Friday, February 28, 2014

Teaching Inspiration, Team Work, and Competition

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games were the perfect time to start the conversation on inspiration, team work, and competition with our children. However, the conversation certainly doesn't have to end with the closing ceremonies.

There are so many ways to inspire and teach what it takes to be a part of a team to children, and streaming movies on Netflix is just one of many. When streaming, don't just pick any ol' movie -- go for the ones that makes for a great family movie night and a great conversation on the results of hard work and dedication.

Below are a few picks that'll be sure to get children thinking and talking and inspired to put their best effort into everything all year long:

The Kid
This is one of my picks because Aiden's really getting into different types of sports these days, and boxing is one of them. The Kid features an older boxing trainer, Harry Sloan, who trains and young boxer, Jimmy. The plot thickens as Jimmy attempts to hide his passion from his parents who don't approve of his pursuits. It's a great film about passion and purpose and never giving up, even in the face of obstacles.

A Mile In His Shoes
This inspiring movie teaches tolerance and acceptance like no other. Arthur Murphy, a manager of a minor-league baseball team, finds a renewed inspiration after hiring a new pitcher who suffers from Asperger's. A Mile In His Shoes is a tear-jearker, but in a good way. And it's also a conversation starter for young children.

Like Mike 2
Aiden loved the prequel to this movie and is just as excited to see Like Mike 2. Although Jerome is too young, too slow, and too short for basketball, when he puts on a pair of Michael Jordan's old sneakers, he takes his b-ball game to a whole new level. This movie resonates so much with Aiden, and I think it'll resonate with other children as well, not only because it is about a very popular sport, but also because it is about belief in oneself and one's ability.

What films do you stream on Netflix in order to discuss hard work, team work, and good old competition with your children?

{Disclaimer: As a member The Netflix Stream Team, this post is sponsored by Netflix. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From Likable to Lovable

When I got word that one of my mentors in my head, Ernst Cochy, was coming out with a book for single folks or single folks in a dating relationship, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The Guy and I decided to change our Facebook status to "in a relationship" a couple months ago (because, you know, that's what makes it officially "official") and, as you already know, I've got some work to do.

(So does he, but I only have control over my actions and my reactions, right? Right. But I digress.)

Enter the book.

From Likable to Lovable: Your Path to Finding True Love is like a warm, comforting hug from that cool older brother you've always wanted. I read it. Twice. In fact, I devoured it! Because, all throughout the book, Mr. Cochy shares stories, drops information, and kicks knowledge like it's nobody's business. And he does all of this while keeping it all the way real.

I learned so much from the book, but two things will particularly stick with me for a long time:

Stop operating from a place of fear.
"When you relate to people from a standpoint of fear, you focus primarily on yourself and on how you look in the other person's eyes... But when you relate to people from a standpoint of love, you focus mainly on the person to whom you are relating, and to their comfort, enjoyment, and well-being."

I've definitely been guilty of this in past, err, "situationships." It's pretty sad when I think about it though, because I never really showed them my true self. It was a persona of who I thought they wanted me to be.

I'm still learning how to let my guard down, communicate more effectively, and just show my true self to folks. (And by "folks," I mean "The Guy.") It's still a struggle that I try to work through on a daily basis, but reading that I'm operating from a place of fear -- and not love -- was eye-opening and was definitely a moment of revelation for me. 

Don't hide romantic relationships from friends and family. 
Perhaps I already knew this one deep down inside. I learned it the hard way with Aiden's other parent. When he and I first met, I didn't introduce him to any of my close friends or family members. Maybe deep down inside I was afraid that they'd tell me, "No girl, he ain't the one for you." Or "You in danger, girl" (name that reference!). But either way, I kept our relationship pretty much a secret.  (There I go operating from a place of fear again.)

In the book, Cochy lets us know the importance of introducing a potential partner to close friends and family members -- because they can discern if this person is a good catch for you or not. So far, I've introduced The Guy to my close friends and family, the pastor of my childhood church, my godparents, who are very much like parents to me, and other folks. And so far, he's gotten very good reviews. Score! 

There are so many more teachable moments in the book that my pencil and highlighter were on fire. (Yes, I still read actual books. No, I'm not an iPad or Kindle kind-of-girl. Yes, I still like the feeling of turning pages. Yes, I'm old-school like that.)

