Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ice Cream That's Good For You....And Has Only ONE Ingredient

I know what you're thinking.
Healthy ice cream?
Yeah, right.

But, stay with me here.
It's not a hoax.

I was browsing Pinterest, whilst dreaming of ice cream. For those of you who don't know, ice cream is my kryptonite.  I love ice cream more than any other food.  Thinking of the creaminess and sweetness make me drool like Pavlov's dogs. During my browse on Pinterest, I typed in "healthy ice cream". I was hoping to at least find a healthy alternative to my night time craving of ice cream.  I am really trying to lose a few pounds and my banishment of ice cream has left me feeling unfulfilled. I do eat yogurt....a lot.  And I love it, but sometimes I want the rich, thick taste of ice cream. I expected my query on Pinterest to give me this response, "We're sorry, but there were no matches for your search of healthy ice cream."  But to my delight, I came across a very simple recipe. A recipe that I was very skeptical of, but decided that it couldn't hurt to try. 

The recipe calls for one ingredient.

Frozen bananas

That's it. 

You don't add milk, or vanilla, or ice chips, or whipped cream, or anything. 
Just bananas.

I know, I know.  This is why I was skeptical, but I threw caution to the wind and gave it a whirl.  And I am oh, so glad I did. 

Here is how you do it.....

Peel a banana. 
Cut it up into slices. 
Freeze the slices. (Frozen bananas are very difficut to cut when frozen, so that's why you slice them before freezing.) 
Put the slices in a blender.

Turn that sucker on.

This part takes a bit of patience.  The bananas start out looking like little bits, but just hang in there.  The creaminess is coming.
Just keep blending until the bananas turn into this....

This photo was taken as soon as I opened my blender up.  I didn't stir it, or doctor it up, or add anything to it.  This is just plain ole frozen bananas.

Ok, so far so good.
But the true test would be the taste.

It's weird because it doesn't really taste like just bananas. 
It certainly has a banana flavor though, so if you don't like bananas, then you are out of luck on this one.
But it tastes richer and oh so creamy!

I liked just the simple banana recipe, but if you wanna go really wild, you can doctor it up a little.

You can turn the one ingredient healthy ice cream into a 3 ingredient healthy ice cream and make it utterly dreamy.

That's what I did.

To make the 3 ingredient dreamy ice cream....

First....make the original version.

Then, add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a teaspoon of peanut butter.

Blend it up.

It makes this peanut butter chocolate goodness....

This fulfilled my ice cream craving 100%.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homemade Dish Detergent

I cannot believe I made my own dish detergent.  Just call me Pioneer Woman.

I came in with a bag of the needed supplies to make the detergent and showed them to Bradley. 
I said, "Do you have any idea what I am going to use this stuff for?"


I told Bradley that I was going to make my own detergent.  His response...in a very sarcastic tone.....was...

"Why would you do that?"

This is my logic....

With 3 boys, we dirty a LOT of dishes.  We eat pretty much every meal at home, which requires lots of pots and pans, plates and cups.  We run the dishwasher at least once a day, and sometimes twice.

Dish detergent is expensive!  I always seem to be using up my last dish tablet and then I need to run by the store and get more.  And then, I fork over way too much money to get them quickly.

For a while, I was trying to use coupons for dish detergent and laundry detergent, but even with a coupon...it still costs a fortune.  Plus, clipping coupons is very time consuming.  I am still using coupons for food, I'm just gonna pass now on the detergents, because I can make it cheaper than I can buy it.  And it only took about 3 minutes to make, so that is much quicker than clipping coupons.
Why would I not make my own?

When Bradley heard my genius explaination, he said....

"Well, alrighty then.  Go for it!"

I have already used it on two loads of dishes and it worked great!  So... here is how I made it, just in case you are dying to make some too.

Step 1. Buy a box of Borax, A box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda,  3 cups of salt, and 20 lemonade packets. Total cost was about $8.50.  Since you only use one tablespoon at a time, it will last for well over 100 loads of dishes.

Step 2. Pour all of the ingredients into the container.
 of your choice.

(Notice the dishes in the sink and on the counter.  Thus the urgency to go ahead and make the dish detergent.)

Step 3. Shake it like a maniac.

Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Soon to come....

Homemade Laundry Detergent!

(I know you are sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bashed By Bush

  Somebody better get the restraints, because I am feeling the need to impale Former President Bush with a sharp object.

