To 44. (Or, Farewell, My POTUS, and Thank You)

Life As Mom Thursday, January 12, 2017

My toes were frozen, but my heart was warm and full. I was standing on the National Mall, just behind the Reflecting Pool, huddled with countless other teeth-chattering citizens there to witness President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. This was history happening, once again, and I was part of it—this time live.

Instagram | nicole_blades

I wanted to be there four years earlier, giddy and cheering and sobbing like everyone else, but I was three weeks away from giving birth to my first child. A son who, like the newly re-elected president, is mixed-race. Obama’s 2008 landmark victory confirmed it: My kid, this toffee-colored boy, could grow up to be the leader of the free world, if that’s what he chose. Politics aside, this president, number 44, symbolizes so much to my little family. He’s the precedent—this president—for what it looks like to reach beyond the idea of possibilities and potential and grab hold of the fact that greatness is real, and it’s there for our children, no matter what this lopsided world might try to tell them. 

I’m going to miss my POTUS and the Obama Family more than words can say. I am just so grateful to have witnessed this presidency, to have watched excellence in action. Thank you, President Obama. Thank you.

Everywhere, Everywhere, Everywhere

Real Talk Friday, July 15, 2016

It seems like every other morning we are waking up to heartbreaking, horrible, horrible news from this world. We start to really consider how much more our spirits can endure.


Photo by Nicole Blades

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

Warsan Shire

Play-Well TEK Knows the Way to Kids’ Hearts: LEGO

Life As Mom Friday, July 15, 2016

Last month, we hosted a little “School Is Out — Oh, Yeah!” gathering for our son. It involved some fun snacks, a little juice, a handful of his 7-year-old friends, and one key ingredient: LEGO. And lots of it.

Actually it was a workshop happily disguised as a party. But you know 7-year-olds and details. Uh, they don’t need ’em. Just pass that box filled with LEGO bricks, parent!

Photo by Nicole Blades


Jokes aside, we were really pleased with all it all turned. Thanks wholly to Play-Well TEKnologies, a LEGO-inspired engineering group. Play-Well comes to your home and runs an Engineering with LEGO workshop. The group sends a master builder or two carting along approximately 20,000 pieces of LEGO to teach a 90-minute engineering workshop.



The boys got right to work and did a fantastic job of listening to their master builder (who was super patient and kind). Like when it was time to clean up, they totally did. I think I even heard them singing the “Clean Up Song” and everything!

(Yeah … sorry about the Barney flashbacks.)

Though no one is paying me to say this, I highly recommend Play-Well to any parent looking for birthday party idea or a major Winter Is Boring Us group play date that has a healthy mix of fun and education. Two thumbs way up!

Reading, Writing and … a Giveaway

Parental Intel Thursday, March 24, 2016

If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I absolutely adore books. By extension, I’m big reader. Always have been. I’m also a bit of a book snob. For example, I like printed books, ones that I can hold in my hand and write notes along the margins of and — fine — sniff a little. (Don’t act like I’m the only one!) Basically, the whole e-book thing didn’t call out to me, despite how many times I was told how convenient or neat or cool e-readers were. I wasn’t budging.

Then my son started reading on his own, and this kid got deep into it. He’s officially an avid reader, and I love it. I so enjoy watching him crawl into a book and rest there until we have to practically pry the hardcover thing from his hands because it’s bedtime.

The thing is, he really likes having more than one book on hand while he’s reading — so he can switch it up as needed. This means stacks, short and tall, on tables, in backpacks and carry-ons when we travel. Not the best.

Yeah. I started giving e-readers a second look.

So when Amazon approached me with a partnership idea to help get kids hyped about books and engaged in reading on Kindle devices, I was like:



Plus, March is National Reading Month and Ms. Mary Mack just celebrated its 6th blogiversary on Tuesday. Naturally, that brought even more of this:



We got to try out Amazon’s Kindle for Kids bundle,* which includes:

  • a Kindle e-reader
  • a durable, kid-friendly cover
  • a two-year warranty on the device which protects against spills and drops.

Kindle for Kids Bundle | Ms. Mary Mack

I was impressed with the way my son, 7, jumped right into this thing. It’s similar to a tablet in its tap and scroll functionality, but the important difference is that Kindles (and other e-readers) are designed specifically for one purpose: reading. There’s no access to apps, games or social media. No distractions. I liked that there was a Minecraft-free zone where my kid could sink into a story or three. No square-life villagers or zombies popping up unannounced — unless he was reading and e-book about them!

Breakfast reading went a whole lot smoother. In fact, The Youngster’s initial reaction to the Kindle was: “Cooool! Mom, it’s way easier to turn the page without ripping it!”

Truth, child. Truth.

Kindle Kids bundle | Ms. Mary Mack | photo by Nicole Blades

“Mom, it’s way easier to turn the page without ripping it!”

Another thumbs-up from me came when I checked out the cool features:

  • Dictionary Lookups – Kids can easily find definitions from the New Oxford American Dictionary without ever once leaving the page they’re reading
  • Vocabulary Builder – When kids look up words on Kindle, they are automatically added to the Vocabulary Builder on the device. With Vocabulary Builder, they can also use flashcards to learn the definitions and usage of words.
  • Family Sharing – Kindles let you share books with your partner and up to four children.
  • Word Wise – Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words so kids can keep reading with fewer interruptions. Tap on a word to bring up a simple card with definitions, synonyms, etc.

And with thousands of titles from which to choose (of course he started with some books from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series), The Youngster was happily wrapped up in stories, without a stack of books at his feet.

The only hiccup for me is that this Kindle model doesn’t have a backlight, so when it gets dark in the room (or plane, train, automobile), it’s pretty much a wrap on the e-reading experience.

All said, I really the Kindle for Kids bundle; it makes a lot sense to me the parent of a Reading McReaderson. And now I’m happy to offer you a chance to get one for you family, too!

That’s right, one lucky Ms. Mary Mack reader will walk away with a bundle — totally gratis. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment with your favorite children’s book. Think: the one that you would download imeejetley after cracking open your new Kindle.

A winner will be randomly selected on Friday, April 1. No foolin’. Good luck!

*Special thanks to Amazon for providing me with a Kindle for Kids bundle to take on a test drive. 


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