From Likable to Lovable is a true guide book for love. The belief of love and its power, the love of oneself, the love of others, the love of God. It teaches in a very casual way, almost as if you're having dinner with a older friend and he's sharing stories and lessons learned and been-there-done-that advice. If you're single and thinking about dating or if you're in a dating relationship, this is a really good book for you.

Head over to the website to order your copy. Read it. Twice. (You're welcome.) 

{Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of From Likable to Lovable in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Monday, February 24, 2014

{Personal Style} Tuxedo Trousers

trousers and biker jacket: H&M | shoes: Aldo | 
blouse: Peter Pilotto for Target | bag: Tory Burch 
stacked bracelets: Stella & Dot, Aldo Accessories 

Hello Spring!

Well, not quite. But it certainly felt like the onset of Spring this weekend as temperatures flirted with the 50-degree mark. In fact, it was a great time to take the slim tuxedo pants out for a spin, which I totally fell in love with when I first spotted them a few weeks ago.

I donned the dapper bottoms with my blue suede pumps and a Peter Pilotto for Target blouse. It's perfect for the I'm-feeling-like-crap-today-because-I-didn't-get-enough-sleep-so-I-really-needed-to-dress-up-today look at work. The faux leather biker jacket glams up the look in a very trendy way, which I'll swap for a basic blazer while at work, because, well, it's not quite work appropriate.

Unfortunately, New York City temperatures will be dropping back down to the 30's this week, but best believe that this outfit will be back in the rotation once Spring is here to stay.

I. Can't. Wait!

Hope you all have a great week! Stay stylish!

Friday, February 21, 2014

{Dating Tales} That Time I Didn't Communicate Properly. Again.

I'm sitting on my bed, iPhone in hand, and I'm browsing through my Instagram. It's Saturday, Aiden and I just got back from an afternoon date in Manhattan, and all I want to do is chill out for the remainder of the day. I had a really long and tiring week at work, this evening called for rest and relaxation.

As I'm aimlessly scrolling through the pictures on my Instagram feed, I stop suddenly. The picture that's staring back at me makes my blood boil. I can feel my heart rate speeding up and feel my blood pressure rising.

It's The Guy.

He's on a ski trip. And it's not your typical happy-go-lucky, family winter vacation ski trip. It more like a girls-gone-wild, boys-go-hard, 1 cabin with 27 young, single professionals. (Except, of course, for my man. Who is not single. Not even a little bit.)

The picture isn't anything "bad" -- just him laughing and smiling and having a good time with six different girls. Six! The girls are his friends, but still. They're girls. In a picture. On a ski trip. With my man. Who is not single. Not even a little bit.

Rewind 24-hours. The Guy hits me up to say his homeboy is inviting him on a ski trip/Superbowl Party for the weekend. (Apparently someone dropped out of the trip at the last minute and they need someone to quickly fill the spot.) It's practically a free trip (save for the transportation fee), The Guy doesn't have a Superbowl party to go to, he's never been skiing before, and he's pretty exceed to jump at the opportunity.

I, on the other hand, am not that thrilled to hear the news.

"Umm… I don't think you have to go on a ski trip for the entire weekend just to watch the Superbowl" is what I say to The Guy when he calls to tell me the good news. (Sense the sarcasm.)

"You're right. But I've never been skiing before and it's basically free."

Silence on my part.

"But it's not worth it if you're gonna resent me."

Good answer dude. I should tell him this.

I don't. Instead I respond like this. "Well, I don't want you with me this weekend if you're gonna resent being with me and wishing you were skiing instead."

"I wouldn't resent you. I do want to go though."

More silence on my part. Clearly I'm beginning to shut down. Again. (Old habits die hard.)

Why can't he just read my damn mind and KNOW that I don't want him to go?! Like, do I have to spell it out gosh darn-it?! Oh, crap… The Guy's still talking.

"Something. Something. Something… Even though you won't admit it... Something. Something. Something... I already feel like I'm disappointing you."

Oh, so he DOES know that I don't want him to go. He's just gon' go 'head and go anyway, huh?

