Mile High

The panic attacks seem to have subsided though I am most definitely still counting the days until I see my kids again. I still have no idea what triggered it all - they are in wonderful hands and are being spoiled rotten by grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Three and a half more days and they will be in my arms again.

In the mean time, Colorado is wonderful. Every time I come back here, I ask myself why we left. Damn Army. That's ok though - we will get back here. We're already starting to scope out job possibilities and places to live. Granted, we're talking a good 10 years down the road but, as I've seen in the first 10 years of my marriage, time flies when you're having fun and sooner than we know it, our time to move back will be here.

One of the first things we did after we got here was to take a trip on the Ski Train up to Winter Park. It was COLD but beautiful. We met some wonderful and interesting people including a man who was a Chaplain's assistant during the Vietnam War who now teaches at CU, a gentleman visiting from Montana, another from Australia who was going to both the Bronco's game and the Denver Nuggets' game and then on to New Orleans while here in the states. The conductor was a hoot as was our car host who played the harmonica. And we also met a gentleman who tunes pianos for a living. Little did I know they make $100 per hour!

Our train car.

We landed in Denver just minutes before Unite Airlines canceled 166 flights into and out of DIA due to a big snowstorm. This was followed by a strong cold front. BRR. It was 2* when we woke up the morning of our train trip and the temp at the top of the mountain in Winter Park when we got there was all of -15*. Thankfully, we did not ski.




We tooled around the town of Winter Park for a bit and found a lovely buffalo to pose with me. Thankfully he wasn't as big as buffalo usually are. Nor was he very mobile.

It was still really freaking cold when MacGyver asked me to stop for a picture. Needless to say, I wasn't very happy about it.

Union Station at night, lit up for the holidays.

Saturday night, we had reservations at our favorite restaurant, The Flagstaff House. They knew we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary and had our menus printed with "Happy Anniversary" at the top (which they then wrapped up for us to take home) and presented us with a wonderful tray of petit fours following desert. We were so full from all of the wonderful food that we had to wrap up the goodies to take back with us.


Sunday morning we rousted ourselves from our food-induced coma and headed off to meet up with several of MacGyver's fraternity brothers to tailgate before the Denver Broncos/Minnesota Vikings game. Thankfully, the Broncos decided to actually show up to this game and won, 22-19 though they had to rely on Jason Elam to save their sorry butts in overtime.


There were a few odd sights at the game, including "FroMan" and "The Walking Car Wash", below.

They looked like something out of a Muppets' nightmare.

Yes, these are the people we went to college with.

We're giving the new Nikon D40 a workout. It was a great Christmas gift from MacGyver's parents. We still have a few days of our trip left and we're looking forward to driving up the Front Range and visiting old haunts. And maybe scoping out some property...


- hfs


I am pathetic.

MacGyver and I are on a week-long getaway in Colorado. We didn't get a chance to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this past fall so we booked a trip to Colorado as part of our Christmas mainland trip. Complete with nice hotel room, visits with old friends (we went to college in Colorado in the 90s), lots of good food, tickets on a ski train up to one of the resorts, and tickets to the Denver Broncos/Minnesota Vikings football game.

Sounds like fun, right?

The kids are spending the week with grandparents (along with assorted other family members including my best friend!) and will get to go to Disneyland, the LaBrea Tar Pits, and the Rose Parade. They are thrilled!

Sounds like fun, right?

I'm a mess. I had a lovely little panic attack last night after I tucked them in and actually found myself hoping that my appendix would burst or a horrible snow storm would strike Denver and we wouldn't be able to go. I miss them terribly. Horribly.

I am pathetic.

I am doing my best to have a good time here. Really, I am. MacGyver has been wonderful and sympathetic. And I *am* looking forward to all that we have planned here.

But I'm also counting the days until I can get back to my kids.


- hfs


You Better Watch Out!


