the-one-word-that-will-change-my-life-in-2018
Education

Happy 2018!!  I say that with sincerity and passion….and I truly mean it.  You see 2017 was bitter sweet and the second half was more bitter than sweet. I experienced several hardships in 2017 that cost me terribly but that also became valuable lessons. 

It has been tough mustering up the energy to identify my one word for 2018.  I’ve had several ideas, but none of them felt right until my family and I went to see the new Hugh Jackman’s movie The Greatest Showman.  OMGOODNESS, it was so good and just what I needed.  Not just to help make my one word super clear but it motivated and inspired me to expect to live the life I desire.

Expect to Live the Life You Desire!

As I sat in the theatre between my wonderful husband and amazing son watching the movie, there were so many AHA moments that reminded me to always pursue my dreams and to fearlessly believe in myself.  The message combined with music made such a powerful impact on me and deposited a good dose of gratitude in my heart.

The movie reminded me of a book that I was given many years ago by my spiritual mentor.  The book entitled As a Man Thinketh was based on the scripture Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (This book can change you life and I highly recommend it!) The book and scripture inherently caused me to live a life of purpose, joy, and abundance because I decided to change my stinking thinking. Well, life happened, and I lost myself for a while.  My faith suffered and so did I.  Over the last six months, I have recognized that I need to truly realign myself with my faith.

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. - Proverbs 23:7

The new year is an obvious time to take actions to change your life, but I gave up on resolutions about four years ago…instead, I’ve been choosing one word to guide me through the year.  A word that sums up the essence of the next 365 days of my life.  My one word does not replace personal and professional goals but it aides me in seeing a bigger picture.  2014 was Hatch, 2015 was Leap, 2016 was Soar, 2017 was Fearless…..and 2018 is Expectation

 

My One Word For 2018 - Expectation!

The definition of Expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.”   What does it mean for me over the next year?  It means…..

  • looking forward and anticipating great things all year long!

  • having an expectant mental attitude despite the obstacles and challenges that may come my way!

  • having great expectations of future good and increased profits for me and my family!

  • there’s a huge degree of probability that something amazing will occur for and to me this year!

This is exciting because somewhere over the last six years I stopped truly walking in expectation.  I mean I set goals, pursued dreams, and accomplished a lot…..but I can’t say that I always expected any of it to happen.  I hoped it would, but I had lost my spirit of expectation.  I am glad to change that this year. 

What one word will you choose to help define your 2018 and change your life?  This year I am living, thinking, and praying with expectation in my head and my heart.  My hope is that your word (if you choose to pick one) will be just as impactful to change your life this year as it has been for me.  Happy 2018 again!

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

Education

For me, giving is the second-best thing about Christmas right after celebrating the birth of Christ.  I’ve been in nonprofit management and fund development for nearly 20 years, raising money to advance what I believe are some of the most important missions.  December has always proved to be the best month for donations. 

I’m an advocate for several nonprofit organizations that I want to share with you.  Each of them have had such a positive impact on my life and would love for you to consider making one of them an end of year family tradition by giving.

 

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A CHANCE TO LEARN

A Chance to Learn was founded in 2011 by me and my husband inspired by my son Chance.  We were on a plane returning from visiting family and he was concerned that one of our cousins (a two-year-old) could not read.  You should know that he was also two at the time.  Long story short, he told us that we should pay for kids to go to school because if they could not read, they could not read their bible.  We started A Chance to Learn a few months later to advocate, promote, and advance early childhood learning by hosting programs designed to prepare kids for kindergarten and help them develop a love for learning.  Your donation to A Chance to Learn will allow a child to attend the 8-week summer learning camp and give them a chance to learn.  DONATE NOW!

 

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Photo Credit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL

Probably like you, I had seen commercials about St. Jude for years.  The request for donations from some of my favorite celebrities, the photos of the children affected by cancer, and the small request of $19 a month have run consistently on television.  While the photos were heartbreaking I developed a love for St. Jude in October of 2014 while attending the Celebration of Hope event.  I took a tour of the hospital and residential facilities, visited the garden where they grow their own fresh, organic food, and met some of the patients and their families.  My life changed that day.  St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases with no one receiving a bill for services.  St. Jude believes that no child deserves to die in the dawn of life.  Make a donation to St. Jude and help them Find Cures and Save Lives.  DONATE NOW!

