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Life Motherhood

Listen to the Babies

Favorite Teacher
This motherhood thing is tough work. Work that I signed up for, but tough all the same. Especially when you’re trying to raise really awesome children, that are confident, happy, loved and love…when you have no real clue how to do that. When you lowkey feel like you’re impersonating an adult. And when you highkey don’t feel like any of those things yourself.

I suppose anyone could feel this way, at any age, at any stage in life. But, for me, as I’m going through a period of self discovery…it feels uniquely tricky. Still though, I do my best. I teach my children what I know and what I’m learning. I apologize often for not being the best at all the things and I pray that they feel my sincerity. I pray that I’m doing this right, even though I know there’s really no such thing. Because, truthfully, even if I try my absolute very best, they’ll still probably be better parents than me because…isn’t that the point? To raise little people who will grow up to be better people? Better than you.

Through it all, I keep going. I keep pushing. I keep striving. I keep leading by example. All in hopes they catch the message. In hopes they learn from my triumphs and my mistakes. In hopes they are hearing me, the best little boys can. That’s all you can really do right? Is teach and lead.

But…you can also learn. From who? From them. And sometimes, it’s them who makes you grow up to better people, better than you were before them.

Listen to the babies. They’re our greatest teachers. 

I received a glimpse of this truth from my youngest son. I had decided to ask him the questions I saw in this video on Facebook. Asking my kids questions is one of my favorite things to do. There’s so much knowledge inside them, knowledge that we as adults tend to forget. As I figured, Jr’s responses were hilarious and eye opening in all the ways you’d expect from a 4 year old…and in ways you wouldn’t too.

His best friends are “all of us” and his favorite place is “in here” meaning home. He’s scared of spiders and isn’t sure if I’m 17 or 800. His favorite color is red, green, and blue–it’s too big of a task to just choose one. His favorite food is spaghetti, but just the noodles and he also loves pigs (how random). Playing makes him happy and not playing makes him sad. And his favorite movie is Home…seriously, we have watched Home at least 101 times. I’m not even kidding.

From the mouth of babes. But during our questioning, there were two answers that stuck out to me the most. Answers that had me looking at my baby boy like he was wise beyond his years. Because he is. Listen to the babies. They be knowing.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

Jr: Myself.

Full. Circle. Moment. How beautiful that was to me, his mama who is embarking on this journey of self discovery. Who has been peeling back the layers to figure out who I really am…disappointed that I suppressed that girl so long ago and adamant on empowering my children to be unapologetically themselves in all ways. I was affirmed by my baby boy. At the tender age of 4, he understood that all you need to be when you grow up is yourself. That may seem like such a minor thing to y’all but I’m telling you. This world tries to make you be something you’re not every single day. And for black boys, the noise is LOUD. Hearing that confidence and knowing my boy is miles ahead of me gives me inexplicable joy.

What does love mean?

Jr: You.

Excuse me while I wipe away the tears. If you didn’t gather from the beginning of my post…I never feel like I’m doing enough. But if we’re being real, all of this–and I do mean ALL, yes being a little woo woo here–comes down to love. That’s what this whole life thing is about. Love. Showing love, practicing love, giving love, growing in love. It’s all love. The moment my son answered what does love mean with a simple word “You” I realized, that I had been missing the big picture. He reminded me that I’m doing the most important thing. Love. And he can see that love in me. Whaattt. My heart.

~xoxo

Motherhood

Motherhood

Motherhood

I watch my youngest son run around in the sun, shirt off, bare foot, locs flowing in the wind. His smile is like a ray of sun and his joy? It immediately pulls you in. For the moment nothing else matters except watching him flourish with innocent black boy joy. I’m here, under the warm rays of the sun, laptop on lap attempting to live up to my dubious title of work at home mom and freelancer. As I become entranced with the breeze, baby boy laughter, and husband’s dancing…I ditch wordpress for an afternoon trip to the park on 70 degree day in February.

My hair is wrapped in a turban. For the life of me I can’t get my locs to lay straight. They’re my alter ego if you didn’t know. Wild where I’m lowkey, stretching towards the sun when I want to lie low, a statement maker while I rather make my way without statement. It’s time for a nature walk. A place where I feel most a peace.

It’s quiet here, save for the sounds of my sun’s footsteps. Jumping off of this rock, trying to climb that tree. The soft sounds of the creek flowing beside us. I realize, quite randomly, that perhaps my hippie mom transformation is complete.

