5.31.2007

Video and a few other odds and ends

John of Arrggghhh! has this post up. It has been a rough week and my heart and soul are tired. Thank you, John. And you're right...hugging the kids is much better than a 'rita. They are good for my soul.


Fuzzy and I were discussing the deployment and the emotions and feelings that go along with it. I made the comment that it

"(k)ind of feels like I'm stuck out in the ocean, miles from land, exhausted and having trouble keeping my head above water. With the occasional shark swimming around. And I'm sunburnt."



Not every day is horrible or bad or not good. Some days are just fine. Honestly. Some days are pretty damn good, actually. Which surprises me when I sit down at the end of the day. I didn't expect to have many of those. But I do. And I am grateful for them and I relish in them when they happen.


And some days, some weeks (such as this one), I feel like Sisyphus and the boulder keeps getting heavier and heavier with each bit of bad news that comes to us. This is one of those weeks. I am yearning for yet another of those "damn good days".



And I finally sat down and started messing with Windows Movie Maker and came up with a video. Let me know what you think! Pass it on if you are so inclined...






Pau.




- hfs

5.30.2007

Damn

Just damn.




Pau.




- hfs

Memorial Day has new meaning

They were ours.


A friend's husband.


A friend of a friend.


A 12th wedding anniversary celebrated just last weekend (in abstentia). A 4 year old and a 6 year old whose memory of Daddy might fade with time.


And nothing to do but cry, hug, and pray.




Pau.




- hfs

5.29.2007

Our Memorial Day

Was spent remembering. Here in Hawaii, the Na Lei Aloha Foundation hosts a Lantern Floating Ceremony on the shores of Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park.

The Lantern floating is a time-honored Buddhist rite originating in Japan and conducted in order to pay respects to our ancestors and comfort the spirits of the deceased. During this Toro-Nagashi, or "lantern offerings on the water," candle-lit lanterns are individually set afloat on the ocean and are said to ferry spirits "from the shore of delusion to the shore of salvation."


These lanterns carry our heartfelt prayers for victims of wars, water-related accidents, natural disasters, famine and disease, as well as for our loved ones and ancestors. It is through this that the sincere prayers of everyone are united… prayers for a future in which harmony exists among all people regardless of differences between race, religion and culture.



So the kids and I joined up with some friends of ours and we floated our lantern with the names of many friends and family members we wish to remember. Along with those names went prayers for those who have fought the good fight but failed to come home. While standing in line to get the candles for our lantern, I received a phone call informing me that a friend of mine lost her husband today in Iraq. They just celebrated (separately) their 12th anniversary and he leaves behind not only his wife but 2 small children.


We wrote his name on our lantern as well. We remember him too.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket




(the first 4 pictures are mine and the last 4 come from the Na Lei Aloha webpage - theirs were better than mine).




Pau.




- hfs

5.28.2007

Memorial Day 2007

When I was a kid, Memorial Day was a day off from school. Nothing more. Growing up in middle class Southern California, military service was not something I was really exposed to. I grew up in between Vietnam and Desert Storm - a time when most people I knew didn't talk about their service to our country. And what a shame that was.


I knew my grandfather had served in the military and I was vaguely aware of the fact that my father had once been in the Army but that was about all I knew. I knew our neighbor - Kenny - had been on an aircraft carrier at some point but I had no clue when or where. I was a kid and we were not at war.


But all of that is different now.


Memorial Day has new meaning to me now and while I regret that it is so, I am grateful that I am able to grant those who have sacrificed so much the honor of remembering them. It is I who am honored. Honored to live in such a country, protected by such people as those we remember today.


Several of the blogs I frequent have Memorial Day posts up that you might want to check out if you haven't already (and I'll add more as the day goes on).


Lex has up an incredible post about remembering them all.

John has up a wonderful post about those he and his remember.

Matt has a "thank you" from those left behind.




And Lex also has a great post that he put up about a week ago with a video for you to watch. Make sure you read what is below the video as well.




Thousands of men and women have sacrificed so much so that you and I can sleep peaceably in our beds and eat our BBQ, safe in the knowledge that we face no imminent threat of evil in our own backyards. For that, I am eternally grateful and I vow always to remember.


Chuck you, Gwen, Drake, and Sydney are never far from my thoughts and prayers.




Pau.




- hfs

5.27.2007

Every Day is Memorial Day

Every day is Memorial Day


"However, I knew when I rose my right hand to serve my country that there would be things that I would love to do and those that I wouldn't love as much. But I find comfort to know that my family and friends sleep another night in relative peace at home because I serve with the best soldiers (and) Marines in the world."





Pau.




- hfs

5.26.2007

I'll remember

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket




Boston Maggie has a guest post up for Memorial Day by Maj. Mike Nachshen that is so very worth the read.

Because it will be Memorial Day, I'll remember the important things instead. I'll remember to kiss my wife and tell her I love her. I'll remember the friends I lost and the friends I'll never get a chance to meet. I'll remember they had names and faces. I'll remember ... I'll remember.





Pau.




- hfs

5.25.2007






h/t John

Worst things about being in the Army

A friend of ours who is currently in Iraq sent this the other day.


~ blisters
~ O dark 30
~ Auto Decals to get on post, a pain to get and worse when they expire
~ being snubbed at a restaurant because I was in uniform and the waitress (or management) was against the war
~ ATT phone cards (when overseas a ‘credit’ is not the same as a minute)
~ Getting ‘outshot’ at the range by a girl
~ When your Ipod battery dies
~ Spider bites
~ Briefing what the enemy will do in the next 24 hours, and being right
~ having to bust a good soldier down in rank (from $1700 a month to $1500 a month) because even though he is trusted with live ammo when deployed, he isn’t 21 yet and is not allowed to drink a beer with his friends in the barracks when back at home
~ Not getting served at all in a chain restaurant in Asheville, NC because a few members of our uniformed burial detail (stopping for lunch) were black.
~ Changing jobs every year or so and being ‘the new guy’ again
~ sitting around waiting for 5 days for the plane home
~ No sex while deployed (8-16 months at a time)
~ No beer while deployed (8-16 months at a time)
~ less than 5 hours sleep regularly
~ 15 month tour extensions (at the last minute)
~ Lines at the pay phones
~ Mosquitoes
~ No mail
~ Payday loan sharks who get your soldiers caught up in 25% loans
~ Soldiers and Sailors relief Act Bunk (it’s only for Reservists)
~ Military discounts (there usually isn’t one) especially hotels where the military rate is higher than the regular room rate
~ halving to walk ½ a mile to the bathroom
~ Bathrooms are Port-O-Jon’s
~ When bathrooms aren’t Port-O-Jon’s (burn out latrines)
~ Poop burning detail
~ Finding the same item you just bought at the PX, priced less at Wal-Mart (esp ATT phone cards)
~ being pale white
~ no coffee
~ missing both 10th and 20th High School Reunions due to training or deployments
~ Road marching back From the field 12 miles, feet bleeding and dog tired
~ Chiggers
~ missing chow
~ war protesters
~ CNN story about the ‘new type of IED is deadlier than ever’ and the following weeks when the enemy listened to CNNs recommendation and increased those types of IEDs
~ being on rear duty when everyone else is deployed (that has to be the worst thankless job ever – I am glad not to have had it)
~ Getting stuck in traffic in Baghdad, in the known Sniper neighborhood
~ Uncertain if the kid is running from your vehicle in play or because he just threw a grenade or bomb under it
~ going to the shower (every 3 days) in 110 degree, dust storm weather to learn that when the air temp doesn’t go below 100, neither does the water temp (scalding hot water is the only shower option – use water bottles in the shower if you want anything other than scalding water)
~ Snipers
~ living months at a time in a hot sweaty cot, in a tent, with 100 other sweaty, dirty guys
~ Spending years of my life away from my life (deployed)
~ moving every 3 years
~ Uncertain to pull the trigger, as not sure which of the two shadows on the roofs is the shadow that is shooting at you
~ finding the nice Iraqi, whom yesterday thanked you for helping make the neighborhood safer, dead in the street today
~ Making the call to drop a bomb on a building where bad guys are shooting from, unsure if there are women or children also in the building
~ Missing 3 of the last 4 birthdays of my Son
~ Another deployed Christmas
~ Mortars
~ Moving body bags
~ Hosing body parts out of a Humvee

