Monday, February 29, 2016

Beyond Black History Month

I started this post weeks ago but there was so much continual fodder that I kept putting it on hold. Now I'm finally getting it out.

Black History Month felt very different this year especially because I viewed it through the lens of having a Kindergartner. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Angel Faces: Celebrating Beauty From the Inside Out


I recently re-watched the movie Big and wondered aloud to Mr. Lovebird if I'd be willing to revisit my adolescence. It was such an awkward time for me and I decided I wouldn't want to go back. Kids nowadays have so much pressure put on them especially with the visual aspect of social media coupled with measuring up against unbalanced standards of beauty. Imagine having to navigate this with physical scars caused by trauma such as a tragic accident or abuse. There are many young people who are living with scars such as these and remaining strong in the midst of curious stares and mean comments is a real challenge, especially for girls who are already under so much scrutiny when it comes to developing a healthy body image. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Date Night Survival Tactics

After almost 17 years of knowing Uka this past weekend may have been one of our most exciting, yet life threatening adventures. Remember how he nearly missed the ship home from our last port on our first cruise? This experience came close to that but was on a whole other level!


We were in Boston Saturday night for Tracy Morgan's comeback tour. He's a testimony to second and third chances and I was happy to see him back doing what he loves. Boston was unseasonably warm and as we left the venue and headed for sushi it seemed like everyone was wired with the excitement of pending spring. As we looked around it also seemed like everyone was 12 years old - oh the joy of being in a college town!

Heading down to the parking garage to drive back home we noticed the glass doors to the elevator bank had been cracked in a way that it appeared that a fight had happened. The glass was concave in a starburst pattern, as though it would shatter to the ground with one vibration. Since it looked so fresh we quickly looked around thinking perhaps the perpetrator/victim were still around but didn't see anything amiss so we kept going to our car. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Culinary Black History Month Experience at Red Rooster

Disclosure: Red Rooster provided a complimentary tasting experience to facilitate this review; all options expressed are my own.



I'll never forget the buzz over Red Rooster when I learned Chef Marcus Samuelsson would be opening his now-famous restaurant. As a resident of Harlem at the time, I knew the neighborhood was changing, but the arrival of Red Rooster was a major signal to me. When interviewed, Chef Samuelsson expressed the same sentiment:

“The game changer for me?” he said, pausing during the nine-block walk from Red Rooster to his duplex near Frederick Douglass Boulevard. “That was when I noticed that there were more wine stores in Harlem than liquor stores.”


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Simply7 Snacks Caused My Break-Up with Potato Chips

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


Little did I know that attending W.E.L.L. Summit last fall would be a helpful precursor to a whole heapful of health challenges I'm going through now. I've had fellow mommas of two warn me about what happens when you have more than one child and BOY, were they right! I'm getting back on track with a great medical team, but I'm also looking at what changes I can implement especially when it comes to my diet. 

Image via Simply7


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lovebirds' NYC Valentine's Weekend

Thank you to everyone who's been so patient and gracious with me while I get back to 100% - not quite there yet, but I should be soon! 



Last week with Mr. Lovebird gone it was such a glorious return for all of us given all that was going on and Grayson squealed, "DADEEEEEEE!" when he saw him the next morning when he woke up. He really is his #1 fan! We took it slow and packed up to head to NYC for the long weekend. I always say I'm the queen of making grandiose plans and after years of doing so, I've learned not to get bummed when things don't work out but have proceeded with caution as we work our way through our agenda. This past weekend had the right mix of play and rest - it was perfect! I'm so thankful to our family and friends who are so flexible and accommodating.


We timed our trip so our first stop would be in the Bronx to visit longtime friends April and her family. Remember her son and Nia's first kiss? It was also a delicious experience partaking in real pizza, something we've missed greatly (I think it really must be the water). The chicken vodka slice at Emilio's is EVERYTHING!


Before kids April, her husband JJ, Uka and I were all in the same pre-marital growth group at our church*. It was an intense 10 weeks, but I'm so glad we stuck with it! Uka and I still revisit what we learned during that time and are thankful to our NYC pastor for that foundation.


