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Just call us George & Weezie

July 28, 2008 | Stuff

Well we’re movin’ on up,
To the countryside.
To a deluxe corn field and a red barn.
Movin’ on up
To the countryside.
We finally got a piece of the farm.

Armadillos won’t dig in the back yard;
Gators won’t swim in the pool.
Gotta get us a big tractor
To mow grass and plow all the snow.
No more shorts in the winter
Time for boots and a hat.
As long as we live, it’s you and me baby
There ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Well we’re movin’ on up,
To the countryside.
To a deluxe corn field and a red barn.
Movin’ on up
To the countryside.
We finally got a piece of the farm.

Yep. It’s official. We move in less than two weeks. We pack Aug. 8, load Aug. 9, clean and take off sometime that weekend. We’re supposed to close on our house up there Aug. 15, and the kids start school Aug. 19. And I don’t want to jinx anything (I’ll blame it on the rooster), but if all goes well? This house I’m in right now won’t be ours anymore in September. [Fingers crossed!] Nothing like packing in a bazillion things into a couple of weeks just to keep things exciting.

Posted by Becky @ 11:42 am | 6 Comments  

What is it with me and birds?*


I have lived in Tampa for seven years (almost to the day). For the first time ever, I heard a rooster crow yesterday morning. What’s the deal? Is this some sort of weird sign? Meh. Sometimes, I suppose, a rooster is just a rooster. But I still can’t help but wonder what in the world was a rooster doing in my neighborhood. We’ve got all kinds of strange critters around here, but … a rooster?

*There are the Sandhill cranes. They are almost as tall as I am, and they have lethal-weapon-looking beaks — you know, the kind that could peck your eyeballs right out. They aren’t afraid of people and will walk right up to you. Freaks me out. At least in Nebraska (where the cranes hang out every year), you have to drive to the Platte River and watch them from a distance. I never knew I’d have them in my back yard (and on the sidewalks and walking down the middle of the street) one day.

*Then there were the vultures that gathered on my neighbor’s roof for a few days. Then the mourning dove soon after. I couldn’t help thinking, cripes, who died? Only to discover them later feasting on a dead turtle in my neighbor’s yard.

*And more vultures circling over our house one weekend recently, tempted no doubt by the dead armadillo in our street.

Posted by Becky @ 10:50 am | 1 Comment  

You say ‘potato’ …

July 25, 2008 | Stuff

Remember when we rode the alligator to see the dentist then stopped by Old MacDonald’s on the way home?

Well, guess who we saw today.

Chuck E Jesus

Posted by Becky @ 9:33 pm | 2 Comments  

Stupid people suck

July 23, 2008 | Stuff

That’s all.

Posted by Becky @ 9:19 am | 3 Comments  

More reasons we don’t have a pet armadillo

July 19, 2008 | Family,Stuff

I mentioned over at my Being Savvy: Tampa blog that my son asked, “Would an armadillo be a good pet?

I said it wouldn’t because an armadillo is a wild animal.

Yesterday, we “ran across” a couple more reasons.

1) It doesn’t do well in traffic.

2) It attracts vultures.

Yes, that’s on our street. No, I did not hit the armadillo with my car.

Posted by Becky @ 8:38 am | 3 Comments  

What happens 72 hours before you have to put your house up for sale?

July 14, 2008 | Family,Stuff

Artwork on the wall.

And the stairway.

And the door.

And the alarm.

Heck, I wasn’t even in the shower when that happened. I just had the telephone glued to my ear all day, talking with the bank, the other bank and the realtor, trying to meet another 72-hour deadline.

By the way, anyone looking to buy a house in Tampa? Because I have one for sale. Yep, we’re moving. Here’s the door to our new house. Can you guess where it is?

(For those of you I’ve already told, you don’t get a guess.)

We move in one month!

Stay tuned.

Posted by Becky @ 10:40 pm | 5 Comments  

Mom Road Trip, aka Devra and Sarah’s (and Meagan’s and Aviva’s and Jill’s) Excellent Adventure

July 10, 2008 | Blogging,D.C.,Traveling

I know some crazy people, y’all.

So there’s this little conference in California called BlogHer.

And this blogging group called the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, which includes Moms Blogs in eight other cities, including DC Metro Moms Blog, which is where two crazy people I know — Devra and Sarah — blog.

And they’re taking off on the Mom Road Trip of 2008 this week in a brand-new vehicle with wireless Internet, cameras and constant blog updates. They leave Washington, D.C., on Saturday and head for California, hitting Chicago, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City and Reno on the way.

My family just returned from vacation where we drove straight through from Florida to Iowa … and back. I only have one wish for the Mom Road Trippers:

On the road of life, may you enjoy Smiley Face Pancakes along the way.

(That’s what we had for breakfast on our road trip.)

Happy trails!

Posted by Becky @ 10:17 am | 3 Comments  

Get it?

July 5, 2008 | Stuff

Posted by Becky @ 1:29 pm | 3 Comments  

Books: Final Salute, a review by Bob

July 4, 2008 | Books,Guest post

Bob is one of my favorite readers — and not just of my blog. He won a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 in a caption contest I held last year. He also won an autographed copy of Jim Sheeler’s book, Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives. He just wrote an incredible review, which I’m sharing here. He plans to pass around the book for others to read. Bob is a military musician who lives in Washington, D.C.

