Monday, January 31, 2011

Military Family Voices Being Heard

The military spouse community was abuzz last week.  Why, you ask?  Because military families were featured on one of the largest public platforms in this day and age: Oprah.

I haven't watched Oprah in years, and unfortunately I didn't learn about this particular show until hours after it aired when I checked my messages and heard my mother-in-law telling me to turn on my tv.  But fortunately, millions of other Americans DID catch the show. 

"The Bravest Families in America."  That's what the show was called.  First Lady Michelle Obama and journalists Tom Brokaw and Bob Woodward joined Oprah in honoring military families and discussing the challenges we face.  And although I didn't see the show in its entirety, seeing the preview and the brief heart-wrenching clips online left no doubt in my mind that the struggles we endure as military families are finally being noticed.

In a survey released by Blue Star Families, 92 percent of military family respondents indicated that they felt the general public doesn't truly understand or appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families.  Yes I did fill out that survey.  Yes I am part of that 92%.  I don't think the general public has any idea what military families go through.  And over the years I've learned not to bother talking to my civilian friends about military life because they just don't get it.

But maybe all of that is changing.  Oprah's show aired just days after President Obama released his report, Strengthening Our Military Families:  Meeting America’s Commitment, detailing his approach to supporting military families.  The report outlines 4 specific priorities:

        1. Enhance the well-being and psychological health of the military family.
        2. Ensure excellence in military children’s education and their development.
        3. Develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses.
        4. Increase child care availability and quality for the Armed Forces.

When I first read this, I thought, wow, someone did their research because these are definitely issues I'd love to see addressed.  But my second thought was, hmmm, how are these priorities going to be accomplished?  How exactly does the President expect to "enhance the well-being and psychological health of the military family?"  And how will he "ensure excellence in military children's education and their development?"  Quite frankly, I have no idea.  But for now, I'm content knowing that we're even a blip on his radar. 

Between the President of the United States and Oprah (because, really, isn't Oprah just as influential as the POTUS?), I think word might start spreading that military families really are "the bravest families in America" and we need all the support we can get.  In fact, I think Americans are already starting to take notice.  After Oprah and Michelle Obama mentioned Blue Star Families on the show, BSF became inundated with new volunteers.  I'd say that's a good start.

If you saw it, what did you think about that Oprah show?  If you're a mil spouse, what do you think about the president's report concerning military families?




Sunday, January 30, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 30

 
 
PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 30: I am thankful that the weather was finally mild enough to allow my kids to spend the entire day outside and for me to run on pavement instead of a treadmill.
 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #21 and Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In #28

It's another Friday and another Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup! 
 


 
 Make sure you link up one of your posts with this week's hostess, Katie over at Like Sunshine After Rain!
 
 
And it's time for Wife of a Sailor's Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In! This week's questions are...
 




 
1.  If you were a famous movie star, what types of movies would you star in?
Quirky independent films.
 

2.  What is a vacation you would like to take if money were no object?
Whatever beautiful, secluded, exotic island my husband and I could find, with a room overlooking an expanse of clear water and our own personal hot tub, a massage therapist on call 24/7, and room service that includes a lot of lobster and endless wine.

 
3.  Did you have pets growing up?
My first pet was a guinea pig named Gus.  When I was 8, we got a Great Dane, one of the dumbest yet kindest dogs.  He was awesome!  I'll never forget using him to do a photo how-to report in the 5th grade: how to take care of a pet.  I still have those pictures of me walking him and brushing him and shaking his paw. 

 
4.  What do you do for exercise?
Anything I can these days!  But mostly running.  Before I went back to work, I took spinning classes, but now I can't find one that fits into my schedule.  I also swim, but it's been awhile.  Who the heck wants to put on a Speedo when it's 30 degrees outside?  When I'm desperate, I do my Wii Fit or maybe an old Denise Austin bootcamp DVD.

 
5.  What is the best piece of advice you've ever received as a MilSpouse?
It's not so much advice as a quote: "You don't know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have."  I think of that quote whenever someone asks me how I do it, how I deal with deployments and PCS'es and single parenting.  Over the years, I've learned a whole lot about my own reserves of strength. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blizzard Bloghop!