Life Motherhood

Freedom: A Day at Smith Memorial Playground

Freedom

Lately I’ve been really into podcasts, blogs, newsletters or whatever other kind of content I can get my hands on about how to figure out what it is you want do. Shocking, I know. Creative struggles. But, I’ve been coming at it from more of a peaceful position these days, one that is not focused so much on the answer, but moreso the journey. The nuts and bolts of it all. One of the things I’m starting to understand is that, I really just want freedom. Honestly, at the core it’s freedom. There are of course levels to it: finances, time, location etc. but it all comes down that. Knowing this to be absolutely true, has helped me approach my work differently. I know you’re wondering what in the world that has to do with Smith Memorial Playground…right, I’m getting to that.

Last week my boys celebrated their birthday (yes they have the same one). I spent the night before picking out the perfect cupcakes for Sdot’s class–he was being super picky per usual. But, since he was going to be in school for the day, I wanted to do something fun with Man Man. I decided to take the afternoon and spend the day with him (and hubs) at Smith Memorial Playground. We had a perfect day and it really reminded me that, I’m already doing what it is I want to do. The freedom to take afternoons off and make memories with my boys. That’s it at the heart of it. Freedom.

So we spent the afternoon chasing, crafting, playing, building, swinging. It was everything. I also spent the night writing but it was well worth the trade. If you’re not familiar, Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse is a playspace in Philadelphia that is dedicated to providing children with unstructured free play. The Playhouse is tailored mostly towards toddlers and preschoolers but older kids can definitely enjoy the playground. It was a bit chilly…October of course…so we spent most of the time indoors. I’m basically obsessed with this place now and we’ll definitely be visiting much more. Along with other places in Philly. You would think for a philly mom blogger who sometimes writes listicles of things to do in this wonderful city, I would…do more things here. I don’t. It’s weird. But, I’ll be exercising that freedom that I talked about earlier to get to know my city better. Until then, here’s a few photos from our day at Smith Memorial Playground. If you’re in Philadelphia or coming to visit, this is a must stop. Happy November.

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Motherhood

Back to School Things…

Just a couple days until the boys officially head back to school. If they think they’re excited they have no idea how I’m feeling. Feeding three boys all summer has been expensive. I’m trying to understand how it is humanly possible to be hungry 24/7. The little one has been ready for weeks now. He’s moving to the “big” building this year (an upgrade from the little schoolhouse) so it’s kind of a big deal. As usual, I can’t really tell how the big one is feeling. He has a serious poker face. Is this what tweenage boys do?

Last week, we went to his registering session and I knew he was going to have the chance to pick his very first elective. Now, I’m no helicopter mom by any stretch of the imagination (…I really hope that’s not denial talking) but I, of course, had my eye on a class that I thought would be perfect for him. But, seeing as this was middle school, I promised myself the whole way to the school that I wasn’t going to say anything. Parenting is weird. We want to grow these really awesome, independent, kids who dream and do big, but at the same time want to guide them just a bit because sometimes, we know what’s best. But I’ve never been a middle school mom before…I hope I’m doing this right.

As his registerer(?) started reading out his options I gently reminded myself that this is time for him to explore his interests. Long story short–actually just five minutes of him intently looking over his options and what felt like forever to me–he picked his class. Although whatever he picked would have been a good choice, he picked the one I was hoping. Maybe I do know something after all. Mother’s intuition for the win.

I’ve debating on whether or not to enroll the baby in a preschool program since June. Indecisive isn’t even the word. A combination of not really wanting to send him, really wanting to try homeschool, and not really wanting to add another expense, has had me going back and forth and back again. Truth is, I’m nervous about handling it all. Working from home, really doing preschool/homeschool the way I hope, and still being active with the boy’s school(s)? It’s just like…ehhh I don’t know. After many “final decisions” we’ve decided against it. The reasons not to enroll him outweighed the reasons to, and so home with us he’ll be. Working on putting together our lesson plans, organized enough so the Hubs and I can take turns.

And with all this back to school talk, the familiar feelings that always creep up around this time of the year have arrived. I’ve been lowkey thinking about going back to school and finally finishing my degree. Another thing to add to my list of indecision. On one hand, I don’t feel like I “need” it. But on the other, I want it. And, it’s only a year left…why do I do these things to myself? 2017??? I’m seriously thinking about making this a thing…

Hope your labor day weekend was everything you needed it to be. Not ready for the work week to begin but I definitely enjoyed taking a holiday off for real. It’s been awhile. ~ xoxo

Life Motherhood

Hello September

Hello September

And just like that, summer is unofficially over. We just finished up the last of the boys back to school shopping and will be enjoying one last weekend before school starts. Still wrapping my head around the fact our oldest is heading to 6th grade…and not quite ready for him to be growing up so fast. And as much as I’m a fan of our family spacing, as we go into this year with two different schools and the realization that at some point there will be three kids in three different schools? I’m questioning my sanity a bit. Carpools and soccer mom things aside though, I’m excited for a new school year to begin and can’t wait to see what it has in store for us :).

