west's journey...

hello queens! say hi to my amazing son, west logan. west was diagnosed with adhd in march 2017 and i felt it so important to share our journey with other mothers. our road hasn't been the easiest, i wont lie, but being his advocate has given me a voice i never knew i possessed.

lets rewind so that i can share with you all how we arrived to this point...

i experienced the most pleasant pregnancy with west. i experienced no sicknesses, my hair flourished, skin glowed, and i delivered him barely even knowing i was in labor. he was, and still is, perfect. west was brought into this world, 7 lbs 6 oz, and so long for an infant! i knew instantly that my boy would be tall. as a baby, he rarely cried, slept through the night, and was a pure joy to be around. he walked at 10 months and said his first word of 'mama' shortly after. as a baby and toddler, i noticed nothing of hyperactivity. he was just your normal active little boy with a huge imagination.
around two years old, i noticed that his speech was 'different'. he didn't speak as well as i thought he should. i compared him to other children, which was a huge mistake, and felt that something was wrong. before i get into this, let me be honest about the fact that i am a hypochondriac and am a avid 'web md' self-diagnosing crazy woman! lol. i call the doctor for everything and deem everything a reason to go to the emergency room. so, naturally, i was on my pediatrician's line immediately telling her he needed to be evaluated as soon as possible. she told me that it was too early to evaluate for speech but, of course, i didn't lay off her about it. he was finally evaluated, after me being very annoying, and sure enough, he qualified for speech therapy. his speech therapist reported that he spoke in a mumbled manner because he was rushing to speak. she said his mind moved too fast to keep up with his processing of his words. that was the first clue of his hyperactivity. his therapist pulled me to the side after one session and asked if he had ever been tested for adhd and of course i replied 'no'. i honestly had not thought about that being a issue.
as time passed, i started to notice his hyperness but it was never a problem for me as a parent. partly because i am a very active and engaged parent. weather permitting, we go to the park everyday. we do activities every single day and i make it a point to take my children to kid-friendly places and events very often. my kids live a very 'involved' life. so, because of that, it was difficult for me to identify him being 'hyper'. its nothing wrong with being hyper in environments where it's encouraged!
i primarily cared for my children during their younger years. neither of them ever went to daycare on a regular basis. however, when they would, i'd receive comments from the staff that west was a tad active or that he wouldn't take naps. this is when, i started to do research. initially, i thought that my son may have autism. he suffers from anxiety and exhibited some symptoms of autism on a mild level. i brought this to his doctors attention and after evaluating, immediately ruled out autism. so, now, i'm confused! could my son really have adhd?
his father and i enrolled him in basketball because he expressed an interest mainly because of my husband's like of it. he went out and purchased west the coolest basketball outfits. lol. we were so excited about it. i imagined myself being the sports mom at the game rooting my boy on. the opposite happened, west got on the court and literally paid no attention to the instructor. if the instructor said go left, he went right. when it was west's turn to shoot the ball, he was looking the opposite way at something that caught his eye. his focus was beyond off and he could not get it together. we ended up removing west and then enrolling him in karate. he loved ninjas and i was told that martial arts promotes discipline and that it would be beneficial for west. wrong. west could not focus in the class so much that the instructor told me flat out that he wasn't ready. at this point, i was becoming alarmed. why isn't my child excelling at sports like everyone else? what's wrong?
welcome to kindergarten...we were so excited for him to begin! he was ecstatic! his teacher was amazing and he has the most well-rounded class. as time passed, the notes and calls began. west wasn't paying attention. west was doodling on his work instead of doing it. west was throwing out answers completely unrelated to the topic being discussed because he wasn't paying attention. west was getting up and just walking around the class. west was becoming vocal with the teacher and class that he hated school and wanted to go home. getting him prepared in the morning was like pulling teeth. he'd cry, i'd cry, he'd end up being late. his tardiness became such an issue that the truancy office was calling me giving warnings.
i called his doctor and literally demanded that he'd be tested for adhd. i explained to her that things were getting progressively worse and that i was at my wits end. after about two months of calling and begging for appointments, [it is EXTREMELY difficult to get appointments for testing in my area. most places had 6-9 month wait lists] i received one for march with my actual pediatrician. she had just began offering testing in her home office for it. LOOK AT GOD! i booked her first appointment available. she sent a package to be completed by myself and his teacher. the form was such an eye-opener for me. west answered yes to almost EVERY question! it was all becoming so real to me.
