Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 10 Summer Goals Revisited

Well, here I am in my last week of summer freedom.  School starts up next week, and I will resume my duties as a kindergarten teacher.  Where in the world did the summer disappear to?!  I have to admit I'm more than ready for my kids to go back to school, but I'm not quite ready to go back myself.
Way back in May, I posted a top 10 list of reasons I couldn't wait until summer as I daydreamed about all the things I planned to do during my break from school.  Since this is my last top 10 list before the school year kicks off, I thought I'd revisit that post and assess my accomplishments.  Did I do everything I hoped to do during my time off from work?
Let's see.  Here are my...

Top 10 Summer Goals Revisited

10) Lazy nights outside with bottles of wine, fireflies, and good conversation...I don't think Mr. Roller Coaster and I did this a single time.  And we even bought new patio furniture!  I'm blaming this fail on the weather.  It was way too hot and sticky to sit outside.  And I think all the mosquitos ate the fireflies.

9) I'll be able to spend more time with my friends, friends I feel like I've neglected since going back to work...I thought I was doing pretty well on this one.  But I just realized that I've been spending time with one friend.  Friend singular.  I've had a blast catching up with my best friend, but sadly, I think I'm still neglecting my other friends. 

8) I'll be able to spend time with own my kids instead of other people's kids...This one definitely came true.  I spent A LOT of time with my kids.  WAY TOO MUCH time with my kids.  So much time that I think we're all sick of each other.

7) I can go to the gym every day and attend all the spinning classes I used to go to...Heck yeah!  I barely missed a day at the gym.  I loved being back in my old spinning classes, I joined a running club, and I made some new friends (which I'll surely neglect once I go back to work).  I'm in the best shape I've been in for over a year!  And now, as far as my pals at the gym are concerned, I'm about to fall off the face of the earth.  I will so miss my daily morning workouts.

6) I won't have to fight with Little C every morning over the clothes she refuses to wear...Who was I kidding wishing for this one?  Every morning is still a fight.  And she still walks out the door wearing leggings in 100 degree heat.  What kid doesn't want to wear shorts in the summertime?  That would be my kid.

5) I won't have to fight with Big C every afternoon over the homework he refuses to complete...The homework fight turned into the Wii/computer fight.  The "But Mom, I don't want to do my homework" routine was replaced by the just as whiny "But Mom, I need to get to the next level on {fill in the blank game}."  I can't decide which is worse.

4) I'll be writing more posts for various websites (and hopefully a book!) instead of lesson plans...I think I actually wrote LESS this summer than I did when I was working.  How is that possible?  This was supposed to be the summer of book writing.  Never got past the rough outline.

3) I can once again spend my days at the community pool...After my daughter almost drowned at swim lessons and my son failed the swim test (he was robbed, he totally passed it!), we didn't spend a whole lot of time at the pool.  Maybe next summer.

2) I'll have FREE TIME. Wow, I almost forgot what that means. I'll have time to read books, shop in real stores instead of virtual ones, and dare I say, relax a little...Free time?  Yeah, that's a myth.  No such thing.  Doesn't exist.  Except for a 4 day vacation, my days were jam-packed with stuff I can't even remember doing.  Did I read more books?  Nope.  Did I shop in real stores?  Let's just say it's a good thing my kids have some weather appropriate school clothes that still fit.  And did I relax a little?  Ok, so maybe I did relax.  A little.

1) No alarms sounding at 5:45 AM!...No alarms.  Just a new puppy in the process of housetraining.  I felt like I had a newborn again.  And soon that alarm will once again be sounding at 5:45 AM while my puppy tells me he has to go potty by sitting on my head.  Well, at least I'll never oversleep.

How was your summer?  Did you do everything you wanted to do?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

Earthquakes and aftershocks and hurricanes, oh my!  Mother Nature doesn't seem to be very happy with the East coast of the United States this week.

This song has been playing in my head ever since I discovered that the rumbling I felt on Tuesday was indeed an earthquake.  Now as we wait to see where Hurricane Irene's path will take her, I kind of feel like we're all waiting for the sky to come tumbling down.  So I couldn't resist posting this song for this week's What's YOUR Song Link-Up over at Goodnight Moon.