Have you heard about the Blizzard Bloghop?  Ann Marie over at Household 6 Diva is hosting this awesome blog hop so go on over and join in!  Just make sure you post a brief introduction about yourself, link up at Household 6 Diva, and enjoy the meet and greet throughout the weekend.


I'll keep my intro short and sweet...I go by Wife on the Roller Coaster, and I blog about whatever comes to mind.  I'm a military spouse, a mother of a 6-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, a kindergarten teacher, a freelance writer, and of course, a blogger.  I may be a teacher by trade, but I'm a writer at heart.  I've written for awesome websites like Blue Star Families, PBS's POV blog Regarding War, and Mamapedia.  Hopefully one of these days I'll get around to writing that novel that's completely written in my head.


That's me in a nutshell.  If you're stopping by from the blog hop, leave me a comment to say hello.  You can also find me at my Blog Frog community, my Facebook page, and Twitter.





Thanks for stopping by the roller coaster!





Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 26

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 26: I am thankful that I found the motivation and energy to go to the gym after putting the kids to bed.  Nothing like a 3 and a half mile run to end a long day!
 
 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 10 Pros and Cons of Aging

Yesterday I wrote a letter to that evil Aging Process, requesting that she please take it easy on me.  Well, the ladies over at Strong Spouses...Army Strong left me a comment and a great suggestion for my Top 10 list today:  "Maybe it can be about the top joys of aging to help you find a little light in it!"  What a great idea, I thought.
 
 
So I sat down to compose my top 10 list of not-so-bad things about aging, and you know what?  I honestly could not come up with 10!  Isn't that sad?  Therefore, I had to slightly alter their idea.
 
 
Thanks for the suggestion ladies!  Here are my...
 
 
Top 10 Pros and Cons of Aging
 
 

10)  CON : Age is gradually stealing my memory.


9)  PRO: Age is gradually offering me wisdom.


8)  CON: My body doesn't bounce back from illness, injury, or a tough workout as quickly as it used to.


7)  PRO: I take better care of myself and my health.


6)  CON: I've seen a lot of friends come and go in my life.


5)  PRO: I can recognize which friendships to hold on to and which ones to let go.


4)  CON: I wonder where the years have gone.


3)  PRO: I no longer take time for granted.

2)  CON: I'm watching myself change on the outside. And I don't like it.


1)  PRO: I've learned who I am on the inside.  And I like it.


What are some of your pros and cons of aging?  Do you have more pros or cons?



Monday, January 24, 2011

Dear Aging Process



Dear Aging Process,

I don't know exactly when you 1st became visible in my life, but I'm beginning to see you more and more frequently.  I see you in the mirror as I apply makeup to cover you up.  I see you in the tiny laugh lines around my husband's eyes when he smiles.  I see you when cashiers at Wal-Mart call me ma'am and then fail to card me for a bottle of wine.  I see you as friends gear up to celebrate their 40th birthdays.  And most recently, I see you when the baby-sitter comes over, and despite the fact that I feel as if it wasn't so long ago that I was as young and carefree as she is, I just realized she's closer in age to my son than she is to me.

I never thought I'd be the type of person who would be bothered by you.  I thought I'd gracefully accept the wrinkles and the grey hairs and chalk them up to a life well lived.  Although I have yet to see a grey hair on my head or noticeable wrinkles, and I have over a half a decade before I'll be joining my friends in their 40's, I have suddenly begun feeling OLD.  And I have a feeling I'm not going to be so gracefully accepting of you as you continue to make yourself more visible.
So Aging Process, could you please slow down a little bit?  I may be young at heart, but that doesn't make the age defying moisturizers any cheaper.

Thanks,
Wife on the RC

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project Gratitude

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 23: I am thankful that Big C's 1st playdate with a friend from school was so successful.  No fights! 
 
I am thankful to knock some big ticket items off my to-do list. 
 
I am thankful for an awesome baby-sitter. 
 
I am thankful for a fun dinner with old friends and new. 
 
I am thankful I'll be starting my week off rested and stress-free.
 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #20 and Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In #27

This week's host for Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #20 is Kathryn over at Singing Through the Rain.  Make sure you link up one of your posts from this week at her blog!
 



