Monday, March 30, 2015

The Naked Grape

If you read enough parenting forums sooner or later you come across stories of kids walking in on their parents during intimate moments. 

We had our first such experience last week.

Nia is a smart girl and we've taught her to be comfortable with her body. Sometimes I think she's a bit too comfortable as she is completely obsessed with booty. Not just her booty, but the word in general and anything even remotely entertaining that has to do with it. 

I guess we're in the potty mouth/bodily function comedy phase of development. 

Fun times.

Any time the word booty comes up she has to repeat, "Mama, they said booty!" The thing is though we don't say "butt," and have always used the word booty. She's had arguments with her friends over using the word and whether or not it's bad, but she knows what goes in our household.

Last week I gave Uka a hug when he exited the shower and all the sudden we heard giggling and lo and behold, behind him in the entrance to our bathroom through our bedroom was Nia. She exclaimed, "Dada, I see your BOO-TEEEEE!"


We simply laughed it off (Uka quickly grabbed a towel!) and told her it wasn't nice to sneak up on us. 

I have very strong early memories and this moment made me go back and see if I could remember a moment like that of my own as a kid and (thankfully) I couldn't. I wonder if Nia will remember that? 

Well later that night she was up to her antics again when she was eating grapes at dinner and remarked, "I got a naked grape, Mama!" Rather than entertain the naked grape talk I ignored the comment, but she started laughing in her naughty way and asked, "Mama, do you know what a naked grape is?" Did I really want to know? It didn't matter cause she went ahead and informed me: "It's when I take the grape out of its skin!" Then she goes on laughing and repeating, "I have a naked grape!"

Something tells me year 5 is going to be quite the year with Nia, and I'm thinking she'll start inquiring about where babies come from much earlier than I ever did.

Have you ever had an awkward moment like this with your kids? Do you remember your own awkward moment when you were a kid?  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Life With Gray: 9 Months

Is it just me, or is there a bit of mischief in his eyes???
TGIF friends! I'm just 3 short months away from having a toddler, and Grayson's looking quite the part already, agree? I'm glad to see he's chunked up a bit since last month's update (he looked SO tiny!). His skin is also doing better thanks to switching from Aquaphor to Eucerin. We'll also be trying a new product by Weleda to help and I can't wait to share my review soon.

Here's this month's update:

  • Baby's weight: I think he's at a solid 17lbs now, maybe 18. We have his appointment before we leave on our cruise so I'll come back to update
  • Baby's height:  Update coming . . .
  • What size of clothing does baby wear? We're at capacity on the 9 months for length and he's still in 6-9 months for width  
  • Special outings baby had during the month:  He's been accompanying Nia to her birthday parties and various events that have seemed to pick up this season; he takes it in stride - super observant and I can tell he's waiting his chance to participate
At Nia's PK4 performance of The Great Kapok Tree
  • What are your thoughts on this past month?: He's really finding his voice and it's been so cute continuing to see how he reacts to Nia, who is his everything. This video makes us laugh again and again, especially Nia's face while Grayson is screeching:

    • What was baby's routine? Gray's 8 month wakeful is turning into the 9 month wakeful; around 12/1a.m. he's up and ready to party! Lord, help me! He still goes down between 8/8:30p.m. with his sister, but I need to find a way to get him to eat more at dinner so he's full and tired. For now he will sometimes fall asleep while nursing while most times I put him to bed awake, he'll fuss immediately then I'll have to return once to rub his back and help him fall asleep; Nia's a help too reassuring him and putting his beloved Hug-a-Bible in his bed for comfort
    • Any milestones baby reached during the month?: He can pull to a standing position but rarely does it for me to see in progress; I've seen him get halfway (like in this video) and have happened upon him at full standing position, but Nia's witnessed the entire process; I swear baby's have secret skills!
    • Reflect about the highlights of the month: Grayson's becoming quite the swimmer entering his 4th month of swimming next week! He no longer cries upon exiting - the locker room experience was traumatizing for him initially. Mobility-wise, he's finding his own way of getting around including a roll off the bed a couple weeks ago (wow, is his head hard!)
    • Did any big changes occur? He's in cloth diapers now, but Mr. Lovebird's purchased disposables to interchange based on his and our babysitters' comfort level; I have to admit his non-breastmilk #2s are INTENSE. Nothing like I experienced with Nia. I recently changed 7 #2 diapers in one day
    • What are baby's favorites - toy, food, person, etc... While Grayson loves Nia, he's now realizing that his daddy is a big toy and will reach out to him! It's such a special development and makes Uka smile so big. Uka rough houses him (anyone else extra nervous when their partner tosses the baby in the air?!), and the way he's so silent brings to mind this Key & Peele sketch; food-wise Grayson enjoys eating Cheerios especially and starts panting when he sees the box and rotates his hands at the wrist; we also had a bit of a scare with his strong allergic reaction to scrambled eggs a couple weeks ago so his pediatrician's advised that anything with eggs is completely off-limits for now (I was giving him just the yolk as I did with Nia when she was a baby, but it was super messy)
    • What I'm looking forward to? 
      • Grayson's 1st beach experience when we head to the Bahamas in a couple weeks
      • Continuing melting snow so we can head to the park - I can't wait to see him in a baby swing!

