Ask Toi: Is it Right that my Boyfriend of 3 years Family Didn’t Invite me to His Birthday Dinner?

Yes this is wrong.  You are not a random girl that he has been dating.  3 years is more than enough time for them to have included you in a birthday dinner.  I would talk with your boyfriend as he knows his family more than you would as to the snub.  Was it assumed you would be there therefore no formal invite took place?  When I was dating my husband they just told me where it was going to be since I was a fixture in his life it wasn’t a discussion of if but when.

How is the relationship with the family?  What underlying issues are happening that you are aware of?  Sometimes we not there is salt in a wound and if given an oppportunity would snub them just the same.  If that is the case and you want to be included than you have to sit down and have a talk with whomever is the matriarch or patriarch of the family and iron out some differences.  However if your boyfriend has any sense than he has already spoken on your behalf. My personal rule is to always allow the person whose family it is to talk it out at first.  I am hoping it was just an assumption.  How did you hear about the party?  This is key too.  If his mom told you but sent no formal invite by mail then its safe to say you just need to go and celebrate your man.  Is it a surprise? Then speak again to whomever is throwing the party and go from there.  Sometimes taking the first step in communication will be beneficial.

5 Lessons: Happy 5th Anniversary 

So today is the day. Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary. Yes finally we have made it to year 5 and whew God is merciful because we almost didn’t get here. Marriage is hard work. People make it like a fairy tale where you are just so super in love and everything works out. Well I can’t speak for everyone else’s marriage but that isn’t how it works.

Let me break down the years. Our first year we already had our oldest daughter and son. I personally went through the worst post-partum of my life. Between the arguments and threatening to take the kids every other second the first year wasn’t a good year. I thought that since we had known each other forever and a day and was friends first that we wouldn’t be hit with the normal first year drama. I was hella wrong. It was so bad we even went to counseling after 3 months and it was then when I was ready to roll. The dreaded “divorce” came up and we were both ready to end it. Looking at the one that I loved and feeling defeated was humiliating even if a large people had no idea we were at a brink.

I could blame it on the new baby, living with his mom, being a stay at home Mom, and moving to a new city with no support system in place.  The reality is I put forth no effort even though if I could go back to my journal entries I was just angry, tired, and unfulfilled. The reality is that although I loved my husband I wasn’t ready to be a wife in the fullest extent. We had too much going on at one time but I knew when I took my vows that I wanted to be the best wife. What is a good wife? I had no clue no more than he did on what made a good husband.

Years 2-5 were up and down. I remember that the drama from year one spilled into year 2 for sure. I wasn’t sure if going to counseling where I felt like it was on me to suck it up and deal with it all had taken its toll. Our counselor was great. I’m not painting it all bad let me be clear that the Lord knows the many days we went without talking, not on the same page, or was plain sick of each other.

What turned it all around for me personally was at year 3, we had been on the down side of our marriage and Marques looked at me, grabbed my face and asked me was I in or out? He said we can’t threaten to divorce or even attempt it because had we gone down that road again we would be done and not turning back. He said he wanted us to get it together. No more hitting below the belt. No more talking disrespectfully. No more yelling and definitely no arguing in front of the kids. No more planning on leaving or taking the kids. No more craziness from either one of us.

Here are the 5 lessons I learned so far:

1. Happy Wife, happy life isn’t true: I think we as women use that phrase to our advantage sometimes to get what we want. However the key is having a wife who is happy in her own skin. You can’t make a miserable, hurting or unfulfilled person happy. I choose now after the smoke has cleared to get and keep my life grounded and not make it about my relationship alone.
2. I’m not always right.
3. Quietness is good at times.
4. Having my own activities, friends etc is key. Being one doesn’t mean that we have to be joined at the hips. Balancing being a whole woman is key before I can give to my husband or my kids.
5. To laugh-I was too serious trying to be perfect that I became the wife that I never wanted to be.

Marques’ Lessons learned:

1. Communication is important

2. Give respect to get respect

3. Better to listen than to speak

4. Don’t jump to conclusions

5. Don’t harp on things that don’t matter

Marriage life isn’t perfect. However we both are better at balancing. He does the things that make him solid and I do the same. We both don’t put pressure on each other to be who we aren’t. We are learning to accept each other’s flaws.  We have gotten super solid as a team. Since year 3 we made it clear to those around us that we are a real team. No nonsense will be accepted and we don’t give others front row seats to play us against one another. We shut the door. If you see us we work more behind the scenes without having to be open to listen to all advice from everyone without listening to each other for what we need. I respect all marriage but we no longer mirror our marriage in compassion to what works for another couple.  We are different and what works for another couple doesn’t work for us and vice versa.

