Friday, August 3, 2012

Date Night {OUT}: Seize the Carp!

Fun Fact:  When I was grossly underage I got a tattoo ... from a guy now serving prison time for killing a college-aged young lady.

Not my best decision.

But I did get a frog jumping over the words "Carpe Diem"(seize the day for those who don't like Latin.  Or Yolo if you are under 20) tattooed on my lower back.  PSA: this location is ill-advised if you are ever going to age past 20 and get anything that might slightly resemble a muffin top.

Seize the Day.

Sometimes when it comes to love, you just have to be a yes person.  You just have to seize the opportunities today.  You have to carpe the hell out of your diem.

So that is exactly what we did.

Yes, we could have had an elaborate date plan {which we often do}.

Yes we could have gone somewhere fancy for dinner or made out danced under the stars at the park.

But the carnival was in town.  So we seized an opportunity to put on our cowboy boots, drink beer, eat funnel cake, and ride the Zipper.

In the end, the best part of dating isn't being boxed in by someone else's vision of "the perfect date."  It's being able to enjoy this moment with someone so precious that every moment feels like the perfect one.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Things I Love: Aha! Moments

I love the feeling when something just clicks.

When I didn't understand something and I finally do.

When I couldn't figure out how to make something work and finally, it dawns on me how to do it.

Aha moments.  They are a fave.

When the light finally comes on, I feel pretty bright.

Now I seem to have Aha! moments a lot.  Not because I'm not smart but because I'm always trying to learn new things.  But I'm going to share a real game changer with you.

Don't ask me how I never knew this before but I didn't.  And since I've learned it, and shared the knowledge, I've learned lots of other people didn't know what I'm about to share with you either.

Here it goes.

Prepare yourself for an Aha!

You can make healthy microwave popcorn with nothing but a microwave, a brown paper sack and some popcorn.
From DAMN GOOD FOOD


Hello?  Mind blown, right?

Seriously, did you know this because I didn't until I read this post: All Natural Home Made Microwave Popcorn.

I've been making this kind of popcorn for a couple of months and now I can't figure out why anyone would pay wayyyyyy more for that preservative heavy crap (that tastes chemically amazing) at the store.

I've decided the only logical reason people pay more for the unhealthy stuff is because those people have obviously not had this popcorn AHA moment.

And now you have.

You're welcome.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I Think About: School Supplies

On Saturday my family and I loaded up the old four wheel drive and went to Target to get school supplies.  As a former teacher and nerd d' jour, I love shopping for school supplies.  Seriously, I have to talk myself out of smiling like a fool when I see the "Back to School" shelves packed with Crayola crayons and washable markers (which, by the way, I'd like to say BRAVO to the inventor of washable markers).

Anyhow, I was at the store buying school supplies for 5 kids (because our church donates school supplies) and I heard to families in the aisle lamenting over the school supply lists.  I looked at the lists (everyone in town has the same supplies) and I was thinking, "This isn't bad" but based on what I was hearing, the fact that parents are expected to buy crayons or {{GASP}} have their children share crayons is totally unacceptable.

I did a huffy breath at them (I'm reading a lot of Junie B. Jones these days) and pranced away with my red cart brimming full of tissue boxes and post it notes but what I really wanted to say is this.

STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT SCHOOL SUPPLIES!

Here is why I think we all need to stop complaining about school supplies.

1.  OUR KIDS ARE GETTING A FREE EDUCATION!

In America I think it is easy to forget education isn't a right everywhere.  Despite UN mandates that education be free and available for all children, this isn't a reality.  Education is a divine privilege.  We should celebrate that our kids can go to school and a low cost to us (don't get me started on taxes).  There are parents who do not have the good fortune to buy their children school supplies.  How lucky we are that we GET to buy our children school supplies!

2.  YOU DON'T KNOW THE HALF OF IT!


Here's is my daughter's first grade supply list:

  • 2 boxes of crayons
  • 1 box of washable markers
  • a pencil box
  • 2 boxes of 24 #2 pencils
  • 2 big erasers
  • 2 packets post it notes
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 1 4 oz bottle of glue
  • 2 composition books
  • 1 1" binder
  • 2 pocket folders
  • 1 box of quart sized ziplock bags
  • 2 boxes of tissue
I also bought supplies for 2, 3, 5, and 6th grade and the lists are about the same.  In total, I spent $150.  That's not bad.  And that's not the half of it.

If you feel compelled to complain about what you are spending, think about what the teacher is spending!  I'm a former teacher and let me tell you, those 48 pencils will be gone by December.  Want to know who buys the rest? The teacher.  Does it come out of some endless budget?  Nope.  It comes out of his/her own bank account.  

The same goes for glue sticks, markers, snacks, etc.  When it runs out (which happens fast when you leave a lid off a marker), parents aren't asked to buy more.  Teachers buy the items.  

Oh, and don't forget about the supplies that are just included at no additional cost to you--like books to read, inspirational posters, dry erase markers, playground equipment, SmartBoards, printer paper, construction papers, clay and other art supplies, P.E. equipment ... I know, I know, this is from our taxes.  Psh.  Our taxes don't cover half of it--just look at the uber poor inner city schools whose property taxes don't address necessities, like working toilets, let alone laptops.

