Momtourage Monday- Untraditional Momma

1. How would you define Momtourage?

Momtourage is the group of women who are my sounding boards, who lift me and my family up in prayer, who hold me accountable. These are the women who are rooting for me, but will still tell it like it is and then give me the space and encouragement to make my own decision. These are women who have raised or are raising children and whose experiences inspire, educate, and motivate me to be the best mom I can be … even when I feel like I don’t have the capacity to do so.

2. How do you balance Motherhood?

I don’t know that you can balance motherhood. To me, balance means everything in equal parts and I haven’t figured out how to do that just yet lol. More than balance, I think it’s important to have boundaries to protect your peace and time. For example: Like a lot of working moms, my work email comes to my cell phone so it’s easy for me to always be “plugged in” without even realizing. So one of my boundaries is to not have my phone out at dinner or during family time in the evening, which protects my time with my husband and kids and, conversely, protects the time when I really need to be focused on work.

3. What is your Mommy must have item?

My phone, no question. My kids are 14 and 10 so they have obligations and activities that I need to keep up with in addition to my own. Specifically, the calendar where I not only capture all the dates but also text the calendar entries to my husband so they’re on his calendar; group texts so we can all communicate when we’re not together; the camera so I can capture our moments/memories; email so I can send messages on the go….I can go on and on.

4. What is your Momtourage story?

I was a relatively young mother. Some disagree but, for me, 20 years old was young to be responsible for a tiny human. And because we were so young, my husband (then boyfriend) and I were still trying to learn ourselves as young adults while also learning how to parent and dealing with this new dynamic in our relationship of having a baby. It made for some trying times to say the least. But we persevered.

After we had our daughter, people continued to ask, “when are you two getting married?” and our answer was always “when we’re ready.” See, our family was in a good place and we felt confident in our ability to co-parent, but we knew marriage would tap into a different set of emotions; require a different level of commitment and responsibility … and a different mindset, quite frankly. So, when WE were ready, we got married. And I tell people to this day, almost eight years later, that there was something very special about being able to share our wedding day as a family. Beyond our wedding day, I love that we’ve built our life as a family. Meaning, our children have been there every step of the way – college graduations, new jobs, buying our first home, new cars, traveling, etc.

My point in sharing this story is to hopefully inspire moms to build your family, your way. There’s no shame in doing things in a manner that works best for your family, even if it’s considered “untraditional” by someone else’s standards.

Thank you so much Angela for sharing your story! Check out more from Angela here. As always we hope these stories encourage, or inspire other moms and moms to be!

Until next week….

XO,

Meka

Museum Of Ice Cream 🍦

If you haven’t heard the hype, you’re truly missing out! Yesterday I had the chance to venture out to Miami to visit the Museum of Ice Cream. Yes you read correctly, there is a museum dedicated to Ice Cream and it’s a blogger and photographers dream.

Just as you’ve all seen on Instagram, the rooms exude color and the vibe is fun. The museum is currently located on Collins as many of you know, they just closed the one in LA, aside from these locations there is also a San Francisco location.

As a lover of all things PINK, I was in heaven when I walked inside. First we were greeted by the Ice Cream tarot reader and she was a true character.

After meeting the tarot reader we had to come up with our “ice cream” names so I conveniently used the name “Sprinkle Meek” as in sprinkle me…. Cheesy perhaps but it was all in good fun.

The sprinkle pool was as cool as I’ve seen on Instagram. This is the only timed location, since it’s so popular. They gave us about 2 minutes to snap away and enjoy before the next group entered.

Oh and if you’re wondering, no the sprinkles are not real. They are plastic replicas actually. Still fun and great for photo opps.

I felt like a kid again! I was so amazed by the colors, the staff was so friendly and engaging. Be sure to come with a sweet tooth because you get to indulge in some delicious desserts like key lime ice cream cones, chocolate covered bananas and melted ice cream drink, which literally taste like MELTED ICE CREAM 🍦

The hands on exhibits made for a fun adventure and there were several children in the museum young and OLD.

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Although the tickets were more than I would normally pay for a museum,($38 a pop) I feel like the experience was totally worth it!

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If you’re able to snag some tickets I would highly recommend doing it ASAP, they sell out daily and they are limited to 2,000 tickets per day!

This just reminds me of how there are so many ways to make money out here! Utilize your creativity and always think outside the box. Seriously a freaking pop up museum of all ICE CREAM! This has been such a successful and innovative business venture and believe me there will be many other pop ups in the near future!

Be sure to check out the gift shop as well!

You can score anything from Sprinkle crowns, socks, a glass backgammon set to whip cream!

If you get a chance to visit be sure to comment below or tag me in Instagram! Until next time…..

XO,

Meka

Baby Share items ages 6 months & Up

I get asked this question all the time so I figured why not share all of the baby gear that’s making Mommying super easy for me! Well here ya go:

1. Dock A Tot Grand

Most of you have already seen my review of the deluxe and I absolutely LOVED it and since Axel has grown so much it was time for him to move on up to the Grand. As always I think this is such a wonderful sleeping option for Axel. Especially for co-sleeping and now at this age traveling. This is the best item for us to take when we are headed out of town so that Axel is able to sleep comfortably. We also let he take his naps in it throughout the day by simply placing it on the floor or at home in his crib. And to make travel Uber convenient you can grab the travel bag as well! I love that Axel will have plenty if space and time to grow into this because it goes up to age 36 months.