And probably the hardest: Helping write letters home to parents of soldiers that were lost.

I would change a hundred things and do them better or different…

Would I do it again ~ yes, and I think most of the guys would too.

Cheers,
Brian



Yeah. Stay safe B.





Pau.




- hfs

5.24.2007

Daddy's wisdom or "George and Niles"

When I was a kid, I lived next to a Filipino family. Being Southern California, the fruits and vegetables we didn’t have growing in our backyard were compensated for by what grew in their backyard. It was a veritable jungle back there. Or farm, depending on how you looked at it. I could get lost in that backyard and easily survive for months on end based on what was growing back there. At one point, my neighbors acquired a goat. Not as a pet. For milk. And for…food. Intellectually I knew this. But I was 7 or 8 and it was a cool animal. No one else on our block had a goat. Shoot, no one else that I knew had a goat! It was SO COOL! So we named it. And petted it. And fed it. And played with it. And loved it.


And one day, the goat was gone. I looked everywhere for that goat. I worried that maybe we had left the gate open and he had escaped. Good Lord, we would have been in SO MUCH trouble! I searched and searched and searched. Finally I had to go to my neighbor and tell him that I lost the goat. I headed inside to break the news to them and found them all sitting at the table eating. I explained that I couldn’t find the goat anywhere and was terribly sorry for losing the goat and I would do whatever work was necessary to work off my debt.


They laughed at me. Snickered, actually. And then offered me a plate of meat and some milk. It dawned on me that the goat wasn’t lost. The goat was lunch. I was devastated. I ran home, sobbing, and ran into my dad. He asked what had me so upset and when I explained to him why I was sobbing, all he said to me was, “You can’t name dinner, sweetheart.” He had grown up on a farm and had many of those worthwhile life lessons at his disposal.


Thanks, Dad.


Fast forward to about 27 years. Louie, our chameleon, eats crickets. So we dutifully traipsed down to the pet store and bought the “Bucket o’ Crickets”. The BIG “Bucket o’ Crickets” because Louie is a BIG dude. Noisy little suckers – the crickets... So the “Bucket o’ Crickets” went up on top of the Beer Fridge out back. Which was a splendid place to put them…until the wind picked up. And knocked the “Bucket o’ Crickets” off the top of the Beer Fridge.


And the lid popped off.


And it was a cricket free-for-all.


The crickets, sensing an opportunity to escape their fate as a snack, bounded away as quickly as possible. There were crickets everywhere. Thankfully, they were herded up by a shrieking 5 year old and a screaming 3 year old. They really didn’t get far. It was cricket chaos. We did our best to capture the wayward insects but several got away.


At one point, I had trapped several of the long-jumping insectical (is that a word?) athletes under a bowl and asked Princess Trouble to go get me a piece of paper so I could slide it under the bowl and trap the bugs inside.


ME:“PT, can you please go get me a piece of paper?”

PT“Ok”. (Comes back with a paper bag)

ME:“Honey, I need a piece of paper, not a bag. Can you please go and get me a flat piece of paper?”

PT“Ok.” (Comes back with a corner of a page from her coloring book – about 1 inch by 3 inches)

ME: (trying VERY hard not to laugh at my child who is trying hard on this) “I was thinking more along the lines of an entire sheet of paper. Really, we can afford it. Here, come and hold down this bowl and I will go get a piece of paper.” (Rolls eyes as she walks into the house to snatch up an 8.5 inch by 11 inch piece of construction paper and marvels at the fact that someone so smart can be so dense from time to time.)


We (that would the “Royal We”) managed to round up most of the insectical athletes and get them either back into their canister or into Louie’s cage (hey, it was feeding time for him anyway) but not before several of those noisy suckers met an untimely demise (is there ever such a thing as a “timely demise” for a cricket? I’m not sure...) under Little Man’s dancing feet. Sucks to be them.


I’m not sure how I’d rather go…eaten by a reptile or smooshed under the Croc-clad feet of a hyper 3 year old. What would you choose?


Don’t answer that.


Later in the day, I was chatting with my friend, ‘Nifer (long story, best saved for another day and time, preferably after I’ve had a shot or two…or 6) and I was recounting the “Great Cricket Escape of ‘07” and this led to her telling me the story of “George and Niles”.


George was her Red Tailed Boa Constrictor. George, as most snakes do, ate mice for his meals. Like I said in a previous post, I’m a fan of working pets. Go George! On one occasion, she made the mistake of naming one of the mice. And playing with it. And petting it. (you see where this is going, right?) He was small and white and fluffy and cute – well, as cute as little mice can be. But he was dinner. Not hers but George’s. And, of all of the mice that were fed to George, Niles was the one mouse to “eek!” when the snake had him for dinner. QUICKLY. Fastest meal that snake ever ate. Poor Niles. Poor, poor Niles.


But like my daddy said, “Honey, you can’t name dinner”.


Thanks Dad.




Pau.




- hfs

5.23.2007

News regarding missing soldiers

Iraqis say body found of U.S. soldier

I've heard from several friends who are in the military as well as family members of military members that there is almost a hope that these soldiers have been dead since they were captured. The possibility of torture for these men is too great and the thought that they have had to endure such a thing is too horrible to consider.

