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Juju’s First Zoo Day!

Hello Fellow Juju Lovers!

We had a few days off from daycare this week so we made an impromptu trip to the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, PA. 

Juju had never been to the zoo and as summer quickly starts to wind down, I wanted to try to get some fun stuff in before the weather changes. Thanks to the pandemic we had to cancel two week long vacations we had planned for this summer.

Insert: Zoo Day! 

There was some damage done to the zoo a few weeks back when we had a really sever tropical storm. The zoo got flooded and had to close for a few days, not to mention relocate a bunch of animals . The zoo had just reopened after the pandemic and really didn’t need this extra burden. Despite all that, the Zoo was open and had lots of fun things for a little guy like Juju to get into! 

Want to help the Elmwood Park Zoo get back on track? Click here for more info! 

Some of the highlights of the afternoon for Juju were the Owls, The Percussion Garden and its oversized xylophone, the fountain, and the giraffes. 

Check out some of the pics below! 

We had a Blast!

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*Some of the links featured in this blog are from affiliates who compensate me. However, this does not influence my evaluations. All opinions are my own.*

Why We Are Pro Screen Time

This post was sponsored by Diamond Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.

Hello Friends!

Screen time is a hot topic for most moms at some point in their journey. Not long after first laying eyes on you little bundle of joy does the comparing of  notes with other mothers begin. For the most part, the majority of what you read and hear about screen time says it’s a NO NO. Especially discouraged for tots under 2.

Like any other topic that circulates among the momsphere, I have read plenty of articles and decided to find my own magic middle ground.

Historically,  I have been a pop culture fan girl.

This would hardly be possible without being a huge consumer of television, movies, and (gasp) even social media. Avoiding a screen in my house would be next to impossible, so instead, when it comes to Juju we use screen time to our advantage and not our determent!

The first thing I did was attempted to unpack and redirect the negative effects screen time has on little minds. I combat my  biggest worries about screen time and tailor them more towards learning. 

Some of the big reasons not to start a bad habit of screen time, according to experts, centers around unhealthy snacking, increased likelihood of having a sedentary lifestyle, messing up your sleep, reducing your ability to problem solve and even makes it hard to control your impulses. 

For kids under 2, it’s noted that increased screen time potentially leads to developmental delays, especially with speech. This was my biggest concern.

After mulling over it for much less time than I usually do. We made a decision that worked best for our family! 

Reasons Why We Still Allow It.

We only let Juju watch educational shows.

PBS kids, YouTube shows featuring preschool circle time or that teach letters and numbers, and Dora is about it. These shows have been helping Juju tremendously with identifying and processing his emotions , learning the art of back and forth conversation, and even some animal and body part recognition. He doesn’t watch any shows that don’t have a learning element to them. We also alternate between cartoons and real people so he can see the mouth movements needed to properly formulate his words. 

We team up with his favorite shows to help build vocabulary and associate that vocabulary  with the world around him .

The easiest way to help your child speak is to speak to them. The more words you can get them exposed to the better. We do a whole lot of reading and narrating everything  we do. During a recent trip to the zoo, Juju was easily able to identify the animals he was used to seeing on his favorite show, Dora. He squealed to see the owls, monkeys and even the bison! Now we bang the point home by reminding him about that experience and sometimes even showing him the pictures!  He is starting to repeat the words and really associate them with his experience with the real animals.  

It gives us a quick break.

In my opinion just about anything that allows parents to take a breath and come back to their parenting with fresh eyes is a win in my book. Kids thrive in environments that are positive and uplifting. If turning on Dora for 20 minutes offers me the piece of mind to grin and bear the cleanup I’ll have after dinner, then god bless me right?!

Screen time is just downtime.

One thing we never miss out on as a family is the opportunity to get outside and move our bodies. Juju loves nature. We spend some time every day letting him run and exercise. My husband and I exercise and it’s really become our favorite family activity. We don’t worry too much about adopting a sedentary lifestyle simply because we chose to watch TV during meals. We plan so many activities for Juju to engage in and television is kind of like the commercial break we take from the day periodically. 

Juju’s favorite shows are a great conversation starter in our house.

Juju is at the age where he will laugh at something on television and look back at us to see if we also saw what he saw. It’s a great time for me to expand on what he noticed and help him process it or think more deeply about it. 

We love it too!

Television is a huge part of our lives. It’s how Hubs and I relax after a long day. I can’t tell you how many deep conversations we have had as a result of a show we are in the middle of (Oh those Ozark debates). On weekday mornings after dropping Juju off, we always spend time watching our favorite old school shows on  cable, especially one of my favorite Sam Haskell classic shows, Fresh Prince Of Bel Air!

