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


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?"


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. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

From the Mouth of Elijah

The other day at dinner, I had a very interesting conversation with Elijah.

"Mommy, I remember when I was a baby. Chastity wasn't a baby yet, but I was, and I was eating...with my fingers, like this." He motioned his hand going back and forth from the table to his mouth. "And I was putting my hands in my mouth, and I was sitting there." He pointed to the high chair.

"Really?" I asked. A thought occurred to me as I remembered an article I once read about how children sometimes can remember small details as far back as birth if you ask them early enough in life, and they can verbalize it. "Elijah, do you remember being born?" I asked, not even certain he would know what I was asking.

"Yes," he answered rather assertively. "It kinda hurt."

He didn't say that last part very clearly, so I wasn't sure of what I heard. "It didn't hurt?"

He looked at me with his sideways, serious face, "No, it DID hurt."

"Well, what did it feel like?"

"It felt kinda like shots."

"Like shots?"

He went on, this time dropping his fork to show me by moving his hand all over his face. "Yeah, the mans came over and shot me like this, and I cried and cried." He imitated a baby crying.

"All over your face?" I asked him, still hung up on his description and still skeptical.

"Yes." He showed me again, and this time I realized that he was doing the motion of the syringe bulb they would have used to suction out his nose and mouth. "And then the girls took me and gave me shots here and here." He motioned to his arms and legs." He must have been talking about the nurses who gave him his shots and poked him multiple times to check his blood sugar.

I was no longer skeptical. I was now convinced that my son does, in fact, remember the day he was born.

"Oh, and I don't want to be Elijah," he added. "I want to be Eli."

"You want us to call you Eli?"

"Yes." Serious face again.

"Why do you want to be called Eli?" I asked him. I began to wonder if he even remembered that...that I had called him Eli when he was a baby, and I was about to be even more impressed.

He thought for moment, "Because E.J. calls me Eli."

And that was the end of that.

He later went on to describe the two different ways Jelani used to hold him to get him to fall asleep when he was just a newbie, once Jelani got home that evening, but I couldn't get Eli to repeat what he'd told me at dinner.

Jelani was disappointed on both fronts, not only has he been asking Elijah if he remembered being born for the past two years with no results, but he hates Eli Manning.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Invisible Handbook

For a while now I have felt that all children are born with invisible handbooks. Why invisible, you ask? Well, can you see this instruction manual that informs all children on how to behave in certain situations.

For instance, there must be an entire section just about getting attention.

"When in need of parental attention, the most natural way of seeking it is to cry. Keep in mind, however; that as you age, this will become less and less acceptable as well as less effective. You must be creative. Here are a list of options for you to keep things interesting if crying doesn't work.
1. First try the subtle, but never ending tap. Tap them wherever you can reach. If the tap is doing nothing, then move on to the grab, an article of clothing or a limb. Preferably the clothing because it's sure to grab their attention faster if they're worried about flashing someone.
2. Throw something. Try the closest object at first, but if that doesn't work, try something hard that will either make a loud noise or break OR both. That's a win/win.
3.  Drag out your largest, loudest toys. These work best while your parent is on the phone or trying to watch TV.
Whatever you do, don't get frustrated and just scream. This is a surefire way to get sent straight to your room. Just remember, there are many different and subtle ways to 'throw a fit.' Be creative."

The section about how to get out of trouble must be extensive, and I believe that my children have read that section thoroughly.

"The instant you begin to get a tone or look from your parent letting you know that you are very close to trouble, you must let the cuteness seep out of your pores. A look which is most helpful is a slight tilt of the head with a half smile. Simultaneously bat your eye lids while opening them as wide as you can. Don't be discouraged. This is a tough cute face to master, but once you get it, your rear end will thank you. However, you must learn the proper times to use such a face. You don't want to come off as smug, so if you've done something serious enough, skip the cute face entirely and go straight for the apologetic cry and hug. Throw your arms around the offended parent immediately, and, if you've learned how, say 'I'm sorry!' do so in the best baby lisp you can muster.

Depending on your age and talent level, you may even be able to use the rare and coveted humor deterrent. Throw them off the scent of trouble with a little laughter. If they so much as crack a smile, then you've got them. Game over."

I learned of that entry the other day when Elijah was in trouble. I had told him repeatedly to leave the dog alone, but he insisted on pointing the squirt gun at her and pretending as though she was some sort of thief in our home. Selah, God bless her, was as patient as she could be. He had her backed right up against the wall, but she sat there merely snarling a warning at him, while I did all the yelling.

