The 2015 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring: Why You Need It

First, some sappiness.

When I opened up my blog to write this overdue post, I had to dust off a few things. That made me sad. "Hi, wittle bwoggy. It's been too wong," I cooed at it as I walked around and stared at things like post number, page views, ads, etc. I really did love this blog for so long and took such great care of it. My life has been overcome with other things that don't allow much extra time for tinkering with the keyboard. I miss it, though. I miss it, miss it, miss it.

So, I have a lot to thank Mazda and STI for... Not only for the opportunity to drive yet another awesome car around for a week, but for also getting me into my blog space and finally typing something out, for goodness sakes.

Mazda, you're awesome. STI, you're awesome, too. Readers, you're even more awesome.

So, after I tell you a little something something about the 2015 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring, know that I plan to come back not too long after to tell you about something much less important. I'm sure that has you on the edge of your seats. Seriously, I have stories to tell! Stories that are much more fun to tell in a blog format. I'm going to type out some keywords- movies, air freshener and car washes. That should get my memory going the next time I'm fiddling around this Break Room.

Right now, though? It's all about 2015 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring. I had the privilege of driving this car around, but it's been some weeks ago. Shame on me! The delay in writing about it is not because I'm not absolutely grateful for the opportunity. I am! I so am! In fact, one of the STI employees remarked that I am one of the most grateful people he has worked with. Ha! Surely that doesn't have anything to do with the fact that my car is a 2007, has a broken door and an air conditioner that doesn't work in the front row and then the fact that they drive up with a gorgeous car for me to have for a week? I am so, so grateful.

I mention that it's been some weeks ago because in that span of time, I have apparently deleted all of the pictures that I took of the SUV. I had some great shots, too! So, I have to rely on the pictures I found on-line. Boo.

Here's what the pretty thang looks like:

Nice and sleek, right? I like that Mazda sign. It reminds me of a bird's wings. It'd be nice if they'd make that car with some wings. I've got places to be and, in most cases, I was supposed to be there five minutes ago, dingdangit.

The front seat area is looking pretty snazzy, too, don't you think? One of my husband's favorite features of the car, with the exception of it's full tank of gas when STI dropped it off, is that split console area. Does the passenger need something out of it? No need to lift your elbow. She can lift up her side. Do you need to stick something that's all awkward somewhere? Slide it in that space and still be able to put your elbow down. You must have a place for the elbow. Actually, now that I think about we put our elbows down when we drive? Well, no matter's a nice feature. You'll love it if you get it. Have I ever lied to you?

Here's a close up look at the radio. It's all NASA-like with all the buttons and high-tech features. I loved all the options for music. I also loved that I could plug my iPod into the port inside that cool console up there. You know, the one that really accommodates the elbows well?

My favorite part: ALL OF THOSE SEATS. And all of that leg room. I have a tall husband and two tall boys. They need the leg space. They had plenty of it in that car. When those two seats folded down in the very back, there was lots of room for baseball stuff, chairs, baseball stuff, seat cushions and baseball stuff. And legs. In fact, there is more leg room in that car than in the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and the Acura MDX. So, if your family has legs, listen up!

This is the car for me.

Or, should we say SUV?

(My dad calls his SUV his "truck". It's not a truck, man! Just like this isn't a car, I suppose... So weird to say, "Hey, kids, get in the SUV. We've go to go!" Who says that? Do you say that?)

Overall, I really did love this car. I might love it the most of all the cars I've been asked to drive so far. The base price for it was $35,035. It sped up and slowed down really well (how's that for technical language?), had plenty of space for mah kids, had lots of neat "extras" up in the front (elbows?), had a cool sunroof (I looooove a sunroof), was NASA-like and made my friends get all "Ooooo...what are your driving?" on me.

You need to get yourself one.

(Thanks, Mazda and STI for allowing me to drive this beauty around!) 

The 12-Step Guide To Get Your Kids To Fight Over Who Gets To Do TheLaundry

Follow this step-by-step guide and watch the magic unfold.

