Parents: Please Put Your Cameras Down and Enjoy Your Kids

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You might find this article hypocritical from a family that 1) takes tons of pictures of their children, 2) blogs about family and their children, and 3) owns a photography business but it must be said:

Parents, we are spending too much time behind the camera not truly enjoying the experiences of our children and… it’s making us rude!

We just got back from a great family holiday vacation on a cruise. During the trip our oldest daughter attended the children’s camp and they performed on several occasions for their family and friends during the cruise. It was during those performances that we realized just how much cameras can ruin family experiences! Here are a few things we witnessed:

  • Children were dancing blissfully with Dora the Explorer during a dance party. Mother stops the children from dancing so that the children can face her. Mother tells them to “do that other dance you were doing before”, then takes pictures and records.

The kids are having fun!!! Why is there a need to stop them from having fun to get the picture you wanted? Why not just get a picture of them as they are – doing what makes them happy. No need to stage your children for the perfect picture. There is perfection in their momentary glee!

  • Mother taking photos of her kid for the millionth time (standing in the same position) walks in front of another parent who is trying to see her child perform.

This one is a huge problem. Getting that perfect picture is so important that you would ruin the experience of another parent is unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE. If your kid is standing in one spot singing a song you really don’t need to take that picture more than once. Take a picture, put the camera down and enjoy the show like everyone else… pretty please!

  • Mother taking photos of her kid for the millionth time (standing in the same position) literally sits on the lap of another parent because she does not see her there.

This one really burns because the other parent was none other than Aisha GreenE. Yes, a parent was taking a picture of her child and while trying to get every angle she stepped on Aisha’s foot then sat square on her lap because she just did not notice that another person was around. Sigh. Put the camera down and pay attention to humans.

  • Mother stops watching her child actually perform to watch the video she took of the performance to upload to Instagram. 

So the kid is performing now, like right now, like now now but instead of enjoying the show … you are posting it before it is done. Instagram will not be going the way of Friendster in the next five minutes so watch your child perform in real time and post later because YOU ARE MISSING THE SHOW!

In our family we truly believe in chronicling our life in photos, printing and archiving them – we’ve even blogged about our appreciation of family photos.

But… too often we stop our children from having fun so we can take pictures of them having fun; we interfere with the enjoyment of others; and are motivated to post experiences rather than enjoy them.  We are actually losing out on quality moments, disruptive to one another and disruptive to our children in our quest for the perfect pictures. You can capture moments without the disruptions.

We are not just preaching to other parents, we are preaching to ourselves too… enjoy real life and reel life.

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Finding Daddy a Job.

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Daddy Greene has been out of work for seven months. To be more specific, he hasn’t had a full time job in his professional field for six months. When his last job ended, we had to explain to Lady C that daddy wasn’t going to be at that place anymore. The natural question was:

“Where will you be working now?”
 The not so natural answer was…
Nowhere…”
 
Lady C has experienced both her parents SWITCHING jobs. She was fine with saying goodbye to old work locations and meeting mommy and daddy’s new coworkers. For both of us, the “work family” became somewhat of an extended family and Lady C actually had friends among our colleagues. When we switched jobs, it was an opportunity for her to meet new people, it seemed.

 But this was different.

 There would be no new office to go visit.  No new coworkers.

 And now Daddy was home…All. The. Time.
Well in her eyes, there was only ONE thing to do!

 Find Daddy a job!

While Hayden combed the job boards, Lady C looked out the window and picked places that she saw.

“Why don’t you get a job at my school Daddy,” as Hayden dropped her off to school.
“Daddy, you could work here at Target,” when we went to buy something there.
“Maybe you could go to school to be a lab technician,” as she read an ad on the subway for a school that promised job placement.
“Daddy, why don’t you just go back to Barnard and get your old job?” (That was always his favourite)
But one question remained constant:
“Have you found a job yet Daddy?”
 
