Monday, March 31, 2014

Our Puerto Rico Family Photo Shoot with Nilka Gissell

I keep saying throughout this pregnancy that it's my last always with the caveat Lord willing cause we all know how we makes plans, but . . . 

Anyway, keeping with this vein having a maternity photo shoot was definitely on my list, but I soon realized that I really didn't like calling it maternity cause it wasn't going to be just me and the bump but Mr. and Lil Lovebird as well so I think "family" photo shoot sounds much better!

Friends recommended about ten photographers and when I reviewed Nilka Gissell's work and connected with her on our shoot I knew it would be a great match. 

We weren't disappointed - here are a few of my faves: 










Nia can be a bit iffy when meeting new people and like most threenagers will shut down completely if she's not 110% on board with what you're trying to get her to do. We had 90 minutes and two locations so I wasn't sure how she'd do but when Nia went to Nilka and gave her a hug and wanted to hold her hand within a few minutes of meeting I knew we were golden!

Nia then proceeded to break out into all kinds of poses. I'm sure Nilka thought we had coached her, but this is real Nia - she gets sassy lately in front of the camera:


Thank you to my fellow destination bride buddy Caritza for recommending Nilka! Working with Nilka was such a wonderful experience and if you're looking for an outstanding photographer in Puerto Rico definitely look her up - she's extremely talented and personable:
You can also follow Nilka on Facebook!
Have you ever had a family/maternity photo shoot? Did your little ones cooperate?

 

P.S. We followed this guide to figure out what to wear. Also, my lace dress is from Asos - love their fashionable maternity clothing!

Happy Monday!

Despite the dreariness we had here in NYC I made the most of the weekend. Now that my 3rd trimester is in full effect (I can't believe it'll be time to post the Week 30 Baby Agbai 2.0 Report next week), I'm really trying to pack a lot in before he arrives . . .

Friday

Tea & Sympathy with a new blogger friend
Saturday 

An afternoon scavenger hunt date at Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company via HowAboutWe for Couples (I reviewed this fantastic service here!)

While we were on our date my amazing sister Ariane took Lil Lovebird to her piano lesson . . .
 
Thank you Ariane for capturing this - and also this clip of Nia trying the violin for the 1st time!


Celebrating the soon-arrival of my bump buddy Lacy's little one!

A local blogger meet-up (photo credit)
Sunday

I went to brunch with my local pregnant mamas at The Hamilton Inn before heading into the city for church followed by Miyazaki's final film and donuts with my sister Lauren:


How was your weekend? Has spring finally arrived where you live or are you still patiently waiting like I am? 

 

P.S. I'll be back this afternoon to share more about the new header photo and the rest of our Puerto Rico family photo shoot!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Here's My Dr. Oz Segment

TGIF everyone! In case you missed it click here to watch my Dr. Oz segment.

Image credit: The Dr. Oz Show
A lot of people have asked if it really tasted good and guess what? It did! I preferred the pilaf over the oatmeal - the oatmeal was room temperature so perhaps if it was heated I would've liked it more. I can totally see replacing rice with kaniwa. 

 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lovebirds in Paradise: Celebrating 9+5 Years in Puerto Rico

We returned from Puerto Rico last Monday, and I'm still having a hard time readjusting and nearly curse the prolonged cold weather every morning here in NYC. I just think I'm meant for warm weather!

Barely 4 days and 4 nights definitely weren't long enough, but we really made the most of it. I'm usually an itinerary freak but the point of this trip was just to relax as much as possible with close friends and family. It was perfection...







My lil brother
Nia and her aunties


With her Uncle C
The fans still love Uka!

Also, a big thank you to a few brands which made our trip easier (I'll be featuring in spotlight posts coming up!):
Also, while in Puerto Rico we had our maternity/family photo shoot by Nilka Gissell (I posted a teaser here), and we were very pleased with how it turned out! I'll be doing a reveal post soon so stay tuned. . .

How have you celebrated or plan to celebrate your landmark anniversaries? We're already thinking ahead to the 10 year!

 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mouse Trap, a 3 1/2 Year Old and the ER

 

This past Friday as I sat in the ER I tried to recall my earliest memory of the strangest thing I ate as a kid. Maybe it was the secret dollop of the Johnson's baby cream I remember my mom slathering on after bedtime or the lint off the carpet I ate in preschool or the Elmer's paste and glue I liked to dip my potato chips in as a Kindergartner. 

