Our Engagement Story: October 16, 2010 (Sweetest Day)

So on October 15, 2010 my friend Colleen came to pick me up.  She had called me several times before about the birthday party I was supposed to attend for my boyfriend at the time’s uncle birthday.  I really want to downplay what I was going to wear. However Marques had already gotten me a dress that we picked out a few weeks ago and with the dress I figured let me get to the salon and get my hair done.She took me to one of her girls and she did my hair.  I got my nails done and proceeded with my normal day.

On Saturday October 16, 2010 I drove to Philly but I had to make a stop to pick Marques up from the train station.  He had went on a business trip.  We got to the house I talked with his mom and then we went to the mall because he said he had to get a gift for his uncle.  We left the mall with no gift.  He said he couldn’t find anything.  We managed to eat and then back home to get dressed.  On the way there he says that one of his cousins might try to be late and he had to call them.  He pulled over on the side of the road and asked if the cousin had arrived and then he had to fix his clothes.  In my normal what are you doing, I asked him if he could wait until we got to our destination to fix his clothes.

Well we pull up to Maggiano’s and I ran into a long time friend. I wasn’t paying any attention until we walked into the room and I saw his family than I looked over and saw my college girlfriends sitting at the table and I knew this couldn’t have been for his uncle birthday.  I looked back and saw my parents and family and best friend sitting at a table and I knew immediately but I didn’t want to play myself.

He came in the room turned on the most beautiful photo spread and video and asked for my hand in marriage.  I was floored.  I couldn’t believe it. All the things I had in my mind I could barely say much but yes!!  His family was clowning him I do remember that asking what would he have done if I said no, but Marques knew I wouldn’t have said no.

The back story is that my college girlfriends had arrived Friday and were staying at the house.  When I got there they had left and basically it was arranged for them to get dressed and not be in the house so I wouldn’t see them.  But we had crossed paths and  I had no clue.  He had my parents and family there and the only times I remember them interacting was for the sake of our daughter.  It was a really beautiful time. Oh and there was no business trip.  It was a way to divert me from going to house.

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He put a lot of effort into this day.  I totally appreciated it all.  The other part to the proposal is the ring.  The ring was incredibly beautiful.  When he and I were dating back in the day, I would get my Essence magazines and read them.  In the magazine were always Tacori ring advertisements.  I fell in love with them.  They are super expensive sets.  Trust me. However he would ask me questions as to why I liked those rings.  My answer is simple, I loved how the band had diamonds all around it.  I like the princess cut and halo rings.  I liked how it looked different from other rings to me.  He never forgot that conversation. I later found out not how much he spent but trust me he wanted my social security number like Martin did Pam in the Martin comedy series but the effort.  It was the fact that he went and literally put this ring together.  He got the center stone from one place, got a setting and had it put together to my specifications like a Tacori ring.  So for that this ring means the world to me because of him listening to me, and knowing my style.  He could have gotten any ring and I would have loved it but the ring was made for me and it makes it that much more special.  Oh and my favorite food is Italian.  My favorite color is red he incorporated it all into the day.  We went to Maggiano’s at our first anniversary and the flood of emotions still gets me.  Marques has always been great with large gestures, the proposal was an extension of that.  To this day we celebrate Sweetest Day even when others don’t.  It’s our own special Valentine’s Day.

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I asked him why he proposed, and it was simple, he loved me and it was time.  Also he told me that I was by his side throughout the years he wanted to give me the ring that I loved and he did!!!

 

Shout out to all of our family and friends who helped in the background to pull that day off!!

 

5 years of Marriage: Day #1 Dating woes 1999 Style

I want to introduce this week’s guest for the blog and that is none other than my husband Marques. We are going to take you back to the first times, the good times, the bad times and the intense times as we celebrate one whole hand of marriage.

Dating is a beautiful thing. It lets you know if you have what it takes to make it. We definitely know what that’s like. Dating in 1999 and then separating and coming back together with a child in tow, getting engaged, second baby on the way, moving in together with his mom, getting married, having a 3rd baby, moving out and the big D (divorce) all in the middle, no wonder we made it. It’s no secret to love. It’s hard work and for us, unconventional. We have bruises and scars but we pressing.