And don't forget about Wife of a Sailor's Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In #27

 Here are this week's questions...




 
1.  What do you usually want to know about someone when meeting them for the first time?
 
I believe people say a lot about themselves without ever saying a word.  When I first meet someone, I can tell a lot about their personalities by the strength of their handshakes, the sincerity of their smiles (if there is a smile), and the presence or absence of eye contact.  So it doesn't take long for me to know what I want to know about a new acquaintance.
 
2.  Would you rather know everything about your spouse, or be regularly surprised?
 
I like learning as we go.  We've been married for over 10 years, and I still feel like I'm finding out more about him.  I think it keeps the marriage fresh.  Can you imagine knowing everything about a man after the first date and that's it?  Life would be way too boring and predictable.
 
3.  If you could live in one city for the rest of your life, where would you live?
 
Based on all the cities I've previously lived in, I would say Greenville, South Carolina.  Based on all the cities I've visited, maybe Roanoke, Virginia.  I'm definitely a Yankee turned Southern Girl.
 
4.  When you go out of town, what one material thing do you ALWAYS take?
 
Reading material.  I read when my husband is driving.  I read when I'm on an airplane.  I read at the beach. I read in hotel rooms. I read before bed.  Heck, I can't even sit at the bus stop without a magazine.  So you won't catch me on a trip without something to read.
 
5.  Using no more than 10 nouns, and ONLY nouns, describe yourself.
(This one is harder than it sounds!)
Female
Blonde
Mother
MilSpouse
Writer
Teacher
Runner
Scatterbrain
Friend
Smiler
 
 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 20


 
PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 20: I am thankful that my day started with a cuddle party in my bed.
 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 19

 
PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 19: I am thankful my sinuses haven't exploded yet.  I'm thankful for Aleve Sinus and Cold, the sole reason I was semi-functioning at work today.  And I'm thankful for the very cozy bed I'm about to crawl into.
 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top 10 Reasons I Like My Dad (A Big C Publication)

My kids don't like me very much.  When I turn the tv off, I hear, "Mom, I don't like you!"  When I serve something unedible for dinner, "Mom, I don't like you!"  And when I, God forbid, tell them to clean up the disaster areas they call bedrooms, it's a whole bunch of "Mom, I don't like you!"


Mr. Roller Coaster doesn't get much lovin' these days either.  But fortunately my son is able to come up with some things he likes about his father.  I'm letting him take over the top 10 list today.  Here are Big C's...


Top 10 Reasons I Like My Dad

10)  I like his haircut a lot.


9)  He takes me on boys' nights.


8)  He plays Wii with us.


7)  He wrestles with us.


6)  I go places with him like Home Depot, golf, and laser tag.


5)  We go on bike rides together.  And this one time, he took me to [a really cool park] to practice when I was training with moving obstacles.


4)  He reads me bedtime stories.


3)  He gives money to me and my sister because we do yard work.


2)  He lets us watch movies that Mom doesn't like.


1)  He says I love you all the time.


{I wanted to include my daughter in this list as well, but when I repeatedly asked her what she liked about her daddy, she repeatedly replied, "I like nothing about my daddy."  Finally, the last time I asked her, I got a better answer: "Dad's my cowboy."}


{{And by the way, this post was originally supposed to be about why my kids like ME, but sadly, they were unable to collectively come up with 10 reasons.}} 





Monday, January 17, 2011

Date Night Attempt #2

Last month Mr. Roller Coaster and I attempted to go out on a date night.  However, it ended up in the toilet.  Literally.  I spent our romantic night trapped in a hotel room listening to him vomit out a stomach bug. 

Since we're long overdue for a night out, I booked a baby-sitter shortly after returning from our Christmas vacation.  Saturday night was our big night out.  But the date was doomed before it even started.

During date night prep, my job is to book the sitter.  Mr. Roller Coaster's job is to book the dinner reservations.  By the time Wednesday night rolled around, I assumed he had taken care of his end of the deal.  I was mistaken.  Time for an e-minder.  Subject line: MAKE DINNER RESERVATIONS FOR 6:30!!! 

