Maryland Mommy Blogger | Mommy 2K

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


These are my boys. No one knows their hearts, unless they know them. Without having ever met them, they are just two boys. Maybe just two, BLACK boys to some.

At any given time, you may catch my oldest listening to the latest rap song and accompanying it with a trendy dance that "everybody is doing". He will probably be wearing sneakers that cost a ridiculous amount, a hooded sweatshirt (R.I.P. Trayvon Martin) and jeans pulled, get this, ALL the way up on his backside...all while scrolling his fingers against the screen of his iPhone. He will easily fall under a category that identifies him as someone to watch, keep an eye on, maybe even target. Even though he look parallels those of different races (and his peers), he is viewed as a threat...because someone's mama didn't teach them better than that (Destiny's Child voice).

Warning: sarcasm ahead.
Dear Lord, please keep this thug off of the streets.

It saddens me that no one would ever know that the he has never NOT been on honor roll, is an avid reader and loves playing basketball. I bet you wouldn't know that he used to love soccer (and was good at it), but loss the desire to play after several racially-charged incidents crippled his confidence.

He just didn't fit the mold.
He was too aggressive (so says the numerous penalty scards only he received).
He was always competitive.
He. Was. Black.

To me, he is the future.
Raised by both of his parents.
Surrounded by a great foundation of family support.
Driven by a vivid imagination.
Laced with quick wit.
Loud with a quiet confidence.

And yes...BLACK.

And while this comparison to Mike Brown's case (or the other hundreds occurring each day) is a bit of a reach, the message in right in front of our faces: there is a value system in this country, placed on a person based on their appearance. We are suppose to teach our children to love one another, despite the visible differences that we may have.

The beauty in diversity is just that – beautiful!

I am in no way disregarding the fact that there are PEOPLE (not a particular race) that destroy the perception we have of a group because of their actions. PEOPLE break the law. PEOPLE are unruly. PEOPLE disrespect authority. RACE should take a backseat when it comes to the destruction of ANY aspect of life.

And yes, experience is the greatest factor in determining how we relate and react.  However, we are all in control of our actions and how we choose to respond. Choice is a freedom. Use it wisely (as in, don't shoot now because someone LOOKS suspicious, then ask questions).

I feel a bit of selfishness for bringing another child into this world. It's almost like I wrapped up a box of trash, in the prettiest paper and presented it to him as the world we live in. "Here, son. It looks like the best gift ever. However, you're gonna have to make the best of out the ugly that you're going face. Good luck." It's true that we are afforded several liberties and freedoms that most will never experience in their lifetime...but at what cost?!

We talk to our oldest son about race all the time. He has to know that while his life means everything to us, it means little to others. "If you ever encounter a police officer, be yourself...just a little bit, depending on the situation." I tear up just thinking about this reality.

Forget teaching your child(ren) those fancy S.A.T. words. There is one word that every PERSON should know, learn and figure out what side of it that they are on. It's called, "privilege"...and not everyone has it, realizes its power or owns up to the idea that their precious life is protected by it.

And for the love of God, please stop saying, "This isn't about race!" Every f'in thing is about race in the "land of the free".

Ask the President (whose speech I could have done without last night...stale, blah, by the book, no heart...repeat). 

Ask that tiny box you check on an application. 

Read a got damn history book (well, the two pages that are devoted to us). 

Watch the news (or as I call it, "what negative story can be reported in place of the excellence that is taking place"). 

Be a fly on the wall (or hell, read a social wall) of your "Facebook Friend" as they sit around and offer advice on how a situation should be handled. 

Some of you aren't even aware that you will never understand this topic. You are usually the ones who speak the loudest and has a bestfriend that is black. It's okay for you to go off when someone messes up your latte at Starbucks, your child isn't chosen as the lead for the school play or your luggage is lost during your fifth vacation in one year. But let a town riot over the mistreatment and unjust conditions blanketing their everyday lives. Oh, hell no! Not those "animals" GTFOH! 

Violence is not the answer. However, it seems to be thee ONLY answer particular officers of the law have for questions they never bothered to ask.

These are my boys. No one knows their hearts, unless they know them. Without having ever met them, they are just two boys. Maybe just two, BLACK boys to some. That is terrifying.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Don't Forget The Duracell Batteries...or Else! #PowerTheHolidays #sponsored

It's Christmas morning. Excitement fills the air, along with the pitter-patter of tiny (and large) feet running down the hall. The tree shines brightly, illuminating the what looks like a department store, but is clearly a living room. Santa has been busy circling the country to deliver the hottest toys, gadgets and electronics on the lists of those who have been nice. The anticipation of revealing what's under the gorgeous wrapping paper is at an all-time high. It's going to be a blast seeing everyone's reaction to their gifts.

