Feature Friday with author and illustrator Chynna Denny

Good morning! Happy Friday!

I am so excited to have interviewed Chynna, author of “I can’t, I can’t, I can! This new and exciting children’s book takes you on a wonderful adventure teaching your little ones about bravery and strength! Take a look at our interview.

First off, what was your inspiration behind “I can’t, I can’t, I can!” ?

The idea originally came from joking with my editor, Laci Swann. She told me that anyone could write a book and I assured her that I would never be her book client because I had nothing to talk about lol. Weeks later, the idea to write a book about shyness popped into my mind. Initially I ignored the idea altogether, but after a while I could not shake the thought. Eventually I reached back out to Laci and sat down and was able to come up with a storyline and ended up writing my entire manuscript in one hour. I believe writing the manuscript came so easily for me because I relate 100% to this story and the main character. The character and story is loosely based on my life growing up. I wanted to put everything I needed growing up into a story for young children.

Have you always been an artist? I mean, it’s pretty incredible to write AND illustrate your own book!

I guess you can say that! I grew a love for drawing very early on in life but in elementary school, I stopped nurturing that gift after being picked on by another girl who didn’t like my work. She told me often that her drawings were better and that mine were simple and stupid. So I really let that discourage me and drawing soon became a hidden talent that really only came in handy during school projects. Eventually in college I started to get back into it and took a few figure drawing classes. I decided to illustrate my own book to overcome that fear of my drawings being judged and to prove to myself that I can complete any project I put my mind to.

Can you tell me about your main character Emery?

Emery is the main character in this story. She is loosely based around myself as a young girl. Big glasses, big hair and a whole lot of fears! In the story, she is faced with the difficult decision of whether or not she will break out of her shell and do what she loves or continue to be paralyzed by fear. I relate to this character because I let a lot of my fears hold me back and I missed out on so much as a child.

I absolutely LOVE the diversity in the book, was this intentional?

Yes! This was very intentional. Growing up I cannot remember reading too many books, if any, with characters that looked like me. While I wanted to highlight that aspect with my main character, I also wanted to try my best to make every reader feel as if they could identify with a character in the book.

If there was one thing you want parents to take away from this book what would it be?

My ultimate goal is that parents will be patient and understanding with their children. It’s very easy to write-off or mislabel shyness as something else more serious or negative. I have included a few activities at the end of the book to help parents and children to first, identify any fears or concerns that are present. From there, there are exercises to help children practice being courageous daily and tips for parents to show daily support.

Will there be more books from you soon?

Yes!! I do plan on creating a series of books, each about an obstacle I faced as a child. I will probably start the next project very soon!

Thanks for chatting with me today, Chynna and I can’t wait to share this with all my friends!

Make sure you all go check out this book for your kiddos! You can find all the links below.

Email: contact@shychybooks.com

Website: ShyChyBooks

Purchase “I can’t, I can’t, I can!” HERE

The 4 letter word that has haunted me for a year.

ADHD….

This little word with such big impact has haunted my mind for about a year now & I think I’ve finally found answers. I struggled writing this out of judgement & fear but I hope maybe our story can help some other moms & dads looking for answers.

I have heard it all when it comes to my strong-spirited child, Logan who turned four in November.

“He has ADHD”

“Is he always this hyper?”

“I think you shouldn’t give him sugar”

“Gosh he’s wild”

And many, many more.

The truth is, I know this. My son has always been extremely active, loud spoken, talkative, creative, free spirited, and to put it shortly…a wild child.

But my son also takes 2 hour naps, listens to his teachers, sleeps 9-10 hours a night, knows right from wrong, apologizes when he makes mistakes, and can sit still for a book or school work for longer than 30 minutes-1 hour at a time.

So what’s going on? Is he just a boy? Should I be concerned? I just want him to relax a bit in public!

My son exhibits many signs that in 2019 a Dr. would diagnose as ADHD, and our pediatrician has mentioned before…she’s no longer our pediatrician.