Once we were stuffed with good food and memories we headed over to the afternoon session of Play Fair. While I've attended Toy Fair in the past (here and here) and while that event is press only, this time around with family in tow coinciding with the inaugural Play Fair, it was an opportunity to get the family in on the action. It was biting cold, but having experienced colder temperatures in New Hampshire and with the power of long underwear coupled with Uka dropping us off at the front door, we made it! 


I attended Play Fair as a guest of KidzVuz, and the event had promised interacting with the latest and greatest toys, but instead it was more coloring pages, bins of LEGOS and piles of Shopkins with a main stage scheduled with events that I know my active kids were not going to sit still for! There were a couple play spaces hosted by Nickelodeon and Razor that I know Nia would've liked, but the lines were daunting. As the event grows it would be great if they reduce the attendance making it easier to navigate, or have fewer, more quality toy experiences for the kids. I even spotted a couple fellow bloggers I know Aliah (Get Fit Diva) and Danielle (Dellah's Jubilation)!


Grayson was content to hang out in the Thomas the Tank Engine play space rockin' his new Doodlepants while Nia made the rounds with Uka.  The best feature they experienced was the Samsung  Gear VR powered by Oculus - they both kept raving about it! As a Samsung user I'm excited to learn more about this technology. 


We lasted for about 90 minutes before heading over to an early dinner in Harlem with Nia's birthday twin and his family. It's so fun now that Grayson is big enough to get in on the action and they all played together while the parents caught up!

 
Sunday we were up for church then Valentine's Day lunch around the corner with my sister and her beau at Sammy's Noodles a spot we've been going to for about 10 years now, and it never fails (although it did go on a health score hiatus a while back WELP!)


I took a refreshing nap when we made it back up to my sister's place in Harlem where I reportedly didn't move for over an hour. I popped up and got ready for our dinner reservation at Red Rooster and NO, it's not Red Lobster, which post-Bey mayhem a couple people thought that's where we were going! I'll give our experience its own well-deserved post, but the highlight of the evening was meeting Chef Samuelsson. I've met him before at Native when it was still around years ago, and while I've been to Red Rooster a couple times before, it was Uka's 1st time there so it was extra special to be able to thank him for dinner!

My sister Lauren, who had attended the Texture on the Runway event sponsored by Target on my behalf the night before (did you see the teaser I posted of the swag bag?), held it down with the kids watching a movie when we returned so we could watch the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead. WHOA! It was SO good, agreed? I rarely watch TV, but have 3 shows I really like (TWD, GoT and Downton Abbey), and I have to say I think TWD might be #1. 


We went to bed at a decent hour and after bagels in the morning (again, water) made it back to NH in good time and was able to get grocery shopping done before the snow arrived. Nia ended up having a 2 hour weather delay today so we were able to ease back into the week. 


I'm already counting down to our next visit to NYC...


For now, this weekend I'm looking forward to Uka and I heading to Tracy Morgan's comeback tour show in Boston! This has to be my favorite character of his (the actual opening intro clip is unavailable ARGHHH)


How was your weekend? Is it winter break for you and your kids? Nia's is actually next week and we have a fun staycation planned. Stay tuned...


 



*P.S. Speaking of our NYC church, it was where I met Ashley Graham! I was thrilled to see her big news about landing one of the three covers of SI Swimsuit issue. She's a real gem, and I'm so happy for her!

Friday, February 12, 2016

FREE Valentine's Day ProFlowers *Just* Might Get Me To Snapchat

Disclosure: I received a free code from ProFlowers; all opinions expressed are my own. 

I was up late with one of my sisters (God bless them for coming through for me this week in a BIG way!) and got a really cool Valentine's Day promotion in my inbox from ProFlowers:





ProFlowers is spreading the love with FREE surprise Valentine's Day flowers through midnight EST tonight (while supplies last)!
No shipping charges and no catch.
All you have to do is follow ProFlowers on Snapchat, and they'll snap you a code for a free bouquet redeemable at ProFlowers.com/SpreadLove. 
I don't Snapchat, but my willing sister does and was able to follow these simple instructions for free flowers:
1)      Go to Snapchat and follow SnapProFlowers
2)      ProFlowers will add you back and send you a snap
3)      The snap will include a link with information (ProFlowers.com/SpreadLove) and a unique, special code for you to redeem your flowers with
4)      Have your phone ready to screen shot the Snap (you only have 10 seconds before the Snap vanishes)
5)      Take a screen shot of the Snap with the code (or write it down before the 10 seconds is up)
6)      Go to ProFlowers.com/SpreadLove to order your free bouquet and use the special code at checkout
7)      Complete order process with code

Here's to FREE flowers for your special someone on Valentine's Day!