Unless, someone forgot to purchase Duracell batteries from Walmart to go along with them. Oh no! Why Duracell?
Duracell CopperTop All-Purpose alkaline batteries are not only dependable, they’re also long-lasting. You can take comfort in a 10-year guarantee in storage with Duralock Power Preserve Technology. They’re great for many of the devices you use on a daily basis in your home. And from storm season to medical needs to the holidays, Duracell is the #1 trusted battery brand of first responders, pharmacists and parents, so you know it’s a battery you can trust. CopperTop batteries are available in AA, AAA, C, D and 9V.

16 pack:
Duracell Coppertop AA Batteries in a Doublewide pack deliver efficient and reliable power in popular battery powered devices such as toys, Wii remotes, portable gaming systems, smoke alarms, clocks and radios. Use them in all of your devices and enjoy the fact that they are long-lasting. The Duracell AA batteries come in 16 count pack to provide plenty of power.
Duracell batteries are not only for the holidays, but everyday use (like those remote batteries that you refuse to change...ever).

We were already Duracell battery users before I wrote this post. So, it made it that much easier to share how effective and lasting they are when used at home. We always keep a pack handy because almost every toy that my youngest son owns requires batteries. And every parent knows what happens when a child has a toy that is suppose to make noise, but can't make noise because there are no batteries in it. Let me just show you what happens in our home:

I immediately ran to get the 16-pack of Duracell batteries. You would have thought someone has stolen his toy instead of forgetting to put the batteries in it. Thank goodness we had several on hand. My little guy could hardly wait to power up his toy phone and watch as it lit up and made noises. Duracell to the rescue!

Just to be on the safe side, I went ahead an added Duracell batteries to his other toys. I did not want another episode like the one above. This way, there will be no interruption to his play time and Mommy may get a chance to do something productive.

This holiday season, make sure you grab a 16-pack of batteries to avoid serious meltdowns. You can even pick up a 4-pack of Duracell batteries and use them as stocking stuffers. Great idea, huh?

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This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Duracell. I received product and compensation as a thank you for my time. The opinions and views are my own. 

Album Review: Mary J Blige #TheLondonSessions #bLinkBiz

All hail the queen! Welcome back, Mary J Blige, with the release of The London Sessions. (available December 2, 2014. iTunes. Amazon.). I'll admit, when I first heard that Mary J traveled "across the pond" to record this album, I was a bit surprised. She has been known for much of her career as the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul", and London did not give me that type of vibe as a mean for inspiration. It wasn't until I began listening to the tracks on the new album and dissecting the lyrics, that I realized how The London Sessions was more about growth than it was about abandoning a title. It was as though Mary had an epiphany in her life and wanted to capture the experience through lyrical prose. She did just that. And for the record – she is still the queen!

I use several factors to determine my like or love for an album. Generally, if I can press play and never have to skip a track, I am most likely sold on the concept. I also know that I am feeling an album if I subconsciously start tapping my feet, bobbing my head and/or snapping my fingers. I can assure you that all of these things happened as I  listened to The London Sessions. I have to add that I like the personal touch of sharing interviews from those who worked with MJB on the album. They can be heard after a few of the selections.

Here are the tracks that are included on the latest album and my take on each:

Track: Therapy

First Impression: This is a great track to start the album. The beat immediately grabs your attention, followed by a to-the-point MJB asking a simply question. I tapped and clapped through this song. It's catchy. And did I mention the great Sam Smith helped write this track. Awesome.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Why would I spend the rest of my days unhappy? Why would I spend the rest of this year alone? When I can go therapy. When I can go therapy.

Track: Doubt

First Impression: Victory song. We call can use this at some point in our life. It's about belief and declaration. A nice addition to the album.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: You think you know, But you don't know the half. You think you beat me down, But I'll have the last laugh.

Track: Not Loving You

First Impression: I love the strength of the piano chords peeking in the background of this track. It's a classic MJB song where she pours her soul out.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: There's only so much I can do if you're not loving you.

Track: When You're Gone

First Impression: I understand the idea behind this track. Being away from anything or anyone you love gives you clarity and reminds you why you need them in your life. Missing love is the theme.

Favorite Lyrics/Line:When you're gone I'd miss you like I did when we were first together. No one in this world could hold me better. Just tell me when you're coming home.

