. I really am starting to believe that it’s something about these McKinney babies that they want to deliver themselves into this world. My hubby pulled back the blankets to make sure the baby’s head was not crowning but he was too terrified to really look. He immediately, told me to press the button for the Nurse. When the nurse walked in she looked at me and heard my complaints of pressure and wanting to poop and push – she called the doctor and began setting up the room for delivery. She knew at that point (10:45 pm) that it was time.
Once the doctor came in she check me again and in just 15 minutes I went from 7 to 10 cm dilated. Baby boy was ready to make his arrival. After about 8 pushes baby boy, Andrew Jr. entered the world on 5/11/19 @ 11:02 pm, weighing 7 lbs 8 oz. and 21 1/2 inches long.
He arrived right on time for Mother’s Day and it’s true- be careful about what you wish for. ❤ This will forever be a Mother’s Day that I will never forget.