Friday, December 16, 2011

It's a Black and White Thing

I have something to share with you all, something you might be shocked to hear, but I have to get it off my chest.

Here goes...

My husband is...black.

...and I am...white!

Wait...it gets worse. We have children! *gasps*

Oh, and even worse yet...I am completely, 100% unapologetic about it.

I am going to be uncharacteristically controversial for a moment, and that's sarcasm, just in case you're just now tuning in.

Because I refuse to continue to argue with a woman on facebook as to why it shouldn't matter that Tyler Perry might be engaged to a black woman, and why, in any relationship, it shouldn't matter what color the skin, I'm choosing to write about it instead, and let the creative, irritated juices flow.

I have heard enough hate tonight to last me a while, so before I begin, please beware, that hateful comments will be deleted, no questions asked.

Now to give you a little background, I saw a comment tonight on an article about Tyler Perry's possible engagement, that stated how happy the commenter (a black woman) was that he was marrying a "sister" because "you know how people get when they get money." I very nicely stated that I meant no disrespect, but as a white woman married to a black man I can say that it is not money or color (or lack there of) that joins us, but our faith in God, and that whether they are pink, red, green, or blue I pray that their faith in God keeps their relationship strong. I even ended the comment with a ":)". I was not offended by what the woman said. She stated her opinion, and then I shared mine. But as usual, my opinion was misconstrued. I was verbally attacked by several other black women, one of which said if this made me uncomfortable and edgy then I should stick to my own race.

Hold the phone. Isn't this the exact kind of hatred and racism that black people have been trying to overcome for centuries?

You might be surprised (or you might not) to know that this is not the first of this hatred I have encountered. You also might be surprised (or not) to know that this kind of bitterness toward our relationship has never (to my knowledge) come from white people. I don't really talk about it, because I take it with a grain of salt, and because I don't want to offend anyone or give them the wrong impression, but the glares, the rude comments and behavior toward us, or rather me, have only come from black women. I cannot speak on Jelani's behalf, but that is what I have experienced. Everyone tends to look at us because it's hard to miss my ghostly white skin contrasted against his dark chocolate skin, but I have only gotten attitude from a very small demographic.

I am aware that a high percentage of black women are single, and I am also aware that a high percentage of black men are dating or married to white women. I don't claim to know why that is, but I think it is unfair to assume that black men with money and/or status purposely "turn their backs on black women." I don't think anyone of any color should have to apologize for or explain their love in their relationship. Contrary to what some might believe, I did not stealthily steal Jelani away from a black woman's grasp. We were both single at the time that we met, and we fell in love. It has nothing to do with money, education, status, or color. It has everything to do with us, and our relationship with Christ and with each other, and I shouldn't even have to explain that. 

You might rightly say that I will never understand a black woman, or her feelings about this. Correct. But I do understand that no one likes to be stereotyped. When you make comments like that about black men with white women, you are lumping them into a stereotype. Even more so, by stating that black men go after white women when they come into money or fame, you are lumping your own men into a status seeking, money loving, heartless category, and that. is. not. fair.

Lastly, and the part that irritated me most tonight: to the woman who told me that I should try to understand because one day my "black daughter will feel the same way," do not  tell me how my daughter is going to feel, and do not speak that kind of bitterness and resentment on her. Because, if we're being honest, that's what it comes down to.

1. my daughter is not black. she is both black AND white.
2. my daughter is beautiful and smart no matter what shade her skin is.
3. my daughter will be raised to know that the color of skin isn't what makes a person, and to have respect for people and their relationships.
4. my daughter will be raised with the love of Jesus, and to be confident in that, and to be comfortable with herself and her relationship with Him so that she will understand whether dating, married, or single, that His will for her life is what matters; His love for her is what matters, and, therefore know not to tear others down for what they have.

You can talk at me in circles all night about this just "being your opinion," but that doesn't change the hypocrisy of it, one iota, so here is a tip: Love your Lord, love yourself, and speak blessings; not curses.

I wouldn't normally add a disclaimer, but this is necessary: none of this is to say, in any way, that all black women feel this way. In fact, everyone in our lives, black and white, has been nothing but loving and supportive, and that is what matters. I LOVE the people in our lives.

Lastly, the only racial tension that has ever been in this relationship has been our very opinionated debates about James Brown and Celine Dion, and those are entertaining at their worst, so that's the way it's going to stay. Your bitter "opinions" aren't welcome here, but thanks for stopping by and keeping me inspired, and here's another ":)" for good measure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Love Story

Ever since I could talk, I have been verbalizing how much I wanted to play basketball. My mom kept a journal/scrapbook about my likes and dislikes from preschool through junior high. In it was the question, "What I want to be when I grow up," and in the space next to it is written, "basketball player," every single year. The handwriting changed over the years, but the goal never did.

Just before my 7th grade year, my dad convinced me to pick another sport. It was a strange request coming from someone whose rumored reputation in town was that of a tyrant of a father who wouldn't let me, my sister or any of our teammates participate in anything but basketball, but I obliged. The only sport season that didn't conflict with any of my basketball was the fall. The choice came down to volleyball or tennis. The girls that played volleyball were a tight-knit group that I didn't want to attempt to intrude on. I had just moved to town the year before, and was still working my way into the basketball group as the new girl. The tennis team, on the other hand, was made up of mostly juniors in high school, with no junior high team available. Even at that young age I knew I'd rather make a way for myself than to try to invade the territory of a group of 13 year old girls, so I chose tennis.

While my dad loved my passion for basketball, his logic here was based on his own experience. He never took up golf like his dad, and he regretted it. Instead he had played basketball and volleyball in high school, both sports requiring many players to compete. As an adult, he found it difficult to find enough people to play, and so he'd gradually stopped trying. With some tennis under my belt, one day, he was certain, I'd have a much easier time finding one more person to hit with than 9 others to play ball with.  

I was a good little girl, and I listened to my dad. I was put on the tennis team as a manager, but was able to practice with the team, and even scrimmage with other teams' managers. After the first week of practice, however; I wanted to quit. I never wanted to quit anything as much as I wanted to quit tennis. I was horrible. See, I had been playing, practicing, and even competing in basketball since I was 4, so I quite literally don't ever remember being bad at it. Most of what I learned, I don't even remember learning. I just know how to do it. Now, here I was, age 13, taking up a completely foreign sport where I have to hit a ball with a racket, and my first week of practice, I couldn't connect that ball and racket to save my life.

I'll spare you all the details, but I didn't quit. Of course when my dad realized the reasons I wanted to quit were because it was "hard," and I wasn't "good," he wouldn't allow it. We made a deal that I had to finish the season, and then make the decision. Truth be told, I began to really like the game. I stuck with it. After all, it was only 3 months out of the year. It still couldn't hold a candle to the feeling I got when running a basketball up the court, but it was fun, and actually helped me with some of my basketball skills.

Most of you know how this story goes. I went on to play basketball in college, which was my dream. I remember my freshman year, after a grueling practice, I grabbed a ball from the rack and headed back to the gym to do some shooting, and a more seasoned teammate of mine, confused as to why I was going back for more, told me, "Give it a few years. You'll get tired of that." I knew I wouldn't, and I never did. However; sadly, my career was cut short by an unexplainable ankle injury in 2003, and I have spent the last 8 years trying to get back on the court.

Be patient. There really is a reason for that whole tennis story, I promise.

This morning, I grabbed a basketball at 5:45 am and went to the gym; the same gym I played my years in college. Normally I would be running on the treadmill, but I wanted to shoot. Now eight years after my injury, I've finally been able to return to the court, and am playing in a competitive rec league. The treadmill has gotten me in shape for it, but I want to be comfortable with the ball too. So I found myself shooting this morning, in an empty gym where all the bleachers were pulled out and ready for the women's game tonight. I am almost 30, yet the sound of that bouncing ball in an empty gym is still the most relaxing sound I've ever encountered. I vowed I would shoot until they kicked me out, certain that I wasn't supposed to be in there. After about 5 minutes someone shouted to me that they would be turning out the lights, and the only lights that would remain on would be the lights around the track above the gym. "OK, thanks," but I kept shooting. They did turn out the lights, but I still kept shooting. I shot until I made 100 baskets, and then I stopped counting and just enjoyed myself, the sound of the bouncing ball, and the swish against the net, and I prayed. I must have looked like an idiot, shooting in the dark at 6:30 am, but I couldn't help but laugh to myself, and I prayed that my children would be "idiots" for something too. I pray that they would find something; something productive that they have a great talent for, something they are so passionate about, and something they are certain they are called to do, that even after a season ends, and the lights go out, they still find themselves drawn to it like nothing else.

Nothing has ever replaced basketball in my heart, and thankfully, I have found many leagues filled with women to play, and Dad, I have yet, to find a tennis partner. There it is.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Best Behavior Month

I remember, as a child, once the month of December hit, I tried so hard to always be on my best behavior. I did not want to be on Santa's naughty list, and I treated it as though the list didn't exist the other 11 months of the year. But December, man...that was Santa's month, and if I wasn't extra good, I just knew my stocking would be empty. I never believed he gave coal to the bad boys and girls. That's a bit dark for Santa, don't you think?