This month, I’ll be trying to find my groove again with freelancing and preschool-homeschooling man man. Last year was an adventure for real and just as I started to get the hang of things, summer was here. Full disclosure, I never got the hang of things in summer and am just thankful I made it through okay. But with the older ones back in school I’m wondering how it’s all going to go.

As per usual, I have all the things I want to do this month and beyond, but I thought I’d start to share them here. Accountability? Maybe. I hope so.

September Goals

  1. Finish Na’s bedroom. The summer project that we hoped to have completed by the beginning of the school year but…it didn’t quite work out that way. Although we’ve been in our home an entire year (seriously, where does the time go) the older boys were sharing a room. But, it’s middle school and the boy needs his space ya know? So we started to get to work on the empty bedroom. Status? The wallpaper has been peeled off and the pink paint has been replaced with blue. Progress.
  2. Launch natural beauty website. My labor of love. Staring a product based business is the longest process I have ever encountered in my life. At every step there has been surprise after surprise. From handcrafting the products to perfection, to packaging decisions and hiccups, to figuring out how to pay for it all. Sheesh. But, we are finally so close it’s insane. So close that I actually have our premiere products on my vanity next to my other beauty products, and use them on a daily basis. It’s real.
  3. Pitch more. So because I know that goal setting is not the place to make such broad statements, let me be a little more specific and say I want to pitch to four publications/brands/companies that truly align with the work that makes my heart happy. This summer I landed two clients in this space and whenever I sit down to work on their projects, I literally feel like I am doing the dream work. While I still have to take on work that maybe doesn’t align with my passions (still gotta pay the bills) I want to move toward my current mantra: More of what I love, less of the rest.
  4. Stick to a morning routine. I am not a morning person. These are just the facts. I cringe thinking about anything earlier than a 7am alarm and even that is far too early. Because of this, my mornings for as long as I can remember have been a mess. With my goals still remaining as big as ever and my time still limited, I really need to be more intentional with how I utilize the moments where I’m not chasing after preschoolers, doing homework, or serving as a personal chauffer. As much as I’ve tried to ignore it, the fact is, my mornings are important and having a real routine that I stick is no longer a half hearted desire, it’s a necessity. I know this will take some trial and error before I find what really works for me, but I’m testing one out this week and hopefully by the end of the month I’m a morning routine pro ;).

So here’s to a productive month and prayers for a healthy and successful school year. With love and blessings. ~ xoxo

Kids Motherhood

Our Back-to-School Checklist

Back-to-School | Styled Her Life

The Back-to-School countdown is real. One of these days I’ll become the person who “stays ready” but until that day I’ll just work on not being the person who waits until the last minute to do…everything. Baby steps. To keep myself on track, I broke down what I need to do for the kiddies to get ready for Back-to-School. Two checklists for two kids in two different schools…and maybe a half day preschool program, though we’ll see. Make sure you grab the download at the end of the post and find your happy place checking off things as you go!

  • Make any outstanding doctor’s appointments. Especially for those kids entering a new school or heading to school for the first time. Don’t find yourself rushing around at the last minute trying to schedule that annual physical or dentist appointment.
  • Organize any medical and school records from previous year. Again, especially for those heading to new schools. Last year my son’s transcripts mysteriously went missing and we couldn’t get him completely registered without them. Not fun.
  • Buy all school supplies for school AND home. One thing that happens to me every year is that we buy all the supplies, send the kids off for the first day, they come home from school with nothing to do their homework or assignments I give them. Make sure to grab a few supplies while shopping to keep at home.
  • Buy school clothes. Thankfully we have uniforms in our district. With these growing boys I couldn’t imagine having to buy full out school wardrobes! Yikes.
    • Uniforms or regular clothes
    • Undergarments
    • Sneakers/Shoes
  • Purchase any other necessities your child may need. Backpacks, lunch boxes, umbrellas…a phone case for your tween O_O–can you tell I’m not ready? But seriously, I always forget umbrellas until a day when it rains. Don’t judge me.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. With the oldest heading off to a new school, a new schedule different than his siblings is on the agenda for the new year. Not to mention the kids have been living their lives this summer. No routine to be found so we’ll be phasing this in slowly within the next couple of weeks.
  • Introduce or change kids chore schedule. This summer was the first time we implemented real chores with allowance. I’ll share more about our chore schedule in another post but to give you an idea, everyone is involved. Even the almost 4 year old so regardless of your kids ages, starting chores or updating current chores is perfect for back to school season.
  • Discuss (and decide if you can) on what extracurriculars the kids will be involved in. My middle son is already screaming basketball and soccer. Swimming lessons are on the agenda because I said so. And the oldest is on the clock to offer up some suggestions before we choose for him ;).
  • Prepare a supplementary program for each child. I’m a firm believer that education starts at home. The past few years I have always had some kind of curriculum or program on hand to supplement what the kids were doing at school. This is especially important for our black children as our history isn’t always told right or at all in school. If you’re not into finding and creating your own program there are many options you can grab from your local bookstore or even Target which is were I got a yearly curriculum for last year for each child by grade.
  • Identify where you plan to help at school. You already know I am an advocate for parental involvement. It’s essential. Go into the school year with an idea of how or where you want to help before the year starts. Have a couple ideas on hand and make this a priority!
  • Buy a planner and schedule out the school year beforehand. Most districts should already have the updated academic calendars posted and be sure to check your individual school sites as well. Just get all the dates locked in early.
  • Finish all summer reading projects. While my 2nd grader didn’t have one to do, I created one for him so we’ll still be making sure he finishes well before the summer is over. The middle schooler has a full report due and we will not be starting off the year racing against the clock!
  • Create an organization area in your home where you’ll keep all the kids information, handouts, etc throughout the year. Once that first day comes you’ll be getting stuff non-stop so plan ahead so you don’t find yourself with papers, supplies, and who knows what else all over your house!

