Updates & Happy Holidays 2012

a little blurry, but I love these boots & this vest
part of our weekend routine involves big breakfast on saturday: helping mommy make vegan banana pancakes (taste-checking is necessary)
watching the game with her uncle
cheesing after a fresh bath
weekend lounging: playing in her toy box
holiday photo...for the announcements I needed to send out yesterday

Hi everyone, it's been a while. Life is so interesting, it has its peaks and valleys, its lulls and highs, its busy and quiet moments. This year has been filled with momentum, surprises, and changes...more on these things later, as some things are still materializing. To all of you - I wish you happy holidays, may the season bring you peace, joy and love. I am so incredibly thankful for the good friends and family in my life, I hope to share my sentiments with them this season.

I have quite a few updates, and pictures, so I'm going to split this update post with one post focused on Naja, and another focused on me, so to speak. I will begin with the little lady first, who is now 17 months old - where does the time go?

Naja is able to run now, and her break-off speed is quite impressive - she continues to keep me busy. Naja is also talking more now, and is very friendly to strangers. She said a sentence last Saturday morning while we were playing with her Brobee stuffed animal. In a high-pitched voiced she said, "Hi Brobee," I was so proud! But didn't freak out with excitement because that sometimes upsets her - my extremely loud moments upset her when they happen by surprise, lol. Every week she's talking more and more. She says some words very clearly, and others that those close to her understand. She recently started this new thing where her talking is something like baby blibber blabber, and I really don't know what she's saying.

Baby Blibber Blabber: a series of noises with varied voice inflection followed by a pause that assuredly garners a response.

I'm confident that she thinks I understand her, and I'm sure I'll understand her soon enough, we'll just keep trying and chugging away with the baby talk for now.

Naja is also approaching the age of defiance. She has temper tantrums around those she knows well (I.e. my mom and me). Just in case you guys want a few examples: she has thrown items on the floor, bit my mom, and head-butted both of us to name a few. She knows exactly what she's doing, because these reactions only come after she doesn't get her way. She's stubborn, feisty  and quite a drama queen.  Those who know me well that are reading may be thinking, "...that's what you get," but I can promise you, I was nothing compared to Naja.

She's been getting a lot of timeouts, stern looks, and firm reprimands, and I don't know if it's "working." I'm finding it difficult to figure out the right way to discipline Naja since I'm not a fan of spankings. Everyone has different parenting styles, and each child is different. I'm just trying this out to see how things go -- I surely don't want a snobby-bratty child. For now, I'm praying for patience while I discipline her, consistency, grace and fairness.

Recent things Naja's been loving: a ride on shopper I got her, clementines, her princess snow boots, Princess Tiana, dinosaurs, and my pots & pans

Ok, that's little miss thing. Updates from me are next...

On Naja: one & three: top - h&m; vest - nordstrom; jeggings - target; boots - baby zara | two & five: onesie -  children's place | six: top - target; sweater - h&m

September Updates

Happy Friday folks! I've been a little better snapping pictures of Naja, although she is incredibly difficult to catch these days. As soon as she sees the camera, she walks up to me and wants to look at pictures, or she runs away like we're about to start a game of hide and seek. I think we're well past due for some updates on the little one so here goes...

Naja is growing like weeds these days. She's pretty tall for her age - but she doesn't have a lot of girth. I'm still cloth diapering her, and she's long off the bottle and uses sippy cups with a straw. She is starting to formulate some words/sounds. To name a few, she says "buh" for book and "bah" for bath, and she says "Woof woof" whenever she sees a dog. She also says three words very clearly now:
  1. "agua" for water - yep, she's bilingual - JK - agua is much easier to say than water
  2. "Naja" to refer to herself, because she speaks in third person often and loves the sound of her own name...
  3. "Momma" It may sound crazy, but whenever Naja sees a picture of me, she calls me "Naja" or "Momma". When I point out that I'm Momma, she sometimes points to herself calling herself "Momma". So, basically - we're both Momma and Naja.
This stage of motherhood is a busy one! I can tell I'm going to have lots of fun stories raising this little one!

