Don’t Tinkle in That Toilet

On Thursday I am having guests over for dinner. As you can imagine, this week has been, and will be, a flurry of cleaning and cooking.

Growing up, my Mom was not much of an entertainer, but on those rare occasions when my Dad convinced her to have people over, my Mother insisted on cleaning our home from top to bottom in preparation. At 74, she’s still the same way.

As I prepare for my own guests, I am mapping out the priorities of my To-Do list in my head. It only makes sense that cleaning the bathrooms comes last on the list, obviously, and I wouldn’t dream of touching them until an hour or two after my last child walks out the door for school on Thursday.

bathroom 1

In my childhood home there were three bathrooms. Two were in public areas and one was hidden. Through my parents’ bedroom and on the other side of their walk-in closet was one, single bathroom that was available for use. On party days, the hidden bathroom was the only bathroom we were allowed to use. In fact, we never even considered tinkling in the downstairs Powder Room or Upstairs Bathroom before a party. Stinking one up or leaving poop streaks on the newly scrubbed toilet bowl was an offense punishable by means we could only imagine. The truth is, we had no idea what the punishment would be for defiling an already pre-party cleaned bathroom.

No One Had Ever Done It.

At 41, I have four children of my own. It all makes complete sense now. Hanging a “Do Not Use” sign on the downstairs bathroom door on entertaining days seems the most natural thing in the world.

Tell me I’m not the only one…

Don’t miss a thing, follow me on bloglovin’!

Advertisements

I Named My Daughter After a Barbie Movie

If you have girl children you are probably aware of the World of Barbie Movies.

Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper

Barbie: Fairytopia

Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia

Barbie as the Island Princess

Barbie in ‘A Christmas Carol’

The list goes on and on. The premise is the same, Barbie, an actress, is playing these various rolls and therefore she is not known as “Barbie” but by some other name in the movie.

12 bIn 2006 a movie, “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses” arrived in India as a Christmas gift from my mother to my two (at that time) daughters. Barbie is playing the third oldest of the twelve sisters who falls in love with her cobbler (the guy who makes her shoes). Spoiler: They get married. It could totally happen.

For two months Barbie and her eleven sisters danced across our TV screen until February when we packed up the little girls and traveled to the US to give birth to Baby #3.

     Indian culture demands a boy child and, after two female children, hopes were high that Baby #3 would be a BOY. It is illegal in India for an ultrasound technician or Doctor to reveal the sex of a baby to the parents (- too many female children aborted. Sad, true story.) Later, by the time I had an ultrasound in the US I was past 36 weeks and it was difficult for the American technician to determine the sex of Baby #3.
    Up until this point, my husband had forbidden me to discuss or even think of girl names for Baby #3, I suppose he thought we would jinx it. Therefore, as my due date loomed near, we had not a single name for a girl child.
     Although the technician could not definitively determine baby #3’s sex, she did say that she was 75% sure the baby was a girl. This was enough for me to push for a girl name discussion on the drive home. The husband was amiable and never really minded having girls and he immediately suggested “Jennifer.”
    Ack! I am a child of the 80s! Jennifer is a great name but sadly OVER used in the era of my youth and I could not help but recoil from the name (my sincerest apologies to any Jennifers or Jennifer mothers reading this – I’m just keeping it real.)  However, being the compromising sort I immediately offered the name, “Genevieve” for consideration.
     Genevieve had never been on my Baby Name List before that moment but it just popped out and it was still “Jen” and I liked it. A lot.
      So did he. A few weeks later we held a precious 8lb Genevieve in our arms.Gen
  Three months later we packed up our growing family and returned to our Indian home. It wasn’t long until Barbie was once again dancing across our TV screen.
     I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen of our little house one evening and overhearing the sounds of the TV in the other room.
     “Genevieve…” one of the movie characters said. Huh? What? I rushed into the living room.
      It was true.
    I had named my child after Barbie’s character in Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses. And I didn’t even know it. Subliminally the name must have been circulating in my head for months, waiting to for its chance. Sigh. As humiliating as this confession is, I do LOVE the name Genevieve and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I suppose I should thank Barbie, not just for delivering such a great name, but also for saving me from a Jennifer.
     Thank you Barbie.
  In a side note of more weirdness, my oldest daughter’s name is “Eve.” It took me a whole year before I realized the connection. Genevieve and Eve. Sigh. Duh. Sigh again. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it gets confusing around the house – which one am I calling…  I have no excuse. 
     For more of the weirdness that is my life, follow me on bloglovin’! 
    (I apologize for the horrid formatting and lack of paragraph spacing – WordPress is freaking out on me. 😦  )

Hold this.

