Thursday, June 30, 2011

Olivia Blue Music: Drive These Blues Away

One of the things I love about blogging is the opportunity to "meet"  new people.  Well, last week, I "met" a military spouse who happens to be a very talented musician as well.

Olivia, an Army spouse who currently lives in Hawaii, wrote this awesome song called "Drive These Blues Away" that placed 2nd in the USAA Garage Band Playoff.  I just had to share it on this week's What's YOUR Song Link-Up hosted by Goodnight Moon.  Happy listening!  And make sure you go and check out Olivia Blue Music!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Tennis Players

I love tennis.  No, seriously,  I LOVE tennis.  And I'm obsessed with Wimbledon.  Mr. Roller Coaster knows that if we ever won the lottery, one of the first things I want to do is buy tickets to see Wimbledon live.

Yesterday was the start of week 2 of this year's Wimbledon, and my DVR has been working overtime so I can watch the tournament when I can.  Wimbledon holds so many fond memories for me, so I thought I'd dedicate this week's top 10 list to my favorite tennis players.  My list has nothing to do with talent or grand slam titles and everything to do with personality, entertainment value, and overall scrappiness.   (And sorry Mom, I know Bjorn Borg is your #1, but he's a little before my time.)

Here are my...

Top 10 Favorite Tennis Players


Lindsay Davenport

Lleyton Hewitt

Monica Seles

Pete Sampras

Jennifer Capriati

Andy Roddick

Kim Clijsters

Roger Federer

Steffi Graf

Andre Agassi

{{{And yes, I think it's totally awesome that my top 2 are married to each other.}}}

Anyone else a tennis fan?  If not, what's your sport of choice?


Monday, June 27, 2011

Little C...My Walking Time Bomb

My daughter is a klutz.  Combine her lack of grace and her proclivity for impulsiveness and you have a 3-year-old walking time bomb.  Little C is an accident waiting to happen.

I love my daughter dearly and wouldn't trade her crazy personality for the world, but I can't take my eyes off her for a second.  I often say she is payback for everything I did to my parents, that if she had been my first child there probably wouldn't have been a second. 

We're averaging about one ER trip a year with Little C.  And these ER trips aren't the boring ear infection/high fever/croup ER visits we endured with her big brother.  No, she likes to make them really interesting. 

Let's see, the first one really wasn't her fault (actually it was her brother's fault), but it just proves that she's an accident magnet.  She wasn't yet 2, and she was playing on the preschool playground with Big C and his classmates.  Big C decided to toss a large stick behind him, and that stick managed to land itself in Little C's eye, leaving a nice red dot, big enough to make mommy worry about a scratched cornea.  2+ hours in the ER for diagnosis of "it's nothing."

ER trip #2 was way more exciting because it involved a ride in an ambulance.  It was a ridiculously hot day as we sat through Big C's t-ball opening ceremonies.  Little C was hot, tired, and hungry and wanted nothing to do with her stroller.  She was protesting that stroller so enthusiastically that she held her breath until she passed out.  I'm not overstating when I say I was checking for my daughter's pulse while a friend called 911.  By the time we got to the hospital she was walking and talking.  1+ hour in the ER for diagnosis of "you have a very strong willed child who made herself pass out."

ER trip #3 was just a few weeks ago.  Miss Grace tripped at school and landed her head smack dab in the corner of a table.  Tons of blood, ear-piercing screams, and a whole lot of commotion getting to the hospital.  2 hours in the ER for a papoose, 5 stitches, and a doctor who looked like a supermodel and had the bedside manner of a man who had never talked to a child before.

While all of these incidents scared me, I'd have to say the biggest scare came last week.  I'd be exaggerating if I said that Little C almost drowned, but there's really no other word for it.  She was under the water and unable to breathe despite her best efforts to surface for an uncomfortable length of time.

I won't go into the details of how she fell in the pool during her group swim lesson or how the lifeguard did nothing while I sprinted across the pool deck and pulled my daughter out of the water because that's not the point of this story (and because I've already shared my thoughts on this matter with the facility's aquatics director).  My point is that Little C is keeping me on my toes and giving me the grey hairs I somehow avoided with Big C. 

I can't watch her every second of the day, and I certainly can't cover her in Kevlar.   But she's like a walking time bomb.  I can't predict when she's going to throw a tantrum worthy of a loss of consciousness or smash her face into a table or require the services of a lifeguard.  I guess all I can do is to stay calm and be prepared.

Do you have accident-prone or impulsive children?  How do you keep from losing sleep at night?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lazy Song

Today I don't feel like doing anything. 

