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 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.'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.

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 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.
"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 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."

"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, 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.