Ce’Marie’s Progress & Check-In

Imagine your daughter exploring her imagination, expanding her mind and loving reading. Now imagine her discovering all the possibilities of who she can be. Ce’Marie books offer this, imagination and so much more! Let your little girl get hooked on reading with Ce’Marie as we discover the long-kept secret: being different is the new black. Join the movement!

Above is Ce’Marie’s original pledge to parents and its readers, created in November of 2013.

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Now lets fast-forward to March 2015. By mid-March, I had finished about 3 rough drafts of Ce’Marie picture book. Thinking the third draft would be the one, I started looking into editors and making preliminary plans for Ce’Marie’s launch party. I was so stoked! But I had to slow it down; planning for the launch party was interrupted by the tough realization that Ce’Marie was not all the way, 100% ready for its big debut.

After taking Ce’Marie (text only) to a critique group, I received constructive criticism that made total sense to me. Following the critique, I thought long and hard on my next move. I desperately wanted to be finished with her, but I knew I’d later regret the decision to proceed with putting it out IF I did so purely out of complying with my ego and not because I felt it was best. So, commence with my launch party planning or go the extra mile and figure out what needs to be done to push my newly-finished Ce’Marie picture book to the next level, that was my big question.

I chose the latter.

I knew in my heart there was something more that had to be done to really achieve the high standards, well-worth-it end-result I dream so much about.

So since around the time of my last post on March 20th, I have been re-working book 1 of the Ce’Marie series. And guess what… I’ve decided to turn what started out as a picture book into an early middle grade chapter book! I feel this is the right move and the best direction to take Ce’Marie. I am extremely excited, a bit anxious but more excited. I know Ce’Marie Version 2.0 (hehe) will be the product I’ve been working so hard and diligently to produce; something of substance and value, something I can be proud of and smiling ear-to-ear happy about–and not to mention, have no shame in bragging on! LOL.

This is not to say that I am not happy with the picture book I have created, because I am. I am proud of myself. I did just what I sought out to do–and then some! Like, me, yep me–I did it! I wrote and illustrated my very own children’s picture book! That’s an amazing accomplishment that I take pride in.

My standards for myself are higher than ever. A few friends who have experienced the book in its entirety actually love it just as much as I do. But I do not have a feeling of completion with it, just yet. There is just something missing… And I have accepted this. I have set new goals and timelines of deadlines — this baby is underway and I’m inspired more than ever! CeCe’s going from a luxury Mercedes to a transformer Tesla. Vroom! Vroom! ;) And the picture book itself will definitely not go to waste — in fact, I can’t wait to share how I’m turning this minor “setback” into a major accomplishment and beautifully thought-out product.

So there’s my lengthy update on Ce’Marie. She and her BFFs’ are doing wonderful and going on many cool adventures! Stay tuned, bookworms :)

Until next time friends, Carpe Diem!

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Love The Skin You’re In

The beautiful and talented Ms. Lupita Nyong’o talks to our young kids on Sesame Street about loving the skin we’re in. Sesame Street is a wonderful television program that teaches kids fundamental concepts at home before they even enter pre-school.

Lupita loves her skin, Elmo loves his and you and I definitely should too!

Watch the 2 minute Sesame Street clip below.

8 Spare-Time Activities for Preschool Girls

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On babysitting duty? Are you the busy mommy of an adorable, high-energy preschooler who is in need of  fun ideas that will keep your little “mini-me” smiling? Or maybe you have a little granddaughter, niece, sister or goddaughter and you are looking for some high-energy, explorative girl-time activities to release some of her energy into? Well you’ve come to the right place!

Sometimes I babysit, as a side job. And I am pretty darn good at it. My objectives are always to do at least one thing educational, feed them the meal/snack their mommy left with them, have a lot of high-energy fun (this way they’ll take a nap for me, hehe) and lastly, make sure they return safely to their mothers, in one piece.

My formula is simple.

I first lay out a blanket, a blanket in which you are OK with getting a little dirty and possibly having to wash often (I figure the blanket getting dirty is much better than my carpet getting stained).

This blanket I call the “magic carpet” — they absolutely love it!

Together you two can spread the magic carpet out in a designated area, and if you’d like, you can also add pillows underneath the carpet to give it a more comfortable, plush feeling. Then each of the activities listed below are to be done aboard the magic carpet – which makes for an awesome adventure only the imagination can enjoy (not to mention a much easier and faster clean-up! – as a result, everyone is happy ;)

So… (*drumroll please) the 10 totally cool and fun activities Ce’Marie, especially, loves for her family or babysitter to do with her:

1. Read to her, better yet, with her.

By reading to her in a way that she is engaged and following along (as in having her actually looking at each word as you read each one), will help her to mentally start forming cognitive thinking and build her vocabulary.

