2014

As 2014 draws to a close I find myself back in my favorite space, anchored on the right side of the bed with Morgan in the middle and Daddy on the left. This year has surpassed my wildest expectations by leaps and bounds. I started 2014, 7 months pregnant and anxious, as noted in my previous posts. I’ve ended 2014 confident in the Mom that I am becoming (everyday is a new experience). In the interim, I’ve returned to work, started this blog (I plan to be more diligent in the coming year) taken our first family vacation, navigated new partnerships, developed new friendships and become a better multi-tasker. I would say that 2014 was a good year. It was a year of listening to my inner voice and trusting her. She often times tells me things that go against the grain or sends me red flags as a way of caution, or tells me that this moment (whatever that may be) is exactly right. It took a long time to get here but it was well worth it. I’ve seen so many times on Instagram a post that says “everything that you are going through is preparing you for what you’ve asked for”. I agree! Although I am not where I want to be quite yet, all of the long nights, numerous jobs, tests, papers, relationships, trials, tribulations, successes and failures have all prepared me for the greatest job of my life, being a Mom. I feel like I was born for this and not in the anatomical way :-) but in a way that once the dust has settled and we’ve gotten into our groove, it came naturally. I cannot imagine my life before this little person. So please allow me the opportunity to address the love of my life as I close this year out.

Dear Morgan,

Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. I look at you each day with sheer and utter gratitude. I hope that you know that you’ve inspired me every day since the moment I found out about you. You inspire me to be a better woman, a woman who, I hope, you would be proud to emulate and call your role model one day. In kind, I’ve watched you with awe and mysticism. Often times I ask “Morgan, how old are you?” Because to me, you are an old soul. You’ve been here before. That much is evident by the way you’ve come into my world. From what I can see, you are a leader, you listen to your needs and you are not afraid to make them known. I honor that about you. I knew this about you before I ever saw your face. In the 41 weeks that I carried you, your needs were always known, :-D. When it was time you came with ease, quickly and gracefully. You danced out of me with your perfectly round head and gorgeous face. You have always moved this way, like you were an entertainer in a previous life, continuing your performance in this life.

I remember feeding you, nursing you. I had to be patient and willing to wait. You would drink slowly, mindfully. Filling yourself to prepare to be awake, aware and engaged in everything you did. I watched you grow this way, from sitting up, to crawling, to walking… well almost. Everything you do, you make it look effortless because you take the time to learn, to watch and to know first.

I have relished in witnessing your development. I feel like you came out of the womb talking. In those early videos, now looking back, you seem so tiny, but that mouth of yours has always been going.

My love, 2014 has been filled with soooo many moments with you. I wish that I could enter into each moment of time and relive them as they’ve happened because you are growing at a rapid pace. Your smile is constant, it’s pretty clear that you are the worlds happiest baby. I hope you always stay this happy.

Morgie, I love you from the roots of the earth to the moon and back. You are the love of my life. Being your mom has been the greatest gift of my life. Raising you to fulfill your purpose in life, is my purpose, one I cherish.

I’m not worried about you, because you know what you are doing, even when you don’t think you do. You seem confused and daunted by the task ahead but I am confident in you. I know that you’ve got it.

You will always be safe, you will always be protected, and you will always be loved.

My prayer for you is to go adventure, be brave, be bold, be courageous because you are meant to discover, to create, to learn, to experience it all and I will love you every step of the way, no matter what. Thank you for making my life whole. 2015 will be one for the books already, because you are in it. My Morgie Porgie.

Love you always,
MaMa

France Family pic

Family Vacation Review, Tips and RAFFLE!

France Family pic

We’ve successfully completely our first family vacation! I anticipated that traveling with a 7 month old would be a little clunky but to my surprise it was a breeze. Sure, I swapped my purse for a diaper bag and literally kept her strapped into the baby carrier for the whole trip but that was the long and short of it.

