Navigating Badlands Play Space

I love summer, I really do. However, when it is 90 degrees outside I have very little interest in taking the kids outside to play, and frankly they would prefer to not get burnt by the sun as well. Because of this I am always looking for really shaded playgrounds, or indoor play centers that will allow Johanna to run wild and free without me worrying that she will get a heat stroke. That is why I was beyond elated to hear of a brand new indoor play space in Rockville, Maryland called Badlands. I immediately googled it. I loved what I saw so I immediately posted about it in my DC area homeschool field trip group and set a date.

What I did not love was the price. It is a whopping $22.50 per child over the age of 3 ($12.50 if they are between 1-3)! My immediate response after choking on my Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha was wait, what??? But looking at that open space I just knew Johanna would love it. I had to say goodbye to at least 5 mochas for awhile. So off we went.

The space was pretty. It was everything an indoor girl like myself could dream of. Rock climbing, tall trees, grass, and tunnels all indoors. You know, away from the brutal sun, the biting mosquitos and all the other creepy crawlers that live out in nature. And there was air conditioning my friends. Air conditioning! This mama was happy.

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Badlands also offers 4 party pavilions, which are super cute! If you book your next party there you will get a party host as well as an activity leader. You cannot bring in outside food, except for your cake. This is because Badlands also has its own cafe! Huge mommy perk right there. Isabella and I enjoyed some vital vittles while big sister rock climbed like a boss. There is also a Workshop where kids and adults can use real tools to make all the things, a Builders Room, Ropes Course, Screening Room, and an Exhibit that will change what will be featured every 3 months. For our visit it housed butterflies! It’s an interactive exhibit which makes it very, very cool.

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So, I’m going to sound like a total weirdo when I say this, but one of my absolute favorite areas of Badlands was the bathroom area! Behind quite a few doors (I didn’t count, but there were at the least 5) there were individual bathrooms that smelled amazing and looked sparkly clean. Right outside of the bathrooms was a nice, clean, sterile looking waiting area. There is nothing worse than going to an indoor playground and finding the bathrooms to be completely disgusting…except port-o-potties. I don’t think anything beats those for me. Yack!

Johanna thoroughly enjoyed her time at Badlands. She played for a solid 3 hours and still wasn’t ready to leave. I was though. Adult A.D.D. is real. While I found just a couple of areas that could use improvement, I really did enjoy it overall.

Obviously Badlands won’t be a regular part of my life at the current price and with it being so far from me (Rockville is quite a hike for us), but I’m so glad that I enjoyed it, and I can see us having a party there in the near future.

To see more of our adventure at Badland, checkout my latest youtube video. Don’t forget to subscribe and give it a thumbs up!

 

Badlands Play Space
301.618.0009
5200 Randolph Road, Rockville, MD 20852
Open 9 am to 6 pm Tuesday to Sunday (Closed Mondays)

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A Little Bit of Patience, and a Whole Lot of Grace

3 years ago I was in a job that caused me great turmoil. My coworkers were amazing. The mission of the job was incredible. My boss was a nightmare! The company perpetrated itself to be something other than what it was. It was becoming increasingly hard to get up in the morning. When I left from that very weird environment in June, I did so with the intentions of finding another job in my field by the end of summer. However, summer was gone before I could even really feel the heat, and then I blinked and it was Turkey eating time. Johanna and I found ourselves at odds. School for her ended in June and by mid-July I was teaching her. I figured she had to do something during the day. I couldn’t have her just sitting there watching that God awful Caillou all day. That’s when I came across  easy peasy online homeschool and unbeknownst to me at the time, our homeschool life was born. By February I had long stopped actively trying to find a position, and my husband had given me the green light to homeschool seriously. For 2 years I homeschooled like a boss! And then…I had another baby.

Isabella changed everything.

I came home from the hospital when coop had already been in full swing. My MIL was taking Johanna for me every Friday since obviously I couldn’t. I didn’t even return to coop until sometime in October. My teaching was sketchy at best. Some days we got through our full curriculum. Other days I was just happy we were able to do math and reading. Isabella shifted our entire world.

