Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Instilling Resilience and Perseverance in Kids with Netflix.com

"All you have to do is try."

"You gotta have grit."

"To win, all you have to do is get up one more time than you fell down."

These are just some of the quotes that are on the chalkboard wall right outside of Aiden's bedroom. He reads them on his own from time to time, I catch him reading them more often than he thinks I do, I remind him of what those words whenever he's feeling defeated by something or overwhelmed by a challenging task. 


Because I have tunnel vision when it comes to instilling resilience and perseverance in him. Because, while I'm bad at a lot of things, if it were not for my determination and grit, I would not have "made it," whatever that means. Because, honestly, I feel as though the willpower to "get back up again" is 90% of the battle. 

So I'm talking and teaching and talking some more. Trying -- hard -- to instill the value of persistence and perseverance in Aiden, amongst many other things.

It's no easy feat, but I try to use as many things as possible to remind him of why determination (to the tenth power) is important, especially when it helps him accomplish his goal. 

Thankfully programs like Netflix has kid-friendly movies and shows that teaches resilience as well. 

Marvel's Avengers Assemble
Not only does it have epic action scenes that any boy will love, it also shows how Iron Man persuades his fellow superheroes to reunite, combine their skills, and battle both longtime foes and deadly new villains. 

The Perfect Game
Based on a true story, this movie is the epitome of what it means to show true grit. It illustrates how a seemingly impossible dream of playing baseball for the United States becomes a reality for a group of impoverished young children from Mexico. Trust me on this, the road for them isn't the least bit easy, but as I said before, the willpower to "get back up again" is 90% of the battle. 

And that's exactly what the movie shows. 

{Disclaimer: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team Blogger Ambassador Program, this post is sponsored by Netflix. Thank you for supporting Mommy Delicious.}

Monday, March 30, 2015

{Relationship Stories} On Learning to Be Loved. For Real This Time.

We're sitting on my living room couch on a Sunday evening talking about how much we like each other, the fun we have when we're together, and where we want this thing to do.

He, Hazel Eyes Babe (HEB) and I.

It's a couple weeks after our weekend trip to Atlanta and things have been good between us since coming back from the trip. Like really, really good. I still have a crush on him, and get butterflies and jitters whenever I know we're gonna see each other and we're in really strong like.

He asks me to be his girlfriend and I say, "Yes."

This is the beginning. Of something good. Of me learning that I deserve to be loved. Of me learning how to accept love. For real this time.

Not gonna lie, I went into my relationship with HEB kicking and screaming. KindaSorta. Not because I didn't like him and think he'd be a great boyfriend. I did. And he is.

I wanted it, but I was scared. Kinda. Sorta. 

I wanted it, but I hesitated. I wanted it, but I was full of "what-ifs." I wanted it -- really badly -- but I was choosing fear over faith. Fear over love and healing and all things whole.

I wanted it, but I was kicking and screaming and fronting with my I'm-a-tough-girl-and-I-got-this pose.

But he.

He saw right through it and loved me with patience and kindness and all things whole. HEB always jokes about how he attributes the fact that we're even in a relationship to his persistance and perseverance, and I can't even lie -- it's true. Kinda. Sorta.

Being in a relationship with him forced me to do some heart-work, soul-work, and mind-work. Because I'm learning that I can't be happy with a closed-off heart. I'm learning how to open up my heart, how to have the strength to be vulnerable, and most importantly, how to do both of these things gracefully.

Because that's important.

I'm learning that the ghosts of my relationship's past don't need to affect my relationship's present. Or future. That my life history -- and my romantic history -- don't define me and shouldn't confine me. Not anymore. Not this time.

I won't put HEB on a pedestal or anything -- that kind of exaltation is only reserved for God. Matter of fact, he's far from perfect. He's sloppy and sometimes annoying and sometimes doesn't catch on to a joke fast enough. Which sometimes makes it very, very hard to crack inside jokes with him. (And that's something that I really, really love to do.)

He minimizes things that are a big deal to me. Sometimes. He's stubborn as hell. Sometimes. And he downright gets on my last nerve. Sometimes.

But he's caring and kind and loves patiently. And he challenges me to try to be better at this whole relationship thing. Most of the time.

And that's all I could really ask for.

And so.