For the first month or two, it was cute: suuuuure Daddy can go work as a counter person at Dunkin Donuts. We should be able to pay the mortgage with that! But into month 4, and with prospects dwindling, those options didn’t sounds so ludicrous.
Hayden is blessed that he is also a freelance photographer so he was able to pick up the slack with jobs and assignments here and there but it was rough. It wasn’t made any easier by a 6 year old wondering why you haven’t found a job yet! But there were lessons here:
Why NOT look at Target? Maybe somewhere in corporate they need someone like you! Or better yet, maybe you might be really good as a store manager and you have missed your calling all these years. And that applied to everywhere. Job seekers get very myopic and forget about those all important “transferable skills”. Look outside your comfort bubble.
Sometimes going back does not equal going backwards. So you left that company for greener pastures. What is stopping you from going back if there is an opportunity there for you. This is not like getting back together with your ex! This is business and you have to make sure your emotions don’t block your blessings. PS this seems to be a good place to mention that you should never burn your bridges when you leave a job. I’m just saying…
Talk to your kids about how the world works. Our daughter didn’t understand that there isn’t a job tree from which you could just pluck the position that you want. All she knew is that mom and dad seamlessly transitioned from one job to another. She also had no concept of how depressing it can be when the child you are responsible for keeps reminding you that you still don’t have the means to support them fully. Using age appropriate language to give them a better picture of the world will serve them well later in life.
Lastly, develop ALL of your skills. As Hayden tells his students all the time, there are ALWAYS people who are willing to pay to do whatever your heart desires. You just have to find them. In the meantime, get good at “that other thing you do” and be ready to market it when the time comes. As long as he has a camera, Hayden will never really be unemployed but nobody was going to hire him if he didn’t hone his craft. Be self aware and figure out what other potential money earning talents you’re sitting on.
Dad was recently offered a position, ending the long drought. When we told our daughter that Daddy found a job, she just had one word to say…

“FINALLY”

Kids….

Greene Family Photos.

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“and dats daddy…and dats mommy….and dats MEEEE!!!”

That was Lady H pointing out people in the pictures that are hanging on our wall. It’s one of the things that we love to see her do because we think it’s important. A couple of things are happening here:

  • She is able recognize people in pictures in different scenarios. Supposedly, that a development marker or sumfin…
  • She can also recognize the younger versions of the people that she knows. She can pick out Lady C when she was a toddler and Hayden when he was a young man (… and yes, he was once a young man!).
  • She sees her family represented visually all the time.

Hayden is a photographer so that last one is the most important reason that he encourages people to take family photos. Well that, and we need to keep the lights on! (Shameless plug: make sure you come to his Annual Pop Up Gallery Show on November 22nd) But indulge us for a few:

You may have heard the statistic that 90% of all photos ever taken from the invention of the camera until now, have been taken in the last 3-5 years. That’s staggering! It’s a direct result of the advent of digital photography and the fact that everyone has a camera in their pocket these days. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is a topic for another day but it does raise an issue: where do all those photos end up?

Printing pictures has become as archaic as typing a letter on a typewriter. Instead of hanging a picture on a wall, most people opt to posting it on their Facebook wall. Instead of sending grandma and grandpa a picture of the newborn family member in the mail, people opt to emailing them a link to the pic on their Instagram page. When someone asks to see a picture of your kids, instead of pulling out your wallet with a bunch of wallet sized photos, most people pull out their phones and scroll through their gallery. It’s just innovation changing the way we view photos…right?

Well think about this for a moment: in this new digital age, where do young children see their family represented? They don’t have continued access to phones, laptops, and tablets. They only see these pictures when someone chooses to show it to them or if they ask to view it. I think that it’s important that they see their unit (whatever it looks like: traditional, nuclear, extended, blended, non-traditional, etc) all the time. It tells them that they belong to something and that there are people that love them. Also, it reminds them that their actions affect a larger group than just themselves. Both these things are hugely important to us. But Hayden is an old soul (housed in an old body) so we may just be behind the times!!