Hours later I received a reply to said email sharing the news that we had dinner reservations at 5:00 at fill-in-the-blank cool local restaurant, despite the fact that we had a long conversation the previous night about how the sitter wasn't arriving until 6:00 because Mr. Roller Coaster would be at a birthday party with Little C until after 6:00.  He attempted to call the restaurant back and take the 6:45 block that had also been offered to him, but by then it was taken.

That was Thursday.  On Friday, Mr. Roller Coaster, who couldn't find a single nice restaurant that had reservations available, informed me that a buddy would be spending a couple of nights with us.  Starting Saturday.  Attach 3rd wheel.


To top it all off, the night ended with a busted lip.  I was walking Big C back to bed after taking him to the bathroom when he tripped and fell, landing directly on his mouth.  Blood pooled inside his mouth as he screamed and I tried to figure out where the blood was coming from.  After ice, ibuprofen, and some TLC, I finally cuddled Big C back to sleep with a loose baby tooth that was even looser and a very fat lip.


At least the night was an improvement over our last attempt at date night.  (Honestly, I don't think it could get much worse than vomit.)  It wasn't exactly seeping with romance, but I really shouldn't complain too much.  After several attempts, the 3 of us found a place to eat.  Although I would have preferred to spend a rare dinner without my kids at a restaurant that didn't have booths filled with other people's kids, the food was delicious.  Although I got my fill of boy talk, it really was nice catching up with an old friend we haven't seen in years.  And although I couldn't hear anything over the din of screaming football fans in the sports bar we stopped in at for after dinner drinks, it was fun going out on the town again.

So our 2nd attempt at a date night in less than a month was better than the first, but hardly ideal.  Let's hope our next attempt will include no vomit, no restaurant waiting lists, no third party, no children, no boy talk, no screaming drunk people, and no busted lips.  And maybe we'll stay out past 9:00 PM.

Third time's a charm right?


What was your worst date night?



 



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 16

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 16: I am thankful for a weekend spent catching up with friends, wine that flows freely, and the one restaurant in the entire city that didn't require advance reservations.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In #26 and Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #19

Wife of a Sailor is back with Mil Spouse Friday Fill-In #26!  Here are this week's questions...
 

 


 
1.  What are you looking forward to most in 2011? (from Jessica Lynn Writes)
 
 I'm looking forward to simply seeing where life is going to take me.  And being the matron of honor in the wedding of 1 of my best friends is going to be awesome too.  And of course the Milblogging Conference in DC.  Wow, it's going to be a fun year!

 
2.  What is something random you do on a boring night when your significant other is away? (from Lovin Ma Soldier)
 
I pour a glass of wine, crank up my Ruminations playlist, and write, write, write until I can't write no more.
 
 
3.  What has been your greatest adventure as a MilSpouse?  (from Misadventures of An Army Momma)
 
That's a tough one to narrow down.  I'd have to say moving to Japan.  Definitely not something I would have done if not for my marriage to the military.

 
4.  What is the ugliest fashion trend you ever bought into (I'd like to make fun of you, so can you please provide a picture as well)?  (from More Than An Army Wife)
 
I grew up in New Jersey in the 80's (need I say more?).  I had mile high bangs held in place by a half a bottle of hairspray.  I was, as Mr. Roller Coaster likes to joke, a Chicken Head.  Yes, my curling iron was my best friend.
 
 
5.  What was the high point of last month?
 
Spending a self-indulgent, relaxing 2 weeks off from work with my family, doing nothing but being lazy and recharging my batteries.
 
Don't forget, it's also Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #19!  This week's host is Nicole over at Flip Flops and Combat Boots so go link up!
 


Have a great weekend!


 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 13

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 13: I am thankful for the surprise visit at work from Mr. Roller Coaster that brightened my day. 
 
I'm also thankful for the pizza place down the road that cooked me dinner tonight because I was too tired to cook it myself.
 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 12

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 12: I am thankful for a girls' night out!  Not only did I drink good wine and eat good food with good company, but I also finally got the name of a good dentist. 
 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 11

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 11: I am thankful I found the remote.  Quite frankly, I don't know how to use the tv without it.
 

