I’m going to Blogalicious!

So a few weeks ago I noticed a contest going on Nikki and The City blog’s page. It was a contest to win a ticket to Blogalicious! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Blogalicious it’s a conference for bloggers of color. Since I’ve only been blogging “seriously” for about a year everything is new to me. I just started hearing and seeing mentions of different conferences. Since I’m a newbie and want to learn everything I can about blogging I added attending a conference to my vision board. Well if you’ve ever been to a conference (blogging) or not you know they are pretty costly. And as this year passed by I placed the conference dream to 2015 and just kept working towards what I felt I could accomplish this year.

Well God had other plans y’all. I entered Nikki’s contest, although I was dicouraged because there were over 500 entries. But I entered and tried my chances even though as soon as I submitted my entry I got nervous. I didn’t want to be disappointed, but I didn’t want to set myself up for failure so I kept positive thoughts and prayers in my mind. It was a LONG week! Lol. I’ll never forget when I got the tweet that I won. I screamed and laughed and was just in plain shock. I don’t win much, but that was a win for sure.

As I write this I’m headed to Texas knocking two things off my bucket list (blogging conference and to visit Texas)! The moral of this story is trust and believe in God and keep positive thoughts in your mind and on your lips. God knows how to give you your hearts desire.

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P.S.
Shout out to my wonderful husband and mother for making sure everything is smooth in Chicago while I travel (you know somebody has to take care of home). Thanks to my friends for all the love, support, and help. Oh and a special thank you to my son for making me a going away card.

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Ross brought out the budget fashionista in me!

Two weeks I was blessed to attend an amazing event held at The Roof on theWit Downtown here in Chicago for Ross: Dress for less! I really had a blast. The food was plentiful and so was the champagne. The venue was astounding! Can we talk about the view? Even though it was a chilly day here in the Chi the heated outdoor roof patio was nice and cozy. The clear walls showcased the amazing Lake Michigan and the detailed Chicago skyline.

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Bloggers and the executive team from Ross were able to talk and we learned about how Ross started and grew to the Midwest. The Ross team members were warm, inviting, and very transparent. Many of them talked about their move to Chicago from the West coast and their families which always wins me over. At the end of the day a brand that has a real person approach is what most bloggers want.

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When we made it to Ross (Which was around the corner on Randolph) I was super excited. I had $100 to use and I had a plan in tact. Since Dereon is growing like weeds I knew I had to stop by the children’s section and grab him a few items. What I didn’t know was I would fall in love with some many nice shirts, slacks, jeans, and sweaters. I was in my fashion zone. Dereon’s taste is pretty cool for a 7 year old. He likes to dress casual; slacks, shirt, tie, and loafers. Yes, he is 7 I am sure. LOL. I wanted to make sure I picked some things he would like and also some practical pieces that he was currently out growing. I was happy to find some great name brand jeans for his weekend wear, a really button up shirt with a tie, a Bears football jersey, some cute jogging pants for his basketball class, and much more. The prices of the clothes were very reasonable. I mean I got some Levi jeans for the kiddo for only $16.99 and they look super cute on him.

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When I finally snapped out of my daze I left the children’s section and ventured off to see what other goodies Ross had in stock. Sense we were the first to shop in the store the options were plentiful. I mean home décor, purses, jewelry, shoes, perfume, coats, luggage, and the list goes on. My mother was able to score some UGG boats for under $65 dollars! Can you say a steal?
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Natasha from Houseful of Nicholes kept me laughing the whole night and so did Raijean from SwaiRai. Check out our pictures below:

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Overall my trip to the new Ross on 26 E. Randolph was amazing and I’ll be back soon!

Want to get a chance to shop at Ross yourself? Comment below on what you would grab from such an awesome place like Ross and I’ll pick the best answer! Winner will win a $25 Ross Gift card. (Contest ends Nov. 14th)

P.S. I can’t forget to post a picture of the tasty cupcakes they offered everyone while shopping. I need another just thinking about them.
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Boo! At the Zoo: Halloween fun

Happy Sunday!!

If you are in the Chicagoland area I want to invite you out to the last day of Boo! At the Zoo which is going on now at Brookfield Zoo. Today I’ll be one of the judges for their annual costume contest. I hope to see you and your wonderful family there. Here’s some more information regarding the event:

Brookfield Zoo’s annual Boo! at the Zoo Halloween celebration will be filled with more tricks, treats, and hocus pocus than ever before. The whole family will have a howlin’ good time October 18-19 and October 25-26 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.each day.

