Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Back-to-School with Momtrends

No, summer's not over yet. But, yes... it's time to think about the back-to-school season. And that's exactly what I got a head start with last week when the boys and I attended a really fun back-to-school event with Momtrends.

Aiden was asked to model pieces from Joules Clothing, a British family-friendly lifestyle brand. Not only are their pieces comfortable and affordable, but they are very stylish. It's definitely a good option if you're looking for different clothing brands to try out this season.

On his feet were Keen kicks, which are also very comfortable and pretty stylish. He's worn them every day since the event so I guess I may have to get him another pair by the time school starts back up here in NYC in a month or so.

Around his neck was a Juniorbeads Chewbeads necklace. He walked the runway using the necklace exactly the way it was intended to be used -- in his mouth.

Guys, this is seriously gonna revolutionize fidget items everywhere -- no more stigma attached to kids using items that are big and bulky. No more nail biting, pencil chewing, or any other nervous habits. Instead, they can wear something that looks cool and trendy around their necks and they can touch it, chew it, or pull on it as needed. So many of the kids in my school would benefit from using this necklace. (Not to mention... so would Aiden.)

Now... let's talk about Aiden as a model. He rocked the runway. He was poised and charming and exuded a level of confidence that I haven't seen in a long time. (I may or may not have bribed him with a new game to download on his iPad. #JustSaying) Some folks said that he has "it". Exactly what that means? I don't know, but I do know that he rocked the runway!

August also loved the Chewbeads, for the record. He's been chewing on them ever since the event!

During the event, I checked out the Earth's Best table. And I was very happy to learn about their freezer-to-table snack options, including meatballs, chicken bites, and organic fruit cups. Not only are they good options for Aiden to make on his own (busy momma over here!), but they're also yummy snacks to put into his lunchbox this year.

Speaking of lunch boxes, with Nalgene, Aiden will have a serious upgrade from the typical lunchbox. I mean, this one comes with an icepack to keep food cold and multiple storage compartments. Score!

It was a great night, with great folks, and yummy popsicle cocktails.

Thanks so much to the entire Momtrends team for putting together such a fun and engaging event! All photos in this post were taken by the Momtrends team.

{Disclosure: Event attendees received a gift bag. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Monday, July 11, 2016

August Kingston, 7 Months Old

What a difference a month makes!

August is officially a standing man! Well, he's more like a "pulling himself up on anything and everything" man, but still. This is new and I can't believe that he's growing so fast! (I know, I know... I say this every month. But, still.) I mean, I had to lower his crib this month!

He's not crawling yet, but he is getting around by scooting, rolling, and dragging himself to his desired destination. And he never stays in his designated area. It's pretty funny to witness. That said, we're really keeping a close eye on him these days because (1) I think he's gonna crawl any day now and I don't want to miss it, and (2) he's literally pulling himself up on every piece of furniture.

August likes:

  • Scooting, dragging himself, and rolling around.
  • His teething ring.
  • Drooling. A lot. 
  • Short, sporadic "yells" when he's trying to get someone's attention.
  • Panting to the tune of a dog when he gets excited (I can't make this stuff up.)
  • Sitting up as soon as he wakes up from a nap (which are still extremely short, by the way) as though he were never sleeping. It's like he's saying, "I'm up, I'm up! What'd I miss?"
  • Chewing on books.
August hates:
  • Being ignored... or folks taking too long to respond to him.
  • The sun in his face.
  • Whenever someone wipes the drool off of his face. 

At this rate, August is gonna be up and running with Aiden in no time. And I can't wait! 

Actually, I take that back. I can wait. I want him to grow into the great person he's gonna be, but umm, I still want him to be my baby. (I know... I'm cray!)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Am In Mourning

Yesterday was a typical day for Aiden. I took him and August to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 2 pool, he worked on his cannon balls, played Marco Polo and pool tag with a few other kids, and swam until he was tired. Overtired.

We had lunch on a nearby picnic table, listened to music, chatted, shared jokes.

We took a walk to Pier 1, played under the Brooklyn Bridge, went to Jane's Carousel, and played on a nearby lawn.

It wasn't until after we got home, after dinner, after baths and cleaning and putting the boys to bed that I realized something: it wasn't a typical day at all. Not for me. Not as a mom of a little black boy.

That's when I realized that I was in mourning. I am in mourning.