My fervent hope and prayer is that they are found, alive and unharmed, as soon as possible.


Hometowns await word of missing soldiers

We are praying right along with you. Constantly.

Wednesday poetry break


Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

- Robert Frost


I remember watching "The Outsiders" and just being mesmerized by this poem. I love the images that he paints with the words as well as the paradox within. I come away from this with the reminder that even though things change, they are not necessarily devalued by that change. The journey - through circumstance, through life, is the beauty. Not the beginning nor the end.


Such is life.




Pau.




- hfs

5.22.2007

Wish list - part 3


Sleeptracker Wake Up Monitor



Because I SUCK at waking up. Especially if I have to do so at an hour whose number is less than 9. Doesn't matter when I actually hit the sack. Could be 9pm. Could be 4am (hmm...reminds me of a weekend in D.C. recently...). No matter how much (or how little) sleep I get, I SUCK at waking up.

And I don't drink coffee. I've tried. Can't stand it. I like tea but tea doesn't do much to pep me up in the morning. Coke is good but I've relied a little too heavily on that for this deployment and it has shown on the scale. Time to cut back on that little vice.

So I'd love to try this SleepTracker thingy. I can't remember where I saw it but, if it works, I'd love to wake up feeling refreshed and rested as opposed to groggy and grumpy.




Pau.




- hfs

5.21.2007

Wish list - part 2


Apple 80 GB iPod video Black (5.5 Generation)


Right now I have a mini but I'm lusting after this one now. Not that I need it, mind you. I just want it. C'est la vie.




Pau.




- hfs

Louie, Louie

of Louie, Frankie, and the Ferret fame.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Meet the newest member of our family! Low maintenance AND he eats cockroaches. Doesn't get much better than that!




Pau.




- hfs

5.20.2007

Sewing Machine: 1

Me: 0


One of my goals for this deployment was to learn to sew. I finally took the plunge this evening and hauled out the beautiful 1953 Singer that MacGyver (bless his heart) found at a thrift store a while back. Thankfully it still has the original manual in the case. As well as a buttonholer and a bunch of other contraptions that I have no clue what they do.


Anyway...


I've been loitering around the scrap bins at the local Wal-Mart and have come away with some cute cloth. Nothing huge. I figure it's best to stick with relatively straight lines to begin with so my first project was to be some kind of burp rag/baby blanket (c'mon...we ALL know that baby blankets are just oversized burp rags).


I managed to get the upper thread done. I managed to swap out the bobbin (Army green doesn't really go with baby-motif fabric, trust me.) I managed to get the thing plugged in (a feat, mind you, because my dining table where I had planned to work is not close enough to an outlet so I had to improvise and make room on the kitchen counter. Adapt and overcome, right?).


This is where my trouble began. I pressed gently on the foot pedal and the needle began to move up and down but after about 3 or 4 strokes, it seemed to get hung up. I think it was the bobbin or something to do with the "take up whatever". I am not sure. And, being that it is now past 11pm my time and given the fact that I have been up since 6 and at the beach ALL day (as my previous post would possibly indicate) I am declaring this battle over and victory goes to the machine.


But the war is not over. Not by a long shot. I still have MONTHS to go before MacGyver gets back! HA!




Pau.




- hfs

Sunburn

on your ears HURTS.


Trust me on this one. Ouch. Dammit.




Pau.




- hfs

5.18.2007

Wish list


Ducati Monster 695


Suzuki SV650S



In case, you know, anyone was wondering.




Pau.




- hfs

Failure

How do you keep it from defining you? From overshadowing every good thing you've ever done in your life? How do you even know if something that you've done - that you feel you have failed at - is truly a failure? Who is the final authority on things like that?


How do you determine what constitutes your best effort? Is hindsight truly 20/20? And to whom do you apologize if the situation itself appears to work out but you still feel as though you failed?


These are some of the questions that keep me up at night.




Pau.




- hfs

Smell

I am sitting on the swing bench on the front porch - in the dark as it is more peaceful and peaceful is what I am craving right now. Down the street a bit, one of the houses has several plumeria trees in bloom and the smell mingles with the scent of the lime tree blossoms and I am instantly transported back to our house in SoCal.

Smells do that. Of all the senses, I believe smell to be preeminent. No other sense can evoke so many memories and transport us from the here and now to times and places far away.

We played hooky from life the other day. We were supposed to hit the water park but I failed to remember they are closed in the middle of the week so we opted for the zoo instead. I love our zoo here. It is small but intimate and the perfect outing for a single mom with two small children. Not so big that it requires heavy packing. At our zoo, they have a "Volunteer Garden" with many varieties of local plants. Many of the same plants that are found in SoCal and walking through was like going home. The smell of citrus, mint, pomegranate blossoms, strawberries, sage - it was overwhelming. Closing my eyes, I could see my mom and I hiking up in the Hollywood hills with the dogs. I felt like I was 10 again.

I swam the other day - it has literally been years since I swam a decent workout. When I stepped into the shower, the chlorine wafted up and all of a sudden, I was back in high school coming home from practice.

And last night, when the emptiness and loneliness of this house threatened to swallow me up, I went to the closet that holds MacGyver's work clothes and I buried myself in the flight suits hanging there. The aroma of JP8 and transmission fuel is oddly and sweetly comforting. Helps to keep the black holes at bay.

I traveled to Colorado on business last year and the best part of the whole trip (besides the food...can't pass up the food) was stepping out of the car and breathing in the mountain air that I have missed so much for so long. The images and recollections that smell brought back were incredible. And welcome. Craved.

I can look at a picture all day long and relive that one memory. But a smell takes me back to a place and a time.




Pau.




- hfs

5.16.2007

Wednesday poetry break


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings,
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

- John Gillespie Magee Jr.



When the Space Shuttle blew up in 1986, I was 13 years old and my life's dream was to be a fighter pilot and astronaut. I was in Social Studies and we were actually watching the launch. I can still remember, just as I can with regard to September 11, what I was wearing, where I was sitting, how I felt, what the sky looked like. Everything.


One of the memories that is seared into my brain is Ronald Reagan's speech in the following days where he quoted this poem. I was beside myself - this was already one of my favorite poems (along with "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost) and to hear the President quote it made a horrible time a little better.




Pau.




- hfs

5.13.2007

Losing a piece

I was talking with a friend the other day about funerals. He's been to more than he can count. I lost track years ago. He made the comment that "you lose a little bit each time, but each time you lose a little less."


Most of the time, I think he's right. But I have found in the past 2 months that the funeral of an adult, though sad, is different in terms of its impact on the mourners than that of a child. My experience is that I lose so much more when it comes to the funeral of a child. Is it that way for everyone?


