Ordinary? Nope, it’s Extraordinary – And, it’s National Popcorn Poppin’ Month!

God has given us some really cool things to enjoy. Even though I usually pass right by them because they appear ordinary, I’m trying to pay attention to how they are really quite extraordinary!

Today, it’s popcorn. Or, should I say, the kernel. Who thought to pull that tiny thing off the cob, let it dry, cook it and flavor it? It’s extraordinary.

When my youngest was an infant, she had this habit of waking up every night around 11pm screaming. She was about a year old and the pediatrician said it was normal, and that we should settle her down and let her fall back to sleep.

My baby went to sleep nightly at 7pm, but for a few months, it was literally every night she awoke at 11pm with a piercing cry that demanded our attention (lest we allow her to wake her twin toddler siblings in the next room).

Unable to calm her down by merely holding, rocking or walking, I did what all smart Moms do when they are so tired they can barely see straight: I turned on the television. Back in 1999, there was a popular unit called the VHS player and I inserted a Little People video that showed a farmer harvesting corn on the cob. But, the weather at the farm was so incredibly hot, the farmer watched in amusement as the corn fields began popping kernels by the thousands.My baby would suddenly catch her breath from the sobs, and stared at the popcorn video until it ended. She watched that same Little People popcorn video over and over and over for three months.

As the kids grew up, popcorn was a staple for my girls and me. My husband and son aren’t big fans, but us gals have multiple flavorings, tried a few air poppers over the years and also completely enjoy regular ‘ol butter and salt shaken in a bag – always cooked in a pot, not in a microwave.

Recently, I’ve been missing Saturday nights with my girls, the Hallmark channel and popcorn. Them being at college has ruined my interest in popping corn just for myself (sigh). But, recently I did pull out the kernels and oil to make a batch and stared at one little kernel for a long while. I mean, really, the popping process is extraordinary.I thought of all the popcorn we’ve stuffed ourselves with at the movies…I reminisced about the elementary years when popcorn was part of the Thanksgiving pilgrim skits, harvest season and Christmas decorations.

Ahhhh, but those days are long gone, as are the baby years (double-sigh).

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month so here a few fun popcorn facts (courtesy of popcorn.org):

  • Americans consume some 13 billion quarts of popcorn annually!
  • There are 4 main types, but only one “pops”!
  • One kernel can pop up to 3 feet in the air! (That’s higher than our pet bunny leaps!)
  • There is no such thing as “hull-less” popcorn. All popcorn needs a hull in order to pop. (I was glad to learn this because I was considering purchasing the latest greatest “hull-less” popcorn options for sale out there.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of kernels = 1 quart popped.

Popcorn.org is a great site for additional information and neat things like free download popcorn coloring sheets!

How Long Can a Mom Monitor Kids’ Media? Is 17 years too long? :)

HannahMy kids had a good laugh while reminiscing recently about how I “previewed” Hannah Montana before letting them watch it many years ago. That show eventually became a family favorite.

Lest you label me a helicopter parent, when my kids were 12 and 13 years young, the world’s version of “PG” had radically changed from the time when I was 12 and 13. “Sexual references” and “Brief Sexual Content” were definitely in the rated R movies back then, not in the PG-13 films.

Consequently, I checked out what my kids were putting in their heads and hearts. After all, even in something as small as music and movie choices – it gives a glimpse into their emotional, spiritual and even mental condition.

After the Hannah discussion, my kids laughed even harder remembering how they had to write me a list of songs that they wanted to download off iTunes so I could look up the lyrics before allowing them to purchase.

Sure there were inappropriate song lyrics back in the dark ages of my teen years, but a song today on the car radio can be stunningly different on the downloaded iTunes version. Where one word was changed for the radio version 25 years ago and the CD had the “bad word” on it, today, you can discover a string of female-degrading, F-bomb dropping rap lyrics replacing one bleeped word on the radio version. Thus, the required and infamous “song list” on Mom’s desk in my house.

Obviously those days have passed. By the time my son was in high school, he began questioning my need to see everything in his iTunes account. I assured him that his questioning made me all the more attentive to his playlists.

Eventually, as parents we get to the point where we can no longer monitor everything. Well, we could and some do, but by 16 and 17 years old, a solid foundation of character is already formed in our children.

Fortunately for me, my teenagers still watch Disney, ABC Family and nightly re-runs of Full House. Before it sounds like I’ve raised angelic beings who have not viewed less-than-edifying movies, my two 17 ½ year olds have certainly seen rated R movies.

My son and his friends went to some obnoxious rated R comedy this summer. When I quietly asked annoying-Mom questions like: “Don’t you get enough F-bombs, sex talk, unnecessary girl degrading and the like in the sports locker rooms, on Instagram, Twitter and in the high school hallways?…Do you really want to drop $40 filling your head with more garbage?”

Yep – I know – I’m a total kill-joy Mom sometimes. The good news is: I’m really much better about keeping quiet most of the time :).

My son looked at me directly and said, “Mom, there is a huge difference between watching a comedy with bad language and watching the sick stuff that’s out there in rated R films. I don’t go to that and I don’t want to.”

After that, I reminded myself (again) that the “boy” is really a “man” and he’s going to watch what he wants! The fact that he even checks what content is in a movie is impressive. The lesson for me: a.k.a. “the nutty mother”? Teens can make good choices all on their own, without the interference of Mom. In fact, at this age, it’s much better if they do.