Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Miss 80s Toys

I'm excited about Baby Agbai coming, but what I really anticipate is getting to play with toys all over again! I was totally obsessed with my toys as a child, and I took such good care of them. My friends used to say coming over to play at my house was like going to Toys 'R Us! My dad painted a mural on the wall of my original nursery, and when I grew out of the room it became my playroom. Here's a pic:


You'll notice the My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake toys. They along with Care Bares were my favorite icons of the 80s. I still have my Strawberry Shortcake thermos!

I don't know what it was about the 80s, but I think there was something special about the toys back then compared to now. Now everything seems to be electronic, loud and/or light up like video games. When the rest of my friends were getting Nintendo a neighbor gave me an outdated Atari when I was 8 or 9 that I had little interest in. I was more content to make crafts, play with Legos or my absolute favorite . . . the Play-Doh extruder:


Now this was one of those toys that I knew, even as a child, my mother loathed. I would would get the Play-Doh in the carpet and could never quite clean all the Play-Doh out of the extruder so it would get clogged causing me to get frustrated and my mom having to help me dig it out. Play-Doh crumbs would be everywhere. I remember being threatened many times that each play session with the extruder would be the last and I would ever get to use it again, but miraculously there was always another play session! I also have to admit that I once fell under Play-Doh's spell with it's soft, squishy texture and intoxicating smell and ended up eating some. It was very salty and unpleasant.

In college I went through a phase to re-claim my 80s toys and started finding some on Ebay. I ordered a Strawberry Shortcake lamp but it arrived broken (good thing I got insurance on it), Bambi's Fragrant Forest scratch and sniff book (although my siblings tore that book apart and scratched all the sniff out of it, my Ebay treasure is sealed away for Baby Agbai and currently sells for $34 as a collectible), and a Strawberry Shortcake board game.

Here are a few of my other favorite toys you might recognize:





Now I have to pause and pay homage to play food. I'm a big foodie now, and I think it's due to my play food and kiddie kitchen I had as a child. Ahhhhh - I can still smell the particle board and plastic fumes! I would spend hours pretending to cook eggs, grill hot dogs and brew tea. It was fabulous! I went searching for play food to get for Baby Agbai someday, and nowadays it's much more advanced and realistic. Check out this bounty:
If I had received this plethora of groceries as a child I would have wet my pants! This is GORGEOUS! I want Baby Agbai to come out of my womb RIGHT NOW fully formed at 2 years of age so we can play with it together. Seriously, she just did a flip flop in my belly cause she can feel my excitement. I'm not lying!

Now there is one modern "toy" that I'm intent on getting for Baby Agbai and that's a Skuut:

I first saw this in Central Park last fall and have seeing them ever since. I did a little research and it turns out that kids learn better to balance on a Skuut and can forgo training wheels. How awesome is that?! I'm definitely getting one. 

Check out these kids riding their Skuuts in pure bliss:




Saturday, May 29, 2010

Whachu Talkin' Bout Uka?!!

R.I.P.

I wasn't exactly sobbing when I heard of Gary Coleman's death, but, I was saddened by the way his life played out. Like most child-stars, he lived a kamikaze life after his fame dwindled away. He had multiple run-ins with the law, substance abuse problems, financial hardships and on a number occasions, tried to commit suicide. I am sure he has had many cries for help but the majority of them must not have been answered.

Tragic deaths are always shocking and leave us puzzled. We wonder why did the person have to die. Even as I wrote this entry, a friend of mine called me up in disbelief of Coleman's death. It's a shame that he didn't have people looking out for his best interests when he was a star. If the money he was making as a child was managed correctly, he would have been a millionaire. Instead he ended up on wacky reality shows and doing commercials like this:



Like Biggie said, "More money, more problems".