I definitely was an oral child (I sucked my thumb until the age of 6 when my parents had one of these installed)

Despite nursing 22 months I never pinned Lil Lovebird as a very oral child and when she'd see other kids put non-food items in their mouth she'd give them a look like, "Why would you do that?!" 
 

Well all that went out the window this past Thursday when she decided to swallow one of the metal balls from her Mouse Trap game. I got the game last month during Hasbro's party at Toy Fair, and it definitely wasn't the same Mouse Trap I grew up with as a kid. It's newly remastered as Elefun and Friends Mouse Trap for a younger demographic, age 4+ and with Nia being 3 1/2 I incorrectly decided we could play it at last. 

Nia LOVED the game, but when I saw her attempt to put one of the two metal balls in her mouth I was surprised and reprimanded her telling her to never, ever do that again because it was dangerous and could hurt her. 

She lowered the ball, looked at me in alarm, and we resumed the game. 

The following night she was excited to play the game with her dad while I prepared dinner and as they were setting up the game with an appetizer of strawberries in front of her she confessed to him:

"Daddy, I swallowed just one of the balls." 

Mr. Lovebird and I looked at each other in complete panic but knew better than to actually panic. We checked her to see if it was having a hard time going down then went into frentic search mode trying to find the 2nd ball and kept asking, "Are you sure it was just one?" and she insisted it was. Thankfully after about 5 minutes we found it had rolled under the curtains. 
 
Post-silent panic there were a few stages we went through:
  • Internet research - no, we didn't call 911 as Nia was acting normal, but we were mostly concerned about the metal content of the ball and after looking up other cases apparently it hadn't been of issue and expelling the ball was expected to take 5 or 6 days

  • Appreciation - we were so glad she was honest with us and didn't want to disrupt that by getting on her too hard; we let her know she had done the right thing by telling us about it (then wondered what else she hadn't told us about O_o)

  • Considered the consequences - Nia quickly realized it was going to have to come out at some point and was concerned about either #1 having it cut out of her or #2 coming out her booty and hurting

  • Made an action plan for the next day - we loaded Nia up on water and fiber before bedtime and decided to alert Nia's teacher in case the metal ball made an early exit or she had an adverse reaction; her pediatrician was concerned about potential blockages and advised us to take her to the ER which we did after school which led to the x-ray at the top
The ER confirmed there were no blockages and no adverse effects, and after less than 2 hours (the fastest ER visit I've ever experienced), 6 cookies, 2 juice boxes and a partially completed Barbie coloring page we were free to go and told to monitor her for when it passed. 

It finally did the following night which Mr. Lovebird confirmed using this contraption as well as hearing the "clink, clink clink" down the pipes, as he reported to me - God bless him for sparing me the hands-on experience!

Honestly, the best part was when Nia was waiting patiently for it to exit and sweetly asked, "Daddy, when it comes out can you clean it off so we can play the game again?"

O___________________________________o

My child.

What's the strangest thing that you or your child have ever eaten?


 

I'm on The Dr. Oz Show Today!


Thank you for all the congratulatory messages and plans to watch live/DVR! I'll try to post a clip sometime this week after it airs. 

Check your local listings here.

 

P.S. I'll be back this afternoon with the the story of this past weekend's ER visit (here's a hint).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Save the Date! I'm on The Dr. Oz Show This Week

How was your weekend? We kicked ours off in the ER but more on that later . . .

You may have seen my Instagram when I was at ABC studios last week but in case you missed it:



My show airs this Wednesday, March 26 so please try to catch it or DVR it if you can (check your local listings here). It was a delicious segment, and I'm glad I got to share the experience with my sister Ariane!


 

P.S. I'm officially in my 3rd trimester now! 12 weeks (or so) until I meet Baby Agbai 2.0 (catch my latest pregnancy update here).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Spring & Baby Agbai Report: 27 Weeks

Celebrating my 5th wedding anniversary (early!) in Puerto Rico; Beach Sun Wrap and Beach Sun Hat compliments of Coolibar

I was hoping to publish this update yesterday but was running from 6a.m. to 6p.m. (especially because of this special TV appearance I have coming up!). Anyway, on to the Baby Agbai 2.0 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 his grand entrance. If he were born today he would have an 85 percent chance of surviving as his 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. His 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. His brain waves are now firing away just like those of a newborn baby. If baby is a he, his testes will have completely descended at this point.

