Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deployment? What's that?

I am fascinated by the way my brain protects me.  In true survival fashion, it completely forgets deployments about four months after Hubby returns.  Really.  Like childbirth ... you don't remember the pain so you can convince yourself to go through it again ... I think that happens with deployment for me, too ... although my memory of childbirth was pretty clear when I got ready to deliver my second child and I was equally terrified ... but I digress. 

Hubby got home from his last deployment in June.  We're 9+ months into 'Dwell Time' and I can hardly remember the gut-wrenching pain of him being gone, and gone to combat zone to boot.  We're in our 'new' normal right now ... calling from work, planning lunch dates, attending kids events ... he's even coaching two sports teams for our kids right now.  My brain has completely erased the concept of deployment; or so I thought.

Hubby was asked to speak about life in Iraq to a local DAR group next week.  In preparation, he began doing what Soldiers do best, putting a PowerPoint presentation together.  =)  He was adding photos from his last deployment and asked my opinion about the presentation so far.

Remember, 9+ months at home, another deployment not even on the calendar (yet), life is normal, life is good ... and seeing those pictures sent me into a complete tailspin!  It was crazy how I felt just looking at those photos.  The old feelings crept back and I could remember exactly how I felt each time I received those photos the first time; from him in an email from Iraq.  Excitement to see HIS name on the email address, joy at noting the little paper-clip icon indicating an attachment, relief that this photo means at that point in time he was alive and well and taking pictures ... anticipation for the next time we'd talk and I could tell him how much I appreciated seeing him, if only in a photograph.

Crazy and weird to feel all of that with him sitting right there beside me.  It was almost as if my brain couldn't wrap itself around the situation ... all this stress and nervous energy ... but he's right here!  Something does not compute ...

Anyway, odd and random post, but what was going through my head this morning.  Oh, and the photo is a random one of the last deployment, too, as we went through hundreds last night!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mega-Messy Summer Fun!

If you're like me, you're already thinking about how to fill those long summer days with fun stuff for kids.  In this post, I want to share one of my all-time favorite things for my kids ... ever.  We call it Cousin Camp!

For the past several summers, all of the cousins on my husband's side of the family have gotten together for a fun-filled "Cousin Camp."  Eight kids ranging in age from four to ten, all in one house for one week of super-crazy, mega-messy fun!  Hubby's sister teaches private swimming lessons so once we have all the kiddos signed up in their lesson slots, we start planning the fun!

The last time we were all together we planned "Messy Week" ... five days of the craziest, messiest fun we could think of.  Here are some highlights:

Color Me Happy

At a cousin's baseball game, we let those in the audience draw on themselves -- and others -- with colored ink pens.  They had a blast drawing pictures, writing notes, and copying tattoos!


Creating fun tattoos!

Fun Dipper Dinner

Dinner was on-the-go this day so we planned portable fun dippers for all.  The menu included:

Homemade chicken nuggets
Sliced Apples

Dipping Sauces:

Ranch Dressing
Chocolate Dip
Caramel Dip

Yummy Dipper Dinner!

Summer Snowball Fight!

Later, the kids enjoyed a summer 'snowball' fight.  We cut ladies' stockings into sections, tied a knot at one end, filled it with flour, then tied a knot on top.  The kids had a blast tossing these at each other and watching the 'poofs' of 'summer snow' as they went.  ** One note: the household dog, a labrador retriever, loved to eat these!  We had to keep her away from them as she would gobble them up.  So if you think you might give this a try, you might want to put the pets up first.

Fun Summer Snowball Fight

This represents only one day of fun, so I'll post more later, but I hope you enjoyed it.  The kids had a blast and there was no moping about being 'bored' for us!  Happy Summer-to-Come!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sic 'Em, Bears!

Okay, I'm a moderate sports fan; not fanatical, not disinterested, but somewhere in between. I much prefer watching a game where I have some knowledge or interest in the team and/or players (unlike Hubby who really could watch any game of any sport and derive pleasure from the experience). Well, my alma mater is in the Elite Eight of "March Madness" and it's been great fun cheering them on.

We'll gather around the television again tomorrow afternoon as the Baylor Bears take on the Blue Devils of Duke University.  If you're currently unaffiliated, please feel free to cheer on my Bears!

For a quick run-down of how the season has gone for Baylor, here is a short article from the "Baylor Proud" website:

2010 Men’s hoops reaches Elite Eight

Last year this time, we were writing about the Baylor men’s basketball team reaching the NIT Final Four and the excitement of playing at Madison Square Garden. Fast forward 12 months, and the Bears are one game away from punching their tickets for the NCAA tournament’s Final Four.

