Friday, March 29, 2013

The Beauty of Hard Work

[At the hotel, in Philly]
Earlier this week, I was over on the Mommy Delicious Facebook page (per usual), talking about all of the things I had planned for Aiden and me during our Spring Break. Amongst the list was something for myself, such as a massage and dinner with friends. 

Then I talked about things that I had planned with Aiden: an overnight stay at St. John the Divine Cathedral for a Knightwatch Medieval Times Show and Scavenger Hunt (stay tuned for an article about this cool event on NY Metro Parents!), a trip to the Children's Museum of the Arts, a Broadway show, and an overnight trip to a nearby city (Philly) so we can stay in a hotel, play tourist, and feel as though we went "away". 

We're currently in Philly and plan to enjoy every... single... minute... of our stay.

In response to my posting, some people mentioned how lucky Aiden and I are to be able to be on the move like this. Others mentioned their jealously, albeit jokingly. 

To these responses, I have two major thoughts:
1. I work hard. And I play hard. That's no secret because I'm pretty transparent about my struggles. I do share when I'm hustling and I let y'all know that the grind is not easy. Because it ain't. This week was fun and low key and not a struggle at all. But it wasn't all fun and games. I didn't share the times when Aiden sat with me in Starbucks -- bored -- drinking organic apple juice and eating a banana while I answered emails and met a deadline. It happened. And it wasn't exactly the highlight of our spring break. But it was necessary.

So... even though I genuinely feel as though the "I'm jealous!" comments were said in jest and were completely harmless, I know what it's like to look at my Facebook Newsfeed, Twitter Timeline, or, more recently, Instagram photos and feel jealous of someone else's dope life.

I'm human. It happens. 

But I choose to focus on my own life. Because it's dope to the third power.

So... when you're having those little feelings, focus back on your own life. Because you never know what someone had to go through to get where they are. If the grass looks greener on the other side, best believe that the water bill is higher over there too. (I didn't come up with that; someone else did, but it's pretty dope and pretty fitting, no?)

We work hard in my little family of two. But we play hard too. Which brings me to my next point. 

2. Work hard, work smart, and work diligently. It's not only good for us, but it also sets a great example for our children and teaches them the value of hard work. But... take some time to enjoy all that you've worked for. Take some time to enjoy all that you're working for. 
That's the beauty of hard work -- when you get to enjoy it and reap the rewards that you were sowing.
Smell the roses. Go on a short trip. Play tourist. Do something in your own town that you've never done before. Create new memories with your children.
This is your life. 
Experience it. 
Go live it. On purpose.

Monday, March 25, 2013

{Personal Style} Sparkles and Oxfords

[blazer, vest, accessories: H&M; skinnies, GAP; oxfords: Bakers; bag: Urban Outfitters; shirt: Joe Fresh]
Although I'm excited that Spring has finally arrived, I'm not-so-excited that the temps are hardly reflecting it. Meh. This weekend, I was channeling warmer weather with an ensemble that included oxfords, a navy blazer, a faux fur vest (to stay a little warm -- I'm not that cray cray!), and a bit of sparkle.

I was escorting Aiden to a birthday party, so I wanted to be cool, comfortable, and every bit stylish. Always stylish!

I scored this over-sized leather bag a while ago from Urban Outfitters and love that I can fit almost anything in it. Not to mention that it's super fashionable and totally "Mommy Delicious."

 These flats are super comfortable and cute, and definitely a new fave. In fact, I'm on the hunt for a few different styles and colors.

Wishing you all a week filled with sparkles and sunshine. If you're on Spring Break, enjoy every moment of it. Stay stylish!

Friday, March 22, 2013

In Response to The NYC Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ads

I was 22-years-old when I got pregnant with Aiden. It was the year following my college graduation. I had an Ivy League degree, a full time job as an elementary school teacher, an idea of the direction I wanted to take my career, and plans to apply to graduate school in the near future. I had a promising future and, by my own definition, I was well on my way to being somewhat successful.

Then, I saw the positive sign on the pregnancy test and immediately felt like a failure.


Because I looked like I was 17-years-old. There was a certain naïvete about me that made me seem even younger clueless than I actually was. Also, I didn't have a ring on my fourth finger, left hand, and I felt as though people would judge me, shame me, and associate me with every negative stereotype associated with a young, single, pregnant girl.

And, unfortunately, I was right.

The teen pregnancy prevention campaign the NYC Department of Social Services is currently running brings me right back to that feeling I had when I saw the positive sign on the pregnancy test almost six years ago — back to that feeling of shame and failure. It brings back memories of the hurtful things people said to me while I was pregnant.