To: ALL Personnel
From: Goode, U. B., MG, Commanding

Reference: Operation Order 12-15-07 for: Official Visit of Lieutenant General Santa Claus

1. An official staff visit by Lieutenant General Claus is expected at your house on 25 December. The following directives govern activities of all soldiers during the visit.

a. Not a creature will stir without permission. This includes warrant officers and mice. Soldiers may obtain special stirring permits for necessary administrative action through the Battalion S-. Officer stirring permits must be obtained through the Deputy, Post Plans and Policy Office.

b. All personnel will settle their brains for a long winter nap NLT 2200, 24 December. Uniform for the nap will be: Pajamas, Cotton, Light Weight, General Purpose, ACU pattern, and Cap, Elf, Woodland Pattern w/White Fur Trim and Ball. Wear of the beret is not authorized. Equipment will be drawn from the supply room prior to 2130. While at supply, all personnel will review their personal hand receipts and sign a Cash Collection Voucher, DD Form 1131, for all missing items. Remember, this is the "season of giving."

c. Personnel will utilize standard "MRE" ration sugar plums for visions to dance through their heads. Sugar plums are available in "MRE" ration sundry packs and should be eaten with egg loaf, chopped ham, and spice cake to ensure maximum visions are experienced.

d. Stockings, Wool, Cushion Sole, will be hung by the chimneys with care. Necessary safety precautions will be taken to avoid fires caused by carelessly hung stockings. First Sergeants will submit stocking handling plans to S-3, Training prior to 0800, 24 December. All Platoon Sergeants will ensure their subordinate personnel are briefed on the safety aspects of stocking hanging.

e. Upon first indications of clatter, all personnel will spring from their bunks to investigate and evaluate the cause. Immediate action will be taken to tear open the shutters and throw up the window sashes. On order OPLAN 7-2006 (North Pole), paragraph 6-8 (c)(3), dated 4 March, this office, takes effect to facilitate shutter tearing and sash throwing. Non-Commissioned Officers will be familiar with procedures and are responsible for seeing that no shutters are torn or sashes thrown in house prior to the start of official clatter.

f. Prior to 0001, date of visit, all personnel possessing Night Vision Devices will be assigned "wandering eyeball" stations. The CompanyBattery/Troop First Sergeants will ensure that these stations are adequately manned even after shutters are torn and sashes are thrown.

g. The Battalion S-4, in coordination with the National Security Agency and the Motor Pool will assign one each Sleigh, Miniature, M-24 and eight reindeer, tiny, for use by Lieutenant General Claus. The assigned driver must have a current sleigh operator's license with roof top endorsement and evidence of attendance at the winter driving class stamped on his DA Form 348. Driver must also be able to clearly shout "On Dancer, On Dasher, etc." Under no circumstances will CW4(r) Tuttle be assigned the duty, due to a special drective from ANGCOM.

2. Lieutenant General Claus will initially enter house through the Company/Battery/Troop Dayroom.

a. All houses without chimneys will draw Simulator,Chimney, M6A2 for use during the visit. Draw chimney simulator on DA Form 2765-1, which will be submitted in four copies to the S-4 prior to 23 24 December. Personnel will ensure that chimneys are properly cleaned before turn-in at the conclusion of visit.

3. All Non-Commissioned Officers will be rehearsed in the shouting of "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" or "Merry Christmas To All and To All a Good Night." This shout will be given upon termination of the visit. Uniformity of shouting is the responsibility of each Company/Battery/Troop First Sergeant.

Mission First!
MG, Commanding

(stolen shamelessly from John who got it from Parrothead Jeff)


My Christmas gift

Merry Christmas to ME!!! I have laryngitis.

In the days before my 18th birthday, I had a cold. I woke up on my 18th birthday, walked into the living room, went to say good morning to my parents and all I could muster was a hoarse squeak. It was pathetic. So I spent my 18th birthday silent.

For those of you who know me personally, you know how big of a deal that was. Nothing short of a miracle.

Ever since, ever significant cold I get goes right to my vocal cords. I'd say I've lost my voice 10 times since the first time. Once, I even lost it prior to state swimming championships. It was interesting to coach a swim team with no voice.

Last week, Little Man was kind enough to share his cold with me. And of course, it went right to my voice. I think God is trying to tell me something.

Time for me to shut up.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you so much for all of your love and support this year. See you in 2008!


- hfs



I. Want. One.

For no other reason that it's cool and the commercial made me howl with laughter.

