This Photo of the Week — the first of 2019 — was taken on the last day of 2018. On New Year’s Eve, my sister, brother-in-law and nephews came up to visit me in Long Beach. Of course, they wanted to do the quintessentially Long Beach things, like eat at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles and check out the Aquarium of the Pacific. This image captures one of my favorite moments from the latter. My nephew Jordan, ever the animal lover, wanted to go inside the lorikeet forest exhibit and feed the tropical birds nectar. And to say that they were feeling a bit peckish would be an understatement! As soon as we entered the enclosure, the lorikeets swarmed Jordan. I was initially nervous that he would freak out about the birds being too aggressive and landing on his head and arms. But actually, Jordan ended up having the time of his life. We ended up going through the exhibit twice back to back. What a day! Alternate titles: “He’s for the Birds,” “Boys and Birds of a Feather” and “A Flock of Lorikeets.”
This Photo of the Week was one of many that I captured on a recent trip to visit family in Detroit. To the untrained eye, these may look like your run-of-the-mill wooden clothes pins. But to me, they’re artifacts from my many summers spent at my grandparents’ house. Even though my grandparents have a dryer, we would often hang our clothes out to dry on the clothes line in the backyard. At first I dreaded the task (I’d much rather play on the swing or jump on the trampoline), but I soon grew to enjoy it. It’s hard to explain, but the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finished hanging a load of laundry was palpable. The chore was also an opportunity to hear stories from my grandparents about my dad, aunts and uncles’ antics growing up. Seeing the wear on the clothes pins made me wonder just how many lessons and laughs, and how much love is contained inside these “family ties.”
This Photo of the Week is dedicated to a place I once called “home.” This image is the address of my paternal grandparents’ house on the westside of Detroit. It’s a beautiful brick wonder full of character, warmth (Grandma has the heat cranked up to 80-something degrees at all times), love and memories. When I was about 6 years old, my Marine father was deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War, and me and my little brother Robert went to live with my Grandma Clara and Granddad Freddie while he was overseas. When my dad returned safely, this would be our summer home every year when school was out. Last week I found myself back there for a much-needed visit with my dad. My grandparents are getting up there in years — Grandma is 84 and Granddad is 93 — and while their health isn’t what it once was, their spirit is stronger than ever. It did my heart well to go back home, even if for only a few days. (*Cues “Home” from “The Wiz.”)
Look at those itty bitty toes! They belong to my newborn nephew, Marquis, and they are the most precious star of this Photo of the Week. Last Saturday, I had the privilege of meeting my baby neph for the first time, and he is the cutest, tiniest bundle of joy. Of course, the little guy was sleeping most of the time, but that didn’t stop me from capturing a few precious moments. There’s something about babies’ tiny feet that make me swoon. So adorable, right?! I look forward to watching these itty bitty toes grow over the years. Congrats to my sister, Ayesha, and brother-in-law, Skylar, on their beautiful baby boy!
This Photo of the Week centers on the cutest little piece of decor from my sister’s baby shower this past weekend. As you may remember, Ayesha and her husband Skylar are expecting a baby boy. My sister took care of the decorations, and I was so impressed by the M that she decoupaged with a world map background. (P.S. I have a feeling that some of her other creations just may appear as future Photos of the Week here). What does the M stand for, you may be wondering? It’s for my future nephew’s name, Marquis (the “s” is silent, as is with the French pronunciation). I can already tell he’s gonna be bougie! LOL. Totally kidding! I’m so excited to welcome him. He’ll be here before we know it!
