Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Back to School with Bark Box

Since Anderson was born, I've gone a little crazy with online ordering and subscription boxes.  Anything that makes my life easier and frees up extra time is a win in my book.  One subscription service we've recently fallen in love with?  Bark Box.

I've seen advertisements for Bark Box for months, but I was always too nervous to bite the bullet.  A friend was raving about how much her pups loved it, so I asked her to send me a referral link (shout out, LK!).  Through the referral link, we each got 1 box free.  Signing up was super easy and quick!

The first box we received was Olympics themed.  It had a laurel wreath and toga man toy, 2 bags of treats, and a pig ear.  The pig ear grossed me out so we gave it to LK, whose dog loves them.  Our second box was even better.  It was Southern California themed and included a taco toy that Velcro'ed together and a shark.  They enjoyed the treats more than the previous box and absolutely loved the taco!

This month's box was the best yet!  The theme was Back to School.  Bark Box always goes the extra mile.  I mean, look at this adorable packaging.

Those doggy yearbook photos are cracking me up.  :)
Here's this month's loot.

The cookie and sandwich both fit inside the brown paper bag toy - instant hit!  The bag makes a crinkling sound (just like the taco shell in last month's box) which Daphne goes nuts over.  And the "homework" toy in the back is like two pieces of paper together.  It has a squeaker which is Dexter's second favorite thing (tennis balls are #1).  They seem to be enjoying the treats in this bag a lot more too (although we haven't tried the puffs treats in the front yet).

I've been very, very pleased with the quality of the toys.  Dexter always tears up everything we give him, but he hasn't been able to destroy anything in the last two boxes. (The laurel wreath in the first box took him about 4 minutes to shred.)  And get this - we only pay $20 per box.  Even better?  I don't have to remember to pick up treats for the pups, and they love getting new toys!

If you want to try out Bark Box for yourself, just let me know.  I'll send you a referral link so we can both get a box free!

*Note:  Bark Box has no idea who I am.  The referral links are available to all of their customers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I'm Not Giving Up on Mississippi

The conversations we're having lately make me think I'm living in the Jim Crow-era instead of 2015.  The latest revolves around the Confederate flag, or more specifically, the battle flag we refer to as the Confederate flag.  Following the shooting in South Carolina, many began to campaign for the removal of this flag from government sites.  Mississippi was soon brought into the conversation, as its state flag contains the "Rebel flag" in its canton.

Mississippi has a very complicated history and a terrible image.  We're known for being the worst in everything:  poorest, fattest, least educated, most miserable bunch of people in the country.  And while there are a lot of things we get right (writers, musicians, charity, medicine, athletes, etc.), the bad unfortunately outweighs the good.  Too many times, I've been outside of our beloved Southeast and had my accent give me away.  This accent draws people in like flies to honey.  People are fascinated by it and always ask where I'm from, guessing Texas and South Carolina.  I used to proudly say, "No, I'm from Mississippi!"  However as I get older, that prideful exclamation has turned into a sheepish, "No... I'm from, um, Mississippi."  The novel enthusiasm over meeting someone from the South quickly drains from the face of my new friend.  Sometimes he or she will reply with a simple "Oh."  Other times it's "I've driven through there before... beautiful place...."  I've even gotten "I'm sorry" once or twice.

Mississippians feel so much pride for our state.  We have to.  We're the underdog in this country.  No one but us thinks positively about this place.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of where you come from, but a lot of times I've wanted to hide in shame of this state.

I've longed to be able to drop my accent; to not hear the silence on the other end of a phone call with anyone above the Mason-Dixon; to not be automatically labelled as backwards, stupid, and poor; to not have to see that look of sympathy on a person's face when he/she discovers my home state; to no longer feel like the disappointment of America, the skeleton in the closet that no one wants to talk about; to no longer hear "Thank God for Mississippi."  Sometimes I want to run away and surround myself with like-minded people and forget that I was ever a part of this place.

Then I remember:  this is exactly what those before me and around me have done.  This is what the expats have done, leaving out of frustration with a never-changing people.  This is what many who still live here have done, growing defensive and stagnate, retreating further into themselves.  Mississippians have segregated ourselves  from the problems;  we pretend that they don't exist.  "We're just being picked on."  "Mississippi isn't such a bad place to live."  "The media only focuses on the history."  While these things may all be true, that history isn't staying in the past and those statistics they spout off aren't unfounded.  Mississippi isn't giving anyone any reason to see the good in us.  We've come kicking and screaming into the present, not wanting to give up the "good ole days."  We pitch a hissy fit (that's a technical term) at the mention of change.  I do not understand the desire of those in our state who do not want to progress.

I think a lot of these attitudes may come from an ignorance of the world.  Many never leave the safety or "bubble" of their community.  They do not educate themselves on the world outside their own.  They are kind, honest, hard-working people, but they are naive.  They are skeptical of anything that challenges what they've been taught and believed for so many years.  They've never experienced the gut-punch reaction from someone who feels sorry for you because you grew up here.  They've never longed to "get out."  They've never had an open conversation with someone who felt differently about a topic.  They've never done the research on a highly debated topic for themselves.

I used to be like this.  Before I graduated high school, I had never been west of the Mississippi or north of the Mason-Dixon.  I had exactly one black friend.  The only science I was ever taught was tainted with skepticism, and FOX News's word was as good as God's.  I remember arguing in a freshman college course that racism didn't exist anymore.  I signed petitions to keep Colonel Rebel as a school symbol and didn't think twice about the Confederate flag.  I didn't realize how these things made some of my fellow Mississippians feel and how they made our beloved state look to outsiders.  I slowly began the climb over the fence.  I educated myself; I devoured information and formed my own opinions on topics.  I began to meet and interact with people who were different from me.  I put myself in uncomfortable situations in order to challenge my beliefs and ideals.

I encourage my fellow Mississippians to do the same.  Pick an issue and gather reliable information from both sides of the debate:  facts, not opinions.  Have a conversation with someone who feels differently than you do about a topic.  Get out and see the world.  Get your news from multiple sources in an effort to weed out bias.  Separate yourself from everything you know once in a while.  If after doing all these things, you still hold the same opinion you did before you began, think about how that opinion affects our state.  Does it represent our residents as a whole?  Should it represent us on the national and international level?  Will it bring industry, advancement, travel, etc to Mississippi?

Mississippi is a great place, but we're content.  I sometimes feel that we have let the negative statistics define us.  We've accepted them, embraced them, adopted them, worn them as a badge.  It doesn't have to be that way.  There are those of us who want more this place.  Let's work together to advance the image or our state instead of against each other.  Don't give up on yourself, Mississippi;  we're the only ones fighting for us.