Anything can be bad for your kids if you aren’t present in the moment with them, right? Juju enjoys cuddling on the couch to watch his favorite shows before and after school. He is quickly learning so much from the programming we pick and we are glad to see it! 

What are your thoughts on Screen time? Are you for or against it? Drop me a comment and tell me why? 

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Finding The Right Products For Juju’s 4A Hair.

Hi Fellow Juju Lovers!

I’ve been a bit of a product junkie with Juju’s hair because I desperately needed to find the right products to keep his delicate strands moisturized.

Juju’s hair is prone to fairy knots.

If you don’t know, Fairy knots are actual strands of hair that knot within themselves and often add other adjoining hairs into the mix creating even bigger knots. These tiny knots (so tiny that “fairies” must have made them) are annoying and quite common for curlys and naturals.

Fairy knots are annoying for the adult natural so you can imagine the fight I have with this guy to try to detangle.

He doesn’t like me to touch his hair AT ALL.

I have about 6 seconds to style his hair while he is brushing his teeth in the morning, so let’s just say finding the right product was a must.

I tried out a few popular brands, that I won’t mention because I absolutely hated them. Ironically they were the same products that almost everyone in the world loved, but my 3C hair hated. Not realizing how similar our hair textures were (fine), I tried them out to failing results.

At the recommendation of another mom in a Facebook Group, I tried Camille Rose. 

I tried Camille Rose once as a sample in my Curlbox several years ago. I loved the conditioner, but never tried them again. I recently saw them pop up on the short list of hair product lines that are still Black Owned and decided now was  a great time to give them another whirl. 

I am so glad I did!

The consistency of this product was so light, but so rich and creamy. As I mentioned earlier, I have about 6 seconds to quickly add product to Juju’s hair and work through. This sundae glaze is so light I can quickly rub it through his hair vertically (3 secs) and then take a second pass to separate his curls horizontally ( 3 secs). Let me tell you, this product can be placed on the hair and it will SEEP on through and about 5 minutes later my baby’s curls were hydrated and unfrizzy. 

Not sure what your hair type is? Find out here

Juju’s hair is also low porosity. So it requires a slightly different technique to get moisture in AND keep it sealed in. I use the LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method to moisturize every other day. 

These products smell so good (like mandarin oranges) and work so well that I started using it in my hair as well. 

Want to try Camille Rose for yourself? Scroll down to find the links to purchase the products featured in this blog!

Our Nightly L.O.C. Routine

  • Wash and Condition- Weekly Water Rinse- Nightly (L)
  • Jamican Black Castor or Argon Oil (O)
  • Camille Rose Leave In Conditioner (C)
  • Morning refresh with Water in a spray bottle and a DAB of Camille Rose Brown Butter Melt.

My Camille Rose Favorites!

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*Some of the links featured in this blog are from affiliates who compensate me. However, this does not influence my evaluations. All opinions are my own.*

Fresh Scooped Local Goodness!

Sweet Treats

We all Scream for Ice Cream.

Dreams Ice Cream Factory!

One of my few Quarantine hobbies is finding Black Businesses to Support. 

My birthday was a few weeks ago and all I wanted was to get some ice cream.

I searched Black owned Ice cream shops and found a few water ice places (bookmarked for later but not what I was looking for this time) and found NO ice cream. 

A quick search among my foodie friends led us right up the road to Glenside where we found this hidden gem. 

Dreams has an impressive list of classic and original ice cream flavors.

I tried one scoop of Vanilla Almond Salted Truffle and one scoop of Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Swirl.  I also got a Cookie Monster ( cookie dough and cookies and cream dyed blue) and Birthday cake to go. We were 4 for 4 on loving each flavor we tried! 

I was intrigued to try their Hot Milkshakes (OMGee!) so I will certainly be back to visit soon. I suggest you do the same! 

Follow Dreams on Instagram!

Dreams Ice Cream IG

Click Here

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Welcome Back Sports!

Basketball Is Back!

Juju and Daddy are so excited that basketball (all sports really!) made its return this week. The are completely unbothered by the lack of actual fans and aspire to become virtual fans at least once this season.  Sports is something Daddy has shared with Juju ever since he was just a bump. It’s no surprise that Juju came out loving  the energy around the house on game day.  

Go Sixers!                       

These Two Are Ready For The Season!

Shop Juju and Daddy's Weekend Looks!

*The links featured in this blog are from affiliates who compensate me a vey small commission if you purchase from my site. Of course, at no additional cost to you. However, this does not influence my evaluations. We only share and promote items that we personally own or recommend*

Splish Splashing At The Spray Park!

Sunday in the Park!

Most weekends we love to get up early make coffee at home and head out to the park after breakfast. We have a favorite park but didn’t have much time and decided to head to the park around the corner from us.

