Monday, March 31, 2014

Embracing Exploration

Spring marks the beginning of a very exciting time for school-aged kids: science projects! There are many ways to nurture the exploratory side of children, including streaming shows on Netflix. Below are a few picks that'll be sure to get children engaged in embracing their exploratory side:

How The Universe Works
This series provides a story of the universe that includes our solar system as well as distant galaxies. From black holes to supernovas to alien solar systems, this series is sure to grab -- and keep -- the attention of children and the entire family.

Build It Bigger
I think this show is so cool! But, more importantly, children will love it as well, especially if they're into legos and puzzles and building things. Throughout the show, the main character, Danny travels all around the world in order to see how things are built. The only downside? There aren't nearly enough episodes to the show so you'll be yearning for more!

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
Not only is this flick funny, but it also teaches children how to be brave and witty. In this family film, it's Jimmy Neutron to the rescue when aliens kidnap all the adults in Retroville. This is a movie that the entire family will enjoy, and more than once.

How does your family use Netflix to engage in exploration and fun?

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

{Dating Tales} Learning to Show "The Real Me"

Sometimes it takes a functional romantic relationship for folks to figure out all the stuff they've dealt with in previous dysfunctional relationships, romantic or otherwise. And by "folks," I mean me. And by "stuff," I mean a whole lotta shi-- er, crap. 

Such is my current situation with The Guy. A few weeks ago, we were in the middle of a conversation when he said, "Things are fine with us, but they would be better if you didn't try so hard to keep things from me." Or something like that. I don't quite remember what he said because I was too busy being offended to actually process his exact words. 

But then I did process his words. And I realized that I might could probably have a few issues that I need to deal with. 

Thing is, I've conditioned myself to cover the crappy parts of my life up and make them look all pretty and neat. Heck, I should have gotten three degrees in that! It was a skill that I learned very early on — from like, the second grade when one of my classmates asked me, "How come you don't live with your real momma?" Umm… I responded with a pretty white lie. *Shrugs.* 

Throughout the rest of my schooling, I learned how to cover things up and hide them from my friends. I learned how to wear a smile and look like everything's okay even though I was hurting on the inside. I learned how to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself and just "suck it up" and deal with it. I wore my burdens so lightly that they just became apart of me — almost like make-up. Or breathing. I learned how to fake it, and hey, practice makes permanent, so I totally conditioned myself to hide the real me from others. 

Blame it on embarrassment. Blame it on shame. Blame it on fear of judgement. Whatever it was, I was very protective of my life's circumstances and very private with my business. But that's the thing about acting from a place of fear and not from a place of love — other people didn't get to know and experience the real me. And that's pretty tragic. 

These days, I'm learning that there is some greater reason I had to go through all of those things. Sharing my story and sharing my testimony not only helps other people in their situations, but it helps me as well. It helps me know that I'm more than my situation and more than my past. It helps me to realize that I should be proud of the real me, and proud to share myself stories with others. 

And that's the thing about functional relationships —romantic or otherwise — they challenge us in ways we never thought possible and push us to be our best selves. I'm growing. And the growing pains are more than a little uncomfortable, but in a good way. 

I can thank The Guy for that. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Thing I Learned About Life Before Turning Thirty

In one month, I'll be turning thirty. And, up until now, life for me ain't been no crystal stare. (That's a Langston Hughes reference. If you've never read the poem before, check it out because it's all kinds of inspiring.)

I still remember when my mother took my sisters and me to my grandmother's house. I was four-years-old. It was nighttime. It was after we were evicted from our apartment and after we spent a few days in a city shelter. My mother told us she'd be back for us in a few days. 

Two years later, I was still living with my emotionally and physically abusive grandmother in a kingship foster home. I was slapped, choked, hit with a belt, yelled at, called every bad name you could think of, and even punished by being denied food. But after working up the nerve to speak up about the abuse, I was removed from my grandmother's house and placed into another foster home. I was no longer being physically abused, but the emotional abuse certainly made up for it. 

Being in the foster care system has taught me many things. I learned strength and resilience and what true grit looks like. I learned faith and love and how to believe that God has something better in store for me. I learned how to work. Hard. And how to push. Harder. I learned how to do well in school and how to figure out how to be successful in life. I learned how to be a good student and how to be a dedicated professional. I learned how to get degrees. And I learned how to climb the career ladder. 

I'm doing well professionally, and, from the outside looking in, I have all the markers of success: three ivy league degrees, a successful career, a thriving blog, a son in private school, vacations, day trips, cultural outings, a fun social life, and "work/life balance." 

But here I am, one month before my 30th birthday, and I know this one thing to be true: degrees and professional success does not necessarily equal emotional soundness. 

My first serious adult romantic relationship started out fast, furious, and fiery. And then it burned out just as fast and just as furious (read: domestic violence). I went through a year of therapy after that relationship and I still struggle with PTSD at times. Now that I'm in another serious romantic relationship, at times, I still struggle with opening up, trusting, and effectively communicating. 