Relationships goals are what we set between us during pillow talk and not just cute pictures to display a falsehood of love and admiration. We are our own relationship goals!!

So happy anniversary to us, Mr. and Mrs. Storr!!

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….

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!!

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. 

The Art of Stress Less Packing

I love to travel. I can’t say I travel as much as I would like but when the opportunity comes I definitely take full advantage of it. Here are a few of my own personal tips that helps regardless if you’re single, married, or have kids.


1. Don’t wait until the last minute 

Sometimes this is easier said and done. We all have busy lives. However taking the time to pack ahead of time cuts down on having to detour your trip to the store to replace something you already have but forgot and not to mention saving on coins. 

2. Pack the necessary things first

If you are traveling via an aircraft this is the best advice. Pack what you know without a doubt you will need first. Not all airlines allow you to travel with your bags for free so making executive decisions on what you have to have and packing that first helps. After that you can decide if the extras are really worth it or not. Do you know how many people have to unpack and readjust their items to avoid that fee?! 

3. Roll and pack

Rolling your items can help you pack more of the things you want and need. Often times where you are going will have an iron of some sort. 

4. Make a master traveling list 

I do this even for all seasons. This will help you to cross off the things you have packed, the things you need to purchase and pack or the things that you have yet to pack. This is key even with kids. During our recent quickcation I left nothing behind using this method. It felt good to have more than we needed. Checking the list off instead of just grabbing things was way more organized and saved on the stress later.

5. Pack light 

There’s usually smaller versions of the things you need. Get those items instead of the home size as I call it. This is especially for hair care and hygiene. Everyone knows there are travel sections in most stores. They have made it possible even to travel with laundry detergent these days. Grab those items first. They are key in opening room for the other items you need. 

6. You can’t take it all

As much as you would like to bring it all it’s not going to happen. Think about the method of your traveling. Are you going via car? Will you be with others via car? You will need to keep things to one bag to ensure room for others to store things in the trunk. Is this a family trip? Can multiple people pack in one bag? I packed the kids in on suitcase for a 3-4 day trip and it worked. Are you traveling via aircraft? You will have to limit. Think about having to push or carry these items too. The lighter the bag the less stress you allot for yourself or travel companions. 

7. Pack for the events 

Sometimes we just get clothes but don’t count the events you are going for. Focus on the events and pack around it. For our quickcation I packed around the pool and beach. This made it easier to make sure I had what I needed. Going for a wedding, pack around that. People have gone away for these types of events and completely forget the major needs for why they are traveling. Stay focused. 

8. Be prepared

Have copies of your travel documents and identification on you. The worst thing you can do is forget these items. Bring a first aid kit. Emergencies can happen at any time. Have others who are not traveling to have copies of your travel documents that can get them to you via email. Not only that having someone be able to reach you in case of emergency is key. 


9. Emergency fund 

I know in some cases traveling with just enough is what happens, however having emergency money on hand is key. You never know what can take place. You need to be prepared for anything to happen. A blown tire, lost luggage, a wardrobe malfunction. These are very real events and having to depend on someone to get you through doesn’t always work. I traveled to a wedding with my daughter one time and the hotel we originally booked was horrible. I ended up having to rebook somewhere else during the holiday weekend. 

10. Have options

This is key to have options for what you wear but also for what you will do. This is a digital age so you should have files designated for when you travel for what you want to do. This is key before you set out to travel. This is important even if you are meeting up with others. Nothing is worse than you not doing enough research before you travel. You should have weather alerts set up for your place of travel and with the alerts you should be prepared for a dip in weather, rain, snow, etc. 
The more prepared you are ahead of time the better the over all trip will be.

Also travel with empty store bags, traveling mesh bag, etc 

You can use the bags to place dirty or soiled clothes. Once you return you can take the bags to the laundry room and keep them separated from the clean ones. 

Also take empty sandwich bags or storage bags to bring things home too. You will be surprised of how they can be used. 

Extra tips:

1. Take or get Lysol especially if you’re going to be staying at a hotel. If you can also get a room disinfectant and a cleaner to wipes things down. This may be extreme to some but I never travel without it. 