Let us remember him for the smiles he gave us as the iconic character Arnold Jackson:



Friday, May 28, 2010

(Almost) 31 Weeks - Baby Agbai Report



Today was my 4 week dr. appointment, and from here on out I see my dr. every 2 weeks - I'm officially in the home stretch and SO excited to meet Baby Agbai in about 9 weeks. It was the most successful dr. appointment yet: 

  • I slowed my weight gain
  • My blood count went up (it usually goes down for most women at this stage in their pregnancy but mine was low before so I made that up and then some!)  
  • I passed my glucose test
  • My uterus is measuring normal so it doesn't appear that Baby Agbai will be abnormally large which I thought before
After my dr. appointment I met up with a couple of engaged Wellesley girlfriends to see Sex and the City 2. It was very interesting to see the mommy commentary in the movie as I'm about to join that world. I can't wait to see if I can be a Sexy Mommy in the City! NYC is truly a fascinating place to raise children and while I don't think it's an ideal place, I think it will be fun to see how we manage as a little, urban family. 

On another note, a friend of mine recommended Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I really wish I could have given birth at home or at least have had a midwife but I had insurance constraints. Anyway, I find the birth stories very inspirational. We're raised in Western culture to fear birth, but it really is an empowering experience and I'm learning that my mindset will have a great impact on my birthing experience. I keep telling myself, "I was made to do this!" 

I plan to have a natural birth and hope my next baby will be a home birth. For those who say home births are risky, the rate of deaths/accidents in hospital births is much higher than home births. And don't get me started on the U.S. Cesarean rate . . . I'll save that for another blog post.

Anyway, I'm still early on in the book, but here's an excerpt that really spoke to me:

"Believe me: if you are told that some experience is going to hurt, it will hurt. Most pain is in the mind and when a woman absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful - when she gets this information from her mother, her sisters, her married friends, and her physician - that woman has been mentally prepared to feel great agony." - Stephen King

Yes, that Stephen King! Apparently he's had several of his children born at home.

Now on to the Baby Agbai Report:

How far along: 31 weeks

How big is baby: (from 3DPregnancy.com) From this week on, your baby will continue to gain around ½ pound a week until shortly before birth (even though it may feel like a whole lot more with every step you take). Other highlights this week:

Due to increasing space constraints, your baby's arms and legs stay drawn up close to the body now, known as the fetal position (oh, so that's where that name came from!). Plus, your baby can now process information from all five senses—so she'll be all set to smell the pureed peas, taste them, feel them as she mashes them into her hair, hear you crack up and then see the flash as you grab the camera to snap picture after picture.

By now, your baby's lungs are the only system not fully mature. And by mature, we're not saying that the rest of your baby's systems are mature enough to be out past 10 PM with the neighborhood hooligan, just that her lungs need a little bit more time to bake before they can kick it in the outside world.

Your baby weighs about 3½ pounds and measures a little over 16 inches, about the same length as that miniskirt you used to wear (and will again someday!).

Stretch Marks: Uka noticed a tiny one on the left side of my belly (he checks me all the time!); it's just a little light line and my back has a lighter blotch on the right side. It doesn't really look like a stretch mark though so I'll have to figure out what it is if it sticks around post-pregnancy.

Sleep: Everything feels SO heavy when I'm sleeping and strains my back badly. I'm also getting Braxton Hicks contractions in the middle of the night.

Best Moment This Week: Getting a good dr.'s report!

Movement: Baby Agbai is busy most of the day and I've started seeing movements all the way across the belly. I can feel her at opposite sides at once (Uka asked if she can reach out towards my ribs with her feet at my pelvis and stand inside my womb. That made me laugh!)

Sex of the Baby: Girl, but the dr. said I can have another ultrasound towards the end to see how big she really is gonna be so I'll want to reconfirm the gender at that time understanding that it's not 100% accurate

Food Craving: I haven't had beef all week! My sweet tooth is starting to come back . . .

Belly button In or Out: Still popped at the top

What I Miss: Being able to walk quickly around NYC

What I'm Looking Forward To: Getting to see my family in Ohio next week for my brother's high school graduation and my baby shower

Milestone: Lowest weight gain yet! I'm so happy to have the dr. off my back. Gonna keep working on keeping the excess weight gain at bay!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

These Two . . .