What are you up to for Valentine's Day? We'll be in NYC as a family for a long weekend so follow along on Instagram and Facebook for some fun pics!  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Sister Power Edition



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Woman Who Will: Inspired by Madeleine Albright and Company

I had grand plans of posting yesterday but after the gorgeous weather I decided to focus on getting outdoors. I was glad I did:






My parents live in Dallas and my sisters are in New York so I couldn't help but rub in the good weather we had yesterday by texting them this:






Over the weekend I was at back on campus at my alma mater Wellesley for the Madeleine Albright Institute's Public Dialogue: "Addressing Global Inequality." Quite a topic to tackle in only 90 minutes, but my floor-mate Heather Long '04, CNN Money Senior Economy Writer and Editor, did an outstanding job moderating the panel which included Ms. Albright '59, former U.S. Secretary of State, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director and COO of the World Bank, and Mark Malloch-Brown, former deputy chief secretary general and chief of staff for the U.N. When I first heard about the panel I marked it down in my calendar and while Mr. Lovebird was intrigued by the panel - he did a double take when I told him the panelists (hello, Wellesley?!), he decided to sit out with the kids so I could attend. 



I arrived on campus around noon and met up with a group of alums for lunch, and when we were done we saw the hundreds in line already. It was crazy, but I knew it was going to be a large turnout. We got right up to the door and were turned away, but I pursued and an older alum and her husband whisked me in with them when about 20 seats opened up, and I literally had the last seat in the last row! 


What a view!
You can catch the recording of the event here, but I was especially struck by the remarkable questions asked by the audience during the Q & A. My ears perked up when an African student expressly asked about the bad blood between the IMF, World Bank and African nations. That had always been the sentiment I picked up going back to when I was an Economics minor at Wellesley and now being a Nigerian-American family it's especially a sensitive topic. The panelists were a bit defensive explaining that there's always two sides to every argument and that many times when no one else will assist these countries the World Bank is often to the rescue as a last resort. I'm not sure how that sat with me especially given questionable terms that have been of issue in the past. 


Alllll the zoom


Even being able to consider this and hear the public banter filled me with a desire to get back to being on top of world issues. I try to follow as much as I can but most days my mind is in the world of toddler-hood and Kindergartner issues! My mom reminds me everything goes in cycles and soon I'll be back in full swing when it comes to focusing on intellectual pursuits. 


I was renewed to be back on campus - to be in the presence of greatness as cliched as it sounds. I selected Wellesley after visiting about 5 other schools because I was astounded by the roster of alums and knowing that I truly wanted to make a difference in the world.

For now that difference is mostly with my kids, and I'm OK with that. 



Right before I left campus I was thrilled to see my longtime friend Nora and hug her neck! When we first met  she was an incoming international student from Switzerland who had never seen the campus and as an alum I picked her up from the airport and was able to show her the campus and attend a welcome lunch together. Over the years we've kept in touch via Facebook, but it had been way too long since we'd seen each other. 

While I was getting into my car to drive back to New Hampshire I was feeling a bit down that I didn't get to see Heather and commend her on her moderation of the panel. Lo and behold she was standing next to my car about to get in her own car - what are the odds? We were able to quickly catch up and take a selfie, of course:



I'm feeling refreshed now at the start of February and reminded of where I came from, just not genetically, but intellectually. At the age of 35 I've expressed before that I foresee the next 15 years as my years of greatness especially now that my childbearing time is over (Lord willing!). Being back at Wellesley has me feeling renewed for the new year, and I'm thankful to my parents especially for sacrificing for me to attend.




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