Tuesday, February 9, 2016

August Kingston, Two Months Old


I can't believe it's been two months since I gave birth to Baby Delicious! Not gonna lie, the days have been long. Very long. And tiring. And emotionally draining at times. But it's been absolutely amazing. And he's just... perfect. And sweet and cuddly and lovable.

I'm in love.

So in love.



August's likes:
  • Smiling, cooing, and "talking" with me, Aiden, HEB, and his mobile animals
  • Ninja posing
  • Breastmilk. Lots and lots of breastmilk 
  • Taking naps in his stroller
  • Playing with his tongue (he discovered it and can't get enough of it)
  • Making raspberry sounds
  • Sticking his tongue out like a little lizard
  • His pacifier (which is weird because he refused to take it for the first month of his life because he would only suck at the breast)
August's dislikes:
  • Taking long naps. (I don't know what long naps ever did to August, but he seriously has something against them.)
  • Whenever I wipe his neck or face with a wash rag
  • Extended tummy time



He's now sleeping through the night, going to bed at around 10/11pm and waking up around 5am. During the day, he's a pretty chill baby -- alert, active, taking in his surroundings, cooing, smiling, and "talking" nonstop.

Right now, I'm knee-deep in trying to figure out his childcare situation for when I go back to work next month. I'm meeting with families and interviewing nannies for a possible nanny share and Aiden is not here for it. ("Mommy, I don't feel good about leaving August with somebody else. What if they're a bad guy or something? Can't you just take him to work with you?)

Right now, he's nursing less and drinking breastmilk from the bottle more. Because I'm trying to mimic the schedule we'll have when I get back to work.


But as much as I'm trying to prepare things for when I get back to work, I'm trying to cherish this time with my baby.

I'm trying to soak it all up. To remember the curve of his lips when he smiles, to remember the sounds of his coos, to visualize his favorite ninja pose or how his eyes widens when he's studying his hands (or anything else that he finds interesting).

Because the days may be long, but the time is flying by so quickly. I mean, he will never be two months again. And, as much as I wanna see how he'll grow into who he's called to be, I kinda wanna freeze time. And bottle it all up. And give him all the hugs and kisses and cuddles I can get.

Because he's just that precious.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Things Our Children Think About Us...

A&A
There's this questionnaire going around on Facebook where parents have to ask their kids questions about their parenting style, likes, dislikes, and other things. The questions must be unprompted so as to elicit an honest response from the child and to see what the child actually thinks of the parent.

I thought it was pretty cool so I asked Aiden the questions, and since I want to save his responses forever and ever, I decided to publish them here.

Aiden, Age 8:
1. What is something I always say to you?
Listen in school. Don't talk back. And that you love me.

2. What makes me happy?
When I follow the directions in school.

3. What makes me sad?
When I don't listen in school.

4. How do I make you laugh?
By saying funny stuff about August. And singing funny songs to him.

5. What was I like as a child?
You were a good, kind person.

6. How old am I?
Easy! 31.

7. How tall am I?
Like 4 feet or something.

8. What is my favorite thing to do?
Play with me and August.

9. What do I do when you're not around?
Talk about me with [HEB]. And maybe hangout with your friends where kids can't go.

10. What am I really good at?
Teaching me how to learn stuff.

11. What am I not very good at?
Racing.
Me: Ummm... Aiden, I'm actually very good at racing. I used to be on the track team. And I could beat you in a race any day. 
Aiden: Yeah right! 
12. What do I do for a job?
You work as a Dean at a school.

13. What is my favorite food?
Sausage, egg, and cheese on a roll.

14. What do you enjoy doing with me?
Playing games.

15. How much do I weigh?
Like 40 something pounds or something.

16. Who do I love the most?
August... and me.

17. What's your favorite thing about me?
That you're funny.

bros.
It's so interesting to see what our kids think of us. Especially because, as parents, we spend so much time thinking about the one thing we're doing "wrong" even though we're doing thousands of things right. But, every now and then, our children let us know that we're doing a really good job.