Top 10 Must-Have Songs on my Sweat-It-Out Playlist

I love to work out.  But I can't work out without music.  Somehow, running on a treadmill is just boring and painful without music to keep me going.
 
 
Here are my...
 
Top 10 Must-Have Songs on my Sweat-It-Out Playlist
 


10)  Let's Get It Started -- Black Eyed Peas

9)  Brick By Boring Brick -- Paramore

8)  Mr. Brightside -- The Killers

7)  You Give Love a Bad Name -- Bon Jovi

6)  All the Right Moves -- OneRepublic

5)  Go Your Own Way -- Fleetwood Mac

4)  Bring Me to Life -- Evanescence

3)  Raise Your Glass, So What, U + Ur Hand -- P!nk (yes, I know that's 3 songs, but they're all equally essential)

2)  Show Me What I'm Looking For -- Carolina Liar

1)  Bad Romance, Just Dance, Poker Face, Paparrazi -- Lady GaGa (again, multiple songs by 1 artist, but all absolutely essential for a run)


***Honorable Mentions include Daughtry, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Madonna, and the Mamma Mia soundtrack***


I'm always looking for songs to add to my workout playlist.  What songs pump you up?





Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy 1st Blogoversary to Me!

Today is the 1st blogoversary of Riding the Roller Coaster!
 


 

It's hard to believe it was a year ago today that I took the leap into the vast blogosphere with my first blog post. I had never read a blog before. I had no idea how to design a blog or gain followers.  I just felt the need write. Frequently. In a free association kind of way. I had just watched the movie "Julie and Julia" and my mother-in-law had just given me Stephanie O'Dea's cookbook "Make It Fast, Cook It Slow" which was a result of her popular blog. And I thought, hmmm, I could write a blog. That sounds like fun.


But I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I knew I wanted to have a military spouse slant, but my husband wasn't deployed {yet} and I didn't think I could sustain a blog about ironing his uniforms and my weekly trips to the commissary. I also didn't want to write about the minute details of my daily life, which would bore even myself to tears. I needed a thing. A selling point. A hook. My life by itself seemed way too mundane without a thing.


Julie Powell challenged herself to cook like Julia Child, and Stephanie O'Dea challenged herself to use her slow cooker every day, so I thought maybe a self-imposed challenge could be my thing.  My challenge?  To try something new every day. Each day was a new operation, a new way to bring me out of my comfort zone.


I completed 8 weeks of daily new things and then 7 weeks of weekly new things before abandoning my challenge. I eventually realized that a) I actually had more to write about than I originially thought, and b) I was running out of realistic ideas for new things to do.  My challenge lasted almost 4 months, which isn't very long, but long enough to get my writing feet wet. And although my primary purpose in creating the challenge was to give me something to blog about, it also truly helped me bust out of my sheltered comfort zone and do some interesting things in the process.


Some of the daily operations were short-lived and quickly forgotten, like:

Operation: Documentation {when I vowed to take a picture every day for a year}

Operation: Edification {when I attended a writers' group meeting...and never went back}

Operation: Conciliation {when I tried to go a whole day without yelling at my children}

Operation: De-Carbonation {when I attempted to give up Diet Pepsi}

Operation: Anti-Paper Procrastination {when I vowed to start reading the entire Sunday paper...on Sunday}

Operation: Idealization {when I tried not to complain all day}

Operation: Work Station {when I created a writing area for myself...which has long since disappeared under a clutter of junk}.


Some of the operations ended up sticking with me for long-term enjoyment, like:

Operation: De-Pacification {when I cured Little C of her binky habit}

Operation: Cultivation {when I bought plants and hoped to turn my black thumb green... yes, they're still alive and thriving}

Operation: Appreciation {when I made a massive list of everything I'm thankful for}

Operation: Encapsulation {when I made a time capsule with my kids...I'm sure we'll all get a good chuckle from its contents when we open it in 10 years}

Operation: Elucidation {when I wrote a letter to my future self and stuck it inside that time capsule}.


And 1 operation even changed my life:

Operation: Application {when I decided to go back to work and completed a job application}
 
 
 I may not challenge myself to do something new every day anymore, I may not post as frequently as I once did, and I may not have a thing, but I'm thrilled with the direction my blog has taken.  Riding the Roller Coaster has been an amazing experience.  I can't wait to look back at where the ride has taken me by the time my 2nd blogoversary comes rolling around!
 
