The Whimsical Mama

<3 Such is the life of a stay at home mommy and Army wife (:

*Random Musings* Remembering 9/11 September 11, 2014

I wasn’t going to write anything about 9/11 today. We all remember where we were that day. We all reflect on the events of the day in our own personal ways. It wasn’t until I interrupted our usual morning routine that I felt the call to write. The kiddos were watching Daniel Tiger on PBS. Our usual for a weekday morning. I looked at the time, and switched it to CNN. Punk, who was snuggled up under a blanket next to me, looked up & asked, “Why are we watching the news, Mama?” Why indeed.

Today is my niece’s birthday. She was born before the attacks, but grew up only remembering a world after the attacks. 13 years ago, I sat in a rocking chair at my brother’s house, holding my toddler niece close. The news was on TV. I just held her and cried. As a young teenager, I had no idea what was going to happen. Things at school had been so crazy. Speculations of who was behind the attack, was it the end of the world, were we going to war, etc. Looking at Kaylee, she still had her innocence intact because she was only a toddler. I wasn’t so lucky. My belief that we were safe at home had been shattered. Now she is the teenager and I have the child of innocence.

Punk doesn’t know what it’s like to have his whole world turned upside down other than going from only child to big brother. We haven’t been through a deployment as a family. He knows daddy is a soldier and is a hero in his eyes. He has only lived in a world without Bin Laden or Hussein. He is living in the time of the threat of ISIS/ISIL, but thanks to his innocence, he doesn’t understand that a threat is brewing. All he’s concerned with is watching his shows/movies, playing, & picking on his sister. I love his innocence and hope he can hold on to it for a long time.

I don’t know if/when hubby will deploy again. It’s been almost 5 years since his last deployment started and his regiment is due at any time now. I know that as soon as we receive that news, a part of Punk’s innocence will shatter. His daddy will have to go away. His daddy will most likely have to go to a conflict torn area.

It’s been 13 years. I was in seventh grade. I was sitting in woodwind concert band. Our principal came over the intercom shortly after the first tower was hit. We thought it had to be a mistake. We watched in horror as people jumped from windows. I was walking to third period algebra and had just walked through the door to see the second tower struck. There were shouts all over the school. It wasn’t a mistake. We were under attack. I grew up quickly that year. That was the first event of several that threw my childhood headlong into turmoil. My world was destroyed. Less than a week later, a family friend who was like an uncle, died. My parents’ marriage started falling apart. I was in a dark place. But the sweet innocence of my niece saved me.

My senior year on student council, we got to shadow different members of city council. I chose the fire chief. I got to see them use the jaws of life on a car cause the lady complained of neck pain. That was interesting, but not the thing that pops into my mind first around this time of year. It’s the screeching noise that blasted through the TV after the towers crashed. That high piercing siren? Remember it? Yeah, it haunts my nightmares even more since that day in high school. In 7th grade I didn’t know. In high school I found out. It’s a sensor on a firefighter’s  suit that sets off an alarm after the firefighter has been still for so long. It’s an alarm for other firefighters to be able to find them. All of those alarms were of firefighters who lost their lives trying to save others. I can hear it in my mind now. Punk is obsessed with firefighters right now and seeing pictures this time of year brings those alarms to my mind and they won’t go away.

This year, remembering 9/11 is hard. Why? Punky is at the age of asking questions about everything. Why are we watching the news? What are the firefighter heroes doing? What’s wrong, Mama? Can I watch Daniel Tiger?

How do I explain to a toddler? Why are we watching the news? Because 13 years ago, long before you were born or thought of, the world changed in a single day. Why? A lot of bad things happened that day. Yes, it’s the understatement of the century, but he’s a toddler and I want to preserve his innocence for as long as I can. I showed him a photo of three firefighters and the American flag. I asked him who the people were. He told me firefighter heroes. Yes, Punk. They were and are heroes. The first responders, the civilians, the military, all of them. Those who fought back and helped that day are heroes. We will always remember them. We will always honour them.

I close my eyes and see images I pray he never has to see. I know he will on the 9/11 anniversary if the news is on, or they watch documentaries in school, but I mean I hope he never has to LIVE it. Safe in Tennessee, miles and miles away from the field in Pennsylvania, DC, or NYC, I was still impacted. Not as much as the families of the victims, obviously, but my life has never been the same since then. I hope and pray my children never have to live through a day like 9/11.

I could write so much more, but I am changing the channel from the news back to PBS. It’s time to put back on my happy, whimsical mama face and watch Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, Princess Sofia, and Doc McStuffins. I will continue to reflect mentally, but for my kiddos, today will go back to a normal day so that I might preserve their innocence for one more year. Children grow up too fast as it is. I can only pray that my children’s childhood is not marred by darkness as mine was.

