Parenting questions

My friend has 4 children - one of whom is a teenager. She asked the other day:

At what age does your teen have to be to be able to:

-hang out at the mall by themselves (or "by themselves" where they roam the mall and mom or dad sits in the coffee shop)

-go to a movie by themselves

-go to the store by themselves

-just hang out

-go to a friend's house who's parents you have not met

What other things do you do to foster their growth as almost-adult people? I mean, we obviously give them responsibilities around the house as far as chores and helping out the family (babysitting, etc.). But what things can we do to let them start to branch out on their own, make their own decisions, trust that they will make the right choices?

Those who don't have teens, but remember being a teen...what were some things your parents did to foster responsibility while letting you be your own person? were they too lenient or too strict? What would you have had them do differently?

Very tough questions in today's society. I'm in a bit of a quandry as well, though Princess Trouble isn't even 7 yet.

At what age should I allow her to spend the night at a friend's house? (she never has - only with family. She's not keen on the idea of sleeping at anyone else's house either but she loves to have friends spend the night with her. I was the same way. I HATED spending the night at other people's houses.)

At what age should she be able to walk to school (it's about a mile with 1 very busy street to cross)?

At what age should she be able to make toast? Microwave something? Cook Mac and Cheese out of the box? Etc.

At what age should she be able to ride her bike around the block by herself?

All of this is complicated by the fact that her 4 year old brother is her sidekick and any decision I make has to take him into consideration.



- hfs

Why weren't gas prices high when *I* was in school??

Schools Shut Down to Save Money

The MACCRAY School District in western Minnesota voted earlier this month to switch to a four-day school week beginning in September. The decision to close the schools on Mondays will mean slightly longer hours on the other four days, but it will also mean a three-day weekend, every week.

They will be saving money on:

* transportation costs
* heating and cooling costs
* substitute costs (teachers have a weekday to schedule appointments, thereby cutting back on the need for subs)

They will also see a decrease in the number of student absences (though I'm curious to see how that works out in a percentage compared to the number of actual school days in a year).

Man, WHY could this not have happened when *I* was in school. I am all for a 4-day work week.



- hfs


New post up

on the kids' blog. Pictures included.

And, just for the record, orange Kool-Aid is YUMMY!


- hfs


Memorial Day images


The U.S. Marine Corps honor guards participate in the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 26, 2008. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley. (Released)


The local Cub Scout troop placed flags on the grave markers at Punchbowl National Cemetery and one of the moms on a military spouse chat board I'm on posted this picture.


Haole Girl took this picture at the Lantern Floating Ceremony over the weekend.


- hfs


Memorial Day 2008


The Battle of Lovell's Pond

Cold, cold is the north wind and rude is the blast
That sweeps like a hurricane loudly and fast,
As it moans through the tall waving pines lone and drear,
Sighs a requiem sad o'er the warrior's bier.

The war-whoop is still, and the savage's yell
Has sunk into silence along the wild dell;
The din of the battle, the tumult, is o'er,
And the war-clarion's voice is now heard no more.

The warriors that fought for their country, and bled,
Have sunk to their rest; the damp earth is their bed;
No stone tells the place where their ashes repose,
Nor points out the spot from the graves of their foes.

They died in their glory, surrounded by fame,
And Victory's loud trump their death did proclaim;
They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,
And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Memorial Day is coming up soon. And I will remember.

I will remember our time in Alaska with Chuck. Sitting in the stands with his wife - pregnant with their second child - a daughter - watching him play softball while we fought off the mosquitoes. I will remember the BBQs and holiday parties where we ooh'd and ahh'd at his baby girl and how "grown up" his son was becoming. And how sweet he and his wife were together. And I will remember sitting at breakfast the morning the helicopter went down and reading the news on the ticker at the bottom of the screen. I will remember thinking, "that was someone we knew" and then putting that out of my mind. I will remember getting a phone call from a mutual friend, telling us that it was Chuck's bird that went down.

I will remember reading the guest post that Maggie had up last year and thinking what an incredible piece it was. I will remember going back and reading it again after Tuc died and having it really hit home.