1. Only clean out the lint from the lint tray thing in your dryer at home.

2. Let lint build up everywhere else in the dryer and in the vent hose. 

3. Turn on your dryer.

4. Start cooking in your kitchen.

5. When someone says, "Ew! What's that smell? What did you burn??", look in your oven and see your food smiling back at you.

6. Reply back, "It's not the oven....

Wait! Is it the dryer??"

7. Run into the laundry room and find it full of smoke. Unplug the dryer. Cough. Hack. Frown.

8. Over the course of the next few hours, watch your husband (or you or whoever you can get to gut the dryer) find all sorts of things that got mixed in with the lint, including an earring you've been missing and lots of dollar bills.


10. Watch their eyes light up at all of the buttons, doors, baskets, change makers and vending machines.

11. Wait for the arguing to begin. It may sound a little like this:

"You got to put the detergent in last."

"It's my turn to put the quarters in."

"I wanted to latch the door!!"

"He got more leftover quarters than me."

"You got to unload the clothes into the basket the last time."

"I wanted to push the quarter tray in!"

"I'm going to fold the stuff in this basket. You fold the stuff in that basket."

"I wanted to push the restart button!"

12. Watch the fighting immediately stop when you get home and have to put all the laundry up. They are nowhere to be found.

I seriously never thought I'd see the day when they fought over laundry. I might have to make the washateria a regular part of our lives- at least every now and then. I'd rather it not be because of almost burning my house down, though.

Check that lint...
Before the fire trucks are sent.

I just made that up. But, for real...

Hint, hint...
Bad stuff, that out-of-control lint.

I just made that up, too. And also this:

Wonder where your house went?
Don't blame me. Blame the lint.

Okay, I'll stop. 

The Teacher Time Machine: My Day In The Life Of A 1920s Teacher

When I grow up, I want to be a tour guide. My mouth waters sometimes just thinking of retirement. They say I can start now but let's get real. I spend half of my life on bleachers watching my sons play baseball. There will be a day when I will have plenty of time to do that sort of thing, though. I'm in no rush. When that day comes, so will loads more of gray hair and, I tell you what, hair dye and moisturizing rituals exhaust me.
But, seriously, my mouth waters thinking of just tour guidin' it all the livelong day. I pretended to be a tour guide all the time when I was growing up. I put my cocker spaniel on a float and would give her a tour of "Shark Encounters" at "Sea World", only"Sea World" was in the shape of my 1980s above ground pool and my cocker spaniel wasn't a great listener. I probably had to point out the hammerhead shark at least half a dozen times. The chance to actually be a real tour guide for a day is why I didn't turn down the chance to be a docent on my 4th grade son's recent field trip. There were 4 or 5 of us who put on a long, flowery skirt, a bonnet and an apron and spent the morning pretending to be on an old German farm. Just about every school and street name around where I live is a German name. It's fun for the kids to learn more about the area where they live.
Some of the moms who volunteered pretended to be the mothers of the different houses or a mother on a farm. I was a teacher. A mean, grouchy, stern teacher.
Here's my school:

I tricked you into thinking this was an old photo with my Photoshop skills, didn't I? I can edit the heck out of a picture, I tell you. This school was originally built in the 1920s.

This photo hung on the wall in the school room. It looks like a fun day in the school yard until you realize sister is falling face first on the far left. She is about to eat an ant hill and hat boy is still frolicking in the weeds without a care in the world. It's a game of Ring-Around-The-Rosies gone wrong. (Mister beside the sister is about to get a mouthful of dandelions.)

So, the first thing I did as I saw the groups of kids come my way was ring mah bell. This is what every good teacher did back in those days. Rang, rang, rang the bell. I had about 8 different groups of 8-12 kids, so I got to ring the bell a lot. I loved seeing the faces in each group and learning their names. These were all of my 10-year-old's peers. After I did plenty of bell shaking, I took this long stick, put on a mean face and beat the heck out of stuff with it.

