Thursday, December 24, 2015

Alvin Ailey and Creating Holiday Traditions

Triple A at Alvin Ailey, 2015
There's a reason that I took Baby Delicious outside with Aiden and me the other day. There's a reason that I bundled my little bundle of joy up, kept him cozy in his Moby Wrap, and made my way to New York City Center.

Five words: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Otherwise known as the best modern dance company around. It's no secret that Aiden and I have made it a tradition to see the amazingness that is this company each time they are in NYC for the holiday season. (Check out reviews of previous years herehere, and here.)

Rachael McLauren. Photo by Andrew Eccles.
Alvin Ailey, 2015
And we never tire of them. Because, quite simply, there's magic in the air whenever the company performs. It runs through the entire space, from the stage to the audience, from row to row, seat to seat; from the heart and souls of the dancers to the lives of the audience.

And it doesn't stop there. We take it with us. All the feelings and emotions. The pain, the sorrow, the joy, the pride, the love... of our culture, heritage, and people.

The entire Alvin Ailey experience... it's some kind of wonderful.

AAADT's Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Yannick Lebrun
and Kirven Douthit-Boyd in Relevations. Photo: Andrew Eccles
There are different pieces performed every show, but Aiden, August, and I got to see Polish Pieces, Cry, Open Door, which gives the audience a bit of latin flare, and Revelations, which is like, my all-time favorite ballet. Favorite. I've said this before, but I live for this finale. Every. Single. Time. It's a great celebration and lovely tribute to African culture and spirituals. And it gets the crowd going. Every. Single. Time.

AAADT's Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Alicia Graf Mack and
Demetia Hopkins in Revelations. Photo by Gert Krautbauer
Now's the perfect time to start your own family tradition with a trip to see this mesmerizing ballet company. Not only is it a great way to introduce your littles to the magic that is theater, but it's also a great conversation starter and a great way to start talking about the many ways in which dance will move you.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater runs through January 3, 2016 at New York City Center and tickets start as low as $25. Visit the website to grab your tickets and prepare to be inspired.

{Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets to the performance in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own. Thank you for supporting Mommy Delicious.}

Monday, December 21, 2015

On Parenting And The Fight We Have Inside of Us

ABC Carpet&Home
No doubt about it, 2015 has been my most difficult parenting year yet. Real talk. No chaser.

But one thing that I've learned this year is to rely on and trust my mommy instincts. After all, they're there for a reason. And to fight to get Aiden what he needs. Long, hard, relentlessly. And to trust that everything will be okay. Because I'm his mother and I'll make sure of it.

Up until recently, this school year has been a struggle for Aiden. With a new visitation schedule with his other parent to a new grade to a new baby brother on the way, it all just became too much for him.

And it showed in ways that were, er, less than productive.

Instead of sitting around and waiting this thing out, I decided to meet with the leaders of his school and teachers in his classroom. Over and over and over again until we figured out a "just right" plan for him. We switched his class so now instead of having one full time teacher and one assistant teacher, he has two full time teachers. He meets with the school psychologist to talk things out when he needs to. He has an entire reward system in school -- and at home -- that he loves.

And, most importantly, he's visibly happier.


And back to being his rambunctious, sweet, loving, and kind self.

sharing secrets with Santa
Not to mention that he's more invested in his school work and in his learning. He's never had an issue academically, but his academics were affected by what he was going through. But now? Now he's taking pride in his work product, reading an entire grade level above his own, and continues to have one of the highest math scores in his class. And let's not even get started on how much he loves science and science experiments.

Now when he calls out in class, as his teachers say, "It's because of academics and because he wants to share his answers." I'll take it.

I don't share this to boast. In fact, 2015 has taught me how to be humble and extend grace to myself in this single parenting gig. Again.

Another again.

But I share this story to show the struggle. The real struggle. To show not only the successes, but the lessons learned. To show what's behind the success. The tears, the worrying, the praying, the pushing, the one step forward and two steps backwards, the praying some more... the fight.

Sometimes it boils down to how much fight you have inside of you.

Aiden and I have several December traditions that we've been embracing over the past few years. Even though I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, two weeks ago, Aiden and I headed into Manhattan, took pictures with Santa, had brunch at one of our favorite spots, and spent the afternoon playing at one of our favorite playgrounds.

The entire day was perfect. And I kept reflecting on how far we've come, how much Aiden has grown, and how much strength and resilience he's shown over the past year. I remember thinking how he's going to make a great big brother whenever Baby Delicious enters this world.

Little did I know that Baby Delicious was planning on making his appearance the very next day. It was perfect timing.

I'm so glad that Aiden and I had that one last day to spend together -- with just the two of us. And it was the perfect way for me to tell him how amazing I think he is and that he amazes me... every... single... day.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Introducing Baby Delicious!