 

CASA-give-back-photo
Photo Credit: CASA

COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES (CASA)

During my high school years, I lived with a few different families. While I wasn’t a ward of the state, I certainly empathize with those who are and have developed a passion for making life better for them through advocacy.  I accepted a job as Vice President of Development at Friends of CASA of Los Angeles, the fundraising arm of CASA of Los Angeles.  Boy did I learn a lot about CASA’s.  CASA’s are volunteers standing up for the best interest of the child from the time they enter in the system until they are discharged.  There are approximately 700,000 children who experience abuse each year. Last year CASA’s served 280,314 of those children, leaving more than 400,000 waiting for a volunteer to help them find a loving home.  By giving to CASA, you are helping train and support volunteer advocates to protect the best interests of children who have been abused or neglect in communities that need your help the most.  DONATE NOW! 

 

I am very passionate about the charities listed above, but there are so many more that may tug at your heart strings.  Tomorrow, December 31, 2017 is the last day to give for this year and with the new tax bill, there is a huge probability that donations will decrease in 2018. 

While I do enjoy seeing those checks roll in and getting the notifications for the electronic gift allowing nonprofits to further their missions, I really love the year end giving because it portrays the heart of people.  It’s not just about monetary gifts, but in-kind contributions make a huge difference…as well as volunteering. 

Have you made a year end gift? Can you help either of these organizations continue to make an impact in the lives of children and their families?  Please consider a gift great or small, they all add up to making a difference!

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

5-last-minute-Christmas-gift-ideas
Education

I love Christmas but it can be overwhelming. The hustle and bustle of getting your home decorated, adjusting to the kids being out of school, and making everything perfect for your out of town family to arrive can take its toll.  

Perhaps all the running around has put you behind with shopping for the perfect gift for your family.  Here are a few items for you to consider. 

 

saddleback-everyday-tote-for-Christmas-list

Saddleback Leather: Everyday Tote: $259

This multi-use tote is the perfect gift for her.  She can use it as a purse or a computer bag.  They use only the toughest materials: full-grain leather, strong pigskin lining, and premium, highly UV-resistant, marine-grade polyester thread.  The main body of this leather tote is sewn with only 3 large pieces of unlined full-grain leather for a simple, lightweight and durable design.

 

star-wars-droid-for-Christmas-list

Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit: $99:95

We love this kit! It’s a great educational gift that the whole family can enjoy putting together.  Kids can create their own Droid and bring it to life using littleBits electronic blocks! With the Droid Inventor app, they’ll give their Droid new abilities and take it on 16+ missions.

 

wooden-watch-for-Christmas-list

Monogram Wooden Watch: $150

I purchased this for my hubby a few years ago and he loves it.  You have to be careful, it does scratch easily.  But it is a perfect gift.  It’s made from hypoallergenic wood; this striking watch makes a unique conversation piece. It combines one-of-a-kind style with eco-friendly features. In fact, for every watch sold, a tree is planted to help decrease deforestation.

 

preschool-prep-for-the-Christmas-list

Preschool Prep Pack, Books & DVD’s: $110

This is the perfect gift for infants up to preschoolers.  We started Chance on these videos and he was reading at 14 months.  Children who watch Meet the Letters can easily learn to recognize upper and lowercase letters, numbers, shapes and colors in a few weeks. Preschool Prep Series DVDs have won over 25 national awards and are used in thousands of schools across the country. All four DVDs can be watched in both English and Spanish. You will be amazed at what your little one can learn!

 

the-legend-grill-for-the-Christmas-list

The Legend Kamado Mini Soul Fit Grill: $319

I love this grill designed by Chaz Hammonds.  The legend is a 13-inch ceramic grill made with premium ceramic for any level of barbecuing, grilling, smoking, baking. It’s unique shape and ceramic build allows the grill to reach a maximum heat of 700 degrees while keeping the moisture in your meat and veggies. The grill weighs 70 pounds and comes with stainless steel cooking grates, adjustable cast iron smoking vents, and a thermometer.

 

Are you done shopping for the holiday?  Now you don’t have much time…..3 days in fact to snag these items in time for Christmas.  If you can’t make these gifts happen for Christmas, perhaps you can get them as birthday gifts.  Either way it is my hope that you have an amazing Christmas with family and friends.