Isabella is a light sleeper. She also has constantly been ailed. We’ve been to the emergency room far more times than I would like to recount. She’s had more issues than most babies I personally know. Is it because of her being a preemie or IUGR? We don’t know. Maybe. But it has been rough. It has been rough mentally, emotionally, and physically. There are many days when I am completely drained and just want to throw up my hands. It’s only by God’s grace that we finished out this school year. Unfortunately, it has left Johanna inbetween grades because mommy just could not parent or teach some days. One of the kids was sick every month, including a time between february and march when Johanna had the worse fever of her life and I was scared crapless.

I spent a lot of this school year scared crapless. It caused me to be paralyzed and unable to fulfill my duties as a homeschool mom this year.

This summer I have an almost 1 year old and a 6 year old. Johanna will still be between 2 grades by the end of august.  Currently she is kindergartner/1st grader in reading and a 1st grader in math. She will probably be in 2nd grade math by the time September rolls around, as well as art and health, and 1st grade reading.

We have somewhat found a rhythm again. Isabella has 2 scheduled naps, so we work around those for the day. Sometimes she still requires me to hold her, so it’s not all smooth just yet, but I’m prayerful that in the coming months the kinks will be worked out. Johanna has calmed down a bit. Having a sibling has brought her great joy, but it has also been a hurdle for her to jump. For awhile she started acting like a bratty 4 year old again, and that made my husband and I lose it! I tried to be understanding, but honestly, I just wanted everyone to shut up and get over whatever was ailing them. Did I mention that I was mentally, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted?

Being a homeschooler of one child was already a little bit of a challenge. I was constantly praising those that homeschooled 3+ kids. Miracle workers you are. Homeschooling means that you have to figure when to switch mommy off and switch teacher on. We are still working out those kinks. It also means dealing with your childs rainbow of moods while trying to help teach them important stuff. It’s making the executive decision to homeschool via netflix for the day because both of you have sucky attitudes and nothing good could possibly come of it. It takes a level of patience and grace that I didn’t know existed until I stepped into this world.

But I still love it. I’m still so glad I chose it even though it means that when it comes to my wants, money is tight. That I have to be selfless 24/7. That in some ways even my very identity has changed. I still love it. Today I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but ask me again when Isabella enters the terrible 2’s. My tune may just change.

Whether you’re stepping into homeschooling for the first time, or doing it with a new baby, know that yes, it is hard! But it is also very rewarding and it does indeed get better. Take some time and remember that you are not on this journey alone.

Let Jesus guide you. He’s there, willing and waiting.

Find your community, whether in real life, through a coop, or in a facebook group. A tribe is waiting to welcome you, embrace you, and help guide you. You just have to look for them.

Remember why you homeschool. On days when you just want to give up and throw in the towel (I had at least 8 of those this year) remember why you do it and remember that God’s grace is sufficient.

Yeah, this was a super rocky year, but I still feel very blessed to be able to live the homeschool life.

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Summer Reading Giveaway!

Like a lot of a parents I worry about my child losing very necessary skills during the summertime. I’m all for having time off, but I also feel like the learning train for math and reading should not stop. Because I am blessed to be a homeschooler, I am able to homeschool year round, and that’s just what I do. However, I do just focus on very specific things, and any teaching that is done only lasts an hour or two, then Johanna is free to go about her day as she likes.

One of my favorite places to find learning material is in the Target dollar aisle. From maps to flashcards, I’m always surprised at what I find there. I was recently alerted that they had a ton of education materials currently in the dollar section and I jumped on it. Mmmm but in my excitement I ended up getting a book I already own, and then I turned around and went to the Scholastic warehouse sale and did the exact.same.thing! So my loss is your gain! I’m giving away 2 books and a couple of other surprise goodies on my youtube channel that I think elementary aged kids will enjoy. This giveaway is very short as I want to get it mailed out before I get too busy. Visit my youtube channel for the rules. Good luck, and happy reading!