As an adult, I've noticed I do nearly the same thing. Christmas gets closer, and while Santa's list no longer frightens me, I think about Jesus, and I just know I need to try to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend...person, and so I begin to try harder. This all hit me last Wednesday, November 30th. It was the most rotten awful day, for no apparent reason. I was the most rotten, miserable person...again, for no apparent reason.

Brace yourself, because I am about to get very real with you. I believe I'm not the only one that has felt this way, but most moms are terrified to admit it. I love my kids. I love them with all of my heart and then some, but that Wednesday, that evil, awful day, I couldn't find it in me to like them. I was trying to finish up a couple of crochet orders for customers. I was ahead of schedule, and not really pressed for time, but I like to stay ahead of the game, and once I've started something, I have a hard time putting it down. Now that doesn't mean I neglect my children, but that particular day they were particularly needy. After every bite of food, after every meal I gave them I was countered with, "Mommy, I'm still hungry! Can I have something to eat please!" which sounds cute and legitimate, except it was never without a whine, and it was only their way of getting 'treats'. They were suddenly very full when I would just give them more of their meal.

They used me and my newly proclaimed craft corner, as their personal jungle gym, and refused to listen to any of the following: "Don't jump on the couch! Stop yelling. Don't hit. Don't touch that. Get out of your sisters face. Keep your shirt on..." you get the idea. They abused phrases they've heard me say, and took them out of context, so that every so often I heard one of them say, "ExCUSE me?" or "Don't talk to me that way!" when they didn't get what they wanted. Everything they said was a scream, demand, or whine. The words "please" and "thank you" seemed to have escaped them, and they would not leave me alone to do my work. They constantly made me miss stitches and have to start over, lose count and have to start over, or just plain mess something up and have to start over.

If you know my children, this is their rarest form. On a typical day, I can sit and blog, crochet, or sew, while they play together or watch Sesame Street. On a typical day, they go down for a 2 hour nap in the afternoon with no problems, and on a typical day, they eat what I give them without any complaints. As you can see, this was no typical day. I was no longer feeling like their loving mother, but rather like their big sister that they just would. not. leave. alone.

And so, I began acting out like a 10 year old girl, saying things to them in a tone I very likely used on my little sister many, many times. "Get away from me! Leave me alone for just one minute! Don't touch me!" As a last resort, I began to get sarcastic with them, "Nice. Super. That was a great idea!" I don't need to tell you that it was completely lost on them.

My irritability all came to a head when my pork bbq in the crock pot didn't shred like it was supposed to, making it very difficult to put on sandwiches, and tough for the kids to chew. Being a Wednesday, I purposely planned a crock pot meal because the kids had Awana in the evening. Awana is a church youth group for just about all ages. They even have Bible studies for the parents there waiting. It starts at 6:30, meaning we have to leave by 6, which is usually when we'd be eating dinner, but with the pork bbq in the crock pot all day, I just knew we'd be able to smoothly and quickly eat at 5:30 and get out the door on time. Instead, I was rushing two "still hungry" kids out the door at 6:15, smelling like botched pork bbq.

The whole way to Awana, I was muttering irritated comments about the drivers, and didn't even realize it until I heard Elijah from the back seat say, in an irritated tone, "Nobody don't know how to drive their cars!" I then toned it down, keeping my irritation silent.

We pulled up to Awana, I got the kids into their classrooms, and was really looking forward to sitting outside the church sanctuary, crocheting my latest order. For weeks now, I've used this 1 and a half hours for myself, just to sit quietly by myself, and crochet. Most nights the worship team is practicing, so I even get some nice, relaxing music. I sat down, opened my bag, and let out a loud, obnoxious groan, muttering, "You've GOT to be kidding me!" I brought the unfinished project, and forgot the yarn. There were a few items I sewed on while sweating from the fumes that I was certain were spewing from every pore in my body. In the 10 minutes that took, a woman sat down next to me, and invited me to join her prayer group. I went, somewhat reluctantly, but realizing I had nothing else to do at that point.

While they were praying for my ridiculous prayer request that I wouldn't be so doggone miserable and irritable, I realized, this was it. December was going to be the next day, and Jesus was watching! That's His month. As crazy as that logic is (I don't need to receive e-mails, ministering to me on how Jesus watches all year 'round, I get it), it taught me something. I thank GOD that Jesus doesn't have a naughty or nice list based on my actions, but that He has a gift to give to everyone wanting to receive it.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" Ephesians 2:8 

So, while I will try not to be such a miserable, irritable person, it is comforting to know that even when I'm so awful that I can't even love myself, Jesus still loves me.

The next day was December aka Best Behavior Month, and I took a break from my crocheting, to be a "nice list" mommy, and got down on the floor to craft with the kids. It's amazing what good medicine that was for all of our miserableness. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Victor, the Not-So-Friendly Bull

Last Friday we took the kids to the UB (University at Buffalo) men's basketball home opener. It was a thrill, more for me than for the children. Basketball season is the light of my dark, cold, dreary, Buffalo winters. And last winter was a very, very long winter indeed. Basketball season came and went, and we were only able to go to about three games. Elijah had developed a fear of the mascot.

This wasn't just an "I don't like him" fear. This was a "trembling and crying in his car seat as soon as we approached campus" fear, and I just wasn't willing to put my child through that kind of torturous anxiety no matter how badly I wanted to be at those games.

See, my four years at UB, Victor E. Bull was a happy bull.

I guess people found him to be a bit cheesy. After all, a giant blue bull with a goofy looking grin isn't the most intimidating mascot in NCAA history. But he was more for the kids than anything. He provided a very family friendly atmosphere at the games. Well, except for maybe that one time that he and his partner, Victoria, attacked the Rutgers mascot at the football game...but he was asking for it.

Anyway, sometime between 2005 when I graduated and left Buffalo and 2009 when we moved our family back to Buffalo, Victor underwent a serious makeover.

Meet angry Victor:
Now, do you see why my 4-year old son trembles in his presence?

So last Friday, my parents were visiting. I felt that between my husband and me and Mimi and Pop Pop, Elijah would feel safe, and all would be well, but as soon as we told Elijah where we were going, he protested by taking forever to put his socks and shoes on. That's a major protest if you know my son. He doesn't refuse to do things. He's not that defiant, and if we're going anywhere he's usually so excited that he's the first with this socks and shoes on.

Shockingly, we made it into the gym right on time. We ignored our seating and sat as far away as possible so as to avoid any of Victor's runs though the lower bleachers. But like being stalked by a predator in the jungle, Elijah wouldn't turn his back on Victor, and rarely took his eyes off of him. From where we sat, Victor was the size of my thumb, but Elijah wasn't going to let that fool him.

Close to half-time, Elijah seemed to have forgotten about Victor briefly when he noticed the bounce house down in the corner of the gym. Thinking that this was a great opportunity for Elijah to see how much fun could be had at a basketball game, I jumped at the opportunity to walk the 20 million stairs down there with him. One itty bitty little problem. As we got closer, we noticed, or rather Elijah noticed, that the bounce house corner was the very corner where Victor was standing to cheer on the Bulls. Like a scared little monkey, he had quickly climbed his way up to my hip, and had his arms and legs clenched around me so tightly I could have let go and he wouldn't have budged. He fussed and began to scream that he wanted to go back, but we'd already climbed down 19 million of the 20 million steps, so I pressed forward, explaining to him that Victor wouldn't touch him, and that I would carry him straight to the bounce house. Against his protests we made it safely to the bounce house, and thankfully, Victor walked to the other end of the court during the time-out. Elijah waited patiently in line for his turn to jump. I tried to stand with him while craning my neck to still watch what I could of the game. I was grateful when his turn came up to get inside, because then I knew right where he was, and I could focus a bit more on the game, but no sooner did he climb in, than I heard him screaming. I turned around to see him standing, frozen in the corner of the bounce house. I followed his eyes past me to Victor, who had made his return back to this corner of the gym. Maybe it's just me, but it's my opinion that if they were going to create him to please the students, which they obviously did, he should spend most of his time helping the cheering of the student section on the opposite side of the gym from the bounce house, not hanging around small, terrified children. I quickly plucked Elijah out of the bounce house (no way he was getting out of there on his own), and carried my clinging little monkey back up the 20 million steps to the nose bleed section. Did I mention he weighs about 45 pounds?

Later that night Pop Pop tried to talk to Elijah about Victor. We've all had this conversation with him over the past year and a half. He understands what a costume is, and that there is a person in there but liking Victor has to be on his terms.

"Did you have fun at the game, Elijah?" Pop Pop asked him.
"Yeah, but I don't like Victor."
"Well, Victor is nice. Someday you'll like him."
"But he makes this face,"  Elijah said.

"I'd like him better if he made this face."