Hope this helps you get organized for busy Back-to-School season before the month gets away and remember click below for the printable! ~xoxo

Back-to-School Checklist

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Back-to-School Pin
In Philly Motherhood

20 Free Things to Do With Kids in Philly This Month

20 Free Things to Do With Kids in Philly This Month

Back at it again! This post is a couple days late because life but with a full month and some change before the kiddies head back to school, I’m still spending my days doing budget friendly activities the whole family can enjoy. I put together this list, not quite as intense as last month’s, but more specific in terms of what kinds of events and a little about each to make sure you’re choosing things your kids will love :). Have fun!

Educational

Because when you can blend learning with play, everybody wins! 

Friday, August 5: Check out the Science at Play Story Fair at the Chemical Heritage Museum from 5pm – 8pm.

Saturday, August 6: Hike through the trails with Nature Exploration @ the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education at 10:30 – 11:30am.

Monday – Thursday, August 8 – 11: Civil Rights Stories with Mighty Writers from 4pm- 6pm *for Philly students ages 14 – 18.

Saturday, August 13: The whole family can learn all about water with the Water Explore: Outdoor Tour @ Smith Memorial Playground from 11am – 12pm.

Saturday, August 20: Play and learn at the Tall Trees Nature Playdate @ Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education from 10am – 12pm.

Sunday, August 21: Learn about screen printing and create some political art with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Family Program from 2pm – 4pm.

Storytime

Every Wednesday at 4pm enjoy storytime at Barnes & Noble Rittenhouse!

Wednesday, August 3: Your little one will love Noisy Storytime.

Wednesday, August 10: Take a trip with a fish with Fishies Storytime.

Wednesday, August 17: A story about clouds. Look Up There Storytime.

Wednesday, August 27: Learn what happens at a barn with Barnyard Storytime.

Wednesday, August 31: Ready or not, Fall is Coming Storytime.

Festivals

Even though summer is almost over you can still catch a few festivals.

Sunday, August 7: Come see performances, listen to music, check out the crafts and marketplace at the PECO Multicultural Series: ACANA African Festival @ Penn’s Landing from 2 – 8pm.

Sunday, August 21: Celebrate Caribbean music, culture, and food at the PECO Multicultural Series: Caribbean Festival @ Penn’s Landing from 12pm – 8pm.

Outdoor Movies

We don’t step foot in a movie theater all summer when Philly gives us all the best screenings around. 

Thursday, August 4: It’s still summer but catch Captain America: The Winter Soldier down Penn’s Landing at 8:30pm

Saturday, August 6: Let the Force Be with You! Catch Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Franklin Square from 7p – 11pm.

Thursday, August 11: Say it three times! Catch Beetlejuice at Penn’s Landing at 8:30pm.

Thursday, August 18: Gather all the feelings and catch Inside Out at Penn’s Landing at 8:30pm.

Saturday, August 20: Bring your magic carpet (aka blanket) and catch Aladdin at Franklin Square from 7p – 11pm.

Thursday, August 25: It’s the movie everyone was talking about this year! Catch Zootopia at Penn’s Landing at 8:30pm.

Back to School

Please pass this event along to someone in need of school supplies for the upcoming school year!