9/11. Never forget. God bless the USA.

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Musings & Giveaway: A Roomie story! January 10, 2014

Filed under: Giveaway,Musings — Maura @ 5:31 pm

This book is one I’m excited to get to read! I was given early access to it, but unfortunately I was not one of the quick ones to get it before the cap.

Here are the book deets!

Pub date:24 December 2013
Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Status:Standalone

Summary:

It’s time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

 

My Story:

I did have the “typical” summer before college. One slight difference from my peers. I had the chance to go to Europe for almost a month. I was gone two weeks with a school group and then an additional week visiting my pen pal. I was excited to get out of Tennessee. I always wanted to travel the world and here was another chance. (I went to France with my mom and a school group the summer before and went to visit family friends with my parents in Wales in 99). I was so excited about summer and college. I could tell stories of my freshman year (some great and some not so great), but I want to talk about my sophomore year. Oh, sophomore year. The year of so many things.

I’ll give a small recap of freshman year so you know the story of the BFF and me. I marched in the marching band freshman year and that’s where I met not only Mary of Mary Had A Little Book Blog, but also Andrea. Andrea and I didn’t have the best experience with our freshman year roomies and decided that we wanted to continue our amazing adventures in our own apartment. Originally, we were going to try to live with another of our friends, but my and Andrea’s parents felt that we needed another year on campus. So we applied for one of the on campus apartments. We had grand plans. Grand adventures were to be had!

I decided not to march sophomore year, but Andrea did. She moved in first and I moved in a week later near the end of band camp. We decked out our rooms and living room in movie posters, pictures, and band posters. It was epic! Our kitchen was small and there are numerous stories about us turning on the stove with our butts while trying to open the fridge. Yes, it really was THAT small! We also both couldn’t stand in it at the same time. Definitely made cooking and dishes an adventure!

Now for the ultimate of ultimate reasons why living with Andrea was the best. The couch. Yes. Our couch was AMAZING. If we weren’t in class or with friends, we were hanging out on our couch. Some of our friends moved and they couldn’t get the couch to work in their new place. Our “furnished” apartment came with a dining table and a few wooden chairs. We offered to “store” the couch in our house. Best. Decision. EVER. It was blue and had a pull out (important info for later!). It was the best couch ever. For real. You don’t even understand how awesome this couch was. Six years later, Andrea and I STILL reminisce about this couch. No couch will ever compare.

The memories that we rehash over and over are very similar. We would flip the TV on to Food Network channel and make lists of all these recipes we wanted to try. (No, we never really tried any. I think we did one or two.) As two broke college girls, we lived off of ramen, mac n cheese, Cap’n Crunch, and wheat thins. True story. Freshman 15? Nope. We both lost about that sophomore year lol. As well as constantly watching Food Network while sitting on our couch, we chowed down on wheat thins and extra sharp cheddar or mozzarella. We lived the high life, let me tell you. Some girls go out and party all the time, we stayed home and sat on our couch and watched Food Network. And Disney. And coloured in colouring books. And Cosmo. We read LOTS of Cosmo. Okay, so we giggled about Cosmo too.  

We had epic sleepovers in our living room. Just the two of us, popcorn, colouring books, and our movie collection. My boyfriend (now hubby) teased us about our couch, but he just didn’t understand. This couch was the best ever. I miss that couch! Though, I do have to admit, that couch also made Andrea and I skip class when it was yucky outside. Standing in the rain to catch the bus or walk across campus in the frigid wind just doesn’t look appealing when you’re curled up in blankets on the couch of epicness! If I had this couch now, I would never get anything but reading done!

We could’ve kept the couch longer if we were going to live together our junior year, but we parted ways as roomies. I was going to live with my boyfriend for the summer and fall semester before he deployed and I moved home. I didn’t want to leave Andrea hanging so we decided to not sign a lease anywhere so I wouldn’t bail on her between fall and spring semesters. Our friends that let us borrow the couch took it back off our hands because they were moving again and could take the couch.

Now. What’s hysterical about the story of Andrea and Maura is that we went to rival high schools growing up. Didn’t meet until we moved 5 hours away. We’re both back in our home areas. Hubby and I have a house in a neighbouring town from where I grew up and Andrea is back home going to grad school. We don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like. Mama life keeps me busy and an internship, grad school, and work keeps her busy. We’re still best friends though and that whole saying of if you’re friends for seven years, it’ll last a life time is coming true for us. We met in fall of 2007. Six and a half years later we’re still going strong! (: Are there things I wish had happened differently in my college experience? Sure. I would’ve loved to have been roomies with Andrea far longer than we were. Am I happy with the way things are? Of course. We’re still best friends! She still owes my kiddos a sleep over. (: Must continue the epic Disney movie marathons going with the next generation!

