Giving The Girls A GreenE Garden

Hayden grew up in Trinidad and his yard consisted of banana trees, mango trees, plenty of flowering plants and even a chicken coup that he recalls having to clean up. Aisha, on the other hand is puuuure city girl and mostly lived in apartments. Greenery was – houseplants. And if anyone can kill a snake plant or cactus… it’s Aisha.

When we purchased our home, one of the appeals of the small backyard area was that it was all CONCRETE and limited maintenance. But it was boring. There was nothing beautiful about the space and it was actually being wasted. This spring we decided to create an urban garden using planters because the majority of the yard is concrete.

We removed our old stylish chain link fence and replaced it with a wood lattice fence. We also added wood planters filled with flowering plants and tomatoes and strawberries.

It all started here:

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And now were are here:

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The girls have loved maintaining the garden, watering plants and watching the plants grow. Last night, we finally picked some of the strawberries that finally ripened and we ate those suckers up. So delicious and rewarding to eat what we created.

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TOMATOES ALMOST READY FOR PICKING – WE ARE GOING TO MAKE SAUCE!

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WAITING FOR THESE STRAWBERRIES TO RIPEN!!!

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Maintaining the garden in planters has proven to be super easy – even for a brown thumb. The flowers and plants are growing quite well and TLC is minimal. Only issue is the cats and/or squirrels that have been eating our ripe strawberries!!!

For all you city dwellers with limited green space or a concrete area, we highly recommend using planters for your garden. Such a great way to teach science, healthy eating and an appreciation of their outdoor space.

Happy Gardening!!

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Passing dOwN Hip Hop

So this is family blog so what’s a post about HIP HOP doing here?!?!  I know: it seems out of place but hang with me. It might be a long one so get comfortable.

To start, I have to provide some background:

  • When it comes to music, I’m a bit of an ageist. I think the music of my generation was better…in general. I’m not saying that there isn’t ANY good music but the majority of the songs these days have me scratching my head.
  • I’m a Hip Hop purist. I grew up with the beginnings of Hip Hop with the awe and wonderment of hearing the Sugar Hill Gang and Big Daddy Kane on the radio. I believe that rap should be lyrically based. Just my taste.
  • I have been calling for parity in the Hip Hop genre for years. In the beginnings of Hip Hop you could listen to the radio and hear KRS ONE, Xclan, Tupac, Fresh Prince, and the Wu at the same time (well not at the exact same time! That would be messy!) My main complaint is that only one kind of song seems to make it onto the radio these days and that sickens me because it’s generally misogynistic and derogatory. Now, I love rachet music like the next guy but where is the balance?
  • Lastly, and mostly importantly, the N word assails my ears in the most offensive way. It has no place in the English language, in my opinion, and I would prefer my music to be devoid of such a vile term. 

So there’s my musical taste in a nutshell. Which brings me to this post. I have shielded my two daughters from the majority of the Hip Hop on the radio. We have two major Hip Hop stations here in NYC and they are NEVER on in the car when the girls are in it (which is almost always). So they don’t know what a Trap Queen is nor do they know how to Nae Nae.  No judgement but I feel like it’s my duty to protect them from music that devalues them.  As a result, I also don’t listen to the majority of the songs on the radio today either.

A few weeks ago, I was photographing Summer Jam, the premiere Hip Hop concert in the city.
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(Check out some of my work from Greene Light Photography here on this LINK)

The headliner was Kendrick Lamar and I had heard of him. People said that he was the type of artist that I would like so I decided to give To Pimp a Butterfly a listen. At work. Bad idea! The first line from the album is “Every N***a is a star!” OK click! Won’t be listening to THAT!!! I was confused as to why people thought that I would like that artist. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was headed to Philly for a meeting and decided to give Kendrick Lamar another try, sans kids and co-workers this time.

Mind Blown! 

