Seventeen years ago, I created Queen City Stay At Home Moms as an outlet for managing my sorrow. I had just lost my oldest daughter the year before and was preparing to give birth to my second son. All while homeschooling with low funds. Yes, I was married, but we were living off one income at that time. This group provided me with a way to meet up with other families, allowed my homeschooled kids to engage with other diverse children, and the opportunity to use my professional skills because we were highly structured with organized activities beyond the playground. Soon, it would be an additional blessing because I was sought out for ads, product review parties, and my entry into blogging!
Over the years, I have hosted over 20 thousand gatherings. Some from new business ventures,
They have included:
Political playdates at local elected officials office
and more! We have even helped staff our members new businesses as needed. It was perfect because my eight children were the ages of every child that became a member ( except for the newborns)! We even made write-ups in The Charlotte Parents (a local magazine ) a few times!
The moms that join came from various walks of life. I refused to limit it to just families that look like me. I figured the best way to learn about a culture is by befriending as many families as possible. Still amazed that we reached three thousand members.
Although we have never had all three thousand in attendance at any event, we always had a great time and built strong connections. I understood that change happens and once a mom hit a milestone her objective may not include our group anymore. Most times it was due to moving, going back to work, children getting older, or no longer homeschooling.
Today it still blesses my heart to have strong connections with many of those that have graduated from Queen City Stay At Home Moms. As I have. Our youngest is now ten years old and is currently in public school. I work more for grassroots nonprofits and myself. Although I work from home, I’m most in various states at any given time. And at 46, I have learned to live in spite of losing my eleven- year old daughter in 2005.
Queen City Stay At Home Moms will always be special to me, but it has served its purpose and deserves to end on top. This week, I said goodbye to 15 wonderful years to one of the best holistic support groups for moms in the Queen City!
I CERTIFIED as a Tax Expert with the IRS folks!!!!! After completing so many bootleg returns over the last two decades, I have gone legit! I’ve also brought my older kids on board as well! So wait no longer- bring them tax forms on over! The timing is perfect!
You’ve probably seen it all over the news that Congress just approved a new $1.9 Trillion (yes, that’s with a “T”!) COVID-19 stimulus package. But the biggest question is what exactly is in this new relief package and how is it different from the ones passed in 2020? And more importantly, how can this provide additional relief and assistance to small businesses in the wedding industry?
While we are still waiting on full details of the new stimulus package to be released, here are some of the key items for so many folks need to be aware of:
Help for Businesses
Restaurants: Restaurants get some much needed relief in the new law, which establishes a $28.6 billion “revitalization fund” for them. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide grants of up to $5 million each to reimburse restaurants for revenue lost due to COVID-19. Stay tuned and check the SBA and Treasury websites as more details are released about the application program and eligibility for these grants.
Live Venues: The new stimulus package also provides $1.25 billion earmarked for grants to certain live event venues (like theatres, live performing arts organizations, and museums). This adds on to the higher amount allocated in the December 2020 relief package, which still hasn’t opened applications yet. Like the restaurant relief, details on how to apply for these grants will likely be released by the SBA in the coming weeks.
Additional PPP Funds: Adds $7.25 billion to be used for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), though it does not extend the program past the existing end date of March 31, 2021. If you think you want to apply for the PPP before that date, contact your lender ASAP to learn how to apply. If you already took out a PPP loan, don’t forget that you will need to provide documentation to apply to have it forgiven.
Forgivable Economic Injury & Disaster Loans (EIDL) for Low-Income Communities: The new law also adds an additional $15 billion in EIDL funding to be distributed in forgivable $10,000 grants, specifically targeted to communities in certain income brackets. Visit the SBA website for more information on how to apply.
Help for Individuals and Families
New, Bigger Stimulus Checks: The new stimulus package includes up to $1,400 direct payments to people making under $80,000 individually (or $160,000 as a married couple). Above $75,000 individual income (or $150,000 for married couples), that amount decreases gradually. Those with dependent children will also get up to another $1,400 per child.