We all have that preschooler who wants to know why and what does that mean, and why again – which is awesome! It’s really a beautiful thing how interested and curious they are at this age. And here’s a cool fact for you: From the time a child is born til the age of 5, his/her brain and knowledge is developing and growing at a faster rate than it ever will again.

When we read to children, and even talk or sing to them, their brain cells “are literally turned on” like a light switch.

2. Color pictures.

If I had to rate this activity on a scale of 1-5 for level of complication — easily, its a 0.9, meaning it’s one of the easiest activities you can provide for your little girl to do.

If your girl is anything like the preschoolers I have babysat, then she will for sure have a ball coloring pictures from her favorite character’s coloring book.

By the way, did I mention this is one of those activities that require little to no involvement? While she’s busy making her pretty pony neon yellow and red, you can kick back and read your favorite novel, get started on cooking or catch up on work. This one is pretty easy to do.

But use your time wisely and get right to whatever it is you choose to do with the down time, because once she completes the picture, it’s show and tell time.

Try skimming the coloring book with her before she begins, this way you can have her choose 3 of her favorite pictures to color. Mark those pages for her with post-its and voila!  You’ve scored yourself some time.

3. Complete puzzles and riddles from coloring activity books and/or puzzle boxes.

They are at a beautiful age, an age in which they LOVE to read, write, learn and explore. So whether it be via reading books, coloring books or activity books, learning will take place in some shape or form. Puzzles and riddles are good tools to learn analytical skills and new words, among other great benefits.

I’m a strong believer of it never being too early to introduce children to higher learning, not when it comes to academia.

And if you do not have a riddle book that is her reading level, this can turn into an activity that you two can do together.

Putting together a puzzle of her favorite characters can be interesting. It also has the ability to get her brain working, in her attempt to figure out which piece goes where. Puzzles are a good challenge, a challenge in which your little girl will not shy away from.

Without her even knowing it – she will be working on her memory and stimulating her brain’s growth.

4. Draw a masterpiece, then write the character’s story behind it.

Have your preschooler draw a picture, letting her know that afterwards she will be explaining the actual story behind her picture. This not only helps her to develop the skills of brainstorming, planning then executing, but also encourages storytelling and a love for writing and illustrating.

It’s up to you how in depth you want to go with this one.

You can have her describe to you each of the following: the setting, characters, plot and what’s going on in the picture she drew. Or, you can simply leave it at, “Draw a cool picture then write the story behind it.” With the latter directions, she will have the freedom to provide a unique story of her choice.

At this age, children are learning their likes and dislikes and discovering their skills and natural talents. So this is a fun, creative activity that you can do with her.

Have a show & tell of both of your masterpieces and enjoy allowing your imagination to run wild.

At the end of the activity, if she enjoyed it, frame her photo and story in her bedroom for her to always see and remember how fun it was to write and illustrate her own short story.

5. Create collages.

When I was a little girl, I loved to look at the pretty, glossy photos of magazines.

If you have a stack of magazines lying around (which many of us do), recycle a couple of them by giving your little girl some to sift through and find appropriate photos that in some way or another interests her or fit within the chosen theme.

Collages are great visual projects to make – you can start with a theme, for example, the outdoors. Have her find (and help her cut out) as many pictures from her two magazines that have something to do with the outdoors. Then on construction paper or a poster board (size of your choice), have her arrange the photos in a way that makes sense to her. Lastly, with a glue stick, have her glue the photos down.

Collages are great, interactive activities for finding similarities and differences in photos. Completed collages can also later become pages of a scrapbook, a scrapbook gift in fact :) You can give her a theme for each page, like daddy’s favorite thing to do, daddy’s favorite color, daddy’s favorite sport, etc. A theme specific to a particular person’s likes can become a handmade scrapbook collage gift for them (birthdays, father or mother’s day, anniversaries, etc).

When engaging in the activity, girls are actively searching and loving the exploration for something in particular, like all things “outdoors-y”. This activity gives them a head-start on developing good research skills.

**And a couple activities outside of reading & writing…

6. Paint nails.

No, like literally.

Ce’Marie is not the best at polishing the actual nail itself. She’s more of a wide-stroke painter. So I would call it more of painting your fingertips (laughs).

