Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.


A Walk in My Shoes Giveaway

How about another giveaway? Hooray. I knew you'd like that. Walmart and Proctor & Gamble's PR folks reached out to me to see about giving out a DVD/CD prize for A Walk in My Shoes (touted as quality family entertainment with heart-warming drama) made-for-TV-movie, which debuts on Friday Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. Central on NBC.

So, here's my idea - tell me what you're most thankful for this holiday season or tell me about your best Thanksgiving ever. Email your entry to armyofmomblogger at yahoo dot com by Dec. 3 and give the movie a watch, too. It looks like the sort of thing we should all watch. I'll announce the winner the following week.


Chaneling Paula Deen

Our dinner is served, the Cowboys are serving themselves up on a platter to the Saints (so far, hopefully it will change) and we're sitting down to dine. I am clearly a Paula Deen disciple ... we used TWO pounds of butter in this spread.

Happy Thanksgiving!


I'm thankful for hot guys

I'm sooo grateful that God saw fit to make such beautiful creatures as Collin Mangrum. However, I've been less than thrilled to NOT see him in UNT Mean Green colors this season. *sigh* But, I do get to go watch him play some minutes for the SMU Mustangs. While Army of Dad grits his teeth to cheer for Collin (but not the Mustangs - that whole rivalry thing that I don't quite get, but whatever), I'll be bouncing on my seat's edge to see him flip that mop of blond/brownish hair as he dribbles down the court. I'm sure we'll see him foul a few times. He's aggressive. Always liked that, too.
This is more what I'm accustomed to seeing (and what I wish I was watching more of!) But, hey. I won't fault the kid for moving on with his life and working toward his goals. I used to fawn over him (ok, I still do. Trust me, whenever I talk to him, I find myself blushing several times - and I never blush!) The whole being friends with his parents makes me feel a little guilty for looking lustily at the boy any more! Maybe that was Mrs. Mangrum's motivation in befriending me. Hmmm. Now, I have something to ponder. Regardless. I'm excited to be going to Moody Coliseum tonight to see Collin play.


And the winners are ...

A few weeks back, I posted a contest seeking military families to receive a free Hallmark recordable story book. The winners have been selected.

The first winner is Jillian, whose husband, Nicholas, is currently serving in Iraq. Their son's name is Dominic.

I thought this deployment would be the easiest on our son who celebrated his first birthday just before my husband left. My husband was very sad to leave our son for the first time and was worried he’d forget who he was by the time he returned. I assured my husband that of all times to go, this should be the easiest. I figured our son was too young to feel the impact of him not being around. I was wrong.

My husband has been in the Air Force on active duty for five years and is currently serving in Iraq on his third deployment. This will be the first time for us that he is deployed over all the holidays including Christmas. He’s already served two tours in Afghanistan, which is where he was when our son was born.

Our now 15-month-old baby is more aware that his “daddada” isn’t here than I ever imagined. When my husband first left for Iraq, our son had a hard time adjusting to life without him. He became withdrawn and began throwing tantrums multiple times a day. He also had a very hard time going to bed because the bedtime routine isn’t the same since daddy can’t read to him each night like he did when he was home.

Our son’s personality really changed within a few days of his dad’s departure. I never imagined that someone so young could be impacted so much. It saddened me to know that he was so affected by it and that he isn’t old enough to be told or understand that he’ll be coming home eventually to be with us again.

The one thing that always makes him light up is when he hears his dad’s voice; he smiles, tries to talk back and sometimes even claps his hands. It’s wonderful because he remembers him and is so excited to hear from him but sad of course to know that he’s not here with us.

I’m so thankful for the afternoons when we get to talk to him, but if I answer the phone and it’s not my husband, I still have to put it on speaker because he cries if the phone is hung up and doesn’t get to hear if it’s his dad or not for himself. He thinks he didn’t get to talk to him otherwise!

Receiving this Hallmark Recordable Storybook would be so special to all of us. Our son could finally hear his dad’s voice reading to him at bedtime again and throughout the day. My husband would be able to smile knowing that he’s able to read to our son every night even from thousands of miles away and I’d be so happy to see the joy on our son’s face as he hears daddy’s voice come out through the book.

