Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's Been Said . . .

That I'm just a "mommy blogger"


That talking about NYC life really isn't "of value"

That to be successful in this space I have to offer a service

Well

I don't care

This blog is my space

And if I want to post "mommy things" I will and if I want to talk about entrepreneurship I will

There are so many other bloggers successfully writing about their "mundane lives" and apparently people are indeed very interested in this 

But it's not about "the people"

It's about doing what I love

So I'm just going to keep on doing just that

Because

I'm happy!
 

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Lil More BlogHer Chatter and a Thank You Giveaway

BlogHer '12 is staring me in the face, and I'm feeling on top of my preparation. I had a very productive weekend:
  • I finalized my conference itinerary - I get tired just looking at the final result, but I figured it's best to have the entire weekend at a glance!
  • My Vistaprint business cards arrived ahead of schedule (these are to supplement the FREE ones from Moo that are being delivered to the conference on site)

  • I worked out my conference wardrobe by shopping my closet (I found some cute pieces I completely forgot about!)
Yes, I have flats too !
Besides prepping for BlogHer, I've been working hard on Destination Wedinars and I'm excited to share that I've reached 100 Twitter followers! Thank you to everyone who's supported my business and to celebrate I'm giving away . . .

::DRUMROLL::

A $25 gift card to DSW!

No, DSW did not sponsor this; it's completely sponsored by Harlem Love Birds! I had originally wanted to do this giveaway a while back and hinted that one was coming, but I wanted an occasion to celebrate. Now I have one!

So why DSW? Because it's my favorite shoe store and earlier this season I picked up some inexpensive, fun flats from their online store and thought about sharing the love with my readers. (BTW they're having a huge sale right now with sandals starting at $19.94!)


The giveaway ends Friday, August 10 with the winner announced on Monday, August 13. All you have to do to enter is open the link to this full post (you can't enter from the main page) and follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget! This is my first Rafflecopter giveaway, and I get super annoyed when people have tons of mandatory entries so there is only one mandatory and a few optional entries if you're up for it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you again and happy shoe shopping!

::UPDATE: For those of you whose comments are no longer below you've still been entered; Intense Debate is having technical issues, but your entries are still recorded.::
 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our First Visit to Toms River (And a Scary NYC Sky)

So far we've kept up with most of what we set out to accomplish this summer although sadly, we didn't make it to Jones Beach last weekend, but yesterday more than made up for it. 

We were invited by a friend to hang out with other moms and kids from her church at a lake house and despite the day starting with a torrential downpour on the way there by the time we arrived at Toms River it was perfect!




The lake houses at Toms River brought to mind Venice
However, on the way home we encountered this:

{Image Credit}
Scary stuff, but we made it home safely!

What are you up to this weekend? We're going a date night to see The Dark Knight Rises (thank you to Baby Making Machine and Resourceful Mommy for their recent posts on the importance of date night AND to my sister Ariane for trekking out to watch Lil Love Bird tonight!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Will You See It? Beast Of The Southern Wild

Mr. Love Bird showed me this preview, and the child reminds us of our Lil Love Bird. I'm completely enthralled by the imagery in the trailer, and it reminds me of some of the 80s fantasy films of my childhood as well as the more recent movie Northfork. Apparently there's a bit of controversy surrounding it


Have you heard of this movie? Are you as intrigued by the trailer as I am?

Monday, July 23, 2012

IRL: What Happens When Meeting Fellow Bloggers

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! I've been grinning ear to ear after seeing Magic Mike - I cannot believe a white boy can move like that - LOL! It was great eye candy . . .

Anyway, I'm excited today because I can officially say BlogHer '12 is NEXT WEEK! I cannot believe it's so close, and I am excited as I make my agenda and figure out who I want to see IRL (in real life). 

One of my goals this year both with blogging/professionally and personally was to step out from behind my computer screen and make face-to-face connections. Attending BlogHer and Blogalicious '12 are part of meeting this goal. 

For those of you who are regular readers, you know I'm a Type-A personality and one of my favorite quotes is, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," and I've been busy on my action plan to get the most of the blogging conferences. 

I decided to write out a recap of who I've met IRL and create a "must-meet" list:

Here we go . . .

