I'm married now, I barely craft or cook, and I finally decided to shut my blog down

This post may be a huge surprise to a lot of people's blogroll feed. This is Monique, I'm still alive, I'm blessed, and I'm well. I apologize for my long departure. I continuously toy with ending the blog, and leaving it open for a comeback on a low committal basis. I've finally decided to come to peace with closing this chapter of my life. Before that, I'll provide a few updates...

1. I'm actually a Mrs. now!

I handed in my single card and married a wonderful man, a fellow classmate, on 12/20. He's anti posting pictures online, so sorry, no pictures of him :(. He's handsome, brawny, brown, and hails from the island of Dominica. We had a medium-sized ceremony and reception with about 70 people at a restaurant outside of Pittsburgh. It was beautiful, and I feel so blessed to have met my life partner. We are getting ready to move to Minneapolis once we graduate in May. I'll be working for a major retailer as a buyer, and he's doing IT consulting for a large accounting firm. Naja loves him, and they get along quite well.

2. Little miss thing - that's Naja - is 3.5, and she is really a big girl now

I'm talking sass, intelligence, even a little deception at times! She stays home with my mother-in-law, and will be entering Pre-K at a school in Minneapolis this summer/fall. Every day is a new challenge - some that are frustrating, but I'm learning:
  • Don't take things personal
  • Be consistent (and firm)
  • Make sure she knows momma don't play that!
3. As for crafting or fun stuff, I'll call the wedding my latest craft project.

I DIY'd a lot: the centerpieces, the farewell wave wands, the signs, the favors and the programs. I seriously need a job that pays me to do these things since I always seem to find myself doing this stuff for free!

4. I got Sisterlocks!

You know I've had hair woes for forever. My hubby told me he would make my SL installation a wedding gift (what a guy). I have had the SL for almost 2 months now, and I love them. No turning back or taking these things down.

5. I'm a blogger who is really focused on her career, so that means all of the artsy stuff gets put on the backburner.

This is why I continue to buy cookbooks, and pin crafts to pinterest, and agree to help other people with things. As a full-time grad student/working mom/wife, I've come to a few anti-good-blogger conclusions:
  • I don't have time to take pictures of Naja when the lighting is best (mainly because lighting is best during the day, and I don't see her then)
  • I can't tell you the last time I prepared a meal during the week (I thank God for my mother-in-law's authentic Caribbean culinary skills)
  • My crafting happens a la carte when it needs to happen, which is very rare
  • I haven't been shopping for myself in the past five months (gasp!) - thankfully, I do still wear clothes daily
  • I don't participate in the community of blogging anymore
I want to be the "go-getter blogger who does it all mom," but I realized that if I try to be her - I'll go crazy. Don't worry - I've read Lean In, so I know she doesn't exist, but I still try. However I need to stop trying, and just accept me as I am: A career focused woman who likes artsy stuff, cooking, and style, but doesn't have time to document this love daily.

With that said, I've connected with so many wonderful people, and shared so much of my life, and I'm grateful for that opportunity. Thank you for joining me in this journey. Thank you for sharing this space with me. It's been real. Peace.

It's harder than you think

Pictures from a few photo shoots for the "Holiday" cards I've yet to send out...I know it's February

I've never gone this long without posting anything to this blog - no farewell, no hiatus message. Sorry that I kind of fell off there. It was harder than expected to balance everything. School started, blessings poured in, I've had some ups, and some downs, some triumphs, and some failures. In a nutshell: life continued to happen.

Here's where I stand: I am almost 75% done with the first year of my MBA, and it has been quite eventful. It's a two-year program, so it goes by quickly. This time is proving to be a truly pivotal point in my life from both a personal and professional standpoint. My MBA is doing exactly what I wanted - providing me with the tools to do what I love, and still live the way I'd like to live. I'm growing a lot more than I expected - it's good. I'll be at Target in Minneapolis this summer working as a Buyer Intern. I'm super stoked, and I look forward to the experience.

From a personal side, I'm dating someone! He's a classmate of mine, and I think he's wonderful - encouraging, challenging, supportive, spiritual - all of the things I prayed for. Having the experience of getting to know him has been a blessing.

Naja is also well. She's a whopping 2.5 years old and is talking more and more every day. I feel like I'm a mom of a full-fledged little kid. My baby is growing up! Some of her favorite things include: talking to strangers, dancing to Pharell's Happy, watching TV (I hate to admit it, but it's true), painting, and cooking. Is she potty trained yet? No. Does she use the potty regularly? Yes, sometimes. She's in school three days a week for half a day, and my mom watches her the rest of the day, and when I'm at school. She is loving life right now.

There's a bit more to tell, but I'll save it for later ;). I'm going to do my best to stay connected.  How have you all been?

Naja's 2nd Birthday Party

Pictures are from Naja's second birthday party (and after party for the last one). Photographed by my good friend B

Hello out there!!! It's been pretty quiet on the blog since I've been getting acclimated to being a student again. I'm in Pittsburgh in orientation reviewing things like accounting and calculus, and attending lots of happy hours networking with my classmates.

I've been thinking a lot about how I can fit my blog into my schedule, and I've finally verbalized that I have to schedule time to write my blog posts. Who wants to schedule time to do fun stuff? Not me, but it's necessary if it's going to happen these days. I no longer have time to blog "when I get a chance" - because that's never.

My goal is to post one to two times per week. One post will surround my love for food. Now that Naja is a full-on toddler, she eats just as much as I do some days, I'll aim to post our weeknight meals. The second post will be a toss up on style post, or a general lifestyle post. I would love to create more dialogue around being a working mom on my blog. I think it's relevant, and it's something I'm growing more passionate about these days. I have attended some phenomenal events that have learned some things that are applicable for everyone - those with and without kids, and stay-at-home and working moms/dads.

