Friday, April 4, 2014

Boys are Gross

  I am an expert on boys.  I am the mother of three of them.  Let me be clear about something....I love my boys dearly, but they are gross.  Truly disgusting little human beings.
 I am very rarely surprised by the things my germ infested boys get into.  I walked into Carter's room to put something away.  I found his room in a disheveled heap.  His pillow case was off his pillow and had been turned into a makeshift bag filled with all sorts of explorer gear.  His clothes were strewn.  Dirty clothes were mixed in with clean ones.  Baseball caps and belts with lying about.  Nerf guns and ammunition was left on the floor ready for battle.  Underwear was hanging off the bed.  I just looked around shaking my head.
But then......
I gazed over at his dresser where all of his most prized possessions are stored.  There he keeps an autographed Red Sox Baseball from his brothers, an Auburn football, a trophy......and......
That's when I saw it.
Carter has turned his baseball cup (You know, the one he sticks inside his sweaty underwear during a baseball game)......into a bank.  He is storing his money in his cup!
I walked out of his room laughing at the absurdity.
Boys really are gross.
They pee on the toilet instead of inside it.
Boys dirty socks smell like some sort of chemicals that will singe the hairs from your nose.
They trash their rooms.
Boys smell.
Washing hands before eating is never given a consideration.
Boys must be forced to brush their teeth.
Boys fart and think it is hysterical.
Dirt and mud are a boys favorite place to play.
Boys love all things slimy.
They leave muddy footprints and there is always a ring around their tub.
Toothpaste is covering their sink
Potty humor is tops on a boys joke repertoire.
Did I already say they smell? 

I have been immersed in "boyness" for so long now that I just accept them for what they are.  They are little creatures who love to dig, and create, and make messes, and build, and romp, and jump, and yell, and tag, and throw, and tackle, and fish, and dissect, and explore and wonder. 
But they also like to snuggle.  They want to make me proud.  Boys are handsome.  They are protective.  Boys are very tenderhearted.    Boys give the best hugs.  Boys say what they mean.  They appreciate nature. Boys whisper, "I love you" when I kiss them goodnight. 
Boys are gross, but they are the most amazing creatures on earth and I love them despite their grossness.  My disgusting boys have me wrapped around their germ infested little fingers.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hankerin' For A Change

  Nine years ago, we built our forever home.  We finished it up within a couple of weeks of our the birth of our third son, Carter.  Just in the nick of time.  We put our whole heart and soul into building our little home to raise our boys in.  Our home is settled in at the edge of the woods overlooking my parents' farm land.  The inside of our home is definitely "lived in".  The boys wrestle, jump off the furniture, eat in the floor, make messes, track in mud, leave marks on the walls and scratches on the furniture.  I don't really mind those things.  I've never much believed in a house looking like a museum.  I adore our home and the memories we have already made in it, but I am ready for an update.  Our home hasn't had any updates in nine years (aside from a new coat of paint in our master bedroom) in any of our living space. I am frankly sick of looking at the same stuff.  Therefore....I decided to make some lipstick changes to our home.

   The first change I knew we wanted to make was to create a more substantially sized area for our big screen television.  We bought a new big TV last spring when our other tv one quit working properly, but we never had the right sized piece of furniture to put it on.  The large tv completely dwarfed the entertainment stand that it sat on.  It looked so out of proportion.  Thankfully, I am married to a super hero.  My super hero husband was able to see my vision for the area and was able to create a lovely fireplace that now looks proportionate to the big TV.

This corner area was created with old barn wood that has family history.  The wood came from an old barn that stood on our property when I was a child.  The fireplace area was created with airstone.  We are now in love with airstone.  It is very easy to work with and much less expensive that buying real stone.  The finished project turned out just like I envisioned.
We still have lots of little updates in our home to work on, but I am jumping for joy over our start.
Next project.....
a cabinet update!
I'll keep ya posted.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Low Sugar Peanut Butter Balls of Deliciousness

    Our family has now passed the one year mark since we cut sugary treats out of our diet.  When we began the diet change out of desperation to help stabilize Sawyer's hypoglycemic related mood swings, I honestly never expected that we would stick it out.  I have always had such a powerful sweet tooth, that I figured I might be sneaking some sugary treats now and then.  Strangely though, I am rarely even tempted to take a bite of a sugar filled snack.  There have been a couple of occasions, though, when I have almost been overcome with the desire to dig in to something full of sugar.  One of those few occasions happened two days ago.  One of my kindergarteners brought homemade peanut butter balls to share with the class.  I opened the lid to the Tupperware container and the little sugary jewels were screaming their peanut butter smell at me and begging me to pick one up and eat it.  I resisted with all of my power and did not succumb.  I did, however, take several really close up whiffs of them.  Ahhhhh....they smelled heavenly.