It's a double whammy - the tragedy of the loss compounded by the tragedy of the loss of potential, of hopes, of dreams. Those two combined make for an almost insurmountable grief. And how does one offer comfort to the parents? I do not believe there is a way. They have lost a part of themselves. A part that can never be replaced or compensated for in any way.


My friend said that, "You lose a little bit each time, but each time you lose a little less. Otherwise you wouldn't have any left and we need to hold on to what we can in life. Like a little bit of heart." And while that is very true, I find myself struggling to hang on to that little bit of heart. The grief is isolating for the parents. For, how can anyone truly know the magnitude of the grief they are feeling? No one can except, possibly, another parent who has lost a child. What a horrible club to belong to. Friends are left to hover around and wonder what, if anything, they can do to help. But there truly isn't anything TO do.


Except pray, if you're so inclined. So that's what I do. A lot.




Kelly ~ my prayers are with you this Mother's Day, and every day. Goose was such a special, happy boy. And so lucky to have you as his mom. SO lucky. I wish there was more I could do for you and your husband. But there is not. Like was said at the service, I can only walk with you in this one.




Pau.




- hfs

More Happy Mother's Day

So, we had this great 10 year old cat named Jack who
just recently died. Jack was a great cat and the
kids would carry him around and sit on him and
nothing ever bothered him. He used to hang out and
nap all day long on this mat in our bathroom.

Well we have 3 kids and at the time of this story
they were 4 years old, 3 years old and 1 year old.
The middle one is Eli. Eli really loves chap stick.
LOVES it. He kept asking to use my chap stick and
then losing it. So finally one day I showed him
where in the bathroom I keep my chap stick and how
he could use it whenever he wanted to but he needed to
put it right back in the drawer when he was done.

Last year on Mother's Day, we were having the
typical rush around and try to get ready for Church
with everyone crying and carrying on. My two boys
are fighting over the toy in the cereal box. I am
trying to nurse my little one at the same time I am
putting on my make-up. Everything is a mess and
everyone has long forgotten that this is a wonderful
day to honor me and the amazing job that is
motherhood.

We finally have the older one and and the baby
loaded in the car and I am looking for Eli. I have
searched everywhere and I finally round the corner
to go into the bathroom. And there was Eli. He was
applying my chap stick very carefully to Jack's . . .
rear end. Eli looked right into my eyes and said
'chapped.' Now if you have a cat, you know that he
is right--their little butts do look pretty
chapped. And, frankly, Jack didn't seem to mind.

And the only question to really ask at that point
was whether it was the FIRST time Eli had done that
to the cat's behind or the hundredth.

And THAT is my favorite Mother's Day moment ever
because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try
to civilize these glorious little creatures, there
will always be that day when you realize they've
been using your chap stick on the cat's butt.




Pau.




- hfs

Happy Mother's Day

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
"Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13 My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I'll take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
"Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If you don't stop making that face, it will freeze that way."

19. My mother taught me ESP.
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!"





Pau.




- hfs

5.12.2007

And again

I'm here, asking for prayers.


Friends of ours lost their baby boy to what looks like SIDS a few days ago. The memorial ceremony is tomorrow. I cannot comprehend any of this. Makes me just want to go crawl into bed with mine and hold on to them as tight as I can.


What do you wear to the funeral of a 6 month old child and what do you say to their parents?


Please pray for our friends and hug your babies.




Pau.




- hfs

A good start

Army tries incentives to keep officers


To stem a growing trend of critical future leaders leaving the service, Casey said the Army will unveil a plan next week to give some captains $20,000 to stay on. He said the Army also will increase opportunities for officers to go to various graduate schools as another incentive to stay in the military. The captains also would get a choice in duty assignments.



That's a good start but it's going to take more than that to stem the tide of officers who are leaving the service. I'm not sure what the answer is - anyone have any other suggestions? My BIL is one of those Captains who is in the window when it comes to deciding whether to stay or go. Both of them are (or were recently) and both have chosen to stay but they seem to be the exception to the rule these days. Not many of their West Point classmates are staying in. If the Army is going to rely on Captains to command units (which, in the aviation world, was a big and uneducated change in my opinion) then those with the power to affect a change in policy might want to get on that. Soon.

Like I said, this is a good start.




Pau.




- hfs

5.11.2007

Random pictures

I really have nothing to say and my head is throbbing so I'll just post some pictures and then I'm off in search of a drill so that i can bore a hole into my sinuses and relieve some of the pressure. Ugh.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
During our trip back to the mainland, I was able to hook up with 2 of my best friends from high school. We did not have nearly enough time that evening but the time we did have was great.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I believe this one is titled "Mojito Madness".



Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
My Awana group at church has theme nights and one of them was "Crazy Hair Night". It's amazing what one can do with 1/2 of a can of Aqua Net! Funny thing is I was completely sober in this picture. Sure doesn't look it, does it?


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
'Nifer, 'Ifer, and I at PF Chang's. That was a fun evening!


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I got nothin'.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
"The Girls". I need a haircut. I wasn't going for the "secretary look" but it seems that's what I wound up with. That weekend sure was a lot of fun!


And last, but not least...


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
NOONAN!!! It's your fan club!
(h/t Maggie)




I'm off to go down some Sudafed and Robitussin and maybe even some more Motrin. Stupid cold.




Pau.




- hfs

I think I'm in trouble

Breathing is overrated, right?


I think this annoying cold that I have not been able to shake has morphed into something worse. Overnight.


I went to bed last night (or was it this morning? I can't remember.) and felt like I was losing ground to this cold. Boy, was I right. I woke up this morning and felt like I had a ton of bricks sitting on my chest. Add to that the fact that I cannot breathe through my nose and the fact that it hurts to blink and I think I'm screwed.


Of course, there were no same-day appointments to be had. And even if there were, they probably wouldn't do anything for me but send me home with some Motrin (Ranger Candy!) which I already have.


Why does this have to happen on a Friday?? Couldn't have happened on a Monday. No. That would have allowed me 5 days to get an appointment. *sigh*


All I want to do is go to bed and sleep for about 3 days. But that is hard to do when I can't breathe. Thankfully it is cold and rainy here so Little Man will be content watching TV this afternoon. But still...this sucks.


I wonder if I have any chicken noodle soup in the pantry...wah.




Pau.




- hfs

5.10.2007

I think I'll cry now.

The week was going SO well.



And then this...


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


I was pulling into the parking garage at the hospital today. I had been stopped at a stop light about 50 feet away. It turned green, I took my foot off the brake and rolled into the garage, making a right turn and another, immediate right turn. When you enter the garage, you go from bright sunlight to dark shade. Additionally, the turn you make to enter the parking garage, the turn is tight, especially if there is a car coming the opposite direction (i.e. exiting. Which there was.) I wasn't going very fast. I don't even think I had touched the accelerator. I think it was just the downhill momentum that carried me into the garage.