How do you display your photographs? Do you hire a photographer to take professional ones? How do you share your pictures?

Aisha’s Answer to Regret: #TuesdayTwo

Early this year a friend of mine died in a tragic accident while she was on vacation. After her death I became very angry about a lot of things – and quickly realized that I had a pound of regret I was carrying around. During her funeral, the minister challenged us to let go of any regret we had and to put it aside. I burst into tears realizing that I felt horrible that I didn’t get a chance to thank my friend for all she had done for me and for my children. I didn’t get a chance to remind her that I thought she was the bees knees and super funny. Sure, we communicated most days via social media “likes” and high fives but I did not have a VERBAL conversation with her in way too long. And, I would not be able to do it anymore.

At that point… Tuesday Two developed. Tuesday Two is one way that I decided to answer my issue of regret and to learn from my mistake. Every Tuesday I CALL (not text, not email, not IM, not tweet, not post)… I CALL TWO people that mean the world to me but I don’t often have a conversation with them and I tell them TWO things that I love about them. It’s pretty simple.

I chose Tuesdays because of the alliteration. Sometimes… I just forget things, including doing my Tuesday Two, but the moment I think of it being Tuesday or think or say the word Tuesday I think of my Two. The responses have been amazing – ranging from people crying to laughing to saying – they really needed the call at the moment, it changed their day. It also helps me to reconnect with people in a genuine way. It’s been therapy for me but has also had an impact on the Two people I call.

A few people have asked me about Tuesday Two so I decided to blog about it because – it’s had such an impact on me during my grieving process and has helped me refocus and reconnect with people I love and care about. Social media is great – I have no issue with it, but it simply can’t replace the phone call that you need to have. I hate talking on the phone but it’s necessary.

If I can help it – I don’t want anyone I love going to the grave without them knowing how I feel about them and what I love about them. 

Til Next Tuesday…

But… really, why wait? If someone is on your mind today, call them today, tomorrow is not guaranteed – the only thing we can control is how we treat each other here and now.

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The MOST Wonderful Time Of The Year!!!

Recently Lady C’s teacher sent home a questionnaire to get to know the families of her students. One of the questions was which traditions or holidays are important to us. We had three in particular: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. There is a favorite though! And from the post’s title, I bet you can guess…

THANKSGIVING!!!

(you thought I was going to say Christmas, didn’t you? Ha! Fooled ya!)

Now if you know the Greenes, you know we go HARD for Halloween. Family costumes are a must and it’s a secret until the day of! We love All Hallows’ Eve!

We also love Christmas but we tend not to be too traditional about it. It really doesn’t matter to us whether we’re at home or on a tropical island for Christmas.

But Thanksgiving?! Now that’s the grand daddy of the fall season for us. Hayden is already preparing the menu which includes garlic whipped potatoes, jalapeño Mac & three cheese poppers, and the crowd favorite, bacon wrapped shrimp. Aisha has planted pumpkins in the backyard and they should be ready to decorate the house just in time. When we renovated the living room, the VERY first thought was how much more space we have for the 20+ people that show up at our house.

Speaking of our guests, they are looking forward to this too. Last year, we decided to take a break from BIG Thanksgiving. We won’t be doing that again! It threw EVERYONE’S plans off. And this was with 3 MONTHS of advanced notice!! We have already heard from some of the regulars that they are relieved that Thanksgiving is back at the Greene house!

So yes, the Greenes love the fall holidays. But Turkey Day takes the cake…hmmm…I wonder what kind of cake we should ask Granny to make this year…

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SEE!!! We can’t help ourselves. It all leads back to the best meal of the year!!

Which holidays are important to your family? Which is your family’s favorite season?

He Said, She Said: The Stuffed Animal Debate

The GreenEs need you to solve another internal debate!

