No Thumb Sucking

SJ has lost five teeth in four months. When she lost her top central incisors four months after her fifth birthday I was vexed. I've never seen a five year old with so many missing teeth. Initially I made an appointment with our dentist to get a checkup, but I said forget it I'm being outrageous and chalked it up to her being an early bloomer. It's not so much the fact of her missing so many teeth, but the thought of her having severely mal-aligned teeth because she is a thumb sucker. 

According to her five year old logic sucking her thumb isn't the problem, not brushing her teeth would be a more pressing issue. Lord, I'm so not ready. This little one challenges me at ever turn. Each day is a battle of wills and my patience. I plan to show her the pictures below to appeal to her vanity. Cross your fingers that this works.


Maybe after seeing this I can get her to stop without being heavy handed. 


Lord knows I'm trying to alleviate spending thousands of dollars with orthodontists.

Halloween 2014

For Halloween this year we ventured to South Orange for trick-or-treating. This was the girls' first experience dressing up in costume and going door-to-door. It was extremely windy, but they seemed oblivious to the climate. 


SJ was an Indian princess.

CC was a Penn State cheerleader.

Thanks PopPop for the cheerleading custome




SJ is 3!! -- Part One

SJ celebrated her third birthday yesterday. We kept it simple this year and hosted her party at your nursery school. I went to the Christmas Tree Shop ans basically purchased all of their Easter themed decor items. The theme 

The party favors where macarons I purchased from Trader Joe's. I placed two in a plastic container for each 

Four days before her party I started the process of these Jello cups. The kids like these better than the cupcakes. 

More pictures to come. . .

How to Tame a Tantrum 1-2-3

Jesus help me. I am having a very hard time coping with SJ's tantrums. On average she has two a day and during one of them she will pee on herself if you don't coddle her fast enough. I'M NOT READY! She cries for everything! Prior to CC's birth she didn't have any tantrum and the last 9 months she has been making up for lost time. I pray she grows out of this developmental stage quickly and CC just skips right over it.


I've been researching how to tame a tantrum and here's what I've arrived upon:

  • Empathize, empathize, empathize
  • Avoid the panic response.  
  • Remember to breathe.  
  • Make eye contact.  
  • Show affection.  
  • Offer a snack
  • Get some rest.  
  • Water!   
  • Go outside.  
  • Use fun/whimsy/distraction.  




    SJ's Hair Issues

    It has been a labor of love styling, trying to style, SJ's hair. Most times she doesn't want me to touch her hair and if I don't want to have a power struggle with her I just leave her with a two textured afro. We really don't have a hair regime, primarly because SJ's attitude about me doing her hair changes with each day. I only use water, organic shea butter, and a soft brissel brush when I get to style her hair.



    This is a result of not enough moisture. I began to use the original Pink Oil Moisture lotion and shea butter so I don't have these issues any more. 

    This picture is a result of the pink oil moisturizer and a soft brush.



    SJ in Day Care

    SJ will be two and a half in two weeks so we made the decision to place her in "school". After an exhausting day of visiting various centers D finally settled on one he loved. I decided to let him handle the task of selecting the center because he knows the area and demographics of each place. He settled on a center that is affiliated with the Catholic church which was a surprise. The center is small (less than 13 kids) and the children wear uniforms. For the past couple of weeks I have been speaking to SJ about attending "school" and how much fun it will be to play with other children. I'll keep you posted on how everything goes. 


    Our eight week summer holiday is officially over. Back to work, commuting, and pure exhaustion. As least I will have a gradual, ease in schedule for the first week because I only work two days. But I know the following week will be brutal. CC's on again off again schedule will definitely put me in a bad position. I have a longer compute this year, so hopefully I can take a few cat naps while riding the train. In addition, to all of this I will be conducting my research in hopes of completing my doctorate in December. Talk about multi-tasking and not having enough hours in the day. I am looking at this as a 16 week marathon with 3-4 hour nights of sleep, a toddler and an infant, oh and my third child, D. It will be stressful, but my motto is go hard or go home. 

    Our summer in pictures

    Lil D is 18 months!

    Lil D is officially a toddler, she is 18 months old. She has developed many fine and gross motor skills that have me impressed with each new development. Her cognitive development is superior for a little one learning two languages. The only area of concern for me is her language development. I have looked at the research on raising bilingual kids and of course there are opposing schools of thought. One side states kids can take whatever you throw at them.

    While the other is against introducing a second language right away. In my case it's too late to stop the train. Lil D has been submerged in Spanish and English from birth. Her primary language has been Spanish, because I am really the only person who speaks to her in English. Cognitively she understands and responses to both, but she is unwilling to mimic or speak words that are recognizable to us. She clearly says "eat", "yay", and "no".

