Ladder to the Moon

On September 1, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Ladder to the Moon

Written By Maya Soetoro-Ng

Illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Ladder to the Moon rests on a bookshelf, in my bedroom, where I can keep an eye on it. I bought it for Simone and Nadia, but it is all mine. Mine, I say.

I am in love with the writing. It is, in a word, gorgeous. The book is longer than the average picture book, and the words paint dreamy pictures. As for the illustrations, they are the most intricate I’ve ever seen in a picture book and evoke the imagination of a child. When I find a publisher for my picture book, I’d be happy for Yuyi Morales to illustrate it.

I’m drawn to the story as well. My mother passed before Simone and Nadia were born. In Ladder to the Moon Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma. One night, Suhaila realizes her wish when a ladder appears at her window. In lush prose, Grandma Annie invites her granddaughter to come along with her on a magical journey. Together they explore a mother’s love, empathy for others, and the value of civic engagement.

The book has given me an idea about how I can make my mother real to Simone and Nadia. There has been a long-running debate about whether picture books are written for children or for parents. They are written for both. This one resonates with me, and I hope one day Simone and Nadia will embrace it as much as I do.

Have you read this book? What did you think of the writing and illustrations?

Argan Oil

On August 31, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

The beauty aisles are lined with products touting the benefits of Argan oil. The oil has been added to skincare, nail, and hair potions.  If the law of supply and demand is in effect, then a lot of people are demanding a relatively low supply of this oil. I’ve seen it online for as much as $96 for four ounces. Ouch! There are less expensive versions, which also have less Argan oil in them, and others have been cut with coconut, jojoba or some other oil that is listed in fine print on the back of the bottle.

Women love this product for its hydrating properties. It is a light oil, and it produces an intense shine. Of course, it can only be found in one place on the planet: Morocco. The oil is extracted from the nuts of the fruit the tree produces and is harvested from the tree by women who work in co-operatives.

Like many women, I wanted to try out this Argan oil. I love shea butter, and I have an ongoing love affair with henna. It took me a few weeks to zero in on some pure oil at an acceptable price. I found it at, where a four-ounce bottle for $17.

I’ve been using it for a few weeks now. I use a dropper to take the oil from the bottle and to put a few drops in my hand. I rub my hands together and then spread the oil over my hair. (I haven’t been bold enough to use it on my face, though folks swear it helps fight off all those bad things in the atmosphere.) The oil is expeller pressed, which means no solvents or anything else that could change or weaken its properties were used to extract it.

I love the shine and the non-oily feeling Argan oil produces, but the real test will come this winter when the air has been stripped of all its moisture. I’ll keep you posted.

Have you experimented with Argan oil?

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The Marriage Ref

On August 16, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

Really? An interracial couple couldn’t agree on what to do with their daughter’s hair, so they went on national television to have entertainers tell them who is right and who is wrong. I’ve watched The Marriage Ref once or twice, and I don’t find it all that funny or enlightening. In this episode, which aired Monday, Aug. 14, the white father  wants his little girl to express herself, while the black mom wants her to look presentable.

If I had to take the matter seriously, I’d side with the mother. There’s nothing wrong with a child expressing herself, as long as that’s something she wants to do. Nothing in the clip leaves that impression. All the viewer learns is that the father simply doesn’t want to do hair, and that’s too bad.

Here’s the thing. These people aren’t serious. There is way too much acting and exaggerating in the clip, and the viewer later learns the father wants his daughter to be “discovered.” I think he and his wife are using the show to get their daughter on television. They got the exposure they wanted. I just wish it had not been at the expense of a child and her beautiful, natural hair.



Quote, Unquote

On August 13, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

We don’t like the food that you make, Daddy.

Simone, lobbying to eat out. 

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School Bus Blues

On August 12, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke


Add in your own bluesy guitar riff between verses


My daughter is a first-grader

Can ride the bus to school

It’s a five-minute ride

Makes so much sense too


Well, she boarded the bus

Told the driver her name

Sat next to a girl

Went on the first day


Picked her up a little later

All seemed a go

Then my daughter said something

She told me no.


Well, it’s more convenient.

Probably safer too.

The little girl won’t do it.

So, what’s a parent to do


I’ve got the blues

The school bus blues

She’d rather ride in the SUV

So, what’s a parent to do

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Affordable Organic Skin Care

On August 10, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

It wasn’t long ago that I went to the spa and got a talking to from my beauty expert.

Get your skin act together, she said. You are not a young thing anymore. You must take care of your skin.

After she whipped my skin and me into shape, she sent me home with an arm full of  items. They work well — and are expensive.

That’s the problem with my skin care regimen. I don’t want to spend that kind of money on lotions and potions. Plus,  I want something with natural ingredients. I had three choices: I could either keep purchasing the expensive stuff, mix my own concoction or buy it from  a reputable organic store.

Cue Mission Impossible music.

With my skin in good shape, I tried to find an affordable solution. I already knew about Bentonite Clay and use it for facials. Bentonite Clay is available at many health food stores for $8 or $9 for 16 ounces.

Armed with that information, I was sure I could find something organic and affordable to exfoliate and moisturize my skin. I clicked around and found Mountain Rose Herbs Cleansing Grains.