This storybook would truly be the best Christmas gift for all of us, one that we could enjoy right now and for many years and deployments to come.

Our other winner is Kasie. Here's her entry:

My husband, Robert, is an active duty soldier. We were engaged through the first deployment and got married soon after his return. We found out we were pregnant within 2 months of being married. He took care of me so many times during my pregnancy. I developed some complications late in the pregnancy and he had to come home from the field during training to take care of me. Our son, Hunter, was born, but was in the hospital for a week after birth due to his kidneys not working. My husband never left his side even though he was exhausted. He deployed June 2010, 5 weeks after we found out we were pregnant with our second child. I developed complications early on in this second pregnancy and have been hospitalized. I am now on bed rest which leaves me to care for our, now, two year old son. My husband came home on emergency leave and left his deployment so he could take care of me and our son. He now works on Rear D AND does all of the housework including making meals.

My husband is not one to leave his duty and responsibilities behind. After his first deployment he lost a lot of his hearing. He also has back, ankle, and knee problems from being airborne infantry. None of this ever stopped him from wanting to re-deploy after his first deployment. He had double knee surgery one month before leaving on his second deployment, but was not about to miss it. So, I know that leaving his job was tough in order to come home to take care of his family but he is a wonderful husband and father.

He would use this storybook for our son, who adores him and looks up to his daddy so much. They have a ritual at bedtime to read book and when my husband deploys after our daughter, Hayden, is born, my son would be able to listen to daddy's voice every night.
I can't imagine more deserving winners and Thanksgiving is a great time to remember these heroic families for their sacrifices. Thanks to men and women like these and thousands more, we can freely worship whatever God we wish (or none at all) this Thanksgiving. Thanks Kasie and Jillian for YOUR sacrifices, too!

The World According to Mister Rogers

"Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person. There have been so many stories about the lack of courtesy, the impatience of today's world, road rage and even restaurant rage. Sometimes, all it takes is one kind word to nourish another person. Think of the ripple effect that can be created when we nourish someone. One kind empathetic word has a wonderful way of turning into many." - Mister Rogers


Are you talking to me?

I would so wear a sweater like this for the holiday season if it wasn't a teeny tiny little decoration at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. I have lots of fun little holiday photos to run in the next few weeks. I promise to post the winners of the Hallmark recordable story book contest in the next day or two. Stay tuned. And, remember that ho ho ho isn't just what Santa says. It's a personal statement for some of us. :)


Happy Veterans Day

Thank you to all those who are serving or have served our country in the military. And, a big thanks to the families who support them. I know it is not a financially rewarding job (trust me, I was married to an Army specialist) and it isn't always the most conducive job to fostering marital harmony. But, it is a calling and we are all blessed that many of you are willing to answer that call. God bless each of you and Happy Veteran's Day. We are all grateful for everything you do!


At least we beat the Yankees

My beloved Rangers at least brought the World Series to Texas for the first time. So, I'll take what I can get. I'm celebrating my 42nd birthday today and I'm so happy to be 42. Every year I add another year is a blessing and after having scares in my life leading me to wonder if I'd ever make 42, I'll take it with the wrinkles and fading eyesight and sore feet. :) I've got a fabulous family - my folks, who traveled up battling race weekend traffic to babysit, so Army of Dad and I could attend a party with lots of friends last night. My wonderful children. The two youngest have pictures for the local Nutcracker production and the youngest and the oldest have karate tournaments today, too. I'm going to miss my eldest's because its right in the middle of the other two's stuff. So, dad has that one under control (I hope). I really don't like days like today, but what can you do? I look forward to a day off to do nothing but watch football. Not sure when that will ever happen. :)

We just got our home mortgage refinanced, which will knock off 4 years of payments and about $30k in interest!!! And, my payments will only go up $3 a month. I'm really pleased about that. Bonus: no house payment in November and December, so its like a birthday and a Christmas present!

