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On LIFE AT 30 & BEYOND: kids, family, men, BOOKS, cars, pets, tattoos...NASCAR, Aspergers/Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Virtual/Home Schooling, teenagers, Navy Mom...




Thursday
Jan092014

New on Rebel Reviews: THE GOLDFINCH

Happy New Year!!! If you have not heard about the latest novel by best-selling author Donna Tartt, you might have been living under a rock?! Probably not, and completely understandable, in the rush and clamor of the holidays and the start of a new year, but you won't be able to avoid news of this literary sensation for long, which is such a rare and wonderful event in the world of books these days!

Although The Goldfinch was officially released on October 23rd, by Christmas 2013, it was already heralded on many reputable lists as the #1 Book of 2013.
It is extraordinary.

Enjoy the Rebel Review:

BOOK GROUP REVIEWS: THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt


Saturday
Sep212013

New on Rebel Reviews: THE SALINGER CONTRACT

I've said I am giving up book reviews, other than blurbs and mentions on social media, which seem to generate more buzz these days, anyway. I have been working on other projects for actual money! revenue! consideration! More than just a free book, anyway. Rebel Reviews are time-consuming. But here's one more, you just never know when I'm going to enjoy something enough to...

Check out the latest Rebel Review:
THE SALINGER CONTRACT by Adam Langer!


Tuesday
Aug272013

CALDWELL GRADUATES NAVY BASIC TRAINING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
08/23/2013

Zachary Aaron Caldwell, son of Russ & Sherri Caldwell of Midtown Atlanta, and a 2013 graduate of Henry W. Grady High School, recently completed Navy Boot Camp at the U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois.

Seaman Caldwell successfully completed the eight-week program of intensive training, which culminated in the twelve-hour, overnight exam, Battle Stations 21, aboard the USS Trayer, the Navy's high-tech disaster simulator (as featured on CNN).

Because of his previous JROTC leadership experience at Grady High School, Caldwell served as his Division #313 AROC - Asst Recruit Chief Petty Officer, 2nd in command, during Boot Camp.

He was promoted in the last week of Basic Training and led his Division #313 as RPOC - Recruit Chief Petty Officer, 1st in Command, in the formal Pass In Review Graduation Ceremony on 23 August 2013. There were 871 graduating Sailors in 11 divisions on that date.

Seaman Caldwell reported to the Center for Information Dominance - Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida, on 24 August 2013 to begin 22 weeks "A School" Training as an Information Systems Technician (IT).

Monday
Aug052013

Where Is Your Kid Going To College?

"Where Is Your Kid Going To College?"

The #1 most-often-asked question, as your child approaches his/her senior year of high school. Here it is, people, Part 1 of a new series in our continuing adventure on RebelHousewife.com: NAVY MOM.

Proud Navy Mom image

My son is going into the Navy. He graduated from high school in May, and left for Basic Training, at Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Center, outside of Chicago, just 30 days later. I am so proud of him, so excited for him, and I experienced such surprising devastation as the time came, and we handed our 18-year-old son over to the U.S. Military.

This is a kid who has never loved the academic aspects of school, although he is very bright and highly technical. If he could have earned his high school diploma in Mythbuster’s Science, MAKE Magazine, technology, video games, and taking things apart, he would have been a 4.0 student. Upon graduation, with decent grades, he just wanted to GO -- get out of Georgia! -- BE and DO. He is ready for adventure, and after the 13-year slog through public education...GO, Zac, GO!

His interest in the military was a surprise to us. He enrolled in the high school JROTC program after a presentation about elective choices in 8th grade. At the time, he was stumbling and grumbling through the dark tunnel of puberty -- a good kid, but for a year or two there, between 13 and 15, he lived furtively in his room or out in the wild, with not much to say to the parents. (It was such a relief when he turned 16 and emerged from the tunnel into a much more pleasant and interactive young man. What finally brought him out? He wanted to get his driver’s license and drive our car.)

During that angsty time, I think the structure and discipline of the military, the community and brotherhood, attracted him in a way that 15 years of attempted structure and discipline at home, obviously, had not.