That was the BEST Hip Hop album I have heard in YEARS!!! I was so impressed by that piece of artistry that I played it twice and again when getting ready for dinner. The metaphors were intelligent and the imagery was vibrant. King Kunta is a scathing commentary the industry skillfully masked in a dope beat. The passage about the Butterfly and the Caterpillar is nothing short of brilliant. I was so happy that I had given the album another chance. It reinvigorated my desire to listen to Hip Hop again and seek out other artists like Childish Gambino.

Then I got sad. I was never going to be able to share this with my girls (could you imagine Lady C singing the lyrics of King Kunta or We Gon Be Alright)! How am I supposed to pass down my love of Hip Hop to my daughters if even the best current artist drops the N word and F bombs like they were rain? I don’t want to be corny and roll out the old classics like Run DMC and Slick Rick every time I want to expose Lady C and Lady H to Hip Hop. I’d LIKE to say “Here is the music of my time and let’s listen to your current stuff now” the way we do with other genres. Lady C knows both Micheal Jackson and The Weeknd and appreciates them equally.

The bottom line is that I just want to hear my daughter spitting lyrics from a song on the radio without cringing at the words coming out of her mouth. Where are those songs? Who are those artists?

What are your suggestions for ways to expose my kids to current Hip Hop? By the way, Kidz Bop is OUT of THE  QUESTION!!! I would love to hear the comments!! 

Peace,
From The Photoguy Greene

Father’s Day 2015: Inside Out and Reed Park!

We had a great first day of summer celebrating the GreenE male of the household on Sunday.  This year, we decided to celebrate Father’s Day by going to see “Inside Out” in 3D, per the suggestion of Lady C. She has been stalking this movie since the first preview and we promised we would go during opening weekend. MV5BOTgxMDQwMDk0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU5OTg2NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_“Inside Out” was such a cute movie and it was made by the creators of “Up” so you know it was an emotional roller coaster. Disney Pixar just can’t seem to make a bad movie – and they kept on their streak with this one. As always, it was fun for all members of the family. Grandma Brenda joined us and Lady H paid attention the ENTIRE time. The animation and colors were beautiful and the story line was such a unique and interesting one. The main character is an 11 year old girl going through a life change which we get to experience with her by seeing the roles that her emotions all play.

And as an upgrade – for the first time in a long time, Disney did not kill a parent in the movie – SCORE!

The only creepy part of the experience was the short film that previewed before the movie started… that volcano thing was weird!

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Lady C and dad pose after the movie.

After the movie we had lunch at Brooklyn Crab, a seafood restaurant in Red Hook that we’ve been meaning to visit. This place has been on our radar because it has been noted over and over in blogs as a great “family friendly” space where adults can have a great time too. We are all about that… make the kids happy and make the grown ups happy.

SO GLAD WE WENT THERE!!!! Brooklyn Crab has a sit down service area but also offers “Reed Park” which is picnic style eating with easy and FREE access to games like shuffle board, bean bag toss and mini golf. The kids played their hearts out and we were able to enjoy our meals.

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Lady C plays mini golf with dad

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Lady H swinging from a jungle gym… oh, she’s excited LOL

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Lady H playing in sand box

wpid-20150621_132604.jpgSo – how was the food??? Please see exhibits A and B below:

We ordered the seafood platter which had crab legs, mussels, sKrimps, potatoes, sausages and corn on the cob.

Now you see it —

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Now you don’t — We killed it… even the rabbit in the background was fullwpid-20150621_140301.jpg

We are definitely going BACK to Brooklyn Crab and Reed Park and if you haven’t been… you should go too.

We hope you all had a great Father’s Day and first day of the summer!!

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He Said, She Said: The Icy Lady Debate

The GreenEs need you to solve a debate stemming from a discussion/situation we had this weekend.

Here is the scenario:

You and your children are at an outdoor event with other kids and their families. The most important person in the world during the summer comes by, jingling her bell… the icy lady. An icy would be perfect at the moment because it is hot outside. Which of the following do you do:

A. Buy an icy for you and your children because, it’s hot and you love cherry mango icies!

B. Do not buy an icy for your children because there are other children around and their parents might not be able to buy one or want their children to have one.