"You smilin' son? There's no time for smilin' at school!" *BEATS THE HECK OUT OF A RAIL*

"Are you laughing at me, missy?" *TOP OF THE DESK GETS IT REAL GOOD*

Teachers back then had first to eighth graders all in one room. The small children were at the front and the bigger kids were at the back. All of those kids and their antics could drive a woman to hitting stuff with sticks. Not people. Just stuff. In really small towns, it probably still looks that way in a classroom with all of the different ages, and in other countries, too. They had to keep control of the classroom. They had a lot to teach and a lot of kids to manage! It wasn't always railings and desks that got a lashing with that stick long ago, though. If a girl and a boy got caught playing together- LASHING. And if a kid got caught playing cards??? TEN LASHINGS! There were other reasons kids got a beating, but I can't remember it all right now. I just know it was in a student's best interest to just stare at the teacher and write stuff when she said to write it.

Kids were not to speak unless spoken to, rules were to be given only one time and proper posture had to be maintained at all times. Apparently, a favorite saying of teachers back then was, "If you're not looking, you're not listening and, if you're not listening, you're not learning." I think that sounds about right.

This was the classroom, of course. In the middle of the room was a black stove that was used to heat the room. I'm sure it wasn't that impressive to Walter in the back left corner with icicles hanging from his nose, but Nelly and Stan right in the center were warm and toasty.

Teachers walked up and down the aisles like they do today, except they didn't have to be on the lookout for students cheating on iPhones. What would the teachers from the early 1900s think of iPhones? They'd probably beat that thing with a stick while screaming in horror.

I think my favorite part of this room was seeing my son in it. He had a big smile on his face. He wanted me to volunteer on this field trip. As much as I thought I might have embarrassed him by being all dressed up like a Little House on the Prairie lady, I think he loved it. He sat on the far right side of this picture about three desks back. I don't think I saw him quit smiling from the moment he walked into the room until the moment he left. I love that kid tons.

But, let's get back to the teaching...

By the time teachers began to teach, they were probably worn out. They had already been up for a long time as they had to do physical labor to prepare for the day. There was a lot of lantern preparing, candle wick trimming, water bucket carrying, coal shoveling... Whew. I'm worn out typing it all out. They were probably good and cranky by 8 a.m., so they had no time for misbehavin' kids. I think I can really identify with those teachers, actually.

Just like today, teachers had to teach a lot, except they didn't have modern things like computers and nice and neat pens. Kids actually had to learn how to write well with slate pencils before they could graduate to the ink wells. When they were proficient with the slate pencils, they got to move up to the inkwells. Beautiful penmanship was the mark of a well-educated person. I think that mark has moved from inkwells to text messages. If you can write a text message that doesn't look like a monkey stood on top of your keypad while doing the Cupid Shuffle, you are already looking pretty smart to me.

Who knew tuna fish cans and bean bags could provide never-ending fun?

I really, really enjoyed pretending to be a stern teacher from the early 1900s. It was a big job, just like it is today. I think kids and people really don't change too, too much from generation to generation. All kids like to play. All kids love recess and all adults need to work on some level- outside and/or inside the home. The kids may not have had video games back then, but they still played with balls and threw things around. That's all my kids do. All day, err day.

I'd show you a picture of me in my bonnet in front of the classroom, but it sort of looks like I'm trying to be sultry in the picture. I was going for stern but ended up looking like I was trying out for a Old School Marm Halloween costume and that's just embarrassing. So, take my word for it. I got up there, hit desks with a stick, rang bells, had the kids engage in choral reading of old poems, had them do some math on a chalkboard, gave my son a hard time in front of his friends in the most loving way and gained a great appreciation for the men and women who educated children all across the country in the early days and who are still doing it today.

The Most Affordable Car: The 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage

Who doesn't want an affordable car? "Hey, Car Dealer Man. I would like for you to sell me a car and totally clear out my bank account while you're at it. I would like a car that is totally out of my league that I will have repossessed in the near future." Who says that, right?

Your old neighbor, Carl?

Well, let's forget Carl. Let's talk about the 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage.

So, this is the cute thing. I got it in silver, as you can see. I thought the silver in this subcompact car (which, ahem, gets 44 miles per gallon on the highway) looked really sleek and cute. I think the car itself is cute. Right off the bat, I feel like this car is great for a person who wants to save on gas mileage, doesn't lug half the world and some kids around on a daily basis and is looking for an affordable car. It's not that the car doesn't have space in it, but it's not a big car by any means. We carry around two baseball bags, stadium chairs, backpacks and buckets of baseballs around every single day. There really isn't room for all of that in the car.

