Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Starbucks gift card winner!

Spent my morning dropping off a huge load of baby clothes at a local church consignment sale, and I'm not gonna lie, dropping off all of those sweet, tiny, little baby clothes that were worn by both of our sweet tiny little babies... when they were babies... was a little sad.  So I headed over to Starbucks to pick up the $10 gift card for the giveaway and snagged myself a Grande 2 pump, no whip, with foam pumpkin spice latte to console my wounds.

But anyway, this isn't supposed to be a sappy post.... it's a happy post because someone is getting a Starbucks gift card in their mailbox very soon!!  And that someone is.....
YAY Veronica!!!  I do hope you enjoy your Starbucks deliciousness that is headed your way.  Thanks to you and everyone who entered and shared the giveaway!  :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rainbows and Unicorns

Tomorrow, the little lady who made me an Auntie for the very 1st time turns 13!  THIRTEEN! I kind of can't believe that the first baby of the family is now a teenager.  She was actually my parents' only grandchild up until Leeland was born, and she's still the only girl grandchild.

Anyway-- 13 is kind of a big deal, so when she asked for rainbows and unicorns for her birthday cake... I delivered rainbows and unicorns!




So there isn't an actual unicorn on the cake.... sue me.  But rainbows are pretty much unicorns, and sprinkles are little nuggets of pure joy, so there.

I had a great time celebrating tonight with family over the delicious rainbow cake, and now I just have some words of wisdom (or tips) for her as she enters teenage hood.

10 Tips to Survive the Teenage Years:

1.  Listen to your Mother.
((Don't roll your eyes lady))  You might think your Mom doesn't know anything.... but she does!  AND she has your best interest at heart.  Listen to her.  She went through a lot as a teenager, heed to her words of wisdom and advice.

2. Obey the law.
Yup, leave it to the "Po Po's wife" to tell you to obey the law.  But for real.  Obey the law.  We all make dumb decisions and do some really silly stuff that we regret as a teenager, BUT, if it has the risk of you spending the night in jail.... don't do it.

3. Be yourself.
Fads and trends come and go.  What's cool today, won't be cool tomorrow.  Just be yourself, and be confident in the girl that God made you to be.

4. Be a leader.
It's too easy to fall into the trap of just doing what everyone else is doing, but don't.  Stand firm in being the girl that God made you to be.  Stand up for what is right.  Be respectful to everyone and in turn you will gain respect.  Go against the grain when it is necessary and when it is right.  Be a leader.

5.  Keep your grades up.
Build strong study habits and discipline now so that you are prepared for college in the future.  Study hard and keep your grades up and you will go far.  Plus,  student loans are the devil... they really are.... and keeping your grades up will offer opportunities for scholarships!

6. Don't cloud your mind with boys.
Don't waste your teenage years away being glued to boys.  You have a whole lot of years ahead of you, wait for the right person to give your heart to.  Think about a piece of duck tape, the first time you stick it to your sweater, it sticks great.  But remove it and try to stick it to another sweater, and it's not quite as sticky.... remove it and stick it to yet another sweater, and it's even less sticky.... Emotional attachments stick with you for life, and take away from your future spouse.  Save that "sticky" for the right one.

7. Don't grow too fast.
You don't get to do-over your teenage years.  Don't rush yourself to be an adult.  You have the rest of your life to be your adult.  Take your time and savor each and every moment and memory.

8. Surround yourself with good people.
Don't hang out with downers or people who might get you in trouble.  Surround yourself with those who love you, want to be with you, encourage and uplift you.

9. Seek truth.
Truth is found in the word of God.  Read your Bible, study your Bible.  Pray for a thirst for His Word.    He speaks through His word.

10. LOVE GOD!
Seek Him, praise Him, follow Him, thank Him.  People will fail you in life.  Family will fail you.  Friends will fail you.  Teachers will fail you.... but God, will always be with you.  He loves you more than you will ever understand and He's always got your back.

Happy 13th Birthday Abby!
I love you so much, and truly look forward to many more years of watching you grow. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twisted

The day that my husband graduated from the police academy was one of the proudest moments I've ever had as a wife.  It wasn't a profession that he went to school for, or one that he ever imagined going into, but it's a profession that God called him to.  The odds were stacked against him even getting accepted into the academy, and then with a wife and little boy at home (and one little boy on the way), he had to work his butt off in the academy to get to graduation.