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Mommy En Blanc: Simply Magical

You know, sometimes being a mom is just downright magical. Picture it, a Friday evening in June near downtown Washington, DC. 50ish beautiful African American moms and their children stroll onto the waterfront wearing all white, turning heads and leaving folks with questioning yet admiring eyes.

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The night before I was nervous. I have actually never been to an all white event. I’ve always opted not to go because honestly, me, in white? Are you out of your mind? Just give me 2 minutes and I’m guaranteed to add a little spice to that white, usually in the form of sauce or marker. So I was stressed all the way out trying to figure out what to wear. I settled on an off the shoulder white shirt from Boohoo and white jeans from old navy. I was headed to a mommy and me playdate with Johanna. I try to go out on dates with her from time to time, just the two of us, like it used to be. And I was super geeked because District Motherhued was having their first ever Mommy en Blanc event.

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I had been sitting back and watching District Motherhued for a few months. Looking at the events and seeing if the bonds were real. In May I had just decided that yes, they were, and the events looked amazing! I had to be apart of it! So I was super geeked when they announced Mommy en Blanc! Mommy en Blanc is a play on Diner en Blanc, but it is much more relaxed. However, the heart of it remained the same. The location was a secret, you had to wear all white, and you had to bring your meal. And it was beautiful.

 

We elegantly stormed onto Yards Park on the waterfront  with our kids strolling beside us. Some of us pushed strollers to our destination. No, seriously, it looked like a whole sea of strollers. I loved it! We took our places on the grass to listen to a live jazz band, enjoy our vittles, and get to know other mom’s. The kids got their faces paint, played with their balloon art, while the adults enjoyed a glass of wine and a cupcake or two.

I honestly was shocked at how quickly I bonded with other moms.  It was a breath of fresh air to be apart of a group that made you feel like you were one of them. And it’s because I was. Motherhood was our bond. NO matter what our background was, we all connected as moms and it was simply delightful.

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Photo Credit: @shutter_to_think_photo

What’s in a Name?

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When I started this blog I was going through the toddler blues with Johanna, and man were those tough times. She ran us through the wringer for a while and it was then that I knew that we would only have one child. I never really wanted kids until I met my husband and agreed to go for at least one. She still showed up as a total surprise. So imagine my shock when 6 years after her birth I’m sitting here with a 7 month old too! It wasn’t in our plans, but it was in Gods. With our new addition things have changed, naturally. We’ve had to bend and twist, trying to find a groove that feels right. Things on the social front have changed for me too, like the name of this blog. Obviously I outgrew Johanna’s Mama.

That’s so bittersweet.

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Johanna’s Mama is my baby. Being just Johanna’s mama is something that I mourn. Don’t get me wrong at all, I am over the moon about Isabella and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. Her laugh is pure gold I tell you. But Johanna is my first baby. Emotionally it has taken some adjusting to her not being my only baby. Mentally it has taken me time to be ok with Johanna’s Mama being something I have to let go of because I’m simply not just Johanna’s mama anymore. I’m Johanna and Isabella’s mama. But as I settle down into my new normal , I realize that I’m more than that too. I’m a woman that fiercely loves Jesus and his word. I’m a lover of fashion, makeup, cultural events. I’m a friend, a wife, a confidant, a planner. That’s what I had in mind as I created the name Holy + Chic Mama. I felt like it wrapped up all of my flavors nicely.

I know this post has been long overdue, please forgive me. As I changed the name over here, I also decided to dedicate myself to a youtube channel. That put me right at the beginning of VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April), which has consumed my life. Editing videos every day has been quite challenging, leaving me with barely enough gas to plan the next days events, let alone blogging! But I will not quit blogging. I love this outlet of mine over here. I pray that you will join me on youtube as I start that adventure, but stick around over here too. Just don’t get sick of me!

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Your Guide to the 2017 Cherry Blossom Festival

monument-600x450It’s that wonderful time of the year! Time for the Cherry Blossom Festival! Let’s get to the events!