BUT, that’s why I have this tip for you – which can actually also turn into a fun game – place a strip of tape around each nail to serve as a “NO PAINT ALLOWED CAUTION ZONE” then play nail-zilla and Edward “tape” hands for a few minutes. It will not only be a great laugh but it will also teach your girl how to polish the nail, well for the most part.

7. Go for a walk…

At the park, around your neighborhood, at the museum, and my all-time favorite–> at the beach. Hey, I’m a Cali girl :)

Taking a walk is the perfect way to end a day of excitement. The walk will bring her back to a calm place and help her to realize just how sleepy she really is (chuckles).

If you decide to take a walk to your local park, while there, allow her to have fun on the swings, monkey bars and the other equipment there. Play with her. Take sack lunches and have a mini picnic (don’t forget the hand sanitizer!).

Museums are great places to have intellectual talks with your little one. Look at the art and take turns sharing your thoughts on it. Share with her when the work of art was made and by who. Briefly explain the artist profession to her. Her interest may be piqued by a particular something and this might just mark the start of a young Picasso.

Lastly, the beach is quite a wonderful getaway. You get to enjoy the serenity of the waves hitting the rocks and the birds chirping. But be prepared to make a day out of it. Kids love the beach even more than you do. And definitely expect your little adventurer to feel the urge to at least get her feet in the water. If your girl is anything like those I’ve babysat, she’ll want to not only get in the beach water but afterwards play in the kid’s outdoor showers.

The purpose of this last activity is to slow it down, reflect on the day’s activities and to engage in good conversation. The beach may not be ideal for this “cool down session” because an adventurous kid cannot deny the temptation of the beach water and sand. So then what should have been a quick 30-45 minute wrap-up, will indefinitely turn into a few more hours of fun. So choose the location wisely :)

Parent Bonus: Create mood boards.

Similar to collages, you can orchestrate a mood board-making party. Same materials of magazines, scissors and glue are needed, along with random trinkets (like rhinestones, buttons, feathers, yarn, crayons, etc) that may come in handy – can also be helpful to bring a 3D element to it.

The difference between the collage and mood board – for the sake of this article – is we will use the mood board to present emotions.

This is a healthy exercise for the child. It’s a clever way to keep up with how she is feeling at any given moment.

For example, explain to her that a mood board conveys her current, past or future mood. Have her describe how she is feeling today, at this very moment. We will use the emotion “happy” for an example. Have her search the magazines for anything and everything that either portrays happiness (like a smiley face or someone jumping for joy) or anything and everything that makes her happy (like picnics, butterflies and puppies), and of course she can mix the two. You can leave it at that then at the end have her explain her board.

Or, mommies, you can have her make an entire story out of it; help her to get passed a sad moment. Break it up into pieces. Instruct her to think of a moment when she was sad and have her also think about what happened that helped her return to a happy state or what could happen that will make her back happy. Have her express her emotions through magazine images.

This is a clever way to stay in-the-know about your little one. Expressing her emotions are healthy for her and enlightening to you. It will also make it more comfortable for her to openly share what’s going on and reinforce to her that you are the person she can always talk to about everything.

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Try out one (or all) of the activities above and let me know how it goes. Which seems to spark your interest the most? Do you have a different activity your little girl loves to do? Please share!

5 Good Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Library

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When I was around 3 or 4 years old, I remember my mother took me to the local public library. I was an avid reader by that age, whether I read the words correctly or not, I was a true storyteller – sharing an elaborate story based off its illustrations alone.

So going to a place that housed so many books, on top of books, on top of books… I was right in literary heaven! From colorful picture books to interesting topic-specific fact books, I wanted them all to come home with me. And with my new library card in tow, the library became a weekly venture for my mother and I.

Why should you make sure your kids take occasional trips to the library? Christine French Cully, Editor in Chief of Highlight Children, provides these 5 Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Library:

1. Regular library visits inevitably leads to more reading.

  • Remember, within the first 5 years of a child’s life, their brain and knowledge is working at a faster rate than it’ll ever work. So go, feed that baby’s brain. They’ll thank you in a big way later, after graduating from an Ivy League university ;)

2. When you visit the library, you can expose your kids to more books and magazines than you can afford to buy.

  • Take home as many cool books as you can carry out to the car. Then after that load is read, return it and get a whole new pile of books. Explore the many aisles of the children’s section and allow your kid to pick up his/her favorites. It doesn’t get much better than that.

