Thursday, September 25, 2014

7 Thoughts for a Rainy Thursday

A perfect day for a warm bath and cuddling my chubzy boy! Thank you blogger buddy FiDi Families for the awesome towel =)(BTW this is an unedited pic was taken with my new S5 - can't believe how amazing the camera is! #teamdroid)

A yucky rainy day here, but the perfect kind of day to get stuff done! I have a few random things on my mind I wanted to share before I get back to purging and prep for our move . . .
  • I'm excited for this new bracelet inscribed with a wonderful reminder to arrive in my mailbox
    • Looking ahead to Blogalicious in San Antonio in November, and if you'd like to go too be sure to enter BMWK's giveaway (it's a couples giveaway, and I'll be there too with my hubby - I'm speaking!)
    • If you really need to laugh check this out (25, 26, 28 and 34 especially!)
    • One of my favorite bloggers, ETST's Kelle Hampton, reiterates why music is so important - I'm looking forward to Nia's new Suzuki teacher we found already!
    • Are you into fall TV? I'm mostly looking forward to Walking Dead. I watched Blackish last night and while I LOVE Tracee Ellis Ross, I wasn't feeling it. I'll pass. Instead of watching TV I think I'll be doing this instead
      • I need to get on the ball booking ALT Summit 2015 but in the interim I supported their Kickstarter campaign, and I now feel 200% more ready for fall (I ordered the Zeritu and Genet!) 

        What's on your mind today? Chilly and rainy too where you are?  Stay dry friends!

        Wednesday, September 24, 2014

        Lovebirds Take on Taste of Africa on Governors Island

        September just might be one of the best months to be in NYC. The fact that we're leaving right when I've started a new year of life is making me a bit nostalgic for the incredible collage of memories here. In between preparing for our move I'm trying to recap here on the blog all the amazing things we've been up to and places that I love. 

        One of those is Governors Island.

        I'm grateful that I was put onto it years ago and have enjoyed returning each year. It's one of those magical places where I wouldn't want to go too frequently as it's close but just far enough from the craziness of the city to feel like a special treat. While I missed my usual visit this year for the Jazz Age Lawn Party, going back there with Grayson and Mr. Lovebird in tow was extra special since it was our first time there as a family of 4. The last time we went was for my birthday last year where we experienced Fete Paradiso which resulted in one of my favorite video recaps!

        We ventured there earlier this month for Taste of Africa's Annual Family Day Celebration produced by African Film Festival (I gave a preview here), and it was a perfect weather weekend to go. Nia braved the journey on her new birthday princess bike, and looking back it was kinda nuts that we let her do that given how far it was, but she thoroughly enjoyed herself! There are no cars on Governors Island, and it feels like a step back in time surrounded by the old army buildings.

        It was easy to find the festivities off the ferry - we just followed the drumming! Nia quickly remembered the expanse of the island and wanted to explore for a bit, but we returned to the Celebration and she even joined in the dance lesson as the bigger girls helped welcome her into the circle. 

        We caught the tail end of the Afro-Brazilian dance - I could listen to this rhythm over and over again!: 


        The Senegalese dancer Babacar M'Baye who led the following segment was so energetic! It took all I could muster not to jump up and do my own dance interpretation. His choreography was intense and you could feel the pull he had on the crowd. Even the spectators got into it! Take a look (and notice the woman who jumps in!):

        (You can also see Nia practicing M'Baye's choreography and performing here!)

        Seeing the rainbow of people celebrating African culture was so uplifting. I get really emotional in moments like this thinking how this must be what heaven is like. Mr. Lovebird who was resting in the grass must've been reading my mind because he turned to me and said, "This is what it's all about" and gave me a kiss. LOVE him!

        I was thrilled that Nia joined in without much prodding. I've been working with her to appreciate her heritage and I get a kick out of it when she tells people she's *from* "MY-geria." Of course I correct her and remind her that she's Nigerian but born in Harlem. She replies, "Ohhhh!" every time!

        Next year will mark the 8th year of the Annual Family Day Celebration, and I highly recommend it. Be sure to follow African Film Festival on Facebook and Twitter to keep abreast of all their events!

        Have you been to Governors Island? Where do you to go escape in your city?

        Monday, September 22, 2014

        I Think I'm Going to Like 34 (and a Winner Announcement!)

        First, happy birthday to my gorgeous mommy, Bridgette! If you're a regular reader you know we share our birthdays. Turning 34 my main thought is that I'm thankful to be done childbearing (Lord willing!), and am excited to focus on other pursuits now. I feel a release of some kind whereas before I felt like the question of #2 was looming over my head.