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Let's Talk Postpartum Recovery: V-Steam with Myrtle & Flossie

    Sharing Grayson's birth story last week was important to me not only to have it on record as I did with Nia, but also to finally be able to share a slew of posts that have been waiting in the pipeline.

    One of those is about my postpartum experience. I believe modern science and technology is a gift, but I also believe in the importance of educating oneself. This was part of the reason why I was open to trying a v-steam session with Myrtle & Flossie after giving birth. 

    When I shared a picture of v-stream on my Instagram feed last year it definitely piqued some interest and I'm happy to share my experience at last!

    Think of v-steam as a recovery facial for your vagina. There are those who see birth as a glowing, serene, ethereal experience. I am not one of those people. I am in awe of my body and the metamorphosis it takes to conceive, grow and birth a human. I'm also very a bit weird: while pregnant I admit to feeling empowered by the fact that I could grow a penis inside of me. Just think if a man could grow a vagina inside of him? I'm sure he'd broadcast it proudly for the world to know!

    Anyway, getting off the weird train. . .

    Fellow mompreneur Nia, founder and owner of Myrtle & Flossie (I've featured her on the blog before here!), offered me a complimentary v-steam session in my home ($55 value). It can be a challenge getting out the door postpartum (and even now 8 months later!) especially with more than one child, so I was thankful that this was able to be done in the comfort of my home.

    Image provided by Myrtle & Flossie

    What exactly is v-steam? It's a vaginal bath that has been performed for centuries in Chinese medicine, but is now gaining popularity across the US especially amongst holistic circles. Advised for postpartum as well as post-menstruation, it is a medicinal, herbal steam facial for the vagina. The practitioner combines a select combination of herbs in a steam bath while the woman sits over it for 20-45 minutes. 

    Why would a woman want to do this? Tearing can be part of a vaginal birth and having experienced a 4th degree tear when I gave birth to Nia, the recovery from that was worse than the actual vaginal birth. I was in the most intense pain I had ever experienced. My midwife, knowing I had tore so badly, guided my pushing and thankfully, I did not tear with Grayson. I felt the infamous ring of fire, more so this time around than before as I did not have pain medication, and in the weeks following birth, my vagina was still very sensitive. For me, the v-steam was an extra step in the healing process.

    Image provided by Myrtle & Flossie
    Is it awkward? Nope! Like any good practitioner, Nia explained exactly what she would be doing. Everything was in her kit including her herbal mix of mugwort, basil, calendula, marshmallow root, wormwood and rosemary, and she set it up quickly and left me in the bathroom to experience the v-steam for about 30 minutes. I wore my own comfy robe and found the steam to be soothing. It was also a welcome break for self-care during the erratic first few weeks of caring for a newborn. 

    Besides doing Kegels, the v-steam is a great addition to getting everything back in place postpartum and even if you're not pregnant and want to give v-steam a try, it's recommended at least 1 or 2 days after your period and is known for  tackling other issues such as: 
    • Irregular and painful periods
    • Vaginal cysts
    • Infertility
    • Bladder and yeast infections
    • Hemorrhoids
    • Uterine fibroids
    • Scarring from childbirth, hysterectomies and laparoscopies
    If you're in the NYC-metro area and would like to give v-steam a try head over to Myrtle & Flossie's website to book a session or simply reach out to Nia if you have questions - she's so helpful! It also makes a great gift too for any moms-to-be in your life and I encourage you no matter where you are to explore providers in your area.

    What did you find helpful during your postpartum recovery? Have you ever heard of v-steam?

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    Review: Our Week With the GB Asana35 AP Car Seat

    Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for GB. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and to thank me for my participation.

    There are so many topics that polarize parents today, but there's one area that I believe is never up for debate: car seat safetyAs a follower of the latest car seat news and guidelines, I first learned about the load leg, prominent in European car seats, when I was pregnant with Grayson, and I was excited when I was invited to try the GB Asana35 AP car seat which includes this feature. 