C. Buy you and your children an icy and be prepared to buy an icy for each and other kid at the event/party you are attending.

SHE SAID: EITHER DO NOT BUY OR PREPARED TO BUY FOR OTHER KIDS

So Aisha thinks that if you are at a party in the park with treats and snacks that it is rude to walk away and grab icies for only you and your kids because then your kids will walk back with them and make the other kids jealous and beg their parents for one. It sucks to be the first parent or family that starts the ball rolling. If you are going to get one, you should be ready to buy one for every kid, and if you don’t want to do that, then catch the icy lady another time.

HE SAID: TOTALLY OK TO BUY AN ICY FOR YOU AND YOUR KIDS ONLY

It’s an icy! It’s not an xBox that your kid s flaunting in front of the other guests!! And if you don’t want your kid to have an icy, this is a perfect opportunity for you to introduce the word “no” to your child. I tell my kid no all the time with reasons ranging from, “I have no money on me”, to “that food is made of plastic”, to “the ice cream truck is empty unfortunately”. Why should I be deprived of a traditional summer treat so that other parent won’t have to have a simple conversation about the wonderful word “no”!?!? Not gonna happen. I’m getting my pineapple icy with a scoop of coconut and no whining kid is going to stop me!

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

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Daddy Fails – Dude You’re Making Us Look Bad!

So here’s the thing: men screw up all the time. In fact, in the dictionary under the word “man”, the definition reads:

“creature prone to screwing up”

Don’t bother to look it up. Just trust me on this one…

Anyway, when those men become daddies, their screw ups become immortalized as Daddy Fails. All of us fathers have committed them. Some of us are better at it than others. Some of us are down right pathetic!

Here is my attempt to help those poor saps who are struggling:

DO learn how to comb your child’s hair ESPECIALLY if you have a girl. Please learn a simple braid, or how to make a bun, or how to put a barrette in their hair.
DO NOT pick up a hair magazine and try to mimic one of those styles! Please do not attempt to create a faux-hawk with enough gel to clog up the Suez Canal! We will talk about you, simpleton!

DO learn how to operate your child’s stroller. It is NOT intuitive, no matter how easy it looks.
DO NOT let the first time that you attempt to open a new stroller be in front of your boys. It is not a pretty sight. Ask me how I know…

DO take an active role in your child’s extra curricular activities and play chauffeur to their many practices.
DO NOT show up with your child completely unprepared for the aforementioned activities. Don’t  show up to swim practice with your child still wearing jeans and timbs at the pool. Put the swimming suit, ballet outfit, or costume on at HOME … not 5 minutes before the class is supposed to start, moron!

DO be responsible and feed your kids on the regular schedule if your wife/partner leaves town and entrusts you with the care of your miniature humans.
DO NOT have those meals consist of fries and chicken nuggets, three times a day for 5 days straight, yuh lazy lima bean (shout out to In Living Color)! When your kids gain 10 pounds mysteriously in your partner’s absence you gon’ have some ‘splanin ta do!!

Lastly, and seriously…
DO place your children in a high priority in your life. Remember: they’re counting on you.
DO NOT forget that your partner needs your attention too! It’s easy to become super parents and forget that there is an adult that you are in a relationship with too. Save some (a lot) of love for them too!

Hopefully, this short list saves some new dad some anguish.

What’s the worst “Daddy Fail” that you have ever seen?
What would be different, if anything, if it were a MOTHER that you saw struggling with these things?

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I SCREAM* YOU SCREAM* WE ALL SCREAM! FOR OUR 6 YEAR OLD GREENE!

We just celebrated Lady C’s 6th birthday at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn and it was such a great time that we just had to blog about the experience.

We love love love to throw kid parties and this year had an amazing ice cream themed party at the bestest ice cream shop in the city.

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Ample Hills staff poses for the camera

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Ample Hills menu – including Gooey Butter Cake ice cream *faint*

There is nothing we enjoy more than selecting a theme and then stomping it into the ground until you can’t forget it. We selected Ample Hills because it is a popular spot with a roof top deck and private party room. Since Lady C’s birthdays tend to be on warm days (and it was HOT this year) – the kids were able to enjoy the private room and the outdoor space.

