Will You Accept This Podcast? Episode 6!

We nerded out SO. HARD. THIS TIME. 

Listen, normally we gloss over the details for the sake of general stupidity and patter. NOT TODAY, CHILDREN. We did a deep-dive of these hometowns (including a scale that we rated each hometown by) and dug into the long and short of it. It's just one of those weeks. 

 I need your opinions. I need your feedback. Who do you think is going to win this show?! Do you agree with our opinions?? Please affirm my opinions. I need it. I want it. 

Episode six is live. Click the image below to listen.

Will You Accept This Podcast, Episode 5!

We're BAAAAAAaaaaack! 

After a few weeks off (one because the show wasn't one, one because we just took a break), we're back with our shortest podcast yet! 

Action packed with our discussions about how "Friends" is overrated, the name for female foxes, Jordan's family's odd and charming Tooth Fairy tradition, and, of course, The Bachelorette. And MC's opinions on what men who are balding should do, which Jordan takes real issue with. So maybe she shouldn't have said it. But she did. Tune in!

5 Summer Hacks.

I know I'm in the minority here, but I hate summer. I mean, hate is a strong word - but it's also accurate. I am a cold weather girl because years of summers in Alabama, DC, Mississippi, and the like traveling throughout the Southeastern US have made me loathe those days of hot, sticky, buggy awfulness. 

HOWEVER. 

In surviving 28 summers so far, I've learned some things along the way. This list is a completely random assortment of things that I can't make it through the summer without, whether it's in the kitchen or in the great outdoors. Hope it inspires and helps you! 

1. Terro Fruit fly traps

One of the few perks of this scorching weather is the delicious produce that is available. The downside is, you have to be so careful about leaving your beautiful fresh fruit out to avoid breeding an entire army of fruit flies in your house. Last year, I made the mistake of leaving a bowl of apples unattended for a few days and we had ourselves a minor infestation. A friend recommended these traps, and they work LIKE A CHARM. We have three hiding in our kitchen and haven't seen a fruit fly since. 

2. This hack for shucking farmer's market corn

Another fabulous piece of produce you can buy at the farmer's market, but who wants to get covered in all those corn silks? They're like awful little witch hairs. PASS. 

Instead, try this! It works every time and is actually kind of a crowd-pleaser if you're cooking with guests. 

3. Chemical-free bug spray for a good cause

I am a person who is absolutely eaten alive by mosquitoes every time she steps out the door. Meanwhile, my husband sits next to me and never gets bitten. And I ask you, people - WHATTUP WITH THAT?? 

This bug spray is chemical and deet-free (which you'd think means "This bug spray doesn't work!"); however, it works better than most things I've tried and is much safer for you, especially if you have young children and dogs around. And it's for a good cause, to boot! Thistle Farms is an organization in Nashville whose employees are survivors of human trafficking, violence, and addiction. They provide housing and jobs as these women get back on their feet. Not a bad thing to contribute to, right? 

4. Dog cooling mat

We have a black dog absolutely covered in hair (seriously, how does he even have hair left after he sheds all over our house?) who gets plum tuckered out in the summer heat. We carry this in the car, and voila! It's a cooling mat that doesn't need to be chilled or frozen - just stays nice and cool for your buddy in the dog days (get it?!) of this season. The gel inside is non-toxic, so if you have a chewer, no fear - you're okay. 

5. A big ass hat. 

The one above is from J Crew (it's 30% off today!) -  I have it and wear it ALL THE TIME. The material is actually pretty durable and responds well to being folded/packed up. Gardening, at the beach, at the pool - it's great for covering your face and neck, which as so prone to sun damage and wrinkles. Ain't nobody want a wrinkly neck. 

Β 

What are some summer products you can't make it without? Please recommend, otherwise I will be staying inside for the next 60 days. 

Happy Wednesday! 

DNR - JTI: 17 Weeks Pregnant Edition

As always, credit for Do Not Respond - Just Take It goes to the brilliant and beautiful Mollie Erickson, whose blog can be found here

Dear Body, 
Hi. I'm sure you're like, "WHAT'S GOING ON MARY CATHERINE?!?!" Except really, you're not. You seem to know exactly what to do. You're gaining weight, you're growing a human being. But also, you are losing your balance and your mind and other weird stuff. I think my belly popped this morning but I can't be sure. How does one test these things? Anyway, keep up the good work and also what are you doing to me and also I'm sorry.  Do Not Respond - Just Take It. 

Dear Snoogle, 
You are a gift from the Lord. I never knew that a pregnancy body pillow could mean so much to me in such a short amount of time. We've become inseparably bonded to the point that Jordan is now jealous. Of me, to be clear - he wants his own Snoogle. Who can blame him? I work you into every conversation. See you tonight. DNR - JTI. 

Dear Friend from College, 
Sorry your wedding gift is so late.  I accidentally sent it to myself because I can't functionally think anymore. This is evidently a "thing," so I'm going to blame it on this sweet little parasite sucking the logic outta me. You'll get it, I promise. Or, if I get lazy enough, I may just keep it. I mean, it's a Le Creuset serving piece, it's pretty nice. I kinda want one. Stay tuned. DNR - JTI. 

Dear Jordan, 
God bless you. DNR - JTI. 

Dear Entire Bag of Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Chips, 
Bye! DNR - JTI. 