   After thinking about those peanut butter balls for two days straight, I knew that I had to do something to fulfill my craving.  So, out of peanut butter desperation, I created my own low sugar recipe.  The turned out amazingly!

In a bowl mix:
1 sleeve of graham crackers (crushed in a blender)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup of sugar free chocolate chips
Plus.....a couple more crackers crushed used to roll the balls in.

After it is all mixed up, use your hands and roll out a ping pong ball sized amount.

Drop the little ball of yumminess into the extra cracker crumbs. 
Roll around to coat.

This recipe made a batch of 20 balls.  It has only 2 grams of regular sugar in each ball from the graham crackers.  Of course, more grams of natural sugar comes from the honey, but honey is our friend and doesn't adversely effect blood sugar.
My desire for a sugary peanut butter treat has now been sated.
Now, hurry up and go eat yours before the rest of the family spies them. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Zion National Park - Hiking "The Narrows"

Have you ever had an experience that when it is over, you just know that it will be one of those experiences that you will never forget?  One that you will be replaying and reliving and talking about with those involved for years to come?  Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park was one of those experiences for our family.
   We visited Zion in July of 2012 on a family jaunt out west to see several National Parks.  While we were in Zion National Park, we hiked on several trails and experienced some wonderful adventures, but the highlight was definitely our hike into The Narrows.
   We got an early start on our day and climbed aboard the required shuttle to the trailhead.  To get to The Narrows, you must take the shuttle to the farthest point on the shuttle route to the Riverside Walk trailhead. 

   The Riverside Walk Trail is a level, paved one mile trail that meanders along the Virgin River.  When the Riverside Trail comes to a dead end at the river's edge, you just step into the river and keep going.  The Narrows Trail is not a 'marked' trail.  It simply follows the Virgin River upstream through the canyon.  The boys, ages 13, 9, and 7, were giddy with the anticipation of being allowed to walk through the river all day.
    We unloaded the shuttle at the trailhead equipped with a walking stick, hiking shoes, and a dry pack on each of our backs.  We all carried our own lunches and drinks in our backbacks and Bradley and I packed a small first aid kit, extra drinks, snacks, and cameras in our back pack.  Since we knew that the back packs would get wet on the hike, we double bagged all of the items that needed to stay dry (like the cameras and sandwiches) in heavy duty ziplock bags, which worked perfectly.
    The Riverwalk Trail leading up to The Narrows was very lovely, but we hardly paid attention to that part of the hike, because we were so ready to get going in the river. 
We began our hike through The Narrows with several other families.  The first section of the hike was much thicker with people than the last.  The farther we hiked into the canyon, the fewer people we encountered.  While we are happy that other people enjoy the beauty of the National Parks, we  prefer to avoid the thick crowds when possible.
    Shortly after we began our hike, we came to the deepest section of the river.  The water was really cold and was about waist deep on the adults at the depest part. This section of the hike delighted the boys beyond belief and are still talking about how much fun it was months later.
We hiked up the river for a couple of hours.  We stopped for drink breaks and to just enjoy the view several times.  The majority of the hike was spent crisscrossing the stream in the paths that we deemed the easiest to cross.  Each group traveling up the river was forging their own path. 
We hiked until we made it to where the walls of the canyon got more narrow and seemed to be touching the sky above. 
We stopped at the farthest point in our hike for a picnic lunch and simply enjoyed the moment.
At this point in the hike, the boys reported to us,
"This is the best hike we have ever been on!"
After we were rested and refreshed, we began our journey back out of The Narrows. 
We stopped for a little bit of fun rock jumping on our way back out.
We stayed inside The Narrows for a total of about 6 hours.  The entire hike was perfect.  It had everything we desire in an adventure.  It was stunningly beautiful, the boys got to enjoy a bit of clammoring over rocks, the hike had water, the temperature was perfect, and we were together. Who could ask for anything more in a hike?
We have experienced many adventures together as a family.....
hiking the Grand Canyon
rafting down the Snake River in the Tetons
exploring caves in Mammoth Cave
watching geysers erupt in Yellowstone
hiking around a mountain lake in the Rocky Mountains
star gazing in Canyonlands
climbing through an arch at Arches Nationa Park
sliding down the dunes at Sand Dunes National Park
....just to name a few.
But out of ALL of these adventures, hiking The Narrows remains near the top of the list for us.  I am thankful to have gotten to experience it with my family.
"For all of this, we are grateful to you."
                                                    ~ Acts 24:3

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Kindergarten Tale of Jesus' Birth