Here is the scenario:

You may know that we are a family of four but I’m not sure you know about the newest addition to our family. He’s cute, he’s cuddly, he’s gray, he’s stuffed… he’s Ellie.

Ellie is Lady H’s  stuffed elephant and was actually a gift to our oldest daughter. For the past few months, Lady H (age 2 and a half) won’t let Ellie out of her sight. She sleeps with Ellie, rides in the car with Ellie, sometimes uses the potty with Ellie (vomit), goes to school with Ellie. If Ellie is “missing” she goes to find the stuffed creature and calls out “Ellie, ellie, whereahyou?”

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Aisha, Lady H and … Ellie, on a swing in Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Lady H jumping on mommy and daddy’s bed with… Ellie

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Lady H at the dining room table with …Ellie and our friend Pinky Pie.

If you give her something else to do or play with, she will put Ellie down and will actually forget about him until she becomes idle again.  Upon her teacher’s request, Ellie is placed away in a cubby during school hours so that Lady H will still be engaged in the classroom because she was only playing with Ellie for awhile (oops!).

So – what to do about Ellie then…

SHE SAID: LET HER KEEP THE ELLIE – SHE’LL GROW OUT OF IT

Aside from having to sneak Ellie away from Lady H while she’s not looking, the stuffed animal is pretty harmless. Yes, it gets gross from being dragged all over NYC including parks and beaches but wash her up and let her play with it. It relaxes her and she considers it a companion. We do need to be vigilant about her not giving all her attention to Ellie and make sure she plays with toys, read books, colors etc. Eventually, she will grow out of her need for Ellie but right now, let her enjoy her friend.

HE SAID: THROW ELLIE OUT WHEN SHE’S NOT LOOKING AND DON’T LOOK BACK!

Ellie is everywhere and always in Lady H’s hand. She is reduced to a one-armed bandit! She tries to climb the stairs with the thing, or eat meals, or climb into the car. It’s a bit problematic and dangerous. Plus if she wants her Ellie and he’s not around?!?! Lawd help us all!! Lastly, when she is riding on my shoulders, guess where Ellie is? That’s right: in my face!! She is way too attached and I would love to reduce “Ellie Time” to nap and bed time. She has shown that she can go without him at school. Home should be the same.

What say you… chime in on the Ellie debate. Do you agree with what HE SAID or SHE SAID?

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Meet “Your Queens”… An Alternative to the Traditional “Princess Party”

Birthday parties often feature Princesses like –

Cinderella. Snow White.  Ariel.  Aurora. Belle.

But what if you hosted a party that also celebrated Ancient African Royalty like – 

Queen Amina of Zaria, Nigeria or Queen Makeda of Sheba or Queen Nefertiti of Egypt? 

This weekend we had the great pleasure of learning more about the newly created company “Your Queens” when we had dinner with the creator and owner of the company, Eki. The mission of “Your Queens” is to Evaluate, Educate and Express the dynamic lineage of Ancient African Royalty. They teach youth and adults about the historic legacy of African Queens through storytelling, song and dance and best of all – they do parties for all age groups!
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At your party or event, the Queens will come dressed in their royal attire, share history with the audience through storytelling and do a choreographed dance set for children to learn. The party packages (which start at $350) also includes head and warrior wrapping, face painting and musical instruments for everyone to play.

When we learned about what Eki was doing we got excited because we are always looking for unique party experiences and this is special. There is an opportunity for cultural awareness, building self-esteem, and building a confidence and pride!

For more information on the Queens please visit them at www.yourqueens.com or watch their video presentation at http://tinyurl.com/YourQueens

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. At the moment, this blog is all about what the GreenEs feel, what the GreenEs do and how the GreenEs roll. We met the owner of “Your Queens” in a social setting and she was beautifully dressed after coming from a first birthday party where the Queens were performing. We wanted to learn more and when we did, we asked permission to share. Because – that’s what this blog is all about at the moment. The Share.

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