As for me - I'm rearing up for the last week before my cousin's wedding. I passed my sign off for the new role I assumed at work, and I have a new look.

The glasses are prescription - I wear them for distance, and while sitting at the computer at work. As for my hair - I cut it...why? well...why not? Peace.

On Naja: 1 & 4: top - gift; leggings - gap kids; sneakers - baby zara |  2 & 5 - tutu dress - gapkids; boots - baby zara | 3 & 6: top - target; skirt - baby zara |

Expressions from Naja

...stank face
...sleepy & contemplating
...wanting something

I took pictures for a friend of the family who had a rededication of their vows...so Naja got to wear a pretty dress. My child is truly expressive, and this is just the beginning folks! I hope you all have a great weekend!

On Naja: Dress - Baby Gap; Shoes - Baby Zara

Part 1: A Fresh Look - Repurposing a Dresser & Nightstand

In my last post I referenced doing some repurposing projects, and I've finally snapped some pictures and gotten around to posting them. FYI - taking pictures, and actually posting them to your blog are two totally, separate, and independent things.

I don't know how many of you remember this "Smile" post from last July, where I talked about getting new (to me) furniture that I planned to use for Naja's room. I got the furniture for free, and it was in spectacular shape, and it's probably as old as I am.

I loved the framework of the furniture, but I hated the color - this pale yellow is just so flat and blah. Originally, I planned on using the dresser in Naja's room. However, I soon changed my mind after I finished another repurposed dresser (to be posted in the near future) and I knew that should be saved for her room. Thus, I knew this furniture had a home in my room.

Here are some before pictures of the repurposed dresser/chest and night stand:



Wow - what a world of a difference a nice paint job makes! Thanks to some help from Libby, and my good friends at Home Depot, I did the lazy man's repurposing job with this project. Note: I had one day to do this job, by myself, so I was all about the short cuts, not my preference, but it's real life. I did not sand it, instead I applied a thick coat of primer (only one coat), and then applied the paint. I used a glossy black paint by Rust-Oleum, because they also manufacture paint in a spray can - and I used the same color to repurpose some chairs (also to be posted in the near future). I then used chrome spray paint on the hardware, and voila - a repurposed dresser!

There are some white parts that peak through around the drawers, and the paint has some texture to it, but I kind of like it. All in all, I am very satisfied with the finished project.

The cost of this project was:
Primer - $9.99
Paint - $9.99
Spray paint - $3.49 
Furniture - Free
Total - ~$25 (including taxes)

This post will be part 1 of 4 of the repurposing projects I embarked upon before my move. I've taken pictures of the other projects, so I will try to focus on posting them across the next few weeks. Peace.


Painting that we did for some decorations for Naja's birthday party
 Naja winding down at a family picnic with her great-grandmother
Personal invitations for my cousin's bridal shower
Hanging in Philly with old friends - I'm such a ham :)
 Naja's new, favorite face - she does this any time I say " Say Cheese"

Is it just me, or did this summer fly by? I cannot believe it's late August. This summer was packed with a lot of action - most of which was not captured by the camera lense, but it was fun and eventful nonetheless. Some items from this summer include:

Visit to Philly to hang with my college friends
Moving out into our own space & repurposing half of the furniture in it
Naja's 1st birthday (and party)
My cousin got engaged, and I'm her MOH!
Weaning Naja - drinks up ;)
Locking my hair...and then not locking it (again)
Training for a marathon...

I met up with so many friends and family these past few months, it was a wonderful reminder of how blessed I am to have kind, caring, and loving people in my life. While I'm a bit saddened to say goodbye to summer, I am looking forward to things slowing down in the fall. I like the cool weather - the turning of leaves...and I can't wait to get Naja outside in the snow!!! I know, we have to get to fall before winter...

I hope to blog more in the coming weeks - I have some pictures from my trip to Philly that I'd like to share, and I want to share some of my furniture repurposing projects, so there's more to come!

To my readers - thanks for hanging in there with me. It really means a lot when I read comments even when my posting is sparse. This corner of the internet is really special to me, and I appreciate the support and encouraging words you provide.