{Linking up with Goodnight Moon's What's YOUR Song? Link-Up}


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top 10 Highlights of My First Day of Summer Vacation with 2 Kids

Yesterday was my first official day of summer vacation.  It was the first day I could sleep in without having to get someone off to school.  It was the first day I had nothing planned.  It was the first day I could realistically contemplate staying in my pajamas all day. 

And if yesterday was any indication of how my summer is going to be, it's going to be a VERY LONG 2 and a half months.

Here are my...

Top 10 Highlights of My First Day of Summer Vacation with 2 Kids
{please insert sarcasm}

10)  Mr. Roller Coaster needed my help lifting something into his truck.  At 5:45 AM.

9)  After finally falling back asleep after helping Mr. RC, Big C and Little C teamed up to alternate giving me a wake up call every 5 minutes until I got up and popped their frozen waffles in the toaster.

8)  Once I got up and started moving around, I realized I could barely raise my arms above my head because I was so sore from our Father's Day tubing adventure.

7)  The only availabilities at the YMCA summer camp for Big C's age group are the exact weeks that he won't be able to attend.

6)  The Y was able to squeeze Little C into the swim lesson class that started yesterday so I rushed home to pack a swim bag.  When I got Little C into the lockerroom to change, I discovered that in my haste I had grabbed 2 bathing suit tops and no bottoms.  My 3-year-old daughter participated in her 1st swim lesson wearing leggings.

5)  During said swim lessons, I swapped my running shoes for flip flops to air out my feet after a sweaty 3-mile run.  When I got home and unpacked my swim bag, I found only 1 running shoe.  So I packed the kids back into the car for our THIRD trip to the Y.

4)  En route to the Y for the third time, the sky opened up with rain.  2 kids, no umbrella, packed parking lot, pouring down rain.  Fun.

3)  I had to spend a significant portion of time on hold for my cable company's customer service to cancel the Mandarin Chinese channel that one of my children managed to order by randomly pushing buttons on the remote.

2)  The kids' love/hate relationship makes them giggle one minute and the next minute all I can hear is screaming and mysterious THUDS coming from their bedrooms.

1)  Still have writer's block.  Hooray!

How is your summer vacation going so far?


Monday, June 20, 2011

Writer's Block


Not the kind of writer's block that makes you crazy for a day and then disappears with a good bottle of wine.  Not the kind of writer's block that gets you stuck on one project but allows another to flow freely.  Not the kind of writer's block that you can just brush aside and say, "Oh well.  Ain't no thing but a chicken wing."

No, I have serious writer's block.

I stare blankly at the computer screen.  I type words only to delete them minutes later.  I brainstorm ideas.  I talk to myself on my digital voice recorder.  I bounce ideas off family and friends.  I print out rough drafts to assess my progress.  I abandon my computer and resort to hand writing.  I throw my red pen across the room.  I sit inside.  I sit outside.  I drink water.  I drink wine.  I find complete silence.  I play music.  I set deadlines.  I ignore deadlines.  Nothing works.  And for the first time since my college days when I found any excuse to avoid writing a term paper, my computer is my enemy.  I avoid it at all costs.  Even if it means an entire day passes with no Facebook.  Oh my gosh, what is wrong with me?!?!?

After getting stuck on one project, I put it aside and started another one.  When I got stuck on that one I shelved it and started yet another one.  Guess what?  Now I have 3 unfinished projects that are begging for my undivided attention like children who are home on summer vacation (which is unfortunate because I actually have 2 children who are home on summer vacation begging for my undivided attention).

So how do I unblock myself?  How do I find my voice again?  How do I learn how to stop pressuring myself?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #41

Happy Friday everyone!  Time for Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #41! 
Your host this week is the always insightful Annoyed Army Wife.  So go on over, link up, and show her some love.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

School's Out for Summer!

Yesterday was my last day of school.  And I have to admit, I was as excited as the kids were at the prospect of a summer without homework, rules, and alarm clocks. 

I've been making a list of all the things I'd like to do while I'm home for the summer, and I can't wait to get started.  Well, maybe I can wait.  I'm using my first official day off to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

The song I'm sharing on Goodnight Moon's What's YOUR Song? Link-Up is self-explanatory.  School's out for summer!!!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top 10 Lessons I've Learned as a Kindergarten Teacher

Tomorrow is my last day of school.  As of tomorrow, I have officially completed my first year of teaching kindergarten.  And oh what an interesting year it's been.

In my years of experience with kids, I've worked with every grade level from 1st grade to 8th.  By the time I finished my student teaching, I knew my best fit would be with 2nd-4th grade.  If I was desperate maybe I'd go as low as 1st grade and as high as 5th.  But never kindergarten. 