Book review: Final Salute tells heart-wrenching stories of loss

It is often hard for anyone outside the military culture (and even for many within it) to understand why a person would voluntarily step into a job in which the prospect of a violent death looms over every minute of the day. In a profession where the vast majority of career fields are far out of harm’s way, those who do the actual fighting and dying define our perception of what the military is all about. Whatever the personal reasons for doing so may be — for God, for country, for family, for politics, for pay and benefits — putting one’s life on the line is part of the job description for anyone in or near a combat zone.

And so the military has its own protocols and traditions for dealing with the reality of death, affirming the value of life and honoring those who volunteer to serve their country in the most dangerous possible way.

In Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives, Jim Sheeler, a former reporter for the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado, narrates a year in the lives of the families of several service members who died in Iraq.

The person who touches all those lives is Marine Maj. Steve Beck, a “casualty assistance calls officer.” Informing families of a loved one’s death is not a job anyone can adequately train for; in the military it is often not even the primary duty of the person who must do it. It is a sad kind of good fortune that Sheeler found in his own journalistic backyard a Marine determined to figure out just how to do this heartbreaking job right — whether it is informing next of kin with compassion and understanding; or making sure the casket is respectfully borne from the airplane and presented to the family; or seeing to it that the body of the deceased is attended by fellow service members at every moment until it is properly buried; or helping spouses and children receive the continuing military benefits to which they’re entitled.

Sheeler does not dwell on examples of what not to do, but it’s clear that the care, sensitivity and long-term devotion that Maj. Beck shows his families cannot be taken for granted. Beck disregards the official scripts and other basic guidance the military provides for death notifications and follow-up care. (“[N]o firm instructions can be given to cover the varied and sometimes difficult situations that may arise … ” the manual states.) Instead Beck relies on his own instincts, and the certainty of how he would want his own family treated in similar circumstances.

Nor does Sheeler get into the politics of the war, other than relating the occasional views of grieving relatives. Instead he focuses on how each “unfinished life” complicates and enriches the lives left in its wake:

  • Marine Lance Cpl. Brett Lee Lundstrom‘s military honors intermingle with the year-long mourning traditions of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe. Army Sgt. Ed Lundstrom goes back to Iraq after his older brother is buried.
  • Marine Sgt. Gregory Edwards, still recovering from an explosion that cost him both his legs, insists on going to Arlington National Cemetery months later for the funeral of Navy Corpsman Christopher “Doc” Anderson, the medic who kept Edwards alive after that explosion.
  • Army Pvt. 1st Class Jesse Givens’ widow, Melissa, speaks of the discomfort casual acquaintances may feel in her presence: “A couple of people were upset that I was at the Christmas party because I remind them of what can happen to their husband.” Her older son Dakota is taunted by other children: “I get mad when kids tell me the wrong things, like ‘Your daddy died for no reason.’ They tell that to me. They even tell that to [younger brother] Carson. Kids are – well, kids are just kids. I know it’s not true. And I make sure Carson knows that, too.” Dakota makes a promise: “I’m going to do everything [with Carson] that my dad did with me. I’m going to take him to the park. I’m going to take him everywhere my dad took me. And if my mom dies, I’m going to take care of him like she takes care of me.”

How can a 10-year-old boy grow up that fast?

The book includes 24 pages of pictures, many of which ran with Sheeler’s original Rocky Mountain News stories, which make up much of the book. Among the most striking of Todd Heisler’s photos is that of a six-man Marine honor guard preparing to remove the casket of 2nd Lt. James Cathey from a commercial airliner, while passengers’ faces can be seen in the plane’s windows.

There is hardly a paragraph or photo in this book that is not heart-wrenching to contemplate, but it is never maudlin or manipulative.

If there’s a message, it might be this simple: These men died doing what their country asked them to do. Their families and communities mourn and grieve and do their best to mend the wounds, fill the gaps and express the meaning of an unfinished life.

Related DMBR posts
Books: Final Salute ~ winners announced
Books: Final Salute winners coming soon
Memorial Day
Books: Final Salute ~ win an autographed copy

About the book
About the author ~ Jim Sheeler won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for the 2005 Veterans Day special report at the Rocky Mountain News. Sheeler is now a freelance reporter and scholar in residence at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
About the photographer ~ Todd Heisler won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for the 2005 Veterans Day special report at the Rocky Mountain News. Heisler is now a staff photographer for The New York Times.
Rocky Mountain News special report

Related articles, reviews and blog posts
Bylines, University of Colorado at Boulder alumni newsletter
Chattanooga Times Free-Press
Colorado Springs Independent
Columbia Journalism Review
The Daily Item
The Dennis Prager Show
The Digital Journalist
NPR (includes an excerpt of the book)
The New York Times Books
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
Not For Attribution
One-Minute Book Reviews
Paul’s Down-Home Page
A Series Of (Un)Fortunate Reviews
Some Soldier’s Mom
Video/audio links on Jim Sheeler’s site
The Washington Post

Posted by Becky @ 9:07 am | 1 Comment  

Living in a Noggin-Google world

July 3, 2008 | Family,Stuff,Traveling,Vacation

Conversation overheard between two cousins during our family vacation.

5-year-old: “Do you have Noggin?”

6-year-old:“Umm, no. [pause] Do you have Google?”

Posted by Becky @ 5:00 pm | 2 Comments  


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