 




Thank you so much to all of my loyal readers! Thank you for being so supportive, so motivating, and such great company.  I've loved getting to know you, reading your comments, and exchanging emails.  Blogging wouldn't be as much fun as it is without YOU.
 
And on that note...
 
PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 10: I am thankful for my blog, for the chance to share my thoughts, for the writing opportunities that have fallen in my lap, and for the friends I've made along the way. 
 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 9

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 9: I am thankful that the checkout lines at Wal-Mart weren't as ridiculously long as they usually are on Sundays.  I'm also thankful for People magazine keeping me occupied while I waited and updating me on Hollywood gossip.  (Did you know that Reese Witherspoon is engaged?  I really should know these things.  After all Reese will be playing me in the movie of my life.  Or Drew Barrymore.  Haven't decided yet.  But I digress.)
 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 8

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 8: I am thankful for the free child care at my gym that allows me to start my weekends off with an invigorating workout (and my kids start their weekends off with a mass playdate!).
 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 7

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 7: I am thankful for a silly movie, a big bowl of popcorn, and hearty laughs.
 

Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #18

It's time for Mil Spouse Weekly Roundup #18!  There was a little bit of confusion about the host this week, so I'm hosting at the last minute.  (Don't worry, I'll keep the Linky open for a full 24 hours so it will still be open tomorrow.)
 
I think you all know the drill by now.  (And if you don't, check out my original post about the Roundup.)  Link up your favorite post from this week and then go and visit the other lovely ladies.  Have fun!!!



.
Next week's host is Nicole over at Flip Flops and Combat Boots so make sure you check her out!


 
 
 
 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Got Meme?

I love blog memes. And there are a ton of them out there in the blogosphere.  In fact, last year, I spent an entire week posting nothing but responses to memes.  Not only are they a great way to check out other blogs, but they also help stir up some creativity. 
 
Lately, I've been in some SERIOUS need of creativity stirring.  I'm even considering repeating my week of ultimate meme participation just to get my brain working again.  So I'm wondering...do you meme?  Which ones do you participate in?
 
Moving on...


PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 6: I am thankful that the girl who offered to baby-sit my kids months ago was still willing to work us into her rotation.  Date night next weekend!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 5

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 5: I am thankful for my Wii Fit that gets my heart rate pumping on those days I don't have the motivation to get to the gym.
 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Project Gratitude Day 4

PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 4: I am thankful that Big C is old enough and willing to read Little C a bedtime story.  I am thankful that they both enjoy this sibling story time so much that I can just sit back and listen.
 

Top 10 List of My New Year's Resolutions

I read once that the average date Americans abandon their New Year’s resolutions is February 17. Hmm, those declarations of life-changing goals don’t seem to last very long. Yet we continue to make those resolutions year after year, setting personal goals as if buying a new calendar is sufficient motivation to attain them.

I’ve never been particularly serious about sticking to New Year’s resolutions. In fact, most years, I don’t even bother to make any. But last year, I felt I needed a change in my life. Maybe change is too strong of a word. Let’s call it movement. I needed some movement in my life. Some stretching of unused muscles. Some forward momentum. A swift kick in the ass. So I made a short list of realistic, attainable resolutions in the hopes of movement.

I won’t go into that list, and I won’t go into detail about which ones I stuck to and which ones I abandoned (yes, I did abandon some by February 17). But I will say that I stuck to the important ones. And I found that movement I was looking for.

Because my New Year’s resolutions were so successful in 2010, I thought I’d repeat the tradition again in 2011.

Here are my…


Top 10 List of My New Year’s Resolutions


10)  KEEP UP MY BLOG. Starting a blog was one of my resolutions last year, and I had no idea how much movement this resolution would stir up. I may not post as frequently as I used to, but I’m hoping to stay on the roller coaster ride for another year.

9)  PLAY MORE GAMES. All my life, I’ve loved games. Hopscotch and tag, board games and card games, video games and computer games. Now that my kids are getting older, I’m noticing how much they love games too. Whether I establish a weekly game night or impromptu Wii challenges, I want to take advantage of 1 of the few activities my whole family can have fun doing together.