in the midst of all this, west switched schools. this scared the hell out of me. i was so nervous for him to be transplanted to a unknown environment. my family reassured me that this change could possibly benefit him. his new teacher was very...different. lol. a very no nonsense instructor. she played no games! i explained to her the situation and she was very understanding. i felt secure knowing that she he would be in her hands.
west's evaluation approached quickly. we went in that day and his pediatrician observed him for about two hours. let me say this, i was a bit uneasy about him only being evaluated for that amount of time. i couldn't possibly gage how you could label a child after two hours and i expressed that to the doctor. the thing is, i was never in denial about my sons condition, but i also needed to feel secure in knowing that this evaluation was accurate and precise. she reassured me of the accuracy and showed me the scale and criteria to which they measure. she also gave me the contact of a facility [there is only ONE in the Philadelphia area] that does testing via brain monitoring. after the evaluation, she confirmed that he had adhd. she explained to me thoroughly what that meant for her as his doctor, me as his parent, and him as the one dealing with it firsthand. she prescribed him Ritalin, 2.5 mg twice a day. i listened to her tell me the benefits of this medicine and also the side effects and knew instantly that i would not be administering this to my child. lack of appetite, sleep trouble, headaches, all of which i was not willing to possibly place on my child. the doctor was very loose on her prescription telling me that, ultimately, it was my decision.
i held my tears back until i got into the car and silently cried most of my way home. i cried out of worry and relief. worry because as a parent, we want nothing but the best for our children. to think that he would have to deal with this and that i wont always be around to help him or monitor him hurt my heart. i felt relief to know that we have identified the problem finally. once i reached home, i immediately jumped online and began my research. there had to be alternatives for this.
my research proved me beyond true. the alternatives and success stories were ENDLESS! i read, watched videos, joined support groups, and ordered books. i was, and still am, determined to crack the code for my son. a large eye opener for me was how much diet affects adhd. i read that berries that aren't organic are a an irritant to children with adhd because they are grown using pesticides and pesticides hinder brain development. west LOVES blueberries and strawberries and will easily eat a whole carton in one sitting. milk, foods with dyes, and high sugar consummation are all bad for adhd. i learned that adhd kids need extra amounts of omega and vitamin b's. i read about this vitamin supplement, SMARTY PANTS, that other parents swore by and ordered right away.
changing his diet to an all organic one was the first decision i made, i also chose to do a lot of gluten-free options for him as well. i send his lunch everyday and make sure he has a very balanced snack. i initially started out the school year preparing his lunch daily but stopped when he complained about not being able to get school lunch like his friends do. lol. now, he understands that he has no choice, and is very vocal with me about what he would like for lunch. i've found it super easy to prepare cold pastas, quesadillas, sandwiches, and even chopped grilled chicken breasts for him. it puts me at ease knowing that he's eating healthy foods even when i'm not around. he's become fond of organic carrots and organic ranch dip. i go to trader joes and whole foods every few days and grab options to test out. west is a very picky eater so finding things that he will eat is like discovering gold! lol. i found a frozen breakfast burrito at whole foods that he would eat and not throw a tantrum over not being able to go to dunkin donuts! that was a major score for me because he lovessss his ham/egg/cheese wrap with TEN chocolate munchkins. talk about unhealthy?!!! i either warm him up a burrito or wake up extra early to cook him sausage, eggs, and a fresh fruit. he's a creature of habit and has no issue eating the same things over and over. that's a plus for me! lol.
with his changed diet and new daily vitamin, i've noted a huge difference in his focus! it was an almost instant change! his teacher has also commended on me and him on his improvement. his grades are improving and ive enrolled him into private tutoring. all of which are giving him the extra push and care he needs to excel. my boy has excelled so much in the last two months and it warms my soul.
instead of taking this and labeling it a 'woe is me' situation, i push hard for him. im constantly doing research and working with him to help him. his teacher and i speak often and i love it that way! no one is going to advocate for your child the same as you will. this has given me strength and has caused our bond to become so much stronger. i'm sure that there is no doubt in his mind that mommy has his back and front!
i'd love to hear from you mommies with children with adhd. what have you done? im so excited to continue to share this journey with you all and will also start posting whats in his lunchbox! thank for for reading queens!

photography by: ann blake.
please checkout our motherhood sessions at the link below!

morning vibes...

