Momtourage Monday- Dealing with a Tongue Tie

1. How would you define Momtourage?

Momtourage to me is my support group. My Mom is my very best helper and my whole Momtourage would fall apart without her. She helps with Bryson whenever I’m in a bind. She offers to pick him up early from daycare. She cooks for him and makes fun toys for him. The rest of my Momtourage is made up of my other Mommy friends near and far. My best friends that I’ve made through work who share crazy stories daily and my distant best friends in California with toddlers. We keep each other sane. I think that’s the most important part of your support group; relating and encouraging each other.

2. How do you balance Motherhood?

Some days I feel like I’m teetering on a thin wire between being a Mommy and working full time and pleasing others. It’s not always easy. I’ve made a promise to myself to make sure I take a small amount of time for me when it allows (sometimes having to remind my boyfriend it’s time for a much needed Mommy break). Whether that’s an extended hot shower, a trip to the salon for a pedi or going to bed early. I absolutely cherish sleep so an extra hour means the world to me. I also take advantage of ordering take out instead of spending hours in the kitchen. I’d rather sit on the floor with my kid playing cars.

3. What is your Mommy must have item?

My camera. I’m photo obsessed and don’t wanna miss a thing. I love photography and trying to capture all of the insanely cute moments. Since it’s on my iPhone it doubles as last minute entertainment when we are on the go and I need to make Bryson sit still for more than 2.5 seconds.

4. What is your Momtourage Story?

Bryson’s father and I met the day we both started at US Airways. He couldn’t take his eyes off of me! More like the other way around. We started dating, moved in together the next year, traveled the world and 5 years later brought our amazing little boy into this world. My Mom, Dad and sister are nearby. Brian’s family is mostly in Delaware and Maryland. We travel when we can to visit and see everyone.

As much as we are alike we are also very different. I’m hyper and stubborn while Brian is very level headed and calm. We balance each other very well most days. Bryson’s little personality is starting to shine through and he has traits from both of us that are very unique. It’s so amazing to see him grow and watch him change. We both love to travel and hope Bryson does too someday. So far so good! His first trip was to Cancun, Mexico. He’s also been to Charleston and Philly and Los Angeles to meet his cousins.

When Bryson was born I promised myself to breastfeed him for at least six months. My goal was really his first year. Brian and I both felt very strongly about not using formula if at all possible. Most women probably say the birth was the hardest part. Breastfeeding for me was a total nightmare for the first 12 weeks. Bryson didn’t latch well and fell asleep while feeding every single time. We tried every position except upside down. I went back and forth to the hospital lactation team and no one knew what was wrong. They kept telling me to increase my supply, rest and just be patient. He’s a “lazy eater” was the common term used. I felt so awful and so alone.

No one understood the physical pain I was in trying to feed my son the only food he could eat. He was losing weight. The final straw came when the pain was so severe I screamed when he latched on. I went back to the hospital the next day and asked to speak with the lactation nurse that had the most experience. This nurse watched him latch on and immediately saw the problem. She instantly knew he was tongue tied and needed surgery immediately. She checked his mouth to confirm. 2 days later we were in a doctors office in Charlotte having the procedure. Within days it was like I had a different baby. I healed up, he gained weight and all was right in the world. I breastfed him for just over a year and we never had to use formula. That year was by far the most rewarding experience of my life. Our bond is so strong and I feel certain it’s related to the time and patience we had with each other.

I also learned doctors aren’t always right. Sometimes a second and third opinion are well worth it. Don’t give up on your goals. Many people tried to talk me out of breastfeeding. We stuck with our beliefs and accomplished our goal together. I’ve also learned the importance of talking to relieve anxiety and stress. Don’t bottle those feelings up. You’ll eventually explode. Stay strong Mamas!

Thank you Meredith for sharing your story, as always we hope that these stories can encourage another mother. Until next week….

XO,

Meka

Momtourage Monday- Super Mom of 6!