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

Spice Up Your Christmas Meal With Piquant Cornbread
Education

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Kroger and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

You should know that this was the most challenging and fun opportunity ever!  I was invited to attend the #MiKroger Summit for Content Creators in Dallas at Trinity Grove. 

mikroger-summit-for-content-creators

Prior to attending the event, I was given a recipe for Piquant Cornbread from Kroger that I had to prepare for the Potluck portion of the event. Eeekkk!  Seriously, I was so excited and terrified at the same time.  I what you’re thinking, “what could be so hard about cornbread?”  Well first of all, you should know that I am not the primary cook in my home…that would be my husband.  AND I was making piquant cornbread with a chipotle apple butter, a Mexican/Latin flavored dish.  Now do you understand my concern?

Not to worry, I told myself, everything will be just fine.  I jumped in my car and headed to Kroger to purchase the ingredients for my cornbread. As soon as I made it back home I went to work. 

 

PIQUANT CORNBREAD RECIPE

 

mikroger-piquant-cornbread-recipe-for-dime-summit

I started by gathering the ingredients and mixing bowls so that I could stay organized. I recommend using an electronic chopper for the onions, bell pepper and cilantro. Since I was making enough to serve 30-35 people, I used more than double the ingredients on the recipe. 

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Grease your pan with melted butter; set aside.  (I used a mini muffin pan I wanted to make it easy for the potluck.)   
  2. Whisk 1 cup of yellow cornmeal, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder and 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt and ¾ teaspoon of ground cumin in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of butter and 1 egg; stir in 1½ cups of grated cheese, ¾ cup of buttermilk, ½ cup of milk, 1 cup of mint, 1 cup of cilantro, ½ cup of jalapeños, ½ medium onion, and ½ red pepper. Whisk mixture into flour; smooth with a rubber spatula.  Transfer to the grease baking pan and bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on the pan.

 

CHIPOTLE APPLE BUTTER

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Before I started mixing the cornbread, I sliced and baked the apples.  I knew that I wanted to make the Chipotle Apple Butter while the cornbread was baking. I had to cut more apples than needed, my son Chance and I kept eating them.  LOL!

  1. In a small bowl, toss the apple with olive oil, salt and pepper, place in a small baking sheet pan and cook for over 15 minutes. Set on the side to cool off.
  2. In a food processor, add the roasted apple, 1 teaspoon of chipotle peppers sauce and ½ lb. of butter, 2 teaspoons of Wholly Guacamole and ¾ teaspoon of salt and pepper and blend well. It is okay if it has a chunky consistency.
  3. Serve the cornbread while still a little warm and smear butter on top.

mikroger-piquant-corbord-final-product

I am so proud of these little piquant cornbread muffins! They were so tasty and I had a fun time making them.  I took them to the #MiKroger Summit for Content Creators and they were a big hit!

The #MiKroger Summit was amazing!  I thoroughly enjoyed the food, fun, and fellowship.  Everyone worked really hard to bring the Kroger recipes to life.  I really enjoyed the empowerment sessions and all of the great tips shared.  Jeanine Amapola reminded me to be consistent with my content, something that Elayna taught me.  I really enjoyed the panel on publishing a book moderated by Gaby Natale…that’s on my list for 2018.

 

mikroger-event-with-dime-media-and-kroger

 

Are you planning to try a new recipe this Christmas? I was excited about sharing my experience making the piquant cornbread especially since I thought it would be nice to share this recipe with you to spice up your Christmas meal. 

Here’s the full recipe from Kroger.  Don’t forget to visit your local Kroger and go online to find tips to (CelebraTusHolidays) Celebrate your Holidays or follow along u sing hashtag #MiKroger!  If you make this recipe, please let me know by tagging me on Instagram @LaToyiaDennis or commenting below.

 

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

the-joy-of-Christmas-and-the-fun-traditions-we-create
Education

This post was written in collaboration with Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa and Mom It Forward Network however, all opinions, ideas, thoughts, and tips shared are my own.

 

I love Christmas!  When I say it’s my favorite time of year, I mean it.  I absolutely love everything about Christmas.  I love the Christmas music that usually starts Thanksgiving Day on KLTY.  I love the lights and decorations displayed on homes and businesses everywhere.  I love the movies, you know Christmas movies like “A Christmas Story” or “It’s A Wonderful Life (my all-time favorite).  My mom and I watch it every year. She may actually watch it like 4 or 5 times during the month of December.  LOL, I am so serious. 