  My insanely hectic day yesterday was coming to a close.  I had poured all of my energy into teaching the 18 students in my kindergarten classroom.  We were flying high by the end of the day because 100% of my class has learned all the letters and sounds and are all learning to decode words. 100% of my class has now mastered addition skills.  And we are all well on our way to meeting all of our goals for kindergarten.  We have worked hard and steady so far this year and will continue to do so for the next four months.  Not because some law tells me I have to, but because it is MY job to establish the foundation my students need to be successful.

  So, at the end of my day, I was ready to reward myself with a hot bath and a good read.  I had been reading the book Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, but last night an article in Time Magazine caught my attention, so I picked it up instead.  The article was addressing the No Child Left Behind Law.  I was curious at what the article had to say.

  For those of you who have been living under a rock, I will give you a very brief overview of the law. Very brief.  Basically, ALL children should be able to perform on grade level in reading and math by the year 2014.  The law was signed 10 years ago and it set up goals for schools to progress toward meeting this goal.  Schools are suppose to get 100% of students reading on grade level.  100%! 

  Wow!  Can we say, fantasyland?  All children were not created to be able to read on grade level.  Some children were put on this earth for other purposes besides reading. There is nothing wrong with that. There are kids who excel at other things, but maybe they were never designed with the mental capacity to learn to read.  Ever. For some special kiddos, it just isn't possible. Some kids cannot even speak!  And the best part is that schools are held accountable for these kids and if they aren't making enough progress toward the goals, then the school is penalized financially.  Like that's gonna solve anything!

The law is so unfair!  Although the school I teach at has been meeting our goals so far, we all know that we won't be able to hold on much longer.  We will join the ranks of schools who haven't been able to make the required progress.  The 2014 goal isn't just hard to meet...it's impossible. 

 But anyway.....that's not why I want to poke Bush's eyes out.

  I am angry because of the statements he made in the Time article.  They made my blood boil.

He said, "If you're going to fund schools, like we've been doing for years, we in the federal government, ought to demand accountablility."

When asked why he thought people in both political parties were trying to weaken the law, his response was.....

"....Some are saying that it is unfair to teachers. People don't like to be held to account."

As if the teachers are complaining just because someone is looking at our test scores.  Like if it weren't for that dang accountablility issue, we would be riding the gravy train.

Yeah sure, Bush...that's why the law is unfair.  Because we teachers don't like to be held accountable.  You got it!

Or do ya think, maybe....just maybe.....that we teachers think it is unfair because the law is set up to ensure that 100% of schools in America fail?

I realize that this is a rant.

And that this is suppose to be a Mom blog.

But, I just happen to be a Mom blog who is also a teacher.

A teacher who feels passionately about her job and doesn't appreciate being bashed by former presidents.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My First Born....The Birth Story

  Today is Tucker's birthday.  He is 13 today.  Holy mackerel....I can't believe I have a teenager.  Seriously, I can't believe it.  Perhaps it is denial.
  The boys' birthdays always bring back the memories of the day they were born.  My, my....how life can change in a day.  Here is the story of how my life changed....for the better.

  Bradley and I had been married for almost 5 years before we both agreed that it was time for a baby.  We had struggled and scrimped and fought and made up and went to school and worked and played for 5 years.  I never imagined that we would wait 5 years to have a baby, but that's just the way it worked out.  We desperately needed those early years to build a relationship as a couple first.  We married so young (I was 18 and he was 20) that we weren't prepared to nuture a relationship and a baby at the same time.  At times over those first years, I would try to convince him to go ahead and try for a baby, and he would disagree.  And then at other times, he was ready and I wasn't.  I am so thankful we waited.

  Sometime around April or May of 1998, we both decided that we were ready to start our family.  I'm not sure what made it a good time for us, since I was still finishing my education degree and we lived in a 1970's model mobile home.  We were not very finacially stable...but nevertheless....we agreed.

  We thought that it might possibly take a while for us to get pregnant, since I had been taking pills to prevent a pregnancy consistently during our marriage.  Wrong.  We got pregnant right away.  I couldn't wait to take that first pregnancy test!  I took a couple of tests too early, and they didn't show the two pink lines I was looking for.  I knew it was too early to tell, but I took them anyway.  I waited a couple of days, and tried again.  I could see the faintest little glow of a second line.  It was enough....I knew I was pregnant!  And I was beyond thrilled!  Bradley and I were ectastic....we were going to be parents.

  My pregnancy passed by beautifully.  I had the typical pregnancy symptoms.....some morning sickness, tender breasts, stuffy nose, perpetual headache, fatigue.....but I didn't care.  I was pregnant and happy. I craved plums and mexican food during this pregnancy, which was very unusal for me.  Until I got pregnant, I didn't even like Mexican foods.  Now it's probably my favorite cuisine.  Weird.  I loved being pregnant.  I loved pretty much everything about it. Until the end, when I got so gigantic that I couldnt even fit into my maternity clothes....then I was ready for it to be over.  I gained 43 pounds during my pregnancy and enjoyed every minute of my freedom with extra calories. 