1. How would you define Momtourage? 

I would define Momtourage as your mommy support group. It doesn’t necessarily even mean that they have children. It’s your go-to squad of people that have helped you survive motherhood.

2. How do you balance Motherhood? 

 I balance motherhood by making sure I devote time to spending with my little ones, but I also have no problem saying I need a break. Usually, once a day, I find somewhere to go and just sit in silence. It’s necessary for my sanity. Once I get home I’m mentally able to handle everyone because they’re like Velcro. 

3. What is your Mommy must have item? 

My phone 

4. What is your Momtourage story? 

Whew…... So I am a separated mom of 6 boys ages 13,11,7,7,7&4 trying to get accustomed to my pending single status and have an amicable split from their dad. I want nothing more than for us to be the best co-parents we can be. 

 I was a school teacher and realized that I wasn’t passionate about it so now I am a Site Coordinator with Communities in Schools all while trying to rebuild my business—which is a drop-in child care center. 

 When people ask me how I do it…forget the career they’re usually just talking about having 6 boys—all I can say is take it one day at a time. Don’t lose sight of who you are. Make time for yourself, make time for your children.

Everything doesn’t cost money. A dance contest in the living room, a picnic in the park, a weekend slumber party in the living room or basement are things that create lasting memories and a ton of money isn’t  being spent. Quality time is key. I’m not perfect and I don’t want to be, but my children think I’m awesome!

Thank you April for sharing your story of Motherhood, as always I hope that these transparent stories will help someone and I hope you enjoyed it! Until next week.

XO,

Meka

Fresh, Fresh and FRESH!

Friday, I was invited to Sassool to try some delicious Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine.

When I arrived I was greeted with delightful smells. The spices and fresh aromas are present as soon as you walk into the restaurant.

I was able to learn about the newly renovated space and all of the upcoming features that will be present within the store. As I looked around the restaurant was PACKED! That to me was a great sign, a sign of loyalty and for obvious I reasons, a sign that this food must be delicious.

Before eating I had a quick tour of the market area. Here you can purchase anything from fresh spices to delicious desserts.

Fresh batches of almonds, packaged chic peas, dates, falafel, you name it, they have it!

Recently Sassool, hosted a recipe share contest and revealed their winner. The winner was able to have their meal displayed in the restaurant and featured on the menu. How cool is that!

After touring I was ready for a delicious meal, and since I’m eating mostly veggies I was not disappointed. They feature a hot and cold menu as well as made to order meals. They have so many options you can easily become overwhelmed in a positive way.

And of course they have my favorite meal….. Desserts!!!!

They literally have something for everyone, even VEGAN Baklava. Which was quit tasty might I add.

Since I was eating lunch I decided to roll with the following:

1. Fatoush Salad Chopped Romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green bell pepper, onions, parsley, olive oil, vinegar and spices.

2. Corn Salad A delicious blend of corn, diced red and green bell pepper, cilantro, green onion, jalapeno, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

3. Cabbage Delight Sautéed cabbage, spinach, cilantro, bell peppers, onions, bulgur wheat, and spices. Served hot

4. Tzatiki and fresh Pita bread

I highly recommend that you check the menu before visiting, and also try the 3 or 4 sampler plate. You won’t be disappointed everything was so flavorful and delicious I will most definitely be back. And conveniently they have 2 locations, one in Raleigh and the other in Cary!

Be sure to take home some fresh bread. Until next time…..

XO,

Meka

Momtourage Monday

Happy New Year!!! I can’t believe it’s already 2018! This season, I want to introduce some new elements to the blog. Starting off with Momtourage Monday. I wanted to take time to feature Motherhood from all walks of life. So without further ado here we go:

1. How would you define Momtourage? 

To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, divorce, working or staying at home the phrase Momtourage brings us together like a sisterhood. It’s your inner Mom Circle that doesn’t judge you and always has your back.

