12.26.2009

New Year's Resolution

My New Year's resolution is that I will be back after the start of the new year. Right now, that's as good as it gets. But it's a promise. I don't promise things often but I do promise this.


I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and my thoughts and prayers are with you for a wonderful new year. See you in January.




Pau.




- hfs

12.16.2009

Going dark

The milblogging world - this blog included - will be "going dark" for a bit in support of fellow milblogger, CJ Grisham. Maggie has the details but the crux of the matter is,

The catalyst has been the treatment of milblogger C.J. Grisham of A Soldier's Perspective. C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues -- particularly PTSD. In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this. Ultimately, C.J. has had to sell his blog to help raise funds for his defense in this matter.



The Army Times has a great article about the situation that you might want to check out. And feel free to help CJ out as he defends his name, his word, and his Army career. I find it reprehensible that his command not only failed to back him up on this but that they actually threw him under the school bus, so to speak.


And I realize that there has been a dearth of posting lately so my blog "going dark" for a bit really isn't anything remarkable. But blogs like Blackfive, This Ain't Hell, From My Position, and BostonMaggie will be silent as well in support which says a LOT (we all know that it is very tough for Chuck to keep his mouth shut).


Should you feel inclined to help CJ out, here is the info:

You can donate to CJ's Legal Fund by logging into PayPal, go to the send money page, and put in his email: dj_chcknhawk AT yahoo DOT com; or, you can send donations directly to:

Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893




Pau.




- hfs

12.08.2009

Big waves on the North Shore

I am still alive.


Hawaii had a killer swell come through earlier this week - the likes of which have not been seen here since 2004. Therefore, the Eddie Aikau Memorial surf contest was ON. "The bay called the day" and easily 1/2 of O'ahu was on the North Shore to check it out. Including me. And the kids. Who played hooky.


When I was 13 or 14, my parents let me go spend a few days hanging out with my brother who was living in the El Segundo/Manhattan Beach area with his family. I spent a lot of time with my nephews and their friends hanging out down at the beach and really started to get to know "the surfing world" - well, as much as a sheltered, valley kid could. I got to know names like Tom Curren, Sunny Garcia, Kelly Slater...and now, here I am 23 years later, living in Hawaii and enjoying the opportunity to head up to the North Shore to check out one of the most prestigious surfing events ever.


Wow.


So here are some of the pictures I took. I wish I had a better zoom - we were up on the hillside above Waimea at a Hei'au (ancient Hawaiian temple area) so I wasn't as close as I would have liked to have been. Next time.


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Pipeline. Locally known as Ehukai Beach.


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Waimea. We were up at the Hei'au above Waimea which afforded us an unobstructed, yet far-removed, view of the first heat.


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More of the first heat.


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More.


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The first heat in between sets...waiting for the next swell.


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The crowds were INSANE. Local police estimated in excess of 30K people - more than have ever turned out for a surfing event on the North Shore. In a space about the size of a high school football stadium.


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More Pipeline. We had driven up past Waimea before sunrise and stopped at Pipeline to check out the waves. They weren't as impressive as they were at Waimea but they were still incredible.


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More Waimea. Yay for zoom lenses.


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And more Waimea. The waves started off the morning hovering right around 40' on the face. They then died off a bit - dropping down to about 15'-20' around lunch time. After lunch, they picked back up and were up above 40' through the end of the competition.


This last one is one my friend S. took and I just love the way it looks almost like he's walking in snow.

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Pau.




- hfs

11.19.2009

Regression

I am regressing. Or so it seems. I'm heading back to college, contemplating some kind of a part time job...did someone hit the rewind button on my life because I swear, the last time I was in this position, I was about 10 years younger. Maybe I can find a frat party to go hit up. Heh.


Have any of you checked out the My Career Advancement Account? Basically it's money to help spouses get into high demand, high growth Portable Career fields. Six grand. $6K. $6,000. That's a hefty chunk of change. And I didn't have to write an essay when I applied for it! It will cover the cost of the pre-requisite classes I will need to get into a BSN program. Works for me. Should all of this eventually prove to be unnecessary (please, God) then we are not out any money. However, I think that, even if things do work out for us in terms of MacGyver's career, I will continue to pursue my BSN. It seems to be the path I am being led down so I will continue to follow it.


Currently, I am enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology. I'm wait-listed for Microbiology so we'll see if I can get into that. If not, I may try to wiggle my way into a Calculus class, just for fun. That side of my brain needs some exercise. Classes start in January and I'm having a tough time wrapping my brain around the fact that I will be a college student yet again. Never thought I'd find myself here. Again. Odd.


Our church went on a bit of a hike last weekend - we hiked up the East Range on to Waikane Trail. You can check out information on the trail over at Kaleo Lancaster's place. It had been raining for a good few days before we hit the trail so the mud was thick enough to suck your shoes off your feet. And I don't know that I believe Kaleo when he says that Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club had been through there recently to clear it out. It was incredibly overgrown in parts. It was a challenging hike - about 4 miles each way with some seriously steep ascents in both directions - but I loved every minute of it. Maybe not the minute where one of our group took a header down a 60' embankment, stopped only by smacking, face-first, into a tree. But I loved every other minute. I do need new hiking shoes though.


Our brigade suffered it's first loss last week. Pilots Earl Scott and Matt Heffelfinger (2/6 Cav) were killed when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior crashed in Iraq. Our brigade is only 2 months into this deployment so to lose two so early hits hard. Last week was tough for many people here. Thankfully, the aviation community here is strong and supportive.



Just bleh. What do college students even wear these days? Does it matter?




Pau.




- hfs

11.11.2009

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Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13



To those that have sacrificed to serve our country and defend our freedoms...thank you.




Pau.




- hfs

11.02.2009

Project Valour-IT

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I have been remiss in posting about the Project Valour-IT fundraiser that is going on now through Veterans' Day, November 11th. This fundraiser is split up by service and, currently, the Marines are winning. But we all know that Big Army will get the job done - we always do. So head on over and drop a few bucks in the jar. And show those Marines who is boss.




Pau.




- hfs

10.06.2009

Survivors in Afghanistan Need Immediate Help - 56 Soldiers Lost EVERYTHING

Survivors in Afghanistan Need Immediate Help - 56 Soldiers Lost EVERYTHING


This is legit. This unit is the unit of a friend of mine's husband (that was an awkward sentence). You can read the news story HERE. The entire FOB was destroyed.


Tammy's husband has a first-hand account HERE.


And yes, the Army will cover the basics but the personal items are mostly up to the individual soldiers to take care of - just as it is when they head into theatre. Add to that the fact that these guys just lost eight of their own in one moment and you can imagine how difficult this is for them. To have the support of those of us back here will be a huge morale boost for them.


So please consider sending in a few items. TankerBabe is heading up the coordination and you can email her for a mailing address. The list of what is needed is on the blog post. My kids are currently drawing pictures and writing notes to the guys as well.


Every little bit helps. Thanks.




Pau.




- hfs

It's been a year.

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Hard to believe. I miss you, Dad.


love,
me

9.25.2009

School's out for...Fridays?