3. Your local children’s librarian can recommend books that you may not know of or think to suggest, broadening their tastes and expanding their minds and vocabulary

  • Constant learning and exploring their imagination is the point, right? :) And you’ll be surprised – by what books you may see as random – your child fall in love with and want read to him/her every night

4. Library time is active, not passive

  • Libraries often host events where they bring in animated storytellers, different engaging shows and even the authors themselves come in and interact with the kids. Connecting with their favorite books and its authors along with the other little library goers, really gives the children an invaluable experience.

5. Owning a library card teaches kids responsibility.

  • Owning their own library card make kids feel responsible and important. They learn to keep up with it and value their belongings.

To read the entire, original article, click here.

How about you – what are your library stories? Do these 5 reasons sound about right to you? Or based off the 5 reasons will you now take your kids more often? Let us know below! :) #SomethingAboutCeMarie? She loves books!

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Work Cited

Original article is courtesy of Huffington Post.

View the original article here.

International Reading Month – Let’s Read!!

While over on Amazon’s site looking for my pastor’s book, Purpose Awakening, I noticed on the homepage that this month is International Reading Month! What are you currently reading?

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 8.41.08 PMLately, I’ve been reading The Writer’s Market – 2014 Edition by Robert Lee Brewer, a NYLON magazine, my business plan. I’m also slowly reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and soon will add Purpose Awakening to this month’s group of books.

A few of my ‘International Reading Month’ recommendations – For the parents:

  • Purpose Awakening by Toure Roberts

& my all-time favorites since high school…

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 9.09.18 PMReading with the kids:

  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
  • Lies and Other Tall Tales by Christopher Myers and Zora Neal Hurston
  • Harlem by Christopher Myers

Interesting combinations, huh? :)

Let me know your thoughts along with your favorite books. What are you reading this moth?

28 Days of Royalty: Dr. Martin Luther King

Brave. Strong. Alpha man. A man who dreamed of an equal society. A society in which people are not prematurely “judged by the color of their skin [or the kinkiness of their hair or the color of their eyes or the fullness of their lips] but on the content of their character.” A society where children are not afraid to quench their thirst at the nearest water fountain and NOT necessarily at the mandated Black fountain. And in doing so, he dreamed that we wouldn’t “satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” He had a dream that “[right here in America] little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – for “1963 [was] not an end but a beginning.”

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 15, 1929 – April 04, 1968

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As the creator of Ce’Marie, I also have a dream.

I have a dream that our little black girls will grow up loving their black dolls just as much as their white dolls. Most importantly, that little black girls will not see being black as an ugly dead-end but as being someone who also has the creativity, strength, potential and overall capacity to succeed, just as their non-black friends.

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I have a dream that little black girls and other girls of color will see more and more girls and women who look like them in the media (books, magazines, tv shows, movies, etc.) doing great, positive things.

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I have a dream that schools, parents, and all of society will continue to teach our children about diversity and tolerance. And that we will continue to progress in our acceptance of others and their differences.

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I have a dream that little girls and their parents will not shy away from supporting diverse companies, like Ce’Marie and rkc. And that the number of diverse companies will continue to grow and show that they embrace diversity through their actions and products.

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I have a dream that little girls – brown, purple, yellow, white and black – will grow up in nurturing environments in which they are taught to love themselves and share love and kindness with others. I have a dream… I have a dream that little girls will always feel like they have an adult to talk to, help them, and not judge them for their mistakes or unfortunate circumstance(s). Girls everywhere will learn the importance of staying true to themselves and realize how much cooler it is to do so.

        

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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i-have-a-draemDo you have a dream? Of course you do! Comment below and let us know your dream(s) and if you’re feeling really good, include what it is that you are doing now to accomplish that dream ;)

Until next time…

xoxo,

ZeeZee Dandridge

Creator of Ce’Marie

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Photo Credits (searched through Google)

  • Photo 1: davidbrim.com
  • Photo 2: amlit-kaplan.wikispaces.com
  • Photo 3: laschoolreport.com
  • Photo 4: deeperstory.com
  • Photo 5: pinterest.com
  • Photo 6: dodgeburn.blogspot.com
  • Photo 7: bevelle.wordpress.com

28 Days of Royalty: Oprah Winfrey

28 Days of Royalty: Highlighting Black/African-American Trailblazers

Today, I share with you a little something about a woman who I have looked up to for years upon years and day-dreamed about sitting next to on her infamous couch. This beautiful woman puts the “O” in ‘awesOme’ (and ‘Outstanding’); in working towards becoming who she is today, she was Persistent, Resourceful, And Hard-working.