When thinking of the ideal place for our vacation, naturally we wanted sun, sand and palm trees but the places that neither of us have been and within a 5 hour non-stop flight are not that many. The hubby had been talking about California for some time now so we settled on San Diego.  It’s the perfect blend of family fun, adult dining and sun sun and more sun!

Here are our reviews on vendors, hotels, tips for future travels.

Hotels- When deciding on a hotel there are a few things that we consider. Space, location, accommodations and centrality are amongst the more important. We originally booked the Loews at Coronado Island. They seemed to have the best rate for suites, and are situated on the beautiful island of Coronado. Unfortunately our reservation was cancelled due to a conference that was in town. They did give us enough time to make other arrangements but I was totally bummed that I would have to start the hunt again. We ended up staying at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. From the check in to checkout our stay was great. They folks at the front desk took time out to inquire about our stay, our plans and how they could help. We mentioned our anniversary, which happened to fall within our stay there, and they sent up a nice bottle of champagne and some bites as an anniversary present.  Small gestures go a very long way in my book. The hotel featured daily breakfast, heated swimming pools, and is located in cul-de-sac that included 4 star restaurant options.  The only bad (and not really that bad) thing was the location, compared to the hotels downtown it was a little out of the way. It was about 20 minutes from the airport and 15 from downtown San Diego. Not horrible, but when traveling with an infant, diaper bag and stroller, it would have been nice to have some things in walking distance. Cabs run about $20-45 dollars so it can certainly add up. Speaking of cabs…

Vendors- We lucked out! We scheduled a car to pick us up from the airport. We typically do this so that we don’t have to worry about directions, etc. once we first land in a new place. We just want to get in, get our room and EAT! I found Miles Lane Transportation online. Miles was awesome! He was in touch with me as I booked the car, upon take off from New York and touch down in San Diego. The SUV was clean, water was available and Miles was extremely knowledgeable. My husband is a sports nut and a knower of completely random facts, so their conversation as quite amusing. Miles made such an impact that we booked his services for the duration of our stay in San Diego. His prices are reasonable, he is on time and offers suggestions that we appreciated.

Things to do- We toured all of San Diego via the Old Town Trolley. I would highly recommend it. Tickets are available online or via the kiosks. Once you board, you can hop on and off at any stop. I would recommend booking a hotel that is close to a trolley stop (like the Marriott Downtown). That way you can walk to the stop, hop on and begin your day. Because we were so far, it required some planning, but we made it happen. We toured Old Town, Down Town, Coronado Island, Gaslamp, the Pier and Little Italy. We also hopped off at Balboa Park where we went to the San Diego Zoo. All in all, there are tons to do in any amount of time.  It was a great way to kick off what will be a long standing family tradition.

Tips- While I can’t offer anything that you can’t find on another site. I think that the only area where I could have used some helpful insights was the area of packing. I over-packed… and not on clothes but on food. I have a husband who loves to snack and a 7 month old who is eating purees. That alone made me very nervous. When I get nervous I make lists. So I had lists and lists of items that I NEEDED to bring and those that I would LIKE to bring. Turns out that my likes and needs are pretty much one in the same. So my take-aways are as follows:

Ditch the stroller for the baby carrier! Originally I wanted to bring her full stroller. Yes, I purchased a separate suitcase for her Bugaboo Cameleon but once it arrived, my husband and I realize that there was no way that we would lug that thing with us on a five day vacation. So I bought a smaller umbrella stroller. I still didn’t use it. Morgan loved the carrier and I loved the convenience. I would strongly recommend purchasing a carrier that can convert to an out-facing position. Morgan is an active 7 month old, so facing mommy’s chest just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.

Ella’s Kitchen Purees are the bomb! I wouldn’t allow myself to freeze and pack my homemade jars so I opted for store bought this one time. Ella’s kitchen is as close to homemade as I found. The outside said “peas, pears and broccoli” and the ingredient list said peas, pears and broccoli! Just the way mama likes it.

