Simplifying Life Step 2: Sell Africa Sleeps

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One night when my daughters were just little pip-squeaks, I ran out of sleep caps. Couldn’t find one anywhere. The lady I had been getting them from appeared out of business, so I decided to order some online. I soon discovered it cost the same to order 4 or 100 caps, so in a burst of creative energy and an all-nighter, Africa Sleeps was born.

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That was 3.5 years ago, and I built my little business with the sweat on my brow and passion in my heart for natural haircare. After a couple of years, the business revenue starting replacing my professor income, eventually allowing me to retire from academia. But at the same time as my sort-of retirement, our family veterinary hospital and pet store launched. We never meant to have two businesses running at the same time – it’s just how it ended up. So this past year I found myself run to the ground, running two businesses, one new and needy and one established and flourishing. I didn’t have much time left over for my charitable work, which I love, and after hyper-prioritizing family time, I had no time left for leisure or sleep.

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Something had to go, and it wasn’t going to be the vet hospital we had put all our investment into. Even though we lived off Africa Sleeps, it was obviously the best solution was to try to sell it, and live off the sales proceeds while getting the hospital off the ground.

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Yesterday, Africa Sleeps officially changed hands, and had a wonderful new owner in Illinois. She’s an adoptive mom too, with a passion for her kids’ hair, and I know she will do amazingly well with the business. I’m of course very relieved to have the business off my plate, but there are twinges of sadness, too. In very emotional ways, my girls are intertwined with this business. It’s not just that they were the models – I started it for them, and it’s been a source of pride for our family, especially in the African and adoptive family communities. I’m happy that it is over, but like all ending of eras, sad to see it go.

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So what are my work plans now? Well, I am planning on spending 3 days a week at the clinic, working 9am-2pm, while the girls are in school. That will leave me one day a week to work on Vulnerable Children Society, and one day a week to run errands and do important cost-saving like meal-planning, still before 2pm. this will be the least amount of work I’ve done in many years, and I so am looking forward to it. I might even discover that elusive thing called free time…

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A country wedding: my brother got married!

Last weekend we traipsed off to Creston for my brother’s wedding at my parent’s house in the countryside. We took the three dogs with us (and picked up a guinea pig on the way back, but that’s another story!) so we were sort of like a pack of clowns packed into our VW station wagon. It was the hottest day of the year – yikes! 40 degrees. But we made it there, and dropped off the old two dogs at the kennel for the weekend.

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For the weekend, we stayed in my parent’s RV on their property. The kids ran around, playing and visiting, and we got a chance to catch up with some dear friends and relations.

On Saturday, we took off to Fort Steele to explore with my BFF, Von, and her brood. Little did I know that Fort Steele is totally pet friendly, but because of the heat, I was glad we put Tully in air-conditioned daycare. The clear skies made for gorgeous pictures.

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For those that haven’t had the pleasure, Fort Steele is a heritage town in the Kootenay region of BC. There are a lot of working people and animals on site. Our family has a little history there. My father, when he was working on a ground squirrel project during his undergrad, spent a summer at Fort Steele. He worked with the Clydesdales. Some forty years later, the Clydesdales are still a huge part of the place… I saw four working teams in a few hours. Amazingly beautiful horses.

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We had lots of fun with Vn and Trev and their family. It’s a weird coincidence that we both have identical twin girls.. makes for some interesting observation.

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Jason and I remarked on how different it is to visit with small kids and medium ones. von constantly had three kids around her legs. Ah, small children. Our almost-nine-year-olds went off on the wagon ride with Vona and Trev, and explored much of the village themselves, leaving Jason and I to peek at things that interested us, like the old pharmacy. He really would have loved to read what was on those bottles… we were betting many of them were herbal tinctures, like we have at our clinic.

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We ate at the bakery, panned for gold, and rode the train…

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As I took this picture, I was thinking about the hair styling to be done the next day for the wedding. Sugar and Spice’s hair had just been taken out from extensions, and was wrapped up in buns full of hair oil.

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Back at the homestead, more and more people arrived. My parents had five or six RVs parked in their yard, plus  tents full of people. The rest stayed in the hotel at the end of the road, so it was really busy around their place. Mom and Dad were wonderful hosts, and ate up all the time they got to visit. Several pancake breakfasts, a BBQ, impromptu sandwich lunches, and of course, a wedding dinner, all was made in their kitchen. Thank goodness it was renovated, just in time!

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My main job at the wedding was to make the flower girls look fabulous… which I did!

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But everyone helped out. You can see my brother and his groomsmen lifting the beer kegs outside…

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Dad drove us slightly nuts by watering the road 20 minutes before the wedding. Notice the same activity as the horses picture above? It’s a dry summer. Anyway, he did manage to get into his suit in time, so no harm done. I think he stayed in the suit for 30 minutes before he changed back into his “hippy homesteader” gear.

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We all got dapper – Jason was tying a bowtie for the first time. Finally he gave up and let me do it. I’m sure he’ll get it himself next time…

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The girls picked flowers to throw in front of the bride. Sugar raided mom’s indoor plants, below.