Head coach Scott Drew’s squad rode a strong first half to a surprisingly easy 72-49 win Friday night over Saint Mary’s in the program’s first-ever Sweet 16 appearance. Now the Bears move on to their first Elite Eight appearance since 1950; Baylor will face the three-time national champion Duke on Sunday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.  Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. CT on CBS.

In the meantime, enjoy these photos from BaylorBears.com. As you’ll see, the game drew quite a crowd — upwards of 45,000, including such famous Baylor alumni as Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd, Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane and prominent Houston lawyer John Eddie Williams, as well as new Baylor President Ken Starr.

Because we’re so excited, how about an extra Elite Eight bonus link? Take a minute to compare what you hopefully saw in person or on TV Friday with this video footage from the Bears’ last deep NCAA tournament run — 1948, when Baylor advanced to the NCAA finals. And don’t forget — the Lady Bears moved on to the Elite Eight themselves when they beat Tennessee on Saturday.

Sic ’em, Baylor basketball!

Friday, March 26, 2010

You Know You're in Texas When ...

Okay, okay.  I promise to stop posting about Texas so much ... it's just that with travelling for Spring Break, we kept finding cute signs and sayings along the way.  Here are a few more of my favorites!

You know you're in Texas when ...

It is the middle of winter and the AC is running.

Mosquitos are biting at Christmas.

Every other block there is either an adult novelty toy store, BBQ restaurant, dollar store, or church.

Saying "Merry Christmas" is the standard greeting in December (not "Happy Holidays").

While driving along, every fifth sign or so has a Texas flag or "Texas" in the name of the store.

You've gotten a sunburn while driving.

You automatically wave at those you pass.

A truck or combine has pulled to the right shoulder for you so you could pass.

A building has three huge flag poles several stories high, with one USA flag and two Texas flags.

It's bright, sunny, short sleeve weather one day, and it's snowing the next day.

The vehicles are HUGE.

There is no such thing as a "Compact" parking spot.

The Chinese buffet is practically a palace, almost twice as large as most hotels' main floor, w/sitting for hundreds.

Every place you go you can see people wearing shirts or caps for Texas A&M or the University of Texas.

The Mexican food is gooood. The BBQ is gooood. Shoot, all the food is gooood.

The best ice cream in the nation, Blue Bell, is sold for $3.44 for a 1/2 gallon.

Bluegrass music bands can be found playing in your favorite BBQ joints.

You fill up with gasoline every three days just going to work (aka Texas is big).

Restaurant servers say "Yes ma'am" and "No sir."

Sweet brewed iced tea is available at any restaurant.

When you order gravy with potatoes, it's cream gravy, not brown.

A good "night out" is going country western dancing.

1/3 the FM radio stations are country music.

80% of the AM stations are in Spanish.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two Cute Breakfast Ideas for Kids

As a Mom, I've tried all the tricks to encourage my kids to choose healthy foods. A couple of things that I've discovered in the process are:

ONE:  They are more enthusiastic when they take part in the planning and/or preparing process.

TWO:  A little creativity goes a long way in making food fun to eat!
Here are a couple of fun and easy breakfast ideas that my kids really enjoy.


This super-simple breakfast is a slice of turkey bacon as the smile, two small crescent rolls as eyes, and two gummy vitamins as pupils in the eyes.

Variations in our house include a boiled egg or strawberry nose, blueberry 'pupils,'  and shredded cheddar hair.


This super-fun breakfast was inspired by Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham." This could be a simple way to introduce the book or, as we did, a really fun St. Patrick's Day breakfast!

The breakfast consists of a slice of ham and scrambled eggs (both tinted green with food coloring) and a shamrock biscuit (shaped with crescent rolls ans sprinkled with green sprinkles). The boys even had green milk to drink, although you can't see it in the photo.  Don't forget the Irish creamer for your own coffee on St. Patrick's Day morn!

Another easy way to bring fun to the table is stocking up on inexpensive party plates, napkins, and cups. Dollar Stores and Sale Items are great places to look and nothing says 'festive' like paper party-ware!

