Friday, August 29, 2014

Celebrate Breastfeeding with Undercover Mama (and a Holiday Weekend Giveaway!)

Disclosure: I received an Undercover Mama Nursing Shirt for review purposes; all opinions expressed are my own.

How is it the end of August already? As the weather's been fluctuating here from fall-ish as it was last weekend to full blown hotness as it is now, for me it's been a lesson in keeping cool while nursing. August is National Breastfeeding Month and it's now Black Breastfeeding Week, and I'm today I'm sharing a bit about my experience breastfeeding the 2nd time around . . .

Gray day 2 in the hospital - ready to nurse!
Gray is a nursing champ. Plain and simple. Once he was born within minutes he latched right on, and while it took a couple weeks to get used to the feel of nursing (thank goodness for nipple balm!), we've been off to a great start. He is a very focused nurser and not easily distracted, but boy does he get super hot while nursing! I haven't covered up as much this time around mostly because I don't care to and also because it makes him sweat so much. I find nursing to be much easier the more comfortable I am.

That's where Undercover Mama comes in. 

I saw their Nursing Shirt featured around social media and was thrilled when they reached out to me to give it a try. Basically, it just turns any shirt into a nursing top by connecting to your bra. You should've seen Mr. Lovebird's face when I tried to explain it him. He went from confused to enlightened and agreed it's a pretty awesome concept! I selected grey not because of Gray (!) but because it seemed the most neutral for my wardrobe especially as fall approaches. Below I'm wearing a regular scoop neck shirt that I haven't worn since the beginning of my pregnancy - I simply attached my Undercover Mama Nursing Shirt to my nursing bra and I was all set:


Here's a video of how it attaches:


Clever, right?


I like how it immediately expands my wardrobe beyond the requisite nursing tanks/button down tops and how it covers my postpartum tummy when lifting my shirt. I'm pretty confident about my body but am not quite where I want to be (about 10 lbs to go all concentrated in my mid-section!). Also, made out of 95% combed cotton and 5% spandex it's super soft and lightweight. The last thing I need is added bulk! When ordering your Undercover Mama it's recommended to get one size smaller than your regular size. I was a bit concerned at first, but it turns out this is perfect - it fits snugly yet comfortably.

Undercover Mama is also ran by moms (hooray for mompreneurs!) and they've generously offered one lucky Harlem Lovebirds reader an Undercover Mama Nursing Shirt! The giveaway starts today and ends on Sunday, August 31 with the winner announced on Monday, September 1. Enter via the Rafflecopter below (open to U.S. & Canada residents only). 

Good luck!:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What was/is your biggest challenge when breastfeeding? How did/do you stay comfortable?



P.S. I love how inside the package is a business card-sized thank you note for nursing in public to help raise awareness! They actually sell the cards here which are great to give when you see another mom nursing in public.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life With Gray: 2 Months Old


Gray had his 2 month dr. visit last week along with his sister's 4 year appointment and they both had shots. I was nervous going into it mostly due to how I thougth Nia would react. She did fine - it was Gray who had the biggest reaction. I've never heard him cry so hard! It was heartbreaking but Nia, who was the brave big sister and got her shots first, laughed at him. I asked her why and she replied, "Because he's so cute, mama!" 

On to the update . . .

  • Baby's Weight: 12lbs, 14oz - up nearly 2 lbs in a month; Nia and I have taken to calling him CHUNK!
  • Baby's Height: 23" (he was 20" at birth)
  • What size of clothing does baby wear?  3 months fits best
  • Any milestones baby reached during the month: Gray's smiling regularly now and is cooing more. Also, he's started teething, same as Nia did at this age. He is getting better at grabbing for things too especially boobies! Speaking of boobies, Gray took a bottle for the first time and it was the first bottle we tried by Lansinoh that came with my pump (more on my amazing pump courtesy of Klout to come!):