Standing in a crowded room trying to have a conversation with the woman in front of me about Room Moms and what must be done, I feel a little someone bump into my arm.

“Mom, can you hold this?” She says, holding up an enormous stuffed dog she bought at IKEA.

“No. You brought it, you hold it. I don’t hold your stuff.”gdog

Two minutes later I glance down at my hands and see that not only am I holding a large stuffed dog, but also a water bottle, coloring book and pencil.

Hold on a minute… how did this happen? How does this always happen?

Five-Minute-Friday-4

This post was inspired by Five Minute Friday: Hold. Link up here. 🙂

Follow me on bloglovin’

10 Things I Don’t Say

I recently read an interesting blog article,

10 th

You can find the original article here. I found it thought provoking, mainly because my own experience is much different from the author’s.

(Spoiler: It’s never crossed my mind to say (or think) most of these – fear of judgment or not.)

1. “Your words hurt.” I have never experienced a person saying something to me in regard to my single parent state that was intentionally mean or hurtful. I have been saddened and hurt by words, but the intention behind the words was never hurtful. Words that hurt, hurt because they touch an open wound. A “Daddy-Daughter Dance” is a lovely thing, but when your daughter doesn’t have a Daddy to attend with, those words hurt, even though the words themselves were never ever intended for that purpose.

2. “We will freak out if you ever refer to our kids as ‘baggage.’”   No one has ever referred to my children as “baggage.” Ever. People really say that to single parents?

However, I do agree with the dating piece of the author’s point, and I would/will say this. Don’t date me if you are unsure of the “whole kids thing. Just. Don’t.

3. “We’re not rich.” Ha! I doubt that anyone even assumes that we are. And I do not receive child support.

4. “There will always be some “drama” with our kid’s other parent, if they’re around.” My children’s other parent is not around, so our drama level is way low.

5. “We feel isolated and lonely.” This is a hard one. Yes, absolutely, Single Moms are in a world of their own. I agree that connecting with like moms, single or married is key. News flash, there are married  moms out there who feel isolated and lonely. I’m thankful to work in an office with my parents and brother; if I didn’t, I would definitely feel more isolated and lonelier. But, I also believe isolation and loneliness are situations that, under most circumstances, we can change. Conclusion: Occasionally, on a cold, dark night I have felt isolated and lonely, but in the warm light of day, it rarely crosses my mind.

6. “We worry constantly that we aren’t doing a good enough job.” Absolutely not. I don’t worry, and definitely not about this. The reason: I have Christ in my life and He loves my children even more than I do. How could I worry about my  job of raising them when I have the God of the Universe sticking it out and walking with me? I trust Him. Worry is futile.

7. “We aren’t very much fun.” Huh. How many married people with children are super fun? Really. Come on, be honest. By our mid-thirties we’re already falling asleep on the couch in the middle of our favorite show. We can’t go out for coffee because it keeps us awake and we can’t drink wine because it knocks us out. This is not a single parent thing. This is a parent thing. Kids wear us out and it doesn’t matter if there are 1 or 2 or 10 parents. You know it’s true. However, I’m definitely still fun.

8. “We don’t have a strong sense of ‘self'” Yes, I do. I’m a Mother. 😉  I think I covered this in my recent post 1%. Or 5.

9. “Long before our kids could understand adult conversation, we talked to them like they could.”  I have no idea if this is true. How would I? I have no way of knowing whether I would talk in the same manner to my children if I were still married or not. I’m kind of at a loss here.

10. “Someone complimenting our kid means the world to us.” Yes. Yes. And YES! Wait, doesn’t every  parent feel this way?