So there you have it, Victor. Those are his terms. Smiling on the inside just isn't going to cut it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Knot Defeated

Every now and then there is something rather small that begins to get the better of me, and I refuse to let it. However, while I am busy refusing defeat, I spiral downward into an angry, muttering-under-my-breath obsession, which almost never leads to victory.

Last night was not one of my finer moments. 'Tis the season for crochet, and I have been doing a lot of it lately. I have many projects with deadlines this time of year, and I hate wasting my time on a stubborn skein of yarn. That's right, I call it a "skein" no matter how dorky, nerdy, old that makes me sound. By stubborn, I mean that one skein of yarn that absolutely refuses to unravel in an orderly fashion, the kind that you have to untie, and de-knot every couple of stitches.

I began the scarf sometime around the end of Grey's Anatomy, so, let's say 9:45 pm, for the sake of a timeline here. I had only gotten through the first row when I noticed that the opposite end of the yarn was rapidly twisting and wrapping around the yarn I was trying to stitch with. This may not make any sense to most of you, but it was incredibly annoying. Every few stitches I had to go back and unravel and untwist the back end of the yarn. I finally became so frustrated with it that I was determined to fix it. I foolishly thought that if I just pulled the end out the other side, the twisting and knotting would cease. That seems simple enough, right?

See, it began looking like this:

There's a nice little string poking out at you, fooling you into believing that if you just pull on it, it will come and unravel nicely while you stitch. However when I pulled and stitched, the skein began collapsing tightly into itself as though some unseen suction had a hold of my yarn, or perhaps the yarn had it's own gravitational pull. Hard to say, really. I wish I had taken pictures of the whole process, but alas, I was in my angry, muttering-under-my-breath, obsessed mode, and therefore was frozen in my seat untangling two different ends of yarn, and trying to do so without taking apart the work I had already done on the scarf.

Jelani finally took it from me part way through Private Practice, so around 10:30 pm (yes, I keep track of time with my evening shows), and he was able to, by the grace of God, unravel the back half and get it balled up. So at around 11:30, I was left with a ball of yarn at one end, a quarter of a scarf at the other end, and a lap-full of knots in the middle. around midnight, Jelani insisted I go to bed. I refused. This knotted yarn represented all of my unfinished, scrapped projects, and every other knotted yarn that I eventually took the scissors to. I would not be defeated. He went to bed, and I persisted on, moving my ball through each knot. With every movement I thought for sure I'd reached the point where I could just pull and it would unravel, but instead, I found the knots getting smaller and smaller, and more difficult to move my ball through.

By 1:00 am my butt was numb, and when I realized my feet hurt, I looked down to find that all my toes were swollen. I've officially turned into a little old lady who needs to get up and walk around every 30 minutes to keep the blood flowing. But I still didn't move.

1:33 am was the time of victory!



I had sat through half of the evening news, reruns of The Simpsons, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, and Friends, and half of the second airing of Conan, and I finally had a beautiful ball of yarn with a string attached to my quarter scarf; no knots!

I wobbled to bed on my ballooned feet, got a whopping 6 hours of sleep, got my chores done this morning, and sat down to tell the world of my victory, when Elijah came to me with his Play-Dough; "Mommy, will you make me a ball?"

Too exhausted to do anything but sit and stitch, and with yarn-burn on my fingers (smaller, more paper-cut-esque rope burn), I cannot bring myself to touch the Play-Dough. I reluctantly concede defeat.

Nasty Knotted Yarn: 1                         Exhausted Yarn-Burned Mommy: 0

Well, played, yarn, well played.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Couponing Goes Wrong

Last night I made my first home-cooked meal in what seems like weeks. That was a very strange realization for me, as someone who loves to cook and bake, but sadly it's true.

I don't often bake or cook anything during the summer months because we don't have air conditioning, so three months out of the year we eat a lot of salads and sandwiches, which are mostly good for us. However, these last couple of weeks it has been frozen meals galore at the Greene residence, and I am not proud of that.

The addiction of couponing has sent me down a dangerous slope. I finally hit rock bottom when I noticed we had 15 boxes of frozen Stouffer's French Bread Pizzas in our freezer. That is embarrassing for me to even type, as most of you know how we love making homemade pizza. But here's the deal: you rarely (never) find coupons for organic foods, fresh fruits, or vegetables. Flip through your Sunday paper, and I guarantee you will find that 90% of your food coupons are for frozen and/or snack foods. This, I am quite certain; is why, when people from shows like The Biggest Loser get their refrigerators raided, everything gets thrown out; because middle America uses coupons and matches them with deals, and the best deals are on the most unhealthy foods!

Back to my addiction. It all began when Tops weekly circular came out with the sale price of their Stouffer's Pizzas and stating that purchasing a certain amount of boxes would earn you a $10 coupon off your entire purchase at the store. When I noticed I had coupons for the pizzas to add to the Tops sale, that was a no-brainer. I went, I bought, I returned with a free $10. I then used the $10 coupon to make non-food purchases, since those are typically more expensive. I used all the coupons I could, plus Tops offered their $1 coupon doublers that week, so I was able to get paper towels, shampoo and conditioner, dish soap, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets for somewhere around $5 after all the coupons were deducted and the $10 coupon was used. It was really quite amazing.

Then, as if to feed my addiction, Tops gave me even more coupons for more Stouffer's upon my checkout. The week being only half done, I laughed hysterically at all the goodies I could get with another $10, and MORE coupon doublers. AND, oh AND you can save on gas at Tops with every manufacturer's coupon you use. I've racked up more than $1 off a gallon before, and who doesn't need to save on gas? The saving was endless! Moooooahhahahaha!!

I did it. I bought more Stouffer's, and got more items practically free, in return. I had to stop once I realized there was no more room in my freezer, but, wouldn't you know it; Tops gave me MORE Stouffer's coupons! The more you buy at a time, the more coupons they give you, apparently. It's insane! I now have a $2 off 7 (yes, 7) boxes of Stouffer's French Bread Pizza coupon, and I am putting my foot down! No more. Of course it's easy to put my foot down now...now that they are no longer on sale, and now that I will not get $10 back for buying them. Now, with all temptation gone, I will take a stand.

With all but two boxes of that blasted pizza finally gone, I spent Sunday evening putting together a menu plan of meals for the week. Last night's meal wasn't even all from scratch. It was simply Apple Pie Pork Chops served with spinach sauteed in butter with garlic (don't knock it 'til you've tried it). And one serving of the the chops and spinach was only ever so slightly higher in calories than one little Stouffer's French Bread Pizza slice.

Despite the fact that half of the meal was still either from a box or a can, my family ate it up like it was their first (and last) meal ever. Chef Erin is back!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Parent Error

Lately I have been feeling as though my mind is turning to mush. While Jelani is off getting his education on, biggering his brain, I am home writing blogs with made up Dr. Seuss words.

One thing that has happened quite a bit recently just proves my fear to be true. A few weeks ago Elijah wet the bed two nights in a row. The first night I overlooked it. I reasoned that he drank a lot of milk before going to bed and slept a little later than normal. Plus, isn't that normal for young boys occasionally? However, he has been staying dry through the night since before his third birthday, so it was still a bit strange. When it happened the next night, and I was stripping down his bed and washing everything again, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember if I had taken him to pee before bed. When I asked Jelani about it, he couldn't remember either.

As the weeks went by, I continued having difficulty remembering to take him to pee. Many nights, by the time I would go to bed I couldn't remember whether I'd taken him or not. The child has an iron bladder, and if not reminded to go, he will hold it as long as he can. When he's awake, that is ok, because he knows when he absolutely has to go, but when asleep...not so much, so I've learned.

So at least two nights out of the week we put the kids to bed around 8, and by the time I get into bed and lie there a while, around midnight I realize the reason I can't fall asleep is because my brain is trying to tell me something, "Hey, Mom of the Year! You forgot to take your son to go pee!" I'll jump out of bed as I realize this and go to get Elijah. The poor child is so deep in sleep that each time this happens, as I'm lifting him out of bed, he startles awake and whispers, "Help!" before his voice has fully woken up. We make the midnight march to the potty, as he rubs his eyes and tries to understand what's happening. I discovered the hard way one night, when he nearly peed on me, that he's too asleep to aim.

The last time this happened, just two nights ago, it was old hat for Elijah. I carried him to the bathroom where he calmly unzipped his pajamas and began to pee. I honestly couldn't remember whether he had gone earlier or not, so I thought better safe than sorry, but when I asked him he confirmed, "No, Mommy. I didn't pee tonight."

Last night, I made Jelani help me get the kids ready for bed so that I had an extra brain keeping track of the events. Ever since Chastity began using the potty, my routine has been thrown a little bit. At least that's the excuse I'm going with. As Elijah went to pee, Jelani said, "Take note, Mommy." We went on to have our Bible and prayer time, but as we turned out the lights and got ready to sing, Elijah jumped off my lap and said, "I need to pee, Mommy!"

"You already did, Eli, remember?" but he was adamant. We waited while he tried to pee. Of course nothing happened, but at least now Elijah is aware of the situation and he knows that Mommy needs help making sure such things are taken care of so that his sleep is uninterrupted.

