August 31, 2011

August Swap Friends

Well, I'm not going to call these people Sponsors anymore because well, no money was exchanged. We're friends. We're swap friends. And so I want you guys to get to take a look at some of our friends who've been hanging out on the right side panel this month. 










ALSO, I want you guys to head over to jenni from the blog and check out my guest post! A yummy recipe I absolutely loooove. 

And today I'll also throw out a big THANK YOU to my top referring blogs from the past month. Since I don't participate in any voting sites (like top baby blogs) I really do appreciate the traffic I get from these wonderful ladies. You should definitely stop by and check them out. 


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A HUGE thank you to everyone supporting us this month! We had a great month of vacation and guest posters and it was awesome seeing so many new faces around here. 







yummy yogurt - with dannon oikos

 

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls on behalf of Dannon. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program but my opinions are my own. For more information and recipe ideas, visit www.oikosyogurt.com or www.Facebook.com/oikos. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Ok you guys. It's time to talk about eating good stuff. I made the switch from regular yogurt to greek yogurt in 2008 when I was working with a personal trainer a few times a week and she suggested greek yogurt instead of plain yogurt basically because it has a lot more protein. 

Protein = building blocks for muscle. 
More muscle = burning more calories at rest. 
Burning more calories at rest = kind of awesome.

I've really come to love greek yogurt over the past few years and we always have a stash in our fridge. I feed it to the boys, they love the sweetness and I know the probiotics and protein are good for them. When I was asked to participate in the Dannon® Oikos® campaign I was super excited to try something new.

Last night wanted something sweet for a late night snack so I had the traditional strawberry flavor greek yogurt. I have to tell you, it was seriously DELICIOUS. (I'm not just saying that. I'm a picky eater and it was amazing. I kind of wanted two.) Dannon® Oikos® is created through an authentic Greek straining process which gives it a rich and creamy-thick texture. Also, Dannon® Oikos® 0% varieties contain active yogurt cultures and range from 80 calories (Plain) to 130 calories (Fruit on the Bottom) per 5.3 ounce cup. 

Dannon Oikos is offering a coupon for a free cup on http://www.facebook.com/oikos 

So head on over, get your coupon, try it out and tell me what you think. I highly encourage you guys to do the greek yogurt thing. It's such an easy switch to make for your health. 

August 30, 2011

swappin' business


Here's the deal you guys. I want to get noticed. I want you guys to get noticed. But I really don't feel like charging people money for it. Maybe someday but right now, that's not how I roll.

I mean come on, who am I? 

So here's the deal, here's why it'd be worth it to swap ads with me this month:
522 followers through Google Friend Connect
660 subscribers to my feed
409 twitter followers
264 "likes" on Facebook
and so on and so forth

AND if you read this blog you know I post all the time. a.k.a. lots of chances for people to see your link. 

If you want to swap ads with me in the month of September here's what I need from you:
  • a 150x150 button or image I can use for a button
  • a little ditty about yourself. keep it short.
  • a picture of YOU. 
  • any links you want me to share with people
Send these things to me now. That's all I require. You don't need a certain number of followers. You don't need to pay me any dollars. Well, you do need to put my button up on your blog but that's it.

Kind of a good deal. Email me, yo.

mamamandolin [at] gmail [dot] com


these little things

They came at the most unexpected times, these little things. They came from two very different people who loved each other so much they promised to spend forever together. And those two people, well they were a little scared. How could they possibly care for and provide for not one, but two more lives? But they prepared. They waited, they watched, they grew, they hoped, they learned. 

And then one day they looked back and everything just kind of (and with much effort) turned out better than they'd expected. They had no idea if they were doing it right, but they were putting everything they knew into making sure these little things grew as they should.

These little things with curious eyes and easy smiles.

These little things that reflected you in every movement, every noise.

These little things that radiated pure and magical joy at the smallest and most seemingly insignificant daily happenings.

These little things that from the beginning, managed to change in what felt like a slow motion blink of the eye. 

These little things that radiated this unbridled and adventurous spirit that maybe we'd once lost. These little things that reminded us of what is right in this world. 