 

Tour Info: (I posted a pic with the tour dates above, but here are some links to the venues)

  • January 12, 2014 – New York, NY: McNally Jackson [venue link]
  • January 15, 2014 – Salt Lake City, UT: The King’s English [venue link]
  • January 16, 2014 – Provo, UT: Provo Library [venue link]
  • February 4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA: Books Inc, Opera Plaza [venue link]
  • February 5, 2015 – Petaluma, CA: Copperfield’s Books [venue link]

I wish they were coming closer to me, but alas, it’s not very often authors come anywhere close to me. Nashville/Ashville are about as close as it gets most of the time. Maybe next time!

 

*******GIVEAWAY LINK*******

You have a chance of winning your very own copy of Roomies! (US only, sorry Int’l!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

If We Were Having Coffee… December 13, 2013

Filed under: Musings — Maura @ 8:00 am

Jamie over on The Perpetual Page Turner posted an If we were having coffee… post a few weeks ago. I’ve been mulling around what I wanted to write about. Here it is. (:

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that this year has been a roller coaster. I gave birth to my second child at the beginning of the year. I now have a boy and a girl. Having one of each is definitely an adventure. I wouldn’t change a single thing though! Terrible twos and first year discoveries are an every day adventure. This parenting thing isn’t easy. I knew that beforehand, it’s just crazy. Definitely not an easy thing to explain.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that this first year of blogging has been a learning experience. I came into this with no expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I knew I wouldn’t get auto approval, have hundreds of followers, or numerous of review requests on the first day, but I also didn’t think I would be doing as well as I am. I’m still learning every day, but it’s a fun learning. I love being able to talk about books all the time. I’m so happy to have “met” lots of different bloggers and authors across the world and instantly have something in common. Now I have auto approval from HarperCollins and I’m beyond ecstatic. Overwhelmed with the numerous books I now have at my fingertips, but ecstatic.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that juggling blogging life and mama life is HARD. I try to do small things while they play together, but I also try to include reading to them in my day. Punk has developed a love of me reading to him from whatever I’m reading. Bug right now loves whatever her big brother loves. Including all house work I have as well, I’m very limited in time that I have for myself. They nap for about two hours, but not always for that long or at the same time. Every single day is a lesson in juggling.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that blogging makes me miss my best friend Mary even more. Every twitter chat, blog post, and email notification drives home the fact that we’re hundreds of miles apart and haven’t seen each other since my toddler was a newborn. Here’s hoping we get some hang time around Christmas! (Please, please, PLEASE Mary’s lovely sister, PLEASE decide to come in for Christmas!!! PLEASE!)

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I’ve fallen in love with writing again. I intended on winning NaNoWriMo with ease. I was well on track to win until my husband left for a military class in the middle of November and the kiddos decided to mutiny against me. Nap refusal, being clingy, the works. I may not have won NaNo, but I am back on track for revamping the story I set out to tell in 2007. I haven’t been able to work on it since hubby left for the class, but after I get caught up on some blog work, I plan on jumping back in. It may be after Christmas at this rate, but I will get back to writing.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that 2013 has been incredible. There have been ups and downs, but that’s life. I would make the choices all over again. Things may not have been unfolding the way I had been planned, but this is the way things are.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I’m thankful for you, dear readers. Thank you for helping me share my love of books. Thank you for listening to my fangirling and ranting. Thank you for the chats on twitter. Thank you for all the new friendships that have been forged in the almost six months since I started blogging. Thank you for helping find my niche.

Tell me, if we were having coffee, what would you say?

 

Veteran’s Day Thoughts November 11, 2013

Filed under: Musings — Maura @ 11:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Instead of my scheduled review, I decided to take a moment and post about Veteran’s Day. As some of you know, I am an Army National Guard wife. My husband has served our country since December 2004. He served overseas in Iraq in 2010. I come from a very military heavy family background like him. Both of our grandfathers served. His in the Navy and Air Force. Both of mine in the Army. One grandfather and great-grandfather of mine served in World War II. We’re very proud of our military heritage.

In today’s world, a lot of people criticise our military and that bothers me to no end. “Bullet catchers” is one of my least favourite things to see. You may not agree with where our military goes, Lord knows I don’t always agree, but after they sign on the dotted line, they go where they are TOLD not where they CHOOSE. Please remember that.