The car that was coming in the opposite direction was a darker color - maroonish - and was heading for the exit which is past the entrance to the left, about 50-100 feet (please keep in mind that my penchant for spatial relations of any kind SUCKS. I cannot properly estimate what size Tupperware to pull out to put leftovers in.). My assumption (and yes, I know what "they" say about assuming...thankyouverymuch.) was that the driver would...gee, I don't know...KEEP DRIVING TOWARD THE EXIT.


He did not.


Apparently he thought that he could exit through the entrance so he stopped. In front of me. As I was turning right. I hadn't made my turn as tight as I should have because I didn't think he'd BE there when I actually MADE my turn. But because he stopped, he WAS. So I cranked my steering wheel to the right to avoid clipping his rear quarter panel and, in doing so, dragged the passenger side of my car along the concrete pillar of the parking garage.


Yes, I cussed. Loudly (I did not have the children in the car at the time, thank goodness. Otherwise, I'd be trying to UN-teach my 3 year old the F-bomb). VERY loudly.


She's not even 9 months old yet. DAMNDAMNDAMN.


I don't even want to KNOW what that body work is going to run me. And no, I'm not involving my insurance company because our deductible is super high and there's no point in jacking my rates up over something that really wasn't anyone's fault. Maybe I'll just set up a Paypal tip jar on the sidebar or something.


There's a reason they call them accidents, I suppose.


For once, I'm actually glad MacGyver is in Iraq. I'd hate to have to come home and show him this in person. *sigh* I'll be getting estimates next week. In the meantime, there's some Bailey's in the fridge that is calling my name.




Pau.




- hfs

Weird.

So I've been up late the past few nights...ok, past few months. And for the past 3 or 4 days, I've noticed that one of my kids' Little People toys (specifically, the farm) makes a noise each night.


At 11:01 p.m. (that would be 2301 for you military types) every night.


Every night.


Not at 11:01 a.m., mind you (yes, I've hung out in my kids' room at 11am to figure this out). Just 11:01 p.m.




WEIRD.




Oh, and the noise it makes is the horse. It whinnies. Very strange. VERY.




Pau.




- hfs

Terrible Threes

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket



So, can someone please tell me how I can *ahem* discretely fill out the customs form truthfully yet in such a way that does NOT draw the attention of the USPS authorities (or Customs Agents, or MacGyver's command) to the fact that I have packed up my 3 year old son and SHIPPED HIM TO IRAQ?


Seriously.


I forgot how much fun the age of THREE is (NOT!). There's a reason some animals EAT. THEIR. YOUNG.


And you people wonder why I drink. Sheesh.




Pau.




- hfs

5.09.2007

What are you passionate about?

Our church hosts a Military Ministry for the military families within the congregation and within the community. Our focus has been on 2 Chronicles, specifically Chapter 20. In Chapter 20, Jehosaphat and his kingdom are in great danger from Moab and Amon. Jehosaphat is alarmed and seeks the Lord by fasting and praying. God's assurance of victory is delivered to Jehosaphat through a prophet, Jahaziel.

Our "fearless leader" (as I like to call her) pointed out that Jahaziel, a Levite (Levites were in charge of the temple/tabernacle) was exactly where he was supposed to be. He was in the assembly. He was at the temple.


Have I lost you yet? Hopefully not. (I'm a rookie at the Old Testament. I apologize if I blew any of that.)


Our "fearless leader" drew the parallel between Jahaziel and the military spouse that is enduring a deployment. She asked us to consider the questions, "Am I in the right place? Am I where I need to be and where God wants me to be? Or have I put things/my life/my gifts/my talents/my service on hold while my spouse is deployed?


Hmmm...I'd like to think not but I was reminded today of my tendency to withdraw when things get uncomfortable. And I do. When life gets "hinkey" (only word I can come up with to describe how I feel when life isn't "normal"), my inclination is to withdraw. To shut the door and drop the blinds and cocoon inside my house. Because that is safe. That is normal. It is obviously a self-preservation technique but not really one that is conducive to leading a productive life and it can also be hurtful to those around me who don't understand why I'm acting the way I am.


Ok - so God is obviously trying to make a point with me. Gotcha.


Our Fearless Leader then went on to ask the question that was to be the focus of our discussion for the evening:


What are you passionate about? What gets you so excited/jazzed/riled up that you talk too fast for others to follow? What makes you yell and scream and pound the table?


There are many things in my life that I am passionate about - I'm a red head and passion comes naturally and usually in too-large quantities. I love my family. I love my friends. I love to read. I love to debate. I love to cook.


But the one thing that stood out - probably due to the proximity to the past weekend - was blogging. None of the people in our Military Ministry were really too familiar with blogging so I explained why I originally began to blog back in 2004 and how, facing a looming deployment at the time, I needed an outlet. Somewhere I could vent. My friend S. had a blog at the time and I thought it might be a good idea to start one. Nothing to lose, right? So I did. Through my friend S. I became aware of military blogs such as Blackfive and MudvilleGazette and through them, the MilBlog ring. So I joined.


I went on to talk about how I "met" some incredible people on line - people who lived my life or lived MacGyver's life. Something in common. And then the 2006 MilBlog conference came about and I took a huge leap of faith and booked a ticket. I talked about some of the incredible people that I had "known" on line that I was now able to meet in person and how wonderful that feeling was. I talked about Chuck (dude, are your ears burning yet or what?!?) and his run-in with an explosive device and how, out of that horror came Project Valour-IT. I talked about this year's conference and Chuck's lunchtime speech as he detailed what that laptop and that software meant to him, his family, and his healing. I talked about how going to the conference was like going home, in a sense. Like walking into Cheers and having everyone know your name (or at least your URL).


I didn't get the chance to talk about Eric. Had I had the chance, I would have talked about how it only took 2 e-mails to get information that was elusive for his family up until that point. I would have talked about how comforting it was to know that level of concern, of care was there if I ever needed it in any way, shape, or form.


I don't know that it's the blogging I'm passionate about or simply the opportunity, the avenue presented to me to do something. Doesn't really matter, does it?




Pau.




- hfs

5.08.2007

I blew it...

...and for that, I am sorry. Truly.




- hfs

I thought I was done

but it looks like there is more.


During Panel 2 Sarah spoke of "anticipatory grief".