"Wow, how old are you?"

"Where's the father?"

"Poor thing."

“Do you know who the father is?"

The teen pregnancy prevention campaign the NYC Department of Social Services is currently running is no different.

Head over to REDBOOK to read the rest of my response to these ads, which are everything but effective, in my opinion.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

{Review and Giveaway} Piggy Nation, The Musical!

This past weekend, Aiden and I headed to the Snapple Theater Center in Midtown Manhattan to check out Piggy Nation, The Musical! Because it was pretty much 75 minutes of smiles and laughter, I knew Aiden had a good time. But, the educator in me wanted to make sure that he understood the themes and lessons behind the acting. This is just part of the conversation that ensued:
Me: What was your favorite part about Piggy Nation?
When the pig was giving them tickets.
Why was the pig giving out tickets?
Because they were talking too loud on the cellphone and they were littering all over.
Did you learn anything from that part?
Yeah... don't talk too loudly when I'm using a cellphone. And don't litter either.
Well, at least he won't have to worry about the cellphone thing any time soon. But, I'm glad that he got the message about littering - don't do it because it is inconsiderate, "piggy behavior."

That's the thing about Piggy Nation, The Musical -- it is ripe with laughter and age-appropriate lessons. Based of off the award-winning children's book, Piggy Nation: A Day At Work With Dad, Piggy Nation, The Musical is a story of father and son, mother and daughter, love, life, laughter, and lessons learned. (It's no secret that I feel strongly about learning lessons and moving forward.)

[photo via]
The audience certainly had a good time, and they learned lessons along the way. From "you don't have to be a pig to be a piggy," to "admit when you're thoughtless, acknowledge when you're wrong, and lose the attitude," Piggy Nation, The Musical certainly speaks to both children and adults alike.

While Aiden and I had front-row seats for this off-broadway production, the theater is rather intimate and any seat feels "close" to the stage and the actors. I think this is what I liked best about the show -- it feels interactive and gives children the sense that they are apart of the show. To top it all off, audience members were able to meet the actors and take pictures with them after the show! Needless to say, we had a good time and I'd certainly recommend it.

Piggy Nation, The Musical is now playing at the Jerry Orbach Theater at the Snapple Theater Center -- 210 West 50th Street. Performances are on Saturdays at 11am and 5pm, and Sundays at 12pm. Tickets are $60 for premium seats and $30 to $44 for standard seats, and are available st the Snapple Theater box office at 212.921.7862 or online at

The good folks over at Piggy Nation, The Musical is graciously offering ONE lucky Mommy Delicious reader a family pack of four tickets.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below stating that you'd like to be entered.

For one extra entry, tweet about this giveaway and make sure you @MommyDelicious AND @PiggyNationNYC in the tweet.

For another extra entry, share this giveaway on Facebook and be sure to tag Mommy Delicious in the post.

The giveaway will end on Monday, March 25th. Three entries total. Good luck!

{Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Monday, March 18, 2013

{Personal Style} Colorblocking and Prabal Gurung for Target

[blouse: Joe Fresh; pants: H&M; pumps: Prabal Gurung for Target]
For the last weekend of the season, Winter decided to show off a bit with snow flurries and crisp temperatures pretty much all day on Saturday.

But it was St. Patty's Day weekend and a birthday brunch for my friend K, so the flurries didn't stop the fun. We headed to PS 450 in Midtown East and I was indulging in bellini cocktails and mimosas, and well on the way to my happy place by noon. But in a classy and graceful way, of course.

[A on the left; K on the right]
In the spirit of all things St. Patrick's Day, I wore a green blouse that color-blocked perfectly with navy slim-fit pants. I was channeling Spring (two more days... woot!) with these Nolita Print Pumps from the Prabal Gurung for Target collection. They are so festive and I predict that I'll have a lot of fun with these bad boys this season.

[via Mommy Delicious on Instagram]
Yes, once the alcohol wore off, I realized that I was slightly -- more than a little bit -- cold. But that's a small price to pay for a cute outfit and a good time.

I finished off the look with one of my fave hairstyles -- a top knot. And my face was beat with MAC, Bobbi Brown, and Maybelline.

Hope you all had a great St. Patrick's Day weekend. Have a stylish week!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Story Behind The Bracelet

The week was rough.

But that goes without saying so I'm not here to complain about it.

Yesterday, I worked late and, as a result, Aiden and I did not get home until after 7pm. After eating, giving him a bathe, and sitting on the living room floor playing "farm animals" with him, I was able to successfully get Aiden to bed by 9:30pm. Late, I know. I blame single motherhood.