As you can tell, those are memories from a few year ago that have stayed with me over my life (yes, a few years ago).  Material things are nice to have but memories last forever!  Now that I am a mom, I love creating memories and Christmas traditions with my son like dressing up in matching pajamas and having hot cocoa to celebrate the completion of our Christmas tree and decorations.  If your kiddo(s) are anything close to mine, we often spend additional time rearranging the 25 ornaments placed together in a 1-foot radius.

 Christmas-traditions-with- stephens-gourmet-cocoa

 

I must admit starting the hot cocoa tradition in matching PJ’s was the best.  My son, Chance loves hot cocoa.  So, when I told him that I was selected to participate in a campaign for Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa, he could not wait until the cocoa arrived.  He checked the mailed faithful and daily even during the weekend.  Once it arrived, he wanted to put the Christmas decorations up that day. 

Every cup of cocoa you drink has to live up to the first one you had as a kid. Now that’s a tough job! Other cocoas might come close, but Stephen’s will set your new cocoa standard! Stephen’s cocoa is rich, creamy and quite simply the tastiest you’ve ever had. They are continually introducing new and unique flavors, as well as cocoa innovations like our Single-cups for Keurig®-style coffee makers. Stephens also offers a special selection of delicious ciders, whose traditional (and not-so-traditional) flavors make the perfect drink for any holiday.

Christmas-traditions-with-kiddos-and-hot-cocoa

 

We opened the box and he began assigning the flavors.  At the direction of Chance, I was to have the Mint Truffle, daddy would have the Salted Carmel, and he was dead set on the CandyCane flavor.  I must admit, he was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to try the S’mores. The disappointment didn’t last long. As soon as I scooped the hot cocoa out of the can and into his cup, the flavor truly didn’t matter.  When he tasted it…..let’s just say we are having it again when family arrives from out of town…. And on the night before Christmas….And Christmas Day…..you get the picture.

Christmas-traditions-with-matching-pajamas-and-hot-cocoa-strephens-gourmet-hot-cocoa

 

Over the next few weeks, we have a few other traditions to continue like baking and decorating sugar cookies, allowing Chance to open one gift on Christmas Eve, selecting an Angel Tree family to bless, and starting new ones like serving the homeless.  I am especially excited about starting a tradition that will ensure that we keep Christ in Christmas.  This year we are celebrating the birth of Christ with a birthday cake.  We love birthdays in our home.  We are excited to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with a birthday cake on Christmas Day.

Christmas-traditions-celebrating-Jesus-birthday

I told you I love Christmas! It’s my favorite time of year.  I disconnect for a few weeks for spiritual renewal and another few weeks for one-on-one time with my son while he is out of school – all while creating traditions that will add to Chance’s experience of Christmas as Jesus’ birthday.

Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition? Please share it with me in the comments, as we are always looking to add more fun to our Christmas traditions!  Perhaps you want to have hot cocoa in matching pajamas like us…Please check out the delicious and unique cocoa flavors on the website Stephen’s Gourmet Hot Cocoa and follow Stephen’s on Facebook, or follow along using hashtag #StephensGourmet

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

P.S. Enter to win a year’s supply of Stephen’s! We’re giving away 15, one-pound cans of our delicious, one-of-a-kind cocoa to a very lucky winner! What’s more, you get to choose which of our 22 flavors you’d like to try! From bestselling classics (like CandyCane and Mint Truffle), to our newest creations (including Old Fashioned Chocolate Malt, English Toffee, and Salted Caramel), the choice is yours!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Education

During the #ThorRagnarokEvent, we met the littleBits team at the Disney Studios and learned more about the company, their new products, and participated in a team building activity of building our very own Star Wars Droid.

Disney-bloggers-at-Disney-studios-with-littlebits

littleBits makes technology kits that are fun, easy-to-use, and infinitely creative. The kits are composed of electronic building blocks that are color-coded, magnetic, and make complex technology simple and fun. Together they’re interchangeable in millions of different ways to empower kids to invent anything – from a sibling alarm, to a wireless robot, to a digital instrument. 

littleBits-droid-inventor-kit

As an early education advocate and the Founder of A Chance to Learn, an organization created to combat the issue of children entering kindergarten behind, the littleBits activity was one of my favorites.  I could hardly wait to get home and experience it with my son, Chance.  It was finally time to open the box, examine the contents, and prepare for our adventure.  