I will remember going to dinner with Mindi. A girls' night out in the middle of a deployment. Something to take our minds off of the daily grind and worries that go along with military life and deployments. I will remember congratulating her on her anniversary. Twelve years. Two kids. Spending anniversaries apart is nothing new to military couples. It's just a date and can be celebrated when he gets back.

I will remember standing in line at the Lantern Floating Ceremony, getting ready to pay my respects to those friends we had already lost. I will remember the phone call that came, telling us that there was yet another name to add to the list. I'll remember that what was a dull ache suddenly became a fresh wound standing there in line. And I will remember thinking how that shock and sorrow could not compare to that which was being felt by his family and friends right then. Or ever.


It is an easy thing - to remember. They are so hard to forget.


- hfs


R&W's Question of the Month

While reading the latest issue of Rotor and Wing (yes, I read it. I'm such a nerd.), they posed the following question:

Which is amore critical issue today, the supply of pilots of the supply of mechanics?



- hfs


N. O. - spells "no"


It's a hard word for me to say.

At least it is when it comes to doing things for others. Which is why I often find myself over-extended. I volunteer for things that sounds great at the time, only to find I cannot give my best effort to anyone or anything because I'm running in so many different directions.

I found myself staring at that possibility today. It's May and yet, already, the rest of my year - especially fall - looks overwhelming. I will have two children in school. I am planning to go back to work (as a substitute) on a part-time basis. I just took over our unit's Family Readiness Group. I have commitments at church that are important to me. I have several conferences that I am planning/trying to attend. MacGyver will be having some surgery (and a month's worth of convalescent leave...God, help me) as well. Not to mention the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

When this latest opportunity came about, my first reaction was to say yes. Thankfully, the woman asking me did not ask for an answer - did not WANT an answer - right away. She asked me to think about it and talk to her again on Monday. So I thought about it. And I looked at my calendar and already it's crowded.

I had to say no. I didn't want to say no but I had to. And it was hard. Do you find yourself in these situations often? Is it hard for you to say no to commitments? Am I the only one?


- hfs

One down

Worker charged with vandalizing military helicopter in PA



- hfs

Blog away, soldier!

Leading General Tells Troops to Start Blogging

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who heads the Combined Arms Center [CAC] and Ft. Leavenworth, told his soldiers in a recent memo that "faculty and students will begin blogging as part of their curriculum and writing requirements both within the .mil and public environments. In addition CAC subordinate organizations will begin to engage in the blogosphere in an effort to communicate the myriad of activities that CAC is accomplishing and help assist telling the Army’s story to a wide and diverse audience."

Lt. Gen. Caldwell, the former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, is a blogger himself, contributing to Small Wars Journal. He made waves in January when he wrote that "we must encourage our Soldiers to... get onto blogs and to send their YouTube videos to their friends and family."

Which is quizzical, given the fact that YouTube is currently banned on military networks. Nor can you blog during duty hours.

I definitely think it's a good idea and I'm curious to see how this flies with the higher-ups.


- hfs


I stole this from UnkaWill who stole it from Kris.

Everything bolded - I have done:
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink - Yes. Small bar but yes.

02. Swam with wild dolphins - I live in Hawaii. Yes.

03. Climbed a mountain - Yep. Colorado, California, Alaska, Hawaii.

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive - No. Porsche, yes. Ferrari, no.

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula - Yes. Freaky. And hairy.

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone - yes.

08. Said “I love you” and meant it - every day.

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm - every chance I get.

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise. - yep.

14. Seen the Northern Lights - lived in Alaska for 3 years. They make noise too!

15. Gone to a huge sports game - ProBowl, several NFL games, plenty of MLB games, Holiday Bowl x 2 (Go Rams!)

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your vegetables: Yep. Canned them too!

18. Touched an iceberg - Yep! See #14 (though, to my knowledge, they do not make noise)

19. Slept under the stars. Yep.

20. Changed a baby’s diaper. More times than I can count.

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower. Yep.

23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity - Yes. But God always provides.

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope - Yep.

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment: Yes. Just think "stirrups".

27. Had a food fight. At church, no less!

28 Bet on a winning horse.

29. Asked out a stranger

30. Had a snowball fight - See #14. Snowballs don't make noise either. Until they hit you.

31.Screamed as loudly as you possibly can: Yes. Princess Trouble hit her head really hard and gave herself what looked like a seizure. In my arms. I screamed for MacGyver probably about as loud as I could.