2. How do you balance Motherhood? 

I balance Motherhood by incorporating self love. Sometimes it’s so hard to get caught up in the daily hustle of Mom Life that you forget about yourself. My goal this year is to incorporate Mandatory Mommy Moments when I either go to the spa for a massage, get my nails done, stop by my favorite smoothie shop and read a book for a hour or sleep an extra 2 hours so that I am able to recharge.

3. What is your Mommy must have?

My mommy must have would be a portable phone charger! Because the way my phone is set up, I have to capture videos and tons of pictures throughout the day and I will not let a 10% notification ruin that.

4. What is your Momtourage story?

Although many people will tell me how much they love my family, or we are family #goals, my family is far from perfect. Personally I’ve been battling Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was 17. This form of arthritis basically attacks my joints and causes them to swell or worst become deformed. I’ve already lost some moment in my wrist and currently I am unable to close one of my fingers. On a positive note I have started back getting infusions so I’m praying for a full recovery with my hands. This pregnancy with Axel was so hard having RA that I had to go on short term disability. Normally when I’m pregnant all of the RA functions are reversed but this time was hard and emotionally draining. Imagine having swollen wrists, knees, ankles etc and a toddler that still wants hugs from their mom but you can barely lift them up, not because of the pregnancy but because of the excruciating pain in your hands and shoulders. I rarely talk about my RA because I just want to feel like a normal mom and not so much a great grandma. Each day I’m able to get out of bed without pain and run or walk up and down the steps is a serious blessing for me because there have been times when I could barely walk to use the rest room and my husband would have to take me to the urgent care. I wanted to share my story to let others know that I am not perfect. I just choose to be happy. Never let a disease, or illness define you. Stay positive and SMILE.

Until next week…….

XO,

Meka.

Little Campers

As the cold temps head our way, more creative ways to incorporate play is needed for the boys. We are so excited that our friends from Picasso Tiles sent over this awesome camping set for them!

Having a house with 4 kids, 3 of which are BOYS can get loud and a bit crazy. Many of you know we don’t allow the kids to watch tv during the week so creative play is always our go to. This camping was the perfect way for the boys to enjoy an outdoors adventure in the comforts of home.

There’s something about these walkie talkies that get Jagger going from 0 to 100! I love watching the boys use their imagination, they set several “bear traps” and called for “mayday” at least 20 times.

Would you believe me if I told you that they have played with this tent at least 20 times since receiving it a few weeks ago?! Even little Axel decided to get in on the fun.

From utilizing the compass, to roasting hotdogs on the convenient gas stove this camping set is ready for any adventure your little one can imagine. I love encouraging the kids to play creatively, it truly helps with their social and expressive skills.

Each set comes with the following:

• Gas Stove (2 AA Batteries required)

• Oil Lamp (2 AA Batteries required)

• Water Bottle

• Pan

• Shovel

• Hot Dog & Steak

• Plate

• Binoculars

• Multi-function Whistle

• Utility Knife

• Watch

I’m so thankful that this tent is big enough for Maveric and Jagger to comfortably fit inside or we would have a serious issue on our hands. What are some of your little ones favorite creative play items?

Be sure to snag one here for your little one, trust me this camp set is #HWTH approved!

Until next time…….

XO,

Meka

Get Polished

Today myself as well as other local Raleigh bloggers were invited to the VIP grand opening party of the newest Polish Nail Bar location!

As soon as I walked in, I was blown away by the luxurious decor. From the beautiful white comfy chairs to the amazing walls and floating nail bar. You can tell that the decor was carefully planned.

We were welcomed with desserts, mimosas, champagne and of course MANI’s!!!!

Special thanks to The Cupcake Shoppe these treats were soooo delicious!

I was so excited to officially meet a couple of blogger friends in person! Leslie of SobeSavvy and Anna of The Coffee Table blog it’s so cool to meet your social friends in person.

I’m so impressed with the VIP room, where you can receive a 24K Mani, or Pedi as well as some bubbly. This option makes the perfect girls night out, or date night with your spouse.

Don’t forget about Mommy/ Daughter dates, they have rates for kids as well. I can’t wait to bring Elle really soon.

