Crockpot Chicken ⏤ Vol 43
Figuring out our tiny human while listening to one of my favorite albums of '97
Today is my first day back at work. My maternity leave has officially ended. 😢
My return to work looks a little different than most. Instead of jumping back into full swing, I am slowly ramping up my workload. Blessed that I can do this and be at home with JJ.
#ConsultingLife has its perks, but it also has its challenges. Like paying my taxes and a non-paid mat leave, but for my family and me, the benefits, flexible AF schedule, work about 25-30 hours a week, making more dollars than I did working FT and complete control of my calendar are 1000% percent worth it.
While I now have to split my time between JJ & work, I’m thankful that I get to be present for some of the most formative moments of his life and not drop him off at daycare. There is nothing wrong with sending your baby to daycare; I just didn’t want to make that choice so early in his life. Some families have no choice but to do this.
Hell, when our doula is here with him, I catch myself missing the hell out of him, and he is just on the other side of the wall, lol. SO I can only imagine how I would be if I had to drop him off somewhere this early in his life—major props to all the parents who have done this. I salute you.
Today for lunch we are having crockpot chicken. Cooking and prepping meals with an inconsistent tiny human is rather challenging. So I’ve leaned on old faithful to help me stay fed throughout the week.
I use 1 cup of chicken broth, a 1/2 can of coconut milk, 1 stick of butter, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings I feel like throwing in, 3 skinless chicken breast, and let that sucka cook for 3 hours. Shredding it in the pot about 2 hours in.
Now I have something to add to pasta, a salad, tacos, or I will enjoy it solo for a few days! Try it out for yourself.
Ok, let’s get into today’s topics:
Things I didn’t know
Things I didn’t know about newborns, well, my newborn.
I’ve said this before, but they just hand you a baby after roughly ten months and expect you to figure it out. Even if you grew up babysitting or caring for younger siblings, the experience is NOT the same as having your own baby. All the advice and stories you hear from your parents, family, and friends will never compare to you experiencing it for yourself.
Having JJ for almost 11 weeks now got me like, “y’all didn’t tell me any of this” to some of my girlfriends who had kids, but then I think, when the hell did they have time to tell me because they were probably trying to figure it out for themselves. Well, I will tell y’all some of the things I did not know about newborns.
They are noisy sleepers.
I couldn’t figure out the sound JJ would make while sleeping for the life of me. During a late-night What to Expect message board deep dive, I saw another mom describe her son’s sleeping sounds as a nocturnal dolphin. Bingo, sound identified!
Between weeks 5 and 8, this boy was a LOUD sleeper. I couldn’t believe he even knew how to make such noises. It took us a couple of days to get used to sleeping through his nighttime musical numbers. Now he doesn’t make as much noise, but his new sound sounds like he is a grown man clearing his throat in his sleep. Hilarious.
The startle reflexes are wild.
JJ will keep himself up all night if we don’t strap him down. He looks like a wet fish out of water otherwise. His arms and legs will flap around in the air unless we lock him into a velcro swaddle or wrap him extremely tight in a swaddle blanket. Thankfully we haven’t reached the point where he rolls yet because then we must stop swaddling.
And when he happens to escape from the swaddle, he will flee from the velcro one too; he will immediately let you know with a belting scream. This kid has to sleep a particular way, or it is a no-go for him.
We tell him all the time, bruh, you know you can just lay down and go to sleep. Not our baby. He needs special sleeping accommodations. Sounds like someone I know, Ahem…Dad!
He doesn’t like to be held a lot
All you hear is how much newborns love being held and up under their parents, especially mom. But JJ likes his space. Sometimes he does not want to be held or touched. He is like, sit me in my chair and leave me be.
I actually get in my feelings sometimes because I want to cuddle, and he like, “I’m good over here.”
One time I saw on the monitor he was up from his nap and lying in his bassinet looking around. So I was like, OK, yes, let me grab him for a bit of snuggle time. When I picked that baby up, he was not having it. I laid him back down, and the crying stopped immediately; he went back to looking around his room.
He is so dramatic. I guess he gets that from me.
Tracking their feeds & sleeps helps tremendously
They made us track everything in the hospital, and he had to “be at a certain point” before they gave us the green light to leave. We tracked wet and dirty diapers, how long he stayed on my boob, how much formula he ate, and how long I pumped. We did this for our entire hospital stay (4 days) and then two more days after that because the pediatrician wanted to see his habits at his first appointment.
Then we stopped tracking because it was a little bit of a hassle writing things down until we realized it made our lives so much easier.
We don’t track his diapers anymore, but when he eats, how much, what he eats, and how long he sleeps is a must for us to know. This hungry boy eats every 2-3 hours. And sometimes I am like, “I just fed you,” and it’s really been almost 3 hours. Or I will be like yea he took an hour nap, and that sucker was really 20 minutes.
Food & sleep are crucial to their growth, and when we were not tracking it, I feel like we had a much more spirited (a nice way to say super fussy) baby. Now we are on top of it, we can plan for feeds much easier with preheating bottles or making sure he isn’t sleeping the day away because we will pay for it at night.
