Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Am "Boy Scout" Mom

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boy Scouts of America. All opinions are 100% mine.

Many of you know we just relocated. The move has been challenging in many respects. Anyone who has kids knows that such a big change can trigger a chain of emotional chaos that even the best child psychologist would struggle to deal with. So I am thankful for little things that have helped us quickly resume some semblance of normalcy in our new home.

It was a blessing that school started the week after we arrived, not only for my boys, but for me too. Having them in school part of the day helped me regain some sanity while I unpacked our necessaries and tried to create a decent living space for my family.

It was also fortuitous that we are active in the Boy Scouts of America Program. The boys were able to start attending meetings here almost immediately, which brought something familiar to their lives in an unfamiliar place. It was good for them to fall right back into the routine of meeting their pack at the local church once a week to participate in different activities. This week my youngest visited a police station and was thrilled to get to ask a police officer all kinds of questions about how to catch bad guys.

I've been asked a lot lately about the Boy Scouts of America, mostly by moms who are trying to decide if the program would be a good fit for their own boys.   I am happy to share our family experiences concerning the Scouting program, because it has been such a positive experience for both of my boys. And for me too!

We have been involved in the Scouting program since the boys turned 7. They started out as Cub Scouts and my oldest is now a Boy Scout. When we first started I knew absolutely nothing about Boy Scouts other than they teach boys how to camp. Turns out there is so much more to the program! As Cub Scouts, both of my boys have learned very valuable life lessons about what it means to be a good person and a good citizen. These skills are taught during weekly meetings, but parents are expected to be involved at this level and a good part of what the boys are learning and achieving during Cub Scouts is being learned through activities that include the entire family. It has been really great for me to go through the manuals with the boys during each stage of their Cub Scout career and choose activities that we can work on together. I get to see their strengths and weaknesses from a different perspective and I get a great handle on where their outside interests may lie. For example, my youngest likes to collect things. All kinds of things...sticks, rocks, bottle caps, string, cards, keychains, dirt. You name it, he's picked it up and put it in his pocket at some point to use later. Helping him organize and preserve his "collections" so he could pass off that requirement was really enlightening and created an opportunity for us to talk and bond that might not have happened otherwise. I would ask questions about where that rock came from and why he liked it and he would explain his rationale for picking each one up. I have to admit, I didn't see the beauty in some of his choices, but he did and that's what matters. And it was a great experience for him to get up in front of his fellow cub scouts and explain his collection. Not only did he learn some geology, he's learning valuable communication skills that will give him confidence.


My oldest just transitioned into Boy Scouts. It was a really emotional experience watching him during the "crossover" ceremony, because I could tell that in his mind, this was a turning point in his life. He no longer felt like a little boy. He had accomplished so much in Cub Scouts, including getting his Arrow of Light, that he was ready to move on and take on the challenges that the Boy Scout program presents. I was a little worried, because he is not as much of a nature boy as my youngest and I wasn't sure he would enjoy all of the physical activities. But Boy Scouts offers so much more than "camping." We were really excited to find out about their STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). They can earn 31 merit badges from from this curriculum, including 1 for Robotics! For some reason, when he is doing things like this at school, it feels like work to him. But at Scouts, it's fun. I don't know about other moms, but I am happy to have my young man participate in activities that help him develop critical skills that are relevant in today's technical world.

As a Boy Scout, he also gets the opportunity to help plan the activities and hold a position within the troop. He learns personal responsibility and leadership skills in an environment that encourages team efforts and offers constant support. And he enjoys it!

I can honestly say that being a Scout has made him a more confident, capable person. As a mom, I want to know that when he goes out into the world, he feels like he can face the challenges that are put before him. Every time he earns a merit badge he walks away feeling more capable and confident in his abilities. How much more could a parent ask?

So would I recommend the Scouting Program? Heck yeah!! I know they've gotten a bad rap for some of the issues that have come up in the news in recent years. But I believe that bad things happen in every segment of society. Schools, churches, businesses, politics - none of them are exempt from public scrutiny and all have been found to have issues that affect people and society in a negative way at some point during their tenure. The Boy Scouts of America is a wonderful program that teaches Scouts a wholesome set of values and beliefs while strengthening relationships and instilling confidence in young men who need these skills to successfully navigate adulthood. Our family values and honors the BSA program.

So c'mon and join us... Be A Scout!!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Settling Down in My New Town dawns on me that since my move, not only am I Boymom, I am also now a Boise Mom! It's been great getting to know the city and while I miss Surprise, Arizona and my wonderful friends and neighbors, I honestly have no desire at this particular moment to EVER return to the desert heat that I have endured for years now.  One of these days I'll have to tell you about our ridiculous trip, but I just don't feel like backtracking and reliving the whole thing at this moment.  But there are some really painful hilarious moments I should probably chronicle for future generations, so I promise, I will do my trip post in the nest few days.  I would rather spend my blog time today telling and showing you guys some of the things I love about our new place of residence.

One of the first places we found to eat when we got here is Hugo's Deli.  Hugo's is yummy and the customer service there is awesome. They were very patient with Little Man, who always takes just under a decade to make any kind of food selection and they made sure he had extra pickles, just like he asked.  The owner was there and he was gracious enough to meet and talk to us when we mentioned that we were new in town.  Who does that anymore?  I have a confession to make here:  I forgot the guy's name.  It's not Hugo.  Or else I would have remembered.  How sad is it that he went out of his way to show us some kindness and I can't even remember his name?  I'm blaming it on menopause the stress of the relocation. So yeah...Hugo's and the guy who owns Hugo's rock.  Great sandwiches, nice employees, clean and inviting store.