"Elijah! I've told you a dozen times already, leave the dog alone! She didn't do anything to you!" I yanked the squirt gun out of his hand, and he marched off toward his room.
I was doing the dishes when I noticed he had gone down the hall. He likes to play the victim and send himself to his room even when we haven't sent him there. Then he acts as though we did. Usually we let him do it. It tends to work to our advantage, but lately it's annoyed me more that he thinks he's manipulating me to feel sorry for him, so I yelled down the hall from the kitchen, "Elijah! What are you doing?"
"I'm not in my room!" he yelled back at me defiantly. He, very cleverly, only marched to his door, and stood there pouting, and he knew exactly what I was getting at.
"I didn't ask you that. I asked what you're doing."
"Well I'M.....NOT......IN.......MY......ROOOOOOOOM!" This time he poked his scowling head around the corner into the kitchen where I was doing the dishes, and he saw my scowling face back.
"Lose the attitude, Elijah!" I snarled at him.
He pointed down the hall, and yelled, "It's right there!"
And as the smile crept up onto my lips I silently cursed that invisible handbook.

The section on potty training is shorter than you would think. There are thousands of books at a parent's disposal about potty training their child, but the rules in the invisible handbook are short and to the point.

"Potty training? Your parents are under the mistaken impression that such a thing can be trained. You have one and only one instruction here. Use the potty when, and only when you want to. Their threats to you hold very little meaning while they are subjected to cleaning up your pee and your poop."

I really thought that section of the handbook was longer, but after much thought, I've realized that it really needn't say anything more. My children have done everything within their power to prove to me that I have no say in this 'training' what-so-ever.

Last week, Chastity began telling me when she had to go pee. I stupidly thought, "This is it!" After a long (and I do mean LONG) 18 months worth of potty training with Elijah, who is still very much on his own timing, I have been blessed with one of those children everyone talks about...the one who just knows when they're ready and takes it upon themselves to do the deed.

Well, within a week, I'd say Chastity has pretty much figured out (or decided to figure out) the peeing. However, I've noticed the opposite problem with this one than with Elijah, proving to me that it is, in fact, a conspiracy. I was prepared for a battle. Elijah had prepped me with the fights, the kicking and the screaming, and the refusing to step foot in the bathroom, but Chastity wants me to put her on the potty nearly every ten minutes. Do you know how many times a day I have to wash my hands? The skin is one wash away from cracking right off my knuckles. And do you know how many times she actually goes? About 1 in 5 times I take her. Rather than complain, I decided to be happy with it, but I had to set a timer so that she can't just hop on and off 'til her little heart's content. So one of the million times I took her to the potty today, I was in the middle of something. I left her there, set the timer in the kitchen, and went about my chores. But, like a pro, she took a note straight out of the handbook about getting my attention. The timer hadn't gone off, but she wanted down. I refused to go in there...that is, until I heard this:

"Mommy! I neeeeeed you wipe my hands!!"

What on earth?

"MOOOOOMMMMY! I NEEEEEEEED you wipe my hands!!!"

Has she confused her butt with her hands?
I rushed in to find that she knew exactly which was which, and she'd wiped the former with the latter.

Points for creativity, Chastity. Well done.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cher-ing Names

Over the years many people have asked us about how we decided on our children's names. Elijah was easy. Despite giving Elijah the initials EGG, which was a concern of mine, it came to us pretty easily. When we were dating we had both shared a love for the name, Elijah because of the Bible, and the faithful prophet of the Lord. George is Jelani's father's name, and we wanted Elijah to have two names of noble, faithful, honorable men. And so, was born, Elijah George Greene.

Chastity was much more difficult. During both pregnancies we never had problems coming up with boy names that we both liked, but the girl names just weren't happening for us. We wanted something biblical, but most of the girl names in the Bible, while nice names, are far too commonly used, and we wanted something more original. The biblical names for girls that were original were names such as...well...Dorcas and Gomer. There were others that sounded pretty, but when we'd look up the meaning, they'd mean things like "sickly" or "weak," and we took great care with the meanings of names. We wanted to speak blessings, not curses on our precious children.

Right up until week 20 of my pregnancy with Chastity, we were certain that we were having another boy, and we were set with a name. I had given girl names some thought just in case, but had never come up with one that Jelani liked.

We waited patiently during the ultrasound for the news.

"Looks like you'll be having a little girl!" the ultrasound technician said. Jelani smiled but stared blankly ahead until after the tech left the room. He looked quickly at me, and said, "I'm going to need to take up hunting."

He didn't say much of anything else for a while. We were escorted into an office for the rest of the appointment, and while we were waiting, Jelani was still in shock. He sat in a chair in the corner, clearly lost in thoughts of young men knocking on his door...young men he would have to escort into a room full of weapons and tell "I ain't afraid to go back to jail." A parenting magazine caught his eye with a little light skinned girl who had long curly hair with natural golden highlights.

He smiled. "She could look like that, ya know." He softened a bit, but I could still see thoughts of how he would hide a body of a forward young man if need be running through his head.

"Let's name her Chastity Belt," he suggested, more seriously than you would think.

I laughed, "Well...Chastity can be used as a name, but I don't think Belt is an appropriate middle name."