Hawaii teacher furloughs will cut class time, not preparation days


So the state of Hawaii cannot balance it's budget or manage it's money properly. This state is worse than my 8 year old with her birthday money burning a hole in her pocket. It's ridiculous. The amount of revenue brought in my tourists, property taxes from outrageous home prices, and the prohibitive taxes imposed on the people of Hawaii slip through the hands of state officials like water through a sieve. And yet the roads remain full of car-eating potholes, the airport looks like something you'd find in a third world country, and the schools are now so far in the hole that the school year is being trimmed back by 17 days.


It's disgusting.


This whole issue bothers me on so many levels:

1.) If you read the article, you'll see that both the State DOE AND the teachers' union agreed not to use ANY of the professional development days as part of the 17 furlough days being imposed. Not one. Not. ONE. Disgusting.


2.) Rather than trim some of the fat that exists at the DOE (last I heard, the ratio of DOE employees to teachers is something like 13:1. WHY do we need 13 DOE employees sitting in an office somewhere, pushing paper, for every school teacher out there, busting their butts to educate our children??), the DOE is content to shift the burden of the shortfall on to the backs of working families. Child care is ridiculously expensive in this state and now those parents who both work have to come up with the money to cover 17 random Fridays throughout the school year. Disgusting.


3.) Rather than make things easier on parents AND teachers - who will both be feeling the economic impact of these furloughs - and schedule these furlough days in blocks either at the end of the school year or at breaks, the DOE and the teachers' union have decided to give everyone a bunch of 3 day weekends randomly throughout the school year. Had they cut the year short by 17 days, teachers would have been able to apply for summer jobs and simply start working two weeks earlier than they had planned. Summer programs could have been started 17 days early, thereby alleviating the stress placed on the backs of working families. But no...the DOE and HSTA (the teachers' union) had to make an already difficult situation even more difficult by choosing this route. Disgusting.


4.) The state of Hawaii now has the fewest days in school of any state in the union. After these 17 furlough days are implemented, students in Hawaii will go to school for a TOTAL of 162 days. And that includes at least 8 half days (where students get out at 12:30pm for parent-teacher conferences. According to the law, these days are actually classified as full days because the students are in school through lunch.). Disgusting.


Now, before you jump all over me and tell me that those teacher prep and waiver days are necessary and that I don't know what I'm talking about, let me give you my background: I am a K-12 certified public school teacher. I have taught in Colorado, California, Alaska, and now I sub in Hawaii. I know how important those prep days are. And I know - on the whole - how worthless those Professional Development days are. Waive some of them. Not all of them. But instead of forcing students and parents to shoulder the FULL burden of the furloughs, the teachers' union should have agreed to include a few of those PD days in the furlough. But they didn't. Disgusting.


The case for homeschooling was just made stronger by one decision by the Hawaii DOE and HSTA. And that will have ramifications for years to come. It is a sad day here for Hawaii's schoolchildren, teachers, and families.


(coming soon...Space Available travel adventures!)




Pau.




- hfs

9.11.2009

9.11.01 - Father Mychal Judge 00001

This is a repost. More here, here, and here.


My life has two parts to it. The part up through September 10, 2001 and the part from September 11, 2001 to the present. A defining moment. My life as an Army wife also has two parts. The first part was where the biggest drawback or downside of military life was a hardship tour to Korea. The second part is life as I know it right now.

The morning of September 11, 2001 I was 10 months pregnant and 5 days from my due date. I had 4 days left to go as a teacher before going on maternity leave and was only working half days so I didn't need to be in until 11am that day. MacGyver had a 7am work call and was in the shower when my alarm went off. I remember smacking the snooze button on the radio and through the haze of sleep, I heard the DJ say "a plane has hit the Pentagon.".

I woke up. Quickly.

I turned the radio back on and sat bolt upright in bed as I listened. It took me a minute to wrap my brain around what I was hearing. In that time, MacGyver finished his shower and turned off the water. I got up and out of bed as fast as my pregnant belly would let me and knocked on the door. He answered and I told him he needed to go downstairs and turn on the TV.

How many people uttered those words that day?

Everyone I talk to, every story I hear involves those words. "You need to go and turn on the TV."

We went downstairs and stood, gaping, at the television. We couldn't even cry. We were too shocked. I think the first tower fell while we were watching and that must have sparked MacGvyer to move. He bolted upstairs, threw on his BDUs, grabbed his overnight bag and some food, kissed me goodbye, and left. Still, there were no tears. I didn't know if I would see him again. In my mind, he would deploy. I don't know where I thought he was going or what I expected him to be doing but I did not expect him to come home. Mentally I was trying to steel myself to have this baby alone. And I was ok with that. Hell, after thinking about what the people in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania were going through, having a baby on my own was nothing compared to that.

Still, there were no tears.

I went to school. It was chaos and sadness all at the same time. We didn't get anything done that day (or for a few days after). We all sat and watched TV. And talked. And worried. And prayed. Yes, we prayed in a public school. Seemed like the thing to do at the time.

But still, no tears.

And then I came home. And I sat down and watched TV. And I saw this...

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And, for some reason, that image stuck with me. Moreso than any other image I saw that day or any other day. I had read about Father Mychal Judge a while back. I knew who he was. I remember reading about how he tended to the families of the victims of TWA flight 800 when it crashed off Long Island and thinking what an incredible man he was.

When I realized who it was that they were carrying out of the rubble, my heart broke. And I cried.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Father Mike was so many things to so many people. A Catholic priest. A recovering alcoholic. A gay man. A friend to the firefighting community and a pillar of the community. Larger than life.

His funeral was reported to have the makings of one hell of a good joke. A priest, a lawyer, and an Irishman walk into a bar . . . Who else could have brought together a room full of people from every spectrum of life?

But his LIFE was so much more than how he died. His work as a priest and as a friend touched thousands of lives. He firmly believed in the concept of Alcoholics Anonymous, calling it "America's greatest contribution to spirituality." The day he died marked his 23rd year of sobriety. He believed that the creators of AA did more for humanity than even Mother Teresa.

He ministered to AIDS patients back in the 80s when society was terrified of the disease and those afflicted. He treated AIDS patients with the dignity that each of us deserves from our fellow humans. He was a shining example to us in that.

He ministered to the families of the victims of TWA flight 800 in 1996 when it exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island.


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Father Mychal Judge would become a familiar presence among family members mourning lost passengers. He made the drive daily, for weeks, spending 12 hours a day consoling friends and families who had lost loved ones. He also celebrated Mass every other day, participated in counseling sessions for people of all denominations and organized ecumenical memorial prayer services for the victims' families and TWA personnel.

"When that call came through it was the Lord calling me somehow," he told a reporter during a visit to his third-floor room at the friary. "I went out there that night and I stayed there for all hours of the morning, talking to people from all over the country and all over the world."

Father Mychal helped to organize services on the beach for the Flight 800 families. A news photograph of him at one such service, wearing his brown robe and gazing out to sea, was distributed around the country.

"The water becomes sacred to them," he said of the families.

Those family members became part of his ever-expanding parish.

He remained involved in some of their lives until his death at the World Trade Center.


A Los Angeles Times reporter researching an article on support services for families of air crash victims interviewed Father Mychal in 2000, and he spoke of his efforts to be a healing presence for people whose lives had been torn apart.

"In seminary, you can get all the theology and Scripture in the world, and you land in your first parish, and you find out it's you-- the personality and the gifts that God gave you," said Mychal Judge.