"Mommy, I have a surprise for you. And you will love it so much that you will give me a big hug and kiss."

Those were the first words Aiden said to me when I picked him up.

"What's the surprise, A?"

"I didn't tell anyone about the surprise because it's a secret. I made it today in school and I put it in a (not "an," but I'll let that one slide) envelope and closed the envelope so no one else could see the surprise," he said.

"Oh yeah? I'm so excited!"

I really was excited. Like a child on Christmas morning. This was the best part of my day. Aiden is the best part of my day. Always.

When we got home, he gave me an envelope that read:
An aside: More often than not he'll start his words too far on the right side of the page so he'll end up spelling words from right-to-left as opposed to spelling them from left-to-right. (It's kinda cute right now, but in about a year or so, it will be not-so-cute.)

"Close your eyes..." he said, as I held out my hands. "No, no, no... I'll open it for you." He smiled and then laughed. Such a sweetheart! 

I closed my eyes as I was instructed to do. And waited while I heard him rip open the envelope.


"Awww... Aiden! I love this bracelet! It's so beautiful."

I picked him up and gave him a tight hug and a big kiss.

"Are you happy, Mommy?"

"Absolutely, A. This is amazing. And it was so thoughtful of you."

This was exactly what I needed after a stressful week at work, after being "on it" for so long, after taking care of everyone else.

I spend so much time thinking about how I'm raising Aiden, how much I do for him, if I'm doing enough of the "right" things for him, how he'll grow, how single motherhood will affect him. I think and I worry and I think some more. And I encourage myself that things will be fine with him and I think even more and I tell myself that he'll grow into a great man one day who is caring, kind, God-fearing, socially-competent, and self-sufficient. All of that good stuff.

Then we have moments like this one. Moments that make me smile. Moments that helps to melt the stress away. Moments that let's me know everything will be okay and that this single mom gig is quite alright. Moments that make it all worth it.

I'm so blessed to have this kid in my life. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

They Don't Teach This in Grad School

I've been hit on at work before. Plenty of times. (Just stating facts here, not trying to say I'm all that or anything.)

I've always been able to maintain my integrity and professionalism, and decline any offers with some level of poise. But last week, something bizarre happened that almost threw me off my A-game...

[photo via]
I'm sitting in my office and my blackberry vibrates. It's a text message from a father of one of my students.

This is a student whose father I've been in contact with a lot recently because he's been going through a phase where he's struggling behaviorally. Basically, homeboy has not been following the rules or trying his best, and me being who I am, I've been working diligently to develop a plan with his teachers and father to get him back on track.

A week prior, the boy (who is in the 4th grade, by the way) is suspended for repeatedly hitting another student. (This is after he was given several reminders to keep his hands to himself.) His father and I have a meeting afterwards and during the meeting, Father Dude mentions that he, "like(s) the way I sound."

A day after the kid returns to school from his one-day suspension, he hits another child in his class. This time, I call Father Dude to speak with him so that we can get him back on track and set him up for success. Father Dude's response? "Well, I can talk to you all day, Ms. Harper, but if you want me to speak with ---,I guess I will."

Umm. Okay.

I ignore this comment and concentrate on the issue at hand. (It's the adult thing to do, no?)

After Father Dude speaks with his son, I take the phone back and let him know that I will call him at the end of the day to give him an update on how the remainder of the day goes.

That evening, when I call Father Dude's phone (as I promised I would), his wife picks up. (Yep, you read that right. Father dude is married.) She tells me that her husband is not around, but that she'll have him reach out to me when he returns from the store. He calls me back and we have a cordial conversation regarding the rest of his son's day. (Presumably the wife was within ear shot.)

Fast forward to the following morning.

I'm sitting in my office and my blackberry vibrates. It's a text message from Father Dude. And it reads thus: "You know I like you Ms. Harper. I was mad she picked up my phone."

Wait. There's more. The plot thickens.

"At the risk of being just a little inappropriate, can I ask you to a dinner for conversation? I would like to know more about you. Please reply."

Umm... a little inappropriate?! Is this what the world is coming to?!

The issue at hand has now shifted from the son's behavior to Father Dude's behavior. This needs to be addressed. Immediately.

I reply, but I leave my attitude out of it. "I appreciate the offer, but it would be unprofessional for me to maintain a relationship with any parent that is outside of the typical academic one. I will continue to support --- academically in any way possible."

