What am I to Do, My Baby boy is 2

I’ve had a hard time noticing subtle changes in my babies. I guess because I work from home most days and spend so much time with them, I have to rely on growth charts to tell me how tall they’ve gotten or momentous occasions to remind me of how fast time flies. A few months ago I did notice that my toddler son’s baby feet, no longer smelled like baby. They smelled just like feet, like little people, dirty feet. And that was my reminder that he was growing up. Needless to say we’ve retired the baby feet in momma face during changing time game. I just can’t take any chances.

This weekend my youngest child turned two. I know, I know it’s just 24 months, but my oh my how he has changed in that time. He used to eat anything. Well not anymore, in fact, he has about five items on his menu and not one of them starts with green. He “used” to be quiet, well you guessed it; not anymore.  He used to go to just about anyone, well not really and he still doesn’t.

In fact there’s not too much he gets excited about, but Sesame Street characters and water activities are definitely among his favorites. So the new Lions Water Adventure Park in Kinston seemed a no brainer for his second birthday party. Birthdays in the Taylor house are BIG. When you’ve prayed as long and hard for babies as we did, birthdays are great reminders of the miracles God has performed in our lives, not once…but twice.

I don’t think we are alone in our birthday craze, my mom and brother worked for weeks to hand decorate each party bag with different Sesame Street characters for partygoers. And no one seemed to mind the additional 30 minute drive from Greenville to Kinston. His sudo auntie Sherri made his cookie monster cake and cupcakes per his request. My husband created the perfect t-shirt logo and his 4-year-old sister insisted on dressing up as Elmo for the party and the list goes on of special gestures to make his day extra special.

For two weeks we practiced him saying he is 2-years-old and explained that his birthday was fast approaching. His fingers still have not cooperated with a makeshift peace sign, but he’s working on it. He sang himself happy birthday and was quick to blow out his candle. He didn’t open his gifts until later that night before bath time and my oh my was he excited.

Needless to say, I still can’t believe he can look at me and quote his favorite line “I can do it myself.” And most of the time he actually can. To help with his new found independence we have dropped the “baby” from Baby G and now refer to him as “Little G.” I guess it’s true what they say that time waits for no man or momma. Happy Birthday Garrett M.

Elmobirthday boy

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Fit for a Princess

About six months ago my then 3 year-old daughter asked to bring in birthday number 4 with a princess theme and real princesses in tow.  At the time, I remember thinking what a tall order. Where in the world am I suppose to find real princesses? So me and my small circle of friends accepted the personal challenge and got to work. Then, after visiting a skating rink, my little princess changed her mind and the theme. She wanted to skate and wanted all her friends to skate too.

So on Saturday, March 30, 2013 we went skating to help Morgan celebrate her 4th birthday; all 42 of us. Yes, you heard me right 42 people drove at least 20 miles from several different directions to meet us at a small town skating rink. Luckily, it was a holiday weekend and not overcrowded.

I think the owners figured out real quick that we were used to beating to our own drum. We didn’t use their birthday décor, we brought our own, including plates and flatware. We didn’t use their cake and ice cream…we brought our own. We didn’t even let them serve the food; we had our own servers. We have routines. We like things a certain way and I am grateful to have friends that always help me execute those ideas.

Yes it’s true her birthday is a production and what is a production without a crew?

So I have a few special shout outs: Many thanks to my husband and “the best daddy in the world” for designing the buttons for her guests and writing the necessary checks; my sister and Morgan’s personal hair stylist and auntie for hooking up the rainbow beads and cornrows; my cousin, soror, friend, photographer extraordinaire and Morgan’s Godmother for designing the special cake toppers; my cousin, friend and sudo-auntie for picking up cupcakes at two different locations and my friend and sudo-auntie for staying up all night to design and make labels, buttons, gift bags and everything else.

Yes, the crew was fabulous, but so were the guests. At least three babies left kicking and screaming against their wills. As a fellow mommy, I feel for you guys, but as a party host…that was one heck of a shindig.

And after countless hours and hundreds of dollars the entire fiasco was summed up by her two-second birthday wish as she blew out the candle “I just want to say thank you God, I have the best mommy and daddy in the world.” Is that even a wish? Well, with that said, she is either the sweetest baby in the world and we are blessed to have her OR we are entirely gullible and she has us right where she wants us. Either way, that’s one more birthday for the books and as soon as I recover it’ll be time to gear up for Garrett’s birthday in July.