Yesterday, America woke up to a hashtag. Another hashtag of another black man, Alton Sterling, killed at the hands of police officers, those who are supposed to protect and serve.

At this point, I am scared. I fear for my sons. I fear for Aiden's and August's lives.

I share so much about my story and Aiden's life on this place and space. I share my truth. Well, this fear? It's also my truth. I am scared, y'all.

If Aiden were to ever be stopped by a police officer, how does he stay safe? How does he stay alive? What do I tell him that'll keep him alive and well and help him get home without holes in his body?

Respect authority?
Don't wear a hoodie?
Don't play with toy guns?
Don't ask, "Why am I being pulled over?"

In the land of the free, don't act so... free?

What?! What do I tell him to help him stay alive?

He's eight.

He's sweet and funny and full of energy. He loves to read to August and play with August. He loves to play on his iPad, play chess, and swim. He gets a thrill from solving math problems and doing science experiments. He likes to try to shoot like Steph Curry (even though he can't make a three-pointer for the life of him). He's terrified of bugs and he's still scared of the dark. He still sleeps with teddy bears and the lights on and children's music in order to not be so afraid of the dark.

He's eight.

But soon he will be 10. Then 12. Then 15.

Soon he will be taller. Soon he will weigh more. Soon he will grow facial hair. Soon, some white women will cringe when they see him walking towards them. Soon, some teachers in his school will no longer give him the benefit of the doubt, but he will get a huge consequence for a minor infraction. Soon, some store clerks will follow him around thinking that he's about to steal something. Soon, police officers will see his brown skin and see him as a threat to their safety.

What then? What, as his mother, do I do at that point?

I'm at a loss. And I'm scared.

This may fade away from the spotlight. The Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile hashtags may fade away from mainstream media. After awhile, people may stop talking about it. But know this: it won't go away. Not for me, not for black mothers. Aiden's brown skin won't go away. He can't take it off. He has to live with it every single day.

Yesterday, I had the news on in the background as I was making dinner and as Aiden was playing with a ball. The Alton Sterling coverage came on and Aiden's first response was, "But... they didn't have to kill him! Even if they thought he had a gun, they're supposed to just arrest him and take him to jail."

His second response went something to the tune of, "Wait... something like this happened before. Right?"

He remembers Mike Brown. And Tamir Rice. And Eric Garner.

He's eight.

I am in mourning. And I... I can't breathe.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

{Personal Style} A Baby Dedication Day to Remember

so fresh and so clean, clean
A couples weeks ago, August started his journey of faith when he was dedicated and blessed. It was such a special day filled with hugs and love and laughters! I was so happy that some of his god parents were able to enjoy the day with us too. It was truly heart-warming.

I shared a few pictures over on Instagram, but wanted to make sure that I also had a record of the blessed day on this space and place.

The boys wore matching coral shorts and white button-down shirts from H&M. Because he's such a dapper dude, Aiden wore a navy bowtie and navy and white polkadot vans that complimented his outfit perfectly.

As for me, I kept it simple with a knee-length floral body con dress and a pair of nude sandals/pumps. (I mean, with the outfit changes for August as well as the inevitable spit up and other stuff, my outfit needed to be as stylish and simple as possible.)

notice the baby drool on my arm... #motherhood
1/2 of the godparents... and Aiden.

Because, kisses make everything better!

The brotherhood:

By the way, do you know how difficult it is to get both kids to look at the camera at the same time and not have the sun in their faces? Yeah... some kind of impossible.

Aiden's eyes are closed and August is spitting up. Story of my life, y'all!

And then the big one is side-eyeing the little one...

And then the little one is looking at the clouds...

Success... finally! 

Cheers to such a blessed and favored and fabulous day!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Stop Waiting to Be Great

I remember when I first started thinking of applying to Columbia undergrad -- I was either a sophomore or junior in high school. I remember telling someone where I wanted to go to school and that I was gonna go for it, gonna apply and see what happens.

The conversation that ensued sounded something like this:
Her: You're applying to where?  
Me: Columbia and NYU. 
Her: Umm, how are you gonna pay for it? 
Me: *Shrugs* I dunno. I'll apply for scholarships. Or financial aid.  
Her: Ha! Good luck with that! 
Me: I'll think of something.
And I did. I applied for a New York Times College Scholarship, which I got. And which, quite literally changed the course of my life. And then I applied to Columbia, NYU, and seven other colleges. I got into all of them.

undergrad graduation
I was bold enough and audacious enough to attempt greatness. And it paid off. It worked out in my favor.