Don't get me wrong, though. There is room in this car. I packed all of my groceries into the back of it just fine. It's just that if I wanted to pack all of my groceries into the back, I wouldn't be able to also have the buckets of baseballs, bags, backpacks and stadium chairs ALSO in the back of the car. The groceries, though, the groceries were fine. The groceries seemed quite happy, actually. Another nice thing about the back of this car is that when the hatch is closed, a black cover automatically comes down over the "trunk" area of the car. This basically means that if you have several jars of Nutella from the local grocery store, no one will be tempted to break in to get them because they can't even see the dern things.
Sidenote: Don't you love how California makes their license plates? 202. There were letters, too, but what you could see easiest was 202. So nice and simple. I wish I could have kept that license plate.

Here's a side view. Isn't she precious? Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? She was named the "Most Affordable Car" by It has a 10-year and a 100,000 mile warranty. It has 5 seats and 7 airbags, so it's getting nice and puffy in there if it is ever in an accident. There are also airbags near your knees! This is meant to stabilize your lower body if you are ever in an accident. Those are some lucky knees. I've never heard of an airbag for your knees. The car is roughly $13,805. Pretty good deal, right? Especially if it has knee airbags?

My kids would not be that impressed with the airbags. What they loved was this feature. You can choose how much tilt you want in your screen. Some days I just couldn't bring myself to back out of the driveway due to my indecisiveness with the tilt. It was very futuristic.

Now, I must admit to you that one day I really couldn't bring myself to back out of the driveway because I couldn't figure out where to put in my kids' Kidz Bop 27 CD. For a solid week, they were straight up in love with that CD. They still want to listen to it, but I had to put the brakes on that. That'll be enough, Kid-Singing-Like-Iggy-Azalea. Seriously, though, I couldn't figure out where to put in the dern CD. I thought, "Does this car really come without a CD player? For real?" I was wrong, which has happened only once or twice before. The CD magic happens behind that screen that tilts! Which would be above and to the right of the knee airbags! I was so happy when I finally figured that out.

The car drove well, could zip in and out fast and kept my kids nice and safe in the back. My dad took a ride in it and commented about how much head room and leg room there was on the passenger's side. My dad is 6'3", so, if he says it, it's the truth. My husband liked how we seemed to have more choices for parking spaces. Our normal vehicle is an SUV. And my boys, as you might have guessed, loved the CD option. And the back-up camera. I think that was actually their favorite part.

The car drove so well that I had my 6-year-old drive it. I'm kidding! I'M KIDDING! Goodness! Although he does like to pretend to drive, the main reason he is in the car in this picture above is because I left their Kidz Bop 27 in the CD player on accident. It would only be a few hours after this picture was taken that STI, the sponsors of this post along with Mitsubishi, would be returning for the car. We got thisclose to sending the car back with them with Kidz Bop still tucked in all comfortably into that CD player. Could you think of anything worse happening in one's life??

Seriously, though, it's a great car. I am definitely keeping it in mind for our family in the future! How about you? Do you think you would drive a "subcompact" car?

28 NEW Ways To Eat Your Popcorn (That You've Probably Never Thought Of Before)

Two weeks ago, I thought there was only one way to eat popcorn, which is the way it was popped when I stuck the Pop Secret bag into the microwave. Basically, I thought butter and salt was where it stopped. Plain salt. Not fancy salt. I didn't even know fancy salt existed. I mean, I've heard of kosher salt and sea salt, but truffle salt? Say what? I can tell you that I am so inspired to try every single one of these ways of eating popcorn now. Where have these ideas been all of my life?

These popcorn ideas all come from the awesome people that have liked my Kelley's Break Room Facebook page. When it comes to Facebook pages, I know you comment anywhere. Thanks for choosing to comment on my page from time to time (and especially this time)!

