Three years

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
DANCE there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
For wind or water’s roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool’s triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of wind?

Three years. Feels like forever ago but hurts like it was yesterday.

I spent 4 months in SoCal late last year and I could have driven down to Sandy Eggo to visit you...but you're not there. Not really. I think it would have made me sadder. And I try to avoid things that make me sadder. I keep hoping your blog will be back up one day soon. I am pretty sure I've read all of your posts but to be able to go back through and read them again would put a smile on my face. In that, I know I am not alone.

You are missed.


- hfs


Making progress

I am winning the war on cardboard. Not only am I vanquishing it from inside my house, I am vanquishing it from my life. Had a friend swing by yesterday and take home easily 75% of our boxes. They are planning a move out of state and will need all of the boxes and packing paper they can get their hands on. I am happy to oblige.

The house is probably about 75% unpacked.

Kitchen: 95% done. Need to find homes for a few odds and ends and hang decor and curtains.
Family room: 80% done. Two boxes of mementos that I need to sort through and decor to be hung.
Bedrooms: 80% done. Kids need mattresses and (got new ones) desks.
Living room: 50% done. Needs furniture (armchairs) so right now, it's the holding space for all of our wall decor.
Garage: I don't know. MacGyver says he's unpacked everything and is now putting things where they belong.

I am missing a box. Probably a dish pack that has my toaster oven, crock pot, kitchen linens (pot holders, oven mits, etc.), the contents of my junk drawer (found it!), and a few other odds and ends. Not a big deal but annoying, nonetheless. However, not nearly as annoying as our renter. The house came with a washer and dryer (our old ones). He was told he was welcome to use them and, as with any other appliance in the house, to let our property managers know if there were any issues. The washer was only a few years old and the dryer had never given us any trouble that wasn't fixable. When we came back to the house, the washer and dryer were gone. We thought our property managers had them but they did not. (in their defense, when it came time for our renter to clear, they had a family emergency and he bailed in the middle of the night)

Our property managers finally reached the renter and she said he was told that, once the washer and dryer started having issues, he could 'ditch' them. Um...no. No one told him that. Apparently the washer 'started leaking' and, rather than call the property manager, he 'ditched' the washer and then gave the dryer to his mom after buying a new set. I can *almost* understand ditching the washer (not really but it's more believable than giving the dryer - which was NOT his! - to his mom) but where he gets off giving away a functioning appliance that wasn't his is beyond me. Thankfully our property managers were able to find us a new (to us) set at a refurbishing company so we now have a washer and dryer but I'm still baffled by our renter. He also broke my windmill which pisses me off more than the washer and dryer. And I won't even go into the cleaning he didn't do, the dog poop he didn't pick up (one and a half 13-gallon trash bags from dogs he wasn't supposed to have, per the lease!), or the expanding foam insulation he piped in around the styrofoam pieces he put in the windows downstairs - foam he piped on to my wooden windowsills.

Needless to say, we learned a LOT with this renting experience - namely that our previous property managers really weren't anal-retentive OCD control freaks when they made us sign leases that were ridiculously explicit. They just knew what people were capable of. Thankfully, none of the damages are beyond what his security deposit will cover so we're good. But eesh.

Work (for me) and school (for MacGyver) start tomorrow so we're on to the next chapter. I am excited for both of us, probably moreso for MacGyver because he's going to be doing more of what he loves - flying.  I'll be working with people I really like so that is a plus too. It will take us some time to get in to a rhythm but we'll get there. And there are some irons in the fire for additional opportunities so that's exciting as well. Hopefully we don't have to do the broke college student thing for too long. In the meantime, we'll just keep plugging along. I'm sure I'll have more to write once my life settles down a bit.


- hfs


Home sweet home

And we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. We made it back to the midwest last week and are currently drowning in a sea of cardboard boxes. I cannot stand cardboard. We are probably about 60% unpacked but we have not yet found homes for everything just yet and the things that have found homes aren't neat or tidy so we still have some serious work ahead of us.