  My due date came and went. My belly was beyond gigantic.  I was truly enormous.  I questioned my doctor about the size of the baby.  He assured me that the baby would be a normal weight...probably around 7 to 8 pounds.  My doctor is the old fashioned sort, who doesn't believe in elective inductions.  He had no intentions of speeding up the process.  After 3 long days past my due date, I finally went into labor. This was on a Friday night. I started feeling a tightening in my abdomen and my stomach started hurting down low.  It almost felt like the pains accompanied by a stomach virus.  The tightening kept happening and started getting regular, so I figured that I must be having contractions.  I started timing the contractions until they became more regular.  I decided that maybe I should call the doctor.  The doctor on call advised me to go ahead and come in to be checked.

  We made the hour long trek to the hospital and I was hooked up to the monitors.  I could see the little contraction lines rising and falling on the monitor.  It looked like maybe we would be having a baby soon.  Bradley and I laughed and joked and were giddy about bringing this new life into the world.  And my patience for not knowing whether or not I was having a boy or girl had run out long ago.  I was about to burst with excitement to meet my son....or daughter.  After a bit of monitoring, the doctor came in.  After the examination, he told me that I was in labor, but hadn't made much progress at all.  He assured me that I would be more comfortable laboring at home for a while.  He instructed me to come back when my contractions were stronger and closer together.  He said that I would probably be back the next morning. 

   We had walked at the mall, but I felt terrible and had to keep stopping to catch my breath and wait out a contraction.  I paced around the house and we visited Bradley's parents.  I was completely miserable. I didn't sleep a single bit. After about 24 hours of laboring at home, I felt that my contractions were too strong and too close together to be dealing with at home. Early Saturday night, we made the drive back again to the hospital. 

  Once again I was monitored and checked.  This time, I was also given a hospital bracelet and was admitted, but body was progressing at a snails pace.  Although I was admitted, I was only dialated to one centimenter. One!  After over 24 hours of contractions....One!  The doctor ordered introvenous pitocin to help my labor progress more quickly.  My contractions quickly got increasingly stronger.  I was having very strong labor pains.  After a couple more hours, the contractions got so intense that I instinctively began to grimmace and moan with each one.  Throughout the long, long night, my pain was honestly, almost unbearable.  At no point during the night, was my cervix far enough dialated that I could receive an epidural.  I remained 2-3 centimenters all night.  At some point during the night, a nurse gave me some NuBain pain medication.  I remember her telling me that it would "take the edge off".  I promise you that the NuBain did not take any tiny bit of edge off.  It only made me act weird.  I remember feeling so strange, but feeling every single bit of the pain.  My contractions were so strong that when I gripped the bedrails to help me get through the contraction, the wheels on the bed rattled.  I can only imagine that I appeared to be possessed. 

I cannot begin to describe to you how much pain I was in.  Every fiber of my being was tensed up during the contractions.  And when the few seconds of reprieve that I was getting between each one came, I froze.  I literally held whatever position I was in.  Sometimes my arms were in midair.  Sometimes I was still clutching the bedrails. But I froze.....I didn't move.  I remember being so exhausted that I couldn't.  And I remember thinking that if I didn't move, that maybe they wouldn't come back.  But they did.  They kept coming back.  All.  Night.  Long.  I had the most intense 14 or so hours of labor that I could ever imagine going through. (PS.....I have had 2 other children since then....neither of their labors was ANYTHING even remotely similar to this one.  Not even a teensy fraction of the pain......so don't go saying that I am just a wuss.  It was just freakishly insane.  Trust me on this one.)

So....finally....sometime in the late morning....on Sunday....I was checked by the doctor and had made it to the magic 4 cm cervix.  I was now eligible for relief.  Real relief.  In the form of an epidural.  I truly don't think I could have made it much longer without it.  I think that if I had lived 100 years ago, I would've been one of those sad stories of women who died in childbirth.  The pain was bad, people.

  So I got my extremely overdue epidural, and finally felt more human.  Although I was more exhausted than I have ever been. Ever.  By this point, I had been in labor for about 38 hours. I continued to labor, much more painlessly throughout the morning.  I was tired, but I was somewhat able to carry on a conversation and suck on ice chips.  Family members had the waiting room packed out and they would take turns coming in to see how I was feeling and how things were progressing. 