"He was absolutely hands-on. Religion didn't make any difference for him-- he was the same toward everyone, regardless of their beliefs," said Hans Ephraimson-Abt, a New Jersey businessman and longtime advocate for families of air crash victims.

"The TWA families considered him a saint."

- from The Life of Father Mychal Judge



I sure would have loved to have had the privilege of meeting him in person. Guess I'm going to have to wait a bit.


At the memorial, McCourt told the mourners about his own fantasy. Judge, he says, dies and is momentarily disoriented, because after leading such a simple life, he suddenly finds himself in a place with large marble hallways. A figure approaches.

"Can I help you?"

"Well, I don't know where I am."

"What's your name?"

"Judge. First name Mychal."

"Really? Some people call me Judge, too."

"Oh? And what's your first name?"

"Almighty. What kind of work would you like here, Mychal?"

"I'd like to be someplace where there are fires."

"We don't have any fires here. The only one we know about is very far away, and that burns eternally, because all the firefighters are here, and we don't tell them about it, because otherwise they'd be down there fighting it."

"Well, could I go there and give some people a hand?"

"No, Mychal. Because if you go there, you have to be a sinner, you see? And you're a saint."

"Could I have a temporary pass to go there, then? Could I be an honorary sinner?"

"Yes. But please don't bring back any conservatives."

At that point, the crowd, already laughing, started to howl. McCourt paused to let everyone collect himself. "And away he goes," he finally said. "That's my fantasy about Mychal. He keeps working. He never stops. He's trying to get all of us out of hell."


- from The Fireman's Friar




Father Mychal Judge was so much more than the priest whose death certificate bears the number 00001 - the first official casualty of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was a man - flawed yet repentant - who did his best to serve God and his fellow man.

Learning more about him in the days and weeks that followed September 11 gave me hope in a time where hope was hard to find. Those of us who had babies right around that time I am sure had doubts as to what kind of world we were bringing our babies into. But knowing that a man such as Father Mike sits up in Heaven reassures me that there is hope and that we will be ok.


I will NEVER FORGET Father Mike. Never.




For a list of participants in the 2,996 project and their honorees, GO HERE.

Read. Remember.

Honor.





Pau.




- hfs

9.10.2009

ZOMG!!!!1!! FREE HEALTHCARE FOR EVERYONE!

I love a good debate. Really, I do. Surprisingly, some of the best debates I had were in high school - before people got really good at mixing insults into their arguments. Before it got personal. Because in high school most of the bigger issues were purely hypothetical for us and somewhat abstract as well. Because we didn't have much personal experience with the issues we were debating we had to actually DO our research rather than rely on limited personal experience and gut feeling as the basis of our argument.


Thanks to Facebook I am still in touch with many of the people I went to high school with and the current national discussion surrounding health care has sparked some interesting discussions. And so far those discussions are quite similar to the ones we had in high school - respectful, intelligent, informed. I like it.


The other day a friend of mine posted a comment along the lines of "Can't we all agree that the system as it is is broken and we can work together to make it better?". A very valid question. My response was that I would agree with that as long as we can also agree that allowing government involvement in the solution is NOT an option (I should have used the word 'solution' instead of 'option').


I have written a few times about nationalized health care and my thoughts on that idea. Anyone who knows me - even remotely - knows that my Libertarian leanings prevent me, on a fundamental basis, from thinking that involving the government in ANY way is a good idea. The answer is LESS government involvement, not more.


This really isn't rocket science. If we, as a nation, truly want to "fix" the health INSURANCE problem in this country (because health CARE isn't the issue - anyone can walk into a hospital and receive treatment, regardless of ability to pay), there are really only three things we need to look at:

1.) tort reform
2.) allow co-ops/bargaining groups
3.) allow for interstate commerce and competition among the PRIVATE insurance companies


NONE of these involve MORE government. Not one. The Federal government (whether under Democratic, Republican, or alien reign) cannot run itself properly. What makes us think it would be a good idea to let it run the health insurance industry? The definition of "insanity" is doing the same thing over and over and over, expecting a different result.


There are very few things that I want - and I would suspect others want - from a properly functioning health insurance industry:

1.) Choice. Let ME choose what doctor I see and what health insurance plan fits my needs and the needs of MY family. The government doesn't know me or my family; nor does the Fed know what is best for us. It's MY family. Let ME choose.

2.) Access. Let me have access to the care I need, when I need it. Let me have an insurance plan that goes with me when I change - or LOSE - my job.

3.) Fairness. If I am going to pay for my own health insurance, let me have the same tax breaks as an individual that employees receive. Then redirect the government assistance to those that truly need it.

4.) Responsibility. Let me have more control over my own health care decisions. Let me have a system that encourages the elimination of waste and fraud, and abuse (hint: the government does not do this. LOOK at the military. LOOK at Congress.) Let me decide whether or not I even want to be involved in this plan in the first place. But don't absolve me (at the cost of tax-payer dollars) of the consequences of my decisions.


It's really not that hard. And for those of you that would argue against a Republican alternative to ObamaCare, do me a favor and go check out Ron Wyden's (D - OR) plan. It's one of the better one's I've seen or read about. I don't care what political party someone is affiliated with (hey we can't all be perfect...or Libertarian). I care whether or not the idea/proposal meets my criteria.


I will agree that our health INSURANCE system is busted. Our health CARE system is one of the best in the world. Now we just need to get the government out of it's way.




Pau.




- hfs

9.07.2009

Small surprises

Do you ever have one of those things that you find out and it just kind of lingers with you? Something you didn't know but now that you do, it just kind of puzzles you...but in a good way? To the point where every once in a while you just kind of stop and go "Huh." with a half smile and a puzzled look on your face?


I had this happen to me a short while back and I'm still wandering around with that half smile on my face saying "Huh." every once in a while. I found out that someone I know in real life actually reads my blog. This person is not someone I would EVER expect to a.) read blogs or b.) read mine. And while it's flattering to know they read my blog, it's more than a little surprising. And intimidating to some extent.


Briefly I worried about the quality of my writing. To the point that I actually started to dig through my archives and consider weeding out some of the less impressive stuff (I very rarely go through my archives. I never read back through my diaries either. I usually burn them, if you want to know the truth. So those of you that might possibly be concerned that I might one day write a tell-all book, you can breathe now.). But I stopped. This blog is what it is and taking into consideration who reads this blog isn't something I plan to do when it comes to how I write.


Except for the fact that both my mother and my mother-in-law read this so I do try to keep it appropriate. Hi mom!


Still, it gives me pause. I don't usually stop to think about WHO reads my blog. To be honest, in my mind, I don't think anyone reads it (though my sitemeter tells me different). I started this blog as an outlet and that is pretty much what it has remained. It's my way of cashing in my chips as it were. And I am sure my husband thanks God for Blogspot on a regular basis. Maybe.


I have the house to myself this afternoon and it's been nice. I've had a chance to live inside my head for a bit and process some of the stuff that's happened over the past weeks and months. Not sure I'm getting a true handle on things - I'm still a "beautiful disaster" - but maybe I'm making headway. Who knows?




Pau.




- hfs

9.03.2009

This and that

First, an update on Christian...he's in San Diego with his mom and his dad, awaiting surgery. Seems he caught a bug of some kind and spiked a temp so they are treating him with antibiotics to get rid of whatever he has. It looks like his surgery will take place sometime early next week. For those that are interested, the issue with Christian's heart is called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return.