Oh, and MacGyver starts classes next week and I start work on the same day. Needless to say, this weekend will be all about getting this house put together. And fixing the car. We had a friend store our car while we were in Korea - it is an older sedan but it's solid (structurally...not necessarily mechanically) and we really like it so we wanted to keep it. The thermostat housing has been an on-going issue with this car and, once again, it's leaking. I want to say this is the fourth time MacGyver has had to replace it since we bought it back in 2009. Maybe fourth time is the charm? But it needs to get fixed - we only have one other car and with him going to school (about an hour away) and me going to work, we both need cars and we don't have room in our budget for a car payment. Thank goodness I married a competent mechanic!

The house is good - nothing that some elbow grease, a few power tools, and a home equity line of credit won't fix. Heh. The renter was a bit of a knucklehead but nothing that we can't fix. The kids are settling in to their own rooms and will be even more settled once we buy them beds. The dogs are absolutely LOVING all of the space to run and play and the kids are loving the opportunity to get out and explore since the temps this week have been unseasonably mild. MacGyver is loving the big garage, especially as he tries to get the car up and running. And I am loving that we are just stepping back into our lives here as though we never left. The Girl has started back with her sports. The Boy has hopped right back in with his friends and will pick back up with his Scout troop soon. We are surrounded by friends and happy to be home.

The VA will take some straightening out. MacGyver didn't really get a chance to be seen and evaluated by a VA doc here before heading out of country and there was a hiccup with his meds so we have some untangling to do on that side of things. Thankfully the VA office here locally has been super helpful. Along a similar line, I had to do some 'adulting' this week and get us signed up for health care (i.e. Obamacare). Going without health insurance scares me - I have seen how expensive even small medical situations can be and the idea of being without that safety net makes me very nervous. So I put my big-girl pants on and blew a few hours of my life getting us enrolled (two hours because I had to delete the first application when a job possibility fell through and our financial picture changed abruptly). Now we're just waiting on the invoice so I can pay it and get us rolling. The premiums (even the unsubsidized ones) are a lot more tolerable than what we were paying for COBRA.

Then I kept my big-girl pants on and contacted our local IRS Tax Advocate because our amended Federal return had gone MIA and the website wasn't giving me any useful information. Thankfully the Tax Advocate was able to access our files, give me some good information, and assure me that the IRS does actually have (and is working on) our amended returns. Hopefully we'll see that money soon - the moving expenses have piled up. In the mean time, I get to go back to the days of squeezing every last penny out of our budget for the next few months. It's doable and thankfully our local Aldi is wonderfully stocked. We have a few more months of access on post so we'll be making at least 2 or 3 more runs to the commissary and PX to stock up on necessities. We should be ok. And it's not like rice and beans/beans and rice is bad for you! Time to get back to my Dave Ramsey mindset! I can't wait to get a garden planted and skip buying veggies at the grocery store. Mother Earth News, here I come!

The war on cardboard will continue tomorrow. In the meantime, I am going to go to bed...in my own bed...in my own home. Life is good.


- hfs


Two steps forward...

...one step back. Back to the Sunflower State. Back to the closest thing that resembles 'home'. Hoping to pick back up right where we left off a little over a year ago. Some pretty big changes in store for us - new jobs, new careers, new school situations, (relatively) new house. Old friends. Well, 'old' in the military sense...as in we've known them longer than a year. For military families, that's old!

I am one part thrilled to be going back to Kansas and one part sad to leave this place I grew up. I'm finding that being here - surrounded by the 'used to be' memories is making me quite sad. There's no way we can afford a house here - hell, we can't afford a studio apartment here - and even if we could, it will never be to me what it was and that makes me quite sad. I had a terrific childhood. My hometown was a perfect place to grow up. I had good friends, wonderful family, and great experiences here. But this place has changed. There is so much that looks like what it used to be but *I* am not who I used to be and that changes everything. You can't go 'home' again...not because 'home' has necessarily changed (though in many ways it has), but because *you* have changed.

So we are off on a 3-day road trip. Because two international moves in a year weren't exhausting enough. I'm just hoping we don't run into a blizzard. I've been keeping a keen eye on the weather and we're taking a southern route in the hopes of avoiding not only steep elevation climbs but snow for as long as possible. I cannot wait to get back into my house again. We were only there for a few short months so I really didn't get to settle in and learn it. And I'll get to see my STUFF for the first time in 18 months. I wonder how much of it I will look at and think, "What in the WORLD was I thinking keeping this?!?" I sense another round of serious purging coming on! Last time, I managed to knock out a literal TON of stuff - I dropped 2,000 pounds of stuff from our last move to this one.