Uka and I like to speculate about what Baby Agbai will look like especially after seeing that first ultrasound of her perfectly round, Harold and the Purple Crayon-esque head! Here are baby pics of us around the same age (maybe 6 or 7 months):


Personally, I think Baby Agbai is gonna be chocolatey like her daddy and have huge eyes, long legs, juice lips and big cheeks since we both do! I just hope she gets the best of each of us: her dad's smooth, acne-free skin, his perfect eyebrows and height and my hairline, strong knees and feet. Neither one of us were huge chunky babies, but I really hope Baby Agbai is nice and plump with plenty of rolls and chub-a-lub. I can't wait to kiss her fat cheeks!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Agbai/Sloan Reunion at UVA



This past weekend we took Bolt Bus down to DC for my little sister's graduation from The University of Virginia. The last time I was in DC was for Obama's inauguration and it felt good to be back for another momentous occasion. I had never taken Bolt Bus before, and it was actually pretty nice. I had been on Mega Bus, but the particular coach we rode to DC on Bolt Bus was definitely more comfortable with leather seats, and it had outlets for our cell phones. 



Anyway, it was a reunion of sorts because my immediate family plus my paternal grandma, aunt (father's sister) and cousin came too. We all had a lot of fun and despite the forecast that called for rain most of the weekend Ariane was blessed with beautiful weather on her graduation day.



Ariane received her degree in Anthropology and has a NYC PR job lined up that starts in July. Me, being the big sister that I am, have been giving her a ton of advice and sharing articles about the realities of living in NYC. I had wanted to live in NYC right after college but when no job opportunities showed up I had to sweat it out in Boston for 5 years before finally making it to the Big Apple.

I'm so proud of my little sister, and she'll be staying with us for the month of July before Baby Agbai comes. She'll also be the first Sloan to see Baby Agbai when she first arrives! So exciting!



Congratulations Ari!

 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Baby on Board? Keep it Movin'!

I like to follow lots of other mommy/mommy-to-be blogs and while it's helpful to see what my peer-group is going through, the ultimate mom guide I look to is my own mom.



I'm substantially older than my 3 siblings (we're 8, 10 and 12 years apart), and I used to joke and say I'd never have kids cause I had handled every aspect of child-rearing except actually giving birth and breastfeeding. When my siblings came along I was very aware of my mom mothering (if that makes sense). I watched how she managed and did things around the house and I took mental notes. I also saw how she was supported by my dad as she worked her way through grad school and how my grandmother watched me and my siblings. Family support definitely made a difference.

As I get closer to the two-months-to-go mark, I think about how I'm going to cope with being a new mom and how watching my mom mother, my own experience with my younger siblings, and babysitting for nearly 100 children during college have prepared me.

When I do read many of the mommy blogs it appears that the moms get way, way, way too overwhelmed. And often they are moms of just one child. I watched my mom do it with 4 children and 3 of them relatively close in age, and I didn't see nearly half the breakdowns these moms seem to have in their blogs. My mom is quite Type A (which is where I got it from - I was born on her birthday!) and she had us all on a good routine and schedule growing up, and I plan to do the same with Baby Agbai and the rest of the Agbai children to come.

I also don't want to be the kind of mom who stops her friendships once the baby arrives. So many mommy bloggers say, "Oh it's so hard! I'm so tired. There's not enough time," but I vow not to abandon my friendships and hobbies once the baby comes. I know some of my mommy readers will say, "She has no idea!" but I'm one determined woman.

I saw the same thing happen to some of my peers who got in serious relationships and some who became engaged/married. They became so enraptured in their significant others, wedding planning and married life that they didn't maintain their friendships. When I became engaged and wedding planning ensued I continued to reach out to friends and have become a big fan of "pinging." It takes just a moment to send a quick IM, e-mail or voicemail to let my friends know that I'm thinking about them or just to say hi. It only takes a few seconds. Now that I'm married I still make time for my friends and get out to visit them. I can't wait to start wearing Baby Agbai and taking her along on my visits! She is not gonna be a home-bound baby.