The interactive "break stuff" section on the website is hilarious too. Especially if you click on the bunny.


- hfs


It's that time!

I got a wild hair this week and felt the undeniable urge to purge. Our house. Specifically the kids' room. Part of that is due to the fact that it is coming up on Christmas and in our house, our kids each choose 3 toys (in good condition) to donate to a local charity in order to share their blessings and in order to make room for the gifts they will get from friends and family.

And part of that is timing.

We've been here almost 3 years.

For those of you well-versed in military life, that means it's almost time to move. Permanent Change of Station. PCS. The itch is getting stronger. There are weight limits to worry about.

Not really. We applied for, and were granted an extension. So we'll be here a little while longer. Which goes against every fiber of my military-wife nature. Three years is the longest I'm supposed to reside in any one place, right?

Even before I became a military spouse, I moved a lot. I lived in the same house until I was 18 but then my father retired and my parents moved to the other side of the country. I took off to college and, from that point on, moved 16 times in 17 years. Some were within the same town but moving is moving (it all sucks). When we had lived in Alaska for a year and a half, I found myself with the oddest urge to move. MacGyver came home one day and I had rearranged the entire living room. If I couldn't pack up and move, I would satisfy the urge one way or another. After that, it was off to Alabama for just over a year and a half and then on to Fort Campbell for a whopping 8 months.

The urge to move was being satisfied. Then we get here and have to move twice in a year. Woohoo! No itching there!

But now we've been in our current house for a year and a half and were just granted an extension. Needless to say, we'll be here for a while. Which is great but...now I'm getting the urge to pack stuff up and wave goodbye to it as it drives away in big, giant wooden boxes on a truck hoping that I see it all on the other end.

So I purge. I went through every single drawer, box, cubby; crawled under beds and moved furniture. The tally? 1 big, black trash bag to the dumpster (the Costco size trashbag), 5 board games for the Thrift Shop on post, 2 boxes of toys for the church nursery and preschool rooms, 2 trash bags of clothes to donate to Goodwill, and a helluva lot more space!

My closet is next.

By the time we actually DO leave this island, my hope is that we are far below the weight we came here with.

I'm off to ponder the fact that we are going to be living in the same spot longer than I've lived anywhere since I was eighteen! Gotta love military life.


- hfs




You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless, like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright, you'll be alright

'Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what your made of
You might bend 'til you break
'Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe you hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand

Life's like a novel with end ripped out
The edge of a canyon with only one way down
Take what your given before it's gone
And start holdin' on, keep holdin' on

(Repeat chorus)

Every time you get up and get back in the race
One more small piece of you starts to fall into place - yeah

(Repeat chorus)

Yeah then you stand - yeah
Yeah, baby
Woo hoo, Woo hoo, Woo hoo
Then you stand - yeah, yeah

I've been mulling this post over in my mind for a while. At SpouseBUZZ Live, one of the women in attendance stood up and discussed how some people lose their self-esteem while their husbands are deployed. This one of many things that she discussed that I disagreed with but we'll just focus on this one for now.

I found, while MacGyver was deployed, that my self-esteem actually rose. Soared, in fact. It was as if Rosie the Riveter had taken over my personna. While I recognized my limits, I felt as if there were very little that I could not do. Don't get me wrong...there were days where I felt like I could not last one more second with MacGyver gone. There were days where I prayed that the day of his homecoming would magically be the next day.

But for the most part, life's every day catastrophes and speed bumps failed to truly get me down. Based on the "testimony" of some of the women in attendance at SpousBUZZ Live, I realize I had it relatively easy. But I had my fair share of run-ins with the deployment gremlins. And each time, after I had my "aw, shit!" moment, the can-do attitude would kick in and I'd keep moving forward. I think, during a deployment (much the same as in life) you have two choices when presented with an obstacle...either suck it up, stand, and drive on or admit defeat, curl up, and die.

Maybe it's the red hair. Or the stubborn streak. Or both. But I've never been one to admit defeat or give up. So I sucked it up, got back on my feet, and kept moving forward. And every time I did, it added to the feeling that I *could* do this. I might not like it but I could do it.