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 in-laws 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: Same old stretch marks 

Sleep: Restless legs have kicked in. Ughhhh. 

Best Moment This Week: Sunning in Puerto Rico 

Movement: Activity has picked up a lot; baby boy is flipping and flopping all over 

Sex of the Baby: Still a boy; don't think I'll have another ultrasound this pregnancy

Food Craving: Still loving salty and sour; Mexican food gives me LIFE!

Belly Button In or Out: Still out and Nia's really taken to pointing and laughing at it now O_o 

What I Miss: Being able to walk fast when I attempt to pound the NYC pavement 

What I'm Looking Forward To: Getting my maternity/family photo shoot pics back; getting warmer weather (hopefully!) 

Milestone: The maternity photo shoot especially since we hadn't done one the first time and Lord willing this is the last time I'll be pregnant 

Wanna see what 27 weeks was like for me the first time around? Check out this post!

 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Winners: #FrozenKidresh Coupons


Popping in with the winners from yesterday's Kidfresh flash giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congrats Kimberly and Christina! I'll be in touch shortly so you can get your prize.

If you'd still like to get a free coupon of your own be sure to visit Kidfresh's Facebook page. Also don't forget about tonight's #FrozenKidfresh Twitter party for the chance to win more prizes; sign up here!

Did any of you buy Frozen yesterday? My daughter's teacher did and told us this morning she finally knows what all the kids are talking about!
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Alt Summit 2014: Day 3, Getting Down to Business!

Getting back on track with my Alt Summit recaps . . . here's Day 1 and Day 2 if you missed them! Note: Pictures without my watermark are taken by the official Alt photographers Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis.

Friday

I slept like a baby after the Green Party but was determined to be up early for Food Photography with Joy Uyeno of Frock Files and Lindsey Johnson of Cafe Johnsonia - I heard the previous day's photography session had a long line an hour beforehand and with only 30 students allowed I was chillin' in line very early. 

It was definitely worth it!


Here are my top 5 actionable items I learned to polish your food photography:
  1. Start with Pinterest - create a food styling inspiration board to capture what looks appealing
  2. Keep it simple - no busy china patterns to compete with the food! Companies like IKEA, Fishs Eddy and Pearl River are great resources for dishware 
  3. Know the ideal manual settings - f/1.8+50/55mm lens+light scoop= SUCCESS! I had never considered a light scoop but Joy said it made all the difference for her and recommended this one. Also, while f/1.8 is ideal don't get stuck using it exclusively - 3.5-5.6 is a good sweet spot to play with!
  4. Go vertical! - especially for Pinterest, vertical images get a better response and you can always crop your horizontal images vertical before posting
  5. Use matte surfaces - check IKEA for clearance services to shoot on; look for scrap pieces from building salvage and hardware stores, fun fabrics from sewing stores and materials at thrift stores


Next up I went to the Growing Your Community session with Jen Hansard of Simple Green Smoothies, Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked, Jessie Artigue of Style & Pepper and Salem Stanley of Vacation Races.

A funny take on overdoing "community"
I have to admit when I saw the word "community" I really wanted to replace it with "readership" but I realized why word choice was so important. I wasn't familiar with Simple Green Smoothies until I saw them mentioned on the schedule pre-conference and as I followed them and learned their story I was intrigued - people are extremely passionate about them and I wanted to find out why. I met Jen and her co-founder Jadah in the line at lunch the day before and Jadah was in my photography class that morning and they struck me as warm and personable - my kind of businesswomen!
 
Salem, Jen and Susan
During Jen's talk I learned the importance of creating a newsletter (with a "juicy" opt-in!) for growing community as well as being a responsive blogger - something I strive to achieve as well. There's nothing more annoying than an un-engaged blogger or business which you try to contact but doesn't respond. It's not good for business! By being engaging and responsive the 2 SAHMs created a 6 figure business in 8 months. What an inspiration!