Extended Unemployment Benefits: State unemployment benefit checks will keep being $300 per week more than usual until September, a measure that was first introduced in the December stimulus package. The new law also waives federal income taxes on the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 by individuals who made under $150,000/year.
Significant Tax Relief for Certain Households: The law includes some major tax relief provisions for families up to certain income levels, including:
Higher Child Tax Credits: This stimulus package will temporarily increase the existing child tax credit. Right now, eligible people with children under 17 get up to a $2,000 credit per child when they file their federal income taxes. For 2021, they’ll get as much as $3,600 for children under 6, and $3,000 for children 6 to 17. This added amount phases out above $75,000 individual income ($150,000 for married couples).
Direct Payments of Child Tax Credits: Not only is the child tax credit higher, you now also won’t need to wait until you file your taxes to get the money. Beginning in the second half of 2021, the IRS will advance this credit through direct payments to eligible people in installments.
Other Tax Relief: The stimulus package also increases the child and dependent care tax credit and the earned-income tax credit for workers without children for 2021. If eligible, these credits get paid out to you when you file your taxes.
We recommend you consult with your tax advisor (<— I’m free 🙂 ) to see how these tax relief measures could help you and your family.
Healthcare Relief for Unemployed: For those who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic and were eligible to apply for the federal health insurance program COBRA, the federal government will fully cover COBRA premiums until September 2021.This helps people pay for much needed healthcare coverage during this time.
Information on COVID-19 relief measures is changing rapidly, and full details of the new law are still being released. Check the U.S. Treasury and SBA websites, and with your legal, financial and tax advisors regularly for the most up-to-date information.
It was a good night to be in! LOADS of valuable information was shared about saving black pregnant moms. I had the honor of sharing information about Momsrisng and how effective doulas can be during this intense time.
But first things first, please go sign up for updates and action posts from Momsrising.org! I can’t tell you how much I love that organization! Then go sign up for updates for Representative Dr. Alma Adams office. She ‘s like the mom I would want if I didn’t have the wonderful one given to me! SERIOUSLY. Now…….. back to the symposium. It was GREAT! I learned so much. North Carolina and the United States as a whole gotta do better for our black pregnant moms. Rep Adams office did and amazing job putting together a powerhouse of industry and community advocates that shed so much light on these disparities and vile practices.
She and her staff was joined by other Black Maternal Health Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, as well as Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. I kid you not! Cory Booker even complimented me on my Momsrising t-shirt that I had on! #HowSway right? I truly gained nuggets of value from every panelist and look forward to teaming back up with them in the future if the opportunity arises. But right now, I wanted to offer four ways a doula can help a pregnant mom during COVID-19.
Since many people still don’t know what a doula is, I will explain it. A doula is an unmedically trained birth worker. We exist to make a pregnancy smooth and easy for everyone involved. We provide a wide range of supplemental services before, during and after labor. We are there from preconception to post delivery to answer questions, make connections, help moms find her own voice, and provide customized services that make moms life empowered. If our practice was on a flow chart, It would be right under midwives. Only because we work outside of the labor and delivery room, not legally covered to deliver babies in most states, and in most states, our fees are covered privately.
But most doulas know it’s time to call the dr. when the baby is measuring too small for your pregnacy, (smaller fetal height), too much cramping, bleeding, severe back pain, funky- bloody discharge, little fetal movement in late pregnancy, and possible ongoing fever just to name a few alarms.
To learn more about my birthing services, please click here. The uncertainties of the Coronavirus automatically puts pregnant moms in a high risk category. Which is understandable. Most would also understand how frustrating it could be as well. And that’s my friend where your doula could be a God send for you! Here’s four ways a doula can help RIGHT NOW:
1. Via Video Call – Your Personal Workout Buddy.
A. Your doula can help your prepare your body for delivery. The moves she share will help you get pregant, stay pregnant, ease delivery and assist in getting your body back in shape after delivery.
