Freshly Picked Moccasins Review

Our daughter Gracia is now 15 months old. She started walking around 11 months old, closer to her first birthday and has not looked back since! When she started walking we noticed that it appeared that she may be pigeon toed, which is not too far fetched since I was as an infant. The initial focus as she was learning was finding shoes that would strengthen her ankles. Then as she would begin to fall and attempt to pick herself up, we noticed that the more flexible sole would assist her better in being able to get back up on her own. 
We looked for shoes with no laces and still do since she has a new found fascination with her feet. Nothing like having to worry about her tripping over her laces when she was already tripping over air. In my search, I began to follow some brands on Instagram to consider. 
An opportunity came to collaborate with Freshly Picked and I couldn’t have been more excited to try these Moccasins out. They were so cute and fit all of our shoe must haves. 
I chose the Salt Water Taffy color, which I would describe as the perfect lilac color. When I opened the box, I inspected the shoes and noticed they had elastic that was perfectly hidden under the leather that would allow for me to not have to struggle to get the shoe on Gracia’s foot but not too loose that she could figure out how to rip it off her foot and lose it some where. 

Gracia’s feet measure at about 5.45″ so we chose a size 5 for her. Freshly Picked makes it really easy to figure out what size shoe is best for your child with their easy to read sizing chart. I knew that she would have some room for her feet to move and for her to grow into over the spring. Interestingly enough she hadn’t had a growth spurt in her feet – that is until recently. 

This would be her first time walking in soft sole shoes so I was intrigued to see how she would respond. I actually anticipated her walking around like she had on swim flippers for some reason, wondering what it was that I had put on her feet. I let her get familiar first just so that she would understand that they are shoes and go on her feet. 
We put them on her and took her outside. Time to break these bad boys in!
Now my initial guess was that with all the running and tumbling on the cement it would mean that she was going to scuff up her new shoes. Mind you, I have had to return shoes that had gotten destroyed after first wear and that was when she wasn’t even walking. So I held my breath as we went outside to play on the first warm day of Spring for our area. 

After a while, chasing her up and down the side walk became a game to her.
She LOVED them. Thats all a mother really wants to know is if this child who is so picky will keep these shoes on her feet and will she be able to truly play and have a good time in them. The best part about them is …. THEY STAYED ON HER FEET! 
I wasn’t chasing behind her picking up shoes and trying to put them back on so that she could continue playing. We try our best to avoid “reasons why she’s crying” moments. I have picked her up from daycare with just her socks on because the shoes I sent her in were too heavy. 

Now came time to go back inside and I was hoping that she hadn’t done so much damage on the cement and her running around that I wouldn’t want to put them back on her. 
Much to my surprise the bottoms of her soles were next to perfect!
I honestly thought she was scuffing all the beautiful color and logo off the bottoms and that these wouldn’t be a great play shoe. 

This is what they looked like once I took them off of her when we came inside

 
I can honestly say, that after this being our first time trying Freshly Picked moccasins, I would highly recommend them. The wear and tear is great. The color selection is even more fabulous! Our fashion style is focused more on dressing her in complimentary colors versus matching colors. They have a wide range of colors that fit right into a kids wardrobe because they aren’t so busy and can go with everything.
I was impressed.  Absolutely.  And the best part is … Gracia loves them!
We were able to giveaway a pair to one of our readers and hopefully we will be able to do it again in the future so that you can experience them as well. Until then, head over to their website and check out their latest clothing and shoe lines. You will not be disappointed. 
Special thanks to Iris Mannings for capturing our moments yet again! 

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Gracia’s 1st Birthday Party

I see why once people have their first child, their blog suffers post baby. There are so many days that you want to sit and write but if you have that much free time, then you might as well be getting a nap in or dinner ready, or just woosah because your now mobile bottomless pit toddler will be up or home soon. Such has been my case– my toddler can walk, run, climb stairs and eats like clock work. Not to mention teething and more ear infections than I was prepared for… 
Either who, a month later… lets talk about Gracia’s First Birthday Party —
I think I needed at least two weeks to recover from hosting what was up posed to be a small family get together. But who am I kidding, any kind of party – I start to over think it and go wayyyyy overboard. It doesn’t help that most of my vendors I am loyal to so they are very good to me. I decided that we would have her party at my parents house that is near me. My parents actually live in Dallas but kept our childhood home here. Its their first grandchild, so having a party at the grandparents seemed like the best thing to do. 
The theme of her party was Sophia the First. My child LOVES this show – when the theme music of this show starts, she goes into full drop it like its hot mode. So I knew that she would completely enjoy having a party filled with Sophia the First things. I pinned everything I could think of from Pinterest and went to work over the course of three months or so – although, leave it to me to leave everything till the last minute like I had planned on not doing. 
So here’s a ton of pictures from the fun she had with a small group of friends and family- 
So lets start with my favorite part.. 
The Food: I had a snack table for the kiddies (and grown kiddies) – complete with snacks I know she loves at daycare (nilla cookies, cheeze its, pretzels and fruit snacks). I made some chocolate dipped oreo cookies, purchased a cotton candy machine from amazon which was a HIT and some cupcakes. 