Fast forward to Saturday. I'm no longer lying on my bed and no longer relaxing. I'm looking at the Instagram picture, I'm livid, my blood pressure is rising, and a whole lotta mess is running through my head.


Eventually I calmed down. (Although there were some snide comments, sarcasm, and screaming involved on my end.) We talked — I talked — and I finally said what I should have said from the beginning of this entire fiasco, which is that I didn't want him to go. Which wasn't so hard to begin with. But I didn't say it to begin with.

These days, we're back on our Beyoncé-and-Jay-Z-crazy-in-love kick. I like it better this way.

Lesson learned: Effective communication in romantic relationships (and every other relationship for that matter) is kinda sorta really very necessary.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lessons From A Workaholic

The Guy: Are you about to do work?

Me: Yes.

The Guy: (Chuckles)
Me: What?!

The Guy: Nothing. It's just that you're... a workaholic.
This was the conversation The Guy and I had a few days ago. It seems like every once in a while someone asks me "How?" How do I "do it all"? How do I raise a kid, have a full time job, blog, freelance write, spend time with friends, and well, sleep? A few years ago it was at an Avon event with supermodel Christy Turlington, and a few days ago it was after I posted this Facebook status update:

"And just like that, I can also add 'Adjunct Professor' to my resume." Yes, I got another job. Yes, I already have a full plate. Yes, I'm still taking this one on with excitement.

It seems as though I'm always in this constant state of "Go!" and, more often than not, I push myself pretty hard. But that's because I can feel myself getting closer to my dreams. I can smell it in the air, and it's a sweet, sweet aroma. Real talk.

But even in the midst of working hard at working hard, I'm learning valuable life lessons:

Be more productive and less busy.

There seems to be an epidemic where we need to feel super busy at all times in order to feel like we're getting ish done. But that's not necessarily true. These days, I'm aiming to be more productive and less busy. I'm aiming to be on the grind when it's necessary to scratch things off of my To-Do List. Working smarter -- not necessarily harder -- is what it's really about.

Learn From The Experts
I know some things, but I learned a long time ago that I don't know everything and I definitely don't have all the answers. But I have folks in my inner circle who are experts at a lot of different things. And I keep those people close to me so that in time of need, they're a mere phone call, text, or email away. They're my mentors, and I'm eternally grateful that I can learn from them.

Take Time to Enjoy Loved Ones
My Mondays through Fridays usually look like this: make moves at my day job, spend time with Aiden in the evening, write at night. Repeat. But, last Saturday, Aiden and I went to the theater to see Bob Marley's Three Little Birds. Then, we had a lunch date in the city. That night, The Guy and I went to Atlantic City to celebrate his friend's birthday. It's important for me to break away from my typical schedule and take some time to make memories with the folks I love. Needless to say, that Saturday was pretty spectacular. The next day, I pretty much did nothing. Which brings me to my next point....

Take time to do absolutely nothing
I used to think that I was wasting time if I spent time doing nothing. But, at some point, I realized that having a Do Nothing Day helps me recharge. And if I'm gonna get down with the doers and the movers and the shakers of this world, I need to recharge. 

I guess because I strive to have a bit of "balance" (whatever that means) in my life, that I don't feel like a workaholic. I simply feel like I'm working towards my dreams. I have the opportunity to turn my dream into a reality and I'm going to jump on that opportunity.

It'd be really tragic if I don't.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Love... And This Single Mom Thing

The other day, Aiden crawled into my bed as soon as we got home and fell asleep. Around midnight, I picked him up and put him into his own bed. He didn't wake up until 5:45 the following morning.

He was tired.

Can't say that I blame him since he wakes up at 5:45 in the morning so that we can head out the door by 6:15. Monday through Friday.

You see, momma's gotta get to work early in the morning. Which means that baby boy's gotta get to school even earlier. He attends early morning drop-off and then stays for the after school program, where he enjoys art class and Zumba and piano lessons and music class and good ol' free play in the school gym.

He's got a long commute and longer days. He works. Hard! And he doesn't complain. Not once.

Because this is our life. All of it. It ain't all great, but it's not all bad either.

You see, when I dodged a bullet and ended things with his other parent, then took the plunge into this Single Mom thing, I decided that, "Hey, this is our life, kid. And we're gonna make the best of it."

And so we are.