DO NOT BRING THE ENTIRE JAR OF FORMULA!

DO NOT BRING THE ENTIRE PACKAGE OF DIAPERS!

I packed snacks for the hubby, so it was nice to have little bites in our suite in between meals but keep those to a minimum. I may or may not have packed cookies, cakes, muffins and popcorn. LOL! Yes popcorn! All of which could have been purchased at the hotel.

All in all, it was a good trip. I will be much more prepared for our next vacation.

Afterwards, I began thinking of a way to better prepare for the next trip. I figured that I could gain some insight from moms, dads and caretakers who like me, like convenience but not at the price of their babies comfort.

I’d like your participation in an online survey. Please click on the link below and give your honest opinion. All participates will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win an Amex gift card! Winner will be selected on 12/24/14!

SURVEY HERE

Thank you!

Tiffany

Product Review: Camille Rose Naturals, Curl Maker Review!

 

It’s officially autumn in NYC, with that comes our favorite shows, boots, sweaters and coffee dates. Unfortunately for some African American women that also means dry hair. I’ve dealt with my own hair issues for 30+ years so at this point I’m pretty comfortable with navigating the cold months. Morgan however, is new to this. Her hair is thick like momma’s but curly like daddy’s and thus far our small Sunday routine of wash, oil and twist has been working well for us. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized that her hair wasn’t as moist as I would like. She is in a heated house for most of her day so I can only attribute this to the artificial heat. I researched (via Instagram, obviously) methods of retaining moisture that still allow for a cute style and we stumbled upon Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker. From their site “GET DEFINED, SHINEY AND MANAGEABLE CURLS WITH POMEGRANATE SEED OIL, MARSHMALLOW AND AGAVE LEAF EXTRACTS . YOUR HAIR WILL HAVE AMAZING CURL DEFINITION, BOUNCE AND MOISTURE THAT EVERY CURL OR COIL WILL LOVE! PERFECT FOR WASH AND GO STYLING.”

Immediately I took notice.

We’ve been using this product now for a few weeks and I’d say that on a scale of 1 through 10 this product is a solid 8. My reasons are as follows:

Texture: Heavy with a nice slip.

Smell: eh! Not the best smell in the world but not offensive either.

Curl: Best that I’ve come across. Her curl pattern is defined and lasts for days.

Flake: This is where we go wrong. Maybe I’m just a little heavy handed but after our initial use, I found that the product leaves small white flakes at the ends of her hair. However, it’s not enough to make me want to stop using the product. After tending to a few tresses, we were flake free but it’s a little inconvenient.

We begin with a freshly washed head (we wash with Shea Moisture for kids-mango and Carrot, condition with Carols Daughter Hair Milk and seal with organic 100% coconut oil). At this point her hair is pretty saturated and easy to comb through. I apply a VERY small amount of curl maker as we two strand twist throughout her hair. That’s it! I kept her twist in for a full day and on day two removed the twist and finger combed the curls out. It was perfect. Her hair was super soft and curls really defined. We certainly have a new winter routine that lasts all week between twisting and finger combing. I plan on re-twisting every other night with Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Moisture Mist and coconut oil to preserve the moisture.

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Why do I love my husband?

I am a nag! Or at least I can be. That much I know about myself. I don’t mean to be, especially not to my husband but when there are q-tips all over the house or dirty socks in our foyer, it’s hard to be the dotting wife. During our pre-marital counseling I’ve learned that my husband and I see things very differently. Where I see and opportunity for us to check out that movie that we JUST spoke about last night, he sees an opportunity to catch up on Netflix. Such differences can sometimes lead to bickering and/or the more frustrated party (me) to “nag” the other. (Whomever came up with that word is really a class act.) Because of this, tension can sometimes build, and build and build. Then before you know it, you’re no longer arguing over whose turn it is to change the baby’s diaper but something deeper. So I’ve decided that I needed to remember why my husband was so awesome in the first place (because clearly his ability to binge watch Netflix isn’t it). So over the next 14 Days I created a challenge for myself. I grabbed a piece of paper and pen and EVERY night I thought back on the day and wrote down something I loved about my husband. I noticed as I focused on his positive qualities each night, I was falling more in love with him!

Day 1- Thank you for making every pediatric appointment. You make the best funny faces when it’s time for her shots. She can’t quite express it but I know it makes each visit a little better.

Day 2- thank you for initiating a family hug session. Our little one is under the weather but family hugs made her smile and for that, I am smiling.

Day 3- thank you for your humor. You made me laugh so hard today and after a long work week it was just what I needed…and the ten piece nuggets didn’t hurt either. Fat girl Friday’s!

Day 4- thank you for a wonderful family day. You made your girls happy today just by being present and attentive. When we’re happy, everyone is happy.

Day 5- thank you for being my nurse today!

Day 6-thank you for surprising me by picking me up at the subway station

Day 7- thank you for making dinner tonight

Day 8- thank you for being born on this day! Lol 😄. Dinner was awesome

Day 9- thank you for indulging in my sometimes outlandish request. FaceTime during work hours, I appreciate you!

Day 10-thank you for the late night conversations. It really is my favorite time to spend with you.

Day 11- thank you for giving me the food that you bought for yourself

Day 12- thank you for making football funny. Morgan has no idea as to what’s going on but it’s amusing to watch her watch you.

Day 13- thank you for picking me up…again. Today was a long day and my headache was killer.

Day 14- thank you for being just as vested in our child’s future as I am. I’m a little obsessive when it comes to schools, etc but you research as much as I do and you take it seriously.

And so endth my challenge. It certainly was a challenge but one that I am glad I did. My batteries are recharged and the look that I’ve been giving my husband has been one of endearment…and not that “other” look.

Gymboree Play-N-Learn Review

Hi there!

 

Life has certainly been happening all around me so please forgive the fact that I haven’t posted anything in the last four weeks. J Within those four weeks, Ms. Morgan has certainly grown a streak of independence (yes, at all of 6 months). So we decided that she might be ready for a Gymboree Play-N-Learn class. We opted for Gymboree Play & Learn 2 for children 6-10 months.  The children learn about cause and effect and build strength through play with ramps, slides and climbers. This infant class includes parent discussion time to help learn about your child’s development. Our class was located in our neighborhood and was at a great time, 12noon on a Sunday. Win, Win!

 

Upon entering the class, we were directed to a cubby that would hold all of our items and shoes. Little booties are given to Moms and Dads who forgot to wear socks. (sorry!). There were three other babies in our class so it made for a very nice setting. Morgan happened to be the youngest (and tiniest) amongst the others, but she was well advanced and crawled with the best of them. They begin each class with a five minute parent conversation. In our class we discussed babysitting and the best ways for parent and baby to cope. It was a little awkward at first. I just met these nice folks so it’s a little hard to get into the meat of such a topic when you are still learning their first names but that aside, I enjoy the concept. Perhaps starting with a general topic, such as development, would entice everyone to share and ask more questions.

 

We then moved on to the ramp. The ramp is used to build upper body strength. The downward motion causes your little person to bare weight in their arms and stabilize themselves while crawling down. Morgan didn’t move. Not one inch. It was actually a little comical. She stared at us as if to say “you expect me to do what?”. My husband tried to entice her with his car keys (which any other time, she has for breakfast) but she wouldn’t give in. Perhaps we should have brought the television remote control. Next time.

 

After ramps, we went onto the climbers, slides and had some parachute play. It was all very nice. Morgan and the other babies laughed and clapped along with the songs. Bubble time was their favorite. We closed by singing songs and having each childs name inserted into the lyrics. It warmed my heart to watch her light up when everyone sang her name.

 

All in all, it was a nice experience. I would certainly do it again. For the moment we are all tied up in fall outdoor activites but once the weather takes a turn for the worst, we plan on taking full advantage of the Play -N-Learn classes at Gymboree. See some pictures below.