I LOVE my go to Caterers, Class Act Catering (no this isn’t a paid promo) but I do absolutely love how they take care of me even always, every single event, going above and beyond. Pause: yes I had her party catered because who has time to be in the kitchen all morning when you have to decorate and wrangle a toddler into a nap so that she is not miserable at her own party.
The menu: 
We had a great salad (and you know its great when there is absolutely no salad left when you are packing up plates. It was a salad with mixed greens, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette. We also had a blacked chicken and shrimp pasta and the same version of the pasta with no meat for my vegetarian family members. We also had chicken tenders for the kiddies  – as well as ham and turkey slider sandwiches that I made the day of. 
So this is what I meant – I ordered chicken tenders for 20 kids and look how many he sent me! I was so happy to have more than enough to go around and then some. 
The Decor: 
I made most of the decor myself with the assistance of my sister and my cousin Q. 
I had seen a picture of a Christmas tree with toys all over it for the kids for Christmas, so thats where I got the idea of doing a “Birthday Tree” which is perfect for a child who’s birthday close to Christmas. When guests came with gifts, they placed them under the Birthday Tree. 
I got a poster made of my favorite pics from birth to 11 months really easily done from this company called Printstagram. Its so amazing to see how much she has grown in one year. 
I found these mini trees at the Target in the dollar spot section. My cousin made all the golden crowns and we decorated it with scrap book parts that I got from Michaels.
The Entertainment: 
I decided that I really wanted to have a photo booth – I found a really cheap but great app on iPad and found an iPad tripod and set it up for the kiddies, but the parents definitely got into it too. 
I asked the girls to dress in their favorite princess costumes or fancy clothes for the Royal Affair. 
I also had a lady come and do Balloons for the kiddies – and she was GREAT!
We even had some “Pin the Amulet on the Sophia” for prizes! No ones a loser here… and check out the cute balloon bracelets and wands the young ladies have
The Birthday Girl!
Dressed as her favorite character, she had a ball! 
Now, she wouldn’t let mommy keep her tiara on her for long which through a wrench in her hair style for the day, but its all good – she still looked cute. 
and she had a Ball!… she sat at the kids table with her friends 
We had the apple TV going with this playlist of all the songs from Sophia the First episodes on loop in order to provide age appropriate entertainment while they ate. 
Then this right here is where it started taking a turn… see that finger in her ear?! I should’ve known something was brewing…
But we kept going – changed her clothes so that she would feel a bit more comfortable because she started coughing and getting fussy. It was time for the cake. 
She didn’t understand how to blow out a candle and wanted no parts of eating cake of any kind on this day but she knew that people were singing and she started clapping and saying yay. 
(but notice her red, puffy eyes?! UGH! something was coming)

 All in all, my baby girl had a great day. 
Peep in the background all those handmade red tissue paper flowers? yup momma was busy. Anything for my baby. 

 Happy Birthday Gracia! I hope you had as much fun as you could… 
We know you won’t remember so these pictures really are for you. 

 So the next day after her birthday party was her one year well visit. We found out that Gracia had a double ear infection (her fourth documented double ear infection within one year) and needed to see a specialist. She also had RSV. That was the most heartbreaking. She had to sit there with the nebulizer at the doctors office. Nothing hurts your heart more than seeing your baby screaming because they are uncomfortable. She was prescribed a pump that we had to administer every 4 hours for five days. Thankfully, it never got worse than that – we prayed over her as well. 
She is doing much better and scheduled to have tubes put in her ears later this month. 
Thanks for reading.. 
We love you Princess!

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So Where Do I Begin? : Time Flies when You are having Fun!

Last we left off, Gracia was turning 6 months old. She was still on trend wearing 6 months sizes and was in the 80-90th percentiles for her weight and height. 
Her personality was beginning to show more and more- we enjoyed a wonderful summer spending several weekends dockside on the Bay. We love to eat Crabs in the Maryland area. As long as there are steamed crabs it will always bring out big smiles from us!
Notice that patch on my arm? Yeah – it was around this time that I decided to do something about my energy levels and overall health. 
I was feeling completely rundown and with Gracie now learning to crawl, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I did some research and decided to start Thriving. I will post specifically as to what it has done for me because it has been AMAZING a little later – but if you just want to know what I am talking about check out my site at http://www.vashtijasmine.le-vel.com 
Anywho, Gracia started crawling at 7 months and began to sit up on her own so much more. As she began crawling, we introduced her to shoes that would help her crawl, pull up and walk. 
Gracia was wearing a size 2 infant. In clothes she was a 6-9 months. 