Monday, August 15: Have one last summer party at the Back to School Bash @ Bridesburg Boys & Girls Club from 2pm – 4pm. The first 1,000 students to attend will receive donated backpacks full of school supplies.

Parks & PopUps

By far the easiest and cheapest thing you can do this summer is check out all the free playgrounds and pop up parks the city has to offer. These ones have been frequently visits for us. 

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Eakins Oval

Full list of Philly Playgrounds

List of Philly Spraygrounds

Not Quite Free But Super Cheap

Remember these events happen every month on the first Wednesday and first Sunday so if you can’t catch them this month, be sure to try in September!

Wednesday, August 3: First Wednesday’s at Please Touch Museum! Only $2 admission from 4pm – 7pm.

Sunday, August 7: Pay what you want at the Philadelphia Museum of Art first Sunday of the month.

With my favorite season just around the corner I’m getting a head start on September’s events. Hey, just because the kids will be back in school doesn’t mean we have to stop the fun. Get your Free Things to Do with Kids in Philly calendar for September before everyone else when you sign up!

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Kids Motherhood

100 Days of Summer: Free Fun

100 Days of Summer: Playgrounds + Other Free Fun

I’m in one of those spaces where it’s both hard to believe that August is just around the corner and feeling like this just might be the longest summer ever. I read an article on Scary Mommy about a woman who felt SAHM’s tricked her by not telling her how hard it really is and I am feeling every bit of that as WAHM this summer. Like…what is this life?! There’s always so much to do and nobody told me it would be this hard. Let’s just say, I’m looking into part time preschool programs for the toddler in September because mama needs a break so I can actually work. Yup. A break so I can work.

Still, I wouldn’t trade this summer for the world. Spending time with the boys is priceless and having the flexibility to do all the things has allowed for some really awesome experiences–and a few sleepless nights racing against deadlines but I suppose that’s part of the package ;).

100 Days of Summer: Playgrounds + Other Free Fun

Budget friendly has been the name of the game around here and we’ve been taking advantage of all the free stuff Philly has to offer as well as creating some memories of our own at home. Discovering new parks, checking out local events, visiting our season favorites, is how we spent the month of July. And when nothing was on the schedule, the water hose is always an option.

100 Days of Summer: Free Fun

How’s your summer going? ~xoxo

Motherhood Travel

A Few Days in Seven Springs: SPAC Conference Recap

Happy Monday! It’s been an exciting, educational, and exhausting couple of weeks over here and I’m beyond ready for a few days of relaxation. Who am I kidding? Work, kids, and life is the on the agenda for me but a girl can dream ;). Last week the fam and I got to spend a few days in the beautiful Pennsylvania mountain town, Seven Springs. I was invited to the PA State Parent Advisory Council Conference and luckily the whole family was able to come with me! I live for work/play trips and anytime they are able to travel with me is a good time.

The conference took place at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Seven Springs, PA. About a 4 hour ride from Philadelphia. Before we get into the conference deets, let’s get into these views. Simply gorgeous!

Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Seven Springs Mountain Resort

The SPAC Conference is a two day statewide conference geared toward helping parents who are invested in their kids education both in and outside of school and parents who are–or interested in becoming–parent leaders in their communities. At my boys school, a Philadelphia public school, I’m super involved. I serve as the VP of our schools advisory council, publish a monthly newsletter, and volunteer wherever and whenever I can. When I found out the family was invited to attend the annual conference, I was beyond excited.

WHY I WANTED TO ATTEND

Over the past year since we’ve been part of our northeast Philly community and with the boys in public school, I have definitely taken on a new outlook when it comes to my children’s education. At first, I was overwhelmed and uninformed. Moving from the ‘burbs to the city, all I heard were the horror stories about public school system and wanted nothing to do with it. I had never had to do so much research, to ask so many questions, to advocate so much for my kids education before. And to be honest, I looked at the whole thing as something to get through the year and find either a charter or private school for next year. But, getting up close and personal with the inequalities in our education system ignited something inside me. It wasn’t enough to just make sure my kids were getting the education and opportunities they deserved, but I wanted to help all children, especially black and brown kids get them too. It started with volunteering at my son’s elementary school and once I learned about this conference I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to figure out what more I can do, network with other parents doing this work, and learn strategies for educating my kids at home.

WHAT I LEARNED

Sooo much. With over 40 workshops available over the course of two days I learned a ton. I have a notebook full of takeaways but for sake of the blog I’ll go over big ones.

  • Literacy is essential. This was a main focus of the conference. Some of the data we got to review was both mind blowing and heartbreaking. To see in plain view the gap between the reading levels of Blacks and Latinos vs. White people and how that affects every area of achievement over the course of a lifetime emphasized how critical literacy is to both academic and life success. The takeaway: Literacy matters! What are we doing about reading in our schools and at home?