Many people think getting married and having children is the beginning of the end. I say they're just new variables in the equation of life, and I'm gonna do my best to keep it movin'.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Squeaky Wheel - Update #3

So the updates continue! Those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook saw the following status update on May 7: 

@Iron Man 2 w/Uka for his birthday; tried to see the 9:30 but about 100 kids showed up and ruined it so at the 2nd showing now; gotta love Harlem's interactive theater experience 

Well, when we got home I wrote an e-mail via AMC's website letting them know about what happened. Although they accommodated us by letting us move to the 10a.m. showing, this inconvenienced us and caused Uka to be late for a call AND we missed the foreshadow of Thor that was shown post-credits. 

The kids that suddenly entered the theater at 10:10a.m. (30 minutes past the showing) were loud, obnoxious and apparently unsupervised or not properly supervised. When composing my e-mail to AMC I let them know that this was a birthday treat for my husband, we had hoped to stay for the Thor special and how he ended up being late for his call. I'm not sure why these children weren't given tickets to the 10a.m. show instead and why they were allowed to enter the theater in such an unruly manner. 

Well, I got an e-mail back from a local manager a few days later, and she asked that I call her. Unfortunately, I couldn't reach her by phone (I was put on hold for 15 minutes once while they tried to locate her) and she later said she was going to call on a specific day but never did. Ultimately, she said she was sorry we couldn't connect, but that she was sending me passes to see another movie.


We received them today, AND it included a voucher for soda and popcorn:











Now going to the Harlem movie theater is definitely hit or miss; I had an awful experience seeing SATC there on opening day. It was over one hour late getting started, the crowd control was awful, the interactive theater was on full blast and ultimately, the friend I saw it with had to leave before the end so she could catch her commuter rail train home. They offered to give her another ticket to come back, but seriously, why would she?


Anyway, I still like how Harlem's prices are waaay below the rest of Manhattan. For example, they really do have matinee prices: I can see SATC2 in the a.m. for only $6 vs. $13 elsewhere at the same time. I think I'll keep going back but definitely will keep being a squeaky wheel!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

What is Toastmasters?


Some of you who know me IRL have heard me speak about Toastmasters, but others of you may not know what it is so I thought I'd share a little bit about it.

I don't know how old I was when I first heard about Toastmasters - perhaps it was in college, but a couple months before Uka left for Argentina he started talking about joining so when he came back at the end of February we decided it would be a good time to join. Basically, Toastmasters is an international public speaking organization. 

While a lot of people get nervous about public speaking and Toastmasters is a great way to overcome that fear in a very friendly environment, but it's not just for people who have a fear of public speaking. It's great for honing speaking skills and for socializing as well. There are various levels that you achieve in Toastmasters, and Uka and I are giving our second speech in our Competent Communicator (CC) track. There are a total of ten speeches we have to complete before we recieve the CC certificate. Each level requires quite a few speeches, but by the end it's a great sense of accomplishment and many employers look favorbably upon it.

Uka and I have even discussed becoming a public speaking couple in the future. Sometimes we hear other people speak at events or even other couples and we look at each other and say, "We could do that!"

Having Uka as my Toastmasters partner has really been a bonus too because we can practice with each other and give feedback before we get in front of the rest of the club. We should be able to be CCs by the end of the year. I'll have to take a little break for Baby Agbai, but I still want to at least write a few speeches in advance to have ready when I return.

If you're interested in joining Toastmasters check out their website to find the club closest to you. Even if you just visit a meeting and decide not to join,  it's a fun environment and you'll really enjoy it!



Friday, May 14, 2010

No, I Don't Drink, and It's Not Because I'm Pregnant



When I was 17 and about to head to Wellesley College, I went to see my pediatrician who had a talk with me and my mom about the ills of going away on my own. He talked about drugs, sex and drinking, and it seemed as though it was a formulaic script he followed with all the college-bound kids in his practice. I vividly remember him telling us that it would be a good idea to test my tolerance safely in the confines of our home with a pack of wine coolers. I don't remember my mom's reaction, but I looked at him as though he was nuts. I explained, "But I don't drink!" He countered, "But you will." All I thought was, "Wow! He really doesn't know who he's talking to."