I'm going to have to get used to wearing semi-professional clothing again. Working as a lifeguard, I've been schlubbing around in Guard shirts and track pants but now that I'll be working in an office, I need to dress appropriately. Thankfully there are a few decent thrift stores in the area so I can supplement my wardrobe a bit. I weeded through and ditched a good 50% of my clothes before we moved to Korea so my goal now is to only buy basic items that I not only need but look and feel good in. Shouldn't be too hard - even after purging my wardrobe, I still had a solid amount of basic, fundamental pieces.

I can't wait to paint a wall or 10. I can't wait to tackle the bathroom redo. I can't wait to plant a real garden. I can't wait until next Christmas when I can put my own decorations up for the first time in 3 years! SQUEE!

At the same time, the house will be a bit lonely without having the grandparents around. I am so grateful for this time with them. I am grateful my children were able to spend time not only with them but in the town their parents grew up in. It's been fun showing them around. But now it's time to PACK!


- hfs


A Spike

A sudden influx of comments alerted me to a hard-core spike in visits to this humble little blog. Apparently a post from 2006 has garnered some attention from someone who posted it on Facebook. While I'm thrilled to have people visit, I'm not quite sure where everyone came from (investigating the links led me to a wall on FB). So, if you're here via a Facebook post, give a shout in the comments and let me know how you found this place. And welcome!


- hfs



From @RennaW on Twitter:
"Breaking: report reveals absolutely no terrorists were forced to choose between burning alive or jumping to their death"

To say I am conflicted over this would be an understatement. The part of me that remembers watching people choose between burning to death and jumping out of a window 70+ stories up has no issue with water-boarding or sleep deprivation or loud music and bright lights. The other part of me that understands that true torture rarely yields the results sought and draws us more toward our barbaric, animalistic side does have a hard time with it. 

For me, what it boils down to is this: swift justice. If we had the fortitude to mete out swift justice to our enemies upon their aggression, we wouldn't be thirteen years (or hundreds of years, if you care to study history) into a war with an enemy that only understands violence of action. 

I hear people say that they’re weary of the Long War. I understand. I’m weary of it too. But mostly because I’m tired of us notfighting it, at least not fighting it to win it. Instead, we’re sending our best and bravest off into meat grinders with both arms tied behind their back, told that they’d better be nice and gentle with the beasts trying to murder them or we, the nation that they’re fighting for with a courage and dedication second to none, will treat them far worse than we ever treated Khalid Sheikh Mo-ham-head." ~ Emporer Misha



- hfs


Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving was a quiet event this year - much different than in years past. And it was bringing me down a bit - I was missing the loud, busy, crowded dinners we've been a part of. But a text from a friend brought that all into perspective and has really snapped me out of my little funk.

My friend asked how life was going after I texted him to wish him a happy Thanksgiving and it gave me pause. I had started to write to him about my gripes and grumps and stopped about half-way through the text - that wasn't what I should be focusing on...especially on THANKSgiving. So I erased what I had written - my trivial complaints - and typed instead that we have a roof over our head, delicious food on the table, and everyone is (relatively) healthy. Really, what more can one ask for?


Not one thing.

So when I start to get grumpy and chafe at the limitations I'm currently dealing with or the minor frustrations that pop up in my life, I just go back and re-read that text and get my perspective squared away. We are healthy. We are housed (with offers from others backing up the graciousness of my in-laws) and fed and have clothes on our backs. We have a car that runs (knocking on wood as I type this) well and gets me to and from work. I have a job that helps make ends meet. They aren't quite meeting but they aren't TOO far apart and we have some savings that is helping to bridge that gap. We have prospects on the horizon.

We are blessed. And because we are blessed, we are constantly looking for ways to bless others. It may not be with money or gifts this year but we can bless others with our time and our service - even in little, unseen ways: doing a chore for a family member; running an errand; helping out at work beyond what the job description calls for; donating some of our excess (because even in these lean times, we are abundantly blessed); spending time with friends and really BEING with them. It's not much but it's what we can do.

And we are blessed to be a blessing.


- hfs