I could not have been more proud of him!  I still remember being interviewed over the phone during the application process-- the investigator had called me to ask about how I felt about him being a police officer.  (Along with questions about his strengths and weaknesses.)  The words that immediately left my lips were "proud."  I told her that I thought being a police officer was such a honorable and noble position.

The day of graduation, I had the great honor to be the one to pin his badge to his shirt.  His badge!  That was the first day that he wore his badge, and I held my head so high that day as I pinned it to his shirt for the very first time.  We were proud.

I wasn't the only one in the family that was proud in those days.  Leeland was 2 and knew his daddy was a police officer.  At the age of 2, he knew most of the words to the Cops theme song already... you know the one... "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do??"  He knew that Daddy takes the bad guys to time out and he was proud.  Now as he approaches the age of 5, he and his little brother play around the house and at the park pretending that they are police officers.  (Most days little brother is pretending that he's a police doggy.)  And he says things like "I want to be a police officer like Daddy."  Proud!

As the years have passed since that first time I pinned his badge on, I'm still proud too.  I've had the honor of being by his side watching him receive awards more than once.  I've had the privilege of cheering him on in the morning when he comes in with a good story of the bad guy getting caught.  I've laughed with him over how just plain dumb some criminals are.  And I've been a listening ear when things have gotten tough or frustrating.

But as the years pass, no matter how proud I am, at every award ceremony, and every celebration, I've learned that there's a dark side to being a police family.  I've learned I can't be so proud publicly.  In fact, in many situations, I have to keep it a secret what my husband even does for a living.  "He works for the city," is my response.  Or if I'm feeling really snarky, "He's in waste removal."  Ha!  In all seriousness though, I'm having a hard time understanding when our culture became so twisted!

My children at the age of 4 and 2 understand right and wrong.  They understand that each of their choices come with consequences.  If Leeland hits Hayden, he goes to time out.  Hitting is wrong, we don't hit anyone, not even brothers.  There are consequences for your actions and they get that.  But what I'm learning is that most adults don't get that.

Where does the disconnect happen between childhood and adulthood that suddenly when you do something wrong as an adult, it isn't your responsibility?  It's always someone else's fault.  It's always someone else's pants.  How is it that someone can break the law and fully expect to not have consequences?  But worse than that, not only do most break the law and expect to get away with it, they also blame the police officer.  The only word I have for that is twisted.

I've never seen a profession be so hated.  Sure, you would expect the bad guys to hate the police.... but even our own friends and family make such hateful comments towards law enforcement.  It's just plain twisted.  What was once right and wrong, now has so many gray areas.  Where did the lines get blurred?  Where did personal responsibility get twisted into entitlement?

I don't have the answers to any of these frustrating questions that try to trample on my pride as a wife,  but I DO know a few things about police officers and the work they do:

-- They are men and women who are called to the profession.  It's not "just a job" for them because no one works that hard for such little money for "just a job."  No one becomes a public servant to "just have a job."  These are men and women who do this job because they enjoy it and/or are called to it.

-- Regardless of what your ego may tell you, they aren't out to ruin your day.  Sometimes tickets are part of the job.  They aren't trying to be mean, they aren't trying to meet a quota, they aren't skipping out on "catching the more hardened criminals,".... just doing their jobs.

-- They're real people with real families.  They are sons and daughters, wives and husbands, moms and dads, sisters and brothers.  They are real people and they have real families.  For many of them like in our case, this is how they provide for their family.  And at the end of the day, they're just trying to make it home to their families, because in case you weren't aware, every 58 hours an officer dies in the line of duty.  58 hours.  Every 58 hours, someone goes to work and does NOT come back home to their family.  Just doing their job.

--  They hate the "bad cops" more than you do.  I hear more than I care to about the bad cops in the world.  Are there bad cops out there?  Sure, I bet there are.  No one is in denial of that.  BUT, the good cops far, far, far outweigh the bad cops, AND the good cops hate the bad cops even more than you do because they give all the good cops a bad name and it's just not fair.

-- Most cops don't watch the news.  And I struggle to get through an episode myself.  The news never shares the whole story.  In an effort to be the first and the best, the media often shares the "news" without facts and without research.  This has become especially frustrating in the recent weeks.  When the news became more about taking one side of the story and running with it, I'm not sure, but they can't always be trusted or relied upon.  It's best to form your opinions once investigations are done and the facts have rolled out.