  Sometime around lunch time on Sunday.....remember that this all originally started on Friday.....I was checked yet again and it was pronounced that it was "Time to push!"  I felt so relieved.  I was thrilled that I would finally get the reward from this weekend of pain and hard work.  And I would soon get to learn the gender of the baby.  Everyone was on pins and needles wanting to know if the baby was a boy or girl.  The family in the waiting room even had bets going on the gender and the weight of the baby.  The wait was almost over!

  What I didn't know at the time that the nurse said, "It's time to push!" was that my pushing endurance was going to have to be as strong as my labor endurance.  I was hoping for a few minutes of pushing....but I should have known better.  I pushed and pushed and pushed.  Bradley encouraged me.  My nurse cheered me on.  She counted out the seconds for me to keep pushing.  "1....2....3...4...5...6...7.....8....Again.  Push, Jennifer. 1....2...3....4...5....6...7....8.  We can see the hair!  You're doing good. Go again."  Over and over I pushed.  I was giving each and every push all the strength I had left. Over and over......"Push again!"  I pushed for 3 hours straight.  3 hours.  My body was exhausted.  I was spent.  I was running out of strength, yet I kept pushing. "1....2....3...4...5...6....7...8."  And then a little after 3 hours of pushing, I could hear the doctor mumble something to the nurses.  I knew they were gonna give up on the vaginal delivery soon.  I had already been told earlier on that 3 hours of pushing is the limit.  I willed every ounce of energy that I had left and threw it onto the next pushes. "1......2....3.....4....5....6....7.....8....push again.....1.....2.....3....4....5...6...7...8." 

  Then, I heard the Dr. say something else to the nurse and she went to the "Help" button on the wall behind my bed.  She pressed the button and told whoever answered my name and the room number I was in.  To this day, I don't know what kind of help she was calling for, because at that moment....I started vomitting.  Which seems unusual to me, yet I didn't even have the strength or mental capacity to question it.  But for whatever reason it happened, it helped.  The baby was finally out.  The nurse immediately pressed the help button again and said, "Nevermind.  The baby came out."  She had cancelled whatever help she was requesting.  The doctor asked for one more gentle push, which I was glad to oblige. 

  I heard a cry.  It was beautiful.  Bradley was staring at my baby that was still hidden from my view.  A tear rolled down his cheek.. The doctor announced that he was cutting the cord.  I summoned enough energy to say, "What is it?!!"  It seemed that everyone had forgotten for a moment that I was there.  The doctor said, "Boy!  It's a Boy!"

A boy.

My head fell back onto the pillow and I smiled.  So happy to be the mommy to a baby boy.  The nurse brought the little sticky, smelly bundle of a baby boy over to me and laid him in my arms.  His head was so unnaturally shaped, his face was swollen from the long delivery, he was screaming, and he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  Ever.  As soon as my eyes hit his face, I said, "He looks just like you, Bradley!" I was instantly in love with this flailing, screaming, swollen little guy. 

I never wanted to let him go.  I wanted to just stare at his adorable little lips and teensy little fingers forever. 

When the nurse took him from me to be weighed and bathed and check, I couldn't keep my eyes off of him. The rest of the family came in to meet the newest addition and everyone ooohed and ahhhed over him....  although everyone was a bit concerned by the odd shape of his head, we were assured that it would turn out just fine.  He weighed in at a whopping 10 pounds and 3 ounces, which explained the difficult delivery, but didn't explain why the doctor thought he would be "an average sized baby".  He was big, but healthy.
 He was perfect.

About an hour or so after Tucker was born, I started feeling really strange.
I still can't really explain it today.
I felt so 'disconnected' from what was going on.  I was exhausted and my body and mind had given everything it had to delivering the baby.

I was wheeled into the room that I would spend the next two day, and the family tagged along happily.  Everyone was smiling and happy....except me.
I couldn't do anything else.
It wasn't that I was depressed or anything...I was just......
I was out of it.

People were snapping pictures and I knew that I should be smiling for the cameras, but I just couldn't.  I honestly didn't even have the energy to smile.
Looking back on it now, I think that maybe I was in some sort of shock....brought on by true exhaustion.

I was told later that some family members got upset by how exhausted I looked and left the room crying. 

Luckily, the fatigue induced shock passed.

By morning I felt much better.
I was all smiles! 
I couldn't get enough of this new little guy.
I wanted to keep him in my arms or snuggled up next to me all the time.
I hated when they took him away to bath him or be checked by the pediatrician, because I wanted him with me.

My world had instantly changed.

That was 13 years ago today.
For 13 years, I have had the pleasure of being Tucker's Mom.
I still want him with me.  I still hate for him to be out of my sight.

