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...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Angry Birds Movie and Birds In Flight Show with KidzVuz

A couple weekends ago, the boys and I were invited to check out an advanced screening of The Angry Birds Movie and, as a long-time tried-and-true Angry Birds fan, Aiden couldn't be more excited. (I was just happy to see anything where Maya Rudolph does a voice-over because I think she's hilarious!)

In which excitement abounds. (Christmas. Circa 2012.)
Totally in his element. (Christmas. Circa 2012.)
Hosted by the awesome ladies of KidzVuz, the event not only entailed an advanced screening of The Angry Birds Movie, but also a trip to The Bronx Zoo for VIP seating of their Birds in Flight show.

That was equally as dope.

But first, the movie.

It's really a good film!

You know how sometimes there are kid movies that are kinda sorta really painful to watch as an adult? Well, this wasn't that. It was heartwarming and funny explores themes like working together, never giving up, and showing courage in the face of fear.

Beyond that, the movie was really funny. And not just "kid funny". There were puns and sarcasm and jokes that I'm pretty sure the kiddos in there didn't "get". But I got them. And I laughed. A lot.

After the movie, we headed up to the Bronx Zoo with other fellow NYC bloggers and their families. Aiden thought his day was made when he got to see The Angry Birds Movie, but then he got his whole entire life at the Birds in Flight Show.

You see, his class has been studying birds for the past couple of months and he's literally become obsessed with all things birds. Not only does he carry his binoculars everywhere "just in case" we go bird-watching, but he's become an expert on the fastest bird, slowest bird, the strongest bird, the most-friendly bird... okay, I made that up. But, still. You get my point.

And plus, I'm no expert on birds. But from what Aiden told me, there were Condors, Parakeets, Hawks, and Turkey Vultures. The birds were all showing off their natural flight behaviors and the presenter was showing off by teaching us all about their conservation needs.

The show will run on weekends from now through June 26th at the Bronx Zoo's Astor Court. If you've got a bird lover on your hands, definitely check it out. It's interactive, educational, and fun. And... you'll get major props from your bird lover!

August weighs almost as much as Aiden. #TheStruggle
Thanks so much to KidzVuz and Sony Pictures for hosting such a wonderful event. Aiden loved it, August loved hugging up on Nancy, and I loved having a family-friendly Saturday afternoon. Score!

{Disclaimer: I was invited to this event as media. Media attendees received a gift bag as well as transportation vouchers. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New York Baby Show Favorite Picks

It's been a busy month here in NYC dealing with all things baby and baby gear. And I've been on a serious grind to chat with brand reps and find gear that's a perfect fit for Baby August, my NYC apartment, and most importantly, my lifestyle.

That's why I was looking forward to hitting up the 2016 New York Baby Show hosted by New York Family Magazine, a publication that I've not only worked with and have been featured in before, but one that I've always turned to for tips and tricks in surviving this motherhood journey.

photo via Momtrends 
The New York Baby Show had over 120 vendors with tables that were ready to let parents and parents-to-be know what's new with their products and brands. It's seriously one-stop shopping, which is pretty awesome. But truth be told: large events like this one almost always overwhelms me. Blame it on my inner introvert.

So I always head into these events with a game plan. I always think about what I'm going for, what goal I want to accomplish, which vendors/brands I want to see, and what do I want to learn. In this case, I had three things on my mind: baby gear, baby food, and something special for mothers.

I wanted to test out lightweight strollers since August will soon reach his half-birthday, be able to sit up, and a sistah could use a lighter stroller to get around NYC. I wanted to check out which organic baby food I could give August for when he is no longer an exclusively breastfeed baby. And I wanted to learn about something special for new mamas.

photo via Momtrends
Oh, and I wanted a place to rest, rejuvenate, and soak in all that I learn. (Again, blame it on my inner introvert.)

The Momtrends Blogger Lounge took care of the rest and relaxation part. It was such a great way for me (and other bloggers) to rest up, eat up (lunch was delish!), and chat-it-up. There were also chair massages and childcare, which is kinda like relaxation times ten. And if you were lucky, then you were able to truly enjoy the lounge experience while your five-month-old cuddled it up with Sherri. Thanks lady!

In no particular order, here are my favorite picks from the three categories that I wanted to check off my list:

photo via UPPAbaby website
Cruz-ing in Puerto Rico
snacking on-the-go... like a true NYer
UPPAbaby G-Luxe Umbrella Stroller 
I already have an UPPAbaby Cruz that I pretty much use everyday. It's comfortable for August, very compact, and runs super smooth. And... I love, love, love it. So I definitely wanted to check out the UPPAbaby G-Luxe Umbrella Stroller and give it a test run.