Gracia starts to learn more words – Dada of course is her favorite. I had been trying to get her to say Mama but she is not having it. She says “mwah” when she gives kisses. Of course she has her own baby language. She says “Ut oh!” when she falls on her butt. She can also so Bye Bye. She just recently started saying “Mama” but thats because she also most recently started getting told “Stop” and “No no!” a lot more. 

At 8 months, I started a natural haircare routine because her hair was getting so long. She also went through a growth spurt around this time. We kind of bypassed 9 month clothes and went straight into 12-18 month sized clothes. 
My little fashionista and I have been enjoying her coming into her own. 
Lately, Gracia has been teething which has meant an abundance of drool which lead to double ear infections. She has learned how to pull up on things to stand and is standing on her own for a few seconds at a time. 
With her being able to cruise, she has been able to get into more and more things – this is the door to her playroom that she started to bang on it for fun and play with the door stoppers – oh what fun to my ears!
September means Birthday for Amos and I and Gracia turns 9 months old. 
It also meant that Gracia had pink eye and another trip to the doctor. 
Amos’ Birthday is first and we celebrated with a few balloons and sweet surprises at work. 
I also realized just how much Gracia looks like her daddy when he was just about her age. What do you think? 
My cute little princess is definitely learning the art of posing on the stairs. LOL 
But she is getting so big so fast that I really can’t believe it. 
This was on my birthday! Miss Personality was at it again – ready to pose for Mommy (or at least talk while I snap away).
We have truly enjoyed watching her grow. Her height and weight slowed up – so I guess her growth spurt is slowing down. 
She has started to eat solids. The Plum Organics are our usual go to for every meal but her pediatrician said to try Tofu and additional proteins. I am all for health eating and better choices for Gracia because I know it will spill over into our diet. 
This particular night I was cooking Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes for Gracia and Black Beans for us to go with some rice. 
Needless to say THIS is how she really felt about that Tofu and Quinoa. She would prefer to order out! LOL. But nope she has far from table food for now – she has a thing with textured foods and also doesn’t like water or even watered down juice. She has zero interest in a sippy cup as well. 

She does on the other hand LOVE Gerber snacks. 
We took an impromptu vacation to Vegas and she was watched by her Aunt. We came back and she was addicted to Yogurt Melts. 
I mean a full out tantrum was had if she ran out of them… 
See.. 
This was less than a minute later – she was so content just holding the package. 
We are training her up the right way to go – She is a die hard Ravens fan like her parents. 

Of course, she is mommy’s favorite shopping buddy. If I can just get her to stop eating the handles on the carts. Of course, I am the mom that forgets the two shopping cart covers that I own. 
She has even let mommy twist her hair while she sat up like a big girl. 
She is becoming such a big girl… I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the world through her eyes. 

Thank the Lord we got her out of our bed because we used to wake up to her shaking us like this!

This is just what we have been up to over the last couple of months. 
Gracia is now 22 lbs and 28.25 inches long and on her way to 10 months.