Cheers to that!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Right In the Thick of Love


Who wants that perfect love story anyway, anyway?...
Who wants that hero love that saves the day, anyway?...

HEB and I are sitting across from each other at the birthday party of the child of one of his co-workers. Aiden's here, HEB's son JT is here, and they're both running around with other kids, having a good time. It's the summer of 2013 and HEB is not HEB yet. He's still The Guy.

The Guy and I are sitting across from each other at the birthday party of the child of one of his co-workers. After a few months of dating, we decide to make it exclusive and, two weeks ago, he asked me to be his girlfriend.

Right now, we're mad at each other. Okay... I'm mad. We just had a stupid disagreement and I'm mad. (To be honest, as I write this post today, I'm not even sure what we were arguing over or why I was mad. That's how insignificant it was.)

I'm so mad that my impulsive reaction is to call it quits. I'd rather fly solo -- as I've always done -- than deal with any disagreement with him. I want to just walk away.

He doesn't let me. Instead, he sits me down and helps me talk through -- and work through -- whatever it was that I was mad about. He literally holds my hand as I work through my feelings.

Fast-forward to 2 1/2 years later and, at times, I still need that same hand-holding. Less often, but I still need it, nonetheless.


Here's the thing about adult romantic relationships: they don't work unless you do. And by that, I mean: you've gotta know how to be in an adult romantic relationship in order to make it successful. You've got to be dedicated to having some serious on-the-job training.

And by "you," I mean "me."

Obviously.

One thing that I've learned about myself in these past couple of years in my relationship with HEB is that I knew nothing about what it took to actually be in an adult romantic relationship. A true, meaningful, mature adult relationship. I had my thoughts. I knew (know) that it takes love and understanding and patience and selflessness. All those things that those self-help this-is-how-you-succeed-at-love books teach you. But to know it and KNOW it are two completely different things...

Stupid arguments. How I handle them is always the deciding factor in how much I've grown -- or not -- in this relationship. Stupid arguments. You know, the ones you can't even remember two weeks after the fact. Stupid arguments. They almost always make me feel like this thing with him isn't working and my impulsive reaction is that I just need to fly solo. As I've always done. As I'm used to doing.

So I try to leave.

Again.

Right in the thick of love.
At times we get sick of love...

Ugh! I kinda hate this about myself. I do this all the time. This I-would-be-better-off-alone-than-deal-with-this thing. I always feel this way after an argument -- like the argument itself means it's over. Or it should be over. Or it's too hard and would be easier if I flew solo.

So I try to leave.

Again.

Another again.

He's patient with me as I try to work through this. I take two steps forward. I go several weeks at a time without doing it. And I relapse. And take one step backwards. But then... he helps me come back to the drawing board and helps me take the time to respond thoughtfully instead of reacting impulsively.

I want this. I want to be in this with him and grow together and be a family and live happily ever after.

But happily ever after doesn't exist. Not for me, anyway. I have to work at it and choose to do the work. Every. Single. Day. I know this. But knowing it and KNOWING it are two different things.

These disagreements, they paralyze me. As crazy as it sounds, they make me feel like it's over. HEB knows this.

It's fear, I know. I need to get over this fear, I know. But it's kinda sorta really easier to call it quits than to work through the fear.

Sigh.


That's my "thing" and I'm working on it. 

He's got his thing(s) too. Matter of fact, there've been times that he's done things to make me say, "What the eff?!" And find it hard to forgive him. But I forgive anyway. 

Because sometimes it's about two people learning to forgive each other and say "We're in this together."

I'm still a work in progress. I've got a lot to learn. So does he.

We've both still got room left to grow.

Acknowledgment is the first step. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

August Kingston, One Month Old

Day 2
They warned me about it, those parents of two or more kids. They told me how much harder it would be when I have two children instead of one. They told me about the delicate dance of splitting my time between two kids, instead of giving all my time and energy to one.