  • Family involvement is crucial to academic success. Family engagement is one of the main things I wanted to learn more about. If there is one thing that I have learned this year it’s that when families are involved at the school, things get done. At the conference I learned just how deep that goes. Higher graduation rates, students are less likely to be involved in criminal behavior, suspended or expelled, more likely to be involved in extracurriculars and to go to college. The takeaway: Grow family engagement! How? By meeting family needs. 

  • Parent leadership starts at home. The last day of the conference I attended a workshop on Parent Leadership and it was basically designed for the goal setting, planner geek in me. We learned about creating vision statements and goals for the family like you would for your personal life or business. Now, as a girl who is serious about her goal setting I never thought to do something this on a family level before.  We also learned about the characteristics of a great leader and a not so great leader…let’s just say I think we all have some room for improvement ;). The takeaway: If you’re a parent, you’re a leader. Be intentional and specific in leading your children. 

THE SWAGGG

I love how from the moment we stepped into the resort it was all about literacy and education. The boys got to choose three free books each, while the parents got to choose from an assortment of parenting guides. I chose Achieving Success in Middle School (still dealing with the reality that we will have a middle schooler in a month), School Community Involvement, and Social Media and Internet Safety. We also got two board games, perfect for our newly implemented Family Game Nights and two swag bags packed with school supplies. Yessss. On the second night of our stay we attended a program where we got even two educational kits from innovative educational solutions company Really Good Stuff. We’ve literally replaced hours of previous screen time with the games in these kits. Cutting back even more and adding more time spent reading, learning, and family activities is what we’re focused on in the coming months so this was right on time!

Overall, the SPAC Conference was a really awesome experience and I’m ready to head into the school year with a ton of ideas and support to really make a difference. ~ xoxo

Kids Motherhood

100 Days of Summer: Parks with Sprinklers

100 Days of Summer | Styled Her Life

I was having one of those kind of days. A ton of client work, restless kids, and a messy office which was wreaking havoc on my ability to focus on getting anything done. It was also an irritably hot and humid afternoon right after a long holiday weekend. Though, if I’m being honest, weekends and weekdays all mesh together these days. In my mind though, I was having a tough time getting in the flow of things.

An hour or two before the hubs came home from teaching class–hip hop with an energetic group of kids–to bless me with maybe 5 glorious minutes of silence and solitude before dinner prep began, the toddler and the middle one had a shouting match. This probably was the third one of the day.

We’re going to the park!

I love how the park has this magical effect on my boys at this age. My wallet loves it too. City living has given us a handful of choices within walking distance and the dreamy ‘burbs just outside walking distance provide us with a few more along with hiking trails, creeks, and abundant greenery (hello nature walks and lunch in the park). We settled on the one 2 minutes away because, tired, hot, humid.

I was ready for the energizing bliss of the park with boys. The older ones would shoot some hoops, the little would run around, I’d catch up on a podcast while pushing a swing. Little did I know, the levels of magic were about to increase by a million. Why?

They. Had. Sprinklers.

100 Days of Summer | Styled Her Life

What I thought would be a quick 20 – 30 minute park trip turned into over an hour. The little things they enjoy, watching them play together, having the flexibility to witness it all. These are the moments that make it all worth it <3.

~xoxo

Life Motherhood

Raising Black Boys in America

Raising Black Boys

Interrupting the regularly scheduled programming to get real. It seems weird that just yesterday I was posting about things like salad and today I’m struggling to find the words to express how it feels to be a black person, a black mother, with black sons, in America. I almost didn’t write this. Seemed out of place in a space where I’m dedicated to inspiring but, this place is also one to share my story. And this is part of it. This is part of my reality and others who look like me. So here we are. What a difference a day can make.

Just a couple days ago we were “celebrating” Independence Day. A day that I’ve been celebrating my whole life without much thought but in recent years, in recent “wokeness”, the day has lost what little significance it had on me. Today, the truth that we weren’t free on July 4, 1776 and we aren’t free now, isn’t just a thought provoking tweet, it’s the cold, hard truth.

As children, and especially black children that are now black millenial adults, we grew up in a time where, for lack of better words, black people were sleep. We were the children of post civil rights era kids. Black people on a whole were gaining more access to spaces and places and the word “progress” was like a real thing that people believed. As toddlers we had no knowledge of tragic attacks on our communities like the MOVE bombing in Philly. As  school-age kids we experienced from afar with little/no understanding, through the same lens I suppose my boys have today, uprisings like the Rodney King riots. By time we were preteens and teens unless you were raised in a conscious black household, “equality” was this imaginary idea that seemed pretty legit. By our young adult years, we even had a black president.