  • What are your thoughts about the past month? I've been a bit anxious towards the end of Gray's 2nd month (I'll share more about that soon), but I'm confident earlier than I expected in the "mom of 2" domain. It's been better than I thought going into the city with both or just one. I do get a bit overwhelmed with household to-dos mixing with parenting and business duties but I think Nia starting school soon will help with that! Here he is with Nia re-enacting her 1 month video:

Moment 1:04-1:30 is my fave!
  • What was baby's routine? Grayson's circadian rhythms have seemed to kick in or else it's a trick! He has a hard time getting settled at night, but once he's down he's down and I rarely feel disrupted in my sleep on account of him. We get up between 7-8a.m. and lately he's been drowsy most of the day but wants to be held while sleeping. If I put him down he promptly pops up. Sigh . . . Nights we're all in bed around 9/10p.m., but lately I've been pulling all nighters til 3 or 4a.m. No fun!
  • Reflect about the highlights of the month: Definitely Gray taking a bottle. This spells freedom!
  • Did any big changes occur? The 6 week growth spurt hit us HARD. He was super fussy. I definitely don't remember anything like that with Nia at 6 weeks, but I think a lot of it is due to his extreme gasiness! 
  • What I'm looking forward to? I missed this question last time and would've said Las Vegas but alas our Labor Day Weekend trip to the Red Rock Resort has been canceled. It's bittersweet, and I'll be sharing more on that soon . . . In the immediate future I'm looking for a short family trip up to Portsmouth, NH this holiday weekend instead.


P.S. Missed last month's update? Click here to see Gray's 1st month!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend Recap & The Daniel Tiger Giveaway Winner

Mr. Lovebird's hitting the road this week, and it'll be the longest time I've been alone with the kids since we went up to join him in Portsmouth a couple weeks ago. I admit I get a bit anxious before he goes away, but the fun moments this weekend helped keep the anxiety at bay . . .

I'm loving the styling by Arian at Oma Duran (my before pic is here)! This was the last time I had my hair straightened - I can't believe the progress. I've been relaxer-free for nearly 2 years now!
This moment captured by my sister Ariane on her roof
And this moment capture by Nia - she's good isn't she?
Now on to announce the winner of my Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you to all who entered, and if you want another chance at winning a Daniel Tiger prize, head over to the show's Facebook page for their latest giveaway!

How was your weekend? Is it unseasonably cool where you live like it is here? It really feels like fall already!
 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Toys Review & Flash Giveaway!

Disclosure: I was provided with JAKKS Pacific's Daniel Tiger toys to facilitate this review; all opinions expressed are my own.

I'm coming in super late, but sharing Nia's continued excitement for what happened earlier this week. If you follow me on Instagram you saw:


Yes, Daniel Tiger became a big brother! 

Once we started seeing the promos on PBS Kids a few weeks ago Nia kept exclaiming, "He's like me!" When she found out the special episodes were coming on starting the Monday following her birthday party it made it even more special. She beamed every time we'd see the preview!

Fast forward to premiere day and that's the moment I captured above. She woke up excited like it was Christmas morning asking me if it it was indeed the day that Daniel Tiger would become a big brother, and I told her yes. Nia did her best to be patient and was bouncing around and laughing with anticipation!

Even better? 

Within an hour after the premiere our deliveryman brought us this:

 
Perfect timing!
 
Image via JAKKS Pacific
Nia's been having fun with her Katerina Kittycat Talking 12" Plush which says 12 phrases and sings (SRP $19.99, Ages 2+) - it also comes in Daniel Tiger! I've shared before Nia's love for Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (you can see what happened when she met Daniel here), and I especially like the life's lessons it teaches her especially during the challenging toddler/preschool years. I even use some of the coping mechanisms myself (if I feel so mad that I want to roar, take a deep break and count to 4!).
Image via JAKKS Pacific

I also like the Mini Plush Daniel Tiger (SRP $7.99, Ages 2+) for taking on the road with us. Nia enjoys incorporating him into her pretend play - something she's into lately.