   Each year, I ask my K students the question...."Why do we celebrate Christmas?".  This year, I asked each student individually and was shocked that only 5 out of 18 kids gave a response having something to do with Jesus. 
   Later, we had a whole class discussion about Christmas festivities, which was guided into a discussion about the birth of Jesus.  I prompted the discussion by saying, "Who can tell me something they know about Jesus' birthday?"  Although a couple of the kids could recall details of the story that they had heard at home or at Sunday School, many of them were at a total loss. 
   Here is a combined quick summary of Jesus' birth, as told by my Kindergarteners....
     "Baby Jesus was born in the snow.  He drank a bottle.  When he woke up, he saw Santa.  Santa gave him presents.  Then, on Halloween he went trick-or-treating.  When he was outside, a reindeer ran into him and he died."
Um Kay. Wow.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Money Well Spent

      Our family dreams of travel.  Constantly.  We thrive on adventure and seeing new places and hiking and backpacking and canoeing and rafting and snorkeling.  We are discontent when it comes to just doing the daily grind.  We discuss travel over dinner.  We look at maps longingly wishing we could cover more area of it.  We reminisce over past trips and discuss possibilities for new ones.  We long to travel together more often.

      Unfortunately, the bills just don't pay themselves.  We haven't quite figured out a way to fund full time travel, so we deal with what we have to work with.  We spend the entire year socking away what we can to fund our summer adventures.  We rarely eat meals at restaurants.  We use coupons when we can.  We drive 10+ year old vehicles.  We wear lots of clothes from the thrift store. We never go to the movie theater, nail salons, or concerts.  We certainly have all that we need and plenty of what we want, but we would all give up all of our "things" for more travel adventures.  We have never regretted a single cent spent on travel, but we have many times regretted splurging on unnecessary "things"

     This quote on this photo has become sort of my "motto" lately.  I have the picture printed and hung on my refrigerator as a reminder.  Just there to remind me that another adventure is always just around the corner, and I can do without whatever it is that I am wanting to buy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jewels in the Backpack

  I am admittedly the worst Mom in the world about looking at the pages inside my kids backpacks.   If the boys have something that they want me to see or something that I need to sign, then they bring it to me and I take care of only that page. I usually wait days and days and days before looking at the rest of the pages.  The pages of classwork begin to pile up into a thick stack inside their folders just waiting to be discovered. 
   Today was the day. The day to open the backpacks.  I took out the enormous stack of papers.  I looked at each one. Most of them were thrown in the trash, but I found a few jewels that were keepers.  There were a couple of pages within the stack that brought a smile to my face.

There was this note from a little girl......

I'm still not sure if the little girl is trying to say Carter IS her friend, or is he NOT her friend?
Only a 2nd grader would know, I suppose. 
Ok, now this one gave me a big smile.......

Carter explained it to me.  He was writing a song on this page.  The words about "One sock on my foot. You can't do werth a flip. I got a slingshot in my hand".....yeah, those are lyrics.  Catchy, huh?
 I do not have high hopes of Carter making a profit from song writing. 
Or handwriting.
Perhaps Math will be his saving grace.  I did uncover this little gem.....

Math genius
That is my kid. 
Oh, yeah! 
Happy dance.
Boom, baby!
But then, this one was next in the stack to take me back down a notch.....

So much for his genius status.
So, from his papers, I have gathered that.....
 Carter may or may not have a little friend.
He is very unsuccessful at song writing.
His handwriting is terrible.
Carter was a math genius for exactly one day.
And he is still a jewel.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Display of My Favorite Moments

     If you know anything about me at all, then you know that I am in love with traveling with my family.  We have an affinity for the National Parks and plan our summer trips around visiting them. Our summer trips together are the highlight of my year.  As a matter of fact, I spend the first half of the year anticipating the summer trip and planning for it. During the middle of the year, we take the big trip. Then, I spend the second half of the year daydreaming, looking through photos and reminiscing about the fun we had together.  My whole year basically revolves around our big summer trip.
    Each trip to a new National Park that we have taken holds very specific and beautiful memories for me.  Mammoth Cave National Park was the park that we first fell in love with the National Park systems.  We took that trip back in 2006 when Carter was only 2 years old, Sawyer was 4 and Tucker was 8.  We took our first 'official hike' on that trip down the Cedar Sink Trail, which was 2 miles long.  Carter's little 2 year old legs hiked the entire trail on his own power. Each of the boys carried a stick they picked up along the trail and used it as a walking stick.  We stopped and looked at twisted tree trunks, lizards, and other critters that intrigued the boys.  The boys loved the hike and we were hooked on hiking from that point forward.  When I look back at the photos from that trip, I remember the boys and how they were at that moment. 
   It's the same for every single National Park we have visited.  I have specific memories and moments in each park with my family that are so fun and so beautiful, that they all rank as some of my favorite moments of my life.
   So now, whenever I am wanting to dream about my favorite moments, I can gaze upon my newest display of them......