4th Birthday wish

4th Birthday wish

She Fell Down, But She Got Up

With a social calendar as busy as my toddler daughter’s it is sometimes difficult to sit back and enjoy the moment. But a few weeks ago she celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with some of her Jack and Jill friends at a local skating rink. After a well-planned party full with a book reading, a civil right’s speaker, pizza and cake attendees had an opportunity to roller skate. Now at almost 4 years old, she has a pair of toddler skates and has practiced a few times on our bamboo floors, but we had never taken her to a skating rink. In fact, the few times she has tried to skate, she was fully strapped with elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet.

Without any of her safety equipment, I was leery, but I knew there was no way she was going to let her friends skate without giving it a go. So off to the skate rental booth we go. I’m unsure as to what size skates she wears and in an effort to get me out of line the attendee asks if I just want a pair of toddler skates. “Oh, you mean the one’s that just go over her shoes?” I ask. “Yes, that’s what I want.”

At first she wants to know how come hers doesn’t look like the older girl’s skates. But a quick explanation of them not having her size seems to suffice. I’m thrilled to learn from other mommies that I don’t need a pair to chaperone her in the middle of the rink; and off we go.

Well as soon as we get out there, this chick starts skating like a pro and I am amazed. She doesn’t want to hold my hand and she is excited at the secular big people’s music she gets to groove to while skating. She occasionally falls, but doesn’t hesitate to get back up, shake it off and keep skating. Not only is she unafraid, but she is fearless and having a ball.

For a moment, I think back to my younger roller skating days. I went just about every weekend and I loved it. Skating rinks were never fancy and apparently still aren’t, and although I had forgotten about how much fun they were, the parking lot tells me others are fully aware.

“You guys must go skating a lot,” one mother says as she admires Morgan’s ability. “No, this is her first time,” I reply. Truthfully, I am a little ashamed that I hadn’t tapped into her hidden roller skating talent before. I mean, how could I not know that she would skate well? I’ll tell you how, she’s still struggling with her steering ability and as smart as she is, she sometimes appears to be uncoordinated. She hasn’t asked to go skating despite a closet full of equipment and although she handles falls well, she’s obviously never been a fan.

But on this day, she is okay with falling, in fact she handles it like a champ and although I am proud of her skating I must admit I most proud of her tenacious spirit. Yes, Donnie McClurkin says it best “We fall down, but we get up” and on this day I am one proud momma of how quickly she shakes it off and takes a lickin and keeps on tickin. Keep getting up Morgan, no matter what….just keep getting up.

Roll Bounce

It’s our Birthday

When I was in high school I was adopted by a group of women in my hometown. For whatever reason they chose to support me in my every endeavor. They paid my entrance fee in certain competitions, from science fairs to leadership academies. They purchased my equipment and provided transportation and all they ever asked in return was for me to be the best me I could be and to remember that women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., were born and not made.

After college I returned to my hometown, worked as a newspaper reporter and in 2000 I leaped head first into a sisterhood I was born to be a member of. This week Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., celebrated our 105th founder’s day and I had an opportunity to not only fellowship with Sorors, but to reflect on a membership that has so much significance not just to me, but to my daughter.

At almost 4-years-old Morgan’s favorite colors are pink and green. She loves pearls and can throw her pinky up and skee wee with the best of them. I doubt she understands the word Sorority, but she clearly understands that her mommy is an AKA and will tell anyone who asks.

As proud as that makes me, there is so much more for her to learn, it’s more accurate to say more for me to teach. AKAs are so much more than pearls, mirrors and wearers of beautiful shades of pastel colors. We are women of standard, women of service, women of virtue, merit and grace. We cannot be made, we are born, and that I know for sure.

As I prepared to join my Sorors for a celebratory dinner on January 15th, my daughter watched my every step. She watched me choose my outfit, she watched me apply my makeup and she watched me choose just the right fragrance. “Mommy, why are you getting so fancy, where are you going” she asked. “I’m going to have dinner with some of my AKA sisters, because today is a special day for us,” I reply. “Why is today special,” she asks and I pause to think of just the right words to tell her.

“Today, AKAs all over the world take time to think about the women who started our organization. It’s our Founder’s Day,” I say. After a brief moment she looks up at me smiling, she hugs my leg and says “Oh, I get it. It’s your birthday.”

Thirteen years ago I joined my Sorority for me, but as I look into Morgan’s bright eyes full of promise, I now know my decision was so much bigger than me. What an opportunity, what an honor. I am grateful for this moment of clarity and I am excited about the many lessons yet to come.

Nothing like a birthday to remind you how far you’ve come, pause to celebrate the now and give you an opportunity to map out the years ahead. Happy Birthday Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., and thank you, thank you, thank you.