These little things that gave this confusing and changing life a renewed meaning. 

August 29, 2011

new hairs.

I have bloggers block today. I have so much going through my brain, so many ideas that I can't focus at the moment. I've gotten out my trusty notepad to help sort out the jumbles in my brain. I know today is Monday which is usually Mondays Are Awesome - but don't worry, the feature will be kicking off again next Monday with a line up of awesome girls for ya'll to read about.

So, while I figure out how to organize this cluttered brain of mine, I'll show you a few pictures of my new hair. Mastercuts had a package yesterday for $59 you get a cut, 7 foil highlights (although I only had 3), eyebrow wax, shampoo and blow dry. I figured I'd take that deal because I needed my eyebrows done and a trim anyways. 

I decided to go a little funky and get some honey colored chunks in the font of my hair. 

She cut it a little funky giving it like a million layers. I'm not sure about it yet. The front is feathered kind of around my face. It looks good on long hair but not when my hair is still above my shoulders. She said it will grow out nicely, but right now I'm not so sure about it. I'm so used to having a bob or an angled cut that is longer in the front. Looks like it'll be in a ponytail for awhile. 

Good thing Isaiah doesn't mind.

August 26, 2011

Cars

We have a new obsession at this house.


The dudes suddenly love cars. While we were in Iowa, Julian all of a sudden one day was obsessed. I feel like they're turning more and more into little boys and leaving the baby stage farther behind in the dust. It kind of makes me sad. It kind of makes me excited. Each new phase they enter is my new favorite. And I love watching them pushing cars around the living room and squealing in excitement every time they see one outside. I can just see their little imaginations starting to form as they push cars around sputtering out car noises and crashing into things. My little boys are growing too fast. *tear*

August 25, 2011

on being different colors.

I was asked a couple of questions on my formspring regarding our interracial marriage and mixed family. I've been thinking of how to write about it for quite awhile and so I figured now is as good of time as any to answer your questions.


i'm in a relationship with someone from a different race, and i was just wondering if your families had anything negative to say about you guys being together?

What challenges have you and the hubs faced as an interracial couple up north/west coast? Are people as rude about it as they are here in the southeast? What annoys you the most about others' opinions?

Ok, there is so much I could say on this subject but I'm just going to tell you the facts and maybe a little advice for those in an interracial relationship of their own. 

First off, you can't please everyone. You can't change people's beliefs. Even family members. Yes, I've had some family members (only a couple, thank God) say some extremely rude, hurtful and closed minded things to me (not to Chikezie) about our relationship. And it was only at the beginning. Racism is based in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of anything different. Now, they would never say they were racist or admit to it. And I'm not going to name names or point fingers. But no matter where you live, in some families and with some people, interracial dating is a huge taboo or no-no subject.


Sometimes we'd get extra long stares when we'd walk through the mall holding hands. Or, there was THIS lady who said something completely ignorant to me in Target earlier this year. This country has come so far, but if you think racism and ignorance is gone, it's not. We still have so far to go. 

What do we do to get past all of it? Keep on livin'. That's all you can do, right? I don't care what stupid people say. I'm going to do what makes me happy based on my own beliefs and if you don't like it, you don't have to be in my life. Why waste life worrying about things you can't control? 


The best thing I've ever heard (that has come from many of my best friends) has been that they've never seen Chikezie and I as black and white. We're just Chikezie and Mandey. That's how I feel about Chikezie, and the boys. 

Finally, and most importantly is what we do to raise our children to be open minded and accepting of who they are. We gave the boys two middle names (one Nigerian) because their Nigerian heritage is important to us. We want them to know who they are and where they come from...and be proud. We bought some books that I like to read to them about interracial families, having a mommy and daddy that are different colors and maybe not looking like all of the other kids. From a young age I want them to be comfortable with talking to us about it.


I've heard so many people in interracial relationships say they don't "see color". I hate that. We shouldn't ignore our differences. We are different. We come from different cultures. Our boys are a mix of that. When we have to check the box for what race they are on medical forms, we check both Caucasian and African American. We're all different colors up in this house. And we chose to embrace those differences, and sometimes joke about them. 