It’s so important to just take a break from the daily hustle and bustle. This mani and girl time was so needed. Special thanks to JSW Media group for the invite!

Until next time…..

XO,

Meka

Exploring University Place!

Last month the kids and I got some early shopping in, as we ventured to University Place in Chapel Hill. I’ll admit, this was my first time visiting but it didn’t let me down. The kids were thrilled to check out the stores and I was curious of what they had to offer.

Our first and LONGEST stop included Glee Kids! I have never in my life stayed in one store with 4 kids for so long. The store offered a variety of items from clothing , jewelry, shoes and TOYS.

Jagger and Maveric were all about the toys, while Elle was all about the fashion! They offer a variety of kids clothings such as Tea Collection, Hatley, Native Shoes and so many brands you’ll love.

How adorable is this fury pink coat! I wish I could find this in my size.

Elle was in heaven, the clothes, accessories, and even the cute stuffed animals were right up her alley.

Maveric found the coolest toy called Zipes and he has been playing with this since we visited.

Our next favorite spot was Burlington Shoes

As always Elle went straight toward the boots. She gets her love of clothes from me and her love of shoes from her dad. I’m pretty sure we’ve created a mini fashion monster.

I found the perfect pair of flats for work. They are super comfy and these black flats can be dressed up or down.

Not to mention good quality leather at a great price.

We were also able to make a quick stop at Kitchen Works. Initially I thought this was a place where I could find items for myself, however I was WRONG.

In true “Mommy Style” we went straight towards the kids section. They had so many cool items from truck themed spoons to amazing lunch bags. I literally had to pull the kids out of the store.

So we pretty much left with items for the kids to eat with and a sweet night light for Elle. Moms I warn you to go ALONE. Who would think kids would love a kitchen store so much.

Before leaving to head back to Winston, we were able to take a sneak peek inside the Kidzu Children’s Museum right before they closed which for your info is at 5pm. I was able to grab some info about their memberships because my kids absolutely love museums and a membership is a gift that gets more bang for your buck!

If you’re ever in the Chapel Hill area be sure to check out our recommendations, you won’t be disappointed! Until next time…..

XO,

Meka

Holiday Guide for HER

Welp here we are the first week of December has gone and if you’re anything like me you might be a last minute shopper.  So I’ve put together a shopping guide for that will make life easier! So here you go:

1. A watch from Jord

I have the Frankie in purple and it’s so cute! I love that it’s super original and whenever I have it on, it’s an instant conversation starter! Currently I’m giving all of my friends a 25% off coupon so snag one here choose from an amazing selection of men’s or women’s unique watches.

2. A Gucci Cross Body

While everyone else is swooning over the Gucci belts, I’m here for a crossbody! This classic black with gold hardware it a timeless piece that will last for generations. I’m not the biggest spender on designer bags, but I do believe in quality or price to some extent. And this bag is a YES for me. Snag yours before they sell out!

3. The Master Planner

How many times have you purchased a planner only to receive a pretty cover with BLAH pages?! Well this is NOT that planner, with the Master Planner you get more BANG for your buck and it’s made by a small business located in Charlotte! Monthly goals, A reusable menu/ grocery list and monthly affirmations are just a few of the amazing features of this journal I’m sure you’ll love!

4. Fenty Beauty Trophy Wife

When pop sensation Rihanna launched her beauty line, makeup junkies across the globe went WILD! I’ve heard nothing but great reviews from her products ranging in amazing foundation colors to this BOMB a$$ highlighter Trophy Wife! I went to Sephora and had a personal consultation, my coverage was awesome and this highlighter is a dream. Rihanna has totally changed the makeup industry for women of every shade.

5. Anne’s Apothecary Black Honey Facial Cleanser

If you follow my Instastory then you know how I feel about the recent use of this amazing product! Not only is it all natural and made local in Cary, NC it’s a small business and this cleanser is like Heaven in a bottle. I washed my face with this and it felt like new skin! I had a beautiful natural glow and my face was hydrated. This cleaners is a must have item for your daily regimen.