Pumpkins will be getting crushed and carved throughout the Halloween celebration. Head over to the West Mall from 11:00 a.m. to4:00 p.m. to witness the Pumpkin Smasher destroying pumpkins into tiny pieces every hour on the hour. Then watch Steve Dahlke, professional pumpkin carver, as he uses a variety of tools to create masterpieces out of gigantic pumpkins that weigh about 1,000 pounds each. Pick up carving tips and tricks during his demonstrations, and you can even carve your own pumpkins.

The ever-popular Boo! at the Zoo costume parade kicks off at 1:00 p.m. in front of Discovery Center. Kids of all ages and their families can join in and show off their Halloween attire. Leading the parade on October 18 will be S.T.A.T of Illinois Baton/Dance Team, and on October 19 Evergreen Park Community High School Cheerleaders will get the parade started. The Bearettes & Twirling Bears from Midlothian and Oak Lawn and the marching band from Reavis High School in Burbank will kick the parade off on October 25. And on October 26, the Hinsdale Central High School Red Devil Marching Band will lead the procession.

Afterwards, you can enter the costume showcase that begins at 1:30 p.m. at the West Mall. Judges will choose winners in four categories: scariest, best animal theme, most original, and best group theme. Radio Flyer and Dulcelandia will provide costume prizes.

Additional activities include finding your way through the more than 7,000-square-foot Crazy Maize corn maze, taking a spin on the Creepy Cowboy Carousel, building a scarecrow at Hamill Family Play Zoo, decorating cookies, and taking memorable photos at the pumpkin patches located throughout the park. New this year, kids can stop by treat stations to receive goodies provided by Dulcelandia (while supplies last). The candy company will also have Halloween-themed piñatas for kids to smash open.

Halloween would not be complete without creepy critters like bats, scorpions, and spiders—oh my! Learn about them and other animals during special Zoo Chats that will be held each weekend. Glide over to Australia House at 11:30 a.m. to learn about Rodrigues fruit bats, which have a 3-foot wingspan. At high noon, staff will share information about the zoo’s Mexican gray wolves, including Ernesta, who recently was released to the wild with her four pups and mate. A 12:30 p.m.spider Zoo Chat will take place at The Swamp. From there, a hoot of a good time awaits at the Hamill Family Play Zoo for a 1:00 p.m. chat about a great horned owl. At 2:00 p.m., discover some unique characteristics about the scorpion at Feathers and Scales. To round out the chats, slither over to Reptiles and Birds at2:30 p.m. to see one of the zoo’s large snakes. And everyone can flock to Hamill Family Play Zoo for a 3:00 p.m. chat about the raven.

Several of the zoo’s animals will receive pumpkins as Halloween treats—. See if the rhinos crush their festive squash at 11:00 a.m.on October 18. The following day, October 19, the orangutans will be treated to pumpkins at10:00 a.m. The grizzly, polar, and sloth bears will receive pumpkins at 11:00 a.m. on October 25, and the lions will be able to enjoy them on October 26 at 11:00 a.m.

Boo! at the Zoo is presented by Bright Start® College Savings and proudly supported by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. General zoo admission is $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for children ages 3-11 and seniors age 65 and over. Children 2 and under are free. Parking is $10. (Additional fees apply to some activities.) For further information, visit www.CZS.org/events or call (708) 688-8000.

Tasty fun with Potbelly’s NEW Flats and Popchips!

I have a confession I not a huge sandwich fan, but I enjoy Potbelly’s sandwiches plus their shakes and cookies (Yum). I was invited to try one of their new line of sandwiches and I was extremely excited because this new item was going to be 90 calories less than the original Potbelly sandwich. As you know I am trying to change the way I eat so this caught my interest.

The tasting event was super cool. Live music, bright balloons, and LOTS of food. When I came in I was given a frozen raspberry lemonade (which doesn’t come out to June, but be on the look out it was great) and BOOM! The tasting began and the Flats were coming in by the boat load. Also the table was stacked with various flavors of Popchips which was a great addition to the tasty sandwiches we were feasting on. I tried the Wreck first, because that’s what I always order when I dine at Potbelly, but this time it was transformed to a Flat and when I tell you the flavor was amazing I mean it. Just by using a different type of bread it changed the whole taste. I wanted to try a different kind after that so I went with the Chicken and Cheddar and I sat quietly in my chair with a smile on my face (LOL. I really did.) The Chicken and Cheddar Flat is my favorite, after that I tried the Turkey Flat and it was very tasty. Can you say stuffed? I needed to be rolled out of that Potbelly’s, I was so full. Plus afterwards they gave us some of their wonderful cookies to take home.