For those of you on the East coast, please stay safe and be prepared!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Roller Coaster Facebook Status Updates (Plus a Bonus 5!)

I fell in love with Facebook the second I opened my first account.  In fact, I'm a recovering Facebook addict.  I was wasting so much time reading the status updates of my "friends" and updating my own status that I eventually had to step away from my computer and put myself in social media rehab.  When I resurfaced, I de-friended about 150 people and restricted myself to checking Facebook only 3 times a day and updating my status no more than once a day.  Everything in moderation right? 

I still hang out on Facebook but not nearly as frequently as I used to.  And I still try not to change my status updates more than once or twice a day.  But I do find that sometimes the random spontaneous thoughts that end up on my FB page can and do end up inspiring blog posts.  In fact, just last week one of my status updates inspired a post

So last week, when my son was down for the count with a 102 fever, I thought I'd go back through the last year of my Roller Coaster status updates and pick out my favorites for this week's top 10 list.  How some of these slipped by without turning into a blog post I'll never know.  Maybe I'll refer back to this list when I need some inspiration.

Have you ever gone back and read through your Facebook wall?  I found it pretty interesting.  Although it occurred to me that maybe I like wine a little too much.  Anyway, here are my...

Top 10 Favorite Roller Coaster Facebook Status Updates
{{{Plus an unheard of bonus 5!!!}}}

15)  Reason 897 why it sucks that my husband is gone: It's impossible to put on a kimono by yourself.

14)  Breaking news: The Easter bunny is in prep mode. In other news: Pinot grigio REALLY compliments jellybeans.

13)  I just spent money to download a Miley Cyrus song. I've hit a new low.

12)  I think I might have some dinner with my wine.


11)  My daughter asked me why I'm nicer to the puppy than I am to her. Wow, I should win Mommy of the Year for that one.

10)  I just added 2 things to my to do list AFTER I did them just so I could check something off.

9)  Just got back from a crazy day that included 3 scheduled commitments that required 3 wardrobe changes.  When I finally got home and looked in the mirror I realized my shirt was on backwards.  It's time for wine.

8)  I just found a pair of my husband's underwear under the bed.  If he was home, I'd be cussing him out for not knowing where the hamper is.  But he's not home, so it makes me smile.

7)  I'm testing for report cards, and I asked a student to tell me some words that rhyme with "hit."  Sit, fit, pit, tit.  Yes, my 6-year-old student said the word tit.  How do you NOT laugh at that?!

6)  Only 1 septuagenarian smiled flirtatiously with me at the gym this morning.  I must be losing my touch.

5)  Does Pinot Grigio count as carbo loading for my 5k tomorrow morning?

4)  My 3-year-old daughter just told me that sometimes when our puppy Gunner licks her, she licks him back.  Yes, that's my daughter. 

3)  I love some of the requests I get for my blog...the other day someone emailed to ask if I had any roller coasters to sell.

2)  After teacher appreciation week then mil spouse appreciation day then Mother's Day, I'm feeling pretty spoiled.  So what's on the agenda for this week?  Wine lovers' appreciation day?  Runners' appreciation day?  All blondes are hot day?

1)  I love it when my husband defends himself on my blog by commenting anonymously and then denies it was him. 

What are some memorable Facebook status updates you've written or read?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bookcrossing...Releasing Alice Bliss Into the Wild

A couple of months ago I wrote a book review for a novel called Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington.  (Seriously, if you haven't read it yet, get going!)  Then a few weeks ago, Ms. Harrington emailed me about the Where's Alice Bliss? campaign, a fun way to send copies of the novel to as many countries and U.S. states as possible. Through Bookcrossing.com, copies of Alice Bliss will be registered and tracked as they travel around the world, passing from one reader to the next.  I couldn't resist!  I registered my copy of Alice Bliss and got to work thinking of how I would share it.