If you ever need advice or support, I'm always here to answer questions based on my experiences. There are also so many helpful websites and forums dedicated to those in interracial relationships.  

August 24, 2011

i keeps it realz

Reading blogs can be very decieving. We tend to not see past what is posted and what those writers care to share with us. We see the image presented to us and not always what life is really like for a lot of our favorite bloggers. We build up this image in our minds of all of these other women around the country who seem to do it all with ease. They look good, manage their time well, have killer style, are madly in love with their significant others, do all of these fun things, have perfectly decorated houses, etc. 

This blog is different. I'm different. 

Now, I may not complain about every little thing that may or may not be troubling my life. I may or may not let you know about the days the boys really annoy the heck out of me (I love them but they can be really annoying sometimes). You may see me looking all pretty and done up but most days I'm looking like this:

Glasses. No make up. Pony tail. My daily uniform.

I just wanted to give you all (and myself) a little reminder on how we keeps it realz. How do I make it through the day with twins? I'm being 100% honest here: most days it's not that tough. How do I find the time to blog? When they're sleeping. How do I keep my house clean? Very quickly, and with lists. How do I find time to make things and be creative? I make time. 

On days that maybe aren't my best, I constantly force myself to be reminded of my many blessings. This blog truly is a reflection of myself; someone who constantly notices and appreciates and dances in the tiny joys in life. On days I feel like my blog feels more like work than like fun, I fix it. I love you all, but I'm not writing anything on this blog to please you. I'm writing and posting for purely selfish reasons. Because I enjoy it. You won't ever see me asking what you want to see more of because I'm going to write what I want to weather or not people like it. 

The second you start trying to present yourself in a certain way and start writing for others, your blog becomes something different. I encourage you all to do regular "real checks" on your blog. Are you writing for yourself or for what you think others want? The blogs I read the most are the ones where the writers behind the posts reveal themselves. You don't have to dig up your biggest and darkest secrets but  being real truly does matter.




wordless[ish] wednesday: bath in a bucket

Sometimes (or pretty much all the time) I'm a go-with-the-flow kind of mom. I think so far I've raised a couple of go-with-the-flow kind of babies. One night while visiting Grandma Julie, we put a bucket of water on the deck and let the boys splash around. I quickly realized it was a perfect bathing opportunity so I poured some baby soap in the water and let them clean themselves. And their clothes.

Julian liked dunking his head in the water to try to get a drink. He'd come up gasping for air and then laughing. 

Isaiah preferred to splash like a mad man.

Julian and the long curls.

Isaiah doing the "touchdown" sign. Really, he just does it any time he's happy about anything.

Julian's long curls!

Isaiah showing mama his belly button, which he pretty much can't leave alone.


August 23, 2011

Guest Post: Amanda from A Pretty Little Life


Hi! I’m Amanda, the momma behind Pretty Little Life blog! I’m excited to be guest posting here today…..and while I’m surely not as entertaining as Mandey, I’ll try to tide you over for one more day until she gets back from her vacation!

Some days, I feel like I should have named my blog “on-the-go-momma”. I mean, we are on the go so much that I often feel like I live out of my car! My car is actually one thing I can’t live without as an on-the-go-momma, but there are many other items that I’ve found to be quite handy when my daughter and I are out and about. I want to share this list of cool, useful baby products that have made the last 18 months of my life (and my daughter’s) a heck of a lot easier. This list is absolutely not complete, but it also doesn’t contain “cluttery” items (you know, the ones that just take up space in the diaper bag, but aren’t really ever useful).

So, here we go. And, feel free to add to this list by leaving a comment! I’d love to hear what items other moms find useful when they are on-the-go.

Snacks
I don’t care if you are toting a newborn to the grocery store, or your toddler to Target, food is a must! I never leave the house without some sort of snack, and I’ve found some pretty cool tools to tote these snacks around in. Here are my favorites:


This snack dispenser actually grows with your child. I have three of these little containers, and I’ve used them a ton! For the first 12 months of my daughter’s life, these were used to prepare her bottles! I would load up each section with enough formula for one bottle, and take it with us everywhere! Now, with a feisty toddler on my hands, I load it with snacks and leave it in my purse or car.