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse - Yes. Just a few months ago.

34. Ridden a roller coaster - too many times to count. Corkscrew at Knott's Berry Farm is my favorite.

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking: Every. Single. Time.

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day - Does living in Alabama and picking up that accent count?

38 Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment: Most of the time

39. Had two hard drives for your computer - Only two?

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk. far too often

42. Had amazing friends:Yes.

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched whales: Just the other day. Off the coast of Waiamea Bay.

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe Rucksack anyone?

47. Taken a road-trip - We are a military family. Isn't that one of the requirements you agree to when you sign up?

48. Gone rock climbing - Yep.

49. Midnight walk on the beach - Yep.

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love - Yes.

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow

56. Alphabetized your CDs And cassettes and albums and Books (ditto)

57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke: never been that drunk

59. Lounged around in bed all day - a few times during the last deployment

60. Played touch football - often

61. Gone scuba diving - Yep. Going again this coming weekend.

62. Kissed in the rain - Not as sexy as you would think.

63. Played in the mud - Having 2 small children, the answer would be yes.

64. Played in the rain - See above

65. Gone to a drive-in theater - long ago

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business - yes. Closed them too.

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken - yes.

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

72. Gotten married - Just once :)

73. Been in a movie

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days

77. Made cookies from scratch - often.

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo - scared of needles.

81. Rafted the Snake River - No but I've rafted the American River in Northern California and the Poudre in Colorado.

82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”

83. Gotten flowers for no reason - yes. Made me cry too.

84. Performed on stage - when I was little.

85. Been to Las Vegas - yep. Going again in 4 months!!

86. Recorded music - yes but it wasn't good. I was 5.

87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date - Heh. Yes.

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror - does standing up in front of the screen during the movie and performing count? If so, yes.

96. Raised children - currently in progress.

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country - does Alabama count?

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over - every 3 years or so thanks to Uncle Sam.

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking - often.

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback - yes.

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray - yes. Sea World's touch tank is awesome!

110. Broken someone’s heart - not sure. I hope not.

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a T.V. game show

113. Broken a bone - wrist, fibula, many toes.

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol - yes

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse - often.

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours - yes.

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper - yes.

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school - every day when I was in high school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach - Around here, often.

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read - Ayn Rand. Thanks, Scott.

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream - Every day.

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts - MacGyver does this. Does that count?

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair - yep.

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone’s life - I was a lifeguard and an EMT (briefly). Does that count? If not, I pulled Little Man from the pool after he had slipped off the step into water that was too deep.


Aviation - Hooker Pr0n

Branching Aviation means never having to walk further than the chow hall.

Which is why the stereotypical Warrant Officer is fat...

And BillT sends yet another picture for my collection (obsession? your call)


He says "Chit-hook drivers *love* to play in the dirt". Heh. If you only knew...


- hfs


Chinooks Vandalized

Chinooks Vandalized at Boeing Plant in PA

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak has said he was told that broken or severed wires were found in one helicopter and that a suspicious washer was found in a second. Maupin described the washer as being in a place it shouldn't.

Find them, string them up, and beat them senseless.


- hfs


Playing Army - Hooker Pr0n

A certain mucky-muck who shall remain nameless decided he wanted to buck his day job and go play Army with the Hookers for a day. But the man couldn't take a cab over to catch his flight so the flight came to him...








All in a day's work, I suppose.

MacGyver also grabbed some shots of a few of the birds that are in "phase" (major overhaul). Nekkid Hooker pr0n...



- hfs


Video from President's speech

DefenseLink has it up. You can find it here (click the little link that says "video").

No video of the spider though. Sorry.


- hfs


Cocktail chatter?

Wretchard of the Belmont Club contemplates Time Magazine's muse as to whether it is Time to Invade Burma.

Says Time:
That's why it's time to consider a more serious option: invading Burma. Some observers, including former USAID director Andrew Natsios, have called on the U.S. to unilaterally begin air drops to the Burmese people regardless of what the junta says.

I'm sorry but the U.S. military is currently on tour. Those calling for an "invasion" of Burma (for humanitarian reasons, of course) will have to find another organization to fill its wants. I would suggest Code Pink, moveon.org, The Democratic National Party, and the population of Berkeley, California as starting places for the draft.