Who I've met:

Jenn from Baby Making Machine - I met Jenn at BlogHer '10 and it was awesome to be in the midst of the craziness of BlogHer without being fully immersed as I wasn't attending the conference. She gave me a quick scoop on what it was like to be there as well as share tips as I was overdue with Lil Love Bird at the time and she had just given birth to Lil J {someday I hope she shares the pic she took of us ;-)}

Teresha from Marlie and Me - we met at Central Park with our LOs; she was a good blogger and posted a picture of us but I never did so here's mine: 




Dani from OK Dani



Natalie from Nat the Fat Rat - I went to an awesome private concert at her home (you can read about that here)

Book signings: 

A few months ago it seemed as though a ton of bloggers from Dooce to Mayim to Kelle Hampton had books coming out. The funny thing is there was nary a brown face in sight (I shared my feelings on ignoring diversity here), but rather than get angry about it, it's spurring me to action and I have an awesome project in the works with a fellow blogger (more about that later . . .). 

Anyway, I had the opportunity to go to Scary Mommy's book signing, and this is what it looked like:


This was me trying to be nice with my crappy BlackBerry camera angle
This is Scary Mommy's own depiction of the book signing {Image Credit}
I have a lot to say about the numbers game/business-side of blogging but knowing Scary Mommy has a HUGE following (including 6-figure Twitter followers) I just knew this room would be packed but alas it wasn't. For whatever reason (perhaps I'm not the right demographic and the Toastmaster in me was alive and kicking while she spoke), but I just didn't connect with her and I ended up leaving. I flipped through her book and honestly, just wasn't interested.

I knew I had Pizzazzerie's book-signing coming up and it was amazing to see the difference in execution and response to her event. Courtney didn't do a sit-down engagement but instead held a table book signing with free treats (she was promoting her push-up pops cookbook). She was so sweet and personable!



Who I want to meet:

(This is an in-progress list)

@WeatherAnchorMama
@GlossyMimi 
@BklynActiveMama
@RosesDaughter
@OnlyLaila
@Veronicatheblog
@Cubicle Chick
@BabyDickey

Who do you want to meet at BlogHer '12? If you want to meet me don't forget to fill out my form here so we can sort out logistics!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lil Love Bird's Puppet Show Playdate

NYC in the summer provides a whirlwind of activities to take advantage of and yesterday we were excited to head to Morningside Park for a Summerstage presentation of Bessie's Big Shot. This was a traditional marionette puppet show and Nia loved it! We met up with her birth-date twin Jerve (remember their little dance last Halloween?) who she hadn't seen since last year and the two started playing as though no time had passed!


She wanted to join the big kids up front but needed to make sure I was close by!



After the puppet show Nia and Jerve ran around and around and around! (And yes, this resulted in a looooong nap afterwards!)




And we couldn't leave without sitting on the grizzly bear (mean muggin'!):


I highly recommend checking out the Summerstage calendar of events remaining this summer - there's something there for all ages and FREE is always nice!

What free summer events are you taking advantage of in your city? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not Like Us

{Image Credit}
When I was a little girl I remember watching Sesame Street and being hyper-aware that the city scenes shown were very different from where I was living. I was amazed to hear Spanish and see urban scenes with kids playing in fire hydrants and living in high rise buildings. This clip in particular where the little girl is sent to the store to pick up "a loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter" completely blew my child mind. Who would send a child to the store ALONE?! 

Where I grew up you were either white, black or mixed. I only knew one West Indian family and there were 2 Asians in my graduating class. Needless to say I did not have a diverse upbringing. But there was something planted in me by watching Sesame Street and I knew that when I grew up I wanted to go to that place which, to me, seemed very exciting and magical. When I finally had that opportunity 5 years ago I was ecstatic! I'm so happy to look around and see my daughter surrounded by a rainbow of friends and diversity. Some friends have two moms or two dads while others come from multi-racial families. What a different experience than what I knew as a child! 

While watching one of Mitt Romney's election videos I noticed it was devoid of diversity. At first I thought it was a joke or an SNL skit, but realized this was an official video from his campaign. Our country is becoming more and more diverse and in this election year it baffled me that he would have a video that blatantly ignored this. (You can see the video and read more commentary about that here.)

