Jen-sicles: Peaches -n- Cream

As if I don’t have enough going on, I’ve decided to start making popsicles.  I mean, I don’t even make dinner most nights, yet the idea of this new venture is exciting to me.   A few weeks ago my lovely daughter was sick and couldn’t eat.  All she wanted was popsicles, but I felt like they needed to at least be the full-fruit kind so they would be healthier for her.  Yet, these full-fruit popsicles are expensive.  Then I thought about the fruit that I buy that we can barely eat before it gets yucky.

Next thing you know, I’m on Amazon, looking for popsicle makers.  Click here to see the one I purchased.  It’s simple to use and comes with its own sticks.

If you know me at all, then you will know that I decided against looking up a recipe and just made popsicles.  My first venture was with kiwi.  I like them but they are a little tart.  I probably should have added some sweetener.  One thing I’ve learned from my trials is that the freezer seems to zap some of the sweetness.  I’ve also made a blackberry/blueberry combo that was pretty good.  In this one I used stevia and probably could have used more than I did.  I didn’t “juice” the fruit.  In fact, I just used my hand-mixer to mash it up because I was too lazy to drag out my blender.

Today’s batch was my first attempt at a dairy popsicle.  I used frozen, organic peaches, Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla Greek Nonfat Yogurt, and raw honey.  Of course I didn’t measure; I just mixed and tasted.  It’s the first one I think most people would like.

The other issue with my Jen-sicles is storage.  What I did was take cling wrap [close to a square piece], wrapped it around the pop, and put the pops in a Ziplock freezer bag.  If I come up with any amazing flavors, I’ll let you know!PicCollage

Helping Them Deal…

I saw a post on Facebook today, and it was the headline for an article,”Please Keep Doing Things That Your Children Can Do For Themselves.”  It’s a lovely article , and the gist is that kids grow up too fast so parents should cherish when they can do things for them. 

I love the sentiment behind this article, and there are plenty of things I do for my kids occasionally that they can do for themselves.  I sometimes fold and put away their clothes or clean their room.  I’ve done Claire’s hair.  I do these things for my kids as a treat and they in no way expect them. 

However, my kids started doing their own things as soon as they could.   Admittedly, some of this is because there are things I hate doing.   My best example is laundry.  They were eight and five when I started requiring them to do their laundry.  Of course, I helped at first, but both of my kids have been able to do that task for years.  It’s one of the many, non-material gifts that I have given them. 

As a seventh grade teacher, I know that I impact kids.  Yet the best part of me being older and wiser than I was in my youthful teaching days is that I have now been in the shoes of the seventh grade parent and I can see potential mistakes.  I can also offer advice, and I think that is my best impact as a teacher — its on the parents.  This is essential, I believe, because over my 25 year teaching career, I have seen kids become more and more dependent on their parents, for even the smallest tasks.

My big “catch phrase” of late to parents is that they need to let their kids figure things out.  More specifically, I’m talking about grades and my speech goes something like this:  absolutely no one but you cares about your child’s grades in seventh grade, so this is the time to focus on the skills he needs to develop to be successful when his grades do matter and you aren’t there to help. 

The same is true socially.  There is a fine line between effective parenting, supporting your child, and interfering/enabling.  First of all, I won’t claim to be perfect on this.  I’m not.  But over the years, I think I’ve gotten better.  I try to be very involved in my kids’ lives while letting them forge their own paths. 

Over the past couple of years, the high school social scene has presented both trying and joyous times for my daughter.  It was so different for my son — in this way, boys are easy.  So as Claire has navigated the rough waters of changing friendships and “girl drama,” I’ve supported her.  I’ve asked questions.  I’ve tried to help her see other perspectives.  I’ve given her advice.  There have been times when she has been left out by a group, or even uninvited to an event [yes, UN-invited].  While part of me wanted to call the moms of the “offenders,” I refrained; this was something my daughter and her friends needed to handle.  Instead, I coached my daughter on how to work through it.  I reminded her that people aren’t perfect and oversights can be made.  When you can, give the benefit of doubt.  I taught her the difference between being civil to people and being friends with them, which is a huge lesson in being an adult.   In less than two years I will be sending her to college where she will have to navigate these waters by herself.  Now, she has practice in comporting herself with dignity. 

Learning to face disappointment with grace is, I think, the best gift I could give either of my children.  Life doesn’t always go the way we want it to go.  Still, it’s hard watching my kids when they suffer.  It’s hard not to step in and make it better.  But sometimes, doing what is hard means doing what is right. 

PC? Politely Caring? Positively Compassionate?

One of my favorite things to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas is to listen to Christmas music on the radio.  One of my favorite tunes is from the 1942 film Holiday Inn; it’s titled “Happy Holidays” and this song is credited with the popularity of the phrase “Happy Holidays.”

This song is from 1942.

Of course, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and the PC combatants are lighting up my Facebook feed with their broadcasts about how they hate political correctness and that they will say “Merry Christmas and if you don’t like it then…”well, you can guess the rest.

