How to Properly Use Alabama Jell-O Molds.

In a huge announcement of unprecedented importance, Jell-O proclaimed that they were releasing University of Alabama Jell-O Molds.

(Along with molds for 22 other Universities, but I’m positive none of them took it nearly as seriously as Alabama fans.)

Because I love my husband and I’m a sucker for a good Jell-O mold, I immediately went to my personal shopper (named Amazon) and bought a set for my family.

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However, my purchase was made amidst great state controversy.

Not only was this exciting news for football fans, it was also exciting news for the Alabama political machine. Because, you see, at least one lobbyist immediately condemned these Jell-O molds for fear that they would encourage underage drinking.

Yes, drinking.

I would like to say a few things to this lobbyist.

1. I’ve seen a lot of people slurp down Jell-O shots on Alabama Football gamedays. A LOT. And not a single one of them was actually a *student* at the university. In fact, most were over 50 and probably never even attended the University. Perhaps your concern might also extend to Alabama Football Fans with no educational ties to the University?

2. “I wasn’t going to drink while underage, but now that there are Jell-O molds for my University, well, that changes everything!”, said no college student ever.

3. Silly Lobbyist, Jell-O Molds are for Kids. Err, kids too young for underage drinking, that is.

To prove it, I present to you, my children.

There’s nothing my kids enjoy more than preparing for a Football Party, so I gave them the beautiful new Jell-O molds. Because football is upon us, y’all.

I wanted to delve into all the ways these molds could be used, so I bought chocolate, my favorite candy melts, and had the Jell-O that came with the molds. I also figured we could use the molds to create ice cubes.

There were two molds, which were apparently quite stuck together.

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 1

But that did not deter the palpable excitement in my home.

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 2

Okay no really. Were they superglued??

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Noah even got in on the action. At least in moral support.

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Finally, my daughter found the strength within herself to pull them apart.

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They wanted to start with candy melts, and I didn’t blame them – it’s the purest form of sugar, and it seems to travel straight to the blood stream.

Using Melting Candy with Children

It can even be absorbed straight through fingers!

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We melted and poured, then dropped the mold on the countertop a few dozen times to beat out the bubbles.

Uses for University of Alabama Jell-O molds

After refrigeration, they came out beautifully, although next time I will fill the molds halfway to prevent the messy bottoms and make the serving size of straight sugar a little less coma-inducing.

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Next came Jell-O.

I’m always amazed at how quickly Jell-O cooks, as opposed to my childhood when it seemed to take five lifetimes.

Noah, however, did not agree.

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He aged fifteen years in that two minutes.

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While we’re waiting for a boiling point, let’s talk about the background of my picture, also known as Random Clutter on Rachel’s Kitchen Table (RCoRKT).

What's in the Background

A: Two pairs of Noah’s Toms (my hypocrisy grows daily) and my running knee braces. Because that’s what belongs on chairs.
B: Running Socks. Hopefully just washed and laid out to dry, but there’s no guarantee that they hadn’t been sweat in.
C: Sunblock. Which is puzzling since I nearly never sunblock my children. Because hey – skin grows back, right?
D: A really unique sunset canvas. There’s this site where you can get one of your own…or use it as an excuse to come see me in person!
E: An Underwear Chart. Need I say more?

You’re welcome.

The water finally boiled, and Ali immediately volunteered to stir in the Jell-O. Noah, meanwhile, had moved onto other pursuits.

Making Jell-O with Children 1

But he’s never one to turn down a chance to splash and spill hot liquid, so he did take his turn.

Making Jell-O with Children 2

We pulled out our Lego and Magic Wand molds and filled nearly everything we had.

Making Jell-O with Children 3

The Jell-O came out just as beautifully as the candy, albeit harder to photograph.

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University of Alabama Jell-O 2

And, although we haven’t melted our chocolate yet or made our ice cubes, we’re ready for tomorrow.

University of Alabama Candy and Jell-O

Because really, snacks are football’s redeeming value.

To some of us.

Disclosure: Jell-O did not sponsor me or this post. Nor did lobbyists, Alabama Football, or children. Okay – maybe the kids did. They did get a lot of sugar out of it, after all.

A Public Service Announcement, for Parents.

I have been up front and honest with you many times about all of the things I forget to do, put off doing, or downright neglect when it comes to my role as a mother.

I’m not the most thorough, organized, on-top-of-it person out there, and my parenting is no exception. It often looks as messy as my office closet, and I hope that one day my children can forgive me for my grievous sins against them. By my practice of exposing of my shortcomings here, I also hope that perhaps I can help one of you remember something you might need to take care of.

Which is what brings us to today’s PSA. Quite accidentally, I discovered a giant, moon-sized hole in my parenting.

One of my children – I won’t say which to protect their identity (let’s pretend I have twelve children for the day) – has had a problem for quite some time. A rather embarrassing problem – one that Chris and I couldn’t seem to get this child to stop doing.

There was an issue of constant fidgeting and picking at a certain item of underclothing.

After weeks of reminding – nay even nagging this child to please refrain from this activity, said child looked me in the eye with a kernel of wisdom beyond their years and said, “I think it’s because they feel so tight all the time. Could they all be too small for me?”

My eyes widened, stunned by the logic and insight pouring from such a tiny mouth.

I had never bought this child any new underwear. Since this child was potty-trained many years ago, they had been slowly growing out of their provided underclothes, just as a tree root slowly grows through a sidewalk.

This. THIS is the kind of sub-par crappy parenting that I bring to the table.

Guilt agitated my soul like a washing machine set on stain-removal. And I immediately set out to Target to correct my grievous sins.

But which underwear should I buy? I hadn’t bought any children’s underwear in this particular gender in many years. Which were most comfortable? Which would provide greatest ease in wear? Which would abolish wedgies?

So I bought them all.

Because a guilty conscience carries a big checkbook.

A guilty conscience also needs a safe place to seek reassurance, so I texted my friend Katherine and confessed my Sins of Motherhood. Her response was triple antibiotic on my wounded soul.

Oh that? Yes. It only cost us four separate co-pays and a visit to Children’s Hospital South for a GI scan to rule out colon cancer. Sorry – I thought ALL families did that before they bought their children new underwear.

Everyone needs a friend like Katherine.

I pursued her on this issue of negligence. Upon which of your four children did you commit this omission?

[Kid X] got the four visits and GI scan, but we also made a doctor’s visit for [Kid Y] as well.

If Katherine can make this mistake twice, then I can make it once. Right?

I came home from Target with a fresh spring in my step and presented my wise, neglected child with an armload of underthings and explained that if said child would track the efficacy of the different types, I would make sure to buy more in the best variation of underthings to properly ensure that comfort could finally be had – something denied to that child for far too long.

I then explained the meaning and importance of the concept of Unbiased Scientific Analysis. Because the thing was, some of the items of clothing in question had favorite cartoon characters on them – but this fact should not afford them a greater review than a pair that was, say, a solid color. Scientists must not be driven by the wind. Or by Elsa, Queen of the Wind.

The child looked at me with those same serious, wide eyes, agreeing to the importance of the task at hand.

“But how will I remember which were best? How will I keep up with such important information?”

“Don’t worry, dear child. I will make you a chart.”

And I did.

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Again showing my egregious negligence, I did not take time to find a ruler for a straightline, nor even did I simply draw slowly enough to have consistent lines. But I am what I am. And thankfully, the child was pleased with the chart and excited to get to work on the research project.

(Although the child was a bit critical of the fact that some of my questions were rather redundant.)

The child filled out the chart with the care of a Ph.D. candidate, even caring enough to count the number of wedgies created by each variety in a 24 hour time period.

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I wish the first line wasn’t filled out in pencil so that you could see the reasoning behind the sad rating of 1 – “I got up in the middle of the night to change” – yes, they were that bad. But this vital piece of data is why it was worthy of its own chart.