hello queens! the other day, on my personal instagram account, i shared with you all my morning routine and how i came about adapting to it. i received a lot of inquiries about what, in particular, speeches and self affirmations i listen to.
to begin, i wanted to give a recap of what i discussed on my ig chat.
once upon a time, my morning routine was quite crappy. i often would move through my days feeling uninspired and lacked the motivation to get done what i needed to. i then realized that something had to change. my first step in addressing that change was identifying the catalysts of my defeat and quickly realized that i wasn't starting my days off correctly.
those that know me personally, know that im very keen on energies. not in a spiritualistic way, but just in the way that im very coherent with the idea that what i put in to myself, is what im going to GET and GIVE out! i put a lot into balancing energies and being constantly mindful of the energies i allow around me. i do not compromise my self care for anyone and its been a long road to get to that point. if the vibe is off or the energy im receiving makes me uneasy, i remove it, no questions asked. that leads me into my old morning routine was such a disservice to myself.
my mornings consisted of me waking up, jumping straight onto instagram, scrolling for embarrassing amounts of time, checking emails, and THEN starting my day. now, let me explain why this is deterioration to self.
the prime problem with my old morning routine is that it gave me no control of what i may see. i would log in and see my normal makeup posts, i would see images of some expensive purchase of someone i follow, or maybe someone is posting about something terrible in the news. i would check my messages and see sales, emails from clients, and e-bills. all of which i had no control over. these things would evoke emotions in me. maybe someone posted a bomb pair of shoes that i wanted but couldn't currently afford or maybe a client asked a redundant question that ive already answered on my site. maybe someone posted about a family member who was senselessly killed or hurt. i also admit to having the guilty pleasure of immediately going to balleralert or the other celebrity gossip pages to stay current on that news. then, i had my followers that posted positive quotes and things that would motivate the normal looker. either way, i was receiving all of this energy without realizing that i had a CHOICE. a choice to feed my mind or deplete it. we ALL have this choice, however, a lot of us don't choose to exercise it.
according to research done by dr. raichle at washington university the constant "chatter" of subconscious thoughts that are on replay in our minds can lead to disease if they are negative and success if they are positive. whatever you take in in the morning will undoubtedly trickle down throughout your day. so, why not make it a point to control the outcome of your day if you have the ability to?! it was a no-brainer for me.
the first thing i did was zero in what proves motivational for me personally. i am one who LOVES self affirmations. self affirmation is the recognition and assertion of the existence and value of one's individual self. they have proved to be so helpful for me through all situations. i also realized that listening to motivational speeches given by people that i admire encourage me. as a business owner and person with a million ideas, its super helpful to listen to speakers who resonate with my thinking and goals. i flock to speakers who have beat all odds and have remained positively charged through their journey. the third thing that moves me positively is journal writing. i loveeeeee the aesthetics of a good journal and buy them constantly! the more eye-catching the journal, the more compelled i am to write in it.

i began waking up and listening to my favorite sources of positive vibes and journaling. i would write down the things that i needed to accomplish that day, big and small. i would write down how i felt when i opened my eyes that morning so that i could later reflect. my current journal is the one designed by myleik teele who is the owner and creator of 'curlbox'. she has been such an ispiration to me via her podcast and her 'hustler' journal has been at my side since i received it.  i bookmarked any speech or self affirmation that moved me and consistently listened to them. my children would still be sleep as i purposely wake up 30 minutes earlier than them everyday so that i can have time to do this in peace and quiet. its important as mothers to give ourselves this time to prepare for the day.

over time, i noticed a monumental change. i began getting more done and most importantly, STAYING ON TASK. i didn't have those negative energies replaying in my mind during the day and acting as distractions. the only thing replaying was those bomb ass affirmations i repeated that morning and what that speaker stated in his/her speech. my whole vibe was different in the most positive way. i literally felt lighter. i've also noticed how much more connected and understanding i am towards people since i've changed my habits. making everyday count to become the best version of me became easier and honestly, there's nothing more important!

i challenge all of you to try this! instead of endlessly scrolling into other peoples lives and getting absorbed by time, use those minutes doing something that will feed your mind, body, and soul. a lot of my friends spend their mornings meditating, drinking tea and reading, or even exercising and doing yoga. discover what fuels you and do THAT. i guarantee that the change you will experience will be groundbreaking! here's to unplugging from social media and plugging into life!

my personal affirmations:
i am worthy
i am able.
i can.
i will.
i am able to wear all the hats of my life.
i will attain success and hold onto it.
i am an amazing mother.
i deserve all the blessings that i have received.

i would love to hear what gets you going and in the right mindset in the morning! drop your morning routines below....👑.

brunchin' diaries...entry one.