So keep praying and sending good thoughts - they are definitely needed! In the meantime, Christian's two older brothers and cousin are being spoiled rotten by their grandfather who is here, taking care of them. But their mom and dad miss them terribly and hope to be reunited with them soon.





Pau.




- hfs

8.27.2009

Navy family needs help

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I'm not normally one to beg openly on my blog but this one hits close to home. Friends of mine - a Navy family - just welcomed their third son here on the island on Monday. Unfortunately, he has a heart defect that requires immediate open heart surgery so he will be LifeFlighted to Rady Children's Hospital Heart Institute on Saturday. They will be leaving their two other sons and their nephew, whom they have guardianship of, here on the island with their grandfather (who flew in on short notice to help care for them). This is probably a temporary set up as the doctors have said that recovery will take about 6 weeks which is an awfully long time to be away from your children so the hope is that their other kids can join them at some point.


Because this is all happening so quickly, details regarding expenses and logistics are sketchy. There are sure to be expenses that the Navy will not cover. Currently, the Fisher House and Ronald McDonald house are full. So other lodging will be necessary to secure. Lex says that the Navy should have it all covered (which is a HUGE blessing) but there are always expenses that pop up outside of what is covered.

To help offset whatever expenses do occur, the Hawaii Military Wives' support group has established ways to help the Popp family:


-Donate good ol' greens via paypal (USE: Curtis_Popp@hotmail.com)
... just remember even a little makes a difference!

-Donate Gift Cards/Cash! ... Check your stash, or purchase new ones.
Mail to: AMY LYNN ROGAN
ICO: CURTIS AND KELSEY POPP
1106 ISLE WAY
CHULA VISTA CA 91910

-Pray!
... Prayer is PRICELESS!!

Keep baby Christian and his entire family in your hearts and prayers, ask your friends, family, and church contacts to also pray.


Thanks so much!




Pau.




- hfs


(I edited this post to correct the name of the hospital, the departure date, and the number of children they have, in addition to providing more detail. And because I forgot to give my friend, Lea (with an 'e'!) credit for the original blog post - h/t FairlyStraightForward. Because it's the POLITE thing to do.)

8.26.2009

I'm not tired...

...but if I lie down, I'll go to sleep. Eventually. Maybe.


I tried explaining this to a friend of mine the other day and it came out all retarded and circular - like the Philosophy: Intro to Logic class I took my first frehsman year in college (yes, I said 'first'...there were two. Don't judge.).


Until recently, I said I had been having trouble sleeping. Insomnia, if you will. Which, given the circumstances of my life lately, is understandable. But that's not it. I do not have insomnia. I am a night owl. Ten o'clock at night is not my normal time to sleep. One a.m. is. Or two a.m. And, left to my own devices, I would be quite happy to sleep until about 9:30a.m. Unfortunately it is rare that I am ever left to my own devices, especially now that it's soccer season. So tend to run on about 5 hours of sleep per night.


Not ideal. But I make do. Thank goodness for caffeine and Starbucks. And Coke. And I get through the day pretty well. I hit a wall about 3p.m. but I power through and, by 9p.m. I've hit my stride which is about the time the rest of my family is either down for the count or headed there. And, while I'm sure I could sleep, I'd prefer not to - there are so many other things I'd rather do: read, cook, mess around with Photoshop, try to clean up my black hole of a desk, lose an hour of my life to Facebook. So I don't go to bed. I'm sure I should - I know I'm constantly operating on a sleep deficit.


But getting TO sleep is an ordeal for me. My brain doesn't ever really stop and it usually takes effort to fall asleep. But if I lie there long enough, I'll usually fall asleep. Eventually. The thing is that, if it's going to take effort to get to sleep, I'd rather spend that energy elsewhere. So I don't lie down until I'm good and ready to sack out. Which is usually about 1a.m.


I have no idea if that made any more sense as compared the explanation I tried to give my friend the other day. It's late. What can I say?


So now I'm of to go practice my limbo skills. My life seems to be limbo-themed so I figure I should brush up on my skillz. It's not like I need to sleep or anything, right?




Pau.




- hfs

8.15.2009

Pictures

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Taking cues from my latest obsession, The Pioneer Woman, I am not only working on learning our camera and how to compose photographs, I am learning Photoshop. I'm not 100% thrilled with these pictures but I'm learning.




Pau.




- hfs

8.11.2009

On the outside, looking in

Hawaii soldiers deploy in grand fashion


I took pictures but I've not off-loaded them yet. It was weird standing in the back, watching my friends contemplate the upcoming send-off while the Brigade commander gave his speech. I feel like a spectator and wondered if I even belonged there today.


I can't say this is a position I like being in. At all.




Pau.




- hfs

8.09.2009

Creed of the Warrant Officer

No one gets away with more than me. I am a Warrant Officer - a corrupter of soldiers. As a Warrant Officer, I realize that I am a member of an under-appreciated, much-chastised group of officers known as the ribcage or, perhaps, the colon of the Army. I am proud of my fellow Warrants and especially of myself. I will continue to bitch, whine, and shame until the absolute last second regardless of the mission at hand. I will use my grade and position to avoid responsibility, accountability, and any sense of presence of mind. And, since the female Army officers are dating Air Force pilots because they fly bigger, meaner, faster aircraft, I will use my grade to police up the leftover enlisted female soldiers, although this is fraternization.

Ignorance is my watchword because I compromised my integrity when I went Warrant. My two best excuses will always be on the tip of my tongue: "I didn't know" and "It wasn't me". I will strive to remain invisible and unavailable for PT and formations. 'Never, ever, volunteer for anything' is my rallying cry. I am aware of my role as a Warrant and, if you need me for anything, it will be on an appointment basis only. I know the other Warrants and will refer to them by their first name or, in some cases, a derogatory nickname. I also know the soldiers and their needs come second to my own. On weekends and days off I will consistently drink myself into oblivion and mentor my crew chief while I am at it. I understand that, for a person in my hierarchical position, punishments are going to be few and far between and rewards will always be swift and severe.

NCOs of my unit will need maximum time to accomplish their duties because they will also have to accomplish mine. I will kiss up to the commissioned officers face and bad-mouth them behind their backs, just like everyone else. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve, provided there is something in it for me. I am the last bastion that stands as a wall between me and the Army philosophy of "work harder, not smarter". My voice is a tool and my complaints are a weapon that I wield with unmatched skill and finesse. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget, Warrant is the greatest rank in the Army; and rank has its privileges.
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This is the fine print where I deny any truth to this. It was meant as a joke and if you take it seriously...I don't care.

8.05.2009

Felicia

She should be here sometime late this weekend. And by "here" I mean HERE.


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Yesterday, forecasters expected her to stay on a more southerly track but it doesn't look like that will be happening. She's tending more toward the north (and right AT us) and it also looks like she will absorb the remnants of Enrique. Lovely.


According to the news I heard this morning, she's on track to hit just north of the Big Island. There is talk that, by the time she hits, she will be *just* a tropical storm but Katrina was *just* a Cat 2 (or 3, depending who you talk to) and look at the damage she did.


So we're off to the commissary this morning. We'll hit the Class VI (the liquor store for those that don't speak military-ese) this afternoon. This just gets more interesting-er and interesting-er. Hang on boys and girls!