Overall I am very impressed with Potbelly’s New Flat sandwich, the frozen lemonade and the awesome choice of being able to grab Popchips while feasting on a yummy Flats sandwich. I recommend you try one! Potbelly’s Flats will be available starting Tues. May 6th 2014. ‘

When does being “Thick” become unhealthy?

I’m sure this post may step on a few toes. Including my own. But sometimes we all need wake up calls.

I’ve always been considered “thick”, even as a child I was called “solid” by the older folks in my family and neighborhood. Please don’t get me wrong I was called that affectionately. I didn’t mind it at all. Once I started getting older in my early teens my baby fat begin to shift and I had boobs, hips, and more butt. To the opposite sex this was nice, but to me it was confusing. I mean I didn’t know why I needed more curves I was already hating to go clothes shopping because every store doesn’t stock fashionable items for the curvy. But life went on and my weight stayed the same in high school until I hit college.  By then I had dropped a few pounds and knew how to camouflage what wasn’t appealing l. I knew what extra curves were for and when it was time to show them.

And then I had my son…insert music *here*!! I can’t blame child birth on my current weight, that wouldn’t be fair because Dereon is almost 7 years old. However I will say having a kid changes your body FOREVER! I unfortunately had a C – section and that really affected my post baby weight loss. I didn’t gain that much weight during my pregnancy,  but the few extra pounds I did gain found a home in unflattering spots like my inner thighs, arms and of course my stomach. Now a mother, and then a few years later a wife, my weight concern wasn’t the top on my list (until it was time to wear my wedding dress.) I focused on working on our apartment, the kiddo’s learning, my dreams, and my husband’s career.

Fast forward 5 years later. I’ve got the mom thing down, the hubby is moving up in his field and I started my blog! Things are rolling, but I’m not completely happy with me! My weight and size bothered me.  I finally said something to a friend and she replied “girl you are thick, you are fine. Stop stressing yourself.” There goes that word again “thick”! Umm no…I was fat. I couldn’t see myself wearing a 2 piece at the beach, I never wanted to step on a scale, and finding clothes online was a huge no because I always have to try my clothes on. I couldn’t run up a block without getting winded, I hated the thought of having to walk a long distance from my car, plus looking at myself and loving what I saw on the outside wasn’t always easy. If that was being “thick” I didn’t want it. So I battled with the Monday starts my new diet and I only eat salads and fruits plan. That didn’t even last that whole Monday. Lol. Then it was the “New year, new me” Jan.1st I start my diet plan and of course that didn’t work, the last one was after my birthday I’m going to really focus and start losing weight. Well I celebrated my birthday all of February and some of March and I didn’t get focused. Until.

Until I looked at myself in mirror while applying some lipstick the second weekend in March (yes, a few weeks ago.) And I saw me, and my face just looked distorted. Stretched out…I went out that night and everyone said how cute I looked and loved my makeup, but I had made up in my mind I had to make a change for me.

March 17th I stepped on the scale at the doctor office and I vowed to never see those numbers again.  I joined the local gym by my house and started a realistic weight journey. No fad diets, no pills or drops. The old fashion way….WORK! Now please don’t get me wrong I cheat and since I’ve started I have skipped some gym days and ate the wrong things, but since I’m on this for me everyday I wake up determined to go forward and not back. I’m determined to not let society’s thought of skinny rule me and I plan to embrace my curves, but this time in at a healthy stand point. Honestly I don’t want to be a size 4. That’s not me, but I want to be healthy and happy with the skin I’m in. I want to be around to see my kids have kids. I don’t want high blood pressure or diabetes. I want to live. To live means I’m going to have to fight so I’m on a mission to whip my body into shape.

It was hard to write this post, but I believe someone needed to read this. Some needs to know that being happy starts on the inside and what others think of you only validate you temporary. Self acceptance lasts a lifetime. We can do this!

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Decluttering Challenge: Week 1 Recap

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It has been a week since I’ve started this Decluttering Challenge and I have to say so far so good! Don’t get me wrong it started off rough, I had to get use to focusing on one thing or a certain amount of time. 30 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but when there are many different things going on it is easy to quit one thing and start something else, or just taking a nap:).

I started off in the kitchen and it took me about two days to get the kitchen where I wanted it. I still have to finish off the cabinets, but I’m waiting until my husband is off from work to help me tackle it. I have have spent more than 2 hours each day in the kitchen. I then tackled Dereon’s room I sorted out the clothes he no longer can fit, the summer from the fall clothes, and little toys and objects that had taken over his dresser. I still have to work on his closet.