This popcorn post came about due to my current campaign with Pop Secret. I thank them for sponsoring this post. You can head over to their Facebook page for more great popcorn recipes and lots of inspiring fort ideas! If building tents and forts in your house sounds fun, check out my post "The Boys' 11-Step Guide To Building The Perfect Fort". No judging of my messy living room allowed.

If you like these popcorn ideas, click here to check out the Pop Secret Facebook page. IT WOULD BE SUPER AWESOME OF YOU. Lots of great popcorn ideas, cool popcorn art by Popcasso (cute, right?) and fun fort ideas for kids over there! You can also download a $1 off coupon. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! #PopSecretForts

These just won't taste as good if you don't use Pop Secret popcorn. You know it. I know it. Pop Secret knows it.

#1 The Buttery Bucket (Heidi): Pop plain popcorn and then drizzle an ENTIRE stick of Land O' Lakes Salted Butter over the top.

#2 M&M Madness (Courtney, Amanda): Mix peanut M&M's into your popcorn. You're done.

#3 What's The Dill? (Tami): Sprinkle Brewer's yeast and dill all over the popcorn.

#4 White Cheddar Is Better (Lexie): Pop bags of extra buttery popcorn, add more butter, sprinkle white cheddar seasoning all over it, shake it like a Polaroid picture and then add some MORE white cheddar seasoning. Eat that mess UP.

#5 Trufflicious (Lindsay, Lizzie): Use butter-flavored olive oil to pop the popcorn in and sprinkle with black truffle salt. And eat it all. (Lizzie adds a little bit of parmesan.)

#6 Red Hot Pop (Charlotte): Mix Red Hots in with your popcorn. Mix a bunch if you can handle the heat. Share with the ones you love.

#7 Dip It Like You Mean It (Jeniffer): Dip your popcorn in sour cream. Yes. That's right. Sour cream.

#8 Popped & Pink (Lyndsey): Pop the popcorn on the stove with olive oil or coconut oil, drizzle melted real butter over the top and sprinkle with PINK SALT. Pink salt is Himalayan salt.

#9 Jalapeno Business (Dayna): Add jalapenos to your popcorn. You can either chop them up or eat a slice with each handful.

#10 Coconutty Popcorn (Dayna): Air pop the popcorn (or make it on the stove), add melted coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt. (I'm going to need an update on this one, Dayna. How can you melt coconut oil?)

#11 Nancy's Fancy Schmancy Salted Popcorn (Chris): I made Nancy up. Nancy rhymed with fancy, which rhymed with schmancy. Let's move on. Chris here air pops the popcorn and sprinkles it with only the fanciest of salts, including pickle salt, malt salt, salt/vinegar or white truffle salt. If he is going to use butter, he only uses REAL butter or, ahem, clarified butter. Chris, as you can see, is one fancy dude. I didn't even know these salts existed before this post.

#12 Candy (Pop) Corn (Charity): Step 1- Get some candy corn. Step 2- Throw that into the popcorn. Step 3- Close your eyes and say "mmm, mmm, mmm".

#13 Chocolatey Popcornny Bliss (Jolene): Pop either regular Pop Secret popcorn or the Caramel flavored popcorn in the microwave first. Then, cut up a candy bar. When the popcorn is done popping, quickly open the bag (DON'T BURN YOUR EYEBROWS OFF, THOUGH!) and drop the candy bar pieces into that hotness. Seal the bag somehow and shake it all up. Eat it, but make sure you have wipes nearby.

#14 Lime Lovin' (Vita): Pop your popcorn in the microwave. Open the bag, put in some fresh lime juice, a shake or two of Tabasco and beer salt, seal the bag again and shake it all up. (There's another type of salt I've never heard of...)

#15 Cajun Corn (Lindsay, Angela, Mary): Heat up buttery popcorn and sprinkle Tony Chachere's all over it. The only way you could geaux wrong is if you geaux and dump the whole entire container of Tony Chachere's over all of your popcorn. If you did that, you would want to geaux and drink lots of water! Angela sprinkles hers with Louisiana Hot Sauce. Mary puts Cajun seasoning on her popcorn AND she squeezes lemon juice all over it. Yum!