2. Tula Carriers and Blankets

As seen in the picture above, Axel lovessss snuggling with his super soft Tula blankets. Each Tula blanket is made from 100% viscose from bamboo which makes them breathable as well as comfy.

Next up of course the amazing carriers! Many of you see me baby wearing Axel, he loves it! We traveled to San Diego with it, I use it while I’m cleaning the house and Axel wants love. I pretty much keep this carrier in my car!

Baby wearing is the perfect alternative to lugging a bulky stroller around! I’ve been so blessed to work with the Tula team as a brand ambassador and it’s been nothing short of amazing! Check out more carrier options here. Axel has the free to grown and I love that it goes from 7lbs to 45lbs.

3. Nuby Products

As you’ve seen on my Instastory we LOVE Nuby products. I love making baby food for Axel and. I normally store all the food in these awesome containers, snag yours here

Also one of my faves for when I don’t really have time to pull out the Ninja blender is the mash and feed set !

4. Binxy Baby Hammocks

These shopping hammocks are not only cute but so easy to store. I keep my right inside the car and it really helps to give Axel a break from sitting in his car seat.

It easily clips into most shopping carts and can be used from birth to 50lbs

5. Squeasy Gear

Omg these silicone reusable pouches have literally saved my mommy life this past weekend when I decided to stop and get the kids smoothies and while driving I noticed that JAGGER took the top off his smoothie and was using his hand. Yes his hand…. ughhhh so I pulled over and poured his entire smoothie into a squeasy gear and mannnn it was a game changer! No mess no fussing.

Axel also uses them and they are perfect for feeding baby food on the go!

Well I hope these items can help your mommy lifestyle as much as they have helped me! Until next time…..

XO,

Meka

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

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

Fall Family Fashion

Even though I was born in the summer, FALL is one of my favorite season’s!  Thanks to our friends at Tea Collection the kids are ready for cooler days.  I really love dressing the kids in coordinating styles.

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As we all know Elle is the fashionista of our crew, she has been dressing herself since age 3!  She has always loved clothes and especially shoes, my husband and I have are constantly encouraging Elle to express her style and be confident with herself.  How CUTEEEE is this cape Elle is wearing! I wish I could get one in my size.

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Maveric is so care free and energetic, I love nice slim fitted pants for him and layers are key to success when dressing boys!

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Since Jagger is in his independent TERRIFIC 2’s stage I love comfy athletic gear for him, because he’s either in mud, throwing rocks, tinkering or constantly running.

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At this stage Axel’s role is to just be the hunky chunk of cuteness that he does so well, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my kid! Comfy sweats, a cute little sweatshirt paired with our favorite moccs are our go to this fall.  I just love being a mom to these 4, they are a ball of fun!

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As for me, nothing beats a nice white tee, ripped denim, a cute duster and comfy block heel boots!  I absolutely love the florals in this cute duster from Pink Blush it’s the perfect mommy look that’s also functional when you have to chase after a VERY active two year old.

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These are just a few of our staple looks for fall, besides boots what are your go to pieces?

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Until next time….

XO,

Meka

Fiesta fiesta!

A few weeks ago I, as well as some local bloggers were invited to Tijuna Flats to try out their new street tacos so of course my plus one was none other than my baby girl Elle!  We were able to indulge in a 6, yes SIX course meal.  However, due to our dietary restrictions of no pork or beef, we opted for 3 out of the 5 tacos offered.  Here’s a look at the deliciousness we were given:

Crispy Baja Fish Crispy fish, chipotle crema, shaved cilantro cabbage & pineapple salsa.  This was actually Elle’s favorite!  She loved them so much we had then for her birthday meal of choice (Thursday June 22nd).

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Jerk Chicken Crispy jerk chicken, MoreFire! hot sauce, shaved cilantro cabbage, pineapple salsa & cotija cheese.  My favorite by far, because I LOVE spicy foods and these have major kick!

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Bangin’ Chicken® Tostadas Crispy corn tortillas with Smack My Ass Bangin’ Chicken® (our version of Buffalo), refried beans, cheddar-jack cheese, grilled onions & peppers, tomatoes & ranch dressing.  These were really good, and I am not a big bean fan but they were tasty! IMG_1563

The last 2  tacos that we didn’t try were:

Lime Steak Grilled garlic-lime steak, avocado crema, shaved cilantro cabbage, pico de gallo & cotija cheese.

Philly Cheesesteak Flautas Crispy wheat or flour tortillas stuffed with shaved sirloin steak, mozzarella cheese, grilled onions & peppers. Served with a large side of queso.

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Overall we LOVED the experience and to top it off we had my favorite the cookie dough flautas.  OOOOO M G!!!! If you love warm cookies you will love this, trust me!

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COOkie DOUGH FLaUtas “The Original” chocolate chip cookie dough loaded in a flour tortilla, lightly fried & topped with powdered sugar. Served with a side of chocolate syrup.  So there you have it, if you’re hungry then I suggest that you head over to Tijuana Flats and grab some of this goodness.  Oh and to top if off, they offer military discounts, so enjoy and until next time….

XO,

Meka