When I was in high school I witnessed the effects of underage drinking with my friends, and I definitely didn't like what I saw. I'm a very Type A person, and the thought of ingesting something that could make me lose control scared me. Also, I didn't grow up around alcohol either. I'm non-denominational Christian and was raised that way, but came to my own understanding and belief about what a Christian should and shouldn't do and drinking was one of those things. Now, I've researched and the Bible does not command "Thou shalt not drink" and neither does it say " Thou shalt not do drugs" but it does warn against drunkenness and we are commanded to treat our bodies as temples of God. I've had friends say, "Oh you can drink without getting drunk," but after the stupidity I've witnessed I say, "Why tempt the devil?!" and besides, I'd rather get my calories from chocolate, cheese and bread. YUM!!!

People who drink around me often feel embarrassed or that I'm judging them. I've gone out with coworkers who'd announce "Oh, Quiana doesn't drink," in a snarky tone when the waiter came around the table. I don't judge people who drink - that's their choice. I just know I won't.

At our wedding we had an open bar, and I knew I'd face some pushback from my family about this, but because Uka and I funded our wedding completely on our own it really didn't matter what anyone had to say because all the decisions were up to us. Money talks. We knew food and alcohol would be our largest expenses, but we knew that those two things are usually the highlights of the wedding reception. We fretted over having a platinum bar vs. a silver bar vs. a gold bar and in the end we chose what was most affodable for us and our guests really enjoyed themselves. No one went crazy and there was no drunken debauchery. We all just had fun!

Sometimes people ask how I have fun if I don't drink, and I think it's sad to think that you have to drink to have fun. Perhaps I don't know what I'm missing and frankly, I don't care to find out. I'm having enough fun as it is!

And don't get me started on people who say, "But a glass of wine a day is healthy." So is exercising everyday, but I don't see those people doing that. 

I'm perfectly happy to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise and remain healthy the way I have been for the past nearly 30 years. I've mentioned it in another post before, but I can count on my fingers the number of times I've had to call out sick or was bed ridden and I've been thankful for that so I think I'm doing a pretty good job at the health thing. 

So the next time someone asks, "What would you like to drink?" I'll keep sticking to my Shirley Temples cause yes, I'm really a kid at heart.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

R.S.V.P.=R.E.S.P.E.C.T.



I'll admit it: I'm a bit of an Evite junkie. Whenever there's an event to be planned I immediately hop on Evite. It's so easy to choose a template, insert the invitees from my guest list, write up a quick description and hit "send." However, then comes the hardest part for me:

Waiting for the RSVPs.

It's a phenomenon I've witnessed time and time again. As the date draws closer, RSVPs usually come in at <50%, if at all, and this makes planning really, really hard especially in this economy. 

As I prepare for our Jack-and-Jill baby shower, Uka and I decided to invite our friends over for a BYOM (bring your own meat) BBQ. Of course we'll provide the requisite hot dogs and hamburgers, but if there's something our guests want to throw on the grill they're more than welcome to bring it along. It's going to be very laid back. No goofy games and no frilly pink. 

I looked at our calendar last month and saw our summer was starting to get filled up and the best date for us to have our shower is a few weeks before Baby Agbai's arrival (barring an early deliver). We've already had a few people ask when our shower will be, but since it's not until July we haven't sent out the Evite yet, but we've been sharing the date with those who ask assuring them that they'll get the Evite the first week of June. 

Well, we have the draft Evite ready to go and the guest list is getting quite long, and I'm getting nervous about what the RSVP situation will look like. I started thinking back to our wedding.. .



We sent initial save the dates about 8 months before the wedding as it was a destination wedding, and we needed to get a general headcount for the hotel as this is what our contracts would be based on. I know it's hard for people to think that far in advance, but we had no choice. In the end we got a reply rate of about 60%. 