And, I still love him as much today as I did the first moment I saw him.

Probably even more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

30 Areas in 30 Days....My Plan to Declutter

  I figure that since I don't have anything else to do......bwahhhaaahaha......that I should come up with a plan to declutter.  I have been saying that I want a simpler household that is more organized and is less chaotic.  I want more order and less junk.  I want plans to carry out my goals.  I figured that since I was on a roll with the menu planner, that I would just go ahead and come up with a "decluttering plan" while I was at it.  I found the basic idea for the plan on "Pinterest"....aka..."The website that is responsible for great amounts of lost time".

  So, during my sacred bath time last night, I created the plan.  I actually carried a notebook and a pen to the bathtub with me.  I sat in the warm bath.... visualizing every section of my house...one room at a time.  Each area that had too much clutter in my visualization, got added to the page.  Then, I typed it up into a neat little list and hung it on my fridge.

  I figure that if I start my list tomorrow, that I will have a clutter free home by the end of February.  Each day, I will choose something off the list based on how much time I can allot to the chore, and declutter just that one small section.  That's the plan, anyway.  I can think of about 972 things that will possibly interfere with this plan, but I'm gonna give it a go.

I'll let you know how it's going....and feel free to share or use the idea to declutter your own home.  I can already sense that the chaos is leaving my home....ahhhh.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Menu Planner

I have several goals for my near future.  Goals, that if I follow through with, will create a less chaotic home. 

We are the busiest sort of family there is.  Our mornings and afternoons could be described as a whirlwind.  This week, Tucker has baseball practice every day after school from 3 to 4:30.  Then, I have to pick him up.....feed everyone and finish homework in a very short amount of time....and then get Carter to basketball practice at 5:30 on Monday and Thursday and Sawyer to basketball on Tuesday and Friday.  Tucker has a hair cut appointment on Tuesday at 5:00.  Tucker has to work a volunteer shift as a Student Government Representative at 7:00 on Tuesday at our county basketball tournament.  Tucker has youth meeting at our church on Wednesday night at 6:00.  I have to cook a meal for our church hospitality room for the county basketball tournament on Thursday night.  Besides these things, I still work as a kindergarten teacher, attend church, and try to go jogging several times a week. And that is just the committments I know about so far. 

Squeezing in time to cook a healthy meal and keeping a clean house is sometimes hard to do. 

To maintain sanity, I have some goals set. 

1.  I am trying to "declutter" our house, one little section at a time.  My house is not nasty or junky.....but we do have little trinkets sitting around and the junk in the drawers needs removing and the extra stuff in the closets need weeding out.  With less clutter, the house will be easier to keep clean.

2. We are still working on paying off debt this year. 

3. I am setting up a weekly menu so that our dinner planning goes more smoothly.  I know that if I have a plan for what we will eat for the week, that I can shop for everything on the weekend, and have all the ingredients ready.  I will be able to cut out those almost daily trips to the local grocery store to get the things we are out of and the items we need to cook dinner, thereby saving me precious afternoon minutes.

Tonight, I created my menu planner to help with goal number 3. 

My menu planner is simple and was created from stuff that I had lying around the house.  You could create a much more elaborate one if you wanted to invest a little money at the craft department.  I think it turned out just fine and will serve the purpose perfectly.

Here is how I created the weekly menu planner.....

Step 1.....Gather the supplies.

I used a couple of coordinating, 12 x 12 sheets of scrapbook paper, some button magnets, some colorful rocks, and a yellow file folder.  They had all been crammed into a cabinet that hasn't seen the light of day in years .  Hopefully, this cabinet will be 'decluttered' soon.

Step 2......Make the labels with some paper and glue them on.  Cut a corner off of a file folder and glue it on to use as a pouch for the 'menu option' slips of paper.  You could also use one of those library pouches that go inside books.  You can get those at office supply stores or teacher stores.

Step 3......Hot glue the sticky notes on.

Step 4 .......  Attach the magnets to the rocks with hot glue.  You could also use beads, buttons, or those little flat shiny rocks that you use in aquariums. Or...you could keep it really simple, and just use the magnets.

Step 5...... Cut some paper into strips.

Step 6......... Write all the foods you frequently cook onto the slips of paper.

Step 7 ........ Put the slips of paper into the little pouch. Place a menu item under each little magnetic rock next to each day.

I hope this little weekly menu planner will remove just a teensy bit of chaos from our lives. 