All of this led to a period of time in the black community, speaking from my own experience, where we were comfortably sleeping, resting in our “progress”. I can’t say when it happened for sure, but for me, in 2012 my place, my reality got real clear. That year my husband and I marched with our black babies wearing hoodies, eating skittles, reluctantly waking from our slumber #trayvonmartin. In 2014, I scrolled my Twitter timeline in horror as I saw the lifeless body of a black teenager on the ground for hours #mikebrown. And shortly thereafter, watching in terror the murder of a black boy, just a year older than my son is now, by police #tamirrice. In 2015, it became clear that not only were my black husband, black father, and black sons targets in this country, but myself, a black woman as well #sandrabland. And in 2016, I saw the horrific video of a black father’s execution play in a neverending loop on social media #altonsterling.

With each of these hashtags (and the countless others between them #ericgarner #freddiegray #rekiaboyd #oscargrant the list goes on) I grow more and more terrified. Not for myself, although, #natashamckenna. But, for my black sons. For my black husband. For my black sons who need their black father. I look at my boys and to me, I see nothing but greatness. My oldest with the kindest spirit I have ever encountered. My middle son who has plans to change this world. My youngest full of vibrance and shine. I look at my husband and see a role model. A stark contrast to the images the media loves to portray regarding black fathers. I see promise, I see potential…I see black skin, which I know means they see a target, and that shakes me to my core.

When I dreamt of having children, and even as I embarked on this journey of motherhood, I knew challenges would await me. However, nothing could have prepared me for this. Raising black boys in a country where the very people who are tasked to protect them, see them as nothing. People who have no regard for black lives, black children, black men, or black women but have the authority and power to take those very same lives. Usually without any regard or consequence.

To put it in simpler terms the message you’re sending here America is that it’s okay, black lives don’t matter, to you…

You can’t prepare for that. You can’t handle that on a daily basis. But yet, that’s my reality. I wish I had the answers. Some comforting words. Some plan of action. I don’t. I just have my prayers. From my lips to His ears. For my black sons and yours. Their black fathers and our black husbands. #BLACKLIVESMATTER.

With blessings and love. ~ xoxo

In Philly Motherhood

30 Free (or Super Cheap) Things to Do with Kids this Month in Philly

The boys have been home less than two full weeks and we’ve already went through the “I’m bored” phases as well as the “You will not be playing on your ipad all summer” discussions. I’m still getting the hang of this WAHM during summer vacation thing so for July I wanted to be prepared. My biggest challenge had been finding inexpensive things to do because 1. Three boys and 2. we’re on a budget. I had already compiled a list of resources and sites to find free things to do in the city but sifting through that list everyday made me anxious (what else is new). So in an effort to streamline the anxiety and be the super planner I am, I put together a guide by day of free (or super cheap) kid things to do for the month of July in Philly. And since sharing is caring, here you go! All events are FREE unless a price is listed. Happy July!

Free Things to Do in Philly with Kids

1. Saturday, July 2: Free admission to the National Constitution Center and the Powell House.

2. Sunday, July 3: Historic Philadelphia Block Party from 1 – 8 pm on 5th and 6th Streets between Market and Chestnut.

3. Monday July 4: Party on the Parkway of course from 12 – 10pm on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

4. Tuesday, July 5: LEGO Club at Free Library of Philadelphia 2pm for ages 5 – 15 (Tacony Branch) *check your local branch to see what activities are available throughout the summer.

5. Wednesday, July 6: Please Touch Museum admission only $2 from 4pm – 7pm on the first Wednesday of the month.

6. Thursday, July 7: Spend an afternoon at Franklin Square.

7. Friday, July 8: Group Sculpt at Spruce Street Harbor Park from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Giant mountains of clay for all? A good time.

8. Saturday, July 9: Summer Festival at Fair Hill from 2 – 7pm. Games, crafts, animal petting, free books and music.

9. Sunday, July 10: PECO Family Jams: Mosaic Medallions at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens from 12 – 4pm. Create your own mini-mosaics and get a tour. Make sure you mention PECO Family Jams!

10. Monday, July 11: Mighty Yoga for Kids ages 8 – 13 at Mighty Writers from 3:30 – 5 pm.

11. Tuesday, July 12: Make Your Own Graphic Novel at Free Library of Philadelphia 1pm for ages 6 -12 (Walnut St. West Branch) *remember to check your local branch to see what’s going on over the summer.

12. Wednesday, July 13: Pay what you want at the Art Museum on Wednesdays after 5pm! Tip: Catch the Creative Africa exhibit.