We went home and did some research. We landed on Faith for a middle name, speaking of how we want her to have a pure and child-like faith in God. And I found that the only famous Chastity was Chastity Bono, the daughter of Sonny and Cher, and I thought, "Well, not many people will remember that. She hasn't been in the news in years."

Jokes on me. Exactly two weeks after Chastity was born, I was doing some grocery shopping and while waiting at the check out I noticed the headline on the cover of that week's People Magazine, "Chastity's Choice: A Sex change for Cher's Daughter." Awesome. Perfect timing. Thanks for that.
Thankfully no one said too much, but it did come up when someone in my family suggested that we nickname our little Chastity, Chaz. That would have been super cute had we not all just heard that it would be Cher's new son's name. Nothing against her...or him, but she...or he kind of stole our thunder, so I was irritated.

I got over it, laughed at the whole thing, and had moved on. One day while taking the kids to the park last year, we spoke briefly to an older gentleman who was there with his son and grandchildren. He was asking the kids' names, and when we told him, he flashed a big smile and quickly said, "Ah, a prophet and a virtue! Wonderful names!" I smiled, and was happy. Here was a guy who got it. He understood the thought we'd put into these names, and he appreciated them.

Only a few weeks later, I was getting my hair cut. Making small talk, Chastity's names came up, and I was explaining how we landed on it. I told her the story about People Magazine, now thinking it was all quite funny. Michelle laughed, and while she continued to cut she said, "It's funny how Chastity [Bono] is the only one that's been in the limelight. Cher has a son too, by one of the Allman Brothers...Gregg Allman. Her son's name is Elijah, but you never hear anything about him."


So depending on the crowd, when people hear of the names of our children, they might say, "Ah, a prophet and a virtue!" or they might just say, "Big Cher fans, huh?"

Now I'm on a mission to have more children to purposely avoid copying Cher any longer.

*Disclaimer: I was going to type a disclaimer, but if I need a disclaimer, then you clearly don't get the point of this blog or my sense of humor, so disclaimer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If You Don't Listen...You'll Get Swallowed by a Whale

Every now and then we have a day where the children seem to be having difficulty listening                                                                                                                                 hard of hearing.
                                                                                                        down right defiant.

It's one of those days when you're not sure why, but you are certain that your children have set their goal for the day and they are bound and determined to get whooped at any cost.

When we have those days around here, we always return to a familiar Bible story in the children's Bible about Jonah and the whale. To recap, God told Jonah to deliver a message for Him. Jonah didn't like this assignment, thought he would run from God (silly, silly boy), and hopped on a boat with some guys heading in the other direction. God became angry, and caused a storm to be so rough that the men threw Jonah overboard, certain that he was the cause of their bad sea fortune. In His grace and mercy, God allowed Jonah to be swallowed by a whale rather than drown, and once Jonah asked for forgiveness and agreed to do what God had asked, the whale spit him out onto dry land.

Obviously, the moral here, is to listen to what God tells you to do. You can dive deeper into it as well, stating that while being swallowed by a whale seems a horrible thing, it was merely a temporary discomfort Jonah had to go through rather than drowning. So sometimes, when we think we're going through a hot mess, God is really protecting us even though we didn't listen to Him in the first place. 

All of that being said, what this story has come down to in the Greene household is this, "Listen to Mommy and Daddy, or you will be swallowed by a whale!" This sounds like horrible Christian parenting at it's finest, I know. And it didn't begin this way. However, over the course of time, and struggles with difficult days, we just landed on that story in moments of weakness and frustration (but in a pinch I can turn any Bible story into a story about listening).

Yesterday afternoon was a particularly rough day for Elijah. I think he had grown tired of the attention Chastity was getting because of her injured arm, and he was behaving outlandishly to get his own, however negative, attention. Bedtime came, and we settled on the floor for Bible time. Daddy grabbed the children's Bible, looked at Elijah and asked, "What story do you think we're going to talk about today, Elijah?" 

"Jonah and the Whale. Megan's favorite!" 
Megan couldn't help but laugh. She is our friend who has visited many times, and witnessed our Bible time lessons.

"Very good! Why do you think we're going to talk about Jonah and the Whale today?"

"Because I didn't listen?"

"Yes, and what happens when you don't listen?"
"You get swallowed by a whale."

Of course we shared the real story with him, and of course we explained the real meaning. When it was all said and done Daddy asked Elijah to recap the story for us. He did his best, but it still came down to "Jonah didn't listen to God, so he got swallowed by a whale." 

Daddy asked, "So who are you going to listen to?"

Elijah answered with big smiles, "Mommy!"

"Who else?"





And just so no one was left out, Elijah added, "And Megan!"

An added quirk, is that over the past few months Elijah has randomly mentioned to me how he's scared of whales, doesn't like whales, etc. I just now, in this moment, while writing this story, connected those dots. So the next time your children are acting up and refusing to listen to a word you say, remind them of poor Jonah, and tell them they'd better watch out for those whales.