Of course – any party is not possible without a dream team of friends and family helping out. A few thousand balloons might have flown away after being carefully tied to the roof (*clears throat*) but the place still looked great!

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Godmothers and friends decorating

The central activity of the party is that the kids make their own ice cream using the Ample Hills Ice cream bike.

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The famous ice cream bike

The children learned about how to make ice cream, what ingredients to use and how they would use the ice cream bike to mix all the ingredients.

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Ample Hills employee explains how to use the ice cream bike

Each kid had the chance to use the ice cream bike to pedal their hearts out and got a picture on the bike to take home as a souvenir. While the ice cream set in the freezer, the kids made place mats which were laminated for them to take home.

Lady C works on her placemat

Lady C works on her place mat

For this party we could not have normal cupcakes… no no no… We made cupcakes in ice cream cones! Such a hit and easy to make, after we messed up the first batch. Here’s the recipe for how to make these fun treats. THANK YOU PINTEREST FOR MAKING US STARS!!

Ice cream cone cupcakes

Ice cream cone cupcakes

The kids had the chance to eat their own ice cream decked with toppings of their choice and the adults – well, they ate plenty of ice cream too. Truth be told, between the ice cream, wine and great music – we think the adults had as much fun as the kids!

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So the kids had ice cream and pizza and cupcakes and they danced and they ran and had a blast. When all was said and done, it was time to give out the favors from our “Ice Cream Bar”. download (3)

Each child received a bag filled with a tumbler, ice cream erasers and ice cream tattoos.

Tumblers from Etsy.com

Tumblers from Etsy.com

Lady C has two wonderful godmothers and both of them helped with the party this year. One of her godmothers lives in Charlotte, NC and she tries to fly up each year to celebrate with us. This year she joined us for the ice cream party and also Lady C’s school birthday celebration. She braved making the ice cream cake cones with us and dealt with partyzilla parents… thank you Godmommy!

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Lady C and her Godmother

We highly recommend Ample Hills as a birthday party spot. Highly professional and organized and they made this a fun and easy day. We had our party at the Gowanus location (they have a few spaces) and the roof top deck was a great bonus feature. Parents were able to have a seat under an umbrella and enjoy some ice cream and wine.

If you have any fab birthday party locales in Brooklyn – please do share below!

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Hey Mister! What do YOU do?

So we are country of hustlers. Everyone has a side job, or a cottage industry on Etsy.com, or some sort of freelance project these days. Born out the bad economy, people became creative when it came to making ends meet. I even published a book about NYC hustlers called “Hustle City“…shameless plug…buy it on Amazon….

I am no different though. I have been a college administrator for 20 years now (I know I don’t look that old…right!…right?!?!). I have an established career with respect from my peers.

But that’s not all folks!

I have also established myself as a pretty good photographer, if i do say so myself. I have a healthy clientele and I have published two books while currently working on two more (PS see me if you like to wear bow ties).

So where am I going with all of this?

Today I participated in career fair in my fraternity Brother’s school. Streams of students mulled by my table and asked the same question:

“Hey Mister! What do YOU do?”

And then I had to stop and think: what is going to be interesting to these 4th and 5th graders? Then again, maybe I should be telling them about the career that will inspire them…well which one is that? LOL Lord knows I dare not try to explain having two careers to them! I could see their little eyes start to glaze over at THAT prospect!

Well I chose to tell them about being a photographer and all that went into it. They seemed very interested in the pictures that I showed them and how I created the images. They wanted to know if I took pictures of famous people so I mentioned Chris Brown and Mariah Carey. I lost them, though, when I talked about New Edition and Uncle Charlie!!

I started to wonder: what does Lady C think her daddy does? She knows I’m a photographer and she knows which college I work for, but what does she think I DO there? If asked, which job would she choose?

What do your kids think you do?
You should ask them and
tell me what happens?
I’d love to hear the responses!

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