On Monday, December 7, 2015, my life changed forever as I welcomed Baby Delicious into the world! At 9:46pm, weighing in at 8lbs, 5oz, and 20 inches long, August Kingston came into this world screaming his little lungs out!

August Kingston, 5 hours old
I'm so thankful for my sister, my friend K, HEB, and my doctor (the same dope doctor who delivered Aiden 8 years ago!) for supporting me in my natural delivery. They're the Dream Team who didn't let me punk out... even when I thought I was at my breaking point. 

That makes 2 out of 2 babies that I've had naturally. Now I'm done! #WordUp

When A meets A it looks a lot like love...
We're home now, doing well, and this little guy is totally breastfeeding like a baby boss! He's absolutely perfect, I'm absolutely overjoyed, and completely in love. 

home sweet home.
God is beyond amazing. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December Traditions and Creating Sweet Memories

Decking the halls, 2015 (8-years-old)
"You know, Santa's elves are on the roof of this place. And when he's finished taking pictures with kids today, he's gonna go back to the North Pole."

This was last year when Aiden was 7-years-old and we went to take pictures with Santa.

ABC Carpet & Home, 2014 (7-years-old)
This year, his theory on Santa is slightly different. "You know, it's not the real Santa who's taking all the pictures with kids right? It's just a guy dressed in a Santa costume. But we have to give him our Christmas list so he can go to the North Pole and give our list to the real Santa."

Well. When you put it like that...

Kings Plaza, 2009 (2-years-old)
I remember all the way back to Aiden's first December and his first Christmas season. I remember not really knowing what to do with him or how to make the season special for him. I remember wishing that I had holiday traditions to piggyback off of from my own childhood, but I kept coming up short. The only Christmas "tradition" that I had as a child was to stay up until midnight to open presents. And that's about it.

I remember listening to so many of my mommy friends talk about Christmas and holiday traditions from their childhood that they wanted to pass on to their children. And I remember that inadequate feeling of coming up short. I had nothing to share and no tradition to pass on.

Kings Plaza, 2010 (3-years-old... what a difference a year makes!)
But eventually, I started to plan things and do things and go places with Aiden during the holiday season. And the next year, I'd plan and do and go places with him. Again. And, before I knew it, we'd have a solid list of things to do during this festive season.

We deck the halls by decorating the Christmas tree, while jamming out to our favorite R&B holiday station on Pandora.

We watch Home Alone and Home Alone: Lost in New York. Several times. Because those are the classics and the only ones worth watching.

We go see Alvin Ailey and NY City Center because the performers were born to dance and they inspire me to move, shake, and test boundaries. (I hope one day they inspire Aiden too.)

Macy's SantaLand, 2011 (4-years-old)
Macy's SantaLand, 2012 (5-years-old)
We go see the Nutcracker. Because, 'tis the season.

We decorate ginger bread houses. And eat lots of frosting and candy in the process.

We take pictures with Santa. Once, twice, sometimes thrice throughout the holiday season.

We make holiday cards to send out to friends and loved ones.

ABC Carpet & Home, 2013 (6-years-old)
Nutcracker, 2013
We go ice skating, because: winter wonderland.

We go see the tree at Rock Center. (I mean, we have to if we live in NYC, right?)

We play tourist for an afternoon, walk along 5th Avenue to see the holiday displays in stores, and pick a favorite.

Macy's SantaLand, 2013
Christmas Eve, 2013 (#BlessedDuo)
We count down the days until Christmas because build-up and anticipation is part of what makes it so much fun and so exciting.

We wear new pajamas on Christmas Eve and Aiden takes a bubble bath. Then we bake and decorate cookies for Santa. Then we leave him a sweet note, something to the tune of "I hope you like your cookies..."

We discuss that this season is not just about getting presents, but giving and loving and thanking God for all that we have. And celebrating the birth of Christ.

On Christmas morning, we wake up to open presents, from Santa and from mommy. After presents and pictures and excitement, we make pancakes and enjoy breakfast together.

Rock Center, 2014
Alvin Ailey, 2014
And, in recent years, we've been traveling after Christmas until the New Year. Because I love the idea of giving Aiden the gift of experiences over things. Any day. Everyday.

Just us. And Chicago, 2014
As we were decorating this year's Christmas tree, Aiden reminded me of all the things we do during the holiday season. To my surprise, he listed almost everything that we've been doing for the past few years. He's old enough to understand that we do these things every year, that it's a tradition. It's shaping his memories about the holiday season.

So far, they've been happy memories. Sweet memories. Warm memories. Fuzzy, feel-good memories.

They make him smile when he thinks of them.

And that alone is enough to make my heart smile.


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