As it turns out Elijah's malfunction was clearly parent error.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poop Saves Lives

As a mother, I probably write/talk about poop more than the average person. Perhaps it is unprofessional of me, and maybe having the words "poop" and "fart" in my blog titles disqualifies me from ever being a respected writer. But if poop is wrong, baby, I don't want to be right.

You see, I believe, with all my heart, that poop has, rather unfairly, been given a bad name. Yeah, it stinks, and it's not easy on the eyes, but think about all the good that it does for you. People who cannot poop are not happy people. Just sayin'... So this is not only a blog, but a testament to what poop can do for you. Stay with me here.

I don't like missing church, though I am a firm believer that you can worship from wherever you may be. That's a rough transition, but bear with me. I have been sick all week with a nasty cold. My coughing has been violent and painful and consistent. I thought it wise to stay home today and not spread the germs, plus I still feel pretty miserable. That being said, I hate hate HATE that I have been missing out on all the fun in Buffalo's last bit of sunshine for the year. So Jelani packed up the kids and left for church, and I vowed that I was going to get out of this house.

I decided to take Selah (our beloved dog) for a walk. Sadly, I don't do this very often, because I am usually not walking, but running, and I am always doing it for exercise. No matter how hard I try to stop it from happening, Selah always manages to ruin my exercise with her potty breaks. This morning I made good and sure that she pooped before we left (but still took some bags just in case). We began our walk, and I began my talk with God. It makes me feel good while passing the time, and so I prayed.

Less than half way through a four-mile walk, she started dragging, which is usually my cue to stop and let her poop. I usually ignore it for as long as I can because I never believe she actually has to go. Reason being is that most of the time I do stop to let her poop a person, squirrel, bird, or leaf passing by can distract her enough not to go. Like putting the kids on the potty with a toy; I get no results. On days like today I become particularly angry because she already did all this at home. I mean, I don't have to stop to poop in the middle of my walks or runs! Why should she?

I finally gave in and let her go, checking my stop watch to see how much time I'd be losing. She pooped a good pound and a half more of poop, as if she hadn't pooped in days. I was muttering my annoyance while picking up her poop with only a bag between my hand and her waste. Not only was she interrupting my exercise, but also my prayer time. I was doubly annoyed.

We continued our walk, me with poop bag in hand. Of course there were no good samaritans with their trash bins out yet. I had walked about another quarter mile when I noticed a car speed through a red light. The other cars around him honked, as he kept going. As I approached that very intersection I realized something. Had I not lost that 45 seconds to picking up poop, I would have been in the middle of that intersection right when that car sped through the red light. You think I'm crazy, and that I'm exaggerating or making it up, but I promise you I'm not. Most people wouldn't know that for a fact because most people are not OCD like I am about recording calories and calories burned, and in order to record calories burned, you have to know exactly how long you've exercised and at what pace. I keep track of my times, my distances, and my pace every time I step foot out the door. I knew that I lost 45 seconds picking up poop and I discovered that it was a 45 second walk from where I stood, watching the car run the light, to the middle of that intersection.

Sometimes we complain because we're going through...well, poop in our lives. We're not always shown the end results, or the "what ifs," but maybe, just maybe that poop is placed there to protect us from stepping in an epic pile of poop.

I continued my walk with a smile on my face and a handful of a stinkin' reminder of God's love, wisdom...and humor. So stop giving poop the short end of the stick, because even poop can be used to save lives. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Lucky (Crafty) Husband

Most days you will find me in my sweats. I roll out of bed in the morning in gym shorts and a t-shirt. I get the kids dressed and fed, and go about my daily tasks. This has been my routine for a long time for two reasons.
1. After pregnancies, the only clothes I can fit into are my gym shorts and sweats...for who knows how long.
2. Typically my only time to workout  is during the kids' nap in the middle of the day, and I just don't see the point in showering and getting all dolled up before a workout.

Plus, a small part of me feels like doing all of that work is a colossal waste of time when I could be doing something productive with my children or something otherwise productive leaving me more time to spend with my children. At least that's what the whispers in my head tell me.

The problem with "most days" is that they leave me feeling disheveled, unkempt, and lazy, no matter how productive my day has been. So every now and then, when provided with the time, I run with it. I'll get a good shower, not just the kind where I wash so quickly that I can't even remember if I did or not, and end up washing again. I'll put on real clothes, do something other than a messy pony tail with my hair, and maybe even dab on a little make-up...just to run some errands.

I do this so rarely, that Elijah will ask, "Mommy, are we going to church?" when he sees me step out of the bathroom in jeans and a blouse, and Jelani will ask me if I'm looking for a boyfriend, and make a snide remark about not forgetting to wear my rings.

Today, I was feeling under the weather, and ever since high school, I have found myself to be more productive, as though I can fake being healthy, if I ditch the sweats and act a little glamorous. "Fake it 'til ya make it," right? I had some errands to run this afternoon, and Jelani had a short day. When he got home, I took a nice long shower, did a little something with my hair and face, and slapped on a pair of jeans I haven't worn in 5 years. I was greeted by, "Mommy, are we going to church?" and "Why are you so dolled up? Better put those rings on!" It's a shame when they treat my jeans and blouse like a rarely worn ball gown.

And I was off on a glamorous, errand running journey. I stopped by Toys 'R Us, coupon in hand, for an early Christmas purchase that was on sale. I am such a couponing freak! Then I had to swing by the post office to mail my mother the sweater she left here the last time she visited. Then, on my way out of the post office, something happened...something that has happened to me more in the last four months than ever happened to me between high school and college combined. I was...hit on?

No, seriously. I was hit on.

This makes number 3 since I've dropped 30 lbs, and I'm still not the size I was in college. Are older men just bolder and braver? Do they figure they have nothing to lose? I have to give guy #3 props though. It was the sweetest, and most respectful of the three hit ons. Guy #1 openly admitted to me, after only 30 seconds, that he was only in town for a week on business "lonely in my hotel room." Creeper. Guy number two shamelessly flirted with me while fawning over the love of his life (his cat) in the Pet Smart line, and again, admitted to me that he was only in town for another two nights before heading off to study abroad in England. What do I look like, exactly? I am a dog person for goodness sake.

With both of the first two, I had to quickly bring up the fact that I am married with children. Guy number three though; he was different. We made eye contact as I was leaving the post office and he was arriving. We exchanged polite hellos and how are yous, as I usually do with people I make eye contact with in passing. He was all smiles and unusually friendly, but it was refreshing. I kept walking, but he stopped me with, "I'm sorry, but you are really beautiful." As I turned around to thank him, and find a way to tell him I only have eyes for one, he put his hand out to introduce himself, gave me his name, and then immediately said, "Please, tell me you're not married." If you know me, you know how embarrassing this all was, so I laughed and told him that I am, in fact happily married, he continued a light but polite conversation about how he'd just moved to Buffalo from Palm Springs. I said, "Well, welcome to Buffalo," with a smile. He told me my husband was one lucky man...about 3 times, and as I walked away he yelled, "You make sure to tell him how lucky he is!" I laughed, but told him I certainly would (and I certainly did).

"Luck has nothing to do with it," he responded. "I'm just crafty."  He somehow believes that he fooled me into marrying him. "Was he white or black?" Jelani then asked me.
"Black. They're all black," I said.
He smiled a knowing smile. This matters for reasons I don't fully understand, but my theory is that Jelani likes hearing that other black men appreciate me. Maybe it makes him feel less crazy for marrying the whitest chick he knows.

And maybe, if this keeps up, he'll complain a little bit less about my sloppy pony tail and my comfortable clothing of choice. ;-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Mommy's Ode to Motown

I have way too many days when I feel incredibly uninspired...days when it feels like my life's work revolves around groggily figuring out which Facebook friend deleted me and where that darn hole is in my dish washing glove. Yet something magical happens when I open up Pandora, and crank up the Motown.

It has been said (by my husband), while listening to various Motown songs by various artists, that, and I quote, "There are a lot of people on this earth today because of this song." Be honest, husbands, and wives for that matter. If you're trying to seduce your spouse are you going to turn on the gospel songs? No. Are you going to turn to Chris Brown or Lady Gaga? Don't think so. You are headed straight for some Isley Brothers.

So, it occurred to me tonight, while doing my baking warm-up dance to Aretha Franklin's Think, that Motown gets the job done. I don't know if it's my old habit of always warming up to music before basketball games, but I've found that I don't get anything done before I've worked up a dancing, flailing, stomping, kicking sweat to some good, old-fashioned Motown. I've tried other genres, but nothing else makes me want to kick up my heels and spin into a baking, dancing, twirling, cleaning frenzy like the hits of Aretha, Diana, Stevie, Ray, and The Temptations, to name a few.

And so, after my twirling, punching, and dancing around the kitchen like a champion fighter (by night, super baker by day) display, I proceeded to bake Elijah's birthday cake #2 (come on...like I'm the only parent who celebrates their child's birthday twice when it doesn't fall on the weekend?). I made a sheet cookie cake and had the dishes done before it even came out of the oven. Motown. gets. stuff. DONE.