6. KeepSake Capsule

This compact capsule allows you to cherish memories in a stylish way! Recently I have been battling what I want to do with Mommy’s ashes. Most of you know I lost my mom at age 21 and here I am 36 and holding on to a black box. I’m so thankful that Keepsake reached out to me, that’s when I knew exactly what I wanted to do with Mommy’s ashes. With the help of my husband I’m going to turn my keepsake capsule into a memory necklace with mommy’s picture and ashes. This is the perfect way for me to let go and always have her with me. There are so many options for the keepsake this gift is perfect for parents, newlyweds and so much more!

7. The Weekender by Birdling Bags

You guys know my love for this awesome bag! I have literally packed my clothes as well as the kids for an overnight staycation. As well as a our Fourth of July road trip to Baltimore and I’m using it next weekend as we head off to the mountains. This bag is EVERYTHING and more! It has pockets galore and the compartments inside allow for easy packing for families. Be sure to grab one before they sell out and they just launched a new color as well! Go here to find out more.

Well there you have it! I’m sure there is something on this list that you mom, sister, Wife, daughter, girl friend, Auntie, grandma, or bestie will LOVE! Now everyone be sure to tell JoColby I’m need number 2 when you see him!

Stay tuned for Kids Guide tomorrow! Until next time…….

XO,

Meka

Easy Maryland Style Crab Cakes

As most of you know I am from Baltimore and even though I️ recently attempted going Vegan ( I️ haven’t given up on that just taking a PAUSE) I️ LOVE crab cakes. Actually I️ LOVE seafood period! So I️ wanted to share my quick and easy crab cake recipe! So here’s what you need :

  • 1 pound of Real crab meat (preferably lump or back fin)
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 tablespoon Mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of Old bay seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Mayo
  • Oil

Prep time 10 mins, cooking time 15 mins

One of the very first steps you want to do is to check your crab meat for any shells. I simply dump the entire jar into a bowl and feel through to make sure all shells are discarded. Once that’s done I personally like to massage my old bay season into the meat.

Next add the remaining ingredients to the mixture: beaten egg, mayo, mustard and bread crumbs

Once your ingredients well mixed, you will form your mixture into a patty. Most of the time you can get 4 big crab cakes or shoot for 5 nicely portioned ones. Once this step isn completed, I let them sit in the refrigerator for at least a hour. This allows them to set and prep for easy cooking and avoid falling apart.

After your hour is up, it’s time to fry. Now I typically use minimal oil, I don’t even cover the entire frying pan as you can see in the picture below you only need enough oil to toast the crab cakes. The goal is to cook them without them being overly oily.

I recommend frying them for about 3-5 mins on each side or until they are golden brown. After frying each side I let them cool on a paper towel, this also allows for excess oil to drain.

Once they are done simply add your favorite side or make a delicious crab cake sandwich. Growing up in Baltimore eating crab cakes was as common as eating eggs for breakfast! I️ love them I can literally eat them every week. Well I hope you enjoy this easy recipe as we all know I HATE cooking but this is such a simple meal I don’t mind making these for family and friends. Until next time….

XO,

Meka

Girl Power!

Last sunday we were invited by the Raleigh Little Theater to see one of our favorite books come to life, Grace for President. If you’re not familiar with the storyline it is based around Grace, a little girl that learns about the Presidential election process and the fact that there has never been a female president. With this new discovery Grace, instantly starts her political career and runs in the schools mock election.

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The book was brought to life in a musical form by some amazing actors. Most were in high school!

The cast did a wonderful job, the audience was engaged and really enjoyed the jokes as well as the songs.

After the play we had the opportunity to meet the cast and snag some autographs. I thought it was so important for Elle to get this experience as well. Especially since she can be shy at times.  This was my opportunity to help her engage on a deeper level.

 

Elle was very hesitant to ask for autographs, but I knew that she would have regretted not taking this opportunity.