Yet, In all honestly, I think it does mean more to single parents. On this point, I agree whole-heartedly with the author of the article. I think #10 is a gauge with which we can measure how well things are going in #6 . When nice things are relayed to us about our children we get a sense that:

They really are turning out OK.

Being raised by only one parent isn’t scarring them for life.

They are well-adjusted and kind and happy.

joy l

I suppose every parenting journey, married, single or other, is unique. The paths of our lives rarely lead where we expected. I latch on to the joy that is found in the brief moments that build our days. Eventually, they will build a lifetime.

cwj 3Isn’t that exactly what this blog is all about?

I’ve been a single parent of four children for three & a half years.

 

Follow more Clothed with Joy on bloglovin’

1%. Or 5.

The kids and I watched the movie, Blended, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore the other night.

blended_movie_poster_wallpaper

While it was showing in the theaters I saw that it didn’t receive great reviews but we figured that for a Friday night family movie, it was worth a try. This Is Not a movie review post, but I will say that we, kind and uncritical people, loved it and my kids want to own it. For a single parent, like myself, it was hauntingly accurate and funny; as well as being funny and sweet and, did I mention, laugh-out-loud funny? (Disclaimer: it does contain the regular dosage of Sandler crudeness, but mostly in brief spurts.)

On to the purpose of the post… At one point in the movie Sandler & Barrymore are agreeing that, as parents, you must give your kids 100% of yourself. They finally agree to 99%, with 1% withheld for the Parent’s personal wants.

If you are a parent, especially a single parent, you are probably shrugging your shoulders in reluctant agreement; or , possibly, you don’t agree at all. My own children have not seen their father in over 3 and half years. He calls them about six times a year. What I’m saying is, sometimes parents – peace out. Even my own daughter disagreed with the 1% thing.

“Mom, I don’t think that what they said in the movie is right. It’s not 1%, I think it’s more like 5%.”

Okay. I’ll buy that. Yet, is it really possible that 95-99% of our time goes to our children? Do we really only have 5% (or less) of ourselves and our time to pursue our own interests?

Let’s explore this. This weekend my colleagues are traveling to MN for a three-day conference. I would have liked to attend. My colleagues also would have liked for me to attend. But I won’t be attending. – Because I am a single mother. I have four children. And no one to watch them for that many nights.

On the other hand, I am glad that I am not going because it frees up my weekend, because if  I were gone my children would have missed a birthday party (or I would have had to arrange transportation.) I would miss a meeting after church about youth group, (which is important to me.) I would have missed all kinds of important things. And ALL of them kid-related. 

Do you see what I am saying? – even the HIGH points about not being able to attend the conference this weekend are positive because they benefit my children

That 99% is starting to seem a lot more realistic.

For single parents, is there time and room in our lives for romance? Apparently so. At least it seems so in the movies. I haven’t found it true in my own life, but then again I often say, there is a Whole Lot of Female Awesomeness  in this family. It would have to be a special man to be willing to blend in some of that.

What about activities, hobbies, free time? I suppose I have that. I do love to write. Then again, my kids influence my writing – a lot. (eh hem – this whole post and most of what I write.) I like to crochet – generally scarves and beanies – for my kids. Occasionally, I create other things, especially around Christmas, that usually end up as gifts, for teachers, of my children… Hmmmm.

I go to the movies alone sometimes…

Before you start getting all poor Rebecca on me consider, when I left my husband I asked God for my children. Nothing else. Not a portion of our five bedroom/five bathroom home, our lucrative business, vehicles, land, savings, or anything else. We left him (I write a bit about why here and a little bit here) and carried away with us a single suitcase. Eleven years of living. Five people. One suitcase.

The rest of the possessions were, and still are, his.

Hear this: I Totally Got the Better End of That Deal.

Imagine a scale that weighs everything left behind or unrealized in my life on one side and my children seated on the other side. Yeah, no comparison. None.

I asked my chubby little seven year old tonight if she liked watching movies with us on Family Movie Night and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I just like ‘nuggling with you.”

I’m delighted with my 1%. Or 5.