Pau.




- hfs

8.04.2009

This message brought to you by...

...the National Hurricane Center


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Hang on boys and girls. This could get interesting.


As if my life weren't interesting enough. Whee. I'm off to Costco and the commissary. Around here, the first things to be cleared off the shelves are TP and beer. Go figure.


We need beer.


In actuality, here is the official "Disaster Supply Kit":



Water - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days

Food - at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel
— paper plates / plastic utensils

Blankets / Pillows, etc.

Clothing - seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes

First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs

Special Items - for babies and the elderly

Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes

Flashlight / Batteries

Radio - Battery operated and NOAA weather radio

Telephones - Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set

Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards - Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods

Keys

Toys, Books and Games

Important documents - in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag (insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.)

Tools - keep a set with you during the storm

Vehicle fuel tanks filled

Pet care items
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash


I would also add into that list candles, matches/lighter, and ammunition. But that's just me.




Pau.




- hfs

7.23.2009

Finding myself again

I think I turned a corner this past weekend. I think I found myself again.


The past 2 months have been the most difficult of my life. And I do not say that lightly. There were days where I literally felt as though I were in a hole that was filling up with water and drowning me. And I was lost.


Don't get me wrong - I know that there are plenty of other people facing much more difficult circumstances. And, relatively speaking, my life is good. My children are alive and healthy as is MacGyver. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. And that should - God willing - continue tomorrow. And I am grateful.


But the past 2 months have been tough. And it's not over.


I don't know that I've ever lost myself before. Even during the toughest times in my life, I've never truly felt lost. Knocked down? Yes. But not lost. This time, I was lost. And it's entirely possible that, as this whole mess plays out, I may find myself lost yet again. But for now, I seem to have "found" myself again. And it's nice. I missed me.




Pau.




- hfs

7.15.2009

The Helicopter War

Popular Mechanics has a great article highlighting how helicopters - Chinooks in particular - are giving U.S. and Afghan forces the edge in Afghanistan.

A good read.

(h/t Matt at Blackfive)




Pau.




- hfs

6.30.2009

Heart of Life



by John Mayer

I hate to see you cry
Lying there in that position
There's things you need to hear
So turn off your tears and listen

Pain throws you heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No, it won't all go the way, it should
But I know the heart of life is good

You know it's nothing new
Bad news never had good timing
Then the circle of your friends
Will defend the silver lining

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No, it won't all go the way, it should
But I know the heart of life is good

(Whistle Interlude)

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
Fear is a friend who's misunderstood
But I know the heart of life is good

I know it's good



So very, very true.




Pau.




- hfs

6.29.2009

A new week

In church on Sunday, our Pastor announced that there was going to be Vacation Bible School at a nearby church this week. And that the hours were from 8am to 4pm...every day! I about turned backflips in the sanctuary! My kids had been bugging me to find a VBS for them and not only was there one but an all day one at that! So I have the week essentially to myself. My kids were excited to go this morning - there are a lot of the youth from our church working there so it was a familiar setting to them. And we have such awesome youth at our church so this is going to be a great week for them.


I spent the first part of today having brunch with some wonderful friends whose love and friendship have really helped pull me through the past month of my life. Without them, I don't know where I'd be (and that goes for my friends and family on the mainland as well). There is still no news and I am doing my best to wait patiently. Those of you that know me know how big of a challenge this is for me.


The second half of the day was spent tidying up the house. The idea that this house will remain tidy until I pick the children up in a bit (or until MacGyver comes home - whichever happens first) fascinates me. Tomorrow I plan to tackle their room and weed out some serious clutter. We'll be having a yard sale in a few weeks - time to start building up that inventory.


I've been looking for the upside of the situation that has upended my life and one of the ones I've come up with is the decided lightening of our proverbial load. We have too much STUFF. Too much material goods, too much debt, too much STUFF. We are now downsizing, largely out of necessity but I think the timing - in this respect - was perfect (God's timing always is). This has all caused us to re-evaluate many things in our lives - individually, as a couple, and as a family. My prayer is that our lives will return to something that resembles the "normal" that it was prior to all of this happening but, in this respect, I hope the perspectives we've gained over the past 4 weeks stay with us.




Pau.




- hfs

6.25.2009

Goodbye 36

Today, I am 37 years old. And I can't say I've been happier to see a year of my life end than I am today. For all intents and purposes, 36 SUCKED. Yes, there were some wonderful days in there but overall, I got beat up by my 36th year.


So I say, "Farewell 36. Don't let the door hit you on the way out."


And as a parting gift, (and I'm sure this is over-sharing but I don't care) it left me a nice big zit on my chin yesterday.


LOVELY.




Pau.




- hfs

6.22.2009

Monkey Bread

Ugh...I am in a sugar coma. Good Lord, was that good! I'm not 1/2 the photographer that Pioneer Woman is but here is our Monkey Bread in the making.


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The ingredients, assembled.




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Let the chopping begin!




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Mmm...cinnamon and sugar - two of my favorite ingredients.




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All sugar coated and ready to go. And, being given permission from PW, I did sneak a piece. Delish!




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Butter and brown sugar - two MORE of my favorite ingredients!




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Does it get any better than this?




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Anyone have a spoon?




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The finished product. Can't you just SMELL it? It tasted even better than it looks!




Tonight, we dine on Black Bean Chowder with Yogurt-Cilantro Relish. I can't wait!




Pau.




- hfs

A crush

I have a crush. One that has taken a while to really hit me but it has. They say that confession is good for the soul so here goes...I am in love with The Pioneer Woman.


There. I said it. *whew* I feel better now.


I first learned of her several years back and would visit her site occasionally. But nothing serious.


But then...she cooked. It was the monkey bread that did it for me. It hooked me. Tomorrow night it will be the Black Bean Chowder with Yogurt Cilantro Relish for our date and I am *so* looking forward to it. I might even dress up for the occasion.


She's about as good with a camera as she is in the kitchen and a great blogger to boot. What more could you ask for? Oh, and she homeschools.


I am in love.




Pau.




- hfs

6.20.2009

Father's Day 2009

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Lex has a post up this weekend that sums up, better than I could with my own words, a lot of what I'm feeling. Father's Day has never been tough for me until this year.


I miss him.


I really only have 1 picture of the two of us together at the moment - he was the family photographer. I'm sure my mom has a few more. Most of the images I have of my Dad are in my mind. Like Lex's dad, my father was older when I was born. He had just turned 44. This was his second marriage and he had two sons from his first. So I was Daddy's Girl. A position that I reveled in until I hit puberty and then I shunned that status. What a fool I was.


My family jokes that my father didn't know everything about anything but knew something about everything. And he did. He and MacGyver are alike in many ways - they say we often tend to marry our fathers and I definitely did. Good with his hands - he could fix just about anything. Usually it was in an unorthodox way - a product of his Depression-era upbringing more than likely. He was much more inclined to use something that he had laying around the house than he was to go buy whatever it was he needed. The shower curtain rings in the guest bathroom at my parents' house are evidence of that.


He was a woodworker and built furniture. Beautiful furniture that I am looking forward to inheriting when the time comes. And his furniture was substantial. We used to joke that, should a hurricane or earthquake strike, the house may crumble but the furniture would stand. The safest place was under a table he built.