Another thing I love about Boise? The amazing gardens and farms here! Everybody grows stuff! My granddad's caretaker, Darlene and her brother own a farm. Darlene has a kick-butt garden and everytime I go visit her and Grandpa she loads me up with cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, greenbeans, corn and watermelon.

My sister's sister-in-law (did you follow that?)  went from being a major corporate star in San Francisco to being a major Mommy star and Master Gardener in Idaho.  She sent home some amazing jalapenos, green chilis and tomatoes, from which we made some kickin' salsa!!  We made a huge batch that filled a huge bowl and this is all that is left 3 days later.

I think my body is in shock from all of the freshly grown, nutrient rich fruits and veggies I have consumed in the last 4 weeks.  Seriously, I have probably eaten more produce in the last 4 weeks than I did in the 8 months previous to my my move.  Consequently, even though I feel a little healthlier and more energetic, my gut doth protest at times.  I'll spare you the gory details.  Suffice it to say that I have definitely shown the menfolk in my family that having someone lock the windows so they can't be unrolled after I "release" ain't so funny when it happens to them!  I can't tell you how many times I have fallen victim to this little prank.  I would like to thank all those who have contributed to my recent bout of retribution.  Revenge is...well it's stinky.  But also pretty hilarious.

When I said everybody grows stuff here?  I mean stuff just grows.  Like you are walking down by the river and you see this:

Yeah.  Blackberry bushes just growing by the river.  I love that I can pick a berry and eat it while I am checking out the river and walking the trails.  The river area is getting pretty picked over though, so today we went to The Berry Ranch to pick our own berries. 

Little Man threw a major fit, the likes of which I have not seen since he was about 2.  I have NO idea what he thought we would be doing, but apparently he envisioned something akin to a prison labor camp.  So we pretended to ignore his meltdown, even though secretly I was  plotting a chore agenda that would make his prison labor camp look like a day at the fair.  He finally pulled it together when we pulled into the dirt lot at The Berry Ranch.   We spent about an hour picking blackberries and raspberries and ate a few along the way.  Of course I forgot my camera, so no pics this time in the fields, but here are the pics of our harvest:

Little Man apologized for his behavior and talked the whole way home about how he wants to have a farm so he can grow stuff too.  He talked and talked and TALKED about it.  I know, Little Man.  That would be the goal.  Because then I wouldn't be paying someone else $3.00/lb for berries that I had to pick myself!  Dang!   I think I could have bought them at the grocery store for half that!  But...we had a wonderful day together.  And we supported local farmers who work hard to grow good food for us.  And that?  Was Priceless. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

NerdyShirts Review

T-shirts are the uniform of choice in my home.  Any kind of button up shirt that actually makes it to my boys' rooms is quickly relegated to the furthest corner of the closet, where it spends the majority of its life looking out, just hoping for a chance to make the cut and join the rotation of "comfortable" clothes.  So anytime I get an offer to review a T-shirt company and try their merchandise, I jump at it. 

Trevor from NerdyShirts contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me to check out their merchandise.  So I did.  The first thing I realized is that I must have a lot of nerdy friends because I am familiar with a lot of the subjects shown on those t-shirts!  Who knew?!? 

The second thing I realized is that I know a LOT about Star Trek and Star Wars and Comic Book guys.    Most of this knowledge has been gleaned from time spent watching movies and cartoons with my husband and boys.  They patiently explain the ins and outs and whos and whats for me.  Which is cool.  Because now I do not look like an idiot when someone asks me whether Batman was a Marvel or DC comic (Batman was DC).  Not a lot of 47 year old moms have the capacity to discuss Star Wars or Green Lantern or X-men with any kind of intelligence.  At least now I can fake it.  NerdyShirts has so much comic and retro Star Trek kind of stuff that you would be hard pressed not to find something perfect for the comic geek or Trekkie in your life.  My personal favorite among this genre is the Batman Old School Logo, although that Thor Costume shirt is kind of hilarious.  NerdyShirts used to have a Wolverine Costume shirt too, but I think it must have sold out, which makes me extremely sad.  I am actually caught in the middle of an epic Batman vs. Wolverine debate and I wanted to get t-shirts for friends on each side of the battle for Christmas.  I am so bummed!

Anyway...Nerdyshirts has a large selection of designs to choose from, including references and characters from movies, video games, TV and internet.  Anyone who loves pop culture will dig these shirts.  A few of my favorites: 
NerdyShirts was kind enough to send a shirt for each of my boys.  Big Brother got a Bruce Lee shirt and Little Man loves his Iron Man Core shirt that glows in the dark.  Both shirts are made with high quality fabric that holds its shape and color well.  We had no bleeding colors in the wash and no flimsy, stretched out fabric after a few days of wear.  The graphics have not cracked or peeled and the boys find the shirts very comfortable and easy to wear.  

 BTW, NerdyShirts shipping is ninja fast and right now they have free shipping when you purchase 4 shirts.  I'm more than happy to recommend NerdyShirts and am looking forward to suprising a few people at Christmas with some hilarious t-shirts.

***Disclosure - I received 2 t-shirts from NerdyShirts in order to facilitate this review.  My opinions are my own and my reviews reflect my own experiences with products I receive.***