Instead of kicking and screaming and fronting with my I'm-a-tough-girl-and-I-got-this pose, I'm deciding to look in the mirror, work on my heart and my soul and myself and embrace the love that I deserve.

For real this time. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kielbasa Pasta with Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausages

There's no doubt about it: Aiden and I love us a good plate of pasta! So much so that we can go an entire week with eating it for dinner and when Hazel Eyes Babe (HEB) comes over, he picks something else up for himself to eat because he's sick of pasta. (#TheNerve #HisLoss)

I started making pasta when I was first learning how to cook and I realized just how simple it was to prepare (read: short, sweet, and, most importantly, easy). Not to mention that pasta was one of the first dishes I made that Aiden actually ate. Like, all of it. (I know, I know... I was totally cooking-impaired and on a huge struggle bus. Sigh.)

I'm a better cook now, but, honestly, it's mostly because I've learned how to make a few signature dishes and figured out how to jazz 'em up every now and then. Real talk. I don't make anything that's picture-perfect or Pinterest-worthy or anything, but it's good. And yummy.

I like it, Aiden eats it, and that's all that matters.

Recently, I've been jazzing up my pasta by adding different types of meat to it. Like Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausages that's made with quality cuts of meat and slow-cooked with natural spices. And, needless to say, my Kielbasa Pasta is delicious, savory, and, most importantly, quick! (#ImJustSaying)

Kielbasa Pasta
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes

  • 1 pack of spaghetti
  • 1 pack of Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausages, sliced into 1/4 thick pieces 
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of water 
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • optional: chopped cilantro
  1. Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to the package recommendations.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium fire. Add olive oil and cut pieces of kielbasa. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until brown. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add tomato sauce, cooking and stirring for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of water, bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Stir occasionally for approximately 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Serve pasta, kielbasa, topped with parmesan cheese and (optional) cilantro. 
  6. Eat. And be merry!
{Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Thank you for supporting Mommy Delicious.}

Monday, March 23, 2015

The UniverSoul Circus: A Fun Performance and An Inspiring Message

The UniverSoul Circus is in town and Aiden and I were in the audience on Opening Night to check it out!

Aiden's verdict?

It's "so cool" and "so fun," especially The Globe of Death where several motorcyclists ride their bikes at lightening speed in an enclosed globe-looking structure. 
My first verdict?

It's more than just a circus performance. It's a party and a celebration with the best musical selections ever.

This year's show is dedicated to the birth of hip-hop and when I found this out, I had one thought: It's. About. To Go. Down! (That's a Jay-Z reference.)

Songs like Single Ladies, Blurred Lines, and Get Me Bodied filled the space as we ate popcorn, took pictures with cool clowns, sang and danced, and ooh-ed and aah-ed at all of the performers. When the zebras came out, the Soca music came on and we were all jumping and waving and proclaiming, "I love Soca!"(Yes, that's actually a song. A soca song.)

There's something about music (old-school hip-hip, a few new songs too, soca, reggae, and R&B) that gets into my soul and all up in my DNA. It makes me happy. It gets me moving. It inspires me. And I love it.

Photo by Boon Vong
Photo by Boon Vong
My second verdict?

It's more than just a circus performance. It's a message. A powerful and strong message that everyone needs to hear.

The Ringmaster's Pledge at the tail end of the show where they affirm every single child in the audience and remind the kids of their greatness and ability to do any and everything that they want to do is truly something special to witness.

The tribute to Mike Brown, Eric Garner (replete with "I Can't Breathe t-shirts), and the #BlackLivesMatter movement is inspiring. Not only did they deliver a moving performance that really tugged at my heartstrings, but it also made for a really meaningful conversation with Aiden on the way home.

And I can't forget about Fresh, the clowns. They were decked out in dopeness, had dance moves for days, and were extra good at getting the crowd going. Aiden thought that they were so cool. I concur.

Needless to say, we had a blast! It was totally worth the mid-week trip up to The Bronx. I can't wait till they make their way to Brooklyn because we'll totally go to see them again.

The performance is about 2 hours with intermission and great fun for the entire family. Visit the UniverSoul Circus website for more information or to purchase your tickets.

{Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Thank you for supporting Mommy Delicious.}

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

{Relationship Stories} Lessons From Almost Two Years In

"You're right... your apartment is a lot more sloppy when I'm here."