And I learned a lot while MacGyver was gone. About myself. About my kids. About how to fix washing machines and air conditioning compressors. And there is a part of me - small, though it may be - that is actually looking forward to his next deployment. (weird, I know)

I'm looking forward to doing it even better next time. To accomplishing more of the goals I set for myself. To tackling challenges head on. This deployment was our first and I learned a lot. And, while I realize that no two deployments are ever the same, I know more of what to expect next time around.

So does your self-esteem suffer while your spouse is gone? Or do you find yourself rising to the occasion? Do you stand?


- hfs


Holiday expectations

Toad has a good post about expectations this holiday season over at SpouseBUZZ. And he's right. People's expectations are so high. And we buy into it.

At Princess Trouble's school, the expectation exists that goody bags will be provided for every holiday. And I'm not just talking about the biggies - Christmas and Halloween. We're talking Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Columbus Day. Oh, yeah, and your kid's birthday.

Yes, you are expected to provide gifts for your child's classmates on your child's birthday. I do not understand that concept. Nor do I abide by it. My children are demanding enough - a trait we are working diligently to eliminate - and do not need to be encouraged to want more. As parents, we do our best to encourage a desire to give as opposed to receive.

After Thanksgiving and before Christmas, the kids and I go through their toys (of which they have too many, if you ask me) and determine which toys they no longer play with as well as which toys they have outgrown. From amongst that group, they select 3 toys each to donate to a local charity or to church. They seem to enjoy thinking about which toys other children will enjoy the most which is exactly the train of thought I'm looking for.

For Christmas, they each get 3 gifts from us. A friend of mine a few years ago explained how she and her family did gifting. Their theory was that Jesus was given three gifts on his birthday (Christmas) - gold, frankincense, and myrrh - therefore their children each receive three gifts. I love the idea. I also love the fact that my kids (for the most part) get as excited about selecting gifts for others as they do about getting gifts themselves. Part of that could be the fact that they are shopping with someone else's money...but I'll take it any way I can get it.

This year, for our "local" friends, we are making goody boxes. Nothing fancy but sweet, nonetheless. The kids are helping and having a blast. When we get done putting them all together, the kids will give them out to our friends. They are looking forward to donning their Santa hats and passing out yummies!

I love this time of year. I love the opportunity it affords - even forces - us to teach our children how to have a joyous heart when it comes to giving.


- hfs

Oh look! A Chicken

Little Man does not like to have his picture taken. Not to mention the fact that my poor little Power Shot is not designed to take pictures of someone who moves at the speed of sound. I managed to snap a halfway decent picture of him this evening while we were goofing around.

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It looks like MacGyver is suffering from some form of PTSD after all...

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Last night, I had some friends over to play Bunco. My friend, 'Nifer, had been out of town and found me some coasters. They read, "I have ADD and no one understands...Oh look! A CHICKEN!!" It's SO true.

So, tonight, we're reading "The Tortise and the Hare" as a bedtime story. MacGyver was talking to Princess Trouble about staying focused and being diligent in pursuit of the goal (she's easily distracted...she's six). I piped up with "Oh look! A chicken!"
Princess Trouble's response? "WHERE?!?"

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She kills me.

Always fun around here!


- hfs


A Bleg on behalf of Fisher House Hawaii

I know it's the holiday season and money is probably tight. But the Fisher House here on the island is in need of some help. Their funds are short this year and they are only able to cover the basics for the 19 families currently residing at the 2 facilities here on the island. So housing, food, and utilities are covered but that is about it. The families are left to fend for themselves in terms of incidentals and activities.

This is where the bleg comes in. I am asking, on behalf of the Fisher House (they, themselves cannot solicit), for donations. I'll post a list at the bottom of the items that are needed but let me also add here a request for a few specific things. Fisher House Hawaii is in desperate need of discounts to local area attractions or even donated passes. Some examples of these attractions include:

Paradise Cove Luau
Germaine's Luau
Polynesian Cultural Center
The Hale Koa Luau
Sea Life Park
Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park
The Bishop Museum
Honolulu Zoo

The management at Fisher House Hawaii have also made a request for donations for "feel good" items - manicures, pedicures, massages, etc. Anything to make the families' time at the Fisher House less stressful and more enjoyable.