Dear Leg Hair, 
You and I have been locked in a battle of good and evil since I was about 12 years old. (To be clear, I'm good and you're evil and if you have a problem with that you can get your own blog). Prenatal vitamins, while helping my growing baby, also seem to have taken your side and joined the effort to ruin my life. But I won't be defeated. I will get rid of you every day until I can't see my legs anymore. STOP GROWING SO FAST OR ELSE. You've been warned. DNR - JTI. 

Dear Woman Working at Subway,
When I went in for a pizza, you looked at my belly, looked back up at me, looked at my belly again, and then asked if I was pregnant. "Yes," I said, "But that was a risky question." You said, "I was just trying to figure out if it was a boy or a girl." "Well?" I wondered. "A girl," you said, "because you're carrying low." 

FIRST OF ALL, WWaS, carrying low is not a compliment. It means you maybe didn't have a strong core before you got pregnant (or so I've read). I'm a fitness instructor, so I sure I hope I did. SECONDLY, you've got it backwards. Carrying low means you're having a boy, which is what I think I'm having, which makes you not only a bit impolite, but also wrong. You were the first person to acknowledge I looked pregnant and I am simultaneously offended by you and excited. I have a lot of feelings that don't make sense, okay? Please just make my veggie pizza and lemme get outta here before I buy that entire freaking case of cookies. 

Dear The Baby,
Please feel free to kick at me anytime. I really loved that. It was like you were saying, "HEY UP THERE! I'M IN HERE!" And it was magical and the best ever. You've gone radio silent for a few days, which I respect, because you're not trying to be an attention hog. You're makin' me wait. I like your style, but I also miss you, so...you know. Maybe just give me one whenever you feel like it. Love you. DNR - JTI. 

The Real Spirit of America

Growing up in the Decatur, Alabama, "patriotism" meant a bunch of loud, drunk folks at the annual Spirit of America Festival in jean cutoffs scream-singing "Proud to be an American" and crushing beers, hollering about how America was the best place, how everybody else was wrong and ignorant and backwards. 

Not the loveliest. 

No one in my family was military, and I never really felt the sense of American-ness that everyone else seemed to get. To me as a child, we were often a nation of arrogant, ungrateful, over-indulgent, culture-less hillbillies in one of the newest, yet most powerful, nations in the world. 

When I moved to York, Alabama (population 1,800), I inherited a classroom without any supplies. No chalkboard. No markers. No paper. Barely any textbooks. Mouse droppings on the floor and God-knows-what on the windows. I ended up eventually receiving a projector through the kindness of the people I knew. Before we received it, though, my personal laptop was all I had, and kids crowded around the computer as I lectured from an 8 x 14 screen on a kitchen stool in the front of my room. 

The reason I mention the projector is because I'll never forget the day it arrived. It was September 11, 2011, and I'd put together a tribute of videos, both informational and gut-wrenching, about the day to show to my students. This was a history course, after all, and they needed to know. What I wasn't anticipating is that my middle schoolers had very little idea what September 11th signified. The closest answer I heard was, "Wasn't that when somebody bombed a building?"

And so my job that day became different. Instead of reminding them in a mini-lesson about a day that none of us should allow ourselves to forget, I actually watched my students, all of whom were 2 and 3 in 2001, witness this event for the first time. 

I was in my own seventh grade history class when the planes hit the Towers. And, ten years later, I was teaching it to 95 seventh and eighth graders. I watched it happen on their faces. In their tears. I watched heads turn away and eyes shut, unable to take in what they were seeing. And then I listened to them ask what they could do to help. Students who, in many cases, weren't guaranteed a bed or a meal that night, were asking how they could help.

So they wrote letters to the family of a man whose last words they'd heard in one of our videos that day - a guy named Kevin Cosgrove who died in the South Tower. I remember sitting at my desk at the end of that day, sunlight streaming through the windows, desks empty, the quiet of a child-less classroom sweeping over me, overtaken by the depth of these precious words on paper written by my students - words of comfort, of thanks, of healing - to Kevin's wife and children. People they didn't know. 

It was then that I understood what the true spirit of America is. I felt like the Grinch. It broke my heart wide open. Turns out, it's not the "God Bless America and No One Else" philosophy that I mistook it for - people wore that and claimed it as patriotism, but that's not what it really means. Whatever turmoil, economic, political, or otherwise; whatever unrest, whatever trial, I am a deep believer in the triumph of the human spirit. And that's what patriotism is all about: a belief in the power of uniting and validating all the human spirits in this country.

Now, watching fireworks on the Fourth always makes me cry. I get it now. I am humbled to tears by the weight of the sacrifice it took to start this scrappy country; of the people who work hard every day to protect us; of the hearts of those who still don't feel protected. I love the chest-filling pride that comes with believing in us.  I believe in us because of my kids. I believe there is a potential for greatness in America that's realized every day when a person does someone else a kindness. I believe in the power of a country that asks "What if?" I also believe in the power of saying that what we're doing isn't good enough. And I think that today, more so than most days, is one to think about where we are as individuals in the fabric of a country with so much potential. How we can say, "No," to the policies and ideas that are hurtful to our brothers and sisters. How we can throw our arms around the things that frighten us about each other. How we as a country are more than one man, or one set of legislators - the fabric, the messy, often not-so-pretty guts of the United States - that's us. It's on us. It's in us. For better or for worse. For liberty and justice.

And, maybe most importantly, for all.