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And Spice with the bride, just before the ceremony. M looked lovely, in a dress her bridesmaid made for her.

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The ceremony was out in the yard, just out of reach of the shade. Thank goodness the ceremony was short! But I have to say that their vows, M’s especially, were the sweetest I have ever heard. We were all crying… or my side of the family was, anyway. You can who is in my family by how easily we cry.

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The flower girls shared the spotlight with their new cousin, super Z, (M’s nephew,) who wore a cape with a big Z on it. Very Marvel comics.

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And post wedding pictures… not the official ones, the candid ones!

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Mom really looked lovely, and trusted me that her hippy homesteader hair (done by yours truly) was indeed appropriate for the occasion. It looked gorgeous!

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I was very please how our family pictures turned out. We actually snapped them right before the wedding, before the crazy.

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My darling little sister…

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My best friend Von…

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My pseudo-nieces, the “other twins…”

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I would be remiss to describe the wedding without describing the food. M’s brother and sister-in-law are professional chefs. They own the fabulous artisan bakery in Osoyoos (check it out!) Somehow I didn’t manage to get a picture of the pulled pork sandwiches they made (smoked on my parent’ front porch for three days) or the smoked artic char, or the salads… maybe because I was eating it. Let’s just say : yum. And for dessert, pies made by my mom and cousin Dave. AMAZING…

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My sister Ena, M’s dad and brother had been part of the jam circles that happened all weekend. At some point they figured out that they all knew the first dance song, so they ditched the MP3 and did it live, much to B and M’s delight. Note the homemade dance floor made out of pallets…

Dad and another little one breaking it down…

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Jason and I both love dancing, so as long as my knees could handle it, we were up there…

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…and long after the afore-mentioned knees gave out, the girls were out there boogying. They stayed up o close the night.

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We had a lot of fun! My mom’s side of the family loves dancing too, so our cousins, aunt and uncle danced almost the whole evening too. Three of them came all the way from Sierra Leone for the wedding… so nice. It was delightful to spend time with them. My sis and brother-in-law M DJed a heck of a night!

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Since this post will be passed around, I just wanted to send lots of love out to my brother and his new wife. May you have lots of fun in your new marriage, just like the beautiful wedding you planned.

And to my parents, who are breathing deeply (but still taking care of my kids for this week!) thank you. you were the host gracious, kind and generous hosts.

No more tangles! Organic detangler sale

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Africa Sleeps has a sale on detangler! Yeah!

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This delightful, botanical concoction sooths frizz, and adds slip to hair for picking and styling. The detangler is made of organic, Canadian botanicals and is super easy to use in a trigger squirt bottle. We can’t do without it on free hair days! It’s extra useful now that Sugar and Spice are picking out their own puffs.

Now 20% off with coupon code NOMORETANGLES.
Have fun shopping, and thanks for supporting our family business!

Africa Sleeps Organic Curl Detangler 20% Off

Africa Sleeps Curl Detanglers are 20% off until August 31, 2015! These delectable-smelling, organic sprays moisturize, soften and help detangle curly hair. An absolutely essential product for black kids and adults who wear free hair. Made with organic and wild-crafted Canadian botanicals… and designed for children of African heritage, with all kinds of kinks and curls.

Africa Sleeps Organic Curl Detangler

Enter coupon NOMORETANGLES at checkout.

Thanks for supporting our family business!

Cultivating my twins’ individual hair styles

I have twin eight year old girls. To the majority of our friends, and even most of the children on the school playground, they are identical. Since they came to us three years of age, we have rarely dressed them the same. Instead, we have helped and nurtured them develop their own sense of style. Both my girls wear their hair fabulously naturally, but they have their own distinct hair style preferences.

My daughters are Ethiopian, and culturally, cornrows are a preferred protective hairstyle. Living in Canada, we have access to thousands of style inspirations for multiple cultures, so we have tried dozens of different styles.
One of my daughters is quite preppy… She often wears simple outfits and prefers functional clothes. Her face is a little longer, and she looks fantastic with styles pulled up and to the back of her head.
My other daughter, is a little more eclectic and her style. Sometimes she is Bohemian, sometimes she is funky, but she is always impeccably accessorized. This is the girl that can pull off a fro-hawk with confidence, and has an inate cool that I could only dream of pulling off.

How have been cultivated their personal styles? Our daughters share a closet, but they don’t have double of almost anything. We start our shopping at the secondhand store, and fill in with the off-season sale racks.

For hair inspiration, we scroll through images of their favorite natural hair fashion icons, like Alicia Keys, Willow Smith and many others. My daughters also found it helpful, in the first few years, to look through pictures of their previous styles. According to my youngest, she could see what she thought looked nice on her, and then would selectively pick those style.

When we are doing a multi-week style, I ask them to describe what they would like, and also tell me how they want to look. Then I tailor their style to fit other practicalities, like where their part was last time (avoid!) if they are biking or swimming, and who will be caring for their hair in the next few weeks.

Hopefully these tips will help you cultivate your own child’s sense of natural hair styling. Remember, hair is supposed to be self expression, and fun. Enjoy nurturing you child to develop their own expression of self.