He Left Me..... Again

Moments before this picture was taken.....the cell phone rang.   Moments before the cell phone rang.....we were walking hand in hand watching the sun set on the bay.  I was left to sit and watch the sun dip below the horizon with my hands in my pockets, rather than hand-in hand with my lover.

It happened again the next day.

We were walking hand in hand along the most beautifully manicured pathway.
We were giggling as we passed by the valet parking attendants and were admiring the lush landscape of the resort we were staying at for the weekend.  It was a romantic moment.

the cell phone rang.

I continued walking the paths alone. 
But, I came back to torment Bradley with the camera as he sorted out the problems on the other end of the line.  Our romatic moment was disrupted by the ringing of the phone.

And today, as the dawn was breaking.  The cell phone rang again. 

We had a late night with a house full of little birthday party guests.  Our living room was strewn with sleeping bags and slumbering boys.  They would be up and hopping soon.  Our house would become a hive of nerf gun activity...alive with boys who would be hungry and who would need to be readied for church.  But, since the cell phone rang, I would be accomplishing those tasks alone.

Who is the caller that keeps luring Bradley away?

It's always the same.  There is a manufacturing plant somewhere that needs him.  And somebody is in a panic.  And they are desperate for Bradley's expertise in solving electical problems.

Everyone knows that doctors are sometimes "on-call" to be there for people who get sick after hours.  Everyone knows that when a storm is coming that meteorologist will be there.  Everyone knows that firefighters work based on when an emergency calls them out.

No one knows that some electricians work this way. 
No one knows that the phone rings all hours of the night and day.
No one realizes that there is no such thing as going on vacation or having a birthday party without the threat of the phone ringing.

Except their families.

We have learned to decode the calls from our end of the line.  We hear a lot of lingo that we don't understand.

"Do you have power to the main?"
"Your overloads are too small."
"We may have a bad sensor."
"It sounds like we need to check the PLC to eliminate the problem."

Actually, I can't even remember what he is usally saying on his end of the line, because it is so technical, it sounds like a foreign language.  Nevertheless, we can usually tell by Bradley's responses and posture, whether or not he will be leaving soon to go fix the problem.

Until I became the wife of an electrician, I never really realized the important role they played in keeping this world ticking.  I'm not talking about a light in your house going out.....I'm talking about industrial electical problems.

You know, the industries that provide jobs around here....like chicken plants and steel manufacturers.
When parts of the production line goes down in manufacturing plants....people can't work.  Products can't be made.  And people can't pay their bills.

And when things go wrong in a plant.....it's usually not a simple fix, like fixing a plug that is out in a house.  We are talking about some major brain cells put to use to figure this stuff out.  Bradley has tried, in vain, many times to explain to me the simplest of problems in his job field.  My brain is not capable of understanding such complex issues.  I swear to you, Bradley is nothing short of a genius.  He will not admit this, but it's 100% true.

I don't begrudge Bradley for leaving me alone for work.  I know that what he does.... pays the bills.  I know that he is very good at what he does.

I can tell that he is very good at what he does because of the phone calls. 

It rings.
He answers.
He asks.
He diagnoses.
He explains.
He leaves.
He fixes.
He returns.

I know that he is better at it than the others because when their cell phone rings with a problem, it is handled like this....

It rings.
They answer.
They ask.
They hang up.
They call Bradley.

I am proud to be married to someone who is indespensible in his field.  I am proud that he can work circles around other electricians.  I am proud that his brain can solve such complex problems that it leaves everyone else in a daze.  I am proud that sometimes, his work calls him away, but he always returns to me.  I am proud that he is mine.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fake Awarding Their Differences

  Friends of mine are often curious about the differences in my three boys personalities.  Often times, when telling a story about one of my sons, someone will stop me and ask questions like, "Is he the one that gets in trouble the most?"  or "Oh, is he the one of the three that does the best in school?"  or "Do they all act that way?"

  I completely can understand their interest. Personally, I have always found it intriguing to compare the differences in siblings.  It is so interesting to see such differences in kids who were raised in the same household by the same parents under the same circumstances.  It's really baffling at how different my sons personalities are considering they are all exposed to the same environment and are all the same gender.

  For some reason, the differences in my sons was on my mind today during my afternoon jog.  I started thinking about them and pretending.  I was pretending that I was giving out awards to them.  I was awarding them for their differences.  So, for half an hour, while I jogged, I came up with fake awards for my sons.  And each time my crazy brain came up with a different category, there was always an instant clear winner between the three.

The nominees for all the fake awards are these three silly boys.......