I don't think I'll ever be fully over the trauma of living with my grandmother and, at times, it still scares me to speak to her. 

It took me years to restore my relationship with my biological mother and, at times, I still have to work at trusting her and maintaining a positive relationship with her. 

Worse of all, deep, deep, deep down inside, I fear that I will not do right by Aiden as a result of all of the crap I've dealt with in my past. 

I'm healed, but the scars from my past are still there. And I'm still learning to deal with them in a very real way. I'm still a work in progress. 

We all are. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

{Personal Style} High Fashion Meets High Function

Photo Credit: Bellamy Blue Photography 
In true Mommy Delicious fashion, I jump at any chance I get to strut my stuff on a runway. And that's exactly what I did at the BRITAX launch event in Greenwich Village a couple weeks ago. Co-hosted by the always fabulous and equally fashionable Vera Sweeney and Audrey McClelland, the masterminds behind the Getting Gorgeous event series, the event provided with the opportunity for everyone to see and test out the new BRITAX Affinity Stroller.

Photo credit: Bellamy Blue Photography 
The term "high fashion meets high function" is an understatement with this stroller. Not only does it feature a CLICK & GO system in which you can install a bassinet or car seat and switch directions of that seat in a very easy way, but it's also available in 18 different fabric and color frame combos so you can mix and match to create the fashionable stroller that you want.

Think colors like "Sky Blue," "Fossil Brown," "Red Pepper," "Black," "Cactus Green," and "Cool Berry." All colors that pop, all colors that grab attention, all colors that makes for a very fashionable stroller. These are the colors offered in the six color packs, which includes a canopy, shoulder pad, basket liner, and padded seat liner (that's also machine-washable).

Photo Credit: Bellamy Blue Photographer 
I showed off the Cool Berry BRITAX Affinity Stroller, which was perfectly coordinated with my outfit. Styled by celebrity stylist Alana Kellen, I wore a J Lo, knee-length, print pencil dress, a moto faux leather jacket, and Exchange by Charles David pumps. Did I mention that my entire outfit was from Kohl's?! Pretty awesome, right?

Aiden attended the event with me, and in true form, he joined me for a bit of my runway walk. That kid... he's a rockstar in the making, I tell ya!

Photo Credit: Bellamy Blue Photographer
It was a lot of fun chatting-it-up with friends, tasting cocktails, testing out the BRITAX Affinity Stroller, and getting all dolled up! But the most fun of all? Strutting it down the runway. Naturally! 

Photo Credit: @KrisStrange
Thanks to BRITAX, Audrey, and Vera for hosting such a fabulous event!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pay It Forward

When I was in the fifth grade, I was reading below grade level. But my teacher helped me. She tutored me before school, after school, and sometimes during lunch in order to help me get up to speed.

A few months later, I couldn't afford to pay for the senior class trip because my foster mother wouldn't give me the money for it. She helped me again by paying my way for the trip.

When I was in eight grade, I was in this club called Show Choir, where we'd sing and dance, and travel to different states to compete against other performance groups. I couldn't afford to go to our competition in Hershey's Park, but my Show Choir director helped me raise the money to go.

A few months later when we had our end-of-year banquet and performance, no one came to pick me up at the end of the night. But my Show Choir director helped me. She had me spend the night at her apartment.

I didn't have a dress for my eight grade prom or graduation, but my guidance counselor and Show Choir director bought me two brand-new dresses, one for each occasion. Once again, they helped me.

I'm still in touch with my Show Choir direction and we sometimes have lunch or coffee together. Only now, I call her by her first name instead of her last.

When I was in high school, my guidance counselor and college advisor told me about this scholarship. I was hesitant to apply for it because I didn't think I'd get it. But they encouraged me to apply anyway. They helped me. And I invited both of them to the New York Times College Scholarship Awards Ceremony as soon as I found out that I got the scholarship.

I'm still in touch with them, and already have plans to have dinner with my high school guidance counselor when she moves back to NYC later this year.

In college, my scholarship program provided me with a peer mentor as well as an adult mentor (who was former faculty member of Columbia). They also provided me with a summer job in the field of my interest. They helped me. A lot. 

During one college summer break and some weekends, I stayed at my Pastor's home because I didn't have any other place to go. There were times when I also stayed at a friend's house. That friend is now one of Aiden's Godmothers. Her mom and her, they helped me.

For the latter part of my college experience, someone took me under her wings, and invited me into her house and family. She was the first person I told when I found out I was pregnant. She helped me muster up the courage to share the news with other people. Since then, Aiden and I have spent weekends and holidays with her. We've been on vacation with her as well. I now tell people we're relatives -- blood couldn't make us any closer. She's helped me. A lot. 