And hey, it’s not going to be 99% forever, right? They do grow up, don’t they…?

me writer

All the craziness you can handle, follow me on bloglovin’

I Blame the Mummies

My 11 yr old child: “I don’t know what I’m going to be.”

Me: “Good, I’m glad you brought this up. Healthcare. Healthcare is the field to go into. There will be more healthcare jobs needed in the coming years than any other profession- doctors, nurses, all kinds of practitioners. Right now is the time you need to start thinking about these kinds of careers. OR you can be a Coach. Not a sports Coach, a Coach who coaches CEOs of large companies and helps them achieve more in their professional and personal lives. This field is exploding right…”

My  bewildered child: “Huh? What? I’m talking about Halloween.”

Me: “oh.”

It’s recently become clear to me that I had no clue about the real world as a young person. I had direction, but no guidance. I blame no one. It’s not anyone’s fault but my own. You see, I didn’t ask for guidance. It never occurred to me to seek out council. At 9 years old on a class trip to UPENN Art & Archaeology Museum I decided to be an Archaeologist. It was the mummies. The mummies got to me.

I take it back. I blame the mummies.

Mummy-UpperClassEgyptianMale-SaitePeriod_RosicrucianMuseum

Twelve years and 90-some thousand dollars later I held a Classical & Near Eastern Archaeology Degree in my hot little hand but had now decided not to pursue my doctorate (like I ever was gonna). I had a new direction for my life. I was going to become a foreign missionary.

I’m not talking about regret today, I’m talking about zipping happily through this life without a clue and not stopping to ask for one.

I suppose now, at 40, my eyes are finally opening to how things work. I’m passionate about guiding my children in ways I never was – whether they ask for it or not.

Now that I think of it, dressing as a mummy for Halloween isn’t such a bad idea…

mummy2

 

Follow me on bloglovin’ and in 10 years we might have a career choice.

I Teach My Children To Be Rude

You read that right. I teach my children to be Rude.

These little angels? Rude?

1032a

1037

OK. I didn’t teach them that kind of rude. They were born with a complete knowledge of how to be rude to their siblings.

If you hadn’t noticed, I have FOUR daughters. Four girls. Four female children. And I am compelled to protect them.

Many years ago when I was barely twenty I traveled around the Middle East with friends. In Egypt, I traveled with two girlfriends. Two of us were Caucasian Americans and one of us was an Asian American. The two of us who were easily identified by Egyptian men as “White American” were targeted constantly. Men would walk up to us in a museum and grab our hands or brush against our bodies. In tight spaces or taxis men surreptitiously put their hands on us attempting to touch our breasts or bottoms.

Yet our Asian friend, as much American as us two white girls, was relatively untouched. The sleazy men didn’t identify her immediately as “American” and seemed somewhat in awe of her.

Here’s a fact, Middle Eastern men do not treat their own women this way in public. They did not treat my Asian friend this way. I’ve noticed the same phenomenon all over the world.

What is it about American women that make us targets?

Here is what I think. Women in other parts of the world are raised to be RUDE. If a man “accidently” bumps in to her, she hauls off and lets him have it with a verbal tirade. I’ve seen it – and the sleazy man slinks off. These non-American women have no internal restrictions that keep them from acting rude in order to let a creepy man know to Back Off.

American girls/women have been taught: Don’t make a scene. Don’t disrespect our elders. And because someone is a friend or relative of a friend that we need to listen to and respect them.

I say NO. And so I teach my daughters to be RUDE.

This has become more crucial in recent years because my girls are getting older. They go places – Without Me. Birthday parties, sleepovers, camping trips, etc.

Nowadays our conversations go something like this:

Me: “If a friend or relative of so-in-so is bothering you in the pool or keeps talking to you and picking you up and throwing you around, what do you do?”

Daughter: “I say, ‘Get off me. Stop doing that. I’m going to tell my mom.'”

I let my kids know that there will be NO negative consequences for being Rude to a person who is making them uncomfortable, harassing them (even jokingly)  or bothering them.

They have been taught their entire lives to be kind to others. I know, I was taught the same thing. I didn’t know I could or should open my mouth and make a scene.

