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