    She is very vocal, speaking her own language. Her babbling sounds mostly Spanish with a sprinkling of English. She uses her hands to express herself a lot. I will post a conversation we had about a month ago below and you'll see what I mean.

    Latest Developments

    • Can position herself to sit on a stool, small chair, or step.
    • Runs everywhere, very little walking.
    • Developing the skills to walk down stairs holding onto rail.
    • Uses a spoon to feed herself. Can drink out of a cup unassisted.
    • Imitates scribbling
    • Shows affection
    • Listens to a story or looks at pictures
    • Identifies one or more parts of the body {her nose, eyes, feet}
    • Understands and is able to point to and identify common objects {ball, cup, chair, doll, shoe}
    • Is able to take off some clothing items {socks, diaper!!, pants}
    • Rebellious at bedtime.
    • Hates her car seat, high chair, and stroller -- does not want to be confined to one space
    • Shows signs of receptive language skills (i.e., understands when spoken to}
    • Points to show what she wants

     Lil D and our new neighbor, Lil Shelby

     Getting a little hang time!! Finally.

    Lil D in her Jordache Skinny Jeans

    Part One: Summer Vacay in Puerto Rico

    We spent two weeks in Puerto Rico, with a two day stint in St. Thomas U.S.V.I. and I'm bushed. Between 7 hour jaunts on the beach, visiting family, and exploring the islands we didn't have much downtime. We visited the following places in Puerto Rico-  Barceloneta, Arecibo, Carolina, Isla Verde {where we stayed}, Fajardo, Manati, Santurce, Florida, Luquillo, and Loiza. We visited the following places in St. Thomas- Bolongo Bay {where we stayed}, Charolette Amalie, Magen's Bay Beach (Amazingly beautiful), Peterborg, Ritz Carlton, Sapphire Beach Resort, and Red Hook. 

    After a long flight we arrived on the island and needed to rent a car. The condo we leased had three car rental agencies within walking distance, but we figured since we were already at the airport we could rent from a vendor there. Wrong Answer! No one had compact cars. After 3 hours we finally when to Charlie's, a block from condo, and rented a small car from them.

    Once we got the keys to the condo we were beach bound immediately. With the beach less then 30 feet from our temporary residence we made quick work of putting on sunscreen and bathing suits.

    After spending close to $100 a day to eat we decided to hit up the super market, Pueblo, and buy groceries. First we tried in vain to find a market that sold organic whole milk. Needless to say we the island doesn't sell it because its too expensive to import it and their are no organic milk producers on the island. What does that mean? Lil D has been drinking none organic whole milk for two weeks. I know shocking! We'll get her back on the organic track once we return to NJ. 

    Anything organic on the island is twice as much as on the mainland.

    Besides going to the beach daily we took enough pictures to fill three photo albums.

    It took Lil D about two days to get used to walking on sand without holding anyone's hand. She took to it well along with eating the sand. SMH . . . Obviously she wanted to experience sand with all of her senses. 

    Every evening we took a stroll around the various neighborhoods of San Juan. The pictures above show us in Condado {which has become to major hot spot since the last time we were on the island}.

    Everyone told us the best beach in Puerto Rico is the Flamingo Beach of Culebra. We were sold on the idea of taking a ferry to the island and enjoying the beach. We drove to Fajardo to find out more information about the ferry and was told the wait is extremely long to get to Culebra. If we were interested in the 6:00 a.m. ferry we needed to get in line to purchase ferry tickets before 3:00 a.m. People get in line as early as 1:00 a.m. After hearing this I was like it's not that serious, so we decided to forget about the whole Culebra idea. Maybe next time. {Forgot to mention you can't purchase tickets for the ferry prior to the day of your trip}


    Rice? Almond? Cow? Soy?

    For the past month I have been doing taste tests with Lil D for her to choose a tasteful alternative to Mommy's breastmilk. I am still pumping twice a day and breastfeeding in the early mornings and evenings. I'm TIRED! I want to stop having to pump as soon as possible, but until I find a supplement Lil D will enjoy I have to continue. The final choice has been the Vanilla Almond milk from Trader's. We start our trails tonight. Wish us luck.



    Trader Joe's Almond Smooth Beverages are made using 100% California almonds—no dairy, no soy, no gluten. They're also free of cholesterol and saturated fat, excellent sources of vitamins D & E and Calcium, good sources of vitamin A and certified kosher.

    Because they're "shelf-stable," you can keep them in the pantry until you need them, then refrigerate after opening. We're selling each 32 ounce resealable container for $1.69, the very best everyday price we've seen on almond "milk" of this quality.