Image via JAKKS Pacific
Lastly - and here's the fun part - the 5 Piece Daniel Tiger Neighborhood Friends 2.5" Figure Set (SRP $12.99, Ages 3+) is one that gets the most play in our home. Nia has the Treehouse we gave her for Christmas which came with a set. She loves reinacting scenes from the shows with this set and I enjoy how she plays well on her own with it. 

I'm giving one lucky reader their own Figure Set for their little one! This is a flash giveaway just over the weekend so be quick - the winner's announced Monday, August 25 (U.S. residents only). 

Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

You can find these and other Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood toys as well as where to find them at JAKKS Pacific.  

Did your little one watch the Daniel Tiger special this week? Was your child as obsessed with it as mine is? (We've watched it about 7 times since!)
 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm Not About That #ALSBucketChallenge Life

Let's talk about the ALS Bucket Challenge . . .

I'm vain. I admit it. I'm not about to submit my thick fro to a bucket of ice, but it's been entertaining watching others do it and when it goes wrong, boy does it go wrong:




There's also been quite a bit of foolishness around this challenge including this I saw on Awesomely Luvvie's Facebook wall (she expressed how ignorant this comparison is which you can read more about here):


Anyway, I knew it'd be a matter of time before someone would nominate me and lo and behold my sister did, but I quickly had to tell her to go somewhere with that. 

While some people are getting up in arms about this challenge happening at a time when there's so much turmoil domestically and abroad, I believe there's room for multiple causes and concerns. Are we that simple that we have to be one-track minded on issues? What law is there that we can only focus on one or two at a time? 

I remember first learning about ALS in Boston during a talk I attended for my job. It was eye-opening in the same way I believe this challenge is. Awareness is key for so many causes. 

Oh and if you want to see a pretty cool round-up of celebrities fulfilling the challenge click here.

I, on the other hand, will be making a donation. 

What are your thoughts on the challenge? Ill-timed or doesn't matter? Have you taken the challenge?
 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peace of Mind with Genworth #LetsTalk

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Genworth. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

My husband and I both experienced the loss of our maternal grandmothers since we've been married, and it's generated some important conversations between us especially concerning the long term care of our own parents. Insurance provider Genworth realizes the importance of such conversations and has launched its "Lets Talk Tour" to get Americans to start discussing and planning for long term care.

With my late Grandma Emma at my bridal shower in 2009
What exactly is long term care? It's assistance that helps people with issues often related to aging for an extended period of time either in-home or at a facility. It's not the most exciting topic to think about, but it's one that we need to be sure to have with our loved ones. My readers are mostly in the same demographic of having parents in their 50s and 60s - the age that's it's critical to have these talks especially as Americans are living longer. However, while Genworth research shows that 75% of seniors are comfortable talking about aging, less than 20% of their children broached the topic.

While I haven't explicitly asked my parents what their own plan is, I have talked to them about the disparity I've seen in how we handle aging in the U.S. vs. what I saw when I visited Nigeria and saw Uka's grandma right before she passed away. It's definitely the "American-way" to put the elderly in facilities and while I wouldn't want to do that to my parents and instead honor them the way I see in the Nigerian tradition by taking care of them, I cannot predict the medical care or assistance I might need in doing so. That's where long term care insurance like Genworth's would be helpful.

The "Let's Talk Tours" are spurring the education and dialogue on the topic and while they've already visited NYC, there are upcoming tours in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas which you can learn more about here. Also, check out this quick recap of the NYC tour featuring Rob Lowe which happened last month (on the day Grayson was born in fact!):


 

If you're like me and thinking about longterm care, please visit Genworth's Let's Talk Tour page and get inspired to have the conversations with your older loved ones. Start with a simple question over a cup of coffee: "How do you want to age?" and go from there. The peace of mind is worth it!



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It's Here!: The Legends of Oz Doll Collection by Madame Alexander

Disclosure: I'm a member of Madame Alexander's Mommy Advisory Board and received the Legends of Oz doll collection for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.