Soooo...here's to you, Motown. If not for you, my family would live in filth and go hungry, and my children would not even exist to witness my hip mom dance moves. Cheers!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Funover





What do you get when you cram every ounce of fun you possibly can into one day? One super mom with one super headache.

I planned Elijah's 4th birthday around UB's homecoming weekend because I thought it was convenient. This way, my parents and one of Elijah's best friends, E.J., could be here for a small party and catch a fun football game. So we kept Eli's birthday small, and, other then E.J. and his parents, only invited family. After planning that, I planned to also see old college friends...being that it was homecoming and all. So the plan was to start our day with Eli's party around noon, head to the UB tailgating to see my friends at around 3 or 4 for a 6 o'clock game, and then go out to eat with said friends after the game. I also promised to make a guacamole salsa, and jalapeno poppers for the tailgating party mostly because I love making food. Then I realized that one of my good friends was unable to make it to the tailgating for any of the fun and food and I, of course, promised to bring her a plate of food at work between the party and the game. After planning all that, I discovered that my one year anniversary of blogging was that very same day, and of course there had to be some fun involved there too, right? And so I planned a drawing between my group of followers on blogger, and my followers on facebook for some fun free give-aways.

So lets list the things I had to do:
1. Clean
2. Clean a lot! There are people coming, for goodness sake.
3. Make a cake. Did I mention Elijah specifically requested a Nemo cake? Super.
4. Make frosting.
5. Make salsa and jalapeno poppers.
6. Don't forget the chips!
7. Clean some more.
8. Get the air mattress ready for my parents.
9. Make sure we have tickets to the football game.
10. Make food for Eli's party of about 15 people.
11. Oh my gosh! I didn't wrap his presents!
12. Write all my followers down on tiny pieces of paper for drawing contest.
13. CLEAAAAAN! 

By Friday night I had begun to panic. Suddenly I realized how very little time there actually was for doing everything I had actually planned. To top it off, we planned on a brunch style meal for Elijah because he loves pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage, and because it was an early party. Late Friday night we changed the menu. What was going to be homemade pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage turned quickly into a taco chili I could throw in the crock pot, and Jelani volunteered his famous cheddar garlic biscuits. At approximately 10 pm on Friday night the yellow cake had been made, but not frosted. I had hoped to have that completely done and out of the way before Saturday, but...what can ya do?

I spent all morning Saturday running around like a maniac. I quickly realized that the cleaning I had done all week really should have been optional because once you cram 15 people, including about 6 children into our small apartment, plus food, plus presents, it looks as though the place hasn't been cleaned in months. Do you think I'll remember this next time and stress about it less? Nope.

At about 3 I realized I still had food to take to my friend (thank God I'd already set that aside), and we probably weren't going to make it to the tailgating until closer to 5. No big deal. I ran the food out, and got back to get myself ready for the football game. At about 5 I realized we'd be lucky to make it in time for the kick off...forget about tailgating. We rushed to the game, rushed to park, rushed to visit for a few minutes with my friends on our walk toward the stadium, and rushed to get our tickets and find our seats...in time for the second quarter. Phewww. The jalapeno poppers never got made, and the guacamole salsa was still in our fridge.

But through all of this rushing, and all of the chaos, it was such a fun and blessed day! Elijah got his first bicycle.
 Thanks to my baking, and Jelani's decorating skills, Eli's cake turned out pretty great!





 And we had a great time with family and friends!

...And then there was Sunday.

My eyes have always been bigger than my stomach, so to speak, and so when I envisioned a fun-filled birthday/homecoming/party/eating/contest drawing weekend, I consumed it all and vomited it all back out, spewing my crazy, one step behind, out of control antics all over our fun-filled time, leaving me with what I affectionately call the "funover."

Sunday morning I woke up with a headache that continually got worse. On our way out the door for church, my mom dropped her perfume bottle on the bathroom floor, shattering it to pieces, cutting open her thumb, and leaving our whole apartment smelling like Perfumania. After chuch, just when I thought my headache and nausea were subsiding, Chastity threw up all over the table at IHOP, and we came home to dog poop all up and down our hallway floor. FunOVER if ever there was one.

So I guess, now you can see why I am just now getting to this long overdue announcement. And with no further ado, the drawing went as follows: the first drawing is for those of you following me via facebook.



 Drum roll please!

And the winner is:




The next drawing, and for the grand prize...




<---This was super dramatic.















The grand prize winner is: 


Congratulations to Kara, and Megan on your winnings! Now I hope you didn't expect to get them right away because it would have been no fun to make them first for random people and then send them to whoever won. Now that I have my winners, I can make them more personal, and once they're ready I will contact you for your address.

And just like that, the fun is back on! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Doggy Bloggy

As I was running this morning, in the cold of Buffalo, where Autumn is upon us and means 40 degree weather in September, I was feeling really blessed to be able to run again. It has been a long, annoying road since my last ankle surgery in 2005.

Wait, this is a blog about the dog? I forgot, as I often do, because kids family running blogging almost everything trumps the dog these days, so back to my point.

While I was running this cold morning (did I mention it was really cold?), I couldn't help but think back to the very first time I ran post surgery...back when Selah was a rock star.

It was the beginning of 2007. It was a brief but wonderful time in our marriage when it was just the two of us, selfishly meeting only our needs, and the needs of one other, Selah. Just after Christmas we had needed and wanted a dog, and found the perfect one at the Humane Society in Charlotte, NC. She had been rescued by them from Animal Control who swore she was an aggressive danger, and they were determined to put her down. There was a lot of 'oooing' and 'awwing' and "I can't believe they would want to put her down!" and we were sold. Done and done. We done got ourselves a dog.

This was a glorious, kid-free time for her as well; back when she was endlessly adored, and we greeted her as excitedly as she greeted us when we would return home.

One morning in February, I got an upsetting phone call from Jelani. He had taken Selah out for a walk on a nearby path. At the time, we lived in a very busy, university area of Charlotte where we were surrounded by four lane roads and the speed limit was no less than 45 mph. However, there was a nicely paved path just down the street that weaved through the woods and under the major roads. I was a newly expectant mother, and as such, was exhausted, so Jelani took Selah out without me, and when I got his call I was still in my pajamas. We worked the second shift at the airport and didn't have to leave until around 1 pm.

"Selah is gone," he said into the phone, almost too calmly.
"What?!"
"She's gone. The collar snapped right off, and she took off through the woods. I've been looking for her, but every time I spot her off in the distance, she takes off, and goes farther away."
I was already putting on my shoes. "I'll be right there." I hung up the phone, and without a thought, took off running out the door and down the street...in bright red pajama pants. I couldn't bare the though of something happening to her, yet I was thinking the worst. So I ran straight on past the entrance to the path, and stayed on the street headed for the next major intersection. Jelani had told me, before hanging up, about where he lost her, and I knew there was an overpass right there. She could have easily found herself right on the street.

I ran as fast as my pregnant legs could carry me, and gasped when I noticed a pickup truck stopped in the middle of the busy road. Oh no!! Tears stung my eyes while my pregnant brain naturally assumed she'd been smashed to bits. But the good citizen had stopped his truck to grab a hold of Selah before someone could hit her. I thanked him.

I hugged her before even leaving the middle of the street. She had rolled in something dead, and I was tasting blood from my first sprint in almost two years, but I hugged her anyway. We panted in sync.

We got her safely home, cleaned her up, and went about our day. I think I even remarked on the momentous occasion of my first ever run on my least favorite ankle, and how I was victorious because I could still walk.

The end.

Fast forward to this morning, as I was jogging along the streets of a city I never thought I'd live in again, and casually thinking back on a day when the dog was more to us than just "the dog," as we now less-fondly call her, I reflected on the relationship we now have.

"GRRRRrrrrrr." She growls and whines at the same time, much like Chewbaca, to get our attention.
"Don't talk to me like that! I already took you out, and you wouldn't do anything, so that's your own dang fault."

More Chewbaca-esque noises.
"Hush up, Dog."

Selah runs out the door, making a dash for it.
"Wonderful! Well, we're not missing church, so I hope she knows enough to stay out of the road."

"Grrrrrrr?"
"Leave me alone." Threaten her with a squirt gun.

Selah runs off again, and I'm home alone with the kids.
"Hope she comes back."


"Leave the kids alone!"
"Back up!"
"Don't even think about it."
"I don't care if it's raining. You haven't peed in days, and I'm not cleaning it up when you finally do!" (Throw her and her pansy, princess paws into the wet grass).

...and so on...and so on.

And as I sit here, writing this amazing piece of literature, I notice her licking the carpet, a habit that has only surfaced in the last year. I realize that this OCD behavior was likely brought on by the tenth-rate-citizen status which has been thrust upon this poor creature in the wake of children, and school, and jobs, and, oh yeah, children.