#16 You'll Eat Olive It (Amy): Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) all over the popcorn and then sprinkle it with kosher salt. Put a lot of it in your hand, open your mouth really wide and then shove it in there.

#17 Marshmallow Popcorn (Melissa): Melissa got this recipe from Today's Mama. You pop three bags of Pop Secret popcorn and then set it aside. Melt 2 sticks of butter, 16 ounce bag of mini marshmallows and 1 cup of brown sugar in a microwave for 2 1/2 minutes. Stir it and then heat it again for 1 more minute. Pour it over the popcorn and smile.

#18 Parmesan Popcorn (Anjay, Holly): Sprinkle the powdered Parmesan all over the popcorn WHILE IT'S STILL HOT and then feel sorry for the people who are just eating plain popcorn.

#19 Waites A Minute, That's Good Stuff (Tiffany): Tiffany Waites knows lots of ways to make super great popcorn. In her family, they put butter, salt and garlic powder on their freshly popped goodness. Her husband sprinkles his with green Tabasco sauce. Her friend puts coconut oil, honey and cinnamon sugar all over the top. OHMYGOSH, SOMEONE MAKE THIS FOR ME RIGHT NOW.

#20 Old Bay, Baby (Stephanie): Get you some Old Bay seasoning and sprinkle it everywhere. Pretend you are by the sea. This is Stephanie's idea and she knows what she is talking about. She writes Binkies and Briefcases, after all.

#21 Monster Corn (Suzanna, Maria): Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon all over the popcorn. Her kids named it Monster Corn. I'm thinking that must be a pretty nice monster to like something so sweet. Maria makes this, too, but I'm thinking she doesn't call it Monster Corn. She also pops hers in coconut oil.

#22 Pizza Popcorn (Marcey): Sprinkle Italian seasoning all over the popcorn. It helps Marcey curb her cravings for pizza and, who knows, it could help you.

#23 Some Like It Chili (Kari): Dust your popcorn with chili powder. Have lots of water close by.

#24 Popcorn-Dipped Cone (Kimberly): Get someone super nice to make you a vanilla ice cream cone (or just do it yourself). Dip that cone into freshly popped corn. Be prepared for stares as you enjoy your dessert snack.

#25 Sparkly Sprinkly Spopcorn (Danielle): Get some icing sugar from the flour and sugar aisle and sprinkle it all over your popcorn. Get really crazy and pick green for St. Patrick's Day, pink for Easter, red for Valentine's Day, etc.

#26 Popcorn (Sort of) Sushi (Mary): Put some dashes of Wasabi powder all over the popcorn with some butter in there, too, of course. She says it's fantastic and I don't think Mary would lie to us.

#27 This Popcorn Is Soy Good (Tiffany): Dip the popcorn in soy sauce. It may take you a while to eat all of your popcorn this way, but it will be soy worth it.

#28 You'll Be Raisin The Roof After Eating This Popcorn (Tabitha): After you make your yummy, delicious, scrumptious Pop Secret popcorn in the microwave, toss in some chocolate-covered raisins and eat every last bit of the thing. Be careful not to eat the bowl.

Go here for more popcorn "recipe" ideas!
If you have another popcorn "recipe", share it with us over on Facebook!

The Boys' 11-Step Guide To Building The Perfect Fort #PopSecretForts

You may not have called it a fort or call it a fort now. You certainly don't call it a #PopSecretFort, but you  might after this is all done. You may have called it a tent or an encampment along the river. Either way, it's a temporary home that is made of blankets and stuff that keeps the blankets from falling down. And kids love to make them. My sister and I would make a million of them in one weekend. We were really fond of making these when just my dad was watching us. As long as we were quiet and not fighting, he was happy. So, we would make elaborate tent cities. We'd remodel. We'd put on additions. By the time we were done, you were looking at Tent County. I think we loved forts almost as much as Harold here from The Far Side.
This has got to be my favorite cartoon from The Far Side.
When I suggested that my boys could make one with their two friends that were over, they all literally jumped up and down with excitement. Honestly, they don't make tents nearly enough. I think I am afraid of the mess, so I don't suggest it. Boo on me.
Before I present to you their very useful "11-STEP GUIDE TO BUILDING THE PERFECT FORT", let me be sure to claim from the fort-top that this post is sponsored by Pop Secret
Talk about Pop Secret.
Talk about Pop Secret.
Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop Secret.
Shoobie, doobie, do wop.
Let's microwave this.
Pop, pop, shoo wop.
Here, I'll share it.
Everybody talkin' 'bout...Pop Secret.
You had the tune of Pop Muzick in your head while reading through that, right? If you don't know the tune that was most pop-pop-pop-popular in 1979, you can find it here. Maybe if that song wasn't so old, Pop Secret would make it into a jingle. Pop Secret, call me if you do. I am really good at that "pop pop pop pop" part.