Tucker......my oldest son, who is almost 13 and is in the 7th grade

Sawyer, the middle child, who just turned 9 and is in 3rd grade

Carter, the youngest of the 3, who is in first grade and is 7 years old

While I was doling out these fake awards, I realized that the child who recieves the award today, may not be the same kid who would receive it in a few months.  Their personalities are always changing as they grow.  These are some of the awards that I created in my brain for no reason whatsoever except to pass the time while I was jogging.

The awards go to.....drum roll please......

The Happiest - Carter
(Content with whatever is happening in life.  Pretty much always has been.)

The Most Compliant - Tucker
(Rule follower and tries to do what is asked of him without a fuss.)

The Funniest - Sawyer
(This kid keeps us in stitches.  I have been told that he doesn't let his humor out at school or other places, so we get it all to ourselves for now.  His sense of humor is beyond his years.)

The Loudest - Tucker
(I had his hearing tested when he was little, because I thought he couldn't hear well since he talked so loud.  He still has a megaphone mouth.)

The Most Stubborn - Sawyer
(From about age one to present.  I almost committed myself to the looney house when he was a toddler.  His way is the only way that is acceptable.  The kid has a mind of his own.)

The Toughest - Carter
(Tough as nails.  Probably out of necessity, being the youngest of 3.)

The Hungriest - Sawyer
(Constantly grazing.  He eats the entire time he is at home.  His metabolism is through the roof.)

The Calmest - Carter
(Will play quietly for hours if the need arises.  Is very laid back.)

The Most Peaceful - Tucker
(Has always been a peacemaker.  He is the referee between fusses and is good at keeping everyone playing happily.)

The Most Competetive - Sawyer
(Unbelievably so)

The Whiniest - Tucker
(Drama.  If he is sick, you would think he is dying.  If he gets hurt, you would think he is dying.)

The Slowest - Carter
(Turtle is his nickname for a reason.)

The Most Polite- Sawyer
(Always remembers to say "mam" and "sir" and "thank you".)

The Most Well Rounded - Tucker
(Self explanatory one.)

The Messiest - Carter
(His room is a disaster area.  His clothes stay scattered.  He drags out junk all over the house.)

Ok, some of these aren't really 'awards'.  It's more of a "Who's Who" list or something like that.  Anyway, I think about how different my boys are ALL the time!  It is so baffling how they can be so different, yet I love them equally.

So maybe, the next time I go jogging....I can use my time to mentally solve some sort of important global issues....but for today......It was fake awards.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kid Cam

  My parents treated us all this past weekend by offereing to carry my little guys to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Obviously, this was a treat for the boys....but it was also a treat for me and Bradley.  Having a kid free weekend is a super rare treat. Not that we sit around and wish to not have our own children...because we LOVE spending time with them....but it's a treat to get to do something as a married couple.  A married couple who is still madly in love, but has a hard time finding moments to squeeze in for ourselves. If you're a parent...you know what I'm getting at.

So anyway......as I gave the boys a kiss and wished them farewell on their adventure, I suggested that the boys use their IPOD cameras to snap a few photos of fun memories along the way.

I expected one of two things to happen....

1.  They would never once use the IPODs up to take a photo with.....or....
2.  They would take a million blurry pictures that didn't really even make sense.

I was completely proved wrong.

When the boys arrived home and told us all about the trip, Sawyer held out his IPOD to me.  He said,
"Oh, Mom.  I almost forgot.  I made you a slideshow of our trip. It has 17 pictures on it."


"Yes, Mam.  I figured 17 would be too many for you to use for your blog, but you can pick the ones you want.  Are you gonna use them for your blog?"

Wow!  My little 8 year old really knows his Mom!  And since he suggested it....I couldn't pass up the offer to include his photography in my blog.

Despite the fact that his IPOD takes poor quality photos, I thought he did a great job on the composition!  Here are a few pictures taken with Sawyer as the photographer.....

Sawyer couldn't take this one of himself standing in two states at the same time, so he handed the IPOD off and asked his Nana to take it for him.

Carter wasn't quite as successful in his photography skills, although I am happy with the 3 whole pictures he took.  I will share his entire album with you....I know you will be impressed.

I expected that if they used the IPODS to take photos, that I would see a load of ridiculous pictures.  Instead, I got a surprisingly nice collection of memories from their weekend.

Well done, lads.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Made In The USA ....... Wake Up People!

    Bradley and I have been waiting for a chance to travel to the nearest Red Wing Boot Store to buy him a new pair of work boots.  His old boots are past worn out, but we were unwilling to just buy any old pair off the shelf.   He wanted Red Wings.  Not only because the quality of their boots surpass all others, but because they still make all their boots in America. 

Or so we thought.