Track: Right Now

First Impression: Electronic. I loved the sound right away. It felt like a slow groove for the roller skating rink.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: My love won't be the same for you no more

Track: My Loving

First Impression: London was here. LOL. I felt like I was with my girls in the club and we didn't have a worry in the world. Lights, drinks, dancing and laughter. It's the hey-DJ-play-my-song type of track. It takes you away. Love this!!

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Tonight, you don't need an alibi, it's all in your mind. You just need to close your eyes, I'll let you drive.

Track: Long Hard Look

First Impression: A typical relationship song about staying and working on love.

Favorite Lyrics/Line:Take a long hard look. The grass is never greener on the other side.

Track: Whole Damn Year

First Impression: It sounds like Mary is healing and needs understanding. She's been through the "seasons", as most of us have and go. It's a process.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: See winter took most of my heart. And Spring punched right in the stomach. Summer came looking for blood. And by autumn, I was left with nothing.

Track: Nobody But You

First Impression: Another great club hit. The "techno" sound is on trend with today's music. I definitely feel this is how London inspired Mary. I like the simplicity of the lyrics and the ability of the song to make me dance.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: I'm thinking of running away, Into your arms to a place, Where I know that I'm gonna stay, gonna stay.

Track: Pick Me Up

First Impression: This song felt just like the title – an instant pick me up. I felt like smiling. I can picture this song on a nice day, windows down with the sun kissing my cheeks. Mary also reminds us all that we need the occasional getaway. Maybe we can't all go to an island, but even a musical escape is enough.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Pick me up, pilot. Fly me straight to the island. Soon the sun gon' be shining on me.

Track: Follow

First Impression: After hearing two previous songs with the same upbeat, I didn't really think this track added anything to the album. I had to actually go back and listen to the others to see how similar they were.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: Give it all or give it nothing. Give it love or give it up.

Track: Worth My Time

First Impression: My favorite! I love that this track was placed at the end. It made the album come full circle. Mary took us on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish and assured us that it was all worth it in the end. I play this track on repeat, mainly because I can relate so much.

Favorite Lyrics/Line: But I won't give up. Make it worth my time. We've been in it so long we forgot how it feels to divide. And I wanna stay.

My cousin, Rasha Jay, recently visited London to share some of her music. She is an aspiring singer and songwriter with a drive larger than the amount of lyrical content buzzing through her head. The experience was definitely one that encouraged her to want more. She said that London was very inviting. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Mary was able to open up and release any inhibitions that have held her hostage in the past.

Thank you, London. You did not change Mary, but you sure did enhance her already adored artistry. It was refreshing to experience a new sound and go in a different direction with such a seasoned vocalist. A lot of the times, fans have a difficult time embracing change and want to keep an artist in that familiar space. But, everyone has to evolve. I truly felt the same soulful spirit of the MJB that hit the scene "back in the day". The Mary on The London Sessions is a bit softened, reflective and triumphant. I believed in her missions and understood the conviction in her voice. The lyrics were genuine. I mean, how else can you knock out a great album like this in only three weeks?

Mary J Blige gave me life...literally.

How can you stay updated on all things Mary J Blige? Well, here's some info.:
Official Mary J Blige website:
Twitter - @maryjblige
Facebook -
YouTube -

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I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of bLink Marketing Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Ripley's Believe It or Not! at the Baltimore Inner Harbor #sponsored

If I told you how many times I said the words, "no way!" or "that's crazy!" after our visit to Ripley's at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, I am almost certain you would believe it...or not! My family and I finally visited this awesome museum of bizarre and fascinating items over the weekend. It did not disappoint at all. And let's just say that if my toddler sits still and is amazed, it was a complete success.

Ripley's Believe it or Not! is located in the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace (301 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21202), surrounded by other great stores (H&M, Urban Outfitters) and restaurants (Bubba Gump Shrimp, The Cheesecake Factory). This spot makes it the perfect opportunity for a one-stop day out with the family – there's plenty to do within walking distance. In fact, we enjoyed lunch at Miss Shirley's Cafe just before visiting Ripley's. We walked a few blocks from the restaurant to reach our destination. Even with the chill of the wind, it was still sunny and a rather pleasant walk over to the Inner Harbor. There are plenty of parking garages nearby for you to park and walk as well.