From the moment I gave that final push and my doctor said, "Open your eyes... your baby is here.", I accepted the challenge with my entire heart.

It's been five weeks since I've welcomed baby August into my world and I am so, so in love. And I'm surprised at how I'm approaching this whole mother-of-two thing. I'm surprising myself about how I'm feeling about August's newborn stage versus how I felt with Aiden's newborn stage eight years ago.

I'm calmer, more cooler, more collected, more patient, more present...

Week One
Aiden and I are sitting on the train, heading home from his after-school soccer practice. August is snuggled in his stroller, which is positioned right in front of us. It's rush hour, and, needless to say, the train car is packed. I finish reading a chapter of the book to Aiden that he and I are currently reading, and now we're talking about his day at school, which was pretty amazing, by the way.

August starts squirming around in his stroller. I take a peek in and see that the pacifier is no longer in his mouth. I put the pacifier in his mouth and he settles back into a light sleep. A few stops later, he starts squirming around again. Then, his arms start flailing. Then, he starts crying.

I nursed him not too long ago so I know he's not hungry. He just wants to get out of the stroller and be cuddled. He cries when he wants to be cuddled. Loudly. So I unbuckle him and take him out in the hopes of settling him down.

He's still crying. Loudly. And now, everyone on the train is looking at him. Me. Us.

I can feel Aiden tensing up while sitting next to me, hoping that August settles down and falls back asleep. He doesn't. Instead he continues to cry.

I rock him, stroke his face, and sing a silly song in his ear. He's hot so I take off his hat and unbutton his winter onesie coat thingy. More rocking, more singing, more stroking of his face.

But he's still crying and Aiden's still tense.

Week Two
I know how Aiden's feeling right now on this here train car because I recognize how this feeling all too well.

I used to feel the same way when he was an infant and would cry in public. Whenever he'd cry in the privacy of our own home, I was calm and cool. But in public... not even close. I would literally freeze up in fear... hoping, praying, begging him to stop crying. Instead of tending to Aiden, I'd be more focused on the stares from strangers who I just knew were judging the fact that I was a young mom. Didn't matter if the stares were real or imagined, I'd still focus on that instead of on Aiden.

Week Two
But, not today. Not in this moment. In this moment, I'm sitting on a crowded rush hour train and all I can see are August and Aiden, My two babies. I'm so focused on soothing them that I don't see the other folks around me. Judging. (Or not.)

In this moment, my babies need me.

I start singing a silly made-up song about how many stops he have left and Aiden starts laughing. August stops crying and starts studying my face and voice. Right here, in this moment, I'm mothering my two babies. I'm calm, cool, collected, patient, and present.

And it feels good.

Week Three
Week Four
August has already changed so much in this past month and I want to soak it all up. He exclusively nursed for about three-and-a-half weeks. Until I decided that this momma needs to be able to sleep at night. So I started pumping so that HEB can feed August at night too. This happened just as August decided to start sleeping for longer stretches. But, of course.

Then I had a mini freak-out and suddenly decided that I needed to pumped and save all the milk. Like, all the milk. So, for an entire week, I was focused on my milk supply. Then, I decided to chill the eff out because the milk ain't going nowhere and I'll always have enough to feed the baby. Always.

Nowadays he's more alert, stays awake more during the day, cooing and taking in his surroundings. He also spends more time studying his hands, trying to get them into his mouth. His eye-hand coordination is improving because most of the time he gets his hands into his mouth and sucks like there's no tomorrow. Loudly. (This is how I know I'm in love because I swear, I've never seen something so cute in my entire life!)

One Month
He loves hugs and kisses, being in his Moby Wrap, and going for a walk in his stroller. He loves staring at pictures of Aiden. He loves napping on my chest or HEB's chest. And he loves, loves, loves sucking on anything that you put near his mouth. Seriously, a cheek, a nose, a boob, his pacifier, his hands... it's all fair game. 