We didn’t hear too much about JROTC in 9th grade. Granted, he still wasn’t talking much, at that point. In 10th grade, things started to get serious. He kept his hair cut short and got up earlier than he even knew the day existed to run and work out. He was careful to arrange his schedule to show up for events and activities. He participated in all the extra-curriculars: Raiders, Drill Team, Rifle Team, parades, charity drives, academic competitions, community service. He asked us to help out, and by the end of 10th grade, we had become the JROTC Mom & Dad for 180 cadets: driving to meets and practices, cheering them on, providing field support (FOOD) at weekend competitions, and organizing Honors & Award Ceremony receptions (FOOD).

During that sophomore year, his high school JROTC program had strong student leadership, with two of the leaders earning full-ride scholarships to West Point Military Academy. Under that impressive example, Zac started taking JROTC even more seriously.

By 11th grade, he earned his commendation in the Saber Day Ceremony and became a cadet staff officer. His best friend, a fellow JROTC cadet leader, graduated that year and Zac was very interested and impressed with his friend’s direction: Having earned a full four-year scholarship with the Georgia National Guard, he went to Army Basic & Advanced Training that summer/fall, and then started college full-time in January. He will get paid, actually, on top of tuition and expenses, all through college for his Weekend Warrior service, and graduate as an officer.

In Zac’s Senior year, he was Cadet LT COL Caldwell, Battalion Commander in charge of the Grady High School unit. Under his leadership, they earned high honors throughout the year and were awarded #1 Army JROTC in Atlanta Public Schools. He was really good at this military stuff!

He seriously contemplated his future, worked really hard in JROTC and in school, still managing to have enough fun, and get into enough trouble, to fully enjoy his senior year. He started on college applications and the ROTC scholarship process. He scored very highly on the ASVAB, the military entrance test, and felt he did much better on the ASVAB than the SATs.

Ultimately, he decided to enlist. He wanted to GO, BE, and DO -- and figured, realistically, college could wait.

After four years in the ARMY JROTC program, immersed in the brotherhood of the ARMY; three summers at ARMY JROTC summer camp at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia; and with the best friend going ARMY -- we were worried. Although neither my husband nor I served in the military, we are both from Navy families -- his Dad was career Navy and my Dad was a Marine. We both grew up on and near Navy bases around the world. We are WATER people.

We attended a Visitor’s Day during one of Zac’s summer camps at Fort Benning -- in June. It was a hot, dusty, dirty level of hell (with apologies to the Army people). While we were exuberant in our support of the military, we tried to be subtle about our preferences. After Visitor’s Day, I pointed out to him, subtly, of course, that every Navy base I had ever been on had been so clean, so well-run, so modern -- ON THE WATER, beautiful beaches!!! Subtle.

He gave it a lot of thought and talked to a lot of people: his JROTC instructors, family, mentors, friends. He asked us to come along when he talked to both the Army and the Navy recruiters. He really did his research...

He chose NAVY!!! (Thank You, Sweet Little Baby Jesus!) With his ASVAB score, he was able to choose, and contract for, an IT career path, with a top security clearance and a six-year commitment (because of the extra schooling required for the rating).

Funny thing is, after 8 weeks’ Basic Training at Great Lakes, he goes to Pensacola, Florida for 22 weeks -- in school! (Hopefully, IT school will be more Mythbusters & MAKE Magazine than academics?) He will have his great adventure on the sea, but he’ll begin working toward his college degree -- and getting paid! -- at the same time. After his first year or two of active duty, he will have the opportunity to apply for college programs. The Navy will take him off active duty to finish his degree, he can go through Officer Training and finish his career as a "Mustang" (enlisted-turned-officer).

All in good time. This kid needs a year or two...or four, even, if that’s what he wants. There is plenty of time for college and serious girlfriends, a wife, babies and everything else. Better to have his adventure now, before all of that.

OF COURSE I worry about my son in the military -- how could I not? But in my Mom’s heart, I know this is the perfect plan for my GO, BE, DO, active son...