Not that helping the Burmese people in its time of need isn't a priority. But currently, our military is still fulfilling its obligations after we decided to "intervene unilaterally", acting on behalf of the 27.5 MILLION people in Iraq who were also facing an oppressive regime. So forgive them if they are not currently available.

"We're in 2008, not 1908," says Jan Egeland, the former U.N. emergency relief coordinator. "A lot is at stake here. If we let them get away with murder we may set a very dangerous precedent."

Oh, reeeeaaaalllly? You mean like the precedent we set in 1979 when we didn't go in and kick some Tehranian ass when they took our citizens hostages? Or the precedent we set in 1991 when we failed to go all the way in to Baghdad and kick some Saddam ass after his invasion of Kuwait? Or the precedent set when we failed to hold the same man (and regime) accountable for the atrocities against the Kurds? Or the precedent that was set in 1993 in Somalia (like Wretchard ponders...do Muslims have epiphanies?)?


A coercive humanitarian intervention would be complicated and costly.

Wait a minute...aren't we already in a recession? Isn't it because of the war in Iraq??

That's what I thought.

H/T Lex


- hfs


A Bleg

I've been dutifully saving my money to pay for my plane ticket to the MilBlogging Conference in Vegas this coming September. Tucking away $20 here and $50 there. I had about $600 saved up which was close to what I would need to at least cover plane tickets.

Then the opportunity to go to the White House and hang with the Prez presented itself and there went the $600 (and then some). It was an opportunity I could not pass up and I am grateful I did not do so. However, that leaves me in a bit of a tight spot. I'm now back to square one in terms of covering costs to Vegas. And I don't have a lot of time to do so nor do I have much of an opportunity as we will be on the mainland for the bulk of the summer.

So I've taken a tip from Lex and set up a TIP JAR in the hopes that I don't have to swim to the mainland this fall. Someone has already been generous enough to hit it (which shocked me! Thank you!) which gets me headed in the right direction.

Thanks for even considering it. I appreciate the readers I have and I am blessed simply to have this opportunity. You all are wonderful. Thank you.


- hfs

Pictures from DC

Since Bill was getting a little antsy...

The lot of us in front of the White House. I think we were still in shock over the whole thing at this point.

Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. He was accosted by a woman who got lost on her way to the Kentucky Derby. Either that or she was a Code Pinko spy. Not sure which. She definitely stood out though. Actually, the hat was lovely - just unique.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States. This is, unfortunately, as close to him as I was able to get. Had I been more aggressive, I might have been able to shake his hand but that's ok - just being there was more than enough for me.

General Cody, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. Former 160th commander, Master Aviator (told me to have MacGyver call him when he hits 5,000 hours). Impressive man. I think, in many ways, I was more excited to meet him than to meet the President. Can you tell I'm a fan?

The Washington Monument from the South Lawn. I think the only regret I had about this trip was the lack of time I had. I do so wish I had the time to tour D.C. properly. I went my senior year in high school and even THAT week wasn't enough time to see everything I wanted to see. I would have liked to have been able to visit Arlington National Cemetery and some friends that are buried there. I would have loved to have been able to get over to the Smithsonian and visit my brother. I would have loved to have seen the WWII memorial for the first time, in addition to seeing all of the other monuments I've seen before.

Next time.


- hfs


GUESS where I was today!!!

On the South Lawn at the White House!!!!! The President gave a speech on the South Lawn of the White House this morning, recognizing Military Spouse Appreciation Month. The President presented six military spouses the Presidential Volunteer Service Award today for exceptional support to their communities and the nation.

The men and women honored today are incredible.

Colleen Saffron founded “Operation Life Transformed” after her husband, Terry, was injured in May 2004 serving in Iraq. The nonprofit group trains families of wounded troops so they can work from home while caring for their loved ones.

Ramona Vazquez founded “Nate's Open Door Baby Pantry” in honor of a Coast Guardsman she had befriended who died in Iraq, becoming the first Coast Guardsman killed in military action since the Vietnam War. The program provides diapers, formula, clothing, toys and furniture to military members and civilians at no charge.