    It's amazing what advancements are made in baby gear, especially car seats, in just the few short years since we purchased our first car seat for Nia 5 years ago, and the GB Asana35 AP (MSRP $259.99) offers 3 key features making it one of the most safety-conscious car seats on the market:

    • FirmFit Load Leg - this prop leg extends perpendicular to the car seat and stabilizes the base providing additional protection to your baby's head neck and spine should you crash
    • FirmFit Arm - this locking arm in the base gives 20 lbs of additional force by securing the car's seat belt or LATCH straps, locking them in for an extra-tight and secure installation
    • FirmFit Harness - this pull strap makes it so easy to tighten the harness straps and adjust the headrest laterally; it really is fool-proof!
    Another feature worth noting is the premature baby insert - it's a feature that I'm not surprised GB thought of especially as they've been making car seats at their state of the art factory for over 25 years!

    We've been using our GB Asana35 AP for the past week and shared our experience in this video:

    Grayson used to cry so hard every time he went into a car seat and while he rarely does now (mostly thanks to Nia's entertainment antics!), the true proof of the GB Asana35 AP's comfort was when he fell asleep in it for over two hours! He's a snuggler, and I think the way the GB Asana35 AP nestles him in its bucket seat reminds him of being held tightly in my arms (or in the womb!)

    Besides safety and comfort for Grasyon, ease of installation and weight of the car seat are also important to me when selecting a car seat. Mr. Lovebird was able to spend some time with the car seat as well and while the saftey features of the car seat win hands down compared to all the others we've owned, we agreed on two cons: 

    • Difficult to install - this critique was a result of the extra safety features, especially the FirmFit Load Leg which was the feature I was most excited about however it was also the most time consuming to engage; ultimately, I decided we'd have to wait until Grayson hits 20 lbs (he's about 17lbs) so we could level it properly
    I couldn't get the FirmFit Load Leg button in the red circle to engage and the Recline Indicator to stay blue so we'll try it later when Grayson's a bit chunkier!
    • Heavy and uncomfortable to carry - even without the base, which is substantially heavier than our other car seats due to the added safety features, just the carrier is more weight than we're used to; at 9.2 lbs although it technically isn't much heavier, to us it felt heavier than the listed weight due to the uncomfortable handle grip. I'm 5'6" with medium sized hands, and my husband at 6'8" has extra-large hands, but we were both equally uncomfortable gripping the handle. Additionally, it was awkward to rotate the handle position as it wasn't a seamless movement as we're used to when depressing the side buttons
    There's a lot going on in the base!

    A quick story: the night before I installed the car seat I had a nightmare that we were in a car accident. It seemed so real as our SUV t-boned another in a parking lot. I woke up startled and literally felt shell-shocked as though I really experienced an accident. I rarely remember when I dream so when I do remember I especially take heed. Since relocating from NYC-metro to NH we're a driving family now and car seat safety is important more than ever for us. The added security of the GB Asana35 AP can't be beat and if that means it takes extra time to install so be it. A few extra moments for car seat safety whether it be for installation, or removing my kids from their puffy coats before securing them is worth it in my opinion. 

    You can purchase the GB Asana35 AP from BabiesRUs and be sure to visit the GB Child website and follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

    Winner: Kidfresh Flash Giveaway #SayFreezewithKidfresh

    Happy Tuesday! Sun is shining here, but it is oh so cold. I'm counting down til the Bahamas and thoughts of sandy beaches and warm waves are definitely on my mind today!

    Anyway, I'm popping in to share the winner of my Kidfresh giveaway - thank you to all of those who entered:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Congrats Sreya! I'll be in touch shortly to confirm your prize.

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    The Mean Streets of Portsmouth

    Not once during my 7 years in NYC-metro, 3 of those in Harlem, did I ever run from gun fire, but only 6 months into living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire did I have that experience.

    Here's how it happened:

    Friday a bit after 5p.m. I was nursing Grayson on our sofa. It had been a long week, and I was thankful the week was coming to a close and Nia was happily playing an app on my tablet at the kitchen table that's nestled in our fishbowl windows. 

    As I often do during nursing sessions, I was scrolling through social media and saw this: 

    I realized the building in the image looked very familiar and clicked on the news story only to realize it was a standoff that was happening at a hotel by us, literally a straight view out our bedroom window. I couldn't even make it down the brief story before there was a loud pounding on our door causing me to jump and Grayson to unlatch, startled. "Who is it?" I called out, but there was no answer.

    Our doors don't have peepholes, a feature I bemoaned when we moved into our apartment, but was reassured it was hardly necessary here in docile New Hampshire. 