 

chance-opening-inventor-droid-box

The exterior of the box was inviting as it included all 30 pieces along with non-intimidating three steps of fun 1) Create, 2) Play, 3) Invent.  Chance and I noticed the packing material was minimum and appeared to be recycled paper and cardboard.  Big Plus!!!  

 

We followed the instructions marked “Start Here” and downloaded the DROID INVENTOR APP.  The app was easily found via Apple’s App Store.  Downloading was less than a minute so Chance didn’t get impatient.  After downloading, the app recognized his circuit and communicated to him in “Droid Talk” we had a connection.  His face lit with excitement as part one of the base assembly was complete. 

 

putting-the-littlebits-droid-together-with-chance

We then moved to competing the driving circuit, internal structure, and droid shell.  One of the biggest things he enjoyed was through each mission it was required powering on the control hub to confirm success.  This is a great way to encourage testing and also keep attention throughout the build.  We also received a “Mission Complete” message which warranted high fives throughout the build.

Once we completed the base assembly, it was time to take a test run.  Chance took a deep breath, gave me a thumbs up, and took the controls moving the droid around the living room even chasing me to complete the mission.  The sounds options were a big hit.  He really enjoyed the droid scream!!!! Over and over again pressing the button and falling on the floor with laughter.

 

As we expose him to more S.T.E.A.M. activities, this build was a great foundation to reinforce coding principals and user acceptance testing.  We had a blast and can’t wait for more products from littleBits in the future.  

 

We were so excited to build the Droid, I was also excited to share littleBits with you.   As you begin thinking about your Christmas gift list, littleBits Droid Inventor Kit would be a great gift idea.  Not only does this product shed a light on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) littleBits launched a global inventor movement and your kid can join the competition.

That’s right, the Droid Inventor Kit Competition invites kids, families, and Star Wars fans an opportunity to share their own unique Droid creation. The competition began on November 15th and will run through January 10, 2018.  AND the judges are The Last Jedi star Daisy Ridley (the actress who portrays Rey in the current Star Wars trilogy), Kelly Marie Tran (the actress who portrays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Ayah Bdeir (founder and CEO of littleBits), and Kathleen Kennedy (president of Lucasfilms).

I know, it’s so cool! Are you ready to join the #inventorswanted movement? Snag your Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit and learn more about the competition click here.  Follow along on social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and please share your Star Wars Droid Inventions if you decide to participate. I would love to see them.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles courtesy of Sony to attend the #TheStarMovie Press Junket and screening in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

Strengthen Your Faith and Follow Your Heart With The Star

As a mom nothing warms my heart more than exposing Chance to things that will enhance his life.  It’s important to me that we share our faith with him.  When I was pregnant I prayed three very specific prayers concerning him:  1) God, I pray that he is healthy. 2) God, give him a heart after You. 3) God, give him the wisdom of Solomon.  I honestly believe with all of my heart that God honored all three prayers.  Chance (given that name because God gave him a chance at life) was born healthy in spite of the many complications I experienced during pregnancy including being told that I had miscarried.  He loves God and will pray for any and everything.  He is so smart, he began reading at just 14 months.  He’s a gem of a kid…. not just because he’s my kid. 

Being invited to press junket of The Star movie, was an overwhelming experience.  The most compelling aspect being the faith-based component.  I arrived at one of my favorite hotels, The London West Hollywood and things went uphill from there.  The screening was held on site, with popcorn and Christmas cookies shaped like a star.

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In AFFIRM Films and Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day Bo finds the courage to break free and ends up befriending newlyweds Joseph and Mary. Mary’s kindness soon sets Bo on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock, and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

 

The Star is directed by Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Timothy Reckart; executive-produced by DeVon Franklin, Brian Henson and Lisa Henson; and produced by Jennifer Magee-Cook.      The voice cast is led by Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Mary), Zachary Levi (Joseph), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove), Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Anthony Anderson (Zach the goat), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep), Ving Rhames (Thaddeus the dog), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus the dog), Patricia Heaton (Edith the cow), Kristin Chenoweth (Abby the Mouse), Christopher Plummer (King Herod), and Tracy Morgan (Felix) and Tyler Perry (Cyrus) and Oprah Winfrey (Deborah) as the three camels. It makes its way into the hearts of men in theatres everywhere on November 17th.