I've gotten lots of love from my Facebook friends today. I got a lovely birthday gift from the mom of my former UNT basketball crush (now my SMU basketball crush). It was so sweet, it brought tears to my eyes for that lovely lady to remember me on my birthday. I'm just glad she loves me in spite of me talking about my dreams of her handsome (ok, hot) son. Basketball season won't be the same without him to ogle at every game. *sigh* But, there is basketball and that starts Wednesday!!! I'm so excited.

Gifts, you ask? Well, my handsome hubby paid for me to get my CHL. Hooray. My SIL gave me a book and a Target gift card (I got new slippers, finally.) I got a Dooney & Bourke purse from my parents. Woo hoo! My lovely little girl gave me her Cinderella pillow and a wand and told me to make a wish. I think that might be my favorite gift so far.

Ok, I've got to doll up my beautiful little girl for her close-up. :) This has been a great birthday so far.


Christmas Cards

I'm telling you ... I love the opportunities I'm getting from companies to sample their products in exchange for some love on the blog. The latest one I found is Shutterfly. I discovered this service from my in-laws. It was their photo-printing site of choice. There are always coupons/discounts to get prints and its been a good service.

Shutterfly has some neat products like the Christmas gift tags. We wouldn't need a name on ours if I got these. I think everyone would know they're from me. :) Of course, those of you who know me only from the blog may not know of my love of all things penguin. I grew fond of those smelly critters when I was 16 and have been a fan ever since.

For $22, the personalized wall calendars would make a great family Christmas gift because you can include special family dates pre-printed in there! There are dozens upon dozens of styles for Christmas cards, but I think this one is my favorite for our Christmas card. I love the color and design.

Now, the challenge is to find a photo of the kids where they all look good at the same time. How is it that even big kids have a hard time all smiling simultaneously? I don't get it. We do have a photo at the St. Louis arch from this summer with the whole family looking pretty good. That might be the one. There is also one from the Brickyard. Hmmm. I'm guessing we won't select the family photo in front of the Oscar Meyer weiner-mobile. Although that would be funny.


The Gang

These were my two best friends for many many years. We were quite the handful. We still are, I suppose. We had our annual birthday lunch today. The blonde's birthday is in September. She's two years younger than me. Then, my BFF (in the hat) is one year 10 days younger than me. :) It was a nice birthday treat to dine with them today at one of my favorite restaurants. And, a two-bellini lunch is my kind of day.

Christmas List

If I had more time, I'd start a shopping blog. I was lucky enough to get some promotional giveaways/discounts from the CSN stores and they've been great. The customer service is outstanding and so far, almost all of the shipping has been free. I got several gifts for my nieces and nephews and tried out some slippers for me. It was a style I'm unfamiliar with and upon trying, wasn't a fan. Returning was a breeze and a credit was issued immediately. I can't tell you how wonderful that was. I'm planning to get an overnight bag for my niece for Christmas and think I'll find what I'm looking for at children's luggage.

So far, from CSN, we've bought a bed. Yes, a bed! The 100-pound bed was sent with free shipping and has been great for Pickle. I need to take a picture next time I change the sheets. Since he's a teenager, his room is seldom clean enough for me to want to post a picture. :) We sold his bunkbeds for $75 and used that money to buy the $165 bed. No kidding. That was all it cost. And it is great. I've gotten a coffee grinder, which I love love love. A designer diaper bag that doubles for a laptop bag. I love it because it is stylish without looking like a briefcase. If you need something, the quality and customer service can't be beat. And, I'm so tight, I love the no shipping costs I've been lucky enough to get. And, if you're like me, I have no love for Christmas shopping any more. I find myself doing more and more online. CSN stores are actually getting a little more business from me than Amazon (which was a long-time favorite of mine) this year.


Reader Contest: Hallmark Recordable Storybooks

Back in 2008, I had the privilege of going to Kansas City for a board meeting for a professional non-profit association. One of the things I wanted to see more than anything else was the Hallmark museum. It was pretty awesome. So, when the Hallmark folks contacted me about doing a giveaway for military families, I thought Thanksgiving/Christmas seemed like the perfect time to do it.