8)  WATCH/READ THE NEWS MORE. I don’t like watching the news. I think it’s depressing. And I don’t particularly care for reading the news either. I get bored VERY easily. But I like knowing what’s going on in the world, so I need to get over myself and keep up with current events.
  
7)  READ AT LEAST ONE BOOK PER MONTH. I used to go through books faster than I could buy them. But in the last 6 months, I’ve only read 2 books. (Granted they were each 600 plus pages, but still, that’s pathetic!) I miss that escape of disappearing into the world of good fiction.

6)  GET BACK INTO THE RACE. Like I said last month, running has always been a huge part of my life. And now that I’m finally over my hamstring injury, I’m psyched about signing up for races again. I’m hoping to run a handful of 5k’s and maybe a 10k before bumping up my spring training for a half marathon at the end of the summer. Crank up my “Sweat It Out” playlist, lace up my new running shoes, and I’m off!

5)  SUBMIT MY CHILDREN’S BOOK MANUSCRIPT (AGAIN). I wrote the book over 5 years ago. I got a year of rejection letters. I shelved it for 4 years and then revised it a few months ago. Time to spruce up that cover letter! And who knows, maybe it will inspire me to write a new one.


4)  TRY NOT TO STRESS ABOUT THINGS THAT ARE OUT OF MY CONTROL.  This is actually my mom's idea because I think it's one of her own resolutions, and I seem to have inherited her worry gene.

 
3)  EXPRESS MY GRATITUDE FOR AT LEAST ONE THING EVERY DAY. As I explained yesterday, I'm starting Project Gratitude.  I want to end each day thinking about at least one thing I’m thankful for.

2)  ESTABLISH A WORKOUT ROUTINE. Before I went back to work, my daily schedule typically revolved around my workout routine. Now I have to figure out how to establish my workout routine according to my daily schedule. I have to get over the “I’m too tired from work” attitude and teach myself how to work out in the evening. More specifically, I want to start out by going to the gym at least once during the week and using my Wii Fit at least twice a week. Once I get used to that, I can increase the frequency of gym visits.

1)  START WRITING THE NOVEL THAT’S COMPLETELY WRITTEN IN MY HEAD. Realistically, I probably won’t start on this resolution until June when I start my summer vacation, but it’s a resolution that’s been on my list for the last decade. This is my year.

What are some of your New Year's Resolutions?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Project Gratitude

I’d like to think I’m a pretty happy person. Am I happy all the time? Of course not. Have I gone through some happiness slumps in the past? Sure. But in general, I think I laugh a whole lot more than I cry, smile a whole lot more than I frown.


I don’t typically sit around pondering the origins of happiness, and I don’t feel a deficiency of happiness in my life. I have no intention of conducting a yearlong happiness project like Gretchin Rubin or eating, praying, and loving in foreign countries in pursuit of happiness a la Elizabeth Gilbert. But if I find a gem of wisdom about a simple way to increase my level of happiness, I’m not going to pass up the opportunity to try it out.


Two years ago, I read somewhere that one way to find happiness is to think about the things we’re thankful for on a daily basis, both the big things and the small. I decided to follow the author’s advice and learn to recognize and appreciate these things by keeping an “I Am Thankful” journal. For an entire year, I wrote down at least one thing I was thankful for every single day.


I can’t say the project made me any happier than I already was, but it did help me realize how many things I had to be thankful for in my life. Even on those horrible days when nothing seemed to go my way, I managed to find SOMETHING to be grateful for.


After that year, I stopped writing in my thankful journal. Unfortunately, it became yet another task on my to-do list. After my final entry (which I’m pretty sure was: “I’m thankful I’m finished with this journal”), I never opened the journal or thought about it again. Until last week.


I was reading a series of articles in Real Simple magazine about the history, science, and psychology of happiness when 2 sentences jumped off the page and hit me in the face:


“Happiness comes in small moments while you’re pursuing the big stuff. After a while, the small moments become the point.”