I had never heard of Bookcrossing.com but once I played around on the website, I could easily see how people might get addicted to it.  There are a couple of ways you can "release" a book.  You can simply give the book to someone you know or you can get creative with a "wild release."  That basically means you leave it somewhere, anywhere you think someone will "catch" your release.  (And it sounds like people get really into it and leave clues for other locals to find their books.)  Then the fun part is tracking the book as it travels to different random people who hopefully take the time to register it and make journal entries. 

I chose to release Alice Bliss into the wild instead of simply passing it along to a friend.  I thought about leaving it at the YMCA I frequent or a bench at my favorite park or even the waiting room of the car dealership I'll be sitting in today.  But I really wanted the book to go to a military family.  So I took my friend's advice to leave it at a coffee shop one step further.  I left it at a coffee shop next to the commissary on a military base on a Saturday.  I figured there's no way that book would be sitting there for long.

And I was right!  Within a few hours I checked my account on bookcrossing, and sure enough, someone had picked up my book, registered it, and left a journal entry about how excited she was to read it and then pass it along.  I was thrilled to see that the reader is a military daughter herself, which is perfect because the book is about the daughter of a deployed service member.  I can't wait to see where it goes next!

Sound like fun?  Then join in on the Where's Alice Bliss? campaign!  Click here for more info.  You can also register to receive a free copy of the book to read and release by going to Laura Harrington's website.

Have you ever participated in a catch or release at Bookcrossing.com?  What are some unique places you've found or left a book?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Teachers Exist Outside of School...But They May Look a Little Different

Do you remember how weird it was when you were a kid and you ran into your teacher somewhere other than school?  Maybe you saw her at the grocery store or at the mall.  She'd smile and make small talk with your mom as you stood by silently wondering why she wasn't at school even though it was 5 PM on a Saturday.  And like the day you caught your mom strategically placing presents under the Christmas tree while your dad ate Santa's cookies, your visions of a perfect world are dashed as you realize your teacher actually exists outside of the classroom.

Last weekend I dashed the visions of one of my own students in an awkward moment that went way beyond the innocuous meeting in the cereal aisle.  I was running.  But I wasn't just running.  I was sweaty and smelly and red faced and makeup-less and out of breath and in desperate need of a shower. 

I probaby could have (and should have) avoided the whole thing because when I stopped running and approached my former kindergarten student and his entire family, I realized just a second too late that I was so unrecognizable in my current state of yuck that they had no idea who I was.  The surprised mother thankfully made the connection once I started talking, but that little 6-year-old boy just stood there and stared at me like I was Darth Vader singing a Lady Gaga song.  There are just some people that are super cool on their own, but put them together and the result isn't so pretty.

The father must have sensed my discomfort because he graciously encouraged me to continue with my run while he chased after his traumatized son who had raced off on his bike.  As I repositioned my earbuds and attempted to find my pace again, I reassured myself that a chance meeting with a student could have been worse.  I could have been walking down my driveway in my pajamas to retrieve the newspaper.  I could have been at the beach wearing a string bikini.  I could have been singing karaoke while downing my third shot of tequila.

And then I caught of glimpse of my reflection in a car window.  Nope, couldn't have been much worse than this. 

Grabbing some inspiration from the blogging guru of writing prompts, Miss Mama Kat...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

There's a Pirate in the Lobby: A Refresher Course in Adaptability

When I first married the military, I didn't think I had what it takes to be a mil spouse.  But over time I learned the value of adaptability.  Read more in my post for Blue Star Families called There's a Pirate in the Lobby: A Refresher Course in Adaptability.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top 10 Things NOT To Do Before Your Son's 1st Baseball Practice of the Season

Yesterday was Big C's first baseball practice of the season.  I'd like to say my lack of preparation for the first practice was due to my lack of experience as a baseball mom, but this is his third season playing coach pitch after 2 seasons of t-ball.  I have no excuse.  So I thought I'd make myself a little list to refer to in the Spring, when I will undoubtedly find myself once again scrambling to NOT be that mom who shows up with her son wearing cleats that are 2 sizes too small and a shirt that was pulled from the hamper.

Here are my...

