Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What Really Matters

carefree is the way to be!
I had a lot of plans for Aiden this summer. Amidst playground hopping and long pool days and adventures around the city, I was going to work with him on core subjects. Practice writing strong paragraphs, learn all multiplication facts, and re-practice all of his second grade spelling words so that he doesn't forget them.

In short, I was gonna get him into shape and get him ready for third grade.

Well, summer's coming to a close and we hardly did any of that.

The only writing he did aside from his summer homework project was when he wanted to write a story of two. The only spelling he did was go over words that he forgot how to spell whenever he was typing something into his iPad. And there was no memorization of multiplication facts at all. (There was, however, the practicing and re-memorization of all of the addition and subtraction facts from 2nd grade.)

Be we -- he -- solved lots of math problems. Hard ones, too. Multiplication and division ones and multi-step ones too. Oh, and he read a lot. Chapter books about mysteries and about his history and about pulling pranks on friends and about a group of boys in the third grade doing third-grade boy things... just like him. And books about what it takes to be a good friends and make tough decisions and choosing to be kind instead of always choosing to be right.

He learned a lot of lessons. Hard ones, too.

Lessons that he talks to me about day in and day out.

working the Momtrends runway
photo via Momtrends
And that's when it dawned on me: I don't have to spend the entire summer trying to frantically teach him everything.

I don't have to drill academics into him all... day... long... just to "get him ready for third grade."

Because, quite frankly, that's impossible. But what I can do is instill in him kindness, generosity, a strong work ethic, responsibility, and how to be respectful.

What I can do is teach him how to build sandcastles and run away from waves at the beach... how to indulge in grilled cheese sandwiches while watching the sunset on our balcony... how to spend hours and hours and hours at the NYC playground of his choice... how to close out museums and science centers because he's so busy learning though play that we're literally the last ones to leave.

How to know when he's reached his limit on his iPad and how to enjoy childhood, unplugged.

Basically... how to be a kid. Fully, whole-heartedly, and unapologetically.

stud.
photo via Momtrends
The fact of the matter is that I have all school year to help him become a stronger writer. I have all school year to help him learn multiplication facts and I have all school year to help him memorize spelling words.

And the fact of the matter is that it really doesn't matter if he gets the best grades in school. It really doesn't matter if he's the smartest or the fastest or the best or the teacher's favorite. Those things don't really matter. Because, quite frankly, I'm gonna love him anyway.

The kid's already a champion in my eyes.

What really matters is if he's kind to others, if he tries his hardest even when he doesn't feel like trying, if he bounces back from set-backs. What really matters is if he continues to be the rockstar big brother to August. What really matters is if he knows that I love him no matter what and that I will always, always, always be his biggest cheerleader.

What really matters is if he's happy.

What really matters is if he feels free to be a kid. Fully, whole-heartedly, and unapologetically.

Monday, August 15, 2016

August Kingston, 8 Months Old





August is 8 months now and on the move, and, well, it's pretty much impossible to keep him still for longer than five seconds. Unless, of course, he's drifting off to sleep.

This babe is crawling everywhere. Everywhere! 

I mean, Aiden was content with staying in the living room. But August... homeboy crawls from the living room to the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen. No corner is off limits in this house. He's got things to do and places to go and he's not letting anyone stop him.

August and Aiden hanging out with Kyle O'Quinn of the NY Knicks


August Likes:

  • Crawling everywhere. Everywhere!
  • Pulling himself up to a standing position. All the time. Even in the middle of the night when this momma wants to sleep.
  • Cruising the furniture, especially from the couch to the ottoman and back again to the couch.
  • Pulling himself up to a standing position and pulling down all of the things. All. Of. The. Things!
  • Bath time and splashing the water. 
  • Drinking bath water. (Is that safe? Don't answer that!)
  • Kicking his legs and splashing around in the swimming pool. 
  • Climbing on Aiden whenever Aiden's sitting on the floor.
  • Making his way to Aiden's toys and trying to play with (read: eat) all of them.
  • Reading the book, "Robots, Robots, Everywhere." (I think he likes it because I make funny sounds when I'm reading it to him.)
August does not like:
  • The end of bath time.
  • Getting dressed after bath time. (Ask me how I know.)
  • When he's crawling around to get my attention, but I'm taking too long to acknowledge him. (And by "taking too long," I mean "taking longer than the 3-5 seconds than he would like me to take." #ImpatientBabies)
  • Whenever you take something away from him that he's about to put into his mouth (cellphones, books, the remote control, Aiden's basketball and soccer ball... the list goes on and on).


Next up: walking. And talking. 

Oh my gosh... time is flying! Make it stop!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Seeing The World Through His Eyes


"Aiden, what do you mean you can't see anything? The letters are right there! What are you talking about that everything's blurry?! Just read the letters! I mean, I know you know the alphabet!"

This was me a few weeks ago. Practically begging Aiden to read the letters on the wall during his eye exam at the pediatrics optometrist's office. (Or scolding him, depending on who you ask.)

But he kept saying the same thing. "I can't see any of the letters. It's all blurry. Is it a 'D'? Oh! I know... it's the letter 'F'. Right?" (No. No it was not an "F". It was the letter "P".)

The doctor kept reassuring him that he was doing a good job. "What about now? Can you read me the letters now? How about now? What if you looked through these lenses? Can you read them to me now? Okay... good. Good job!"

Me, on the other hand? I was dumbfounded. My first thought was, Oh my goodness! The kid's blind as a bat! My second? Guilt galore. How on Earth did I not make an appointment to get him here sooner?! All those times he was squinting to see the TV or something far away and I just let it happen?! 

He really cannot see! The world is really all a blur to him!

My third thought was something along the lines of, Why on Earth didn't Aiden say something this entire time?! I mean, if I were walking around and everything was blurry, I'd say something! Anything!

But then I finally took a step back and tried to see the world through his eyes. I tried to remember what it's like to not quite know that something's a little... off. 

Funny thing is, Aiden's probably been thinking that that's how the world is supposed to look -- blurry. And since I wasn't paying attention to the obvious signs that he's blind as a bat his vision isn't clear, I've been none the wiser.

Thankfully he has glasses now -- just in time to get used to wearing them everyday before his first day of third grade.

I'll never forget what he said when he put those glasses on for the first time, "Everything was so blurry before, but now I can see EVERYTHING! Oh my gosh... it's all so clear, mommy! It's a big difference!"

He never used to be able to see the signs on the street that were more than a half a block away. But, with his glasses, he proceeded to read all of the street signs that were a block or more away from us.

Every.

Single.

One of them.

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!

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