Why does everything have to be a controversy?

The current usage of “political correctness” or PC didn’t start until the 1990s, but really took off in the 2000s.  That’s 50 – 60 years after the term Happy Holidays was first coined, which just shows that saying Happy Holidays isn’t an anti-Christian meant solely to promote political correctness.

Maybe, however, PC stands for more than political correctness.  Maybe it stands for Politely Caring, or Positively Compassionate.  What is wrong with those ideas?  

When I first moved to Florida, I met my first Jewish friend.  I had never thought about saying Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever before meeting her.  I have to say, that I was raised Christian and consider myself a Christian, but my Jewish friend is one of the best people I know.  Her character is exemplary.  If more people had her morals, the world would be a better place. With that said, since meeting her and countless other wonderful people of different faiths, I have proudly said Happy Holidays, especially to people that I don’t know.  I want to be polite.  I want to wish people happiness.  I don’t want to assume that anyone’s faith is the same as mine, and I know that saying a generic holiday phrase hurts my faith in any way. 

I am, quite frankly, offended by Christians who are offended by people who wish them a happy holiday.  If you are offended, ask yourself what is wrong with you?  These folks are trying to be polite, compassionate, positive, and caring.  How do they know that you are a Christian?  Happy holidays fits everyone.  

holiday-greeting-flowchart

I saw this picture on my Facebook feed today, and it perfectly sums up this situation.  It’s originally from this site:  http://www.joeydevilla.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/holiday-greeting-flowchart.jpg

I love the line on this flow chart that says that “if you can’t see past the words of the wish to its good intent, then it’s not the holiday well-wisher that is broken, it’s you.”

…just something to think about!  

Selfishly Sad

When my son Will was little, he had a favorite shirt…he called it his “Steve” shirt because it had stripes like the shirt Steve wore on Blues Clues. We still have that shirt nearly 18 years later. My husband pulled it out last night and I held it. How did that sweet boy grow so fast?

Just a few minutes ago Will and his dad pulled out of our driveway, embarking on the 13 hour drive to Oxford, Mississippi, where Will soon begins his second year of college. I thought this year would be easier, but I was wrong. I told myself that I wouldn’t cry until he left, but I wasn’t that strong. The same pains that filled my heart last August when I left him in Oxford filled me again when he hugged me to say good-bye.

The worst part is…I’m also happy. I’m so excited for him to start his second year, as he tries new courses and comes closer to figuring out exactly what he wants to do for the rest of his life. I’m so proud of the young man that he is and now I’m smiling with joy thinking about that.

I don’t do well with a roller coaster of emotions. I feel so selfish for my sadness because that is what it is…I am thinking about me and my feelings. Yet, even that knowledge doesn’t quell the ache. I am going to miss him so much!

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 11.28.10 AM

To My Baby at 19 Weeks

I wrote this poem 20 years ago when I was expecting my first child…as I post this, summer is winding down and that sweet baby boy is about to leave for another year of college.  I’m going to miss him so much!  There are just no words that capture a mother’s love for her children…no matter how grown up they are!

To My Baby at 19 Weeks

When I saw your eyes flutter and your little mouth moving,
My heart leapt.
Then you moved your hand across your precious face,
And my heart flew.
So glad was I to see you healthy
Your heart pumping,
Your tummy full,
Your spine formed fine.
I can’t wait to feel you kick.
I can’t wait to hold you tight.
I can’t wait to see you smile.
I can’t wait to know you because
I already love you

Make That Ball Sing, Terry Jessup

Disclaimer:  I am closing down my old writing website and moving everything to this blog.  I will post a few of my poems here.  Today, I am publishing this one because it is a Tuesday, which is my dad’s golf day. 

Make that ball sing, Terry Jessup,
Walk gently on the velvet, emerald grass,
Approach the tee with the confidence that you can conquer the course
Caress that club with gloved hands,
Keep your left arm straight as you glide the driver
Back with your right shoulder
Keep your eye on the ball, Terry Jessup,
Twist your lean frame with your downward swing
SMACK the I Top Flight with your might
Let the ball sing as it whizzes
Through the air and
Disappears into the cerulean horizon
Let your I’ve-done-it-again smile
Creep on your face
As you think
Man I’m good and
Walk to the green

Stars, Bars, Rainbows, and Common Sense

Although my accent is weak — blame it on too much television as a child — I am a Southern girl.  My roots are in the south, and I have spent a lot of time this summer tracing my family tree.  I have discovered that in my family tree I have Revolutionary War soldiers and Confederate Soldiers.  Just this morning, found that the plantation home of my great-great-great-great-grandfather was used in the filming of The Color Purple.  I like to think that had I been alive in the early 1800s I would have been an abolitionist, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but I cannot be certain.  While I don’t agree with my ancestors, I am not ashamed of them.  This is in the past, and the past should stay in the past.  With that said, the “Stars and Bars” should stay there too.  I have no issue with this flag being in a museum or in a historical piece of art, but it should not be flying ANYWHERE in the United States today unless it is part of a reenactment.