But I don’t think that’s the case.

I remember coming home from Europe & my son eating American food for the first time in 6 months, for 3 long days my son’s behavior was out of control. He was the most wild and hyper I have ever seen him in my life, it brought me to tears & I was exhausted, felt defeated, & simply put; overwhelmed . I began to realize that the adjustment to food & what I was feeding him had a direct impact on his behavior.

For about 6 months I limited his sugar intake and tried to cut back on processed foods, this helped but still something just wasn’t all the way right.

So we had him blood tested, only to find out that he was extremely deficient in the main categories that trigger ADHD behaviors.

-Omega 3’s

-Magnesium

-Iron

-Zinc

All of these are key to cognitive development & mental clarity, all of which he was lacking.

My son has always been thin, it’s genetic, but has also been a picky eater, I knew that would no longer be able to fly & that we had to buckle down on natural supplements & good food.

So what did we do?

-cut back on gluten by 90%

-limited sugar to 1 small portion a day (yogurt, granola bar, etc)

-had 3 servings of fresh fruits & vegetables

-incorporated nuts & eggs

-NO screen time after 6pm

-Bedtime at 9pm sharp

-incorporated essential oils in the morning & at bedtime (lavender, cedar wood, wild orange, and Vetiver)

-gave iron, omega 3 & zinc supplements

-gave magnesium supplement before bed

What I saw was a complete change. I know that Logan doesn’t have ADHD and was simply just exhibiting this behavior because of his poor diet & lack of nutrients. These are controllable. We will continue to incorporate these additions to his diet and keep our routine.

Navigating behavior in children is incredibly difficult. I know for a fact that my child’s nutrition options are better in Europe and the traditional American diet is something that triggers hyperactive behavior in my son.

I’m grateful we could figure it all out and get him on the right tract. I highly suggest blood testing, change in diet, essential oils, and monitored screen time for your littles if you suspect ADHD or hyperactive behaviors.

I also just want to say that I KNOW there are many children with ADHD who have no other option than medication and that their diagnosis is extreme, at the moment this is not Logan and I completely understand and feel for all the moms and dads that are struggling with behavioral disorders in their little ones.

We are all just doing our best.

**these are not medical opinions & I am not a doctor, just sharing what’s worked as a mama bear**

-Morgan

Logan’s bedroom makeover

We went home for the holiday season and I thought this was the perfect time for a little makeover on Logan’s room. He turned 4 in November and we decided to gift him a new bed and decor for his birthday/Christmas.

We purchased Logan’s bed and mattress from Overstock and were very happy with the fast shipping and packaging. Logan and his G-pa put his bed together and it came out perfect! Logan’s bedding came from Target.

The baskets and the shelf came from Target and I love them for storing books and his stuffed animals.

Logan has a little space with his desk and handmade artwork where he colors, paints, and reads. The dinosaur prints were a DIY project and the frames were from Michaels.

These fun pieces came from Hobby Lobby and they matched perfectly with the dinosaur decor.

Our last but a favorite decor was the wall stickers. These came from Polka Dot Wall Stickers on Etsy and the customer service was so good. We were extremely happy with these and make changing up decor very easy to do.

Next up is finishing the master, but for now, we’ve got a finished room in the house! That’s big progress!

-Morgan

Valentine’s Day gift guide

Good morning lovelies! If you haven’t noticed yet, my favorite month is February and all the reds and pinks it brings! I wanted to share a few of my favorite gift ideas for you & your loved ones. Take a look and see if you can get some ideas. You can click on what you want & order directly if you find something you love, Enjoy!

**this post contains affiliate links, all opinions are my own.

Women’s gift guide:

  1. Michael Kors watch & bracelet set
  2. Kendra Scott pink earrings
  3. Ray ban sunglasses
  4. Revlon volumizer hair dryer
  5. Bauble bar black earrings
  6. Toms shoes
  7. Michael Kors brown bag
  8. CL booties (splurge!)