Well, what do you know?  Karma hit me, and I found myself in a kindergarten classroom.  And after struggling to find my groove and figuring out how to gain the respect of a room full of 5- and 6-year-olds (and their parents), I suddenly find myself at the end of my first kindergarten school year.

After a year in kindergarten, here are my...

Top 10 Lessons I've Learned as a Kindergarten Teacher

10)  5-year-olds' brains are sponges.  They remember anything that is presented in a fun and interesting way and love to repeat it.  That can be both good and bad so watch what you say.  (Good advice for parents who wonder if their kids repeat things said and done at home.  They do.)

9)  Not a lot of men work with young children.  And when you work in a building full of women, you realize that they can be just as immature as the children they teach.

8)  In most cases, it's best if the kids work out their differences on their own without parental intervention.

7)  Being a kindergarten teacher is the best excuse to read  and reread my favorite children's books.

6)  Kids have a lot to say, and a little attention goes a long way.

5)  At this age, children possess a natural curiosity.  Allow that curiosity to be contagious, and you just might learn something yourself.

4)  Hugs are a necessity.  Except when there's a lice outbreak.

3)  Silliness is a virtue.

2)  It's impossible to hide boogers.

1)  I'm better at this than I thought I would be.

Do you have any life lessons from this school year?


Monday, June 13, 2011


I am probably the least confrontational person on this planet.  I don't like to rock the boat.  I don't like to offend anybody.  I don't like to see anybody being verbally attacked (nor do I like to be verbally attacked myself).  I'm a people pleaser.  I just want everyone to get along.

Despite all that, I do have an opinion.  And I believe that other people should have their opinions as well.  I appreciate differing opinions because they offer a perspective I didn't previously take into consideration.  I don't have to share those people's opinions, but if they're presented in such a way that isn't pushy or accusatory, I'll gladly listen to them.  And I'd like to think that my opinion would be respectfully taken into consideration in return.

I don't typically write about controversial issues. You won't see anything on my blog remotely touching upon politics or religion. I write about my personal feelings, and so far, it seems that those feelings raise very little if any controversy among my readers. 

However, I recently decided to write about a topic that I'm quickly learning is more controversial than I originally thought.  I've shared my idea with only a handful of people, but it seems that suddenly I'm writing about my opinion rather than simply my feelings, a distinction I never really made until now.  And I don't know how I feel about that.

I thought about tossing the entire idea, throwing out the article I've been thinking about and trying to write about for weeks.  I realize now that not everyone is going to agree with my opinion, that for the first time since I started blogging, I might actually get nasty comments from readers because I somehow offended them.  And I don't know how I feel about that.

So what do I do?  Do I revise the article to make it a more feelings piece than an opinion piece?  Do I leave the article as is and prepare to defend myself?  Or do I abandon the topic altogether?  What would you do?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #40

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #40!

Go on over to A Blog a Day While You're Away and link up with Chantal. 

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Alice Bliss": A Book Review

The following is a book review I wrote for the Homefront United Network...

When I first started reading Alice Bliss, a novel by Laura Harrington about a teenage girl coping with her father's deployment to Iraq, I had no intention of getting overly emotional.  I've lived through my husband's deployments.  I've lived vicariously through friends' deployments.  I've read military spouse memoirs about deployments.  This book can't possibly present a perspective of life on the home front that I haven't previously encountered in some way, shape, or form.  Plus, it's a novel.  It's not real.  It's just a story.  Right?

Wrong. It’s not just a story. It did present a different perspective. And I did get overly emotional.

Alice Bliss is your typical 15-year-old girl, trying to figure out who she is and where she fits into this world. Suddenly, her father, a member of the New York National Guard, is deployed to Iraq, and Alice’s world turns upside down. She joins the track team and learns how to drive, while the fighting with her mother escalates and the possibility of love presents itself. These may be common rites of passage for teenage girls, but for Alice, they only make her miss her father even more.

Any military spouse who has waited on the home front during a deployment can relate to the emotions and events described throughout the book. We can empathize with the anticipation of letters in the mailbox and the ambivalence toward newspapers. We know all about the desire to wear our husbands’ clothes and the relief of hearing his voice on the phone. We’ve struggled with finding ways to talk to our kids about where their fathers are and avoiding thoughts about the what-ifs. We’ve wondered how to play the role of both a mother and a father and how to find the strength to carry on. We’ve experienced the fear of hearing that knock on the door and the desperate need to find a sense of normal.