I want to say something totally different though. Believe me. But I have to see Father Dude for the remainder of the school year, until his kid graduates and goes off to the middle school.

[photo via]
They surely don't teach how to respond to these things in undergrad or grad school or any type of professional development session I've been to...

What would you have done?

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Reminder from My Son

[sweater, denim jeans, kicks: GAP Kids; shirt: H&M]
I'm sitting on the living room couch, hunched over, typing away on my laptop. Aiden is nearby, switching between playing with his superheroes and completing a floor puzzle.

He looks over at me and asks, "Mommy, can you help me with this puzzle?"

"No, my love," I respond. "You can do that puzzle all by yourself."

He can. And I know this because he's a rockstar when it comes to putting puzzles together. He doesn't need my help. He just wants my help. (I'm too engrossed in my work and too focused on finishing it up to realize this at the time. I don't "get it.")

He completes the puzzle all by himself and smiles. He's happy.

"Wow, Aiden! You did an awesome job," I say.

"Yeah. I'm the king of puzzles, you know that? Because I'm good at puzzles."

He's right. He is good at puzzles. A little arrogant, but good nonetheless.

Aiden then comes over to the couch. "Would you like to play superheroes with me?"

"I can't right now, but as soon as I'm finished, I'll play with you."

"Hmm... what are you doing?," he asks.

"Work," I respond.

[54-piece floor puzzle done! All by his lonesome.]
"Well..." His voices trails off. He's thinking. I could see the wheels turning in his little head. He looks up at me, a smile plastered on his face. He's got a big idea. I can tell.

"...Could you just work at work and not at home?"

Okay. So now I get it.

He isn't trying to be sassy or a know-it-all. In fact, he asks the question in the most innocent way. But it still throws me off guard because I've gotten so used to working hard all day long. It's normal for me. And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it's perfectly okay to hustle; it's okay to be diligent; it's great to have a good work ethic and grit and perseverance and all those awesome characteristics that'll help you climb the career ladder.

Bottom line: I'm a believer in good 'ol hard work.

But being productive is way more important to me than being busy. (Less busy, more productive this year. That's the goal, remember?) Now I'm going to strive to get more things done at work (or when Aiden goes to bed) so that I can own my time at home better.

That way, I can enjoy distraction-free time with Aiden. Because that's also very important.

I'm so thankful to him for giving me this little reminder...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

{Guest Post} Four Tips to Becoming A Money-Saving Parent

Written By Jiro Watanabe

Being a mom is hard enough. You have to take care of your kids, keep the house clean, and manage the family budget. If you are a stay-at-home mom, making ends meet with one income can be especially difficult. Even if you are a two-income family, things can still get rough in today’s economy. Whatever your situation is, there are always ways to cut costs.

Shop Smarter
Where you buy things can make a big difference on how much you spend. Almost every frugalista out there is a strong proponent of thrift-store shopping. Of course, you do not have to buy the items that look old and worn out unless you want to, but a lot of times you can find those barely-used items. Find out what days your local thrift stores re-stock their shelves, and one of the first ones there to get the most options of quality goods.

Look for alternative ways to buy common items. If you need a new car, you could go to a new car lot and pay way too much, or you could go to a used-car lot. When you buy used cars, you avoid the biggest depreciation hit. The 2013 Honda Odyssey, for example, starts at $28,600, but the 2008 Honda Odyssey starts at $13,600.

Time Matters
Yahoo suggests purchasing produce items in the evening since the prices will probably be reduced so the store can get rid of it while it is still good. The time of year can also make a difference. At the end of every season, stores clearance out whatever items are remaining. Life on the Frugal Side points out that you can save hundreds by buying clothing and beauty products when the new-season items are about to arrive.

Consider Bartering
Bartering is making a comeback, and there is no reason you should be left out of the fun. The idea is that you trade something you have for something someone else has. Or better yet, trade one of your talents for a talent of someone else. Are you good at cutting hair? Why not trade your mechanic friend a haircut for a car repair?

Stay Home
Going out with kids can be expensive. Living on a Dime believes that kids don’t care what they are doing as long as they are having fun and are with you. They will have as much fun running around with you in the backyard or park as they will going to the zoo. You can also take advantage of the library for some free entertainment, including books and movies. Do a quick browser search to find what local entertainment is in your town that's either free or low-cost.
  • Check out your town's community calendar
  • Get involved in community sports
  • Play board games or card games
  • Go to a local pool, when weather permits
  • Go to a local playground
  • Build a cardboard castle
  • Go on a hike or a long walk

Monday, March 4, 2013

{Guest Post} Spring Fashion Trends for the Trendy Mom

Written by Marie Hunter

You're Super Mom, able to leap tall piles of laundry in a single bound. Not only are you conquering your full time office job, you're faster than a speeding bullet at getting this kids to after-school practices on time. Every night, you vanquish your archenemies, Dinner and Homework Help, before saving the world all over again the next day. However, just because you're busy being invincible every minute doesn't mean that you can't look fabulous while doing it, just like any other super-hero.