   Each window pane holds a photo from one of our National Park trips.  Each photo has captured my favorite moments in time.  May people display a collection of expensive antiques or a collection of some sort, I choose to display moments instead of things. You can look into these windows and peer into the heart of my life. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Weather in Alabama

Weather in Alabama is seriously insane. 
If weather had a human form, Alabama weather would no doubt be on medication for Bipolar disorder.
5 days ago, we ran the air-conditioner.  The boys played in the creek half naked. 
The next day it rained.
And then rained again.
And again.
Today, the temperature drops.  Rain turns to sleet, which turns to snow.
School is forced to dismiss early.
If you aren't happy with the weather in Alabama.....don't worry. 
It will change in a day or two.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Just Google It

   At some point over the past couple of years, "Google" has gone from a just another website to a commonly used verb.  I have used it myself on multiple occassions. 
How do you make homemade salsa?  I don't know. Google it.
What was the name of that Robert Frost poem?  Google it.
What is the capital of Rhode Island?  I can't rememeber.  Just Google it.
You can find out anything just by typing in the phrase on Google.  I started thinking about what people type into Google because of this little blog.  Anyone who writes a blog gets an electronic report at any time to show the "statistics" of the blog.  Some people actually make lots of money from blogging.  When people click those little adds over there on the side.....
.... a couple of pennies go into your blog account. If you ever reach $100 (which I have not yet done), then you get a check in the mail.  Apparently, some people get these checks all the time....some even daily.  So anyway.....on the report....I can actually click a tab that will tell me what "keywords" people typed into Google to locate my blog.  It is very intriguing to see the words that are typed in that ultimately lead people to this page.  No worries, though, I can't see who typed in the words.....only that they were typed in by someone.  It could be someone in Romania or New York or South America or Alabama for all I know.
People can type anything into Google and information and links to pages are guaranteed to come up.  All this thought about Google leading people to my page made me wonder what people searched for the most on Google.  I wondered what were the top phrases searched on Google.  Are you curious, too?  Well, here they are.....
The Top 10 Phrases Searched on Google in 2011
  1. Rebecca Black
  2. Google+
  3. Ryan Dunn
  4. Casey Anthony
  5. Battlefield 3
  6. iPhone 5
  7. Adele
  8. TEPCO (Japanese electric utility company)
  9. Steve Jobs
  10. iPad2
Really???!!!  That list is LAME!  These are the Top 10 things we are curious about?  Sheesh!  I seriosuly had to Google Rebecca Black and Ryan Dunn to even know who they were!  Casey Anthony?  Really?  We are Googling a criminal that often? Of course the iPhone5 and iPad2 is no surprise.  I am sure the iPhone 23 will be on the list next year.
The blog I write on is mostly about my little boys, and kindergartners, and church, and sometimes exercise, and vacation, and parenting, and cooking and all that kind of stuff.  So, you would think that the most often leads to my blog would be the key words Mom, parenting, boys, sports, dicipline, hiking, teaching, kindergarten, healthy foods, childhood....stuff like that. 
But it's not.  None of those words lead people to my blog.  People type into Google the things they are curious about or want to see photos of.  If I have written those words somewhere on my blog, then they can read about what I have written from being linked by Google from their search.
You wanna know what keywords typed into Google lead people most often to my blog?   Well, here they are.....
The top keywords that eventually led folks to the Snips of Snails and PuppyDog Tails Blog
1. Just Run (from a picture I put of a runner, I think)
2. Broken pinky finger  (Thanks to Sawyer for the traffic on my blog over the xray of the broken finger)
3. Boys dressed as girls (What in the ..???  This one shocks me a bit, but it has to be from the story I wrote about the boys dressing up in Super heroes and stuff,)
4. Christmas Jesus
5. Big girl bikini  (heehee...this one makes me laugh)
6.  Granny haircuts  (Also, hilarious)
7. Jesus in the Manger
8. Boys football bedroom
9.  Sumo Wrestling
10. Boy Wedgies
Also in the common searches that lead to this site are ...
Hot Teacher (to raise my self-esteem...ooohhh, la la!)
Redneck Alabama Girl (to lower my self-esteem back down again...sad face)
The fact that Google actually keeps up with everyone's keyword search is rather intriguing.... yet supremely creepy.
I wonder what would come up if I Google Google?