Kids gift guide:

  1. Kids LEGO set, ages 8-12 $30
  2. Pottery barn chair backer $10.99
  3. Cat & Jack by Target outfit for girls (12 month-5t)–$9.99
  4. Melissa & Doug stacking toys, ages 2+ $16
  5. Star Wars candy set from Target $9.99
  6. Barbie & horse set $24.99
  7. Ferrari scooter $50
  8. Jelly cat lovey $25

Men’s gift guide:

  1. Gucci sunglasses
  2. Magnanni leather derby’s
  3. Gucci sweater
  4. Gap jeans
  5. Magnanni Tassel loafers
  6. Nike shoes
  7. Money clip
  8. Michael Kors cologne

Raising a bi-racial child

((Art by Grieta Butjankova))

Hello friends & happy Wednesday to you all! This week I wanted to talk about a topic close to my heart & important to my family as we raise our son….”raising a bi-racial child”

Bi-racial: 

1. Of, for, or consisting of members of two races.

2. Having parents of two different races.

Multi-racial: composed of, involving, or representing various races

According to Census data, the population of multiracial children in the United States has grown from approximately 500,000 in 1970 to more than 6.8 million in 2000. The number of people of all ages who identified themselves as both white and black has soared by 134 percent since 2000 to 1.8 million people.

Among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples).

I could go on for days with statistics & data but I would rather just tell you my thoughts.

Growing up in the 80’s & 90’s & attending a private school in Texas meant that I was one of the only “brown kids” in the school. Me & Jemeh Kalawa (R.I.P). He was one of my best friends in elementary & high school.

Back then, I knew I looked different, but I was never made to feel that way. Race didn’t come up in our school, I wasn’t singled out, made fun of, or taught to feel different because of my skin color. We were taught about Jesus, the Bible, being kind, & enjoying recess!

The first time I actually felt different or out of place because of my skin color was when someone made a comment to my mother (Caucasian) about adopting me. Someone had assumed that because of my color difference, I was adopted. It didn’t just happen once. If you took away our skin color difference & made us the same skin tone, my mother & I share a very strong resemblance. But for many, skin is the first thing that they see.

In high school, I had no problems fitting in & being around multi-racial, bi-racial & students of many colors & cultures. I was grateful for this. I never felt out of place or different….but by this age, I knew I was. I was referred to as “light skinned”, “mixed chick”, “white girl”, “curly sue” & many others.

I was fortunate enough throughout my life to not suffer any hate, anger, or resentment for my skin color. No one threatened my life, said evil things to me, or tried to hurt me. Ignorance? Yes! But not hate. Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent days many others have experienced hate. Many other kids have been targeted for their race, gender, sexuality, & it’s getting worse.

This is the world my son will grow up in.

It scares the hell out of me!

Even though my son is only 3 years old I worry all the time that his skin color will make him a target. That he will be judged, made fun of, or singled out for being mixed. That we might send him to a school where he won’t be “white enough” to fit in, or he will be told that he “talks white” like I was told.

In a world that has come so far & is so diverse, it is still a long way from accepting, loving, & embracing differences. Because of this, my husband & I have vowed to make our home a safe, fun, loving, uplifting & comfortable place for our son to grow up in. We will do our best to raise him with a sense of acceptance & pride for who he will be inside & out.

There are 5 specific things we have vowed to do in our home….

1. Tell him about his roots: It will be so important as my son gets older to show him pictures of his family on all sides & let him spend time with them as well. We want him to love & be proud that his grandma, his aunt, his uncle & cousins are still his family even though they are not the same color as he is. My son has Caucasian grandmothers, African American grandfathers, blonde haired, blue eyed aunts & uncles, & bi-racial aunts too!