How did we meet?

In August 1999 Marques was coming out of the Shields Building, at Pennsylvania State University and I was going into the building.  We were introduced by our mentor at the time and I was with my roommate who happened to have the same name. Marques made a joke about our names and made me laugh.  Laughter was probably one of my first memories of him. Marques was witty and definitely caught my eye physically.

Marques: She was cute. Well a little more than cute and we were introduced by our mentor. I went home and called my best friend and told him that I would look her name up on campus.  I knew I would see her on campus since we were in the same scholarship program.  I told her at some point that she was going to be my main chick.

Latoi: I was clear that there would be no main anything. I was either one and only or nothing.

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First Date

We went out parents weekend. It’s a big time on campus where parents came and see the progress that their kids were making.

Latoi: Now let me back up to how the date was being prepared.  My parents and I had an interesting day. My cousin was in a fraternity so we stopped by their apartment and my dad about had an entire dad attack. I had the shortest mini dress on so I can understand why my dad wasn’t feeling the attention he saw me getting. Being a PK aka a preacher’s kid doesn’t allow for you to have your own identity. I asked my mom to do my hair. She did. She thought she was doing my hair so I could be “right” on campus but I was trying to get right for Marques.

Now here’s where it gets tricky and especially since we met in 1999 dates seem to fuse themselves together. I say our first date was the movies he says it was Red Lobster.  The one thing we agree on is he was late. Wasn’t no Bey biscuit situation going on at that time either.

Marques: I was late since I had been with my mom earlier and time went over. I borrowed my moms car and came to get her but I admit I was late. Another thing we agree on is that we were both nervous. We were good friends and did the whole talking on the phone for hours at a time. There was definitely a comfortable feeling but since we met within the scholarship program only our closest few friends knew we were going on a date.

Official 

We became official in January but not without our share of drama or I should say mine (Toi). I felt at the time I was under pressure from myself to maintain this picture of a perfect child that often times when asked by my parents I would lie about dating Marques. I lied so much about the relationship that it spiraled out of control and I was caught between lying on the intensity of our relationship or being transparent and I choose to hide.

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I didn’t think the relationship was able to survive it but it did and in January we were officially a couple. It wasn’t peaches and cream but we made it through. It was the first of many trials that would touch our relationship.

First Year of Dating

Marques: In the first year of dating it was the perfect honeymoon. It was the most fun that I had. We did everything together. Latoi was the perfect blend to my life until she chose her family over me.  I was hurt, disappointed and upset.

Latoi: Our first year of dating was intense. It was the first adult relationship I had. He was my first in all aspects and that dynamic alone and trying to figure out my first years away became problematic. I learned early on that if Marques and I was going to work I had to let my guard down of who I was and fuse that to who I had become and be okay with the fall out either way.

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Redemption 

Marques: Latoi called me and apologized. I was willing to talk and work it out.  Latoi invited me to come down and spend time with her family and we attended several churches. Although it wasn’t about the services, it was more of going public and setting the tone that we wanted to go the distance.

Latoi: I really didn’t want him to attend church with me on the basis of it making things better.  I was changing and knew how my church family was and knew that he could have preached in those churches and it still would have been a thing. Everything at the time was about appearances and not being real. I learned not to let other’s opinions change who I had chosen to love. From then on I enjoyed my relationship and let us have our own issues without everyone’s hand in it.

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Even thinking about the first years of dating, it would be a piece of cake compared to our first year of marriage….

The Scare Of My Life, Brought Me Life

So I’m finally home after having one of the best times of my life yesterday. I’m catching up and reading my Essence magazine (the August edition with Idris Elba) and reading the stories of women who suffered strokes and all I can say is but God.

It’s making me super grateful. I remember having the migraine of my life while pregnant with my youngest child. I also remember the flood of emotions after being told I had a blood clot in my brain. I’m super grateful for that migraine because it’s the one thing that alerted doctors that something wasn’t right. I’m grateful that I was spared from having a stroke. Had I not had that migraine I can’t imagine what my family and I would have had to endure. I am super happy that although the road from the blood clot wasn’t an easy one how much worst it could be.  The doctors are amazed at how I didn’t stroke out and let me say I am grateful.

It’s the one thing that I think of when I don’t want to work out and eat the right things. My health is my wealth. I can’t do for myself or my family if I’m not at my best. To be at my best I have to invest in my overall health from the inside out.

I indulge but for the most part I am super cautious of what I eat or drink. I do not want to do anything that may cause large issues later. Ladies and gentlemen, please take your health seriously. I never really paid any attention to it until that day and even after that I slipped until I was weighed almost 3 years later weighing 190 pounds. I got on that scale at work of all places and secretly cried in the bathroom. I thought what type of sorcery was I on to eat myself to this point? I blamed breastfeeding. Yes when you first start out and are pumping I lost all of my baby weight in the first two weeks. Even my husband was shocked. Slowly but surely I needed more calorie intake but I took that to be more of the unhealthy choices and soon after I stopped nursing I had this 190 pounds of foolishness to carry. 

That is why after that reality check I couldn’t see the weight like that anymore. Not being able to wear the clothes I wanted was a push too. No one feels good wearing clothes you have to wear. However I took the responsibility that it was on me to fix.  Even if I didn’t have a goal of what my weight was to be, I couldn’t wear any more plus size clothes. I’m not knocking a plus size woman but my issue was from pure laziness and it wasn’t my size. It was the size that I accepted by not putting effort in my life.  There was other areas in my life where I didn’t put effort either. So in December before the New Year hit I set out to change what I looked like and how I felt. Even with the recovery of my hysterectomy I have maintained my weight without working out. I will step back into my work outs this week and I’m super excited. 

My overall effort in my inside is showing on my outside. I feel a new glow up in my life. It’s not just the clothes I can finally wear but it’s the fact that every single day I wake up and do the things that make me happy and whole.  Please don’t let a medial scare take you out of here or bring you to death’s door.  You can make the change today! 

No Dads Allowed, If You Believe the BS!

So a few weeks ago I asked several followers who had kids under 10 to help me with today’s blog. I want to thank all of the women who responded. I needed women who were considered the main primary care giver to their children even with men, fathers, boyfriends, husbands, etc that are stand up men assisting.

So what I have found is that even with the most hands on men often times it is still being viewed as the “woman’s job.” Let’s que in today’s news story where a mom of 2 took her oldest child to his or her sporting event. While there she got a call from her boyfriend who was sitting with their 4 week old daughter. The boyfriend got frustrated with the baby and shook the baby. The baby was rushed to the hospital and after 2 days in the ICU, the baby passed away. Prayers go out to the family at this time!

In the comments sections was uploads of women who said the mom was responsible for allowing her 4 week old to be left with their dad. The mother was interviewed and didn’t have an idea that the child’s own father would cause harm. So my issue is two-fold. There are some men that shouldn’t be left with kids. However with my same thought process with it I feel a woman shouldn’t have a child with a man she doesn’t trust.  There are horrible people in general and becoming a parent won’t always change the evil in their heart if it’s there.A woman can be a primary care giver to her children. However in 2017 men are stepping up and out when it comes to being hands on with their kids.

No kids…What I wouldn’t do edition

So the part of child raising goes to mostly people who have no kids who make the comments of what they would allow or wouldn’t allow if and when they have kids. Their comments aren’t the issue as the delusion that they seem to have. I do believe that you can set up in your home where both mom and dad do for their kids. We have that in our home. It’s not on me to do it all. My husband willingly jumps into his role and does what is necessary. However the ones who have no children who say I wouldn’t allow my husband to not do…..

Listen, no one knows how things will pan out UNTIL you are in a situation. The things I even said I would or wouldn’t do or allow when I had kids has been tested.

He should just know….

The kids become the primary focus. If your husband is hands on but not as hands on enough will you allow your kids to go without to prove a point? I would hope not. Would you continue in an argumentative state and have the home filled with hate and yelling just because for example the man in the home won’t put a load of laundry in not because you asked but because he “should have just known” to do it but didn’t.  The “my husband or boyfriend would know better” is a lie. Explain to me how new parents who are new to the parent game can play mind games are supposed to also know what to do? Women who are supposed to have natural instincts to take care of kids need help and learn as they go. But not your knowing man he just knows. Raising kids take patience and is one of the biggest learning curves that a human will ever experience.

I can speak as a woman who is a mother and wife and say that often times even from most of the women who I interviewed is that women don’t speak up and say exactly what they need. No man is a mind reader. If you’re the main care giver does that mean that you can’t ask your mate or child’s father for specific help? No you can and you must.

The women who beat that mother up about the child’s father killing the baby are displaced. A man can be with their child. It is the actions of that horrible man who killed the child. Unless the women who were in the comment sections have PROOF that the mother had known he was a killer or had these tendencies to harm than it goes to show you how women are programmed to belief that men should only procreate leaving women alone to raise their kids. This is BS. Raising a family takes the same two people who laid down to make sure their needs are met. If one or both of them do something right or wrong it’s a team effort.

So how about we monitor who we first have kids with. Be the best parents we can be to our children. If you’re a mom who is drowning with children and you have their dad in their life, speak up. Ask specifically for what you need and ultimately about what your child needs.  Your child deserves to be raised by a mom who isn’t always super stressed. Sometimes by not asking puts you and your kids more at risk for more stressors. Ask the single mom with no help.  She is under pressure. A married mom or a mom with help that doesn’t ask, is acting under the same guise.

Being a mom is hard work. I personally can go to work all day and come home and think man work was a piece of work in comparison.  Then even as a stay at home mom which I did for 3 years, no job combined was more than being a mom.

Ladies with men helping allow these men to help. Ask for what you need and the bigger issue is do not nit pick how it was done. Our men won’t have the same instinct or know how like we may have but if you want to foster a give and take relationship than ask for what you need. You aren’t less than a mom to do so. It wasn’t meant to be your shoulders alone. Women can raise these babies by themselves but a good man won’t allow you to. However they also don’t want to be killed by your rolled eyes, deep sighs, and berating either.

Mommy wars…mind your uterus

Ladies single or not if you’re a mom stop these mommy wars. We are all trying to figure it out. When you hear a woman who makes claims that you have already tested and no won’t work just smile, you know when their time comes that life will hit the most organized, well put together woman and child-birth is the testing grounds should they WANT to do so. Also for my moms stop asking women with no kids when and if they are going to have a baby. Some women don’t want any. Guess what?! They don’t have to either.

Let’s mind our own uterus and get our men to help us more. Ask for help. Don’t do it all and still look for help where you won’t allow that man to help by simply asking and letting him do it.

Lastly to the men, it’s simply not enough to have your presence in the home. You work and your wife or girlfriend did too whether in the home or not. If you see toys that needs picked up. Do it. If you see your lady needs help you can ask or do a few things to assist her. You can send her for some time alone while you help with the kids you both made. The little things add up!

However raising kids should be a joint ever when it can be and if you are a man you have the same need to be hands on not just a financer for your children. Kids need to be supported and it’s not just a woman’s job it’s the parents job to raise them!!

My Last Week of Home Recovery

So it’s here my last week of being home. Yay!! Insert my sarcastic face because all good things have to come to an end. As I start this week I am a little sad already but anxious to get back into my regular life.


I feel like it’s the end of the Summer and it’s obviously is not. So that’s a good thing. This week I started my week by resting.  I had the best low key Saturday I’ve had in a long time. I followed up that Saturday with the best sleep, tv watching, do not disturb day on Sunday. I caught the 90 day fiancé series and spent time with my laptop and blog prepping. It was a good day. 


My goals as I go into this last week will be laundry because duh I have a family of 5 so there’s always laundry to do. Also meal prepping, crafting new decorations for my office, visiting my parents, going to the movies, nail salon and visiting a new coffee shop that isn’t Starbucks. All of these activities are super relaxing for me. 

Oh and the dreaded word I’ve been avoiding, work out. Ugh!! So I started this week with some cardio but nothing too crazy.  Just enough to get my body going and keep me on my toes but no hard core work out has or will take place for just a little while.  I’ll work up to that but I’m coming for it as soon as I can.


So now let’s swing it until Monday. I had to visit my cardiologist. Why we’ll I’ve noticed since the surgery that I am having pain when I take deep breaths as well as often sharp intermediate pain with exertion. None of this is normal for me. So my cardiology doctor informed me that I need to do another 2 tests to determine if the pain in my chest is due to my anemia which means not enough blood is getting to my heart or if it has to deal with another blood clot that I may have gotten with having surgery and having a blood clots. I will know more this week. 

Overall I’m feeling better and can’t wait to get back into my normal active lifestyle.

Sunday Message: Guide Me!

So pain is inevitable. You will experience it in some way whether it’s physical, emotional, or mental. The key to getting to a point of dealing with it is to assign it correctly.

Sometimes we take our pain out on the wrong sources. I know I am guilty of that. Making people who don’t deserve the ugly part of you just because of what another person or source has done is super damaging.  You break up relationships that could be serving over a pain you can’t pinpoint.  It’s not worth it. 

Today take a few moments of time to really pinpoint your pain. You may never get to correct it with the individual. Some people have died and left the pain with you because you made the choice to hold on to it. Make a different choice. Having your husband go through pain due to flash backs of pain you experienced with another man but not doing the work to get through is not okay. You can’t make excuses that the pain exists without action on your part and your part alone to fix it. As much as a mate should and can be a source of support there are times that even in relationship and connection that you won’t be able to lean on them to make it right. Sometimes the person to make it right is the one in the mirror. 

Pain hurts. Going through your feelings, will hurt too. Thinking of an incident that left you feeling less than will cause pain. It’s your job to pull yourself from that feeling. How do you do it? Sometimes talking it out, therapy, spiritual guidance, journal, etc.  There is a method that works for you. You just need to be willing to take the first step. 

So even if you are clueless and too hurt to even take a step, take a small step. For me when I get in little funks, I write it out. I sometimes talk about it if I feel like the person I am sharing it with is safe. Not everyone who you think you can speak to is safe. Some people use what you say against you. Some people treat you differently. Take a moment to pray or simply say guide me. I have had days where I say Lord, guide me. Little things happened to let me know I was heard.  The world gives back to you when you are seeking. You just have to be open and discern the right messages. 

Guide me and you today!! 

Learn From All This Usher Mess

I’ve seen some pretty good memes from all the Usher reported Herpes talk. However my message is simple women asked him reportedly and he said he was fine. Now I don’t know if it was because he was Usher that someone figured he was good but, no one’s pocket will excuse you from getting STDs.

So as much as everyone thinks this whole story is funny the truth is celebrity or not this is a situation that happens to both men and women all the time. The issue is that some people are fortunate to be able to get some medication and recover and others are not. How many stories have to be published with people who knowingly know they have a STD and make it their life long mission to infect others. How easy it for you to be in the passion and just go with the flow? Very easy if you’re not thinking.

One night of passion can devastate an entire family not just the ones who laid down and opened themselves up to the infection. Oh and FYI for my married folks, your marital vows are not enough to protect you from a STD. It only takes one night of misguided passion to bring your mate home more than they bargained for. Many women and men don’t think with their right “head.” So as a married women I still insist on yearly STD checks. I remember when I had my youngest daughter and my doctor said well you’re married you don’t need to be checked.  I looked at her and said lady, if you don’t check and do a full panel! Like I thought how many other married couples she told this to. Marriage doesn’t change the will of the person in the marriage. That is a daily test. Married couples need to be just as vigilant in their sexual health as anyonelse. 

So why you worrying about Usher let this help you get to the nearest clinic and get checked. Yes get checked. The issue with the women who are suing Usher and will most likely win is that he has the funds to at least begin financial healing but the regular man or woman doesn’t. If you’re not on top of your sexual health by the time you find out you could already be in harms way. Life and death are super important when it comes to sex. Please don’t allow a night of wet sheets cost you your life. Get tested not just ask if someone has a STD.  Keep your regular STD check. If you find yourself in a position and make the decision to have unprotected sex although not safe, go get checked and then head the protocol to go back a few weeks up to months to recheck again. 

Oh and one more thing if a man is married, leave him alone!! It is reported that the young lady he slept with was his ex wife’s bridesmaid. She really must have thought she had pulled her a good one and played herself. She is just as responsible for this as he is. No passes given here.

I don’t know how Usher’s new wife is feeling about all of this and if she too is vigilant about her sexual health but I know I would be embarrassed. I hope it works for all parties involved.