This Photo of the Week was captured this past weekend at my good friend Amber’s baby shower, and she looked gorgeous — big baby belly and all! She and her husband AJ are expecting a baby girl, Daryn. I got to feel my honorary niece moving around in her mom’s stomach, which was the coolest yet weirdest feeling. There’s legit a baby in Amber’s stomach! And she’ll be here real soon. This image was taken when Amber picked the winning onesie from the little garden of onesies that guests decorated. There’s actually a really cute story behind it. Amber’s late grandfather used to call her “Peanut,” so I’m sure seeing the little peanut drawing on her baby girl will bring fond memories of him to mind. There’s hints of how special the name “Peanut” is by the smile on Amber’s face. I can’t wait to meet little Daryn! Alternate titles: “Baby’s Got Bump,” “I Don’t See Nothin’ Wrong With a Little Baby Bump and Grind,” “Peanut’s Pretty in Pink” and “Watch Out World — It’s a Baby Girl.”
This Photo of the Week was taken on Mother’s Day, when my sister Ayesha found out she and her husband are having a baby boy! We had a gender reveal party to break the news, which came in the form of blue confetti and Hershey’s Kisses falling from a question mark-shaped piñata. My mom had the ultrasound sealed in an envelope and we opened it together via FaceTime. It was really a struggle to keep it under wraps. At the party, we had family members guess the baby’s gender in advance and the majority of people were expecting it to be a girl, as there are four nieces on my side of the family. However, my brother-in-law Skylar has a mostly male family. I can’t wait to meet my second nephew! We’re already offering name suggestions to my sister, who refuses to listen. The front runners based on input from me and my brother Jamaal are Ashley (hey, it traditionally was a boy’s name) and Da’Johndre. I’ll let you guess who’s responsible for which. Alternate titles for this photo: “Oh, Boy!,” “Blue Bundle of Joy,” “Blue’s Clues” and “Bracing for Baby Boy.”
Today is my nephew Jordan’s ninth birthday, so naturally he is the star of this Photo of the Week! Our family celebrated the occasion yesterday during a makeshift Mother’s Day/Gender Reveal/Birthday Party, and Jordan was the center of attention at several points throughout the day — just the way he likes it. LOL. This image was taken moments before he blew out his candles. I call this Photo of the Week “Birthday Wishes” for obvious reasons. I love how there’s a visible twinkle in his eye. It’s like he just came to the realization that he just might attain what he’s about to ask for. Jordan, I hope all your wishes come true and pray for many many more birthdays spent celebrating your precious life! Love you, nephew 🙂
This Photo of the Week No. 11 was taken last weekend at my good friend Amber’s ’90s-themed kickback in Temecula. Not only is she “thirty-fine,” but she’s expecting a little one! I call this one “Amber’s Got a Baby (On the Way)” as a nod to the iconic ’90s Tupac song “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” although not as depressing! It’s all love here. This dynamic duo, Amber and AJ, are some of my favorite people in the world, and are definitely my and my guy’s favorite couple to hang with. I’m filled with so much joy at the blessing that awaits them — a precious baby girl! Can’t wait to meet her. Alternate titles: “Parental Units,” “Baby Bumps and Shakin’ Rumps,” “Parentz in the Hood.”
You’re in for a treat in more ways than one for this Photo of the Week! My adorable niece Azalea turned 1 this past weekend, and we had a low-key family party at my mom’s house to celebrate the occasion. Of course, the birthday girl had her very own cake. And the moment we were all waiting for was when she dove head first into the sugary confection. When she lifted the cake with both hands and took a gargantuan bite, my siblings, parents and I all let out shrieks of delight and amazement that ended up spooking her. Fun times!
It was hard choosing just one photo from the party to share, but I especially love this image, which I call “Shrieks Startle Sweet Cheeks,” taken seconds after the aforementioned moment. Zae, with her big, beautiful brown eyes and kissable chubby cheeks, looks terrified and tired. One might even say frosted cake wasted! Also, the juxtaposition of the tiny crown and other regal flair against the mess of frosting all over her face, hands and clothes is just down-right hilarious. Alternate titles: “Let Her Eat Cake,” “Frosted Cake Wasted,” “Tastes Like Trouble,” “Never Too Much of a Good Thing,” “Having Her Cake and Eating It, Too.” It was Zae’s first time having cake, and I can’t wait to bear witness to countless other firsts that are ahead for her precious little life. Happy birthday, baby girl!