Red Cross link

I feel like all I do is ask for money. But that's not going to stop me now. Here is the link for the American Red Cross - they need money and manpower. Do NOT send clothes or food - they have nowhere to put them right now. Those with medical experience, mental health practitioners, spiritual counselors, grief counselors, family counselors and the like are in particular need.

IF you want to go down to the gulf shores and help, contact your local Red Cross office directly. They will credential you and dispatch you to the area in which your help is most needed.

The national Red Cross hotline is (866) GET-INFO and the web address is : American Red Cross

And again, if anyone has first-hand knowledge of the Ocean Springs area, please e-mail me at : homefrontsix @ yahoo.com (no spaces). Michelle, thanks.


- hfs

Still no word from Grama...

Ocean Springs seems to have been spared the brunt of the damage though, from what I can tell, there is some. I just about fell apart last night/this morning when I finally gave up on sleep (somewhere around 4am) and turned on the news, only to see that Katrina had veered right and was slamming in to Gulfport.

I tried calling her this AM but the lines are down (no surprise). I'm hoping that - as it is in the military - no news is good news. A friend of the family is a sheriff in the area and I"m sure he has at least made sure that the building she is in is still standing.

But man, I wish she weren't there. However I am relieved that New Orleans was spared - what a blessing that was.

If anyone has any first hand knowledge of the Ocean Springs area and any damage sustained there, e-mail me : homefrontsix @ yahoo.com (no spaces).



- hfs


Project Valour-IT for August 29

Here is the link for today's Project Valour-IT post : Fuzzilicious Thinking

Over the weekend, Michelle Malkin mentioned Project Valour-IT and it resulted in a $1000 jump in donations - on a SUNDAY!!

Get the word out - tell as many people as you can about this project. Thanks.


- hfs


Prayers for my Grama, please

Grama lives just outside of Biloxi, Mississippi. Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on New Orleans and the gulf shores as I type. It's too late to get Grama out so she's staying put. Her building (retirement apartment) is tall, strong, and has been through this before (Betsy in '65 and Camille in '69) so I'm pretty sure they will be safe for the duration of the storm. My biggest worry is the aftermath - food, water, necessities, etc. Tornadoes are also a concern during the storm, especially since she is on the eastern side of the storm.

Any prayers would be appreciated. She's a tough woman (ornery too) but I still worry.



- hfs


Project Valour-IT August 26

Chris Muir writes a comic strip that reminds me of Doonesbury in some ways, titled "Day By Day" and today he has featured Project Valour-IT. Hopefully his wit and his breadth of coverage will bring in more donations. You can check out today's strip HERE.

And here are today's links for Project Valour-IT :

Da Goddess

Righty in a Lefty State


Captain's Quarters

Fuzzilicious Thinking

Thoughts by Seawitch

Washington Post article about CPT Z and Soldiers' Angels

The Pink Flamingo Bar and Grill

The Middle Ground

I'll add more if I find them. Pass the word, please.


- hfs


The spotlight shines on...

I've been wanting to post about this for a bit but I tend to jump into things feet first and then get a little overwhelmed by them in the beginning. So it has taken me a while to sort through everything that I am learning about this project in order to write about it here (and to figure out to what extent *I* plan to get myself involved).

Obviously, McGyver is Army. He has two brothers who are also Army. He spent 2 years in ROTC in college and we have many friends from that time in our lives who are still active duty. Then there are the friends we have made during his Army career - too many to count.

A little over a year ago, a close friend of ours was stationed in Tikrit with 4ID. Those of you who recall, Tikrit was a hotbed of activity back then and a lot of it wasn't pretty. Part of me kept waiting for a phone call or an e-mail, indicating that our friend had been hurt or - worse - killed. Morbid, but that is how my brain works. I don't like to be surprised so it's "easier" to run through possible scenarios in my mind in order to avoid being caught off guard (like it's possible to ever prepare for something like that...I know...). When Uncle R was over in Baghdad, the same scenarios ran through my mind. And they are doing so again, now that Uncle K is over there. I am sure my brain will go into hyper-drive once McGyver deploys.

Thanks to improvements in body armor, our soldiers are safer than they ever have been (and I thank the Lord for that each day). But extremities are often left unprotected. CPT Z is a shining example this - he is alive and well but his hands and arms too the brunt of the explosion that almost killed him.

And, while he's alive and well, the injuries to his arms and hands make communication (other than verbal) difficult, if not impossible. This is where Project Valour-IT comes in.

Project Valour IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse. The experience of CPT Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, a partner in the project who suffered hand wounds while serving in Iraq, illustrates how important this voice-controlled software can be to a wounded servicemember's recovery.