I was helped. And that's how I made it through.

Throughout my entire life, I was helped. And so I pay it forward. By blogging. By writing. By mentoring. By showing up to work everyday and giving 100% to my students and parents and teachers.

If you were helped, then pay it forward. Someone will be blessed by you.

Monday, March 10, 2014

{Personal Style} Bow Ties and Boyfriends

jeans: Target | pumps: Prabal for Target | blouse: F21 | blazer: H&M

Well not exactly "boyfriends," as in "more than one." But my boyfriend jeans were a huge part of my outfit choice this weekend. I was invoking Spring, because, you know, I'm so over Winter. Like, really over it.

I paired the boyfriend jeans with a loose-fitted blouse that featured an oversized bow tie at the center, my favorite bubble-gum pink blazer, and fun and trendy pumps.

It was a cool and classic look, and the pops of color made it really, really fun. Now... when's the first day of Spring again?!

Hope you guys have a great week! Stay inspired and stay stylish!

Friday, March 7, 2014

How Badly Do You Want It?

According to statistics, I wasn't supposed to be here.

I was raised in foster care, my biological mother used to be a drug abuser, my biological father a drug dealer who spent the better part of my childhood (and adolescence and young adulthood) in prison. My first foster mother was physically abusive and my second one was emotionally abusive. I went to some of the worst schools in the city, and although I was in their so-called "gifted" program, they were still academically behind and didn't teach us some of the most basic things.

I was lost. I was confused. I was angry. And I felt invisible.

During my childhood, I was really soft-spoken. I hardly said anything during school hours and really only spoke to my sister while at home (if that's what you want to call it). For a long time, I didn't think my thoughts were valid so I didn't want to share them with others.

But I had hopes and wishes and dreams. And, more than anything else, I wanted to fulfill those dreams. I worked hard in school, got a scholarship to a top university, and was one step closer to getting my dreams.


When I got to Columbia, I was not at all academically prepared. I was struggling. At one point, I was thisclose to making the decision to go to a community college just so I could be a top student again. But I wanted more and I had a determination to learn the ropes and excel at it. I got tutoring, went to office hours, did extra work and research and eventually caught myself up. For our graduation ceremony, I was chosen to lead my class in the procession. It was one of the best moments of my life.


Having a baby after graduation derailed my plans to apply to grad school, but not too much because three years out of undergrad, I applied to grad school. Ending things with Aiden's other parent in order to get out of the physically abusive relationship proved difficult at first, and although I struggled to balance motherhood and school work, I finished. With two master degrees.

This is why I love my job so much as an elementary school leader at my low-income school — because I see boys and girls with bright smiles and faces who remind me of myself when I was their age. I can be an example for them to go get their dreams. I can be an example to their single mothers to keep pushing forward.

Because, according to the statistics, I wasn't supposed to be here. I wasn't supposed to graduate high school at the top of my class, I wasn't supposed to finish college, I wasn't supposed to get two master degrees, I wasn't supposed to have a thriving career.

But I wanted to reach my goals. Badly.

And, no matter who you are or what your situation is, you should want your dreams badly enough to go get them. With determination and persistence and grit.

How badly do you want it?

Monday, March 3, 2014

{Personal Style} And Then There Was Leopard Print

dress: Phillip Lim for Target | shoes: Aldo | necklace: Aldo, H&M

I was one of those folks who shopped the Phillip Lim for Target collection the first day it hit stores. (But not by standing in line for hours before the store opened up... I'm not about that life.) In addition to being super excited for the bags (I love the bags!), I had my eyes on the animal print knit leopard dress.

I originally thought I could pair the dress with a classic blazer and wear it to work, but since I bought the dress one size too small (an extra small instead of a small), the dress is tighter and shorter than I originally imagined. So... it ended up being a show-stopping, mini-dress that's screams perfection for a night out in New York City.

And that's exactly what it was this past weekend when I had dinner with friends in SoHo. Afterwards, we headed to a bar in the Financial District to celebrate the 30th birthday of two of our friends from college. 30th birthday. Damn... we're getting old-er

It was just like a mini-college reunion and I had such a great time drinking, laughing, dancing, and chatting-it-up with so many friends. I remember when we were in college, we'd talk about all the things we wanted to do in life once we graduated and grew up. And now, we're either doing those things or well on our way to doing those things. It's an amazing feeling.

And to be amongst educators, doctors, lawyers, business folk, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs is truly inspiring. They are quite literally the movers and the shakers and the doers of this world. They inspire me in so many ways and I feel really proud to call them my former classmates, my colleagues, and, most importantly, my friends.

The leopard print dress features side ruching, long sleeves, and a pencil skirt. It's cool, comfortable, and trendy, and I added the blue suede pumps (I can't get enough of those bad boys) for the perfect "pow" factor.

Love it!

Hope you guys have a fabulous week. Stay stylish! 


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