B. Counseling. Most doulas are moms. Not all are moms or women, but most are. They understand how you are feeling. Even if it’s something she isn’t familiar with she has a listening ear to offer solutions and comfort.
C. How – To’s – Get the best information for your birt of choice! What to putin your diaper bag, Practice how to communicate with the hospital staff, Learn how to wrap your hair,/& belly, how to pick out car seats, and more.
D. Spiritual Health- DISCLOSURE – not all doulas rely on the ways of their African ancestors as a resources, but I do. I sing, I touch, I hmm, and truly connect with my moms to ensure she is confident in her new role as much as possible.
2. Via Phone. – A Caring and Resourceful Voice
2A. Affirmations. You can get affirmation read to you to help start your day or help you get through it.
2B. Verbal Check Ins – You’re quarantined. Your mate will be in your face. You have zero desire to get dressed or much less brush your teeth. Neither do I . Use the magic of voice. Your doula can sense how you’re doing with particular questions and cues. If needed she can make suggestions and referrals to assist you remotely.
3. Via Email/Text- Get It In Writing.
3A.Your doula can send you reminders to workout, help complete your birth plan, remind you to call your boss for paid leave*, assist you in order your exercise ball, etc.
4. Via USPS, General Delivery – Rain, Shine, Sleet or Snow……. it’s Coming To The Do’ (door)!
4A. Let’s all admit it. There’s something exciting about getting mail. Many doulas create/ & sell birthing supplies like bath salts , aroma therapy, herbal blends for lactation and more.
4B. She can have a healthy, non – contact, locally sourced meal delivered to your front door.
As you can see, a doula is loaded with resourcefulness. Some more than others. The key is to ask questions, and be flexible. She wants to help. She’s certified to help and because everyone is quarantined….she’s available to help! Shucks, I’m available- Call me!
Being safe at home has never been more important. Unfortunately, fear— fear for our health and for our families— has motivated the panic buying of firearms, particularly by first-time gun owners. But fear-purchasing firearms isn’t a way to safety. In fact, research shows the opposite: Bringing a gun into a home makes the home less safe, and this is particularly true in the current moment when domestic violence is increasing.
Momsrising knows how to party. We also know recognize the power of Children. On the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. birthday we celebrated his legacy with some of Charlotte’s most amazing people, the youth. Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January, 15, 1929 as “Michael King Jr?”
However, his father changed their first names to Martin and added “Luther” to his name as well as his son’s name. And both his father, Martin Luther King, Sr., and his mother, Alberta Williams King, were reverends.
Though he had a generally good childhood, from a young age, King saw firsthand the tough realities of the Jim Crow laws: the King family was ushered out of shoe stores because of their race, and he lost a young friendship due to racial differences.
He was a great student. He was admitted to Morehouse College at the age of 15. King graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 with a B.A. in sociology.
After graduating from Morehouse, King enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Penn., and then also enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania. He was very successful at both schools and received many recognitions and awards. After graduating from Crozer, he began doctoral studies in Systematic Theology at Boston University in 1951, and then completed his doctorate in 1955.
Can you imagine raising a child like him? I often wonder what his parents did to support such a powerful child despite the social distractions.
This Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, our community came together to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the power of children. Our goal was to share a fun, kid focused, educational and most of all intentional day with our greatest and most powerful asset, our children.
To set the kid friendly tone, we played Dr. Kings speech,” If I Had Sneezed.” Following was a storytelling by 12 year old Sybirah. Yes, I said a 12 year old storyteller.
Storyteller Sybirah- Anasi And The Snake
Her powerful story was about the notorious Anasi. She was poised, articulate and engaging! The children listened to her every word! After that, children’s book author, S.Cherie read ‘Freedom On The Menu’ and ‘If Kids Ruled The World’. Those books proved to be a great lead into the on going craft workshop with Flo, of We Chic’d It.