Guess who's one...

Taking a dip in the pool on a hot summer day
Naja loves water...almost as much as food
On the run and saying "me, me, me" - this girl loves herself
A picture of the birthday girl on her actual birthday :)

Yes, my little bundle of joy Naja Simone is one year old today!!! I can't believe that one year ago today, on July 19, I called out of a morning conference call for work due to contractions which bred baby Naja a few hours later (yes - my labor was only a few hours - thank God!).

I hosted a party for her last weekend, but didn't take any pictures, however I did post a pic of Naja smashing her cupcake ;). I feel awful about not taking more pictures, but this is the kicker with taking pictures: it's really tough to experience the moment, when you're always snapping away. It's like I'm there, but I'm not "in it", I'm just observing. Since it's just Naja and me most of the time, I'd rather experience the moment than observe the moment.  Nonetheless, I do like to capture these moments to share with friends.

The party had a loose theme of "ombre everything" based on this picture. I prepared the food and kept the menu simple: sliders: buffalo chicken, ginger turkey burger, beef burger & eggplant, pasta salad, chips, corn and watermelon. Thanks to Libby, I offered my guests flavored water as a beverage. I ordered four dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles, and I gave everyone colored assorted candies in the ombre white-to-red theme as a gift.

Naja was surrounded by lots of friends and family at the party. There were no kids at the party -- I have yet to vibe with any parents with kids around Naja's age. Still there were a handful of my friends - Naja's "aunts" and "uncles" - who came out to support her. Naja's family was also there to celebrate. I seriously am so blessed to have the family and friends I have - they're awesome.  It was a good time!!!

As for other life updates...
We finished my sorority chartering, now we're back to our regular scheduled programs
I'm still training for the marathon, my furthest distance thus far has been 10 miles straight. I need to kick up my training, which requires a good amount of time, but I'm not quite sure how I'll balance it just yet...
Naja and I are moving out and getting our own space in a few weeks (we've been living with my parents since she was born), I'm mostly packed and ready for the move
I'll be wearing this little number as the MOH in my cousin's wedding in September, and will be planning the bridal shower soon
I may be locking my hair now - I installed a set of finger coils 2 weeks ago, I don't love it, but few people love these beginning stages of locking
I'll be 26 in 15 days and I have no plans for my birthday right now, but I'm kind of ok with that (if you wonder why -- see above)

Brief Update 6.24.12 (and prior)

Ok folks, in my last update, I mentioned that this summer was busy, and it has not slowed down one bit! I had my first "grown folks" weekend since being a mom. I got a chance to hang out with my girls in NYC without Naja - she stayed home with Sonny & Mimi. I had a blast! There was lots of singing, eating, laughing and girl talk. I'm so grateful for my friends!!!

I have not taken any recent pictures of Naja with my dSLR. However, I always post a TON of pics on instagram. (Like this one of Naja representing my alma mater) Little miss thing is full on walking now, and sometimes she tries to run. In fact, she was in a triple threat (basketball) position recently during one of our outside play times.

To add to everything else from the summer, my cousin was recently engaged, and I'm the maid of honor! I'm absolutely delighted. However, if you notice sporadic posts - it's due to all of the exciting events that are happening this summer. I miss updating the blog more frequently, taking more pictures, and trying new recipes, but alas, I can't do everything. I hope you all are well, and enjoying your summer!!!

Paisley Prints

one, three & four: dress - gift; shoes - zara; sunglasses - anthro; earrings - anthro | two & five: dress - gift; shoes - nordstrom; earrings - anthro; sunglasses - anthro

Weekly Update 6.3.12

Playing outside in my favorite new dress (of hers) from Target
Sometimes she poses for the camera - I love it!!! 
Always with something in her mouth

It's been a LONG TIME! Over the past 30 days, I've had two traveling trips for work, which has placed blogging on the low end of the totum pole. I haven't taken any pics either - eek! Here's what's new...

Naja has a full head of curly hair. I've decided to 'tame' her fro and moved to pigtails for ease of detangling, and to minimize knots. I miss her fro, though she did rock a braid out this weekend.