Here's the giveaway item: Hallmark’s Recordable Storybooks. These super-cool books feature voice-capture technology that records the reader’s voice, which is then captured within the storybook. When a page is turned, the book automatically plays the text on that page in the reader’s voice. It’s a great way to capture a special moment that can be shared with a child over and over again. And since the recording lasts for the life of the book, it can also serve as a lasting memento of a loved one who is away because of duty or other circumstances.

Following the introduction of recordable storybooks last holiday season, Hallmark received numerous letters from servicemen, servicewomen and their families sharing how they were able to share special moments with their distant loved ones through the recordable storybook. This video contains one of these stories from a military family located in North Carolina (their story starts around the 2:00 mark).

Touched by the heartfelt stories of those who sacrifice so much for our country, Hallmark is partnering with the VFW Foundation to donate 20,000 recordable storybooks to deployed soldiers and their families to help them keep in touch during the holiday season and beyond.

In addition to this donation, Hallmark asked me to give away two recordable storybooks to readers who may have loved ones serving overseas and would like to hear their voice in a recordable storybook (during the holidays or anytime!)

So, here is my contest:

*Tell me about the serviceman/servicewoman in your life and the child for whom he/she would record the story. Every member of the military has a history that is unique to him/her - what is it for the person you're nominating? It can even be YOU!

Email your 500 words (or less) entry to me at Subject should be: Hallmark giveaway entry.
Deadline: Nov. 12. extended to Nov. 19. (I'm too swamped to read entries right now, so we're extending a week.) Keep 'em coming.

I'll pick the winners that weekend and post their winning entries (minus names) the following week. I'll contact winners via the email they provided and Hallmark will ship the book directly to your serviceman/woman.

Rainy Day

I marked one year on the new full-time job last week. One year. It has been since 2005 that I had a full-time job and I had forgotten just how much it involved to be on the clock pretty much all the time.

I really enjoy the new job immensely. It just totally kicks my ass most days. I miss my down time and extended lunches reading the newspaper.

But, that's ok. I do like having money to pay the bills without robbing Peter to pay Paul as much as we had to. We will close on a mortgage refinance on Thursday (knock on wood) that will shave off 3+ years of payments and about $30k in interest fees. Can you believe that? I about wet my pants when the mortgage lender told me. We'll be going from 6.3% to 4.5% interest rates. I think we're locking in at the right time as the interest rates look to be going up from here on out.

I have about three more car payments to make and my '05 Kia Edona (the S fell off while we were in Indiana in July) will be all mine and no longer the property of me and Chrysler.

Other things going on in our lives? Hmm, where to start. UNT Mean Green men's basketball starts next week (WOO HOO) ... although I'll have no hot young Collin Mangrum to watch and cheer for. The whole family is disappointed with that, but no one as much as me, I think. He'll be playing for SMU this year and we're going to try to make it over to Highland Park to see a few games. I'm not sure, though, if they'll allow me to drive the old Edona in that part of town. I'm sure the cops will be following us because we certainly won't look like we belong!

My handsome hubby was selected Ref of the Year in one of the local adult soccer leagues. That was pretty exciting. I'm very proud of him.

My poor Rangers made it to the World Series for the first time, only to choke once they got there. The Giants just had better pitching than we did. Plain and simple. FC Dallas is in the MLS playoffs. We scored some free tickets Saturday and saw them play. My Baylor Bears are No. 20 (or is it No. 21?) and I'm thrilled. We're bowl eligible for the first time since Pickle was a baby back in 1994!!!

And, I'll be 42 on Sunday. I can remember thinking that I'd be 32 in the year 2000 and, gees, that was soooooo old. To think I'm going to be 42 just seems weird. I don't feel 42 *except when I've been sitting for a long time, then I do.*

Going to have lunch with two of my best friends tomorrow. I'm excited about that, too. They've just gotten better looking as they've gotten older. I've just gotten older and chubbier and greyer and ... I better stop before I depress myself.