He passed on to me his love of architecture and beautiful lines. One of my favorite places - a place that reminds me so much of him - is the Gamble House. I never had the chance to take him but I know he would have loved it.


And he was tough. Obviously I didn't come to know him until he was older but anyone who can beat off lung cancer, having a lung removed, open heart surgery following that, all sorts of bypass surgeries, and then stave off bladder cancer for years had to have one heck of a constitution.


Because he was older, we didn't do the "typical" father/child activities. In addition to being older than my friends' dads, he worked in a job that required him to travel a lot. The Middle East was a part of my life long before it came in to the national spotlight. The fact that my father traveled to the United Arab Emirates, Iran (before the fall of the Shah and the revolution), Saudi Arabia...it was normal for me. Like I said, I married my father because MacGyver gets to go to those places as well. But Daddy was gone a lot - a fact that really helped to strengthen my relationship with my mother and inspire my love of Mac and Cheese for dinner (traditional first meal after Daddy left on a business trip).


But we didn't go to baseball games or Father/Daughter dances. Instead, we spent large amounts of time in the garage - building things, fixing things, working on cars. When I was a kid, he tore apart (and put back together) the engine on our 1972 Toyota Celica GT. Fun times! I knew more about socket wrenches, pistons, carbuerators, and shocks than just about any kid I knew. And I wore it like a badge of honor.


I still do.


I am blessed. Even though he was 44 when I was born, he lived to be 80 years old. He was able to walk me down the aisle, meet both of my children, and live a full life.


And for that, I am grateful. I miss you Daddy. Happy Father's Day. Thank you.




Pau.




- hfs

6.18.2009

Maui 2009

First off, thanks so much for the good thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, and virgin sacrifices...they've all helped so much. No, MacGyver and I are not getting a divorce. The kids are fine. We just happened to run into a big, flaming pile of dog doo-doo and it's going to be a while before we find out how it will all shake out. We are praying for the best and preparing for the worst. We are blessed beyond belief with a great family, incredible friends, and wonderful support.


However, we still need your prayers. Some people have asked what they can do to help (without really knowing what challenges we are facing). Here's what I would tell them: pray that this will all work out in the end and that MacGyver and I would be able to face these challenges successfully and with grace. Pray that the powers that be would be fair and merciful in their decisions and that God would continue to surround us with the right people and provide us with direction.


In the midst of all of this, we had a trip to Maui that had been scheduled for months. Couldn't very well skip the trip so here are a few pictures from our Hana adventure.



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Early on in the morning.




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The black sand beach at Waipanapanapa Beach Park




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The boy. AKA "Ricky".




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The girl. AKA "Lucy".




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There were crazy people jumping off this rock earlier in the day. Who am I kidding? I'd jump it too!



The first time we came here, in 2005, MacGyver and I counted over 300 Chrysler Sebrings (convertible, of course) on the road to Hana. This time around, it was Jeeps - JeepJeepJeeps everywhere! I didn't count though. I was too busy trying to avoid being carsick in the backseat.


Unlike last time, our drive continued on through Hana and then down around the southern tip of Maui and back up through Kula, past the entrance to Haleakala. I won't be able to make it up to the summit to catch the sunrise this time around. I didn't pack for it and I don't have a rental car. But that's ok. I like sleep more than I like sunrises.


A good trip though I'd much rather have stayed home. And I don't ever plan to make the drive to Hana again. Ever. Twelve hours in a car is ENTIRELY too long, especially when you're on an ISLAND. Ugh.




Pau.




- hfs

6.09.2009

Wait and See




I was born in Tennessee
Late July humidity
Doctor said I was lucky to be alive

I’ve been trouble since the day that I got here
Trouble till the day that I disappear
That’ll be the day that I finally get it right

There is hope for me yet
Because God won’t forget
All the plans he’s made for me
I have to wait and see
He’s not finished with me yet

I never really was that good in school
I talked too much, broke the rules
Teacher thought I was hopeless fool alright

I don’t know how but I made it through
It’s one of those things that you’ve gotta do
But I always had a knack for telling the truth

Chorus

Still wondering why I’m here
Still wrestling with my fear
But oh, He’s up to something
And the farther on I go
I’ve seen enough to know
That I’m, not here for nothing
He’s up to something

So now’s my time to be a man
Follow my heart as far as I can
No telling where I’m ending up tonight
I never slow down or so it seems
But singing my heart it’s one of my dreams
All I gotta do is hold on tight

6.07.2009

Nahum 1:7

To say last week was a challenging one would probably be the understatement of the year. Have you ever had a time in your life where - literally - it took a sharp right turn? So sharp that you wonder what in the world just happened and will life EVER be "normal" again? So sharp that you feel you left your stomach (and your sanity) back behind you?


Multiply that by 10 and you might come close to where I'm at. Every plan that I had made, everything that I thought I could count on in the future (well, maybe not everything but darn near close) is gone. To say I am reeling would be appropriate.


Forgive me for being cryptic. Everything that is going on is still on-going and therefore I cannot discuss details. But I will say this: if you're the praying type, we could use them.


Big time.


I'm not one to ask for people to pray for me. Usually I ask that you join me in praying for others but to "stand" up here (can one really "stand" in a blog?) and ask for your prayers is difficult for me. But I'm here and we need them.


I will say this - I am blessed. We are blessed. Over the past 6 days I have been shown the true meaning of friendship and have discovered that I am surrounded by wonderful people whose support I do not understand how I have come to deserve. But I'll take it and be grateful for it and I pray that I am one day in a position to repay 1/2 of the kindness afforded to us by friends.


I may not post much in the near future. Doesn't mean I'm not here. Just means I don't have much to talk about. I hope to be back but we'll see.




Pau.




- hfs




p.s. Nahum 1:7 ~ The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.

6.02.2009

Today

Romans 8:28 ~ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

5.27.2009

Please pray

Kiowa Crash at Wheeler AAF


It is reported that both pilots have died. The kids and I were on post - literally across the street - when this happened. I cannot put into words the emotions that are rolling around at the moment - NONE of which come close to comparing to what the families must now go through.


Please pray.

5.22.2009

Remember


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Punchbowl National Cemetery, 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.



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




Pau.




- hfs

5.20.2009

Miss Crankypants

I do not know what my issue is. But my husband informed me that not only was I cranky today (I knew this) but I was also cranky yesterday (this, I did not realize). I do not know why. Actually, I do...I just can't pinpoint which issue it is that is lighting my fire at the moment.


Forgive me while I vent. If you don't want to listen (ok, read) me whine and moan about my pity party then move on.


Still here? Wow. Well, you asked for it.


My plate is full. FULL. And it isn't full because I've sought out things with which to fill it. It's full because things land in my lap because no one else cares to step up to the plate, so to speak. I do not like being "Plan B".


I've had to take on responsibilities that I didn't ask for and have actually tried to avoid but, for one reason or another, no one else steps up so I do. And, before you all tell me NOT to step up, the things I'm volunteering for are programs that I believe are important - they need to exist. But it irritates me that 10% of the people are doing 90% of the work. And I know that's how it "always" is but that's NOT. RIGHT. And it's getting to the point where something is going to have to give. I'm not sure WHAT will have to give, though I have my suspicions.


I came home the other day and had my nice little world of denial shattered. The black boxes are back. You know, those lovely Pelican boxes? The ones that the guys ship all of their professional gear overseas in when deploying?