It almost looked like an elf workshop, as paint, rocks, slabs of wood, and stencils filled tiny hands. Parents assisted in creating inspiring and beautiful pieces of art worthy to be posted on the families wall. Peek at some below.
Later we enjoyed music performances by Brandy. and Niles, a 5 year old trombone player. You can watch both original videos online. Click here! And here!.
Like any good party, it is not complete without the birthday song and cake! One word, YUMMY! Oh, and Stevie Wonder would have been so proud to hear the children singing his song, that he wrote for his friend Martin. It was so harmonious! (listen to Stevie here.)
Disney On Ice is back! And I’m not sure who is more excited. The children or myself! It’s my opportunity to take the kids back to my childhood. A time of low stress and all fantasy!
Enter a fantastical winter wonderland beyond all imagination at Disney On Ice presents Frozen. The heartwarming Academy Award-winning tale you love is now LIVE and skating into your town. You’ll be magically whisked away into the wintry world of Arendelle, where you will be dazzled by amazing special effects and astonishing skating. Sing and dance along to inspiring songs, including “Let It Go.” Join royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all! Hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by your most beloved Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, this unforgettable celebration of love and friendship will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime.
Love Is Putting Someone Else’s Needs Before Yours- Frozen
My children always focus on the colorful excitement, costumes, and funny lines, I take in the lyrics, perfect moves on ice and the light-hearted storylines. For 90 minutes, there is nothing but excitement, fun, and a carefree childhood! If you have gone before, you understand my excitement. If not, make plans to go this year!
Director Patty Vincent says, “Our goal is to showcase these heartwarming characters in a way that allows the audience to cheer and sing along throughout this emotional journey.” Here’s how to get your tickets. Buy them via the link below or win them!
I’m giving away four tickets for the opening night show on
Thursday, October 5 at 7:00pm. To win them, be sure to like us on Instagram and Facebook. Then tag me in your favorite Disney meme. Simple right? I posted one of my favorite Disney memes below.
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all; Mulan
Last year we invited Zianna Oliphant, she and her family had a ball!
Bringing Beloved Disney Characters to Life on Ice.
I know! I know, I’ve been away for a while! But wait till you hear about my journey back to you!
Well, here it goes…. I went on my very first cruise EVER! We had the time if our lives! The porting city was Miami, Florida and we stopped in Key West and ended the adventure in Cozumel, Mexico! It was 5 days and four nights of fun, food, adventure, friends, and fabulous-ness (yes, it’s a word!)
We could not ask for a better vacation. At first, I had internal hesitation. The Love Boat was the only good memory I ever had to relate toward any fun ship. Then there’s Gilligan’s Island and Titanic to overshadowed that. Never the less, I was able to keep it together for my 5 sons.
Checking in and registering everyone was easy! The ship was grand! The staff was happy to see us! They even learned our names! Can you believe that? The food, the service, the shopping in Cozumel, the value, the memories! UUUgh, I can’t wait to take my girls and husband on the next trip!
This trip was paid for by my oldest son and planned by my (hope to be soon DIL) Genny!
I even thought about you!
Here’s your 1st gift:
10 Tips for a Vicory Cruise with Boys:
The cruise is just the beginning. Spring for an excursion.
2. Don’t forget the camera. The water and smiles are rare and priceless.
3. If you are racist, Stay home. No explanation needed.
4. Forget the kid’s bedtime. Each night my boys watched a movie in the hot tub under the stars. Why stop them?
5.If you are a homeschooler, teach about your intended traveling and culture before boarding. You’ll get the best teacher of the year title! Trust me!
6. If you’re taking more than one child, twin them up! Even the ship guest will help you keep up with them. You’ll thank me later for this!
7. If you have a long drive to the port, don’t throw away your water bottle, It quickly becomes a mobile potty.
8. Pack, then check twice before leaving home. Packing light and smart is the goal.
9. After letting your best friend know that you’re leaving, contact your credit card and cell phone company. International rates and credit card freezing at the point of purchase is no fun!