Opening Ceremony
Warner Theatre, 513 13th Street, NW
5-6:30pm
Kick-off the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival by watching world-renowned performers. Opening Ceremony performers include Shigeyama Kyogen EL Squad ,
May J ,The 6821 Quintet

Blossom Kite Festival
Grounds of the Washington Monument near 17th Street NW and Constitution Avenue
Saturday, April 1st, 10am – 4:30pm
**SCHEDULE**
Competition Field
10:30-11:00am – Kite Ballets & Demonstrations
11:00am-1:00pm – Adult Kite Makers Competition
1:00-1:30pm – Soar into Spring Demonstrations
1:30-2:30pm – Hot Tricks Showdown
2:30-3:00pm – International Kite Demonstrations
3:00-4:00pm – Rokkaku Battle
4:00-4:15pm – Puzzle Rokkaku
4:15-4:30pm – Awards

Family Field
10:30-11:00am – Youth Kite Makers Practice Fly
11:00am- Noon – Youth Kite Makers Competition
Noon-12:30pm – Youth Kite Makers Awards
12:30-1:00pm – Mini Rokkaku Practice
1:00-1:30pm – Mini Rokkaku Challenge (ages 5-9)
1:30-2:00pm – Mini Rokkaku Challenge (ages 10-15)
2:00-3:00pm – Bol Races
3:00-4:30pm – Family Open Fly

Cinematsuri
Landmark’s E-Street Cinema at 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Tickets are $13 per film
Times TBD
CineMatsuri 2017 is Washington DC’s first-ever Japanese film festival. Organized by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC, CineMatsuri showcases five of Japan’s most recent films, each in a different genre. All movies are shown in Japanese with English subtitles

Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk
National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, located at the intersection of Louisiana and New Jersey Avenues and D Street NW Washington, DC.
Saturday, April 1st, 9am – 12pm
This walk aims to bring awareness about what life was like for Japanese Americans during World War II. The walk will conclude with traditional Japanese and Palestinian folk dancing.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Southwest Waterfront – 600 Water Street, SW
Saturday, April 15th, 2pm – 9pm (Fireworks start at 8:30 PM)
This event is always a family favorite. It’s our favorite simply because it combines three of our favorite things – face painting, food, and crafts! There’s also live music, and of course, the big fireworks show to end the night.

Lantern Making Family Day at Yards Park
Yards Park – 355 Water Street, SE
Saturday, April 16th, 10am – 2pm
There will be two sessions of lantern making for children and adults, at 10:00 am and at 12:00 pm. As an official event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the lantern making day will feature a variety of Japanese cultural activities, as well as a moon bounce for all children to enjoy.

SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration
Smithsonian American Art Museum – 8th and G Streets, NW
Saturday, March 25th, 11:30am – 3pm
A taiko drumming performance kicks off the afternoon, followed by other traditional Japanese music and dance, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Colleagues from the Freer|Sackler can help you make your own Japanese fan. Create a koinobori windsock at one of our crafting tables or check out the spring book corner with our friends from MLK Jr. Memorial Library.

Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival
The Yards Lot H/I
Saturday, April 1st 1-4pm; 6-9pm/Sunday, April 2nd 1-4pm
Drink the District is back with the annual Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival. TIckets are $19-$89 ($20 discount with promo code CAPRIV) and attendees can enjoy unlimited beer and wine, food trucks, and live entertainment all day.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony
TIDAL BASIN AT Independence Avenue and 17th Street, SW
Sunday, April 2nd, 3:00pm – 5:00pm
The ceremony takes place at the newly dedicated Japanese Rock Garden. It includes traditional music by the Toho Koto Society of Washington, DC and songs by the Washington Japanese Choral Society. The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard of the Military District of Washington, DC presents the colors.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Constitution Avenue – From 7th to 17th streets, NW
Saturday, April 8th, 10am – Noon
The parade runs for 10 blocks along iconic Constitution Avenue featuring giant colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country, and celebrity entertainers, and performers. Individual tickets start at $20. Group tickets are on sale as well. Get your tickets here. Standing along the Parade route from Constitution Avenue between 9th and 15th streets, NW is FREE and open to the public. Arrive early for the best views.