I remember her glory days when, in lieu of the carpet, she would lick our toes. She never licked them right out of the shower. It was always at the end of the day, after we'd come home from work, took our socks and shoes off, and casually plopped on the couch. She would lovingly bathe our feet. It would tickle, and cause Jelani to giggle like a 5-year-old girl, but we never yelled, "NO!"

Now, she can be unnerving. She growls to get her way, makes herself throw up to remind us to take her outside, refuses to go out when it's raining or has rained in the last 24 hours (but will still growl at us anyway), jumps all over visitors as if they are an abandoned ship on a deserted island, and licks the carpet.

We still love Selah, and we hope she knows that. Every now and then we remember she's here, and even more extraordinarily, remember to acknowledge her.




Monday, September 12, 2011

Somebody is Always in Trouble

I think everyone can remember wanting to be somebody. Nobody wants to be a nobody, right?

In the Greene household we all strive to be nobodies, because Somebody is always in trouble.

"Mommy! Somebody broke the crayon!"


"Mommy! Somebody pop the balloon!"


"Mommy! Somebody spill the carrots!"


"Mommy! Somebody mess your clothes!"

"Somebody mess the movies!"


"I'll put them back, Mommy."



Perhaps Somebody and the cricket have secret meetings, discussing ways to keep me on my toes, and to keep my kids out of trouble.

The kids have the right idea, I suppose. Maybe some cookies could persuade Somebody to  join my team, because I'd much rather be allied with Somebody than Nobody.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chocolate Tastes Like Happy

Most days I eat a very healthy, well rounded diet within my 1390 calorie limit...most days. Today has not been one of them and it's just now noon.

I despise coffee. I have never met a flavor I could even tolerate, and, unlike most coffee haters, I even hate the smell. The unfortunate thing about this is that when I crave a caffeine fix, like this morning, when I can't even keep my eyes open while the kids are playing as loudly as possible, there is only one thing that does the trick; only one delicious, caffeinated item that keeps me moving. CHOCOLATE

Last night, on an errand run, I bought a bunch of chocolate that was on sale. I used coupons, and the excuse that it was to keep around as special treats for the children when they use the potty or do some other monumental thing requiring a standing ovation and cheers heard 'round the world.

The problem with stocking up on such items during their sales (for the sake of the children) is that when I have sleep deprived, or otherwise extremely groggy, drizzly rain induced moments, when even feeding the dog seems like the most energy demanding chore in the world, I am absolutely not in the correct and/or stable form of mind to stop eating the stock piles of chocolate.

And so, thanks to the M&Ms, and Twix, combined with my healthy oatmeal and toast breakfast (at least I began on the right food), I have now reached my calorie intake for the day, and I expect that my caffeine induced energy will be crashing shortly, leaving me exhausted, yet again, and spiraling downward into an exhausted, self-loathing guilt.

But then something happens to turn my day around. Ironically, in the 10 minutes it took me to write this blog, both children told me that they had to poop; first Chastity, and then Elijah. Then, miraculously, both pooped in the potty without any accidents, granting them the privilege of three M&Ms each. I am grateful for this small miracle of the day, and it might just be the boost I need to surpass the inevitable sugar crash.

I can now, confidently proceed with my day, knowing that last night's purchases, and today's diet destruction were not in vain. Happy pooping, everyone!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Secret Lovers are $9.99

Yesterday we were notified that our bill from Verizon was ready to be viewed. Every time I receive these texts from them I cringe waiting to see what "extras" they will be charging us for this month. It seems that they are always finding some way somehow to tack on a few more pennies.

This time, however, it was more than a few more pennies. Our bill jumped up 10 dollars, and Jelani was all over it trying to figure out if one of us had gone over our texts or daytime minutes. He yelled to me from the computer, "Did you upload something to your phone?"

I thought that was a strange question, since he knows that we don't have the internet on our phones and all I do is talk or texts. "No," I answered.

"Well, there is a $9.99 charge on our bill, but they won't tell me what it's for."

"I did sign up for something while filling out a few surveys that promised me a Best Buy gift card, but they told me if I canceled the services I wouldn't be charged, and I canceled it immediately."

                   You see, I become extremely hopeful whenever anything crosses the computer that leaves me with any hope what so ever of getting something for free. And a few weeks ago that exact thing happened while signing into YouTube. A little box popped up, "You have been chosen to complete a quick survey. For your time you can have a Best Buy gift card for $1000 or a free IPad Touch. Do you wish to continue?"  My brain loses all rationale, and just sees FREE FREE $1000!!!!! Continue I will, thank you very much. The survey was so brief that I thought for sure I'd hit the jackpot, but then I went on to another survey, and another....and ANOTHER. I had to give some site my number, and sign up for jobs.com, all the while, at the top of the screen there were screaming letters, "YOU'RE JUST ONE STEP AWAY FROM YOU $1000 GIFT CARD!" By the end (yes, I made it all the way through to the 'end'), the screaming letters were gone, I had no notification that a gift card was being sent to me, I'd given my number out to numerous websites, and I couldn't remember what I'd gone to YouTube for to begin with. My rationale returned as I screamed at the computer.

Now, Jelani looked through my texts to find that to be true. They sent a text confirming my number, and I sent one back immediately saying, "STOP." 

"I don't know," I said. "Sometimes Chastity grabs my phone. Maybe she did something on it?"

I knew she probably didn't, but I was throwing out suggestions to be helpful while I was trying to pack up our things and get ready for our weekend trip to visit my parents.

Jelani thrives on reasons to call Verizon out on their mistakes. He wouldn't admit it, but he thoroughly enjoys leaving a well-meaning customer service agent confused and tongue tied. So before I knew it, he was on hold with Verizon just waiting to dig his condescending claws into them.

"Uh, yes. I was wondering what this charge of $9.99 was for on our bill? It doesn't show on our statement."

"Let me check that for you, sir."

Jelani waited.

"Sir, it looks like a subscription..." he hesitated, "to a service called...ummm...My Secret Lover. Uhhhh...ummm, do you know who's phone that might be billed to?"

Jelani feigned indignation and didn't miss a beat, "Yeah, that's my wife's phone!" he shot back quickly.

"Oh, uh, well, sometimes people just don't see the fine print when they sign up for things on the internet. We can take care of that for you, and block her phone from...uh...such things in the future."

This poor unsuspecting customer service agent must have thought he found himself in an episode of Cheaters, while I, had just mistakenly subscribed to adultery in high hopes of a Best Buy gift card.

So now we know...Secret Lover's are at a new, low, affordable rate of $9.99.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Everybody Gets a Humpback Whale!

Now that I've got your attention, I just realized that my one year anniversary is coming up!! First of all, please allow me to give myself a pat on the back. I not only took the first step of opening a blog account, and the second step of writing in said blog account, but was able to maintain a regular writing routine for an entire year. That's pretty exciting stuff, right there. Well, I'm excited about it anyway. :)

Many of you may remember my very first blog, Mission Statement. To this day, it is my highest ranked blog. I probably shouldn't be proud of that, since that sort of means my fan base has diminished since day one, but it was an exciting blog for me regardless. Since writing that blog, I have had my difficulties staying on task with the very mission I set out to accomplish in my writing. I have recently returned to the reason I came here to begin with, "to spread the uncommon." In other words, I have set out to make funnies out of all the mundane daily tasks that would otherwise drive me insane, and I have learned to laugh at myself.

In honor of Cure for the Common Mom's one year anniversary coming up in September, I would like to feel like Oprah for a minute...
Dane Cook knows what I'm talking about,




and give out some free stuff! Before you get too excited, they will be homemade creations...sorry, no cars this year.

Hold on! There are some important contest rules!

I've realized that I only have about 7 followers here at blogger, but many more readers. Perhaps this is because many people don't have a blogger account, or don't realize that you can sign into blogger with a google account (including gmail, google groups, or orkut). Sign in, and become an actual blogger follower, and you will automatically be entered in a drawing for the grand prize. All participants must be a follower by midnight, September 23, and the drawings will be held on my anniversary date of September 24, 2011. Those of you who are already followers are already entered!

Also, a second drawing will take place. That's right. Not one, but TWO winners! I am so full of myself that I've created a page on Facebook. For those of you who don't have any of the above mentioned accounts to sign on and become a follower, and you can't stand the thought of signing up for one more thing you have to remember a password for, then "like" my page on facebook, and you're automatically entered into drawing number two! Same dates apply. And (get this), if you are a follower on both facebook AND blogger, then you are entered into BOTH drawings!

So get to stalking following.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fashion Train Wrecked Mommy

For the first time in well over a year, I was able to go do a little shopping by myself, for myself. While grocery shopping alone is usually a special treat, this was a different kind of treat thanks to the gift cards I received from family members for Old Navy and Kohl's for my birthday.

However, I was less delighted than expected while out looking for new outfits, and more specifically, one item I might be able to wear to a special friend's wedding this weekend. I hit up Old Navy first, and quickly discovered that I am a bona fide, less than cool, mom who has fallen off the fashion train.