I have not started the “master” bedroom because I am dedicating all of next week, yes ALL of my decluttering time next week for that special project.

Overall I’m so happy I’ve started this challenge and as odd as it may sound I have found out so much about myself and my family since starting the journey. It’s very important to remember that it’s OK to giveaway and throw away items. I promise you will thank me later. Until next week…

It’s MY Birthday!

Yep! I’m a year older. I’m so thankful for making it to a new year. Millions didn’t but I did. I want to keep this short. Thank you for your support. I’m blessed to have found one of my gifts and I’m glad to be able to share it with you.

Follow me on Instagram: @arealurbanmom to see pics from my birthday celebrations this weekend!

Xoxo,
The B day girl:)

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Created a vision board for 2014 with #Intelchi

The new year always gets me excited not because I dramatically change or anything, but it gives me the feeling of a clean slate. A new chance to figure things out this time. Also it opens up doors for new opportunity. Who doesn’t like new stuff?

While strolling on facebook one day I noticed a post about a digital vision board event hosted by motivatal speaker Yanni Brown. It caught my attention and it was a plus that it was free. I signed up and marked it in my calendar I was excited. I have done vision boards before, but never digitally.

My friend Margo and I had a good time working on our vision boards, Yanni was great, the snacks were tasty, and the whole process was motivational. It was cool to come into a place full of the latest technology. We were all given a chance to select an tablet or laptop to work on. I had one of the newest laptops on the market and using it was a breeze. I also had a Coke and a Red Velvet Cupcake. Can you say heaven?

 

We used Oprah’s site to create our boards. It was pretty easy and self explanatory, but the hard part was really figuring out what you really wanted to do. Yanni stressed to us to only post what we wanted to do not what others wanted us to do or not what we thought would be good to do for the kids or our spouse, but for ourselves. I totally related to that because sometimes as women we forget what we want and we fall down the pit of resentment later because we never dug deep enough to find out what we really wanted out of life and actually go for it.

My vision board was very meaningful to me because this is the last year of  my 20’s and its certain things I want before I hit 30. so I piled them on my board. I sat silently trying to focus in on my inner voice and listening to God. 2014 has to be aligned by Him not by my flesh or what society says. I kept reminding myself that as I placed things on my board. The session left me at peace with my past misakes and excited for my new mission.

Overall it was a great experience. The plus was hearing some people stand in front of the group and break down their visions and goals. I think EVERYONE should have a vision board even kids. It’s free, it’s eye opening, and its motivational. Start your new year off with direction and determination.

Here are a few of the items on my vision board. I will probably share the whole board on the blog later this year, but for now here are some of the things I will be working on.

  • Getting healthy while losing weight
  • Working for myself. No clocking in and clocking out for anyone. I want to be my own boss.
  • Travel more.
  • Be great at balancing being a CEO, wife, mother and a million other roles.
  • Growing a deeper relationship with God.

 

Don’t let fear or doubt stop you in 2014. Put your dreams and goals in writing and watch God blow your mind. I am so excited about your future!

P.S. Share with me if you have done a vision board before? Did some of your dreams come true? And if you have never done one before, but plan on working on one now feel free to share it with me. I would love to see them.

Cell phone blues

So I have the Cell Phone blues. LOL. I am sure you have experienced this before. Your phone is acting up: maybe not charging properly, freezing, or barely receiving any reception, etc. It sucks! You feel lost when your phone isn’t working right. You think you are missing calls, texts, important social media updates and point blank you feel out of touch. Yeah, you have been there.. that’s where I am currently.

I dropped my phone a while ago and it had a crack…it was ugly, but workable. Then a few weeks ago I really cracked my screen. I almost cried (sad but true). I was so upset. The only thing I could do was go to sleep so I wouldn’t think about it.  No question about it I love my phone and I am always on it either for work or personal business or for fun.  After a few days I just thought I would just repair my screen. But then I noticed all the new phones that were out now. Like the Note 3, The Samsung Galaxy 4, and the Nexus 5. So many choices.

 

My poor iPhone 4S will be getting replaced soon. The search for the perfect cell phone for me is on. I need a BIG phone… if you know me then you know I can hardly see. LOL. I like large fonts and a big screen. Also as a blogger I am always checking in, taking pictures, and on social media in general so I need a phone that has good battery life as well as an impressive camera.

This is a big deal to me because I want to pick something that I can use for my business as well as personal.  Once I find the perfect phone you guys will be the first to know so stay tuned=) And if you have any suggestions let me know I am all ears!