With our friends and family at Club Brava in Puerto Rico the night before our wedding
Regardless of politics, I've always been hyper-aware when people hang around only people who are like them. I'm a psychology major so I get the us vs. them mentality, but in this day and age we really have no excuse not to broaden our surroundings. Mr. Love Bird and I used to host get-togethers when we lived in Manhattan and my friends would always comment about how wonderful it was that we had a diverse group of friends in ethnicity, live-stage and beliefs. Our wedding reflected that as well. It is very important to us to have a range of friends who are not like us.

I love it! 

How do you celebrate diversity?

 


Monday, July 16, 2012

The Epic How-To Do BlogHer/Blogalicious '12 Round-Up Post

For those of you attending BlogHer and Blogalicious '12 (or any other blogging conference)  - and even if you're not - this post is for you. I did the leg work so you don't have to!

Besides the helpful posts I shared when I first announced my attendance of BlogHer '12, here is a round-up of the top posts I've read since that have helped me get organized for BlogHer the first weekend of August here in NYC followed by Blogalicious the last weekend of September in Las Vegas. 
  • First, for those of you not attending either conference check to see if people are liveblogging for the conference. In the comfort of your own home/office (wherever!) you can get up to the minute recaps of the sessions. Well in This House just announced her liveblogging schedule here and there are bound to be many others. I highly recommend looking for these posts!
Now here are my tips for those attending the conferences: 
  • I found this interview with Lisa Stone, the found of BlogHer, immensely helpful in understanding its mission. I don't have money to waste, and it was important to me to know the backgound of what I registered for; what better way than to hear it directly from Lisa's mouth (I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple years ago and she really is gracious): 


  • BlogHer is known for their epic parties each night (including the infamous Sparklecorn - I shared the video here). There are also many off-site, private parties that are not sponsored by BlogHer. I had no idea of this until I started seeing mentions of this in my timeline then lo and behold I started getting invites myself. For an interesting take on why these some view these parties as unethical check out this post. (Babble also has a slew of other conference posts to check out.)
  • A couple thoughts about business cards . . .
    • Time and time again I see it posted that having a blog specific business card with your picture especially is important to be remembered at the blogging conferences; I was thinking of doing a fancy, unique card but one look at my budget said otherwise! I was still inspired by these cards featured on My Life Scoop: Great Resources for Business Cards Stationery
    • While reading BlogHer's post about The Top 3 Things to Know About Blogging Business Cards I came across a promotional offer for those attending BlogHer '12 to get 100 mini cards or 50 regular sized cards FOR FREE (only $3 processing) to be picked up at the conference. How cool is that? Click here for the promo. And if you want something extra fancy beyond this offer you can use my unique link to get your cards. I've already ordered my 50 cards; here's a sneak peek:


I changed up the cover via Vistaprint so I could have cards without the BlogHer '12 logo (it's part of the promo and can't be removed) to take with me to Blogalicious '12 and beyond:

  • Finally, (and this is the fun part!): wanna meet me at either conference? Just fill out this form! (Shout out to Baby Making Machine for the inspiration on the form!)
Any tips I missed? Other articles to share?



P.S. There's still time to sign up for my free Destination 101 wedinar tonight and tomorrow night at 10p.m. EST. Click here to do so!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life With Nia: 23 Months

Notice anything new this month???




Nia's taken to adding other things to her monthly photos now (last month it was her Bible). When I tried to take away her doll so she could "help Mommy take a picture" Nia stood up in the chair and defiantly yelled, "NOOOOOO!" 


 

This past month went by way too fast mostly because of travel and preparing for her 2nd birthday. Honestly, I need more time! I blame Nia partly for her indecisiveness with selecting a theme (and yes, she is very aware of themes!). We're leaning towards a Thomas the Tank Engine party, but I know she really wants Spiderman (Mr. Love Bird does not like that choice!).