He gets bored easily
JJ knows when you are lazily playing with him. He like, “I can entertain myself better than what you are doing right now,” is how he looks at me.
I mean, it’s only so much you can do with a squirmy tiny human who can’t hold his big ole head up on his own (he is in the 91% percentile for his head, lol) and doesn’t like to be held all the time. So entertaining him can be a daunting task, but we have the best fun when I get it right, and that gummy smile shines bright.
You wouldn’t think babies get bored, but they do. I even have to switch where I have his chair in the house so he gets different views throughout the day.
Every day brings something new we are learning about our little guy, but it’s the best, most exciting journey I’ve taken so far in life. Watching him learn new things about his own body and environment is exciting.
I would never believe you if you told me that I would be attending the church of one of my favorite rappers of the late 90s.
Harlem World is one of my top favorite hip-hop albums of the 90s, so when I moved to Atlanta and found out that Ma$e had a church in the city, I was there.
But before I get into that story, let’s talk background on rapper turned pastor turned rapper turned pastor rapper or whatever he is doing now.
So Mason Durrell Betha is a fraternal twin born in Duvall County, aka Jacksonville, FL. At three, his parents moved the fam to Harlem, and Mase stayed here until his parents sent him back to Jacksonville @ 13 because he was running ramped in Harlem, getting into trouble, and ish. In Jax, he started attending church for the first time.
In his autobiography, Revelations: There's a Light After the Lime, he mentions the moment God called him to become a pastor, and it was when he attended a church in NY and had a conversation with LL Cool J, I believe. Yes, I read this book; it was actually good.
At 15, he is back in Harlem playing ball with Cameron Giles, Cam’Ron. These two thought they were NBA-bound, but the universe had other plans for them.
They decided to join a lil rap group called Children of the Corn, created by Big L, one of the most auspicious storytellers in hip-hop history, with a few others.
Why would a bunch of teens want to name themselves after a creepy-ass movie about white kids living in a cornfield? But “Corn” stood for Corner in their version, Children of the Corn[er].
Before Puffy sunk his claws in his after-BIG protege, Dame Dash was Children of the Corn’s manager. The group didn’t get to see much action because two of the five members were killed; Bloodshed in a car crash in ’97, and Big L was murdered by his homie in ’99. RIP Big L, another hip-hop legend gone too soon, 24yo.
While the group was still intact, individual members tried to do their own thing outside the group, which is where Puffy enters. In ’96, Mase's twin sister introduced him to BIG’s road manager and took him down to Atlanta to meet Jermaine Dupri & Puffy. Mase performed for Puffy at the Hard Rock Cafe on Peachtree Road in Downtown Atlanta and got a $250K deal with Bad Boy. One week later he was featured on 112’s Only You with BIG. I haven’t watched this video in years, I completely forgot Biggie was in it.
*sidenote* The Hard Rock Cafe used to be the spot in the early 00s. This one on Peachtree always jumped.
Around this time the two former teammates, Mase & Camron where having a little beef of their own. When Mase got signed to Bad Boy, Cam was off at college in Texas, but he got kicked out for some reason. When he got back to Harlem, he started hanging out with Mase again and another up-and-coming artist Joe Moe, now known as Jim Jones.
Well Jimmy and Mase had a falling out which caused Cam to fall out as well. Cam thought he was moving funny because he had his record deal. He also asked Cam to pay him $50,000 to appear in the Horse & Carriage video where Mase sings the incredibly catchy hook to the song. Have you ever noticed that Mase is nowhere to be found, but his voice is all over the track? Cam didn’t want to pay him. Shady boots.
Right before Mase signed to Bad Boy he was still going by Murda Mase, but he dropped the “Murda” and went by Mase to be more “marketable.” I am sure Puffy was like, bruh, if you want this check, you must drop this murda mess cause we already got too much heat on us right now. Mase stepped on the Bad Boy scene in ’96 when the BIG/PAC beef was at an all-time high.
1997 was Mase’s year.
Harlem World debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Pop and R&B LP charts and eventually became 4x Platinum in the US. Unfortunately, Harlem World was such a massive success for Mase that he couldn’t produce the same quality with his second album. Between his first two albums, he did numerous features. One of my favorites was probably Mariah Carey’s Honey Remix.
I think what makes Harlem World so perfect is the interludes. Y’all remember interludes? Albums nowadays don’t have these. The White Girl & Phone Conversation interludes are some of the best interludes to date. FYI - If you listen to the phone conversation interlude, you must tune out the background song 😑.
And don’t get me started on the final track on the album, Jealous Guy, which is an off-key masterpiece.
This album features some great artists — 8Ball, MJG, Black Rob, DMX, Hov, Total, Busta, Lil’ Kim, The Lox, Monifah, and 112. Not many albums today are jammed with features from exceptional talent.
*note to self* do some digging on Monifah.
Mase's second album, Double Up, was meh IMO. The album's lead single, Get Ready feat. Blackstreet was the only hit. The interludes were good, but besides that, I can do without.
Not too long after Double Up dropped, Mase announced that he was hanging up his rapper hat and putting on his pastor’s cap.