Fast forward to the actual wedding invitations. Now this was not an Evite but a real, tangible printed invitation we sent to guests who had RSVPed initially to the save the date. For those who didn't even bother to reply to the postage paid save the date (it was a post card btw - didn't even have to lick the stamp or an envelope!), they did not receive an invitation. You would think the response rate would be 90-100%, right? WRONG. It was closer to 70% and from a budgeting perspective when you're paying per head there's a big difference between 70% and 90%.

Anyway, this taught me a valuable lesson: it's not about the format of the invite, it's about understanding (or misunderstanding) proper etiquette. My parents were fantastic about this and sent me to classes so I could learn etiquette and my mom did a good job of teaching me directly the proper way to do things. I plan on doing the same thing with our children, but I realize in the e-culture we live in not everyone is learning this. 


An RSVP dose not mean regrets only, unless indicated. It means respond either way! And the beauty of Evite is that you can even indicate "maybe" if you're unsure. You'd be surprised at how many people don't know this; read the comments here.

Coming from the advertising world I'm used to thinking a year ahead anyway for planning and while I can't always plan that far in advance, in a world of electronics I think we're all better capable of proper planning. I can't tell you the number of times I've been stood up or had my time wasted by someone who didn't properly plan. I'm not saying I'm 100% perfect at this, but I definitely use technology to help me plan better. 


For example, I use my BlackBerry to put in reminders of when my library books are due, when I'm supposed to return someone's phone call (call reminders), the task list to create my ongoing grocery list, and I use the calendar function to immediately input appointments and events (including birthdays!) even if I don't think I can attend. I do this, often showing double bookings in the event that one cancels, and I can go to the other. Most often they aren't RSVPed events but for things like free concerts or screenings. This has worked very well so I can stay on top of all the fun things going on in the city and make the most of my time. Now this system might not work for everyone, but it definitely has helped me especially in the midst of forgetful pregnancy brain!


Going back to Evite and electronic invitations in general, I came across a couple articles that spoke to the widespread belief that RSVPing is optional and there was some very interesting commentary accompanying the first article:
Essentially these articles boiled it down to everyone living a "Flexy" lifestyle and not feeling that RSVPs are important. Well, they are important to me and I'll continue to RSVP whenever I receive an invitation and cross my fingers and plan the best I can going forward for my own events. 

 

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Our Church

    Uka and I attend The Journey Church which is a non-denominational, multi-site church. I first heard about The Journey when I moved to New York in 2007 through an advertisement in amNY. Many attendees first hear about The Journey via a granola bar and invite card that are passed out through street teams throughout the city. The site we attend is the Upper West location which is only 7 subway stops from our apartment. 

    The first friends I met in the city were from The Journey. We met on a subway platform near my old apartment on 136th ST - odd, I know! Three years later although 3 of the 4 original ladies I met have left NYC, we're still connected, and I'll never forget how they welcomed me to both the city and The Journey.

    What I like most about The Journey is that it's a casual church, meaning we don't have to dress fancy, and it's very approachable. This is the first time in my Christian walk with God that I really feel like I'm learning tangible takeaways that I can apply to everyday life. I've truly noticed a difference in how I live.

    This past Sunday, Mother's Day, was a special family day at The Journey. They took complimentary photos of families, but it was fine if it was just groups of friends, or even with your pet, as one pastor joked last week! I really appreciated this and yesterday we received our photo (I have chipmunk cheeks!):

    If any of our readers are in the NYC area and are interested in attending The Journey with us please let me know!

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Locked Up Abroad = Fantastic TV

    Some of you may have heard of the show Locked Up Abroad, and for those of you who haven't here's a clip:



    Uka introduced me to this show last year, and I have been hooked ever since! Of course this show is brought over from the U.K. (there it's called Banged Up Abroad), like many other shows I like, but what's so intriguing to me is the high quality of the filming. They are actually on location, I love the way it's edited and the actors look nearly identical to the real people who are telling the story.

    What's crazy is that the stories are so similar and that there are clear warning signs every time that something is not right. I watch tensely yelling at the screen, "It's not too late to turn around!!!" But no, they end up getting caught nearly every time. I say nearly, because in one amazing episode during the US invasion, a Kuwaiti prison was left unattended and a Locked Up Abroad subject was amongst the prisoners that proceeded to break out and go back home.