              See, throughout high school, when I thought 30 was old, I often talked with friends about what happens to a person and at what age, when they suddenly decide that they are no longer going to be fashionable. How do they boldly jump off that fashion train landing in pleated mom jeans and blank, neck-high, t-shirts for the rest of their lives?

Now, I know. One doesn't jump off that train. I know this because I very much like clothes, and like getting new outfits. I would never, willfully, commit fashion suicide. And I can't help but think about my own mother who still knew quite a bit about fashion when I was growing up, and bought me a lot of clothes for birthdays and holidays that I really liked. But she never shopped for herself. There in lies the key. Mom's do not jump off the fashion train. We are violently pushed. We're shoved into a life where our needs and wants are really no longer a priority. While we love shopping for ourselves, we love shopping for our children even more, and our own fashion dips into a careless category where suddenly, in comparison to spit-up covered t-shirts, decade(s) old clothes don't seem so bad.

The fashion train keeps moving, and even changes tracks.

So I walk into Old Navy, and stop. I stare around me at a plethora of stripes, holey sweaters, and obnoxious floral patterns. I notice that plaids and flannels are back in, as well as bright, loud sweater dresses, taking note that one in particular looks very much like a sweater dress I owned when I was 8. I must have looked as lost as I felt, because a sales representative stops and asks me if I need help. "I'm not sure," I laugh. "I don't think I know how to put together an outfit anymore."

She, who couldn't have been more than 19 years of age, laughs in a way that seems at me, not with me, and tells me to just look for her if I have any questions.

I start grabbing things to try on. I've always been of the mentality that there is no point in going in and out of the fitting rooms over and over again. I'm a one and done kind of shopper. I've lost quite a bit of weight so I don't know my size, and just start grabbing a variety of pants and shirts in different sizes. I even go out on a limb to be as adventurous as possible, and grab a pair of skinny jeans, as I remember that the term "skinny jeans" used to mean the jeans that hung in the back of your closet for years after high school, college, or having children.

I make my way back to the fitting rooms and find the same sales girl there, and admit to her that I have no idea what to pair with skinny jeans. She tells me that the long sweaters are the best option, so I go to find one, only to find that every last one of them is covered with horizontal stripes. Old Navy apparently did not get the memo that horizontal stripes do not look good on most people? Not only are they horizontal, but they are mostly wide and full of obnoxious colors, the kinds of colors found in the old Mario, Nintendo games. I decide that if the skinny jeans work for me, I will find something else to wear with them because who in the world can pull off skinny jeans AND the world's worst horizontal stripes?

After trying on too many clothes to count (no, seriously, the fitting room girl wouldn't even count them. she just wrote 10+ on my door), I decide just to grab the tanks I liked, and a few items from clearance, and I would try them on at home. I'll just return what I don't like. On a positive note, I can't help but feel good that the size 10 skinny jeans almost fit, but the 12s were too big. Nice touch, Old Navy. For that alone, you are back in the game.

And so I move on to Kohl's.

Old Navy didn't have a single dress that was wedding appropriate, so I had high hopes in Kohl's. I walk in to find the Junior section immediately to my left, and it appears to be the only section offering dresses. I skim through, but then skip over to the...let's say...more distinguished lady clothes. There are a few dresses in random areas, but none that are really my style. So my dilemma becomes this: try to relive my glorious high school days and get something wildly colorful and different, which is totally my style, but also makes me look like I'm trying too hard to be hip, OR decide it is easier not to re-board the fashion train and settle for some neck-high, ankle-low, floral dress with shoulder pads. I decide to head back to the Junior's section and see what they have to offer.

There is a mixture of hideousness; poofy, barely booty-length, dresses, but then there are some long, colorful, halter-top dresses that catch my eye. I grab all the larges in each one, knowing that if I were at Old Navy, they would all fit, and some would even be big. But I remind myself that this is not Old Navy, and these are not clothes designed for women who've had children. Most of them I could barely get into, and the few that I could, had designated, but small, areas for...the 'girls.' Now, one would think that Large tops and dresses would also be made for large chests, but one would be wrong. No, Large and X-Large clothes are not designed for women who are Large on top because apparently all Large women are A and B cups. I would like to chalk this up to my shamelessly shopping in the Junior's department, but I found the same thing to be true when I was a Junior. Nothing has changed. The world loves a big busted women, but just hates to clothe her.

Alas, my special treat of a shopping trip turns out to be pretty fruitless, but I return home, and slip into a pair of jeans I haven't been able to fit into since college. Take that fashion train.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

House Rules

Today I had the (un)fortunate experience of playing the roll of sidelined mom, watching the kids play with some friends they found at the park, for the first time. I have always frowned upon, and inwardly judged, the moms who just sat around while their kids played, especially if their kids were quite young. Every fiber in my being would scream, "Be involved! Play with your children! Get off that bench!" Most times I feel that way (I'm making excuses for being so judgmental), it is sad as I watch children try to play with equipment they can't really handle alone, and they are looking for guidance, security and reassurance while mommy is talking on the phone, texting, or smoking weed in her car with her friends (true story).

But today there was no way around it. I was benched. I wanted to be the super cool mommy today, taking the kids there earlier than I normally would with packed lunches in hand. That went down hill fast as the bees were out in full force today and bolder than ever. The kids couldn't so much as take a bite of their PB&J without nearly eating a bee. So we laid that to rest, and just went to play.

Elijah quickly noticed a boy around his age that is usually there around the same time we are, and ran after him to play, leaving Chastity and I both in the dust. I cringed, as I kept on eye on them, not because the boy is a particularly bad boy, but because I know he has zero supervision. The "babysitter" (and I use that term loosely) who brings him and two other kids to the park each day, uses that time as her nap time. I've watched her day after day walk the kids to the park, put on her headset, and curl up nice and snug in one of the playground tunnels, rendering that portion of the equipment useless to the confused little onlookers. And so, when Elijah chooses this little boy to play with, I become the responsible party. Elijah and Chastity want to swing? So does their friend, who doesn't ask, but tells me to push him. Elijah and Chastity want to climb something they're too short to climb? So does their friend, who also needs and demands a lift, and slightly smells.

Today was a little different though. Elijah ran off with his friend, and Chastity asked to swing, so it was just us girls for a bit. When Chastity was done with the swing she went to join Elijah. At this time I heard their friend say, "Let's play house!"

Elijah looks around and asks, "What house?"

"You know...fake house."

He begins ordering Elijah around after declaring that he is the daddy and Elijah is the kid. I watch from a distance. My creative son can't come to grips with this new game. A girl who I assume is this little boy's older sister chimes in and decides that she is going to be the mommy and they are all her kids. She proceeds to point out their areas on the equipment that will be their bedrooms, and their game of "house" goes as follows:

"Go to bed! It's bedtime!"
"OK, get up. Here are your pancakes out of the freezer. Put them in the microwave for one minute, OK?"
"Now you can watch TV. Do you want Sponge Bob?" The little boy shouts in excitement as she pretends to turn on Sponge Bob and proceeds to sing the whole opening tune. My children have no idea who Sponge Bob is.
"Ok, do you want snacks? Here's some ice cream and cookies!" The little boy screams in delight.
"Ok, bedtime! Go to your rooms and go to bed!"

My two active children, who would normally be running all over the playground for a solid hour and a half, look utterly confused, and are now restricted to one small area where their game of house revolves around sleep, food, and TV. Really?

They cheerfully, but hesitantly begin to participate. At one point Elijah runs past me, and asks hopefully, "Are we going home?" Perhaps it is my hovering that confuses him. My pacing and watching and waiting, while inwardly screaming, "Put me in coach!" must have looked to him like I was getting ready to herd them in. "No. Not yet," I answer, while thinking, selfishly, that I could have them all to myself at home.

I sat down on the bench, and watched while thinking of the days when I was playing "house." My younger sister, our cousins, and I played house inside, and we played this game called house inside when we weren't able to go outside. When we did play it outside, I can remember that we raked up all of the mowed grass (you're welcome, Dad), and used the shredded grass to layout blueprint-like houses in the backyard. Yes, we were an amazing bunch of creative, intellectual, elementary children. To my recollection, none of our "house" games ever included watching an imaginary TV. We pretended to cook meals, clean, and take care of babies. When we were kids, pretending to be kids, we actually played games within our game of house.

I round the kids up when I realize it's after 1 and approaching nap time, and Sassy has had enough of taking orders. So much so that when I tell them it's time to go, the little boy and his older sister move on with their game, while Elijah and Chastity sense their freedom before lock down and run around the equipment in circles. I imagine they are picketing, and keep hearing, "NO! NO! We won't go!"

I snap out of it, put on my best Mommy's mad face, and tell them to come now or lose park privileges for the rest of the week.

Then add, "And the next time you play house, do it the way Mommy does...until you're put-yourself-to-bed exhausted by the end."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sassy

Jelani and I didn't tell anyone what we were naming the children until they were born, and it was already on the birth certificate. We figured that way, if anyone didn't like the name they'd keep their mouths shut about since they'd be distracted by our super cute child.