I firmly believe that Naja could walk...if she wanted to. In fact, I've seen her take a handful of steps on her own when "no one is watching." If you applaud her for her steps - she screams in angst. She prefers to walk while holding someone's hand, and she throws a tantrum if you let go. I think this is my first lesson in learning that your child does things on his/her own schedule. As a parent - I'm letting go of already over-extending wanting my child to walk "early." It's no longer a priority - she will walk (consistently) when she wants to. *Kanye shrug*

Naja is sleeping through the night *Does Dougie*!!! She sleeps from 7:30/8 pm until 6:30/7 am, and takes one or two naps during the day - it's awesome! In other news - she is still teething, I've lost count of the number of teeth she has coming in, I think it's at least another four.

Finally, I am in the midst of planning Naja's 1st birthday party.  Right now, I'm thinking of having a dance party theme where we have a DJ nice iPod playlist, food, and dancing. I know she's only 1, but I don't know of any babies coming, and Naja loves dancing so much - I'm pretty sure she'd love it. She can wobble better than anyone I know.

In other news
...My mom and I are chartering a graduate chapter for our sorority in the county of VA where we live.
...One of my best soror friends recently relocated to the area, and works at the same company as me, and thankfully, she's encouraging me to get out more.
...I have my first baby free non-work related night free trip in a few weeks and I'm slated to see a handful of good friends who I haven't seen in years - I can't wait!
...I'm also scrambling planning to do something for my birthday, which is 15 days after Naja's. Erykah Badu, Common & Estelle will be in town, I'm aiming for something easy and low key.

Is it just me - or are the summer months an extremely busy/crazy time?

Shots from Instagram

1. Fun time in the pool | 2. New rings I love | 3. Weekend stroll | 4. Shoes my mom picked up, then returned | 5. Hanging at a bar in Ann Arbor with college friends | 6. Mommy & Naja | 7. Newest J. Crew catalog | 8. Things Naja finds on the ground and tries to eat | 9. Shot of me & Naja at 11 months | 10. Naja - she's a sucker for the camera | 11. My little politician | 12. Me rubbing arms with a guy on the bus...unintentionally | 13. Naja smothering uncle with kisses | 14. Car ride to Michigan | 15. My shot - filled with water | 16. Me and the broham

Life's been busy! Something about the summer ignites a lot of happenings, it's fun, and I'm liking it! I thought I'd sum up my past few weeks in photos from instagram...after all, everyone else is doing it.

To see more of this in the moment, follow me @mowitafro (on instagram and twitter).


one & three: dress - vintage; shoes - rebecca minkoff; jacket - zara | two & four: top - j. crew factory; skirt - j. crew; shoes - urban; necklace - etsy; sunglasses - anthro

Still Nursing

Naja smiling on Mother's Day 2012

I'm skipping the weekly update this week to provide an brief update on my breastfeeding experience. Naja is 10 months old now and she is on three solid meals a day, with two additional snacks. She drinks water, and my milk. She has exclusively had my milk, and I continue to pump three times a day at work, and nurse her whenever I'm around.

I plan to nurse her through her first birthday, and I'll see where we go past that. Her recent set of incoming teeth has caused nursing to be her only consolation to the pain. I'm happy I've stuck with it this long - it's a great feeling to know that I can assuage her pain, even if only for a moment, and I do love the bond that I share with her due to breastfeeding.

Since my last update, I have a new tip for the working- nursing mom: Pump and nurse simultaneously - yes at the same time! I stole this genius idea from a mommy mentor. This tip has saved me time, and re-built my milk supply since I lost about 40 ounces due to a fuse break in my freezer. It's quite simple - whenever you nurse the baby - you nurse her on one side, and pump the other side. It takes some getting used to at first, but after the first time, Naja could ignore the pumping sound and go right to sleep while she nursed. This is really helpful at night now that Naja isn't waking. This is also helpful when I go out on the weekends, as I leave "balanced" - I don't have to worry about one side being more full than the other.