I pointed out to my husband something that every servicemember needs to remember when he thinks of his family back home. We’ve never been to Iraq or Afghanistan. We don’t know what it’s like. We imagine the worst, and our mental war zone would probably seem cartoonish to you. But we simply can’t fully grasp what war is like. And while you know when you’re safe or bored or having a slow day, we don’t. Many times you can see danger coming if you have to go on a mission and you can emotionally prepare yourself to let slip the dogs of war; we have to stay emotionally prepared for the entire deployment, never sure of when your mortality is on the line. Your deployment is filled with the ebb and flow of adrenaline; your life is monotonous days punctuated by moments of anxiety or excitement; our adrenaline is always half-on, since every moment that we’re not on the phone with you is a moment when you’re possibly in danger. Such is the life for those on the homefront, those who stand and wait. Such is the life my husband can’t begin to understand, any more than I can really understand his.



I almost fell out of my chair.


What she described articulated exactly how I have lived the past 9 months of my life. And to have that feeling...that pressure...that elephant on my chest...described so articulately and so elegantly almost took my breath away.


A few weeks ago, I had dropped Princess Trouble and Little Man off at church for our Military Ministry's Mom's Night Out. We drop the kids off with the youth workers for a few hours and go sit at Starbucks and enjoy the company. On my way to church, I had spoken to MacGyver, hanging up just as I arrived (yes, mom, I DO talk on the cell phone and drive at the same time...sorry!). When I sat down with my friends at Starbucks, my phone rang again only this time it was a local official phone number.


At 6pm.


Not normal.


So I took a deep breath and answered it. The male voice on the other end of the line asked "Mrs. **********?" and I cautiously answered, "Yes" and then held my breath for what felt like 9 hours. As I am waiting for the voice on the other end of the line to start speaking again, thousands of things ran through my head.

I was JUST on the phone with him not more than 15 minutes ago. What the HELL could he have been doing in that time that would warrant a phone call so quickly?

He wasn't scheduled to fly today. He's on nights and it's morning there.

He didn't mention being on the flight schedule at ALL for the next few days. Said he had some mission planning to take care of.

Who am I going to call first if this is bad news?

If this IS bad news, have I gone to the bathroom recently? I don't want to make THAT big of a fool of myself, regardless of circumstances.

How quickly can my best friends and family get here if this IS bad news?

JUST. KEEP. BREATHING.


All in the span of about 0.5 seconds. Finally the voice on the other end of the line responded and it was one of the LTs looking for the contact information for the Rear Detachment. He was home on R&R and needed to get in touch with them. He couldn't reach our FRG leader (because he had transposed 2 of the digits of her phone number) so he was working his way down the contact roster from an official phone at the hangar, trying to find someone who had the information he needed.


BREATHE.


I calmly explained to him that I did not have the Rear D contact information on me at the moment but I did have the correct phone number for the FRG leader and he could try to reach her.


I then hung up the phone and stepped into the bathroom to compose myself. Over a 30 second phone call. That was harmless.


But when you live on the precipice, it's quite easy to slide off in the wrong direction. One strong gust of wind and you're tumbling down the side of the mountain and you find it incredibly hard to stop the slide.


I did not realize that I was not the only person who lives like this until I heard Sarah speak on Saturday.


I did not realize I was not alone.


Thank you, Sarah.


And thank you, Andi and everyone else who worked to put the conference together. Someone said that going to this conference was like going to a high school reunion with people whom you did not go to high school. That is so incredibly true. Walking into The Carpool on Friday night, I KNEW I was among friends even though I had not met 90% of them. I KNEW that each and every person in the room Saturday was like me in one way or another. And there is such a comfort in that knowledge. Such comfort.


And that comfort - that knowledge that I am not alone, even at 3am when I'm lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, afraid to close my eyes again because I'm afraid the nightmare I just had will replay itself - will sustain me through this deployment and the others to come.




Pau.




- hfs

5.07.2007

MBC 5 - The After Action Review

The caveat comes first – I’m currently functioning on about an hour’s sleep and cruising at about 35,000 feet over the Pacific. So my recollections are, um, fuzzy. Along with my tongue, for some reason.

Not that I’m hung over like some people, mind you. Just tired.

The easiest way for me to go about this is to work through it chronologically. So here we go…

I flew out on Thursday. Coming from my medium-sized-turd in-the-middle-of-the-Pacific-Ocean, it took about 16 hours of travel time. Because Delta had just emerged from bankruptcy, they were serving champagne. Along with the fact that I managed to score an entire 3-seat row to myself, it seems to be a great way to start off my trip! I downed that an 2 Excedrin PM and we were on our way! A nice layover in my hometown of SoCal, a few slices of California Pizza Kitchen pizza (hey, they don’t have In-N-Out in the airport!) along with a chocolate shake from Hagen Daaz and we were back in the air. More sleep. Just what the doctor ordered. Another layover in Atlanta and then up to Baltimore. I opted not to rent a car which I think was a wise decision. I love the Metro.

When I was a senior in high school, I was able to go on the Close Up in DC trip with the rest of my class. A week in Washington, D.C. and it was incredible. Along with the monuments, the sights to be seen, and the activities, riding the Metro was one of my favorite things! Weird, I know. But it made getting around so easy. So this time around, I decided to Metro it the entire way. Thankfully you can do that from BWI. Cost me all of $5. Works for me!

I also chose to stay at the hotel where the conference was being held – the Westin Arlington. Home of the “Heavenly Bed” and Oh. My. Goodness. It IS! That was some of the best sleep I had all weekend. Oh, wait! It was the ONLY sleep I had all weekend! That’s ok – I can sleep when I’m dead, right?

Matt had set up the “MilBlog Pre-Cocktail Reception Reception” ("Pre-Cock" anyone??) over at The Carpool so I got cleaned up and made my way on over. I must admit, I was a little hesitant/nervous/anxious about seeing everyone again. Not sure why. I just was. So I hung out outside for a bit and just kind of looked. Not sure what I was looking at or for. Finally I found my courage and headed inside. Thank God for Matt. A friendly face. And then MORE friendly faces – those of Teresa, Sgt. Hook, Carla, Buckethead, and many others that I am failing to recall. It was great. The Carpool is loud but it was a good place to meet and unwind before the reception.

The cocktail reception was a lot less formal than I had expected and I mostly did what I do best – sat back and “people watched”. Quite interesting. I was able to spend time with all sorts of people – Jean, Carla, Rachelle, - and was able to drop of the gift I had for the MOABS.
The 2007 MilBloggies were presented and each winner received (via USAA who sponsored the awards) a new digital camera and a $1,000 donation to Project Valour-IT. THAT was cool. The buffet that the hotel had set up with tacos and such didn’t really appeal to me so Jean and I ducked out and went across the street to P. F. Changs for dinner. Mmm…thai lettuce wraps. Then it was off to bed so that I was actually able to function at the conference the next morning. Funny thing was, being on Honolulu time, sleep was a little elusive. But the bed was heavenly! So was the LONG, HOT shower with the 2-headed shower head. Especially when I am not the one footing the water or electricity bill!