    Lil' D's Korean Doljabi

    If you've been a regular reader of my blog by now you know I am a researcher. Of course, my latest research "jaunt" has been Lil' D's first birthday celebration. I've been researching first birthday customs from around the world. I lookup up "African American first birthday traditions", nothing. Next, I googled "Latin American first birthday traditions" and all I got was information on Quinceañera. So, I said f'it let me google, "first birthday traditions" Guess what I found. . . a very informative link about Korean first birthday celebrations.

    Koreans celebrate a child's first birthday with much fanfare and ceremony. After reading about this Dol (doljanchi, or tol), I was fascinated and wanted to incorporate several of the customs into my little Afro-Latino baby's special day. During the dol ceremony,  the child is blessed with a prosperous future. "The birthday babies wear a hanbok and a traditional hat: a jobawi or gulle for baby girls and a bokgeon or hogeon (호건) for baby boys". 

     The highlight of the dol is a ritual where the child is placed in front of a table of foods and objects such as string, books, brushes, ink and money. The child is then urged to pick up an object from the table. It is believed the one selected will foretell the child's future. For example, if the child picks up a brush or book, he is destined to be a scholar. If he picks up money or rice, he will be wealthy; cakes or other food, a government official; a sword or bow, a military commander. If the child picks up the thread, it is believed he will live a long life. The types of objects placed on the table for the baby to choose has evolved over time, as a reflection of society's evolving perception of successful occupations. Some parents place a computer mouse on the table, which signifies success in the high-tech field, or a toothbrush, hoping that the baby will be a dentist. However, many parents remain more traditional in their selection of objects to place on the table. This is followed by feasting, singing and playing with the toddler. Most often, guests will present gifts of money, clothes, or gold rings to the parents for the child at this time. Source

    After reading this I was entralled and got to work on planning this ritual into Lil D's party. I arrived upon Korean 1st Birthday Blog  and KoKo Living's Dol  Planner. I looked at every page of these blogs over one weekend. From all this searching I discovered Dohl Poster's and More. I was interested in having them create a Doljabi Board, container labels, and raffle tickets around Lil' D's Splish Splash party theme. Dohl Poster's and More created an almost exactly replica of Lil D's invitation. I went to Kinko's to get the digital files printed. The 20" x 30" board I mounted on gator board.



      The Raffle Tickets . . .


    Lil' D's First Birthday: Invitations

    Yesterday {December 21} I completed the second stage of Lil' D's birthday party invitations. Kinko's almost put me in the poor house to print the digital file.


    Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures, I used my cell phone.


    I'm still working on them, something is missing.


    Lil'D's First Birthday Planning

    Lil' D will be one years old in 11 short weeks. Initially I said we would forgo having a soiree and just go on a trip. Well I decided to do both, D will plan the trip and I will plan the party. In the last two days, I've planned and purchased most of the decor elements for the party, got the invites printed, contracted with a photog for her photo shoot, and I contacted the rental company. Now I just have to clean my house. URRGGHH! I need a chef, a driver, and a maid. 


    I changed my mind about the theme for the party like 4 times. I finally decided on a theme that I subconsciously have had in my head for a few years. Three or four years ago on one of my many trips to the thirft store I found a couple of rubber ducky vases, see picture below, that I have yet to use for an event.


     Here is front side of her invitation. I decided to do it up and get a pocketfold invite from Cardsand Pockets -- yeah real elaborate for a first birthday, but hey either you do it all the way or not at all. You know?! The invitation design is from Etsy Merchant schavez


    I needed a shopping fix, so I went to my favorite store in the Garment District and purchased four appliques to create headbands for Lil' D. Her older ones are now too small or too big. Since she doesn't have earrings I wanted some pieces that were very ornate. Look below to see what I got.


    Bought the little one a high chair from Ikea today, the cheap $19.99 one here. Hope we don't have any accidents. With all the bells and whistles it came to about $30. If I wasn't so lazy I would have went on a scavenger hunt to various thirft stores for a solid wood high chair, similar to the ones in restaurants. But I'm too beat.

    Sorry this post is all over the place. I just have a lot on my mind.

    Lil' D is 7 months old!!

    This past weekend we celebrated my sister's bridal shower. We had a blast! Lil' D and I took our first train ride together-- take about tedious! She slept the entire ride coming and going so that was pleasant, but the amount of luggage I had to schlep on the stroller was insane. I was stressed from the journey. Anyway, TJ of Tunji Sarumi Photography took the time before the festivities to have an impromptu photo shoot of Lil' D. She was eating it up, posing and smiling.

    Lil' D is pulling herself up to stand. She turns her head from side to side to focus on an object. She tries to mimic people's facial expressions and she loves to smile and laugh out loud. She started to say "mama" {much to her Papi's chagrin}.

    Photo Credit: Tunji Sarumi Photography