By traveling and experiencing other cities. And going on vacations to Hawaii and to Disney World and all around the Caribbean. (And it being the first time for the both of us to experience these things, because, you know, we're growing together.) Aiden gets to go the swimming and soccer and private school and martial arts — things that I never got to do as a kid. And, my gosh, we go to the theater. A lot. Because it's a favorite past time for the both of us.

We play hard, but we also work hard. He grinds with me, and when I'm working, he's working. Hard! We're far from wealthy. But we're rich. In love and health and happiness. It's not easy — it's not supposed to be — but we're very blessed.

So this Valentine's Day, I'm celebrating love and life and single motherhood and children of single mothers, because, hey… this is our life. All of it. It's not perfect. But we make it work.

And it's worth it. It's so worth it.

Happy Valentine's Day, lovelies!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Indulge in Signature Cocktails with Van Gogh Vodka

The "Spice It Up" cocktail gave me LIFE!
Lovelies, brace yourself because your cocktails just got a little bit sexier. Yep, that's right. With it's vibrant, bold flavors and aromas, Van Gogh Vodka makes for one savory cocktail that you can enjoy alone or mixed in with other ingredients.

This past weekend, I attended a Singles In America event hosted by Single Edition Media in partnership with, and while listening to the panelist (which, by the way, featured the likes of Patty Stanger and Perez Hilton) talk about all things dating and sex, I indulged in some much needed cocktails.

The verdict's in for the Spice It Up (pictured above). One word: deliciousness! With 1.5 ounces of Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka, 3/4 ounces of milk, and 1/2 ounce of cinnamon syrup shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass, then topped with a pinch of chilli powder sugar, this cocktail gave me life! It was cool and smooth, sweet and flavorful. And it was strong. (I like my cocktails strong.)

With 22 flavored vodkas -- from banana to cool peach to dutch caramel to mango to mojito mint to vanilla, the possible recipes are endless. Luckily, event attendees got to take home a few samples and a recipe book, which is great because I'll be experimenting with vodka cocktails over the next few weeks. Weekends! I meant to say weekends.

Visit the Van Gogh Vodka website, follow them on Twitter or "like" them on Facebook for more information and exciting product updates!

{Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Van Gogh Vodka.}

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bob Marley's Three Little Birds at The New Victory Theater

"Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright..." ~ Bob Marley

This past weekend, Aiden put on a dapper outfit and we headed to the sunny island of Jamaica. Well, not exactly. We took a trip to The New Victory Theater to check out Bob Marley's Three Little Birds and, with the six-part harmony, vibrant live music, bold colors on the stage set, and Caribbean accents, it certainly felt like we were on the island of Jamaica. Needless to say, it was a lovely refuge from the frigid city temperatures we've been experiencing lately.

Lil dapper dude
Based on the children's book by Bob Marley's daughter, Cedella, the musical features Bob Marley's timeless music and lyrics, and shares the message of peace, love and harmony. Not only is Three Little Birds funny, but it is also replete with life lessons and old adages that are told to children in an age-appropriate way. "You cannot be so fearful that you don't enjoy the world" is one of the first things told to Ziggy (the main character) by his mother when he refuses to play outdoors because he's too worried about tropical storms and evil spirits.

Eventually Ziggy's friend, Nansi convinces him to go on an adventure to get water from the ocean. (Although they were instructed to get water from the well. Nansi's a trickster like that and can get Ziggy to pretty much do what she wants him to do.) On their adventure they run into Duppy, the evil-spirit bird who wants to snatch a lock of Ziggy's gorgeous hair.

With Bob Marley's "One Love" playing in the background, Ziggy's best bird friend, Doctor Bird, along with his companions, drop knowledge like it's nobody's business:

Laugh when you're happy; cry when you're sad; and do both when you're the happiest you've ever been. 

When the music changes, so does the dance. 

A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song. 

Autographed copies of our programs
What happens next between Ziggy, Nansi, and Duppy? Does Doctor Bird's knowledge ever sink in with Ziggy? Does Ziggy ever get over his fear of the outdoors? Does he ever embrace the vibrant spirit of Jamaica?  See the show to find out!