And I'm just taking it all in and soaking it all up. 

More calmer, cooler, collected. More patient, more present.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Plan for This Year


On New Years Eve, I wrote a quick "Getting Ready for the New Year" note over on the Mommy Delicious Facebook page about what the past year meant to me, some things that I've learned, and why I'm looking forward to 2016.

Cliché, I know.

But necessary.

I went into 2015 ready for "the next big thing." Ready to get to another level in my career, ready to take on new roles, ready to challenge myself professionally, ready to make goals and meet goals and exceed goals.

I'm good at that stuff.

I'm good at getting my dreams... at making smart career moves, at impressing the powers that be at work, in leading a team of teachers, in talking to parents and students and helping them be great, in being my principal's right-hand man, in making boss moves... in being a total badass.

Totally not bragging, but I've had practice in developing that part of my life. So when the clock stroke twelve and took us from 2014 to 2015, I was ready to be great... at work. In my career.

And nothing else.

Throughout 2015, I got thrown for a loop. I got hit in every direction with things that I just wasn't ready for.

Going through the family court system to get sole physical and legal custody of Aiden. Boom!

Helping Aiden navigate all the changes in his life, from meeting with lawyers to having supervised visits with his other parent at Safe Horizon to having unsupervised visits a few hours during the week. Bam!

Seeing Aiden struggle in school and working with his teachers and school officials to figure out how to get this kid back on track. Pow!

Learning of Baby Delicious and figuring out how to physically, emotionally, and financially navigate being a mother of two. Eek!

Dealing with the ups and downs and highs and lows and miscommunications and misunderstandings of my relationship with HEB. Because there are downs and there are lows. Sigh.

Boom. Bam. Pow. Eek. Deep, deep sigh.

In 2015, I was a powerhouse at work and a total boss in my career. I got raved reviews, sweet bonuses, taught an extra class as an Adjunct Professor, and excelled... tremendously.

But personally and emotionally, I was somewhat of a hotmess. Just being honest.

The reasons for my hustle, professionally and personally
I thought I knew what it meant to be resilient before 2015. Turns out, I had a lot to learn about pushing and praying and trying not to worry. And pushing some more. And praying some more. And swimming when everything around me says I should be sinking. And finally, finally being able to float. And breathe.

And make it.

I made it.

I'm making it.

And now, I know that having success in my career does not improve me or change what's wrong in my life. It's not some kind of magical pill for making everything right, nor does it help with my personal growth.

I have to put in the work to make that happen. I have to meditate. I have to pray. I have to speak up when I'm unhappy. I have to communicate. I have to take care of myself.

It starts with me.

It's up to me to make it happen.

And that's what I'm dedicating 2016 to -- personal growth. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Growing pains. Being vulnerable and showing who I really am and how I really feel. (Because there's strength in vulnerability.) Not hiding behind my career. Reconnecting with friends and family that I've unintentionally lost touch with. Learning from the losses and capitalizing on the wins.

That's the plan for this year and for making 2016 epic.

I'm ready... are you?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Alvin Ailey and Creating Holiday Traditions

Triple A at Alvin Ailey, 2015
There's a reason that I took Baby Delicious outside with Aiden and me the other day. There's a reason that I bundled my little bundle of joy up, kept him cozy in his Moby Wrap, and made my way to New York City Center.

Five words: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Otherwise known as the best modern dance company around. It's no secret that Aiden and I have made it a tradition to see the amazingness that is this company each time they are in NYC for the holiday season. (Check out reviews of previous years herehere, and here.)

Rachael McLauren. Photo by Andrew Eccles.
Alvin Ailey, 2015
And we never tire of them. Because, quite simply, there's magic in the air whenever the company performs. It runs through the entire space, from the stage to the audience, from row to row, seat to seat; from the heart and souls of the dancers to the lives of the audience.