ME

It’s Your Birthday!

For the last nine years I have had the pleasure of watching my husband grow one year older and wiser on September 15th. In the past we have celebrated with parties, trips, private chefs, extravagant gifts and experiences. We’ve been referred to as jetsetters and soire throwers and enjoyed every minute of it. But our life has changed. Two toddlers have not cramped our style, but has modified our flow.

This year my husband decided that he wanted to spend his birthday with his family. He wasn’t sure in what capacity but was adamant it would have to involve the children. In reviewing Morgan’s summer vacation list of things to do, there were just two things we didn’t get to; bowling and an amusement park.

Well, we live around the corner from a bowling alley, so it just doesn’t seem to be out of our reach. Plus you can bowl anytime of year and we still have some work to do on her sportsmanship. She gets really upset when she feels she isn’t doing well at something.

All that said, amusement park won. He decides on Bush Gardens and that works for me. As I am packing the baby bag and making a list of all the things we shouldn’t forget; like the double stroller, he is in charge of finding discount tickets and researching the park.

It’s not until we are all packed up in the car that I learn there is a Sesame Street portion of the park specially designed for children. I mean, I know they had kiddie rides, but Sesame Street characters too? Baby G loves Elmo. Instantly both adults are amped in anticipation of their excitement.

It’s about a 2.5 hour ride from our house and Morgan is delighted to catch up on her beauty rest, but Baby G is not convinced a nap is in his cards and doesn’t dose off until we are 27 miles from the park. Since we have two babies, we splurge for the premier parking and still have to walk what seems like forever to the park entrance.

The Sesame Street section is in the front of the park, plus we are not sure how long Baby G will hold up since he only had a catnap, so we make that our first stop. After posing for pictures with Bert and Big Bird we head to our first ride. It’s a boat ride and Morgan is now tall enough to ride by herself, but Baby G needs an escort and after a quick game of rock, paper, scissors, I squeeze my mommy bootie into this little boat and pray it doesn’t tip over with baby and all.

For the next hour or so we monitor line skipping and squeeze our adult size bodies into child size seats on rides. I let go of all my food conscious mommy stuffiness and let them eat cotton candy, popcorn, funnel cakes and pretzels. After their fill, we head to the Griffon. It’s some crazy high roller coaster that looks really dangerous. This ride is for daddy and we are happy to indulge his rollercoaster fetish. “Happy Birthday,” Morgan says for the 100th time when he walks through the exit. So no, my husband didn’t celebrate his birthday this year with a party or private Nascar experience like before, but he did get to celebrate it his way.

 

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My Superhero

For the most part my husband and I divide and conquer with the bedtime routine. I take baby girl and he takes baby boy. It’s efficient and it saves time, but it also makes it a treat when we get to switch up. Last Saturday night I was fortunate enough to see our son fall asleep with a smile on his face as he reminisced his first birthday party.

I am still in awe at just how quickly this year has flown by. It seems like we just brought him home from the hospital. He was quiet, slept well and smiled a lot. Twelve months in he’s not so quiet anymore, but he still sleeps well and shows his pearly whites to any and everybody. He also likes to eat and so far, he doesn’t really discriminate when it comes to his food.

We call him Baby G or Babba. He’s the youngest of seven grandchildren on my husband’s side and the only grandson on my side. His complexion is one shade lighter than a Hershey’s bar and he tastes just like chocolate. He has nine teeth, four on top and five on the bottom. He is almost 2 feet tall already and loves the ladies.He started walking a little after 10 months and is now diligently trying to master running and jumping.

The walls of his room are filled with images of black superheroes including him and his daddy and a fictional city with tall buildings and waterways. He sleeps with his Green Lantern and gazes at his mural often. He seems so comfortable in this environment so we stuck with superheroes to help us celebrate his 1st birthday. His guests all had capes, face painted masks and enjoyed meeting Mac Fury, Spiderman, Green Lantern and Captain America. Comic books and superhero cartoons were definitely not my forte’ so all of these characters, except Spiderman were new to me before Baby G.

In the grand scheme of things I have no idea how come traditional nursery themes like Pooh, sports, cars or safaris didn’t fit. Lord knows any of them would have been easier to execute. But I do know that superheroes normally use their powers to counter day-to-day crime and injustice while also combating threats against humanity by villains. They are brave. They are strong and they fight for what’s right. I can only pray those characteristics manifest in who God intends my son to be.

So, I doubt he will remember his first birthday party, but I am hopeful he remembers how I envisioned his future and I know for certain that I will always remember the smile he had on his face as he drifted off to sleep.