The Guy and I are sitting on my living room couch, comfy and cozy and watching TV on a Friday night. He's referring to a conversation we had a few days ago about our opposite styles. 

I scan the living room. His sneakers are in the middle of the floor; his jeans are also in the middle of the floor -- right next to his sneakers. (He's wearing basketball shorts people... get your minds out of the gutter.) The contents of his backpack have somehow spilled out onto the floor; and his coat never made it's way to the closet.

It's almost as if he's never been introduced to a hanger. Or a closet. Like... ever. I mean, I'm pretty sure hangers and closets were on strike the day his mother (who's a very lovely person, by the way) was teaching him how to clean up after himself. To say that he's tidy-challenged is an understatement. To me, he's kind of a slob. It's bad -- Michael Jackson bad -- and it drives me crazy.

But I'm trying not to sweat the small stuff and not major in the minor things. And that's just one of the things that I'm learning in this crazy little thing called love.

It's coming up on two years since I've changed my Facebook status to "In A Relationship," and even though I'm a total newbie at this thing, I gotta admit that I've been schooled once or twice (or thrice!) along the way.

After being in a toxic relationship for so long and playing the [sometimes fun, but always exhausting] dating game for so long, I gotta say: being in a healthy relationship feels... nice. Safe. Comforting. Warm-and-fuzzy-and-butterflies-in-my-stomach-because-he's-mine-all-mine good.

And I like it. A lot.

Not just because it feels good, but because I'm learning a lot. About myself. About him. About togetherness and teamwork and what it takes to maintain a healthy partnership. 

I'm learning that to be in a true deep and loving relationship, it'll sometimes bring up things about me that are unlovable. Like when I'm being stubborn and unwilling to compromise. Or when I'm saying that everything is "fine," but I give him the silent treatment for an hour... or five. (#DontJudgeMe)

I'm learning to talk it out, to trust the process of becoming closer to another person, and trust that there is someone out there who'd love me. Regardless. 

I learned to take the layers off and to take the makeup off and try -- just try -- to be a little less guarded

I'm learning that he and I are not one and the same. We have different view points on many, many, many things. But that's okay because we always see eye-to-eye on the things that matter. Like church. And family. And being kind-hearted people. 

I'm learning to embrace who I am. Fully. With all of the layers and dimensions and feelings and emotions. To hold on to what makes me me. To hold on to my friendships and to always remember the healing power of Girls Night Out. (#TrustMeOnThis)

I'm learning that I can be strong and independent and vulnerable... all at the same time. And that I can cry. Boy, can I cry! Sometimes loudly, sometimes uncontrollably, but always safely in front of him.

I'm learning to ask for what I want before I get all worked up about what I thought he should already know. (#ButHeCantReadMinds #ImJustSaying) 

But most importantly, I'm learning how to have true grit and resilience with matters of the heart. You see, I've pretty much figured out how to do these things when it comes to being successful in life. But when it comes to love? Eh, not so much. But I'm learning. Everyday, I'm learning...

With him, there's been no guessing, no game-playing, no "what-ifs". There's no chasing or running around or wondering if this could be something special. It is something special. I deserve something special.

I know this. 

And I like it. A lot. 

Oh, and I'm gonna start referring to him as Hazel Eyes Babe. Because he's got the most gorgeous hazel eyes ever. And because: vanity.

I look around the living room and see Hazel Eyes Babe's sneakers in the middle of the floor, his jeans right next to them, the contents of his backpack spilled out all over my floor, and his coat nowhere near a hanger.

I shrug, "I know... it is more messy when you're here." Then I snuggle up next to him and feel safe and loved in his arms.

And I like this. A lot.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Your Gifts Are There for You to Use Them

There's this thing about setting out to inspire young women and single mothers (and even "coupled up" mothers) to walk by faith, work hard, go get their dreams, and do the damn thing.

It's this: sometimes you don't feel that inspirational. Sometimes you don't feel like you're walking by faith, like you're working hard, like you're going after your dreams, like you're doing the damn thing.

Let me personalize this a lil bit. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm walking by faith. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm working hard. Sometimes I don't feel like I'm going after my dreams and defining success on my own terms and doing the damn thing. Sometimes, I just don't.

I'm human. It happens.

And by "sometimes," I mean "these past few weeks." And it's really, really hard to put on a happy face, push pass the stuff and the muck and the mess that life throws at you, and, well, share a story (or two) that'll bring inspiration to a mother (or two).