Who Is Performing:

    98 Degrees member and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Drew Lachey
    Grammy nominated country singer Jo Dee Messina
    DC-native DJ Kool of the 1996 chart topping single “Let Me Clear My Throat”
    Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields
    Brian Justin Crum, breakout star from the most recent season of “America’s Got Talent”
    Washington Redskins Cheerleaders
    Winners of the 2017 Sing Into Spring competition

Cherry Blast!
Dock 5 at Union Market, 1309 5th Street NE, Washington DC
Friday, April 14th, 7-11pm
Immerse yourself in DC’s vibrant Tokyo night market as Dock 5 at Union Market will be transformed into a busy streetscape that highlights Japan’s dynamic culture and ambiance.

You can expect:
Night Market: A hustling-bustling, communal marketplace lined with an array of food and artisan vendors – curated by acclaimed Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto.
Music Stage: Vibe to the pulsating sounds of live artists and DJs performing all night long.
Interactive Art Showcase: A spectacular display of works by DC-based artists inspired by Japanese culture and the spirit of the cherry blossoms.
eSports Lounge: A high-tech arcade exhibiting the dynamic live-action of competitive play from the world’s hottest and fastest growing sports sector.
VIP Lounge: An exclusive lounge providing an elevated experience for 200 guests including open bar with special cocktail pairings and curated Tokyo street food (VIP ticket required).

Anacostia River Festival
Anacostia Park – 1900 Anacostia Drive, SE
Sunday, April 9th, 1-5pm
Head out to the Anacostia River to enjoy canoeing, kayaking, bird watching, bike riding, and nature walks.

Japanese Jazz Series at Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
April 18-20, 8pm & 10pm
Celebrating Cherry Blossoms! Enjoy the music of young Japanese jazz artists at Blues Alley, performing as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival! Purchase tickets here.

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5 Things I learned about IUGR – IUGR Awareness Day 2017

Last Spring when I was sitting in the doctors office having an anatomy scan, I thought nothing of the fact that Isabella was measuring small. It was her belly that they said was tiny, but I just thought it was the fact that her dad was slender and perhaps she was taking after him.

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Early that summer my wonderful mfm (maternal fetal medicine) doctor sat me down and explained that the baby had Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and that I would have to start coming in weekly at 28 weeks for her to be measured because of this. He explained that many times IUGR babies have to be taken early because they thrive better on the outside than they do on the inside. I seriously sat there like a deer in headlights just smiling and nodding as if I understood what he was talking about. I had no clue what intrauterine growth restriction was. I didn’t even know what questions to ask. At the time I had complete placenta previa, so I just added IUGR onto the pile of other things I needed to worry about.

I’m very happy to say that we made it to 35 weeks before scans started getting wonky and Isabella wasn’t as reactive as they wanted her to be. When she was born she weighed 4.4lbs and was 17 inches. Compare that to her sister who at 37 weeks was born 7.2lbs and 21 inches. Even though I had a wonderful doctor, I still didn’t know much about IUGR or what it meant for my baby.After having Isabella I still needed to sort through so many emotions and figure out some things. Here is what I have discovered on my journey.

AN IUGR DIAGNOSIS IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD

I know it’s scary. The doctor throws words out there to you like preemie, stillbirth, NICU. I just want to tell you to breathe and believe. Pray on it. Give it to God. And by all means, please follow your instincts. If measurements seem off to you, if you feel like your baby that usually kicks 20 times an hour now only kicks 10 times an hour, go get checked. Ignore any looks you may get form doctors or nurses. Be in control of your own pregnancy.It is important that you and your doctors are proactive. And if you have a doctor that isn’t well versed in IUGR, find one that is. If you can’t because you live in a super small town, join an IUGR group online so that you can have a support system and you can find out helpful information from others that have been where you are. It is because of prayer and super proactive doctors that I believe Isabella is here today.