Logan will probably not even be the same color as us, his parents. Right now he is a color blend of both my husband & I but a different color from the both of us. It’s important that he know WHY we are all different colors & to be taught how awesome that is!

2. Tell him not everyone will be nice & accepting…and that’s ok. There will come a time where someone will ask my son “what are you?” They will not realize that this is an ignorant statement & that their question sounds like he is a pet. Someone might call him a name because he is brown or has different hair & skin than they do. I want to teach my son that some people just don’t know & that it’s okay. In life we cannot avoid certain situations or encounters. Just like when someone asked my mom if she adopted me, someone might look at Logan as weird or different & that’s okay. We forgive them for not knowing & remain happy with who we are.

3. Give him diversity when we can (pick schools, neighborhoods, play centers, etc) that are diverse & accepting of all. We have a choice in where we live, work, play & socialize. We want to make the best choices we can to ensure our son is not in a hostile or stressful environment for his development.

4. Love him when he’s down-if one day Logan feels he doesn’t fit in, feels different, feels hurt, or weird; it’s our job as his parents to love him, listen to him, comfort him, & encourage him. May we never stop doing this for our baby boy.

5. Don’t make him choose–it’s important that we allow our son to create his own identity to where he feels most comfortable in. We do not need to make him choose what race he will identify with. Whether he wants to be called mixed or black. To us, he will always just be Logan & whenever he makes the decision to identify himself, we will accept his choice.

On a side note, I am already reading books about being mixed & bi-racial to my son. Although he cannot fully understand what I am saying, he will one day. Although he cannot tell who is who in the books, he can see the diversity & will one day ask questions. I will continue to read these type of books (along with all our other simple favorites) to him. Below are a few of my favorites.

1. Mixed Blessing by Marsha Cosman  ((my favorite))

2. I am mixed by Garcelle Beauvais

3. Mixed like me by Gina Golliday-Cabell

4. Black is brown is tan by Arbold Adoff

Though my little prince is so young, innocent, & oblivious to the world around him; my husband & I are not. We discuss his skin color & talk about what we think he will look like when he is older or who he will look like (which is ridiculous because he is my husbands twin). It might sound silly to read him these books at such a young age, or it might sound silly that we discuss how we will talk to him about race, but it isn’t. The world isn’t a nice place these days, kids are cruel, families are jealous, people are hateful. It’s our job as parents to love ourselves, our skin & to embrace our sons as well. It’s important to be proud that we are husband, wife, & son…even though we are all 3 different colors.

I have so many bi racial friends that have embraced their differences as a family & it makes my heart happy. It’s not just about black & white. There are differences in race through adoption as well. Maybe a Caucasian family has adopted an African or Asian child. Maybe a Hispanic family has adopted a Caucasian child. Maybe, a family is made up of parents from different countries or continents, maybe a family has some children with darker skin tones than the other children.

No matter the race or the diversity it is important that in our society we embrace our children for who they are, that we teach them when they are young that it’s okay to be different & that we always let them know how proud of them we are & how much we love them.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!!! (I would love to hear your thoughts as always, my email doors are open!)

Love,

-Morgan

Logans 3rd birthday party

Hi friends & happy Sunday!! I wanted to share Logan’s party with you all before we escape to Rome, Italy later this evening. I’m a crazy person when it comes to celebrations. I’m over the top, I like surprises, confetti, doing it big, and getting creative. I like to think that seeing someone I love smile is worth all the crazy planning!

I planned way ahead for Logan’s party since we were back in the same city as last season and I knew the ins and outs. I chose to have his party at our favorite indoor play arena and that was a good decision with the cold and gloomy weather.

The theme was Thomas the Train which is Logan’s favorite and everything went with that. I ordered his t-shirt from my favorite print shop for custom kids things. Party decor and Moore has created some masterpiece party items for Logan since he was 6 months old & she did not disappoint this time.