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Confessions: My New Norm

My post baby weight in May – My post baby weight last month.
Well.. Hello there. 
I took some kind of impromptu “Summer Break”. It wasn’t intentional, but life literally got away from me – to the point where I just did not have the focus or the time to sit and get a blog post done. So much has happened within the last four months, specifically with Gracia that I will have to do a separate catch up post.
In short –
within the last four months I have:
1. Been raising a now 9 month old
2. Started a Business
3. Travelled 4 times 
4. Gone to Concerts
5. Lost weight – down 2 sizes since I started my new regimen
6. Had a Birthday
…and so much more
 But what inspired me to write this post today was the fact that I am working from home and got motivated to tear my house apart and rearrange some things. The question I asked myself was what took me so long to do it in the first place? I realized, the reason why I hadn’t done it was because it was against “the norm”. I also realized – I was never normal and have been doing things my own way for quite some time so time to get to it. 
It started when THIS has become my recent reality. 
I guess its something that we never talked about when we were trying to have a baby. I guess we both just assumed that we would ask our friends and then do what felt comfortable for us.
I was so afraid of talking about co-sleeping when she was a baby just because of how many people are so opinionated about it that I literally avoided talking about it on my personal blog. But, now – truth is… I have been in this mommy swing for enough months now that I realize now that we are ALL different and have dealt with mommy shame now that I realize that those moms that shame and offer unsolicited advice to other moms deserve every bit of attitude that comes there way. We can all do different things “in theory”. But in the end, there is no wrong way. Each child is different. Each parent is different and you do the best you can doing what is best for you.
So either who, Gracia has been in our bed for the most part since she was born. Not because she is a clingy baby and we can’t “break” her from wanting to be with us. But moreso because we are the clingy parents. She is our first and we really miss her if she is not next to her. We broke all rules and let her sleep in her Boppy lounger in our bed above our heads. So that we would not roll onto her. Then when she got too long for the Boppy lounger. She slept and still sleeps within my pregnancy pillow. We kind of use it as bumpers like bowling alley bumpers. Now we only did this because she could lift her head up and roll over fairly early and now this little girl is so on the go that she pretty much runs our bed!
Since she was 6 months we have been saying “she is going to have to go to her own bed soon”. So the compromise was to bring a pack and play in our room. This month for the first time she slept in her own bed, in her own room – BUT for only one night. I couldn’t sleep – even though she always gets great sleep no matter where she sleeps. 
It wasn’t until this week that I my husband admitted to me why he too is having such a hard time letting her go to her own room. That is when I realized we had never really talked about it. For him, he grew up in a close family and a family that were immigrants who moved to New York into what they can afford. He was always in his parents room. I remember seeing pictures of his crib right next to his parents bed. Then he and his older sister always shared a bed until he was 13 years old. When they moved to Florida thats when he was able to have his own room. Which then means, his norm is having baby in our room. My norm is wanting her close but wanting her in her own space. 
I was torn because we decorated this awesome nursery that she was not using and there was nothing in either of us that felt comfortable letting her be on the opposite side of the house. 
Today I got over it!
Time to find a balance and create our new Norm. 
I disassembled her crib and dragged it into our room. I also dragged her changing table in there. Her closet is so well organized as well as her dresser, so that stayed as is. Basically, I created a semi-permanent space for my daughter in the sitting room area of our Master bedroom. It works for the both of us. We will worry about her going to her own room when WE feel comfortable. So for now her room is an upstairs play room and dressing room. 
Some people feel comfortable letting their newborns be in their own room from the day they bring them home from the hospital. We just aren’t those people… forcing ourselves to be those people was just not working for either of us. I have to have her set, in a routine, settled in a place so that I can feel ready for the next one… 
(oops did I say that?) 
The funny thing is- when I finally admitted to my friend that I did that – she finally said to me “well thats how it is our house.” I for once didn’t feel alone. Her son has a place in her room with decorations and all. My neighbor – the same way – daughter is in their room with a nursery set up and all. I’m like yay! my people! I get shamed at work for being that mom that lets her daughter sleep in her bed. I get shamed for basically changing my whole work schedule so I could have valuable mommy and me time. I literally get the speeches and the “she’s STILL with you guys?” I felt rushed to let her grow up but she is only 9 months. It’s bad enough that she is so independent as it is. We want to savor the baby side of her. She is acting like a toddler already. It’s what is important to me… to us. Its my normal. My daughter gets sick every time she is in her own bed. Not to mention she has had more sickness than my little heart could handle – it could be worse – thank the Lord its just some congestion, colds, pink eye and two double ear infections. But it still makes for some very interesting moods from a baby.  I think with this new arrangement, we all will be happier.
Well have an awesome day! I will be typing to catch you up from when I last left you. 
What’s your “new norm” in your house when it comes to your kids?

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Gracia’s Baptism and BBQ

This past Sunday, our daughter was offered back to God through Baptism by water.

My mother, the Bishop baptized my daughter along with the help of my Senior Pastor and god brother at my home church. 
We decided that we would Baptize her in the A.M.E. tradition and then do a Naming Ceremony, which is in line with the African Tradition. This ceremony is inclusive of the congregation and gives the village a responsibility. She was surrounded by her family and was given gifts in the ceremony by her godparents just as African princesses would’ve been given. Gracia was given her first Pandora bracelet and diamond earrings from her godparents.
My Pastor and My Mother
As she was named she was held in the air by her father a la Lion King. 
Afterwards, we had a BBQ at our home to celebrate the glorious occasion. 
We had a “couture” Minnie Mouse theme for this occasion. 
Now, to be honest, I decided on this theme within the 12th hour and spent a few hours trying to glue, paint and tape things together for her BBQ. 
Here are one of the centerpieces that I put together. 
I hand painted little buttons on the red bowls to mimic Mickey Mouse’s pants and made additional Minnie Mouse’ decorations using whiffle balls and some glitter. 
We had a dessert bar including Red Velvet Minnie Mouse cupcakes. 
A Hot Diggity Dog Hot Dog Bar with every topping you could think of for your Hot Dogs and Bratwurst. 
We had a house full of people, my husband was on the grill all afternoon whipping up some mighty thick burgers, chicken and hot dogs. He did his thing. 

Everyone brought their kids and we really had a good time. I think this was the first time where we had a cookout at our home with so many children. I guess this is what our life now looks like, now that we have a chid. 

Thanks so much to our village for coming to celebrate with us. 

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