Here's the update: 
  • Toddler's Weight: She's gained a little over a pound since last month and is 27.4lbs
  • Toddler's Height: Tall. Her legs and feet are growing way too fast!
  • What size of clothing does toddler wear? Still wearing 24 months and not filling out in the width. For example, I purchased a 24 months swimsuit and had to get an 18 months one instead which fits her much better.
  • Any milestones toddler reached during the month:
    • POTTY TRAINING! This happened so fast because we simply could not keep a diaper on her anymore (she kept taking them off!), and we are now able to go out and about with her in panties (she's rocking them in the pic above). We've been putting her in a diaper at night and at naps and she keeps staying dry throughout and I'm so glad we haven't bought diapers in a month! So that's 6 months of disposable diapers preceded by a year of cloth diapering. 
Just her little head peeking out! We have rails to add but the company is taking FOREVER to send the missing hardware.
    • Sleeping in her toddler bed. This was a result of her climbing out of her crib although it was on the bottom rung and for helping with potty training.  

    • Eating and napping regularly! I think she's mourning weaning (it's been 7 weeks now since she last nursed and I'm long overdue on the full explanation of how weaning happened!), but has now taken to cow's milk like crazy. We were using protein powder but now she'll drink it without it. Also, with regular visits to a new pool near us she's napping 2-3 hours each day which has helped with my productivity. Going to bed at night especially with the toddler bed conversion has been a challenge though. 
   
  • Special outings toddler had during the month:    
My water baby is so confident!
    • Maryland pool party at my parents house (post forthcoming!) - Nia stayed dry on the bus ride too!
  • What was toddler's routine?  
    • Nia goes to bed at 10p.m and wakes up between 6 and 7a.m. We're working on getting her back to bed at 8p.m. but since converting to a toddler bed coupled with weaning and the new potty training success I think is causing her to be super attached. She just doesn't want to leave us at night and clings to me so very tightly when it's time for bed. I can hold her and within 5 minutes she's knocked out but gone are the days when I can lay her down and she falls asleep. 
    • Another challenge is that our neighbors complained to our landlord about the noise Nia makes - she wakes up angry and crying loudly and runs A LOT really heavy-footed. What's odd is they have a school-aged child so I think they'd remember what it was like having a toddler. They run EVERYWHERE. So needless to say we've been practicing quiet feet but honestly the more I tell her to have quiet feet, the more she runs. Typical toddler. We were CIO whenever she'd have sleep challenges but now with the neighbors complaint we can no longer do this so we've been hemmed in by them. It's a real pain giving into Nia's crying demands for fear of another complaint to the landlord. Ughhh. There's 6 months left on our lease so I'm hoping they go by very quickly and we can move (yet again) to a place that's much better insulated (our last building was so wonderfully quiet with super thick walls and soundproof windows).
  • Reflect about the highlights of the month? POTTY TRAINING!
  • Did any big changes occur? Just potty training (can you tell I'm excited???) and toddler bed. 
  • What are toddler's favorites - toy, food, person, etc... Right now she is obsessed with water and our new local pool. Everyday she asks to go to the "wah-der". Most days it's just the splash pad that's a 5 minute walk from our house. 
  • What I'm looking forward to? 
    • Her 2nd birthday
    • Taking her along to BlogHer '12 (can't believe it's so soon, but stay tuned this Monday for my epic how to do BlogHer/Blogalicious post!)


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Mrs. Love Bird Launches (And Something Free for Brides-to-Be!)

Thank you to my sister Lauren for helping with my logo!
I'm excited to share that I've relaunched my business, Destination Wedinars! It's been a very long, uphill two-year journey since being selected as a finalist in the NYPL's StartUp! competition (you can read more about that here), but at last I'm in a good place.  

I've mentioned briefly throughout my blog about Destination Wedinars but wrote this post as a spotlight so share a self-Q&A here about Destination Wedinars as well as a special, free offer that I'd like my readers to help share:

Q: What exactly is Destination Wedinars?
A: It's an online, webinar-service which consolidates the best resources, tips and advice to help busy brides-to-be plan their own destination weddings. 

Q: So you're a wedding planner?
A: No, far from being a wedding planner, I share the information I learned during the nearly 2-year process of planning my own wedding in Puerto Rico in  a webinar format. I realized information on destination weddings is scattered and often disorganized. Destination weddings are often treated as an after-thought by most mainstream wedding channels and I wanted to create a top-notch resource for brides who don't necessarily want to spend thousands on a planner, but instead want to be involved hands-on with the planning. I point them directly to the resources they need rather than scouring all over the internet, magazines, books, which is what I did during my planning process. 