10. Once checked in; grab the itenary and use it up! There’s so much to do!
Based on Daphne du Maurier’s mystery-romance novel of the same name, the film stars acclaimed actress Rachel Weisz and rising British star Sam Claflin (ME BEFORE YOU, THE HUNGER GAMES).
And here’s your 2nd gift! Get free passes to see #MyCousinRacheal
Hello friends, I hope all is well. I know you’re about to be really busy the next couple of hours getting ready for and then getting over Valentine’s Day. Well not to hold you up, I wanted to remind you about the fourth Valentine’s celebration with your tiniest heart, the kids!
The 4th Family Valentine’s Day Party is THIS Saturday from 2-6pm at Pure Pizza on Central Avenue.
It’s going to be on and popping! So if you appreciate diversity, safe, affordable, healthy, and signature fun kid-friendly celebrations, this is for you!
In 2014 it was Disney, in 2015- Doc McStuffins, The Minions in 2016, and now it’s the Flinstones! Each year, we get better and attract better sponsors. The only thing that never changes is the format. We select a fun theme. One that will take the parents on a mental vacation. We then combine a vegan dessert bar, live entertainment, a DJ, a $20 shopping lane (consisting of mom & pops small business owners), and really fun games and decor! It works like magic! This year is no different! You just gotta come out and join us this year!
This year, our sponsors are Signature Events Bags, Your Carolina CPA, and Cassie’s Sweetz. Our fun times will be captured by Raphael from Flawless Capture Photography, the beat popping left and right by Ms. DJ-Boogie and our entertainment will be shared by Joyce Rosenblum, Health Coach & Natural Foods Chef of Natural Foods Academy
Coming? Following? Sharing? Please use hashtag –> #QCFamilyVDayParty
Last weekend in the Queen City was super busy! And we loved every minute of it! I tell ya, there is never a dull moment in the QC!
As a 70’s baby, I grew up in mainstream -everything! Every depiction of Santa that we saw — from television to movies to storybooks — shows that rosy-faced, jolly grandpa who is unapologetically white. He looked nothing like me. Am I not generous?
Am I not generous? Are others like me, not givers? At a certain age, I think it does matter subliminally and he’s not just a jolly, ole fat guy in a red suit.
Is it possible that a long, white beard, the big-bellied man in red with dark skin would not appeal to children in predominantly black and Hispanic parts of the city?
Well, a few of my children and I got to see for ourselves this weekend. We attend two events and both had a positive turn out!
The first was Pride Entrepreneur Education Program, (PEEP) it’s a nonprofit of Pride Magazine. They had the happiest SoulfFul Santa on the Westside there. The crafts table was there to reinforce the holiday spirt by giving children the opportunity to create gifts for their loved ones.
The other event was at the Free Store Charlotte. It was outdoors and loaded with fun! From face painting, coat drives, amazing hot fancy and filling food complete with cocoa, jump house, fire pit, free gift table, and so much more.
Did You Know: The Mall of America – the country’s biggest indoor shopping complex – decided to hire a black Santa for the first time this year!
I wanted to know how some of my mom friends thought about ethnic Santa’s. So I spoke with three of them from my mom group, Queen City Stay At Home Moms and each had very interesting responses.
The first mom said: “We balk at the notion that our children should believe that a white man brings them toys, when we ( black parents) are the ones working hard to make their children feel safe, loved and happy/ “
The second mom asked, “Why can’t there be two at each at a time? Like half brothers? When I was small enough to believe in Santa, he was dressed so completely, including the beard, that I could see only his eyes behind thick glasses. I could not see, nor did I care, what skin color he was. I would definitely take my children to go see an Asian Santa,”
The last mom commented:” Santa’s race matters. White folk have enough superheroes. I’m white, but have no tolerance for the abysmal prejudice and past treatment of people of color in this country.”