        Love my cuties!
        There's not anything too fancy about having your birthday fall on a Monday so this year I celebrated all weekend instead. It was a beautiful and delicious weekend! Here's a peek: 

        Business photo shoot with my sisters
        My sisters treated me to the Toasted Coconut Waffle (with mango and vanilla rum butter) at Sarabeth's!
        The wax-filled baggies on my heels were EVERYTHING!
        We headed out to Brooklyn via HowAboutWe for schnitzel at Smorgasburg. SO good, but Mr. Lovebird said he's had better . . . when he played ball in Germany (of course!).

        With blogger buddy Karla (aka Brown Girl Gumbo) at Dark & Lovely's Au Naturale Style Suite
        Mr Lovebird stepped up my tech game!
        Thank you to Uka and my sisters for making it so special!

        And now to announce the winner of the Snuggle giveaway! It was fun reading all of the memories from the fellow 80s babies. It really was an awesome decade wasn't it?

        a Rafflecopter giveaway

        Congrats Dawn, I'll be in touch shortly so you can get your prize!

        It's my last weekend living here in metro-NYC ::tears::, and I'm off to tackle my last minute to-do list. Wish me luck!


        P.S. Here's what happened on my other 30s birthdays: 30, 31, 32 & 33

        Friday, September 19, 2014

        LifeLock Winner and Pre-Birthday Thoughts

        It's my birthday weekend! I turn 34 on Monday and look forward to celebrating my last summer weekend here before moving up to New Hampshire. It's perfect timing because I can't wait to experience the foliage and fall activities up there - my calendar is already filling up with fun festivals!

        In the interim, this morning I'm heading to one of my favorite NYC salons for a bit of beautification. Stay tuned. . . Mr. Lovebird had wanted to surprise me with a Broadway show but knowing how I'm such a planner ended up spilling the beans, and I told him I'd rather put that money towards other things like some pampering and business-related items I need. We can always catch a show another time! 10 years ago I probably wouldn't have said that, but I'm becoming more and more practical the older I get. Do you find that to be the case too?

        Anyway, on to the winner of the LifeLock giveaway:
        a Rafflecopter giveaway

        Congrats Brandi! I'll be in touch shortly so you can get your prize.  

        P.S. Didn't win this giveaway? I have another for a Snuggle prize pack running here!

        Thursday, September 18, 2014

        Yep, I Love Madame Alexander's Sweet Lovies Very Berry Ballerina Doll

        Disclosure: I am a member of Madame Alexander's Mommy Advisory Board and received a doll for review purposes; all opinions expressed are my own.

        A doll lover at heart, I've enjoyed being a part of Madame Alexander's Mommy Advisory Board. Growing up I took such good care of my dolls spending hours brushing their hair, dressing them and playing pretend. Lately, despite not wanting to continue with dance classes, Nia is obsessed with dance. We don't watch much TV, but love watching dance programs together which Nia recreates for her "audience." When we received the Sweet Lovies Very Berry Ballerina Doll I knew Nia would be thrilled, but I didn't anticipate I would be too. 

        I like that the doll is soft, dressed simply and cuddly, but most importantly that she's washable! Nia plays hard with her toys and begs to take her dolls out and about with us, but especially being in the city I don't want them to get dirty. At $19.95 and washable the Sweet Lovies Very Berry Ballerina Doll is an affordable doll that I can feel confident allowing Nia to take out and about with us. When she gets dirty I can just wipe her off and let her dry!

        The Sweet Lovies Very Berry Ballerina Doll is a welcome addition to our collection. Nia's already integrated her into duets with Angelina and perhaps I can convince her to give ballet lessons another try soon!

        To learn more visit Madame Alexander and be sure to follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for the latest doll innovation.

        Wednesday, September 17, 2014

        Wordless Wednesday

        P.S.  Don't forget to enter this week's giveaways running here and here

        Tuesday, September 16, 2014

        Snuggle Bear's the Big 3-0 (and a Giveaway!)

        Disclosure: I received promotional items to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

        Remember when I met Snuggle Bear earlier this summer? Well I had no idea at the time that he was also a September-born 80s baby who's turning the big 3-0 this month! I remember wanting the Snuggle Bear so badly growing up - not a stuffed one, but the real, live Snuggle Bear. I was surprised, but also not surprised, to recently learn that Jim Henson's Creature Ship created the iconic Snuggle Bear. Growing up I adored anything Jim Henson so I completely understand why I gravitated towards Snuggle!

        This SeptemBEAR celebration culminates with a huge Twitter party tomorrow, September 17 from 1-2p.m. EST. In addition, a donation to Make-a-Wish Connecticut will be made and be sure to follow along on Snuggle's websiteFacebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for special giveaways the rest of the month including limited edition Snuggle bears.

        To celebrate here on Harlem Lovebirds Snuggle's offering one reader a Snuggle prize pack including an array or amazingly scented fabric softener and dryer sheets (I have a serious addition to the White Lavender and Sandalwood scent!). The giveaway runs today through Sunday, September 21 midnight EST with the winner announced on my birthday, Monday September 22! Enter via Rafflecopter below (open to U.S. residents only).

        Good luck!

        a Rafflecopter giveaway

        Monday, September 15, 2014

        One Weekend Down Two to Go!

        I'd say we're making the most of it . . .

        We did it!

        Revisit Nia's dedication here!

        P.S. I've extended my LifeLock 6-month subscription giveaway. It now ends this Thursday night. Odds are good so click here to enter!

        Friday, September 12, 2014

        "Stolen Identity:" Book Review and LifeLock Flash Weekend Giveaway

        Disclosure: I received promotional items from LifeLock, Inc. to facilitate this review; all opinions expressed are my own.

        The day before I gave birth to Gray I attended LifeLock's luncheon at the famed Tavern on the Green. I literally went into labor on the way home! I learned during the session which included finance expert, Jean Chatzky, that new parents are 5x more likely than the average population to experience identify theft. When they shared the information about new homeowners and identity theft I wasn't as alert since we weren't planning on home-owning soon, but they informed us here in NYC-metro it can apply to renters too. At the time I had no idea that we'd be moving this fall but now that we are I've picked up the book Stolen Identity which we received at the event to refresh on a few pointers shared during the discussion.

        Only 138 pages and full of anecdotes, it's a very easy read. Published by LifeLock but written by an independent journalist, Katie Morell, I really appreciated that the book wasn't a hard sell for LifeLock and had clear checklists at the end of each section to help the reader avoid identity theft. 

        Thinking back on my own experience while I've never had outright identity theft I did have my Pinterest account hacked earlier this year (first world problems I know!), but it was definitely an eery feeling as the person then started generating content and changed my settings so it was cross-posting to Twitter. Mr. Lovebird on the other hand did have a bigger and bizarre breach a few years ago when someone purchased hundreds of dollars worth of Burger King in one fell swoop using his credit card. While we never found out who the culprit was his company was quick to clean up the charges and issue a new card. Prior to that I remember an incident in college when someone asked to borrow my ID to get into a party. There was no way I was going to hand over my ID, but now the thought of what could've gone wrong even then makes me shudder.

        Throughout the book there are also mentions of what the government is doing to help consumers combat identity theft. Since the book was published just this summer it's very update on legislature, and I have to say I'm quite disappointed at some of the bills that have gone flat. Big business vs. ID theft is a tough balance apparently. 

        Stolen Identity also makes it clear that the rest of the world is way ahead of the U.S. when it comes to implementing technology to protect its citizens. Just like smartphones, it's going to take a while before we're up to speed. Even with fingerprint technology there are still even workarounds that have been developed to hack it. Nothing is fail proof!

        While it's easy to feel helpless, Stolen Identity armed me with a few tips that I'm definitely going to implement especially as well as we move and our information is floating around between so many hands from the movers, new services to be installed and major purchases. Here's a few that stood out:
        • Don't give your SSN freely - did you know it was only created for retirement benefits but expanded to be essentially your ID number as it is now? It's not always necessary when you see it requested. I've started leaving it blank on forms and questioning why it's even needed
        • Use your hand to shield ATM transactions - skimmers are scary contraptions basically fronts for the real ATM which take your card and pin number quickly and without most people noticing - they're even Bluetooth enabled now. I watched one of those nighttime specials on skimmers and it's incredible how prevalent they are (check out this clip)
        • Use a credit card over a debit card - this one's hard since I'm of the Dave Ramsey mentality that says use a debit card for EVERYTHING, but I'm changing this thinking especially because in the event of fraud debit card liability just can't stand up to the protection a credit card offers
        For those who have had their identity stolen in really bad cases it pretty much becomes a full time, and sometimes costly, job cleaning it up. I think it's better to be as preventative as possible and helping consumers with this is LifeLock. They've generously offered one of my readers a 6 month membership. Offering five points of protection from credit monitoring to scanning for identity threats, this is especially handy as we head into the holidays and online purchases increase.

        To enter this giveaway simply use the Rafflecopter below. It's a flash giveaway running today, September 12 - Sunday, September 14 midnight with the winner announced on Monday, September 15. Open to U.S. residents only. 

        **UPDATE: The giveaway's been extended! It now ends on Thursday, September 18 midnight with the winner announced on Friday, September 19.**

        Good luck!

        a Rafflecopter giveaway

        Have you or someone you know had your identity stolen? How do you protect yourself?

        Thursday, September 11, 2014

        Getting Ready for Fall with Febreze Home Harvest Collection

        Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Febreze; all opinions expressed are my own.

        One of the things I'm most excited about with our upcoming move to New Hampshire is experiencing a traditional New England fall with my family. Just the term "leaf peeping" makes me smile like Nia up above and the thought of looking out of my windows and seeing gorgeous leaves instead of buildings and concrete is already calming my nerves!

        While we await our move I've already started getting our home ready for fall with the Febreze Home Harvest Collection. With delicious smelling scents like Chai, Toasted Almond and Sugar you can completely immerse yourself in fall by using Febreze spray, in-car vent clips as well as NOTICEables which plug into your outlets. My family's Febreze roots go back to when Mr. Lovebird and I were dating in college. Let's just say some of his uses for Febreze were a bit unconventional (I'm thankful we have our own washing machine now O_o), but especially now with kids it's a great way to give our clothing a refresh and with an infant I like how the scents aren't too overpowering. 

        When we received our Febreze Home Harvest scentspiration box Nia thought it was another doll house, which it quickly became once we were finished, but I took her through it and let her scratch and sniff the scents. She deemed Sandalwood her favorite, and I supervised her as she plugged it into our entryway outlet. Nia was a bit impatient for the scent to spread so to pass the time I told her we could pick out one of the many activities that came along with our scentspiration box. She decided on the spiced orange.

        We stepped out to buy our supplies, and when we came back she exclaimed, "Mama, I SMELL it!" What's so great about NOTICEables is that there's a dual chamber so if you're in a different scent mood you can simply slide the switch over to experience the second scent. I agree Sandalwood smells fantastic and about 30 minutes after arriving home from work Mr. Lovebird searching around asked, "What is that? I don't see the baby or anything!" - as if the baby smells of sandalwood! He was so confused that it made me laugh! I asked him if he liked it, and he said he did but it bothered him that he couldn't figure out where it was coming from O_o

        Back to our project . . .

        We gathered our supplies, and I explained to Nia that she could make a pattern with the toothpick then push the cloves in. She was aiming for a face, but got carried away with the toothpick so it's a bit abstract!

        Besides the spiced orange activity there were also recipes like oven-baked s'mores, an obsession I had in my early 20s, as well as home decor crafts such as light bulb pears - simply wrapping a light bulb with twine and inserting a twig for the stem. Even better is that the crafts incorporate the Febreze scents. So instead of just spraying them in the air (something I'm cautious about with Grayson!) you can infuse the crafts with Febreze making fantastic smelling centerpieces. I never considered that before!

        To learn more about getting your home ready for fall with the Febreze Home Harvest Collection be sure to follow Febreze on Facebook and Twitter.

        Have you started getting your home ready for fall? Do you make special crafts or use scents to get in the fall mood?

        Wednesday, September 10, 2014

        Continuing Summer Fun with ALEX Toy's Monster Bubbles

        Disclosure: I received Monster Bubbles to facilitate this review; all opinions expressed are my own.

        School may have started but summer's not officially over until September 22 (my birthday!) and speaking of birthdays ALEX Toys was generous enough to send Nia Monster Bubbles in time for her 4th birthday. Nia has a serious obsession with bubbles and I was excited to surprise her with it! We have a stockpile of bubbles sitting on our counter so introducing her to Monster Bubbles was a welcome break in bubble monotony. 

        I let Nia get the hang of Monster Bubbles on our balcony - it's for ages 4+ and she was just under 4 when it arrived, but I let her play independently. She poured in the tear-free bubble solution and got down to bubble business! While she did have a hard time getting the bubbles to break off, together we were able to get the hang of it and quickly had to break into her bubble reserve to keep going. She made massive amounts of bubbles!

        Monster Bubbles retails for $24.95 and requires 2-AA batteries (not included). A simple switch turns on the internal fan (it's safe from little fingers!) blowing the solution to create bubbles which a simple wand breaks off. You can see it in action here:


        At Nia's party we introduced Monster Bubbles to her friends - I didn't do much explaining and simply set it down and the kids started playing. Even Mr. Lovebird got in on the action! When not in use, we keep Monster Bubbles in our car for trips to the park - much better than our little balcony - and look forward to more playtime at our new place since we'll have a patio and yard!

        ALEX Toys is such a fun brand, and I've enjoyed seeing their innovations each year at Toy Fair. To learn more about ALEX Toys visit their website (they have fantastic printables too!), and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter for cool giveaways too!

        Does it still feel like summer where you live? Is your child obsessed with bubbles too? 


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