And it doesn't stop there. We take it with us. All the feelings and emotions. The pain, the sorrow, the joy, the pride, the love... of our culture, heritage, and people.

The entire Alvin Ailey experience... it's some kind of wonderful.

AAADT's Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Yannick Lebrun
and Kirven Douthit-Boyd in Relevations. Photo: Andrew Eccles
There are different pieces performed every show, but Aiden, August, and I got to see Polish Pieces, Cry, Open Door, which gives the audience a bit of latin flare, and Revelations, which is like, my all-time favorite ballet. Favorite. I've said this before, but I live for this finale. Every. Single. Time. It's a great celebration and lovely tribute to African culture and spirituals. And it gets the crowd going. Every. Single. Time.

AAADT's Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Alicia Graf Mack and
Demetia Hopkins in Revelations. Photo by Gert Krautbauer
Now's the perfect time to start your own family tradition with a trip to see this mesmerizing ballet company. Not only is it a great way to introduce your littles to the magic that is theater, but it's also a great conversation starter and a great way to start talking about the many ways in which dance will move you.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater runs through January 3, 2016 at New York City Center and tickets start as low as $25. Visit the website to grab your tickets and prepare to be inspired.

{Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets to the performance in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Thank you for supporting Mommy Delicious.}

Monday, December 21, 2015

On Parenting And The Fight We Have Inside of Us

ABC Carpet&Home
No doubt about it, 2015 has been my most difficult parenting year yet. Real talk. No chaser.

But one thing that I've learned this year is to rely on and trust my mommy instincts. After all, they're there for a reason. And to fight to get Aiden what he needs. Long, hard, relentlessly. And to trust that everything will be okay. Because I'm his mother and I'll make sure of it.

Up until recently, this school year has been a struggle for Aiden. With a new visitation schedule with his other parent to a new grade to a new baby brother on the way, it all just became too much for him.

And it showed in ways that were, er, less than productive.

Instead of sitting around and waiting this thing out, I decided to meet with the leaders of his school and teachers in his classroom. Over and over and over again until we figured out a "just right" plan for him. We switched his class so now instead of having one full time teacher and one assistant teacher, he has two full time teachers. He meets with the school psychologist to talk things out when he needs to. He has an entire reward system in school -- and at home -- that he loves.

And, most importantly, he's visibly happier.

Healthier.

And back to being his rambunctious, sweet, loving, and kind self.

sharing secrets with Santa
Not to mention that he's more invested in his school work and in his learning. He's never had an issue academically, but his academics were affected by what he was going through. But now? Now he's taking pride in his work product, reading an entire grade level above his own, and continues to have one of the highest math scores in his class. And let's not even get started on how much he loves science and science experiments.

Now when he calls out in class, as his teachers say, "It's because of academics and because he wants to share his answers." I'll take it.

I don't share this to boast. In fact, 2015 has taught me how to be humble and extend grace to myself in this single parenting gig. Again.

Another again.

But I share this story to show the struggle. The real struggle. To show not only the successes, but the lessons learned. To show what's behind the success. The tears, the worrying, the praying, the pushing, the one step forward and two steps backwards, the praying some more... the fight.

Sometimes it boils down to how much fight you have inside of you.


Aiden and I have several December traditions that we've been embracing over the past few years. Even though I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, two weeks ago, Aiden and I headed into Manhattan, took pictures with Santa, had brunch at one of our favorite spots, and spent the afternoon playing at one of our favorite playgrounds.

The entire day was perfect. And I kept reflecting on how far we've come, how much Aiden has grown, and how much strength and resilience he's shown over the past year. I remember thinking how he's going to make a great big brother whenever Baby Delicious enters this world.

Little did I know that Baby Delicious was planning on making his appearance the very next day. It was perfect timing.

I'm so glad that Aiden and I had that one last day to spend together -- with just the two of us. And it was the perfect way for me to tell him how amazing I think he is and that he amazes me... every... single... day.

Onward.

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