Although we do not celebrate Christmas, I wanted my children to see that the Santa doesn’t have to look only one way. Santa can be whatever they want him to be. Looking at my littlest Noah’s face, he may never want to go see Santa again, but he has photographic evidence that Santa can reflect the skin tones of many cultures. And that’s, well, pretty magical.
To see more culturally diverse Santas all you have to do is show up when he’s in town. Charlotte organizations like PEEPs, and The Free Store Charlotte will continue to invite him in our hearts, centers, businesses and home!
(Yes, keep reading) (No, you will if you’re lucky, so keep reading) I have found the complete solution to them both. It’s a company called Fade Away Sleep Sounds.
Ultimately it’s has been a God send for me more than for the children. When it rains here in Charlotte unlike others, I don’t try to hide from it. I do the opposite. I open the window and may even go sit on the porch. The sound of rain, thunderstorms, wind chimes just soothes me. It’s the same sounds I can listen to everyday via Fade Away Sleep Sounds.
Have you heard of white noise /sounds? I’ll explain, White noise is a type of noise that is produced by combining sounds of all different frequencies together. If you took all of the imaginable tones that a human can hear and combined them together, you would have white noise.
When asked my moms friends of Queen City Stay At Home Moms how they enjoyed it I got responses all across the board. Since we have 5 babies aged 10 months and below, we thought it would be cool to try the white sounds on our little ones.
But after 4 weeks of consistently using the Fade Away Sleep Sounds, the common response was “it works!” The babies love white noise. And it makes sense. They’ve just spent their entire life in the womb. And the womb is deafeningly loud. I guess you can say White noise sounds like “home” to a baby.
Here’s what my mom friends have shared:
Kim said she was able to do laundry, and have an uninterrupted lunch date with her husband while the baby slept soundly in the next room..
Tina shared, “As a homeschooling mom, having her little one nap at a certain time every day makes life much easier.”
Lisa messaged me and said the she wants to try more. She wrote, ” It helps not only her twins, but her husband too!”
These sounds are a way cheaper and less toxic option than running your actual water or burn gas driving in circles till Little Bruce falls asleep.
Here’s how to file your paper work to get your doula fees paid.
The fact that their insurance company might reimburse at least some portion of the fee for your services might make you attractive to a group of potential clients who might not have been interested before. Getting reimbursement for doula services requires patience and persistence, but it can be done. If you are going to offer this as a possibility for your clients, you will also need to be willing to offer some guidance and, most likely, a fair amount of support, as they attempt to get reimbursed.
How to Request Insurance Reimbursement for Doula Services
___ Pay your doula in full.
___ Get an invoice from her which includes the following information:
The doula’s name and address
Her social security number/taxpayer ID number or NPI number
The date and location services were provided
The CPT code for the services provided
A diagnosis code
The doula’s signature
___ Submit the invoice with a claim form to your insurance company.
___ Within four weeks, expect a letter telling you either that
They need more information before they can process your claim.
This is not a covered expense.
___ Ask your Doula to send you the following:
A copy of her certification (if she is certified)
Other credentials or relevant training
A letter detailing her training and experience and what she did for you
___ If possible, ask your obstetrician or midwife for a letter explaining why a doula helped you, was necessary, or saved the insurance company money. (Did you have a high-risk pregnancy? Did the doula’s suggestions appear to prevent complications or help your labor to progress more quickly? Did the doula’s presence decrease your need for expensive pain medications?)
___ Write a letter explaining why you felt the need for a doula and how you believe the doula was beneficial to your health.
___ Submit to your insurance company: the doula’s letter and credentials the letter from the doctor your cover letter
___ If they refuse it, write a letter to Health Services requesting that they review the claim, as you feel it was a cost-cutting measure and they should cover the cost.
___ Follow up by telephone if necessary.
___ If they refuse, write a letter to the CEO explaining why you feel that doula care should be a covered expense. They may not pay your claim, but they will consider it for the future. (Kelli Way, ICCE, CD(DONA) 1998.
If you are a doula, I suggest you click over and read the guide to getting a National Provider Number and helping your clients get reimbursed.