Not all wounds our veterans suffer from are visible. Think before you criticise. PTSD and TBI are things that are still only in the infancy of being understood and treated. My great-grandfather had “shell shock” when he came home from WWII. He was haunted by nightmares of the things he saw for the rest of his life. He once dreamed he was back in the trenches fighting with a German soldier and grabbed my Granny in a choke hold. She talked to him quietly until the nightmare passed. Any sudden moves and he could’ve snapped her neck. He was part of the 89th Infantry Division which helped liberate Ohrdruf Concentration Camp. Look it up sometime. It’s horrifying. Shortly before my Grandaddy died, I had on my husband’s Army sweatshirt when I was over to visit. He almost cried and begged me to tell Tim to get out when he could. He kept saying no one should see the horrors he saw. And no one should. I miss him everyday. We named our son after him.

Then, we told our veterans to man up and deal with it. Today, we know it’s much deeper than just being able to cope with things. Our veterans need help. They need our support. Our military families need support. Regardless of your politics, you should stand by our military and their families. Their sacrifices are what enable you to say, think, do the things you want. Our military’s sacrifices won our freedom and help maintain that freedom.

Sorry, not sorry for this post. I know it has nothing to do with what my blog is for. I read and review YA with the occasional adult book. Supporting the military is something that has ALWAYS been close to my heart and I just needed to talk about that today on here. Our country will be so much stronger when we put politics for personal gain aside. That’s a whole other can of worms that I don’t wish to get into. Our country will be so much stronger when we stand with our military. People were terrible to Vietnam vets and are now realising how huge of a mistake that was. I only hope we continue to learn from that mistake. Our military needs support. Thank a veteran. Smile at a military kid. Offer to help the military spouse juggling everything while his/her spouse is deployed. There is so much you can do. Any help and support is appreciated.

Thank you to all of our veterans. No matter their service. Never served overseas? Who cares. They still signed on the dotted line, willing to give their all. Former and current members of our military, this military loves and supports you.

*steps off soap box*

Maura

 

Saturday Morning Musings August 31, 2013

Filed under: Musings — Maura @ 10:18 am
Tags: , ,

I should be reading. The house is (mostly) quiet. Hubby and baby are sleeping. Toddler woke me up when he crawled into bed at 8am this morning. He was content with cuddles for about 10 minutes, then he was ready to take on his little world. He asked for a cup of milk while I fixed breakfast and waited on brewing coffee. He brought his iPod to me, asking for it to be turned on. Early morning puzzles. This kid loves his puzzles as much as he loves his books. I meant to write this yesterday at the library, but I forgot the laptop when we left to get his haircut.

At two, he loves to go to the library. He makes a beeline straight for the train table and Lego table. He’s still content with mama picking out the books. It’s my current goal for us to read all of Eric Carle’s books. I’m sure we could do it in one fell swoop, but I like to spread them out. Sometimes, Punky picks some books. Yesterday, he saw a few Thomas books so we picked up three of them.

I hope I am fostering a love of reading in Punky and Ladybug. I don’t want them to ever feel that they HAVE to read because mama and daddy do. Books will always be easily accessible to them and library trips will be encouraged.

Hubby and I were talking education last night on the way home from my dad’s house. Kids in kindergarten now have to go in KNOWING what hubby and I LEARNED in kindergarten. It baffles me how those in charge of education departments (most of them never having set foot in a classroom as a teacher, only as a student) continue to force more and more standards down. Forcing things to be taught at a younger and younger age. Do some psychology study. Small minds are built to handle only so much at a time and aren’t able to comprehend stuff until certain ages.

In this world full of technology, I fear we are losing some of the simple pleasures and talents of life. A discussion with my mom and a few friends the other night brought a shocking thought to my mind. Cursive is rarely if ever taught in schools now because it isn’t a “tested subject.” First cursive, next printing? We live in an every increasing dependency on technology. It brought to mind the world in the Matched series where writing at all wasn’t taught. For being so technologically advanced, they were rather behind. Is that what we’re heading toward? Will my grandchildren learn to write in schools? Or will it last out until perhaps my great-great grandchildren? Education is precious as are the small minds in the education system. Someone in preschool will one day grow up to be president. I hope that education begins to flourish again so we aren’t one day ruled by someone absolutely ignorant. (No, I do NOT wish to start a political debate on current or past presidents and if comments are made to stir it up, they WILL be deleted.)

I love to read. My children currently love when we read to them. I know many children today don’t get that. All it is, is TV and video games. While I can, I will limit exposure to “technology.” To me, playing and reading are far superior than learning technology. Saying this, my son knew how to work our Kindle Fires at 9 months old… so there’s only so much I can do!

Now that I’ve gotten my mini rant off my chest, I’m going to get back to reading. The peace in this house will only last for so much longer. Plus we have company coming in for the weekend. It won’t be polite to keep my nose shoved in a book the whole weekend! (:

What are your feelings on technology and education? Do you want to keep it simple or do you think a complete technological takeover is the best way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 
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