13. Thursday, July 14: Catch a Screening Under the Stars at Penns Landing – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

14. Friday, July 15: Kidchella at Smith Playground with $10 admission or grab $5 tickets from Philly Fun Guide.

15. Saturday, July 16: Catch the Colonial Quest Puppet Show at 11:30am or 1pm at Carpenter’s Hall

16. Sunday, July 17: Take a family art class at the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Arts from 2pm – 4pm.

17. Monday, July 18: Spend an afternoon at the Oval, a pop-up park on the Parkway.

18. Tuesday, July 19: Cool off at one of Philly’s Spraygrounds! Find them around the city using this list.

19. Wednesday, July 20: Catch Zootopia at Mifflin Square Park. Starts at dusk.

20. Thursday, July 21: Spend an afternoon at Spruce Street Harbor Park! Food, fun, hammocks, and giant connect four games.

21. Friday, July 22: Tall Trees Playdate at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education from 2 – 3 pm ages 3 and up! Learn about nature, explore, dig, and build. Pre-registeration advised.

22. Saturday, July 23: PECO Multicultural Series: Islamic Heritage Festival and Parade at Penn’s Landing from 2 – 8 pm. Enjoy a market bazaar, free games, giveaways, and entertainment.

23. Sunday, July 24: Learn about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies at Milkweed and Monarch’s at Norristown Farm Park.

24. Monday, July 25: Make something with MakerJawn at various locations around the city from 1 – 4 pm.

25. Tuesday, July 26: Break a world record with Mighty Writers for the most people writing at the same time! Join  over 3,000 Philly kids ages 7 -17 at the Art Museum from 10am – 12 pm. Make sure you sign up!

26. Wednesday, July 27: Visit a playground you’ve never been to. Did you know Philly has over 150 playgrounds?! Here’s an official list of every one.

27. Thursday, July 28: Screening Under the Stars at Penn’s Landing – Star Wars The Force

28. Friday, July 29: Spend an afternoon at Smith Playground. Bring lunch and a donation if you can!

29. Saturday, July 30: Nature Exploration at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education at 10:30 am

30. Sunday, July 31: Franklin Square 10th Birthday celebration starting at 11am. Fun, cake, and activities.

Kids Motherhood

Leading By Example

Last week the hubs shared this super cute video of him and two of our boys. I must have watched it a thousand times. I mean, seriously, it gets no cuter and I’m not just saying that because they’re mine ;). We’ve both shared it a few times on social media–because yes it deserved more than just one share–but it was his most recent tweet that inspired this post. He captioned the video: Lead by example.

Something that has always been important to us, especially raising black boys in America, is teaching them that despite what the world may say or think about you, you can be whatever you want to be. What better way to teach that than setting the example. On the surface, this really is just a cute video of a Dad dancing with his kids. But below that, there’s a message. The babies are watching 😉 ~xoxo

“The hubs” is actually a professional hip hop dancer, teacher, choreographer. You can see more of his work and these cute kids on liquidelphia.com*

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Mompreneur Motherhood

How a Shorter To Do List Has Increased My Productivity

Shorter to Do List for Productivity

Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was great. I know they’re never long enough and and if you’re living that Boss Mom life, what are weekends anyway?  I also hope you’re ready for a fantastic and productive week and hopefully this post can help a little with that. This week, I wanted to pick back up on my Getting Things Done series (if you haven’t read part 1, make sure you go back and read that). In the first post I talked about themed days and how busy women juggling multiple projects, jobs, and kids can use this technique to stay focused and get things done. Today, I want to discuss how doing something that actually seems less productive is the number one way I’ve been able increase my productivity. I make a shorter to do list. Mind. Blown.

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Kids Motherhood

Bonding with the Boys

Bonding with the Boys | styled her life

A few weeks back I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts while I was cooking dinner. It was a live Being Boss episode and one of the topics was something about connecting the dots between what your values are and what you’re doing in your day to day life. One of the hosts asked listeners to do this simple exercise to list 4 or 5 hardcore values that you have and then list 4 or 5 things that you do each day. Although it sounds really basic, this super simple task was a real eye opener because I found that my lists were complete opposites. Mind blown. I had things like my kids, my relationship with God, my community on my values list but yet on my daily list I had client work, checking email, and scrolling social media. Disconnection for real. Now that’s not to say that those daily tasks aren’t necessary, I mean mama’s gotta pay the bills, but to not spend time doing the things that I say truly important to me on a daily basis, is a real problem. I immediately started to think about what changes I could implement daily to make my lists more cohesive when my son ran in the kitchen asking me about “Pizza Friday”. Light bulb!

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