I was also very familiar with Freshly Picked the wildly popular baby moccasins recently featured on Shark Tank, and I appreciated Susan's honesty about what motivated her to grow her community: she wanted to make money. Ain't nothin' wrong with that! (and if you're business-minded like I am check out Susan's AMAZING candid interview about her business including how she got 10K Instagram followers, check out her interview here on Smart Creative Women, which is a must-follow btw)


Now it was time for another favorite of mine: LUNCH! I tell ya, baby gets me very hungry lately, and I was so excited when I stepped into the ballroom and saw the beautiful table settings:


The lunch keynote was with Every Mother Counts featuring board members Christy Turlington Burns, Mariam Naficy, Heather Armstrong and Christiane Lemieux. I first learned of EMC at BlogHer in 2012 and was thrilled to see the work they continue to do but as tears filled many of the eyes of the audience I was more interested in action when the Q&A opened I immediately popped my hand up to ask how I could help the next time I travel with my family to Nigeria. They responded that connecting with them to guest blog would help raise awareness, but I'm thinking more along the lines of on the ground help or taking something tangible when I go. Since then I have an idea of how I want to help coupling with resources here in NYC so I hope to have an update later this year on my progress . . .

Brit and Erin
After lunch I headed to Investing in Your Blog with Brit Morin of Brit & Co. and Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34. Brit reminded me of Eria of P.S. I Made This in her approachable, yet savvy manner. She is super educated and well-versed in all things tech/Silicon Valley and gave us the inside scoop on her business growth as well as future trends she sees (hint: 3D printing ya'll!). This on the-ground-report was eye-opening and while I don't think I need an MBA, it definitely makes sense to stay on top of business trends even as a blogger. 

I also won a cute Brit Kit to make a bracelet which I look forward to making soon:


I was starting to get drained by the time of the closing keynote, but knowing it was with Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest helped me perk up. I parked myself next to another lady I didn't realize was also pregnant until she started dozing off, and we empathized on our condition! (It was also during this session that I took a baby-induced bathroom break and ended up with the most gorgeous pillows from Wayfair - more on that later...)

Ben interviewed by Alt Summit co-founder Gabrielle Blair
This piece of advice really struck me: "Focus on what's working; you don't have to fix what's not." Not only for blogging but for life, I think this is a great tip. Ben admitted to certain things being worked out at Pinterest such as spam, questionable images and dead links and that they're definitely working on them and he kinda skirted around the issue of monetization which made me sweat a little about the thought of paying for Pinterest or seeing it laden with ads. I get that bills have to be paid, but I love Pinterest as it currently is. I just pray it doesn't turn into Facebook.

Ben's mantra of "Progress, Not Perfection" in conjunction with his thoughts on making his company family friendly, especially dad-friendly so men don't have to feel like they're blazing trails wanting to have family-friendly hours was fantastic. Rather than wait for change or legislation he said it's up to dads to just do it: make the demand that it's OK for them to leave at normal hours instead of making moms taking the brunt of the responsibility. I wanted to stand up and applaud! So many of my dual-working outside the home friends have the mom giving up so much more in her career to be with the family whether for leave or for handling appointments or activities and I truly believe if more men started standing up for change there would be change. 


When the keynote was over, although I wanted to sleep I went up to my room to get dolled up for the 12 mini-parties. They started at 6:30p.m., but I didn't make it down until 8p.m. and missed quite a few tasty goodies and experiences. While I was a little bummed I know I'll definitely be at Alt again and will make up for it (sans baby bump!).

Here are some colorful mini-party moments:


Loved Bethany's looks the entire conference especially the one on the left!


It would've been very easy to get carried away at MailChimp's tattoo parlor! I opted to take a few Tattly tatoos home with me instead
I wasn't fast enough to snap a pic but I did catch a bite of the mashed potato bar cart before it was wheeled out (thank you to the staff for having mercy on my pregnant, salt-craving belly!) and there was an amazing cheesecake bar I heard about too. I couldn't let the night end there so I went up to my room to join my roommates for a girls foot soak and a bit of indulgence (does that tart look familiar???):

It was the perfect way to end my first Alt Summit.

Still a few more Alt Summit posts to come: business card round-up, fashion and a few giveaway wins! Also my post-Alt experience at Sundance thanks to my cousin Aminah.
 


P.S. Want to experience Alt Summit this year? There are now two main events in SLC with Alt NYC of the past now being a design camp (date and location TBD) and other cities available. Tickets for Alt SLC Summer this June are now on sale here and be sure to subscribe to their newsletter and follow on social media for your chance to win a ticket!

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