Just like the Cruz, the G-Luxe has a sun canopy, which is great for when baby wants to rest or for those extra sunshiny days. The stroller also features a 3-position, push button recline, a cup holder, double wheels, an adjustable footrest, and very comfy seat fabrics. It also folds pretty easily and doesn't take up that much space, which is a total win for me and my small NYC apartment. I'm in the market for an umbrella stroller and this baby is definitely a top contender!

Earth's Best Organic 
In just a few short weeks, Baby Delicious will be moving beyond breastmilk. (Side note: why is time moving so quickly?! Make it stop! Make... it... stop!) I'm not even gonna try to pretend like I'll be whipping up homemade organic baby food for him all the time... because I won't. (Such is life. Don't Judge Me.)

But... I am on the hunt to find him delicious food that's made from the very best ingredients, and Earth's Best seems like a really good option. They have a really impressive spread of organic baby food for infants who are ready to expand their palate. The Stage 1 food are single ingredient jars that are finely pureed and specifically designed for babies starting to eat solids.

I also like the infant puree pouches because it's a combo of organic ingredients, including fruit, veggies, and a grain. Of course, I'd offer each of these food separately (and wait three days in order to check for possible food allergies), but once August is ready to combine them, I'm all game!

Image via Noobie Box website
Image via Noobie Box website
Image via Noobie Box website

Noobie Box
This one is for the expectant and new NYC mamas out there -- a specially curated gift box of new-parent essentials and treats. The Noobie Box features high-quality products, valuable coupons, and important health information for first-time moms. And... it arrives right to your doorsteps as a complimentary treat. (Yep... you read that write! The Noobie Box for new and expectant first-time moms is completely free!)

And once you're hooked (because you will be), you can order subsequent boxes on their website.

Baby gear, baby food, and something special for us mamas? Mission accomplished! Thanks so much to New York Family for hosting such a great event and thank so much to Momtrends for the awesome Blogger Lounge!

{Disclaimer: I received complimentary tickets to this event as media. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Thank you for supporting Mommy Delicious.}

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Big City Moms 35th Biggest Baby Shower Fab Four Picks

I haven't been to a baby-related media event in, like, forever! Once I stopped using the lightweight stroller for Aiden (because his on-the-go mid-day naps became nonexistent), I figured we were out of the baby stage. And I've been declining offers to attend baby-related events ever since.

Until now.

photo via BCM website
With Baby August five-months-old, growing, blossoming, and interacting with his environment, I need to know what's what in the baby care department. And, since I've been out of the loop for the past four years or so, I need to play "catch up" in the baby gear department.

photo via BCM website
That's why I was excited to attend The Biggest Baby Shower hosted by Big City Moms. Not only was it a chance to chat with some of my NYC Blogger pals (hey Kristin!), but it was also a great way for me to see the latest and greatest in all things baby gear. In no particular order, here are my top faves:

photo via BCM website

Organics Happy Family
Their Clearly Crafted pouches of baby food?! I'm here for it! August will be turning six months soon and it'll be time for him to experience his first taste of solids, and I love the idea of buying baby food in packaging that's transparent. I got a taste of their Apples, Pumpkin, and Carrots, and it was kinda delicious for baby food! #ImJustSaying

As stated on their website, "It's premium organic foods that offers the best possible nutrition for growing babies." Can I get a "yum"?!

Baby Bjorn's High Chair
Okay... so I'm kind of obsessed with this here high chair! It's safe (the high chair makes it harder to stand up or push legs against a table and fall backwards), it has an ergonomic design (the curved backrest helps the little one to sit up and can be adjusted as the babe grows), it can be folded up and takes up minimal space (with a small NYC apartment, need I say more?!), and it's easy to clean (yes, I actually tested it out).

I've got to get my hands on it so August and I can give it a more in-depth review!

photo via BCM website

Baby Zen YoYo Stroller
A lightweight stroller that literally folds up into the size of a diaper bag?! Three words: Sign. Me. Up! Not only does it offer convenience for parents on-the-go, but it also offers loads of comfort for babies and toddlers. The stroller also offers a sun canopy, a curved handlebar for one-handed steering, and a shoulder strap for shoulder carrying. As August becomes more mobile, I'm going to need a lightweight stroller that folds up nicely and doesn't take up too my space in my small apartment that I can easily manage on the subway, and umm, the YoYo is  definitely a top contender!

By the way, Aiden got to test it out with Baby August in it and they both approve -- it was a very smooth ride!

photo via BCM website

Gift of Gab
Now, y'all know I couldn't do a round-up without including dope apparel for the babies, right?!

In true Mommy Delicious fashion, one of the first tables that the boys and I visited was Gift of Gab. Because, fashion... hello! Their pieces are hand painted and made with gluten-free non-toxic ink. And it's straight up dope. (I said that already. It's that dope!)