But something challenged me the other day. Sometime kinda shock me to the core the other day. And, in the process, reminded me why I do this work. Why I write this blog. Why I continue to share my stories. Why I push pass the stuff and the muck and the mess that life throws at me and share my story. Even when I don't feel like it. Even when I'm waiting on that expiration date. (Check the January 22nd Facebook post, if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

The bottom line is this: it's more than being just about me. I've gone through many things in my life; I've had many trials and triumphs, successes and lessons learned. I've hit rock bottom. I've failed. I've cried. Over and over again. But I've always had a little more faith, and a little more fight.

And so. I've been blessed enough to spread some resilience on this here place and space.

Because... it's about us, the collective. It's about using my gifts and sharing my stories to try to inspire other folks. It's about trying to play a small role in helping all of us "make it," whatever that may mean.

That's exactly what my girl, Tara did when she penned her new book, "The Good Life: Pep Talks for Solopreneurs," which is now available on Amazon!

The book chronicles the ups and downs, ins and outs, nuts and bolts about "making it" as an entrepreneur. I've got a full time day job, but I still had to get me some of the goodness. Because, as Tara put it:
If you have a side hustle you hope to make your main hustle, this book is for you.

If you have already launched your business but are struggling daily with self-doubt and fear, this book is for you.

If you need tips on managing your thriving business life with your thriving personal life, this book is for you.
The book just dropped this week and I've already started reading it. And, in short... I'm loving it. Tara writes openly and honestly about what it truly means to make lemon out of lemonade and take on the challenge of being her own boss after being let go from her full time job. She also lets us know that it's not all peaches and cream when you're your own boss because you have to face many dark days and many unknowns.

The book is the epitome of my motto for this year: start where you are, using what you have, and walk by faith.

Visit the website to go get you some of the goodness! (You're welcome.)

{I was not compensated for this post. I just love sharing dope ish for dope people.}

Monday, March 9, 2015

YouTube Kids Launch Party

Honestly, I thought I was gonna be one of those parent whose kids didn't know anything about technology. Not because we live under a rock, but because I intentionally tried not to expose Aiden to electronics at a young age.

Aiden had very little TV time as a toddler and preschooler because I always felt like it was better for him to use his imagination and play with the toys in his bin. I vowed to expose him to experiences and places and events and different people. I wanted him to play outside for hours and hours and meet new friends along the way.

And I did just that. I still do.

But he's older now. And, because he talks to his classmates about all different kinds of things, he's much more aware of the type -- and amount -- of screen time that his friends get. And, because he's Aiden, he's beginning to challenge my thoughts on all things having to do with kids and electronics.

Not to mention that he received his very own Nintendo DS a few months ago. (Shout-out to the boyfriend for gifting it to him for his birthday.) And he'll be getting his very own iPad Mini soon. (Shout-out to the Netflix Stream Team for gifting it to me.)

Needless to say, slowly but surely, I'm coming around. I'm coming out of the dark ages and into 2015. And, after attending the YouTube Kids Launch Party in the Meatpacking District last week, and learning all about the great things the app has to offer, I'm feeling so much more confident about Aiden and all things electronics.

The YouTube Kids was built with the littles in mind. Not only is there a bright and playful design, but there is also family-focused content. Kids can browse channels in four different categories: shows, music, learning, and explore.

What I love most about the app is this part: the parental controls. (Hey, I'm still Alicia!) The built-in timer allows for limited screen time, the sound settings allows for peace and quiet whenever necessary (#ImJustSaying), the search settings allows for children to just use the pre-selected videos available on the home screen, and the feedback portion allows for parents to provide feedback. Like a true partnership.

And, can we take a moment to talk about how to folks over at YouTube know how to throw an amazing launch party?! From chatting with fun blogging friends, to munching on delish goodies (this delicious single momma had one too many cake pops!), to jumping in the ball pit, to hanging out with Elmo and his clan, Aiden and I had a blast.

Oh, and we also took some time out of our fun to get a first-hand experience learning all about the YouTube Kids.

Our verdict? We love it! It's definitely getting added to Aiden's approved things to play with on his iPad Mini. For more information about YouTube Kids, check out their website. (You're welcome.) 

{I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}


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