 

Oprah-in-the-star-movie
Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

I did not realize how much I needed to see The Star until I did.  You see, I have been struggling for a while with my faith.  Not because I don’t believe but I was struggling with trusting God to take care of my needs.  I’m not big on spoilers, so there will be none in this post.  However, I will share how I was impacted by The Star.

 

The Star Pic
Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

The Birth of Christ is Powerful

Even with animation, improvisation, and lots of humor the story of the birth of Christ was still very powerful – and from an animal’s perspective.  Watching the movie renewed my faith. I felt liberated in Christ just seeing the story of His birth.  I was moved and filled with excitement at the thought of my son Chance watching it.

Following Your Heart Can Lead to You to Your Wildest Dreams

I have been so guilty of doing what was comfortable opposed to what I believe I was created to do.   At times, I’ve neglected to follow my heart…. not knowing that one day my heart would lead me to my dreams.  God will give you the desires of your heart, if you trust Him and follow your heart. 

Anyone can Change, no Matter How Much Bad They’ve Done

Your past does not have to dictate your future.  You can turn things around, but you must be willing.  For years I thought I would never escape my past, even after salvation.  But, what I realized is my past will always be my past but what matter’s the most is how I’ve positively responded to my past.  What am I changing? How am I changing?

 

Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

I love Jesus! I really do, and I believe my relationship with Him is all that matters.  I’ve always tried to teach Chance by example how to develop a relationship with Christ.  It’s not always easy and it gets messy sometimes.  We are saved by grace, we aren’t perfect.  That’s why it’s important that we have movies like The Star

The Star is a perfect combination of humor and inspiration wrapped up in the life-changing story of the birth of Christ. I can’t wait to take Chance to see it.”

I could truly go on and on about The Star, but I am afraid that I will unconsciously include a few spoilers, and I honestly don’t want to do that.  I want you to enjoy this amazingly funny, inspiring and life-changing film with your family on November 17th.

Are you looking for a great family friendly movie that includes faith?  Whether you are or not a person of faith, this movie is full of lessons that we teach our children daily.  How have you taught your children about faith or how to follow their heart?

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

How To Treat The Buggy Problem Of Head Lice
Education

This is a sponsored campaign in collaboration with Licefreee and #WeAllGrow Latina Network, but all comments are my own.

I grew up believing that African Americans (black people) didn’t get lice.  For as long as I can remember, I was told that I could not get lice, because blacks don’t get lice.  I had every reason to believe it, since I knew no one that ever had it. 

I would have probably died with that belief had I not experienced an incident where African American children had been infected with lice.  Yes, I was the Director of Children’s Ministry at a multicultural Church, and one day a few kids from one of our families came to church with lice.

multicultural-children-and families

Initially I was concerned, but since there were only a few children that I believed could even get lice because the majority of the kids were black, therefore I didn’t freak out over it.  I notified all the parents, thoroughly cleaned the children’s area, and moved on.  A few days later, I was talking to a parent and she told me that her kids were infected with lice and it was so hard getting ride of them.  I could not believe it….I was in total shock.  I asked, “are you serious, I didn’t think black people got lice.”  She agreed.  She had been taught that same superstition but her children were infected and she had to treat them.

I began researching lice and if black people could get it and to my surprise the answer was YES. I found that there had been several studies done to figure out why black people didn’t get lice as often as white people.  The most common reason was the treatment of the hair.  Most black boys get their hair cut, which helps with remedying the lice problem, and black girls tend to get their hair straightened and use a good amount of oil.  Both immediately kills lice.

forgot-the-lice-myths

So, when I received a notification from my son’s school about lice, I was glad I had researched lice and knew that I needed to ensure that he didn’t have it…because he could.  Licefreee was created by parent, for parents…And, I was thankful for the Licefreee product.  I did not know when I agreed to participate with the campaign that I would have to use it on my child.   So, I followed the “How to Check for Head Lice” checklist. 1) I checked Chance’s hair in sections.  That was hard because it’s so short.  2) I held a piece of paper near the section.  3) I pulled the nit comb through his hair.   Luckily for me, my son Chance did not have lice. 

licefreee-photo-of-motivated-mom-and-chance

But if he had, I would have treated him with licefreee. It’s a safe alternative to traditional chemical pesticide remedies for lice, and it works. Licefreee…

 ·         Kills head lice and eggs (called nits)

·         Non-toxic, homeopathic head lice treatments are safe for children 6 months and older

·         Our remedies for lice are strong enough for adults too!