2. Pack hand sanitizer and you’re own towels and wash clothes if you can. Some even buy a cheap towel and wash cloth set to throw out at the end of their trip. 

3. Pillow. It always good if you can bring your own. If not get a towel to lay over the one you will be using. 

Silent Treatments is Abuse 

I got a letter or email I should say from a reader who is experiencing this. Holidays are great but the holidays regardless of what it is for brings out the worst in others. My prayer to my reader as I’m turning your question into a full blog is for you to get the strength to know that silent treatments of any kind is a form of abuse. That you know that the silent treatment should never be okay in a relationship of any kind…

Silent treatment will work if you want to break a person down. What will you do once you have them broken? Reprogram them to fit your miserable mold?! Than what happens when they figure out you ain’t worth the dirt they walk on? Your hold won’t last forever. 

There is a unique difference in taking a cool down period when dealing with others. Sometimes as a parent you have to take a cool down so that when you attempt to actively deal with a child you are doing it in the correct spirit. Sometimes in relationships you have to take a cool down to allow you effectively communicate. However the art of ignoring a person to break them is a form of abuse. I literally do not care in how it is being done there is never good will when using the silent treatment. Oh and by the way it doesn’t matter if a man or woman does it. It goes both ways! 

If you want to break a person to see just how loyal they can be it works. A person who is being silenced will go above and beyond to get you to talk to them. It’s a way of feeling this sense of love from a person. You plead with the aggressor and want them to talk to you only to fall on death ears. The aggressor knows you want their attention.  They play this scenario until you are about ready to cry because it’s a point of control. So you plead some more. Finally the silent treatment is broken temporarily until the next time. You feel better so you walk on egg shells in hopes not to upset the aggressor again. This is a cycle that can only be broken by You who is being treated this way.

News flash adults are not kids. Even kids should never be treated this way. But if two consenting adults have to be treated like kids the relationship can last 20 years but it won’t be a happy relationship. Your mate isn’t your child no matter how childish they make act. It’s a pet peeve of mine to hear couples talk to their mate like kids, tell others their mate is a child, or to berate them in public or private. You don’t own another person. People aren’t puppets. 

Some parents pull these stunts too and it works. However I’ve never known for it to have long lasting effects of positivity. You aren’t teaching the child to comply to gain your love or do to what you say. You are simply at the point of inflicting a silent pain that is almost effective as hitting them. The sad part and the statistics don’t lie it’s just as equal. So you think you are handing the child well? You case the child out. Go out of your way to be in that child’s presence just so you can ignore them. You win but really you lose. You have just made this child reach down into themselves to figure things out without you. Sounds like good parenting skills until that child realizes you are a negative point of contact.

Eventually for the stronger child they are able to recover. They turn off emotions to the aggressor and sometimes go towards others in a romantic relationship who employ this same sense of “love.” We teach our kids now a days that love doesn’t hurt.  We push this to make sure the child doesn’t get into an abusive relationship but we fail to remember that emotional abuse is just as bad if not worst.  So what happens to your precious little girl goes for the man who uses these same tactics and has your little girl doing the most just to see if that man loves her? Yes she’s not being beaten but she is being emotionally abused and under the man she ran to who gave her the same love you did.  

Silent treatment in any relationship is bad news. It needs to stop. It’s abuse. You are attempting to break a person.  A broken person is no good to you or to themselves. This is why people gravitate from this form of emotional abuse to physical because the lines are almost blurred to be the same. We say why would a woman or man allow someone to control them? The mind is a very powerful gift and sometimes a curse. To break them inwardly is to control how a person thinks and therefore it’s the first part of how an aggressor works. This is why so many say the man or woman they were with didn’t appear to be bad news. They wine and dine and say the right things until they start to employ these tactics. 

If you are in a relationship and are of age get far away from this type of personality. Most times this is the type of person who can’t be satisfied. Nothing won’t be okay because they themselves have either been broken or lack the ability to go after what they want without tearing down others along the way.  There is no reason to ask another adult a question more than twice and for them to look you in your eyes or you know right well they aren’t deaf for them to ignore you until they feel like you are worthy of an answer. Or until they feel like gracing you with an answer or dealing with you. If you are giving them the vibe of not wanting to be bothered more than they like to be around you, get out. Why stay? What is going to change? Oh yeah you will say or do what they want and then be good enough to be around? You know the answer is you will NEVER be enough, do enough, or act accordingly. 

Get out! Get a plan to be out but get out!!