IUGR IS STILL A MYSTERY

The medical community still doesn’t have a solid answer as to what causes IUGR. IUGR occurs in about 3% of pregnancies. It can be caused by placenta problems, poor nutrition, chromosomal abnormalities, unhealthy lifestyle of the mother… the list goes on and on. There is not one thing that doctors can look to and say yes, this is what is causing 3% of babies born to have IUGR! In my particular case, after Isabella was born I was told that my placenta was pretty small and that is thought to be the reason why she has the diagnosis.

THE GUILT IS REAL

After Isabella was born I felt so much guilt. I felt like it was totally my fault that she was born so small. My body failed her. I downright wailed after holding her for the first time. She weighed nothing; light as a feather, she was. And that broke my heart. If you are faced with an IUGR diagnosis, please keep this in your mind and carry it in your heart – Itrauterine Growth Restriction is oftentimes ideopathic. There was nothing I personally did to cause it. I had zero control over the formation of the placenta. Sometimes life just happens, and it makes us sad especially because we can’t control it, but God is always in control. However, I’m not going to tell you not to be sad. Be sad. Be angry. But don’t stay there.

EVERY IUGR BABY IS DIFFERENT

Today Isabella is 6 months old and weighs 14lbs. Currently I know another 6 month old IUGR baby that is 17lbs, and another that is 12lbs. You can’t guess where your baby will be in the next few months, never mind the next few years! I never in a million years would’ve guessed that we would need size 3 months clothing for as long as we have. Johanna literally grew along with her age – at 3 months she needed 3 month clothing, at 6 months she needed 6 months clothing, etc. Isabella was in preemie clothing for 2 months, nb for 2 months, and has been hanging out between 0-3 and 3 month clothing (depending on the brand) since then. We legit recycle the same 6 onesies and 3 pair of pants every week. It’s frustrating for sure, but I’m just happy that she is following her own growth curve.

Some IUGR babies will have issues whether in the beginning or as they get older. Others will never have issues. It is very common for IUGR babies to deal with gastrointestinal issues, and Isabella is no exception. She has been in pain for majority of her short life. It’s not continuous, thank God, but when it hits… it’s hard for her screams to not tear me down. Some of it is a milk protein allergy. Unfortunately the formula that can help her best with this,neocate, is astronomical in price and insurance rarely covers it. We now have her on Alimentum, which is still pricey, but not as bad. She still has boughts of pain, but not as often or intense. Her digestive system is just not that awesome yet and even with medication her acid reflux is terrible. We’re praying on it.

IUGR BABIES ARE FIGHTERS! SO PLEASE DON’T COMPARE THEM TO OTHERS.

Join any IUGR support group and you will often hear mama’s say that their babies are feisty! Every once in a while you have a mom that says hers is super chill,but feisty is usually what we call them. Not only are they feisty, but they are fighters. I have never met a baby as determined as Isabella is, and I’m sure many IUGR moms could say the same. I don’t know if it’s their small size, or maybe they have experienced more in utero than we will ever understand, but they definitely have the heart of champions. It is important for you to know this and for you not to go comparing them to other full term,normal size babies. I know you probably will anyway, but don’t let it mean anything. Every once in a while I’ll ask the ladies in my baby group how much their baby weighs, and I pay close attention to what their babies are doing developmentally . I don’t let it stick in my mind to torment me though. Isabella is her own person and even if she wasn’t an IUGR baby, she would still develop at her own pace. She did lag behind in responding to us calling her name and making eye contact, but she got there, in her own timing. But I bet you she could out roll any baby any time any day! That girl has discovered that she can roll anywhere she wants to go and she is all about it. It makes me giggle and I love it!She is not sitting up on her own for minutes at a time nor pulling herself around the floor like her sister was at this age, but that’s quite alright. She’ll get there when she’s ready.

Babies are a blessing, period. But I’ve discovered that most pregnancies do not go as smoothly in real life as they do in the movies.If you are currently dealing with an IUGR diagnosis, I really pray that this has been beneficial for you. I pray it has brought you some comfort and that you know if God did it for me, he can do it for you.To read more about our IUGR journey you can read this post here that I will continue to update with facts about IUGR as I learn them.

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