-- In addition to not sharing the whole story, the news also doesn't share every story.  Only stories that are somehow decided as "worthy" (AKA pushes their political agenda).  You'd be shocked to know of some of the stuff that happens in your city, your neighborhood, your streets.... again, the news cannot be relied upon.

-- An officers job is to uphold the law and charge accordingly but the justice system, in my opinion, is flawed.  In the age of political correctness, fairness for the criminal and the best lawyer that money can buy, murderers walk the streets freely, the boyfriend goes back to continue to beat his girlfriend and the drunk will continue to be allowed to get behind the wheel over and over and over.  The justice system should be used as a sword for the righteous, but instead has become a shield for the guilty.

It's not an easy walk that we walk.  That my husband walks daily when he puts on the uniform everyday not knowing what his night will have in store for him.  It's not easy as me and the boys shower him in kisses and lift up a prayer for his safety as we wave goodbye at the door. It's not easy to hear your own family make snarky and negative comments about police work, recent cases, or what cops should or shouldn't do when they know nothing of the job.  It's not easy driving the long way to get through town to avoid your husband's beat so that there's no chance that your car can be identified by some thug he's arrested.  It's not easy walking through a store as a family and hearing a parent tell their child, "Behave, he's gonna come arrest you."  (P.S. Don't tell your kids that!)  Nope, not easy.  But it's the walk we walk every single day, and the only ones who will understand any of it... are the ones who walk this walk each day too.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pumpkin Recipe Round Up (And Giveaway!)

I know it's only August, but Starbucks has recently announced that they will be releasing the pumpkin spice latte EARLY this year!  August 25th to be exact, and I couldn't be more excited. In fact, we're reaching that time of year where it's socially acceptable to put pumpkin in pretty much anything.  I love that when I show up to MOPS meetings in September and October that there's always a full spread of pumpkin loaf, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin dip.... everyone has their own favorite pumpkin recipes and everyone has their own spin on how to make them "the right way."
I know that we all have pumpkin boards on Pinterest these days that are full of thousands of things that you can do with a pumpkin, but today I'm going to save you some time and share with you some of my favorites.  Because, don't get me wrong, some of those recipes on Pinterest are absolutely wonderful..... BUT, have you ever looked around at some of the Pinterest fails?  So, here's some recipes that are tried and true.  The testing has already been done for you and I can confirm that it turns out lovely every single time.  Some recipes are my own that I've honed over the years, and some are from here and there around the web... so hold on tight!

We'll start with a classic, my recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

This doesn't have real pumpkin in it (although pumpkin candy corns should count, right?), but another Fall favorite is this Cheerio Candy Mix.

Putting pumpkin in an entree is going to sound weird to most, but you have GOT to give this Pumpkin Patch Pasta a try!  Stuffed shells with chicken and spinach, and a delicious pumpkin sauce.  I don't have a photo for you, but trust me that it's delicious. 

The most delicious Pumpkin Scones with maple-cinnamon glaze.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread, you really can't go wrong when you match pumpkin and cream cheese.  It will ALWAYS be amazing. 

And last but certainly not least are these super cute and super easy Baked Pumpkin Wontons, my only critique to this recipe is that some of my edges ended up burnt while the middles were still cooking.  I think next time I'll try them at a lower temperature. 

What are your favorite pumpkin recipes?  Do you like Pumpkin Spice Lattes?  Do you want to go grab a latte with a friend soon?  Well here's your chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card so that you can get the pumpkin season started off right.  Simply fill out the rafflecopter below.  

*Giveaway open to US residents only.  (Sorry international friends)  And you must be 18 or older to win.  Winner will be contacted via email and will have 72 hours to respond, at which point their prize will be forfeited and a NEW winner will be drawn.  Giveaway is open until September 1, 2014.  




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

.... And the QALO winner is.

And now it's time for the post you all have been waiting for, but first I want to thank our super awesome sponsors QALO for allowing me to host this giveaway!  I also want to thank you guys for participating, interacting with the blog, entering the contest and making it such a good time.  My hope is that I will have many more fun giveaways in the future for all of my wonderful readers.

But without further ado, the winner has been drawn..... drumroll....

Congratulations LeAnn!  I hope that you enjoy your QALO ring just as much as we have enjoyed ours.  Be on the lookout for an email from me.  

Thanks again guys, for making this giveaway so much fun for us!