Here are some other great breakfast ideas for you to try, too:

Okay, somewhere in the blogosphere there is a post about a husband who always made colored pancakes in various shapes.  He used mustard/ketchup containers filled with pancake batter to get the shapes and use different colors.  The photos were of some beautiful leaf-shaped and turkey-shaped pancakes.  I loved the idea (and even bought the condiment containers at a Dollar Store) but cannot find it anywhere now.  I searched Google Reader for all the blogs I follow and searched online, too.  If anyone knows what I'm talking about, I'd love to link that post here and give this fun family credit for a great breakfast idea!  =)

Enjoy ... and please share your ideas, too!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Nature Plates (Easy Kid Craft)

Spring has sprung in central Texas!  We're seeing bluebonnets sprout up all over our area and are enjoying the warmer weather ... biking, playing outside, walking with the puppies, and enjoying some fun nature crafts.  I wanted to share this fun activity we enjoy when the weather is nice outside.  We've taken this to the neighborhood park, on an outdoor hike, and to trips to the lake.

Materials Needed:

thick paper plates (we use Chinet)
white school glue (we use Elmer's)

We tell the kids they are making a "Nature Plate" to show off all of the wonderful parts of nature.  The only rules?  You have to gather and place one item at a time and you can only fill one plate.  Easy, right?

We start by setting out their plates and filling it with white school glue.  Then the kids take off in to the great outdoors to collect the items they want to place on their Nature Plate.

Because they can only choose one item at a time, they tend to use a little more discretion in determining what is 'worth' the trip back to their plate (as opposed to grabbing handfuls of dirt and grass then calling it a day).  It also adds some fun physical activity as they must travel back and forth (usually running and giggling) from outside back into the room with the plates.  As parents, we generally help with more glue when needed and encourage the kids' progress and their plate fills up.

Here, my son places a rock next to a stick and flower on his plate.

My sweet twin nieces add their treasures to their plates.

All of the cousins show off their newly created Nature Plates.

After a good drying time, we punched a hole into the top of the paper plate and added a ribbon to hang their plates in their bedrooms.  They love their souvenir of a very fun time.

Please share your ideas, too!  We're always looking for fun stuff to do!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Helping Others

Becca at "Lovely Yellow Ribbons" posted an interesting post titled "Homeless on Earth" ... actually, she posts lots of interesting things (and has fabulous customized military items as well!) but I was especially drawn into this story.

She describes seeing a homeless person and talks about how it feels for most of us to sit comfortably in our reliable vehicles behind our designer sunglasses and look upon these that have no homes and rely on the generosity of others for survival. 

Several times, I have taken action ... some with positive results, others not. Once, I gave money to man who immediately picked up his sign and walked across the street to a liquor store (I understand addiction but I was dismayed that he didn't choose to eat with that money since his sign said he was hungry); and another time, my family and I picked up an extra hamburger meal as we drove through a fast food place and when we took it back to the 'hungry' man, he scoffed and asked for cash instead.

Recently, I was meeting a friend at a Subway shop in our area when a couple approached me inside the store.  I listened to their story about how they had run out of gas and just needed twenty dollars or so to get back on the road again.  More details emerged about how their car was just down the block and they would be so grateful if we could just help them out in this time of need.  After I had given them the cash I had (less than they were asking for but all I had), I got in line to order my sandwich.  The employee there said, "Let me guess.  They just ran out of gas and their car is down the block?"  He said they hang around this area frequently and tell similar versions of the same story.

I wasn't sure how to feel about that.  Swindled and tricked?  Sure. 

Several times, though, I have gotten a 'thank you' or a 'God Bless You' ... which led me to believe this was a person in genuine need. It's so hard to know the right thing to do ... yet so easy to sit back in my comfortable lifestyle and ignore it all together ...

Like you, I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I thank you for a thought-provoking post!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

One of the things I am enjoying most about blogging is the fun people I meet online.  I love reading blogs and seeing all of the creativity out there.

I just found a new friend, Jessica, at "Me, Him, and The Army" who introduced me to the concept of a blog party!   I'm always up for a party and am loving the blogging world so this seems like a perfect fit for me.  This blog party is for moms -- and with two boys, ages ten and six -- I certainly have mom stories to tell!  Here is the link for the blog party; complete with explanations and codes for linking the blog party on your site.

If you're on Twitter, use the hashtag #ubp10 to help promote the party (... and you're welcome to follow me at @MyArmyLife, too!).

It doesn't start until April so you have time to get ready now ... and every good party hostess knows that preparation is the key to success!  Hope to see you at the Blog Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Are YOU 100% Texan?

We spent the last part of Spring Break in the Hill Country and enjoyed our time there so much!  We saw our first Texas bluebonnets of the season and were lucky enough to see a family of four bald eagles before they left their nest for the year.

While visiting this beautiful part of Texas, we came across several great Texas quotes and quizzes and I wanted to share some of them with you here. 

