Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Woman Who Will: Inspired by Madeleine Albright and Company

I had grand plans of posting yesterday but after the gorgeous weather I decided to focus on getting outdoors. I was glad I did:

My parents live in Dallas and my sisters are in New York so I couldn't help but rub in the good weather we had yesterday by texting them this:

Over the weekend I was at back on campus at my alma mater Wellesley for the Madeleine Albright Institute's Public Dialogue: "Addressing Global Inequality." Quite a topic to tackle in only 90 minutes, but my floor-mate Heather Long '04, CNN Money Senior Economy Writer and Editor, did an outstanding job moderating the panel which included Ms. Albright '59, former U.S. Secretary of State, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director and COO of the World Bank, and Mark Malloch-Brown, former deputy chief secretary general and chief of staff for the U.N. When I first heard about the panel I marked it down in my calendar and while Mr. Lovebird was intrigued by the panel - he did a double take when I told him the panelists (hello, Wellesley?!), he decided to sit out with the kids so I could attend. 

I arrived on campus around noon and met up with a group of alums for lunch, and when we were done we saw the hundreds in line already. It was crazy, but I knew it was going to be a large turnout. We got right up to the door and were turned away, but I pursued and an older alum and her husband whisked me in with them when about 20 seats opened up, and I literally had the last seat in the last row! 

What a view!
You can catch the recording of the event here, but I was especially struck by the remarkable questions asked by the audience during the Q & A. My ears perked up when an African student expressly asked about the bad blood between the IMF, World Bank and African nations. That had always been the sentiment I picked up going back to when I was an Economics minor at Wellesley and now being a Nigerian-American family it's especially a sensitive topic. The panelists were a bit defensive explaining that there's always two sides to every argument and that many times when no one else will assist these countries the World Bank is often to the rescue as a last resort. I'm not sure how that sat with me especially given questionable terms that have been of issue in the past. 

Alllll the zoom

Even being able to consider this and hear the public banter filled me with a desire to get back to being on top of world issues. I try to follow as much as I can but most days my mind is in the world of toddler-hood and Kindergartner issues! My mom reminds me everything goes in cycles and soon I'll be back in full swing when it comes to focusing on intellectual pursuits. 

I was renewed to be back on campus - to be in the presence of greatness as cliched as it sounds. I selected Wellesley after visiting about 5 other schools because I was astounded by the roster of alums and knowing that I truly wanted to make a difference in the world.

For now that difference is mostly with my kids, and I'm OK with that. 

Right before I left campus I was thrilled to see my longtime friend Nora and hug her neck! When we first met  she was an incoming international student from Switzerland who had never seen the campus and as an alum I picked her up from the airport and was able to show her the campus and attend a welcome lunch together. Over the years we've kept in touch via Facebook, but it had been way too long since we'd seen each other. 

While I was getting into my car to drive back to New Hampshire I was feeling a bit down that I didn't get to see Heather and commend her on her moderation of the panel. Lo and behold she was standing next to my car about to get in her own car - what are the odds? We were able to quickly catch up and take a selfie, of course:

I'm feeling refreshed now at the start of February and reminded of where I came from, just not genetically, but intellectually. At the age of 35 I've expressed before that I foresee the next 15 years as my years of greatness especially now that my childbearing time is over (Lord willing!). Being back at Wellesley has me feeling renewed for the new year, and I'm thankful to my parents especially for sacrificing for me to attend.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The New Barbie: It's a Start #TheDollEvolves

In high school I worked at my local Old Navy in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. I'll never forget when walking the store I encountered a preschool aged girl who was staring intently at me as her mother pushed her cart. I greeted the little girl who didn't reply but just kept staring. Her mother explained sheepishly, "Oh excuse her - she's never seen a black girl before."

I was completely baffled. It wasn't like Columbus is devoid of black people and in my mind I wondered how could this have happened. Over the years this encounter stayed with me, and I've pondered if that mom ever showed her child diverse TV programming, sought out friends of color for her daughter or even bought her baby dolls of color. We are in the modern era and there really are no excuses! 

Now as a mom I'm very careful how I curate my children's toys and while the majority are gifted to us, early on I made a premature decision that I wasn't going to purchase Barbie dolls for my daughter or let her watch mainstream princess movies. Well, that went out the door quickly as Barbies started trickling in as gifts and others showed her princess movies when I wasn't around. And guess what? We're still alive!

I figured out it's not just about giving children dolls, but having conversations too. As a parent I have a role to play in how these things shape my children's self-image, and I understand how a lack of diversity in their toys, books and programming impacts them. I'm even more sensitive to this now living in an overwhelmingly homogenous state.

When I heard the news about yesterday's launch of the redesigned Barbie, I was excited that a major, worldwide brand was stepping up but I also saw it in context of the specific challenges I've faced in introducing dolls to my daughter as we're part of the African diaspora.

I shared my thoughts in an AP story published yesterday - here's a snippet:

The full story is here

Mr. Lovebird and I have discussed early on how to introduce both of our cultures and family history to Nia. As his family is Nigerian and mine is African-American we represent the enslaved and non-enslaved aspects of the African diaspora. As I mentioned in the article, the American Girl doll Addy was present in my childhood home, and while I have my childhood Samantha doll in our basement, I'm not sure how I feel about Nia playing with either. At least right now.

We've only purchased two dolls for Nia so far (remember the baby boy doll we used to do a gender reveal video with her?), and one of them is a Queens of Africa doll:

Image via Queens of Africa
Last year the brand made headlines when they overtook sales of Barbie in Nigeria. Incredible! I'm happy to hear this and support African businesses. 

Image via Natural Girls United
In addition to Queens of Africa, another brand representing the diversity of the African diaspora is Natural Girls United - I may have even considered some of these dolls hairstyles for my own next hairstyle!

While Nia enjoys playing with all her dolls, Barbie AND Queens of Africa, I was also inspired by Kelle Hampton's Barbie-themed 6th birthday party for her daughter. I may have geeked out a bit when she favorited my tweet (she's one of my favorite bloggers!):

I could see a party with a diversity of dolls for Nia being a hit - boys included! Grayson loves to play with Nia's dolls when she's away at school and refers to any Barbie as "meh-maaade" (mermaid). It cracks us up but we're all for it! 

Curious about the process behind how Mattel redesigned Barbie? Check out this video:

What are your thoughts on the redesigned Barbie? A step in the right direction?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Mall Family Photo Edition

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My First Talk of 2016: The Art of Copywriting at Digital Portsmouth

Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Twitter saw my feed was buzzing last week when I gave my first talk of the year at Digital Portsmouth's The Art of Copywriting

(A huge thank you to Amy G. for capturing this shot!)

I've recapped below a few moments from #DigitalPorts on Twitter via Storify - thank you to those who tweeted!:  

Thank you to The Music Hall and Alpha Loft as well as my wonderful co-presenters Anna Goldsmith of The Hired Pens and Crystal Paradis from Vital. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

No Snow (& a Winner!)

My favorite shot from the weekend
While we didn't have snow up here in Portsmouth over the weekend, I was in touch with my sisters who were hit hard in NYC. Can you believe they barely  missed their record for most snow ever? My brother in Nashville got snow as well and being the big sister that I am checked in on him too. My parents in Dallas were thankful they missed the dumping that happened in their previous city of Baltimore and I've been furiously checking our forecast to see if any white stuff is coming our way any time soon.

Despite all this I know there were several lives lost in the snow storm including the tragic death of the husband of a fellow mom blogger Kita, in my virtual community. She's supported my blog for several years and I was devastated when I saw the alert posted in my Facebook bloggers group. I left the coloring group I was attending yesterday at my local library and found Uka in the kids'  section with tears in my eyes and showed him the news and GoFundMe page that was set up. Would you please take a look and consider donating?:

My heart is heavy for Kita and her family, and I'm keeping her in my prayers. 

I know so many families were snowbound and suffering from a bit of cabin fever so today I'm sharing the winner of my Chuck E. Cheese's giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats Nicole - I'll be in touch shortly so you can get your prize. Thank you too to everyone who entered - it was fun reading all the cheesy memories!

Here's wishing everyone a safe and warm week. 

Did you get snow where you live? How are you managing?

P.S. Thank you to everyone for the on and offline support of my Digital Portsmouth talk last Thursday. It went really well and I'm working on doing a Storify to post here (1st time ever so be patient, please!). 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tonight! Digital Portsmouth: The Art of Copywriting

As the East Coast gears up for the most epic snow storm since last winter, I'm in awe that we're getting spared, but I'm sending safe vibes everyone's way as the storm approaches. 

While I won't be battling snow, tonight I'm excited to present at Digital Portsmouth: The Art of Copywriting. This is also the 1st day of Alt Summit and while it's been 2 years since I've attended (my epic recap is here), I'm waiting with baited breath to hear where next year's locale will be as they've decided to leave Salt Lake City going forward. I'm crossing my fingers it'll come out East. 

So between the hashtag #DigitalPorts for tonight's talk and #AltWinter2016, there's a lot of great info about to be passed down. Be sure to follow along!

Are you prepping for snow where you live? Stay warm friends! 

P.S. Have kids in your life? Don't forget to enter my fun giveaway here - it's perfect for snow days!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Giveaway: Celebrate National Cheese Lover's Day with Chuck E. Cheese's!

Disclosure: I received a giveaway for one reader in exchange for this blog post; all opinions expressed are my own.

Remember when I shared about our first Chuck E. Cheese's experience a while back and how delicious their new pizza recipe is? Well in honor of National Cheese Lover's Day take a peek at what happened when Chuck E. Cheese's took to the streets of NYC to do a taste test of their new recipe:

It really is that good (and I got a behind the scenes peek and can vouch that it's handmade)! Well it's been on my mind lately because with our trip to Nigeria later this year we're home-bound for Nia's upcoming winter break so we've been pulling a list of fun local things we want to do. Chuck E. Cheese's made the cut as did ice skating, an indoor water park visit with our cousins in MA as well as bowling. It's going to be a fun week!

I'm sharing Chuck E. Cheese's love with one Harlem Lovebirds' reader who will win a Chuck E. Cheese's guest pass good for 1 large pizza, 4 fountain drinks and 30 tokens

The giveaway starts today, Wednesday, January 20 and ends Sunday, January 24, midnight EST, with the winner announced on Monday, January 25 (open to U. S. residents, adults 18+ only).

Enter via the Rafflecopter wide below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! 



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