Top 10 Things NOT To Do Before Your Son's 1st Baseball Practice of the Season

10)  Don't serve dinner too late on practice night, especially if you have the world's slowest eater shooting rigatoni out of his mouth across the table at his sister.  You'll either have to rush him through the meal, or he won't finish and then he'll spend half the practice running off the field begging you for food you didn't bring.

9)  Don't even consider signing up to bring snacks to the first game.  (Always sign up for the second game.  That way you can see how lame or awesome the first mom's snack was and plan accordingly.)

8)  Don't forget chairs!  Unless you like sitting on the ground with the players' younger siblings instead of having a grown up conversation with the other moms.

7)  Don't let your 3-year-old daughter wear her favorite yellow dress.  It will no longer be yellow by the end of her big brother's practice.

6)  Don't forget to remind everyone to use the bathroom before leaving the house.  I don't mind letting the boy make a pit stop in the woods, but it's not so fun with the girl popping a squat in that yellow dress.

5)  Don't assume the thunder and pouring down rain mean practice is canceled. Coach doesn't cancel practice unless there's a hurricane.

4)  Don't bring your 14 week old puppy to practice.  (Read: Don't let your husband bring your puppy because you'll be holding the leash for 2 hours trying to keep the puppy out of the mud from the rain that didn't cancel practice.)

3)  Don't wait until 15 minutes before practice starts to locate all uniform necessities.  How do athletic cups seem to vanish into thin air?!

2)  Don't wait until the day before to pick up a baseball mitt and have a catch with your son.  You might feel that was enough to claim you "worked with him all summer" but little boys have big mouths and they have no shame in ratting out their parents.

1)  Don't leave the unused and forgotten bat bag in the rain one random day without checking on the contents afterward.  Yes, mold does grow on baseball mitts. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

A New School Year, A New Student, A New Concern

The beginning of a new school year is in the air.  New supplies.  Renewed energy.  A fresh start.  As a kindergarten teacher, I'm excited to see what this new school year will bring.  And I'm excited to meet my new students. 

I spent the weekend learning about my rising kindergarteners through their paperwork.  And my stomach twisted when I discovered that the father of one of my students was killed in Iraq.

I don't know why it never occurred to me that, at some point in my teaching career, I would have a student in my class who lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan.  After all, I live in a military town.  Last year the father of one of my students was deployed the entire school year.  Another student, at 5 years old, could locate Iraq on a world map.  Two other teachers had deployed husbands.  Deployments were all around me.  But they always ended with a happy homecoming.

I don't even know this little girl, but I already feel protective of her.  What will she say if a classmate asks where her father is?  How will she act when she sees other daddies with their kids?  Does she remember her dad?  Does she talk about him?  Should I avoid the topic of fathers altogether?

Sometimes I wonder if I should read my students' files because I don't want to form judgments about them (or their parents) before I even meet them.  But I know I have to read them.  I have to know about the peanut allergies and the hearing impairments and the recent divorces.  All of these things affect how students learn and/or interact in the classroom, and therefore affect how I teach and interact with them. 

So I'm glad that I know about this gold star family, but because I have no idea what to expect, I'm not going to make any expectations.  For all I know, this little girl will teach me a thing or two about life.  I can't wait to meet her.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Keeping Families Connected During Deployments

My latest post for Fort Bragg Patch went up yesterday!  It's called Keeping Families Connected During Deployments.  I'd love it if you would stop by and visit me over there today.  I'd love it even more if you would leave a comment or click on "recommend."  (I'm turning off my comments here so go on over and leave me some love at Patch!) 
Thanks!  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Maroon 5: Moves Like Jagger

The other day I heard this song in spinning class, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.  It's now on my running playlist, scheduled around Mile 1 to get me started and again at Mile 6 for a second wind.  Might even put it on a third time at Mile 12 and half to get me to the finish line of my upcoming half marathon.  Yes, that's how much I love this song.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