I was in Washington, DC last week, and I have to say that it was pretty exciting to be there when the Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage is a violation of our 14th Amendment.  I was raised in the Christian faith; I married in a Christian church; and I have raised my children to be Christian.  With that said, I am a believer in the separation of church and state, a phrase coined by Jefferson when discussing our First Amendment.  With the decision last week, our high court upheld the ideals established by our founding fathers.  In no way does two men or two women marrying each other threaten my faith or my own marriage.

All of this to me is common sense…this and airport security…but we’ll save that for another post!

Happiness…

One of those days…we all have them, days when everything goes wrong. I’m really good at them when they happen to someone else. I am the voice of reason, the friend who reminds you that it could be so much worse. The voice that tells you that at least this didn’t happen or that is still true.

Yesterday, I had one of those days…a yogurt fell out of the fridge and exploded all over me and my clothes; I spilled a glass of red wine on my tan chair because I was startled during a movie; my dinner didn’t turn out as I had planned. These are minor things, but truthfully, I let them frustrate me.

There was a big thing that happened yesterday. It was the kind of thing that reminds me or should remind me that the little things don’t matter. My sweet 16 year old daughter, who’s had her license less than a week, had a two tire blow out in our neighborhood. She was in our neighborhood, less than a half of a mile from our house. She maintained control of her car and came out unscathed. It shook her up. It shook me up. It wasn’t until she was safe in her bed last night that I was able to fully relax and appreciate the situation. She is safe. She wasn’t hurt.

I have a fantastic life full of so many blessings and so much happiness. I saw on a friend’s Facebook this quote, “happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have, and say thanks to GOD for the troubles we don’t have…” I can’t think of a statement more true.

Now, I must go and be thankful for the troubles I don’t have!

We Cannot Conquer Hate With Hate

I usually don’t post anything political, but my social media newsfeed has been cluttered with inaccurate historical information.  

First of all, I could not be more condemning of ISIS.  I can’t even call them horrible humans because I don’t consider them human.  Somewhere in their extremism they have lost their humanity.  I have so little regard for this group, that I won’t say more.  They do not deserve my attention.

Now, on to history.  Whether or not you like President Obama, he is correct about the Crusades.  Pope Urban II in a speech full of propaganda urged the knights of Europe to take Jerusalem.  He promised them entrance into Heaven if they killed “infidels.”  As the Crusaders marched toward their target, they took many cities along the way.  They were known to not take prisoner and to kill all inhabitants of the conquered cities [yes, this includes children].  They did not stop at killing Muslims either.  This was also an opportunity to kill Jews too.  In one of the worst battles, as they were running low on food supplies, they turned to cannibalism, eating the flesh of those they killed.  But don’t take my word for it; do some research.  I am posting a link to an article by a professor at the University of Tennessee.  

To compare the Muslim conquest prior to the Crusades to the Crusades is comparing apples and oranges.  As Islam spread,  the Muslims did not kill entire cities.  In fact, in some areas they shared places of worship with the Christians; that is, the same buildings were used as both cathedral and mosque.  It would be more accurate to compare the Muslim conquest to the expansion of the Spanish or British empires.  I’m sure that the indigenous people of the Americas felt the same as those in Spain when the Muslims invaded.

I am so proud to be an American because I like to think of us as a nation of people who want the greater good, who value freedom for everyone, not just ourselves.  It is so upsetting to me to see people whom I know to be intelligent, honorable people castigate Muslims in the same way that a hate group like ISIS denounces Westerners. There are a lot of wonderful people who practice Islam; just as there are wonderful Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.  The actions of a few do not equal the actions of all.  I’m sure that those of us who are Christian, whether Catholic or Protestant, would not like to be linked with the behaviors of the Westboro Baptist Church or, for that matter, the attacks of the Irish Republican Army in the last century. Any apple can have bad seeds.

We cannot conquer hate with hate.  

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1406017.files/Cannibals%20and%20Crusaders.pdf

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird.  I have read it so many times and when I taught English, it was my favorite thing to teach.  The part of the story that always breaks my heart is Jem’s reaction to Tom’s verdict and the loss of his innocence.  At this moment, Jem realizes that no matter what the facts were, Tom was found guilty because of his race. A tragedy that is almost overlooked in the novel is Tom’s death.  When he ran from the police, Tom was shot 17 times.

I’ve thought about that scene since the shooting in Ferguson happened last summer.  Clearly, Michael Brown was not an innocent victim, but he was a kid, unarmed, who didn’t need to be shot 6 times.  Teenage boys can be rash in their actions but they shouldn’t die.

Life is not fair.  It is not just.  I pray for all of the people in Ferguson.  I pray for Michael Brown’s family.  I pray for Officer Wilson and his family.  I pray for the members of the grand jury.  I pray for healing for the community.  Finally, I pray for hotheaded teenagers and the police that they may encounter in hopes that cooler minds will prevail in the future.