My body is at an equilibrium with the whole milk supply thing. I don't leak, and I am past the pain that accompanies those first few weeks months. I even went away for one night for business travel last week, and while away, I didn't have a chance to pump as much as I normally do. Surprisingly, everything seemed to be fine when I returned - my milk seemed to be just enough for Naja!

This may be TMI but...I still have yet to have a visit from Aunt Flo - no complaints - 19 months and counting! However, recently, as Naja has nursed less, I have experienced bouts of slight nausea, headaches, being tired, and other pregnancy-like symptoms. No worries - I'm definitely not pregnant. In talking with other moms (and googling the heck out of stuff), it seems like other nursing moms have experienced these symptoms surrounding a change in their milk supply. Joanna talks about this here, and Drea talks about it here. This nursing thing is all hormonal, so funky things happen, I'm noting any changes that are out of the ordinary for the future (and my next visit to the doctor).

Finally, I've lost a ton of weight without even trying! I haven't changed my diet, and I am the smallest I've ever been in life, thus I attribute this weight loss to nursing.  I lost a large chunk at the onset, and another 5+ pounds after the 6-month mark. I've heard similar stories from other nursing moms. Who knew?

No promises that all of these things will apply to you, and this may actually be totally irrelevant...but I thought I'd throw my experiences out into the net to help future google searches ;).

Cheesy Quinoa Cakes

It's been a while since I've mentioned this beloved grain (I've referenced it here, here, here, here, here, and here), and now it's back in an appetizer variety with two wonderful accompaniments: cheese, and aioli. The cakes have simple ingredients - fontina cheese, quinoa, green onion, S&P, and flour. They were sauteed to generate a crispy outer shell, and paired with a flavorful, tangy garlic aioli sauce. It's simple, and it's everything that you need for a delicious appetizer.

PS - if you don't try the cakes, at least try the aioli - it's sure to add lots of great flavor to any grilled panini!

Cheesy Quinoa Cakes
Adapted from spoon fork bacon
Makes about 10-12 cakes

2 cups cooked quinoa
2/3 cup grated fontina cheese
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

½ cup light mayonnaise
1 head of garlic, roasted
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1. For the cakes: Place all ingredients, except for the oil, into a mixing bowl and stir together until well combined. Season with salt and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
2. Pour oil into a large sauté pan and place over medium heat.
3. Form ¼ cup patties with the quinoa mixture and place in the heated sauté pan. (this will have to be done in batches)
4. Cook quinoa cakes for about 5 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining patties until all of the cakes have been cooked. Set aside.
5. For the aioli: Place all ingredients into a food processor, season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and serve alongside the warm quinoa cakes.

Weekly Update 5.6.12

Not loving the car ride
Pausing only for a moment for a kiss from mommy!
Beignets to-go from Founding Farmers
gif maker
My little busybody

This week was a bit meh, and this week's update is all about Naja, which is very fitting considering the past couple of days weeks we've had.

We have officially passed the quiet reserved baby stage, and moved into full out active baby mode! Naja will give me approximately one hour of being content in her stroller (aside from jogging), and after that - she wants to be FREE! Naja will fly out of your arms to try to walk and run - preferably outside, with help (of course), and she throws a fit if she can't do this. I mean crying, screaming, throwing her head back - an all out fit. I'm at the point now where I remain calm while this happens, and I typically oblige to her desire to be an adventurous child.

She'll be 10 months in a few days, and she's just shy of walking, so I don't expect her to sit in a restaurant, waiting for food, "socializing" for 2 hours. However, this stage makes family dinners, and any type of social outing a bit of a moot point (I.e. I miss out on the adult socialization part). I honestly think it's great that she loves to be so active and observe plants and critters. When we are outside, you can tell she's in heaven - not a peep, aside from an occasional whim to the little critters she sees. She also loves other kids (and dogs). When she sees them, she smiles and tries to make friends via gentle love taps and kisses.

It's a new stage, and I'm still adjusting. In the meantime, I should plan to hang out with people with kids who want to do similar things so that we're all caught outside chasing walking around with our kids, instead of sitting inside a restaurant socializing.