The musical is funny, engaging, and delightful. The best part? Watching Aiden sing along as the cast members sang "Is This Love?," "Jamming," and "Three Little Birds." I'm a fan of Bob Marley's songs and message, which is why I wanted to take Aiden to see the show, but I had no idea how much of Bob Marley's songs Aiden knows without me actually -- and explicitly -- playing them for him. It's amazing the way Bob Marley's songs have impacted so many people and generations!

Photo op with cast members Ziggy and Nansi
Bob Marley's Three Little Birds will run at The New Victory Theater through February 23, 2014. The musical is 55 minutes with no intermission and is great for children of all ages. Balcony seat prices start at just $14. Visit the website for more information or to get your tickets.

{Disclaimer: I received tickets to Three Little Birds in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New York Family Magazine Bloggers We Love

It's not everyday that something brings a tear to my eyes. But reading about myself and this corner of the world wide web that I work so hard to maintain did it for me a couple days ago.

I was extremely ecstatic when I found out that I was chosen as one of the ten people for the Bloggers We Love piece over on New York Family Magazine. I love the site and read it all the time so being featured on it was major.

But I was not quite prepared for the thoughtful and kind words said about me. It warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I don't blog for recognition -- I do it to share my experiences, to let the next person going through a difficult time know that everything will be okay, to talk about lessons learned and why it's important to keep pushing and keep pressing towards goals. To talk to single mothers. To talk to younger mothers. To connect with you. And you. And you.

But it still feels good to get confirmation that I'm making a true difference while doing this work. And the kind and thoughtful words? They're a real tearjerker:
"Harper makes a schedule look good. She holds a full-time job as an educator, is a single parent to 6-year-old Aiden, and runs a heartfelt blog. Did we mention she's in her 20s and has three degrees from Columbia University? On top of it all, she still has time to look fashionable! Despite her success in life, Harper has faced serious challenges, and she's not afraid to get real about it." -- New York Family Magazine
See what I mean when I said it's a real tearjerker?!

Head on over to New York Family Magazine to check out the full article. And get your tissues ready!

{Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this post.}

Monday, February 10, 2014

{Personal Style} Rocker Chic in Blue Suede Shoes

jacket: H&M | shoes: Aldo | dress: Urban Outfitters
Not many occasions call for a sparkly, cleavage-bearing mini-dress. I mean, the last time I wore this bad boy was New Years Eve 2011. But this weekend, The Guy and I headed to Atlantic City, NJ to celebrate his friend's birthday, and it was totally necessary to break out the mini-dress.

I don't gamble. (I work too hard for my dollars for there to be a 50% chance that I could lose it.) But I do dance. And that's exactly what I did! All. Night. Long. (Well, until 3am, with a few breaks here and there... Momma's getting old-er.)

This time, I paired my mini-dress with blue suede stilettos and a faux leather biker jacket for a trendy, rocker-chic look. It was love at first sight with those pieces and I'm happy they paired well with my sparkly dress.

Hope you guys have a great week! Stay stylish!

Monday, February 3, 2014

{Personal Style} The Graphic Tee and Quirky Kid

It's so funny and interesting the way kids develop their own personality with their own interests and their own style. Every time I realize that about Aiden, I get a little teary-eyed. I can't believe how much he's growing into his own!

He's like... a real person!

Needless to say, he's got his own style. And while I still pick out most of clothes when we're in the store (since I'm the who paying for them), he's beginning to style more and more of his own outfits. Aiden asked for this faux leather jacket a while ago, but I only recently purchased it for him (when it went on sale... cha-ching!). And, although I had a different vision for how I wanted to style the outfit, he thought it looked best like this:

I love the quirky striped graphic t-shirt underneath not only because it goes perfectly with the button-downed red shirt, but also because it goes perfectly with Aiden's quirky personality. 

Not sure what's going on with these jazz hands, but hey...
And then Aiden paired the outfit with his brand new kicks. A few weeks ago, we attended Tristin and Tyler's 10th birthday party and in our gift bag was a gift card to Kids Foot Locker. Needless to say, we put the gift card to good use. Thanks T&T!

 I really like the way the blue contrasts with the red and black. Bold, sharp, and totally trendy. What do you guys think of the outfit Aiden put together? Yay or nay?

Hope you have a fabulous week! Stay stylish!


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