This effort is gaining momentum and steam every day. Corporate sponsors are climbing on board but more help is needed. Every little bit helps. Trust me - we are not wealthy. Far from it. But I've made the decision to take some of my spending money and put it toward this effort. Along with that, I am getting the word out the best way I know how - right here. This cause is a worthy one. It reaches out to everyone - regardless of your views on the war, the current administration, the U.S. foreign policy, Cindy Sheehan...

Many people claim to "support the troops but not the war". If that is the case, I would challenge you to put your money where your mouth is. How hard is it to come up with $10? I can scrounge that from the coins in the car. Can you?

I dare you. Are you chicken??

So, this time around, the spotlight shines on Project Valour-IT and all of the good that this effort represents. Every day (or, as often as time allows) I will be posting links to articles and blog entries about this effort as a way of keeping it fresh in your mind. Please, pass this information along to anyone and everyone you know who might be interested in helping out (and even those who may not...).


- hfs

Today's Project Valour-IT post

Cool Blue Blog's Project Valour-IT post

So the Fusileers have been promoting this endeavor by Soldier's Angels for over a week now and what have we got to show for it?

Glad you asked.
We have raised over $7500 (not including checks from this week)
10 Laptops, software and bags on the way to Bethesda (4 will be passed on to Walter Reed)

But it ain't enough people. The Soldier's Angel's goal is to raise $600,000 for full implementation which is 150 laptops in every military medical center.

Now, now calm down. You're not alone we have some corporate sponsors too. But, neither they, nor you can do it alone.

Everyone has to pull together to support those who have sacrified greatly for us. So please donate what you can by clicking here.

Thanks and let's roll!

Go and read - it's a great post and the links are there for you to explore. Pop on over to the Project Valour IT website and see what you can do to help!


- hfs

Wedding pictures

Pictures from the wedding at up on the kids' blog. You can either look to your left and click the link...or if you're THAT lazy, you can click HERE.


- hfs


All good things must come to an end

Our time here in SoCal is coming to an end. What a wonderful trip this has been - UncleK is home for R&R from Afghanistan, the wedding was wonderful, McGyver and I were able to spend a few nights ALONE up at Big Bear as a belated anniversary getaway, I've had In & Out three times already (with a 4th and final trip coming this afternoon).

Life is good.

However, as wonderful as it is to come and visit, SoCal is not really anywhere on the "short list" when it comes to places we want to live after Army life. However, we DID come to the conclusion that Big Bear is.

Dh and I are "mountain people". While life in Hawaii is nice and we are thoroughly enjoying our time there, it is not somewhere we long to live permanently. We both miss crisp, cool mountain air. We both miss the smell of pine and sage and other mountain scrub.

As much as I was looking forward to coming back to my kids, I was sad to leave Big Bear. The moment we drove up the hill, I felt at home. It's funny too...growing up, my family didn't spend much time in the mountains. We didn't camp (my mother doesn't go places that don't have indoor plumbing and running water) much, we didn't hike. So I don't know where this love of all things "mountain" came from (other than the 5 years that we spent in Colorado at college). But I'll take it.

Ok - time to get up and moving. Donuts are calling my name and I need to eat them now so that I will have room for In & Out later. Priorities...


- hfs


Project Valour IT OpOrd

I thought I had posted this but obviously hadn't. So here it is...another chance for us to help. Another chance for us to put our money where our mouths are. If you care about the troops, PROVE IT.

The alert comes from Blackfive and reads as follows :

*radio static cuts out*

ATTENTION ON THE NET, This is Blackfive.


Time to rally everyone. Lefties, Righties, and those Centrists who care about the troops need to get the word about how to help the wounded troops...

How do you communicate through electronic means if you are wounded and unable to type?

Project "Valour IT" is born of an idea from wounded Captain, Chuck Ziegenfuss, and is now operational. We need your help getting computers and voice-activated software to the soldiers who need it.

The OpOrd comes from Bill at Castle Argghhh! and reads as follows :

Copy 1 of 1 copy
HQ, TF Fusileer
Castle ARGGHHH!!!

OPERATION ORDER 1: Project “Valour IT”

Time Zone: Romeo
TF Fusileer


a. With the continued use of mines and IED as terrorist weapons-of-choice in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan, we will continue to see troops suffering blast/burn injuries arriving at the military hospitals of Landstuhl, Walter Reed (Army) and Bethesda (Naval). Many of these injuries are to the hands and arms.

b. Previous generations of soldiers were connected to their families by mail, and in past wars, volunteers from the Red Cross, local schools and Veterans’ Organizations would visit the wards and offer to write letters for those unable to do so. This generation of soldiers is electronically connected by e-mail, chat and Instant Message, and more than a few are bloggers.