I'm aiming to kick this new schedule off in September. That's all for now - I hope that you're all well. Peace.

Spring 2013 Updates

Let me summarize the last few months in a handful of pictures with an explanation of everything below...

We've been enjoying the warm weather: Naja found a nice place to perch herself
I've been hanging out with friends & socializing more - I needed it: A little face beat before a night out with my girls
Have gone back to Philly once over the past few months: Dosa from the Philadelphia Chutney Company
Still doing a lot of stuff with my sorority: At one of my sorority chapter's community events
Still trying to eat healthy: Spiced chickpeas, mashed avocado, vegan pesto & grilled asparagus for breakfast - why not?
Loving this girl: All smiles
Watching her socialize and grow up: Hanging out with some "big girls" at a Jack & Jill picnic 
No reason for this pic other than I love it: My little model
Summer weather finally broke: Hanging outside on a weekday after work - Naja loves to sit on the ground like this

Hair: My most recent cut & hair style

(All pics taken with my iPhone & most posted to my Instagram page @mowitafro)

So first I will address hair for Naja and me because that's the heart of where this blog started.  As for my cut, I was inspired by Zuriworks, a wonderful organization who help cancer patients and encourage women not to be afraid to cut it all off! I am not my hair! As for Naja - this girl has A TON of hair, and she hates getting it done. I was opting for protective styles via cornrows, but she barely lets me detangle on a wash day! I've tried snacks, movies, everything. She hates getting her hair done. Thus, she's been rocking a fro and honestly - her fro is a show-stopper and gets rave reviews. I spritz it at night and in the morning and add oil and Shea Moisture Curling Smoothie to help keep it moisturized.

Off of hair...the past few months have been very eventful in a wonderful way. I have been fairly busy with a few things. You may remember I hinted that something big may be coming my way, and I'm finally ready to make my announcement...I'm going to business school full-time in the fall at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh, PA!

It's crazy and unfathomable the way things just work out sometimes. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I was in the process of applying to b-school right around the time I found out I was expecting (Winter 2010). Knowing then that I'd be a single mom, I didn't think b-school would be a possibility anymore. Especially since I wanted to go full-time, and I wanted to go to an elite program (Top 20), but how would I, or could I do that as a single mom?

Sometimes, you just have faith and let God work things out - and He worked things out AGAIN - financially,  socially, personally, I have a ton of support all around, and I'm so incredibly grateful. In short, I received a fellowship to cover tuition, and my parents live in a suburb of Pittsburgh, so we're staying with them (again). Praise the Lord for minimum grad school debt - I couldn't have asked for more!

My job knows about business school now, and I'm working there through the end of June. I'm taking off some time for a few b-school related conferences to attend, and then I'm using the month of July to not work at all to take a few road trips, hang out with Naja, and relax before school starts in August.

My focus in school will be in strategy, with a focus on analyzing market research to make recommendations for larger business decisions regarding trades, sales, acquisitions, or brand changes. I would love to leverage my MBA into the retail space, which means blogging more could actually help me with these new career goals. I'm looking forward to the new scene. I've gained a lot of perspective on life in the past two years. I'm ecstatic about what's to come...I hope you guys are going to join me on this new journey.

If you do want to stay along for the ride, and you follow me on GoogleReader, follow me on bloglovin by clicking here, or you can always click the 'heart' icon in the top left side of the side bar. Peace & love.

What's up (part 2)

Part the table set up for the bridal shower I hosted
Bridesmaids from the wedding, I'm in the middle - September 2012
Some high school friends gathering for breakfast after a wedding in October 2012.
Grilled cheese and tomato and roasted red pepper soup (will post the recipe from Top Chef Cookbook later). November 2012.
The invitation for the baby shower I hosted in December. The theme was: What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, and everything nice. December 2012.
Momma's night out - a rare occasion, out at The Park for an Inauguration Party with a friend from undergrad. January 2013.

I've finally had a chance to write about myself. This used to come so easily to me, and now, it's like I've got nothing. Since I last gave you an update on me, I've been to a few weddings, one which I had the honor of being the maid of honor. I planned a few showers (one bridal, and one baby), I've been cooking up a storm, I've changed my hair twice, and I just completed a three month shopping hiatus. The pictures are more descriptive of most of the things I mentioned, so I won't go into detail. If you're wondering what I did with my hair...let's just say I paid a lot of money for lock extensions, and hated them, and took them out after 2 weeks, and now realize that I will probably never lock my hair, and I will probably never grow my hair super long. I like ease of hair, and I like styled hair, which translates to short hair for me.

I've really come to appreciate good friends recently. The past month has been filled with a few weddings, meet ups, parties, and general fellowship, and it's been awesome. This January, I approached my two year mark as a single woman, and I have learned a lot!  I am comforted, and appreciative of my friends. They answer when I call, keep me in check, are there for a good laugh, and that is something that I missed when I was dating. I was one of "those friends" who ditched their friends when they got a man. Note to self: don't ditch your friends, it's natural to see a shift in the balance, but ditching is a not cool.

I feel like posts will be forthcoming as the weather gets warmer. There are some big changes coming that I can't wait to share, but I have to wait for the right time to break the news.

There is one thing I'm excited about that I can talk about...I'm going to Jamaica in a few weeks! Remember this trip from last year? Well, my department hit our 2012 goal, so the company is paying for us to go to Jamaica, and we're staying at The Ritz! My mom is going to watch Naja for me, while I'm away. I'm looking forward to a few days in luxury, but I think I'll miss Naja a lot. That's all for now. Peace.

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 |