Bob Davison has made a difference everywhere his wife Lisa’s Air Force career has taken her during the past 12 years, Bush said, rattling off examples. While stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Davison raised $10,000 for the local Fisher House. At Lakenheath, England, he raised nearly $120,000 for short-term food aid for military families facing tough times. At Scott Air Force Base, Ill., he was a volunteer with Operation Home Front, a national nonprofit group that helps needy military families. Most recently, he works with Operation Home Front at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., where he’s raised more than $350,000 in donations, including more than 1 million phone card minutes for deployed servicemembers.

Ellen Patton’s husband, Mark, is a Navy captain, and her son, Eric, a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. “She loves her military, she loves her boys, and she loves to sew,” Bush said. “So she put these … loves together and began to volunteer with Quilts of Valor Foundation.” The group provides wartime quilts to every single servicemember wounded during the war, and Patton personally has made 80 quilts for wounded troops and veterans, Bush noted. She also tracked down many of the sailors injured during the 2000 attack on USS Cole.

Dawnle Scheetz learned of terrible conditions young Iraqi children endured when her husband, Army Reserve Maj. Larry Scheetz, deployed in 2006. In response, she started Operation Schoolhouse, a project to collect school supplies and clothing and toys for poor children in Afghanistan and Iraq. Over an eight-month period, Scheetz collected 5 tons of supplies, all packaged and shipped to the front lines and distributed by U.S. troops.

Kaprece James developed the first year-round youth leadership program to teach professional leadership and interviewing skills. She raised money so young people could assemble 500 disaster kits for enlisted Marine families and founded a newsletter for deployed Marines’ families. All the while, she was a cheerleading coach for children on base.

Monday afternoon I received an invitation in my inbox "requesting my presence" for the event. That gave me SIX DAYS to throw together travel plans.


I managed to get what had to be THE LAST seat on the flights to D.C. and from D.C. Actually, until last night around 6p.m. EST I didn't have a seat on the return flight. Thankfully one opened up. I will be heading home in a few hours and I'll upload pictures then (I managed to forget to pack the USB cable for my camera).

The bummer about the whole thing is that, in order to jump on this opportunity, I had to tap my MilBlogging Conference fund. So that is now empty and it's time to start building that fund up again. So, should you find yourself with a few extra quarters in your pocket and no place to put them, feel free to hit my "SWIM FORREST, SWIM" TIP JAR (I'll be putting up a link to the right soon).

The whole thing was incredible and I think I'm truly in shock. What a wonderful experience!


- hfs


Cass, this one's for you!

Had lunch on the North Shore and thought of you!


- hfs

Blankets for Afghanistan - UPDATE

Some of you may remember that some friends and I helped to mail off dozens of blankets donated to an MP Battalion in Afghanistan a few weeks ago. A few days ago, I heard back from the POC (point of contact) with the MP Battalion.

I would like to thank you for your wonderful contribution. The blankets were absolutely wonderful. They did not go out on Sunday's shipment. I have included pictures of our recent drop. (redacted) Your blankets will go out on the next drop.

There were some soldiers in my company who don't have a blanket so I gave them one of your blankets. We will wash them and donate them when we leave. There is no way to get a really warm blanket here unless someone at home mails one. The blankets here are synthetic. NOT warm. But we only are borrowing a few. The blankets were a lifesaver to us soldiers. And they brightened our day.

From the bunch of us and from our soldiers...thank you for all the wonderful blankets.

382nd MP Battalion

You're more than welcome!

A HUGE mahalo to the Sheraton Pricess Kaiulani hotel in Waikiki and their electrical foreman for their generosity and kindness!!! And a big thank you to my friends who helped get the boxes to the post office! I still owe you all Starbucks!


- hfs


I stopped at Starbucks to grab a Chai on my way to shop for a dress for my trip. The cashier that took my credit card at the drive thru window was obviously gay - you could tell simply by his voice. (don't anyone go getting their panties in a wad. I grew up in Southern California and hearing the swish in a man's voice is easy for me and a telltale sign as to which way his door swings)

I hand him my Disney Rewards credit card which has a picture of Tinkerbell on it. He looks at it and, with all sincerity, tells me,

I love Tinkerbell. She makes it O.K. to be a bitch.

I about fell out of my car laughing! Gotta love it!


- hfs


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