c. In previous wars, letters from the troops remained private affairs. By their very nature, they were difficult to share beyond the family circle, unless a family member passed one to the local newspaper for reprinting. Usually, the information within did not pass beyond a few friends. In this war, e-mails routinely travel to multiple recipients, and chats and blogs are open to anyone with online access. And Red Cross volunteers are fewer. And schools are now in the business of sheltering their charges from the sights within military hospitals. And computer access – either PC or laptop – is limited in a military hospital because they don’t have the luxury of unused space suitable for an internet cafĂ© operation. And there’s the matter of shattered hands. Of missing hands…

d. Voice-activated computers exist. Voice-to-text software exists. However, the people who need them don’t have them – with the exception of the inspiration for Project Valour IT, Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss of TCOverride. His wife, Carren, describes its use a bit here.


a. To raise funds which will be used for the purchase of computers and software which will provide computer accessibility to veterans with injuries that temporarily or permanently prevent them from using a conventionally-equipped computer and

b. To teach the recipients how to use both effectively.


a. Dirt simple. Soldiers’ Angels and Fuzzybear Lioness are the impetus and the trench-fighters in this dust-up; we’re Combat Support/Combat Service Support. A few of us will be Combat Combat Support. More on that aspect when I get specifics.

b. The initial push starts when you’ve finished reading this. Yesterday’s WARNO described what our industry allies are providing. They’ve slashed their usual prices, but the items aren’t free. Give what you can and talk the Project up with friends and family, because we are in this for the duration, troops.

c. When you visit Soldiers’ Angels, tell them you’re “Reporting As Ordered.” Even though John’s not back yet, he *did* make the commitment, and that catchphrase will remind them the Castle keeps faith…


a. Fuzzybear Lioness has PIO releases for all who ask. You know where she lives.

b. Bloggers, if you need a link or a mention-in-post for something you’ve got going involving the Project, shoot me a gmail with details.

c. Denizens, Denizennes and Visitors, if you’re planning a Project event and want the world to know about it, do the same. I’ve been told I can write with a modicum of flair when I put my mind to it, usually between midnight and three-in-the-morning…


a. Fuzzybear Lioness has the controls.

b. Fusileers, to the fray!

Acting Commandant

For more information, go HERE

To make a donation, go HERE and click on the "Make Donation" button. Every little bit helps.


- hfs


Not a lot to say

Sorry for the lack of posting...I really don't have much to say.

Add to that the fact that I'll be leaving on a jet plane (though I do know when I'll be back again) in a few days and posting will be light over the next 2 weeks.

Uncle K (McGyver's brother) has made it home safely for R&R/the wedding which is WONDERFUL. Laundry is being done today and packing will commence tomorrow. We are all taking our vitamins and eccinacea in order to ward off the bugs that normally nail us anytime we take a trip.

And McGyver is currently slinging a "Bambi Bucket" over on the Leeward side of the island, helping to put out brush fires.

Life is good.


- hfs


New layouts

Princess Trouble just started dance classes again. She loves to dance (though, like me, she has NO rhythm...) and tried hula but neither of us were satisfied with it. But I found a creative movement class at a dance studio near our house (as opposed to having to schlep down to Honolulu during rush hour) and she took her first class this week and loved it!

I also made my first visit to a local scrapbooking store. There aren't many stores that sell scrapbooking supplies here on the island so I was hopeful that this store would offer a wide variety and good selection. It was decent but not *quite* what I was hoping for. But it's better than nothing.

Anyway, here are the pages I managed to finish today...


- hfs


I don't get it

How can you go from THIS :

"'I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis,' Cindy said after their meeting. 'I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith.'

"The meeting didn't last long, but in their time with Bush, Cindy spoke about Casey and asked the president to make her son's sacrifice count for something. They also spoke of their faith.

to THIS :

"I want him to quit using my son's death to justify more killing," she said. "The only way he can honor my son's death is to bring the troops home."

What a disgrace to her son's memory and to the memories of all of those who died fighting for this country, her right to speak her mind, and the safety under which to do so. There are SO MANY things about this situation that bother me but the one that is headlining the riot in my brain is that her actions affect the morale (in a negative way) of our troops. I have received e-mails from friends who are deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, asking if the reports they see in the MSM (Ms. Sheehan's protest, for example) represent the feelings of the public back home. How disheartening for them to be over there, in danger, separated from all that they know and love, and hear that their own countrymen (and women) want us to tuck tail and run?



- hfs


I wanna muffin

Pretty much sums up my day...