Was I scared? Yeah. But I was crazy enough to try. I was crazy enough not to wait till all my ducks were lined up in a row.

I was crazy enough not to wait till the circumstances were better, till I had better recommendations, more money in my bank account, an actual bank account that didn't include putting cash in an envelope and hiding it in my top drawer, and... and... and...

five years later... grad school graduation
(with a three-year-old Aiden)
I was crazy enough to try to be great. And it worked out in my favor.

I miss those days when I felt the fear and did it anyway. Why wait for permission to be great when we can just do the darn thing and make it happen!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Alvin Ailey at Lincoln Center

It's no secret that I love all things Alvin Ailey. I go see them every time they're in town and I've taken Aiden to see them at least four times within the past six years.

The choreography, the music, the meaning, the dancers... it's all so... breathtaking. Inspiring. Moving.

Seeing Ailey challenges me to be better, inspires me to do more, to go get my dreams. Unapologetically. Fearlessly.

When I tell y'all that I live to see this show... whew, chile! So when I found out that they'd be in NYC, I knew that I had to see them. This time, instead of taking Aiden, I took HEB (special shout-out to my nanny for staying with the boys so that we could enjoy a date night!). He's no longer an Ailey version and

While I love the ballet Revelations and can see it over and over again (seriously, no matter how many times you see it, it doesn't loose it's effect... it's that much of a spiritual and powerful experience), this time, I was particularly smitten by Open Door, Awakening, and A Case of You.

Open Door is like African and modern meets Latin Jazz. It gives me a club dance vibe. It gives me a celebratory feeling. It gives me fun and carefree and all the smiles. I wanted to get out of my seat and dance with them.

Watching Awakening is like looking at two sides of the same coin, balancing "chaos and resolution, dissonance and harmony." Without giving too much away, I loved the parallels and the emotions radiating between the beginning of the piece and the end of the piece when the dancers have awakened. It's pure brilliance!

A Case of You is everything I expect to see in a true love story -- ups and downs, twists and turns, falling and getting back up again. It's an intensely beautiful piece that'll move you in every way possible.

This is the last weekend to catch Alvin Ailey at Lincoln Center so if you're in the NYC area, you should definitely check it out! I've never been disappointed with a show so I know you'll love it! Visit the website to purchase tickets and prepare to be inspired.

{Disclosure: I was provided with a pair of press tickets in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.}

Friday, June 10, 2016

August Kingston, 6 Months Old

The happiest baby on the block!


Time flies when you're having fun... or loving up on your huggable baby! August turned six months old this week and this almost 20-pounder is thriving more than ever! He got his first taste of solids this week (yummy carrots and yummy sweet potatoes) and he likes it so far. He's also working very hard to sit up unsupported for long periods of time, without toppling over.

As I suspected, the freezer stash of breastmilk is dwindling, but I'm working hard to build it back up, which is a good thing because I want to replace the older milk with fresh milk anyway. I have started researching organic baby formula and I've narrowed it down to two choices (one is not even available in the US so that might be hard if I decide on it). You know, just tin case I need to supplement.

The good news: I'm on summer break for the month of June so I don't have to worry about my crazy, demanding, time-consuming work schedule interfering with pumping. #Hallelujah

And so it begins...

August likes:
  • Giving people slobbery "kisses"
  • Gummy smiles and open-mouthed smiles
  • Tasting carrots and sweet potatoes 
  • Holding his own bottle during feedings
  • Watching Aiden play with basketballs, soccer balls, and pretty much anything else 
  • Rolling around in his crib, rolling around in his playpen, rolling around on the floor, just rolling around anywhere...
  • Jumping around in his jumperoo
  • Playing with his piano 
  • Grabbing my face and hair and ears 
August hates:
  • Wiping his face with a rag, warm or cold
  • Changing his clothing (he'd rather roll around and play)
  • When his pacifier falls out of his mouth in the middle of the night

No matter how he falls asleep, he ends up in this position,
on his side, holding his pacifier... sweetness

I can't wait to see what the second half of his first year entails! I know he's gonna be super busy trying to keep up with Aiden. 

Oh boy...


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