Plot twist…

I totally forgot this park was remodeled last year and had been upgraded to a SPRAY PARK! How lucky are we to have a fairly off the radar spray park within walking distance from our house?!

Much to our delight when we arrived there was not a child or parent in sight. Juju enjoyed the unpredictable bursts of water and splashing and jumping in the puddles that would form. 

I think we found our summer weekend hideaway. 

Juju had a blast!

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Birthday Reflection

                                   Hello Friends!

Warning: Full transparency ahead

I was scrolling through my pictures the other day and noticed something…

I completely stopped taking selfies.

As a former selfie queen, this was a bit shocking to me, but in reality it’s not surprising at all. Ever since I had Juju, I’ve become hyper sensitive about my appearance. I don’t think I look the same. My face has more weight in it and my gut, although it’s not that bad, it certainly requires a bit more effort on my part than holding my breath to look slim in a photo.

Having babies is hard. I never thought it would be easy. I had a pretty perfect experience with pregnancy and motherhood though. I had no issues outside of your typical first trimester sickness, from there I was able to work out multiple times per week, take pregnancy yoga from my 4th month until week 38. Great delivery experience (to the extent that this is possible). Our biggest hurdle has been that Juju never liked sleeping through the night (it took 15.5 months) but otherwise he was a great and happy baby. I have an amazing village to support me and unlimited vacation days at work.

I don’t have it hard at all…I am blessed!

But there are still some days when I feel overwhelmed. Days when I feel like this can’t be the next 18 years. I could not imagine being a single parent, or having post partum or having relationship problems while trying to parent or any of the multitude of things tons of moms deal with everyday while flawlessly juggling their kids.

And because I don’t have a lot of barriers between me and good parenting, I am even more critical of myself because I didn’t “bounce back” to myself. I felt like I needed to be pre-baby weight, killing it at work, growing my own vegetables, all while teaching my  infant how to sign,” systematic racism” and walk before his 1st birthday. It is TEW much!

Why are moms under so much pressure? And before you say we drive ourselves into these frenzies, there is an undeniable pressure coming from somewhere that leads us down these unhealthy expectations for ourselves.

But the fact that I had to face was after you have a baby you are a new form of yourself. The pre-baby me is a memory. That doesn’t mean that I’m not the same person, it just means that I have to get in touch with the new me.

And I can’t lie…

This new version of myself doesn’t enjoy working out as much as the old self did. But I’ve been working out long enough to know that it is critical to my wellbeing and overall health. So begrudgingly I push through.  

The new me can’t say no to food as easily as the old me. Oh and about that Quarantine baking hobby…

Most of this is likely a result of still breastfeeding after 18-months . My hormones are still wacky and I’m just as hungry as I was when I was pregnant! Also my hair and nails are thin due to the nutritional strain making milk puts on body. These are a large source of my confidence.

And let’s not rule out this being quarantine blues…

When outside and work we’re open, I  ate reasonable and worked out anywhere from 1-4 times per week. I was fairly consistent but my workouts weren’t quality.

And insert silver lining…

Mom blogger phillyIn the last month, I have definitely stepped my workout game up. Having no other choice, I finally got over my inability to work out at home. I’ve done everything from Yoga on my deck to running the bleachers at the park up the street. Now I do some sort of physical activity pretty much every day with 3-4 of those days including a legit sweat session.  But then there is my quarantine diet undermining it all.

But now that Daycare is back in session and working from home feels more professional, my diet has significantly changed. I’ve gone back to fasting until noon. Working out, although I’m not getting as much walking in now as I was when Juju was still home.

But I am getting much more strength training.

I already feel better and looking better will come. My goal is just to tone up and lose maybe 5-10 lbs.

I wrote this as a reminder to myself and to you, to allow yourself grace! If you get up and give your best on the daily you deserve praise! Quarantine has been hard in so many ways we can’t even measure yet. We have to celebrate ourselves for surviving. 

 

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Happy Half Birthday Juju!

toddler blog philly

Jujubear is half way to 2!

He is smart, funny, silly, thoughtful, and affectionate! Mommy baked him a cake that he will probably take a picture with, but not get to eat because…yeah sugar! 

                      

Mom and Dad love you lots Juj!

toddler blog philly
toddler boy fashion

Shop Juju's Favorite Van Styles!

*The links featured in this blog are from affiliates who compensate me a vey small commission if you purchase from my site. Of course, at no additional cost to you. However, this does not influence my evaluations. We only share and promote items that we personally own or recommend*

18-Month Check-In!

Thoughts On
Motherhood.

                                    Hello Friends!

As I approach my 18th month as a mother, I‘ve been doing a bit of reflecting on my journey thus far.

What can I say about Motherhood?