The last time I wrote about popcorn on this blog was when I wrote the post, "Should My Mother-In-Law Go To Jail?" She loooooves movie theater popcorn and will go to great lengths to get it. If you like crime shows, you might want to check that post out a little later. Luckily for her, Pop Secret's MOVIE THEATER BUTTER popcorn is able to be made in seconds, doesn't cost a year's salary and can be obtained without standing in line for half the day.

That is the kind of popcorn I made for the boys as they set out on their fort-making journey. They were going to need sustenance that could be eaten quickly and easily to help get them through the hard labor of finding the right blankets and setting the chairs at the perfect angle.

And, now for that 11-step guide to building the perfect fort (according to boys ages 6, 7, 10 and 11):

#1 Go get all the blankets that you own. All of them. Even your mother's comforter, unless she sees you first and says something like, "Really? I think you have enough blankets already. You're good on the blankets."

#2 Go ask the smallest member of the group if he can please find more blankets. If he squawks, sigh heavily and resign yourself to having to make due with the 126 blankets you managed to round up from every corner of the house.
#3 Take every couch or chair cushion off to reveal crumbs from 1998, a handful of change and a couple of Nerf bullets. Keep the Nerf bullets. These are a necessity for fort-life. And you are going to need those cushions to make walls and doors.

#4 Drag every chair in the house into your fort-making area. Lift the chairs high above your head as you pass them to each other. Make roaring noises to accompany your amazing physical feat.
#5 Try not to hit anyone in the head with the chair. They'll cry and then tell your mom, which will pretty much ruin everything.
#6 Drape blankets from chair to cushion to cushion to chair to ottoman to table to chair. If you want to use a lamp to anchor the blanket, be prepared for it to start slipping and for your mom to contort her face in a really weird way.

#7 Turn out the lights. Oh, hold on. The blanket fell. Turn the lights back on. Fix that blanket. Oops. When you fixed that blanket, it messed up this blanket. Fix both blankets. Well, now you knocked over the cushion wall. Okay, fix that. Steady. Steady. Steady. Turn the lights back out.
#8 Get inside your fort. Your awesome, fun, cool, private fort.
#9 Turn on your flashlight. Well, after you ask mom where the flashlights are and if she has any batteries. (Moms really come in handy sometimes.)

#10 Tell scary stories that aren't really that scary because you are making it all up and can't help but laugh as you point the flashlight upwards under your face.
*When the bowl is empty, ask your mom to make more.
**When the Movie Theater flavor runs out, ask her to make the caramel kind.
Pop Secret is your perfect snack companion on trips into the uncharted reaches of your imagination. Pop Secret knows that fun, like popcorn, is better when it’s shared. Right now, you can hop over to their Facebook page by clicking HERE and submit your pillow fort stories and/or pictures. It is REALLY cute to see all of the forts that kids have created! You can upload the pictures right to the Pop Secret timeline and tag them #PopSecretForts. While you are on their Facebook page, you can also download a $1 off coupon, which is a pretty good chunk of money when the popcorn is reasonably priced already. If you share your fort pictures over there on Facebook, they may just share a little something back!

Like always, I love to hear from you. Do you let your kids build forts? After writing this post, I am seriously inspired to let my kids build them more! Don't you agree that popcorn (especially Pop Secret!) is a great snack to put in the middle of their blanket creation or do you prefer to put really saucy spaghetti in the middle and let them eat it with their hands? Let's talk about it over on Facebook!