Friends, I have to admit I've been holding out on you: around the time Gray was born we received the full collection of Madame Alexander's Legends of Oz dolls. Nia saw it as another surprise tied to the arrival of her brother and they were warmly welcomed into the doll "fold." One night when I got a break from Gray's cluster feeding, we set up the dolls and turned on Mr. Lovebird's favorite movie for a fun family night:

According to Nia pants are optional when watching movies O_o
The Legends of Oz doll collection includes the characters we know and love (Dorothy, Glinda, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion) as well as China Princess all from the animated feature Legends of Oz which premiered in May of this year (you can watch the trailer here). While Nia loves setting up the dolls in pretend scenarios, I'm more taken by the little details that Madame Alexander is known for - the high quality materials, tight stitching that's build to last and the whimsy facial features which invoke fun.


The preschool age is prime-time for pretend play and the Legends of Oz doll collection is perfect for that! She loves re-creating scenes from the movie as well as incorporating them with her existing dolls. It's so funny to watch some of the scenarios she comes up with!


I have to admit when discussing the Legends of Oz collection with Nia she remarked how she missed Toto as well as questioned where the Wicked Witch was. I wanted to know what happened to Dorothy's red ruby slippers, but I guess we need to watch Legends of Oz to find out. It'll be another fun movie night for us I'm sure!

I especially liked the straw coming out of Scarecrow - little details like that are so special!
A great way to build a collection for your child, each doll retails for $15 and can be purchased at MadameAlexander.com.

Be sure to follow Madame Alexander on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest doll innovations!
 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Becoming a World Explorer with Little Passports

Disclosure: I received Little Passports for review purposes; all opinions expressed are my own.

Since visiting our family in Nigeria a few years ago Nia's had a very global perspective - she still remembers our trip fondly and we still enjoy looking at pictures from our visit. Growing up I longed to travel and traveled extensively as a young adult, but I hope Nia gets to go more places than I ever did and starting at a younger age.

I've come across Little Passports via social media and was curious about it especially remembering my childhood wanderlust so I was delighted when they reached out to me to experience it with Nia! With the World Edition focusing on over 25 countries and geared towards kids ages 5-10 and the USA Edition focusing on the 50 United States geared towards kids ages 7-12, Little Passports provides kids with the opportunity to learn about culture, history, and more.

Here's our adventure . . .


To my surprise Nia recognized the suitcase when it arrived - it turns out our neighbors have it and she's played with it there. Their mom even told me how much her kids enjoy it and gave me a tip to laminate the map (great idea!)


I selected Brazil for Nia to experience as her first adventure especially due to World Cup fever and this summer being the first that she played soccer. She was excited to participate in all the activities which I was surprised as she just turned 4 and I was curious if it'd hold her interest. It definitely did!


I found that I learned as well during our experience - I had no idea there were amethyst mines in Brazil! Activities where the parent and child learn together are so rewarding and relationship building. 



Created by two moms (tying into my mompreneur appreciation!) I also appreciate how Little Passports has such a unique combination of activities for kids and how it ties in online too. The games are smart and the entire experience online and offline is customizable - Nia especially enjoyed writing her name in her suitcase and typing her name in online. It's so important to foster a global perspective in kids from a young age and Little Passports does just that. It's something I wish I had growing up!


Also, with our upcoming trip to San Antonio I was interested to hear that Little Passports has partnered with JW Mariott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa to give young travelers the Little Passport experience. Although we'll be at Riverwalk for Blogalicious, it's the start of a partnership that I hope will spread! Participants will receive the Little Passports - JW Marriott San Antonio Edition journal featuring the geography, history, and points of interest of Texas and the beautiful Hill Country. Each of the 24 pages in the interactive guide is designed to teach, challenge, and entertain young explorers. The Little Passport experience is complimentary and will be offered on Saturdays and holidays to resort guests ages 5-12 years old throughout the 2014 summer season.  Reservations are recommended through the Range Riders Kids’ Club. For more information call 210-276-2500, extension 4347.