We ordered cupcake toppers and adult straws from a couple small shops we love too. The straws were from Puppy Cat Crafts and the toppers from The Topper Shoppe . We love shopping small, I’m a small business owner myself and know how much love goes into creating special things and how much work goes into trying to sell them! If you can find small shops you love, support them!

The banner pictured above was something I made because I just didn’t find exactly the color mix I wanted online. It was easy enough and I would make it again for another event.

We had the party at Vora Bokstas and it really is a fun place for kids ages 1-10. There’s areas for all ages & that was really nice. We rented the biggest room they had and enjoyed refreshments, pizza, lounging, cake, and 2.5 hours of play.

I made deviled eggs—because I’m not cooking thanksgiving dinner, i figured why not 🙂 . I did cheese and grapes, nuts, chocolate, chips, and pretzels for the adults. We also had pizza for both the adults and kids.

Logan’s cake was ordered through the venue and wow it was delicious. I did a chocolate cake and then vanilla cupcakes. I would say they did a great job on our American classic character. 🙂

Logan’s decorations came from Party Inbox . This was a company I found in Lithuania that had a wide variety of items & I’ve found quite a bit of Christmas and holiday items there too. The table decorations were fun and the utensils, plates, and cups went together nicely.

Mother of the year because I didn’t get a picture of all the children together OR a family picture {sigh} . But Logan had a blast and that’s what counts. I’m really grateful for everyone who took the time to love on our little guy and celebrate his life.

I probably will be throwing over the top parties for my son forever. To see his face light up and to listen to him talking about his party for hours after it was over was all this mamas heart needed to keep me planning away! So cheers to many more celebrations with the peeps I love, in countries all over the world, and with a heart as big as it can get.

Ciao!

Morgan

Logan is 3!!!

((Funfetti cake from the USA, yes, it’s that good! ))

Oh guys, how did the time pass so quickly? I cannot believe our sweet baby boy will be 3 years old tomorrow. Wow! Daddy will be on a road trip to Israel early in the morning so we decided to celebrate a day early with our little guy. Tomorrow for Logan’s birthday, Logan & I️ will head to Vilnius, the capital, to spend the day with some of our sweet friends & we are excited about that.

<<<<<<<<
ds & family back home truly are the best. You guys always ask us what you can do & get for Logan and we are just blessed to have you in our lives. Some of our sweet friends & family gifted Logan trains, his favorite! And also a new puzzle and car. We went ahead and opened these, read cards, and told Logan who everything was from. We are saving some gifts for Saturday which is when his party will be!! He's been talking about it for weeks & we are really happy for him.

<<<<<<<<
nia, it is uncommon to have a birthday party at a young age with anyone but your family. But the Williams fam is in town & we are doing it big! We invited all the kids from the team & also all the kids in his class. This was so funny for the parents & teachers to hear because this is incredibly odd for them. But we are excited & hope to spark a touch of unity & inclusion for them. Logan's friends with all the kids he sees, he really is friendly. He loves to give hugs, share, and include everyone. We do too. So cheers to a huge party & the Williams family spicing things up around here.

<<<<<<<<
super busy prepping for this big train party & I will be sharing next week how it went.

<<<<<<<<
Dad enjoyed a wonderful night out for daddy's birthday last week & we can't wait to head to Italy!

Next week we will be in Rome, Italy & we are super excited. We've got lots of things planned & I can't wait to share all we did when we get back. We will be in Italy for Thanksgiving so there will be no stuffing or turkey, I'll be living through the posts from you all with your families! I'm giving up Thanksgiving for wine & gelato…and I'm not even sad about it one bit! (My husband…maybe! Hehe)

So cheers to busy season! Cheers to the next 2 weeks full of fun, celebrations, basketball games, travel, and the Colosseum!!

Xo

Morgan

Williams Family Updates

Here we are into a new month and the days just seem to get away from me. There isn’t much time to write lately and lots of reasons why. I hope November is treating you all well, we are starting the month off with 35-40 degree weather and no snow which is a plus!! I am not ready for that yet!