With spring right around the corner, what's a super-trendy super-mom to wear? Here are some warm weather fashion choices to keep you looking your best while you're out there, being super:
[photo via]
While draping yourself head to toe entirely in shiny metallics might be a bit overkill (even for a super-hero), that doesn't mean you can show some shine and sparkle here and there with metallic accessories. Metallics work for shoes, nail polish, bags, and, of course, jewelry. Sporting gold and silver can make you feel like a million bucks, even if you're on a budget.
Bold Stripes
Forget what you've always heard about horizontal stripes. They won't make you look wider. In fact, bold, thick stripes can be incredibly flattering, especially when paired with the right pants or a pencil skirt. They're even making appearances on catwalks. If you're still unsure how to show your stripes, consider accessorizing it. Striped handbags are a great way to play with the style without committing to wearing it.
It can be tough to feel pretty when you've been sitting in meeting after meeting, changing diapers, cooking meals, or running errands all day. But donning a top or dress with a lacy overlay can make you feel like the woman you are, all over again. Feminine and soft, lace is poised to be one of the hottest trends of this coming spring.
Jewelry and Accessories
This year is going to be big for accessorizing. Some trends to add to your fashion repertoire include fringe necklaces, brightly-colored gypsy jewelry, and eternity bracelets. Whether you're keeping things casual in jeans or headed out in your favorite cocktail dress for a night on the town, the right jewelry and accessories can turn any super-mom's outfit into the height of super trendy fashion.
So, remember, Super Moms: No super-hero is complete without a super ensemble, and that doesn't include sweats and a ratty old Van Halen tee-shirt. Spring is the perfect time to revamp your personal style, so embrace your inner fashionista and dress your best. There's no better season to start looking as super on the outside as you are on the inside.
About the author: When Maire isn't lost in reading the latest hot novel, she is planning her future vacations to tropical places. She also loves taking care of her cat, Walter, and her Scottish Terrier, Pete.

Friday, March 1, 2013

{Guest Post} Kid-Friendly Date Ideas

Written by Amanda Carlson

{photo via}
Spending one-on-one time with your child is very important for building your bonding relationship. Take your kiddo on a date without the other siblings and parent, and make a day of fun just for the two of you. They will love it and don’t forget the camera! 

Local festivals: Taking your kid on a fun date to a local festival is full of free activities and gives them a chance to get outside and burn some energy! Whether you choose an arts festival or food market, these are great inexpensive ways to spend time with your kiddo. Most of these events offer free entry for children and offer many different activities like games and face painting. 

Kids Museum: Try making your date with you child something educational for both of you. Children museums have great day and weekend special for families. Check your local children museum website calendar for different shows, exhibits and activities each month. Consider purchasing a membership visit once a month. Visiting a museum is an excellent way to create memories and fun! 

Book Store: If you are lucky your city has a small mom and pop book store with a great catering towards children. Most of these small book stores host readings and story time for kids on a weekly basis. Pair this book store date with allowing them to pick out one book to take home. Visiting a book store promotes more time reading and less time in front of the television and video games. 

Drive in movie: Although drive in movies are becoming extinct, you can find these rare gems hidden typically on the outskirts of a large city. Drive in movies are one of a kind and a memory builder. If you are unable to find a drive in, make your own! Grab all your favorite snacks and pillows and blankets. Have a camp out in your living room and watch your child’s favorite movie! 

An old diner: Who doesn’t love a yummy old fashioned burger and milkshake? Old diners have a sense of nostalgia that even kids understand and love. Share a milkshake and just enjoy the oldies played over the speakers and chat. When is the last time you had just a long and simple conversation with your child without any interruptions? 

Instead of dragging your kids to a movie or to the park, try something a little different this weekend. These five fun date ideas are not only low cost but they are probably something your child has never experienced. Start making memories and pick your favorite!

About the author: Amanda Carlson, a blogger as well as a former newborn care nurse contributed this post. To stay connected to her previous career and share the knowledge she gained, she began writing for You can reach her at:
amanda [dot] newborncare [at] gmail [dot] com.


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