You can only claim to be Texan if you can pass the following test!
  • You can properly pronounce Amarillo, Bexar, Buda, Corsicana, Decatur, Ennis, Lancaster (the town), Lancaster(the street), Mexia, Palestine, Pflugerville, Waco, and Waxahachie.
  • A tornado warning siren is your signal to go out in the yard and look for a funnel.
  • You’ve ever had to switch from “heat” to “cool” in the same day.
  • You know that the true value of a parking space is by the availability of shade, not the distance to the door.
  • You measure distance in minutes and/or hours.
  • You listen to the weather forecast before picking out an outfit.
  • Someone you know has used a football schedule to plan their wedding date.
  • You have known someone who has a belt buckle bigger than your fist.
  • You aren’t surprised to find movie rental, ammunition, and bait all in the same store.
  • A Mercedes Benz is not a status symbol; a Chevy 3500 4×4 is.
  • You know everything goes better with Ranch dressing.
  • You actually get these jokes and are “fixin’ ” to send them to your friends.
  • Finally, you are 100% Texan if you have ever found yourself having this conversation:
“You wanna coke?”
“What kind?”
“Dr Pepper”

Hope you enjoyed this one!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from my Family ... with an interpretive dance from my youngest ...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cub Scout Blue & Gold Ceremony

My ten-year-old adores scouting and we were so proud when he earned his Webelos badge at our pack's recent "Blue and Gold" ceremony. 

I was the Blue and Gold representative for our den so I had the parents help me organize a den meeting to make decorations for the table.  We printed out a history of scouting (since this is the 100th Anniversary of Boy Scouts of America) and made a table-runner timeline.  The boys did a great job of organizing the events into order by decade and adding lots of great photos, quotes, and stickers.  The completed laminated copy looked great on their table.  You can see a little of it here:

We added some bowls of snacks (pretzels, goldfish, mini-marshmallows) along with some fun pass-the-time activities (History of Scouting sticker book provided by the pack and homemade play-doh ~ a surprising hit with all ages!).

Hubby was here to stand by him when he received his rank and to receive the parent pin as well.

I loved taking this photo with my little guy in the photo area!

He won two trophies for his cake ... one best in rank and the other was "Scout's Favorite" where the scouts voted.  He loved this one the most.

One of our pack leaders had to explain that because my son and another scout had tied for 3rd place in "Scout's Favorite" that one would not receive a trophy at this time, but would get a trophy when another one was ordered.  My sweet boy insisted that the other scout take home the trophy and that he would wait for the new one to arrive in the mail.  Love this kid!

Here is the prize-winning cake:

And, for your viewing pleasure, here are pics of the cakes submitted at the Ceremony.

There are some really cute ones here!
Cub Scout Cakes View Photo Slideshow

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Army is a Small World

One of my favorite things about Army life is that I always have a ready-made group of peers and friends at every installation.  People who speak the language, get the jokes, and live the life right alongside me.  Now that we're working on year sixteen in the Army, it's becoming more and more evident to me how very SMALL the Army can be.  You'd think with over half-a-million active-duty Soldiers in the Army today that you wouldn't ever see anyone you knew, ever.  You'd be wrong.  It seems like every time I turn around, I'm seeing someone from a previous duty station or, even more common, someone who knows someone we once knew.

Case in point:  After our snow day a few weeks ago, my oldest son came home from school with a cell phone he'd found on the way home.  We turned it on and called the number listed for "Mom" in the phone.  When "Mom" answered, I told her my name and explained that my son found a cell phone with her number programmed into it.  Could it belong to someone in her family?  She quickly discovered that her oldest son had lost his cell phone and was very grateful for the call.  Then she said, "What was your name again?  Are you friends with ... ?"  From there, we discovered no less than half-a-dozen friends we had in common (even though she and I had never met) and that her husband was the doctor my son had seen for his last appointment on post!

When we dropped off the phone (for which the sixteen-year-old owner was very grateful), we continued our discussion of folks we knew ... and some we knew who knew people we knew ... and it struck me again how small our Army can be.

I love a lot of things about our life in the Army, and this is just one more thing that makes me happy to be a part of this big Army Family!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Ten Commandments - Texas Style

People here in Texas have trouble with all those "shalls" and "shall nots" in the ten Commandments. Folks here just aren't used to talking in those terms. So, some folks out in west Texas got together and translated the "King James" into "King Ranch" language.

(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No tellin' tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

** Cowboy's Ten Commandments posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas.