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??

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 3

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

University of Alabama Jell-O Molds 4

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!

Using Melting Candy with Children 2

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.

University of Alabama Candy 2

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.

University Jell-O Molds 1

He aged fifteen years in that two minutes.

University Jell-O Molds 2

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.

University of Alabama Jell-O 1

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.

On Stalking Vegetables {And a Giveaway}

I have been a fan of VeggieTales since I was thirteen years old and a babysitter-in-training. The kids I babysat for introduced me to it and I was all like “Whaaaaaat? Vegetables on cartoons?? That can’t be good.”

Until I watched one.

I *might* have bought my own VHS copies as a teenager.

I also *might* have bought myself a stuffed Bob and Larry.

And my kids *might* own over half of the movies released in the past 21 years.

So, although I don’t usually participate in the Blogger Media Circuit, when I got an invitation to come to VeggieTales, it was clearly the occasion for rule-bending.

Bob and Larry Director's Chair

I knew I must go. Whether, whether, whether, whether, whether you like it or not. Weather, weather, weather, weather, the weather was cold, warm or hot.

I packed my bags and arrived via Cebu in Nashville only to discover that in my haste I had accidentally brought the most Nashvillian outfit that I own.

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I looked like a freaking waitress. At at Honky Tonk.

Shocked and Slightly Embarrassed, I could visualize Tim Gunn putting his fingers on his chin, creasing his brow, and saying, “Are you sure that’s not too…costumey? Maybe something a little less…LITERAL.”

But I assumed it was A Lesson in Enduring Embarrassment and showed up anyway. Just like Junior Asparagus would do.

After which I promptly ate Junior, and his best friend Laura Carrot.

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They’re delicious.

The fine people at Big Idea shared all sorts of exciting VeggieTales news with us, including letting us be the very first non-veggies to lay eyes on the newly imagined stars of “VeggieTales in the House”, the upcoming Netflix Series.

THEY GREW EYEBROWS, Y’all.

VeggieTales In the House

I think they’re perfectly adorable. And they’re even better in action – but you’ll have to wait to see that for yourselves.

The current plan is to release the first ten episodes Thanksgiving Weekend, so the kids and I are already planning on binge-Vegging rather than Black Friday Shopping.

I also received a drawing lesson from one of the a storyboard artists,

Drawing Lessons

which Ali was totally jealous of since her favorite bonus features are the “How to Draw Bob and Larry” segments. But then when she saw how a sub-par my learning curve was, she forgave me out of pity.

Bob and Bob

I’m sure I would have done better if he’d taught with a flannel graph. (Oooooh! Flannel graph!)

We had a Q&A session with Mike Nawrocki, the co-founder of VeggieTales and voice of Larry.

Mike Nawrocki

I was doubly blessed when he sat next to me at lunch and even serenaded me with a few lines of Barbara Manatee – no greater a love song has ever been written.

(By a cucumber.)

After lunch, we got to chat with Kellie Pickler, star of the upcoming Beauty and the Beet. She makes for a precious vegetable and human being.

Kellie Pickler at Veggie Tales

Aaaaaand….we were escorted individually into a sound booth to record a bit of Beauty in the Beet alongside her voice, which happens to nearly render my southern accent null and void in comparison.

Recording Beauty and the Beet

(I’m the blond, she’s the reddish-brunette. A bit backwards I know.)

When I arrived back home, I tried to make it up to the kids by bringing them the just-released Celery Night Fever, which is a show about forgiveness, therefore attempting to subconsciously help them forgive their mother for hanging out with their favorite celebrities without them.

It totally worked.

Laura the Carrot’s character further reinforced to Ali the beauty in being Type-A, and she has carried around a checklist ever since, begging me for items that she could add to it.

Laura the Carrot and Ali With Checklists

(Though she wasn’t a fan when I suggested adding bedtime.)

I brought Noah home his own Larry the Cucumber, since my teenage version of Larry is packed somewhere in a box of high school keepsakes. And since we haven’t had baths between my return home and the writing of this post, I can say with certainty that Larry has not left Noah’s presence in at least 72 hours.

Noah and Larry the Cucumber

Between the two of them, they invented a game called “Larry Draws”, and apparently Larry does know how to draw because quite suddenly, Noah began coloring in the lines.

Noah Coloring Celery Night Fever with Larry the Cucumber

Cucumbers are INSPIRATIONAL. And probably steal abandoned Pop Tarts when kids aren’t looking.

Ali was also inspired, and showed up my previously exposed drawing skills with this portrait of Noah and his new best friend.

Ali's Drawing of Noah and Larry the Cucumber

The trip was fantastic, and I left with a newly revived vigor for all things veggie. To celebrate, I went out and bought my six favorite VeggieTales movies to share with you guys!

Veggie Tales Giveaway

I love all of these for different reasons: The Wonderful Wizard of Ha’s and Lord of the Beans have unbelievably brilliant nods to the classics that inspired them, A Snoodles Tale makes me sniffle with joy every time I see it, Little Joe and King George are adorable and have great lessons that we all need reminded of, and Celery Night Fever, the newest release, is an always-needed reminder not to hold grudges – and has some dang catchy music.

So. I will pick six winners and send you all one of the above DVDs (I’ll contact you to see which would be your preferences after I choose the winners.) To enter, just comment below and tell me your favorite VeggieTales movie. If you’ve never seen one, you can just tell me that, too.

The contest is open until Monday, August 25, and I’ll announce the winners on my Giveaway Winners Page.

Best of luck!

Disclaimer: I personally bought the prizes for this giveaway because I adore VeggieTales. My trip to Nashville was paid for by Dreamworks Entertainment but did not require a blog post or any other media services by me. All opinions are my own. And Junior Asparagus is my favorite, although now that I’ve actually met Larry, Junior does have competition.

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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