If you give a mom a muffin, she'll want a cup of coffee to go with it. She'll pour herself some. Her three-year-old will spill the coffee. She'll wipe it up. Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks. She'll remember she has to do laundry. When she puts the laundry in the washer, she'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer. Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper. She will get out a pound of hamburger. She'll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With A Pound Of Hamburger.) The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail. She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow. She will look for her checkbook. The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old. She'll smell something funny. She'll change the two-year-old. While she is changing the two-year-old the phone will ring. Her five-year-old will answer and hang up. She'll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee. Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup. She will pour herself some. And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee, her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

by Kathy Fictorie
based on "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff


- hfs


The address

Marines Need Your Help

Just to make things even easier...

Adopt a Marine
c/o Capt Kasparian
3/25 H&S Co
Unit 72110
FPO, AE 09509-2110

My cards will go out in the mail tomorrow. Will yours? Those of you who say you support the soldiers but "not the war"...put your $0.37 where your mouth is. You have 5 days left.


- hfs


Marines Need YOUR Help

Marines Need Your Help

Actions of course always ALWAYS speak louder than words. If you can find it in your day please send them a box or even a letter to just let them know we have not forgotten them and that we hold them in the highest place of honor. 3/25 will probably be in Iraq until October. It takes about two weeks for mail to get to them.

The date for mail delivery cutoff is currently posted at August 14. That gives all of us a little less than a week to mail a card, a package...something...ANYTHING to let these guys know that we are with them in spirit and that our thoughts and prayers are behind them. Thirty seven cents isn't too much to ask of any of us, is it? Or, for those of us with a little more pocket change, you can pick up a flat rate box at the post office and ship anything and everything you can stuff in there for less than $8.

It really isn't too much to ask of ANY of us...regardless of your stance on this war, this administration...is it?

h/t BlackFive


- hfs


The "spotlight" shines again

I am always thrilled to find anything Chinook-related on line. Especially if it has anything to do with those we know. I literally tripped over this one today. The "hat tip" goes to Chevy Rose over at Sleepless Mind. I was browsing her links and found a link for "Chopper Pilot" and my curiosity got the best of me.

When McGyver first decided to join the Army, he originally wanted to do so by becoming a pilot, right off the bat. He went through the whole application process but failed his flight physical due to an unknown medical problem. Luckily, that medical problem did not prevent him from enlisting.

As a bonus for certain MOSs (military occupational specialties), the Army was offering a student loan repayment. McGyver obviously wanted something to do with helicopters and the loan repayment program was only offered for enlistment as a Chinook mechanic. Prior to this, I had never really heard of a Chinook and had no clue what they were.

My first thought was that they were the most awkward, funny looking thing in the sky. For those of you who do not know what a Chinook looks like, take a look :

h/t to Mark Morgan over at Chinook-Helicopter.com

There are all sorts of euphemisms describing the Chinook...
* two palm trees having their way with a dumpster
* flying school bus
* flying RV
* s**thook
* the only voice-controlled helicopter in the Army inventory (some of you will get that, some won't)

And while they are true to some extent, I still find beauty in its raw power and ability. I like seeing any helicopter fly but there is something special about the Chinook. Maybe it's just because McGyver flies them. Maybe it's because the Chinook community is so tight, so small, so intimate, and we have some many friends within that community.

Which brings me back to my spotlight website: startdotstar. Once I clicked on "Chopper Pilot" on Chevy Rose's website and started reading, names and such started clicking and it dawned on me that he is with the unit that McGyver started his Army career with.

Our time in Alaska was wonderful. Yes, parts of it sucked (how else do you describe 20 hours of darkness and temperatures of -40* F?) but the unit we were with was wonderful at the time. Every once in a while, you join a group of people at *just* the right time and it just WORKS. Know what I mean? No, it wasn't perfect but it was GOOD. And the Sugarbears hold a special place in both of our hearts.

So when I found this blog, it reminded me of a special place and a special time. We made some very good friends while we were there. We had our first child while we were there. McGyver was privileged to fly over Denali (Mount McKinley).

h/t terragalleria

So, even though my day was kind of lousy, this find today kept a smile on my face. And now, it's my spotlight of the week as it was my bright spot of the day.


- hfs


Good news on the job front!

I just heard from my supervisor and the company I work for got the big account!!! This is the one that I was working on a few weeks ago and gave the big "island orientation tour" to the HR rep from the big company. WOOHOO!!!

Orders don't start coming in until early next year but WE GOT THE ACCOUNT!!! (pardon me while I pat myself on the back for this one...ok, done!)


- hfs


On a roll

Wow - 3 layouts in 3 days! Let's not call it a comeback yet...

This is a layout of our visit to the Pumpkin Patch last fall. Little Man was all of about 6 months old and Princess Trouble had just turned 3. The weather was PERFECT and we had a great time - there was so much to do there! Hay rides, corn mazes, animals to pet (and feed!), pumpkins to pick and paint...and I got a great recipe for pumpkin pie from one of the farm owners as well.

Here's the layout :


- hfs


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...