USAA Military Spouse Community

I'm so excited to share that I was featured on the USAA Military Spouse Community!
Have you heard about this community yet?  If you haven't, you need to go check it out.  Not only is it a place for mil spouses to reach out to each other, but they just kicked off a new series about the emotional cycles of deployment.  Have you ever wondered if what you were feeling is normal?  Well, you're not the only one, and that's what this series is about.
The introduction post to the series is called "Dear Deployment: Is This Normal?" and I'm in the spotlight for the post called "Hearing the News."  So go on over and visit USAA and share your thoughts on the emotional cycles of deployment!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top 10 TV Shows I Wish Would Make a Comeback

I take my exercising very seriously, especially when it comes to running.  But yesterday was my day off from running, and I decided to hit the elliptical machine.  And because exercise goes by so much faster with distractions, I chose the elliptical with the television.

Normally if I have the opportunity to watch tv while I'm working out, I'll flip back and forth between Fox News and CNN.  But yesterday I really didn't think that 30 minutes of stock market chatter was going to motivate me through my work out.  So I channel surfed until I found something a little more motivating: Will and Grace.  Nothing like laughter to distract you from your sore hamstrings.

I don't know your thoughts on Will and Grace, but I've always thought it was hilarious.  In this particular episode, Jack and Karen spent their days lamenting the end of their favorite television shows.  I don't watch much television myself, but I am very loyal to those shows that manage to suck me in.  And if I were at the water cooler with Jack and Karen, I'd definitely join in on their pity party over the demise of certain shows. 

Here are my...

Top 10 TV Shows I Wish Would Make a Comeback

Will and Grace
(Of course I had to include Will and Grace...it inspired this post!)

Growing Pains
(I learned A LOT from the Seavers)

(I'm not a big fan of sci-fi, but this show made me think.  Every now and then I like to think.)

Family Ties
(Learned a lot from the Keatons too)

(I laugh just thinking about this show.)

Charlie's Angels
(Who doesn't love strong, intelligent, beautiful, kick-ass women?!)

(I know I know. A lot of the 24 scenarios were ridiculously unrealistic, and Jack Bauer said, "I give you my word" just a few too many times.  But there was action and suspense in every episode.)

(This show got me through college, the post-graduation limbo, and the beginning of my marriage.  I cried when I heard it was canceled.)

Sex and the City
(I have fond memories of watching my girls every Sunday night with a glass of wine.  And I'll pretend that 2nd Sex and the City movie never happened.)

(Seinfeld is the epitome of comedy.  I think I've seen every episode at least 3 times, and I've been known to relate events in my life to specific Seinfeld episodes.  Thank goodness for syndication.)

What tops your list?


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Deadliest Day

I haven't been writing much about military life lately.  My husband isn't deployed, and we have no PCS's on the horizon.  To be honest, I've been feeling almost "normal," like your average wife and mother rather than a military spouse navigating the ups and downs of military life.

And then came the deadliest day.

My heart stopped when I read about the Chinook helicopter that was shot down in Afghanistan southwest of Kabul on Saturday, killing 30 American service members and 8 Afghans.  It was the deadliest day for U.S. forces in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.  And it was a painful reminder that I am not a "normal" wife, that I am indeed part of a military family, a family that includes not just my service member husband, but the military community as a whole.

As I read online articles and flipped through news channels throughout the weekend, I tried to wrap my head around this tragedy.  How could something like this happen?  How can 38 families cope with their devastating losses?  Does the Taliban feel a sufficient sense of revenge because 22 of the Americans who died were Navy SEALs?  How did our country go from celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden just a few short months ago to mourning the lives lost in the deadliest day this war has seen?

My heart breaks for the families of these fallen heroes.  They are living every military family's biggest fear, the fear we all have from the second our spouses deploy until the second those boots are sitting safely in our doorways.  That knock on the door could happen to any one of us. 

As more details are revealed about the crash and the individuals who were killed, I'll continue to keep the families in my thoughts and prayers.  Meanwhile, I'll remember to hold my own family a little bit tighter.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Josh Groban: War at Home

I've been wanting to share this song for weeks now, but time tends to get away from me and it seems that if it ain't written in my planner, it ain't gettin' done.  You know how it goes.  But I'm finally posting this video from the 4th of July for this week's edition of Goodnight Moon's What's YOUR Song Link-Up.