Be sure to follow Little Passports on Twitter and Facebook for all the adventure fun!

Are your children into exploring the world? Which countries do you think they'd like to visit via Little Passports? I think Australia would be fun!
  


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Baby's First Beach Visit

Captured by Aunty Ariane - thank you!
 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday Virginia!

Typical Virginia pose! (thanks Aunty Ariane for the pic!)
Some of you may have been startled (and chuckled) upon seeing my personal Facebook status today:

I'm telling ya! The qualities that can drive me nuts at times are the same ones I want my daughter to have as an adult: tenacity, curiosity, defiance (to a point!) etc. . .  In utero she was much different than her brother and those traits are still carrying on especially her penchant for breaking into a passionate dance whenever a beat drops!

We are celebrating her birthday this weekend at a local splashpad/sandbox - her request for a very specific park was answered! I'll pick up a Frozen cake and we'll celebrate with a few of her buddies and my family. 

It's been a fun year for Virginia: she started preschool and became a big sister. We have more (bittersweet) transitions coming and I'm approaching cautiously to navigate her through them. 


Next up? Pre-K 4 in a few weeks. 

Oh and a funny memory for the day? When she woke up and I sang to her she smiled so big and graciously (the sweetest she's been in about 4 days O_o). She asked, "Am I 4 today?" I answered yes and she replied, "But I don't feel 4!" I then told her I'd confirm by looking in her mouth and she opened wide and I took a peek and proclaimed, "Yep! You're 4!" and she beamed. 

I love my Nia!

Do you remember being 4? I have strong memories at that age especially of nursery school. What about you? 
 
 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Leave Your Troubles on the Water

Summer's still going strong for us (nope, it's not over til my birthday September 22!), and the past few days we've had quite an aquatic time along the Eastern seaboard. Take a peek:

A double rainbow after dinner in Portsmouth, NH
Happy to have the pool to herself at our hotel in Manchester, NH
Mr. Lovebird enjoyed GoGo squeeZ on the the Circle Line Cruise's Pirate and Princess Party for Nia's 4th birthday
Our first family trip to the Jersey Shore this season - spy that sand on the baby feet???

We have some big things going on around here (hence the single blog post last week O_o), and we're ending the summer in a very exciting way that I can't wait to share publicly. 

Have a good week everyone (it's Nia's birthday week), and if I get a bit temporarily sporadic here follow along where I'm plenty busy over on Instagram ;-)

How was your weekend? Any bodies of water involved?

 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Win $1000 in Scotch Duct Tape's #TapeOn Back-to-School Contest

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


Although I'm 12 years out of college I still feel angst seeing back-to-school commercials and feel for Nia and her sentiment about not quite being ready to return. Granted she's only entering PK4, but when I recently mentioned going shopping for back-to-school clothes she responded as angrily as I did in high school - she's a threenager indeed!

To make this back-to-school season more appealing Scotch has an exciting craft contest for teens running on their Facebook page until August 18. They're encouraging contestants to create fun back to school projects with their decorative Duct Tape. Teen vlogger, Sarai Jones, will be judging the contest and has a created a fun video with locker decorations for inspiration:



The contest will include prizes for the top four winners with first place receiving $1000, second place receiving $500 and third and fourth place receiving $250. 


Nia's not into notebooks and binders quite yet, but we put our own spin on a back-to-school project by decorating Gray's baby tub - it can technically fit Nia too and since she takes nightly baths during school I deemed it appropriate (we're on an every-other-night schedule for the summer!). Here's our project:






Nia was especially excited for the Batman tape (remember, she's a princess-superhero kinda girl):


However she got carried away with using the Duct Tape to decorate her brother - Mr. Lovebird and I got a good laugh when we looked over and saw this:



What were your favorite school supplies growing up? I LOVED my Lisa Frank binder!

 

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