After reading that article, I knew I wanted to resume my thankful journal. I may be pursuing the big stuff, but I want to remember to pay attention to and be thankful for those small moments along the way.


So as one of my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions, I’m starting Project Gratitude. At the end of every day, I’m going to think about at least one thing I’m thankful for. My hope is that this will help me remember those small moments in life that I typically take for granted. 


I can’t promise to post my daily contribution to Project Gratitude on my blog, but I do vow not to let a day pass by without at least a thought of thankfulness.


Care to join me in Project Gratitude?  All it takes is a sentence or two every day.  Sneak it in at the end of a regular blog post or use it as a short post on those days when you can't think of anything else to write about.  And let me know if you have a Project Gratitude post because I'd love to see what everyone else is thankful for in their daily lives.


***For simplicity, the day on the post will be the chronological day of the year (e.g., today is January 3rd which is the 3rd day of 2011, hence Day 3). ***


So here we go...


PROJECT GRATITUDE DAY 3: I am thankful that my first day back at work after the winter break went smoothly and quickly.



What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stars and Stripes Article

I just found out that last week Stars and Stripes published an article about mil spouse bloggers called "Blogs Give Voice to Spouses"...and my name is mentioned!  The article showcases Ann Marie from Household 6 Diva (LOVE HER!).   There are a few other blogs mentioned, and I was one of them. 
 
I'm thrilled that mil spouse bloggers are getting this kind of recognition in a publication like Stars and Stripes.  Our voices are being heard.  Let's keep up the good work ladies!
 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Roller Coaster Christmas Vacation

Happy New Year!
 
I’m back from my blogging holiday hiatus! I spent the last 9 days in a cabin in the middle of nowhere recharging my batteries and resetting my stressometer, doing not much more than reading, watching tv, and drinking wine. I had no internet access, limited cell phone coverage, and no responsibilities other than to relax.
 
How can you NOT relax in a place like this?
 
 







 
But when you share a cabin that’s just shy of 1,000 square feet with 6 people and 1 bathroom for 9 days, well, it’s inevitable that you leave with some interesting stories.

 
It was magical seeing the snow falling when we woke up on our white Christmas morning. It was crazy that we lost power for a good 15 hours when the temperature dropped into the low 20’s. And it was unfortunate that my poor mother-in-law lost a whole day to a nasty stomach virus. But the most interesting story of my Christmas vacation was my disappointing date night.

 
Mr. Roller Coaster and I had the rare opportunity to plan not just a date NIGHT, but an entire date day that would trickle into the night and through the next morning. We left our kids at the cabin with their grandparents and made our way into a nearby town.

 
We started at a winery, where we ate lunch followed by a wine tasting. Then we checked into our hotel, and since we had a couple of hours to kill, I took advantage of the hotel’s free WiFi, while Mr. Roller Coaster took advantage of a quiet room to nap. I was lost in a week’s worth of unread emails when I heard a strange noise over the music in my headphones. When I looked around, I realized Mr. Roller Coaster was no longer in bed. And I also realized that the strange noise was Mr. Roller Coaster retching in the bathroom. He had caught his mother’s stomach bug.

 
Farewell to a night of good food, plentiful alcoholic beverages, and adult conversations. Instead of getting dressed for a night out on the town, I was at the grocery store buying saltines. Instead of sharing a romantic dinner, I was reading a magazine while eating pizza alone. Instead of pouring wine, I was pouring ginger ale. I spent the night trapped in a hotel room with a vomiting husband, staying as far away from him as possible so I wouldn't breathe in his germs.

 
The night wasn’t completely lost though. I played on my laptop until it died (because why would I think to pack my charger on an overnight romantic getaway?). I had a novel to read and blog posts to write. If my date night was ruined, then at least I’d make the best of it.

 
It turns out my father-in-law caught the bug that afternoon as well. And my kids had the bug before we got to the cabin. So I am officially the last man standing, the lone survivor. Let’s hope those snotty kindergarteners I teach built up my immune system enough to fend off this virus!
 
 
But overall, it was a wonderful Christmas vacation.  To quote Mr. Roller Coaster: "It was a pretty mellow time.  Other than the puking and diarrhea."

 
What’s your most interesting 2010 Christmas story?
 

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