But most importantly, all embarrassing habits ceased immediately upon the reception of these gifts.

Dearest friends, this is your wake-up call. Buy your children new underwear once in a while.

Science is For the Birds.

My homeschooling strength has never been science – as a student or a teacher. I buy experiment books and we never open them; we read our science book but never put it into practice; I managed to worm my way out of dissections in both high school and college, whereas by the time my younger brother was in high school, dissected frogs could be regularly found in lunch sacks in the fridge.

However.

When it comes to the Animal Kingdom and our neighborhood, we are keen observers, enjoying the beauty and intricacies of God’s creatures.

Whether it’s Yard Bunnies who allow us to see their beautiful babies, neighborhood cats (and kittens) that adopt us, or Copperheads that I erroneously assume are harmless, we are students.

(Okay. Except for the bats. Never the bats.)

Our latest observations have centered around this nest, lovingly built under the eave of our porch.

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We watched the two birds for days as they built the nest, stealing moss from our yard and somehow managing to find bleached out Easter Basket Grass that we’ve never used.

(I do hate that stuff.)

We further observed when the mother began her roost, having successfully chased her man away. Because everyone knows that Bird Husbands are only good for baby-making and homebuilding.

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With help from my much more nature-educated mother, we decided that she was a Phoebe Bird, and based on her roosting patterns and a little help from Wikipedia, I knew exactly when her babies would hatch.

Unfortunately, that date was going to occur while we were gone for a weekend trip to the beach.

Even more unfortunately, Fred apparently decided that he needed a supplemental snack while we were gone, despite the fact that our neighbors fed him for us, along with who-knows-how-many-other secret families he has.

When we returned, the mother bird was gone, there was a pile of matching feathers in the yard, and a very satisfied-looking cat.

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I texted my mom immediately and asked if she could use her chicken-egg incubator to hatch our babies. She informed me that no, the mother had probably been off of them for too long, and plus none of us were going to want to catch bugs all day and night for those babies.

She wasn’t wrong.

I was matter-of-fact with the kids, reminding myself that children never react to tragedy as strongly as adults assume they will. The Circle of Life is pretty cut and dry before you experience any true pain in life.

We left the eggs alone for a week, anxiously watching for the mother to miraculously return – perhaps she was a prop in a Bird-Watching Expedition or some other such pressing matter! But she didn’t come back, it was a sure thing that our eggs were not going to hatch, and the kids were eager to inspect them.

So I instructed them on how very fragile the eggs were, climbed up on the porch railing, and looked into the nest.

They were exactly as they had when I’d last peeked in (from a distance with a zoom lens) – undisturbed and peacefully resting.

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I let the kids each hold one, reminding them yet again to be very, very careful.

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(Ali’s taped hands had nothing to do with her caution – that there is magical tape that enables her to do amazing cartwheels. Or not.)

Noah asked questions, Ali inspected, and we talked about the different colors and markings of the eggs.

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We rehashed the fact that Fred wasn’t evil for eating their mother – that’s what God programmed him to do. It’s a part of life.

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We carefully set all the eggs back down and just looked at them.

Looking at Baby Bird Eggs

…Until Noah couldn’t stand it anymore and grabbed the whole bunch, then dropped them in horror when his toddler hands got more than they expected.

The Culprit and the Eggs

THIS. Is the look of guilt. Or aversion to yellow slime. Probably the latter.

Egg Smashing Guilt

Chaos ensued.

Noah was grossed out, Ali was indignant over the beautiful eggs, and I was in a frenzy to sanitize my toddler.

Once I was sure he was free of Salmonella, the eggs once again caught my eye. Although one of the three broken eggs was clearly nothing but yolk, the other two appeared to have more to investigate, so I carefully finished opening them.

PAUSE.

Anyone who has a weak stomach needs to tune out now. However, I and the kids found the contents of the eggs captivating, so if you can handle it, click here to continue to page two. If not, feel free to stop.

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