We knew that Red Wing carried American made boots, but didn't realize until we arrived at the store, that the majority of the boots they sell are now made in China.  We walked to the wall of work boots and Bradley lifted one pair after another off the shelf checking the tongue of the boots.

Made in China.

Made in China.

Made in China.

We were looking for this......

The little tag printed into the shoe that says

"Made in USA".

"Where are the boots that are made in America?"

The salesman points to two pair of shoes displayed on the wall. 

"That would be these two pair right here."

Out of about 20 boots displayed on the wall.....only two pair were still made in the USA.  And this is from a company that boasts about its' American pride and brags that it still carries American made products.

We were suprised, but Bradley tried on 3 pair of shoes.  Two that were crafted in the USA and one that wasn't.  The price of the import was a little cheaper, but the quality and comfort of the shoe was unmistakingly better on the American made shoe.  We proudly bought the pair made in America, knowing that it would last much longer than the imported shoe and would provide more comfort in the meantime.

When we got back into the car, Bradley and I discussed how this has happened to our country.  How we have become so dependant on imported goods?

It's no mystery why the imported goods sell faster.  It's all about the almighty dollar.  Whatever is cheaper .....sells.  And it seems that we have become so numb and indifferent to it, that we don't even notice anymore.  We no longer even bother checking the labels.  And as a country, we are cheaply buying our way out of jobs.

Bradley and I just returned from a little weekend trip, and we passed several manufacturing companies that were deserted.  Huge manufactuing facilites that are now standing empty.  Textile mills, furniture manufacturers, and others no longer in production.  Leaving small communities struggling financially in their wake.  Only a few years ago....these facilities were churning out American made products.

And it's not just the boots.  It's everything.  Our toys, appliances, shoes, kitchen goods, clothes.....it's all moving out of America.  Just a couple of years ago, I always bought New Balance running shoes, because they were the last company left that made running shoes made the USA. 

This is the tag from my new shoes that were bought a couple of weeks ago......

I never found any running shoes made in America.

Do you remember a couple of years ago when Silly Bandz were all the rage?

Every kid was longing for this new little stretchy bracelet that was shaped like an animal.  If a kid got a pack, then he was suddenly the coolest kid in the class.  He had 12 little bands that he could trade, give away or keep.  Every kid wanted them.....including my boys.

I remember that they became instantly popular at around the same time the boys got their report cards.  I remember telling them that as a little treat for having such great report cards, that we would drive to the nearest town and I would buy each of them a pack of these animal bracelets.

I drove to the first store and they had sold out earlier in the week.  This store led me to another store.
I drove there.....sold out.
I went to a pharmacy that I had remembered advertising on the radio that they had Silly Bandz in stock.  We drove to the store with the boys getting more and more anxious.
Sold out.
We were told at each store that everyone is wanting the Silly Bandz and they can't keep them in stock.
We started driving around everywhere.  Going into store after store that had this sign in their store window......

Each store was the same story......
Sold out.
Every kid in the county had to have them. 
And every Mom in the county was buying the stores out as fast as they could get them in stock.
Everyone wanted the Silly Bandz.

I started wondering.....

Why does the same thing not happen today with American made products?  When millions of people are out of jobs and almost every single product on the shelves today are made in China or some other foreign country....

Why are we not storming into the stores clearing the shelves of only the products that are made in the USA?

Why aren't we insisting that stores hang signs in their windows like this.....

or this?

For some products.....it may already be too late. 
But for some of them....we still have a choice.

And if there is still a choice......let's buy the American made one!

We need a rush on stores country wide.....like the one over those crazy bracelets.....
except that we need to be walking into the stores, not asking if they have Silly Bandz in stock, but American made products.

We need to walk in with a purpose....like I did when I wanted to buy the Silly Bandz.  We need to go into the store and ask....
"Do you have american made products in stock?"

Taking that quick shopping trip today to buy a pair of American made boots seems to have awakened me to this problem has has been developing for years and years.  I was sound asleep to it.

I know that I can't make a huge change in the world.....I probably can't even make a teensy one.  But maybe.....just maybe....someone who is reading this will at least check the label the next time there is a choice between American made and imported products.  Or will at least start to ask for American made products in stores.  And if we each do it and we tell someone else...by resharing this blog or just by mentioning it to a friend.....then perhaps we could even save a job or two.

And each time someone does that....and chooses the one made in the USA....we are sending the producers a message.  A message that tells them that it is still important for us...as Americans... to support our country.

You never know what difference you could make.

Someone.....somewhere... had to be the first person to start the Silly Bandz rage, and it caught on like wildfire.

Perhaps something worthwhile could catch on, too.

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