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I now have several of them in my garage. MacGyver called me the other day to ask me if I could pick one up from the hangar for him (it's too big to fit in his car) which effectively shattered my illusion that this deployment wasn't really looming. Damn thing sat back there - following me, in a sense, all week long. I've managed to play the denial game pretty well thus far, even though I'm knee deep in preparations for it (FRG, Crisis Response Team training, etc.). The mind is an incredible thing and has managed to allow me to wallow in denial.


Until now.


I've moved from denial into "let's hurry up and get this show on the road so we can be done with it as soon as possible" mode. Can't say I'm a fan of this stage. I feel antsy all the time - quite uncomfortable in my own skin. I'm vascillating between frenetic behavior and the overwhelming desire to plop down on the couch with a box of tissues and not get up for a week.


And that's *SO* healthy, isn't it? I'm doing my best to strike a balance but I feel like the pendulum of my life is all over the place. Which, for someone who prefers the status quo and routine, is tough to handle. Combine that with several crappy nights of sleep and you have a mess. Well, *I* have a mess. Is there a key to smoothing things out? One that doesn't involved the use of pharmaceuticals? I don't know. All I do know is that it's wearing on me.


I'm looking forward to this deployment - which I'm sure sounds weird - for a variety of reasons. But I'm finding that, even while looking forward to it, I cannot escape the roller coaster of emotions that are involved in the lead up to it.


Damn. Thought I was going to be able to dodge that bullet.




Pau.




- hfs

5.18.2009

Pre-deployment classes

So I'm digging around for classes to set up for our spouses before the deployment. Upcoming classes include:

* Kids and Deployment
* Crisis Response Team Training
* Spouse Battlemind training
* Couples Communication
* Coping with Separation for adults


We've already had:
* Benefits and Entitlements
* Legal (POAs, wills, guardianship, etc.)


We're planning to have:
* Space A brief
* Self-care brief (you can go through a class and then be eligible to get OTC medications from the pharmacy for free, rather than buying them at a store)




For those of you that have been through, or are going through, a deployment, what OTHER classes/briefs/information would you have liked to have had BEFORE the deployment started? What kinds of classes/briefs/information/activities would you have liked to have had (or are currently enjoying) DURING the deployment?


What worked?


What didn't work?


Ideas? Feedback? I don't want ALL of our FRG meetings to be a boring rehash of the training calendar - I'd like to be able to give our spouses useful information. I'm also looking for ideas on fun stuff to do - either as part of the meeting or during a separate event.




So let's hear it!




Pau.




- hfs

5.17.2009

Please pray

I just heard from our FRSA (Family Readiness Support Assistant) that our Battalion is activating the Crisis Response Team. I do not have details beyond this but I do know that the BN could use prayers as could the family involved.


Thank you.




Pau.




- hfs

5.12.2009

Five in a Row

First, thank you for all of the suggestions and information on homeschooling curriculum! Keep it coming, please! I have a copy of "woo Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum" and I am definitely getting a feel for where I think we'll head.


Sheri ~ I got your last comment regarding ToG. I'll be getting back to you via email soon.


One resource I did find that I think we're going to do this summer is "Five in a Row". Any of you have experience with it? For those that don't know what it is, it's a unit-study curriculum that centers around children's literature (something that is severely lacking in public school curriculum). You read (out loud) the same story each day for a week and each day, the lesson focuses on a different subject as it pertains to the story: social studies, language arts, math, science, and art. You pick from several different activities within the subject to complete the lesson for the day.


We had already planned to hit the library once a week so now we'll just be adding 1 extra book per week to the pile. The kids are already excited about it and I haven't even bought the lesson book yet! So we might get started earlier than summer if it comes soon enough.


Princess Trouble (aka Lucy...long story behind the new nick name...think "I Love Lucy") has already started making her case as to why she wants to be homeschooled. She's pretty articulate too - she has 3 main points and has already started to come up with supporting evidence to back them up. She's quite impressive.


Little Man (aka "Ricky"...for the same reason as "Lucy", above) will just be happy if he doesn't have to leave the house. I'm not sure how happy he'll be to know that the video games will be off limits until all schoolwork is done.


I often wondered why I had even bothered going to college. I taught for a few years but, after having children, felt little desire to really go back to the classroom. So, why then, did I bother to spent 7 (yes, SEVEN...don't judge) years in college and rack up wonderful piles of student loans? I wasn't sure.


Now, I know.




Pau.




- hfs

5.08.2009

Furniture lust

I.Want.These.




Eventually.



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48 inches deep. I'm comfortable just looking at it. Can't imagine how comfortable it must be to sit on.

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I love the lines on these.

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Not your traditional cedar chest...




Pau.




- hfs

5.06.2009

Memo

To: Michael Savage


Re: Being banned from traveling to or visiting Britain.


Savage said he wants top First Amendment attorneys to represent him "in a major international case."


Hey, genius...you can't sue another country for failing to uphold the laws of YOUR country. Nice try.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

To: Great Britain

Re: see above.


Really? You're going to ban Michael Savage? A radio talk show host?

Seriously?

With all of the crap you people have going on in your country, you're going to ban a radio talk show host who doesn't advocate violence of any kind?

Y'all need to get your poop in one sock. And quickly. Before Great Britain goes completely down the drain.




Pau.




- hfs

5.04.2009

Homeschooling research

This year has been a bit frustrating with regard to Princess Trouble's experiences in public school. Her teacher is good - albeit strict - and I'm pleased with the school overall...


...but...


We are seeing weaknesses in the curriculum. There are concerns over the behavior of other children in the class. Princess Trouble's boundless enthusiasm for school and learning isn't so boundless anymore. And I do not feel that, if left in the hands of the public school system, she will live up to her full potential. Little Man is another concern. If he takes after his father (which is almost a sure thing, given the fact that he is a clone of my husband), I suspect he will do much better in a one-on-one, tailored setting rather than a classroom with 20+ other kids and an inflexible curriculum.


The irony is that I am a public school teacher. I am certified K-12 in Health and PE with endorsements in math and science. I've taught, full time, in public schools (CO, CA, and AK) for 5+ years. And now I sub in the public schools here. I've seen what works and what doesn't work and the sad thing is that, overwhelmingly, there is more of the "doesn't work" out there. I don't want my kids to fall into that category. And these days, when we're pumping more money into the public school system yet seeing a negative return on our investment, it is obvious (to me) that the public school system is about as broken as the health care system.


So, here we are. More to the point, here *I* am. I have known for several years, that homeschooling is in our future. Logistically, it's going to be necessary. Once we leave this island we will be in a state of limbo for many months - MacGyver has a school he will need to complete en route to our next duty station. And, while we *could* go on ahead of him to our next duty station and wait for him to join us, that is not something that we are willing to do. Military life separates our family often enough so, when things like this come up, we will work to find a way to stay together.


Rather than have my children attend 3 different schools in one school year, we will homeschool during this upcoming adventure. If we find that homeschooling works for us, then we will stick with it. I suspect it will. We already do some informal homeschooling as it is - during school breaks/vacations, weekends, etc. Often, Princess Trouble's classwork/homework isn't enough to truly cement a concept in her brain so we will do extra practice at home. My kids love learning at home - they are homebodies just like their parents.