White Dog Cafe.
3420 Sansom Street.
Philadelphia, PA 19104.
hello queens! i hope you all had a kick ass weekend! i definitely did! as most of you know, brunch is a sunday ritual for me and starting now, i'll be sharing with you all, the places i brunch  and rating them on a 5 mimosa scale. 1 mimosa meaning i would never step foot in the establishment again and 5 meaning i could dine there everyday if i was allowed! stay tuned for more 'brunchin' posts!
yesterday, per my usual brunchin' sunday, i decided to try a new cool spot. i recently read a article about the hottest brunch spots in philly and although i had tried most listed, it was only right that i worked my way through them all! first up, White Dog Cafe
located right in the University City area of philly, i've passed this place numerous times. i initially was drawn to this particular listing on the article i read because of the words '$14 bottomless mimosas/sangria/bloody mary's/screwdrivers' typed in bold letters! ha! that was a sure way to reel me right on in!let me also add that everything prepared here is farm to table! major keyyyy.... 

i called first, at about 12:30 pm, and was told that there was only a 15 minute wait to be seated in the main dining area and immediate seating available at the bar and outside patio. my sister and i zoomed over and found the perfect spot right at the bar. my first impression of the atmosphere was 'dive bar chic'. it gave me feels of your quintessential jager bomb college day bar but as if martha stewart had come in and did a little revamp. i hope that makes sense! lol! there were dogs EVERYWHERE, hence the name but i found that to be a cutesy touch. the vibe definitely flowed with the crowd. it was populated with mostly upenn/drexel students with a few hints of the 30-45 crowd. not too much in between in my opinion. 
we sat down and were greeted by a semi-nice waitress. i will say this, she wasn't the most friendly BUT she was very much attentive to our needs. i'm going to give her the benefit of just hoping that she was having a rough day or her and her boyfriend had an argument that morning. it happens! lol. 

we started with mimosas and skimmed the menu. i was very impressed by the menu choices! everything from avocado toast to steak and eggs was listed. i had a horrible time choosing between the steak and eggs or shrimp and grits, but after the waitress' urging, chose the shrimp and grits. we also ordered two appetizers; Sandy Ridge Deviled Eggs and Maryland Crab Rolls.

the appetizers arrived quickly and the presentation was so pretty! i didn't try much of the crab rolls as i was way too hype about the deviled eggs but, my sister said that they were absolutely delicious! there were three choices of deviled eggs. the first egg choice, my favorite, was filled with a avocado and horseradish mixture and topped with toasted pine nuts...DELICIOUS! the second egg choice, and my second favorite, was a cajun inspired filling with notes of paprika all through the first bite. if you enjoy food with spice and kick, that one is for you. the third egg, my least favorite, was filled with a beet infused mixture. im not a fan of beets, so yea. lol. overall, a bomb way to start our brunch eats!!! 
we decided to try the white sangria next and it was to die for! we also tried a bellini, although not included in the bottomless option, and felt that that was their best drink! we understood why it wasn't on the 'bottomless' menu. they're not slick. haha! 
our entrees arrived shortly after downing our bellinis and it was a beautiful dish! the presentation was stunning! so stunning, i almost didn't want to touch it. but...i did and it made my tastebuds sing!!! the grits were sooooo cheesy, the shrimp were grilled perfectly, the fried egg on top blended so well into the grits, and the micro cilantro was the perfect touch to add a extra kick of flavor! i have never had grits so creamy and cheesy. my mouth is watering just thinking about them. 

my sister and i devoured our bowls and had about three more mimosas too many. by this time, life was great and our grandma senses were kicking in because, DUH, we can't hang like we used to. haha! we asked for our check and was surprised at how reasonable our tab was! 
over all, i'd give White Dog Cafe 4/5 mimosas. i really wish the waitress had been a tad bit more friendly and they would've received 5 mimosas. i will definitely be a returning 'bruncher' to this spot. 
have any of you queens dined here? what was your experience? 

thank you for reading Queens!



April 2017.

Sheena Edwards.

Hey Queens, HEY! Welcome to our first #QOTM spotlight! Each month, we will be featuring a fellow queen that is upholding her crown while slaying life! I'd love to get suggestions from my readers of other Queens that you feel should be featured. Please drop names in the comment section.