    I went ahead and opened the door, with Grayson looking about curiously, to see an officer. I asked if it was regarding the current situation across the way and he said yes, advised that there was an armed individual and that we should stay away from the windows and walls. 

    He took down our info and gave me his card indicating that he'd give us the all clear. 

    My immediate reaction was to close the blinds, remove Nia from the fishbowl windows then call Uka on both his personal and work cell phones, but he didn't answer so I texted as well as texted my entire family in the interest of time so I could gather the kids and head to the basement. Uka called and I let him know we were OK and that we were heading to the basement and while on the phone with my him, my sister was trying to call then as soon as I got off the phone with him, my mom called. While speaking to her I heard a loud POP that sounded extremely close and yelled for Nia and told my mom I was immediately heading to the basement. My mom could tell things were serious and got pretty emotional, and I was resolved to stay calm for the kids, but I soon realized I didn't know how long we'd be in the basement so I turned and grabbed my Jackery for cell phone power. I probably should've grabbed the diaper bag and snacks as I was about to prepare dinner anyway, but I just figured my phone for communication was most important. 

    I got off the phone with my mom and got the kids settled in the basement. Our basement is finished with heat, a couch, TV and blankets so we snuggled in to watch Frozen while my phone was blowing up with people checking in on us. Our basement is also fully sealed without a walk-out to the outdoors so I felt protected. It's hard to hear much above ground from the basement, but I was keeping an ear out for a knock or additional gun fire.

    Grayson cuddled up to finish nursing and fell asleep while Nia played happily. When she heard the gun, she asked me what it was, and I explained it was a bad person with a gun and to be safe we needed to stay in the basement. She didn't appear scared but repeated to me that a bad man had a gun a couple times. 

    While sitting in the basement, I started thinking about where we used to live in Greenville (I blogged about it here) and while it was a high crime area, everyone had always treated us well, and I never encountered any direct threats or the need to run for cover as I did that day. I also considered many back handed comments I've come across about living in the "ghetto" of Harlem or too far north in Manhattan and how interesting it was that here in the pristine town of Portsmouth I had my first gun fire experience. 

    Just after 7p.m. the police officer knocked on our door giving us the all clear and I realized how emotionally drained I felt after the situation. There was no explanation yet of what had actually transpired (it was later explained here), but Uka was still at his work event and I figured the entire area would be closed off (it turned out it had been) so even if he wanted to get back to be with us, he couldn't have. If something had happened to any of us I couldn't possibly imagine what I would've done. In all of the emotions, I also realized I was pretty hungry and knew Nia would be too. She asked for pizza so I ordered it, and we enjoyed ourselves on the rug, sharing a root beer. 

    After dinner snuggled in bed, I hugged the kids and told them how much I loved them. 

    Local friends texted after everything died down that this experience was definitely atypical of Portsmouth and that we shouldn't be scared off. 

    We just so happened to move here during one of the most epic winters ever and apparently, one of the most violent.

    Friday, March 20, 2015

    Spring Flash Giveaway: National Frozen Food Month with Kidfresh

    Disclosure: I received products to facilitate this giveaway; all opinions expressed are my own.

    Happy spring! We're still bundled up here in New Hampshire but Nia exclaimed that she could feel a bit of warmth in the air today. She's a bit more optimistic than I am!

    To celebrate spring and National Frozen Food Month I've partnered with Kidfresh to give a lucky Harlem Lovebirds reader 10 coupons for $40 worth of Kidfresh meals. Busy days and rushed nights often make it hard to maintain smart eating decisions and for those of you who've been around this blog a while, you know we're huge fans of Kidfresh. Knowing that I can give my daughter tasty nutritious food, packed with veggies (instead of metal, as was in recent news) makes me feel good! It's almost like nutrition insurance when I open my freezer and see the cute green packaging staring back at me. 

    Super simple, quick and healthy!
    Growing up when I'd request fast food my mom would reply that we could have McMommy's instead, and I now doing the same with Nia! I fix the Super Duper Chicken Nuggets and Wagon Wheels Mac+Cheese most often and find myself eating it too paired with a healthy side. I'm still in awe every time I eat it trying to figure out how they get the veggies in their meals without compromising taste!

    Now there are some things Nia won't compromise on such as forgoing ketchup with her Kidfresh nuggets, but as all parents know, you have to pick your battles.

    To win a pack of 10 Kidfresh coupons simply enter via the Rafflecopter below - it's super simple as always! The giveaway opens today, Friday, March 20 ending on Monday, March 23 with the winner announced on Tuesday, March 24 (open to U.S. residents only). 
    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Be sure to check out Kidfresh's website for full nutrition info as well as follow on Facebook and Twitter for latest product news. 


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