Ripley's was gracious enough to provide my family and me with complimentary tickets to visit this particular location. Our group included two adults, one child (ages 4-12) and a toddler. We were given a 3-way combo ticket that allowed us to experience the Odditorium, the Marvelous Mirror Maze and the 4D Theater. Currently, there is a special that will allow you to try all three for only $25.99. That's a great deal (but it won't last, so always check the site to see the current ticket prices). The combo tickets are a great way to save money.

Even before you start your adventures at Ripley's, there is so much to see at the main entrance. There is a 12ft. Transformer, a wooden car (that is really a boat) and cool artwork(made of shotgun shells). My curiosity peeked from seeing these items alone.

Make sure you bring your camera (or charge your phone). There are several photo opportunities to be had. We ran into several before we left the main floor.

The "piano stairs" set the tone for the fun up ahead. My oldest son and I took the stairs to go to the second floor. Each step that we took created a note, like a modern version of the giant, floor keyboard. I joked about having one of these in the house. It would drive me nuts, but it seemed highly appropriate for this setting.

Don't worry if you cannot take the steps. You can still hear the lovely notes as each guest makes their way up. If you are in a group with a wheelchair or stroller user, there is an elevator to get you to where you need to go.

We wasted no time checking out all the great exhibits and reading the fascinating facts. If I can make one suggestion, it would be to take it all in. Do not just breeze through – stop, read and relish in the moment. Even Liam was able to touch the buttons to activate the displays. he loved this part.

This is meant to be an entertaining experience, but there is also a lot of new information to take away. You will be surprised at all the knowledge you gain. In fact, I am still thinking about a few new facts that I read at Ripley's.

I almost felt like I was in an art museum. The pieces on display were stunning. There were times that I stood there in amazement and whispered the words (as mentioned at the beginning of this post), "no way!"

I was pleasantly surprised by all of the fun stuff that my youngest son could take part in. Ripley's does not cater to one age group in specific because there is something for everyone to enjoy. We let Liam, who is almost two, push buttons and touch certain exhibits. He was extremely stimulated during our visit. He never cried, whined or asked to get out of his stroller (btw, there is plenty of room for a stroller to maneuver). There was just so much to see. The amount of interaction was a blast. We were allowed to touch, try and test in almost every area we were in. That is a plus.

The fun and exploration continued. Check out these great items:

A castle from Harry Potter made of matchsticks

(genuine) Shruken Heads

A dinosaur constructed from Pop Tarts foil

There was just so much to see. I am sure I missed a few things. I did not want my toddler to grow fussy, so we kind of picked up the pace at the end. Before we left, we headed to the Marvelous Mirror Maze. The doors on the exit for the Odditorium will point you to the direction to go, whether you are trying the maze, watching the movie or leaving all together.

We were instructed to put on plastic gloves upon entering the mirror maze...and for good reason. As soon as we entered, our hands touched the glass as we felt our way through. Thank goodness for Kaden, who led the way. I was complete ignorant to which way to go. I ran into the mirrors a few times and almost lost my party.

Things you should know:

There is not telling how many people will be in the Odditorium when you visit. Be prepared to have to wait to see or test out items. Have patience – it's worth it. We were lucky to visit at a time where there were not many people. It was around 4PM on Saturday.

Take your time. Read the informative signs beside each item. You will learn something. There is no set time on when you will finish. An estimate of 1 to 1.5 hours to explore Ripley's sounds about right. It's really up to you and also depends on how large your group is.

Be respectful. If is says "do not touch", do not touch. Keep your voices down, even though there are times where excitement can be high. If there is an interactive display, make sure you don't hog it. Let others waiting in line get their turn and return if you have to.

Do come back. I think I will have to visit again...maybe even alone. This way, I can stop and go as I want, perhaps I'll even discover something new.

Dress comfortably. There is a lot of walking. Also, if you want to do some of the interactive exhibits, you want to have on the right clothing. 

Try all three attractions – the Odditorium, the Marvelous Mirror Maze and the 4D Theater. At least to say you did. The Odditorium alone is a lot of fun. We could have skipped the mirror maze and would have been just fine.

Check out other Ripley's locations. If you are traveling, you should see if your area has a Ripley's. They are all different. I remember visiting my first one on vacation in the 90s in Virginia Beach. It can easily become a family tradition.

Have fun!

Overall, we enjoyed our time at Ripley's. Each member of our family was able to enjoy some aspect of this visit. We learned and laughed. We even had to use a bit of teamwork in the maze. I would definitely recommend you put this on your list of things to do the next time you visit the Baltimore Inner Harbor. 

Check out more photos on my Facebook Fan page.
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My family and I were provided complimentary tickets to visit Ripley's. The opinion and views are my own.

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