When Chastity was born, and we finally announced her name to our family and friends, everyone immediately began throwing out nicknames. Perhaps this was their subtle way of telling us the name sucked, or maybe everyone was just in competition to have the most creative nickname that would stick. As you know, Chaz was thrown out early (thanks Bonos). My nephew called her Chassy, like a car part, or so I'm told. That seemed the most logical and was easier to say than all those syllables with all those Ts.

Then, a friend of mine began calling her Sassy. I may have run with that one on occasion because there was something about the way she would laugh at me when I would have her on the changing table, tickling her, and saying, in a more high pitched voice than I'd like to admit, "Sassy pants! Little miss Sassy Pants!" Unfortunately, the name didn't stick so much but the sassy-ness did. Chastity, over time, proved to be a more head strong stubborn independent thinker, than Elijah ever was.

This week, after she heard Elijah's declaration that he wished to be called Eli, she began telling me, "I'm Sassy."

At first I thought she wanted to be called Chassy. I've let that one slip a few times when I was feeling lazy, but I haven't called her Sassy since she was a little baby.

"You want to be called Chassy?" I asked.

"No! SASSY!" she exclaimed, rather defiantly.

And just now, while playing with Eli she informed him that she is not Chastity, "Eli, I'm Sassy!"

"Chastity, what's your name?" I asked, after overhearing them.

"Sassy," she smiled

So I guess there is no disputing that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Grilled Bologna Muenster

The age old question asks, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

I have been asking that same question today, only more like this: Which came first, my spiraling-out-of-control, wrong-side-of-the-bed-ness, or this Tuesday's determination to beat me over the head.

Maybe that doesn't make sense, but have you ever noticed how good days seldom go bad, but how bad days never get good? That wrong-side-of-the-bed nonsense you thought your parents just tormented you with, is real, and once it's been done it is very difficult to undo.

You see, I'll admit, after having such a productive and fabulous Monday, I was a bit blindsided by Tuesday, but it was really Monday's fault, stupid Monday.

Monday was great. I met a friend for a run at 5:30 in the morning. I was skeptical of how the rest of the day was going to go after that, but I felt great. My dad was right after all. All those years ago he always told me I'd feel better and be more productive if I'd just hit the gym first thing in the morning, and time has proven him wiser than I once thought. I got back from the run around 6:30, and got some breakfast, a shower, and started the laundry and cleaning up the living room before the kids had even woken up. Usually all of that doesn't happen until Sesame Street starts around 10 am. 

I continued on with my ambitious, overachieving mommy-ness, pretty certain that if anyone were watching me they would see the perfect Disney Princess Mommy whistling while I worked, dancing with a broom (vacuum), and all those perfectly acceptable things that Disney cartoons do. I even made the kids eggs and toast for breakfast which I don't do because I don't like creating more dishes in a day than I have to, but the sink was cleared the night before, and I was a Disney Princess Mommy, so why not?

I walked the kids to the park, had them down for a nap by 2, had dinner on the table by 5:30 and the dishes all done by 6:30, and was playing "train tracks" with them by 6:45. I was the queen of' Monday.

But somewhere around 9:30 pm, it all began to backfire. I was absolutely exhausted, but I had to go out to the store and pick up some things. I don't get the car often, so I do the grocery shopping whenever I can. By the time I had put all the groceries away it was almost 11, and I was feeling more awake.

Long story short here, I missed my window of exhaustion (you all know what I'm talking about), and wasn't able to fall asleep until nearly 2 am! I was thinking that was no big deal until I woke up abruptly at 5:30 am to constant, dull thumping.

"Cricket farts?" I thought. They were happening so rapidly I thought for sure Elijah had fallen out of bed, and was now throwing himself a sleepy tantrum on the floor. I jumped up and rushed to their bedroom door, only to stand there in silence. I went to the bathroom, and heard some voices, and realized that someone was in the upstairs apartment. I really wish our landlord would give us a heads up when that's going to happen, since the place has been empty for a couple months now. Better yet, I wish that just once we'd live underneath people that don't stomp around their apartment from 5:30 am until 8 am. I put in my ear plugs and got back to sleep sometime around 6:30, thinking I could still get caught up enough to function, but then the kids picked this morning to be the only morning in over two weeks that they would be up before 8:30 am. 7:40 am they were up and raring to go.

I threw a fit, flung the blankets off me in a heap, and stomped out of bed and down the hall. Not my finest moment.

I was instantly greeted by Elijah, whining, "Mommy, I'm huuuuungry!"

I answered, "That's nice, Elijah." He understood that was his cue to remember his manners, and asked, in the same whining voice, "May I have someting to eat, puheeaase!?"

No longer a Disney Princess Mommy, I slammed some cereal into a bowl as they both yelled, "Can we eat with our hands?!" They like to eat dry cereal, so I gave them their bowls, and proceeded to get them some juice, but before I could even get the juice poured, Chastity had spilled half her bowl of cereal on her way to the table, and Selah (our dog) was chowing down on it. I snatched the bowl from Chastity's hands and set it on the table myself, just knowing that was the only way it would make it there. I retrieved the juice, put them down in front of the kids, and collapsed on the couch. I had gone from annoyed that I couldn't sleep, to irritated with our new neighbors, to completely livid that the kids would dare to get up before 8:30. The Cinderella from yesterday was now the wicked stepmother. 

I was lying on the couch, naively believing the kids would sit at their table and quietly eat their breakfast and drink their juice. No such luck. They were dancing around, shouting nonsensical words, and Chastity thought it was best to do such things right in my face, and then began prying my eyes open with her fingers. They began climbing all over me. Blast that dry cereal! Had I given them milk and a spoon they would have had to sit down to eat it. I was clearly too tired to think these things through.

I gradually got my act together, and became more productive, but no less grumpy. I got my Earl Gray, and some breakfast, and got the beds stripped down to wash. I got the kids dressed, and got their train tracks set up to play with, and I went to take care of the dishes. Just after getting my hands in the soapy water my phone began to ring. 866 number. Ignore.

As soon as I started the dishes, Chastity and Elijah were both screaming at each other.

"Play nice!" I yelled, and when that didn't work I marched in there and threatened to take the train away. They calmed down, but still weren't any less whiney. I just got the gloves back on when Chastity had to go potty. I stripped her down, and got her on the potty, and watched as the pee shot straight out, not down as one might think, and all over the seat and floor. What the...? This topic deserves it's own blog, but lets just say that everyone warns you about boys peeing on you and everywhere, but no one will tell you that a girl can, and will do the same things...sometimes even worse.

I got her and the mess cleaned up, and went to wash my hands for the umpteenth time, and the burning of the split in my cracked finger became alarmingly painful. And then Mr. 866 was calling again. IGNORE.

 I finished up the dishes, and immediately had to begin thinking about lunch, as Elijah, in his stealth like ways, showed up right behind me after I took of my dish washing gloves, whining, "Mommy! I'm huuuuuuungry!" I tried hard not to lash out at this poor child just for wanting a basic need, but my mood at that point was very dependent upon his tone, and he was not striking the proper tone with me.

"That's nice, Elijah," I said as calmly as I could muster, which was probably the tone of a snotty teenage girl.

"May I have someting to eat, puuheeease?"

Now my creative juices were flowing as I realized we didn't have many lunch options, and the kids had been eating cheese sticks with rolled up meat for weeks. They prefer that to sandwiches, but I was bound and determined to make sandwiches this time. Disney Mommy was digging and clawing her way back, as I asked, "Elijah and Chastity, would you like a special lunch?"

"YEAH!" they both  yelled.

"How does grilled cheese sound?"

"YEAH!"

I was certain we had American cheese, and I began digging through the refrigerator. I was wrong. The only cheese I found, other than cheese sticks, and swiss which the kids don't like, was muenster. I wasn't sure how that would taste to them alone, and remembered the bologna I had bought, buy one get one free last night. Uhhh, sure, why not?

And I realized at the moment I was making my children grilled bologna and muenster sandwiches, in my Disney Mommy hope of winning them back over, that I had hit an all-time mommy low. I was no princess. I was a muenster.

Just then, as if to taunt me, Mr. 866 began calling again. I answered this time, fully prepared to give someone a really hard time, only to hear him hang up. And as I served my grateful, excited children "grilled bologna muensters," the song Good Life by OneRepublic was playing in my head, and the only part I know is the chorus:

Oh, this has gotta be the good life.
This has gotta be the good life.
This could really be a good life, good life. 

Not really knowing the song, instinctively I was annoyed that the same three lines, the only three lines I know, kept replaying in my head. So I looked it up.

My grumpy, spiraling-out-of-control, wrong-side-of-the-bed-ness, grilled bologna muenster didn't hear anything pertaining to me in rest of the song, so I was like, so there, God. Don't be putting secular songs in my head, and making me think you're trying to teach me a lesson.

Then the song ended with one last line now stuck in my head forever.

"please tell me what there is to complain about?"

Maybe, just maybe, my wrong-side-of-the-bed-ness can be undone and this muenster can be a princess again. There is still time left to be the queen of Tuesday too.