It really is everything everyone made it out to be…from the immense joy to the bouts of unexplained sadness. But there are some things I was like…Nah!

 

So here is a short list of the myths I discovered about parenting in my first year and a half! 

Myth: There’s no love greater than the love of your kids.

Fact:

Having Juju has brought me indescribable joy. Watching him experience every single aspect of life for the first time is truly amazing. BUT I have also experienced GREAT love in my marriage and would have still felt VERY fulfilled had we not had children (although I am glad we did!)

Myth: You can’t buy that....you have a baby now.

Fact:

What if I told you I could afford diapers AND a new shirt?? Putting aside every aspect of yourself for your kids is the notion that made me delay motherhood for so long. I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping my spending in check while also saving and paying bills. Thank you very much...

Myth: You’re not truly happy until you experience being a parent.

Fact:

I was very happy before having a baby. I travelled the world, slept as long as I wanted and had abs (memories) . Parenthood is so rewarding and wonderful it really is, but I still believe that you can have a completely satisfying life WITHOUT having kids. I will never change my mind about that.

Myth: You’ll never have time for yourself.

Fact:

I think I invest more time into self care post baby than I did pre-baby. It’s vital for me and non negotiable. Luckily I have a close network of friends and family that can take JUJU if I need a break. And let’s not forget Daddy! Daddy doesn't just jump in to give me a break, he is a full-time 24/7 parent just like I am. And we sure love him for it!

Myth: As a parent, I am automatically more knowledgeable than non-parents.

Fact:

This was a hot button for me as a non-parent so I was excited to finally partake in the larger brain parenting provides. But maybe my infinite knowledge got lost in he mail, but a good deal of parenting is a proper mix of instincts and common sense. Common sense as it relates to kids is something some non- parents lack, but I’ve seen a few parents missing the same marbles so I’ll keep checking my mailbox for my mom degree.

Overall, motherhood has been the absolute best and I still have so much more to watch my baby discover! It is surreal to wake up to a walking, almost talking manifestation of my husband and I everyday. I am excited to keep learning and growing right along with my little one.  

           Happy 18-month anniversary my love! 

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Refinancing 101

Let's Talk Finances

Refinancing
101

For many people in this country the Covid-19 pandemic was an unprecedented and daunting time. Many were out of work and really strapped for cash.

Thankfully, we are blessed with jobs that allow for us to work from home, so the transition was seamless.

We did do some furloughs at my job, so I found myself out of work for a total of 4 pay periods. In the grand scheme of things, that’s very mild!

This pandemic really reminded me of the age old, but often unrealistic finance tip of having 3 months of bill money in your savings. For us, that means about $10,000. This newly realized goal led me to a review of all my monthly expenses to see if there was anywhere we could trim fat and save more. 

This post was sponsored by Diamond Bloggers. All opinions are my own.

It’s no secret that interest rates right now are at a record low. So I contacted my mortgage company to inquire about refinancing.  30 minute into that  call, I was half way through the application process. My lender assured me it was a quick process, which wasn’t exactly correct but I digress. We don’t have a ton of equity just yet, so we aren’t looking to cash out, we just wanted to take advantage of a lower interest rate if we could. We were paying  5% interest and we would drop down to 3.625%. Saving us  $50,000+ over the life of the loan. We will save even more if we continue making  our extra monthly payments. The reduction in interest rate offers us instant gratification in roughly a $200 cheaper mortgage payment. We usually pay an additional $200-250 per month, so this will allow us to keep making our extra payment at the same price we are currently paying. *SCORE*

Warning: The Refinancing process is just as annoying as buying a home.

Lots of paperwork, lots of watching your credit score, and lots of evasive questions about your spending from underwriters. All in all, it wasn’t too bad. Due to the timing of our closing and everything just beginning to open up, the title company sent out a mobile notary for our closing. We signed a bunch of papers but overall it took less than an hour.

This is a big decisions as you are taking out a new loan. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Compare how much you owe to how much your new  loan amount will be. Having only been in our house 2 years we hadn’t made a huge dent in our note so the impact was minimal. 
  • Compare how many years you have left of paying vs starting a new term of 15-30 years.
  • Access your plans for the next 6 months. Your spending  will need to be put on freeze during the month or two of underwriting. So many sure you aren’t planning on taking out any other loans, spending, or even depositing large sums of money.
Need a loan but have less than perfect credit? Consider hard money loans!

If it makes sense for your family, you should certainly consider refinancing!  This is a wonderful time to shop low interest rates and almost anything can be done remotely (Docusign is your friend).

Have a great refinance story you want to share? Maybe you have the best lender on the planet? Tell me all about it in the comments! 

A mobile notary came to our house and made the closing process super easy!

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