I hope that this play will give Elle the acting bug! She’s so talented but she’s still in her shy stage. I’m not exactly sure what to do to help her overcome her fears, besides constantly reminding her how talented she is and how she needs to share her talents with others.

It was pretty cool to have a chance to chat with TaMaya’s (Grace’s) mom after the show, she told me how shy she had been when she was little as well.  So maybe hearing this story will also inspire Elle to test the waters in the acting world.  

Be sure to check out some upcoming events, here are some that I’m looking forward to checking out:

  1. Cinderella  December 1-17
  2. Little Shop of Horrors February 9-25
  3. Beanstalk the musical March 16- April 1

If you have any advice for getting your kids to come out of their shell  or any personal stories of overcoming shyness, please comment below, until next time…..

XO,

Meka

Homemade Naan Pizza

As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of cooking! But when you have 4 kids and a husband to feed you pretty much have to make it work. One of my kids favorite dishes besides pasta is PIZZA! So today we are sharing our favorite Naan Pizza.

Start off by preheating the overnight to 350 degrees . Ingredients include the following:

  • Garlic Naan Bread
  • Cheese
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic Salt

Add sauce to your liking on the bread, we recommend covering the entire bread and leaving about a inch sauce free for crust purposes

After adding your sauce, you want to add a little garlic salt for flavor. If you’re unable to find the garlic naan bread you can add more garlic salt or garlic powder for flavor.

Next up is CHEESE! Now this recipe can work for a vegan lifestyle as well. Simply add your favorite vegan cheese instead.

After the cheese is layered, proceed with your favorite toppings. In this case, Elle decided to use tomato, spinach, and mushrooms. Maveric and Jagger are happy with plan cheese pizza. I love letting the kids help with cooking because for some reason, when they help they eat more. Go figure…. Once you’re done with topping, place your pizzas in the oven for 16 mins.

If you prefer a crunchy crust, you can leave them in for an extra 4 mins.

Nothing beats a fresh pizza with fresh toppings! And I’m the words of Elle this helps us save money and it’s fun to make your own.

This concludes our Cooking with the Harrells segment, hopefully I can find the strength to come up with another fun recipe to share with you all!

Until next time…..

Xo,

Meka

Farmer’s Market Adventures

So recently I have been battling the urge to go VEGAN! Yup vegan and YES I too watched What the Health!  Although I have done 30 day Vegan challenges, nothing is harder than fully committing.  As of today I am not vegan, I have however, given up meat.  The main items I’m having a hard time getting out of my system are seafood and CHEESE.  Also milk, not as if I’m drinking the milk but milk is in so many normal items I use on a regular basis like, Pringles! Why exactly is milk in a plain can of Pringles?!  I have really been reading labels and to be quite honest the best thing for me to do is head over to the farmers market and just buy fresh veggies.

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Last weekends trip to the Durham farmers market really made me want to explore more of what my local market has to offer.  I have pretty much found my favorite “fast food” meal and if you follow me on Instastory you know that it’s zucchini and sautéed spinach.  Growing up in Baltimore it was normal for us to go to the market to purchase everything from fresh doughnuts to deli meat.  And going to the Supermarket  (grocery store) is where we purchase everything in between.

WebImage16I was  so inspired to add more fresh flowers to the house as well, even though I have a bit of   “black thumb”.  Nothing sets the tone more than fresh flowers at the dinner table, so I’m going to give it a try more often.

WebImage19 One thing I really love about visiting farmers market’s are the small business vendors, like this delicious lemonade stand.  It wasn’t too sweet, very refreshing and delicious.  Anytime  I can spend with the kids and create fun memories are always a plus in my book.  After walking and exploring we decided to grab some pizza ( not vegan, SUE ME HA!)  then we headed to our next destination….. Charlotte.

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I will eventually fully convert into the Vegan lifestyle but I’m taking it one day at a time.  This is my journey and I will share with you all along the way.  Until next time…..

XO,

Meka