This world is full of predators; to keep my daughters safe, I teach them to be Rude.

Don’t get me wrong, I do want my children to be kind as well, I’ve written about it here.

Sharing this post with #TheLoft.

Don’t miss a thing, follow me on bloglovin’

Blonds All Look Alike (to me)

blonde-240941_640

I’m confessing this right now: Blonds look alike to me.

I’ve always suspected it but it wasn’t confirmed until this morning when I tried to convince my daughter that her friend was standing on the other side of the gym. I kept pointing her out and saying her name while my daughter searched diligently for her friend.

At last a light bulb must have gone off in her head, (probably when I said, “There, sitting on the chair in the green shirt”) so she said, “That’s not her, mom.”

My eyesight is fine. I’m forty and don’t wear corrective lenses. Since I started using my iPhone my eyesight has deteriorated but I figure I have at least two more years before glasses. I reiterate, my eyesight is fine. I could see the girl. She was small, and blond. I can’t help it, they all look the same to me.

I have nothing against blonds. My heart is full of love for all kinds of lovely blond people. In fact, my BFF is a gorgeous blond. It’s just that, for some reason I can’t seem to tell them apart. All blonds look the same to me.

I can’t be the only one, can I?

Follow the wackiness on bloglovin’

Battle of the Stuff

Inspired by Five Minute Friday today: Belong.

It would be a sweet post if I talked about belonging or not belonging or finding a place to belong, …but honestly, my thoughts can’t help but flow in this direction:

What do I do with this trashbag full of stuff that I cleaned out of the car the other week?

Finding a place for everything to belong is a constant battle. Stuff. Everywhere. Stuff!

stuff pic

Downsizing and less stuff, blah blah blah, I’ve heard it/read it a million times – but I lived in India for 12 years and we didn’t have much but we STILL had stuff everywhere. My house was swept out at least twice a day and there was ALWAYS stuff in the way, on the floor, waiting to be put away. Stuff.

It comes in with the mailman, in school bags, on feet, from art classes, the pool… It enters in bags from Walmart, Justice, RiteAid, Target, ShopRite and the Thrift store…

Whenever I do a purge (which is often, believe me) I feel like my house is lighter somehow – but just like weightloss and those pesky calories, the Stuff creeps back.

I wonder if I were single would there be less stuff?

 

This post was written for Five Minute Friday. Link up here.5minutefriday

Making It Happen: The Other Girl’s Room

mih ogr

Fact: Not being married negatively affects the state of my house.

This is a  follow-up/(usually) weekly post  where YOU my blog audience “come home” with me to see if having you here helps me get home improvement projects done. For previous post go here.

Premise (same as last week – if read previously – skip down to Projects.)

I find being unattached affects the status of my home improvement projects in two ways.

1. The fact that there is someone coming home kind of gives me a kick in the pants to get stuff done. Clean up, pick up, make improvements.

2. I am so much more motivated to do home improvements when someone else is doing it with me.

Projects:

If you have been following along, you will know that within the last couple months our living space has doubled. This has added just a little bit more to my usual workload. Just kidding. This has added WAY MORE WORK to my usual workload. Honestly, it’s starting to wear on me – but the end is in sight. Hallelujah.

The good news is: I have really  buggy children who will BUG ME until I get stuff done – like their bedrooms.

OLIVE GREEN. That was the previous color – ugh. I lived in that olive green room for three years – not my choice. It is now mint chocolate chip green and Paris themed. One super cute eleven year old is just a teensy bit happy. OK, kidding again, she is ecstatic. In fact, I haven’t seen her since we finished the room on Saturday – I suppose she’s still up there reveling in her “private” space. I know she’s still alive because I periodically hear her yell, “GET OUT!” to one of her younger sisters who was apparently attempting to get in.

Char room 2 Char room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since my last Making it Happen post I’ve also: Moved into my bedroom, Almost got the new kitchen livable and Cleaned up and rearranged the “little” girls’ room. Now I just need to find enough time to actually work, build my business and earn enough $$ to hire a cleaning lady.

Amen.

Follow the transformation on bloglovin’