Our FIRST #QOTM is the amazing Sheena Edwards! For those of you that attended the launch brunch, you were able to meet her firsthand and hear her powerful story! Check out our awesome interview below....

Erica Nikole: Hello Sheena! I'm so glad to have you as our first #QOTM! I recently had you as a panelist on my I Queen Up Well Launch and Bubbly Brunch and you were a hit! You left so many lasting impressions on the queens and I thought no better way to introduce you to those that weren't able to attend, than by featuring you. As we will get into later, you are a Autism Mom! April is Autism Awareness Month and in solidarity and support, I welcome you! Let's start by sharing a little about yourself. How old are you? Where do you originate from? How many children do you have?

Sheena: I’m 34 and a half (lol) I’ll be 35 in July. I’m from west Philadelphia born and raised, I like to say I'm a LA girl at heart I’ve spent time on the west coast in my younger years and as an adult I consider it my second home.  I have two children  my son Emir is 14 (almost 15) and Monroe is 5 she turns 6 in July.

EN: When did you first discover that Monroe was Autistic?

Sheena: Well, she was formally diagnosed July 2013 and she was 2 at the time. However, I noticed that she had started to regress at around  18 months old.  She was functioning “typically” and sometime after receiving the MMR vaccine she started to change, no language, lack of eye contact, she kind of went blank.

EN:I can only imagine how that must've affected you. I know that you are a mommypreneur! Shoutout to you!  I find it so amazing that you are able to juggle it all! What are those businesses and how does raising two children, specifically a beautiful daughter with autism, affect wearing those titles?

Sheena: Thanks (smiles) I am a full time self-published author so that requires me to do events like book fairs, pop-ups and stuff like that. I run my website www.alongcameautism.com. I also still work in the beauty industry when I can as a makeup artist and hair stylist. My goal is to branch off into the world of a public speaking, in the past year I have been able to travel share my story and inspire others. I have made “my life” my brand. It’s hard because I only benefit from the work I put in. my children are the reason I do what I do, so even when its hard I try to keep that in mind. Monroe has a busy schedule with her out patient therapies and my son has sports all year long so I try to be there equally for him. I can’t move unless they say so, so to speak. I have a supportive family so they help me, my mom believes in my dream so she helps me a lot, that allows me to do what I must do.

EN: I love how you've titled yourself as a AUTHOR-PRENEUR! You've written a few books to date, how many and what are they about?

Sheena: I have written 3 books total. My first novel is called Along Came Autism , that’s the book about Autism and our story, it takes place during the first 200 weeks of our diagnosis, its not just for autism mom, its really a story of reinvention after a setback. People love it!!
The 2nd book is a children’s book Monroe and I co-wrote called Get To Know Monroe and that’s what it’s about. It’s all about Monroe. It takes the reader through a day in her life, The goal is to introduce an autistic child to her typical peers. My goal is to foster the idea of autism and friendship
#3 is #BeInspired. #BeInspired is a goal smashing tool. I break down my personal methods to accomplishing goals effectively from my perspective. It’s really cool, all the advice is proven, and easy to apply to your life.

EN: What does the word Queenin' mean to you and how to you constantly uphold your crown?

Sheena: To me, Queenin means being unapologetically you, it means that you accept life as it comes and gracefully tackle all your issues, like a “queen”. I uphold my crown by honoring myself. I try my best to take care of “me” from the inside out. I mediate, eat good, and I try to exercise because I know that the world deserves the best version of me, and that’s who I try to be.

EN: What advice can you give to other Queens that may have autistic children and Queens in general that are following their dreams?

Sheena: to me fellow autism moms I would say “take a deep breath, you can do it” I know it gets hard, but our children deserve a fighting momma that’s healthy. To “Queens” in general my advice is to stay true to you, be yourself, and never stop dreaming. Also, I would encourage other women to work together whenever they can. It’s hard being a woman in the world, the more we work together the more we can accomplish.

EN: Thank you so much Sheena!!! It was a pleasure having not only on my panel but as #QOTM! Please tell all of the queens reading where they can find you! 👑.

Sheena: Thank you for this opportunity it means a lot, I admire you so much, so this is an amazing honor. I can be found & followed on IG @iamsheena_e   Twitter @sheena709   Facebook @alongcameautism. Thanks again GOD Bless!!

Check out Sheena at the links above 👑.