But Gift of Gab is more than just first-words apparel. Based in NYC and Long Island, they are a group of speech language pathologists that provides clients with home-based therapeutic treatment or the option of Telespeech from the comfort of their own home. They also provide screenings, evaluations, and consultations. Fashion and child-development... two things that are near and dear to me!

Thanks so much to Big City Moms for hosting the 35th Biggest Baby Shower! It was a huge success and I'm so happy that the boys and I got to check it out! Can't wait for the next one!

{Disclaimer: I received a ticket to this event in order to facilitate this review. Press attendees received a gift bag. All opinions expressed herein are my own.} 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

This Is The Part About Parenting That I've Gotten Wrong

I didn't have much growing up.

Scratch that -- I didn't have any of my basic needs met when I needed them to be met. After my we (my mother, my two sisters, and I) got evicted from our apartment, we stayed in different shelters, roamed the streets, and, finally, one of my sisters and I ended up at my maternal grandmother's house, while my oldest sister ended up at a family friends' house.

I was five. And it would be years until we were all reunited.

I hated living with my grandmother. She was physically and emotionally abusive and downright mean. To this day, I'm convinced that she hated the burden of having to take care of me, and treated me like shit because of it.

After a couple years, my sister and I were removed and placed into a foster home. That was, quite literally, hell on Earth.

All the while, my mother continued to battle a drug addiction. And my father, well, he was long gone. (I don't remember if I knew this at the time, but he was serving a very long prison sentence.)

Growing up, I never quite felt like I had any of my basic needs met. I never quite felt like I had any of my emotional needs met. I never quite felt like I was cared for, protected, liked, loved. And I never felt like I was deserving.

All those thoughts and feelings were valid. They still are.

When Aiden was born, I vowed to change the narrative for him.

Aiden has the exact opposite life that I had. No, he doesn't have his other parent around consistently. But he has me. And I try to be as consistent with him as I can be. All of his basic needs are met on a daily basis. He has no idea what it's like to go hungry, to worry about where he's going to sleep at night, to worry about if he'll be safe or protected. That's a good thing. No kid should have to feel like that. Ever.

But beyond that.

Aiden has the exact opposite life that I had. His days after school are filled with a different extracurricular activity from chess to soccer to basketball to Tae Kwon Do. Saturdays are spent in swimming class. Summers are spent at summer camp and weekend trips exploring other cities. He gets to take several trips throughout the year -- both domestic and international. He gets to experience NYC and all the kid-friendly cultural things this city has to offer. He gets to go to dope media events because I have this blog. At home, he has an iPad and a Nintendo DS that he loves to play with. His toy bins are filled to the max with legos and costumes and cars and balls. So much so that they're practically overflowing. His library is so filled with so many books that I have to keep some in the closet and put them out on a rotating basis.

He has a good life.

We're not rich, but I make sure that he has a good life. I make sure that he feels cared for, protected, liked, loved... deserving.

And herein lies the issue.

He feels so deserving that he has a sense of entitlement when it comes to a lot of things. He feels like he's entitled to take vacations, like he's entitled to have extracurricular activities, like he's entitled to go to basketball clinic, like he's entitled to toys and gadgets and technology.

And this is the part about parenting that I've gotten wrong.

It's been a hard year for him -- I've been very transparent about that. But the village and I put some plans in place for him and he's gotten a lot better. Thank you Jesus!

But, over the past two weeks, he's been in this downward spiral. (To say that I'm beyond frustrated is an understatement.)

It all started when he took on of his friend's Pokemon cards without asking. And then refused to give it back when his teacher asked him to return it. (I feel my blood pressure rising all over again just from typing this.) Of course he knows what stealing is and that stealing is wrong, but here's the thing: he took the card because he wanted it, because he felt entitled to have it.

Of course, we had a conversation about stealing and what happens when people commit crimes. And y'all know I gave it to him straight -- no chaser -- right? And then I took all of his 200+ Pokemon cards away from him. (I have plans to give them away to other kids.)

But that's not what's really bothering me. Kids make mistakes. Kids do things that they aren't supposed to do and we're here to help them with it -- it's called "Life".

The part that's bothering me is that I've helped in creating this sense of entitlement. I've been so caught up in making sure that his life is better than the one I had growing up that I've forgotten to let him know that he does not deserve anything "extra" -- he has to work for it!

This is the part about parenting that I've gotten wrong.

And so now I need to get it right. I need to teach him that the world doesn't owe him anything, that he doesn't deserve anything beyond his basic needs being met, that he's not the center of the universe and there are other people around him with thoughts and feelings and needs. Now I need to teach him that his words and actions have an effect on other people.

Because what the world does not need more of is a self-centered, grown man who can't do anything for himself, but still feels like he's owed the world.

This is that part about parenting that I will learn how to get right.


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