This spoon is amazing! I was speechless when I first discovered it! I couldn’t believe how easy and simple it was……but it also saves lots of room in the diaper bag. This spoon allowed me to still make my own baby food purees, load them in the spoon, and toss them in the diaper bag! I will be buying one of these for every baby shower that I attend from now on!

I actually just found these handy, reusable snack bags about a week ago. And, I’m in love! I try to be “green”, and products like this make it SO easy! You can use these to carry almost anything that you would put in a Ziploc bag, but they are easy to clean, waterproof, and reusable!


Getting around
So you’ve gotten safely to your destination, and the food-monster has been fed. What’s the easiest way to get everything done?! You need a way to get around with your little one. My husband used to tell me that we wouldn’t need carriers or strollers to go out once our daughter was walking. Um, wrong! Carriers and strollers are useful well past your baby’s first year. These two items are at the top of my list.

Via: http://www.ergobabycarriers.com/babycarriers/item/BCO417NP
I can’t say enough good things about the Ergo carrier. I’m not trying to advertise for them or anything, but they are well worth the money. I’ve tried many different carriers, and this is the most comfortable for each stage my daughter goes through. We still use ours frequently, and I love that she is close to me, and my hands are free!


Via: http://www.diapers.com/p/Eddie-Bauer-Endeavor-Travel-System-Montecito-79374?site=CI&utm_source=cse&utm_medium=cpc_D&utm_term=CS-263&utm_campaign=google&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=CS-263
A travel system can be really bulky, but it’s what got me through the busy first six months of my daughter’s life. I think using a travel system is one of the easiest ways to be out and about with an infant. The carseat easily transfers from the car to the stroller. And having a bigger stroller like this one comes in handy for storing the diaper bag, and anything else you pick up on your adventures.

 In a Pinch
I’m a known “over-packer”. I’m the lady who’s diaper bag is busting at the seams because I’ve packed enough diapers, food, and clothes to last my child (and myself) an entire week. I may go a little overboard at times with packing a bag just to leave the house for a few hours. But, I am often the mom that other moms turn to when they are caught without a much-needed item. You can never be too prepared! So here are some items that I’ve found to be super helpful in a pinch…..some items and tips that you might not otherwise think of.
This car organizer not only protects your seat from car-seat damage and kicking feet, but it also makes room for some items that you should always keep in your car. In my back seat, you will always find the following: diapers (at least two), wipes, hand sanitizer, an extra set of clothes, a bottle of water, and a non-perishable snack. Yes, this might be overkill. But, I’ve never been caught in a sticky situation when my car was fully stocked. (and yes, even if I packed these items in my diaper bag, I still keep my car loaded with them, as well)

And now that we’re potty-training, I wouldn’t be caught out-and-about without a potty chair! I’m teaching my daughter to use public restrooms, but sometimes you just can’t get to one fast enough. I keep this potty chair in the trunk of my car almost every time we leave the house. If we’re not near a bathroom, I open up my trunk and we take care of business there. Of course I try to be discreet, but sometimes this is the only way. What you do with the potty after it’s been used is up to you, hehe! I keep some old towels (and of course a change of clothes) in my trunk, as well, because you just never know what you’re going to need!
A wet bag is a cloth-diapering-momma’s best friend. But did you know that wet bags aren’t just for storing dirty diapers? I like to keep a wet bag in the car and/or diaper bag because they can be used in so many different situations. Yes, they can hold cloth diapers. They can also hold stinky clothes in case of blow-outs, wet bathing suits, and soiled pants during potty-training mishaps. I could find a million more reasons to keep a wet bag handy. You could use plastic bags as well, but I like the fact that wet bags can be washed and reused.

So, these are my must-have items as an on-the-go-momma. They’ve saved me many times, and made life on the go that much easier for me. Are you an on-the-go-momma? What are some of your must-haves?

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