In addition to the above-listed activities, the need exists for the following items:

Permanent Items to remain at the Fisher House™:

Power Strips
Air Mattress w/pump
Karaoke CD’s
Wii Games
XBOX console and games
Patio Cushions
Picture Paper
Bake ware
Serving dishes

*Tripler Fisher Houses consists of 19 suites total, a common kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious dining room and an inviting living room with library, and toys for children.

Disposable items that will need to continually be replaced:

Laundry Soap High Efficiency(Tide)
Combs Wet wipes
blank CD’s
Hand Soap
DVD movies
Zip lock bags
Hand Sanitizer
Nail Clippers
Air fresheners
Music CDs
Video games
Cotton Balls
Garbage bags
Toilet paper
Sippy cups
Dixie cups
Paper towels
Shaving Cream
Coffee Creamer
Cooking oil
Hard candies
Coloring books
Carmex/lip balm
Board games
Disposable cameras
Feminine hygiene products
Art Supplies
Books adults/child
Picnic basket set

The have recently added a Menehune water system to the house, if you would like to purchase coupon for replacement bottles contact the Menehune water company so they can just use them as the bottles are emptied and would not need to worry about storage (which is limited).

As you can see, the need is great and yet small (in terms of the items requested). Anything you can offer would be great. You can look at the Fisher House Hawaii website directly and contact them to make a donation or you can contact me via this blog and I'll get you set up.



- hfs

Disappointed and frustrated

Today was NOT my day. About a week and a half ago, the local paper ran an article about a new program that the city was implementing. Seems they are facing an 18% vacancy rate in their EMT corps. So they decided to open up an "academy" and offer EMT training for free to interested candidates. In addition, they would pay candidates $2,917 per month during the training in exchange for a 2 year commitment to work for the city as an EMT.

Oh. My. Goodness. It was perfect.

See, I would love to be an EMT. I actually took the course while living in Southern California but never pursued employment because we moved to Colorado and there the going rate for EMTs was about $6.50 per hour. Not enough to make ends meet. At one point, I considered retaking the class while we were living in Alaska but then Princess Trouble decided to make her appearance in the world which automatically disqualified me from the program. That was ok - I'd much rather have her than my certification.

There is a great EMT program offered at one of the local community colleges on the island but the classes are $65 per credit AND I would have to figure out child care for Little Man and after-school care for Princess Trouble. Not the most financially wise situation, given the fact that student loans from college are still hanging around. So I set that idea aside as well.

Then this article came to my attention and I was SO excited. What a perfect opportunity! And, the timing seemed right due to the fact that we have just secured an extension that will put us here long enough for me to fulfill the 2 year commitment to the city. Yay!

I signed up for the first CPR class that I could get into. I dilligently filled out the application, detailing my years of experience as a lifeguard, swim coach, pool manager, and teacher as well as my years of certification in First Aid, CPR, Lifeguarding, Water Safety Instruction, Disaster Preparedness, and the EMT class I took years ago. I had the work history detailed, references set to go, my resume updated and attached.

I missed the part of the job announcement that stated that my CPR certification had to be valid by the date of application.

I am not able to take the CPR class until next week. The application deadline was today.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

I hate it when you get so mad that you cry. HATE THAT. But I did it anyway. I was at least able to hold off until I got in my car after visiting the HR department downtown, only to learn that I was not eligible for the program. So very frustrating. The program would have been a very good fit for me, for my family. I don't handle disappointment very well. So, needless to say, I am having a MAJOR pity party at the moment.

I do not understand why, if the training does not begin until next YEAR, I have to have my CPR certification RIGHT NOW. They aren't even notifying qualified applicants of their status (there is an exam to be taken in late January as well as an interview and a physical following the exam) until the middle of January. The requirement to have a current CPR certification RIGHT NOW seems so arbitrary.

I guess the city really doesn't want to eliminate that 18% vacancy rate as much as they say they do. I'm about as qualified as they get for the program and yet I'm not eligible. I could probably test out of the CPR certification RIGHT NOW but the ARC doesn't do that (yes, I called and asked).

Damn. Damn. Damn.

I really wanted it. *sigh*


- hfs


Mele Kalikimaka

Boxes of Christmas decorations? Check.