{{{Yes, I'm posting another military-related song.  And yes, you should go grab a box of tissues.}}} 

Here is Josh Groban's "War at Home." 


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Top 10 Highlights of My Summer Vacation Turned Staycation Turned Vacation

Remember how last week I was trying to figure out what to do on my staycation after canceling my vacation?  Well, it turns out that Mr. Roller Coaster and I were able to go on an impromptu vacation after all.  So we ended up with a summer vacation turned staycation turned vacation.

After some internet research on pet-friendly vacation spots within a few hours from our house, we packed our bags and headed out for 2 nights (which we ended up extending to 3 nights).  Two grown-ups, 1 dog, no children.  It was awesome.

Our stay/vacation is now over.  Mr. Roller Coaster is back at work, and the kids returned from Camp Grandparents.  As I try to get back into the swing of reality again, I can't help but continue to think about my...

Top 10 Highlights of My Summer Vacation Turned Staycation Turned Vacation

10) Mr. Roller Coaster and I were able to spontaneously go to the movies without worrying about baby-sitters.

9)  I was able to watch Good Morning America while eating breakfast in bed.  What a nice way to wake up in the morning (as opposed to kids fighting over the remote while they ask where their waffles are and the dog chews up my rug).

8)  I remembered what it's like to sit on the beach and, well, just sit. 

7)  The best peel and eat shrimp ever!

6)  I tried something I've never tried before: surfing.  Mr. Roller Coaster said it wasn't much of an attempt and that I gave up too soon, but it was an attempt nonetheless.  Next time I'm sure I'll at least get up on my knees before the waves knock me on my ass.

5)  I read an entire magazine and a book and a half.  It usually takes me 2 months to read that much.

4)  Mr. Roller Coaster and I rented scooters to do some exploring. Have you ever driven a scooter? I hit 30 mph and felt like Tom Cruise feeling the need for speed.

3)  Our vacation spot was so pet-friendly we were able to take Gunner with us everywhere.  I'm not kidding.  Everywhere.  I was dancing at a bar to live music with my puppy.

2)  I felt like Mr. Roller Coaster and I were boyfriend and girlfriend instead of an old married couple. 

1)  I spent 6 whole days enjoying the perfect combination of the quiet of an empty house, the ease of child-free shopping and home improvements, and the relaxation of beach bumhood. 

What are some highlights of your summer so far?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where's Alice Bliss?

A couple of months ago I wrote a review for the novel Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington.  Have you read it yet?

Well, you should!  Not only is it a great read, but now you have the opportunity to participate in a fun new adventure called Where's Alice Bliss?

Where’s Alice Bliss? is a campaign to send copies of the novel to as many countries and U.S. states as possible. Through bookcrossing.com, copies of Alice Bliss will be registered and tracked as they travel around the world, passing from one reader to the next. Your bookcrossing ID (BCID) allows you to follow your book wherever it goes. It’s like a passport enabling your book to travel the world without getting lost. Once your book is registered, you will leave it in a public place with a note inside for someone else to find, read, and pass on, like a modern-day message in a bottle. You will be part of an international movement encouraging readers to read, register, and release books for others to enjoy.

Sounds fun doesn't it?  Here's how to join in...

If you are a teenage or adult book blogger, you are invited to request a copy of Alice Bliss through lauraharringtonbooks.com. Click on the “Where’s Alice Bliss?” page and fill out the submission form. The copy you receive will have a bookcrossing book plate on the inside with our “Where’s Alice Bliss?” logo. Please go to http://www.bookcrossing.com/ to register your book and get your book’s unique bookcrossing ID (BCID). Put the BCID in the space provided on the bookmark. This number will allow you to track your book’s journey.

Upon receiving your copy of Alice Bliss, you should read and review the book before logging on to bookcrossing.com and following the instructions to “release” your book to someone new. Photograph or video your “release” and upload your images to your blog and/ or Tumblr account and send us a link.

So what are you waiting for?  Go over to Laura Harrington's website and get your copy of Alice Bliss!

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