In a ’99 interview with Funkmaster Flex, Mase said he was retiring from music to pursue a calling from God, further stating that he felt like he was leading people, friends, and children down a path to hell. I laughed out loud when I read that, honestly.
While pursuing his calling, he enrolled as a freshman at Clark Atlanta University and began taking classes. No clue if he graduated or not, but he clearly was pushing forward, trying to remove himself from the music industry.
So let’s fast forward a little bit.
After a five-year hiatus, Mase decides to come back to music, but be on some non-cursing uplifting hip-hop music, sounds a lot like what Ye did. The album portrayed Mase's new Christian lifestyle and "cleaner" image, labeling himself as "a Bad Boy gone clean.”
But then he “left” the industry again to go back to preaching. This is where I enter the equation.
Somewhere between 2009 and 2010, I discovered Mase had a church in Buckhead. Being the fangirl I was, I decided to pay a visit. NOT to hear the good word of Pastor Mason Betha, but to see Ma$e!
I arrived at the 10a service 15 minutes early; I am never on time to Black church, just to make sure I could get a good seat. I assumed it would be a packed house in there. While it was a good crowd, the location was intimate, maybe holding roughly 150 people. To tell you how small the church was at the time, the choir consisted of five people; two singers and three folks on instruments.
When Ma$e came around the corner after his then-wife Twyla introduced him, I had the biggest smile. I forgot I was at church and not at a concert. The band was playing, folks were clapping, and the energy was hype.
When he opened his mouth to begin preaching, I said, “He sounds just like how I remember.” Nothing about his tone or cadence was different than when he would do radio interviews or talk on his album.
I was locked into his message until I looked at my phone, and it said 12:30p. He was STILL preaching. There were so many dramatic pauses and he is a slow talker; just listen to how he raps. Now imagine that same style in church. Service did not get out until almost 1p. I hadn’t been in church for that long since I was a teenager.
Anywho…I stayed a loyal churchgoing member even with his extended sermons. They eventually added a 12:30p service because the 10a got so crowded, forcing his hand to a 90min service.
Anytime I told someone where I went to his church, I had to fight my way through an argument to prove why he was a great pastor because he was. He was relatable and kept it real. Folks loved to hear him speak because it was the truth, he had been in many people's shoes before, and folks took to that.
But my loyalty faulted one day when I rolled up to church, and we had a guest preacher.
Pastors are called to do other things in the community or at other churches. Having a guest pastor is expected in any churchgoing community. We’ve had guest preachers before; this was nothing new. Pastor Mason also had a pretty loyal following in Phoenix, AZ, so he frequented there quite a bit.
But this is where it all went wrong.
His then-wife announced to the congregation that “Pastor was away on a mission.” So we figured he was out doing pastorly things. No biggie.
The next day, while driving to work, listening to the radio, I hear, “guess who showed up and summer jam yesterday, Mase.” I said WTF as I barely listened to whatever they were saying next.
I felt so betrayed. See, he told us when he was going back into music for the umpteenth time; he had a whole message for us. Told us music was his hobby, but the church and God were his priority, and he would never put music above God or us (the congregation). So when this fool decided to pop up and perform at SummerJam in NYC and forgo showing up to church on Sunday and his wife tell us he was on a “mission”, I was like, OKAY, this is what everyone was talking about.
I never returned to his church again.
After that, I was off Mase for a while; my feelings were hurt. Being lied to is one thing, but being lied to in the house of worship was a completely different feeling that I had never experienced.
I immediately tried to find a new church home, and I landed at New Birth, where the late-Eddie Long was the pastor. I thought I had found my way back into a good community, but something was off with this tight Under Armour shirt-wearing self. While sitting in the balcony of this mega-church, one day, I said, "why do I always see pastor’s nipples through his shirt?"
I only lasted a few services before leaving this church too. And it was well before his sexual assault allegations surfaced.
Somewhere in the mid-2010s, Mase’s El Elyon church closed its doors, and it seemed like he was back in music full time. I remember that he and Puffy went back and forth because Mase wanted his musical freedom back. I guess he had contractual obligations to Bad Boy, and Puff wasn’t letting him out the deal.
Yet again, Mase publicly said he was done with music but kept popping up on songs with other artists. I began to ignore his religious career and go back to what I knew best, Harlem World Mase.
Y’all remember he dated Malaysia from Basketball Wives for a minute?
And the internet streets say Mase was named pastor of yet another church, Gathering Oasis, in Atlanta in January of 2021. I can’t find anything current on what the church is up to now or if he is even there.
But he got new music out…
He can’t seem to make up his mind. He returns to music like it’s a toxic relationship he can’t escape.
Another loyal fan who also supported his religious career wrote this open letter that I appreciate. It sums up exactly how I feel about this flip-flop behavior.
I hope you enjoyed our chit-chat friend.
Before I go, I want to wish an early Mother’s Day to all my Monday Luncher Mommys. This will be my first Mother’s Day and I am over the moon with joy to celebrate being a mother to the most amazing, spirited little boy.
See you in a couple of weeks!