Boxes of lights? Check.

Hot cocoa? Check.

Christmas tunes on the radio? Check.

Air conditioner on full blast? Check.

Welcome to Christmas, Hawaiian style. This will be our 3rd Christmas since living in the island state and I find myself oddly getting used to the way things happen around here during the holidays. We have Santa flashing the "shaka"...

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We have boat parades in the marina down at Hawaii Kai...

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We have temps in the 70s and 80s and high surf on the North Shore. It's great. A little odd but great. So I'm off to turn up the "Mele Kalikimaka" and start setting up the train around the tree. And then I think I'll try out a recipe for iced cocoa. Mmmm...


- hfs


I don't sew but I'm a quilter

I've come to the conclusion that, even though I can't sew a button on a piece of clothing, I am a quilter. A lot of talk at SpouseBUZZ Live 3 centered around support. Support for the soldier that is deployed and support for the spouse left behind.

Ideally, every spouse dealing with a deployment will have a wonderful FRG supporting them. Ideally. But that doesn't always happen. And sometimes, the FRG cannot meet all of the needs that a family may have during a deployment. It may just not be possible. The FRG cannot be all things to all people. Such is life.

We are a resourceful bunch, us military spouses. We bloom where we are planted. We make lemonade out of lemons. We kick deployment gremlin butt. We do it all. But we don't do it alone. We can't (loathe though I am to admit that).

So we quilt.

We piece together our support and make a "quilt", if you will, that surrounds us and keeps us warm. Some pieces can come from our neighbors and those that live around us. Some pieces can be found in church. Or at the gym. Or at a play group. Or at work. It's colorful. It's unique. The panels may change based on the circumstances under which it's needed.

And what do you do when you can't find a piece for that quilt? A certain fabric or thread? The same thing you don when you can't find anything in the stores near you...you call friends and family in other towns, other states, and other countries. Those long distance connections can often provide us with the pieces to the quilt that we lack. And when we can't find that piece that we need any other way? Where do we turn?

Yep. eBay.

I'm joking. Kind of. But the internet does provide avenues for support and connections that we, as military spouses, might not otherwise have. Email allows us to stay in touch with friends that would have otherwise faded away. Websites such as SpouseBUZZ let us see that we are not alone. All are pieces in the quilt that surrounds us.

So I can't sew my kids' AWANA patches on their vests but I sure can put together a quilt that will keep me warm while MacGyver is away. I am a quilter.


- hfs

Lunch break

So we're on lunch break right now at SpouseBuzz Live. Let me tell you, it has been great so far!

The first panel was comprised of Carrie (SemperFi Wife), Ruthie (AirForceWife), Sarah, and Mike (Maintenance Toad) and was a look at the humorous side of military life and the coping mechanisms spouses have in place to cope with this crazy life we live. There were some incredible ideas and suggestions that came forth from the audience. The main "takeaway" from this panel is that you cannot compare your "normal" to someone else's "normal" because everyone's life is different. EveryONE is different. Sarah made the comment that "deployments are like snowflakes". Each deployment is snow but they are all different in many ways. So very true.

That panel was followed up by a performance by Cliff Hudson with his song, "Send My Love". Helluva song and it made me wonder why I bothered to put makeup on. Many of the spouses in the audience (and on stage) were in tears, given the fact that Fort Bragg has many soldiers deployed at the moment. Cliff's song will be coming out on a Country compilation CD put out by To The Fallen Records next week. Stop by and check it out - it's incredible. They also have a rock CD coming out and have already released a hip-hop CD. All songs are performed by military members (or former military members).

The next panel up is mine so this should be interesting. The title of this panel is "No, You're Not A Weirdo. Finding Your Inner WonderWoman." Boy are they mistaken because I personally think I *am* pretty weird. But I also think I channel Wonder Woman from time to time and kick some serious Deployment Gremlin @$$. So we'll see how this goes.

The live feed on SyncLive will be up once the next panel gets rolling. Enjoy and try not to laugh too hard at me. Riiiight.


- hfs

WHY are you HERE?

Get over to SyncLive and check out SpouseBUZZ Live LIVE!!!

I'll post more later.


- hfs


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