    Sometimes, I watch the stories and don't believe them, but then they show pictures of when they were in prison, or they shock us and the camera pulls back to show the subject still in prison (oh snap!).

    After watching this show I've tried to determine the Locked Up Abroad types when I travel. Usually, they're backpackers with sandals, stringy hair and tans in the winter. Also, they often look like they need a bath. I'll look over to Uka and give a quick glance away to the suspects and say, "They're Locked Up Abroad!" and he usually agrees.

    If anyone ever tries to get me to carry a package for them, this show has definitely taught me to say, "No!" everytime. It's not worth it.

    Check out Locked Up Abroad on National Geographic.


    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    My Mother's Day Flowers from my Cousin CasSaundria


    I can't wait to meet Baby Agbai . . .

    Mr. Love Bird's 29th Birthday

    Uka's not big on celebrating his birthday (May 7) so we kept it low key, as usual. He made deep dish pizza (recipe courtesy of America's Test Kitchen, per usual), we enjoyed it with a few other couples, we played Wii, had a toast and ate a melty, ice cream cake. Here a few pics from the (un)festivities:






    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Squeaky Wheel - Update #2

    I've written here and here about how I'm an avid consumer, and I have yet another update to share!

    I live near Pathmark on 145th ST, and before I started shopping there I was told by former Harlemite, Seyi, about how awful a shopping experience it is. Well, Yelp's Pathmark reviews accurately describe what the experience is like. My favorite quote:

    "If you're going here, bring a long book, not a short one. And take something to calm down. From the checkout folks to the customers I swear it feels as though a riot is about to break out."

    Anyway, Uka and I have had hit and miss experiences there, and I still admit that Harlem's Fairway is my favorite grocery store, however Pathmark has the best prices in the city. We tend to do well if we go really early in the morning or before the evening rush hour, and we definitely avoid the weekends at all costs. 

    Our Pathmark is awful at putting products behind their corresponding price tags on the shelves and restocking. For example, a product will be on sale starting Friday, when the new circular is displayed, and unless you get there before noon most often it is already out of stock - especially if it's meat. And don't bother waiting in the raincheck line - it's SOOOO long and understaffed. 

    A few weeks ago we purchased a family pack of Italian sausage that was advertised as $2.99 or $1.99 with the Pathmark saver card, which we have. Well it didn't ring up as $1.99 and the manager misread the circular although our product matched the one in the picture exactly (flavor and size). I've seen this manager get entangled with other customers too, and he doesn't understand that the customer is always right. I learned this lesson when working at Kroger in high school (a WAAAAY better grocery store btw!).

    Well, I let him know I'd be writing to management, and I did. I took a picture of the sausage I purchased, included my receipt as well as the circular. I also calculated exactly how much I was owed based on the price per lb. 

    I'm happy to report they've given me a reimbursement:


    Although it wasn't for much money, it was more as a matter of principle. Consumers - speak up! Don't let these companies run you over. Imagine if they do this to even 10 people everyday eventually that adds up overtime. Don't go down without a fight!

    I'll keep posting my Squeaky Wheel Updates . . .




    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Fast Food Friends

    "I don't want it now. I want it RIGHT NOW." From McDonald's to Facebook, people have grown accustomed to life being bigger and faster. McDonald's revolutionized the restaurant and food industry with their ability to make food faster than their competitors while boosting their margins by selling a relatively cheap product. Facebook is the leader in social networking and have knocked out their competitors by providing users a means of contacting current friends instantly, gaining new friends, joining social groups, and being updated to the minute on what EVERYONE is doing. Consequently, relationships have become bigger, faster and cheaper.



    I am by no means against Facebook. I think its a great product and it serves its purpose well. But, what ever happened to building strong meaningful relationships. Some people have added friends, in which half of the people they will never have a face to face conversation. I remember when you became friends with someone, you actually became friends. It's like the word "friend" has been added to the Dollar Menu. "Let me get a double-friend with mustard and ketchup, hold the relationship." Most "friends" on Facebook are really just acquaintances and should be called just that.

