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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 5/29/11 - 6/5/11

Friday, June 3, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #43

This week's Friday Fill-In!  Enjoy!

1. It’s now June (woot!)… what plans do you have for the summer?

I have this horrible habit of overstuffing our summer breaks.  This year I even tried to back off some by not enrolling the boys in any summer activities...until an advertisement for Challenger Soccer Camp arrived in the mail.  I gave in and enrolled them, but that isn't till August.

But then travel plans and opportunities to see friends, family and the country started to emerge...and will dominate our summer.

We received an invitation to join friends at Walt Disney World next weekend, so we're taking a short trip down to Orlando for 3 days at the park.

Later in June we're headed up to PA for Dave's family's reunion, then a visit with my parents in WV, Dave's presenting at the National N Scale Convention (he's a model railroader, for our newer fans), and then I'm taking the boys camping in Vermont with my old college roommate and her son...we're looking forward to spending the day at the Wanderlust Festival among other fun outdoor (read: no Wii, no DS, no Blu-Ray) activities.

In July we're expecting an assortment of visitors from North Carolina, West Virginia, New York and elsewhere in Florida.  Many are coming in town for Dave's assumption of squadron command, which for an Air Force officer is a pretty significant step in his career.  We couldn't be more proud!

2. What is your favorite summer memory as a kid?

Getting to play outside without worrying about homework, orchestra practice, sports practices, etc.  I'm one of those old fogeys who would get to stay outside from sunrise till sunset...riding my bike all over the place with friends.

3. If wild animals could be made pets without fear of them ever being dangerous, what kind of exotic animal would you want as a pet?

A bear.  A great big bear that would help keep us warm if the USAF sends us back to Nebraska to freeze to death :-)

4. Is there anything about deployments that you do like? submitted by The Thrifty Military Wife

The tax breaks, hostile fire pay, and overall reduced expenses of having the extra person in the household provides some additional money...and you don't even have to tell the IRS about it!  It usually helps us to pay off bills, buy new cars when we need them, and take fun vacations.  I paid off two student loans after my first deployment in 1997.

5. I’m starting to run out of questions again… so please give me a question you’d like to see (off-the-wall will most likely make it because we seem to have used a lot of the “traditional” ones).

"Have you ever convinced packers/movers to pack something they aren't supposed to for a PCS?"


Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Scripps National Spelling Bee: Some Cool Statistics

(This is an article I originally wrote for, to be published on the same day as the finals).

We are in the midst of the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee Week in the Washington, D.C. area. I've watched the competition with interest most years -- although not with the same enthusiasm my family watches the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th! I find it especially cool that ESPN chooses to air the finals every June and this year the preliminaries will stream live on ESPN3.

Over the years I've noticed some interesting trends. I'm a statistics girl, and I find it easier to present you some fascinating facts about the spelling bee:
  1. Are the winning words getting more difficult? Check out the list of winning words here. Do you see a trend from mostly Germanic words that (to me) are seemingly straightforward to sound out, use in context and use basic some serious Latin, Greek and other Romantic language-based words? Consider words such as fracas (1930), intelligible (1935), and therapy (1940). Compare those to antediluvian (1994), chiaroscurist (1998) and appoggiatura (2005). I think this speaks volumes to the increased diversity in the English language as well as the capabilities of America's 8-14 year olds' spelling skills over the years. We trust that our kids are more capable than ever before!
  2. Homeschooled students are demonstrating their excellence! According to this article published on May 31st featuring San Angelo, Texas's National Spelling Bee contestant, even though homeschooling accounts for only 2.9% of American schoolchildren, 9.8% of this year's 275 contestants are homeschooled. Homeschooled students have won the spelling bee four times -- will they take home the prize a 5th time this year?
  3. Gender. I don't consider 45 female winners vs. 41 male winners overwhelming, but it still put a smile on my face.
  4. Diversity, at least among Indian-Americans. I have to admit, before I found the statistic elsewhere (see link in #3), I attempted to discern the split of the genders of the winners over the past 83 years by manually counting the male vs. female winners. I also have to admit, when I got to 1985, I didn't know whether Balu Natarajan of Chicago, Illinois was a male or female. (He's a male). Then there were nine more names whose genders I simply didn't know (sorry!). It turns out they are all Indian-Americans.
  5. More diversity. In 1998 Jody-Anne Maxwell of Kingston, Jamaica became the first (and only) non-American resident to win the bee.
  6. The Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) sends contestants. Sponsored by the Stars and Stripes newspaper, which is published for American servicemembers living overseas, students can enter through their on-base schools. Twelve-year-old Anuk Dayaprema, whose father is serving in the US Army in Vicenza, Italy, is representing DoDDS Europe schools.
  7. He's HOW OLD? There is an 8-year-old third-grader competing this year! I think about my own 8-year-old being able to spell xanthosis (1995) and my head spins!
  8. Want more statistics? Visit this link to view even more statistics about this year's 275 contestants. They've broken down everything from how many are only children vs. with siblings, how many are repeat performers, as well as age and grade distributions.
I certainly plan to watch the spelling bee with the kids this week. Will you?


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


My dear friend Brandie at The Country Cook has a surprise waiting for us this morning!  My first ever guest-blog-post!  The Country Cook is fun because each of Brandie's recipes has a great story to go along.  I had the PERFECT recipe to add to her blog and was so excited to get to share it!

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Florida Discoveries #13: Black-Velvet Featherleaf Slug

"You have GOT to be kidding me!  You're going to blog about slugs???"

It's been described as having a dry-tire surface to it.  I have to admit, as close as I got to the slug to get these pictures, I did NOT touch it!

LOL!  Yes I am!  Because I was so incredibly stunned when I saw this black stick start slithering across my driveway last week!

Meet a black-velvet featherleaf slug, which is a species of slug introduced from South America to northern Florida in the 1960s.  This website seems to have a good description, and I found some snippets of information at these other sites. 

Florida Slugs
Black-velvet featherleaf slug sightings in the Jacksonville, FL area.

The one I saw was pretty long and slender. About the length of my middle finger (3-4"?).

Here are the other pictures I got. Enjoy, if you dare!