Logan: Logan is aboslutely loving school. He is doing really well with the adjustment away from mom and dad and its been really refreshing (and relaxing) for us as parents. And seriously, I am just happy to make it to the grocery store alone for the first time in a while! Logan is growing like a weed! He’s still our picky little eater but he is growing tall and loving his few favorite foods. He still won’t eat any European food or their favorite dish…soups. He at least tries them but thinks ALL of it is terrible, oh well! Logan had a pretty big boo-boo a few weeks ago when he busted his lip. In a combo between the shelf, the TV, trying to dunk a pretend basketball and prove a point, he lost! His lip was pretty messed up for 2 weeks and ended up with several other lip issues because the bacteria that formed from him not letting us touch and clean like we needed. Needless to say, next time his lip gets cut, the kid is getting stitches. Logan will celebrate his birthday November 14 and we are super excited. Our theme is trains and he’s in love with them, as well as paw patrol, Cars, and puzzles galore! He will have a big party on November 18 with his friends from school and kids on the team. We can’t wait to share photos from this special day and we are excited he’s got some playmates this season to share the day with.

Lorenzo: Zo had a little bit of a setback the past couple of weeks due to a nerve issue. Fortunately, all the tests have cleared him and recovery is just about rest and time. He’s been getting lots of massages and treatments and this weekend will be back in the gym and we are all excited. This sport isn’t easy and injury and trauma will occur, we are just super thankful and blessed it was nothing serious and that he’s returning soon. Zo will also celebrate his 33rd birthday next Wednesday!!! YEA!!! We are super excited to have the day off and head into the city with Logan and enjoy dinner as a couple. Of course, Zo will have his annual funfetti cake that I have made him since he was 27. Every year I buy that $1 box of cake and $1 can of icing and we enjoy that special tradition. We have also started it with Logan and I make it for him as well.

Morgan: It’s holiday season and that means my fitness eBook is coming out soon. I’ve been hard at work on that and enjoy producing that each year. Speaking of fitness, I have loved working out at the gym again now that Logan is in school and it really gives my day a boost. I have also been busy here in our city. I am volunteering with high school students with the American English School and teaching them English a few hours a week. It has been fun getting to know the young Lithuanian generation and the kids are just the sweetest. I also tutor English to several adults each week and thats been very nice too. We still enjoy our time with the friends we have here and now that this seasons date nights are on a roll, we’ve gotten to enjoy some great nights out. I was plagued by some Lithuanian flu last week and literally felt like death. Moms are superheroes…seriously. Holding down the household and dealing with being sick put me over the edge. I survived 3 days but on the 4th, Zo had to take over. I hope this was it for the season, because it was awful. Strep throat and the flu might be the worst combination. Also, for the record I will mention that Lithuania does not have Lysol, i repeat….they don’t disinfect!!!! The gym yoga mats—don’t disinfect. The door handles, locker rooms, saunas—don’t disinfect. People rarely use the disinfecting hand alcohol and there is ZERO form of lysol or disinfectant sold in a bottle for the home or room. Our house smelled like bleach for a week, mixed with essential oils and detergent. It was the best we could come up with! Anyways, glad thats over.

Williams family: As for our family, we are headed on vacation in 2.5 weeks!!!! Where to? ROME ITALY. We have never been and really cannot wait to experience this incredible city. Zo will not have a Christmas break because they play back to back games and will travel outside of the country so they are getting this Thanksgiving break and we are so grateful to the coach for this time. We haven’t taken a family vacation since Logan was really small (London, England) and we are so very excited. I think we’ve got it mapped out but if you have ever been and have “must haves’ for Rome, please shoot me a message or comment. Anyways, we are looking forward to this experience together and I for sure will be blogging about the trip.

So that’s all for now. Hopefully I will get a post in before our trip, but if not, Ciao and chat soon!

xo

Morgan