The Story Behind Why My Husband Hesitates To Give Me Flowers (i still feel bad!)

We were in college in Austin circa 1996 but we weren't married yet. We had probably only been dating for less than a year. He was smitten but who can blame him, right? I'm kidding. I'm kiddingnotreally. We were about to part ways for the weekend. My then-boyfriend  gave me a bouquet of flowers for me to take back home. They were a great size- not too large and not too big. They were beautiful and I appreciated the thought.

Minutes after he gave me the flowers, we loaded up his car with my bags. I situated the flowers in the back seat. He was taking me to the bus station so I could go back to Houston to see my family.

Have you ever been to the bus station? It's a different sort of place. If you are imagining delightful smells and a really cheerful, safe vibe coming from it, knock that down a notch.

You see, back then I drove a Cutlass Oldsmobile. It was my second one to drive. I was one of those lucky few that had two Cutlass Oldsmobiles in her life. *coughs loudly* I drove my grandmother's old one in high school and then I drove my parents' even older one in the latter part of high school and then college. I have written about this delightful time in my life before.

We loved those Oldsmobiles apparently.

(This is why I go a little Kung Fu on my husband when he calls it a Buick. 

"Remember when you used to drive that really old Buick in college?" 


Over this past Thanksgiving break, I did an impersonation of myself driving both of the Cutlassessessessessssseees for all of my family. It involved me yelling at my passengers to hop out fast before the car died. I had to keep it in neutral and bring it to a slow roll at "stops" or it went shudder-shudder-kaput. The other thing it involved was me pretending to drive with a cloth napkin dangling above my head. That, of course, represented my out-of-control headliner that I eventually ripped out while gritting my teeth in an angry Hulk kind of way. 

The Oldsmobile was not to be consistently trusted for the 3-hour trip back home. The bus was better. 

So, there we were in the Greyhound bus station parking lot saying our goodbyes. We would only be apart for two or three days but that was a long time, you know? I don't think we cried or anything. We weren't that far gone.

I reluctantly made my way into the station and did all the necessary pre-bus ride stuff, including putting on my best "I'm tougher than I look, so don't try anything with me, mister" face.

I got on the bus.

I settled in.

I got a phone call.

"You forgot your flowers," he said to me through my PrimeCo phone.

"Oh, no! I did, didn't I? I am so sorry! I loved them, too!" 

He had just given them to me. I'm pretty sure those were the first flowers that he had given me. He probably debated over whether or not to do it, knowing I was about to get on the bus. He decided that it was best and picked out the bouquet he wanted for me to have. Given that these were the first he had given me, he probably went over what he was going to say before he handed them to me. I'm thinking he was pretty proud of what he had picked out, what he had said and the fact that he had given me flowers. It was a marker in our relationship of some sort.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, I left them on the bus.

And I didn't even realize it at all. I never turned around and said, "Oh, no! I forgot my flowers!" or anything of the sort.

Never crossed my mind.

Ever since then, it has been a running joke with us. He has gotten me many bouquets of flowers since then, but he will often add "don't leave them in the back seat" when he gives them to me.

My favorite bouquet of flowers he ever gave me was soon after the most embarrassing Ferris wheel ride I ever took. You can read about that here.

He likes to tell people that I don't actually really like flowers all that much. I do like them, especially growing in a garden. Some of the cut ones hit me with a smell that reminds me of funerals. They just do. I think I love little rose bushes or little plants with flowers best, but sometimes certain occasions just require a bouquet, youknowwhati'msayin? I'm not too picky on the kind of flower that is in them, just as long as it's not more than 15% carnations.

Speaking of flowers, it seems like some girls always have a favorite kind. I'm always jealous of those girls. I know roses, lilies, daisies, Gerber daisies and, you know, those basic kind. Some girls rattle off the fancy, less common flowers and say those are their favorites. I want to be one of those girls when I grow up.

What about you? Do you like flowers? Do you have any flower stories? I'd love to hear from you over on Facebook! I kicked the comments to the curb a long time ago because of the spammers that were trying to take over my life. It sure has been nice not seeing their faces lately!

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