3.  YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Nothing irks me more than people who think American education sucks.  Riddle me this: If American education sucks, why do foreign countries model their schools after ours? Why do so many come to the States for college?  It isn't because our schools suck, I'll tell you that much.

I know you've heard how poorly we do on tests compared to other countries.  (I don't buy this.  Read THE MANUFACTURED CRISIS for more information or just remember that our tests test ALL students and then compare them the results of the top 1-10% from other countries ... because everyone doesn't get an education elsewhere--see #1).  My response to this (false) claim is you get what you pay for.

Did you know that in countries, like China and India, people pay as much for education as they do for their cars and homes?  What's your home worth?  Is that what you are putting into education, including your taxes?  Not even close.  

4.  IT'S ALL RELATIVE

As I stated in #3, Americans don't spend that much on education, comparatively speaking.  In fact, we spend more money on homes, cars, food, and entertainment then we do on education.  So the next time you want to complain about spending upwards of $30-$100 on school supplies, ask yourself, are you all worked up that you spend $100/month on a cell phone (or cable)?  Do you think twice about spending $50 on a tank of gas?  How about $25 going out for lunch?  

I understand that buying supplies might seem like a lot of cash at once but when you compare it to how you are spending your money elsewhere, is it really a big deal?  And compared to going out for dinner, is it less important? 

5.  IF YOU SPEND TOO MUCH, YOU ARE PROBABLY GOING OVERBOARD

Okay, I've lived in/taught/gone to school in a few different areas and I've never seen school supply lists that include items such as:
  • North Face brand fleece jacket
  • Miss Me Jeans
  • iPhone
  • 5 pairs of new shoes (including the hottest Nikes, Converse, and Jimmy Choos)
  • 7 new outfits 
  • coordinating accessories including but not limited to: hats, watches, scarves, cardies, hoodies, jewelry, Coach purses, acrylic nails, etc.
I get it.  When you go back to school shopping it costs a fortune.  But is it the supplies that cost a fortune or is it you, as a parent, going overboard to get your child every vanity item he/she desires? Are you getting new backpacks and scissors every year because your child has too much pride to use the same backpack twice? Are you actually spending money on what your children want or what they need?

WHAT I THINK is that if you are feeling overwhelmed with the costs of going back to school, I would look at the items you can re-use or live without.  School supplies, in and of themselves, are not generally the culprit to budget stress but the "keeping up with the Jones family" in terms of new everything and trendy clothing might be.  How can you trim the fat (without taking it out on the teachers who are going to supply the items you don't or that run out)?

P.S.  I fully, totally, and honestly recognize that for some families, just the basic school supplies--like pencils--really do break the bank and NOT because you are budgeting poorly or partying hard but because these are hard times. To you, I apologize for the way "back to school" adds stress to your life or makes you feel like you aren't doing a good job.  You are an amazing parent.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Days of Play: Marshmallow Poppers (and a fun story)

So here's the story.

When M.E. was born my husband was a staff attorney for three judges, one of whom purchased this lamb/blanket toy for her arrival.  His grandson's favorite toy was the blanket lamb and the judge figured our daughter would love it.

She didn't.

When she was three I finally gave up trying to convince her of the cute cuddliness and passed it along to some lucky kid with better taste in blanket lambs.

While M.E. did not enjoy the toy, she always was fascinated with the box it came it.  The toy was from Red Envelope so of course it came in a red box.  6 years later, we still have that darn box.  Right now it serves as a baby bed/time out chair for our cat.

Funny how kids use the stuff we'd throw away and make great things out of it.

Lucky for me, I like to play with stuff to throw away too.  So when I read this Real Simple article on Toys You Can Make  (<--click the link to read the article and get popper directions) I was thrilled--especially with the marshmallow popper.  After all, I had just thrown a fiesta for Matt and had left over red solo cups (please sing the song ... NOW!).

Anyhow, I made two poppers for the kids and we ran around the house shooting each other with mini marshmallows.  Let me tell you, when you get to eat the weapon that "kills" you, it's a pretty good deal.

Photo from REAL SIMPLE 
Party cups + balloons + mini marshmallows=Big Fun (and an totally delicious but not at all healthy snack).

Monday, July 30, 2012

Music Monday: Aerosmith

Well this band needs no introduction.  They have an epic legacy that speaks of their awesomeness.  So why am I highlighting a band that is probably the best American rock band ever (aside from the Eagles ... my husband and I debate this.  I'm on team Eagles)?  Simple.  I'm going to an Aerosmith concert on Wednesday night.

And I have floor seats.

In the 7th row.

I'm probably going to die from excitement.

If I'm not back blogging next week, you understand what happened.

Anyhow, here's a shout out to one of the best American rock bands (and a few songs I hope I hear!).


CRAZY



JANIE'S GOT A GUN (Gosh this gives me memories of a car ride home from Sheridan!)



CRYIN' (My Matt's favorite but not because I'm psycho. He liked it before me).


AMAZIN' (My favorite)



Goodness ... there are so many more I want to high light! Dream On. Sweet Emotion. Love in an Elevator.

What's your fave Aerosmith song?