She is: Ms. Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah is a media guru, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is looked up to by many, young and old. She is courageous, influential, and pioneering. Like many successful people, Oprah started off small and went through her unique trials and tribulations. But as we can see – she finished off stronger than ever. Oprah works her a** off and her efforts continue to pay off – with her being a billionaire at the top of her game… (cues song: Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Here by Drake).

I leave you with this:

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

– Oprah Winfrey

“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”

– Oprah Winfrey

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We would love to hear from You! Who else in the media do you think is a great, positive influence and trailblazer? Please leave us a comment below :) xoxo

NEW! Ce’Marie Website ♥

Hello Ce’Marie Tribe!

The Ce’Marie website is up and running – Go check it out! :)

http://www.cemarie.info

It is a work in progress in which we are excited about. We are working towards making it more interactive for our Ce’Marie Tribe members. Head over to the website and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments field below.

[What’s A Girl To Do…]: Girl Power To The Rescueeee…!!

What’s a girl to do when life gets in the way?

First, take a deep breath in, let it out. Again, deep breath in, let it out… Now realize as women:

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Ladies, WE CAN DO IT!!

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Girl Power to the Rescueee!

What’s a girl to do when she’s feeling “Tony the Tiger” Grrrrrreeaaat?!

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Tony the Tiger

Rejoice! & Write it down
* When you’re feeling super great: Share girl empowerment messages to a neighbor / peer / friend / relative who may need a quick pick-me-up, keep in mind that we never know what others are going through and your positivity can rub off unto them..Also, why not record these feelings into a special, designated affirmation journal.

What’s a girl to do when she’s feeling down?
Seek inner empowerment that you have been building since birth…

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Ohhh Yea ♥ Believe it ♥ We’ve Got This Ability!! :)

* Since birth, you and I have been snapping back after hardships, set backs, disappointments, etc. Even as babies, when we failed to stand up on our own and take our first step, we plummeted right back down. But, then we got right back up and tried again until ultimately we achieved our goal of not only walking but running! Remember: We are super-Wonderwomen: If it doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger!

What’s a girl to do when she’s feeling on top of the world-lucky?

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On top of the world fantastic!

Write down the positive emotions to save for a later rainy day…
* Rainy days seem to just creep up on us at the worst timing. So a way to combat a “rainy day” mood is to look back on the many awesome, “today was a good day”, Ice Cube moods & moments. What the heck are Ice Cube moods, you ask? The moods & moments that totally had you feeling on top of the world –  sometime in the past, like yesterday or a month ago or even three years ago (like a graduation or some other big accomplishment).

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Although a little cheesy, the point of this post is to remind ladies (and girls) out there to make light of situations that otherwise could have put us in bad moods. Sometimes we prematurely make a big deal out of simple everyday situations — but just as the uncomfortable situation came up, it too will pass. Let’s pursue our best — not perfection, but our best and keep in mind that things will always happen, good and bad. So with every “thing” that happens, we can essentially do one of three things:

1. Take it in stride and do your best to set aside the emotions & pessimistic thoughts and forge through it as effectively as possible; 2. Realize the issue, panic and complain, allow negative thoughts to take over, then try to fix the issue; or 3. Convince yourself that you are incapable, the world is coming to an end anyway, and all there is left to do is mope around and wait for either the issue to resolve itself or the world to come to its end… (<– totally over-dramatized, please, ladies, remember we are super Wonderwomen & option 3 is NEVER an option).

And let’s be realistic, we want to always do option 1 but although we are super-Wonderwomen, we are not perfect. So be patient with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for “accidentally” acting out option 2 – just work harder towards being a more positive and proactive person. This way you won’t give yourself unnecessary stress.

We are a work in progress – don’t strive for society’s goal of perfection, strive for excellence of your unique capabilities  :)

So, which (of option 1 & 2) will you choose today?

We would love to hear what it is that you do when life hands you lemons. How do you turn life’s hurdles into lemonade? Please comment below :)

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Girl Power. #WhatCeMarieIsAbout

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Photo Credits (searched through Google):

  1. blogs.thepoconos.com
  2. pdxgem.blogspot.com
  3. gigieatscelebrities.com
  4. grrrlcamp.tumblr.com
  5. huffingtonpost.com
  6. etsy.com
  7. pdxgem.blogspot.com