I’ve gone through all of those emotions myself during my husband’s deployments. What I haven’t experienced is those emotions as a teenage girl. At 15 years old, Alice Bliss is old enough to understand where her father is and the possibility that he might not come home, but not quite old enough to know how to cope with it. I couldn’t help but get emotionally involved as Alice tries to keep herself together, keep her family together, and work through her anger, fear, and confusion as she attempts to hold onto her father’s presence through his absence. I wondered how I would have reacted to my father going off to war when I was Alice’s age. And I wondered how my own young daughter would react if she were a teenager in Alice’s shoes and how I would be able to comfort her.

Although Alice Bliss is a fictional character, the story is an accurate representation of what so many military families have endured over the last ten years of war. Well-written and poignant, heartbreaking yet optimistic, the book gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look at life on the home front, a glimpse of the other side of war that the public eye rarely sees. I highly recommend this book. But I also recommend buying a box of tissues to go with it.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Going on a Bloggy Vacation

I was looking at my planner yesterday, and it occurred to me that this is going to be a very busy, stressful, crazy week.  So I decided to go on a little bloggy vacation.  Just for a week.  After I complete the 537 things on my to do list, I promise I'll be back. 

Have a great week, and I'll see you on the flip side!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #39

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #39!

This week's host is Sarah from G.I. Joe's Wife.  So go check her out, link up one of your posts from this week, and hop around to the other bloggers on the list!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Andrea Pearson: Keeper of the Stars

In case you haven't heard, my dear friend over at Goodnight Moon hosts the What's YOUR Song? Link-Up every Thursday.  It's as simple as it sounds: pick a song, post it on your blog, and link it up. 
 The last time I participated in the link up, I shared Miss Willie Brown's "Freeland," a beautiful song about military spouses keeping the home fires burning.  Since then, several anonymous commenters have added songs to my Deployment Songs playlist, one of which I wanted to share today. 
My song choice today is called "Keeper of the Stars" by Andrea Pearson.  I know nothing about the artist, but the song moved me to tears.  If Miss Willie Brown's song is my anthem for military spouses, then Andrea Pearson's song is my tribute to military brats. I dare you to watch without a box of Kleenex.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film."
~ Steven Wright

I have a terrible memory.  And I can't even blame it on old age or motherhood because I've always had a terrible memory.  I hated every history class I took in high school, not because I didn't enjoy learning about the past, but because I couldn't stand being forced to memorize names, dates, and locations.  Memorizing was painful for me.  And sadly, all those names and dates and locations that were crammed into my short term memory before a test all evaporated shortly after I spit them out on paper.

Of course it's only gotten worse as I've gotten older.  I've tried doing all those tricks that experts say will help keep our memories sharp as we age, but they don't seem to help.  I've played word and number games like crossword puzzles and Sudoku.  I use both sides of my brain by periodically getting out of bed on the opposite side or brushing my teeth with my non dominant hand.  I exercise regularly, I get plenty of sleep, and I eat relatively well.  Nothing works.  My memory still stinks.

Most of the time I remember that I forget.  I'm aware that I'm forgetful so I make sure I'm prepared to compensate for it.  I'm rarely caught without a pen and Post-It notes.  I update both a calendar and a daily planner.   I send emails to myself.  And most recently, Mr. Roller Coaster bought me a digital voice recorder for those times when I'm unable to jot things down.  I may have a terrible memory, but at least I remember that I forget.

But then there are times that I don't remember that I forget, times when my memory is so atrocious that I actually forget that I remember.  Case in point, last night I had just allowed my body to totally shut down in bed when I realized I forgot to turn off the hall light.  So I groaned, got up, and turned off the light.  On my way back to my room I realized I had forgotten to turn down the thermostat too, so I took care of that and patted myself on the back for killing 2 birds with 1 trip to the hallway.  I crawled back into bed, grabbed my book, and got 3 sentences in when I thought, "Oh man, I forgot to turn down the thermostat."  Another groan and I'm back in the hallway, only to realize that I had indeed already turned it down.  How could I have forgotten that I remembered the last time I got up?!  Yes, my memory is that bad.

I've resigned myself to the fact that my memory is as fleeting as my 3-year-old daughter's.  I will never remember being alive before the age of 7.  I will never remember any item on my grocery list if, heaven forbid, I leave the list at home.  I will never remember my own cell phone number.  I will never remember details unless I write them down.  And I will certainly never remember all those history facts I memorized in high school.  But hopefully I'll remember the important things in life. 

And if not, at least I have my blog, a digital camera, my newly discovered diary from 1989, and plenty of Post-It notes to help me along the way.

Do you have a sharp memory or are you like me who can't remember anything?


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