·         The non-toxic choice of school nurses and pediatricians

·         Our treatments contain a professional, stainless-steel nit comb

·         Works on all hair types including thick, curly hair

·         100% Guaranteed*

licefreee-head-lice-treatment

I realize that lice aren’t the type of guest you want in your home, we certainly didn’t expect them at church…and everyone is welcomed there. LOL! But seriously, not wanting them will not make them go away once you get them.  And if you are black and were raised as I was thinking that black people can not get lice, please know you can. 

As moms, unfortunately we have to be prepared to treat head lice.  Have you had to treat your child for lice? Would you consider using licefreee, a non-toxic product?  Please share how you’ve treated lice.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

 

Education

Thanks Disney for hosting me at Disneyland to celebrate the in-home release of Cars 3 on digital and Blu-ray.

Cars 3 - Lightning McQueen Crash Scene
Photo Credit: Disney Pixar
Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers led by arrogant hotshot Jackson Storm, the legendary Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is suddenly sidelined and pushed from the sport he loves. To get back on track, he’ll need the help of eager young racing technician Cruz Ramirez, inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected twists and turns of fate. ‘Cause when the rubber finally hits the road, proving that #95 is still in the game will test the courage of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage! Bring home the high-octane hit that’s fully loaded with unforgettable characters, spectacular animation and turbocharged bonus extras!

 

 

My son absolutely LOVED Cars!! I did not think anything could top it…well until Cars 2.  So, when the Cars 3 promotion started, we could not wait to see it this past summer.  It was all that we could talk about for weeks leading up to the release date.    

Realizing some of you may not have seen it yet, I don’t want to give spoilers but there were so many lessons we learned from the movie, the biggest one being courage.  Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you. Throughout the movie, even the songs depicted a need for courage.  Here are a few lessons from Lightning that I want to share with you.

Cars 3 - Jackson Storm and Lightning McQueen racing
Photo Credit: Disney Pixar

LESSONS FROM LIGHTNING

Lightning learned that one moment can change your life forever.  I know for me; my life would be much easier if we had known about the concepts that I now teach.  I could have possibly avoided so many struggles and suffering.  However, my desire to help others live their best life was forged out of my attempt to live my best life.

Racing wasn’t the best part of Doc’s life Lightning, you were. – Smokey

 

Lighting learned it takes courage to decide to be done.   I am always reminding myself, if I continue to do the same thing my life will stay the same.  But if I decide to do something different, my life can be filled with all of the things that I desired.  It’s never easy but you have to decide to be done with one thing in order to try something new.

“Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not having a chance. You have a chance.” – Sally

 

Lightning learned that the negative things in life can motivate us.  While you can’t always control what happens, you can control how you respond to it.  There’s been many times when negativity tried to suffocate my creativity and steal my dreams.  The negative things that has happened in my life now fuel my faith to expect great things every day. 

It’s a wonder what you can do when you’re not overthinking things. – Smokey

 

Cars 3: Smokey giving advice to Lightning McQueen
Photo Credit: Disney Pixar

Being courageous is not easy.  I think everyone has moments when they are scared of doing something.  As parents we talk more to our children about responsibility, respect, and truth.  But a courage conversation can go a long way with teaching our children to be true to themselves as they grow up. 

 

Cars 3 Ultra HD + Blu-Ray + Digital

There are so many other lessons from Cars 3.  This is why you must snag a copy of the Cars 3 Blu-Ray + Bonus Pack available today, November 7th. It includes shorts, commentary on the making of the movie, and deleted scenes.  A few of my favorite bonus features are:

  • Let’s. Get. Crazy.: The “rules” of figure 8 racing, and how Disney Pixar created the Thunder Hollow Crazy 8 race.
  • Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool: An exclusive new mini of testimonials from the Crazy 8 racers on how Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool changed their lives.
  • Ready for the Race: An interesting look at Hendrick Motorsports campus that influenced the filmmakers.
  • Crus Ramirez: The Yellow Car that Could: Cristela Alonzo (Cruz) and filmmakers journey of creating this new character.
  • 5 Deleted Scenes: There’s an explanation for every deleted scene. The deleted scenes are: “The Boogie Woogie,” “The Jars of Dirt,” “Lugnut,” “The Bolt,” “More than New Paint.”
  • Theatrical Short Lou: A short film written by Dave Mullins about a monster that lives inside a lost-and-found box. It’s entertaining with a positive message about bullying.   
Disney short "Lou" - Lou looking out of the lost and found box
Photo Credit: Disney