Kim du Toit has an incredible article - her magnum opus - "Educating Your Children" series and it has been wonderful in terms of helping me to identify our goals and objectives for our children. I am in the process of soliciting information on curriculum from several homeschooling families we know and admire. Our broad subject areas are (and you'll notice that these pretty much reflect Mrs. du Toit's categories):

Arts: art/crafts, dance, music

Letters: English, literature, grammar, foreign languages, history, social studies, civics/government

Math

Science: including health, gardening

Life Skills: including household skills, religion

Extracurricular: clubs, volunteering, hobbies


I've already heard from several friends as to the curriculum(s) they use for these subjects. And WHY they use them. That's key. My kids are alike in many ways but different in how they learn.


Princess Trouble is like me: loves to read, good with memorization, easily frustrated, good with detail, creative (not like me on this one). She'll be in 3rd grade next year.


Little Man is the epitome of his father: prefers to work with his hands and learn things by DOING as opposed to reading about it. Likes to read but only books he has an interest in (PT will read the cereal box if there's nothing left to read, even if it's not interesting). He's much more persistent than she is and his tolerance for frustration is higher.


I would love to find curriculum for each subject that is multi-level but I'm not adverse to using 2 completely different approaches if necessary. I am also not adverse to essentially creating my own courses from a variety of sources/curriculum. That is pretty much how I ran my classroom when I was teaching - the text/curriculum left so MUCH to be desired so we used it as the framework of the class (per state guidelines) but I created my own lesson plans for each topic rather than strictly adhering to the text. In some instances, I had classes with distinct "personalities" and would create individual lesson plans for each class based on what worked for THEM. So I have no qualms doing the same for my children.


I suppose the point of this long, rambling post is to ask my readers that homeschool what curriculum(s) you use and WHY. What works for you? What did you try that DIDN'T work for you? What advice would you give with regard to structure, record-keeping, etc. I'm looking forward to hearing it all! Thanks!




Pau.




- hfs

5.03.2009

'I'm so sorry...'

Cass has a great post up regarding one of the panels at the MilBlog conference and the discussion surrounding sympathy versus pity. She sums up my feelings better than I could.


I've written about this topic before - the well-meaning but completely uncomfortable question (asked in the tone of voice that implies that someone died) and how insane it drives me. Cass is much more eloquent with it all.


What can I say, tact isn't my strong point...




Pau.




- hfs

4.27.2009

Memo

To: The White House


Dumb move.

The people of New York would appreciate it if you would engage your brain before making such a decision in the future.




Pau.




- hfs

4.25.2009

2009 MBC Panel 4

Panel 4 - New Media Agora

Andrew Exum of Abu Magawama
Bill Nagle of Small Wars Journal
Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal


Greyhawk is moderating.


I swear, Greyhawk looks like Hugh Laurie from "House".


Bill - Started writing in early 2004 just to talk to friends and family and address their questions. Decided to put things in one place. Eason Jordan's statement that the US military was intentionally targeting journalists really enraged him and they started hammering at him for that and refuting his statements. Been to Iraq 4 times and Afghanistan once.


Andrew - been to Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda, Iraq in 2003, Afghanistan 2004. Ended up getting out of the Army. Started blogging on counterinsurgency in between his Master's degree and his PhD. Worked on the CENTCOM security team. He's discussing the top-down innovation as well as the bottom up innovation. We've been able to see both during these wars.

BN - discussing the inception of SWJ in 2005.


Question: Insight?

BR - haven't really seen someone step up and see someone be the leader in Afghanistan. Not seeing a lot of clarity WRT strategy. Hope isn't a strategy. Detects a lot of hesitance from people stepping out to take a stand WRT Afghanistan.

AE - the questions that may be out there seem to pertain to operational strategies. The rural nature of Afghanistan makes it harder than Iraq. The Pakistan issue is a biggie and isn't working. 2009 is no longer 2003. Pakistan is much, much worse than we care to admit.

BR - Afghanistan is the sideshow. Pakistan is the true story here. If Pak falls, how are we going to get supplies in, among other questions?

BN - Agrees that Afg and Pak are hopelessly intertwined.

AE - check out testimonies Dave Barno and ??? @ Congress

Question: Piracy - any thoughts?

BN - International Maritime Bureau publishes a piracy report - available to anyone. Best practices and advice about piracy.


And that's about as far as I got before my brain gave out.

2009 MBC Panel 3

Panel 3 - Taking Care of Our Veterans

Matt Bernard - American Soldier from A Soldier's Life
TSO - American Legion
Pete Hegseth - Vets for Freedom
Genevieve Chase - American Women Veterans

Morderator - McQ of Q&O and Blackfive

McQ is discussing the state of medical treatment off the battlefield and how great it is now. PTSD/TBI and the needs of those injuries. Are we geared to take care of that in the long haul?

Matt: twice injured in Ramadi in 2006 and returned home. Sent back to New Hampshire while still in recovery and dealing with PTSD. Went up to the state HQ and talked to the leadership there and briefed them with regard to their failures treating veterans. In 6 months, a program was implemented to take care of returning veterans.

Genevieve: testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. Trying to raise awareness, fine tune vision statement, etc. Want to raise awareness about women veterans. Want to continue the tradition to take care of the generations to come.

Pete: VFF focuses on the mission side of things: what's actually happening on the battle field and shaping the public's perception of our veterans. The most pressing issue is winning our wars. Will we be given the time, the resources necessary to win the wars? That should be the focus.

TSO - thinks we CAN win in Afghanistan. Important to realize limitations but victory is possible. Believes in getting the message out but it doesn't have to be PollyAnna-ish.

Question: WRT PTSD, what about the cultural fear that surrounds seeking help for mental health issues?

MB: people look at you as weak if PTSD is an issue. Most won't seek out help. You have to gain the proper tools to help yourself. If you don't know how to help yourself, you don't know how to help your fellow soldier.

GC: clearance is a big issue, still. Personally, we tend to take care of our soldiers better than we take care of ourselves. A lot of times she has to ask "If I were my soldier, how would I tell them to deal with this issue?" So far, that's the best she's come up with.

Question: There's a difference between PTS and PTSD. The "D" makes the difference. Society can't discuss it without throwing on that last letter.

Pete: there are 2 tracks on this: Inside the military, inside the VA, etc. Thinks that doing PSAs on PTSD, it undermines the vets and the public's perception of them. No need to scare the public with PSAs.

Question: Is the MSM perpetuating the myth of the crazed veteran by highlighting those that need help as a way to get them help? If so, how do we go about GETTING them help?


TSO - Stop reading the NYT.

GC - communityofveterans.org only for vets of Iraq and Afghanistan

TSO - WHY has it taken this long to beef up our mental health professionals? Because that is how the VA works. It's a train wreck.

Question: Data vs. anecdotal evidence? Does the AE contribute to the perception of PTSD? IS there a way to reform this? Is there a way for blogs to be more constructive?

Pete - a lot of blogs ARE trying to help. I.e. Someone You Should Know - highlighting those that have succeeded. Get both sides, emphasize stats

MB - realize that stats can be skewed

Question: Isn't PTS/PTSD a family issue?

MB - it does start with the family support channel - your spouse is your first line of defense. they need to be properly educated on warning signs and tools.

Question: After you get to the problems/solutions, how do you suggest we involve the public?

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