    Yes, there will be backlash for this post because it appears, of all places, on Facebook. What better way to get my concern out there than to use the largest networking site on the planet. I urge people to take it slow and cut back from the Facebook usage. Go outside and meet a human. Or, actually hit up an acquaintance and physically hang out with them. You may find they are actually cool and you can become real FRIENDS.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    27 Weeks - Baby Agbai Report


    I should have taken this picture last week to keep on schedule with posting baby updates every 4 weeks, but my dr. appointment was on Friday so I figured to just align it with that. Anyway, while I think it's amazing to see someone else's tummy grow, to experience personally is truly a miracle. Here's a comparison of 8 weeks vs. 27 weeks:


    I had my glucose screening yesterday and wow, was that stuff nasty! I thought I had to drink a gallon based on other mommy blogs I read but it was only about 1/2 a cup. Baby Agbai enjoyed it though; during the hour I waited she kept flip floppin' around!

    Anyway, I'm SO sick of the dr. telling me I'm gaining too much weight. I definitely think they need to re-adjust the standards based on the reality of how much weight women gain during the pregnancy. I have yet to meet someone who only gained 20 lbs the entire pregnancy. From what I've heard it's more like 50-75lbs which I'm definitely on track to hit. I'm a very motivated person so seeing the 8 week belly pic above is already giving me the itch to start back on cardio HARD once Baby Agbai is here. 

    I watched a program on liposuction too, and it's started me thinking about the possibility of getting some things nipped and tucked when I'm completely finished having kids. No augmentation, just lifting and sucking out the fat from the resistant tummy that many women get after babies. We'll see . . .

    Now on to the Baby Agbai Report:

    How far along: 27 weeks

    How big is baby: (from 3DPregnancy.com) Baby's lungs and immune system are maturing this week as baby prepares for her grand entrance. If she were born today she would have an 85 percent chance of surviving as her lungs are capable of breathing air (with medical assistance, of course). Other exciting developments:

    Baby's done a lot of growing over the past few months. Her length has more than doubled in the past 15 weeks! And that's not the only thing growing—baby's brain tissue and neurons are all developing at a rapid pace. Her brain waves are now firing away just like those of a newborn baby. 

    Your baby now weighs in at approximately 14½ inches and just over 2 pounds, or about the size of that roast you made last time your relatives were in town. (OK, the baby is the size of that roast you meant to cook before you decided that ordering Chinese was a much better idea.)

    Stretch Marks: Still no pregnancy related SM

    Sleep: It's even harder to sleep on my left side now, which is the advised position, because she likes to lay on that side so it hurts

    Best Moment This Week: Baby Agbai likes to dance - seriously! I went to visit my BFF and when he put on Madonna and Michael Jackson she started bouncing around

    Movement: Dancing, bouncing, hiccuping baby is the norm;  besides her usual witching hour of 11p.m.-12a.m. she's now routinely active at 8a.m. then again at 8p.m.

    Sex of the Baby: Girl; although we started wondering, after watching surprises on A Baby Story, about what would happen if the ultrasound technician was wrong and it's a boy

    Food Craving: I'm back to my normal meats of chicken and pork; no more beef only! Fish is starting to appeal to me more too

    Belly button In or Out: It's popped at the top and it grosses me out

    What I Miss: Wearing sexy warm-weather clothes

    What I'm Looking Forward To: Getting to see my family at my lil' sister Ariane's graduation from UVA on May 23

    Milestone: We found the co-sleeper we wanted on Craigslist for $100+ off the retail price; when we got it to the lobby of the seller's building Uka rearranged it for the journey home and found a 32G iPod touch in the pocket; we returned it but it was definitely an angel/demon on the shoulder moment ;-)

    We also received our first registry gift  - a bottle drying rack - from a dear Puerto Rican friend Sonali S. We really miss Puerto Rico and can't wait to go back to visit someday.




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