Gymboree 4

Gymboree 2 Gymboree 1 Gymboree 3

Date Night

Call us crazy but we like hanging out with our kid. So much so, that we really haven’t had a “date night” since she’s been born. Sure we make time for one another during the moments when she’s napping, etc but when it comes to finding a sitter or having grandparents time while daddy and mommy take in a movie…just hasn’t happened.

I know exactly what you’re thinking, “But *insert random article and/or website* says that it’s important to maintain your relationship as husband and wife outside of the baby” I get it, I do. And I agree! But for us that just doesn’t equate to following what’s been laid out for us. We’ve always maintained that the most important thing for children is to have parents that love and respect one another. And that we do. Our love for her is an extension of our love for one another and right now including her in on our date nights bring more pleasure than not having her there. Let me explain. In scenario 1, we have mommy and daddy holding hands over a nice dinner and glass of their favorite wine. They are talking about their day and plans for the weekend. Sure, it’s nice and brings you back to the days when you were care free and dating. Scenario 2, mommy and daddy are at the dinner table at home with their little one between them. Instead of holding hands, one is holding the spill-proof bowl and the other is making airplanes noises to bring excitement to the bowl of sweet potato purée. Conversation about their day and weekend plans are interrupted by spit bubbles and funky faces. They pick up the conversation later over a slumbering little person nuzzled into mommys arms. For right now, we choose the latter.

For us, we find enjoyment in watching her experience new things. During our first restaurant experience, she fell asleep before we placed our orders. Nowadays she lights up at the waiters apron, folded napkins and watching daddy eat. It may not sound exciting to you but we eat it up. No pun intended. Maybe some day we’ll get back to exploring our city sans kid but for now, everything is just better with her in it.

One Month Check-In: Back to work!

It has been about a month since I’ve been back to work and I am pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. Don’t get me wrong there are some days when getting out of the bed is a hefty task but more often than not, everything is all good! It is easy because we have a system that works for us. And I have an AMAZING support team. Her father, grandparents and uncles all play a very important role. It wasn’t until we were a week and a half in that I started to relax and trust the process. Morgan was/is fine!

 

In returning to work, my biggest fear was missing out on the important milestones in Morgans development. She is with her dad during the day but we all know that no one quite does it like Mom (Hi, Dear!). I feared that he wouldn’t read to her, or that her tummy time would be neglected. He is an amazing dad, but sometimes dads aren’t as regimented as moms. I also feared that she would grow especially attached to him and somehow forget about me (silly, yes I know). But none of these things have happened. Its as if we never missed a beat. Our little person has started to crawl, and I was there for that. She’s rolling over from her back and I was there for that too. She does have a special bond with her dad but ours is still there. Sure, I don’t feed her honey buns during the day like some people (major side eye!) but our time together when I get home is just as productive as it was when I were home. And we still have our weekends.

 

I’m officially a working mom. It feels good to know that I am setting an example for my daughter. I want her to believe that she is capable of doing (successfully) whatever it is that her heart desires. The goal was never for me to be a stay at home mom forever (Mama spent too much time working on those degrees to not use them.) but it was for me to find a way to balance both home and work. The truth is, there is no balance. Some days  my family gets 80% of me and 20% is left for whatever has been left unfinished. Other days the work pot gets 60% of me while home gets the remaining 40%. My support system does an awesome job of filling in where I’m lacking on those days. A wise women once told me “Don’t try to do it all. Just get it all done!” It didn’t make sense then but it certainly does now. I can’t spread myself too thin because my work, marriage, child and hobbies will suffer but what I can do is give 100% to whatever it is that I am focused on in that moment. Right now, I am writing the best damn post that I’ve ever written J. And when I am done with this I will check it off of my list of things to do, and move on.

 

Life for me is great right now. We are operating like a well-oiled machine and that makes for an exciting future.