Encouraging our children to practice courage is important.  Are you teaching your children to be courageous? How do you feel about the lessons from Lightning? Please comment below, I would love to hear from you.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

How Friends Make Our Lives More Interesting And Fun
Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles courtesy of Disney to attend the #ThorRagnarokEvent & ABCTVEvent in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

 

rachel-house-3
Photo Credit: Allison Waken

She walked in the interview room at the Montage Hotel with a huge smile and a vibrant attitude!  Loved her from the start as she was super sweet and personable.  I think I loved her even more as she gave us a glimpse of herself and the history of her special friendship with Taika Waititi.

 

rachel-house-2
Photo Credit: Allison Waken

The word friend is used so commonly, as it should…we should all have friends, both close and distant.  I sometimes call you all friend in many of my blog posts.  I believe that relationships are our most valuable resource.  However, there are some friendships that are so special it’s sometimes hard to put them into words.  Just like the friendship between Rachel House and Taika Waititi.

I am very fond of authentic friendships.  You know those that are born and grow organically? That’s the type of friendship between Rachel and Taika. When asked how she and Taika knew each other, she answered,

I met him when he was 17.  He was in a play in this little theater in Wellington, and he was the best thing about it.  I was a couple years older, and at drama school at the time. I met him after and said, “You were so great. Thank you so much.” And then started becoming a fan of his little crazy comedy stuff that he’d do with Jermaine and Bret, and another guy, Nigel Collins.”

“So, I became a very big fan. From then, we just kept staying in touch.  I had no idea he was going to end up being an awesome film director. He was an artist, and an actor, and a comedian.”

 

She kept in touch as a fan, and became a friend.  Friends become a significant part of our lives.  I think that’s my favorite part of their story.  Friendships can develop from supporting someone else’s talent.  Giving someone the gift of being influential in your life is a great joy as a friend.  Rachel has clearly been an influence in Taika’s life, she’s been coined as his “good luck charm”. When asked how she felt about that she said,

Not good, because when you put that out there, it can reverse.  I was thinking, oh no, maybe that’s going to implode. But it didn’t, thank goodness.”  I’m sure that was tough, carrying that type of pressure but it was amazing at the same time.

 

rachel-house-4
Photo Credit: Allison Waken

Friends make our lives more interesting and fun.  Being friendly can get you more friends but you don’t need many friends to help get you through life.  Give enough attention to the friends that really matter for your well-being.  For example, Rachel was coined as Taika’s good luck charm.  But the friendship is reciprocal in nature.  Rachel said,

I got a top-secret audition that I had to do through my agent. And she said, “Oh, it’s for Marvel.”   And I said, “Well, that’ll be Taika.”  And she went, “Oh yeah, of course it will.

I was given this tiny little saying with a few lines.   New Zealand is so small, so one of my buddies, who’s a casting director filmed it and then sent it off.  I then got a very kind of drawl, email from Taika saying, “Oh, by the way, you got the role,” which is really lovely. I don’t know if they saw any other people. I’m not sure.”

Friends selflessly help you even when you don’t realize you need help.  They support you unconditionally and are ready to happily stand by you to ensure that you are the leading cast member in your own life.

 

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Photo Credit: Marvel

In our everyday life, we need a friend to lean on, to listen, to grieve with, and to motivate us.  It’s a highly motivating thing to know that there are a few people who will always love you and believe in you.  A good friend of mine, Yvonne, lost someone very influential in her life.  She had worked for him for years, and loved him immensely.  He was a celebrity, so when he died the whole world grieved…but she was the first person I thought about when I heard the news.  Once we spoke she said, “I’m just sitting here on the floor in the dark and I can’t stop crying.”  I replied, “Do you want me to come sit in the dark with you and hold your hand?” 

Friendships can have a major impact on your life and your overall well-being.  Friends heighten your happiness and reduce your stress.  One of the major benefits of having friends is they improve our lives.

How are your friends improving your life? How are you improving theirs? Tell me about the impact of friendship in your life.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

P.S. Both Rachel and Taika gave an amazing Performance in Thor: Ragnarok.  It’s in theatres everywhere, please check it out, and follow Marvel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.