Thankfully there was a Starbucks INSIDE the hotel so the lack of sleep didn’t really bother me the next morning. Jamie McIntyer, senior White House correspondent from CNN, was to be our Master of Ceremonies but he had some family business to attend to which was unfortunate but not a big deal. Everyone got settled in the conference room and Andi came up and opened things up. She talked about how, after last year’s conference, the planning committee decided to do something “big” for the next one. They sent off a letter but it was more a “shot in the dark” and they didn’t expect any results. But they got the results they were looking for and Andi introduced the President of the United States via video feed! It was entirely too freaking cool!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
That's the best shot I could get. I was so blown away by the entire thing that I almost forgot I even HAD a camera!



The Panels went as follows :

Panel 1: From the Front included
Bill Roggio
Sean from Doc in the Box
Sgt. Hook
Bill Ardolino
with Matt as moderator.

This was an incredible panel. The people on that panel are some of the bloggers/writers I most admire. To listen to them speak about life in Iraq and Afghanistan, life in the military, how things are truly going over there, the issues surrounding the mainstream media, etc. was almost as incredible as listening to the President speak. I have nothing but deep admiration for each and every man who was on that panel.

Panel 2 included:

Becky Davis
Carla from Some Soldier's Mom
ArmyWifeToddlerMom
and Sarah from Trying to Grok
with Andi moderating.

This panel, too, was incredible. Carla talked about her son's struggle with PTSD and how she is working to help him and others. She also discussed how family members live in two worlds during a deployment and how that affects their lives. Rachelle talked about the handling of announcements when it came to extensions and how disrespectful and hurtful it has been to find these things out from the media as opposed to a regular Chain of Command. Sarah wrapped things up beautifully when she discussed the "anticipatory grief" that we live with each and every day of a deployment. I plan to do a separate post about this one - it really hit home with me.

To wrap up that panel, Andi invited Robert Stokely up to speak. If you do nothing else today please watch the video. This man whom I admire more than words can describe, is the epitome of grace and dignity and love.




Then it was off to lunch which was sponsored by Soldiers' Angels. Chuck Ziegenfuss headed up the guest speakers - all part of Project Valour-IT and Soldiers' Angels. For the first time, I was privileged to hear Chuck's story in its entirety. I knew what had happened when he was injured and during his recovery but I had never heard him speak on the positive impact that getting his hands (no pun intended) on his laptop and voice-recognition software had on his recovery from his injuries. I was once again reminded that Chuck is a helluva man, Carren (his wife) is a saint, and that Project Valour-IT is an incredibly worthy project. We're working on tracking down a video of Chuck's speech and when it is located, I will post it. It's another must-see.


Panel 3, titled the "Rapid Fire Roundtable", followed lunch and included

LTC P
Murdoc
Noah Shachtman
Eagle1
Neptunus Lex
and CPT Anthony Diess from CENTCOM (nice boots, by the way CPT!)
with John of Argghhh! moderating.

Noah took a lot of hits because of his views on the MSM and how it reports the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While I do not agree with him on many points, his ideas are his own (big, in my book), and he does a pretty good job of trying to keep an open mind. The panel was actually a lot more reserved than I had hoped, especially with the new Army reg coming out about electronic communications and the impact(s) it will have on blogging. I was hoping that Lex would push Noah a little harder on his thoughts but it never went that far.

The final panel is one that I did not get a chance to live-blog. Panel 4 was entitled "Support: More Than Just a Bumper Sticker" and was moderated by Chuck Z. The panelists included:

Patti Patton-Bader
MaryAnn Phillips
Sandra Eden
and Roxie Merritt
with Chuck as moderator.

Gateway Pundit has the round up of this panel. I guess the lack of sleep was getting to me at that point and I almost forgot I had a computer in my hands at all.


All in all, the conference was incredible and I am already looking forward to the 2008 version. Seeing the President speak was worth the cost of admission alone!

But the fun did not end there. True to form, bloggers are a talkative bunch so we simply moved from the conference room to the bar/lounge downstairs. That's where the REAL fun began. A few mojitos (thanks Maggie! and Matt! and who ever else bought me a drink) and the world became even more interesting! Then we decided we were hungry so back to PF Chang's we went. I sat at a table with...


(to be continued tomorrow...it's midnight here and time to hit the sack!


Back now after a few more hours of sleep. One day I'll catch up on it. Maybe.


...RSM, Tammi, and Teresa. What a riot! I'm not sure who had the better fortune...Tammi or RSM. Either way, I about snorted lemon water out my nose (note to self: don't do that). After some sharing of lettuce wraps, fried rice, orange chicken, and some REALLY hot peppers, we joined the rest of our motley crue at the bar. Princess Cat was kind enough to introduce me to Kettle One and lime.

Thanks.

I think.


We hung out until they kicked us out (that would be the Royal "Wee") and then meandered over to the bar at the hotel with a smoke stop in the middle. No, I do not smoke. But Chuck and Carren do along with Buckethead and a few others. Chuck was his usual obnoxious, talkative self which I adore and it gave me more time to talk with Carren whom I also adore (more than Chuck, even). We finally got cold and went inside and closed down THAT bar. But not before I managed to talk Lex out of the keys to his car. He says he was ok to drive. I played the "my husband is deployed to Iraq and you're going to give me ONE MORE THING to stress about?" guilt trip and he gave them up.

He's so easy.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Somewhere in this bar, a stool was being used. Surprisingly, no one was injured in the making of this photo.


Later on, FbL, Smash, and a few others stumbled in (well, Smash didn't stumble) and we hung out with them until Fuzzy's body gave out on her and the bartender shut us down. We tried to get Lex a room but that didn't pan out and by the time we got all of that figured out, he had sobered up enough that he got his keys back.

I suck at goodbyes so we strung this one out as long as possible but then it was time for everyone to head home or back to their room. And, given the fact that I was taking the Metro back up to BWI for my 11am flight, I needed to get to packing. Notice I did *not* say "sleep" because the 2 hours or so I could have racked up wouldn't have been worth it. Besides, there were other...more interesting things to do.

The sun finally rose so I hit the "Heavenly Shower" one more time (damn, I'm going to miss that thing!) and then it was off to the Metro and to BWI. Quite the anti-climactic ending. Just the way I like them. Because I SUCK at them.




So there ya have it. My weekend in 5,000 words or less. Maybe.


Oh, yeah, there was a 3+ hour layover in SoCal so I called up my Godmother and she came and took me to get a burger. Life. Is. Good.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Heaven in a red plastic tray. I'm easy to please.



What did I learn this weekend? I learned that:

* you can learn a lot about a person by the way they treat their friends - online and in real life

* kindness goes a long way

* sometimes you meet the most fascinating people in the most interesting places

* tall people are a LOT of fun (I already knew that short people were since I am short!)

* not all squids are jerks but most can drink you under the table.