For $5.25, Mountain Rose Herbs offers two ounces of White Kaolin clay, organic Oat Bran, Almond meal, organic Corn meal, powdered Rose petals, and a blend of pure steam distilled essential oils. It smells divine. Mix a pinch or two with a little spring water or tea, apply to face in circular motions and rinse.

Warning: Don’t put anything wet in the jar, not even a finger, unless you want to contaminate all the goodies. Use a plastic or wooden spoon to scoop out a little each use.

For the body, try dead sea salt. It is the main ingredient in many body scrubs. Mountain Rose Herbs has a one-pound bag of dead sea salt for $4.50. Want to spend even less? Buy a five-pound bag here. Need some aromatherapy with that? Draw a bath, sprinkle in a tablespoon or so of dead sea salt and a few drops of an essential oil. Or, mix dead sea salt with a carrier oil, say jojoba, and use it to exfoliate the entire body. Both recipes provide an instant spa experience without the spa price. Enjoy!

Do you have any money-saving beauty secrets? Spill!



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From The Inbox

On August 9, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke


What to do when someone you care about shows his thoughts.

Q: I would love to get your opinion on the following…My husband and I are a happy interracial couple (I’m black, he’s white) living in the South. Race is not an issue for us and this is how we hope to raise our kids. We’ve developed a friendship with a white couple who have been very good friends over many years and are in fact our children’s godparents. They were raised in the South by very traditional white families, and even though they seem to be very progressive, they prove that you can’t escape your past. Last year, the man was animatedly recalling a story and used the n-word to describe a group of people in his story. My husband and I were shocked and really didn’t know how to react. He went on with his story as if it didn’t happen, following which, we left. Discussing it in the car, my husband and I were more disappointed in him than angry. We briefly discussed whether or not we should talk to him about it, but decided against it. He hasn’t done it since, but it’s hard to forget. Any thoughts?

A: Thanks for your question. It’s a tough one, but I will take a shot. My take on this is that you should always say something when something like this happens. It could be something simple like: Really? That’s the way you describe this group of people? It may not be the thing you want to say or thought you’d say, but you have to let the person know that you don’t appreciate that kind of language and that he shouldn’t feel comfortable using it in front of you.

I was on a plane that was experiencing turbulence when the woman sitting beside me made a comment about the pilot’s race. I, too, was flustered and didn’t know what to say. I managed to get something out of my mouth that did not condemn her speech but hopefully let her know I didn’t appreciate it.

Were your children there? I would not want to explain how my child’s Godfather used a racial epithet to describe Mommy’s people. (If he can’t see how his word may be hurtful to a group, he may see how it is hurtful to his Godchild.) The moment may have passed, and it may not have the same effect if you talk about it now. But if it ever happens again or if he’s joking about this story or some other opportunity presents itself, I’d take him aside and tell him. Keep it sweet, to the point and make sure your talk lacks emotion. If you stay cool, maybe he will follow suit. I wouldn’t do it in front of other people, if you can help it, because he’s likely to be embarrassed and may respond in anger.

Weigh in, folks. What would you do?

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Quote, Unquote Classic

On August 7, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke


Simone, developing her vocabulary.

Simone spent two years in the home of what I like to call her Dominican Day Family. While in their care, she learned several Spanish words. We’re not sure whether she was trying to speak English or Spanish when she uttered the word above. Believe me, we asked. She repeated it so much we were saying it to ourselves and to each other to see if we could figure out what she was trying to tell us. Until this day we have no idea of what she was trying to say.

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Don’t Call Dr. Laura

On August 5, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

A serious repost.
A black woman married to a white man called Dr. Laura and told her she was growing resentful of her husband because he would not put an end to neighbors, friends and relatives saying the n-word and making other insensitive comments in front of her.

Dr. Laura didn’t answer the caller’s question. In fact, she berated the woman with the n-word 11 times and accused her of being hypersensitive. To make matters worse, Dr. Laura said most blacks voted for Barack Obama because he is half black, leaving the impression that blacks are single-minded. Way to go, Dr. Laura.

Dr. Laura later apologized for her remarks. It is clear to me she didn’t understand the topic and couldn’t possibly advise anyone who had a question about it. I don’t have 9 million listeners, but here is what I think.

The caller said a neighbor had come to her house and asked her why blacks do this or do that. Without getting upset, I would say something like this: I am not the spokeswoman for black people anymore than you are a spokesman for white people. I can’t tell you why some people act the way they do.

As for your husband, it’s time to have a very frank conversation about race and respect. I am concerned your husband, not your boyfriend or just a friend, would allow anyone to come in the house he shares with you and make insensitive remarks about you or your race. Please talk to him and tell him how the word or words make you feel. Let him know that you should feel comfortable and respected in your own home and such words are disrespectful and make you feel uncomfortable. I hope he hears you out and makes it clear to friends and relatives that such talk will not be tolerated.

If you are out there and somehow get this message, send an email to honeysmoke at honeysmoke dot com, find a group of sisters who are also married to white men or seek some professional guidance. You definitely shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable in your own home, and your husband should understand and stand up for you.

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Good Read

On August 4, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

This piece by Ellis Cose explains the difference between racial and gay civil rights. Enjoy!
Posted from 34,000 feet with help of iTouch and free Wi-Fi coupon.

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