Q: What has been your greatest challenge in getting your business off the ground?
A: Having a little one at home! I'm her primary caregiver and she doesn't go to daycare so it's been a real struggle to focus on my business. Nia's been weaned for 7 weeks now and has been taking longer naps at last so I've been able to dedicate more time to my business. 

Q: What resources have you found helpful for starting your business?
A: Definitely the SIBL (Science Industry and Business Library) in New York City; it's a wealth of information for any entrepreneur and offers lots of free classes and low-cost seminars as well. It's wonderful for networking too. For those not in NYC, it's worth checking out your local library to see what small business resources they have. They might be linked to SCORE too which offers classes on their own as well as free local mentoring throughout the country.  

I also am a fan of Savor the Success, a network of women business owners. When I was first starting out in Boston, I found Ladies Who Launch a fantastic resource as well - their incubator groups are good for all business owners/aspiring entrepreneurs because they link you with those who are established as well as those still trying to figure out what they want to do. Everyone shares ideas to help everyone else - that community resource is invaluable! 

Q: I'm not a bride. Is there another way to support Destination Wedinars?
A: Yes! We all have engaged friends in various stages of planning. For those considering a destination wedding or who may not even know what kind of wedding they want a Destination Wedinar is perfect for helping them make that decision. Please share my website with them as well as show your support by liking Destination Wedinar's Facebook page and following on Twitter. 

Q: So what's this about a free offer?
A: To celebrate my relaunch I'm excited to offer 2 FREE webinars "Destination Wedding 101" on Monday, July 16 and Tuesday, July 17 at 10p.m. EST. You can sign-up here and please feel free to share the link with your engaged friends. In the wedinar I'll cover:
  • The top reasons for having a destination wedding
  • How you can plan your destination wedding on your own with limited time and money
  • How to score free stuff for your big day
Are there any other questions you have that I didn't answer? Feel free to ask in the comments.  

Thank you for your support!
 


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Love Birds' 1st Family Fireworks and More July 4th Fun

Mr. Love Bird and I had a really hard time remembering what we did last July 4th, and I went back on the blog and saw it was actually the day Nia took her first steps! How could we forget? {We didn't get the first moment on video but check out one we got soon after here!}

This year we kinda let events unfold as we thought them up - if that makes sense!

We started our day with our go-to celebratory breakfast of homemade pancakes and bacon then headed to a newly opened pool by us. Mr. Love Bird has heard me and Lil Love Bird talk about it non-stop and we've been something like 4 times in the past week already so we wanted to share the experience with him. Nia only wanted her daddy and it was so fun to see them together! 




After a couple hours at the pool we went to Sonic for lunch - we timed it perfectly to take advantage of half price drinks at happy hour! We were afraid Nia would sleep through the entire experience, but she woke up to enjoy a few treats. I do have to say though that it was nice for Mr. Love Bird and I to enjoy our hot dogs in peace when we first got there!


First time I ordered a 44oz drink - it was as big as Nia! It ended up thrown to the ground thanks to her tantrum O_o


On the way home (yes, we took public transportation and the entire ordeal took about 3 hours vs. a 30 min roundtrip experience), we were so hot that we ran through the sprinklers near a new splash pad by our apartment - well Nia and I did; Mr. Love Bird didn't want to ruin his new sneakers!

We cooled off for an hour before meeting a couple other families from our moms' meet-up group for ice cream at the famed Torico's which recently re-opened followed by fireworks on the waterfront. I wasn't sure how the kids would hold up but despite the heat they did fine! We skipped out before the finale to avoid traffic. Nia was yawning anyway so it was ok. It was so nice to return home to the central air, shower and get snuggled all into bed.

I was a copy-cat of a woman in front of me and got 2 scoops: green tea and pineapple cream; it was DIVINE! Nia had chocolate but it was too bitter and she wouldn't eat it, while Mr. Love Bird had dulce de leche and another flavor I can't remember. $15 though for ice cream?! CRAZY!




It's always magical for me to see the city go from this . . .



to this . . .





Eyes of wonder!

I love Lil Love Bird's sleeping feet!

Next up heading to Maryland for the weekend! Are your July 4th celebrations still going this upcoming weekend? How was your holiday?



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