* my size 6 shoe fits nicely in my mouth. Often. Sorry Scott.

* sometimes you may not know the "why" behind things that happen but it is often the reason that life is as sweet as it is.

* that Irish accents are quite sexy

* that sometimes imagination is better (on a variety of levels) than reality.
(there is more but that is all my poor little tired brain is coming up with right now)





And I have some resolutions for next year's conference (is it ok to make resolutions in May? Don't care.)

* I WILL TAKE MORE PICTURES. Seriously. I took maybe 5. Last year I took NONE. So that's a 500% increase but still. Five? Sheesh.

* I will make more of an effort to go up and actually introduce myself to bloggers I have yet to meet. I spent too much time just people watching and not enough time actually meeting the people I admire. Gotta fix that.

* I will spend more time at the conference than I have the past 2 years. I'm usually in and out quickly but I'm finding that leaves a lot to be desired. So next year, I'm hoping to go early and spend some time tooling around D.C. and helping get things set up for the conference. And I plan to book a return flight late enough in the day to be able to actually attend the Sunday morning breakfast and actually say goodbye to these people that touched my heart.

* I will stay at the Westin again. That "Heavenly Bed" is incredible.




That's all for now, folks.




Pau.




- hfs

5.05.2007

MBC 4 - Live Fire Round Table

John has the "Clue Bat" so we're good to go. He's talking about why he blogs - it's not for the military member. It's to make up for what is NOT covered by the MSM.

This panel includes Mark from Eagle1, Noah Shachtman, Lex from Neptunus Lex, Slab from Op-For, Murdoc, LTC P, and CPT Anthony Diess from CENTCOM. The scale on this one is tipped in the direction of the maritime services so this should be interesting.

Noah Shachtman is discussing the new Army regulation 530-1. Currently he is discussing the MSM and the perceived bias and how he didn't write about the boring days as much as he did about the days in which "stuff" happened. The comparison between being from the South and being "alien" didn't go over too well.

MBC 3 - All in the Family

We're back from the break and the next panel up is "All in the Family". Andi is moderating with Rachelle from ArmyWifeToddlerMom, Carla from Some Soldier's Mom, Sarah from Trying to Grok, and Becky from Military Family Voice of Victory on the panel.

Rachelle said that she started blogging because it was cheaper than therapy. So true.

Carla - articulate and wonderful. She's discussing Noah's battle with PTSD and how she is working to prevent another generation from having to go through what our veterans from Vietnam went through. She said that there is no one more anti-war than a mother of a soldier. Very true.

Rachelle talked about how disrespectful it was for the news of the extension to be leaked. The impact that it had on the families was incredible. Not so much the spouses and the soldiers but the extended families - the moms, the dads, the grandparents, and siblings. THEY were the ones that didn't understand why WE didn't tell them before it hit the press. We didn't have a chance because someone at the Pentagon stole it by leaking the announcement.

Carla is talking about the experience of having a child deployed and how you live in two worlds - yours and your servicemember's. You look at the time and automatically calculate what time it is "over there". You eat breakfast and wonder what they ate or IF they ate. And that is SO true.

Robert Stokely is up speaking. Wow. I can't say much more than that. The man is the epitome of grace.

Questions up now. Had to step out for a minute and missed some stuff. And it seems to me that the word of the day for this conference is "manure".

Someone asked about how civilians who want to help go about offering help to families, especially Guard families who are further removed from support than active duty families. Another commenter pointed everyone in the direction of America Supports You as a resource.

Lunch is up next. More later!




Pau.




- hfs

MBC 2 - Morning update

I'm going to get this out before my battery craps out on me. Jamie McIntyer was supposed to be our MC but had other commitments. So we're stuck with Ward Carroll. Thankfully, the MC doesn't have much to do other than introduce the panels.

We heard from Admiral Fox from MNF and what he had to say was encouraging. He seemed to see blogs as a better, stronger source of news than the mainstream media. I hope that is the case.

Next up is "From the Front" panel. Sean Dustman, SGT Hook, Bill Roggio, Bill Ardolino, and Matt from Blackfive are up talking about how things stand right now. Bill is discussing the "Awakening" movement taking place in Al-Anbar. Such an encouraging situation that no one in the MSM is reporting on. Why not???

SGT Hook is talking about Afghanistan and how, to get the information, you HAVE to go to the MilBlogs. He says that the reporters ride along on missions, do the reporting, but you don't read the stories. They don't get published. He also asked whether Ernie Pyle would be successful in today's media. I don't think so. And that is sad.

Ok - battery's dying. Time to go find an outlet. More later!


Pau.




- hfs

Holy COW!! - MBC 1

So I'm sitting here at the beginning of the MilBlog conference and Andi just announced that our first guest speaker and it was the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!! Of course, as soon as she announced that, everyone turns to look and see him walk in. Not quite but we were presented with a DVD that he made for our conference. Unbelievable!!! I have goosebumps just sitting here, listening to him speak. I may not agree with everything he does as President but WOW.


Next up is Rear Admiral Mark Fox from the Navy with an update from Multi-Mational Force in Iraq. The President is a tough act to follow, even if only on DVD, but ADM Fox is doing a good job!

5.04.2007

Solo Op

I'm on my way. Woohoo! The flight from the turd to the Left Coast was sweet! The flight was less than 1/2 full so I jumped into an empty row. Three seats to myself. Ah, slumber! Hopefully I can head off "The Crud" that I am currently fighting. I can feel my sinuses backing up under my cheekbones. Thank goodness for Airborne, Excedrin PM, and Zicam.

I also found that flying on an airline that has just emerged from bankruptcy has its perks. They came through the aisles and offered up FREE champagne! WOOHOO! Nice way to start the trip. Only six hours of flight time left to go.

The conference just increased in interest level. Seems that the Army has gone ahead and passed another knee-jerk reaction to what they perceive as an OPSEC issue. Michelle Malkin and Glenn Reynolds have the details. I'm sure this will be the hottest topic of discussion at the conference. I'll post more about this later but my first thoughts are that this is a dumb move, that it is overkill, and absolutely poorly thought out. Didn't expect much more from the brass, to be honest, when it comes to the information war. Nice to know nothing has changed.




Pau.




- hfs

5.01.2007

So long April

Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!


I'm so glad it's May now. Hopefully May will be better/easier/less stressful/etc. than April was. April kind of sucked.


In 48 hours, I will be on a plane heading east to the MilBlogging Conference. I cannot WAIT!!! I will get to read books that do not have pictures, watch movies without animation or talking inanimate objects, and actually sleep on the plane if I choose (and I definitely choose! I'm even bringing Excedrin PM to help with that endeavor). It's going to be glorious!


Going to go do the happy dance and haul out the suitcase!!!




Pau.




- hfs