And I could not be more proud of him.

Tuesday
May072013

Happy Mother's Day! $25 & Under

Happy Mother's Day! $25 & Under - Part One

by Sherri Caldwell - The Rebel Housewife®
http://www.rebelhousewife.com


As a Mom, I could easily rattle off a dozen ways, and more, in which I could be fabulously gifted on Mother's Day for under $25. (In response to a challenge from NerdWallet -- this is probably not what they had in mind, but there you go. I appreciate the great suggestion and motivation to do a Mother's Day blog post this year!)

Here's a Quickie: FIVE Best Gifts Under $25 For Mom:
  1. A BOOK (my most-favorite thing!) or gift card to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Specific suggestion? Shameless plug: Rebel Housewife Rules: To Heck With Domestic Bliss! or anything by Erma Bombeck -- trust me, she'll love it.
  2. Lunch at my favorite restaurant. You do know Mom's favorite restaurant, right? (This Mom's is La Fonda Latina - Atlanta).
  3. Candles/Flowers (preferably plants) - so many choices! Check this out:
    Candles (BBW) -- Ooh, how 'bout them candles? (LOVE those flameless ones for outside!)
  4. CHOCOLATE -- and not the cheap stuff you can buy in the check-out lane at the grocery store; at least go to the candy aisle and get some decent truffles. Look for Lindt LINDOR Assorted Chocolate Truffles. Yum.
  5. Jewelry -- watches, earrings, bracelets/anklets, oh my! -- Amazon Jewelry Sale.
    My top picks -- and, coincidentally, Happy Mother's Day to ME:



There you go...easy! Now, if you want to go super-special, under-under $25, check Part Two for some other thoughts and ideas:

Happy Mother's Day! $25 & Under - Part Two


Mother's Day: Thru the Years

As a new mother, 18 years ago, for my first and five-or-so subsequent Mother's Days, I needed nothing more than TIME -- for myself. The greatest imaginable gift for those early, blissful, exhausted Mother's Days would have been a coupon book or certificate of offerings from friends, family, husband, neighbors...anyone...TIME: an offer to change a diaper; baby's hour out; nap-time for Mommy; Date Night w/Daddy; 15 minutes to go to the bathroom or take a shower; a delivered meal. All free, or nearly so, but of inestimable worth to the new Mommy. (Of course, jewelry is always appropriate, especially birth-stone jewelry or mother's jewelry -- or diamonds, always perfect! Not necessarily under $25, or under-under, but I digress...)

Five years later (noting I had three children, age five & under, at this point), I treasured every toddler and kid-made arts & crafts symbol of love: the macaroni necklaces, handpainted plant pots; "stained glass" paper creations, thumbprint-decorated cardstock photo frames, ceramic handprints in clay. If my kids slapped glue and glitter paint on a stick, I loved it. I can still visualize those precious gifts, wrapped in simple tissue paper, so eagerly given by those little hands, the super-big-hugs. I still have many of those wonderful, priceless gifts.

As the mother of teenagers, 13 years later, there is a cat's-in-the-cradle aspect to everything, and the ideal gift is TIME -- with my kids. Appreciation. "I love you, Mom." A family dinner at home (without having to cook or clean up after) -- "you take it easy today, Mom." A kid who might pick up their own dirty clothes, turn their own stinky socks rightside out, even run a load of laundry -- woo! Another excellent idea for teenagers: help Mom with the TECHNOLOGY! Set up a ringtone for her; show her how to download and listen to music she would actually like, or a cool app; figure out for her why it's making that noise, or that light keeps flashing, or why it won't do what I want it to (whatever it is).

As a Mom, I can tell you-- Mother's Day does not need to be expensive or extravagant -- truly, it shouldn't be -- to be special. How these 18 years slipped away so quickly, I don't know. Everyone said they would, and they were right.

So relax.

The happiest Mother's Days are completely free: "I love you, Mom. Thank you."
I need to go get a nose-wipie (Kleenex) now...
Happy, Happy Mother's Day - Make it Special.